Friday, May 22, 2015

Anticipating summer

Summer is right around the corner and I, for one, can't wait.  In this house, we are counting down the days because with two people in middle school, its been a year of roller coaster emotions and I feel like we are limping toward the finish line around here!

As you know, I have the loveliest part-time job organizing and decorating and staging people's living spaces.  After work we are always joking around about how we can not shut it off once we have finished up for the day and headed home... we walk in our doors and have to find something to clean, organize, tidy, redecorate and such.  We all do it.

Yesterday, we had one of those scheduled meetings for a 504 planning session at school for one of my kiddos and I was a nervous wreck all day in anticipation of it.  I spent the whole day trying not to think about it and of course it's all I could think about, so I poured myself into nesting.  These are the tweaks that evolved from my afternoon of nerve-managing.

(The meeting went well- but there is no way to escape the raw emotional turmoil after those meetings and the way you tend to feel as a mom looking at/fearing the future and such.  I can't go into it much, as I don't know who reads this anymore that might be connected to my kids, but those kinds of meetings are always hard and painful on the heart, and that, I can tell you.  After the meeting, I was trying not to fall apart and cry all over the place, and thinking I might actually succeed, when a neighbor I'd never met, stopped in to tell me about a situation that had happened with this child a few weeks before. Though she was very kind, the timing could seriously not have been worse for my poor mama's heart. All of the raw edges I'd been barely hanging onto crashed in on me at once and I sobbed for a couple of hours and I couldn't make myself stop. I couldn't figure out why of all days, a few weeks after the incident, yesterday was the day that had been destined for me to be "enlightened" about my child's poor choice. But when Adrain came home and prayed with me, thanking God for the events of the day- even the hard ones, I was reminded that someday I will be able to be the ultimate empathizer to some young mama dealing with kids on the spectrum or special needs and all that entails, and maybe I can share yesterday with her and tell her that at the end of the day, with God's help, I survived. (And she will too.) Praise the Lord.  Motherhood is so hard sometimes isn't it?   Well that's all I'll say about that now.  Thank you so much for being there for me- so many of you on Instagram reached out with virtual hugs in that moment where I was sobbing and falling apart like a crazy woman, and loved on me.)

So moving onward and upward. People frequently ask me what I do with our decor as it's always changing.  For the most part, I keep rotating many of the same things around in various rooms and uses, and I've got a large tub that I store in the garage with decor items not in use such as picture frames, prints, seashells, votives, sand, moss, and other random decor items. I do tend to donate or consign anything I have not used in the space of two seasons so it can bless another person.  (If I am hanging onto it in a closet or something and not using it at all, it's not blessing me or anyone else.)  I also have a huge tub with white candles of every size, and I have a linen closet between my kiddos rooms where I store trays and baskets, extra bedding, cloth napkins, guest room essentials and random things with no home that I keep for decor tweaking.  If I know I want to do some nest fluffing, I tend to pull the tub inside and lay things out, walking from room to room, changing items here and there, often several times, until I've got things the way I want them.  No surface is off limits and I love spending an afternoon moving things like this.  It feels very homey to move this candle here, or that plant over there, etc.

As for photos that get changed often, I simply use a dab of spackle on the end of my finger, and push it into the tiny hole left behind and then I use an artist brush and touch up the paint as needed.  It keeps the walls looking nice and I don't feel guilty about moving things around on a whim!
 I have printed out nearly every Instagram photo I've ever taken into these tiny books using the printstagram site. The mini books hold 50 photos each and come as a two pack for $12.  It's a blast to keep them out where people can enjoy them.  I always think, why take lovely photographs if you aren't going to DO something with them? (Which reminds me that I've got to finish our Mexico photo book.  I love using Snapfish for that as you an usually find a pretty decent coupon and I choose the same sized book each time so they all look like part of a collection.)

 Not a lot has changed in the kitchen, in anticipation of summer... Still loving, LOVING, loving the doors off and the glass doors moved over here, so I had to slip another photo of it into this post... sorry for the house redundancy!  Ha!  So farmhouse casual and inviting to me. 

 I found these wire fairy lights (not their real name) at the grocery store in the outdoor area.  They are my favorite! I also moved a basket of magazines back out onto the bottom shelf because I love those lazy summer afternoons with iced tea on the front porch where I can actually pull them out and read all the articles I've saved over the past few months.  (Have we ever talked about my magazine reading system?  Here it is in a nutshell-  (and don't you dare laugh.) I first go through fairly quickly and dog-ear anything that I want to revisit like a product or site I'd like to try or a project or a decor arrangement I like.  Then later, when I have the time, I go through and slowly try to soak anything up that I missed.  I dog-ear a few more pages or un-dog-ear a few and then I whip back through and rip out every dog-earred page that remains, mark notes about what sparked my attention, and then I organize them into a binder with plastic sleeves.  It becomes my inspiration book and I'd been doing that long before Pinterest came around.)

