Me ‘n my girls.

What a weekend we had.  One for the memory files, for sure. It doesn’t happen very often, so when it does – it’s a treasure.  Two full days.  At a resort.  With my two beauties.  No boys allowed.


Me ‘N My Girls

Our friend Sarah helped us find a wonderful rate at a local resort so our big travel time was about 45 minutes.  (Sure beats driving for 6-7 hours to get anywhere else, IMHO!)

We stopped by our local mall – spent a solid amount of time looking through the treasures and finding a few objects our lives wouldn’t be complete without.  Mostly make-up related and a few summer dresses.  Of course.

The accommodations were just amazing.  Customer service was outstanding – and, I may or may not be a little bit hard to impress.  I really do believe that the employees were genuinely happy to be there and went out of their way to make the guests feel welcome and taken care of.  Our casita faced the pool area, but was far enough away that there was no noise to speak of.  {Well, maybe that had more to do with the fact that it was approximately 1000°(F) and most sane people go to the mountains to vacation this time of year.}

We were all looking forward to our getaway!  We had loaded up our creativity-supplies – markers, pens, watercolors for the trip.  I had the need to get my creative on.  I loved every minute of it – geeking out over the recent discovery of #bulletjournaling #bujo (apparently, I do live under a rock) and #biblejournaling!  I took advantage of the down-time to binge watch YouTube videos of experienced #bujo-ers.  Some are SO elaborate while others are simple and utilitarian.  I am probably in the middle somewhere on that scale.  I love to be creative, but most of the time, I don’t have the TIME so rather than do NOTHING AT ALL, I am opting for a simpler approach, with a small amount of sketching.  I’m also learning to hand-letter; picking back up the basic beginner skills of calligraphy I learned from my Aunt Miriam years ago.  She is a legit pro, y’all.

We also found time for a little pampering.  This weekend’s choices were two-fold: spray tanning, and pedicures.  We pale girls really do NOT look like we live full-time in Arizona; more like we only come out at night and are frightening by the sun.  We decided we needed to look a little more bronze and found a spray tanning place on Yelp with good reviews near where we were staying.  So, I texted the business at 11pm and got a quick response from the owner and bam! We had appointments for the next morning.   We showed up, got the run-down, answered a list of twenty questions, signed away our first-born children and, one by one, we went in to get hosed down – er, I mean spray tanned.   So, what did I learn about spray tanning??  Super glad you asked.  Well, I learned a few things.  I learned that when it’s approximately 1000°(F), and you get a spray tan, you feel sticky.  Sticky like the lotion you put on eight hours ago won’t dry.  For eight straight hours, ladies.  Sticky like a mother nature.  I learned that you can’t shower off said spray tan for forever (well, forever meaning 8-10 hours), or the processing of the spray tan will be interrupted.  I also learned that you wear DARK colors when getting a spray tan that you may not shower off from for all day when it’s 1000°(F) because if you wear WHITE clothes, you end up with bronzing streaks from where you couldn’t possibly keep your arms from touching your shirt, shorts, shoes, car seat, linens… I also learned that a shower can actually feel like nirvana at the end of the eight hours of sticky.  I learned that I really do enjoy looking a little bit tan, but that when someone sees you and her first comment is, “Wow, you are really tan!”, maybe the spray tanner didn’t read your choice to have a LIGHT tan.

He he he… It was all just so fun – sticky spray tan and all.  Know why?  My girls.  They are so fun, growing up so fast, learning how to adult… and, we had a great time making memories together.  We decided to make it an annual thing.  So, yep – it’s a thing now.  Minus the spray tan.



Yummy dip trio – we really liked the onion one and the avacado-hummus best. The hibiscus was fun to try, but we just didn’t love it. (Check out Maddie’s new birks.)


Well, we ate this caprese flatbread before I remembered to photo it. It was delish.


The Onyx Lounge @ #FourSeasonsScottsdale


What. Churros. Dipped. In. Hot Fudge. Yes.


Get your creative juices flowing girls!








Ready to go out!


PROOF at the #FourSeasonsScottsdale was amazing! Have a little coffee with your cream, will you?










Sister Love


Beauty of the desert…


Sweet welcome note from our friend Sarah… and some yummy healthy snacks too! #FourSeasonsScottsdale




Tidying the Pantry.

We all have one. A place – cabinet, closet, cupboard, hidden room behind the fridge, cellar in the garage – to keep the food stuffs and maybe several seldom used small kitchen appliances.  It may also be home to 6 jars of pickled peaches that you spent HOURS on during the summer of 2006, or that gotta have it spice that expired in 2010 (which was three moves ago).  Just sayin’.

I’m going to just tell myself that the majority of households in the U.S. have the same issue… that space gets messy after just a short period of time. There are levels on the continuum of “messy”.  No judgement here.  I’d give mine a pain level of about 7 on a scale of 10.  Something must be done.

