Being Good

We’re two weeks removed from an epic two-week vacation and three months removed from our big move. The time has come to get control of our lives again! Here I am on a Friday, patiently awaiting my Sam Adams Summer Wheat beer tonight, knowing that I’ve been looking forward to it since last weekend. I’m budgeting and dieting and, man, it’s hard to adjust to a more controlled life!

Rather than living in chaos, we’re hoping to return to a much more organized and thoughtful way of living. No more random meals out (though I am open to the occasional takeout night or breakfast snack) or huge home projects (without saving for them first). It’s time to hunker down and enjoy the simple, everyday life we’ve been craving for some time.

However, it’s easier said than done. I’ve been so focused on big, giant things on my to-do list that I’m having difficulty adjusting to a quieter life. I’m fighting with the remaining weeks of summer; while it’s great, I am starting to feel a bit ready for life with preschool schedules, football, and holidays. However, we’ve had beautiful weather in our area lately, so I want to enjoy all the unstructured time I have with the kids (though the weekends are more full and structured, which is another thing I’ve been fighting!).

This week, I wrote a mid-summer bucket list for the kids and me and pinned it to my office bulletin board to reference for the remaining weeks of summer. My ideas include visiting the children’s garden, making fruit pizza, trekking to an array of local parks, and walking to the 7-11 by us for Slurpees. Hopefully this list will keep my ideas fresh and exciting so we can embrace simplicity and enjoy what our area has to offer.

And, for the record, I’m doing pretty well on my post-vacation life improvement list. I’m happy that I wrote it down as I was feeling it since my feelings of peace and relaxation have decreased with each day back in reality (that might have something to do with the responsibility of keeping a 2- and 3.5-year-old busy for days and weeks on end).

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New House: Living Room Decor

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Before All of Our Stuff Took Over the Living Room

 

In just a few months, we’ll be spending more time in the living room socializing, watching football games, and gathering for holidays as the days get shorter and the weather cooler. When that time arrives, I want to have a cozy and comfortable living room.

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An Early Shot of the Fireplace (It’s Gotta Get Cleaned)

I don’t have a lot of great shots of the living room as it now stands, but the photos above show the two main focal areas of the room. The wall between the cork wall and stairway houses our TV, and the adjoining wall (the one along the staircase) features our stone fireplace.

I’d like this room to be formal enough to host gatherings but comfortable enough to hang with the family on a lazy Sunday. Rather than being too trend-focused, I’d like to opt for colors, patterns, and items that will age well, though I realize it’s challenging to choose things I’ll love forever.

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Forgive the Weird iPhone Filter

Decorating the living room began in June when we installed sconces on either side of the fireplace. After spending a few months in the room during just about every hour of the day, I realized we needed more nonlamp light, as the room had no overhead light. I selected these from Wayfair. They had to be professionally installed, but we’d already scheduled electricians to come last month to rewire our top two floors and we thought it would be the perfect time to add them. (A real “after” shot will come once the room is decorated, I promise).

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After adding the sconces, I decided to pull the trigger on a new lamp for the living room, which incorporates the navy/dark blue/indigo shades that I like so much for this space. I found it at Target.

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Previously, I wrote about some curtain fabric that I selected for the living room. However, it’s still on backorder and, in my excitement to finish the space, I decided to move on from it. However, I really like the indigo version of the same print and hope it will add some color to our somewhat neutral room with its hardwood floors, beige couches, and white walls.

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While buying my curtain fabric, I snapped up a yard of these two prints by Michael Miller for accent pillows.

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I imagine the fabric featuring letters will be a nice complement to this tapestry I just purchased from World Market for that tricky cork accent wall. It’s on backorder right now, but I can’t wait to see it!

In addition to these elements, Steve and I bought some art for the walls that I plan to frame and hang in the next few weeks. The photos are of Idaho landscapes, and I look forward to enjoying the beauty of my home state while living in my Pennsylvania Tudor.

After compiling this post, I realize I’ve made quite a few decisions for this room already! Give me a month or so and I’ll be back with an update of how these elements look in our largest room!

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Summer Resolve

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When our plane touched down last Wednesday night I wasn’t channeling my usual resolve to make everything in my life right. Generally, this is the emotion that pervades my body after a good vacation. I vow to eat better, exercise, look at life more freely, and do more with my time.

I wasn’t worried about not feeling the post-vacation pull on Wednesday. I considered that I might just be feeling OK enough with my habits and routines that this annual rebirth would not bubble up inside me.

Now that Carson’s big birthday weekend is over and my husband is back to work, I realize I was wrong. I do have the desire to remake myself now that I am back from vacation. I just had to wait until I was back in my stay-at-home-mom work week.

