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Printing Your Art Prints

Oh hey! Thanks for supporting my little shop. In this post I’m going to share some tips for printing your digital downloads as well as places to have your art prints printed.

When you purchase your item, you’ll be able to instantly download it, print it and have it in a frame in less time than it takes to brew a cup of coffee, if your printer cooperates.

Everyone is going to have different set up’s for computers, tablets and printers. And because of this I can’t offer technical support for individual printers.

Each file is pre-sized for printing 4×6, 5×7 and 8×10. (Please note that some prints will only have certain sizes, but it will be stated in each product description.) Most printers will have these options on the print screen.

I do recommend a test print to make sure it’s printed the way you want before printing on photo paper or card stock for handmade cards.

My printer has a mind of it’s own sometimes, so I frequently use various printing services. Here’s some of the most popular out there:

  • Local Printing Shops
  • Amazon Photo
  • Walgreen Photo
  • Walmart Photo
  • Shutter Fly
  • Vista Print

I hope this helps make printing a breeze. If you have any questions please reach out and I’ll try my best to help. If you see an illustration you’d like in a larger size, contact me for inquiries.

Thank You for supporting my small shop. Love Amy

Confessions Of A Gold Star Sister

I walked my oldest daughter into middle school for the first time recently. That in itself is emotional, but as I walked into the school, I was transported back to my 6th-grade year.

PTSD isn’t just something that can happen to soldiers, but to anyone whose been through a traumatic event. Symptoms of PTSD can include: flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, nightmares, intense distress at real or symbolic reminders of the trauma, nausea, anxiety and more.

(I also have medical/complex PTSD with symptoms of overthinking, flashbacks, and hypervigilance)

A flashback is a vivid experience in which you relive some aspects of a traumatic event. As I walked into the school for open house I felt like my vision was clouded with movie reels of events.

My 6th grade year a tornado hit our middle school, school was delayed 2 weeks. We used the gym, the stage, and trailers for makeshift classrooms. I was sitting in my English class on the stage when we seen 9/11 live on TV.

As we continued to walk the halls, finding classes and meeting teachers, I walked into one particular classroom and I seen myself in 7th grade. I was getting called for early dismissal, my brother was being deployed to Iraq for the first time.

In 8th grade I was also called for early dismissal, as I walked into the front office my brother was there. He was on leave and surprised me. He always went out of his way to make sure I knew I was loved.

These memories seemed so real, like I could reach out and hug my younger self and tell her to be brave. The year after I graduated high school I got a call in the middle of the night; “Your brothers dead” was the words that hung in the air and changed so much in an instant.

My brother Sgt. Jon Rape, was killed in Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 15th, 2009. He is forever 25. Death anniversaries can be complex and emotional anyways; this year, flashbacks plus the ongoing situation in Afghanistan have made my anxiety and PTSD worse.

A fellow gold star family member wrote, “Our blood and love are sown into the soil of Afghanistan.” My family and many others have walked a unique path over the past twenty years, from being a kid watching a terrorist attack on TV, watching my brother get on a plane, gun in hand to fight for his country, then watching a soldier lay a folded flag into his widow’s hands.

We talk about them, not because we’re stuck or because we haven’t moved on, but we talk about them because we are theirs, and they are ours, and no passage of time will ever change that.

Scribbles & Crumbs

As we commemorate the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and end the longest war in American history, remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

And although the battle has ceased, there is still a war to be fought. Many of our soldiers return home with traumatic brain injuries, PTSD, and other mental health needs. More than 20 soldiers commit suicide a day; these staggering numbers outweigh combat deaths by 4x.

Getting Help & Other Resources

3 Tips For Improving Brain Fog

It’s been a little quiet here lately; life happened. I’ve been busy keeping my ship from sinking, dumping out water while it’s still spilling in.

Being a wife and mom is hard enough, but adding chronic illness to the mix makes it even harder. I’m the ship with a chronic disease, and holes keep springing with new side effects pouring the water in.

One issue I’ve had since my open heart surgery has been brain fog. Brain fog can be annoying, frustrating, and embarrassing when you forget something again or can’t recall that word you’re trying to think of.

Brain fog can cause one or all of these:

  • Fuzzy thinking
  • Problems with short or long term memory
  • Problems with working memory
  • Problems with concentration and focus
  • Problems thinking of the right word or using the right word
  • Problems with numbers or math

As I’m writing this, I struggle to find my words or remembering where I saw that quote—writer’s block on a whole new level when your words are in a blender inside your mind.

In the midst of all this, I have found some things that have helped me start a routine to keep my mind working and help ease some of the symptoms. Like I said above, I’m still struggling daily; this is something to do continually.

