Mar 14, 2017

Spring is in the Air


After the coldest, harshest winter in years, I am more than ready for spring right now!  Luckily it's literally right around the corner, less than a week away.  It has me grinning from ear to ear!

Just like a lot of you, when spring is on my mind, I start brainstorming about all those nooks and crannies in my home that need cleaning and special attention.  My windows need a major cleaning from all that harsh winter weather, my closets need to be pared down and winter clothes need to be packed away till next year.  All of this cleaning and paring down breathes a feeling of fresh clarity and lightness into our home.


Then it's time to start thinking outside projects!  Spring for us means planning our summer garden and eagerly checking the weather app on our phones to figure out the best time for planting.  The warmer temperatures mean it's finally comfortable enough to tackle other outdoor projects as well.  We've lived in our current home less than a year and because we're in the midst of turning our acre and a quarter into a small suburban farm, we have lots of outdoor preparations. (Planting fruit trees, fencing for animals, building raised garden beds, etc.)


We have seventeen chickens and one rooster, named Napoleon.  It definitely feels like spring around here, when we go to collect their eggs in the afternoon and we come back with an overflowing egg basket.  Our kitchen counter looks so springy after the eggs have been washed and are ready to be refrigerated.


My favorite way to bring spring indoors and lighten the stale winter mood, is to bring in fresh grocery store flowers.  These flowers are from Yokes, our local market.  Aren't they beautiful?  I love the pop of color. 

Along with the scent of fresh flowers, I like to shop for new spring scents for our home as well.  We love to light candles in the evenings around here, no matter what time of year it is.  But instead of wintery scents like cinnamon or pumpkin spice, I like to switch to vanilla or coastal smells.

After a long cold winter, hibernating in our home, my favorite thing to do in the spring is to open all the windows.  The fresh air and sound of local song birds, brightens my mood.  What can be more simple than opening a window?

Happy Spring friends!
We've made it through another winter.



Mar 5, 2017

A Book to Read: The Dating Experiment



Have you ever noticed that if you're having a hard time in your life and you take on an opportunity to serve, that you begin to feel a lot better?  I have had several of these kinds of experiences, even within the past month!  I've been so grateful for them!

So I have this friend, Elodia, that I've known since high school.  We even roomed together in college for a couple of semesters.  She is one of those friends who is beautiful, talented, great with words, super kind, and can put together the cutest thrift store outfits.  You just feel cooler being around her.

Elodia is also a great writer.  Her fourth book has just recently been published and I'm so excited for her!  I just finished reading it.  It's called "The Dating Experiment".  It's one of those clean, funny, romantic, girly, young adult to adult books that hooks you right away.  I couldn't put it down and I read the whole thing in less than twenty-four hours.  (Those are my favorite kinds of books!)  

So back to the service thing, the main character in this book, "The Dating Experiment", has a string of bad luck in her life.  Things start to turn around for her when she turns her heart towards others and is inspired by a girl she meets in a hospital.  This sick girl in the hospital inspires others to serve in order to find true happiness, through a project she calls "Good Little Anything."  She challenges people to find any little way they can to help serve and lift others around them.  It could be a smile to a stranger, loaning out a favorite personal item to a friend, or cheering up sick children in a hospital.  In her own little way, she ends up inspiring many of the people around her to look outside of themselves to find happiness.  In addition to this book inspiring us to find happiness in serving others, it also has the sweetest, often complicated, love story.  You get to follow the main character Gabby, along her persona,l sometimes rocky, young adult life.  Her life will make you laugh, cry, and sometimes just feel really embarrassed for her!  

If you're part of a book club or want to start a book club, this book also includes questions at the end that would be great in this type of setting.  I invited Elodia to guest post a little bit about herself.  I know you'll love her as well as her book. Check out the end of this post to find out where you can purchase "The Dating Experiment."

              ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"First things first. It is such a joy to be visiting this lovely blog today! I have been friends with the fun, thoughtful, creative blogger since high school. She’s danced with me to The Spice Girls and seen me in many a 90s thrift-store outfit. Thanks for having me, Robin!

Now. Let’s talk home. Home for me is a lot of things. It’s where I cook, where I sleep, where I tell myself this is the year I will plant a garden. It’s also where I write. I know a number of writers who attend writing retreats or go to libraries or schools or even restaurants to write. (One of my favorite authors writes at her local Texas Whataburger.) I consider myself fortunate that on most days, I get to write on a dedicated desk in a designated office. And even more fortunate to have a few favorite things that make this life a little bit simpler.

