Saturday, December 24, 2016

The miraculously imperfect

I sat down this afternoon for a little 15 minute rest and was giving myself a pep-talk about how Christmas will not be ruined if we leave some of the decorations in the storage bin, or if we have fewer desserts on the buffet at the party, and if Peter does not have a little red and green bowtie/vest combo to wear to Mass.

And it hit me - we're celebrating the miraculous in the imperfect.  A long, grueling trip.  No room in the inn.  Smelly, mooing creatures to greet the babe.

And regardless of the propriety or lack thereof, of the preparations or lack thereof, Christ came among us.  Despite our imperfections.  Nay, because of our imperfections.

This celebration is not about the surroundings or the visitors or the gifts.  It is about the love and the joy of His Presence, a presence that laughs in the face of human expectations.

So put away the to-do list and look beyond the unswept floors, and look to the smile of friends, the glee of the toddler, and above all to the babe in the manger, the one whose perfect love comes amidst our imperfect world.

Merry Christmas!

And keeping with the theme of imperfection, no time for pictures today!  Just imagine a nice shot of a manger here...and pretend that there was a nice summary to catch you up with the last 15 months since I last posted.  Maybe it won't be that long again :)

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Maybe I meant next September ;)

When I posted that I'd be back in September, I really meant it.

But now that it is October, I clearly didn't.

If we could find a way to download my brain when I'm doing menial tasks, we'd have quite the blog.  But alas, that technology isn't available.  Well, it might be, I guess; I'm not actually interested in finding out.

We've been in the house almost 3 months now.  And it feels like home.  It feels like the place my heart has longed for over the last year - and, really, it longed for even in Ithaca when I thought I was content in my dream house.  I've learned that the place itself isn't really that important, but what is inside that makes it home.

The people, of course.  The things we need and use and love.  And, most of all, the relationships and the life that is built among those walls.

I have learned so many lessons about living intentionally, about living like Granny, about seizing the day and working hard and reaping the benefits, and of authentic relationships and true relaxation.  And all of the things that were theoretical for so long are coming to fruition in this house.

I've been so busy living this life that I (obviously) haven't written about it.  And I'm not sure when - or if - I will.  Stepping away from the Internet has been a lot more than just a refreshing pause to re-establish habits.  It's been a chance to really step into the authentic life we'd been too busy to create.

I'm not ready to say good-bye permanently to this blog, but I'm also not ready to put another timeline on when (or if) I'll write.  Now that the pressure's off, I might be inspired to write tomorrow.  But it might be next year.  Until then, all the best!

Monday, August 3, 2015

See you in September

I have so much to share about the house progress and how thrilling it is to finally be 'home' and how enjoyable and relaxing and productive our quiet evenings have been due to our Internet hiatus that I don't really know where to start.  And coupled with my recent discovery (unfortunately, after taking a bunch of great pictures!) that the camera cord has yet to be located, I'm going to call this an official blog break until we're a bit more settled.  August will still be busy with getting things set up and enjoying the rest of summer before the craziness of the fall semester, so I'm going to remove blogging from my to-do list for now - although it was already not getting done, now I don't have to feel guilty about wanting to do it and not.  I don't think that I'm ready to quit altogether, so let's meet back here in September and I'll show you lots of pretty "after" pictures :)

Until then, you can feel free to check out the "before" tour

or some of my thoughts on being a homemaker.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Passing the Time or Time Passing By?

A few weeks ago, when going through some hand-me-down craft supplies, I happened to end up with a copy of Woman's Day from July 1975.

It was so fascinating to hold a time capsule into, well, a woman's day 40 years ago.

And on some accounts, those days were just like mine - cooking (although I'm apparently lacking in the jello salad department), decorating (there were some sweet tips for "Furnishing the Multipurpose Room"), budgeting / dealing with stress / trying to find a flattering hair style.

And on other accounts, it was another reminder of how much our society has changed in a relatively short period of time.  The ads made me chuckle.  Cigarette advertising was prevalent, without so much as a blink about it being an unhealthy habit.  And there were sad reminders of what we've lost - the baseline assumptions about the sanctity of marriage in the heart-warming reflection by one young wife would be laughed off the page in today's hook-up culture.

But by far the biggest shocker was the first article touted on the front cover: "PRETTY SUMMER FASHIONS" ...not surprising, but keep reading... "To Knit, Crochet, and Sew."

There were pages of pages of projects - to knit, crochet, and sew - and we're not talking a 15 minute glue-gun craft that might grace a page of a modern magazine.  They're presenting full-length crochet swim cover-ups, the kind of project you or I may think of starting now in hopes of being done by next summer.  Or perhaps the one after that.

Apparently, in 1975, magazine publishers could assume that the average woman could knit, crochet, or sew AND that she had time to do so.

