Soliciting – the new DIY project to make these dinnertime annoyances a thing of the past.

Soliciting is one thing that I really cannot stand. Inevitably I am in the middle of making dinner where there isn’t really a stopping point, they ring the doorbell, rather than knocking which now means I have to corral animals and deal with their crazy barking and excitement and try to squeeze in front of them to find out what the intrusion is.

Then I can’t concentrate on what they are saying because my dog is scratching me and head-butting me so they can meet whoever this intruder is.While dinner is burning I kindly tell the person “I understand that having to go door-to-door is a tough job and I too have done it once, but I am being courteous and I would appreciate if they would also be courteous and pay attention to the not ONE but TWO No Soliciting signs, one on the front door the other directly over the doorbell.” I then tell them “if we needed a product or service, we would research whichever item would best meet our needs and would never sign up for something in a door-to-door arrangement. We at the BellaMandarin house believe in educated decisions.

After my spiel then the next guarantee is that they will say “I’m not soliciting, I’m just…” and there is always an excuse that is actually always still by definition soliciting. i.e. “I’m just hoping to complete this survey regarding X with you.”

Or my personal favorite said by a high school football player that looked like crap coming to my door, the only official thing about him was the crumpled folder he was carrying around and he said “I’m not a vacuum cleaner salesman or anything I’m just asking for money for (I can’t even remember what I was so shocked) so it’s not soliciting.” He was a senior. Scares me that naivety will be making its way into the real world shortly .

With this several things have become apparent to me. 1. We need to remind our kids if they are going out to sell something for school that they should look presentable. Throw on a school T-shirt, brush your hair, just look like you care. and the second and much more importantly people need some serious education regarding the definition of soliciting.


  1. Ask for or try to obtain (something) from someone.

  2. Ask (someone) for something

I’m not saying if you’re not invited, don’t touch that door. If you live in my neighborhood and want to stop by, need some sugar, whatever. That might be solicitation by definition but it’s what neighbors do. I will help anyone in need of assistance that knocks on the door. I’m not cold-hearted. But the kids I know are selling all the same crap, I will only be buying from the kids I know. I think its great to see them meet their goals even if I don’t really want the product. If you’re here to drop off a big check, knock and ring the bell as much as you’d like. Oh and girl scout cookies? C’mon by, Lemonades and Thin Mints are my weakness.

So with all of that ranted… I am making a new much more noticeable and funny no soliciting sign. If people don’t read this one and still ring the doorbell with a silly excuse, we may have to invest in a dunce hat. Since the other ones are being ignored even though they are extremely obvious, I have a whole new plan.


I’ve seen these floating around Pinterest and I will have different sayings but you get the idea of what I’m after. I found this great old wood sign at Hobby Lobby for $15 which I will recover with modpodge and scrapbook paper and then I get to use my new silhouette to cut some vinyl for the wording!! Hoping to get busy on this tomorrow so I can have a tutorial up since I’m long overdue for for one!

I pray that you are having a blessed weekend.


sign off


2013 – Back to Blogging With New Purpose

Happy 2013 friends!! Can’t believe that another new year has begun and although I got sick on New Years Eve and literally just emerged from my sick hole, this year has already taught me quite a few things.

There has absolutely been a reason for my hiatus and It wasn’t the holidays or any of that, it has been a struggle of purpose for me. Obedience to God and learning to truly trust that he has a plan for me. Everyday I wake up is a blessing. What happens when my feet hit the floor has already been planned. If you know me I HATE waiting for things. I am not patient. I want to know the ending. It’s why when I start a new book, I just have to finish it quickly. Patience is not my thing.

I have been on a journey of self discovery to learn to love the waiting and treasure the everyday. A very close friend of mine recently posted this quote on Facebook and I literally cried when I read it because it called me out on the mediocrity I’d been giving God.

“Our trust that God is in control while we’re in our time of waiting must be acted upon and lived out, otherwise it is just a sentimental cop-out.”

It’s true, so true. How many times have I been thankful when things are awesome just to turn around and be silent when things are hard? And my definition of “hard” isn’t even close to what hard is. So 2013 is the year for me totally changing and being thankful in my time of waiting, being faithful that each step is God’s plan. Its in his hands and all I need to do is listen. Wow. SO much simpler than worrying all the time. Its easy to tell someone else that you believe God is in control but if you aren’t actually living and believing that’s true then there it is – the sentimental cop-out.

