Sharing Some Favorite Links

While we are going to be keeping things pretty low key this year for Christmas, I know many of you have started or soon will be starting your holiday shopping. I have been thinking a lot about some of the talented people whose work I follow and whose words I often share on Facebook. Because I like what they do so much, but am not always able to buy things from them, I wanted to share links to their websites and other sites here with you. Perhaps you will find something you’d like to purchase from them for yourself or as a gift, or you might know someone else you’d like to share their info with. I hope you enjoy reading about some of my favorites and maybe discover a new favorite for yourself.

Holley Gerth

Holley Gerth is a blogger that I have followed for quite some time. She always has wonderfully encouraging words to share, which I have often passed on. She also has a page on her blog where she posts free printables and graphics that anyone can enjoy and share however they’d like; check them out here . Holly has been a writer and editorial director for DaySpring, and is currently the best-selling author of several books. I have her book What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days, which is a wonderful devotional. She co-founded (in)courage, which she calls “a place that’s like God’s beach house.” You can find tons of great posts by Holly and many other writers there. (I also love her Coffee for Your Heart opportunities for other bloggers to connect their words of encouragement with hers.)

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Studio JRU

I have to tell you about this artist I discovered through Instagram. She is also a part of (in)courage. Her name is Jennifer and she describes herself as a “creator of art made to reflect God’s word and love creatively and beautifully in your home.” You can follow her on Facebook or check out her beautiful work on her website. She creates original paintings, creative crosses, and also offers prints of her work. I love her artwork and I think you might enjoy it as well.

 

Sweatpants & Coffee

A while back, I discovered entertaining posts by Nanea Hoffman on Facebook. On her FB page Sweatpants & Coffee, she writes about coffee (surprise, surprise) and other important things in life. I have shared a number of her posts at one time or another.

About Sweatpants & Coffee: Sweatpants & Coffee is an online magazine founded by Nanea Hoffman in July of 2013 featuring inspirational, uplifting, entertaining content with a focus on comfort, personal growth, and mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Their mission: To inspire people to be their most comfortable selves – mentally, emotionally, and physically. When you are comfortable in yourself and your life, you can do anything.

Besides great online posts, they have some items for sale that you might want to check out: http://sweatpantsandcoffee.com/shop/. Right now, you can get 25% off your entire purchase of $30 or more with the code SCTHANKS25 at checkout – ends midnight on Monday 11/28/16.

coffee

Karen Salmansohn aka NotSalmon.com

I can’t remember if I first discovered her on Instagram or on Facebook, but Karen Salmansohn offers “self-help for people who wouldn’t be caught dead doing self-help.” I have shared TONS of her posts on happiness, gratitude, surviving everyday life, etc. On her website , she offers a lot of free stuff as well as life-improving courses and other “tools that help you become the highest potential YOU!” She has also written a number of inspiring books.

About Karen Salmansohn: Hi I’m Karen Salmansohn, founder of NotSalmon. My mission is to offer you easy-to-understand insights and tools to empower you to bloom into your happiest, highest potential self. I use playful analogies, feisty humor, and stylish graphics to distill big ideas – going as far back as ancient wisdom from Aristotle, Buddhism and Darwin to the latest research studies from Cognitive Therapy, Neuro Linquistic Programming, Neuroscience, Positive Psychology, Quantum Physics, Nutritional Studies – and then some.

Emily McDowell 

I first discovered Emily McDowell when a friend shared a few of her amazing empathy cards on Facebook. The tagline for this line of cards is “What to say, when you don’t know what to say.” While some people might not be comfortable with the strong language she uses on some of her products, I can think of a lot of people who would get a kick out of the variety of items available through her shop (cards, pins, journals, etc). I admire what she has done and the way she can connect with people in such a real way, so I am sharing a link to her website here. {Do not click on the link if “colorful” language offends you.}

 

Use Special Code: FOODCOMA16 for 25% off your whole order through Monday (11/28).

About Emily McDowell Studio: This company was founded on the success of one card that spoke to a truth about relationships in a way that wasn’t yet represented in Greeting Card World, and that’s what we most like to do here: identify universal, emotional truths and observations on being human, and turn them into products that help people feel understood. We make cards for the relationships we actually have, not the ones we wish we had, and we’ve made it our mission to help people connect when they don’t know what to say.

