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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Confessions of Another Teenage Bride: Modest IS most definitely still Hottest!!

There has been an article circulating that I have read and read and I just don't get it.
You can find the article here.
I have a hard time with this post and here's why (and please know I am trying to be sincerely gentle and diplomatic in my presentation with this. I mean no offense or malice at all): My platform as a former Mrs. Oklahoma in 2011 was Modest is Hottest. I went to schools teaching teens and preteens of both genders about the importance of acting modestly and morally in all we think, do and say.
Saying that the phrase "Modest is Hottest" is a "shallow" thought (as I read in this link) is baffling to me.
1) It's a catchy phrase originally designed to remind girls and women that being modest is ok and in fact, cool. The term "hot" is relative to an individual's interpretation. I personally don't consider the word "hot" to mean slutty or ho-ish, as it seems others around me do. In the urban dictionary it states "hot" as meaning cute, pretty, attractive.
2) It speaks to youth! And if even one young man or young woman walks away after hearing someone give a positive speech about modesty using this phrase (as opposed to someone starting off a speech with modest is NOT hottest - how confusing is that?) then, that is one life and attitude changed. And isn't that the end goal?
[Side note:  I also understand this is also a lesson in semantics. But, it's also kinda the whole point, too.]
Now, I'm not saying we should dress in toe sacks. But I also think the article teeters on the line of shaming those women who are naturally thin, fit and attractive and look stinkin' hot in no matter what they wear (we all know one, right? lol), by making them feel that if a man outside of their spouse looks at them in the wrong way that it's their fault (I understand she didn't say that directly - I just see some underlying tones here that could be misinterpreted).
For instance, and I quote: "The idea that we can be virtuous and walk around looking hot at the same time does not add up". So, a young woman who wears a modest pencil skirt and button down blouse in high heels gets whistled at while heading to work.  Was she sinning because she was considered 'hot' by another's standards?  Is she to blame for their actions? (Again, I understand here that the point is trying not to be looked at as an object. Sometimes, that's going to happen no. matter. what. As the 2nd article I shared pointed out, so many in other countries who wear coverings from head to toe are still considered only objects and are raped and beaten daily).
In my opinion and in my experience, modesty has less to do with the clothes hanging in our closet and much more to do with how we act and how we feel about ourselves and how we project that outwardly through our individual personalities.

To quote her again: "If you want to be 'hot', if you want to be 'sexy', if you want to be 'eye candy', you won't find that while keeping your shorts long and your necklines high". I understand. We should not be wanting these particular shallow things. But this statement could EASILY be misinterpreted by teens, even with her explanation that followed, even as I misunderstood it when first reading it. I also think that delves into a realm of controversy with the idea that either A) women are the root of all men's evil thoughts about women or B) Women should be allowed to wear whatever they want and men should just control their thoughts. To quote a friend of mine, "Modest is hottest is not about control. It's about the preservation of value and dressing to your potential. It's not about propagation of 'rape culture' or shaming of women, it's about respecting your most valuable asset...Your body."  (And just throwing this out there: I think the girl that wrote this article is hot! Is that wrong of me to think? lol. In all honesty, she is very attractive and I, being one who loves to observe people - you might call it stalking, don't judge me! - would consider her a gorgeous lady and would watch her and make mental notes. I do the same thing with men. It's if I lust after that man or woman that I become sinful. And that's on my head. I, and only I, control my thoughts. I am not convinced we are puppets to our temptations).

I quote again: "There is a time and place to be hot, to be desired and to be sexy..." (totally agree!)..."and it's not in the grocery store, at work, or at school....a truly wonderful man will want you to be beautiful for the whole world to see! But he will want you to be hot only for him." ??
 No, no, I get it. I, as a grown LDS woman, understand what she's saying. But...if I'm wearing something that makes me feel beautiful, sexy, hot, (insert your own favorite adjective here), am I supposed to change my clothes before I go out in public? Should I ask my spouse if what I'm wearing is sexy and change if he thinks so? (It's absurd, I know, but indulge me...is this not how some could interpret this?)

