Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A Peek Indoors with Amber of Live Wholeheartedly Blog

Welcome to the second installment of  "A Peek Indoors," my monthly series focusing on the home decor and styling skills of some of my favorite bloggers, artists, and homemakers. Each post focuses on guest writer's favorite room in their home. This month, we're peeking into the home of one of my closest friends Amber of Live Wholeheartedly blog. Today, she is sharing her absolutely adorable and totally DIY laundry room!

"When debating which room was my "favorite," the first room that came to mind was our kitchen. However, that is not the “favorite” room I’ll be sharing with you today...When I told my husband about this post, and that I chose our laundry room as my favorite room in the house, he said, “WHAT? After all the work we’ve done in the kitchen, you picked the laundry room!?” Yes, I did pick our laundry room because I love it!

I’m lucky enough to have a rather large laundry room for the size of our house (2 bedroom/2 bath and 1050 sqft). When planning the room, I really wanted its décor to be fresh. You make clothes clean there, so why not make it look clean and fresh? I never understood how some people’s laundry rooms were so cluttered and grimy. I wanted my laundry room to be a place that I enjoyed being in. Most people complain about doing laundry, but I’ve found that having a cute laundry room makes this "chore" more enjoyable.   

Disclaimer: My husband purchased the washer and dryer set before we were married, and I really like them. The only part I don’t like about them are the blue plastic covers that he INSISTS I don’t take off! They drive me crazy, but he really wants the machines to stay "scratch free".... *sigh. So please excuse the blue plastic."

"I had this IKEA shelf for my classroom when I was teaching, and I wasn’t quite sure where to put it when I moved in, but using it in the laundry room turned out to be a great choice.  Organization is what keeps me going! These handy little cubbies corral all of our miscellaneous things. I like everything to have a place, and with this shelf, it does! I added the little tags to label what is in each bin.  

The basket on top was part of a wedding gift. Now, I use it to keep my extra laundry items that I don’t use all of the time (bleach, extra dryer sheets…etc.)"

 "We added this shelf above the washer and dryer. It was just a board from Home Depot that we cut to fit and painted white. I wanted a place to keep our soap, laundry beads, and dryer sheets. Okay… I’ll admit it… I also wanted a cute way to display them and other things. Adding the candle and little sign are simple decorative touches that make the laundry room feel like part of the house, not just a room for chores.

We originally were planning to put cabinets in, which we still might do. Now that I have the shelf though, I actually like the openness of having just the shelf.  I’ve added cute little things to make it more girly and decorative. I’ve done a good job of keeping our home décor gender-neutral, but this room is solely mine so I feel like I can dress it up a little."

"I also keep the room smelling like laundry by putting a few laundry beads in my wax warmer.  They keep their scent for a long time, and it keeps the room and hallway smelling like fresh laundry, even if I’m not doing laundry at the time.

Our laundry room “make-over” took a few months to finish. I started only with the Ikea shelf and bins (May). Then I added the shelf, and décor (August). Finally, I added the rug (December). Overall though, it was a really cheap process. The only items we purchased for the laundry room decor was the shelf (about $20) and the tags ($3) everything else were things we already had. The rug is new, but it was a Christmas gift (from Target--super soft!).

If the laundry room is not your favorite room in the house, I urge you to make it a more enjoyable room. Get organized and do some simple, cheap things to make it a cute, fun space."

Thanks for sharing, Amber!
Like what you see? Find more and follow Amber at:

Live Wholeheartedly blog | Instagram | Pinterest

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Adveturing in D.C. and A Boat Search

Did you happen to catch last week's post Would You Live on a Boat? 

In it, I introduced you to the concept of liveaboards, turning a houseboat or yacht into your primary residence. Although more common in cities like Seattle or St. Pete Beach, our nation's capitol happens to boast one of the largest liveaboard communities. Located on the Waterfront, the floating neighborhood is docked at Gangplank Marina, where Sunday mornings consist of a "Captain's Coffee" and neighborhood cookouts are the norm. Not to mention, the metro is right there ready to take you wherever you need to go. Other than the simple face that your house is, well, floating, it sounds pretty ideal. 

