Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Loving the Home you Have

I love this post today... and what I mean by that is that I love the subject matter for this post.  My blog friend Melissa from The Inspired Room has just written a book titled, "Love the Home you Have."  And it's full of goodness about not waiting to find the perfect home in order to make it your dream home, but rather doing things right where you are... to make your present home, the stuff of your dreams.  And I don't know about you, but in this Pinterest-crazed society, it's really easy to focus on what you don't have or what you have that is outdated or sub-par and compare and then feel like you have to keep up with everything trendy out there.  Which we all know isn't the truth and it's more like a hamster wheel that you've got to fight really hard not to climb on sometimes because it only leads to discontent with what you DO have! 

In her book, Melissa talks like she does on her blog- lots of wisdom, encouragement, sweetness and humor along with simple tips, tricks and ideas for challenging yourself and making your home work best for you, alongside creative solutions to freshening up what you've already got.

 Personally, I am a firm believer that pretty much any place you live can be your dream home and I suppose that's because in my heart, every place Adrain and I have lived has been that for us.  Including that first apartment we shared as newlyweds, where we ate breakfast on blue plastic crates while sitting on the floor because we got just enough money from wedding gifts to buy ourselves a futon. Ha! We even felt like that apartment a few years later with the blow-up couch was our dream home. Sadly, the blow-up couch wasn't a dream piece of furniture... and it had a tragic ending one night at bible study when our 6'5" friend popped it, because men who are 6'5" do not really belong on a blow-up couch... Though when you get right down to it, married adults probably shouldn't have blow-up couches anyway so all was well that ended well.

Anyway.  I love the way Melissa puts us all right at ease and says, "Creating a beautiful home is not about presenting a perfect image to the world.  It is about creating a perfect space in which to live your unique life.  A well-loved home will always be a bit of a beautiful mess."  And then she talks about how we're all different and finding the balance that is right for us is key.  And I loved that.  Because it's true.  We all do it differently and that's awesome and is also what makes our home lovely for our people.  At the end of her book, she has a 31 day challenge of things you can do to love your home.  She asked a few of us to join her and do at least one challenge in our own home, but I ended up doing a lot of them because I was so inspired by her good ideas!  I'll share three with you today.

 Day 23 is called "Happy Surprises."  She tells us to line a drawer with a colorful liner or wrapping paper, etc.  We had just moved this desk into the kitchen and I'd tossed all the items I knew we'd want in this drawer.  You know me- I would have never left it like this for long, but I loved the idea of lining the drawer with a bright color.  I found some turquoise liners and cut one to size, then used acrylic trays to contain things and I'm not kidding... every time I open this drawer it's like a happy surprise!  Way better than just a boring white drawer-bottom. 

 See what I mean? 

 I combined two of her challenges here.  Day 12 was called, "A Note to Self."  She talks about encouragement, quotes, bible verses or uplifting thoughts and gathering them on a bulletin board or such.  It was perfect because on Day 15, "Making Memories" she encouraged us to print photos from our cameras, phones and computers and put them someplace we can enjoy them..So, I was making this fabric covered cork board for above the desk and it was a perfect place to put BOTH.  Sweet images and encouraging words.

Finally, on Day 30, "Paint Something" she talked about the power of paint.  I mentioned that I was working on my kitchen island in  my previous post and shared why- it was just time for the gray (SW Light French Gray) to go away... I loved it, I just wanted to go with something a bit more cheery and colorful for this stage of life and was all inspired by Melissa.  So I painted the island in my kitchen a nice grayish blue! (SW Peacock Plume) (This above photo was an old Home Tour photo because I forgot to take a proper before photo- you can see we have also changed our light fixtures since this was taken- sometime last fall I think?) (You can see our nearly completed, and updated Home tour, here.)
 Loved it before... love it even more now.  It's very "us."  Two coats of paint, boom!

If you'd like to get your own copy of this inspiring and encouraging book, you can get yours here!

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Life, Holy Week Prep and more Life

Sweet friends. How are you all doing?  Thank you all for the sweet SWEET sweet responses to my shop closing!  You all just bless our family like crazy. If you missed the announcement in my previous post, my etsy shop closes for good, on April 24th.

