Friday, June 26, 2015

Quick Takes: Edition 15

So, ya know, sometimes you wait a few months between posts, and sometimes you wait...a few hours?!  It's just that Julia woke up with a terrible belly ache a little while ago, and I finally got her settled on the couch next to me and now I'm afraid to move (her or me!), and...have computer, will blog.


I finally realized that I could/should do more than just link to new posts on my blog Facebook page (partially because it's something I can access from my mildly intelligent phone).  So if you're in to some behind the scenes Finding Former Glory fun, click like over HERE on my page!


If you have been following along on Facebook, then you saw this picture:

Justin ripped out the upstairs carpets (in preparation for the new carpets) and found beautiful oak hardwoods.  Figures that the downstairs (where we're installing hardwood) only had plywood under the carpet.

There ended up being a little "what 'wood' you do" debate on Facebook regarding whether or not we should try to cancel our carpet order and stick with these floors.  The overwhelming majority votes to keep the hardwood, which part of me would love to do, but we have decided that carpeting is just best for us right now in the babies-rolling-around-on-floors stage of life.  As Justin pointed out, we still own these floors, and we can always take the carpets out someday and refinish the floors.  (Consolation for those who were on team hardwood - the bedrooms aren't in as good a shape as the halls, there would have been a lot of work to clean them up.  Plus - downstairs will be wood!)


Have I mentioned how ready I am for a normal routine?!  I've been grateful for help with the girls (thanks to Justin's mom this week!) while we work on the house, but as much as I felt I needed a break after this crazy semester, I'm not emotionally used to being away from them, and as much as I love painting and renovating I'm ready to get back to cooking and cleaning on a (semi-)regular basis. I guess it's a good reminder that - despite the frustrations - I am truly grateful that I'm able to spend my days at home.  All of the experiences of this month and really this whole last year will make settling into the house so much sweeter.


Oh!  I have had a lot of fun answering your questions on painting and "How does one create an orderly home for one's family without neglecting said family?" so hit me with your other renovation/homemaking/motherhood post topics and I'll try to get something together :)


I'm fading fast (and sweet Julie seems ready to head to her crib) so I'm going to make these last few super quick with a cell phone photo dump of the cutest little renovation assistant you've ever seen.  These were pre-carpet removal - the girls haven't been at the house since they were removed and won't be back until the new carpet is down (uncovered tack strips - aka, lots and lots of nails) are a toddler disaster waiting to happen.

If you're looking for more coherence, check out my post from earlier:


Anna "paints"


Anna does drywall

I reserve my happy dance for after drywall is finished, 
but I don't rock the tool belt quite like she does, either ;)

Linking up with Kelly.  Goodnight!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

10 Tips for Choosing Paint Colors for your Home

It's that time, ladies and gentlemen!  I've finally put away the drywall sanding block, and today my cart at Lowe's looked like this:

Having bit the bullet on the entire downstairs color palette today, I felt inspired to share a few tips today for choosing paint colors.  Let's call it installment one of my promised paint tutorial.

1) Bring lots of paint chips home.  They're free, the lighting at the store is weird, and Pinterest has lots of crafty ideas for the leftover cards.  It's best to have lots of options- and you might be surprised by what you like in your space!  The more light/neutral your color, the more important it is to compare a lot, because...

2) Everything has an undertone.  Take tans for example.  At first glance, they probably look tan, tan, and tan.  But, hold them up together and you'll start to notice that one is a yellow-tan, one is a pink-tan, and one is a green-tan.  The undertones are a lot more apparent when the color covers more than 2 square inches, so pay careful attention.  This is easiest to do if you...

3) Look up and down the swatch.  Looking at the deeper/darker colors towards the bottom of a swatch can help to give you a sense of the undertones.  I'm of the opinion that you should like all of the colors on the card you're using, even if you don't think they'd work for your space (again, because they're really versions of the same one you're picking).  And while you're moving up and down the swatch...

4) Don't be afraid of intense colors.  Don't assume you should use the lightest swatch on every card.  Especially if the space is well-lit and if the ceiling and trim is white, you can go with the bold colors you really like.  Choosing something "moody" (i.e., with some gray or tan undertones, as opposed to a true primary color) can keep it from looking juvenile.  Just make sure you...

