Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Truth About 50

It's my birthday and I've kind of been making a big deal out of it. What is it about the numbers with the zeros at the end? If I'm being completely honest some of that complaining about it is a bit because we live in a culture that tells us youth and beauty are the measure of value especially for women, but also because being unhappy about certain numbers has become kind of expected. And because I can get a few laughs out of it.

Here's the truth:

I don't feel any different today than when I was in my twenties. Physically and in every other way I feel the same. Okay, except that I can't read without my readers. The face I see in the mirror has some lines I'd remove if I could, but they don't bother me enough to consider anything drastic. My hair is pretty much all gray but you can't tell thanks to my stylist. The thing that keeps me coloring it is when I pass a slow driver the first thing I do is check to see if they have gray hair or if they are on the phone. Or both.

My advice: Keep moving, do some yoga, and get outside. Wear sunscreen. Stretch. I knew early on I'd never be a runner, but I walk most days. Your body simply cannot be healthy if it's sedentary. 

This is the smartest I've ever been.  I'm a genius compared to my 25 year old self. Wherever you are in life this is the smartest you've ever been too! I would never be willing to turn back the clock unless I could take my 50 year old brain with me.

My advice: Get a library card. Read. Everything. Read history, political science, self help books, books on other religions, spirituality, biographies (!). Go back and read all the classics you skipped in school. Read how-to-books,  on gardening and cooking and decorating. Read Science books. If you want to know about something complex, like physics, start with a book written on a 5th or 6th grade level and then work your way up.  Read travel essays and books about explorations and expeditions. Do not limit yourself or tell yourself that there is anything you can't understand. The great minds of every field have written down what they learned, don't waste that knowledge.

I know how fortunate I am.  Every day I'm more aware of not only fortunate but privileged I am. A real calamity in my life is if I run out of coffee. I have never had to worry about my next meal or where I would sleep. I have never faced a serious illness. My children have never been seriously ill. I turn on the tap and clean water comes out. As I write this the heat just kicked on. On a global scale most of us are incredibly wealthy.

My advice: Count your blessings. It's cliche, I know. Do it anyway.

I'm wiser.  I'd be less than truthful if I said that some of that gaining wisdom up to this point wasn't a painful process. Coming to terms with truth is hard. Letting old ideas go is uncomfortable. Having an open mind is a challenge. Admitting you were wrong can make you squirm.

You can read about what I've learned in the past five years here.

My advice: Open your mind to the possibility that you may have ideas that are wrong. That you may be uninformed, or misinformed. Don't be so sure you are right. Make sure you know lots of people who have different ideas about politics and faith than you do. Assume that people who have different opinions than you have come to those conclusions, not because they are evil, but because they have had different life experiences. Make allowances for people's weaknesses. Be kind and generous and forgiving. 

I don't compare myself anymore. "Comparison is the thief of joy." That may be the truest statement ever. Someone is always younger, prettier, smarter, richer, funnier, more well read...and on and on. Get over that and only compare where you are now to your past self. You'll be encouraged if you just keep moving forward in your own life and mark your own progress.

My advice: Pray for wisdom. Count your blessings. Don't compare your inside to someone else's outside, but don't compare your outside to theirs either. Focus on what makes you happy. If you are feeling sorry for yourself, volunteer someplace.

I'm excited about the future. There's so much more to learn and do. I'm constantly encouraged by some of the people I know and volunteer with who are decades older than me. They still travel and work hard to make a difference in their communities. They are interesting people and they are interested in the world. They are always excited about learning something new and sharing their experiences with others.

My advice: Never stop being interested in the world and surround yourself with people older than you who are aging in a way that you find encouraging.

You can read more about what I've learned about "living young" here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Why Would Anyone Want to be a Parent?

You pee on a stick and it turns blue. Wow. What a less than grand beginning for a relationship that is going to be magical, messy, and maddening.  Today my daughter turns 29 and I'm trying to imagine what it is that makes people want to have children.

 Really. Think about it. It's going to tie you down, cost you a small fortune, and drive you crazy. You'll spend sleepless nights imagining the worst scenarios possible when they are late. (We always went with  "dead in a ditch") You will spend hours awake in the dark, first listening for them to cry, and later for the key in the lock and a sneaky foot on a squeaky step. When they've wrought all this damage, they leave. And this is AFTER you've risked your life for them.

Not in labor. I mean teaching them to drive.

So what makes us do it?