For a perfectionist, as I am, this simple issue can weigh heavily and cause frustration.  The thinking there is if it can’t be perfect, then why even try or start?  I am working to have less perfectionist thinking because I do think in the long run, and even the short run, the benefits far outweigh the costs.  If I don’t tidy the pantry because I don’t know how to do it with PERFECTION, I still have a messy pantry at the end of yet another weekend.  If I allow the fear of not getting it perfect to keep me from even trying to tidy a little bit, again, I still have the same messy pantry, and along with it a sense of defeat starts building.  This time, I’m going in with a little bit of grit and telling myself, “Let’s DO this.”  Oh, and I enlisted the help of my two awesome kids to help because summer break. Ha!

I did invest a little bit in my pantry by building on a few things I already had and adding to it with similar items.  But, you certainly do not have to spend money to improve your space.  My grandmother used to use old cereal boxes, cover them with contact paper, and use them all over her kitchen and sewing room for organization.  Use what you have, or invest in some new things; it’s up to you and your budget!  Get creative!  Pinterest has amazing ideas.

So, here’s a few photos of my pantry mission.  And, you’ll notice a few kitchen drawers made this post as well.  It felt SO AMAZING to have a beautiful pantry that I didn’t stop there!  I tidied up several drawers.  I feel like my kitchen dropped a dress size and just feels sassy and free!

My original wire baskets with the copper handles, as well as the white canvas lined silver metal baskets, all came from Threshold (Target).  I had also previously purchased the two canned goods racks from Amazon.  I think the white canvas bins also came from Target but I’m not 100% sure on that one.  I went on a trip to my local At Home furnishings warehouse store.  I forget how big that place is!  We were able to find very similar dark brown metal baskets with copper handles in various sizes which I used throughout the pantry.  I also found several adorable smaller lined wire baskets with spiraled copper handles.   I think they are so sweet and break up the space a little bit.  I had also previously purchased large Mason jars with the intention of using them for dry goods, but just never got around to it.  Now is the time!  Again, no judgement here for sure. If you are in the same boat, we’re both in good company.

Finally, on the drawer project, I did find some shallow drawer dividers of various sizes that I used to make the kitchen drawers so much more functional and organized.  I bought some at At Home, and then ended up buying more on Amazon.

I’m glad I dove in.  It might be something simple, but what a huge difference.  I feel so happy when I look in there.  I also found two fun pieces of wall decor that just seemed to have my name on them.  My sweet husband said, where are you going to hang these?  I told him, the pantry (of course).  He just smiled.  He’s a smart man.  My two teens came home and saw the wall decor, commenting that they’d never seen anyone decorate the pantry before.  But, they’re smart too; they like it.

The pantry is still sighing a breath of relief.


The 2018 update.

So, when I started put thoughts down on this blog (2012), I was in a pretty “in session” part of life.  I had recently left my spouse of 18 years for infidelity and felt released to go on with my life, figuring out what single looked like.  I accepted a promotion to a C-suite position in public sector work – as an HR professional – and was extremely blessed to have that 3 years to focus, learn, grow and dive into something bigger than me and my problems.

Things have shifted again (as they usually do).  I’ve been in a different role in another public organization because, quite frankly, the stress got to me and I needed a change.  I had so much going on… I was now remarried, adjusting to life with a husband, helping my three teenagers with that adjustment while they all bravely navigate between two households on a weekly basis.  We then built a home and moved and have been settling into the new norm.  The change of paths at work was needed, but has not been a bed of roses, not even a little bit.  It’s been a struggle, and I find myself in a season of waiting.

Waiting.  What does that even mean?  Waiting for the bus? Waiting for a table at my favorite Saturday night bistro?  What am I waiting for?  To try to describe the waiting is a bit like nailing jell-o to the wall, but here goes.  Waiting feels like this space of time between the pain or struggle, and the breakthrough.  I know breakthrough is going to come, but I don’t know when and I don’t know what it will look like.  ARRRGGGHHHH!!! (Think Charlie Brown as Lucy is pulling the football out from under him, yet again.)  My friend Elaine told me once that there is so much to be learned in the waiting.  I’m taking that promise as a claim-check, and hanging on to it!

For someone who (apparently) struggles with control, this season is tough.  Rather than feel like a helpless victim of circumstance, I’ve put a few action items together to try to help me make some sort of sense of it all.  I learned from #recovery, that taking action over areas I can control helps me feel empowered, and keeps me moving forward.