Reading is not only a great way to ease stress, but it also helps with memory, along with increasing your vocabulary. You can learn more about reading and memory here.

Try a new hobby or pick up an old one. We are trying to challenge our brains. Instead of a hobby, I signed up for a free summer college class. I’ve been able to see my hard work paying off. You could also do crossword puzzles, regular puzzles, play strategy games, etc.

Self-care is so important in managing our mental health and stress. Stress is hard to avoid, mainly when the pressure is caused by your own body failing you. For me, hot Epsom salts baths with my essential oils are a go-to, and I’ve been using Balance, a guided meditation app. If your self-care is exercise, shopping, thrifting, crafting, whatever it is, make time for yourself.

If you’re curious about which essential oils are good for mental clarity and alertness, you came to the right place. Peppermint, Rosemary, Intune Focus Blend, and Frankincense can also help you regain focus while working. You can learn more here:

1.) https://www.doterra.com/US/en/wellness-topics-memory

2.) https://www.doterra.com/US/en/blog/science-research-news-peppermint-essential-oil-and-cognitive-function

Do you have brain fog or memory issues? I’d love to hear your stories and about the things that have helped you!

Parenting With A Chronic Illness

Guilt: The Worst Symptom Of Chronic Illness

Being a parent is hard; being a parent with a chronic illness seems impossible some days.

Mom’s guilt has me all tangled up in her. This monster in my mind is swirling around with all the physical things I can’t do with my children, especially since summer has arrived.

We eat take-out and effortless meals more often than I would like to admit. My kids have cereal, microwaveable oatmeal, etc., for breakfast. I should be making them balanced healthy meals.

When my pain flares, I’m not as patient; I’m quicker to snap, and then later, that monster grips me tighter, telling me how I’m failing as a mother.

Cause and effect. If I even slightly overdo it one day, you can bet your butt I’m going to be in fatigue and flare for days after. It’s the price that must be paid to have memories with my family.

Then I have those late-night thoughts, wondering if I’ve given my kids my genetic conditions, wondering if they will have to suffer as I have silently.

I’m not faking being sick; I’m faking being well.

Chronic illness isn’t just a monster that causes pain, fatigue, and mom guilt. No, this monster steals from you little by little. It slowly steals away pieces of your body, independence, energy, health, family, friends, and then one day; you only recognize the monster that’s stolen so much.

I don’t write this post for pity; I write this for all the other moms out there feeling the same way I do. The one’s trying to hold back this monster while navigating life and parenthood. I see you.

I don’t have any magical answers or essential oils to make all these feelings go away, but know you’re not alone. When I’m having a particularly rough day, though, a bit of self-care can go a long way.

Here’s some of my favorite self-care activities that I enjoy:
  • You can find Epsom salts almost everywhere now, essential oils too, but we don’t use that fake stuff around here. My favorite blends are Geranium and Arborvitae, as well as Deep Blue or Aromatouch for those extra rough days.
  • I love flowers and gardening but, my body revolts at our southern humid, hot as hell weather. So, houseplants. I can get my fingers in the dirt, and it makes ME happy.
  • Even on days that I don’t do anything, I try to get a little bit of sunlight in. Some days get those rays through my open windows, other days, I enjoy front porch sitting, and if things are going good, I might take the kids and dogs for an evening walk.
  • I know it’s hard as a mom but, nothing refills my plate more than finding a cozy spot with my dog and draw, read a book, journal about all the things or sit quietly to re-gather my thoughts. I’ve also really been enjoying Balance, a guided meditation app.
  • Take a nap. Seriously. If your pain and fatigue levels are high, there is nothing wrong with taking a nap. The laundry, dirty dishes, or any other chore won’t go anywhere, promise.
  • Another simple pleasure I love is hot coffee and hot tea, I like iced/cold drinks too but, I prefer how the hot seems to wake up my cold soul.

If you’re a mom trying to parent with a chronic illness, I hope, if not before now, know that you’re not alone. There aren’t any guidebooks or some hidden secret in defeating our monsters, but as moms, we can come together and share our tips, tricks, offer advice and become battle buddies.

Make Your Daughter A Puberty Survival Toolkit

My mom started her first period at a young age, somehow our body’s natural processes have been a taboo topic until more recently. When I started my period my mom offered advice but the topic was still awkward and unhelpful.

Generational habits don’t have to be repeated, so I decided to make my daughter a puberty toolkit. The kit included 3 books, a package of teenage pads (yeah they make those now, no more diaper pads from the ’90s), natural skincare set, and of course an oil blend to help with hormones and ease that monthly discomfort.

