Plaster Walls

There were many aspects of this house that were less than appealing to me. The plaster walls were near the top of that list. As far as I knew, I had never seen a plaster wall. Thinking back on that now, I don’t believe that could possibly be true but that’s how far removed the notion of plaster walls was from my consciousness. Right after we moved in here, I ran into a man at the hardware store paint counter and he told me he covered all his plaster walls with drywall to be done with them. I secretly hoped we would do the same, but that would have been a big undertaking and more costly than we could manage with our budget. Not to mention, we had to live in this house during all construction projects with an at-the-time newborn and 2 other small children. So, we have kept the plaster walls. And you know what? They’re easy! The repairs have been simple and we have been able to handle them ourselves despite having zero plaster experience. We have repaired crumbles, cracks, and multiple gaping holes.

There are all kinds of videos to watch and articles to read online about plaster walls. I have read and watched a lot, and the knowledge was nice to gain, but in the end we didn’t use any of those suggestions. We got general ideas and then did it our own way.

This plaster patch is our main repair agent. We have used a lot of it! For the gaping holes, my husband cuts drywall to fit, then plaster patches at the seams to blend them together, I found a spray can texture that matches our existing ceiling texture very well, so if it’s a ceiling patch he sprays that on and then I paint. Unless you stood in front of one of our patches and stared at it, you’d never even know it was there so I’m satisfied with our simple methods. It has been so much easier than I thought it would be!

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A spackle repair with a heart in the middle because, why not?

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Why Not: The Beginning

It is December 2008. I graduated college a year ago and had been working at my first post-collegiate full time job for 4 months. I really hadn’t done anything though. I felt in all my life I had accomplished one thing. I was a stellar student-athlete. That’s what my one wild and precious life had consisted of so far. And now I wasn’t either of those. Both my student and athlete careers were over and had been for a year. I needed something new to do but I had no ideas what I wanted to do. So at the beginning of the month of December I made a decision and didn’t tell anyone what I was planning to do. I decided the best way I could figure out something new to do would be to say yes to everything. If someone invited me to do anything, barring it being illegal or against my morality, I would say, “Yes.”

On December 3rd a few of my coworkers asked me to surf with them after work. I had surfed a handful of times before. I wasn’t terrible and I wasn’t good either and that always puts some pressure on. “Yes,” I said to them and out we went. I had the best time I’ve ever had surfing that day. I was good that day. The waves were perfect for my skill level and I felt like I was flying on top of the world. We walked across the street afterward to one of the guy’s apartments for dinner, drinks, and board games. While we were playing games after dinner, one of the guys I had surfed with earlier was seated next to me and he leaned a little closer to me and asked, “Do you work tomorrow?” “No,” I answered. “Me either,” he said, “want to go fishing with me? I was going to go on a party boat out of the marina tomorrow morning.” Complete stranger. Public boat. Middle of the ocean. Other people would be around. I don’t even know his last name! Nothing illegal. I love fishing. You promised yesses this month…. “Yes, I’ll go with you.” The next day I met him at the marina, we got on the boat together, the mate obviously thought we were together. We didn’t sit close together. We talked. Small talk. Didn’t catch a thing. Drove away from each other in the parking lot. I still didn’t know his last name.

Fourteen months later I married him. All because I said yes to a fishing trip 3 days after committing to say yes to opportunities instead of my usual, “No, thanks,” with a smile.

That month was a wonderful experience for me and I haven’t done anything like it since. I’m feeling like I need some adventure again. Do you ever feel like you need a good reason to do something? I do. I often weigh if something is worth the time/effort/organization before committing to it. This year I want to approach opportunities with a “why not?” Instead of requiring a good reason to do it, if I can’t think of a good legitimate reason to NOT do it, then why not?

That question makes me wonder what might happen.

Dining Room Wall Decor

I like a lot of white in my rooms. It helps me feel relaxed. It also allows me to add in any color accessory on a whim or change them with the seasons which is my favorite. I remember walking through a home store with my sister before we had homes of our own and agreeing with each other that we wanted neutral rooms in our future houses so we could go all out with seasonal decorating.

My husband gets bored with white. He needs more excitement in his spaces. All white everywhere can feel sterile and unwelcoming, even cold. I may like white but I don’t like cold rooms.

We finished the construction phase of our dining room over a month ago now and about a week ago my husband looked at me and said he needs stuff on the walls. We rummaged through what we already owned and hung some framed art we had but it needed more so I bought a few pieces to finish it off.

You saw some of our wall hangings in my Christmas decor post. Today I’m showing you the rest and including sources.

I love the polka dot print on these Polish pottery quiche dishes! The framed art is old from a few years ago and originally hung in our old house. It actually isn’t officially wall art at all – it’s wrapping paper.