On another note, if we are to emulate our leaders, get our best education, be our best selves, wear our Sunday best: think about it, anytime you look your best we are naturally going to be more attractive.

Please, please don't get me wrong; There are several points I loved about each article.
i.e. "If you’re pro-modesty (by whatever definition that means to you), then live it and teach it as a means for empowerment and benefit to yourself, not as a service or protection for men. "
"If modesty is a concept you subscribe to, there is great power in changing the modesty conversation from what you LOOK like to others to what you FEEL like inside."
Modesty is defined differently by different cultures – even different families – and it’s time to stopshaming people into covering themselves and start teaching truths that need shouted from the rooftop: We are more than just bodies to be looked at. When we begin believing that, we begin acting like it, and female progress in every imaginable way will move forward." 
"So, to the girls who inch up your skirt just a little higher than you should... To the girls who pull that shirt down a little too low... To the girls who give a little more than you should be giving, thinking you will get that love you so desperately desire, only to be told 'it's not you, it's me' and left wanting what you gave back, feeling confused and broken..."

"But girls, I can promise you one thing. The guy you are going to want to be with, the guy who will treat you the way you deserve to be treated, is not going to be found with that mini skirt and low cut neckline."
So much good stuff can come from each of these articles. I just wish it didn't seem to require tearing one good message down to make room for whatever the next big phrase or idea or ploy will be. And, more selfishly here, I do wish the one phrase wouldn't be shot down so vehemently because some are choosing to interpret it under a different light (especially when a public figure such as myself has had SO MUCH success with it).

Bottom line, let us not judge each other for the battles we fight within. We all have our Summer cottages in Babylon. Nor should we push another in the way of our understand and interpretation, but let us allow each other our free agency and thought patterns. In the end, it is not what we have done in this life that matters so much, but who we have become. And for the record: I don't know about you, but I've never seen someone readily latch on to another's celestial map without first looking to see, out of sheer unabashed curiousity,  if their own map won't lead them to far greater blessing along the way.




Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Modern with a vintage twist Baby Shower design

Thankful and Blessed framed chalkboard print. Vintage glass bottle wrapped in burlap and rhinestones with vintage gloves and baby shoes. Handmade "Mom-to-be" keepsake pin.


Food table. White rosette pom bird. Mustard gold and cream polka dot fabric tablecloth. White serving dishes. 


Gift table. Fuchsia wall drape with turquoise table runner, blue Mason jars with fuchsia flowers. Vintage oval frame and gold letter E monogram. Orange and fuchsia paper lanterns.


Hand-lettered chalkboard with baby's name. 


Baby's nickname, "Junebug", for the banner. Made from muslin pennants, twine and gold tissue paper tassels.

Beautiful mommy-to-be. 


Gorgeous cupcakes and cake!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Our Adventures in Outdoor Autumn Photos





I think this was the best adventure yet!! Till next year!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

5 Tips for FABULOUS Autumn Family Photos

It's that time of year again - that wonderfully magical time when the leaves start turning brilliant colors of the spectrum and gracefully falling to the earth by the droves. The air is crisp and just slightly damp. You can drive with no air on, just the windows down in your vehicle.
But, most importantly, it's time for family photos!!
Pictures of smiling kids all in coordinating clothes perfectly matched with their parents attire complete with hats and scarves. And of course, everyone is smiling genuinely while playing in a field of golden and amber leaves.
.......
What delusional island do YOU live on?! Please! To capture family photo like the one described above the photographer would obviously have had to drug the entire family with some kind of narcotic just to get them all looking in the same direction, let alone smiling at the same time.

But, I get it, you want to know how to get that photo...that one. prize. photo for posterity's sake. (Don't we all).
Well, let's do this! Where there is a will, there is a way.

