There’s No Place Like Home

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Our family is moving to Denver.

It’s been in the works for some time now, as the job offer was presented to Jay six months ago. We spent months in prayer, in depression, in arguments, in anxiousness, in excitement, in faith. We traveled there, looking at neighborhoods and trying to decide if it felt like a good fit for our family. We talked to people, did some research. Prayed a LOT… and finally realized that for many different reasons it was the right move for our family.

More accurately, that this was without an ounce of doubt God’s plan for us.

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We’ve struggled with an incredible amount of emotions along the way. South Florida been my home for over 35 years; I don’t think a week has gone by in those six months that I haven’t cried at the thought of leaving all that I love. The list is endless: the humidity, the crazy thunderstorms, the rough-around-the-edges people, the alligators, the colorful vibe, the palm trees, the diversity, the traffic, the year-round vegetation, the heat. I even love the hurricanes. I am a true Floridian, heart and soul, to the core.

There’s the people we are leaving. My parents and brother. Jay’s parents and his grandmother. My best friend, Sanne, who I only met 7 years ago but has become the sister I never had. Kim, the girl who’s been my best friend since we were 6 years old and has been with me through every major stage in life. Christine, my roommate from college who has seen me at my absolute worst and has chosen to love me through it anyway. Tina, the friend who more than anyone has taught me how to love and accept myself. Leanette, who has never stopped encouraging me to move forward and not be afraid to face my fears. Jen, who has become my favorite running partner and motivates me to never quit. And the countless others in my life that have shown me the best and worst things about myself and have never given up on me as I’ve worked to be the best me I can be.

And then there’s our church. We fell in love with the community vibe of our church immediately, and felt like we’d finally found a place we could grow in our faith. And grow we did. Jay and I went through many seasons during our years at Crossway – our struggle with infertility, Emily starting school, job changes, marital struggles, and now this move. And although our church isn’t perfect and there have been bumps and hurt feelings along the way, we have always felt God’s presence while there. God has used the people in our church to shape us and prepare our hearts, very likely for this move, and their loving prayers have been an incredible force in this journey.

But to be honest, this whole thing sucks.

It’s so ridiculously hard to fall so deeply in love with a place and an entire family of friends and then feel called to leave. It breaks my heart. I don’t understand it one bit. Everything around me holds a memory. I can’t look at a palm tree without getting a tear in my eye. I can’t drive down the street without thinking of the roads ahead. I can’t think about saying goodbye without choking up. I just can’t.

I love having connections to people. And when I make that connection, no matter how silly or small or insignificant, that person has officially found their place in my heart. Do you have a brother named Kevin? You’re already cooler. Do you have a fondness for banana sandwiches? You’re awesome. Do you love Criminal Minds and jigsaw puzzles and ironing? Well hey there, new friend. That’s how I roll. I can’t not feel something for you once that connection is there. Because I seek out those connections, I find them. And as a result, I end up loving everyone. I just can’t help it. Yes, there are some people who have gone beyond that surface connection and reached the depths of my undying loyalty and love, and others who have rubbed me wrong, but if you’re in my life and there’s any sort of link between us, I’m happy you’re there and I genuinely mean that.

Yesterday a whole bunch of those fabulously awesome people in my life came together at a local park to say goodbye. Some were those deep-soul people, others I’ve only known a few months. We ate together, cried together, played together, and prayed together. And I left feeling more emotions than I think I’ve ever felt at once in my whole life. I’m overwhelmed with joy and sadness and excitement and pain and nervousness and eagerness and expectations and hurt and gratitude and peace. But the one thing I’m feeling more than anything is love. It’s smothering absolutely every other emotion.

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I look at Jay, who has been so loving and supportive through this whole process, always letting me feel whatever I need to feel. I look at Emily, who has been so encouraging on my worst days – yes, my 9 year old is telling me it’s going to be okay. I look at Julia, who’s just a total bubble of excitement now that she knows moving to Denver doesn’t mean we will miss Christmas. I look to my friends, who have cried with me and made time to be with me before we go and are already planning their trips to come see me. I look at our church, who has prayed with us and encouraged us and loved us through it all. And I gratefully look to God, who has blessed us with absolute peace every step of the way.

So we look forward to our new adventure. We are confidant that God is the Maker of our path, and that His will in our life is what’s best for our family… even if that means His will lies 2,038 miles away.

