Coastal-Inspired Decorating
Summertime. There is just something peaceful about it. Sun. Sprinklers. The pool. Cookouts. Vacation. Don't those things just inspire joy? Now for some of us, vacation is slightly less relaxing than it used to be thanks to having a toddler or two in tow, but somehow having your kids with you makes it even more fun because they have such a sense of awe. My daughter and I are taking a few weeks away at the beach this summer, and she is enamored with all the things we take for granted so easily; things like chasing her shadow and outrunning the waves. To hold on to some of that seaside goodness, I like to use some coastal features in our home decor. I'm not much for decorating with shells and witty beach quote signs, but I do love the use of whites and bright neutrals with splashes of light aqua paints and accents. In my farmhouse-loving world full of stained wood, I love the contrast that white and sea blue bring to my Kentucky home, so of course I had to share with you some of my favorite coastal-inspired spaces and ways you can incorporate them into your home.

Coastal-Inspired Decorating: Tips and INspiration

It all starts with the curtains.

Floor-length white curtains with a slightly sheer aspect, to be exact, like these. Curtains set the stage for the room, and can actually make the room look bigger and your ceiling look higher if hung correctly. {Think wide and high.} White floor-length curtains in coastal dining room


Use lots of white!

If you have kids, like me, and are worried about fingerprints or food or crayons {the list goes on...}, use a white slipcover that you can throw in the wash or bleach.  To save on buying a new couch, I used bleached drop cloths to make my own custom slipcover similar to this one.

A white or light colored sofa gives such a bright, airy feel to your home, and is a staple in the coastal farmhouse look.

White coastal-inspired sofa


Accent furniture.

While we're focused on living spaces, a great coffee table is key. This is where you can incorporate things like reclaimed wood, a personal favorite of mine. We are always trying to find ways to add storage in our home, and a coffee table is the perfect way to incorporate that. Purchase it new or buy a used one and fix it up!

Light aqua coffee table with storage


The right rug.

Jute rugs are next. They are comfortable, neutral and pretty durable as well making them perfect for sandy feet AND toddler feet. They're not just for the living room either. They can be used as hallway runners, patio rugs, in the living room or even the bedroom!

Jute rug in coastal bedroom


The kitchen.

Of course, it's not coastal or farmhouse, for that matter, without heading into the kitchen. This is where families gather, meals are cooked, desserts are baked and coffee is made, making it arguably the most inspirational place in the house! Have I mentioned white? White kitchen cabinets and very light, gray-based walls will make even the smallest kitchen seem bigger. You have to try a little harder to give the kitchen that coastal feel, though, and a great way to do this is by incorporating that beautiful light aqua I mentioned earlier. Painting your island or base cabinets, for example, will do the trick. If you'd rather not commit to a blue paint color, blue tinted mason jars are another great way to bring out the coastal feel.

Fixer Upper Coastal Kitchen


A splash of color!

To finish off the inside, add splashes of color to that neutral palette you've created! Dishes, vases, pillows, towels and bedding in light aquas and grays, white or wood lanterns and, of course, something green! Succulents are an easy way to add some green to bring the outside in, and those lanterns aren't just good for candle holding! Pot a succulent and set it inside the lantern for a low-maintenance vignette. Antique shops are full of tinted mason jars and old soda boxes. These make great decorative items and usually just need a little TLC.

Soda Try with Blue Tinted Vases


That's it, friends! A few easy fixes can turn your home into a coastal farmhouse paradise, most of which you can make yourself. What are some of your favorite coastal spaces? Comment below or tag us on Instagram to let us know.