Color Coordinating
This is the most difficult decision to be made of the entire event and, depending on your family size, can be the most costly. There are several things to consider in choosing your wardrobe. First of all, and most importantly, everyone. must. coordinate (not necessarily match - there IS a difference). Not only does it make for a more pleasing photograph to view, it looks more tasteful. It is worth every extra minute spent diligently searching for that one shirt in just the right color or skirt with just the right pattern to pull off the look you are wanting. (Plus, everyone gets new duds out of the deal which is just more incentive for them to suck it up and get it over with!)
Something else to consider that you may not have thought of is where in your home to plan on displaying this photo? You want the clothes in your picture to compliment the most prominent color in that room. Otherwise, it will get lost and looked over. Are you planning to give it as a gift? You need to consider this same concept for the receiver's space. The easiest and most convenient colors are most often neutrals paired with a darker neutral such as the classic-never-out-of-style white with denim or khaki pants (and this has so many cool modern twists to it now!). Also, try to stick with 2 or 3 main colors with 1 accent color/metal. For example, if you've chosen white, cream and ivory shirts with grey pants, skirts and shorts, don't have a lone child in a yellow vest, unless yellow is your accent color and everyone else is wearing just a touch of it (headband, flower pin, etc). Otherwise, your family and their beautiful faces get lost in a sea of color. The only exception, I personally have found, to this rule is pastels. You can pick as many coordinating pastels as you want and it seems to turn out well every time. As far as patterns go, beware! It's easy to go overboard here. It's best to pick the child(ren) to wear a pattern. If you have one child wear floral, one wear a coordinating striped coat and everyone else in solids, this is perfectly acceptable.
But above all else - DO. NOT. wear all black! It's dreary. It's dark. And it ends up making you all look like a bunch of floating heads.

Consider this photo. Although it's a good shot, they look like they just came from a funeral in this attire and their torsos get mingled in the sea of black and all you see is heads, upon heads, upon...well, you get the idea. There's no dimension!

For inspiration on color schemes visit http://design-seeds.com/
For inspiration on outfit ideas or to create your own for future reference visit http://www.polyvore.com/

Glitz and Glam
Don't be shy here! If your daughter has a favorite headband, your husband a favorite bowtie and you a favorite pair of dangly earrings, wear them! This moment in time is a time to capture YOU and your unique family. What a perfect way to flash a bit of your family's personal style into the picture then by adding some of your favorite things? It adds pizzazz and dimension, an extra element of interest for the eye to observe. And don't forget the family pet(s)!

Indoor or Outdoor, That is the Quandary
This is tricky. The outdoors during the Fall is simply majestic and breath-taking and most photographers live for this time of year simply for the festive display of color outside. Make sure to have a Plan B: Too cold outside? Raining? Blustery? Allergies giving your eyes fits?
It's. OK!
Most professional photographers plan ahead for instances like this and will work with you to make your Plan B just as agreeable as your original plan, should you choose to give it the axe.
Nowadays, there are so many cool backdrops that studio photographers can get and the props to get ahold of are endless! Consider having the photographer come to your home where your kids will feel more at ease and relaxed and more likely to smile genuinely (rather than looking like their best friend from Pre-K drew their smile on for them).

Props
Props add another element of interest to the photo. Make sure they aren't the entire focus, however! If you've decided to take photos outside this Autumn, a vintage basket of red and green apples or sunflowers dumped over to one side is the perfect accent. But be wise in these prop layers. If you're sitting on a long bench as a family and have hay bales in the background with the basket of apples and a pile of leaves at your feet and the family is holding a frame to frame their faces in front of a field of sunflowers - it's overkill.

Be Yourselves
It's natural to want (no, more like covet) that one perfect shot for your family. But let's be honest, that is relative. It all depends on how you look at it. It may not be the one where everyone is smiling perfectly and sitting up straight, curls and collars all primped and pinned. It may be the outtake of your daughter crossing her eyes in exasperation or the one of your husband desperately trying to keep Fido's tongue off the baby's face. My absolute favorite family photo didn't have my favorite facial expressions or hair position or clothing tucked in just right. However, it is my favorite because my son is giving a thumbs up, which shows off the complete epicness of his feeling for our little family!


