August 21, 2014

A Peek At My Favorite Spaces In Our House

Our kids are back to school.  Thank you sweet, little 6 pound 7 ounce baby Jesus. I love these little humans, but school is the loveliest little routine builder ever and the older I get the more I crave a routine.   

First day of 5th, 2nd, 2nd and 1st grade

So the children went to school and I scrubbed the last 2.5 months of sticky goo (otherwise known as summer) off of every surface of the house.  So while the house was moderately clean, I thought I'd take a few pictures and show you a few of my favorite spaces. (We have a house full of floor to ceiling windows and I'm not a good photographer, so forgive the washed out photos and the dog that wanted to be in almost every shot)

We moved in right at a year ago and I *think* I have most things exactly how I'd like them to be.  A few words about my decorating style... I love to buy local.  I love to repurpose.  So most of the things in my house were bought used or thrifted and refinished.  It helped me decorate on a shoestring and also made me feel like my home was less box store/cookie cutter and more unique to us.  Allow me to give you the tour.


My favorite things about the great room are the high ceilings and that sign that hangs between the windows.  It's a piece of wood from the milking room of my Grandaddy's farm.  A friend stenciled the lettering for me.  I love having that piece of the farm's history displayed.  (Paint color: Revere Pewter/Benjamin Moore)

My bestie salvaged several old windows and shared them with me.  I blew up some of my favorite family photos and taped them into the frames and hung them all around my house.  Those window frames tend to be the one thing that people are really drawn to when they come over to visit.

Our built-ins hold all of our favorite momentos. 

This sign is one of the first things I displayed in our house (from an etsy store I love) along with my favorite picture of the first time I met Miles. 

On the opposite side of the living room are the stairs.  This week,  I had my girlfriends over for breakfast and a frame hanging party up the stairwell.  I have such awesome friends who will dangle off of 20 foot ladders brandishing cordless drills.   

I found these frames at a little local vintage shop.  They were gross and gaudy gold and beat up and all mismatched.  Some chalk paint was just the trick to get them to all be presentable.  I love that they all have various textures and borders.  They aren't too matchy matchy but still go together.  They are imperfect because I let my 10 year old paint them, but that's just the way I like it.  My husband had a hard time catching my vision for empty frames on the stairwell, but he now loves it just as much as I do.  

My favorite little corner.  I always think the bottoms of stairs are awkward so we popped some color in the corner and it livened up the whole room. 


This may well be the most functional space in our whole house.  I wanted a mudroom desperately when we built this house.  I wanted to have a place where backpacks and shoes lived.  It's like organizational heaven.

Those cubbies were a Craigslist find.  My BFF saw the listing and said, "YOU NEED THESE".  They were part of an old cubby system that came out of a school.  They were pretty nasty and kind of 1980's school house so I gave it a coat of paint with a super high gloss black so it's easy to wipe off.  

 We have a local art shop that does drop in painting on days off of school.  The kids created these adorable canvases, so we arranged all of the kiddos artwork in this room and it is the first thing you see when you walk in our house.  (Paint color: Wheatgrass/Sherwin Williams) 

The mudroom as seen from the kitchen.  We mark the kids' heights on that giant ruler on the left. 

When we were ready to move, we looked at a billion houses.  None were quite right for our family so we decided to build.  But one of the houses that we looked at had this little second living room type thing off the back of the kitchen and we knew that we really wanted one of those because with as many kids as we have it seemed like a good idea to have another quieter living room type area.  Our builder said it's called a hearth room if there's a fireplace in it and a keeping room with no fireplace.  So keeping room it is.  

 It's our calm room.  No TV in this living space.  It's where we play games.  It's where Kamron and I sit if it's too cold or hot to sit on the deck.  (Paint color: Wheatgrass/ Sherwin Williams)
We keep all of our family photo albums on that bookshelf and we go through them all the time.  They used to just stay in a box, but I love having them all displayed.  That little dressing table on the far right was the first piece of furniture that I bought in our married lives.  It was $10 at a yard sale. It was the first "ours" in the melding of the his and hers.   

extra kitchen seating


I wanted a serene entryway.  It stays serene because no one actually ever walks in those front doors.  We are garage door kind of people and so everyone just comes in our mudroom.


  Normally, this rug is covered in Legos since the giant tub of Legos lives here.  I was super nervous to go with such a dark color on the walls, but I ended up really loving it.  (Paint color: Newportberry Blue/Benjamin Moore)
My grandfather built this bookcase for me for my 10th birthday.