Just look at what He’s done for us here in South Florida.

We are truly blessed. ❤

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Fresh Flowers

I have a sweet friend who is also an amazingly talented hairdresser.  She works out of her home, and whenever I head over there for a visit or to update my hair, she’s sure to have an amazing bouquet of flowers on her table.  I’ve always looked forward to seeing what her current arrangement looks like, and after seeing her fresh blossoms on the table for the past few years, I decided that I needed to give it a try myself.

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I love my teal blue entry table, and it seemed like the perfect place to put a vase of fresh flowers! ❤ My local grocery store sells mini-bouquets for only $4 each, and you can buy them individually or choose a few and have one of their florists arrange them into a larger bouquet for you, complete with a beautiful ribbon. I grabbed a $4 arrangement the next time I was at the store, put them in a milk glass vase when I got home, plopped it on the table, and was immediately hooked. Now I always have a bunch of fresh flowers waiting for me when I step in the door!

This is one of my favorite arrangements – I bought a special bouquet for Memorial Day and the girls would stop and look at it and talk about our nation’s flag and colors every time they walked by it. It’s a bit more full than I usually put on the table, but I just loved all the red, white, and blue.

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I’ve experimented with different flower varieties, and some definitely hold up better than others… I think these sunflowers only managed to stay upright for as long as it took for me to capture this photo. They are so top-heavy that they always want to slide around in the vase and show us their backsides. Cheeky little flowers. 😉

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Yellow roses are one of my all-time favorite flowers, but our grocery store almost never has them. So when I’m fortunate enough to spot a bunch, I grab them quick and evict whatever flowers were holding residence in the vase so that I can enjoy my sun-shiney blooms. (Don’t worry, the evicted bouquet gets a new home elsewhere in the house. 🙂 )

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I usually try to stick to one type of flower, or at least one color, but sometimes Jay brings home a small bouquet and I’ll stick the new flowers in the vase with whatever I’ve already for in there. This was one of my favorite results:

IMG_7425I’ve tried all kinds of different blossoms, and I’ve yet to find a bunch that doesn’t add immense beauty to our home, even if it’s only for a day or two. My go-to flowers are usually the simplest – even a tiny filler blossom packs a big punch when displayed alone. Some flowers I’ve learned to avoid… hydrangeas don’t stand up as well as I’d like, and tend to wilt after a day or two, and lillies make me sneeze.

Here are some of my favorite inexpensive flowers:

  • Baby’s Breath
  • Blue Limonium
  • Yellow Limonium
  • Daisies
  • Roses (mini)
  • Carnations (mini)
  • Tulips
  • Chrysanthemums

I usually pull off all the leaves so that the blossoms get all the attention and the arrangement doesn’t look too crowded. Plus I just love the way the stems look all spaced out with the wall showing through behind them. Most of the arrangements last at least 5 days, but the filler flowers (baby’s breath; limonium) can last up to two weeks before they look like they need to be changed out.

Last week I bought a bouquet of pale purple daisies for my entry table, a flower I don’t usually see at our grocery store. Then our babysitter drops off a small bouquet of cheery sunflowers, which I put in a vase in the kitchen. Then Jay shows up with this bouquet of pale yellow carnations and I didn’t know where to put them, so I stuck them in a yellow vase I found under the kitchen sink and placed them on my bedside table.

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The problem is, now I think I’m hooked on seeing fresh flowers when I wake up! 😮 ❤

Friday, I’m in Love

You know that song, “Friday I’m in Love” by The Cure? Just in case you don’t….

You’ll probably be singing it for the rest of the day now (sorry!), but I’m not even kidding when I say that it is eternally running through my head… especially on Fridays. That song perfectly describes how I feel about my house – specifically the state of my house as the week progresses.