I'm sitting here in the kitchen writing you all which is a new place for my blogging!  Our old computer died and we found ourselves the new owners of a fancy-schmancy computer.  While Adrain was setting it up last weekend, I suggested that we put it in the kitchen and well... you know me.  A grand reshuffle of all our odds and ends took place complete with furniture moving, drawer organizing and armoire selling. (We moved our old console table back.  It had sat here for years before it was commissioned as our tv table... and Adrain hung a cute shelf up top.  I asked around and got a cork board free from a friend and then covered it with new fabric and upholstery tacks. Perfect little use-what-we-had family command center now!)

I will say, I love love LOVE having the hoodlums out where I can see them on the big computer.  We used to have a little tablet in the tiny desk that sat here... which is now in our bedroom and looks right at home in the corner in there.  We found that as they got older and projects got more in depth, they were on our computer more often than not anyway, so now they're right here in the open and that's the way (uh-huh, uh-huh) I like it!  (Can you say AccOUNTabilitY??) Oh yeah.

And not that you asked... but I'll tell you anyway.  I am in the middle of painting my kitchen island.  I do these things.  I just felt like it needed to be blue. A  bit more playful and fun.  Less serious.  Perfect for this stage of life where we hurtle out the door at high speeds to get kiddos here and there, scarf our dinners down standing around the island sometimes (I know... it's bad) and laugh and gather there with friends and family, wish we had earplugs because there is now a garage band happening just a short ways away from that very same island... it's where our family life revolves around, and is in fact the very heart of our home.  So playful, fun blue it is. Photos coming soon.  (As are home tour updates.  It had been a year or two since I updated our home tour.. I'm working on that and getting sources up in the meantime.)

And... I'm preparing for Easter (hosting Adrain's crew- yay!)  and Holy Week and I get to share these gorgeous cards from Ever Thine Home with you today.  They are so beautifully drawn that I knew I wanted to display them in our home.  I strung them up on some gray and white twine, across our chalkboard.  The backsides are numbered and have short stories and instructions for use as devotionals and even as a sort of guide though a Seder dinner-like tradition.  I believe we are going to use ours as readings for Seder.  They are wonderful and you still have time to get a pack.  There are eight of them so they would also make wonderful additions to your table top as place settings or hostess gifts if you're not hosting. You can also see my spring table ideas here, and what I used for that!  If you use the code LEMONADE when you checkout, you will receive 15% off your orders.  Click here to order!

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Shop Closing Announcement and a before and after

Hi sweet friends.  First, I want to thank you all for your kind words and thoughts about the loss of my grandmother in my previous post.  You all mean so much to me and I appreciate this little community so much. 

Many of you may remember that I was wondering what I should back away from and what to continue doing, around the first of the year.  I held all things on my plate with open hands and prayed about it, asking for clear direction.  It has become very clear to me that I need to continue blogging so continue, I shall.  It has also become very clear that my time as an Etsy shop owner has come to a close and I could go on and on about the many reasons, but in a nutshell it boils down to time that I no longer seem to have, and taxes that kill me in the end. 

 So... though business has been great and it helped us out so much in all of the small areas of making the ends meet, I am stepping out in faith to close it because I feel like I am being led to do so.  I know God will provide for our needs in other ways and I'm ready for this chapter to close.  I plan to close it on Friday, April 24th.  If you want any items from my shop you will want to get them now while it's still open. I have added holiday items back in so spread the word if you know anyone who might want them or if you've been putting off ordering, because now is the time.  You have all been so good to us and I can never thank you for the amazing support you have given me in my Etsy venture.  You have been the best customers and your sweet reviews of my art and photography have blessed me deeply.  I could have never been brave enough to try it, if it hadn't been for you ALL! 

Before I close, I have also added (the above) 7 new photography prints to my shop from my recent Montana trip and they are already selling like crazy!  I love that y'all love little pieces of the country as much as I do.  

And now... I have to share this little DIY table flip.  After making those wicker style basket weave chairs fresh again with paint and new cushions, I realized a little table for iced tea would be nice on the front porch,  so when my boss offered me an old rusted table for free, I took it right away.  I have always loved the look of metal and wood and I envisioned something along those lines for this little table.  The top was rotted wood so I knew replacing that would be necessary.  I consulted with my man about how to deal with the rust and then went for it. 