Jess Signature

S&L Devo: Do Not Worry About Tomorrow

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. ~ Matthew 6:34

One area of worry that I struggle with most is worrying about the future. The unknown and "what ifs." It's a constant struggle. We recently went through a period of time (and are still coming out of it, to be honest) where my husband had lost his job, I was only working part time and we had just had our second child. Talk about worrying about the future! Despite any struggles with worry, it was a great challenge and faith builder for us. God continued to provide for all of our needs. There was never a time when we went hungry, never a time when we couldn't pay our rent or had to do without any necessity. Now, that is in part due to the generosity of family, the thoughtfulness of friends, a little frugal shopping and the drive of my husband to provide for our family no matter what. As much as I love being independent, I still marvel at the way God causes us to depend on him, and I am forever grateful for the big and small ways he makes himself known to us. Now, my husband has a new job and things feel a little more secure. However, there is always something to be unsure about. I worry that certain dreams for our future or our children will never come true. I worry about silly things: whether my 9 month old will ever learn to nap alone for longer than 20 minutes. Whether my 2 year old is eating enough vegetables (she's not. But she'll survive!). These are small potatoes compared to what worries and fears may be plaguing your thoughts today. But they are equal in the sight of God. They are all needless and He is greater. He's called us to trust in him and focus on today. If we take care of the needs and concerns of today, we will be taking the steps necessary to take care of tomorrow. I love that he tells us to take a look at his creation to understand his thoughtfulness towards us. Look at the birds of the air, and the lilies of the valley. They are fed and they are beautifully clothed. We are made in his image and as such we have so much more value than any other created thing. If he cares for and provides for the rest of his creation, how much more so will he care for and provide for our every need and concern. (Matthew 6:26, 28-30 paraphrased) Another verse I take comfort in is found in Psalms 138:8, "The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands." It tells me He's got it under control. Everything I worry about, I do so because I mistakenly believe that it is under my control. That I have to DO something to prevent or make something happen. I do have a role to play, but ultimately God is in control of both my life and me. When I let go and let God take over, I can rest in the peace that passes all understanding. Let me focus on the needs of today and live this day to the fullest. If you have a need or worry on your mind and heart today, please comment below. We would love to pray along side you that God would show himself in that situation. If you'd rather not give any details, just comment "pray" and we will do just that. You can also email us with any specific prayer requests. Birds of the Air  
Homemade Guacamole Recipe
Homemade Guacamole
Guacamole is one of those things either you love or you hate. My dad can't stand the stuff. On the other hand, I could probably eat guacamole every day and not get tired of it. {Okay, maybe that's an overstatement.} I passed that on to my daughter, too, apparently because she literally sucks the guacamole off the chip and asks for "more dip"! If a two-year-old picky eater likes it, it's gotta be good, right? The best guacamole I've ever had is Chipotle's guacamole on Tuesdays. I know, that's weird, but the guy that makes it on Tuesday night in Lexington just has it down, and it. is. stellar. For the other six nights, we've had to come up with a substitute. The down side? My husband is not an onion lover because of heartburn. Yeah, we're old. I know. So I've had to try {and fail at} a few recipes before landing on the perfect one. There's never any left when we serve it at parties, so I'd say the recipe is relatively perfected or, at least, good enough to satisfy and keep you coming back for more! So here is my take on homemade guacamole. Hope you enjoy it!

