Monday, January 30, 2012


We're almost 2 months away from the anniversary of our first house project. It will have been three years. Three years! That's incredible to me. It's also motivating. We've had a very laid back year in house terms, as Baby and an eventful (is that the best word?) pregnancy took center stage. Now, I'm feeling like I would really like to get a few items marked off the list here at the end of our third full year. Or our Year In Review is going to be a very short post.

I remember back in college, learning about the difference between goal-oriented and goal-driven people. I've spent plenty of time being goal-driven. But, this is a stage where that's just maddening. Making a detailed list... being driven to complete that list... I learned years ago that it makes for a bunch of miserable little people and a miserable mommy. I can't mother well, wife well, and have a bunch of bulleted items that I absolutely must accomplish in a specified amount of time. I get bonkers. However, goal-oriented? Goal-oriented I can do. It means I'm very aware of what I hope to get done... probably far less in a far longer period of time than my goal-driven self would prefer... but, even with adjusted expectations, I realize it doesn't really need to happen. There is no must beyond caring for my family and, as second priority, my basic home tasks. I would like to get to the lists. I hope to get to the lists. I'm oriented that direction, but my loving Father may have different assignments for me that day. Being goal-oriented instead of driven is a good thing for me.

Even though I want to get a bunch done before the middle of March and even though I know circumstances are not likely to be in favor of that happening, it is nice to see some progress quickly with little changes that don't take much time. (Doesn't it seem like it's either time or money? If you have lots of time, you can do things inexpensively... but if you spend some dough, you can do things in just a short time?)

One little change that took next to no time at all, but took some cash, was purchasing Baby's crib. It arrived this weekend, and, at 5 months old, she graduated out of her bassinet! Just under the weight limit for that thing :)

I had to rearrange the master bedroom a bit. We're borrowing the chair from Bedroom 3 while Baby is sleeping in here because it's a rocker. I needed it to be on the other side of the room to make sure there was enough space for a crib.

It's not going to make the cover of Better Homes & Gardens or anything, but our master bedroom is getting better. Enlarging the windows was the best thing I think we could've possibly done. It's made such a difference. The sun has agreed to shine this week, too, so you know that's a HUGE DEAL!

I needed to put the crib in the corner where the chair had been... vacuumed all of the baseboard edges. Don't you love to do that? To get out the long, angled attachment and vacuum where the baseboard meets the floor. Seriously. It makes my day.

The color of the chair looks vintagey when it's in bedroom 3. In this room, though, it just looked mustardy brown. Not attractive. I embraced my inner college student and threw a blanket over it. And propped some IKEA storaged boxes (waiting to go back into the Bedroom 4 closet) beside it for a table. Very dorm room chic, don't you think?

My grandmother made that quilt as a young woman. I believe she made it with my great-grandmother. Judging from the fabrics... probably in the 30s. Instant happy.

A crib and a quilt. And the feel of the whole room is changed. It's not ideal to have Baby in here for a long time... we like to have the master bedroom to ourselves generally speaking ;) But, I don't mind having her in here with us. I don't know if it's the sunshine or what, but I like the room much, much more after this weekend. Obviously, the crib still needs a few things. She has brother's crib sheets, for one. I have a plan for a skirt...

it's on the list!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

nice, comfy skin and current inspiration

Back in the day, when we first moved into this house and started this blog, Sam and I spent a lot of time thinking through our design style. We were making fairly permanent (or at least difficult to change) decisions regarding this remodel, and we wanted those decisions to be informed and well thought out. So, I read and read and read some more, and we considered each new choice carefully.

That was time well spent.

Now, almost three years later (3 years? craziness!), I'm to the point where I don't feel like I have to agonize over every decision. The house has some momentum now. A pretty clear course marked out. I feel confident in it. Confident enough to play around more with the less permanent stuff - to throw polka dots on the mantel if I feel like it. To put a vintage tablecloth out if I want to. The foundation of each room is carrying a cohesive mood to allow for all of that without a completely schizo result. Finally.

Not that we're necessarily nearing our finish line. But, the progress is tangible. The house is more pleasant on the whole. It's brighter. More functional. More orderly. More cheerful.

More us.

But this "us" has come about through a variety of "thems". By that, I mean there have been a few definitive sources of inspiration that have helped guide us to where we are now.

As I mentioned in my last post, I like to give credit where credit is due, and since at times I may experiment with an exact copy or close to exact copy of someone else's idea, giving credit is only right and good.

