Thursday, 17 July 2014

Summer Bucket List

Last year we made a summer bucket list on a chalkboard in our dining room. I was inspired by Meg over at Whatever blog, who does an amazing summer bucket list every year with her family.

Summers for us are usually pretty dull. Both the husband and I are very sensitive to the sun . . . so while most people are laying on the beach we are both hiding in the shade, slathered in sunscreen. The nature of my job means that vacation time is unpaid, so while I usually take a few weeks off it often means that we can't afford to go anywhere because of the loss of income. We're just not those people who live for summertime and who have a full schedule once it arrives.  Usually summer means a lot of watching tv with the blinds closed, but last summer was so different.

Last summer we visited the spray park several times. We walked to town and got ice cream after dinner. We had family photos taken. We went to the fair, to the beach (even if we sat in the shade). We sat on a friend's porch and watched the northern lights late at night. We stood on our deck in the middle of a thunderstorm. We sat around campfires and roasted marshmallows with various neighbors and friends. We tore down a wall and ripped up carpet at a friend's house. We had a Duck Dynasty themed party, went for boat rides on the lake and hiked to a waterfall.

It was a summer full of activity and adventure. The best summer in a long time! And we didn't even go on a vacation. I didn't even take a day off.

It was the list.

Having a list of simple, mostly free things to do in a place where we could see it daily was just the push we needed to turn off the tv, stop hiding from the sun and enjoy the season. We still spent most of our time in the shade, but looking back at the summer of 2013, we had a season packed with activities and a busy social life. And it was good. Good for us as a family and especially for me as a very worn out, over-worked mamma who desperately needed some fun.

We want this summer to be awesome as well. Not the SAME as last year, but just as awesome.

And so, the 2014 Summer List has begun!

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Eye Of The Beholder

We took a walk this summer through some property that belongs to my in-laws. When we first came to this spot, I thought it was just an ugly old shed. . . which is why we were there; to bring boards home for a DIY project. I was picking out boards that I liked for the guys to haul back to the truck, when I walked around to the other side of the building.

I was just struck with how beautiful it was. Suddenly I wasn't walking around a pile of junk looking for boards to salvage, I was staring at a beautiful scene worthy of a calendar page.

My view changed, and I could see the beauty in my surroundings. The tall grass that I had been mincing about in looking for snakes, was suddenly gorgeous as the sun hit it and those old weathered boards took on a beautiful graphic shape that I was imagining would be the perfect backdrop for family photos.

So funny how that works -the same thing, viewed differently,can be an eyesore or the most beautiful scene. It all depends on your point of view. . . 

I used to have decorating paralysis whenever I had an idea that was a little bit outside the box. If it wasn't a traditional, classic decor decision I would question myself, doubt my judgement and chicken out when it came down to execution. 

I still have times where I waver or feel nervous about making the wrong decision or doing something that's a little too "out there", but for the most part now I just do what I like. I've learned that being afraid of my neighbor not "getting" why I have an old paddle hung on my living room wall is a stupid reason not to hang it up. Sure Grandma might gasp when she walks in and sees that I have painted my "Good wood" oak cabinets navy blue on a whim one Suturday, but Grandma (or whoever you feel you have to please) doesn't live here. I do. And if navy cabinets make me happy, then leaving them in their 70's glory is only taking away from my enjoyment of my kitchen and not really making anyone happy.

I guess it all comes down to who I am decorating for. Am I decorating my house to impress people when they come over? Or am I decorating it to make ME happy when I am in it? I am learning more and more that when I decorate freely the way I want to, my home becomes a reflection of our family. Our personalities shine through and all my wacky ideas and thrift store finds help create the atmosphere that I want people to feel when they walk in.