So this weekend, Mark and I decided to take full advantage of the fine weather (60 degrees in February! What!?) and made the trip to DC to see Gangplank Marina for ourselves. We looked at two houseboats and one motor yacht in order to get an idea of what these boats really feel and look like. As it turns out, houseboats and yachts are surprisingly roomy. Most had more square footage than your average DC studio, along with at least two decks, washer/dryer in unit (or in boat), and a party barge at your disposal. 

We had so much fun meeting a few of the locals, who were all too friendly and welcoming. I have to say, the whole idea is appealing. Other than the idea of storm-tossed water or occasional mechanical trouble, why not make your home on a boat? The fact that the marina is less than 10 minutes from Mark's work is a huge plus as well. Mark and I left feeling pretty excited!

After checking out Gangplank Marina, Mark and I headed to Capitol Hill for lunch at one of our favorite lunch spots: Good Stuff Eatery. While their hamburgers aren't the absolute best I've ever had, their herb-coated french fries and thick creamy milkshakes are worth every penny. 

I then dragged Mark to the Botanical Gardens, one of my favorite spots on the National Mall. I never get tired of the colorful blooms, the orchid display, and the trickling water features. I feel like I could find a bench and sit there all day, reading or writing or simply people-watching. 

So do you know anyone who currently lives or once lived on a liveaboard? We'd love to know if so! Also, what are some of your favorite spots in D.C.? We're always open for suggestions on good restaurants or pretty locations. 

Curious about the DC liveaboard community?

Gangplank Marina
600 Water St SW
Washington, DC

Monday, February 22, 2016

Currently // February Edition

Enjoying the recent bouts of sunshine and warmer weather. Last weekend, the temperature reached the 60's.  Let me repeat: the 60's. In February. In Maryland. Flats wore worn. Coats were discarded. Windows were opened. Celebration ensued. 

Writing the twelfth chapter in my impending novel. It's coming along y'all! Sometimes it blows my mind to realize I've somehow managed to dredge twelve coherent chapters from my brain. Here's to twelve more!

Knitting a moss-stitch cowl. I'm a sucker for good packaging and recently picked up a few skeins of this yarn in a soft grey. I really kick up the knitting and crocheting in winter. I like having something to do with my hands while watching Netflix in the evenings. I don't know why-- I just do. I guess it imparts an illusion of productivity to Netflix-watching. 

Reading the mystery novel The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith. For those who don't know, that would be J.K. Rowling's pseudonym. Her prose and story-telling abilities are always such a welcome pleasure. 

Watching another Netflix original: Marco Polo. At first, I had my doubts, but then after the first two episodes, I really got into the characters and culture. Mark was a little slower to warm to the story; but even he was sold by the first season's end. 

Listening to Sia's new album on repeat. Her single Reaper? More, please. 

Loving the new photo-editing app A Color Story. I've switched almost exclusively to using it for all my iPhone photography. Also, never before have I made in-app purchases for filters. But it is so worth it for this app. I highly recommend it! 

Exercising with the hubs every week night. Right now, we're focusing on a CrossFit style workout that combines the big Olympic-style weightlifting with some intense metabolic training. Let me just say, I've never done so many burpees in rapid succession in my life. 

Scouting out potential rentals and real estate in the D.C. area. Currently, Mark has to spend about two hours commuting (each way). Needless to say, I would gladly pay more a month to have more time with him in the evenings. So, we're currently weighing our options. It's both scary and exciting! 

Cooking with ground turkey instead of ground beef. Lately, we've been really into ground turkey tacos. I haven't tried turkey burgers yet but am tempted to give it a try. 

Anticipating the arrival of spring. With today's blue skies and sunshine, it's just warm enough to make one think fondly of potted plants and rose buds. Yet March can be one of our coldest, yuckiest months here in the Mid-Atlantic. 

What about you? What have you been up to lately?

