Friday, November 25, 2016

Merry Christmas and a Happy New School Room!

{After taking the pictures and writing a draft, I hung our basement Christmas tree- a tapestry from Ikea. Andrew mounted a copper pipe across the ceiling that I leave up year-round, slipping my *ahem, glow in the dark* curtain tree on at Christmas time.}
{Old school photos we picked up at an antique store in Maine last spring}
Every year in August I have a mild panic attack because I'm sure I'm going to home school again this year, but look at the school room! Through the summers it's neglected yet severely lived in, know what I mean? There are times throughout the school year (or every week..) that I question our decision to teach the kids at home. It's this strange feeling of trying to discern guidance vs. control. Do I home school because I want to be the primary influence on my children while they're young and impressionable, or am I doing it because I want to be in control? I think it's a combination of both, though I hope that when the time comes for me to send them out I can do it knowing they're ready because of what they learned at home. I want to prepare them, not so much protect them. I don't know if that makes sense. I didn't think this post would turn into a crisis of belief... I'd love to converse more about the school decision, but let's turn our attention back to the actual room. I think part of my struggle every year is the make-shift designated area. Like so much of our house, our basement has gone through multiple transformations. But none exemplified the word transform like the new school room. It's still not completely completely done, but so close and so functional and I can't help sharing!

The center island is for crafting and game night  and folding laundry while the kids teach themselves at the desk. So much use out of this little work mule! Including corralling wrapping paper. Glory be. As someone who struggles with organization, wrapping paper has been the bane of my existence. No more, wrapping paper fiend. I won the war. About the counter top--I've always loved soap stone, but haven't had a place for it until now. It's beautiful and smells like genuine dirt when washed. Mmm.

I bought these metal file drawers off Craigslist last year as a set of 4 that can hook together. I had three of them stacked (on top of each other and under a pile of books and papers). When we were designing this space I really wanted to bring the old drawers back so Andrew built them in. I love the original green metal so much..I should label the drawers, but don't want to ruin their simplicity.

Okay, do you want to talk about the stools or the tile? Or the Constitution hanging on that back wall? Kidding! I'll tell you the completely unexciting story about the chairs in a minute. Those tile floors that are drawing the hallelujah from your lips? Home. Depot. I'm telling you, they're just ceramic-made-to-look-like-cement tiles. Andrew installed them and I watched.
I honestly can't remember where the pendant above the island came from. I've had it for's old just like me. And the ceiling. Andrew has white painted planks that will be sort of ship lap ish, but wider. I asked him to take a break from this room so I could use it for a little bit before he overtook it with sawdust and sawhorses.

If this isn't just the worst iPhotography...I don't really have time to hone my skillz. Forgive. Let's pretend it's brilliantly clear. That counter top? Menards. I'm not even kidding you. It was just raw maple butcher block that we used as a desk before, the kids challenged its ability to absorb..everything. Marker, paint, lipstick, glue, play dough. Poor Andrew couldn't take it anymore. He sanded the evidence out of it and stained it. Now- that giant sconce has a small story behind it. Andrew had borrowed (all the while thinking he had been given) an exhaust fan for his spray booth at work- for those who don't know, mister mister is a cabinet maker. The gentleman who loaned (not gave) the fan wanted it back. Well Andrew dear had built that puppy right into his Osha approved spray booth. It was not to be extracted. Alas, a combing of online auctions commenced, where he found a new fan for the old friend and what do you know he got a big old light covered in ages of finish thrown in. We've been hoarding it (along with so much other GARBAGE) in our garage in case we could use it someday. Write it down, take a picture- it was worth keeping.
This blessed bank of cabinets were the two original upper cabinets in our house's kitchen when we bought it. They were the color of pea soup, but not in a bad way. More like in a Kermit the frog kind of way..endearing. But recently I've come to understand myself more- I appreciates small doses of big color, not an entire wall's worth of cabinets indirectly featuring the Muppets. They were already in the basement, but not used very efficiently. Now my fabric is neatly folded and stacked, craft supplies are controlled, and my sewing machine is on a roll-out behind those doors so I can pull up a chair and pretend to sew. Um, that globe on the curved acrylic frame? Garage sale. For real. That chicken feed box? Straight from our broken down coop. I would like to fill it with plastic succulents. And I want to do silhouettes of my kids (like that sweet one of Oliver in 1st grade that I pinned up between the chalk boards) for above the feed box.

And these stools. Craigslist, I think they're old lab stools? Heavy duty and industrial and already broken in, so our job is done.

Saturday, November 19, 2016


As I considered writing a political post (and swallowed the puke that came to my mouth) a thought hit me. We are all more (or less) than our words. This is true for all of humanity. We say things we don't mean, and mean things we don't say.

