Feb 29, 2016

Catching Up On Winter Happenings

Hello, friends! Happy Leap Day!    

I've had a burst of blogging energy today that's perfect for catching up on some random winter happenings around here. Let's start with what's been happening around the house. 

The bright pops of winter blue decor I shared last month in this post here lasted about five days for me before I felt overwhelmed by all that color and contrast and switched back to the soothing neutrals above. Isn't that funny? My mind and senses seem to be easily overstimulated by bright light and lots of color and contrast. While I can appreciate a colorful room for shorter periods and love seeing other people's color-filled rooms, I've found I just can't live with them very long in my own home. I loved this ottoman all winter long, but it feels so colorful now! I'm thinking of sewing a slipcover for it out of a drop cloth. 

A house guest once commented to me as she walked through my rooms that she could see I didn't like color. At the time, I agreed with her, but I've since given it a lot of thought. I actually do love color - I love white and cream and brown and black. Those are colors, right? :)
I always have to include a photo of my reading chair just because I love it.

Our hutch shelves sat empty for about a month after our Christmas decorations were packed away, and I just had no desire to decorate them. As I pored over my Pinterest boards for inspiration, the rooms I kept being drawn to were simple and uncluttered and felt so peaceful to me. My old colonial style hutch just wasn't fitting in with the decor that was calling to me. It finally dawned on me that the top part of my hutch is a separate piece of furniture! When I asked my husband to store the hutch top in the attic, it was like a big weight taken off me. I recently read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, which really helped me see that there is absolutely no reason for us to live with anything that doesn't bring us joy. Such a simple concept, but what a huge impact it can have on our lives. 

Just before Christmas I stained some trophy plaques I purchased on Amazon, and my husband mounted these deer antlers on them. These antlers are precious mementos of hunting trips he took as a child with his late father. There's a matching one on the other side of the room. I had every intention of covering the furry skulls with fabric, but when I ran out of time I asked him to hang them in our dining room anyway. This is probably a big faux pas because I haven't seen uncovered ones on display before, but I don't care. I still like them. 

It's interesting how you think you'd never want something in your home, but when you see it looking great somewhere else it opens the door in your mind for you. I can't imagine not having these now. 

  My simple almost-spring centerpiece.

Tucker still has lots of energy and is the "youngest" eleven year-old lab I know. Still, I love that one white eyebrow hair I've just discovered above his eye in this photo and I do call him my old man.

I moved the big chalkboard from the dining room in here over the family room sofa. As you can see, I haven't decided what to draw on it yet. I'm thinking of a Farmer's Market sign.

Not one of my family members has commented on my new photo clipboard art for almost-spring, so I'm thinking they might not like it. You know the old saying: if you can't say something nice, don't say anything. But bees aren't creepy bugs to me. They're cute little furry flying creatures.

And I love them.

In the kitchen I moved our tea bags to a basket and filled my empty jam jars with salad toppings like nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. I keep them next to the salad dressing ingredients so I don't forget to top our salads with little bits of deliciousness. We also bought some new Oxo salt and pepper grinders (not pictured) that grind from the top so you don't have pepper all over the counter all the time which drove me totally insane. One of the best buys ever. 
For the guest bedroom we finally bought a headboard that fits our old cottage and my farmhouse love perfectly. This is all I can show you of it today because the guest room's not at it's best. It's from Target and reasonably priced with free shipping.
For our master bedroom I reconstructed two old bed pillows into one long bolster and then sewed and painted this pillow cover for it. I always loved the Bonne Nuit pillows like this I saw on other blogs, and it only took me two years to make my own! One of these days I'll share the rest of this room (when it's at its best. :))

And lastly, here's just a smidgen of the disaster that is my craft room. My storage is great so it will only take me a half hour to clean up the mess and put things away, but I JUST DON'T WANT TO! 

Some other happenings going on around here:

Alex Hecht Photography
We have some new canine family members. My daughter and her fiancé adopted seventeen month old black lab, Oliver, (in the orange harness) after they sadly lost their beloved Molly to old age last fall. My other daughter and her boyfriend adopted their first dog, five year old blond lab, Scout, about the same time. That's my Tucker in the red collar. We all meet at the park regularly for some serious ball retrieving.
My husband and I are doing the Whole 30 program and kind-of loving it. Both our girls have done the program and it's been life-changing for our entire family.
 Just for fun I took a photo of the food we gave away before we started Whole 30 and what our fridge looked like (not so) full of real food. Yeah, it kind of hurt to give that Brie away, I won't lie! 
We also got new cell phones, and I have to say I like the new Verizon phone plans that are way easier to navigate. I chose the iPhone 6s and love it. I know I'm a neutral girl at home, but I fell in love with this faux abalone shell phone cover and I found a wallpaper to match.
I love my new phone's 12 mp camera, but this procamera app ($4.99) takes it to a whole new level. Now I can easily switch between the phone's camera for quick point and shoot, and this app for the manual controls I'm used to using on my professional camera. 

The years I spent raising my children were the most pleasurable and meaningful years of my life, and now that my girls have moved into their own homes, my family is still my main pleasure and focus. During those happy busy years when they were growing up my life was very fulfilling and had a clear meaning. 

As an empty nester with a less clear personal identity and a lot more free time to think about life in general and my life in particular, I began yearning for a more personally meaningful and peaceful way of living in a world in which I increasingly felt at odds. Everyone's journey is unique, of course, but I wanted to pass along these two publications that have been so helpful to me on my path to a life full of peace and happiness.

And that's it for catching up on winter happenings around here. 

I hope you're all happy as clams today and everyday!


Feb 14, 2016

Happy Valentine's Day


My handsome Valentine and I just returned from a Sunday drive through the countryside and are spending the rest of the cozy and lazy afternoon together, reading and watching the PGA tournament on television. Later, we'll be grilling steaks for a special Valentine's Day dinner.

Earlier today we stopped by our kids' homes to drop off their Valentines, his and hers coffee mugs from World Market with Starbucks gift cards tucked inside. Aren't they cute?

I hope you all enjoy your Sunday, too, and have a wonderful Valentine's day!

Feb 5, 2016

Ballard Designs Catalog Secrets

When I came across an article today on the Ballard website titled 10 White Lies We Tell In Our Catalog, it immediately sparked my interest. I love Ballard Designs! Some of you are lucky to have local Ballard Designs stores and even outlet stores in your communities, but here in Boise, Idaho we receive their beautiful catalogs in the mail and shop at their online store. 

 Our favorite Ballard purchases for our home have been these vintage film reels hanging above the TV in our family room, 

this huge wood tray on our leather ottoman,

and this French letter graphic area rug in our entryway. 

We've always been very happy with our Ballard Designs purchases; they come well packaged in great condition and are of wonderful quality. I also love poring over their beautiful catalogs for home decorating inspiration and even DIY ideas. So, I wondered, what white lies could they possibly be telling me in their catalog?

I thought you might be interested in finding out, too, so head on over HERE to read the article. It's fun to see what goes on behind the scenes of a beautiful home decorating catalog. Fellow bloggers may also pick up some new styling and photography tricks.


For even more Ballard Designs fun, check out Joni Webb's gorgeous blog post about the story behind Ballard Designs and a look at Helen Ballard's Atlanta home, HERE at Cote de Texas.

Have fun, and have a great day!