Homemade Guacamole Recipe

Ingredients: 2 avocados 1/2 jalapeno 1/2 tbsp. lime juice 1/4 tsp. onion powder 1/4 tsp. garlic powder 1/4 tsp. salt (or more to taste) 1 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped Ingredients Cut up both avocados and place in a bowl. You want these to be really ripe, almost overripe. The easiest way to cut an avocado {if you haven't done this before} is to slice it in half, bury a knife in the pit and twist to pull it out, then scoop out the inside with a spoon. Avocado Next, dice up half of a jalapeno. {Note: Wear gloves! I made the mistake of not wearing gloves once, and my hands were burning so badly I had to soak them in milk for hours.} Add the jalapeno to the avocado. Jalapeno Measure out 1/2 tablespoon of lime juice, and pour it over the avocado/jalapeno mixture. Lemon Juice Now add your spices: 1/4 tsp. onion powder, 1/4 tsp. garlic powder and 1/4 tsp. or so of salt. Finally, chop up your cilantro and add to the mixture. Spices Stir with a wooden spoon until mixed together well and the avocados have become more of a paste. Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy! Homemade Guacamole Recipe This is one of our favorite snack recipes, but we'd love to know yours so please share your favorites with us in the comments below. Jess Signature
We Don’t Worry About Our Children
We don't worry about our children. That may sound strange, or even ridiculous! Most parents will tell you, worrying about your kids just comes with the territory. Before we had children, people told me I would never get a good night's sleep again - for worrying about what could go wrong with my children. I've been told by my parents (and you may have heard something similar from yours, or even said these words yourself), "We worry about you because we love you." That is true. They love you so much that they are afraid of something bad happening to you. They are afraid they could lose you, or that you might fail at something, or suffer in some way. No one wants any bad thing to happen to anyone whom they love. That's good, right? That's totally normal, right? Yes, of course. Now, let me just preface what I'm about to say with this: my husband and I are by no means perfect parents. If anyone said we thought that we were, I would laugh. We second guess ourselves, we lose our tempers, we say things we shouldn't, we let them eat junk, watch too much TV, and at times, we do worry about some things. But worry is not something that we accept. It's not "normal" for us. It's not just the way things are because we are parents, and because we love our kids. In fact, because we love our children, we don't worry about them. Let me explain to you what I mean. Usually we feel justified in our worry. "Well, the world is a very bad place," we tell ourselves. "We are just being smart! We are being cautious and safe." No, you're actually not. You are doing nothing when you worry, except...worrying. Worrying accomplishes nothing but creating more fear and trepidation in your heart. Worry stems from one thing and one thing only, and it isn't love. It's false evidence appearing real. Or, FEAR. Let me give you two scriptures that reinforce this truth: 1 John 4:18, "There is no fear in love." And 2 Timothy 1:7, "God did not give me a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind." So think about this: if God didn't give me a spirit of fear, then who did? There's a fairly simple answer and you probably know it. The enemy of our souls (Satan) is the author of fear in our hearts. You've probably heard it said before that fear and trust cannot co exist. If you have faith in God and you trust him like he asks