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The Old World map is one of my all-time favorites that we own. I just love looking at it and so do my husband and our 4 year old and 3 year old. We are map people :-). The photo mat that came with the frame was originally white like the other two frames. Sean spray painted it blue one day.

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The vintage colander adds a warming touch of copper. I’ve been wanting one of these colanders for awhile and was excited when I found one in great condition.

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Polish pottery quiche dishes

Copper colander – Ebay

White frames and mats

Old World map – similar

Flower print gift wrap

 

Simple Christmas Decorating

While I love Christmas, I don’t do a lot of Christmas specific decorating. I find I don’t enjoy lugging a lot of cartons of decorations around or unpacking and then packing it all back up. So in the interest of preserving my love of Christmas, I keep my decorating very simple.

Without a large collection to draw from, I try to get creative with what I have. We collect pine cones on our walks through the woods each year all season long so by mid winter we have a fun collection to display. I display my pretty cookie cutters in a bowl, set out all my candles, and lay out the cozy throw blankets. A few pops of red and green finish off a Christmasy feel. It is just enough to get me excited about the holiday.

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Baking is a big part of the season for a lot of us and I like to fill some mason jars with premixed dry cookie ingredients. I tie a tag around the neck with some baker’s twine and they function as practical, temporary (I don’t have to wrap and pack them away when the season is over!) decor and when I’m ready to get started on cookie baking, some of the work is already finished. It’s a win, win, win in my book. I also keep homemade hot cocoa mix and granola on hand all winter long, as well as a big bowl of oranges for some cheery color on gray days.

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Slowly setting these things out around my house the weeks before Christmas is my way of preparing my heart and my home for the greatest gift of all. I savor the process of preparing for Christmas in small ways that allow me to fully enjoy the whole Christmas season.

Shop

Tree collar: similar ; also pretty

Star tree topper

Cookie cutters: similar

Nativity

Striped taper candle: similar

Stockings

Sherpa throw

Gather pillow

Gray check pillow

Flocked tree

 

 

Round up: Curtains

I love a beautifully trimmed out window. Chunky white painted wood all the way around with a decorative sill just makes a window handsome, but sometimes soft and pretty or whimsical and fun is what a room needs and curtains tend to do that better than just a nicely trimmed window. Admittedly, I haven’t experimented with curtains much. When I used them in our old house they were white and only on 2 windows, but my current dining room curtains nearly made me swoon when I climbed off the ladder and looked at them. They made the room a place I love to be. I’m inspired to keep trying curtains around here and I’ve bought a few more and hanging them is on my list of goals for 2017.

Here is a quick gathering of curtains I’m either using in my home or considering buying.

1 // 2 // 3

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The jute stripe are sitting in our bedroom waiting for hardware. They look nicer in person than I thought they might. The jute is woven into the fabric a bit rather than just resting on top which is what I was unsure of when ordering them. I’m excited to see how they look hung up.

The blue patterned ones are our dining room curtains. Enough said. ❤

The white tab-top curtains are sitting in our sunroom with the rod and hardware next to them but our Christmas tree is set up in front of the windows so they have to wait to go up until it comes down.

 The second row patterned ones and the gray ones in the last picture are some I am considering for the other bedrooms although I may go in a different direction for the kids’ room. Light blue velvet has been on my mind when I’m in their room and these Blue Smoke  ones may be just right.

The navy ones are in the running to be our living room curtains.

While I don’t think every window needs curtains and many of mine will show off their wood trim unabashedly, a few well placed ones can sure dress up a room. They fill in empty visual space with cozy warmth and softness.

Home Goals

Every year I write down a few goals I have of things I want to accomplish in the coming year around my home. I used to have so many ideas and thoughts about what I wanted to do around the inside AND outside of my home that a lot of times I didn’t know what to do. What should I start with? What should I do now and what should I do later? Those were questions I had a hard time answering, so a number of years ago I began plotting and writing out some goals around this time of year. Some of my goals are more work-like, such as decluttering and organizing a specific room. Some of my goals are more dreamy while others are project oriented. I thought today I would share how I set up my home goals for the year and how I’m doing it just a little bit differently this year.

In my old house I would categorize the things I wanted to accomplish by room but all my rooms there were put together and not under construction or covered in wallpaper. This house requires a different approach. I am prioritizing more this year because we still have spaces that are original to the house, most likely that is in a literal sense – ha! – but I also feel this will be a year of getting a lot done.

The beginning of June will mark a year since we moved in and I thought it would be fun for me to use that date as a proverbial deadline for refreshing the entire house. To have redone every room within a year of buying a house would be such a great feeling so this year I have a mini plan within my year-long plan.