Clarycalm Blend can be used for all ages so snag yourself one too!

Click the image to purchase

These are the books I purchased for my daughter and since I also have a younger daughter too, I’ll keep these for her. I’ll post links to each book below. (These are Amazon affiliate links, you help support me without any additional cost to you)

1.) Celebrate Your Feelings

2.) Celebrate Your Body

3.) Celebrate Your Body 2

The reason I started using essential oils began with desperation, due to my youngest daughters gastrointestinal issues. I soon learned that these amazing oils also helped my oldest with her severe environmental and seasonal threats.

Because of the threats mentioned above: I switched to green cleaning, natural products from dōTERRA and ditched synthetic fragrances and haven’t looked back since.

This all brings me to my last toolkit item which is a collection of face products to help keep skin clear which also helps boost confidence.

Click the image to purchase

I’m going to be completely honest, I’m a little scared of this stage in my pre-teens life. And I know these changes she’s experiencing are scary too. I hope this information can help you better prepare your daughter for puberty but also give us piece of mind knowing they are prepared.

You can click on each image to purchase Clarycalm and the hdclear set as a guest. If your interested in buying them all at once and want to save money then continue reading.

dōTERRA has a yearly membership just like Sams Club and Costco but WAY cheaper. $35 for your first year, then $25 a year plus a free peppermint oil when your membership renews. The membership price and the perks makes this my cheapest and best yearly membership. Sounds great, right. Click here to get your wholesale account.

Learn more about why I love dōTERRA with these posts:

Summer Boho Farmhouse Dining Room

Schools out, our pool is almost ready, and summer is here although unofficially. I did a little redecorating in the dining room, shopping my own house to change around my decor.

Changing out your decor and using stuff you already have saves money and it gives you a chance to dust/clean while rearranging. When I do buy home decor it’s usually always thirfted, or a DIY project.

Our house is small so even furniture serves several purposes. The bookshelf holds our inherited crystal glasses, I believe lifes to short to wait for special occasions to use them plus they are pretty. It also holds extra plates, some odds and ends and the locker basket holds placemats, napkins, etc.

The white organizer was a TJ Maxx find from a few years ago, it’s been used in many areas but works perfectly in this space to hold our drinks.

My favorite piece of art in our house is also another inherited item, this picture was bought somewhere in Europe by my husband’s German grandma and moved many places for decades until it found its spot at our home.

The tiered tray holds some of my most used essential oils in a cute tiny little basket, the brass planter holds some of my favorite crystals and sage sticks. Then of course I’ve got my doTerra humidifier/diffuser, my favorite blends have been Citrus Bloom and the new Midnight Forest.

These vintage plates were my grandmother’s and are perfect for summer. These cloth napkins are pottery barn but I snagged them at a local thrift shop a few years ago for 5 bucks! The napkin rings were another thrift find, I followed a YouTube video to fold them into bows.

My centerpiece is super simple, a white cake plate with a beautiful house plant. And I couldn’t help but get giddy when I saw new leaves forming on her.

Ideally, I would prefer to have our microwave in a hidden space but due to space issues, this hutch turned pantry became the perfect place for it.

Our kitchen table was a $30 find, and before I got sick I had refinished it. My vintage ladder back chairs were tough to find but my mom came through for Christmas a few years ago.

Of course, for me anyways I’m all about my plant babies. So I’ve got plants everywhere. Houseplants add such a cozy feel into your home- at least for me.

Do you change out your decor for the seasons? I’d love to see them. I’m also curious how others who have small spaces organize them!

Stop Saying Happy Memorial Day

As Memorial Day approaches my inbox, mailbox, ad’s, and social media posts are filled with Happy Memorial day sales and advertisements. Memorial Day [noun]: A day on which those who died in active military service are remembered.

Memorial Day for most consists of long weekends, BBQ’s, and the unofficial start of summer. Through the years the true meaning of Memorial Day has been replaced with the notion that this holiday includes everyone whom has passed.

While we all mourn for our lost loved ones, this day was meant to be a somber reminder of what freedom truly costs. It’s easy to ignore the true reality of war, that is if your lucky enough to not have loved ones fighting for their lives. And you are even luckier if you arent part of a Gold Star Family.

I don’t write this post to make you feel bad about enjoying Memorial Day with your families, spend as much time with your family as you can! I write this post to ask that you stop for a brief moment and thank the soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. If you would like to do more, below are some wonderful charities that you can donate to.

1.) TAPS: Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors

Photo From TAPS website. Click image to learn more about Memorial Day.

2.) A Soldiers Child Foundation

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=10155531479241368 This Video is from a Song Writing Camp they held. My Niece is in this video and helped write the song they are singing.