The first step was sanding the rust smooth and wiping it as cleanly as possible. I used a rust inhibiting spray paint primer first and then coated it well.

After that, I spray painted it a glossy gray.

Then, I threw the rotted table top away and found a pine table round for $6 at Lowe's.

I stained that with two coats of Sherwin Williams wood scapes stain in Harbor Mist. One thing I always use when working on a flat surface, are these little yellow triangle tent pieces.  They make painting cabinets and flat boards a cinch and nothing is flat against the drop cloth.  (I also got them at Sherwin Williams.)

 I love how it turned out! 
Now I have had a flurry of emails and questions about phone photography and how I edit them.  All of the Montana photos from my last post were taken on my phone if you can believe that because I didn't even pack my Canon.  I've dug into my phone camera functions a bit and have learned how to use the macro options for close up and shallow depth of field (when the background is blurry) and love it.  It takes photos that are as high resolution as my Canon and it doesn't weigh ten pounds either!

My phone is a Samsung Galaxy S5 and for editing, my favorite app (used in all photos you see in this post) is the VSCO Cam app.  I love the textures and layers and it's like having Photoshop on your phone. I have purchased a few of the sets and most are about $2.00.  My favorites are the KK sets for outdoor colors, The HB set and the T sets which are faded and moody like this bottom shot.

I have a friend who has a newer iphone and when we have both taken photos of the same thing (I hate to say this because I know some won't agree but I promise it's truth) my phone's photos are always way better. Sorry but it's true.  Side by side comparison shows that mine are always clearer, crisper, better color and brighter.  She was shocked and wouldn't have believed it if she hadn't see it side by side.

So that's what I use and do and I hope that answers your many questions about it!  {You can order prints and photos from my shop here, until April 24th!}
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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Hearbreaking beauty

Last Sunday my brother and his family and my little family all gathered at my Mama's house to celebrate a few birthdays.  We found out that my grandma had also suffered a stroke that morning back in Montana and was in the ICU.  She was 92 so things never look very good at that point.  As we talked and checked our air miles we realized that three of us could fly to Montana to be with our extended family there, and help make arrangements if necessary.  So my Mama, my brother and I, packed our things late Sunday night and then flew out first thing Monday morning.

We arrived at the Bozeman hospital and through tears, sat in with the hospice meetings and went in to see Grammy.  They didn't think she would make it very long.  We held her frail little hands that didn't look anything like Grammy's hands anymore (I'd never seen her without nail polish) and stroked her soft cheek and told her that we loved her.  She didn't open her eyes and we cried...but we got to be there.  It was heartbreaking. She passed away late last night, shortly after we had landed back home.

I should be doing a million other things like unpacking, laundry, sleeping... but I had to share the photos I took this past week.  For some reason, I didn't bring my camera.  I don't know why... I just didn't.  But I had my phone and I took a lot of photos of things that I wanted to remember, and things that held memories for me and then edited them on the plane ride home last night.  I hope you don't mind if I share those with you as I remember my Grammy this morning.  It's kind of how I process.  I loved her so very much and knew that she loved me.  I'll see her in heaven someday so that's what I'm focusing on today.  She always called me Sashie or Darlin'.  I'll miss that.  I'll miss a lot of things about her and her house like the way it smelled and her cinnamon rolls.  It was strange being there without her in the kitchen snapping her fingers and being her cute self.

 It was heartbreaking taking home a few mementos of her to hold dear.  But also beautiful in an odd way.  I got a couple of her cameras for my collection and I love that she took baby pictures of my Mama and Auntie with one of them.  I got to bring home a stack of her pretty hankies.  A lady always carries a pretty hanky... and she always had a few up her sleeve.  Butterflies remind me of her, as she had them all over her house.  I took one off her door and it will hang in my home now.
We found her pretty charm bracelet while we were there.  One time she told me about every single charm... I wish I could remember them all. But I can't.  That's heartbreaking. 
  I loved this doorknob.  It was on her porch where we would sometimes sit and visit.  I'd listen to her tell my Mama about who had married who, divorced, had babies and who had died. I always loved quietly listening in to those talks.  I think I'll frame this photo someday.