I like to write out goals because it keeps me focused. It helps me turn aside from the distractions of sales or pretty pictures I love. When I hold my list of goals up next to a potential distraction I see exactly what I need to be focusing on. I get more accomplished when I know ahead of time what I’m trying to accomplish. Most years I get to add things to the bottom because I end up getting everything checked off before the year is over. That’s how motivating and focusing writing them down can be! If you’ve never done this for your home before, sit down and try it! Brainstorm, edit, change, and get a final version to tack to your wall by the end of the year..and then you get to start checking them off!

Vestibule Entry

Our little entry area was far from pretty when we moved in here. Old brown carpet on the floor and walls that looked as if somebody tripped while carrying an open bottle of dijon mustard. I have nothing against dijon mustard and if that color on the walls makes you happy, enjoy! But it wasn’t the look I wanted to be greeted by every time I came home.

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This is the exterior door and you can see the interior door and jam…and remnants of the carpet still stuck to the nails at the bottom of the door. 

As with everything we have done so far, we kept it simple with paint and accessories and now we have an entry that feels welcoming and ready for a family of 5 to pass through day after day. My plan started with my vision of what an entry space is for.

My ideal entry has 4 elements:

Hooks for hanging.

A place for shoes.

A seat to put shoes on and take them off.

A surface to welcome me by offering to hold all my stuff.

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That is a lot to ask of this small space and in the end, I am not able to fit a place to sit but everything else makes for a functional and welcoming space. The shoe tray sits below a shelf for a quick drop-off and pickup area while heading in or out. And there is a mirror for a quick self check. Us mamas of small children can end up walking out of the house in a fright and not even know it. I’m talking any number of bodily fluids including a bleeding lip from when the baby head-butted you while having a tantrum in your arms, spit up in your hair, marker streaked across your face. I’m sure there are more but those are the ones I’ve experienced – er, the ones I can think of at a moment’s notice ;-).

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There is a place to keep our umbrellas, hooks to hang our scarves and coats, a branch I found while on a walk and thought was pretty, as well as a wall sign I feel fit our family so I brought it home.

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If you read my entry inspiration post, you might remember the graphic tile in some of the photos. I really like that look, but we won’t be tiling this space, so this rug is an addition I have in mind for this room. I get the look without permanence or work! 🙂

Have you ever thought about what elements are in your ideal entry?  It’s a good thought to linger on with winter coming and all the cozy layers and accessories coming out of storage. 

Sources:

Wall paint color: Sherwin-Williams Silver Strand

Flower bucket: Save-On-Crafts.com

Text Art: Homegoods

Wrought iron and wood shelf: Hobby Lobby

Hooks: DIY (pallet wood and robe hooks from Home Depot)

Starburst Mirror: TJ Maxx

Yellow candle: Target

Succulent: Target

Books: Hobby Lobby

Faux flowers: greenery from Hobby Lobby. Orchids were in my hair on our wedding day and I tied them to a twisted vine branch from one of our old backyards.

 

A Place to be Nourished: Our Dining Room

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It’s finished! I am so happy to be able to say that and share my new favorite room with you. We are ready for a holiday break over here, let me tell ya. This adventure has been 4.5 straight months of hard work with the hardest of all being the living-in-chaos-while-working part. That’s my least favorite part. But it’s all over and everything is put back together and we can breathe again.

Ahhhhhhh.

For this room, I’ll give a quick break down of what we did and show the before photo and then we will enjoy all the pretty completed pictures.

Here’s the original room as it looked when we moved in:

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Our work began with removing the drop ceiling and discovering why it was put up: there was a 4’x8′ section of missing plaster. My amazing plaster patching husband fixed that and then we moved onto the walls. I stripped wallpaper in our sunroom for 10 weeks. Relying on that experience and gazing at the size of this room and really wanting a dining room for the holidays gave me what I thought was a brilliant idea of covering the walls. My husband wasn’t sure initially. We bounced around installing wainscoting on the lower half and stripping and painting the upper half, but in the end, ease won out and we just covered those walls right up. We ripped down underlayment to 5 3/4″, sanded each piece, installed it, filled over 1200 nail holes in the room, put on 2 coats of primer and 1 coat of paint, painted all the molding, and installed the flooring. He started laying it on a Friday night after work and got almost halfway through and we both woke up Saturday morning and finished it up together. I spent last week pulling the decorating together and we had a completed room in a month from start to finish.

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I’m sure we will be adding some art on the walls in the future, especially over the coffee bar. I am also excited to have this space to decorate for the holidays. Having a nice place to eat our meals together this past week has been such a change for us. We also find ourselves just sitting at the table now talking, working, or drinking coffee in the middle of the day with family and friends.

Happy Thursday, all!

 

How I Organize My Kids’ Stuff

I saw something floating around the internet awhile ago that said something to the effect of:

1. Happy kids

2. Clean house

3. Your sanity

Choose 2.