Do I get some raised eyebrows and confused comments sometimes? Sure I do. I live in a small town where everyone has oak cabinets and popcorn ceilings, and 95% of front doors are white. People don't always get my style and decorating ideas that are over-done in the blog/Pinterest world have never been seen by a lot of people here. My brother laughed when he saw that I had hung an old window on my wall . . . it just didn't make sense to him why a cracked old window with flaking paint was being used in place of artwork. And that's ok. Because when I make decorating decisions for ME, I don't feel hurt or like I need to defend myself when someone else teases me a little or just flat out doesn't like what I've done.

Because it's not for them. It's for me and my family, and it's about creating the feeling and the atmosphere that I desire to have in my home. And if I like it, then I should do it. It's not for them anyway.

The view is so much more beautiful when you are looking at something you love. And if someone else doesn't "get" what you are looking at, it's just because they are looking at it from a different viewpoint. 

They might see a pile of old boards, but you see true beauty.

Friday, 4 July 2014

A Fresh Look

Things have been stagnant around here in the decorating department.

We have put all of our interior projects on hold for the summer; we do this every year. Instead we focus on the outside - this year we expanded the flower beds and painted the deck. We spend our DIY time doing things like trimming the hedge, sealing cracks in the driveway, and pulling weeds. And we just slow things down a little to spend more time actually ENJOYING that deck and backyard we work so hard on.

When I'm not working on a project in the house though, I find everything comes to a grinding halt inside. There is no reason for me to rearrange or shuffle decor around, and so I don't. And everything just sits.

Some times I like things to stay the same way for a long time. I struggle with styling, so when I create an arrangement I am actually happy with I tend to keep it that way for a long time. Overall though, I like things to be constantly changing. I get bored staring at the same stack of books and candlesticks, and it is energizing to me to switch things up and shift pieces around the house.

I was sitting on the couch last night and suddenly everything around me felt stagnant. Nothing in the living room has been re-arranged in several months; actually, almost everything in the room is still the way I arranged it after I put away the Christmas decor last year! I suddenly had the urge to freshen things up; I couldn't stand looking at the same stale decor any longer.

It was late, but I knew I would feel refreshed and happy to have a bit of a new look in the living room when I woke up this morning. So I grabbed a white pitcher and headed outside with a pair of scissors.

I clipped the lone peony that had fully opened, and added some stems from a lady's mantle for texture.

Once inside, I cleared off the candles from the piano top and pulled out some different things. I didn't think about it too much, I just placed things that I liked together, choosing objects that were white or neutral in color.

Is it perfect? No. But it feels so good to have a new "look"  to catch your attention as you enter the room.

Little changes like this keep me inspired and energized - do you find that too? I always notice when things around me have become stale that my creativity and desire to work on my house just tank. Sometimes all it takes is moving a few things around or switching out a key piece to bring back that inspired feeling!

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Tobacco Cabinet Reveal

Now that this little tobacco cabinet is finished, I look at the before photos and I can hardly believe it started out in such rough condition.

I knew it had potential to be beautiful, but I have to admit that I didn't believe it would turn out SO well! I was thrilled with the results and even now, a few weeks after completing it, I stop and admire it every time I walk by. It is one of my favorite pieces in our home now . . . and it started out looking so shabby.

I sanded the veneer away and applied a coat of Minwax Dark Walnut stain just to tone down the orange wood. I topped it off with a coat of hemp oil from Miss Mustard Seed. You can see it still absorbing into the wood in the photo below but even so, what a dramatic difference!

For the rest of the cabinet I applied Miss Mustard Seed's milk paint in typewriter and gave it a light sanding. I topped it off with two coats of Miss Mustard Seed's furniture wax for a protective finish; the black paint looks amazing and buttery once the wax is applied!

I am so happy with how this piece turned out - I love that it has family history attached to it, and that I was able to make it "me" without compromising it's natural beauty.

The wood top has such amazing detail that I don't want to put anything on it that will cover it up! I am sure it will be loved in our home for a long time and I hope to pass it down to my own girls one day. Pieces with a story  like this are too special not to share!

Sharing at Miss Mustard Seed