Monday, April 16, 2012

Backyard Toys and the Book Exchange

Spring has sprung and that means it's time to get outside! If your kids are at all like my kids, their outdoor toys get cracked, faded, and brittle from being out in the sun or broken from being chewed up by the lawnmower or the dog. This year was no different! In preparation for the first lawn-mowing of the year last week I went around the yard collecting the various plastic pieces of what once were toys and tossing them in the trash.

Sadly, the kids weren't left with much.

So we made our annual trip to the Goodwill Outlet for outdoor toys! My kids love this trip because they can toss all the junky toys they want into the cart and rarely hear a protest from me. I love this trip because my kids get to have fun and because all their new goodies will keep them busy outside for hours! I love using Goodwill as our source for outdoor toys because then when they get cracked, broken and eaten by the lawnmower I don't mind tossing them in the trash and no one sheds a tear.

This year we picked up a plastic baseball bat, watering can, dump truck, several small cars and various figurines (most from McDonald's at one point, I think), some baskets and cups (great for collecting flowers and having a tea party), a squirt gun and some other random odds and ends. Most of the small toys will live in the sand & water table.

As soon as we got home the kids raced outside with their loot and had a grand time!

And I got to spend some time with my loot as well:

The stack on the left are books I bought for me- 3 books by one of my favorite authors, Adriana Trigiani, plus two books I've read before but I don't own but think I should because they're just great books (The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands and All Your Worth).
The stack on the right are the books I plan to take to The Book Exchange, a used bookstore that allows trade-ins of paperbacks. They'll give you 1/4 of the cover price in store credit which you can then use to buy any of the books in the store, all listed at 1/2 their cover price. Since the Goodwill Outlet only charges $0.25 per paperback, it's always a good deal for me. That stack there should net me about $22 in store credit and I only spent $2. Even if they only accept 2 of the books (they don't accept everything) I'll still have come out on top. Sweet, right?

Total spent at the Goodwill Outlet this trip: $8.36 (about $4 for toys, $4 for books)

What's your outdoor toy situation like? Do you prefer to buy used?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Let's Go Window Shopping at Twigs!

I got to spend a lovely spring break with my kids up at my mom's house in Lovettsville, Virginia. It's about a 3-hour drive to get there, but when I visit there it's like a whole other world. The scenery is amazing, and it's hard to believe it's only an hour outside of Washington, DC.

My mom and I got a chance to sneak away one afternoon to visit one of my favorite shops in nearby Purcellville, called Twigs ( I thought it would be fun to take some photos as we shopped so you could all window shop with me- eye candy is my gift to you! Many of the items are out of my budget but it's just so fun to be amidst all the girly-ness and such lovely high quality items.

I fell completely in love with this gorgeous lacy tunic just inside the front door- the scarf was beautiful, too.

One whole room of the store was dedicated to scents- scented soaps, candles, and cleaning products. My favorite scent was the lavender pine- mmmm! They also had bathrobes, pajamas, and personal beauty pampering supplies.

There was also a room upstairs with children's toys, decor, and clothing. I loved this little pinwheel- I think I may try to make one myself!

This birdhouse was completely adorable. I love the rustic driftwood look.

This room was dedicated to kitchen and dining- don't you love those flatware chandeliers? How fun!

I love going to stores and seeing items that are strictly luxury splurges, like these Rice Flower scented drawer liners. I want some Rice Flower scented drawer liners!

Then there were these emery boards- I just loved the bright colors and fun patterns.

I reeeeally loved this gorgeous bracelet! I discovered that it was part of the Robin Goodfellow jewelry collection. There were several other pieces there that I adored, all very leafy and delicate and beautiful.

This was my one purchase of the day: a little $3 scented sachet. I just love it. Every time I get a whiff I just go, "Ahhhh."

Do you have a favorite little shop like "Twigs"? Leave a comment and tell me about it!

