Inspiration

Helping After Harvey, Locally

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Hurricane Harvey wreaked his devastation across the great (and very large) state of Texas and Louisiana this past weekend and week. It has been a gut-wrenching and heart breaking few days. These are difficult times, to be certain. But, in the aftermath of the storm, there is much to be done. And so many people have reached out to me asking how they can help. Not only that, people are asking me how they can help through local organizations, where the money is certain to go straight to the people impacted by this disaster. Many of us are more comfortable donating directly to smaller organizations with less overhead, red-tape and bureaucracy or even directly to families in times like these.

Sweet friends of mine across the country have been texting, emailing and messaging me asking for thoughts and ideas on where they can donate, so I thought it might be helpful to create a blog post with a few options. All of these organizations are ones with which I have a personal connection and can vouch for their honest intentions in helping and for the fact that they have very low to no overhead taken out of the money donated, as the funding for their organizations come from other development efforts. They are grassroots efforts that help people here in Houston every day. Of course, Harvey affected so many towns across Texas and Louisiana and I’m in no way suggesting that Houston is the only community in need. It’s just the place where I was raised, where I started my business and where my studio is located, so its near and dear to my heart and it’s also where I have the personal connections. I’m a firm believer that you should give where your heart leads you, so I would encourage you to jump in and help out where you feel comfortable.

I have so many friends and neighbors who need help during this difficult time that it is almost overwhelming. Where do you even start with helping? Most shelters I’ve been to are no longer accepting clothing and each one has a specific list of needs that is changing hour by hour as people bring more things. It can be hard to keep up with and know where to help. (For an interesting and informative look at what donations can actually be harmful, see this video from CBS.) Since sometimes cash donations are overlooked by people wanting to do something more personal, I thought maybe a list of small, local organizations that I have personal connections with might be helpful. Please note that this is not meant to be an exhaustive list of wonderful places to give. I tried to select organizations that do not have a national fundraising arm and therefore, often get overlooked in times like this, when it is hard for people (especially far away) to research local organizations who need help continuing to serve the people of Houston they have been serving for many years. I’m a big fan of supporting local businesses and charities and just wanted to provide some options for friends who are far away, but want to help. I’ve included links to the various websites, so that you can learn more about them if you’d like.

 

The Forge for Families is a community center in Houston’s Third Ward, where we live. Their mission is to holistically equip families to fulfill their God-given potential and their vision is to transform families in one generation. In the middle of the worst part of the storm and in the middle of a neighborhood in need, The Forge for Families opened their doors as a shelter. They are currently housing roughly 300 people that have been displaced throughout the greater Houston area. Currently, the shelter is being helped out by the Red Cross, but once they’ve departed, they will continue to invest in the families in need, just as they always have. Donations to the Forge for Families will allow them to continue to assist the evacuees while their lives are being restored. They will also allow them to refill essential supplies as needed. They have created a Hurricane Harvey Fund designated for supplies, operational expenses, facility management and all the extra cost that were not accounted for in our 2017 budget and you can donate to it here.

 

Agape Development was started by a longtime friend of mine, Kirk Craig. Agape also serves people in Houston’s Third Ward. Their mission is in transforming this neighborhood by preparing Christ-following, independent, community leaders. Agape Development staff was delivering food and water to families during the storm and aftermath when many households ran out of food and were cut off from grocery stores, many of which were closed. Now that the immediate crisis is ending and we begin recovery, Agape stands ready to help with that as well. For many, the beginning of the month looms around the corner as a financial deadline: rents, mortgages, car loans, cell phone bills, and any debt repayments are due and for low-income and working poor families, hourly employment during a natural disaster means forgoing income. If you would like to financially support the remaining recovery efforts they are conducting or support their fall programs to empower our neighborhood, please click relief.agapedevelopment.org. To volunteer with your time, please check out their volunteer opportunities or email volunteer@agapedevelopment.org.

