Posts tagged Chat It Up
Chat It Up: Empty

Hey friends, good to be back with you. I took the Monday after Easter off to hang out with my kiddos and plan some birthday celebrations for the hubby. He's an April fool baby, but we left the pranks behind for some endearing homemade cards and cake. If you follow Pars Caeli on Instagram, you saw our Easter egg hunt prep. I'm happy to report that all of our nearly 100 eggs were found in the backyard, and we had a fun, child-friendly Easter with good friends.

Despite a ton of work and blog projects-in-waiting, I kept away from my computer for four days straight. I had to be intentional about it, resisting urges to finish this or check in on that. Much like the Christian example of Christ's empty tomb after the Resurrection, I needed some time not to be filled - with ideas, updates, posts, and content. Time to be still.

I live in Indiana. I was not born here, nor did I grow up here, but one aspect of this great state, like many in the Midwest and West, is that it overflows with emptiness. As a student here, I was often bored and disappointed by the flat, wide expanse of soybeans and corn farms. As a professional and occupied mom, I now find this openness a great relief from the buzz and clutter of the rest of my life. My eyes long for the stretches of natural sameness that provides peace to my soul.

I read this article posted over on 99U entitled, What Happened to Downtime? The Extinction of Deep Thinking & Sacred Space, and I resonated with both the needs and the very practical ideas for adding more emptiness to your life. When during your day or even your week are you, "completely isolated, and your mind is able to wander and churn big questions without interruption?"

My heart sunk just a little with this excerpt:

Our insatiable need to tune into information – at the expense of savoring our downtime – is a form of “work” (something I call “insecurity work”) that we do to reassure ourselves.

I am guilty of clicking on blog stats and comments to boost my temporal feelings of insecurity as a friend, as a mom, as a designer. Perhaps just sitting with the emptiness is what is really called for.

As a younger person, I excelled at silence, taking the time to lay on the grass and watch cloud formations, spending time in a silent retreat, practicing the mindset and exercise of yoga. Somewhere between marriage, children, and social media, the quiet has been lost, and I'm hoping to find it.

Karen over at Chookooloonks offered this thought that I want to pass along.

Pay attention to things that connect you with joy.


Go over and read what Karen's got to say, because girlfriend has got it together. And I think this idea of connecting to your joy and finding the empty are intergrally intertwined.

So here's what I'd like to hear from you, lovelies, do you need quiet in your life to create, to move forward? If so, how do you find it or return to it?

xoxo, MJ

Chat It Up: Bring Out Spring

First day of spring? Are you feeling it? Fact is, we have very few signs of spring around here with gray sludge decorating the streets and parking lots, and skies that need some clear, azure additions.

I desperately want spring to be here. Now. My daughter, C, our summer babe, asks e-very day if it's spring yet. "I just want warm again, Mommy." Oh, she'll be our child to live in a tropical climate and bask in the sand (and I will lather on my SPF1000 and excitedly visit her).

When we visited the local farmer's market last weekend, I knew I'd find bunches of pussy willow branches. I had to grab a handful; they remind me of my childhood in western Pennsylvania, in our rural backyard brush. The fuzzy blooms served as the early fore bearers of blossoms to come.

This time of year I gravitate to nurseries and garden centers. I dream of jasmine and gardenia fragrances lofting indoors from my front plantings and I plan, hand-in-hand with my husband, what we will nurture in our veggie and herb gardens.

How do you make it to spring? What tricks are up your sleeve for managing the still-here winter blahs?

xoxo, MJ

Chat It Up: Facebook

One of my best friends in the world (hi H) just joined Facebook! I never thought it would happen. Really. Her arrival has me wanting to engage more and post more over there so I can stay in touch with the latest.


I'd sort of given up on Facebook. It was my first baby step into social media, and it is the place where more of my family gathers than anywhere else. Eg: my parents are not going to begin corresponding in 140 characters (or less) with hashtags, they are going to like photos of my kids or wish my cousin a happy birthday.

And yet it can be a very stagnant place for me, and I find Twitter and Instagram my new go-tos for inspiration and interest. And I give virtual high fives to folks I know who proclaim they've given up Facebook. For good.

Many of the blogs I love have FB pages with more or less interaction from readers. I've kept Pars Caeli off of Facebook, hearing from other blogger pals that the social media giant doesn't affect readership much.

Jeff Goins published A Blogger's Guide to Facebook nearly 2 years ago but some recommendations still hold. Check it out if you haven't.

