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!



  1. Hi, neighbor!

    Well, Shafer Butte is still covered with snow (they are doing night skiing tonight), but my mini iris' are 4 inches tall, my bleeding heart is growing like a weed, and all the roses have buds galore!

    Come on, spring!!!

    Can you remind me where you got your reading chair? We are now in the market (finally!)

    Happy Leap Day!!!

  2. There is so much to comment here that I would be scrolling back and forth to not miss anything so I will just say that I love what you are doing with the house and that life sounds like it's pretty wonderful right now.

  3. Wow! You've been busy this winter, girlfriend! :-) I read the Marie Kondo book last summer and it was...well, life changing! It helped me realize what sparked joy for me in my home and which things were duds. Like you, I am favoring a simpler, more neutral style lately, and I find it so relaxing! I have PLENTY of color in my classroom during the day, so I like to come home to a quiet, serene environment to relax and unwind. You have such a beautiful decorating style and I am always so inspired when I visit your blog. Have a wonderful day!

  4. Looks like you are keeping pretty busy. It doesn't matter which colors you use for your home, it always looks gorgeous! We got the same phones last year and we love them. Love your case! I would love to know more about the Whole 30 program. :) Have a great day, Laurel. xxx Maria

  5. I think your home is perfectly lovely. I'm changing my diet up as well, time to stop eating crap and feel lively again!!!

    Happy March 1st!

  6. Of course those are colors! They're even in a box of crayons. ;-)
    Your house is peaceful looking and if it makes you happy that's all that matters! I find my tastes are changing too. I like color but I'm slowly changing to a more neutral palette. It just feels calmer. I enjoyed catching up with you. Tucker's white eyebrow hair is adorable. How nice he's still active and happy! I need to work on cleaning up my diet. Just need to jump in, I guess.
    Have a wonderful week!

  7. I like your hutch without the topper it looks just like a buffet table. Sorry I didn't say anything about the bee art, I literally didn't even see it last time!! I do like it though! I wonder if you choose to not have color in your living areas now since you used to have really bright furniture (the red couch, multi colored wing chairs, blue sectional) you probably got sick of it! I like your post mom <3

  8. Everything looks so lovely. I love the black hutch and it has given me some ideas about painting some pieces in our home.

  9. I always love to visit your house! I wish that reading chair was mine.

  10. I love seeing your home, Laurel! I love that blue ottoman! Even if you just have that for a pop of color, it's enough. I love all your chalkboard art and that pillow is wonderful.

    Good for you for doing the Whole 30. I have read a lot of bloggers that have had great success on it. I thought about doing it myself, but having to go gluten free because of Celiac Disease several years ago makes me feel like I've given up enough! Good luck to you and your hubby though! : )

  11. I'm with you - those are colors, too! Neutral decor is so easy to live with and so easy to add a pop of color to.

  12. Thanks so much for the visit, Laurel. I'm so glad I popped over and got to see this post--chock full of great stuff! I'm fond of my reading chair, too; it's very similar to yours. And I love your "Le Lapin" chalkboard (pinned it). I prefer the fur on your antlers to fabric. I just bought a set and the skull is bare bone--still trying to decide how to handle that! I think the bees look great :)

  13. Well this was a very full post with lots of interesting things...I will just comment on the last : I have two Ekhart Tolle books; he's a wonderful author.

  14. The family room looks spectacular. I like the bees. Those dogs are surely beautiful creatures. I am in the same phase of life as you for I too have the empty nest and looking for a life of peace above all and also happiness. I think that my connection with God through Christ enables me to fill peaceful. Thank you for your lovely post and also thank you for your visit and comment!

  15. Great post Laurel! Your home looks lovely as always. I know what you mean about the neutrals. I find neutrals very soothing as well - although I love color too. Yeah, I am real decisive! Always great to see Tucker and how nice to have some new dogs in the family too! Enjoy the rest of your week!

  16. Just like I'm a color girl, you're a neutral girl. Nothing wrong with either one. I think both are beautiful takes on a home and I love your home with it's lovely serene feel :)

    It was great catching up on your life these days. I couldn't have thrown out that brie, so you're a brave woman lol



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