 

Houston Pregnancy Help Center is run by a powerhouse of a woman named Sylvia Johnson-Matthews. If you’ve met her personally, you’ve been amazed by the combination of her strength and her humility. Houston Pregnancy Help Centers provide practical and compassionate support to women in unplanned pregnancy situations. We present life-affirming alternatives to the tragedy of abortion, while respecting a woman’s decision without ridicule or rejection. Currently, they are women affected by Harvey, including pregnant women as well as those with babies who need supplies, such as diapers, wipes, formula, clothing, etc. Donate to HPHC Flood Assistance here or by texting the keyword HPHC to 77977.

 

Yellowstone Academy is the premier school in Houston’s historic 3rd Ward. At Yellowstone, students receive an education that cultivates their intellect, nourishes their spirit, and empowers them to capitalize on their potential to create a fulfilling future for our entire community. They’ve been serving in Houston for 15 years and words cannot adequately describe the impact they are making on the youth of our city and their families. The stories will bring tears to your eyes. I’ve been attending their fundraising Love Brunch for several years and they stories I’ve heard are so encouraging. For 15 years, Yellowstone Academy has been standing with some of Houston’s most vulnerable students and families. Many of the families—from their students to their staff—have lost homes, possessions, wages, and more as a result of catastrophic flood levels. Even their newly renovated campus was impacted. As they sent this update, members of their team are on the grounds fully assessing the damages and making the necessary repairs to once again serve their students as soon as possible. A key component of their educational model is that all of their families pay tuition according to what they can afford, and the remainder is funded through scholarships provided by generous partners across the city. In these difficult times, families may not be in a position to fund their portion of tuition for the fall semester. As a response, they are waiving tuition for the semester for any family who needs it, with faith that our community can rally together to fund the difference. Stand with them today by making a donation towards that here.

 

Undies for Everyone enhances the self-esteem, dignity, hygiene, and success of Houston’s disadvantaged students by providing them clean underwear. Keeping kids in class and bullies at bay. During the Hurricane Harvey disaster, they are serving more than just students, as so many people in shelters don’t have clean underwear or access to laundry facilities. Brene Brown stands at George R Brown Convention Center, which is currently acting as a large shelter, making a plea for donations after what she has seen firsthand. View her video here. Please consider helping them by donating here.

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Harvey

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As I sit here typing this, I am listening to the rain fall. I used to love snuggling up during a good ol’ Texas thunderstorm and I loved sleeping in one even more. It was actually something I missed during the time we lived in San Francisco. Strangely, it doesn’t really storm there. I only saw lightning and heard thunder two times in the five years that we lived there and it always struck me as rather odd. I actually missed it during our time there, as crazy as that feels to type now, in the midst of Harvey. It has been raining for four days now and has been raining without stopping for even a second for at least 24 hours straight. I’d love to tell you exactly how many hours, but I can’t, because I’m not even sure what day it is. Somehow, they are all meshing together in my head and I have lost all sense of time. It’s a strange feeling and I’m beginning to realize that cabin fever is a very real phenomenon. When you’re stranded on a makeshift island surrounded by water and unable to escape except by boat or helicopter for days on end, it really does alter your mind a bit. And we are among the more fortunate in this storm, of that I am very well aware.

The photo above was the view from our front porch yesterday. The floodwaters have filled the park across the street, with its hills and valleys that create a bit of a bowl that is 15-20 feet or so down. The street, which is probably 4-5 feet below our house is also flooded and impassable. You can see by the street sign shown how high it is. It is flooded in both directions as far as the eye can see. The nearest cross street is also underwater. And the water is in our yard and slowly moving up the driveway (which has a pretty steep hill to it) and closer to our home. My son’s baby swing in the front yard is halfway under water, so I’m guessing there’s about 2-3 feet of water in our yard. A family of ducks just swam by me the now lake that covers our front yard.