There is something built in that makes us want to care for and nurture our offspring. There is also something a bit selfish going on as Shelby tells us in Steel Magnolias (the font of wisdom--right after the Bible-- for all Southern women) when she announces her pregnancy to her mother:

"And when it's all said and done there will be a little piece of immortality with Jackson's good looks and my sense of style, I hope."

I think she hits it on the head at the end:


We hope the world will somehow hold itself together at least long enough for our children to grow up. We hope they'll be part of the solutions and not the problems. We hope they'll be better than us. We hope they'll be braver, more confident, smarter, and not make all the mistakes we made. We hope that they won't sit silently by while injustice rules the day. We hope they'll stand up for what's right.

I think something in us hopes they will change the world. 

Happy Birthday, Baby! You make the world a little better place every day.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Home Recycled Rules

I'd love to tell you there aren't any. I'd love to say "Oh, honey just do whatever you want and it will be fabulous!" But if you've seen enough makeover shows then you know that we don't tell women to dress that way. There are some basic rules to follow. If you aren't sure about them, there are a million Pinterest boards to help you.  Then you find your style within those rules. With that said let's talk about how to use our Home Recycled Philosophy within those larger decorating rules.

Look at every single thing and ask yourself "Is there another way to use this?"

Experiment with putting things together in a new way.

Give yourself permission to change a piece in any way you want. The Antiques Roadshow people are going to want you to make sure you don't have a priceless heirloom first, but that ugly dresser your mother in law gave you? Paint on, brave one!

Shop at the thrift store. Use your imagination to imagine what could be done with that hideous but solid 1960s sofa. I'm still grieving over a darling vintage French settee I passed on last year.

Get over old thinking that something someone else is throwing away is trash. You'll be surprised when you start to notice the kinds of things people are willing to set on the curb. The second part of this is to become familiar with where the hazard lights are on your car. You'll be using them a lot!

Get a little help from your friends. Over the years friends and I have had yard sales together to get rid of things we no longer wanted. Part of what happens though is lots of things end up being swapped around in our homes. You can do this with your adult kids too."You don't want that? I've been looking everywhere for one!" Try putting a pic on Facebook and see if anyone you know needs it.

Take a chance and break some rules that you thought were written in decorating stone, but are maybe just the way people have done things for a long time.

Mix things that you wouldn't necessarily think would go together.

Use images from magazines, blogs, and Pinterest to train your eye to see what good design looks like.

 Design your home for the life you actually live and not the one they are selling on the cover of your favorite decorating magazine. We don't entertain a lot, so first we don't need a gigantic house. The house we live in is plenty big enough for a couple of empty nesters and their dogs. Those dogs keep me from having expensive rugs. Most of the year the downstairs gets very little natural light so the walls are white to reflect the most light possible. My house is not architecturally interesting. There are no beautiful moldings so I've chosen to paint the walls and trim the same color. It keeps the space from looking choppy. Do what works in your space.   Be realistic about your life and what you need from your home. Make it work for you and your family. It's not a photo shoot. It's where your life happens.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Less Is More: How I Got Here

In the past 5 years I have been responsible for cleaning out the homes of elderly relatives 7 times. I have moved my mother four times, a cousin with dementia once and then single handedly managed her estate sale, and am about to tackle the mother in law wing of our house after her passing in May. This is in addition to delivering and retrieving things from hospital rooms and rehab facilities on countless occasions.

I am over things. Everyone's things, even mine. Of course if you are a regular reader you know that.

Here are the 3 personality types that I've dealt with in this process:

Child of the Depression: This mind set is really common among people who grew up during the Depression when there wasn't enough of anything. You'll often hear them say "But you might need it someday." The problem is that when they need it they can't find it amid the clutter.

The Collector: They have 3 complete 12 place settings of china and every serving piece ever made. Everything is in a set. Everything matches. Everything is really dated. They can't get rid of anything because they remember how hard it was to find it all.

The Materialist: The opposite of the Minimalist, this person seeks self worth and identity in material things. They spend lots of money on brands and labels. If this person is homebound QVC is their crack.

It is depressing to see how it all ends. Perhaps not a big deal if you have to do it once, liquidating other people's things repeatedly however makes the lesson stick. It is all too much. We often hear older people say that they don't want to be a burden to their children but few imagine the weight that cleaning out a lifetime of possessions will be.  And it all comes with guilt. That's the real burden. However you choose to do it, discarding another person's treasures feels wrong.  You agonize over every thing you touch-- Should I save it?