I have some very close friends that really need prayer and they have taught me A LOT about the importance of faith and understanding that God has a reason. You may not like the process of his plan but there is one and that is a hard thing to swallow because many times it is not fair and you will not understand in the least. In this case, I certainly don’t understand and I have been praying that God will continue to do his work and I am continuing to be thankful for friends that are absolute fighters.

You have heard me mention it before, but the husband of a couple I know very well and am close with was diagnosed in June with cancer. At the age of 28. Right before his 29th Birthday. They have only been married a few years and have received blow after blow in their family. So after a head on battle with cancer, with chemo treatments, with total lifestyle changes for them both, they come to December. Expecting to find out that the Chemo had gotten rid of all the cancer and ready to move on and be able to live happily and more carefree like they should be doing at their age. Instead, several days before Christmas they find out that there is now a brain tumor on the brain stem. My first instinct was God how can you let this happen, this isn’t fair and I can’t understand how you could allow this to happen – their first reaction – grow closer to God, trust in God and prepare for another battle. Talk about courage. When they have every reason to let something just flatten their faith they are instead digging in and holding onto God’s promises. Its amazing. That’s not to say that they don’t have days without struggle or confusion or anger I am sure but amazing faith is what they show.

It hurts my heart thinking of all that they have been through together but they are the definition of what it means to be strong in a relationship. They are a picture perfect definition of what marriage is all about and what God intends for marriage. His sister and husband and their whole family are the definition of a strong family that all stands firmly on God’s word and promises. They have been through so much and yet their whole family only grows closer with each battle that they fight. They are all the true definition of faith and love, no matter what comes their way. I don’t know how they can do it but I can tell you it is such a privilege to have each of them in my life as such amazing examples.

So BellaMandarin will still be all about my DIY projects and fun things like that. But this is God’s work, this is his plan and I pray that my struggles with faith and life might also encourage someone else to be more vocal. No more sentimental cop-outs.

“Faith – When you come to the edge of all the light you have known and are about to step out into the darkness, faith is knowing one of two things will happen… there will be something to stand on or God will teach you to fly.” 

sign off

Bear… the dog… sheepdog… in a sheep costume.

So while I was decorating for halloween last weekend (pics and post to come very soon) I was going through the box of halloween stuff we have from previous years and I found a dog costume in there. My dog does NOT do clothes of any type. His clothes are his collar and heaven help the person that tries to take that off of him. Other than that collar he HATES things being over him. But, of course, when I found said costume, I HAD to at least put the hat part on him. I knew the hat and the body part would be pushing it.

So my dog, that is named Bear (remember reading about him here?) who is a sheepdog to be precise was forced to wear the hat part of the lamb costume while I got some pics. Am I the only one that finds ironic things like that hilarious? Like a pig named Moo? I LOVE when other animals have other animals names (are you even still following this)?

Sadly, the lamb has a blue ribbon tag on his right ear but Bear was only slightly willing to take a picture so having him move… out. of. the. question. Bummer because he is totally a blue ribbon dog/sheep/bear in my book. If the below photo doesn’t just make you smile or laugh a little bit, you may not have a soul. Just joking. But just thought it would bring a little smile to your morning.


Happy Thursday! XOXO

Love thy Neighbor: A double room update

So… I love you to the moon and back and am so sorry for my hiatus. I have been *trying* to get my life in some sort of order (one of those “to hear God laugh, tell him your plans” kinda things). I have tons of stuff to post about so the good news is that I am back and will be posting much more regularly. The bad news… gotcha… there isn’t any.

You may have checked out the inspiration board page and I am really excited to reveal two rooms that I worked on with my Neighbor. My neighbor had the initial ideas that I put together the inspiration boards with and from that we have two brand new rooms! Both of their daughters are off at college and they wanted to update the girls’ rooms to be more chic and adult while reflecting their totally different personalities. So, with a few new pieces of furniture and some new decor, the rooms really look pulled together and completely brand new.

Sadly, I didn’t really take any “before, before” pictures. I have one that shows the previous wall color and a little bit of the furniture that was in one of the girls rooms. My Neighbor was really excited to get them some new furniture for their rooms, the stuff that they had was around for quite a few years. But all the old stuff went to great new homes (one piece is currently in my storage waiting for a fun new look, it is going to be an awesome piece in a guest room one day). So I totally scored on this makeover as well. Anywhoo… here are the before pics that I DO have.