3.) Folded Flag Foundation: This link will take you to videos of those whom they have helped. This includes my Sister In Law and Niece, her video is under Nicole Rape.

My niece receiving a scholarship and my brother honored by the Folded Flag Foundation

4.) Amazon Smile– This is free for everyone. On your browser and now available on the app, you can choose to have a portion of your purchases (no extra cost to you) are given to your charity of choice.

My Current Amazon Smile for this year. Kroger also offers this too. Check your local grocery stores to see if they have similar programs.

Our Hero: Sgt. Jonathon T. Rape

My brother Jon, was born on April 9, 1984. Right before my brother graduated high school, September 11th happened. He didn’t hesitate to join the Army to fight for our freedom. Jon was not only a hero, but a wonderful friend, husband, father, son, and brother. He had a wonderful sense of humor and was a great storyteller. Jon was KIA in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 15, 2009, only 15 days before his daughter’s first birthday.

How do you spend your Memorial Day? Are you missing a friend or loved one who gave their all? Tell their story in the comments, together we will keep their memories alive.

The Hidden Toxins On Your Grocery List

Goodbye Toxins, Hello Nature

You’re walking through the grocery store (or browsing online for pick-up items like me), you are going about your normal routine. Then you stumble into the cleaning section with the fragrance section right there and we all love our homes to smell good. So it’s easy to add all the air fresheners, plug-ins, scented candles, scented wax warmers, and dare I say those drug store “essential oils” – which give all essential oils a bad name -to your cart.

Once your home you spray down your house, light your candles, etc you may realize you have a headache but of course, that’s from you being tired or <insert excuse here>. The reality is that in our attempts to make our home smell good we are releasing hundreds of different toxic chemicals into the air we breathe. The same air our kids, husband, wife, pets, etc are breathing too.

In a study conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency, they found that the air inside our homes has more pollution than even major, industrialized cities. Additional information here.

There are better ways to scent your home. Goodbyes don’t always have to be hard, I doubt you’ll even miss those synthetic fragrances. And if your anything like me I found that now I can’t stand the “fake” smell and I’m much more sensitive to the effects.

The Better Way

Plants have been used since the beginning of time for medicinal and religious purposes. We can thank Clove for helping numb tooth pain for dental procedures, Yarrow and Clary Sage we’re used during childbirth.

Centuries of salves, teas, and tinctures uses passed down through the generations. With the help of modern technology we’ve been able to study these plants and make medicines like aspirin, morphine, codeine, opium, and many more.

Anyone can use the power of nature to improve their home air quality, seriously it’s so easy. DoTerra created the Aroma Essentials Collection bringing together 10 powerhouse essential oils and blends that are tried and true for creating a fresh, clean environment that smells incredible.

The Aroma Essentials Collection Includes:

  • Peppermint
  • Wild Orange
  • Northern Escape
  • Citrus Bloom
  • Adaptiv
  • Balance
  • Cheer
  • Serenity
  • On Guard
  • Breathe
  • Laluz Diffuser

Pure essential oils are unadulterated and incredibly potent, so it only requires a few drops of oil. Drops of essential oils go much further than synthetic fragrances. Depending on usage this kit could last 6 months to a year! A whole year without toxic scents wafting through your home should make you feel wonderful. You have taken a huge step in reducing the toxic load to you and your family.

As a mom with a chronic illness, I don’t need to add anything extra to my toxic load. I’ve used these oils for 5 years now and I’ve seen the power of plants in action, On Guard, for example, smells like Christmas to me but it also helps boost our immune system. In our home, medicinal and western medicine combine- it doesn’t have to be a this or that, but working together can make a bigger impact on our overall health and wellness goals.

5 Ways To Become Your Own Health Advocate

If you would have told me two years ago that I would be sitting here writing about being your own health advocate, I would have probably laughed. I doubt most people even think about this topic, I know I didn’t until I had to become one.

The Beginning Of My Health Journey:

What first started as back pain and TMJ, suddenly progressed into chronic pain, edema, high blood pressure, and much more. I had labs and MRIs with great results, then sent to a rheumatologist. At my first visit the doctor kind of shrugged me off, he told me to try Cymbalta and exercise because surely a healthy 29 year old just has a bit of fatigue because she’s a mom and depression can mimic many other illnesses.

As my symptoms progressed so did my patience, I finally spoke up and voiced my concerns openly and honestly with my doctor. After this conversation he had a much better sense of what was going on with my body and that there was something wrong, we just had to find the right test. Fast forward a few weeks and after a trip to the ER got me a cat scan, they found “inflammation” and told me to follow up with my specialist.