While cleaning out drawers, closets, and attics I've become immune to shopping. Going to stores and browsing as entertainment isn't the fun it once was. That thing you are so excited about taking home must be cleaned, cared for, moved, and eventually gotten rid of, if not by you then by someone else. I wish I had all the money back I've ever spent on items that a few years later ended up in my driveway for sale at a fraction of the price I paid. I've become much more interested in taking care of what I do have, or updating it instead of replacing it.

The other big shift in thinking came from traveling to Scandinavia, where minimalism is a way of life. Homes are uncluttered. Experiences and relationships are valued above things. The environment is treasured. Far from being stark and cold interior design feels well planned and orderly. Serene.  Less is more is more than a catch phrase. It's an attitude. And it's true.

Having sold or given away entire households of things has also revealed something else: The things you are keeping in a back room or attic are actually needed by someone else. I've given things away that were clutter to me, and had people literally jump up and down because for them it was a need.  We all need to be practicing better stewardship of what we own. That means that when it is no longer useful to us we pass it along to someone who needs it. Even if we have need of something we ought to be more realistic about how much of it is necessary. I found 4 funnels in my mother's kitchen and could not imagine why she needed even one.

If you haven't had the first hand experience of dealing with someone's estate then I would advise you to stop by a few estate sales this weekend. Walking through homes and watching strangers going through someone else's linen closet and kitchen drawers is sobering.

Here's the take away:

No one gets out alive and you can't take it with you. Plan now to leave your children a few things that are actually valuable or hold some real meaning (to them, not you). Beyond that leave them with wonderful memories, stories, and life lessons.

You might want one of those lessons to be living simply.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Home Recycled Philosophy

Why philosophy and not style?  Style in terms of decorating is just a distinctive appearance or design Philosophy is the study of general problems, like knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Our homes, for better or worse, end up exemplifying our priorities. For instance I have a compost bucket on my kitchen counter and recycling bins in the carport because not being wasteful is important to me. I have maps, globes, and atlases in almost every room because travel is my favorite way to gain knowledge. You'll see no clutter (except in my husband's office) because I've had to deal with so much of it that belonged to other people. More about that tomorrow! If clutter is your biggest problem Ruth over at Living Well Spending Less is doing a 31 day series on conquering it. 31 Days to a Clutter Free Life. There are also a lot of other bloggers tackling clutter during the 31 day writing challenge. Click here if you need help in that area.

When I was a kid my mother's idea of decorating was to get rid of everything in a room, go to the furniture store pic out a complete trendy set, and make payments on it. We aren't going to do that. Here's what we're going to do instead. 

Get rid of anything that doesn't work for you and your family or your lifestyle, and things that are of poor quality. Also keep your house free of items that you are keeping out of guilt or that have a negative memory attached. Don't let go of a classic piece of well constructed furniture unless you just don't have room for it. "They don't make 'em like that anymore" is a saying for a reason. My quest for simplicity and order prevents me from storing things for someday. The goal is a home with fewer very high quality (note that I didn't say expensive) and interesting things and not a house full of accumulated items that mean nothing.

Avoid trends. While I generally avoid furniture stores unless I need something standard and practical like a mattress or sofa.   I don't purchase the latest style.  Ever. This goes for my wardrobe as well. Classic and well constructed are the order of the day.  The exception I would make? Kid's rooms. You are going to redo those several times before it's all over anyway so be careful how much you invest there. If you must have this year's hottest thing purchase it in something easily replaceable like a duvet cover or a paint color. Never a sofa. Ever.

Don't try to Impress. Your home is the setting for your family's story. It's going to be the backdrop for milestones, cherished memories, your worst days as well as your best ones. Fill it with things you love. Display things that have meaning. Showcase items that come with an interesting story.Your home should be a comfort to you; sitting on furniture you're making payments on is going to stress you out every time anyone relaxes on it. Avoiding debt is definitely part of my overall philosophy.

The Home Recycled Philosophy is about editing, prioritizing, salvaging, and expressing.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Home Recycled

Welcome to Restoration Spring and the series, Home Recycled! I'm on a quest to declutter, simplify, and make the best use of what I have. I'm over being enslaved to the tyranny of new. If waste makes you cringe and if you have more imagination than money then welcome home.  Scroll past the list (which may change a bit) to read the post for day one. Here's the list for the month but the posts won't go live until that day.