This is an example of the perfect (indoor) family photo. Everyone coordinates but is not matchy-matchy. There is texture all over - in the ruffles of the babies' skirts, the feathers on big sister's skirt, the lace on the oldest sister's jacket, dad's bowtie and brother's glasses. The family pet is even included in the one cool prop.


And BONUS! Here is a cool printable (FREE, of course!) for organizing, coordinating and budgeting your family photos (as we know these precious memories can tend to eat a substantial chunk of a tight budget this time of year).
http://www.thedatingdivas.com/wp-content/uploads/Becca-101-Family-Picture-Printable.pdf

I hope these few tips help to ease your anxiety and answer your questions when it comes to this year's photo shoot. And by they way, maybe that delusional island isn't such a long and treacherous journey to get to after all!
Good luck and HAVE FUN!!
XOXO,
Carissa

Friday, August 2, 2013

We've all had those moments, days, weeks, months, maybe years where we've felt alone. Whether it's having an illness that no one really truly can connect your struggles and pains with (although they sincerely try). Or if we've suffered from a bout of depression where no matter how hard we try to can connect with the outside world we still feel isolated on the deepest level imaginable. Or maybe it's just not feeling like you're being understood for a moment in time by friends or family and feel just a bit disconnected. Perhaps, it's the loss of a person close to us that leaves that deepest of empty feelings? There are so many moments like these some tiny, some gargantuan in our lives. This piece is a sympathizing one on all these aspects (inspired by a dear friend of mine being as brave as ever through her own personal struggles). 

"Sick Bed"
It is not what is said
but words left homeless
that inhabit the crooked crags of my heart.
Drowning in a dark bitter dread
of a life of time-less
study and wishing for mine to start.
Alone in the world I'm lead
but never companion-less.
Yet, here still am I left to fall apart.
And in my head
I'm smiling nonetheless;
a face that frowning smiles is an abstract art.
Where to be lead?
Away to convalesce
and leave you to tell the two apart.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

From Drab to Fab on a budget

Historic building in downtown Durant that was doomed to be condemned
 has now got a new lease on life!  
 
Entryway
 
Kitchen

Old wooden sign from the original Main Street Cafe bought at a local garage sale for $20. 
 
Custom cabinets and black onyx granite. The color on the cabinets is Balsam. The island was a one of a kind find in Canton, Tx.
 
The stone wall was originally all brick which, unfortunately, couldn't be saved due to major deterioration. I loved the contrast of the rough textured walls against the softness of the light kitchen cabinets so we opted for an old world stone.

The masterbedroom.  
 
Our favorite old lady, Miss Madge in her favorite spot in the entire apartment.
 
I love soft romantic mood lighting for a bedroom and table lamps and can lights just can't acheive that. So, I had these beautiful one-light chandeliers installed as an option for more low key lighting. They give off a soft light with magnificent shadows along the walls and ceiling. Just what I was looking for!

A bathroom has to look clean and sleek for me to feel comfortable in it and white everywhere screams "clean and posh". The contrast with the dark chestnut doors just adds to the drama of the whole apartment. 
 
I am a reflective person and so it only seemed appropriate to display my collection of garage-sale mirrors in my bathroom where I'm getting ready for the day. Looking myself in the mirror for an hour or so during my morning routine of make-up, hair, etc, symbollically allows me to reflect upon who I am and what I need to be for others today.
 
 
A collage of old frames, again collected from garage sales, frame up some of our family photos and moto.

My sons' room is everything I hoped it would turn out to be and more. I look at my sons and wonder what wild adventures they will run into today, tomorrow and when they're grown and it's a bittersweet thought. I hope they run to see the world one day and are a hero to many. I hired a young artist, Jesse Ellsworth, to paint a map on his entire wall with the quote from Hellen Keller, "Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing." I hope that inspires them to live life to the fullest without compromising their morals and standards. 
 
A collection of vintage license plates from all over the country frame up the doorway to the boys' bathroom.
 