So, without further adieu, here’s my list of summer resolutions:

  • Cook more! Find my favorite vegetarian recipes and devour them (in moderation!).
  • Eat fewer sweets. No more every-night dessert for me.
  • Keep reading! I read two books on vacation. What an amazing escape from the hum drum.
  • Tinker with the house. Just because we’re done with the major projects this year doesn’t mean I have to stop decorating and reorganizing. I can just do it on a smaller scale now.
  • Sew more. Curtains, pillows, and Halloween costumes are currently on my mind.
  • Work more and find a good routine to balance projects. I’ve been tackling quite a bit of work these days, and I want to really build my business into something sustainable. It’ll take some organization and planning on my part. My office organization is already helping me stay organized.
  • Blog a few times a week. I’ve fallen out of my blogging habits, and I have a lot to post. I’ll try to sit down and make it happen at least three times a week.
  • Budget, coupon, and purge. We’ve been living a crazy life for the last six months, and it’s time for us to get back to normal spending habits. I’m hoping to start getting better at couponing, both at the grocery store and for clothes and shoes (school shopping will be here soon). I’ve also signed up for a consignment sale in August to rid myself of outgrown clothes, and I plan on selling the crib and other large baby items online this month. Anything that doesn’t get sold will be donated.
  • Exercise more. I’m seriously contemplating a YMCA membership for fall, but I’d love to start out the membership by already having some exercise routine. I hope to get out weekly on walks with friends as a start.
  • Update photo books and scrapbooks. Time to sort through last year’s preschool artwork and upload photos to Snapfish.

Well, that’s it for the summer, but fall will bring more time management, volunteer challenges, school obligations, and holiday activities, so this is my chance to get ahead on personal goals. Thank goodness for vacations and the mental reframing they bring!

 

 

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Carson’s Weekend

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACarson turned two on Saturday. And on Sunday, he got his big-boy bed. It was an all-out Carson weekend, and he loved every minute of it. His party included a moon bounce and piñata, and the kid received some seriously awesome new toys, including a giant Imaginext dinosaur from his grandpa (who also supplied these great pics from his party!) and a remote-control car. Seriously, how is my guy old enough to love these big boy toys?! He was even kissing the T-Rex on the lips last night . . . Thank goodness he still loves puzzles and Duplos too!

So happy to fete this guy over the weekend but am looking forward to some quiet time now that it’s over. Planning a kid birthday is serious work!

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9 Favorite Things from Our Vacation

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Our two-week trip deserves more than this list, but I wanted to post some favorite moments of our vacation before I forget them. Our little guy turns two tomorrow, and we’re busy prepping for his party, so I am afraid if I don’t post this now that it might not happen at all.

Favorite Things from Our 2014 Western Adventure

1. Our family reunion. My parents hosted us for two weeks and we had a major gathering of family at my brother’s wedding. It was so fun to catch up with family spread far and wide as well as meet my cousin’s two kids and the family of my new sister-in-law. My mother-in-law even came along to celebrate with my family and help watch the kids.

2. Pool time. The kids swam almost daily on our vacation, including at an outdoor pool, indoor pool, and water park. These kids are water dogs these days, and I couldn’t be happier about their enthusiasm for the pool. Thanks to our Puddle Jumpers, they are fearless!

3. Western life. Beautiful landscapes, pleasant people, nonhumid weather. Some of my favorite parts of the West!

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4. Nora’s horseback ride. My dad arranged for Nora to ride a pony while we visited Boise. She got to ride a small horse as well as feed a lamb from a bottle. Maybe a future 4-H-er?

5. Backyard fun. The kids ran around my parents backyard every night, playing with the hose, making smores, and having good, old-fashioned kid fun. We even lit some fireworks before the 4th of July, which Carson thought were amazing.

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6. Dressing up. My brother’s wedding called for some new dressy clothes. How fun it was to adorn my kiddos in fancy garb. Carson sported his first tie and Nora her first pair of high heels. I even got into some of the action with new Boden dresses and coral high heels.

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7. Date night. Steve and I saw Jersey Boys (not great), went to a wine bar with vending machines, and enjoyed a meal together. A total luxury.

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8. The treats. We indulged frequently on this trip, enjoying nachos, milkshakes, pizza, Chinese food, and nearly everything else we could get our hands on. Getting back to normal eating is going to be hard . . .

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9. Boise adventures. The kids and I went to the zoo, the fish center, the science museum, the library, and several parks with my parents while we visited my hometown.

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On the Road Again

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We’ve been in my hometown (Boise, Idaho) for the last week. The kids and I arrived here first followed by Steve a few nights later. We’re enjoying the dry Western air and sunny skies. The kids are having fun away from home and exploring all that Boise has to offer. We’ve been to the zoo, library, science museum, fish exhibit, river, and many playgrounds. Today, the kids hiked up the foothills in Camel’s Back Park. Not bad for a 23-month-old and a 3.5-year-old.

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Tomorrow we embark on a day-long driving trip tomorrow to Missoula, Montana, for my brother’s wedding this weekend. Hoping for great pictures to share soon!