I love where I live. I love freedom, I love cold weather, I love the clean country air. But when my thoughts shift outside of my little circle of influence, and focus on the influencers at large, fear/worry/depression sets in. I can only control myself (and sometimes not even!, chocolate). I need to think about my people, my attitude, my calling- and hope and pray that as I stay true to Jesus and the truth of his Holy Bible, my small circle of influence will be bettered. And in turn, the circles that overlap mine will reach beyond and use my courage to light their group, and on and on. It's sort of like pay it forward. We all do as much as we can on a small level, and pretty soon it's a movement toward truth and respect and forgiveness and justice and mercy. But don't try to make your circle too big. Eventually you may be responsible and mature enough to handle more humans, but start by getting deeper with just the folks you already know. Strengthening your current personal relationships will increase your zeal and love for life. The Bible tells me to do everything without complaining or arguing, so while I'm getting deep with my peeps, I need to be mindful of keeping the conversation high and tight- like my brother-in-law's haircut. I mean encouraging and pertinent. No gossip, no dragging down. High and tight.

There's a chance I watered this down to the point of ineffectiveness. If so, here are some wise words from Valley of Vision- a collection of Puritan prayers and devotionals:

I commend my heart to Thy watchful care,
     for I know its treachery and power;
Guard its every portal from the wily enemy,
Give me quick discernment of his deadly arts,
Help me to recognize his bold disguise as an
     angel of light,
   and bid him begone.
May my words and works allure others to the
     highest walks of faith and love!
May loiterers be quickened to greater diligence
     by my example!
May worldlings be won to delight in acquaintance
     with Thee!
Let my happy place be amongst the poor in spirit,
     my delight the gentle ranks of the meek.
Let me always esteem others better than myself,
    and find in true humility
    an heirdom to two worlds.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Stools and rugs: revolving door, part 2

Let's get serious for like a sec. I want to be a good steward of finances and this green earth, so there's a slight crisis of belief that sails through my thoughts sometimes as I look to tweak things to perfection in our home. Patience and confidence are the top character qualities I hope to draw from in making decor decisions. A room is not going to come together over night, and often when I push it to, the design falls flat because it lacks the collected/cultured look that makes it feel genuine. So I rearrange and remove and add until there's an actual feeling cultivated. Like, "Hey, I want to spend time in this room. I want to look around and learn from the books and the art and the sunshine. I want the people I love to be able to enjoy this too." And then I sell the old rug and feel even better. ;) Anyway, the thing is there's definitely something to be said about surrounding yourself with beautiful things and people. Keep your head on straight- don't obsess, but recognize and appreciate it. And I'm also saying don't settle. God is the maker of creativity and we're made in his image, so art and beauty should move us. Mediocrity has rarely made a difference. In anything.

So you guys. I've had 4 rugs in my 5 Mile Rd. living room in the 7 years we've lived here. Is that normal? Every time I see a rug at a flea market, I check the price. ANY rug. Size, color, pile. None of this matters. I love rugs. And have we talked about lamps lately?...mama likes a good lamp. But reign it in, this is about rugs. Here is the last post showing the LR (rug from West Elm, sold it. Loved, but just too big for my micro living room. And golly professional photos are, and the first rug (from Ikea, still have it and love it). Then there's this ivory Moroccan wanna-be. I still have it, but it got so mangy so fast...what am I gonna do with a mangy rug? Just having a hard time saying goodbye.

{West Elm}

And now. My friends at Ecarpetgallery (they don't know we're friends) sold me this one. I wanted the age and the texture and the imperfection of a vintage handmade rug. This is it. It's a new antique, if that makes sense. Like made one million years ago, but never used. Maybe it's not quite that old..unless God made it..?


I mean, I love sun, but what the heck? Trying to take pictures here! Mr. Sun, you're throwing off my iPhotography groove.

I've also gotten a vintage kitchen rug this year, and for the girls' bedroom, and the upstairs bathroom...I'm on a roll. A rug roll. Rollin' out the red carpet... 

Okay, here's the kitchen rug, older than these very hills and bought at a flea market in Massachusetts..or New Hampshire. Those pint-sized eastern states have me confused. 
{East coast flea}
The girlfriends are getting book shelves in their bedroom soon. I'll take pictures and you'll see the rug I got for them from a different seller at the same flea market.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Stools and rugs: a revolving door, part 1

I've been working on the boys' bedroom, which is nearly ready for a photo sesh with my iPhone. It's getting pretty fun, y'all. 

Chairs. More specifically stools. These 3 beauties below came via Craigslist.  A couple years ago, my friend Tabetha and I were feeling clever without our combined number of 9 (NINE!) children, when we went on the adventure that is fetching a Craigslist find. So even though the stools were less 'petite Windsor' than I expected and more generic 'bigger is better,' my adrenaline said buy them, so I did. They were light maple, totally factory grade blah. I was inspired by this olive color and needed to introduce it to my house. Once painted, they were pretty.. but they were always a little too big for the space, and since they spun I was on constant spin patrol in an effort to preserve them and the counter tops. Alas, they went out as they came in- Craigslist.