My 2 youngest daughter's room.

 

My art studio is my sanctuary. This is where I come to get away from the world and release my stress and creative desires into my work.
 
There is so much natural light in this apartment that most of the time the lights in the house stay off. I love the feel of the airy texture from the windows on the yogurt-colored walls of my art studio and adjoining living room.  
 
 
My little knick-knack corner where I keep my unique finds that have been orphaned over time from flea markets, garage sales and antique shops.
 
I repurposed an old pair of child ballet slippers into a fun inspirational piece using old lace, earring clips, cardstock and glitter. (Inspiration found on Pinterest).

Throughout the entire loft the ceiling are 12 feet high giving plenty of head room and making the space feel even more open and inviting.
 


 
 

I hope you enjoyed the tour through our pride and joy. This has definitely been a labor of love and we are so happy to say one of Downtown Durant's finest historic buildings has a fresh start with lots of years to create even more historic memories.
XOXO,
C



Friday, April 19, 2013

Our come-what-may Day...

I have to take time away from the TV screen and away from the drama of this messed up world to focus on and post some uplifting joyous news in the Mason household.
As you know, we have been trying to adopt a sweet little boy by the name of George (now known as Newman) ever since he was laid in our arms on January 19th, 2012.

He was just 3 weeks old at the time (born the day after Christmas) and we were so nervous and excited to invite this little bundle of boy into our home and hearts, not REALLY knowing with assurity that he would be ours forever. We tried to keep our hearts at a "safe distance" so as not to get hurt if he were to go back to his birth family.
But our efforts were futile.


He stole our hearts from the first precious moments he spent with us. And we were undeniably 100% smitten!
With every passing day, we fell more in love with his little personality. We had regular meetings with his family every Tuesday.


With every meeting I was so afraid that they would also be falling so very deeply in love with him and begin to want him back and eventually ask for him. We had to remind ourselves that the Lord's hand was in this and that whatever His will is, is what would come. So, come what may...
After months of not knowing his fate and if he'd be able to be adopted by us, even after his parents signed their rights over, we were told in October that adoption was emminent.
Then, our warm October left.

Thanksgiving came and went.

Santa visited our home and filled stockings and the New Year came.

We celebrated his first birthday in January and then, January was gone.


The same thing happened with February, here and then vanished.
 
Then, came a new face to the scene. A new adoption-worker who managed get done in a matter of days what was taking our lawyer over 6 months to do even with all of DHS hounding him.
Within a couple of weeks, we had a court date. But the week crawled by like a snail trying to make it's way through stale peanut butter on a windy day. And of course, my mind was running over-time with all the things that could go wrong before this date could get here.
But, nothing happened. No gloom and doom took over. No malice made its way through our lives to spoil our plans. And...
Yesterday was it - our magical come-what-may day! Despite our lawyer being nearly an hour late, we are happy to report all went off without a hitch!! He's officially, 100%, legally OURS. (Truly, he's been ours from the start but having that piece of paper sealed and stamped with the State of Oklahoma's approval really does something for the nerves).


A big THANK YOU goes out to all those who helped make this adoption possible. To the DHS workers (Scott Richard, Gracie Robertson, Deana Phillips, Cody Battles) for calling us when there were so many other families just as deserving as we were waiting for a child just as special as Newman is. To our families for sticking by us and supporting us through not one, but two previously failed adoption attempts that left us heart-broken and weary, to say the least. To Newman's birth mother, for making the ultimate sacrifice for her child. I cannot imagine how hard this must have been for her. To the rest of Newman's family spread out all over Oklahoma for trusting us to raise this little spirit of God up right, in the ways of the Lord. We promise to do our very best and to provide for him in life all he needs to grow up to be the stellar young man we see him as! To Lisa, the lawyer's secretary who busted her tail doing all the lawyer's bidding in record time and hung in the balances waiting on everyone else. And yes, even the lawyer, as slow and complacent as he was, because without him, it wouldn't really have happened.

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