us to, there is no room for worry in your heart or in your mind. None. So what are we to do then? Throw caution to the wind? Let our children do whatever they want with no "fear" of the consequences? No. That would be foolish! Just because we don't worry doesn't mean that we don't use common sense. The difference is that it ends there. I don't allow my babies out of my sight when I am in public with them. Why not? It wouldn't be safe for them. They could get into something they shouldn't, something that could hurt them, or every parent's worst fear, someone could snatch them away from me forever. But do I sit up at night thinking of all these possibilities or jumping to the worst possible conclusions when they might disappear from my sight for a moment? Not at all! The moment one of those awful thoughts gets placed into my mind by the enemy, my weapon of choice is 2 Corinthians 10:5,"We take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ." I literally speak either out loud or in my mind, "I take that thought captive to you, Lord." Out of the habit of giving those thoughts over to God, and not letting my mind entertain them, many times I don't have those thoughts at all. This is not something you can change overnight. It's a daily discipline, that will gradually become more second nature. We don't always succeed as we are still works in progress too. But I do believe that more times than not, we are able to hand those worries over to God. And we haven't reached those wonderful teen years yet, where I'm sure our faith will be put to the test. But we DO have the tools in our arsenal to put to good use when times of testing are presented to us. The most encouraging thing, as a parent, is to realize that God is not just mine. He's my children's God as well and has been from the time he knit them together in the womb. He has a plan for their lives that I could never begin to understand, until I watch it unfold. How can I let my fear and uncertainties, limit my children from becoming all God has called them to be? I refuse to pass on my own fears or worries to my children. I want them to grow up as fearless as possible, being confident in who they are and what they are capable of becoming. The only way that can happen is by my example. image   You may still be saying to yourself, well, I'm just a worrier! I can't change it. Stay that way if you must, but I want you to know that you don't have to. It is possible to live a life free from worry and fear. And it is a life of freedom indeed.Amanda Signature
S&L Favorites: DIY and Home Decor Blogs
Does anyone else get lost on Pinterest and Instagram sometimes? By get lost, we mean lose an hour of time because you keep coming across these amazing home decor photos and blogs that you can't believe you never stumbled on before. This happens to us more often than we'd like to admit - usually when we've set out to do something important and thought, Oh, we'll just browse Instagram really fast and scroll through our feeds. No big deal. Yeah. Right.Pretty Bright spaces just inspire us. Our dream houses are full of natural light, open spaces, wood floors, light furniture, greige paint, white cabinets and green plants. So we might get a little distracted when we see any or all of the above and think, Ooh! We could do that in our houses! It's only natural then that we'd want to share some of S&L's favorite home decor blogs with you. We keep returning to these over and over again, and hope that they inspire you as much as they do us!Home Decor **Disclaimer: These are in no particular order, and are certainly not all-inclusive.  There are just too many favorites to do in one post!**

