Monday, November 2, 2015

Bench Re-Do

I've been trying to figure out what to do with our front entryway for a while now. We have been blessed with an actual entryway with a nook on one side and a closet on another, which is great! However, figuring out how to use that small space in the best way has proved to be a little tricky. We had a small bedside table there for a while as a place holder, which was nice and provided a bit of storage, but I felt like maybe a bench would be a better use of that spot. The photo below shows the layout and the table (decorated from last Christmas, haha!).

I have dreams of a built-in bench here with storage underneath, but right now we have a list of projects looming sky-high and it's just not a priority for my handy hubby. So, I had to get creative. Thankfully, my mom and dad stepped in to save the day by offering me this cute little bench!

I love the lines of this little bench, and once we measured it we were amazed to find that it would fit perfectly in that little alcove. However, I felt like we had a lot of wood-tones going on already so I decided to spruce it up a little bit with some spray paint. And voila!

I LOVE how it turned out. Spray paint hasn't always worked well for me in the past, but I've found that a flat finish paint goes on like a dream and is really hard to mess up. I used Rustoleum 2x coverage with built in primer, in flat black.

I also found this pretty little wreath at JoAnne Fabrics, oh how I love it! So far, I think this is a much better use of the space. It provides a place to sit and take off shoes, set down purses, and we've been able to move the bench and use it for extra seating when needed. I have plans for the other side (the closet side) that hopefully I can share soon too....

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Fall in the Living Room

Ahhh. Fall. The most wonderful time of the year. The time when cinnamon and pumpkin scents waft on the breeze, when the sun gently shines on the golden leaves, when.... Oh, sorry. I maybe got a little carried away there. ;) I really like Fall, can you tell? Any visit to Pinterest will tell you that a LOT of people feel the same way.

Even though I love Fall, I always have a hard time decorating for it. A lot of the Fall decorations in the stores are just.... meh. I don't love most faux greenery. I hate anything to do with scarecrows. And why must the "leaves" all have glitter on them??? Why?!

Thankfully, I can usually find some small touches that give the spirit of Autumn without the glitter. I love these simple branches from Hobby Lobby, with some berries too. Berries are THE BEST.

I have a couple of glass pumpkins that I bought last year at Marshalls, and I also added another pumpkin with a silver/white paint finish to the mantel. I saw a pretty vase that looked exactly like the one below at Hobby Lobby, and I was really close to buying it. Then, I realized that it was basically a wine bottle spray painted with matte black paint. I remembered I had a wine bottle in the recycling bin and matte black paint at home, and voila! SO easy and completely free. Isn't it great when those things happen?

I posted a picture of the pillow below on Instagram last week. I was so excited I couldn't wait to share it! There are so many beautiful, textural pillows in stores right now. I love how they add so much to a space without overwhelming it! I saw one at Target that made me think how easy it would be to make something similar, so I found several different kinds of trim and layered them to create the same look. It also cost significantly less, but that wasn't my main motivation. I just love to sew and it's always fun to make things rather than just buying them all the time!

One of the many, many projects on our list is this fireplace. While I love brick, this brick just does nothing for our living room. It's so many colors, so busy, and is begging to be painted. I'm trying to decide if I should paint it white or matte black. If you have any thoughts, I would welcome input!

This brass lamp was another fun find. I got it at a thrift store for $9.99! It is solid brass and weighs a ton. It's missing a shade, but I think it looks really cool with just an Edison bulb.

Do you decorate for Fall? Do you go with a less-is-more or more-is-best approach? Also, what color should I paint my fireplace? =) 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Home Office and Music Studio Tour


Even though I took a wee break from blogging, I was still working on SO many projects around the house. I'm excited to share some room tours to show what our house looks like these days! First up, I wanted to start with our home office/music studio. It's where I teach piano lessons, and where our desk is set up.

I wish I had better before photos to share, but the only decent one I could find was this picture featuring me in my pajamas with a newborn in a Boba wrap. =) We had a too-small desk, lots of cords everywhere, and pistachio green colored walls.

Now, the walls are a beautiful white with a hint of gray. It's called Irish Mist by Behr. I LOVE this color. I wish I had this color on every single wall! It also looks really good against bright white. 

We found this small bookshelf at a garage sale, and Josh painted it white last Fall. Now I use it to store most of my music for teaching and singing.

After looking all over for a desk this past Spring, we finally settled on this one from IKEA. I was not impressed with the poor quality of most desks these days. I think we went to 5-6 furniture stores before we finally visited IKEA and found this one! We have a hutch that is from the same furniture line (Hemnes) and it has been awesome, so this desk was a no brainer for us. It's nice and sturdy, solid pine, and it has a space to hide our big ugly computer tower.