Here’s what I’ve done recently and what I am doing:

  1. Get certified. Study for and sit for the SHRM-SCP exam and pass.  DONE.  This is a milestone for my profession that honestly should have been accomplished about 15 years ago.  I kept kicking that can down the road.  “I just had a baby.”  “I have three little ones at home.”  “I don’t want to.” “My husband just started a new shift.” “My toe hurts.”  Lots of really legit excuses.  He he he… This one took a while, a small investment and dedication.  It was a commitment.  I took an online prep course that was 30 hours in total, spent approximately 1,000 hours a day in personal study time, reviewed nearly 1,000,000 flash cards, and took the practice exams about 100 times, each.  I had scheduled the exam for about 2 1/2 weeks after the class was over at a proxy test center in my area.  I arrived, got frisked, and was chastised about the contraband (a tissue in my pocket) (they take their jobs seriously); I was allowed to take only photo ID and locker key into the exam room.  I was ushered to an old PC in a room full of old PCs and other test-takers.  I sat down in front of the computer and thought – let’s do this.  I prayed silently – God, I’ve put the work in.  Help me finish this task today – bring the information to my remembrance, and help me to be careful as I read and thoroughly understand what the question is asking.  Then, something happened.  The first question was something I felt confident about.  So was the next one.  And, the one after that.  I thought, this is really weird.  I didn’t feel this confident with the practice exams at all.  But, now, I actually felt good about my answers. 
    IMG_2964I PASSED!!

    For someone who pretty much skated through school by the skin of her teeth, not really diving in to studying the actual material, or go beyond the minimum requirements, and getting the appropriate resulting grades, I suddenly learned what all the straight-A kids felt like when they took an exam.  Weird.  Not that much stress.  At the end, the computer told me that I PASSED and boy did that ever feel good!!!  REALLY good.  An investment in ME. #accomplishment #SHRM-SCP #killingitatlife

  2. Update resume and obtain review and feedback from two trusted colleagues.  IN PROCESS.  This one is tricky because I’m not necessarily looking to leave my job, but I do want to position myself for the next thing if/when God brings it along my path.  Plus, what better time to update my resume with the little letters at the end of my name now earned.  Kerry Mader, SHRM-SCP.  Hmm, nice ring to it.
  3. Think differently.  IN PROCESS.  Romans 12:2 commands, “And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], SO THAT you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you]” (AMP, emphasis mine).  I’ve put this verse into action by setting up a semi-professional executive coaching situation with a family member of mine who is working towards becoming an executive coach.  Win-win!  For starters, I’m reading a new book called, “Designing Your Life” by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans, along with using the companion workbook.
    IMG_3100Designing Your Life – Bill Burnett & Dave Evans

    So far, I’m really enjoying it.  I would sum it up as a book that introduces the reader to a design mindset.  This has been freeing for me so far – as someone who struggles with perfectionism. (Maybe I’ll do a full book review at the end of my process, if that’s something of interest.)  At this point, my coach and I meet about every other week via phone due to distance and in person when we’re able.  He has a unique mindset and very different experiences in life than I do, I respect his wisdom, and so I think that it’s going to be extremely valuable to have this exchange and accountability.

  4. Seek God.  Honestly, why isn’t thing one in the #1 slot?  It should have been.  If I’m being real, and I am, it wasn’t at the time.  I have a really amazing resiliency (that’s code for stubbornness) for trying to do it all on my own.  It’s a very clear pattern in my own life, as I know it is for so many. (Here’s an older post on that very theme.)  I am now earnestly seeking God – I spent the better part of a day this week seeking Him, learning, growing, healing. I needed a level set, a refresher.  One of the key things that I am pressing into right now is my identity.  How do I see myself?  More on that in a future post!
  5. Write again.  Write until there are no more words for today.  I’m picking up the blog again.  I have a story to tell, hope to spread, and a light to shine.

I look forward to the future!  Be blessed and know you are loved, Kerry

The Barn Quilt – Part Deux

This is a full front shot of the Mader Barn, wearing it’s new Ohio Star Quilt.  This picture was taken the first week of July 2012 – which is sort of amazing because the crops behind the barn look like they are nowhere near ready for harvest.  The weather turned hot just in time.  But, hey – that’s not what this blog piece is about!

Here’s another one – played with the contrast on these for fun.  I love how the sky behind the barn turned purple and pink!  I caught the lighting just as the sun was going down – love it!

So, I left you hanging last time when Mom had chosen her quilt pattern and colors for the barn.

I think her challenge at that point was, how in the world do we get this ‘quilt’ manufactured and installed???!!!  Mom has lots of friends, more than I can keep up with.  She was sharing with her friend from church, Taun, her dream about having the Ohio Star installed on the barn.

Historical Rabbit Trail: I feel the need to insert a little family history here.  The barn belongs now to one of my older brothers, Dan, who lives and farms around Genesee, Idaho, a region known as the Palouse. My parents bought this farm in the 1960’s, and as it had originally been built probably around the turn of the century, they had to put quite a bit of work into a complete remodel of the home before they moved the family in.  The barn was part of the property as well, but I’m not sure when it was built.