Our Favorite DIY and Home Decor Blogs

1. Liz Marie Blog If you have not checked our her blog yet (or her new shop), you are seriously  missing out. Liz Marie is a vintage and farmhouse decorating pro. Jess gets lost in her Instagram feed constantly because it is so full of innovative ways to use antiques and gorgeous neutrals. 2. Shanty-2-Chic No joke, these sisters are our #buildlikeagirl idols! They can do anything, and their tutorials are so clear that you immediately believe it'll be just as easy for you.  Trust us.  If you want to use power tools, you need these ladies in your life. 3. Diary of Dave's Wife Neutrals are all the rage and we do love our white and greige, but Kristy's Instagram feed is just plain eye-catching! She always seems to pair the perfect accent colors, giving her spaces a bright and fun atmosphere.  From her DIYs and vignettes to her fun writing and decorating style, Diary of Dave's Wife is a must read. 4. Young House Love If you have kids and love to DIY, this site is the place to be. Young House Love has redone everything you can imagine renovating yourself (and probably more) and has an awesome array of projects relevant to decorating/designing with kids around that aren't just pretty; they're practical. 5. City Farmhouse Farmhouse style with a modern coastal twist is the best way we can describe City Farmhouse in words, but that doesn't do it justice. Jen's site is full of fun DIY projects and perfectly decorated rooms. She mixes rustic farmhouse with modern seemingly effortlessly. If you love mixing materials like wood and metal, you need to follow City Farmhouse. You will be so inspired! These are just a few of our absolute favorites!  Comment below with some of yours and let us know what inspires you.
S&L Devo: Surrender Isn’t Really Defeat
Ever since I was a little girl, I have wanted to sing. Not just in the shower or in my car when no one's around, but really sing. I trained for it, I went to school for it... and I graduated college with a music degree that seemed to get me nowhere fast. So I found myself post-college, passionate about music and working a desk job. Enter frustration. What's that verse from Psalms? "Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." Yeah. That was not happening, and I spent a lot of years disappointed and, at times, angry about it. You see, I remembered the "desires of your heart" part, but had conveniently left the delighting in the Lord part out of the equation. My prayer was "God, why can't I use the talents you've given me?" "Why can't I sing?" "Why did I train for all of this?" Notice anything? There's a lot of "I's" in those prayers. My struggle was surrender. Maybe you struggle with the same thing, where you long for that dream job or perfect relationship or find yourself dissatisfied or discontent with your present situation.  Friends, God promises that He will provide all we need, but He asks that we surrender ourselves to Him and His perfect timing. Scripture says a lot about time and the way God sees it: "With the Lord, a day is like a thousand years" (2 Peter 3:8); "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority" (Acts 1:7); "He has made everything beautiful in its time" (Ecclesiastes 3:11a). We can't fathom the full reach of His plans or know the impact one decision we make might have on others and so, sometimes, our all-knowing Father asks us to wait. To be patient. Usually, the waiting is hard. Sometimes, it's even painful, but every time, it is well worth it. We are offered encouragement in Isaiah 40:31: "But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." The more we put our faith in Christ and His perfect plans, the more strength He provides to get us through those periods of waiting... and that period of waiting requires a whole lot of strength and even more surrender. Surrender tends to carry a negative connotation, as though you have to settle for something less than optimal, but surrender to God is just the opposite. When we fully invest in our faith and say, "Okay, God. Your will be done; not mine," we allow ourselves to be put in the right place at the right time, every time. That time might be a little further down the road than we'd like, but, trust me, it is coming, and the Kingdom impact we have will be so worth the wait. I finally surrendered my desires one morning sitting behind my desk in a downtown high-rise with fluorescent lighting, and started praying, "God, how can You use me to glorify You?"  Getting to that point was a long process... about five years longer than I wanted, and it involved a lot of soul searching. But today, I have the honor of leading others in worship--something I never imagined I'd have the opportunity to do--and I sit behind a different desk in another building with fluorescent lighting in the mornings... only this time, I am confident in the knowledge that God has me right where He wants me. So, you see, surrender isn't really defeat at all.  It's freedom, and it comes with rich rewards beyond our wildest dreams. Surrender
DIY Counter Height Desk System
Don't let power tools intimidate you.  Once you start to use them, they get really addicting really fast.  My first build was a few years ago: a simple cupcake stand for my sister-in-law's bridal shower.  I've been hooked ever since.  Y'all, I had no idea what I was doing when I first started. But the sisters at Shanty 2 Chic, Ana White and a ton of other Pinterest contributors all had tutorials that taught me about the wide range of tools out there and different building methods, and here I am four years later with over half of the furniture in our house coming from my makeshift garage workshop. Rule #1: Don't let power tools intimidate you. Rule #2: Be safe.  Always wear protective gear and be aware of your surroundings during a build. That said, here is the tutorial for building the L-shape desk system I made for our home office. This has a lot of steps, but is a really simple concept and easy to build. The entire desk is built out of 2x4s making it super sturdy and inexpensive!!! The system is made of two desks that move independently of one another.  As both pieces are built exactly the same way (except one desk is 12" shorter length-wise than the other), this tutorial is for the longer desk piece in this system.  To make the second desk piece, subtract 12" from all lengthwise measurements.  Your width and height pieces will remain the same. The dimensions of this desk are 60" l x 20" w x 38 1/2" h. This is a modification of this desk I found on Ana-White's blog. Be sure to check out her site. She's an incredible inspiration!

