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?

Jan 27, 2017

Modern Clementine Pillow Covers, Etc.

My husband has a dangerous job.  I pray for him daily and for those brave individuals he works with.  I have a special bond with many of the wives of the men my husband works with.  Our lives are filled with a medley of our husbands long and crazy work shifts, their stress from the wide range of things they have to deal with seeing on the job, and worry for their safety... often subdued with the faith that these are good men trying their best to keep the wolves at bay.   These wives and families of these men are sometimes the only ones who understand this kind of life and can completely relate. 

Nearly a year ago I met Cassie.  Our husbands work together and their family is one of the kindest I've met.  Cassie is not only a loving wife and mother, but an amazing modern quilter.  She sews beautiful quilted garlands and modern pillow covers.  She has an etsy shop online that allows her to work from home and spend more time with her two handsome little boys.  Her etsy shop is called Modern Clementine.  You can visit her shop at modernclementine.etsy.com
She also has an instagram account where you can get to know her better and see all the beautiful things she makes (@modernclementine).

Pictured here are a couple of her pillow covers that I have.  I love love love pillow covers.  They allow me to quickly alter the decor in any room when I'm feeling like I need a change. 

Cassie's pillow covers are modern and well made.  

My only problem is deciding where I'm going to put these pillows.  So many options around my house.  Bedrooms, entry way, living room.  I love storing extra pillows in a big basket too.  It's nice to have extra cushions on Friday movie nights when my kiddos have friends over.  If you're in the market for new pillow covers or other modern quilted items, like garlands, or quilts, be sure to visit Cassie's etsy shop.  (modernclementine.etsy.com)  Her shop just reopened tonight with new winter inspired merchandise.

Happy weekend friends!

Jan 25, 2017

Acre House Dining Room

The kitchen in this house opens up to the family room, but the dining room is completely separate.  My first thought when we saw this home was that we should tear down a wall or two to open it all up.  Then, within minutes, I completely changed my mind.  I know separate dining rooms are not what is "all the rage" right now.  However, separate dining rooms have their perks.  

Perk # 1:  No distractions.  No one is watching tv while eating and everyone can just focus on the food and each other.  I like that.  A lot, actually.  It simplifies meal time and I feel more connected to my family.

Perk # 2:  We can't see the kitchen.  I'm more relaxed when I sit down and eat with my family and I can't see the dirty dishes from meal prep, strewn across the counter tops and filling up the sink.

I know separate dining rooms aren't for everyone, but if you have one... enjoy it.

Above is the picture taken by someone within the realty company before we bought our house.  Great structure.  Love the archway going into the living room and I love the big window.  The cons for us were carpet in the dining room (I guess we're messy people) and the paint color and light fixture were dated and not my style.  

Here's another shot of the room from a different angle, about two days after we moved in.

This is the dining room today.

I know the quality of the picture above is horrible, but it's the only one I have, at the moment, of the whole room.  

These are the changes we've made so far:  

New laminate flooring (flowing into the other main living areas too), new paint, and new light fixture.  

There are a couple of things we still need to do in here.

We still need to finish the base molding and I'd really like a longer dining room table.  My husband and I saw a dreamy one at Costco yesterday.  It came with chairs and everything.  It was a fabulous deal, totally on sale, but when you haven't saved up for a new dining room table yet, a fabulous deal is still too much money.  Ugh!  It's hard to walk away from something you totally love when the funds aren't there.  But we did the mature thing and walked away. :(

On the Opposite wall of the window, we have this old dresser that we've had forever.  It holds some entertaining decor and other odds and ends.  I love that the top of it can serve as kind of a buffet table during big holiday dinners or other special occasions too. 

I bought this green metal container from a lovely gal on instagram.  It holds extra napkins and multiplication cards, which I know is random.  However, my youngest is in third grade and is learning multiplication in math this year.  Having these flash cards out and easy to access, makes memorizing all those facts a little easier, when all we have to do is sit at the dining room table and grab a few to memorize every day.  I'm all about making a space pretty, but even more importantly, functional and usable for my family.  This metal container is one of those pretty + useful pieces of home decor, which are my favorite kind.

While our current dining room table is feeling smaller and appears more dinged up, as the years press on,  I'm still trying to make the best of it.  I decorated the top of it with a scrap of black and white gingham material, some layered wood slices (from some trees around our property we had to cut down), and some white battery operated candles. 

Here's another angle of the dining room from the open kitchen/family room area.

Last weekend, I finally hung some framed pictures on either side of the arched doorway.  It's so nice to see them on the wall and not just stacked somewhere collecting dust (like they had been for the last six months).

Each picture holds a memory that has become a little conversation starter as we eat dinner.  I'd highly recommend hanging a gallery of family pictures somewhere near your dinner table.  :)  Most of the framed pictures are not fancy.  Half of them are printed from pictures I took on my phone.  It's awesome being able to see them in print everyday!

Last picture.  I know the quality is bad, but I love that big sign on top of the dresser, "gather."  It describes the whole meaning and everything that I love about this room.

Jan 18, 2017

Breaking Winter Records

Our "neck of the woods" has had more than it's fair share of freezing temperatures, freezing fog, freezing rain, and even snow.  So much snow that, even though we are just a few weeks into January, we've already broken the highest snowfall record from way back in 1955.  It's crazy.

But it's beautiful too.

The detail of each little snow flake is miraculous and so intricate.  It may have been in the single digits when I ventured outside to take these photos, but who could resist the icy beauty!  Well, that and the fact that, normally around here, the snow comes and then melts away in just a few days.  Locally, everyone knows you have to enjoy the snow while it's here because it won't last long at all.  This year, all locals are in shock at how long the snow has lasted this time around.  I think most of us are grateful for a white winter, rather than a brown one.  But our area is not exactly set up for this kind of weather. 

The roads have been down right treacherous.  So far, we've had six snow days since Christmas break ended and probably about that many two hour delays too.  Part of me has looooved all of the extra time I've had with my children because of the lack of normal school days and cancelled after school activities.  The other small part of me is beginning to feel claustrophobic.  Cabin fever is on the verge of settling in for all of us as we wonder if we are stuck in an eternal winter.  How do you people in snowy states handle it? :/

These breaking winter records have definitely toughened up our job of taking care of all of our animals.  It's involved early morning, pitch dark, you feel like your face is going to fall off, trips out back to defrost water bowls and keep animals fed.  A memorable daily adventure, for sure.

Only two more months till spring, right?  In all seriousness though, I am a bit of a home body.  So having a good excuse to stay home and warm with my family is pretty dreamy. 

How's winter in your neck of the woods this year?

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