You can see the old paint color in the top picture and the new neutral color in the bottom pictures. My neighbor had the rooms and ceilings painted – they may eventually put their house on the market so she wanted it to be something that would be a more universally liked color.

I however, am petitioning for them to never move. If that house ever goes on the market, I have evil plots up my sleeve to be sure that everyone who comes to look at that house thinks that the neighbors are all crazy and then they will never move (not really, but we would be totally bummed if they weren’t just across the street anymore).

Here is the inspiration board for the first bedroom we are gonna call “mini-A’s” bedroom. I asked them about using the pictures for the blogs but not about names. Nicknames are more fun anyway.

And now the BIG REVEAL BEGINS!!! I LOVE both of these rooms. I can’t pick a favorite. They were so fun to work on because the girls have totally different personalities and it was fun to find the individual pieces and see it all come together perfectly. Plus I totally creeped around my neighbor’s house until the girls came home for a weekend visit just so I could see their faces and see how surprised they were.

They knew their parents were updating the spaces but didn’t know the details.

Love the saying in this picture frame. I even made one for myself. We didn’t have any of their photos handy so I whipped this up real quick on the computer and I love how it turned out. Now to the full room…

Mini A loved the room. It totally reflects her bubbly personality. She loves bright colors and she LOVED the painting above the bed which is actually what a lot of the pieces in the room were inspired from. I think the basic gray bedding that has an awesome sheen and small amount of detail allows for everything else to be really fun and bright.

All of the different pillows on the bed totally compliment each other and then let’s not forget the awesome chair that their Mom picked out. That was the first piece in the room and gave us a jumping off point. The arrangement of the room (wish I had a better before picture for you) really opened up the space. Despite the bright colors, the room feels very calm and a cozy to me. Totally a group effort and I totally love it.

However, I love things about “not-so-mini-A’s” space as well. I think both offer simple enough base pieces that they appeal to pretty much anyone no matter your color preferences. I will tell you my faves after you see the awesome room. Below is the inspiration board you may remember. Definitely a much more girly Parisian chic sort of feel for this room.

And here is “not-so-mini-A’s” final room. My FAVORITE part are the puddled drapes. I love a good puddled drape. More than anything. I’m serious.

Note the photographs in this next pic. We picked them up at Ikea and I wanted to run away with them so badly. I love love love photographs of doors. Something about them seems promising to me. It’s a constant reminder that when God closes one door he opens another door and sometimes it is a B-E-A-UTIFUL door.

Heres a close up of the photos. They had a bunch of different doors and fences at Ikea but these were our favorites.

“not-so-mini-A” is usually pretty reserved but she cracked a pretty big smile seeing this room for the first time. I really think it fits her. She is not an ultra girly girl but loves the color purple. So I think we gave her a space that was uncluttered and totally fit the calm vibe that she has.

“mini-a” is the older sister, strangely enough. I only feel okay calling her “mini-A” because we are about the same height even though I’m like 4 or 5 years older and hey, being short is not as bad as some people thing. “not-so-mini-A” is definitely taller but I very much relate to her calm demeanor. I’ve known them both for quite a few years and am so happy that their Mom asked me to help out with this project.

We definitely kept an eye on cost by watching out for sales, using coupons and doing some online pre-shopping so we had an idea on what the total cost would be. Out of respect to clients, I never share their total budget, etc. but if you are looking for a piece in one of the pics, send me a message or leave a comment, I’m happy to help you find anything that you love.

Do you love it? Have any updates you are working on right now?

Another successful bedroom update… times 2! Coming soon I will have a playroom update that I am about to begin with a client. I also have some super fun tutorials including the princess birthday hat that I made for the sweetest and funniest little girl who turns four this weekend (my, how the time gets away from us!)

I’m so glad that you are still reading and promise that I have TONS of fun new things coming soon. I swear!

Hope you have an awesome weekend. Sic ‘Em Bears against TCU tonight at 6:00pm and as always Sic ‘Em Redskins and Texans (haven’t even looked at their schedules yet to see who and when they are playing, but that is a blanket statement for me).


Chick Book Review: Queen of Babble Series

Time for another literary review. lol. I read the whole Queen of Babble series (3 books) by Meg Cabot in less than a week. I just get so into a book and I can’t stop reading it, I have to know what happens. But then when they are all over, I get a total feeling of loss about the characters.

So since they are a series, I’m going to kind of give the overall review for the books in one. The titles (in order) are Queen of Babble, Queen of Babble in the Big City and Queen of Babble Gets Hitched.