2. The Home Recycled Philosophy
3. Less Is More: How I got Here
4. The Rules
5.The Real Purpose of a Yard Sale
6. Home Recycled Field Trip
7.Repurposing a Dresser
8. A Room of Your Own
9. Framing It
10.Naturally Free Decorating
11.Let's Talk Chairs
12.Tools of the Home Recycled Trade
13. Style Influences
14. Two Dollar Insect Art
15. Displaying Collections: Your Home as Storyteller
16. Composting to Reduce and Reuse
17. Makeover Time Table
18. Table Top Clock Part II
19.  Making Over the Kitchen Island and Using Scrap For Trim
20. Salvation for Cute Candle Containers
21. Recycled Ideas for Walls
22. From China Cabinet to Accessory Closet
23. From Drop Cloth to Drape
24. A Dresser Mirror Stands On Its Own
25.The Recycled Wardrobe
26. From Beer Bottles to Juice Glasses:Recycled Glass
27.Recycled Post on Recycled Glass in the Kitchen
28. Easel Rescue and Makeover
29. From Lampshade to Wreath
30. Why Stained Paint is My New Favorite Thing
31.Home Recycled, Always, The End

 I love this idea from WWII. Make do and mend was a popular slogan but I'd never seen this one. Renovation helps the nation. We could add that it helps our finances and the planet. And it appeals to those of us who want to live a simpler, slower, saner life. It encourages creativity and imagination. I never get the satisfaction from purchasing something in a store to decorate with that I do when I put interesting objects on display or makeover a piece of furniture.

This isn't a series for anyone who is trying to impress visitors with expensive decor or brand names. These projects and ideas are going to appeal to people who want to create interesting and inviting spaces to live in,  who want to express themselves through design, or who want to salvage beautiful and well made things from the past. Those who want a home with some character where everything has a story. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I never buy anything new, but am so much more deliberate about it than I used to be. Part of wisdom is knowing where it's okay to let yourself spend extra. Where I've purchased new I'll point that out. Along the way please feel free to comment and share pics of your favorite recycled piece from your home!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Dainty Stool Goes From Plain to Sweet and Charming

vinatage step stool

A neighbor gave me this little stool. Plain. Early American. Kind of sad. It's been holding a stack of extra towels in the upstairs bathroom for the past few years. It kept telling me it wanted to be something else. Sometimes you have to wait for things (like ideas and materials) to come together.

I had a set of 3 of these little round pieces of needlepoint that I inherited. They were each in round little frames and I'm guessing they are about 50 years old. I'm saving the other two for the new guest cottage which I want to have a cozy cottage feel. And that gray burlap. Well, I'm just in love with that.

I started this project by attaching the needlepoint piece to the burlap, stitching it on with an upholstery needle.

After I started I thought it might be nice to stuff it a bit to give it a 3-D effect. I had some leftover batting so I tucked it inside and finished sewing it up.

I painted the legs with chalk paint and used a little aging wax to finish them off. Then I cut some batting to fit the top.

After the needlepoint was attached I was unhappy with how rough the edge looked.

I cut off the end of the burlap that had stitching to keep it from fraying. I cut it to make a bit of trim and attached it. Huge difference!

I couldn't put the burlap right over the batting so in between I used my favorite fabric for all kinds of projects, a painter's drop cloth. I tacked it under using upholstery tacks. Then I sprayed a little adhesive to hold the burlap in place and repeated the process.

That's it! a quick little project. Perfect for a hot afternoon when it's too hot to do anything big.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Ten Dollar Picture Ledge

One project I've been meaning to try for a long time was building a picture ledge. I'm using the term "building" loosely. It is the easiest thing possible and doing it yourself means you can make the exact size you want. Plus you are saving a bundle because the ones from Pottery Barn regularly price out at way over 50 bucks.

You need 3 pieces of wood. There isn't even any cutting since these items are sold in 6, 8, and 12 foot lengths. You are looking for a small, medium, and wide width of board. I just played around with them at the store until I found the 3 I liked best together. The version I'm making is 6 feet long.

 You are placing the medium board on the back, this is to attach the ledge to the wall. The wide board on the bottom actually holds the photos, and the smallest board (or piece of decorative molding if you choose) on the front to create a lip to hold your pictures in place. I nailed it together using long finishing nails. I sunk them, and filled the holes with Spackle, since that's what I had on hand. In the back board drill holes to secure the ledge to the wall.

 I cut a notch out of the back board to create a space to run the cord for a picture light.