In no particular order, here are the women whose work and homes continually inspire and challenge me...

urban grace interiors via pinterest

Erika McPherson Powell. Here's her blog, Urban Grace Interiors. Everything Erika touches is instant gold. It seems like it, anyway. Her style is more exacting, more polished, more professional, more well-funded than my own, but I look to her rooms to help me work in touches of comfortable sophistication. They're real rooms, but with a designer's mark. She challenges me to work with finishes, pattern, and texture to get the feel I want in our spaces. And she gets the old house thing. Her photos of hardware make me melt. Oh, and the color green. Erika made me fall in love with green.

Lauren Leiss of Pure Style Home. Lauren has this incredible signature style. Her rooms, even when fundamentally different, all have a little something that is just her. Her eye is incredible. Lauren, like Erika, is a professional designer and her rooms reflect that. They're a little too "designed" for my personal style - a little too magazine perfect. But that's what she does so well! The inspiration I take from Lauren is mostly philosophical. She has great things to say about authentic spaces and being comfortable in your own skin. Her own home is nothing to sneeze at... I'm interested to see how it continues to evolve as they add a third little one and as her children get a little older. Lauren also helps me think through pattern, texture, form, and scale - especially concerning neutrals.

Meg Duerksen of Whatever. Meg's is easily my favorite blog right now. She's not a designer. She's like me. A mom to five kids, staying at home. But she has this fabulously huge, gorgeous old house in Kansas. Everything at Meg's blog seems generous. Her style is a little more cluttered, funky, and flea market shabby than my own. However... however, I love it in her house! Meg challenges me to add color - bright color - and to not think too hard about what I instinctually love. Or take it all too seriously. If it makes you happy, why not put pom pom trim all over your wall?! There's a part of me that has always resonated with the Megs of the world. If I were going to list out a few Meg-like things I've loved for over a decade, they'd be pom pom (we had it on curtains in our previous house), silver plate, quilts, polka dots, and kids' art/crafts. She's the inspiration for letting life smile through our rooms :)

Ashley Ann Campbell from Under the Sycamore. Ashley is an amazing woman, amazing mom, and amazing photographer. Her style is very feminine, much more feminine and lacy/scrappy/crafty than my own. But, Ashley inspires me like no one else when it comes to capturing my home, family, and days with my camera. I'm still learning. Her posts, her photos, are just beautiful to study. I do, from time to time, take inspiration from her home or crafts, too. But, mostly, she challenges my phototaking.

apartment therapy via pinterest

Apartment Therapy. Hands down, the best thing about Apartment Therapy is the house tours. Real homes, real people, real life... usually in a small space. Right up my alley. I love scrolling through the tours, looking for bits of inspiration and ideas that fit within our aesthetic. Fancy talk for stuff that will work in our home and make it better.

There are other sources, too. Pinterest, Google searches, sometimes Lonny. But the ones I've mentioned in this post are the Big Guns. The ones I really feel like come together in bits and pieces in my mind to make our home what I want it to be.

Rockstars. Every one of them.

Thanks for the inspiration, ladies!

Friday, January 27, 2012

man, it's crazy late

What on earth am I doing starting a post at this time of night? I didn't even have caffeine. Why am I so jazzed up?!

I've been downloading and editing photos. I love to do that. I catch myself smiling...

We went to Trader Joe's today, and they had sunflowers. Absolute genius. Whoever decided to market sunflowers to Ohioans in January is an absolute genius. I nabbed 'em up quick and copycatted Meg even quicker.

I'm all about being yourself. Being original. Except for when I'm not. Like when I want to make my house feel like her house. I keep going back to her "Home Sweet Home" button on her blog and just staring at the pictures. It's like some kind of visual therapy.

Honestly, though, I couldn't handle her house. Too much stuff. It would get to me. It is nice, though, to look at her photos again and again. It would be a lovely place to spend an afternoon.

My version of Meg's happy, colorful style is less "abundant"... more ordered. More edited. More high strung? I don't let the kids mix their playdoh, after all. A lot less funky. Although, I admit, there are times that I just might consider wearing glitter sneakers. But, then I'd reconsider and wear black ballet flats. Because that's me. And that's why I have 67 readers and Meg has a trillion.

But... anyway...

I took some photos of SpareOom tonight. Just in case you were thinking these Mama Nights of mine were all glamorous. I wanted to be able to set you straight on that. And I wanted to show you my new crafting chair :)

ta da! courtesy of IKEA.

Oh, and my style has a little more of a modern dose mixed in than Meg's does... and not much at all of that chippy paint business. Okay. Enough about Meg. But, I had to give her due credit. It's not cool to copy and act like it's your own brilliance at work.