So, let's chat it up, lovelies. Where are you with Facebook? Totally smitten and commitin'? Or closing the chapter on Facebook? Perhaps somewhere in between.

xoxo, MJ

Chat It Up: Outward Appearances

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One of my favorite times of the week has arrived, friends! Let's chat it up.

Today's topic? Beauty. And not the amazing, inner light - the one that shines so bright in those who radiate beauty and whose lives reflect that brilliance.

Nope, we're talking exterior, surface today.

If you haven't heard me blab about it yet, let me share the good news (did you hear the angel choir voices), I'm heading to Alt NYC. This lovely day of fun will be hosted at Martha's HQ, and I will have the chance to chat with some of the most fabulous bloggers around the country. I can't wait to show you everything I see. This will be my very first trip to the Big Apple so any and all advice is welcome!

Honesty here: I'm already stressing about what I'll wear. Or more how I'll look.

I admit it, I'm vain, particularly when I'm meeting new people. It's not my best quality. But, it is.

I'm a gal on a limited budget so I've been trying to prioritize my look. Without saying, I would love to have those to-die-for shoes, with a killer dress, a touch of color in my newly trimmed locks, with some fresh makeup, and accessories that are more than memorable. But, that's not gonna happen.

So, let's talk surface here, friends.

Besides the confident walk, the gleam in the eye, and a dazzling smile, what do you notice first when you meet someone?

Where do you invest your money? Great make up? A signature hair style? Nails that complete a look? I'm really interested in your answers.

xoxo, MJ 

Chat It Up: Is the post the most?

The post, the mail, however you name it, this bundle of correspondence comes to our residences six times a week. Or it did. For those of us in the United States, we recently heard the announcement that, due to budget constraints, mail will only be distributed five days a week. That's right, no more Saturday service.

My initial reaction was one of disappointment. "Oh man, I won't be able to check the mail for friend's cards and letters, in a leisurely way on the weekends."

And then I realized... Wait. That doesn't happen now. The leisure or the letters. :)

I have fabulous friends from all over the planet, but how often do I receive a letter or a card? Even more of a stretch when was the last time I sent one? Like not for a birthday or Christmas?

My poor brain cells got quite the workout trying to remember when was the last time I wrote a letter (outside of a card). College! Before email, Facebook, or Twitter were mainstays of long distance correspondence.

So after my dip into melancholy, I pondered - do I really enjoy letters and cards as much as I once did? This query is coming from someone who has dreamed of working for Hallmark, the big time card mecca. I adore all sorts of stationery and cards, but perhaps as much for the art and poetry of them. On minor holidays like Halloween or St. Patrick's Day, I find myself wondering what to do with all the paper greetings left on the mantle once the celebration ends.

I've also discovered (or maybe re-discovered) the excitement and joy that simple texts can elicit. They are so real-time, and I feel more a part of faraway friend's life through the immediate messaging. A heartfelt email, you know the multiple-paragraph kind, gets saved in a significant folder on my laptop. Even silly Facebook messages get a few readings to remember the shared words and shared friendship.

And yet, the beauty of handwritten messages and the return of the craft of hand lettering has brought back an artform almost lost. The act of composing lines on a page for emphasis and clarity is an exercise of care so rarely taken.

Perhaps it depends on the message and the time available to communicate? Or is that just something we offer as a reason in all too busy lives?

Can't wait to hear your thoughts.

xoxo, MJ



Chat It Up: Color Must Haves

Heya! Thanks for joining the chat today. I'm home with my little guy and his yuck case of pneumonia. Let's get to talking to cheer me up, k? The topic: color. Specifically the colors we live with and the colors that scream, "this is my abode."

From every window in my house, a static perma-gray landscape can be seen. Living in Northern Indiana, I'm used to at least five months of monochrome. I deal with it by putting a whole lot of color in the interior. Remember the show Trading Spaces? Where they'd take over a neighbor's room and make it a new funky color or glue flowers to the walls - all in a super short period of time? Well, I used to be all about that show especially all the bright hues they'd add to any old dull space.

In the last two years, I've transitioned our main living spaces into more neutral tones to allow just bits of color to be more of the focal. Our once monarch orange kitchen (it was lovely, I promise) is now a classic khaki. And for the most part I'm happy with these more calming neutrals (my house has moved out of the 90s). But there are two rooms whose color I think I "need" to both cheer me and calm me.

Our dining room: For the last decade it's been this ladybug red color, not too bright, not too deep. To me it's the perfect shade of red lipstick and with the wood moulding to frame it in, the saturated tone whispers sit down, stay a long while, and eat, eat, eat.