5) Coordinate your rooms.  Don't be afraid of the bold colors you like, but DO be afraid of all the random colors you like!  Your rooms are a connected part of a whole, so don't turn them into bright stand alone areas that make the whole house feel like a disjointed kaleidoscope.  You can also try to chose colors that have the same undertones (see above).  One way to keep things synchronized is to...

6) Chose an inspiration piece for your whole house palette.  It can be difficult to chose colors to coordinate if you don't have a starting point.  Chose a piece of fabric, or a pillow, or furniture, or some artwork that you really love (and that isn't monochromatic) and make sure that all of your paint selections match it.  Mine is this blanket.  And in addition to paying attention to that inspiration, also...

7) Pay attention to your house's style.  Not every color or palettes - no matter how much you like them - will be right for every space.  Especially be cautious of using trendy or pure bright colors in an older homes.  And be mindful that you...

8) Don't paint yourself into a decor corner.  Unless you have a budget for all new furnishings, don't paint your rooms in a scheme that won't coordinate with your existing furniture, art, and accessories.  If you are waiting to update your furniture but don't have the budget right now, stick with some neutral colors that work with your existing things and can also work with future purchases.  Either way...

9) Ignore the color names.  It's fun to read all of the color names (and to think that someone's job is to create them!) but when it comes to choosing your paint, they're irrelevant.  Take, for instance, our new carpet.  We selected it at one shop, and discovered that the name was, charmingly "Teacake."  When we compared prices at another location, we found that the company has different names for the same product line when it's sold by different distributors (crazy practice, but let's not go there).  At that shop, our same carpet was called (ick) "Cobweb."  Go with what you like to see - the name isn't going to be printed on the walls but the color sure will!

And above all, remember:

10) Go with your gut feelings on what you like.  You can see all the inspiration pictures (and read all of the *ahem* wisdom about picking colors!) that you like, but ultimately you have to go with what you and your family love, and what makes you happy to live in your space.  Most importantly, don't let analysis paralysis keep you from painting your rooms.  If you've been itching to repaint, you'll like whatever you chose more than you like whatever happens to be there now!  If you've narrowed your selection to just two or three and it feels like you can't possibly chose between them because they're just too similar - just pick one!  If you can't figure out which is better, chances are they're not different enough to make a big difference in how your room looks.  Make a selection and get thee to the paint counter!

Happy painting :)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Making a Home without Neglecting your Family {part 1}

A few days ago, a dear friend (fellow homemaker, and mother to three cute little boys ages 4 and under) sent me a message saying "Blog request: How does one create an orderly home for one's family without neglecting said family?"  I thought this was an excellent topic on the heels of my posts about creating a simple and intentional home environment.  Although blogging probably shouldn't be at the top of my list right now (we've got 5 rooms to strip of carpet, 6 to paint, and one drywall ceiling to finish before the carpet installers come next Monday), I'm allowing myself the opportunity to take a little mental break and spend a little time writing and share some of my thoughts on this topic.

(For those of you still holding out for the long-awaited painting post, I'm still working on it, I promise!  And, just think of how much more wisdom I'll have to offer after this week ;))

So, how DO you make a home for your family without neglecting said family?

I think the first - and very important - point to make is that making (or creating, as my friend put it)  home is much different than maintaining a home.  When you're in a state of disarray or a season of craziness, it's hard to imagine that you will ever reach a point of normalcy or stability, or that cleaning the playroom will ever be less than a two-hour archaeological dig.  It IS unrealistic in a messy and cluttered and overwhelming house (or construction site!) to think that you can do all of the necessary housework and simultaneously provide for all of the needs of the numerous tiny residents.  But don't throw in the towel yet.  Making a home can be a shorter, more intense period and a time of development of priorities, family routines, etc that can make way for an environment that is far more easily maintained.  I genuinely think it's possible to reach a state where at least the basic homemaking tasks can be completed without overwhelming yourself or neglecting any children.