So since this is a series, you will read straight through them in like .2 seconds. The main character, Lizzie is just out of college (sort of) and she makes all kinds of seemingly rather silly decisions which I must admit I’m only in my later 20’s and I can totally relate to still thinking about making some of those mistakes. For the most part it is the same old story – girl has a disastrous visit and breakup with this boyfriend that she thought was so wonderful – she goes to Europe to see him and things are anything but wonderful. When he asks her to lie to the government she freaks out and hops a train out of there to fo find her friends who are in france for the summer and ends up meeting this super handsome awesome guy on a train. He of course ends up being the owner of the summer house her friends are staying at over the summer. Totally the normal cheese meeting and interactions in the first book and part of the second but good easy reads.

Its really the middle of the second book and all of the third book that I feel totally differently about Lizzie. She finally explores the idea of being in love with the idea of someone who seems so picture perfect vs. actually being in love with them. I think this is a HUGE problem for me personally and a lot of other young girls I know. We are supposed to fall in love and get married. But sometimes, I think we start to fall in love with the idea and forget that we have a lot of non-negotiables that we have let slide somewhere along the way for the sake of the idea of love. Lizzie has found something she loves and really learns to stand up for herself and comes into her own throughout the series. I relate to a lot of the qualities that she has in various ways and I just think she is such a real character and totally hilarious. Definitely some great chick reading here!

Rating: 10 – best for those who want a small series to read and love the slightly neurotic characters who are themselves without apology all mixed in with a bit of a happy ending. It is a chick book after all. lol.

I’ve gotten a couple of suggestions and comments since the last book review I posted. Keep posting suggestions. I’m adding them all to my “to read” list and always love finding new things!


1 step forward. 12 steps back. A leap forward has to be next.

Hey y’all. I wish I had some great inspirational post about my new “getting healthy” kick and the truth is – it is a constant battle of my own will. So am I going to give up? HELL no. I just see these blogs all the time where people say they just made the decision and then its like poof it just happened from that day forward. If you are anything like me – it NEVER happens that way. It is a constant mind vs. stomach vs. heart battle for me.

I’m beyond exhausted all the time which I am SO tired of feeling. Part of it is some stuff i’m dealing with medically but the other part is just forcing myself to get moving.

I am so tired of not working and all of the let downs throughout the search process. I had a GREAT job prospect that I was totally excited about, I mean I really thought “this is it, i’ve found the perfect spot” for both me and felt that I would be a great addition to the organization as a whole. Womp womp. Turns out they hired from within for the position which likely means it was just posted as a formality and a requirement. Talk about just feeling that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I know that God has a plan and I believe that all these applications, cover letters and events I try to get involved in are just all a part of his plan and I know he isn’t going to leave me hanging out here with nothing. My hardest part is the constant reminder that God has it under control and my worrying is unnecessary. Tell that to my anxiety attacks which have been constantly lurking over me and attack at any moment they see fit including in the middle of the grocery store, during normal activities, etc.

Through all of this, I have some great friends who are there for everything. All the medical questions, my ups and downs, etc. but the one person I feel like who could snap me out of all of this is gone. Some of you may know me well enough and know that about two and a half years ago, I lost my best friend very suddenly and tragically. The person I could tell anything to, no matter how shocking, and she wouldn’t even blink. It was always like “uhm, ok, moving on, what should we do now? have lunch?” and its that attitude and her ability to rationalize and make me realize the insignificance of some things that I just miss so much.

I’ve been having so many vivid dreams with her in them lately. It’s like she is still trying to show me she’s here and sees whats going on but it just crushes me when I think about not having her physically here. I know two and a half years seems like a while but I have had the hardest time coming back out of my shell and getting back to the wild and crazy and fun me I used to be. I pray all the time that the ache will go away but I just feel like something is missing all the time and I’ve felt that since the day I got the phone call.

I’m not giving up. I’m not backing down. If my friend were here I imagine this down in the dumps talk would earn a wake up slap in the face. So each day is a new day. I may not be as far along on my goal of getting healthy in all aspects of my life but I tell you what, everyday that I make some kind of change is progress and I WILL get there.

Thanks so much for reading and sharing my journey with me. It means the world to know that maybe some other people can identify that its okay to not always be a picture of perfection. Its okay to not have it all together. I hope if any of you are where I am that you can find comfort you are far from the only one.

Stay tuned – I have some new book reviews coming and a tutorial on a super cute bday hat I made for the sweetest little almost 4 year old that I know.