All the paintings I bought in Congo are framed in this room.  We are some of the only people in America I know who actually use their dining room on a regular basis.  We heart dinner parties. But alas, my table is covered in back to school stuff so this is the only peek at the dining room.  

That sideboard came out of my great-grandmother's house.  It stores all of the things that won't fit in my kitchen cabinets.  Furniture that doubles as storage = good.  Pops of color in corners make me so happy!  

 And just to keep it real... my kid's rooms are a slop fest 75% of the time (and currently so are my bedroom and kitchen)... so the rest of the house is a disaster and is not suitable for human consumption. And the reason for this is because kids.  I think that kids should be kids and their rooms are their business and they can play and leave out messes and create forts and cities out of blocks up there til the cows come home.  So one day when the behavior is atrocious and they earn extra chores, those upstairs rooms will be cleanish and picture worthy.  Maybe another day...

August 14, 2014

Good For The Soul

I fill my sink up with suds from drops that come out of a green Palmolive bottle.  I don't really even think it cleans my dishes very well, but the smell of green Palmolive is good for my soul.  In the grand scheme of things, I think life would be so much better if we always picked what was good for our souls instead of what is good for our dishes or what is on sale. You see, my Granny Sadie has used Palmolive since probably the dark ages.  Always the green original kind except for a brief stint where she tried green apple.  Thankfully, that didn't last long.  From the time I pop open the top of that bottle I'm transported back to her kitchen, standing on a chair and washing my hands with green dish soap before a meal.  One sniff and I feel 8 years old and cared for and safe.  I love it when that feeling waves over me. It's the best feeling there is.  I know that my Granny wears perfume but she always smells like Palmolive to me.  And waxy lipstick.  And God knows she gets every last drop of lipstick out of the container with the end of a bobby pin because it's sinful to waste good lipstick.  Or anything, really.

That kitchen at Granny's holds a million memories for me.  I love seeing my children in that kitchen, mixtures of so many generations... laughing, fighting, catching up, judging, but always loving.  To this day, I measure heat by varying degrees of the inferno that was Granny's kitchen.  There are few things hotter than that kitchen in August when it was full of my aunts talking and cackling a million miles an hour with the canner full of green beans in mason jars and corn boiling to freeze and no air conditioning.  My cousins and I would run around that kitchen while our moms sat and snapped beans or cut corn off the cob while sweat would roll down all the places you don't want sweat to roll.  We'd help for a few minutes and then run off to do other things, so dealing with the garden felt like more fun than work.  Granny's place was where we would step back in time.  That 150 year old farm house felt like our very own Little House adventure.

The entire farm was our play land.  It still feels that way to me.  When I walk through the barns with my kids and tell them stories about how we would play in the hayloft and how the chickens would lay their eggs in the gaps between the bails of straw or how one time my cousin got stuck up on top of the grain bin, they look at me like I might be part alien.  Like I'm walking, talking historical fiction.  Part of the love affair with the farm and that house is that when us kids would go to Granny's (and it felt like we were there all the time) she made us feel like she had all the time in the world to sit and read us books or tell us stories or cook us endless plates of food from scratch.  Mostly, though, she listened.  She listened to our little kids concerns like it was the most important thing she had going.  My cousin, Kate, used to say "Granny's house is free". It was... free to make messes and mistakes and still feel valued.  We were truly lucky kids.  It was a slower way of life.  One that felt boring to me as a teenager, but one that I love to come back to now as an adult.  There are just certain things about that place (like the smell of Palmolive) that just bring me back to my center.  The other one is Granny's garden.  My mom thinks I'm crazy for that, since as a kid, it was her JOB to work in that giant garden.  But for my generation it was a place to run through and pick from and marvel at.  It was like magic to see things grow and watch Granny be in her happy place.  She ho-hums and haws and worries about that garden but when she sees big fat ears of corn or has a good bean crop or has a cup full of juicy cherry tomatoes you can just watch her light up.  It's soul deep.  It's so much fun to watch.

A few days ago, I took the kids out there to pick corn.  Seeing them run through the rows of corn and hearing them talk to Granny about adequate water supply and mature ears and the raccoons that were threatening the harvest took me back.  I couldn't help but want those moments with my beloved grandmother and my children to last forever.  I've thought back over most of our summer together... of all the things big and small that we've done... all the adventures that we've had... and seeing my kids pick corn and the smile on my Granny's face as she walked out of the corn patch with her arms overflowing may just top them all.  To them it was probably something small.  They might not even remember that it happened.  But for me, it was reliving the best parts of my childhood memories all over again through new eyes.  That's the magic of being a parent.  If you sort through all the other things- there is still magic anew.


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