DIY Counter Height Desk System

What you'll need:

2x4s 2 1/2" pocket hole screws Kreg Jig Miter saw Drill Clamps (right angle and C) Orbital sander Paint/Stain of your choice   Start by building the sides of your frame.  I cut two pieces of 2x4s at 37" each (these will be the legs) and one piece at 13" (this will connect the legs). DIY Counter Height Desk Using your Kreg Jig (or mini in my case), drill four pocket holes into the 13" piece of 2x4.  Clamp this piece in place between the two 37" 2x4s and connect with 2 1/2" pocket hole screws. DIY Counter Height Desk Each side will resemble an upside down U.  Next, cut another 13" piece of 2x4 for each of your side frames and connect them via pocket hole screws.  I placed this piece 12" below the top of the frame.  Once connected, you will have one piece resembling an A (see below).  Repeat this step to form the other side of your frame. DIY Counter Height Desk Here is where your right angle clamp comes in.  You can do this without one, but you will definitely need an extra set of hands.  Measure and cut two 57" pieces of 2x4.  These two pieces will complete the apron of the desk.  Drill two pocket holes in either side then, using your right angle clamp, connect the front and back aprons to the side pieces from the previous step. DIY Counter Height Desk Finally, cut a third 57" piece and connect it to the back side of the frame using 2 1/2" pocket hole screws.  Again, I chose to place mine 12"  below the top of the frame.  The key is to ensure these secondary supports line up with their counterparts on each side.  Once you've connected this piece, your frame is finished! DIY Counter Height Desk Now on to the fun part: the planked top! I used my miter saw to cut 6 2x4s down to 62" lengths which gave me a 1" overhang on either side of the desk. Once they're all cut, drill four pocket holes evenly spaced on the back side of each 2x4 and lay them out topside down, side by side. DIY Counter Height Desk You can use a straight edge clamp to hold all six pieces together or, rather than buy one, you can use C-clamps and connect two at a time.  Either way, connect them with 2 1/2" pocket hole screws pocket hole screws and repeat until all six of your boards are connected as one piece. DIY Counter Height Desk The final step is to connect the top to your frame.  Using your kreg jig, drill one pocket hole on either side of the front and back of your frame (that's four total).  Line the top of the frame with wood glue. Lay your planked top flat, bottom side up, turn your frame upside down and center it over your top. Put 2 1/2" screws through those four pocket holes you drilled in the frame to connect the frame to the top, and your desk is built! Fill in your pocket holes with wood filler and then sand down the entire thing to give it a smooth finish.  If you are staining your desk, this will help the wood to take the stain more evenly.  Finish your desk with the paint or stain of your choice.  I chose Rustoleum bright white enamel for the frame (super easy to wipe down) and mixed Minwax Weathered Oak and Classic Gray to stain the top. DIY Counter Height Desk Now sit back and enjoy your creation! DIY Counter Height Desk DIY Counter Height Desk DIY Counter Height Desk DIY Counter Height Desk I hope you enjoyed this tutorial.  We'd love to know how yours turned out! Jess Signature  
Healthy Pancakes Recipe: Kid Friendly!
My toddler started out eating everything, just like her 8 month old baby brother does now. Somewhere along the line she started getting more and more picky and preferring sweets and junk. Once in a while those things are ok, but especially for the first meal of the day, it would be nice to give our kids a healthy, unprocessed, sugar free start to their day. Enter these delicious, wholesome pancakes! The original recipe came from one I found on Pinterest (of course!) and you will find it here. I've altered the recipe slightly to fit my preference and my pantry. I never keep applesauce in the house so that has been replaced by nut butter. These yummy pancakes are sweet enough to eat without syrup, but can be eaten with it as well. I hope your pickiest eaters will enjoy these as much as mine do! image2 Eggs 1 (ripe) banana 1/2 c oats 1/4 c nut butter 1 tsp vanilla 1/2 tsp cinnamon Blend oats in food processor/blender until ground. Add banana in pieces, blend again. Transfer to bowl and add remaining ingredients. Be sure to mix well until everything is combined. If it seems too thick, you can add a little milk. Pour onto a hot griddle or frying pan, greased with butter. Once I've poured it onto the pan, I use my spoon to spread the batter around a little in a circular motion so that it doesn't pile up in the middle. The batter tends to be slightly thicker than the average pancake batter so this step is necessary if you want flatter pancakes. Once the edges begin to get firm, it's ready to flip! My favorite part of this recipe is that I can serve it to my family with peace of mind that I am nourishing their bodies and fueling them for the busy day ahead. I can't really say the same for the white flour & sugar version. Let me know if you try them! Good luck! Amanda Signature
DIY Custom Tote Bags
Who couldn't use an extra tote bag? We are pretty much always in need of extra totes for groceries, diapers, travel bags, et cetera. When we started Salt & Life Blog, we knew we wanted to offer totes for a couple of reasons including giveaways and, of course, so we'd have something handy to represent S&L as well as carry all of our notebooks, iPads, and other miscellany for our strategy meetings. But we tend to do things the hard way, and white or natural totes just weren't in our vision. We were thinking more along the lines of mint and coral, and since we couldn't find them for a reasonable price anywhere, in true Salt & Life fashion, we decided to make them ourselves! After hand-drawing the first few totes, we decided screen printing the design was much more time and cost-effective for us, so all of the totes listed in our shop are screen printed and hand-dyed. It's kind of the best of both worlds! And just in case you aren't into the color thing, we do have some available in natural. If you're ambitious, though, and want to try to make your own, read on! Signature S&L Tote Bag - Coral

