Saturday, March 18, 2017

Joyful Simplicities

Several years ago, I decided I was going to write a weekly post here titled “Joyful Simplicities.” I did a few times, but then I fizzled out for some reason. I went back through my posts to see when and why I started the Joyful Simplicities posts, and I was surprised to see that my first one was 5 years ago, in the winter of 2012.

Wow, five years ago. Time sure does fly slowly by! I wrote my first Joyful Simplicities posts before the boys joined the Navy, if that puts it in perspective.

So much has happened in those five years; so many twists and turns and wind-y paths I never envisioned for my life. 

I started writing this blog to help me keep a positive perspective during what was a challenging time of my life, and when I look back through my old posts, I can see that for the most part, I have kept my writings here to positive things. When I first began, I made a vow to myself that during the very times I was feeling the most negative or down in the dumps and so not in the mood to don my Miss Susie Sunshine hat would be the times I most needed to make myself come here to write. There have been times where something happened that gave me the kick in the ass I needed to turn my thinking around and that drew me to write something here.

This is one of them.

The twists and turns my life has taken the past couple of years have not been easy to deal with, but I have done my best to keep my chin and spirits up. I am not perfect, and I fail at that task. I fail quite often. I do find myself wallowing in self pity and anger and "what if" moments way more than I want to. I wallow, then I hate myself for wallowing. I try to put on my Miss Susie Sunshine hat, but it is battered and torn, and sometimes, I think I need to just pitch it into the trash bin and forget I ever even HAD a Miss Susie Sunshine hat.

But,in the past few months, I have had so many “life is too short” moments happen, like the drowning death of Lauren’s roommate’s smart and amazing brother.  Or the car accident that recently took the life of an old friend of mine. Or the sudden unexplained death of my sister’s best friend’s sister, who was my age.

All of these things and more have been a proverbial kick in my ass/slap in my face.

Life. Is. Too. Short.

Too. DAMN. Short.

All of these things, and other things that I just don’t have the mental energy to write about, have made me want to/forced me to think about life’s crazy twists and turns in a new way. Life is always going to be filled with sorrow and heartache. It just is. But, it is also filled with joy. The joy may be hard to recognize amongst the heartache, but it is there, and I often found it is there in simple things that I may brush off and not even think about.

Soo…on that preachy note..I am going to stop preaching and just share a few joyful simplicities from my own life lately. I have been clinging to them for dear life.

~A sweet thank you note from a friend (that came by real mail, in my M.A.I.L.B.O.X!!! That does not happen often; mostly, every piece of mail I get each day goes straight from the mailbox to the trash can. (Except for the  bills). That handwritten note from one of my PLIDA colleagues truly made my day. That little card went straight into my warm fuzzy file.

~My house is very gradually coming back together. It is still not where I want it to be, and it has a long way to go until it is where I want it to be, but it is starting to be restored to the coziness that I love. AND, I finally have a hole-free ceiling in my kitchen! It looks a mess because Tony hasn’t finished it, but the hole that has been in my kitchen ceiling for close to a year is now gone. I kind of want to throw it a going away/good riddance party.

Tony finally put the trim up around the kitchen door, too. I have lots of repair and painting work to do after both of his fix-it projects.

I have also been (finally!!) hanging some things on the walls. 

It has been important to me to get my dining room whipped into shape since I see it as soon as I walk in my front door, and it is also in the process of slowly “getting there.” A few weeks ago, I purchased some new lamps for the buffet, and I love them. I especially love the shades. They look and feel like silk, but they aren’t. (They were pretty inexpensive at Gordman’s.) What I love most about them though is the color. I have taken a gazillion pictures, and I can’t seem to capture the right color; they are a bluish gray that is so pretty.

 I am in the process of painting the old hardware for the china cabinet and buffet. I bought some new round knobs at Hobby Lobby, and they look just perfect against the gray.