I don’t care if Monday’s blue
Tuesday’s grey and Wednesday too
Thursday I don’t care about you
It’s Friday, I’m in love

I take being a stay-at-home mom very seriously, and I consider keeping my home clean and orderly a large part of my job. And, like most job-holders, I love having my weekends “off.” Of course, I realize that the “mom” part of the job title means that I really never have a day off, but as far as household chores and errands go, I do my best to keep those strictly Monday-Friday. When I was teaching, I had almost no time to get the day-to-day stuff done during the week, and it would always eat into our weekend family time. So now I do whatever I can to make sure weekends are as sacred and chore-free as possible, which means that come Monday, my house is pretty trashed. Dirty clothes on the floor in bedrooms, dishes piled all over the kitchen, toothpaste around the sinks. Not to mention whatever we brought into the house over the weekend that we never bothered to put away – food items from a last-minute run to the store, the milkshake cup from Satruday’s run to Chick-Fil-A, or the goody bags from a birthday party. If Jay was out of town and returns home on a Friday you can guarantee that his suitcase will still be unpacked and on the floor come Monday. And that’s when the song begins playing in my head…

Monday, you could fall apart
Tuesday, Wednesday, break my heart
Thursday doesn’t even start
It’s Friday, I’m in love

Once we decided that I’d be staying home, I divided the major household chores up over the week so that I wouldn’t be driving myself crazy with too much in one day. Here’s what my schedule looks like:

Monday – Grocery shop, put groceries away, laundry (Emily & Julia)
Tuesday – laundry (Jay & me), clean out fridge, trash & recycling
Wednesday – Bathrooms, laundry (towels), dust
Thursday – ironing (every other week), vacuum upstairs
Friday – laundry (bedsheets), trash

Things like wiping down countertops, sweeping floors, and making the bed are daily chores, but none of those take more than 5 minutes so it’s not too hard to get those done (even if I end up doing them multiple times a day). Other chores, like cleaning out a closet, take longer but don’t need to occur as frequently, so on days when the regular chores don’t take too long I try to tackle the heavier stuff.

Basically, the way this schedule works out, I spend all day Monday cleaning the massive weekend mess and the regular need-to-be-done jobs, and as the week goes on my chores get lighter and lighter. Then on Friday all I do is toss some sheets in the wash (which stay in the dryer until I need to use it again on Monday :’D ), remake the beds, and empty the trash cans. In 30 minutes my chores are done, and after a week of maintenance there’s really nothing else that needs to be done. Friday, I’m in love. ❤

I don’t care if Monday’s black.
Tuesday, Wednesday, heart attack.
Thursday never looking back
It’s Friday, I’m in love. 

I’ve been using this schedule for the past few years, and it’s really helped me to stay on top of things. Don’t misunderstand – I still have plants dying everywhere, overstuffed closets, and a half-garage that’s been affectionately dubbed the “scary room.” But on the whole, my house is clean and orderly.

At least, on Fridays it is. ❤ ❤ ❤

DIY Jewelry Wall

We have an odd closet situation in our bedroom. There’s a small narrow hallway that leads to our master bathroom, and it’s flanked by closets with mirrored doors. The mirrors aren’t too bad, since they give the illusion that the space is wider than it is, but the closets themselves are pretty small. I’ve given my side a mini-makeover – and added the same shoe rack to Jay’s side to help him stay organized – but for the past 9 years I’ve had no clue what to do with this bizarre wall.

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Then one day, as I was digging through my jewelry drawer, it occurred to me what I could use that space for. My jewelry had been stashed in gentle piles in a drawer for a while, and as my love for long necklaces grew it became increasingly difficult to keep everything from getting tangled up. I clearly needed a better system, and that wall was exactly the space I needed to solve my problem.

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I’d had my eye on Target’s line of paints since the day they put them on the shelves, and this little wall seemed like the perfect place to experiment – especially since it would be completely hidden once the door was closed. I chose Divine Pond and bought one of the sample-sized pots. I found the paint to be very thick – it didn’t glide on easily or thinly enough to get even coats on. It worked out well for this small wall, but I don’t think I’d use it for anything larger.

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The next step was to frame the space to make it look more finished. I bought some pre-painted white crown molding at Home Depot, measured the sides of the closet, and cut the pieces to fit.

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I should say here that absolutely nothing in our house is straight, standard, or normal in any way. Closets are odd sizes, floors aren’t level, windows are irregular, and there are places where the the walls are taller at one end of the room than another. This space was no different, and despite triple-checking my cuts and measurements the crown molding still didn’t want to fit properly. Eventually I wedged it in, nailed it as best as I could, and filled in any gaps with paintable caulk. Up close it’s not that great, but I wasn’t too worried since it looks fine from afar and again, the closet doors are always closed.