Here are those things in no particular order:

Coconut oil: I buy the big tubs at Costco and use the oil for everything. My dry lips, my dry hands, and homemade granola.  The stuff is practically magic.

My thrift store aerobics step: Yep. Still shopping at thrift stores. I found an early 90s step (still in the box, and complete with an extra riser) for $5. A lot of times I get my best ideas while doing things other than sitting down typing. This step, along with a few bookmarked YouTube workouts, make the perfect addition to my office.

La Croix (all the La Croix!): Though there is MUCH debate over how to pronounce the name of this stuff, I LOVE it. It’s simple. Just bubbly water with natural flavor. No sugar or any of that stuff. I especially love the Cherry Lime. And the Coconut. And the Cran Raspberry.

Target yoga pants: Oh my dear, sweet, Target yoga pants. The athleisure thing happening in fashion today is an at-home worker’s dream. Target has the best boot cut yoga pants around, and I hope they never, ever discontinue them. If they ever did, I might be tempted to hold that cute little dog for ransom.

A framed picture of Jesus: I write for a lot of reasons. The feeling of getting lost in a story. The amazing moment when I see the book in print for the first time. But, at my core, I write because I believe in God and I believe in His Son Jesus Christ and I want to use any and all gifts I have to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel. To bring a little bit of joy into the world.

And boy am I glad to have some great things to make the journey all the more enjoyable!"

 --------------------------------------------------

 *Purchase "The Dating Experiment" at the following locations or online HERE on Amazon.

  • Ingram
  • Baker & Taylor
  • Seagull Book
  • BYU Idaho
  • San Juan Record
  • The Lyon's Den
  • The Book Table
  • Cardston Book Shop
  • Book Barn
  • Pritchards' Book Nook
  • Generations LDS Bookstore

Mar 1, 2017

Acre House Living Room Changes

 (Realtor photo)

Hello friends!  Hope everyone out there is doing well this week.  I realized, recently, that I've never shared any before and after photos of our living room at this acre house.  So here we go...

When we toured our home for the first time, I saw those neatly painted shapes on the wall and thought... wow!  "Wow" -  those probably took a lot of precise planning and "wow" - those are so not my style at all!  But that was totally ok, because painting the walls is about the easiest change you can make in a home.


One of my sisters lives just fifteen minutes away and she kindly helped me paint half of this house.  I really felt like I couldn't fully unpack and settle in until after all the painted shapes around our whole house were gone and painted over.  I used the same color paint in this room that I used in the rest of our house - Dolphin Fin by Behr.



None of the furniture in this room matches or was planned or precisely put together.  It's really just a mismatch of things we had in our old house, a few new things we bought when we moved in here, and a thing or two that were given to us.  For example, this trunk was given to us last summer by my husband's grandmother.  I think it belonged to her father or grandfather.  It's old, but loved and cherished.  I love having a literal piece of family history in this room.

(Realtor photo)
Here's another angle of the living room pre move in day.  Our family piano now sits on that wall with the painted diamond and picture of a bear.





The archway in this corner of the room opens up to our entry way, which I posted about HERE.

(Realtor photo)

There are two things that I absolutely loved right away in this living room.  First, the tall ceiling.  Second, the bay windows.  Hello beautiful sunlight!!!


As you can see, this space is only ninety percent finished.  After installing the new laminate flooring (the previous flooring looked like wood, but was actually linoleum), I still haven't gotten around to finishing the baseboards.  That will happen soon.... I hope, haha!

We bought these two chairs from Target for this space.  They provide the perfect sitting area around all that natural light.  The pillows are from my friend Cassie's shop, Modern Clementine.  The table in the center used to belong to my husband's grandmother as well.  It was given to us before we got married. 


The windows have blinds, but I thought it would look nice to have this bay window area dressed in some tall white curtains too.  The curtains are from Ikea.


I don't have a before picture of this last corner of the room.  It's just on the opposite side of the piano, near the arched doorway.  I filled this corner with a dresser we used to have in our basement in old house, an old thrifted frame that I recently bought and painted over with chalkboard paint, and some other odds and ends I already had.


Another new piece I bought for this room, to tie everything together, was this rug from Rugs USA.  We put a thin carpet pad underneath it and it is so soft and comfortable to walk on.