For four days now, I’ve been absorbing and processing. Absorbing information, photos, videos and the very personal stories of people close to me who are in dire distress. It’s an awful lot to take in. I’ve had so many thoughts I wanted to share, but neither the energy or the time to do so. It has taken all I have to keep life within these walls of our house as normal as humanly possible for my children. At the beginning of this ordeal, when Harvey was forming in the Gulf, I was checking the weather nonstop. It may have been a throwback to my energy trading days, when tracking hurricanes and their effects on production in the Gulf was a part of my job. Or it may have had something to do with the fact that though I have weathered Hurricane Alisha, Tropical Storm Allison, Hurricane Rita and Hurricane Ike, I have never weathered a hurricane as a mother. Now, with three boys who are dependent on us for survival, the game has changed dramatically. Regardless, I was glued to the weather. I quickly fell in love with Space City Weather, which offers information without the sensationalism. In the beginning, I didn’t realize how crucial that would be to maintaining my sanity. I left the news channels on for a while, as they had tornado alerts and other important information, but I couldn’t leave them on for long because of my children. When some desperate woman who had been rescued by boat started screaming about all the little children who were going to die in their homes and our three year old repeated those words and asked me why with a terrified expression, I turned the television off. Images and words on TV are powerful and my boys are so young that they cannot separate fact from drama. Please don’t get me wrong, I think the news people in Houston have done and are doing an excellent job and I am grateful for their selfless coverage of this unprecedented disaster, but my own heart aches deeply at watching the images and hearing the stories, so I cannot imagine what the little minds in my house are thinking as they try and process it all.

By now, however, I rarely even look at the weather. I’m simply exhausted by it all. Severe weather alerts have gone off on my phone around every 5-15 minutes 24 hours a day for the past 4 days. Flash flood warning, tornado warning, tropical storm warning, tropical cyclone warning. I get it. We’re all in great danger here. I just can’t even process them anymore. When the tornado sirens went off, we hunkered down in an interior hallway or in our basement. It’s a confusing thing when the authorities tell you to get upstairs because of flash flooding, but also to get to the lowest level because of a tornado. And when your kids are finally sleeping peacefully, do you wake them up to move from one to the other when the sirens go off? It’s a tough call, especially when you’re tired. When we were taking cover, my children were crying in fear. And I read one of my very favorite books to them, The Jesus Storybook Bible. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It’s a refreshing read of the stories we know and love that brings fresh tears to my eyes almost every time I read it to my children. It’s a powerful translation, even for adults. We read the story of Jesus calming the storm and talked about how we do not need to fear, because even in difficult times like these, God is still in control. Once it was over, my kids were “playing tornado” and hiding under the dining room table. I remember reading an article on child psychology about how this is how they process trauma in a healthy way, by acting it out again and again, so I let them do it and even joined in some. It was a bit of humbling experience.

We are just fine. We are safe and dry and our house has not taken in water other than some roof and ceiling leaks. We have food and plenty of water. We have electricity and we are all together. Though we are stranded here, we are absolutely fine and beyond grateful. God is merciful and through all of this horror, the loss of life is so much smaller in number than one might expect. For that, we are grateful.

More to come as I continue to process and reflect. There is much to share and there is much to be done in relief and recovery efforts. But for now, I will focus on our family. Keeping us fed and the house and dishes relatively clean, coordinating efforts of help for friends via the internet and Facebook and connecting people as we are so thankful that we have electricity. Until we are able to leave our home, we will do what we can to help, we will support and minister to one another in this time of crisis and we will pray. We will pray for the rain to stop, the storm to dissipate, the winds to die down and for peace for the people of our great city. And when we are able, we will act. We will join others in relief efforts, band together as a community and get our community put back together. We will be stronger and our perspective will be very different. May all of this experience change us for the better, starting with me.

