Friday, June 26, 2015

Introducing my Etsy Shop & a Giveaway!

It's time, y'all.
The wait is OVER and it has been almost one full week of my brand new Etsy shop, Sarah Cason Designs, being open! This has been in the works for a while, and it feels wonderful to be able to share my passion for art with others in a way that is encouraging and inspiring! 

In my shop you'll find lots of whimiscal, inspirational and motivational hand lettered pieces made by yours truly! While I enjoy a wide variety of art forms (my next favorite are portraits!), this shop is right now dedicated to my hand lettering art! 

Over the next few weeks, I will also be adding some new "sections" and series, so be sure to keep checking back in. To get a sneak peak of what's to come, think wedding series (cards for your wedding party, or the bride and groom), wedding decor, and a party series as well! Know that I also love doing custom work, so please do not hesitate to reach out and contact me about a custom piece!

The next exciting piece of news is that there is a really fantastic giveaway happening this weekend in honor of the first week of being open as Sarah Cason Designs! 

Here are the DETAILS! 
Who can enter: Anyone!
What is the PRIZE: Two CUSTOM 5X7s. That's right, you get to pick which 5x7s you want! I am so excited for this, y'all.
How do you enter the giveaway:
Your name can be entered MULTIPLE times for this drawing, based on certain easy things you can do! Here is the breakdown of how you can be entered into the drawing. You can do whichever ones you like, as few or as many as you want! 

1 entry ... Enter your email here (if you haven't already. I don't spam so no worries!)
1 entry ... Favorite 5 of your favorite pieces in my Etsy shop 
2 entries ... Favorite 10 of your favorite pieces in my Etsy shop 
2 entries ... Favorite the Etsy shop 
3 entries ... Make any purchase
3 entries ... Share your favorite piece on Facebook or Instagram (please tag me so I know and can put your entries in!)
3 entries ... Share/pin your favorite piece on Pinterest (you can message me that you did this)
3 entries ... Share my Etsy shop on Facebook (again please tag me so I can give you entries)
4 entries ... Write a review on Etsy (this is only for those who purchase or have purchased) 

Winner will be announced on SUNDAY NIGHT, so stay tuned! 

I also just want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for all of the love and support that you have shown me during this launch of my Etsy shop. It means the world to me to be able to share the God given passion he has given me with you. Know that it is a piece of my heart, and I treasure being able to encourage and bless you in turn through this! 

Friday, June 5, 2015

Marriage Tip #20

"You always do that!"

"You never do this for me."

"Why do you always have to do that?"

I'm sure that we have heard and said any number of these phrases in our lifetime. I know that I have caught myself with these words rolling of my tongue before. In marriage, they can be extremely damaging. Unfortunately, I have said these words in other relationships, and found them trying to escape off my tongue a few times in marriage too.

A while back I was taking a class that talked about how to conflict well. There were certain rules that they laid out on how to "fight fair" and one thing that has stuck with me since then is that you need to remove the words "always" and "never" completely from your vocabulary in conflict and when confronting others with issues.

That is for very good reason, and because of that, it is my tip to you today as well. Whether you are married or not, we are all in relationships with other people. Our parents, peers, co-workers, spouses, we are surrounded by relationships. And it is inevitable that we will experience conflict in these relationships. How we handle it and what we say is huge, and in marriage, it is so crucial to pay attention to what we are saying.

Zach and I agreed early on that we wanted to keep "always" and "never" from our vocabulary when in conflict and when approaching each other about an issue. Zach does an amazing job of staying true to this, and I know that I am sorry to say that I have found these words escaping from my mouth a few times. Nothing ever detrimentally damaging, but I knew the instant I said it that I shouldn't have.

For one, always and never are strong words. And using them to address an issue paints a picture that just isn't true. For example "oh you ALWAYS do this and it's so annoying!" Well, be honest with yourself. Do they ALWAYS do it? No. Another example "you NEVER do this anymore." Really? NEVER? I think you get the picture that we exaggerate a little bit in our frustrations and emotions and pull out the "big guns" with these words.

In the class that I first learned about these "rules" they gave suggestions for what to do so that you do not use "always" and "never." First was to use the specific example. Explain your heart and how a particular situation made you feel. Don't group everything together. Give the specific situation so that you can both work through it together.

Some other suggestions that I have found to be helpful? Think before you speak. Much easier said than done, but it is vital. Slow down, take a breath. Take stock. Ask yourself what is really happening and what you are really feeling. What is the real issue? Chances are it's not the measly little thing that happened, but a deeper root. Be willing to be vulnerable and truly share your heart in a non threatening way.