The shelves above were actually found in our basement when we moved in! I liked the clean lines, and with a few coats of white paint they became the perfect spot for some pretty plants and photos above the desk.

On the other side of the room is our piano. We were blessed to be given this piano from one of Josh's co-workers. It's old, but it's in pretty good condition. It's the first "real" piano I've ever owned myself!

This white Manhasset music stand has been one of the BEST purchases I've ever made. I can't believe I made it through 4 years of college and 5+ years of singing after that without a music stand. So ridiculous. This one is great because it serves such a functional purpose and it's also pretty.

 So there you have it! I love having an office space in our home. I find that it's easier to plan lessons and teach when I have a space to keep everything that can also be closed off from little ones.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Tidying Up

This past month, I read "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo. I started reading it with the thought that I could use a little clutter management in my life. I'm always dealing with storage issues and feeling like my house is "too full."

I was not expecting that this book would call for a whole-house overhaul and declutter. WOW. I decided that I didn't have anything to lose (except maybe some stuff) and that it was a good idea for me to try out this method. I'm only part way through the decluttering process, but I can truly say that it has been life-changing for me.

I am not a hoarder in the traditional sense of the word, but I do tend to hold on to things. As I read through the book, I realized that I was holding on to a lot of things that did not bring me joy. In fact, I had a lot of items that actually made me feel ill every time I saw them. I know it sounds crazy, and I was so surprised to read this book and find that other people have that same problem!

Here's one example: my style has evolved a LOT over the past few years, especially in the area of home-decorating. I used to love everything vintage and shabby-chic, and I spent years collecting antiques and vintage items from thrift stores and flea markets. In the past couple years though, I've found myself being drawn to more modern lines mixed with classic furnishings, with a hint of vintage kitsch thrown in. I've also fully embraced my love of white walls with lots of neutrals and textures. I have always loved white, even as a little girl, but was told that walls needed to have color in order to be interesting. I struggled with finding the right wall colors for years and I'm so glad that white walls are actually a thing nowadays!

The problem that I ran into with this style evolution was that I kept EVERYTHING. The milk-glass collection that I had amassed, the cute little vintage bird pictures I collected. I knew after reading the book that these things that once gave me joy but didn't anymore had to go. I got rid of 4 huge boxes and around 5 garbage bags filled with vases, linens, pictures, and random decorations. It was hard, because I still liked some of the things but knew they wouldn't be used again. I remembered how much I paid for certain things, or how long I had searched for them, and that made it hard too. But now that they are out of my house, I feel as though I can breathe easier. Closets are no longer overflowing, there is a spot for everything so it's not hard to put things away, and the whole house feels lighter.

I didn't realize how much weight I was carrying around in the form of possessions. One of my favorite bloggers, The Nester, talks about "hushing" a room by removing everything from the space and just letting it breathe before bringing selective things back in. What I didn't realize was that my whole house needed to be hushed, even the forgotten spaces like closets and basement storage.

I'm loving this feeling of being free from possessions. I don't feel like my house is an out-of-control mess anymore. Cleaning is easier because I can actually see more surface areas. And strangely enough, I actually feel lighter.

Have you read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up? If so, did you follow her advice? What are your thoughts on the book?

Monday, October 12, 2015

When Life Gives You Lemons

Hello, I'm baaaaaaack..... anyone out there? =)

I always struggle with what to say after a long absence from writing/blogging. Do you acknowledge the absence? Do you just pretend like it never happened and keep tossing words into the ether in hopes that someone is still out there to communicate with? These are the questions I ask myself....

The best explanation I have for this super long absence is that life handed us a whole bunch of LEMONS this year. 2015 was not an easy year for me, or for my family. It felt like we just kept getting slammed over and over again with difficult situations. Colicky baby, post-partum depression, months and months of wakeful nights and sleep deprivation, and just changes being thrown at us from every direction. I don't know about you, but I don't react very well to change. I almost always respond very negatively to change, at least at first. It takes me a while to get used to things! I think the combination of all the changes and the lack of healthy sleep combined to make a perfect storm in my soul this year.

I think everyone goes through times of life when things just aren't clear. You have no clear direction, maybe God is asking you to wait on some things, and life feels out of sorts. But you truck on, find as much joy as you can in the small things, and keep turning your gaze back to God. That's been me this year. It's been hard. But it's also been really, really good.