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All that was left was to put in the hooks. I found these on Amazon (not an affiliate link), which were perfect because they are coated with vinyl, which prevents them from making that metal-on-metal sound that makes my teeth curl. I ran a row of them across the top of the wall for my longer necklaces, then hung the necklaces on them so that I could see how far down to hang the next row. I repeated this with the next row for my shorter chains. I hung the last two necklaces on the bottom, measuring from the bottom up to be sure they’d fit.

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I still have a bit of space so that I can add to my collection in the future, but since I’m not much of a jewelry shopper I think it will take me a while before I run out of room on this wall.

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I’m really happy with the way it turned out, mistakes and all. It’s so much easier to see what I have now, and there’s no chance anything will get tangled up this way. Plus, with the Tiffany blue paint I kinda feel like I have my own personal jewelry store right in my bedroom. 🙂

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So Spicy

Our spice cabinet was a nightmare. Actually, it would be more accurate to call it our spice/medicine/vitamin/random jar/pharmacy paperwork cabinet… and anything else cylindrical in shape that didn’t have a more logical place to go in our kitchen.

IMG_4861_2There were a few problems that had been bugging me with this cabinet. For starters, the only shelf that I could actually see well was the bottom shelf, meaning that anything that landed on the top two shelves would potentially be lost and its existence forgotten. This results in the occasional duplicate purchase or two… or three… oops.

IMG_4865_2Second, Jay – the love of my life – has a major spice addiction. He loves seasoning everything and he loves creating his own seasoning concoctions for dipping bread in. He orders them online and finds new seasonings when we go on vacation. This means that our spice collection grows considerably faster than it ever gets consumed. And sometimes it ends up expiring before it has a chance to flavor up a meal for a second time. Ew. Finally, it was downright dangerous. Because I can’t easily reach the top two shelves, and because they are completely packed with expired spices, duplicate spices, and Jay’s newest purchases, opening the cabinet frequently resulted in a few bottles crashing down on top of my head. Not fun. Who wants to go to the hospital with a fennel seed concussion?

IMG_4862_2I’d tried a few different things to clean out the cabinet, but with no luck. A gizmo I bought at The Container Store ended up taking up more space than it provided, and a drawer/shelf combination that I returned because no spice cabinet disaster needs a $40 fix like that. Aside from the cabinet, we also have a small rack on our kitchen counter that holds 16 jars of spices. I think it was a hand-me-down when we first got married. I’d spray-painted it black and rubbed off all the gummy labels years ago, rewriting them on with a permanent marker but never satisfied with how blah the whole setup looked. It was time to do something once and for all.

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IMG_4864The first thing I did was to pull everything out of the cabinet. I trashed out all the expired medications and put the unexpired bottles and vitamins all in one basket (they had previously been in separate baskets) on the top shelf. Then I sorted out the spices and pulled out all of the bottles that had expired there, too. It was quite impressive (she said sarcastically so as to hide her embarrassment).

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I’d seen some spice jar labels before, but they were usually for the fronts of the jars and since our jar fronts weren’t exposed in their holder. After poking around on Etsy for a bit, I found some simple black and white labels and ordered them. I had a bit of trouble printing them, but the seller was super helpful and eventually I had my labels. (You can order similar ones from her here.)

All that was left was to decide which spices I wanted in my rack, which had previously held 4-5 that we had probably never even opened. I emptied and washed out the jars of the ones that went unused, then chose our 16 most-used herbs and seasonings and put the new labels on the tops. Ta da!

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The stickers are just paper, so I know we’ll have to be careful not to get them wet. But as far as I’m concerned, this was a one-time fix. This rack has lived a long life in our home – if we end up needing new labels again I think I’ll just invest in a new spice rack. For now though, I’m loving this one. 🙂

IMG_5680Our newly-cleaned cabinet looks much better too, and my fears of hospitalization as a result of a spice avalanche are over. I’m so happy with how this turned out, and I’m especially thrilled that it didn’t cost me $40 to do it. Now all I have to do is keep Jay from filling it all back up again! 😀

Never on Top

Let me tell you something about hermit crabs: they have got to be just about the easiest pet on the planet. Probably only second to earthworms. Seriously, you set them up in their crabitat (that’s a real thing), give them some food, water, and sand, and let them do their thing – which 90% of the time involves burying themselves in the sand for weeks at a time. We honestly forget they exist. But despite the lack of work required to care for them, I had an internal meltdown when Emily came downstairs with Crabster’s and Crabba’s water conditioners and needed me to help refill their bottles.