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Lysa TerKeurst

I have read several books by Lysa TerKeurst and I follow her on Facebook. She is an amazing, godly, but down-to-earth woman. She has a great sense of humor and makes a wonderful connection between everyday life and Christ-based faith. You can follow her on Facebook, subscribe to her blog posts on her website, and/or read her posts and those of many other talented writers at Proverbs 31. Her books can be purchased through Proverbs 31 Ministries as well as just about anywhere you buy any of your books. (See the info below for Lysa’s Cyber Weekend Sale.)

About Lysa TerKeurst: Lysa TerKeurst is the New York Times bestselling author of The Best Yes, Unglued and Made to Crave as well as 16 other titles. As president of Proverbs 31 Ministries, Lysa and her team reach millions of women daily through their Biblical messages of encouragement. Their latest development of the First 5 Mobile App landed them the number 1 spot of most searched for apps in the Apple Store, with over 400,000 downloads in the first 2 months. In addition to speaking at Catalyst, Lifeway’s Abundance Conferences and Women of Joy, she speaks at 40+ events annually where she is passionate about teaching the Bible in ways people enjoy it and understand how to apply what they learn.

Odin Leather Goods

I know Odin Clack personally; I used to work with him. Odin crafts high-quality handmade leather goods. What started out as a hobby for him has grown into a very successful side business. He has a number of products that you can order right off of his website , but he can also do custom orders. We have ordered several pieces from him (a belt, a tote, personalized mason jar wraps) and are very happy with them; we hope to purchase more items in the future. You can also find Odin on Facebook or on Instagram, or if you live in Texas, you might run into him at a local craft show or flea market. His Black Friday Sale is good from now until November 30th.

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Well, I’m sure I could come up with even more favorites, but I gotta get this blog posted so you guys don’t miss out on these great deals. Hope you find a new creative person to love and follow from my list of links.

Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and many blessings to all.

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Write today’s story with an open and grateful heart!

My focus word for 2015 has been gratitude. At the moment, I am grateful for those of you who remain subscribers on my blog even though I am really bad about posting on a regular basis. I’ve got a book review I’ve been wanting to post, but I felt like I needed to write a personal post before adding another “book break,” as there hasn’t been much real content on my blog to break from lately. The good news is — I have been too busy to write. Well, I guess that’s also the bad news. I know it is important to slow down to allow ourselves time for the things that we enjoy and that make our lives meaningful. I also recognize that I need to be more purposeful about how I spend the hours in my days. Perhaps you are noticing the same thing in your life?

Here are some words from others that I found inspiring:

“If you itemize your activities and their time consumption over the course of a week, you might be surprised at the dominating events. Each moment is a gift, so set aside a few minutes each evening to plan. Then revisit the way you spent the last 24 hours. This will help you to live purposefully.”  (In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley)

*******

“When we slow down, we give ourselves time and space to really think about things, to be present, to embrace what’s happening right in front of us, as opposed to flitting from task to task, never quite spending time in the now. …

If we waited until the house was immaculately tidy and work was quiet and the kids were perfectly settled and we had no stresses, then we would still be waiting for permission from life to slow down.

It doesn’t happen like that. Life is messy and layered and there are always things going on. It requires constant tilting.

… It’s amazing what comes to the surface when we slow down and stop cramming stuff in to life. …

We think clearly. We pay attention to the moment. We learn things. We come away feeling rested and rejuvenated and at peace, because we’ve spent time living in the now.” Brooke McAlary (Slow Your Home: The Simpler Life You Want)

Be GratefulThinking about the now, here are a few things I am grateful for today:

I am grateful for my husband, who still works hard and plows ahead, despite some setbacks he experienced in his career this past year. I am proud of him and his determination to find and forge his next path with the company he has worked at/with for over seven years.

I am also grateful that I can continue to work from home, and that he supports that choice, even if the alternative (9 to 5 in an office) might put us in a better position financially.