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New House: Ugly Pantry Transformed!

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While we were lucky to find a house in as turn-key shape as this one, it hasn’t come without some major projects. We’ve had carpeting installed, plumbing worked on, electrical rewired, and appliances replaced (in just two months!). However, I credit the pantry makeover as our most significant undertaking to date.

Being home each and every day, there are certain spaces in this house that give off a granny/haunted house vibe. The pantry was one of them, and it was especially gross that it’s where we stored our food!

Here’s the before (you may want to avert your eyes):

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And here’s the beautiful after:

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What did we do to get our beautiful finished pantry? We replaced the wood shelves, getting fresh new pieces cut. I painted them white and the walls of the pantry Sherwin Williams’s Sleepy Blue (thanks to a test pot from my friend Lisa). I also painted the pegboard next to the shelves white as well as installed a cheerful row of hooks purchased at Home Goods to hang our aprons.

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The redo gave me the opportunity to better organize my food and motivated me to clear out the remaining kitchen boxes in the basement, so I am feeling much more organized overall. Plus, I am getting excited to paint our kitchen cabinets white–maybe in late July/August!

Here’s to a noncreepy pantry and to the magic of fresh paint!

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New House: Office

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In our new house, we’re lucky enough to have a dedicated office, complete with built-in cabinetry and desks. As a freelance editor (and stay-at-home mom), I spend a lot of time in the office on a daily basis. Since moving into our new house two months ago, the office has been great, but it’s been super cluttered and less-than-ideal for getting lots of work done. However, given the many, many projects to deal with in the new house, addressing office clutter and functionality was low on the list.

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Enter my creative muse. This beautiful Waverly Solar Flair fabric. Last week when I was searching for curtain fabric for the living room, this purple and black medallion print struck me. I kept going back to it. Although I knew it wouldn’t be a match for the living room, where I want to go more traditional, I needed this fabric somewhere in our new house.

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One day, while glancing through the office window, I noticed the reddish-purple Japanese maples staring back at me. I could get the fabric for the office! About five minutes later, I ordered three-and-a-half yards of Solar Flair on Fabric.com.

My enthusiasm continued once the fabric was delivered. I sewed curtains (using this great pattern from View Along the Way without the blackout lining part) the night it arrived. I’m so happy to sew curtains for our house, as I’ve decided to keep them at the length that will frame the windows, rather than opting for the trendier floor-length curtains because of our radiators.

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And I found some other decor for remaining walls, such as this map, which looks pretty nice with our berry accents (the carpet is the same color as our CD shelves).

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To complement my new curtains, I decided to paint the bookshelves behind my work station a grayish purple, opting for Valspar’s Turbid Amethyst. I accented the room with black, white, and gray. Oh, and we replaced the very outdated lantern light with this cute one from allen + roth.

 

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Another room that feels more like us in this ongoing redecorate-the-house project!

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My Summer Surprise

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We’re in the middle of our second week with no structured activities. And, surprise! We’re having a great time together. I realize there is a major difference in mothering my kids this summer at 2 and almost 4 than last when they were 1 and almost 3. Low-key activities are more fun than last summer (Nora’s practicing her cutting, coloring, and crafting skills frequently and Carson loves to play with small toys like Little People, throw balls, and read books). High-energy activities fill up time well but they are more intense than last summer when I had a mostly stroller-bound youngest child. While we frequent the park, the pool, and other large public venues, I sometimes feel like my eyes are going in two different directions.

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How are we occupying a dead few weeks? We’re attending story times, parks, and pools every few days; venturing out to see friends and for some out-of-the-house treats; and puttering around home while working on projects, splashing at the water table, and watching some TV now and again. (We’re obsessed with Peppa Pig right now.) I’m really enjoying the time at home and think the kids and I need a little break from the hustle-bustle of school, church, and other social obligations that make up most of our year. Just until this week I was feeling very ragged around the edges from a really chaotic and event-filled spring. I guess this is why summer exists!

My kids seem very happy and content with our low-key routine. Although we’ll shake it up for a few weeks with a blowout of a summer vacation, it’s nice to know that in late July and all of August when things start seeming boring that it might just be what we need.

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Ideas Galore!

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My creative juices are really flowing right now. I am putting finishing touches on a second birthday party for Carson, and I am having an explosion of ideas on decorating the first floor of the house. Lately, I’ve been dissecting each room of the main level, trying to figure out how each space can have its own identity while being a cohesive whole (I know, I know, that sounds like decorator talk, and I really have no idea what I’m talking about, but I like to pretend!).

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I took a bold step and ordered two different fabrics (Waverly Barano and Waverly Solar Flair) to sew drapes in our living room and office. Though these are at two ends of the classic/modern spectrum, I think these prints will work in their respective spaces and also blend with my idea for the overarching color scheme on our first floor. Time will tell if I made the right call! I just can’t wait for each room of the house to have some personality beyond white walls and neutral flooring.

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