For us, right now, that means that Justin and I are employing several mother's helpers and have strategically scheduled visits from both grandmas so that the girls are in good hands while we focus on the house.  I have also allowed a lot of other things to slide (the extent of home cooking I've done in the last 10 days was one omelet) so that we can focus right now on getting the house ready to move in.  It is essential for us that I play a period of Bob Vila so that I can be Betty Crocker this fall and beyond.

Of course, home"making" might not mean physically hanging ceilings for everyone ;)  I think it's totally reasonable, however, to spend some dedicated time doing some serious purging and organizing, or even just to spend some time making a list of what you want your home and family life to look like and writing some goals of how to reach that ideal.  A temporary neglecting of basic chores (or outsourcing of childcare) can be vital to reaching a place where you can maintain both house and family.

Once all possessions have a place and some basic routines are established, the actual cleaning is much easier - and possible with little kids.  If all you have to do to clean the sink is clean it (aka, spray it down and wipe) and not move 6 bath toys, a melted make-up sample, and the missing sippy cup off of the bathroom counter, that can be reasonably accomplished while you're waiting for the toddler to finish up on the potty.  Vacuuming is a quick job if there aren't toys in the way.  You can keep up with emptying the dishwasher every morning if putting things in cupboards doesn't start 4 different avalanches.

There will still be messes and spills and deviations from the daily plan (we're talking toddlers, after all), and with a bunch of littles underfoot it is still unlikely that you can ever reach a pristine or perfectly run household.  However, I've heard time and time again from friends and bloggers that the season of all littles (meaning, only having kids in preschool or younger) is very difficult but that there is a light at the end of the tunnel once one or two kids are able to reliably pick up their toys and help out with some basic chores, or at the very least wipe their own bottoms and put on their own shoes.  In that sense, too, I think that you can consider the season of young motherhood as a period of homemaking that is setting the foundation for the home and family life you want to have.  Cliche as it is, the days now are long, but the years are short.  Hard work now in creating routines and expectations will mean a lot for how your household will run when everyone is in elementary school or junior and high school.

I'm going to do the reasonable thing and pause here so that I can get some sleep, but I jotted down a list of 8 tips for maintaining a home without neglecting your family and I'll pop back in with that (and the painting post!) when I can.  Until then, I'd love to hear your thoughts - leave me some comments :)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Eyes on the prize

You know what makes my heart happy?

To look out my kitchen window and see this:

I often take laundry to hang out at the new house when we're working there all day since I don't have the luxury (or a normally functioning dryer...) here at the house-sitting house.  And when I look up from peeling wallpaper or sanding spackle or (finally!) rolling on paint, to see the laundry billowing in the breeze (and my family picnicking on the porch), I get such a sense of joy welling up inside of me, and a gratitude that so very soon the simple pleasures of life in this charming little house will be mine everyday. 

Despite having known since February that this will be our house, my heart is still catching up to my brain, and I've been increasingly finding myself sobbing tears of joy (totally unhelpful when I'm trying to paint something) at the realization that we're actually going to live at the new house, that we actually will have our dishes in the cupboards and clothes in the closets, and at the end of the day we don't have to turn out the lights and drive away.  

There's a palpable longing from all four of us to just be home.  

I don't want to sound ungrateful for the blessing it has been to house sit this year.  It was a wonderful situation for us having moved to a new area, and in retrospect, I'd still chose this again - but more in the way that you chose going to the dentist than you chose spending time with friends.  I've learned a lot and grown a lot, but I'll be completely honest and say that I'm very glad it's almost over.

There have been a lot of little (first world!) annoyances, like the aforementioned dryer that needs three cycles to dry anything, and the size of the house that makes it impossible to find anything the toddler has touched, and the dog hair.  Oh, the dog hair.  It's an amazing house (and dog), really, and perfect for the family who lives here normally.  We're just not that family, and learning our own wants and needs in our living space has been very instructive.  

Most of all, the challenge of this year has been feeling perpetually in transition.  I looked back in my blog archives tonight and realized that one year ago, I had already put a significant portion of my belongings in boxes (many of which are still in box purgatory in the basement).  It's weary-ing to think that we have a long month of renovations to juggle, another packing of the truck, another unloading of the truck.  And - *duh* moment - I realized today that nothing will magically get into drawers or closets once we arrive.