Friday, February 19, 2016

Celebrating the Ordinary, vol. 4

I have gotten to the point where this end-of-the-week series is my favorite post to write. Each week has its own challenges, highs, and lows-- and this series always reminds me to slow down and appreciate the little things, before time flies by in its too-fast blur. 

Earlier this week, I stepped downstairs to the sight of my husband grinding the green powder of his matcha latte. A simple scene: just part of his morning routine. Yet that simple moment encapsulated so much of what I love about marriage:

The simple fact that you know, when you wake up, that you'll go downstairs and see your spouse getting breakfast together. Barefoot, jeans, tshirt. The tinkling timbre of cereal hitting the inside of a bowl. The shrill whistle-whine of the teapot. The fresh smell of ground coffee waiting on the countertop. The first sizzle of bacon in the pan. 

It's moments like this where I find myself thinking Can there ever be enough of this? Will I ever get enough of morning light slanting across a wood floor, of the honey jar's amber glow? Will I ever reach my fill of that slow morning pace? Will I ever grow tired of watching the tendons and grooves of his hands--folding and unfolding, flexing and reaching--as he works? 

Little moments like these create the bedrock of what we are as a couple. 

Nothing much, yet so much. Everything. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Would You Live on a Boat?

Would you live on a boat?

By now, most of us have heard of the Tiny House Movement, the evolution from large homes and hefty mortgages to smaller homes and sustainable, within-your-means living. This nationwide movement has been fueled in large part by young couples seeking to unburden themselves from financial debt and high housing costs. And hey, that's not a bad goal. Who would say no to being debt free? 

Some Tiny House dwellers have taken to the water, choosing to live on houseboats, sailboats, or even yachts. There's even a term for this sort of lifestyle: "liveaboard."  It's waterfront living without the hefty waterfront property price-tag. Plus, houseboats and yachts tend to have slightly more space than your traditional tiny house. Imagine spending a warm summer morning feet propped up on your boat deck, a mug of coffee in your hand. Again I ask: who would say no to that??

As it turns out, Washington D.C. has its own liveaboard community, the largest on the East Coast. It's called Gangplank Marina and is located on the Washington Channel. Within walking distance of the nation's major monuments, the marina contains 309 slips of which roughly 100 contain liveaboards. A tight-knit community of likeminded boaters, the marina offers escape from the high rent and hubbub of citylife. 

Each morning, you awake to the gentle lap of water in the channel where birds dip and play and curious catfish bob to the surface. In spring, D.C.'s famous cherry blossoms coat the marina with a delicate pink blanket. Does this sound perfect to anyone else?

image source
Since learning of this unique community, Mark and I have been researching everything we can about liveaboards and houseboat communities. Living aboard is not without it's unique challenges such as boat upkeep, slip fees, and my personal favorite: shoveling snow off your boat to insure it doesn't sink in winter. Yikes! 

Gangplank Marina has a long wait-list of houseboat owners looking to relocate to the nation's capitol. A wait-list made even more challenging by the building of a huge waterfront development called the Wharf. Some houseboat owners fear the the Wharf will overshadow their precious marina, jacking slip costs and disturbing their slice of paradise. But where there's a will, there's a way. People circumnavigate the obstacles by purchasing a boat already in located in the marina and so set up their floating home.

So would you do it?  Would you forsake life on land and try a liveaboard?
I think I would!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Six Hard Truths of Writing a Book (or Sacrificing your Pigeons)

I've been thinking about this post for a few weeks, debating whether or not I wanted to share it. For most of my life, writing has been an intensely personal thing. It's been there, my constant companion, as long as I can remember. As a little girl, before I could really even write, I would squiggle meaningless, curvy lines on paper and tie the sheets together, calling my squiggledy creation "my book." 

Writing an entire novel has been my ultimate goal at least since elementary school. Throughout high school and college, the writing I undertook was intensely personal. Not diary -personal, but letting others read what I had created felt incredibly intimate and raw. I felt that I was offering up a portion of my deepest, most secret, inward part not only for others to see but for them to judge and use. I had a few poems published in our college's journal. They were met with positive reception; yet I found myself still feeling embarrassed about it. As if the words on the page were a paper form of me blurting out something loud and intense and rather impolite into the room. 