So there you go!  It's not a super fancy living room.  It's filled with used, and new, and everything in between.  I've never had a home with a separate living room before so I wasn't sure how much this room would get used.  I've learned over the past eight months that it gets used plenty.  It's been the perfect place in our home for quiet reading, visiting with friends, playing the piano, and displaying our Christmas tree during the holidays.  :)
 

Feb 23, 2017

Do the Best You Can With What You Have

During the span of our marriage, we have owned three homes.  The condo, the split level, and (currently) the rambler on an acre.  Each one has needed some updates and a little/or a lot of tlc.  We have loved the whole process of fixing up each of these homes.  Unfortunately, with each home, we have never had the budget to just go out and buy every little thing we wanted, to update the house, all at once.  Every little bit has required a lot of saving and patience.

There have been multiple times, more than I can count, when patience while saving, was very very difficult.  We live in a world full of wants and instant gratification.  Many times, I wanted to be instantly gratified by driving in my car to Home Depot or Lowes, buying what I wanted for my home, fixing everything up, and BOOM!  My house would look perfect right now!  But that's not real life.  Or at least that's not my life.  My husband and I choose not to have unnecessary consumer debt.  We pay for everything for our house with cash.

About five years ago or so, while we were in the messy midst of fixing up our split level, I was feeling especially down about the lack of progress I felt we were making.  These distinct words entered my mind:  "Do the best you can with what you have."  I know that thought was from God and that He was trying to bring me comfort and good prudent advice.

This thought, "Do the best you can with what you have" has entered my mind countless times ever since.  I've taken this advice even recently, as my husband and I have been giving our laundry room/mud room a bit of a refresh. 


We've had big plans for this work horse of a room.  A few weeks ago we started to get to work.  I painted the back door, leading to the garage, black.  This was left over paint from another project.  I painted the walls Dolphin Fin by Behr, also with leftover paint from the rest of the house.  When we redid the flooring in the rest of the house, we had bought enough flooring to do this room as well.  So again, we already had it.  We just had to install it.


So all of those things got done.  Paint (check).  Flooring (check).  ...(This is a water resistant laminate that holds up well in spaces like a laundry rooms, btw.)

Our next plan of action was to install some built in base cabinets with a long wooden laundry folding countertop on the opposite wall of the washer/dryer.  We also wanted to install some pretty board and baton on the long wall next to the door with black hooks for hanging coats, or hats, or my husbands work overalls.  Then to top it off, we'd update the lighting in this room.  We had already done our research on these updates and priced everything out.  All we had to do was purchase these items after the flooring got installed. 

But then..., something that happens to us all from time to time, our bank account got hit hard with some big expenses.  Like really big expenses.  We're talking like my vehicle needed a new engine and a few other expensive things AND our taxes this spring are going to cost us twice as much as we thought they would.  (I babysit part time and boy does the government like to suck money from you if you are self employed.  Ouch!)  Anyway, those things will get paid, but now we have to wait a while before any laundry room updates can happen.  At first I was sad and a bit frustrated about this.  But it's ok!  For now, I'm going to DO THE BEST I CAN WITH WHAT I HAVE!


I decided that I could still have a laundry folding table in here.  It may not be cute, but it's definitely functional.  We have a long table that we bring out a few times a year for things like Thanksgiving dinner.  Why not make use of it now?  It works great!


Here's another (sorry, blurry) picture of this whole laundry folding table wall.


I may have to wait a few months to get those built in base cabinets I wanted in here, to store things like extra shampoo and cleaning supplies.  That's ok.  I shopped the house for some baskets.  In the mean time, they work great for some storage under the folding table.  Again, not the prettiest, but I'm doing the best I can with what I already have.



This is the wall we have plans to install some board and baton molding on, along with some pretty black hooks for hanging things. 


These white hooks attached to white plywood were here when we bought the house.  They may not be my first choice, but they are still practical for hanging things in the mean time.


I've also been doing the best I can with what I have when it comes to things like decor for this space.  I have my eye on a cute clock from Target and a vintage looking laundry sign from Amazon.  These things will have to wait too.  In the mean time, I'm using this white clock I already have.  The bottom of it has a huge chip, but it tells time just fine. 




In the end, we should count our blessings.  I know I'm not the only one who doesn't have everything I want right when I want it.  But there is a lot I do have that I'm very grateful for.  In the mean time, the Lord is teaching me patience, frugality and learning to be happy with what I already have right now.


Feb 8, 2017

Cozy Winter Home


For us, this winter will just not let up.  The entire eight years we've lived in this tiny town, we've never had snow quite like this.  While I'm tired of it, winter does have it's perks.