These days have been physically and emotionally and mentally tiring - I've been doing more physical labor than normal, plus juggling a whole lot of details about floor colors and prices and the latest plan for the family room ceiling, all while worrying that this (necessary) month of craziness will permanently ruin the girls, or at least their nap schedules.

I crave normal, routine, home.

It seems impossibly far, and yet delightfully close.

And isn't that the human condition, really?  Our hearts were built yearning for something more, restless always until they rest in Him.  We instinctively know and desire that there is something - some place - beyond this messy, imperfect world where we long to be home.

If there's anything that Justin and I have learned in this year, it's that longing for a place of comfort and familiarity - and the realization that it will never entirely be fulfilled in this life, no matter how perfect the paint colors or how plushy the carpet (and, believe me, it's plushy, we ordered it today!)  There will always be (metaphoric and literal) stink bugs and dog hair and annoying dryers because life isn't perfect and because we have lessons to learn as we muddle through.  But someday, someday God willing, the brilliant beauty of Heaven will fulfill us at last.

Eyes on the prize.  Eyes on the prize.

Sunday, June 7, 2015


I am trying to come up with coherent sentences to bring you up to date since we last chatted house progress.  But, exhausted brain. 

So much list crossing, so little blogging.  

Yes, that's the (wall-paper free!) kitchen! (!!!!)  Stop what you're doing and do a little happy dance for me!  Or a happy conk on your pillow, that's how I'm going to celebrate the accomplishments of this week ;) Goodnight!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Fewer decisions, fuller joy {5 Favorite books for simple & intentional living}

So, as we're moving merrily along with our selections in flooring for the new house (we've successfully narrowed it down to a very manageable number of decisions, mostly minor, like which of the 50 shades of gray tan we'd like out of the brand of carpet we selected).

Sorry, Julia, that's about as much of that one as we could afford...
But, even with those (major) decisions under our belts, I've still found with a discernible undercurrent of feeling overwhelmed.  Overall, (thanks be to God) life is very good.  I really have no reason to complain but yet I have this nagging sense of stress.  As I sat and reflected last night, I came to realize that I just feel so cluttered - both homes, all of our possessions, and even mentally.  So many things to think, to do, to see, to deal with, to clean, to move, and to keep out of the baby's increasingly accurate roll & reach pattern.

Clutter.  Ultimately, so much stuff (physical and otherwise) is clamoring for our attention that we find ourselves spinning as the roads diverge in the yellow wood - but here, not two roads, but a seemingly infinite number of choices of what to do, where to put things, what to eat, what to wear, and what to read.  I'm using the royal "we" because I know I'm not the only one feeling lost in the sea of daily choices.

My situation is amplified right now because of the renovations and the juggling of the two houses, but I know even in "normal" times, modern life has an exceptional number of choices.  And so many choices - embodied by the 10 housekeeping chores (only one of which can be reasonably completed in a nap time), by the carpet strewn with toys (most of which you're not exactly sure where to keep), and the exploding Pinterest boards (many of which you'll never complete, even though you just keep pinning) - make the day seem almost claustrophobic.  And the necessity of too many decisions short-circuits our brain and we end up doing nothing.  We turn to the Internet as a distraction from the disorder, feeding our mental clutter and inhibiting our ability to control the physical mess that's encroaching from all sides.

I know I've been harping on this simplicity thing, but I'm becoming increasingly convinced that our culture is building a world that is quickly becoming suffocating, and if we don't stop the madness, well, no one will.  The craziness of the world is intruding in our homes, stealing peace and joy from the place that should be our family haven.

I think that if we can find a way to put some of ordinary life on autopilot, we can be fully present in the extraordinary.

The extraordinary here, of course, isn't a trip to Paris, but the belly laugh from the toddler and the chunky rolls on the baby's leg and the fuzzy caterpillar crawling across the porch while you sit and read for a quiet minute.

Fewer decisions about when and how to do things, where to store things, and less to think about in general: less physical clutter, less schedule clutter, less mental clutter means that our days can be more intentional, more productive, and more joyful.  A simpler lifestyle means that we have room to breathe - room to enjoy the extraordinary, even the beauty of the mundane.