Last November, just a few short months ago, Mark and I sat down and had a long talk. We decided that it was "now or never" for me to write my long-dreamed-of book. He had just been offered a new job in the district, and while we certainly would not be rich, we'd be able to cover all our bills on his salary. "I want you to be happy and accomplish your dream," my husband told me. Yes, ladies, he really told me that-- and yes, ladies, he's all mine. 

So, in December, I started writing full time. I pulled out all my old manuscripts and ideas and compiled the mess into an organized outline. Now, two months later, I have a coherent story line beginning to form, with about twelve chapters to show for my efforts. It's not finished by any means-- but it's a definite start.  It hasn't been an easy process so far-- and I'm pretty sure I still have a lot to learn-- but actually working toward what's been my lifelong goal has left me filling more fulfilled than any other career or job I've ever pursued. 

So, in the spirit of full authenticity, here are a few truths I've learned on my journey (so far) to becoming a writer:

1. It requires sacrifice.
And I don't just mean time and effort. I mean literal sacrifice. Each morning, you must catch and offer a small white dove, wrapped in ceremonial blue ribbon, to the elusive Muses. Then and only then can you proceed with the pen. ..Yes, yes, of course I'm kidding! Don't get your panties in a wad. Although, sacrifice-- in the sense of doing without-- is a real thing. Mark and I knew that while I was writing, we wouldn't benefit from a dual income. We wouldn't be flush with cash or able to spend money frivolously just because we wanted something. We would have to live according to a very real budget and in some cases do without. But the funny thing about doing without: sometimes it makes you realize that you had a lot to begin with. It's not always easy-- sometimes I find myself whining about it, I'll admit it-- but focusing on what we do have and what I plan to accomplish makes it worth it. 

2. Support is nice, but you have to do it for yourself.
I've been so blessed to have the support of my husband in this entire process so far. He has shouldered so much to make this dream possible for me, and I love him all the more for it. But recently it hit me: you can't rely solely on others' emotional support to push you through the process. There's always going to be someone who says or implies that "what your doing isn't a real job" or that making extra money is more important than pursuing a dream. I wasted so much time being afraid that people would see me as a spoiled little wife or as someone taking advantage of her husband-- only because they couldn't see the hours spent at the computer, cranking out page after page from nothing. Eventually, I had to learn to let those opinions--most of them admittedly imagined by own paranoia-- go in one ear and out the other. People are always going to have opinions-- but what matters if what you think of yourself and what your loved ones think of you. And that is all. Do it for yourself, not for others. 

3. Realize your writing is going to be "out there." 
Perhaps partially due to the above issue, I had a hard time admitting to others that I'm writing a book. It sounded frivolous to me, like code for "oh I'm staying at home, poking around on the computer" or "oh I don't have a job, you know me." Yet, I shouldn't be ashamed of it. It's what I do. I'm creating something: a work of literature. Plus, acting ashamed or bashful about it just isn't good marketing strategy. Eventually, the book is going to be finished and "out there," so I may as well own up to it now. 

4. Figure out your process.
Originally, I expected to crank out 8 hours a day, 5 days a week of solid writing. Only to realize that my brain absolutely turned into bruised mush. Then, I remembered a tidbit learned during my time pursuing a graduate program in teaching. Imaginative thinking--creating something entirely new out of nothing-- is some of the most strenuous exercise our brain undertakes. It is considered very high order thinking. Thus, it can leave you quite tired and drained. After realizing this, I decided to work in what I call "brain breaks." Now, I make sure to take some time to paint artwork for my Etsy shop or to work on this blog space. Redirecting my thinking not only avoids that "bruised mush" feeling but actually reinvigorates my creative writing later. 

5. Get it done. 
All the above aside, sometimes you just have to put your nose to the grindstone, stop dilly-dallying, and write the dang thing. 