He got me in to see him on a Monday because of course my ER visit was on a weekend. He walked into the room and said you have an aneurysm and I’m referring you to a cardiothoracic surgeon. The rest of this story can be read here. (This rheumatologist is still my doctor to date, and was a big reason I’m alive)

Becoming My Own Health Advocate:

My post-op pacemaker care has been less than stellar, at first I chalked it up to pandemic issues but then when issues arose the doctor was dismissive of my concerns. When I say dismissive, I mean he had an ego the size of Texas and assured me that he knew what he was talking about because he was an engineer. I don’t have a medical degree but, I am knowledgeable about my conditions and had notes/vitals to back me up. Plus I’ve lived in this body going on 32 years, I know when something isn’t right.

Well, long story short I fired him. I had my local cardiologist refer me to a new electrophysiologist, I was seen quickly and the doctor actually listened to me and with a simple medicine removal my symptoms have improved greatly.

If your battling health concerns or a care taker for someone, being/having a health advocate is so important. Keep on reading for my top 5 tips to becoming your own health advocate.

  • Be Prepared: Before any doctor’s appointments write down your symptoms, concerns, and any questions you have. It is incredibly easy to get sidetracked and forget to mention something or ask your questions.
  • Be Knowledgeable: I’m not saying you need to go get a medical degree but, once you have a diagnosis it is great to learn what you can about your condition(s) and be proactive in your care plan with your doctors.
  • Speak Up: If you feel like you are not being heard, speak up. Do not be afraid to tell your doctor that they are wrong, Don’t be afraid to get a second, or third opinion.
  • Trust Your Gut: You are the only person who really knows your body. You know when something feels off, you can feel pain- even if it’s invisible. You have lived in your body, your entire life, you know it better than anyone else. When I was having pacemaker issues that the first doctor kept on telling me it was because of low blood pressure. I knew this wasn’t correct, my blood pressure had been stable for months. Trusting my gut and getting a second opinion was the best decision- and now that my issues were addressed I’m feeling much better.
  • Keep A Medical Journal: Keeping a medical journal is extremely helpful, not only can you use it to write down the stuff I mentioned above but this can hold copies of test results, medical records, medication lists, symptom tracker, and more. When I first started my journal I used a binder and page protectors to organize all my information and could take it from doctor to doctor. I now use my Ipad for this but, you can use whatever you have on hand to make your journal.

Living with a chronic illness (or being a caretaker) can be so hard already, the last thing we should have to worry about is getting decent health care. Have you had doctors dismiss your concerns? I’d love to hear your stories, and I hope my story and tips can help you on your journey.

Hello May! Time To Bloom

I am so excited that Spring has sprung. Everything is blooming, my cut flower sprouts are almost ready for outdoor transfer plus I love having my hands in the dirt.

With blooming flowers and trees, pollen problems have lots of people feeling yucky. Lemon, Lavender and Peppermint in a diffuser or capsule can help, add the oils to a roller bottle to apply to itchy bug bites too. Green Mandarin has been my personal favorite, I take in a capsule and it significantly reduces my sinus drainage.

May Promos

Clementine is our free product of the month, and this oil is an exclusive one that isn’t available to purchase. If your part of doTERRA’s loyalty rewards program and place a order of 125pv by the 15th then this will be added for free.

For last months loyalty order I got the new Aroma essentials kit. First of all I love this diffuser and it includes oils to make your house smell yummy without harmful toxins.

Also not only is my doTERRA membership way cheaper ($25/year) vs my other yearly memberships like Amazon, Sams Club or Costco but it also has so many perks.

  • Loyalty Orders are basically monthly wellness boxes from doTERRA but, you pick your items each month so you can order a tube of chapstick or every single oil. Completely your choice and you can change or cancel your orders anytime.
  • Upon joining you’ll start earning points based on the PV (product value) and start gaining 10% back in product points that can be used like cash. You can get up to 30% back as you continue to be a loyalty customer. Oh and what you pay in shipping will also be added to your account as points to use.
  • Your membership already comes with 25% off all your products. The LRP (Loyalty Rewards Program) is doTERRA’s way of rewarding their repeat customers.
  • In the picture above is my last months LRP box. Everything on the left I got for free for cashing in my points. $195 dollars worth. These points and BOGO deals have helped me get all kinds of oils for free.

This month enjoy 15% more off of Geranium essential oil. This oil stays in my bathroom with Arborvitae, they are my go- to oils to add to my epsom salt baths.

As Mother’s Day approaches why not give your mom a bouquet that not only smells amazing but, offers so many benefits. Or you can get it for yourself, I buy my own Mother’s Day gifts- might as well get what you really want.