Pretty Letters

andrea

On a recent Friday morning, I was treated to a lovely chalkboard lettering class with Kristara along with some darling blogger friends. Her Houston calligraphy studio is located in an gorgeous building filled with inspiring businesses on Spring Street. Just walking in, you are sure to feel more creative! And her space is just adorable – filled with sweet little touches that make you feel right at home (if you live in a home filled with well-curated lovelies, that is!) Her walls are adorned with her incredible work, like the adorbs invitations pictured below, and I was immediately smitten. If you’ve been to the Lululemon store in Highland Village here in Houston, you’ve likely seen her work, as she does the art on their chalkboards. And for daily doses of her beautiful lettering, follow her on Instagram here.

lovely lettering

As we walked in, she offered us coffees, mimosas and sweet treats. It was a definite blessing for this mama after a harried morning of trying to get the littles to school on time. After some gabbing and catching up with friends (and commiserating that getting up this morning was super hard after a late evening out at the A Couture Cause event the night before!) we sat down at a pristine white table that was accented with simple, yet beautiful flowers, chalk and chalkboards with each of our names on them. Tres chic!

To begin with, Kristara is incredibly sweet, very patient and totally relatable, which makes the class super fun. First, she went over some lettering styles and examples with us. She demonstrated tricks and tips and also gave us a handout with the information so that we could focus on having fun and experimenting during the class. I love the “But first, coffee” design she did below. (Please note the artsy photo my darling friend Candace took of me taking a photo of the chalkboard!)

but first coffee

After the examples, we went to work creating. We started out with chalk and in the end, those who wanted to make their designs more permanent used a chalk marker (which is still removable) to make the chalk art last longer. I practiced a few things, but erased them before I took photos, much to the dismay of my table mate, the always-adorable style blogger, my friend Carly, who thought they were way better than they actually were. (Must have been the mimosas talking!) Turns out, I’m more of a perfectionist than I thought and chalkboard lettering is harder than I thought! It sure was fun, though, and I’m excited to practice more at home on the chalkboards she gave us!

Kristara does hand-lettering, so you can hire her to address your next batch of party invitations for a beautiful touch. She also teaches calligraphy and brush lettering as well, so no matter what your style is, you’re sure to find something to inspire you in her class list. I cannot recommend her classes highly enough – especially if you go with a friend (or several.) You are sure to have fun indulging your creative side in her precious studio!

 

See Me

See Me

This year, our children’s school has committed to being a part of +Works (pronounced Positive Thinking Works). I went to a meeting introducing it a few weeks ago and I was blown away. In fact, I’m still processing much of what was said. There are several schools that are joining in this movement and I couldn’t be more excited that our school is among them. The women who started this initiative are two experienced moms (and friends) Sarah Fisher and Trish Morille. As I listened to Sarah speak, I realized how desperately our society needs this thinking. In tumultuous times like this, we need so much more of this and the very best place to start is with the current generation of children. As we learn alongside them and strive to model this type of life for them, our world cannot help but be changed for the better.

Today, our school sent out the following poem from +Works. It struck me to my core as I read it. Tears filled my eyes and my heart was deeply convicted by these words. I thought you might be as well, so I wanted to share them with you. We all need to read this. Multiple times.

Again, these words are not my own, but I did want to share them with you because they are so important. For more resources like this, which I have found very helpful in my parenting journey!) or for information on their movement, please visit their website here or follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

SEE ME
I am your child.
I am your student.
I am your husband.
I am your wife.
I am your brother, your sister.
Your mother, your father.
Your friend.
Your neighbor.
I am a human being doing my best.
And I need you to see me as I am.

I need you to SEE me as I AM.

I need you to allow me to be myself with you.
I want to tell you my truth.
Can you hear me?
I am screaming at you with my eyes wide and my mouth shut.
I need you to give me the gift that comes in a simple card that reads:
You are not me.
You are you.
And I love you.
As you are.

I need you to tell me this to my face:
I love you even when and especially when you don’t agree with me because we have so much to learn from each other on this journey.

What is that so hard?
What are you afraid of?
Why do you tell me not to feel what I’m felling when I’m feeling it?
Why do you tell me to believe what you believe when I am still searching?
Why do you dream for me when I have my own dreams?
Why do you think you get to choose whom I will become?

