Friday, January 20, 2012

House Inspiration

My sister Therese came over yesterday and introduced me to Pinterest.  I had heard of it and knew what it was, but I hadn't let myself use it because I could envision myself getting addicted.  Sure enough, I am hooked!

The downstairs bath, right off the kitchen, is probably going to be the celery green color in the top left.  I love the wainscoting too.  The cabinets below are like the ones we've ordered, but I like the idea of doing the black mirror with it.

I'm going for a really calm and serene look in the master bedroom.  I love the bottom left picture.  I tend to think of tan walls as boring walls, but with big white trim, it looks really crisp!  I thought the canvas prints below were a great idea too- the girl that made these used the lyrics from her wedding song to make the prints.  We have green and brown bedding right now, but *hopefully* I'll work getting an all white set into the budget. 

Nathan and I are moving into our house in March and have been renovating it from top to bottom.  Nathan actually bought it before we were even engaged, and in the past two years has done some work to it.  But we weren't sure that we even wanted to live there (it's pretty far out in the country, and more than an hour from where I teach my students) and we had been continually debating about whether to fix it up and move in, sort-of fix it up and rent it out, or sell it.  Well, in December, we decided we were tired of paying rent and two sets of utilities, and we would move in the last week of March.  Nathan has been spending all of his extra time there, and things are really starting to come together.  I'm so proud of how he isn't overwhelmed by the big project- he's so good at going step-by-step, tackling one small project at a time.  For most things, he's learning as he goes, and it's really turning out great!

With the decorating end of the job falling to me (it's a fun job!), Pinterest seems like it's going to be an inspirational help, and maybe a little waste of time.  Our home is a century-old farmhouse, and I hope by keeping the furnishings themed around clean lines and simplicity, it will still feel somewhat like a farmhouse when we're done.  I'd also like the home to lean towards being modern, but not so much that it feels cold.

In the kitchen, I'm going with cabinets very similar to those below.  Most of the top cabinets will have clear glass doors.  The actual cabinets are square and simple.  The main question for me is what color to paint the kitchen walls.  I like the robin egg blue above with red, but wonder if I'd get tired of it.  I could also paint it a nice neutral color like in the above right.  I was originally thinking of painting it an orangish-red color (not cranberry red), but since Nathan doesn't love dark walls and the kitchen is a part of the house we will both be spending a lot of time in, I nixed that idea.  The other question is whether to use a normal table in the kitchen, or build a booth, something like pictured below.

Isaac and Eva driving home with me a few weeks ago.  My car was getting worked on, so the dealership had loaned me a 2012 version of my car.  The kids were going on about different features they really liked about this car, how nice it was, and how I should buy it.  I told them that it would cost a lot of money to buy the car, so I'd just keep driving mine for a few more years.  Then they wanted to know how much I meant when I said it would be a lot of money, and I told them probably $25,000.  "Oh my!" Isaac said, "For that  much money, you could make your house civilized!"

The front porch is going to be our storage/entrance room.  I love the color of the bathroom for the porch, and since it has lots of windows, it shouldn't be too dark.

 We aren't going to buy cabinets in the laundry room for now, and I thought these were great ideas of shelves and things we could do ourselves.

Yes, our house isn't quite "civilized" yet, but hopefully by the time we move in, we'll be on our way towards that with cabinets, finished drywall and refinished wood floors.  The new windows are mostly in, and the siding/guttering/soffeting will be finished in a month or so.  The rest of the things won't be such a big deal to do while we live there...and I'll just be glad to have the super dusty projects out of the way.  Some of the ideas in these pictures are far into the future, and others are things we can do right away.  So tell me what you like and what you don't, and send me links to your own good ideas too!

In the guest bedroom, or "Isaac and Eva's Room" I'm going to paint the walls a neutral color and then accent with bright colors, like lime green (bedding above), bright yellow and some teal blue.  The picture just above isn't the right colors, but I love the flower pendant (only $30 at IKEA!) and the white chair.

Friday, January 13, 2012


Over the past month, I have encountered the idea of bringing peace to my surroundings over and over.  I've noticed it in my devotion times, in blog posts....everywhere.  So I've decided that it will be my theme for the year- to try to bring peace to my surroundings by eliminating chaos and confusion.  It's not that I plan to live in a quiet bubble- I love happiness, talking, music and lots of people- but I want to step away from getting all worked up over stuff, stay organized, and avoid cycles of craziness!  I think of cycles of craziness in relation to my house- letting it get super messy, allowing piles to build on busy days,  and spending free days cleaning it all up, then letting messes build all over again when busy times strike.  I want the words I speak to Nathan to be peaceful words, not fight-picking words, so that our home has a spirit of peacefulness and calm.  The following verses have made me further inspired to work towards having a peaceful home and heart:

Colossians 3:15  "And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts..."
Matthew 5:19  "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God."
Psalm 34:14  " peace and pursue it."
Psalm 119:165  "Great peace have they who love your law..."
Romans 14:19  "Therefore let us make every effort to do what leads to peace..."
1 Corinthians 14:33  "For God is not a God of disorder but of peace."
Isaiah 9:6  "And He shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

There are some really practical ways I'm going to work on this, in three categories:

In Media:

-Turn off the noise.  When I'm home doing things like dishes, banking and laundry, turn off the background noise.  I tend to turn on music or a TV or news show from Hulu when I do these chores, but it ends up just being distracting background noise.  I am finding it healthy and freeing to get rid of the noise and just think and enjoy the quiet time.

-Quit using Facebook as a way to procrastinate from things I really need to get done.

In Relationships:

-Avoid "jabs".  There's going to be times in marriage or in close friendships when you have to tell your spouse or friend something they don't want to hear.  Just simple stuff, like talking about finding a better way to divide the chores, or getting dirty clothes to find the hamper, can be approached in a nice way, or with a jab.  Verbal jabs don't usually happen by accident, and I want to avoid them.