One perk that I'm choosing to focus on is that winter invokes coziness. During the spring, summer, and fall, our family is very busy going in lots of different directions, working on outside projects and so forth.  There's always so much to do.  However, during the winter, there are less projects to do, no yard work (unless you count shoveling snow out of the driveway, ha!), we all tend to stay home more, we're together more, we slow down more, and we're indoors more.  I love having my husband and my three chicks all safely under the same roof for days on end.  I cheer inside when after school activities are cancelled, due to slippery roads, and we're forced to slow down and just BE together.  It's one of my favorite things... just being with my family.

There are a handful of things I do to make our home feel cozy during the winter.  One thing I do is fill that old rusty bucket, by our front door, with ice melt to keep our front steps safe as we come and go.


I also display cozy blankets for snuggling in on this wooden ladder.  I frequently wash them because they all get used on a daily basis.  A dear friend of mine gave me this ladder.  If you want one, they look pretty easy and inexpensive to make.


Candles. They make any room feel warm and inviting.  Our favorite candle scents are anything vanilla or cinnamon.


Speaking of cinnamon... I really like my home to smell good.  All winter long, I've kept a pot of water filled with a few cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, dehydrated oranges, and a sprinkling of nutmeg and all spice.  When we're home, I simmer it on low during the day and add water to the pot as it gets low.  It smells divine.  When people come over, they often ask if I'm baking something. :) 


I like to have a lot of citrus around this time of year.  I find that if I keep it in a big bowl, out in the open, that we tend to eat more of it.  Not only does it look pretty, it keeps our immune systems healthy too.   Knock on wood, none of us have been sick this whole winter season.  ...I probably just jinxed myself by saying that. 


To keep our hands and bellies warm, I keep a pail full of hot cocoa and spiced apple cider mixes on the counter.  They get used a lot, so what's the point of them taking up space on a shelf in a dark pantry.  Find a cute bowl or container of some sort and turn something that gets used a lot in the winter (hot cocoa) into a decorative part of your kitchen.


Candles are great for ambient, warm light around these dark gloomy days of winter, but so are battery operated twinkle lights!  I bought this set at Marshall's, but they sell them all over now (Target, Amazon, etc.).  These particular twinkle lights are set on a timer.  They go on for six hours of the day and turn off for eighteen.


The last thing I like to do to cozy up my home in the winter is to turn on all the lamps.  Overhead lighting seems too harsh.  Lamps allow just the right amount of light to create the perfect happy mood when winter forces you indoors.

If you live in an area where your winters are warm, bless your heart.  If you live in an area where the winters can be brutal, take heart.  Cozy your home and endure those blessed three to four months with contentment and gratitude that once a year you're forced to slow down.  Silver white winters will soon melt into spring. :)

Feb 3, 2017

Home Decor Swap Party



Somewhere around Christmas time, I was talking to a dear friend of mine about some home decor items I had around the house that I didn't quite have a place for in this new house.  I wondered if I should take a picture of these items and post them for free to my local friends on Facebook or just donate them to Goodwill.  As we were talking, the idea of some kind of in house swap meet with friends came up and it sounded like the perfect solution:  get together with friends + get rid of things I no longer had a use for + get a new (to me) thing or two to use as well!


A couple of weeks before the swap, I sent out a simple Facebook invite for a handful of friends.  I kept it semi small because my home is not large and the invite included friends PLUS their stuff.

I dedicated our dining room for all of the decor items.  I set up a long folding table long ways, butted up against our dining room table, for small items and larger items were leaned against the perimeter of the room.

As friends arrived that night, I invited them to write their name three times on three small pieces of paper and place them in a basket.  After everyone was settled in, I drew three names at a time to go into the dining room and pick one item.  I kept drawing three names, until all of the little papers had been drawn.

After everyone had their chance to pick three things, I opened it up for everyone to go pick whatever items they wanted that remained unclaimed.

We ended the evening with some refreshments.  I bought pies and placed small slices in individual small, white cupcake boxes.  I also provided tiny cups to scoop up some salty pub mix and made lemon water for us to drink.  This is probably the simplest I've ever done things, as far as refreshments go for get togethers.  It was refreshingly stress free, which is perfect when you're hosting.  I think I'll keep it this simple in the future too. :)


I think everyone went away from this party with things they genuinely were happy to bring back to their homes.  The best part was they were FREE!!!  One of the items I chose that night, was this runner for our laundry room.  Funny enough, I had just told my husband a few days before the party, that I wanted to buy something exactly like this for this room and lo and behold, it was one of the items that was brought to the swap!

This was such a fun night, that I plan on throwing another Home Decor Swap sometime again in the late spring and inviting even more people.  Have you ever thrown or attended a swap party before?



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