I am grateful for my sister Gabrielle, whose company finds and provides the source of my current work. [And I’m quite certain she is equally grateful to have one of the best editors around working with/for her. 😉 ]

Although, it is perfectly normal to worry a little bit about the days ahead, since I can’t see what the upcoming months will bring in terms of projects, income, health issues, etc., I also recognize that worrying about the future only takes away today’s joy.

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However, as I reminded one of my other sisters recently, it is okay to feel what we feel and to acknowledge it even when we are aware that some people have things harder or worse than we do. It’s good to have perspective, but we don’t have to pretend that we aren’t hurting or frustrated or worried or confused. We should acknowledge it, maybe even give ourselves a moment to wallow in it, “then take a breath, push the bad thoughts away, and move on.”

As Lysa Terkeurst shares: “Be joyful: Intentionally look around for measures of joy each day. There is joy in simply being alive and in being redeemed by God. Remember, joy is a choice we make, not a feeling we hope to get from our circumstances. It’s good to look for the good, to celebrate it even in small ways. Doing so is a moment of victory!”

Look for something positive

So, grab hold of today. Slow down, and pay attention to the moment. Recognize any negative thoughts and/or feelings that might be stealing your joy. Then tuck them away, and reach for the things that give meaning and purpose to your life. Write today’s story with an open and grateful heart!

Days 20 and 21: Finding Spiritual Whitespace—What Your Heart Seeks

Roy Lessin reminds us: “Everyone is a seeker. We seek because there is something we need, something that is missing, something that tells us there must be more.”

We seek contentment, happiness, fulfillment, security, acceptance, hope, love, joy, peace, friendship, balance, and, often, to find meaning, as well as our place in this world.

For those who have been regularly following my blog posts, you’ll remember that a while back I read the book Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest by Bonnie Gray. Since then, I have shared many of my favorite quotes, and decided to take an active part in her 21 Days of Rest Blog Tour. Little did I know, at the time, what a commitment that would be. Of course, Bonnie did not ask me or her other followers to do this but I had discovered a lot of really good thoughts from her book that I wanted to share. However, I wasn’t always able to “keep up,” and I began to feel like I took on more than I should have.

The Best YesBecause of this, as well as several other poor choices, Lysa TerKeurst’s latest book, The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands,  is now on my “to be read” list. Lysa points out that “there is a big difference between saying yes to everyone and saying yes to God.” Those of us who are people pleasers or stressed by an “overwhelmed schedule and underwhelmed soul” will likely get a great deal out of this book and the tools provided in it for better processing our thoughts and actions. If you haven’t heard of this book yet, click on the link above and read more about it.

In Finding Spiritual Whitespace, Bonnie shares that “The world calls us to hide our stressed-out selves. But Jesus calls us to a radical new rest. … Jesus invites us into a new relationship to set our hearts free. Jesus wants us to bring him what’s real and worrisome as well as what’s simple and beautiful.”

Simple Beauty

“Taking time for whitespace to rest, create, and play—
to laugh, enjoy friends, see new places,
and explore new adventures—
is heart-freeing faith.”
Bonnie Gray

On Bonnie’s post for Day 20: Find Me in the Quiet Places: A Little Big Change, she shares some of the ways that she seeks rest from stress and/or the daily grind by choosing to meet Jesus in the quiet spaces. These moments don’t have to be long or regularly scheduled; the “moments will come, if you listen to your soul…”

As you come to a fork in the road in your day today and this week — between choosing the quiet or filling it up with doing, performing, pleasing, or disappearing — stop.

Choose what’s harder, but more soul-filling.

Choose to spend that time doing something no one would be able to point at it and say, “She is someone. She did something.”

And choose to be loved instead.

Butterfly

On Day 21, Bonnie posted Me & the Military: It Changed Me to share with her readers the results of her first multi-day Spiritual Whitespace Retreat, which she was invited to lead for the Wounded Transition Battalion headquartered in Fort Campbell, KY. (The retreat was held earlier in September in Nashville, TN.) While she originally intended to speak to soldiers, the focus changed and she ended up working with a group of officers and their wives. She asked herself: “What does a Chinese-American 5 foot woman born in San Francisco, Chinatown — who suffered PTSD for the past two years with broken memories, uncontrollable anxiety and insomnia — have to say to officers caring for injured soldiers, wounded from the battlefield?”