 I hung the light first, but was unhappy with the way it looked. The LED lighting was cold and harsh. I decided to forgo lighting for now and took it down. This room needs more light but I'm looking for something else. 

 I sanded and primed the wood before attaching it to the wall. Oops. Needs a bit more paint there! Once I painted over the filled nail holes on the front, they disappeared.

So there you have it! The hardest part of the whole project was getting it level on the wall. I'm still playing with what to put up here and how it's all going to work together.

Friday, August 22, 2014

All Things Great and Small Love a Potting Shed

Here's a picture of my potting shed. See the white shelf at the top? We'll get back to that.

We love little things around here. Yesterday I was positioning the concrete blocks that the rain barrel is going to go on and I kept having to stop to move baby toads so no one got smushed. Remember the movie, 7 Years in Tibet when the building of the movie theater came to a halt because of worms? It was like that. We'll get back to this project when the gutters are attached and the barrel is painted. You knew I was going to paint it, didn't you? I also think the window needs shutters. And maybe a window box.

I'm also being extremely quiet and cautious in my potting shed currently because we have baby Carolina wrens. They may be my favorite bird. Quick and curious, they are like the cats of birdom. They are very amusing and nest in unusual places. We've had them in a baseball cap my husband left hanging on a post. You can see it in this picture.

 This spring, we put off using the grill until the nest inside was empty. That was a particularly beautiful nest covered with moss.

 Our current residents are beginning life in a bee box. When you order bees they come in the mail in a screened wooden frame. This is what it looks like.

There is a large hole in the top where a can of syrup is placed to feed them in transit. In this photo it is covered by the label. You can't see the can because it is covered with bees.

I thought this box might be useful for something in the future so I put it on the shelf in the potting shed. A pair of Carolina wrens thought it was the perfect site for a nest. We had some build in it last year too. We've been hearing them but today the first brave one left the next only to find himself in a bird playpen. Mama wren is pretty smart.

Brave baby wren is in the bottom left corner. I know that lantern is in the way. I have a thing for rusty lanterns.

At one corner of the potting shed I have this out of control morning glory. So gorgeous early in the day.

At the other corner is the beagle. Baby birds and beagles. It's practically paradise.

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Yard Sale, Birthday, Idea Kind of Weekend.

After cleaning out my own mother's apartment in June when she went to assisted living I was stunned at how much one person could cram in a one bedroom apartment. Last week we started tackling the Mother-in-Law wing. You may recall that we lost his mom the week of Mother's Day. There wasn't a time limit on cleaning out the space so we put it off until now. The first step was emptying all the shelves and drawers so that the large pieces of furniture could be removed. Here's a pic of what it looked like once that happened. 


The hutch on the opposite side of the room is still available. The pic at the top of this blog is a detail. If it doesn't sell it's getting painted. Maple. Boo.

 These are gone...

A darling family with a little boy and another one on the way snapped up this chest of drawers and matching dresser from Craigslist.

 I was tempted to keep this retro set and stain it espresso.Those funky square knobs were really cool.

Saturday was my son's birthday so getting to help people load things was his present. I know. We are awesome parents. He also had some stuff to sell he'd scored big on at an estate sale, so he was pretty happy.

So now I'm waiting for my husband to sort out his mother's important papers and pictures, while I scour Pinterest for ideas for a guest cottage. But the other day he said "Hey I could move my games and stuff over there."

Let the man cave vs. guest cottage battle begin.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Mr. Snarky Graduates College

Mr. Snarky graduated from college. Let me tell you, if you can arrange it,  have your child graduate in the summer commencement. Parking was a cinch. There was no traffic. The restaurants surrounding the venue weren't even crowded. By comparison May and December are circuses. And I do not like circuses. But circus I will in December when our very own little Bossy will be getting her Masters.

Mr. Snarky walked because we made him. He would have been happier at the skatepark on Sunday, waiting for his diploma in the mail. His sister, whose favorite thing in life is graduating from things and being recognized as the over achiever she is, was in charge of making sure he didn't get away. Her husband was away on a camping trip so her brother spent the weekend with her at her downtown loft. On the phone she and I went over possible scenarios:

Me: He could go to a bar close by and watch the golf tournament.  I can imagine him saying to us later, "What you didn't see me? They called my name and everything!"
Bossy: Oh, I hadn't thought of that. I'll make sure he gets there.

When we met up with her for the ceremony she told this story:

He was exhausting. He's upset about his birthday this week. Who gets depressed over birthdays and graduations? I finally told him he should leave so he could get his cap and gown and line up. He threw his arms up and said "What? I have to go EARLY?"