Yup, I nearly lost it. Fortunately, I kept it together in front of Emily, but as soon as she went to bed the tears started to roll. It was the stupidest thing, but it was one more thing that had to be done, one more thing I’d never be finished doing, one more thing that could never really be completed because eventually, it would need to be done again. I just never seem to feel like I’m on top of anything.

In the kitchen it’s the space between the counter and the fridge that desperately needs to be cleaned. In the bedroom there’s the pearl bracelet that broke years ago that I still haven’t had restrung. In the bathroom it’s the bathtub toys that are showing the early telltale spots of mildew and need to be tossed. In the garage – well, let’s not even go in there. And there’s also the times we run out of toilet paper, the kids that constantly need to be fed (why was I not warned about that? 😀 ), the projects I’ve started that I can’t find time to finish, and even keeping up with my own personal needs. I can’t even remember the last time I put on my night face cream.

I just wish that I could feel like I was on top of something. Anything.

I’m sure I come across as someone who’s on top of things, and I promise, I’m not trying to fool anyone but myself. I admit to frantically cleaning my house before anyone comes over, because I believe in putting my home’s best foot forward and because I know I’ll be better able to relax and enjoy my company when things are taken care of. I have a chore schedule for the house – you know, laundry on this day, clean the bathrooms on that day, shop for groceries on another. And that helps a lot, because I can ignore certain messes knowing that tomorrow is they day they’ll be taken care of, or not stress about certain errands because I know that I’ve carved out time for it on the days I don’t have as much to do. But honestly, it isn’t really the day-to-day stuff that makes me feel like I’m drowning, it’s all those little silly things that make me feel like it will never end.

Who am I kidding – I know it won’t ever end. But a girl can dream, right?

And while I’m doing all this dreaming, I’ll make sure those hermit crabs have their water and I’ll make a plan to bring that bracelet to the repair shop. Heck, I even went upstairs halfway through typing this and threw out those bath toys.

Boo-ya. 😀

Updates

I’ve been writing here for a while now, and I realized the other day that I have a bad habit of mentioning things that I want to change or problems I’m facing, but never seem to get around to sharing how (or if) I’ve resolved them. So without further adieu, here are recaps on some things I’ve mentioned on my blog, along with updates on where I am now on them. 🙂

Threshold

I publicly declared my addiction to Target’s Threshold line not too long ago. As my budget from my yard sale and Craigslist earnings diminished, sadly, so did my spending. But Target has some pretty killer clearance deals from time to time. All that to say my collection of Threshold products still continues to grow…

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Patio Pillows

At the end of a post about me ignoring Julia’s stinky diaper in Target so I could snag some cute Threshold pillows for my patio bench, I mentioned that I wasn’t sure I even liked them. As it turns out I didn’t, and after enduring all those evil stares I ended up returning the pillows after all. They looked very green in the store, but when I put them on the bench they just looked gold. Instead, I found this cute fish pillow and a colorful striped pillow at WalMart for about $6 each (almost half the price of the Target pillows). Perfect.

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Holey Shirts

This is one thing I am ECSTATIC to report on. Many of my shirts had been getting minute holes in them, right about in the bellybutton area. I posted some theories about what could be causing them in this post, as well as some thoughts on how I might avoid getting them on my newer shirts. I’m happy to report that I’ve succeeded! Since writing that post I’ve been careful to do the three things I mentioned: stop leaning up against kitchen counters, only wear a belt without harsh edges on the buckle, and pull my shirt out from beneath my seatbelt when in the car. I had to constantly keep reminding myself of these things, but eventually they became second nature and I haven’t seen a single hole appear on any of my new shirts – bought at the same stores as before. Can I get a WHOOP WHOOP? 🙂

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Patio Plants

So, solving the problem of holey shirts was not as tricky as keeping my cute planter of plants alive. The biggest problem is that I planted right before our crazy rainy season, and apparently some of those plants weren’t meant to get that wet. Then there was the lone swallowtail caterpillar that managed to eat all my parsley, then happily moved on to eat all my cilantro.