 I put the much used dominoes in a jar.  I love putting games out and about for Summer.  We seem to play them more and I have no idea why.  Less busy maybe?

Tiny tweaks... nothing major...but I did move a large mirror back into the guest room behind the table. It bounces lovely light into this room.  And... I'm completely ready for overnight guests for the summer! 

(I only show this ugly-ish corner because I never do... )We moved our desk out of here but the printer stayed. Ugh it's so ugly but it's gotta go someplace and better here than in the kitchen!  I would love a sweet, comfy chair and side table someplace in this guest room but I'll have to keep my eyes open for the perfect one.  It can't be too large but it should be very comfortable.  It's always so fun to have a shopping goal in the back of your mind but no hurry so you can browse until you find just the right one at the right price! 
And finally...( sorry to show a restroom.  I think that's so weird but well... whatever.) I wanted to point out that I made over that old egg basket with yellow spray paint.  It is my very favorite thing in this bathroom because it is so fun and lighthearted!

Okay friends, that's it.  Just a few tweaks here and there!  Are you tweaking your decor much for Summer? 
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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Ever Changing

Many of you have been visiting here long enough to know that things in this home are ever changing, ever moving, ever tweaking.  I'm hoping to share whatever spring/summer updates I do around here shortly- if I can get my act together for a post!!  We're working to finish the new and improved (and relocated) party pit out back, and I can't wait to share that once its finished. I cannot wait to feed people out on our DOUBLE picnic tables!  Oh yes... we now have TWO.  

Speaking of feeding people, my new favorite cookbook is the Little French Kitchen.  I was making a salad from it (so good) and had to snap this image for Instagram.  Mmm!
 Lately, I've been tackling a few solutions around here.  One in particular always seems to rear it's head this time of year as the sun begins peeking out-  I always seem to need a home for our sunscreens, sunglasses, campfire matches, garden gloves and garden scissors but there isn't a natural spot here for those things by our back door, so after a lot of "research" (aka- shopping at places like Marshall's) I hit the internet.  I found this metal spice rack from the Magnolia Market, and I have to say that it is the perfect size for those smallish items I needed to keep off the island/table all. summer. long. (NO it hasn't driven me stark raving mad for the past twelve summers, that everyone thinks the kitchen island where we make food or the table where we eat food is the natural resting place for every darn thing with no home.  Not at all.)

Side note- I went to open the patio umbrella today as the sun was out and calling to me and guess what I found sleeping in the folds of the patio umbrella?  A BAT.  I about died right there on the spot and yes, I am sometimes driven to extremes of dramatic hysterics.  (Things like sunscreen bottles all over the kitchen island do it to me and bats simply tend to push me far over the edge of what one normal woman can handle without adding hyperbolic drama into the mix. It's not my fault.) All I could think, in that it-felt-like-forever-but-really-only-took-about-five-seconds moment, was, "I'm so relieved my hair is in a pony tail right now... don't bats try and nest in your hair?... Oh Dear Lord Jesus let that be an old wives tale...Aww he's almost cute... kind of furry and soft looking... I should take a photo of him on my phone..."

Then he flew away and I felt like screaming again.  I just wanted someone to know. Thanks.

Anyhoo.  The sunscreen.  Well it has a home now but it needed a sweet little something above it, so I hung up the most darling little black box art from Ever Thine Home. It reads, "We cannot Lord thy purpose see, but all is well that's done by Thee."  Isn't that perfection?  (You can get your own here.)

And speaking of Ever Thine Home (my favorite place for faith-reflecting home decor) I've got a couple more items helping me kick off my summer.  I am madly, deeply and whole-heartedly in love with the Untie Your Story cards. I mean, as we get our party pit going and I start planning a gazillion gatherings with friends and family over the next few months, these cards are just what I want for pulling people out of regular chit-chat and into more meaningful conversations.  They have wonderful questions on them and I plan to pull them out again and again and use them in different ways- like as place cards or set them in the middle of the table for people to grab! I love things like that.

 I also love the "We still do" sentiment that I've seen in their shop. (Today was the 22nd anniversary of our very first date... I do keep track.  It was the turning point of my life so it felt very fitting to gaze at this sweetness and share it here on the blog.)  They have cute signs and such, and I'm loving the chippy and sweet frame they sent me with a scrolly "We still do" font on the bottom.  I placed our one wedding photo in it and set it in the bedroom, on the desk. 