6. Be willing to undo it. 
The worst part about this whole process: realizing an entire segment you wrote (and loved!) doesn't really work in the anymore. Then, I have to be willing to unravel the story-threads I've so painfully woven. However, a former professor of mine once shared that those unused story segments aren't wasted-- if nothing else, they help us get to know our own story and characters a little better. 

I'm sure there is much more I have yet to learn as I begin editing and revising, but the process thus far has been a learning experience I've enjoyed. Although I wouldn't have been able to do any of it without my husband. He's been by my side the whole time, the biggest support I have. He believes in me more than I believe in myself. And for that I'm grateful. 

I know this was a long post-- but this topic is near and dear to my heart. Thank you for reading!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Celebrating the Ordinary, vol 3

This week saw another impromptu snow-day, although thankfully not as bad as the last one. There's nothing like a snow day to make you appreciate the sturdy roof over your head and the warmth of your own home. These pink carnations in our bedroom window created a spring-barrier between us and the cold. I don't know about you, but I am ready for some bright flowers and warm weather. Although, with Maryland winters being what they are, we're mostly likely in for a few more months of winter. Yet dealing with the gray skies and chilly weather reminds me to appreciate the simple things like home, good food, and family. 

In case you missed it this week, I shared some of my favorite winter coping strategies along with a delicious recipe for savory crockpot meatballs.  

Some interesting things I read this week:

How did you react to Albright's statement about the "special circle of hell for women who don't support other women," her way of reprimanding young women for not supporting Clinton? Personally, I base my voting on my research and principles not on my sex. 

I've been following this young couple as they travel the world together. Would you sell all to see the world? 

Some tips for cleaning your home with natural and homemade products.

A favorite local blogger reminds us to celebrate the home we have with her new hashtag. 

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Savory Italian Crockpot Meatballs

Winter is the time for savory, hearty meals at home. When I see snow on the ground, I just want to simmer things in thick, flavorful tomato sauce. This recipe combines all of those elements: hearty, savory, and tomato-y.  

I first tried this recipe when Mark and I got married. Mainly because meatball subs seem to be one of his favorite things on earth. (Is your husband like that or is it just mine?) Personally, I had never been a big meatball fan. However, little did I know that I would really love this recipe. Pair with creamy mashed potatoes and a salad, or with melty provolone cheese on an Italian sub bun. Enjoy!

2 eggs, beaten
1/4 c. milk
1/2 c. dry bread crumbs
2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. salt
sprinkle of pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb Italian sausage

15 oz. tomato sauce
6 oz. tomato paste
1/2 small onion, chopped
small green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 c. red wine
1/3 c. water
1 tsp. minced garlic (or to taste)
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. sugar
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper

1. Make the meatballs by combining the beaten eggs and milk. Then, add in the bread crumbs, cheese, and seasonings. Finally, add in your meats. Mix up really well in a large bowl.  Shape into 1 inch balls. 
2. Saute the meatballs until browned on the outside. Then put in a slow cooker.
3. Combine the sauce ingredients, and pour over the meatballs.
4. Cover and cook on LOW for 4-6 hours. 
5. Enjoy with sub buns or a salad.

My favorite thing about crockpot recipes is that you can fix all your ingredients, dump them into the slow cooker, and then not worry about it again. In the evenings, we enjoy going to the gym together, so knowing that I don't have to worry about supper when we get home is a plus. Not too mention this recipe will fill your house with the delicious savory scent of tomatoes, garlic, and oregano. So good! Let me know what you think!

Recipe original sourced from the Fix It and Forget It Cookbook. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

February Flowers

A little trick I've discovered for surviving winter? Fresh flowers. I've so enjoyed picking up a value bouquet at our local grocery and arranging it in my favorite vase. Positioned by a sun-filled window, these little blooms create a sense of spring even though winter's right outside. 

What's your favorite trick for enduring winter? 

Monday, February 8, 2016

How to Enjoy (not just Survive) Winter

Last week, Winter Storm Jonas had me feeling like I wanted to just give up and move to the Caribbean. (But then again, who doesn't want to give up and move to the Caribbean? Even a mild snow or slight drizzle could evoke that desire.) I kept thinking: I just want to be warm again! Our city kept referring to the storm as an "unique snow event." As if the snow had ascended from the ground rather than falling from the sky. We had to deal with salt-encrusted floors,  hip-deep snow drifts, no parking, and housebound days. 