It’s popped into my head on more than a few of the, ahem, “rougher” days since and although I certainly find it to be true at times, for the most part keeping some semblance of all 3 doesn’t have to seem impossible. I think it is possible to have happy kids, a clean (enough) house, and your sanity all intact, if not on all, then on most days. So today I’m going to share how we keep our kids’ toys under control, organized and mostly out of our way. Now I’m no organizational expert or super experienced mom. I’ve been doing this for less than 5 years, but I do have 3 small children who want it all and have generous relatives to oblige them, which we love and it’s a blessing but…at one point we lived in a 900 sq ft apt and my husband and I were both working full-time and I was in my third trimester of pregnancy and I felt completely powerless and out of control with their stuff. It affected me, like really affected me on a daily basis. And then we moved – again – and had sort and reorganize – again. We’ve done this more times than we’d like to remember over the last 5 years and we’ve learned a lot. So here are my 3 tips for controlling kid toy clutter.

STEP 1

Buy a reasonable number of pretty baskets, colorful cubes, and a storage ottoman/lidded trunk or two. Make sure you like whatever you choose and that your kids can pick up each type of small container you get. You won’t mind having these displayed in your living room if you like the style of the container and let’s face it, kids want to play where we are, so toys will be a part of main living spaces.

STEP 2

Keep out only the toys that will fit in the containers from step 1 and store or give away the rest. This is a great way to pare down toys. My biggest obstacle in getting started controlling our toy chaos was determining which toys stayed and which went away. I struggled with this for too long but then I changed my perspective to, “How many containers will reasonably fit in our home?” and it jumpstarted my ability to pare down. Determining how much space we, as a family, are willing to dedicate to kids’  toys was an important step. It felt good to say: This is our boundary. This is enough, and we won’t feel guilty that we are depriving our children of the joys of play, because we aren’t.

STEP 3

Don’t wait to start this until you have the perfect number of baskets and bins for each category of toy with them all perfectly labeled. Determine how much space you have, get your containers and get started! None of our containers are labeled. I’m not a labeling person, but if that’s your thing, go for it! Just don’t let a lack of labels prevent you from starting.

In Practice

We’re pretty flexible with how this system works and that’s part of what makes it feel so freeing for us. Our bins and baskets go a little something like this. Cars, dress up, babies and their accessories, super heroes/figurines, legos, blocks, baby toys, misc.

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We have a misc basket downstairs and one upstairs. Once we get all the categorized stuff put away, there tends to be all these little pieces that don’t go with anything. When we get to that point of cleaning up, the kids love it because their last basket to fill is just everything. Everything that’s left gets tossed in.

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Cleaning up needs to be manageable so we have a few small clean up times during the day. They often occur before naps/quiet time and before bed, but they may also occur the few minutes before they have to stop playing to wash up for a meal or sometimes I assign them each one room to clean. We also have family cleaning frenzies. This is something we used to do when I was a kid and I still do it for myself as an adult so I’m teaching my kids to do it with me. I set a timer for 10 minutes and we clean as much as we can as fast as we can but it’s only for 10 minutes so we never feel overwhelmed. You’d be surprised how much you can do in 10 minutes!

All of the toys that don’t fit in our designated number of toy containers are stored in plastic bins in the attic. Every so often I will get a request for a certain toy or asked to get some “new” toys so we will do a trade. They understand everything still has to fit in the bins we have in the house, so a trade makes sense to them and we avoid any disagreement.

For large toys, like their keyboard, baby stroller, and vacuum, we have a large shelving unit in their bedroom closet. It holds baskets of smaller toys and all the larger toys they have out at the time. Shelves make it easy for them to put away and take out whatever they want and the highest one is useful for me to keep board games, puzzles, and other toy items I don’t necessarily want them to have access to without supervision.

I hope you can use these tips to make your life with toys more pleasant.

What systems do you have in place for toys in your house?

Vestibule Entry Inspiration

This house is the first one we’ve had that has a dedicated entry space. It’s a room actually – a very small room. Our other houses have all had the front door smack dab in the middle of a living room wall. I always dreamed of having an entry area. A space to put everything when you walk in that was nice to look at, but with a tucked away space I wouldn’t have to see all the stuff all the time.

I had a design plan in mind for our vestibule before we even moved in but it has been slow coming together. All the pieces have either been lying around in various other rooms or filed away in my mind waiting for action. Now that Fall is in full swing, winter coats and accessories are not far behind and we will be needing an organized and functional entry, so getting this space put together is on my list. While I work on that, here are some vestibule entries that inspire me. My humble space won’t look just like any of these, but they each have elements that make me feel happy and welcome in my home.

This first entry has been my absolute favorite since it was posted over 2 years ago so I know for sure that I like these design elements. Expect similarities. 🙂

 

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      And if you happen to have a front door in the middle of your living room wall like I used to and want to create a defined entry area, you might consider adding a vestibule like this one.

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For more inspiration posts see my sunroom inspiration.