Dad and Mom moved into the house in the mid 1960’s with my three oldest siblings.  Along came my brother and then me.  Family changes later in 1980 lead to the farm being rented out to various people including yours truly for a short stint from 1994 to 1996.  In mid 1996, my brother and his wife moved to the farm.  Their family grew by two and now the happy foursome lives, works and plays on the farm.  And, the best part is – I get to go visit them with my three young ‘ins ones whenever I can!!! I feel so blessed that my childhood home is still in the family!  So many memories here!

Back to business… Mom was talking to her friend, Taun, about the project. Probably wondering out loud how she was going to get to the next step of making her dream of a barn quilt a reality.  Taun listened for a while and finally offered to make Mom’s barn quilt for her.  Mom was taken aback because Taun, you see, is an Associate Pastor at her church (Orchards Community Church, Lewiston, Idaho) and she quizzed him as to why he would be interested in a project such as this.

Taun explained that there were two main reasons he would be interested.  First, because his Mother resides in Tillamook County, Oregon (if you aren’t familiar, please refer to my first post on the barn quilt).  Taun shared that his mother had talked about Tillamook County’s famous barn quilts, so he knew of the concept.  And, (get this!) commercial signs were right up his alley, since he put himself through college creating and installing such displays.   Ba-BAM!  Another God-arranged moment, putting the right people together at the right time… a meeting, some paint, some plywood, and voila – a barn quilt is born.

I like to think that God actually winks when these ‘coincidences’ happen!  I also think that Taun didn’t know what he had gotten himself into because the next thing HE knew he was atop one of those cherry-pickers (maybe against his better judgement and quite despite the rumor that heights are a challenge for him), hammer in hand, installing the barn quilt.  It is pretty difficult to say no to my mom… after all!

I understand that installation day was a gorgeous spring day in May of 2012 – the rain had subsided for the event – the sun had come out, and Mom had her lawn chair parked at a vantage point where she could oversee the entire operation.  My brother sent me these pictures.  Mom is absolutely giddy; this makes my heart happy.

There’s still more to the story – it involves another barn in the region, a high school English teacher of mine, and that old-fashioned soda fountain tie-in I promised.

Until next time!  Kerry

PS – Thanks a bunch Taun!!!

Hello world!

I thought that maybe all these thoughts I have filling my heart and head would be better put to pen.

Are you working through life’s challenges?  Me too!

The Barn Quilt

ImageHere is my favorite picture of the Mader Barn Quilt – The Ohio Star.  So, here’s the story…

My mom and my sister are both avid quilters.  And, by avid, I mean, avid.  Into-it… taking trips for quilt festivals to places like Sisters, Oregon, to see the latest quilt patterns, taking a weekend of classes, and each have an entire CLOSET of neatly organized clear bins filled with quilters fabric, arranged by color, in a dedicated ROOM with their specially designed sewing machine, quilters table, and even a task light with some sort of super power.  So, you get the point, they are quilters.  And, I must say, their quilts are!  Works of art.  Maybe someday I’ll post some photographs of them.  But that’s another blog post.

So about two or three years ago, Mom ran onto an article about the American Barn Quilt movement in the east and mid-west areas of the States.  The idea is to use the barn as the canvas for a painted quilt square, a pattern that may have some meaning to the owner of the barn that it is displayed on.  She even PRE-ordered a book on the subject!  How cute is that??!!!  In Tillamook County, Oregon (think cheese, ice cream and acres and acres of dairies), there are currently 83, and a slew of others on a waiting list, barn quilts dedicated to the dairy farmer’s wives in the region.  I know this, how?  Because Mom and Sis went there last weekend and toured the county, and Mom reported back to me in detail, that’s how!  ;0)

So, Mom loves quilts, loves to quilt, and hey, she knows where to find a barn!  Voila!  Mom decided that the Mader barn needed its own barn quilt.  She went to work doing research to pick just the right quilt pattern that would mean something to her and the family and one that would look like a million bucks on the barn.  Mom’s roots lead back to the Kennoyer name, Jeremiah Kennoyer, who lived in the Ohio region.  It is one branch of Mom’s family that she feels particular connected to, so she happily settled on the Ohio Star pattern.  Next she carefully selected the paint colors to use in her quilt that would honor the pattern and look spectacular on the barn, too!

There’s more to follow about the antics involved in getting the quilt painted, installed and finally for the word to get out.  I feel like I need to design a bumper sticker for her that say’s “Get your quilt on!”

Is anyone curious?  The rest of the story involves a Norman Rockwell vision of an old fashioned soda fountain, too.  Shall I continue, or should I just show you the rest of the pictures I took of the barn and move on?  I would like to hear your thoughts!