Luckily for all of us she has the nickname Bossy for a reason. She's really good at making people do things. And this kid? She's been bossing this kid since day one.

My husband, daughter, and I arrived at the arena and started looking for his name in the program while we walked to our seats.  We didn't see it. We looked again. We looked at each other.

"You don't think he..."

"I'll bet he didn't fill something out he needed to."

"Isn't that just like him!"

We continued flipping pages and running our fingers down the lists of names.

"He's not here."

We signed, exasperated.

My phone buzzed with a text. 

"Just found out I got cum laude." 

I held up my phone for them to see. "Look at this! Maybe his name is in a special section or something."

We looked again and there it was.

We all just laughed and laughed.

You see The Kid worked really hard at school and never missed a class unless he was very sick, and then he still e-mailed professors to let them know he'd be absent. Or unless his dad booked a cruise that overlapped the beginning of the semester.  "You know I'm missing the first day of class." He would remind us while lounging by the pool. In an odd bit of role reversal we'd roll our eyes. Over a trip to the beach for fall break a couple of years ago we asked if he didn't want to go to the Flora-Bama with us. "Yeah, I really can't go out, I have to study for an Egyptology test." One semester he took 18 hours, held down 2 jobs, and coached his high school cross country team. 

But while he's fierce about working hard and learning as much as possible the ceremony didn't excite him so much. "Can't they just mail it to me?" he ventured a few weeks ago.

"And break your sister's heart? No." 

As soon as the ceremony ended my daughter and I started texting him to say "DO NOT TAKE OFF YOUR CAP AND GOWN, we want pictures!"

The reply came back. "Too late."

When we found him near the front entrance we all expressed our disappointment. "Yeah, we had to turn them in." He told us with a twinkle in his eye, while looking around at the 50 or so graduates in caps and gowns having pictures made with proud families. And what had he worn under his gown? The same soccer shirt he'd worn to breakfast with his sister at the Arcade. Here's the pic she had to settle for.

We laughed because, well...that is just so him.

And him just being him is what we all love most about him. He's just his own man and that's perfectly okay because he's so awesome at being himself that all we can do is laugh. When he was 3 we were in a bookstore and I said "Jared, it's time to go." The kid he'd been playing with looked at me and said "Jared? He told me his name was Picasso!" He's always been marching to the beat of a drum no one else could hear. So in a couple of weeks he leaves for Arizona for six months to volunteer with the American Conservation Experience. An adventure that he is hoping will be a first step in saving the planet, defending animals, and living out his own version of success that is likely to be just a little bit different than the standard version.

Who wants to be the standard version of anything anyway?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

From Yellow to Bright White: Living Room Reveal

Going from yellow to white was a big challenge. I looked at lots of whites but in the end went with Valspar High Hide White right off the shelf. The first swipe with the roller was terrifying. I was worried that it looked a bit sterile.  Did I own enough old books and travel mementos to keep it from looking like a doctor's office waiting room? As you can see nothing much changed except the wall color and furniture arrangement.

I wanted everything to tell a story and bring a memory. The icon of St. Francis and St. Clair I purchased on a lovely day in Assisi. The rosary is from The Vatican. 

I always struggle with finding the exact balance between clean, organized, functional, and warm, layered, interesting. 

I don't work at collecting many things. These cameras happen to be ones that have been in the family for years. The basket was brought home by my grandfather who was a missionary in New Guinea.

If there is anything I make a half hearted effort to collect it's Mexican blankets. I pick one up whenever I'm there. They're easy to find and extremely inexpensive. I don't have the shopping determination to collect anything that is expensive or hard to find.

Layering without having things look messy takes a lot of editing and rearranging.

The white on the walls generally looks like a crisp gray in the summer when this room gets no direct sunlight. I'll have to wait a few months to see if it is blinding in full sun on January afternoons.

One thing I decided while painting was that I was never going to buy another piece of mass produced art. Okay, maybe a vintage travel poster. Luckily having a son who is an artist and being someone who loves to take pictures means that won't be a problem. The three pieces below are by my son.

A glimpse of a bare wall in the dining room that I have plans for.

Below are two of my own photographs that I framed and hung up on the wall over the antique French bookcase. I wrote the location underneath each, on the mat, and signed them.


Home doesn't have to be a cookie cutter vision of anyone else's ideal decor. Making it personal means it reflects you and your family.