-Sometimes life throws curve balls that stress me out, and there's no way to avoid them- they just happen from time to time.  Then, there's things that make me stressed out and a not very pleasant person to be around, and they happen all the time.  Like when I wake up and the dishes we didn't do the night before still aren't done (who knew we didn't have magic elves who washed them while we slept?), and there's no time to do them before running out the door.  Or when I don't know what to wear, try 15 outfits on before picking one, am running behind because of it AND have a giant pile of clothes on my closet floor.  Those things stress me out on a regular basis.  
So, to save myself stress, and help me not be a grouch with Nathan, I can take simple steps, like picking out my clothes the night before and taking 20 minutes to tidy the house before I go to sleep.

In the House:

-Keep a good perspective on house cleaning/organizing.  Someone posted this on Facebook last weekend and it really encouraged me.  "Proclaiming the Prince of Peace as ruler of our home...Which is usually called house cleaning, but is really a simple act of worship to the Creator of true beauty and peace."  I like the idea of keeping my home orderly to reflect the beauty and order of creation.
-As we a remodeling the house we'll move into in March, I'm consciously trying to choose things that will make our home environment peaceful.  One of those things is making sure there is plenty of storage.  Nothing squelches peace and calm like having stuff sprawled (and lost!) all over the house.  Storage doesn't have to be expensive, and you don't have to remodel or get a bigger house to find a little spot to keep things organized.  Some simple shelves and plastic storage boxes can make a huge difference without costing a lot.

-Divide housework between days.  I did this in our apartment, and it worked great.  With just 20-30 minutes a day, we could keep the apartment clean and organized.  One day was bathroom cleaning, another was washing the kitchen floor, scrubbing the sink and cleaning our the refrigerator.  One day was dusting and vacuuming, and so on.  It kept everything fresh with just a little time and helped us to avoid total catastrophes.  

-Write down on my grocery list the things that I'm out of, when I run out of them.  It seems like every time I start to make something, I realize that I'm out of one thing and have to run to the grocery store.  It's become a regular thing to go three or four times a week.  I honestly don't enjoy grocery shopping and if I will just write things down, I can cut the number of trips down by a lot!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year...

I'm back after a three-week hiatus from blogging!

Nathan and I had a wonderful second Christmas together.  It's hard to believe how quickly life flies by, and that we've already been married for a year and a half.  Although, in some ways, it feels like our wedding was at least a decade ago.

We opened our presents from each other on Christmas Eve, between our church's service and the midnight mass I played for at a different church in town.  It was nice to have a restful four or five hours together to eat dinner, open gifts and watch a movie.  (I honestly can't remember what movie it was, or if it was even a Christmas movie.  I slept through most of it, trying to gear up for playing until 1:30 or 2 in the morning!) 

I think we will make this a tradition.  With both of our extended families close by, we attend five or six celebrations over the holidays, and it can start to feel crazy, even though we have a great time at each gathering.  So, we may just have to keep Christmas Eve for our own celebration together.  We had Christmas morning together too, but honestly, when you don't have excited kids pouncing on you to wake you up, it's not that fun to drag yourself out of bed to open presents at 6 in the morning!  We'll take opening presents the night before instead!


Nathan and I hosted a New Year's Eve party for our friends this year.  We had about 30 people and a lot of fun.  We borrowed his parent's foosball table and Nathan used his Christmas money to buy a ping-pong table.  Other friends loaned a PS3 and a Wii, and we had all kinds of board and card games.  I made too much food, so Nathan and I ate leftover chip dip and cocktail-sized meatballs the following week until we were sick of it!

One of our favorites is sausage dip.  It is delicious, easy and so yummy.  It is not healthy, at all, but I figure we only eat it a couple times a year.

Sausage Dip

1 Roll Original or Spicy-Flavored Sausage
2 Bricks Cream Cheese
2 Cans of Rotel Tomatoes, drained

Brown sausage in a pan; drain.  Add cream cheese to sausage and cook on low until cheese is melted.  Stir in tomatoes and heat until thoroughly warmed.  Serve with corn chips.

*After cooking, my mom puts the dip in a tiny crock-pot, which is great for parties where people will be snacking for a longer period of time.


We had a student recital at our house before Christmas and enjoyed hosting about 10 of my students and their families for the afternoon.  We love having this big house that can accommodate big groups of people.  

We're moving in March to the house that we own, which is almost half the size and doesn't have a usable basement.  I don't want that to stop us though from having guests and extending hospitality.  Maybe we can't have thirty people in our house at once anymore, but we can have five or ten.  There are going to be rooms that are not completely remodeled when we move in, but I don't want that to stop me either. It may bother me that my main-floor bathroom isn't finished, but I doubt that any guests would mind walking upstairs.  When I think about going to someone else's house, I know I wouldn't mind.  Spending time with friends and family and enjoying each other is the point of hospitality anyway- not a perfectly remodeled house, beautiful decorations and delicious food.


Holiday decor was even more fun in our second year of marriage, as I could add to what I had leftover from last year and do more decorating.  

I got a cheap garland ($5) from Walmart as the base of this fireplace arrangement.  Then I used a strand of lights left over from my tree last year and wrapped it around the garland twice to get the maximum "glow".  Finally, I added six sprigs of silver sparkly stuff purchased from Walmart for $3 each.  I added two stockings ($5 each) stuffed with tissue paper to make them look less flimsy and cheap, held by plain silver stocking holders that were also $5 each.  For just $43.00, I got a classic-looking fireplace decoration that I'll use for years to come.  In fact, after I took down the stockings, I decided to leave the garland and lights up as a winter decoration.