What a nightmare right? 

Anyone who knows me knows that winter is a difficult month for me. Often, I find myself becoming depressed and anxious. This year, I'm determined to find ways to combat the winter doldrums. Instead, I want to enjoy--not just survive-- winter. 

If you feel the same way, here are a few suggestions of making the most of the colder months. 

1. Play in the snow
Go big or go home: build a snow fort or a snowman. If it's out there, you may as well bundle up and enjoy it! Have you ever made snowcream? Give it a try this winter!

2. Invest in proper winter clothing
My first year in Maryland, my winter wardrobe was tailored for Georgia winters: light jackets and cowboy boots. I was not prepared for real snow or real wind. Every day, I was miserable as I walked to work because I wasn't dressed appropriately for the weather. Invest in a puffy jacket and some lined, laced boots. Get you some tread, because you're going to need it. And you'll be glad you've got it.

3. Plan your summer vacation or a weekend getaway
Start planning your dream vacation somewhere warm. Come up with a travel budget and start saving. Create a Pinterest board for your tip and dream of the summer sun. Or, if you're able, plan a quick weekend getaway. Even if it's not super warm, it still boosts the mood to get away. 

4. Bake a yummy dessert
I love baking during winter. It's probably not good for my waistline, but see no. 10 for that solution. Plus, baking means you get to stand beside a warm oven. 

5. Try out a new or challenging recipe.
Try something new in the kitchen! Mark and I made ground turkey tacos for the first time ever this week, and we LOVED them. Yes, more than likely, I'll be blogging about it. 

6. Help out your neighbors-- shovel their walkway
Doing for others can really brighten your day, especially if others can't do for themselves. Do you have an elderly neighbor who can't clean their walkway? Do it for them! Plus, shoveling snow is a great way to get some exercise on a snowday. 

7. Host a game or movie night with some friends
Going out may not be much fun, with slick roads and bad weather, but that doesn't mean you have to sit at home all bored and alone. Have your friends or neighbors over for a game or movie night. 

8. Connect with friends and family. letters, FaceTime, email, a phone call
My biggest problem with winter is loneliness. When you're housebound, it's easy to get lonely! Don't mope. Instead, give a family member or close friend a call. Or better yet, set up a FaceTime. It always cheers me up to actually see my loved ones, especially my two little nephews. 

9. Remember to get outside-- Vitamin D
Vitamin D helps regulate our mood. So, bundle up and get outside. Play in the snow or go for a walk with your dog. Just because it's cold, doesn't mean you have to stay inside. 

10. Keep exercising
Especially if you're into winter baking. However, exercising is a great stress reliever and mood booster. Hitting the gym with my husband in the evenings is one of my favorite parts of the day. Plus, at the gym, I can finally wear something other than poofy jackets and sweaters! 

11. Have a romantic dinner at home
One of my favorite holidays is in winter: Valentine's Day. Why not light a few candles, whip up a tasty pasta, and pour some wine? Turn on some dinner music and have a romantic night at home with your loved one. Not only will it be fun, it's a nice way to pamper your loved one. 

12. Visit your library and stock up on winter reads.
Winter weekends are the perfect setting for snuggly blankets, a mug of something hot, and a good read. Visit your local library and stock up on some good books. 

13. Indulge in coffee and tea-- or cocoa!
Buy some artisan cocoa or coffee to go with your library books. I recently purchased some hot cocoa from a local boutique downtown Zoe's Chocolates. I can't wait to give it a try! 

14.  Revisit or take up a hobby
I love knitting in winter. Plus, buying pretty yarn is fun. What is your favorite winter hobby? 

15. Go tanning! 
Hey why not? Start working on your summer tan now. It's also a pretty nice way to get a dose of Vitamin D and finally get warm!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Celebrating the Ordinary, vol 2

No way around it... this week started out as doozy. 