(And side note- I am totally craving a color scheme update in this bedroom but I don't think it's been over five years since we went grays and yellow, and my man rolled his eyes when I brought up the idea of doing a soothing re-do in grays, creams, and blues with new bedding and keeping the walls the same.... apparently he's not as keen on change as I am. I'll have to work on that.)

You can do a little shopping at Ever Thine Home here, and keep in mind the We still Do items, especially if you've got any wedding or anniversary gifts to buy!

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

It's my pleasure.

 I posted half the photos we took in Mexico on Adrains work/reward trip two posts ago, and I have to say, we actually didn't take a ton of photographs on this trip.  One, because there were only three days that weren't traveling days, and two, because we were busy soaking up the moment and sometimes a camera interrupts that.

However.  Today, I wanted to talk more about the beautiful and luxurious resort we were treated to.  We were in Cancun, and the Fiesta Americana, and the minute we walked in, we could feel the whisper of an ocean breeze cool our faces. It was heavenly.  There was a moment when I looked up and saw a spacious hotel lobby with the exotic fresh flowers everywhere and thought, "Well, this is nice... " and then I looked straight ahead to the view and my breath stopped for a split second because "nice" didn't begin to cover it.  Water the color of pale aqua and then deeper blue with the sound of soothing waves hitting the sand, palms swaying in the wind and blue skies with puffy clouds above.  The foreground was of deep blue pools and cabana beds with floating white curtains, rolled up towel stations, palm covered huts and beach chairs everywhere.  It was gorgeous.

Once we walked into our room I was just tingly.  The beds were covered in white, puffy pillows and comforters and again, the view. 

There was a cute little sectional seating area with pink patterned pillows and it couldn't have been more "me."  We headed to an event and came back to soft music on the television, the cool of air conditioning, beds turned down with a little chocolate on the pillow and slippers laid out beside the bed awaiting our tired feet.  Our things were arranged in a pleasing way on the tabletops- my hairbrushes had been placed into a glass vessel.  Just little things, but all things I immediately noticed and appreciated.  My instant thought was that someone had come in there and tried to anticipate everything we would enjoy and then just gone ahead and taken care of it.  After the first morning of having my chair held out and my napkin placed in my lap and the continual graciousness of each person serving us, I picked up on something.  Every time they did something small for me and I thanked them, they responded with a smiling, "My pleasure."  

It occurred to me that there is perhaps no phrase more pleasant than that. 

It absolutely blesses the person being served and how on earth could you ever be upset with a response such as that?  And even deeper... how can I make this my constant response when serving other people?  As we drove out of the resort and chatted with some of the locals I was reminded of the more common living circumstances of so many of these sweet people serving me so lovingly.  Our guide Jorge, shared some of the struggles that he and his wife had to work around in order to make ends meet, both working two long jobs as most families must, and caring for their small children around opposite shifts. 

It humbled me to my core.  Adrain and I have only taken one other vacation like this in our life and the other was also a work reward trip (to Hawaii.)  This time felt different to me somehow.  Like, every person was going so far above and beyond what they had in their own life, to make my few days there carefree and perfect.  I struggled a bit, I'll be honest.  I felt that it was lopsided and unbalanced- too much for me.. not enough for them.  (And here I had spent the last week complaining about my broken (extra garage) freezer, weed eater and 50mm lens.  Um.  What? Hello are any of those "broken things" requirements to live?  No.  They are not. It was a nice reality check.) 

I wanted to somehow reach out and thank, truly thank, from the bottom of my heart, each person "doing" for me with such delight- me who has so much.  It took a while to process all of this and I don't think I have done it fully. I watched  many of the maids working and the servers serving, and they all seemed to take genuine satisfaction and pride and pleasure in their work.  What a blessing for anyone around them!  What a sweet example to me! I want to make it my personal goal to serve others this way, from my family to people out in the world around me.  To make the words, "My pleasure" a genuine part of my vocabulary.  Mexico will always have a little piece of my heart for showing me this example.

And with that precious thought and goal in my heart, I want to share the beatiful resort as seen through our eyes.  I wish I had taken some photos of the people serving us but I tend to feel a bit shy about asking... perhaps I'll do it the next time I get an opportunity like this.  A few of the photos below are from our big camera, but most are from our phones (both Adrain and my phone.) Adrain took some of my favorites- like the underside of a cabana umbrella.  (That was a lovely afternoon spent reading books in beach loungers, splashing in the surf, soaking up the heat, easy conversation and hand holding.)


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