Please know this.
Just because you are older or smarter or richer or poorer or ____er does not make you wiser.
I have seen wisdom spring from unexpected people and unexpected places.
Like youth.
And inexperience.
And silence.
Especially when that silence is imposed.

Please. It is awful not to feel loved.
Hear my voice.
See my face.
Feel my pain.
Set me free.

Happy Love Day!

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Happy Valentine’s Day, lovelies! On this day of love, I pray that you are surrounded by those you love and hold dear in this life. If this isn’t you this year – if you’re in a time of loss or pain or struggle, I am praying for you as well. And I’m sending you my very favorite Valentine’s Day quote. Wise words from (my former pastor and a favorite author) Max Lucado

 

“I hope you receive a rose or a special card from that special person today. If you didn’t and don’t expect to, remember that the One who loves you most has already sent you His very best.”

                                                                  – Max Lucado

 

Glamour + Grace

 

View More: http://sheradeehurstphotography.pass.us/autumnalcharm

I’m so thrilled to have my some of my bridal jewelry designs featured on the front page of Glamour and Grace today! Its truly an honor to have worked with such incredible professionals on this photo shoot. The sources are tagged at the bottom of this post, so be sure to check them out. Every little detail is just gorgeous!

I’m posting a few of the stunning pics below, but hop on over to the Glamour and Grace blog for even more of this beautiful spread featuring romantic jewel tone wedding inspiration that is sure to make you smile. And be sure to look around their blog if you’re planning a wedding anytime soon – they have such fabulous ideas!

View More: http://sheradeehurstphotography.pass.us/autumnalcharm

View More: http://sheradeehurstphotography.pass.us/autumnalcharm

View More: http://sheradeehurstphotography.pass.us/autumnalcharm

View More: http://sheradeehurstphotography.pass.us/autumnalcharm

View More: http://sheradeehurstphotography.pass.us/autumnalcharm

View More: http://sheradeehurstphotography.pass.us/autumnalcharm

View More: http://sheradeehurstphotography.pass.us/autumnalcharm

View More: http://sheradeehurstphotography.pass.us/autumnalcharm

View More: http://sheradeehurstphotography.pass.us/autumnalcharm

View More: http://sheradeehurstphotography.pass.us/autumnalcharm

View More: http://sheradeehurstphotography.pass.us/autumnalcharm

View More: http://sheradeehurstphotography.pass.us/autumnalcharm

View More: http://sheradeehurstphotography.pass.us/autumnalcharm

View More: http://sheradeehurstphotography.pass.us/autumnalcharm

Photography | Sheradee Hurst Photography | Styling | Krissi Farrimond | Floral, Stationery, & Calligraphy | Inspire Events | Cake | Amy Cakes | Macarons | Brown Egg Bakery | Vintage Chairs | Borrowed Charm | Place Settings | Culinary Kitchen | Gown | Alvina Valenta from Prescott Bridal | Hair and Makeup | Andrea Lemonds of Trichology Salon | Jewelry | Andrea Montgomery Designs | Ring | Trumpet & Horn | Groom’s Attire | Spencer Stone | Vow Book | Wedding Story Writer

Introducing Our Pritchard Hill Collection

Pritchard Hill Wording

Our Pritchard Hill Collection was inspired by a Summer trip to the California wine country and our discovery of a lesser-known spot in Napa, Pritchard Hill.  Our collection features Pantone’s 2015 Color of the Year, Marsala, where deep brownish-red garnet abounds. Check out a few of the highlights below and then hop on over to the website to see the full collection here.

Interested to learn more about Pritchard Hill? (You definitely should be!) read our blog post about our incredible visit to one of the premier vineyards there. You won’t want to miss those photos!