There some days where you feel like the universe took a wet towel, twisted it up, and then just beat the living snot out of you with it. Before Wednesday even arrived, I found myself asking questions like "Why me?" and "What did I do to deserve this?" and "Please stop hitting me, Universe, you big mean bully!" At one point, I found myself sitting on the couch, head bowed, begging for strength and faith to just face the day. 

Here's a hard truth: Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to do everything right, to make good decisions, to be a decent, God-fearing person.... crap just happens. You can't change or prevent it. And swallowing your ire and saying "it is what it is" gives you indigestion. Saying "it's just too bad" feels like giving up, or like you're condoning bad behavior by not retaliating. News flash: turning the other cheek hurts. Nothing quite prepares you for that life lesson. 

Then, one morning, I walked downstairs to find this simple scene: a shaft of light steaming into the dark kitchen and illuminating a dish rag. No big deal right? Yet somehow, to me, this little scene seemed so beautiful in its simplicity. The remainder of the room rested in this early-morning dimness. Nothing disturbed, everything still in its place before the day began. Just one pale beam of light on a winter morning. Simple and clean. Absurdly, I thought "I'm so happy I saw this." Within a few minutes, the sun had shifted, and with it the light faded and moved to another place. 

Yes, bad and unexpected nonsense happens to us. People are mean. People are dishonest. Mistakes are made. Traffic is sucky. The weather runs afoul. Who knows. Yet there's going to be a beam of light, shining in to make you feel clean and happy again. 

Favorite reads from around the inter-webs:

I love Whit's insights into social media engagement: are we seeking to share our story or just create an image? 

A basic primer for the U.S. primaries. Am I the only one who needed this? I hope not. 

Sooooo... would you go a month without shampooing your hair? I don't know if I could handle it.

I've always struggled with self-confidence. Then, one of my former professors told me "to wear a sharp suit and act like you're powerful until you feel powerful. It'll fool everyone else too." Turns out he was onto something according to the Everygirl

Do you ever look at others' social media accounts, grumpily wondering how they can afford/have time to travel? Well, moping about it is one of three ways to ensure you'll never travel. Instead, be purposeful about it: plan and budget your dream trip, just like everything else. 

Try these yummy Valentine's Day shortbread cookies. They're like mini cakes! 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Our New Living Room Wall Color

A few weeks ago, I debated whether or not to repaint our living room. I loved the hearty shade of chocolate brown-- it was so unexpected in a small space and gave the room a cozy library feel. But at the same time, I was ready for a change. The style of our house had really progressed, especially when we refinished our kitchen and master bedroom. The chocolate brown living room felt left behind, a relic of a design style I no longer really appreciated as much. I still liked it, but I no longer loved it. Does that make sense? 

So last week, I rolled up my sleeves and got to work repainting. To save money, I decided to paint the room the same color that I had used in our kitchen. I loved the color and knew it would work well in our living room. Plus, we still had an entire can of paint left over! 

The color I used is a soft dove grey called "Chinchilla" by Behr. We purchased the paint several months ago; so I'm not sure if Home Depot still carries it. However, I'm sure they have a similar shade. We always use Behr paints in our house, and I'm always very impressed with their product. Our entire house-- interior and exterior-- is painted with Behr. For this project and our kitchen, we used a paint-and-primer combo in a semi-gloss finish. It went on so smoothly. Other than the trim, I really only needed one coat. If you're looking to paint a room, I highly recommend popping over to your local Home Depot and considering Behr. 

The finished product really amazed me. I couldn't believe how much brighter and bigger the room felt. Even though it's the beginning of February and we just experienced Snomageddon 2016, our living room feels fresh and springy. Now, our entire house has a seamless color theme: grey and neutral wall colors with blue accents. Re-painting the living room was an excellent choice. I'm so glad I did it. 

That's what I've loved about renovating this old house. As things come together, the house really comes back into it's own, becoming something pretty and unique once again. A loved, happy space for family, good food, and good times. 

Stay tuned for more renovation updates! 
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