Historically, people have had "pastimes" - you know, activities like crafts and jigsaw puzzles and sitting around singing hymns - because they literally needed to pass the time.  To our ears, so overwhelmed by the cacophony of modern life, the idea that someone could need to save themselves from staring at the walls evening after evening is crazy.  After all, we can't even find time to look at the walls or notice and evict the family of spiders who have claimed the corner real-estate.  The thought of staring at the wall for 30 seconds sounds luxurious, and a whole quiet evening laughably unattainable.

In a society where "checking email quick" is code for "see you in 30 minutes when I return from this Facebook rabbit hole," we never have to pass the time.  It's passing us.  How many days have you looked up from your phone or computer or TV to see the clock and be shocked by the minutes and - be honest, hours - that have slipped right by?  How many evenings have your to-dos sat undone and your pastimes left untouched?

It's a delicate balance beam we walk in this brave new world of technology.  So many connections, benefits, and useful pieces of information, but at what cost?  Our busy, connected, informed lives whiz right by without any time to sit and enjoy, or to recharge.

So tonight, my (ironic Internet) soapbox is to ask each of you: are you passing your time or is it passing you by?  And, is that how you want to live your life?

Simplify.  Disconnect.  Live intentionally and purposefully.


To this end, Justin and I are really excited about our adventure in the new house - we're intentionally delaying our Internet installation.  We don't have a set time to sign-up.  It can't be too long, or the grandmothers will revolt for re-institution of Skype dates, but we're going to have some blissfully quiet and undistracted evenings.  I suspect we'll need to pass the time (ha, with unpacking boxes, probably), and I look forward to the board games and chats on the back porch and the projects I find in hand to fill those evenings.

More importantly than those weeks of forced disconnect, I'm excited about the new habits we'll form, hopefully habits that will last once we're reconnected.  I've recently been reading Gretchen Rubin's "Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of our Everyday Lives" and was very convinced of the idea that this move (or any other change, like a new job, etc) can be a starting point for new habits.  This forced removal of the temptation to be constantly online isn't the only thing I'll be tackling - we've made a point already (amidst boxes galore) to focus on some of the things that need to be in place to contribute to the simple and functional home of our dreams (for example, we're training Anna (and ourselves!) to always put everything back in its place as soon as we're done using it).

And, don't you worry, I can still blog without Internet at home.  Our house is a short walk to Justin's (well-wired!) campus, and I have daydreams of slipping out to the coffee shop here and there to catch up on a little blogging.  As always, stay tuned :)

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A little better, eh?

I'm really just in this for the before-and-after pictures, you know :)

(Look out, couch (and random displaced faux flowers), I'm coming for you next!)

Since March (and, more accurately, in the last few weeks), we have:

- Removed kitchen wallpaper
- Removed stairwell/hallway wallpaper
- Replaced all outlets & switches in the house
- Hung, finished, and painted new drywall ceiling in the den
- Painted all of the trim in the house
- Painted 6 rooms (kitchen, living, dining, den, 2 bedrooms) and the stairwell/hallway
- Ripped out 6 rooms worth of carpeting
- Removed the built in desk in the den
- Removed window coverings

And, of course, had the new carpeting and hardwood floors installed (upstairs and downstairs, respectively).

I'm excited (ok, honestly, giddy!) about the progress to date.  But don't worry, we've left plenty of projects (besides just unpacking!):

I'll try to keep you updated with more pictures, but be forewarned about the sappiness that might come next week when we finally get to be ... HOME!  For good!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Quick Takes: Edition 15

So, ya know, sometimes you wait a few months between posts, and sometimes you wait...a few hours?!  It's just that Julia woke up with a terrible belly ache a little while ago, and I finally got her settled on the couch next to me and now I'm afraid to move (her or me!), and...have computer, will blog.


I finally realized that I could/should do more than just link to new posts on my blog Facebook page (partially because it's something I can access from my mildly intelligent phone).  So if you're in to some behind the scenes Finding Former Glory fun, click like over HERE on my page!


If you have been following along on Facebook, then you saw this picture:

Justin ripped out the upstairs carpets (in preparation for the new carpets) and found beautiful oak hardwoods.  Figures that the downstairs (where we're installing hardwood) only had plywood under the carpet.

There ended up being a little "what 'wood' you do" debate on Facebook regarding whether or not we should try to cancel our carpet order and stick with these floors.  The overwhelming majority votes to keep the hardwood, which part of me would love to do, but we have decided that carpeting is just best for us right now in the babies-rolling-around-on-floors stage of life.  As Justin pointed out, we still own these floors, and we can always take the carpets out someday and refinish the floors.  (Consolation for those who were on team hardwood - the bedrooms aren't in as good a shape as the halls, there would have been a lot of work to clean them up.  Plus - downstairs will be wood!)


Have I mentioned how ready I am for a normal routine?!  I've been grateful for help with the girls (thanks to Justin's mom this week!) while we work on the house, but as much as I felt I needed a break after this crazy semester, I'm not emotionally used to being away from them, and as much as I love painting and renovating I'm ready to get back to cooking and cleaning on a (semi-)regular basis. I guess it's a good reminder that - despite the frustrations - I am truly grateful that I'm able to spend my days at home.  All of the experiences of this month and really this whole last year will make settling into the house so much sweeter.