In marriage, we are both imperfect people coming together. The Lord gives us so much grace, and we need to extend that to one another. Myself included in this! I have so much work to do on this area. Have patience for one another and be willing to be honest. Share your heart.

And another huge suggestion? Pray together. So many flaming arrows from the enemy can be extinguished when you come together and pray. Lay it all down before the Lord and come together in unity with him. Marriage is such a scared and special covenant, and the Enemy would like nothing more than to tear that apart. So, we must be watchful, and pray continuously!

What is your experience with the words "always" and "never?" Do you ever struggle with this too? What are ways that you try to conflict well with your spouse so you can resolve an issue and love each other the best you can?

Monday, June 1, 2015

Creative Roots

Brush strokes gently glide over a white canvas. Pens sweeping across a blank piece of paper. A clean plate sits ready for a delicious meal to be presented. A story is waiting to be written and told. Creativity is like air to my life. Its been a part of me as long as I can remember. When I was younger, I always loved drawing, creating scrapbooks, and doing anything creative that came my way.

Today I wanted to give you an insight to my heart as an artist. Its a part of me that has always been there, but has ebbed and flowed over the seasons on how it presents itself in my life. I've done a lot of different art pieces and projects over the years, and dabbled in a lot of different areas of creativity. Take a step into my mind and heart as I share some insights into my passion as an artist!

What are your current favorite mediums (aka favorite ways to get creative lately)? Hand lettering pieces currently tops the charts! I love getting to do word art because I am a very visual person, so if I can create something that reminds me of great quotes, and inspirational verses and sayings, it means that much more! Some other mediums that I really enjoy right now are: chalkboard designs, charcoal drawings, painting, cooking (Zach really loves that!), and  blogging.

What are other creative ventures that I have dabbled in in the past and enjoy? When I was younger, I was a die hard scrapbooker! I have several albums scattered around of pictures from when I was a kid (also a whole page in my scrapbook dedicated to stickers...I mean, seriously, there are some cool stickers out there!) Card making was another venture that I branched out into. I still do love making my own cards! I also played around with designing and making my own jewelry, and still have some of those pieces! I also love event planning (we planned our own wedding with lots of fun DIY projects), novel writing, and home decorating.

Favorite series of art pieces that I have done? That's a hard one to pick! But, I was extremely blessed with the opportunity to travel around the world from 2011-2012, and I was able to paint eight different murals around the world: two in the Philippines, two in Cambodia, one in Malaysia, two in China, and one in Moldova. It meant a lot to be able to come in and bless another country with my artwork and leave a piece of encouragement with the precious people we met there!

Future artistic and creative adventures I would love to learn? One big one is that I have always wanted to learn how to oil paint! I generally use acrylic for my painting pieces, but I would love ot branch out into oil one day! I also plan on creating a series of children's illustrated books, and it's a dream of mine to get into letter pressing.

Who do I get my artistic talent from? Did I take any formal art classes? My mom is who I get my artistic side from. She is an amazing artist and I am so blessed and thankful to have inherited that creative gene and artistic bent in my life. Growing up I had art class in school in elementary and middle school, and had one or two painting classes. Regrettably, I only took one art class in high school (I think in my mind I was like, oh, well I can already draw so I don't need to take a class..oops!), and just a few art classes in college to continue practicing. But the majority of what I have done is self taught and the result of practice!

(Acrylic painting I did in 8th grade after the tragedy of 9/11)

Why I am passionate about creativity? Y'all. I could go on FOREVER about this. But creativity is just that deeply rooted in my heart. I am passionate about it because we are all so unique, and we all express our creativity in different ways. I love seeing how other people express their creativity! Art and creativity is one thing that can transcend across cultures and break through language barriers quickly. Seeing other people's creativity is a small window into their heart, and what is important to them. I absolutely love getting to share my heart through my art and creativity, and I love inviting others into figuring out what they love to do creatively!

What inspires me? Wow, short list or long list? I could probably write a book about this as well. So many things inspire me. It's probably a much shorter list to describe what doesn't inspire me. My top inspiration is creation around me. Nature and fresh air and sunshine just liven up my soul! A good cup of coffee and a lovely meal prepared by loving hands is also incredibly inspiring. Books, music, sayings, the Bible, and other media sources provide great inspiration! Being around other creative people also is inspiring. Creating in a clean and organized space is also inspiring to me! My experiences in life, the stories of others and the things that I observe are great points of inspiration as well.

How long does it take me to create different artistic pieces? Honestly that just depends on the piece and project. A large painting will take several hours, or over a series of days. Smaller pieces can be completed in a day, etc. So it really depends on the size, medium and detail of each piece! My creative process varies piece to piece. For some paintings, I pencil an outline in first, and other times I just go for it! Same with drawing as well.