DIY Custom Tote Bag

You will need: A tote bag Fabric dye Tongs A bucket or galvanized tub Water Fabric marker Materials To start, be sure you read the instructions on the back of your dye bottle.  For our coral totes, we used a mixture of sunshine orange and petal pink dye with a drop of tan. For our mint totes, we used teal dye with a drop of tan. After reading the instructions, prepare your buckets of hot water as necessary. If you are only dyeing one tote, you'll only need enough water to fully immerse the bag. We were dyeing about 15 bags at once in two different colors, so we pulled out a couple of galvanized tubs, lined them with plastic sheeting and filled them with hot water. JES_9191 Side note: My countertops ended up dyed mint thanks to some holes in the bottom of the galvanized tubs that we weren't aware of... Thankfully, Mr. Clean's Magic Eraser came to the rescue, but after this huge flub, we would strongly suggest not dyeing your tote in the kitchen! Pour your dye into the hot water per the instructions on the box/bottle (you can use liquid or powder - we used both, and love the way it turned out). Get out your tongs and stir until all of the dye has mixed with the water. It was apparent after we dipped the first tote that our dye was much too concentrated, but rather than mix the solution again, we decreased our dipping time. Instead of the suggested 10-30 minutes, we dipped each bag for 30 seconds, flipping once and submerging for another 30 seconds. That's a drastic time difference, but we wanted a significantly paler color than the recommended 10 minutes produced. The easiest way to dip your tote is to lay it flat on top of the water and push it down with your tongs. Once it's submerged completely, move it back and forth in the water to ensure the dye covers the fabric evenly. Lift the tote out using your tongs and lay it flat again, this time upside down in the water. Swirl it back and forth with your tongs for 30 seconds again, then remove and lay flat on plastic sheeting or a garbage bag. It's not glamorous, but that's what we had on hand, and it worked! JES_9199 JES_9198 Once your bag is dyed, allow it to lay flat for 10 minutes or so. Before washing and drying our totes for printing, we put them in the sink and ran hot water then cold water over them, ringing them out in between temperature changes. If you don't have a stainless steel sink or have a lighter colored sink, we would strongly suggest that you do this outside with a hose as the dye will leave a stain. After wringing out as much water as you can, place your tote in the washer on normal cycle, then dry per the care instructions on your tote. JES_9202 Next comes the hand stenciled design! This is honestly the easiest part. Find the design you want, and enlarge it to the proper size in word or Photoshop, whatever is your program of choice. Now, just print it out and cut it out. It helps to use an X-acto knife if you have one, but scissors could work as well. Just make sure that you allow for bits that may be "floating", such as the middle of an "O" or "A". Leave part of the line attached to that middle portion and you can fill it in after you've traced the rest. Hope that makes sense! You may understand better once you start to do it yourself. JES_9205 Measure out where you want your design, hold your paper steady and grab that fabric marker! Easy peasy. We love tracing for that illusion that we are amazing artists (although Jess has an amazingly steady hand on her own - Amanda not so much)! Don't worry about perfection, a little blurring around the edges gives it a vintage sort of look. JES_9211Fill in your outline, and you're done! You have your very own, inexpensive personalized tote. These make great gifts for teachers, friends and new mommies (filled with wipes, diapers, pacifiers, and other baby supplies). The possibilities are as limitless as your imagination! Signature S&L Tote Bag - Coral & Mint Signature S&L Tote Bag in Coral We love how these turned out, and had a lot of fun playing around with designs for our graphic. We'd love to see yours! Post photos of your finished product to our Facebook page, tag us on Instagram or comment below to let us know how your DIY tote turned out, and be sure to stop by the shop to pick up one of our signature S&L totes for yourself!    
S&L Devo: My Weakness is His Strength
I like to think of myself as strong. But in all honesty, I know I am weak in so many areas. Every time that I mess up in one of these areas, it’s hard to not beat myself up on the inside. I shouldn’t have yelled at my child, I should have remembered to do this one thing, I should’ve stayed on top of the laundry so that we would have clothes to wear today, I should’ve bitten my tongue when that rude person provoked me…the shoulda, woulda, coulda list goes on and on. I have found myself thinking, “I just have to try harder! Next time I won’t let that happen.” Ha! Good luck with that, self.  Have you told yourself the same things? If only I had taken a moment to think before responding, I would’ve handled that situation better. A Bart Simpson-esque “Doh!” and a face palm for good measure, help to put me back in my place. In 2 Corinthians 12:9, God tells us, “My grace is sufficient for you.” You’ve heard that before haven’t you? Me too. But read it again. God’s grace is ENOUGH for ALL the times you come up short, are forgetful, lose your temper, act selfishly, say that curse word, lash out at your loved one, break a promise, whatever your shortcomings and failures. God has you covered. Not so that you can continue to perform badly, but because we inevitably will. Even when we try our hardest to “do better.” I often have imagined how disappointed God must be in me when I continue to sin in areas I have repeatedly asked for forgiveness. He must just roll his eyes and think, “Come on, Amanda! Get it together!” Well, that’s what I’m telling myself. But what I realized in this Scripture is that he’s telling me, “My grace is sufficient for you. For my strength is made perfect (it works best) in your weakness.” What? Wait a minute. It’s starting to hit home now. Every time I am weak, God rejoices in the fact that I NEED him. I’ve given him an opportunity to come to my rescue, to show himself to me and exhibit his power in the thing I find my self powerless to control. So the next time you find yourself frustrated by your own incompetence or make the same mistake for the seemingly millionth time, remember this. Rather than judging you harshly, or shaking his head in shame, God is smiling at you. He’s rushing to your side to pick you up, dust you off, and send you on your way again, secure in his love for you. He’s cheering us on, friend! And he will meet us where we are, and he won’t leave us there. Each time we invite him to give us that grace, we grow a little stronger. In my weakness, He makes me strong.

“And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9, NKJV