Pritchard Hill Photo Grid

Upper left: Vineyard soil
Upper right: Marsala Earrings in Garnet
Lower left: Boon Fly Necklace
Lower right: Wine Pour

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Yountville Earrings in Garnet, Champagne Citrine and Labradorite

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Sea Ranch Necklace in Garnet & Citrine

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Petaluma Earrings in Garnet, Citrine and Pyrite

Introducing Our Carneros Collection

Carneros Collection

 

We are launching our latest collection, which was also inspired by a Summer trip to the California Wine Country. For our stay in Napa Valley, we were at the Carneros Inn, which is a serene property with accommodations that are both luxurious and comfortable at the same time. (Just writing about it has me aching to go back!) The muted orange tones and soft grey colors mixed together with stark white was the inspiration for this collection. Feel a bit of the relaxed sophistication of Napa each time you wear a piece. . . See some of our fav items below and then view the collection on our website here.

 

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Upper left: Domaine Carneros 
Upper right: Oceans Eight Bracelet in Moonstone
Lower left: Asheville Tassel Necklace
Lower right: Vineyards

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Oceans Eight Bracelet in Grey, Peach and White Moonstone E7121-PYR_blog

Oakville Earrings in Pyrite

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Yountville Necklace in Labradorite and Carnelian

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Petaluma Earrings in Labradorite, Carnelian and Pyrite N7845-BN&TQ_blog Asheville Tassel Necklace in Bone, Pyrite and Turquoise

The Judgment of Paris

Bottle Shock Wording

In 1976, Chateau Montelena shocked the world when their 1973 Chardonnay was rated above all other wines during a grand tasting, which has now come to be known as the “Judgment of Paris.” At a time when French wines reigned supreme, this stunning win helped to put California on the map in the world of wine. In the 2008 movie, Bottle Shock, beautifully tells this true story and is a must-watch for anyone who enjoys wine.

If you get the chance to visit the California Wine Country, a visit to Chateau Montelena is well worth your time. The grounds are absolutely stunning (and if you’re a wine club member, you can use their lovely Jade Lake for picnics!) and the wine is equally fine. Their Chardonnay is, of course, most famous, but all of their offerings are delicious, so don’t miss the rest. If you’re in San Francisco, but not able to make it North to taste, pop into the Westin St. Francis in Union Square, where Chateau Montelena maintains a small tasting room in the city within the hotel.

Inspired by the deep golden-yellow color of a glass of crisp Chardonnay, our Bottle Shock collection features rich golden tones that are both warm and mellow at the same time. Yellow and brown sapphires, rudilated quartz, gorgeous sunstone, sparkling silverite, champagne-colored mystic topaz and natural and white bone are all featured in this collection, which has a hip, but effortlessly chic vibe. Like a cool glass of white wine on a warm Indian Summer day, this collection brings good feelings with it as it illuminates your skin.

In the spirit of small companies with a big dream making a big splash in the world (and in Chateau Montelena’s case, changing the course of history!) take a moment to check out our new collection and learn a little more about what makes Andrea Montgomery Designs different. We are small by design, choosing to craft our pieces out of quality materials right here in Texas.

So, grab a glass of wine, get comfy and click here to peruse our newest collection for Fall (that will transition beautifully into Spring as well!)

Bottle Shock Photos

 

bottle-shock-collection

The Blues of Bodega Bay

BodegaBayWording

On the Sonoma Coast of California sits the enchanting Bodega Bay where the sandy beaches are met with a beautiful rocky coastline. Tide pools abound, surfers congregate and whales can be spotted migrating through the area. This is the perfect place for a romantic getaway where you can relax on the beaches in the evening, listening to the waves crash, sipping the new wine you discovered during the day in Sonoma.

This collection was inspired by the wide spectrum of blue shades in Bodega Bay. From the coastal skies on a grey, overcast day to the clear blue sky on a bright, sunny day at the beach, luxurious London blue topaz and beautiful Swiss blue topaz abound. Like the Pacific ocean waves, seafoam-colored Peruvian opal splashes up against the shimmering grey of pyrite. Brushed gold vermeil and white freshwater pearls add a sophisticated coolness. Serenity is the overarching theme of this collection and upscale gemstones bring richness and a chic feel to the nature-inspired designs.

I hope that you love it as much as I do!

BodegaBayPhotos