If you, like me, want to make a change and need some wisdom on where to start, I highly recommend the following books:

(1) Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids  (Kim John Payne & Lisa M. Ross)

I am only one chapter in to this book, but am so incredibly impressed by the observations and suggestions (just in the introduction!) that I am confident that I should recommend it for all parents.  I list it first because I think it's the most important reminder - this simple living thing isn't just for pretty pictures of all-white kitchens.  It's the foundation for our children's understanding of the world, and if they grow up in cluttered chaos, that can't bode well for their emotional health as they grow.

(2) The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up  (Marie Kondo)

This Japanese cleaning consultant has some very poignant observations and an extremely useful process for purging - I had to wade through some ideology with which I didn't quite agree, but overall her ideas and tips are well worth the read.  (And you will be SHOCKED by how many items you find yourself dropping off at the Goodwill).

(3) A Mother's Rule of Life: How to Bring Order to Your Home and Peace to Your Soul (Holly Pierlot) 

This has more to do with the simplicity and intentionality of schedule and time, but I think that reducing that type of clutter is just as important as physical clutter.

(4) Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living (Tsh Oxenrider)

This is equal parts "why" and "how" in terms of intentional, simple living.  More in my post HERE.

(5) Anything written before (or written about times before) the Internet.

I think our modern age is such an anomaly in terms of information overload that it can be really inspiring and didactic to read something written about/during times that were - by default - less cluttered (at least in terms of mental clutter, and often in terms of physical clutter, as well).

As a bonus, I'll give a nod again to my friend Rachel's book Minimize the Mess: A Mother's Guide to Simplifying Your Home  and I'm linking up with her today for 5 Favorites!

What are your favorite resources for simplifying?  I'd love to hear what you think about these books...and others that you have to recommend!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Decisions, decisions

You're probably expecting more in the way of progress pictures by now, but the reality is that there has not been a whole lot of photograph-able progress at the house since the great wallpaper success.

For one thing, I'm seeing just how much slower things are going to take now that we have "helpers" - and not necessarily because they are underfoot while we're trying to do things (although that can also be tricky) but because they need a lot better in terms of sleep schedules and nutrition than what we were able to survive on during our first renovations.  I also haven't fit in the 30-minute round trip drives over to the house as much as I expected when I'm barely hanging on in upkeep with our current house sitting house (4,000 square feet, 5 bathrooms, and a large shedding dog, argh!) 

BUT the other thing that has been taking the time (and is largely invisible) is the enormous number of decisions we need to make.

We're currently in the midst of flooring research, which - alone - has hundreds of options.  We're probably going with hardwood downstairs, but there's also that wood-look tile that someone mentioned.  And then there's engineered wood and solid hardwood.  And a bazillion (I counted ;) ) color options.  And board widths.  And whether we're installing it or having professionals handle it.  And where we're buying it.  etc, etc, ETC!

And, of course, how it fits in to the timeline, budget, and aesthetic of all of the other details of the house.

Phew.  I don't mean to complain, because really this is a dream come true to get to decorate our little dream house.  I guess I'm just surprised at how different this feels from the last house, where I made design choices almost impulsively, or at least without the belaboring of options I find to be overwhelming this time around.

People often commented on our lack of fear in diving in to renovations in Ithaca with lots of enthusiasm and little (or no) knowledge or experience.  I always laugh and say that we weren't afraid because literally anything we did was going to be better than it was.

I wasn't afraid of messing things up, so I could jump right in.  Now that we have a house with a much nicer starting place (and a potential residence time that far exceeds that of house #1) a fear of failure (or just the wrong decision) has put a damper on my renovation enthusiasm.  BUT, I'm trying to remember to "never let the perfect be the enemy of the good" (longer post percolating on that topic) and remember that I never regretted any of my gut-reaction decisions about colors or finishes in Ithaca.

Maybe soon we'll have something to show for all of the thinking ;)


Congratulations to Ruth Anne who won the giveaway of Minimize the Mess by Rachel Kratz.  Ruth Anne, watch for an email from Rachel!  And to everyone else, remember that Rachel's book is available for purchase here and on Amazon.