Linking up to:

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

LDS Writer Blogfest: Revelation and Inspiration

Welcome back to the LDS Writer Blogfest! You may remember that I participated in this fun event last year with my post, Guided By the Holy Spirit. This year I am hopping in once again to share my thoughts on the inspired words of the apostle Richard G. Scott, from his talk, "How to Obtain Revelation and Inspiration for Your Personal Life," from the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, April 2012.

President Scott holds a special place in my heart. When I was in college (NOT in Utah!) I got to attend a special Young Adult Fireside where he spoke and I had the opportunity to meet him afterward. He truly has a kind and gentle soul. Currently, his nephew is actually serving as my stake president (for those of you who are not members, he is the leader in charge of multiple congregations in central Virginia). I love seeing the family resemblance when I hear both President Scotts speak, both in General Conference and Stake Conference.

So how exactly do you receive personal inspiration and revelation and what's the difference?

President Scott taught that revelation is "crisp and clear and essential," while inspiration is "a series of promptings we often have to guide us step by step to a worthy objective."

Have you ever had either?

I remember one distinct experience I had with personal revelation, mostly because it's one of the only times anything has ever come to me in such a "crisp, clear, and essential" way. I was asked to be a "parent" at our Stake's Youth Conference. The parents were required to do a series of morning devotionals with our youth "family", and while my husband and I had discussed these, I still felt that something was lacking. I took my concerns to the Lord in prayer and I remember feeling overcome with the feeling of the Spirit. At the same time, distinct words entered my mind. Each one began with, "They need to know..." The Lord gave me a specific list of things that He wanted these youth to know, and that my husband and I were to teach them.

Needless to say, that's what I taught! I was so overwhelmed and humbled by the experience, and mostly by the gravity of the importance of teaching these special youth. The most important message I gained from that experience were that they mattered to Him. He was putting them in my charge and that was no small thing- He gave me that experience not only because He needed them to know certain truths, but because He needed me to know how incredibly important they were to Him.

I have had other experiences with revelation- much like President Scott knowing he should marry his wife, my revelation that I wanted to marry my husband came when the words came out of my mouth, "You do know I want to marry you, right?" I was as surprised to hear them as he was! We had only been dating for 1 week! But it'll be 10 years next month since our wedding day and I still know that this was a match made by God.

President Scott also talks about how important it is to ask God when we have concerns, and he explained his method for receiving revelation and inspiration:

1. Fast
2. Pray, ask the Lord to direct you to scriptures that will aid you in finding answers.
3. Read the scriptures; ponder and pray
4. Repeat.

I would add one more step to this list that President Scott has discussed in previous talks- write down any impressions you may have. This will be your own personal scripture to which you can refer when doubts arise in your mind.

President Scott talked about the things that can hinder revelation and inspiration: "emotions such as anger, hurt, or defensiveness" and "haughtiness, pride, and conceit" can push the Spirit away, as will "loud, inappropriate laughter" and "exaggeration or loudness in what is stated." I feel that last one is why General Conference and the meetings of the church hold such a different feeling about them than meetings of other mainstream religions- we don't have a preacher shouting from the pulpit, walking around, using grand arm gestures and verbose language. Words from the Lord come quietly and clearly, spoken by the Spirit, without great fanfare from man.

Another important message from this talk was President Scott's counsel that, "Exercise, reasonable amounts of sleep, and good eating habits increase our capacity to receive and understand revelation." As members of the church, we believe that our bodies are sacred, and so it makes sense that we should be caring for them as the temples for our spirits. The more pure and refined the temple, the greater its ability to be a receptacle for the Spirit of the Lord.

President Scott's talk held many other beautiful truths, but these were just a few I wanted to share with you today. I encourage you to ponder his words and, like he has done, develop your own pattern for receiving personal revelation and inspiration. It is not only possible, it is essential to living our lives in accordance with God's plan for us.

Have you had any experiences with personal revelation and/or inspiration? Please leave a comment and share- I would love to read about it!

To find out more about what I believe as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please visit

For those of you fellow bloggers who have come to visit me for the blogfest, be sure to visit the other blog where I contribute, Mormon Mommy Writers. We'd love to have you join us!

Check out these other fantastic bloggers who are participating in the blogfest this week:

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