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To be honest, I don’t know why I planted herbs. I don’t cook enough to warrant needing fresh herbs. The kalanchoe (orange flowers) held out for a long time, but eventually died too. The lone survivor is the stonecrop. It flourished, and I had to replant it into a larger pot. It’s currently outgrowing that pot though, so I think I’m going to plant it where the rocks are near the wall and let it spread out as a groundcover.  Especially since it’s already started doing that on its own…

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I’m sure this post will interest my mom more than anyone, but it feels kinda nice to put closure to some of these.  I’ve been wanting to tell the world about those dumb holes for months now!

 

 

Tiny Closet Love

A while back I did a post about a free closet makeover using baskets and bins I had lying around the house.  Purging unused and unwanted items, along with creative rearranging and utilizing those containers helped breathe new life into Emily’s cluttered closet.

And I was jealous.

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The closets in our house are ridiculously small – especially the closets in the master bedroom.  Jay and I each have a small, non-walk-in closet with sliding mirrored doors, his closet being about a foot and a half smaller than mine.  We each also have a single wire shelf that runs the length of the closet above our clothes.  We dream of walk-ins one day, but it’s not something we are able to really do well in this house so we’ve learned to make the most of what we’ve got.  And boy, I sure made the most of mine.

IMG_6721Due to the lack of space, one of the first things we did was buy on of those hanging rods that doubles your closet space.  It worked well, but there were a few problems; mainly that the clothes hanging above the rod would get caught on the hangars below, and the clothes on the bottom would puddle on the floor, staying wrinkled no matter how diligently I ironed.  And somewhere in the back of our minds we always feared the weight would pull down the entire wire shelf, as it did in the first apartment we had when we got married.

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My shoes were also being punished as a result of this arrangement.  Since there was no way they’d fit on the floor in the closet, I had to put them all in a bin that rolled under the bed.  They were constantly getting dirty from being thrown in with each other, and there were some that would inevitably get forgotten since I couldn’t see them all the time.

A visit to my friend’s gorgeous walk-in closet proved to be the kick in the tushie I needed.  I noticed that she had folded a good number of her shirts instead of hanging them, something that had never occurred to me.  I iron everything, so I hang everything. An afternoon spent rearranging my dresser drawers gave me the space I needed to fold and stash my tank tops and v-neck shirts that I wear on a day-to-day basis.  Then I purged my closet ruthlessly, getting rid of anything I no longer wear or don’t see myself wearing again in the near future.

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All of this gave me the room I needed to get rid of the doubling rod, and hang all my clothes on the wire shelf.  Yay!  Floor space!

The next step was finding something for my shoes.  I considered cubbies, but couldn’t really find anything that would confidently fit my shoes – some are too deep, some are too shallow, and some only hold one shoe per cubby.  Not pair of shoes – one shoe.  It seemed the best way to go would be shelves, and I found what I was looking for at Target.

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Once I was home I quickly assembled my shelves and placed them below my newly organized clothes.  It was actually kinda fun putting my shoes on the shelves – they look so pretty all lined up!  I also organized my top shelf a bit, placing sweaters in sealed bins that used to hold more shoes, and using the space the sweaters used to occupy to store tote bags and such.

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It’s still no walk-in, but I am so happy with the change.  After over 10 years of going to the closet for my clothes, it’s taken a bit of time to adjust to some things being in drawers.  But I’m having much more fun getting dressed now that everything isn’t crammed into the closet just to get wrinkled, and now that I can see my shoes more easily.

The girls are having more fun with my shoes now too… 🙂

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Eternally Spring

One of my favorite bloggers, Katie Bower, recently posted a Spring Photo Challenge on her blog, Bower Power.  I’ve seen “linky parties” before, but I’d never participated in one.  Truthfully, I read her post on the challenge and didn’t give it a second thought. Spring just isn’t that big of a deal when you live in a climate that doesn’t recognize the seasons.

IMG_7674Then I took a trip to a local nursery and bought Emily a new milkweed plant.  I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but my daughter is nuts about bugs.  We’ve been “raising” Monarch butterflies since she was about 3 years old, and ever since we bought her first plant there’s hardly been a day where she doesn’t race outside to see if there are any new eggs or caterpillars.

IMG_7333Within an hour of placing the new plant on our patio we were graced by the presence of a beautiful adult, who was too busy laying eggs to care if I snapped some photos.  It didn’t take long before more and more butterflies found our plant and laid their eggs too.  A few days later we started seeing the newly hatched caterpillars, and we are currently providing residence (and free meals) to over 20 striped beauties.