What is my favorite work that I've ever done? Too hard to pick one! I have a special place in my heart for each piece that I do. I love doing portraits of people that I know or have met, I love the murals I did around the world, and each saying that I write has a special place in my heart as well! It's impossible to pick just one right now.

Do I sell my artwork or do commissioned custom pieces? Yes and yes! I have an Etsy shop , but currently I do not have my listings up yet. Keep it saved and check back though for when my pieces go up! Right now as I am preparing my listings for Etsy, I do custom pieces and also sell the ones I currently have and share on social media. You are always welcome to reach out and ask for custom pieces, too! I love making a special piece just for one person.

Do I sell original pieces or prints of my work? Right now I only sell my original hand made pieces, and not any prints. I may make multiples of certain pieces (a certain quote, etc), but each piece is hand drawn and made by me! I think it's that much more personal, and I love that you get an original piece straight from me!

There you have it, just a small look into my artist heart and my passion for creativity in my life, and what it means to me! I hope you have enjoyed hearing about my creativity, and I hope that you are digging into creativity in your own life! Be confident and find inspiration in the things around you, then share that with others!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Marriage Tip #19

New Years is traditionally the time that you sit down, write out your goals and figure out what you want to accomplish in the year. While I love that, I know it is very easy to get side tracked throughout the year. And one thing that Zach and I do that helps us focus on what we want to accomplish as a couple relates to this and is today's tip.

Our tip is...set goals together, and set them monthly!

Generally about once a month during one of our coffee or breakfast dates, Zach and I will bring a notebook, pen, and calendar and talk about what we want to do and accomplish in the next month. Breaking down your big goals into monthly goals helps you actually accomplish things, and also allows you to sit and schedule intentional time for each other and brainstorm!

So what do we set goals about? Well, we cover a broad range of areas in life. We set personal goals, spiritual goals, marriage goals, financial, fun, community, and all sorts of things.

When you two are together you can see what big events are coming up, what you need to plan around and what you can plan together.

Here are a few recommendations to get started, and some ideas of what we goal set as well!

1. Plan out and write down your date days! Ideally pick one day or night a week to intentionally set aside as your date night, and protect that time! Take turns planning what your date will be too, if that helps!

2. What activities do you want to do together? Some of our goals for this include hikes, places to visit, and other fun things we want to try to do.

3. Schedule time for community! Zach and I have a goal to have at least one person over for dinner at our home a month. This also can include Bible studies, church time, family and friend time too!

4. If you want to read a book together, or do a specific activity to grow as a couple and learn together, you can make goals like that too!

5. Finances! This will look different for every couple. It could be budgeting together, going over the budget, setting aside a certain amount for tithing or savings, paying off a certain debt. Use your situations and set monthly financial goals!

6. Spiritual growth. This is a big one that can sometimes slip by! We have the best intentions but other seemingly more urgent things come up and it can be pushed aside. Decide what growth together looks like for you, and make a goal! Maybe praying together twice a week, daily asking for prayer requests, reading scripture, etc. Grow together spiritually and individually!

These are just a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing. Grab a cup-o-joe and get to planning with your spouse! Even if you don't accomplish them all, you and your spouse have a great blueprint of the direction you want to go that month and things you both can do to get them accomplished!

How about you? Do you already set monthly goals with your spouse? What works for you? 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Food Journal Adventure

"Nothing changes until you change it. You must be prepared to do something you have never done."

This quote is so true! I know in my life, sometimes change can be a hard thing. When we attempt something new, or outside of our comfort zone, it can be a challenge. But it might also be the key to lasting change, and that makes it all worth it!

As my health and fitness journey progresses, I am always researching and looking for new tools and resources that might help along the way. Not quick fixes or crash diets or short term things, but habits and routines that can be established for long term results and change.

And I want to invite you into one of my latest experiments with a new tool, that I feel may be very beneficial in my journey, and maybe yours too!

And this journals!

I have done this a few times, but never quite stuck with it. But the benefits have been and are really great! When you first start tracking your food, it can be surprising! Little bites here and there you forget about normally end up adding up in the end.

In an effort to make sure I am staying on track with my nutrition and to see a break down of my daily macro nutrients, I have decided to start a food journal and track everything that goes in for my duration of doing the P90X3 program.

Before I did this with a pen and paper, but I decided this time to try MyFitnessPal because it shows the break down of each food and the specific nutrients in each food.

If you want to join me in tracking your food for a short season, or just dabble in it, here are some tips that I am noticing off the bat that will help you on your way!

1. Decide how you will track it. Whether a notebook you can take with you, or using an app like MyFitnessPal, decide on ONE way to track and stick to it.