Leaders who have been in combat themselves are reliving [their experiences] through the soldiers they care for 24 hours-a-day, on-call 7 days a week. Phone calls wake them up at crazy hours during the night. By day, they look into eyes of soldiers who are confused, angry or depressed to guide them on the disorienting journey of healing and recovery. They are responsible for each soldier’s disorienting transition back to active duty, or for some with irreversible injuries, prepare them for the unexpected re-entrance into civilian life.

It’s soul-wearying work.

It’s a heavy burden to carry because it’s often the strong ones — the encouragers – the doers –

who carry the heaviest burdens,

and incur the greatest emotional and physical cost,

who find it hard to express want or need,

while finding it easier to just get things done,

even if they truly long to receive comfort,

yet can’t seem to give themselves permission to rest.

Like many of us who doubt ourselves, Bonnie’s biggest fear was whether she was good enough, qualified enough, to lead this group on a soul journey toward discovery and rest. Then it struck her: The weekend was about experiencing Spiritual Whitespace, not teaching it. The event included storytelling, journaling, connecting to God through silence and solitude on a solo nature walk or through prayer and meditation, even painting. It was about facing fears and becoming real in community. And it was successful!

We all have stories…

On the outside, we might look different. But, inside, we’re all on the same journey.

We’re all on the same mission.

To be loved.

To be known.

To be close to God.

To each other.

We all long for rest…

We can all live lives that include rest and refreshment by taking the time to develop an intimacy, a deep relationship, with Jesus. He knows what moves us and encourages us; he knows what spiritual whitespace looks like for each of us. And once we discover the ways our own needs for renewal can be met—through nature, music, God’s Word, song lyrics, art (our own creativity or that of others), etc.—we can reach out and help others discover the beauty, the transformational nature, the freeing power, of walking in faith with Jesus in the quiet of our hearts.

 

 21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

 

Slowing Down in a World of Rush

In case you have begun to think that the only thing I write about on this blog is Bonnie Gray’s book, Finding Spiritual Whitespace, I wanted to assure you that I am nearing the end of my focus on this particular book. When Bonnie decided she was going to do a “21 Days of Rest” blog tour, I was in no way obligated to join her, but I felt like there were so many good bits of wisdom in the pages that I wanted to continue sharing right along with her. When she realized that all the opportunities opening up for her would not allow her to blog for 21 straight days, Bonnie explained that she would spread the 21 days out as time allowed. This helped me as well, as I had begun to feel overwhelmed myself.

Which brings me to a new book of interest. This one is by Lysa TerKeurst. “She is the New York Times bestselling author of Made to Crave and Unglued. She isn’t shy about admitting what a mess she can be. But in the midst of everyday ‘growth opportunities,’ she’s been learning God’s lessons and sharing them on her blog (www.LysaTerKeurst.com) and in her books.”

I enjoyed this book.


I follow Lysa’s blog and her Instagram posts, and I have read other books of hers (like Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl). She’s got a great sense of humor and a wonderful way of connecting with her readers.

I am looking forward to reading Lysa’s current book, The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands. I think it connects well to the idea of trying to find spiritual whitespace, as well as attempting to simplify our lives by making changes to our cluttered homes and cluttered schedules.

slowtherush

Here’s a brief description of Lysa’s new book.

Lysa TerKeurst is learning that there is a big difference between saying yes to everyone and saying yes to God. In The Best Yes she will help you:

  • Cure the disease to please with a biblical understanding of the command to love.
  • Escape the guilt of disappointing others by learning the secret of the small no.
  • Overcome the agony of hard choices by embracing a wisdom based decision-making process.
  • Rise above the rush of endless demands and discover your Best Yes today.

That’s all I’m going to share for now, but look for more on this book, more on what the right “yes” could mean for you, and more of my photos and thoughts.

Thanks for being here with me.