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IMG_7676It occurred to me that although we might not experience the rebirth of Spring where I live, I am blessed to watch this constant turnover of new life year round in my own backyard.  Where many parts of the country have to wait for flowers to bloom, animals to emerge, and butterflies to return, I do not.  Spring is, in a way, eternally here.

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All images taken with my iPhone 5 and enhanced in iPhoto.  I am no photographer.  I know no fancy tricks.  

Let’s Lighten Things Up a Bit, Shall We?

Warning: This post is not only lengthy (as usual), but also zones in on how indecisive I can be.  It also has a lot of seemingly identical photos.  Not a pretty mix.  Proceed at your own risk.

But first, a story.

The History of the Desk that No Longer Lives in My Home

Not too long ago I treated myself to the most beautiful teal blue console table ever. One glance in Target and I fell in love, a peek at it on their website and I was a goner. After scoring a killer deal on it, I hit the “order” button and it was on its way to our house.

The console was replacing a gorgeous almost-antique desk that my parents had bought for me when I was in middle school.  I loved that desk, and to this day it remains among the top 10 gifts I’ve ever received from anyone.  It was everything I’d wanted – little drawers, a fancy key, a real grown-up feel.  That desk moved with me at least 5 times over the next 13 years.  Where I went, it went.

But after a few years of living with it as an entryway table (the only place it would fit in our current house), I started to notice how it was really too big for the narrow space.  I was also starting to realize that nearly everything in our entire house was a different shade of brown (see photo with desk below), totally not reflective of Jay’s or my style.   Add to that the numerous cracks in the desk that would have required professional care, and that made strike three for the desk.  It was time to say goodbye.  Fortunately, I was able to sell the desk to a fellow teacher who restores older pieces of furniture with her daughter.  I was brokenhearted to let it go, but happy to know that it was going to be loved, restored, and helping a family bond.

IMG_4216Now that I’ve told that sad, long story, its time to move on to the point of this post. The desk, like everything else, was brown.  The frame on top was brown.  The shoe basket was brown. The bowl that held our keys was… well, I’m sure you get the idea. So what did I do as soon as I had my teal entry table set up?  I painted the wall a darker milk-chocolatey brown.  Don’t ask.  I’m no interior decorator by any means, but I know that brown goes well with brown, so I guess it seemed safe.  Of course, it only took a few days for me to realize what I had done. Shame on me.  Shame.

IMG_6915There is a plan in place to paint the walls a very light, non-brown-whatsoever color, but for now I figured the least I could do was to start replacing all the brown accessories I’d accumulated.  I started by spray-painting the brown shoe basket white.  Then I found a really light linen bin with white leather trim at Target, and swapped it out with the open basket on the bottom right that held the girls’ coloring books and crayons.

IMG_6914But the whole thing looked a bit off balance.  I looked at two other Targets for another basket, but since I’d found it for 70% off on clearance I didn’t have any luck.  But I did find a new doormat, all teal blues and limey-greens in a cool geometric diamond shape, and again, love.  Love love love love love.  I’d always known I’d like to incorporate more greens in with the blues I already had going on, and this was a fabulous find that blended the two beautifully.  A trip to Michael’s led me to a great rectangular hinged basket – perfect for hiding all my cross-stitching materials and perfect for replacing the dark brown leather boxes they were currently being stored in.

IMG_6913I set it all up and it still felt unbalanced.  So I tossed the girls in the car and made one more trip back out to the store(s).  Yes, we went to Michael’s and Target twice each in one day.  I’m like that when I’m inspired.  I grabbed another green hinged basket for the girls’ coloring supplies, a new silver key tray, and some cute white stoneware labels for my baskets.  And here it is, all set up!

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IMG_6924I totally love it now!  I removed the picture of my brother and I looking ready for a fight in the Wild West, and I hung the mirror up on the wall (finally – although it seems a little high and I may lower it later or get a taller one).  I feel like the table is still missing something (probably a lighter wall color behind it)… and I know the lamp is a little small (it’s one of the things I’d save if the house was on fire)… but I am LOVING the change!  I think lightening the accessories made a huge difference in how the whole room feels.  And Julia’s enjoying it too… 🙂

IMG_6934One more shot, with new hydrangeas.  I saw some one my friend’s table and had to get some of my own!

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