2. Create your meal plan. This is something that will help you overall with having healthy options to choose from, and can help you save money because you will use the food you buy!

3. Stay on top of your tracking! Right when you eat a meal, before or after, WRITE IT DOWN. If you wait too long, you may forget those little things you ate. Write it down immediately.

4. Set a timer for yourself to remind you to go over the food you tracked for the day. Make sure you got everything!

5. Have grace for yourself. If you go over or under, or have a cheat day, don't sweat it and do not give up. Be honest with yourself and keep going. Don't let it be the end all, be all.

I am excited to start tracking my food and macro nutrients on a regular basis and see the results from that. Am I going to have a great occasionally? Absolutely! Find what works for you and keeps you healthy. But I do challenge you to try new things to see what works for you! So, if you are interested, join me in doing a food journal, and let me know you are! I would love to swap ideas and brainstorm.

Who else does a food journal? Did it work for you, or did you find something else that worked better? Share your thoughts below! 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Marriage Tip #18

Marriage is such a wonderful adventure. Zach and I have been married almost a year and a half now, and we are by no means experts at all. But we have a passion for each other, a passion for marriage, and a desire to see God glorified in our marriage. I love getting to share little things that work for us with you.

Each of us is different, and what jives and works for us might not for you, and that is one hundred percent okay! But these tips are here to share some things that are working for us and give you creative ideas that you can try in your own marriage.

Today's tip comes from something that Zach and I started doing together recently, and that is reading scripture out loud, together.
Starting off we had a goal of each memorizing a verse a week, and we did it for a little while but it became hard to keep up with. We want to get better at it, and we want to be in the scripture together, so we decided to read through it together!

Right now we have started off in Psalms, and we each read two chapters aloud every morning, so four chapters in all per day right now. We read through our chapters and talk about what stood out to us and how it applies to us right now, and what God might be showing us.

It is a simple thing, and generally we do it at breakfast time while we are both around the table. But sometimes the simplest things can mean the most, and I know that we have both been enjoying being in the word together.

Zach and I both still have our own quiet time, but this small addition has given us be topics to talk about , new ways to understand how the other things, and a platform to grow together spiritually.

I would definitely recommend giving it a try! The Psalms or Proverbs are a great place to start out, but you can choose whatever you like! Make your goal doable so you stick to it and see the benefits of it for your life.

How about you? What tips do you have about fostering spiritual growth in your Marriage? I would love to hear your tips and insight! 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Learning From Difficulty

Hard to believe that it's May already! April went by so fast and I feel like I'm learning even more new things about my health and fitness journey than ever before.

To be honest, April was hard at some points because I felt like I waas't far among in my journey as I should be. I work out at least 6 days a week and have been eating healthy, but the results come slow. And I KNOW that is normal, but for whatever reason there were a few days that I felt that discouragement creep in.

Those old feelings of "what's the point" and "no one will know if I slip up." Have you ever felt that way? I know that I am not alone in this.

I changed my mind and changed my mind again.

I'm going to do the 21Day Fix Extreme. Well, maybe I'll go back to T25, the program I started with and lost a good but of weight with (this was after I felt discouraged), and finally I decided I wanted something new.

I was discouraged and then distracted by too many decisions and changing my mind. I kept working out, but I wasn't as focused and I felt scattered.

I want to share all of this with you to remind you that I'm the same as you. I have good days and hard days. I feel those discouragements you feel. I know how hard this journey can be.

This month though, is different, and I want to share some of my big take aways after April.

1. Decide and commit. Whatever program you are in, decide to that one and stick to it for that amount of time. Whether 21 days, or 90. Do yourself a favor and pick one and stick to it.

2. Make a clear and uncluttered calendar. I don't know about you, but I am a visual person, and I like things to be organized. If things are in disarray, it is harder for me to focus. Make your plan, then write it clearly on your calendar with a place to mark off. Give yourself room for accomplishment.

3. Don't overwhelm yourself. Don't try to do too much at once, or nothing will work. It is easy to get burned out or overwhelmed if there is too much change at once. Take it one day at a time.

4. Get accountable. I am so thankful for my challenge group ladies because it gives me s place to be accountable to and hero's me stay on track.

5. Don't give up. Even when discouragement comes, do not give up. One day at a time, one foot in front of the other, move forward.

Those are some big lessons I leaned again in April. And even though there are hard days, I am thankful for them because if gives me an opportunity to help others who struggle with the same things I have or do struggle with.

You are not alone, and you can do this. If you want some direction for your own faith and fitness, and a group of remarkable ladies to be accountable to and motivated by, contact me for more information about our upcoming exclusive group this month to get you ready for summer and get you feeling fantastic no matter where you are in your health and fitness.