I'm always amazed at how clarity can come from chaos. I've seen this happen in my life over and over again. I think it's partly because when our world gets shaken, we find out what it is that we cling to. Over and over again throughout my life I've had my world shaken, and I always find myself clinging to the same things. Jesus. My precious family. My desire to create, through music and art.

It's when life gets crazy that we find out what really matters, right?

Have you experienced this in your life? Have you gone through seasons of chaos or confusion? What kept you strong?


Monday, August 17, 2015

Simply Tuesday: Small Moment Living in a Fast Paced World

I recently had the privilege of being part of the launch team for Emily P. Freeman's newest book, Simply Tuesday: Small Moment Living in a Fast Paced World. I was excited and honored to be a part of something like this, and when I received my copy in the mail I realized that it was more than an honor, it was a huge blessing.

This book met me right where I am and breathed Heavenly truths in my ears. It was a literal God-send for my worn out momma soul! I'd been feeling overwhelmed and just plain exhausted from the weight of my expectations upon myself, not to mention the perceived expectations from the world around me. This book was a reminder to me that God is present in the small moments of life. And moreso, He is actually blessed by my smallness. Whoa. It helped me out of a place where I felt like nothing I was doing was measuring up, to realizing that I am truly right where the Lord wants me to be.

When I started this blog, the tagline I chose was "Living small but significant lives in a great big world." Interestingly enough, I had just come out of a season where I had to say goodbye to some dreams and I was feeling small, insignificant, and unsure of my purpose. I wondered how God could possibly be glorified by my day to day living. And if He wasn't glorified in what I was doing, what on earth was my purpose here on earth anyway? I love that this book came into my life at the time when I needed it the most and reiterated some of these wonderful truths that God has been teaching me through His word.

         Without realizing it (or maybe with full realization) we equate growth and size with God and favor, never stopping to consider the invisible kingdom we walk around in, the kind that starts as a mustard seed and grows whatever way it wants to, the kind that often works in secret, small ways-without or effort- like a seed, like yeast, like salt.
(p. 77)
When I think about the people who have most impacted my life, it's the people who already know God's truth about smallness. It's my Grandma, who revels in a solitary lunch at her favorite tea room every week because of the beauty it brings to her life. It's my Mom, who homeschooled me and my four siblings all the way through high school even though she was told as a child that she "was not smart" because she had dyslexia. It's my husband, who works so hard at his job and takes pride in the smallest details even when no one is watching. It's my almost three-year-old daughter, Evangeline Grace, who likes to dance in the kitchen to the radio while I make dinner.

I know this book can speak truth into your life too, wherever you are on this journey of faith! It's available for pre-order on Amazon until it releases on Tuesday, August 18th. Also, if you order before August 28th you can get a free small group conversation guide! Woot!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Finding Inspiration

These days, "inspiration" is easy to come by. We are over-saturated with beautiful images and ideas. Pinterest is filled with project ideas, decorating inspiration, recipes, and outfit photos. I've been finding lately that scrolling through Pinterest doesn't give me the same inspiration anymore. I have so many collections of pins that I've curated over the years, but very few of them have actually made it into my real world.

The internet is such a constantly-evolving thing, it's been amazing to see how it has exploded with new ideas and new people making their mark on the creative world. However, lately I've been thinking more about where I find MY inspiration. I've stepped back a bit from my Pinterest-scrolling and blog-reading to delve into this idea. One thing I've discovered is how beauty surrounds us almost everywhere we look!

Josh and I went out to dinner at this great French restaurant on Grand Avenue (if you're not from Minnesota, Grand Avenue is one of the chicest local places to go for a dinner out and a stroll through shops). It was one of the first evenings where it was warm enough to sit outside, so we were able to enjoy their lovely patio. We sat underneath the prettiest pergola, hung with twinkling lights. As we sat and chatted, we started toying with the idea of building our own pergola! We have a big patio outside out house that is currently unusable because it's in direct sunlight, and a pergola seemed like a great idea to provide some shade and also a great architectural feature to our yard.

Josh, being the amazing guy he is, took notes as we sat and enjoyed our dinner and then a couple weeks later it finally started coming together! Here's a pic below of the in-process pergola. I can't wait to share the finished project.


 Going back to the idea of inspiration, I'm learning how sometimes it's better to step back and let ideas come to you rather than purposefully seeking them out. I still love picking up a magazine and scrolling through blogs and Pinterest, but I'm finding that the ideas that really inspire me and the ones I take action on are found in day-to-day living.

What about YOU? What inspires you these days?