Going around the room with my iPhone...

There are two sets of mirrored sliding doors in this room. They aren't the prettiest things around, but they reflect so much light that I actually like them. I also like that sweater I have on. It sparkles a little bit.

Can you tell in the photo? Just a little bit of metallic thread. Festive. Hive & Honey from Piperlime.

Moving counterclockwise...

That collage wall is a blatant copy. Although, honestly, it was subconscious at the time.


The partially open door with the light on is the half bath.

And just beyond that is the laundry room.

Then, using the ironing board as a reference point, we come to the pit of despair. This corner will look very different very soon. It must.

Tonight I made a pile to throw away...

And a pile to give away...

Ahhhhh. Doesn't that just make you feel good? I'll bet that's why I'm so energized!

Past the pit now. This time use the vacuum as a reference point...

And back again to where we started off.

Gorgeoso, no?

This room is very bright owing to the 3 large flourescent light fixtures...

... and the resulting glare on the concrete floor.

ha ha.

just kidding.

About the glare. Not about the concrete.

So, yup. It's lovely. It's also very, very warm since we close the vents in there all winter (note sarcasm). But it's been GREAT so far. It may not be much at this point, but I can still make pretty things in it!

I'll leave you with something nicer to look at than flourescent lights and concrete. I've been searching Pinterest and Google for all kinds of organizing ideas... fabric organizing, ribbon organizing, wrapping paper organizing. The works. My mind has been full to overflowing with pretty pictures of orderly loveliness :) I don't know that the results of my efforts are quite so inspiring, but it does feel good to have things much more efficiently and attractively set up.

Why did I never think to save fabric scraps in a glass container before? Thank you, Pinterest!

All right. Time to rest this head. Tomorrow will be here before long. Friday, Friday! We're planning on lighting a fire in the fireplace and playing Settlers of Catan tomorrow night. And, Saturday, we work on the bedroom!

Have a great weekend, guys!

Monday, January 23, 2012

mama night and... a craft room?

I ran out of time to show you the rest of my pictures on Friday. People needed to eat and all that.

The nerve.

Before I started my last post, I walked around the house with my camera... just snapping whatever I wanted to share. I made it downstairs to the family room, but not beyond that. I wanted to show you some more of SpareOom.

The whole big deal SpareOom Makeover is a ways away still, but I'm thinking I can so something to this room this winter.

I've started organizing all the JUNK. Which is a good place to start. Taking lots and lots of things to Goodwill. They've been there too long. Since the move. I'm not good at downsizing, apparently.

Last April, I was daydreaming about creating some little sewing space in the laundry room. Just daydreaming, because the laundry room isn't done, either. I just reread this post (the title totally made me laugh) and I was struck by how my daydreams for a space like this are still the same. Especially in winter. A place to go when it's too cold to go anywhere else, but you really just need a little time to regroup.

quick note: I'm not talking about a replacement for time spent in prayer and quiet reflection, journaling, reading the Word of God. I mean when you need to make something, listen to music... loudly because you aren't using the white noise maker, and be surrounded by pretty color for a few hours. Maybe not everyone benefits from this kind of evening as much as I do, but... I do!

Meg has an amazing craft room. Just last week, she posted new photos of it. I was able to get a feel for the layout better than before. And guess what? It's tiny! That made me think. How could I carve out a little nook of brightly colored inspiration? How could I use what I already have and make it work for me? In JANUARY???

ha ha. I'm being dramatic about the winter now. But, seriously, it has been a real problem in the past. I think, partly because we've been so proactive with my winter weirdness this year, it's not nearly as bad as I make it out to be. But, I still find myself thinking of planting flower seeds or sitting by the pool on a regular basis :)

I have my Mama Nights on Thursday nights... most weeks. Last week Sam brought pad thai home for dinner. I kiss him, kiss the kids, head to Spare Oom, crank pandora, and do whatever for the next 4-5 hours. What a blessing. Seriously. I don't take it for granted. It's a huge, huge blessing.

And my children are a huge blessing, too. I must think so... I keep having them :) I don't want to communicate that they are anything else. I love them to bits. Remember, though... they are always here. ha ha. For realz! Think about that for a minute. NONE of them go to school NONE of them hop on a bus. That's our choice and I wouldn't have it any other way... it just means I need to be purposeful about a little rest. Rest from work, rest from demands, and rest from my small, precious crowd. I'm a better mama for it. A better wife.

Plus, we have pretty things in our home the next day!