 Yesterday, I was feeling stir-crazy after hospice meetings, funeral home meetings and talking about all the details that go along with impending death, so I dragged my brother around the town that my Grammy spent nearly her entire life in, and the same town that my Mama grew up in.  I have so many memories there from my childhood... my cousins and I rode bikes and little motorcycles everywhere.  We got into trouble together and had the best times.

 I snapped this from the car.  It was far more beautiful than this photo.
 I love the Montana countryside... it seeps into my bones and fills my heart.  It was just what I needed and my brother Jake and I had time to talk and even laugh together.  That felt like a good way to honor Grammy. I'm pretty sure the ranchers were laughing at me photographing their barbed wire and hay and hopping ditches for that perfect shot.  The town has a population of about 200-300 so we were pretty obviously not from around there.

We got to eat breakfast at the tavern.  That totally made my day.  My Mama said, "Oh gosh I hope I don't see anyone I know," and my brother said, "Mom, it's 10 o'clock on a Tuesday."  There was a little pause then Mama said, "Yeah. It could happen."  We laughed ourselves silly over that one.  I'd never been inside the Tavern so my Uncle made sure we went in through the bar entrance just for me... and there were a few cowboys sipping coffee in there.  I loved that.
 On the first morning there, we were sitting in Grammy's kitchen and suddenly a huge herd of cows came tromping down the main street.  I was dying!!  My Uncle and Mama laughed their heads off at my excitement as I ran out into Grammy's front yard to snap photos! Apparently the ranchers do this a few times a year when they have to get the cattle from one pasture to the other and it's totally normal, according to Mama.  They do it very quickly, sometimes on four-wheelers and sometimes on horses.  The cowboys laughed at me standing there snapping photos on my phone but I was so happy.

 This is the grain barn that my cousins and I played around as kids but weren't supposed to.

 This was the creek my Mama almost drowned in when she was a little girl and forbid me to ever go in...   Pretty sure my cousins and I pushed that boundary a time or two and came home with wet ankles and feet... Ha.
 Everyone waves as they pass you.  No matter what.  I was waving at them all like what must have looked like a happy lunatic. hahaha! I miss that Montana friendliness so much. I wish people in my town waved.
 I'll be framing this.... (In fact I'm still considering closing my Etsy shop but am thinking about having one last party with a few of these special photos for sale.  Stay tuned.)

 It was about this point that Jake was like, "How many more photos is Sash going to take?"  He had no idea. But he was a very good little brother and wandered all over with me, dutifully holding my latte every time I needed to take a photo and then smiling for as many selfies as I wanted him to take with me. Love that guy.
 Might have to frame this too.
 I found my dream truck.

 Those mountains are so comforting to me.  I grew up looking at them so in the midst of heartbreak, it felt so good to be cradled by the beautiful familiar.

 Jaker... Jakey... Jakey-poo... big Jake...Officer McJakey. My little big brother, Jake.  I love him so, and couldn't have imagined this trip without him there. He hugged me when I was crying and though it was under sad circumstances that we were all there, it was so much fun to be with my Mama and brother and laugh late into the night telling stories. 

 This is the gate to Grammy's house.  There is an alley between my Auntie's house and Grammy's house so I've gone through this gate millions of times my entire life.  Running back and forth between the houses was a huge part of our family gatherings there.
 My cousin handcuffed me to this fence once.  My Daddy wasn't very pleased and you can still see the spot where he pulled the bottom of the fence out of the ground to set me free.  We laughed our heads off about that, and how my cousin rode his bike off as fast as his legs could carry him because he knew he was going to get his hide tanned when they caught up to him.  (If you grew up in the country you know what getting your hide tanned feels like. Ha!) We laughed about a lot of old stories... like that time when I was about 11 and my cousin taught me how to ride a motorcycle with a clutch and then I promptly forgot.  I kept ramming into the side of Grammy's house... until my Uncle showed up out of nowhere, put his hands on the handlebars, and said, "I think that's about enough young lady."  He never yelled at me but he had that voice... and man, I just knew.  Haha.
This was the Methodist church where my Mama had her first communion.  There are about a million other stories and memories and it seems like everyone in town is a cousin or relative.

I can't believe that I'll never walk into her house again, breathe deeply because no place on earth smells like Grammy's house, and see her waiting to hug me. I'll hug her in Heaven and I'll love her always.  So glad she was my Grammy.   
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