Stop and Smell the Flowers

Comfort and Joy

I’ve been thinking a lot about “comfort” lately, not because anything is wrong in my life, just that I find it fascinating to explore the various things, places, people, and situations that many of us turn to for comfort depending on what we are experiencing in our lives. Many people turn to comfort foods, which can either physically comfort us (like hot soup on a cold day) or provide us with a sentimental or nostalgic feeling that links us to loved ones or reconnects us with happier times or places. Enjoying comfort foods is not a bad thing in and of itself; however, according to Wikipedia “Comfort food consumption has been seen as a response to emotional stress and, consequently, as a key contributor to the epidemic of obesity in the United States.”

Made to CraveAs Lysa TerKeurst explains in her book Made to Crave: “Craving isn’t a bad thing. But we must realize God created us to crave more of him. … Many of us have misplaced that craving by overindulging in physical pleasures instead of lasting spiritual satisfaction.”

For example, there are those who find comfort in alcoholic beverages. As a former alcoholic explains it: “alcohol gives [me] a false sense of being at ease … it blurs the hard edges of life and gives [me] a false sense of courage. Alcohol helps a person forget his/her problems for a while, but it doesn’t help resolve them.” However, for those who don’t over-indulge, enjoying a glass of wine, a beer, or a mixed drink is simply part of their winding-down process. In situations like this, a drink can be a comfort, but not a cover-up. And that’s okay; I’m not judging here, just following a train of thought. 🙂Glass of Wine

For those who DO use food or drink as an escape, I am drawn to these lines from another blogger that I recently read: “If we hide from our pain, we don’t need a healer.  If we hide from our faults, we don’t need a redeemer. If we hide from the fact that we are lost, we don’t need a savior.” Are you hiding things in your life? Are you looking to the wrong sources for comfort and answers?

When sharing about her own personal journey, Bonnie Gray shared this: “I decided if I was going to make it through this hard season of my life, I needed as much comfort and beauty for my soul that I could find. Even if it was whisper thin, even if it brought my heart pain to long for it, I would nurture that desire in me. Beauty reminded me that the real me was whole and present inside me. I didn’t know how to begin. But, I knew I needed to begin.”

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What are some things (or places) that bring you comfort? Not necessarily in the midst of catastrophes but when you’re dealing with the everyday blues or when you’re just not feeling your best for whatever reason? I definitely look to nature as a source of comfort – it almost always provides me with a spiritual pick-me-up. Do you have things that you consider comfort wear? I’m not talking about sweats or yoga pants that you wear because they are comfortable. I’m talking about things that, for whatever reason, seem to make you feel just a little bit better.

Have you ever heard of prayer shawls? There are many groups around now that participate in this, but the basic idea is that individuals knit or crochet shawls, which they pray over, and they give them to those in need of comfort and solace. Janet Severi Bristow, one of the founders of the ministry in Hartford, CT describes it this way: “Shawls … made for centuries [are] universal and embracing, symbolic of an inclusive, unconditionally loving, God. They wrap, enfold, comfort, cover, give solace, mother, hug, shelter and beautify.” I just love this idea. Imagine wrapping a shawl of prayers and blessings around your shoulders. Close your eyes and feel the arms of the Father (and those who were involved in the making and distributing of the shawl) giving you a much needed hug.

I don’t have a prayer shawl, but I have a couple of shirts that I consider comfort shirts. One is this flannel shirt pictured below that I’ve had for probably 20 years. The other is a Tigger T-shirt that I may have had for just as long. It has small holes in it so I don’t wear it out anywhere, but sometimes I put it on when I’m having a down day. Or if my husband is out of town, I like to put on one of his shirts to feel closer to him. It comforts me to feel connected to him. I also have a quilt that my older sister made for me. I use it at night when it’s chilly, but I also like to cover up with it on the couch when I’m not feeling well. If you don’t have “comfort wear” already, why not pick something out … something that reminds you of happy times or a particular person or place. Next time you are feeling a little blue or lonely or sick, reach for that shirt or wrap or blanket and give yourself a hug. And be sure to also take some time out for yourself – time to rest and recharge.

I've had this flannel shirt for probably 20 years. It's thin and worn so doesn't really provide much warmth, but it's familiarity brings comfort.