Thursday is also my big cleaning day. So, I kind of wipe myself out on purpose, knowing that I'll have the evening completely off. I get so much done. It's awesome.

So, I grabbed my pad thai, cranked Jack Johnson (the happiest... especially his Curious George children's station... not really kiddie music), and made something. Or a few things.

Friday, when I walked around with my camera, I took photos of the new additions.

Pom pom trim on Punkin's pillowcase.

And I know a pennant banner is hardly news, but it was new to Brother. And he loved it. Camo on one side...

... muted yellow on the other. Not pastel... mustardy, but still bright enough.

Punkin and Brother share this room, as you may recall. I have had to try to figure out how to decorate a space for an (almost) 5 year old boy and a 7 year old girly girl. Not. easy. The pom pom trim and the yellow side of dude's banner are to appease her. She didn't want camo. Of any kind.

It's coming along. I hope to share a little official progress soon, but there are still some key projects I want to finish up first. For now, it's looking like this...

Which I like. But, Punkin wants more pink. Stat.

Or just some pink.

In about 2 years, Baby will move in with Punkin, Little Dude will get his own room, and she can revel in all the pink she wants. For now, I'm thinking a pillow is about all I can work in to a room shared with a boy.

Speaking of Baby, we ordered a crib for her this weekend. She's getting to the weight limit on her bassinet. It will still have to go in our room... her "nursery" is still her older sisters' bedroom. But, I've decided to go ahead and start decorating the nursery as hers. That way, when SweetP and Shug get to move in to Bedroom 4, I won't have two bare rooms at once. And the nursery will be closer to done... homier... when she finally does get to go in there.

The vintage dresser will stay when Bedroom 2 becomes her nursery. I made a little happy banner for her.

Makes me smile :)

This week, I have to use my Mama Night to start thinking about birthdays. Little Dude and SweetP have birthdays on the same weekend in mid-February. And dude wants Star Wars. A Millenium Falcon cake. ha. And costumes. For all the kids.

We'll see about that.

Friday, January 20, 2012

at least there's a little snow

I don't think I'm going to get the sunshine I wanted for good indoor photos this week. It's still overcast, but there's a little snow on the ground. That makes a huge difference in the light. Still not quite enough for great photos, but I'll take what I can get.

Snow light is one of my favorite things about winter.

Maybe one of my only favorite things about winter... once Christmas is past. Still fightin' the good fight against the winter doldrums. That last pillow from Olive Handmade came the other day.

It helps :)

There's a yellow backing that you can only see a teensy bit if you're looking from the side. Just that little peek of yellow helps, too.

The green pillows were the first to ship. The fit is just a touch wonky, but I used larger pillow forms than the seller suggested. I like the pillows full. The suggested pillow size was too wimpy and sad-looking for my tastes, so I shoved a 22" form in :) Now they're pretty much what I was wanting.

With the quilty pillow, it's probably a little too Spring-y. Oh, well. Girl needs some Spring!

Across the room from the happy, pushing-spring-too-soon pillows, this is still in progress...

Dumb bookcase.

And right beside that eyesore, the girls were working on their morning lessons...

And this little cutie was playing in her bouncy seat.

She's not crying - her super long eyelashes bother her eyes sometimes and make them water. Sugar! She is, seriously, the easiest baby ever.

Brother was downstairs watching Signing Time. Ummm... I think they were teaching the sign for "grumpy"... I hope? Maybe he just needed a snack.

He was watching it on the M.A.S.S.I.V.E new tv Sam bought on New Year's Eve.

I expected the tv purchase. It was only a matter of time. I did not, however, expect it to be so M.A.S.S.I.V.E. And did I mention that it's big?

Sam and I have a date night tonight (woot!) and we're going to IKEA. Among other things, we're planning on buying a table for the very large tv. Clearly, the current improvised table, although serviceable, isn't really adding a whole lot to the room.

We aren't going to be painting the paneling and brick in the family room just yet, but I am trying to make it a smidge more cheerful. It's been brown and dreary since we moved in... neglected while we worked on other priorities. When the Christmas tree came down, I decided the mantle needed something kind of loud and extra smiley.

I'm not sure how "me" it is... it's more "me in January" than anything else. So far so good, though. I haven't plummeted into quite my normal funk. No crying yet, even.

That makes me feel like hot stuff!

And I'm reeeaaaalllly excited to get the new table and have fun with Sam tonight :)

Lots to be thankful for :)

I took more photos than I had time to upload today. I'll share the rest next week! Have a great weekend!!!