[The giant chalkboard sitting behind them is waiting to play a role in an upcoming wedding that I'm styling}
If Andrew can't build something I want, my search starts in the 'used' market (thrift stores, flea markets, Craigslist), but after stalking the stools category on Craigslist for many months and not finding what I wanted, I decided to check I knew I wanted metal, and I found these nice little guys at a very reasonable price. They came in pairs, and since I needed 3, I'm selling one. Check the Brainerd, MN Craigslist! ;)

{The old stools were so big I had to climb on them to get beyond their backs and wash the counter tops..I'm not even being dramatic.}
{Yeah, my favorite part about these stools is they're short enough to tuck under the peninsula and not obstruct the view through the house from the kitchen to the LR. #smallhouseproblems}
The first stools we had (before the olive loves) were of the classic $10 backless maple, fall apart if you look at them variety. Three sets of stools in the 7 years we've lived here, and I think we finally got a keeper.

Next up- rugs.

Also, iPhone photography is in my wheel house..what does that even mean?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Melissa (Mike) Moren

See this beautiful woman? She is my grandma (mom's mother). She died when mom was 12, so I never had the privilege of knowing her- but I like to think this picture tells so much of who she was. She's in a boat reading a book. She's giving us a smirk over her shoulder as if to say golly this is the life. 

Grandma Mike had a rough go of it. She lost her house to a fire, she lost her husband to an aneurysm when mom was 2, she lost her son to an auto accident when he was 16. She was left to raise her 6 surviving children on her own in an era when working women were not anyone's ideal. She fought hard and gave my mom some pretty colorful memories- like potato chip/mayo sandwiches and swimming in flooded alleys. Mom was the youngest, with her next sister being a couple years older, so it was just the 3 of them for a while. Though Mom doesn't talk about her growing up years much, when she does it's with a surprised grin over the life they lived. Surviving and making the most of every situation- just like grandma in this picture improving a day on the lake with a book. 

My circumstances don't compare to Grandma's, but I pray that with every bit of bad news I hear, every crisis I face I would face it with tenacity- and a determined smirk to carry on her loving legacy.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Master bedroom one year later...

It has literally been over a year since I used the internet for blogging. I've had blogger's block, okay? Well usually my head is filled with so much jumbled up content, I get overwhelmed and just mentally hit the 'delete' button in my brain, followed by 'yes, delete all'. I've been living in the easier realm of Instagram with quick blurbs about my kids and house. But I recently became inspired to write.  Like really write.  About my kids and house. ;)

While reminiscing over Moxie, I saw my bedroom from last year. OMGoodgrief. It wasn't the worst, but it has changed a. lot. Andrew finished the bed (that we've talked about since buying the house 7 years ago!) and wired new sconces from this Etsy shop. I painted the walls and wardrobe BM Moonshine and picked a few new textiles for the room.

Hand- painted drop cloth curtain is standing in as a summertime coverlet for the bed.
The bed and built ins are BM Simply White.

Killer handmade sconces from SazarecStitches
Andrew has a collection of pipes, so I included the most ornate ones in the shelf styling. Classy?..can't tell..

I picked up this giant oil painting for my sister at an antique sale, and somehow it jumped up onto my bedroom wall. Sneaky art..
If you follow me on Instagram, you've seen this little painting sitting in the TV cabinet. The only time we really need (yes need) a TV in our bedroom is at Christmastime, when we want to end each day with a nostalgic movie. So hopefully we'll get a telly in the next 6 mos.- though I'd love to fall asleep to the summer Olympics in A FEW WEEKS!

We changed out the hardware on the wardrobe for these glass beauties.
I ordered these West Elm curtains for Winston's bedroom, but they looked so cozy in my bedroom... I think I might be klepto when it comes to housewares/my bedroom.
Settle in for a pillow story. I had gotten this fabric remnant a long time ago when looking for upholstery to use on a different project- there was only a small scrap of it, but it was so pretty I had to have it. After stashing it a while, I brought it out to use on a 'make your own Roman shade with a mini blind' tutorial, but that ended up being a little hoky with my burgundy mini blind (fresh out of the free box at a garage sale) being visible from outside so I took it down shortly after its debut. Then when I wanted to add depth to the the bedding color scheme, I searched it out and found it folded up in the cabinet, still attached to its burgundy friend. *pause* I bought an awkwardly ugly, long decorative pillow for 25 cents at a garage sale a couple years ago, just to reuse the stuffing. I had that gem in my hands last week, ready to rip it apart to marry it to my dear old fabric scrap, when I thought it'd be nice to have some piping for this new pillow. I was going to set it aside until I'd gone to Walmart to get some, but the heavens parted and I noticed the gold velvet piping on that doggone awkward thing I was holding and thought, "I'm 'bout to turn a sow's ear into a silk purse." It worked. 

Most of old pillow= most of new pillow. And trip to Walmart avoided. 
I guess sometimes it's worth buying and hoarding garbage. Sometimes.