I’ve had this flannel shirt for probably 20 years. It’s thin and worn so doesn’t really provide much warmth, but its familiarity brings me comfort.

This is the quilt/comforter that my sister made for me. I love it.

This is the quilt/comforter that my sister made for me. I love it.

If what you are feeling is stronger, deeper, more than you can handle alone … reach out. Call a friend or family member (we don’t know you are hurting unless you tell us), go to church, or find an opportunity to forget about your own troubles and help someone else. Helping others is a sure way to find not only comfort, but joy.

Lysa TerKeurst reminded me (and thousands of others) in a recent Facebook post: “Be joyful: Intentionally look around for measures of joy each day. There is joy in simply being alive and in being redeemed by God. Remember, joy is a choice we make, not a feeling we hope to get from our circumstances. It’s good to look for the good, to celebrate it even in small ways. Doing so is a moment of victory!”

Bella running with pure joy!

Bella running with pure joy!

No matter how unpleasant your current circumstances might be, don’t cover up or hide from the realities of your life. Don’t cower in shame for your weakness or allow your fears to debilitate you, but boldly reach for comfort whenever you need it. You are not meant to live in fear or to suffer alone. Actively pursue comfort and joy, and you will surely be moving in the right direction!

I will send you the Comforter.

I will send you the Comforter.

 “If you love me, obey me; and I will ask the Father and he will give you another Comforter, and he will never leave you.”

John 14:15-16 (The Living Bible)

Whitespace Community Linkup @ faithbarista.com

Each Day Your Story Begins Anew

Imagine … We are, each one of us, the pen or the paint brush. And our lives, from this moment on, stretch out before us like a blank notebook or canvas.

We are like paint brushes.

Some may be afraid of all the “white space” before them … scared of making a mistake or simply uncertain of where or how to begin. They are hesitant to mar the surface that appears so perfect without their input. Yet others see the unblemished space before them as an opportunity to create the life they want, to begin anew.
What do you see when you look to the day ahead?

Some of the things you face each day might challenge your faith and your focus and affect the way you see the blank page/canvas before you; that’s why I think it’s important to begin and end each day with joy. I came across this book that some of you might be interested in. It is a daily devotional with thoughts from some best-selling women authors like Sheila Walsh, Beth Moore, and Lysa TerKeurst (click on the image of the book below to follow the link):

Joy for the Journey

 

Another wonderful author—Bonnie Gray, the Faith Barista—had this to share about her own faith journey:

“I had to stop writing for anyone else.

Except me.

Don’t be afraid to write your story.

We each have one story to live.

It’s never too late.

To pick up your pen and begin a new chapter.

To find your voice.”

Gray_FindingWhitespace_3D

The overview of her book listed on Barnes & Noble shares this: “Whitespace. It’s the space on a page left unmarked. Untouched. Whitespace makes art beautiful. It gives the eye a place to rest.
Just like beautiful art, our souls need balance and beauty.

… Bonnie guides you to discover a better story for yourself, one that feeds your soul and makes room for rest. Infused with biblical encouragement and thought-provoking prompts, this book shows us how to create space in the everyday for God, refreshment, and faith—right in the midst of our stress-frayed lives.”

We all need and desire rest. Finding your own personal, spiritual whitespace is an important part of achieving this. And when you find this space … this spiritual connection … and spend some time there, you will find that it’s not quite so difficult anymore to put the pen to paper or brush to canvas.

God's Canvas

No matter who you are, how old you are, or where you find yourself in life, it’s never too late to start fresh, to write a new story or paint a new picture … to share your whole self, your real self with the world.

I read this in yesterday’s DaySpring Devotion: “As we learn each other’s stories—where we come from, what burns in our hearts, our hurts, our successes, our dreams—we are then able to connect better, understand each other, build each other up, and together glorify our Father in Heaven.”

Maybe today won’t go exactly as you planned. (It never really does, does it?) So, you’ll have to cross out a few lines or paint over some mistakes. Don’t let the mishaps define you or your life; they’re just part of the ever-changing story that you and God, together, can continue to create and shape anew each day.

“For we are God’s masterpiece.” Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

 

God's Story

 

Whitespace Community Linkup @ faithbarista.com