Our bedroom: I've never had a green room in any house/condo/aptmt I've lived in, and I wanted to give it a try. I found a swatch called "rejuvenation", and I knew I wanted that in my sleepy, cozy, dreamy space. And I adore it. It feels fresh and warm at the same time, and I now identify this color as part of me.

So tell me what colors must you have around your living space? I'm not talking about your favorite colors necessarily, but what feels good for you to live in - that you'd take to another living space just because it's part of you?

Or am I just crazy color lady?

I'm okay with that.

xoxo, MJ


Chat It Up: Fresh Flowers..Worth It?

Hello, lovelies!! Let me wish you a happy week and a happy Tuesday. It was so delightful to chat with some beautiful ladies last week about how we loves our magazines. So many of us are torn between digital and paper, but I think paper edged ahead. Want to add your voice to the conversation? We're even commenting on comments, and it's getting to be a second-cup-of-coffee banter for me.

Let's chat about something I've been thinking about a lot lately with the gloomy, cold, snowy weather. This time of year, in particular, brings out the flower lover in me. I adore fresh flowers all year round, but I find I "need" them Dec-April.

For nearly a decade, I spent somewhere between $6-10 a week on fresh flowers. The fragrant blooms were just as important as the eggs and butter on the list. Well, maybe even more essential in that they could bring me to positivity on bad days in a way that no configuration of butter or eggs could ever do.

When silk and paper flowers were still the rage, I could get by with faux arrangements when the weather outside was tolerant. But no matter what the season, I've always felt more productive, more creative, and capable in the presence of fresh blooms.

Now I'm a sensible (wha??) momma of three with an adorable budget-conscious hubby and that makes the $500ish a year for bouquets feel a little more frivolous than necessary. However, my husband is consistently bringing home flowers and planting blooming buds in the yard to satiate my blooming, living appetite.

So, I'm interested would you or do you spend money on a regular basis for fresh flowers? Are plants sufficient for you? Or do you not notice the difference?

How would you spend that $10/week?

I'm going to grab my mug... can't wait to chat with you soon!

xoxo, MJ

PS. My fave? Flowers in my hair - like one big bloom. Would you do it?

Talking on Tuesdays

Hellloo there. Yesterday I mentioned a few things I learned while on my blogiatus (blog + hiatus). I really missed hearing from you lovely people, missed hearing your ideas and wahoos and helpful links.

So, I'm dedicating every Tuesday to chatting. You know, like if we actually lived near each other (and could coordinate childcare/work schedules) and we could sit down over a decaf mocha (or I could at least) and shoot the breeze the way we once could when one afternoon class was as demanding as it got.

Sometimes we'll dive deep into something heavy, deep, and real but mostly we'll just chat like old girlfriends over our screens and share ideas and questions... and well, life. The whole point is to add your voice so I'm really hoping you'll return Tuesday after Tuesday and click that comment link. I promise to have something to say in return! Let's keep it fair and playful, k?

So I made time over the weekend to sit with the last three months of Real Simple and Better Homes and Gardens. Typically when these periodicals show up in my mailbox, I get excited and look forward to plopping down after kids are settled with some beautiful photography and lovely styling. However, more and more, or less and less do I find myself making time to do this.

I wonder why?

One reason is definitely the fulfilling blog reading I'm up to lately. When you read and follow Nicole or Em than the need for monthly magazine inspiration is not so acute. Bloggers have stepped it up and offer amazing projects and parenting ideas that I can see new every day, and it's always at my fingertips since my laptop and I seem to be surgically attached.

Also I wonder if I'm becoming more trained to digest information when it's presented digitally. When I can click on a link and feel more powerful because I've just gone "deeper" into the matter. Do I feel more educated because I read it on the most recent, innovative gadgets I own?

And yet, just like archived objects of my past, I found myself fishing out stacks of Real Simples and Wondertime (remember that one?) and Cookie and Family Fun magazines from underneath my bed. When I hit a bookstore, I peruse the stacks of design mags... and long to let the pages of Kinfolk and Uppercase flip open in front of me. I love paper and its texture. I notice the gloss and grain of each magazine and enjoy the ads as much as the articles. But in some ways these colorful, artful pages feel like mementos to be treasured, something a bit from the past.

Where do you fall on the matter? Do you still love the feel of sitting down with a great magazine and a cup of coffee? Or would you prefer to see it all on your Ipad or Kindle?

Join the chat! XOXO, MJ

PS. I "interviewed" my 8-year old on this topic. She loves getting her Highlights magazine in the mail, but is thrilled to download the latest apps, too. Her final decision? She'd prefer digital so that she doesn't have to worry about (me nagging her to) putting the magazines away. Yeah. That too.