Oh!  I have had a lot of fun answering your questions on painting and "How does one create an orderly home for one's family without neglecting said family?" so hit me with your other renovation/homemaking/motherhood post topics and I'll try to get something together :)


I'm fading fast (and sweet Julie seems ready to head to her crib) so I'm going to make these last few super quick with a cell phone photo dump of the cutest little renovation assistant you've ever seen.  These were pre-carpet removal - the girls haven't been at the house since they were removed and won't be back until the new carpet is down (uncovered tack strips - aka, lots and lots of nails) are a toddler disaster waiting to happen.

If you're looking for more coherence, check out my post from earlier:


Anna "paints"


Anna does drywall

I reserve my happy dance for after drywall is finished, 
but I don't rock the tool belt quite like she does, either ;)

Linking up with Kelly.  Goodnight!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

10 Tips for Choosing Paint Colors for your Home

It's that time, ladies and gentlemen!  I've finally put away the drywall sanding block, and today my cart at Lowe's looked like this:

Having bit the bullet on the entire downstairs color palette today, I felt inspired to share a few tips today for choosing paint colors.  Let's call it installment one of my promised paint tutorial.

1) Bring lots of paint chips home.  They're free, the lighting at the store is weird, and Pinterest has lots of crafty ideas for the leftover cards.  It's best to have lots of options- and you might be surprised by what you like in your space!  The more light/neutral your color, the more important it is to compare a lot, because...

2) Everything has an undertone.  Take tans for example.  At first glance, they probably look tan, tan, and tan.  But, hold them up together and you'll start to notice that one is a yellow-tan, one is a pink-tan, and one is a green-tan.  The undertones are a lot more apparent when the color covers more than 2 square inches, so pay careful attention.  This is easiest to do if you...

3) Look up and down the swatch.  Looking at the deeper/darker colors towards the bottom of a swatch can help to give you a sense of the undertones.  I'm of the opinion that you should like all of the colors on the card you're using, even if you don't think they'd work for your space (again, because they're really versions of the same one you're picking).  And while you're moving up and down the swatch...

4) Don't be afraid of intense colors.  Don't assume you should use the lightest swatch on every card.  Especially if the space is well-lit and if the ceiling and trim is white, you can go with the bold colors you really like.  Choosing something "moody" (i.e., with some gray or tan undertones, as opposed to a true primary color) can keep it from looking juvenile.  Just make sure you...

5) Coordinate your rooms.  Don't be afraid of the bold colors you like, but DO be afraid of all the random colors you like!  Your rooms are a connected part of a whole, so don't turn them into bright stand alone areas that make the whole house feel like a disjointed kaleidoscope.  You can also try to chose colors that have the same undertones (see above).  One way to keep things synchronized is to...

6) Chose an inspiration piece for your whole house palette.  It can be difficult to chose colors to coordinate if you don't have a starting point.  Chose a piece of fabric, or a pillow, or furniture, or some artwork that you really love (and that isn't monochromatic) and make sure that all of your paint selections match it.  Mine is this blanket.  And in addition to paying attention to that inspiration, also...

7) Pay attention to your house's style.  Not every color or palettes - no matter how much you like them - will be right for every space.  Especially be cautious of using trendy or pure bright colors in an older homes.  And be mindful that you...

8) Don't paint yourself into a decor corner.  Unless you have a budget for all new furnishings, don't paint your rooms in a scheme that won't coordinate with your existing furniture, art, and accessories.  If you are waiting to update your furniture but don't have the budget right now, stick with some neutral colors that work with your existing things and can also work with future purchases.  Either way...

9) Ignore the color names.  It's fun to read all of the color names (and to think that someone's job is to create them!) but when it comes to choosing your paint, they're irrelevant.  Take, for instance, our new carpet.  We selected it at one shop, and discovered that the name was, charmingly "Teacake."  When we compared prices at another location, we found that the company has different names for the same product line when it's sold by different distributors (crazy practice, but let's not go there).  At that shop, our same carpet was called (ick) "Cobweb."  Go with what you like to see - the name isn't going to be printed on the walls but the color sure will!

And above all, remember:

10) Go with your gut feelings on what you like.  You can see all the inspiration pictures (and read all of the *ahem* wisdom about picking colors!) that you like, but ultimately you have to go with what you and your family love, and what makes you happy to live in your space.  Most importantly, don't let analysis paralysis keep you from painting your rooms.  If you've been itching to repaint, you'll like whatever you chose more than you like whatever happens to be there now!  If you've narrowed your selection to just two or three and it feels like you can't possibly chose between them because they're just too similar - just pick one!  If you can't figure out which is better, chances are they're not different enough to make a big difference in how your room looks.  Make a selection and get thee to the paint counter!

Happy painting :)