~Both of my girlies coming home for weekends. There haven’t been many weekends since they went back to school after Christmas break that one or both of them haven’t been home. This is a bittersweet joyful simplicity because the reasons they have both been home are due to some struggles, and they just want to be home. It warms my heart to know that when they have a crisis they want to come home, it really does. They come for hugs and spaghetti and chicken soup and the comforts of home. While it really does indeed warm my heart, I wish they weren’t struggling so. When they come, I let them sleep until noon and I fill their bellies. I make their favorite meals, I bake them cookies and when they leave, I hug them tightly, kiss their cheeks, tell them I love them because that is all I can do. It seems simple, and to them, it probably is, which is just how I want it to be. I want to make everything easy for them, but I can’t. All I can do is welcome them with open arms (and an open refrigerator!) when they need to be here and feel grateful they know this is their soft place to land when they need it.  

~My plan for losing weight is showing success—I have lost 10 pounds so far! Oh my stars, that makes me so, so happy. I have been unbelievably motivated, more motivated than I ever have been to lose weight, and I am thrilled and giddy that what I am doing is working. Oh, but I can’t tell you how much I would love to have a giant plate of spaghetti with a side of drowning-in-butter fluffy mashed potatoes and another side of gooey cheesy deep dish pizza. The thing is, I am eating quite well—lots of veggies, very low carb—and I am not counting calories. I am never hungry. But oh, potatoes, let me count the ways I miss thee!

~I became a volunteer for a wonderful organization called Bridget’s Cradles. BC’s provides beautiful crocheted little bassinets for babies that are born still in the second trimester. I love to crochet, and I run out of things to make, so this will provide a meaningful purpose to my crocheting. My first goal is to create 17 sets (each set includes a cradle, small blanket and prayer square) by June--5 in memory of Declan, 15 in memory of Hannah, and 1 for sweet Caroline. I have finished 1 set, that I made in memory of Caroline yesterday, on her 4 week birthday. I love how it all turned out, and I am excited to make more.

~The end of a really amazing Share training. It always seems that just when I am at the end of my rope and totally hating my job, something happens that fills my empty cup right back up.

~A stack of books waiting for me to read them. One was loaned from a coworker, one was purchased super cheaply at my favorite antique mall, and I ordered the other two from Amazon. I am anxiously waiting for the time to curl up in my comfy chair and read.

So that list ended up longer than I thought it would be. That is a very good thing, huh?

I won’t promise I will keep up with regular Joyful  Simplicity posts, because as soon as I say, “Oh, this will be a weekly thing,” I will yet again FAIL. But, I will promise to keep putting on that battered and beaten Miss Susie Sunshine hat and plug and plod away at always trying to look at the joyful side of life, no matter what else is happening in my world.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Tis the Night Before Fat Tuesday...

and  here in my house,
the fridge is stocked with food that would be loved by a mouse.
Bowls and baggies of veggies galore!
Olives and apples and cheese and much more!
Yesterday, I flew to the store in a flash!
Grabbed squash, mushrooms, tomatoes, and spent lots of cash!
And the eggs!
Dozens of them are all snug in the fridge,
While visions of pounds melting off me dance in my head just a smidge…
Now Veggies! Now Bacon! Now Sausage and Broccoli!
On Brussels Sprouts! On Beets! On Snap Peas and Celery!
To the top of the cheese, to the top of the eggs,
Now dash away, dash away, dash away…
(Yeah, I know that doesn’t rhyme)
I write such excellent poetry, don’t I?
My jolly plump self has joined in a weight loss challenge at work, hence the above crazy writing.
My coworkers and I are each pitching in $5, weighing ourselves on Wednesday, (EEEEEK!) in front of each other (EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKKKKKKKKK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). Then, for the 40 days of Lent, we will be encouraging each other to eat healthy, exercise while we keep each other motivated to lose weight and get in shape.
When my coworker Sarah proposed this ridiculous idea last week, I laughed and said, “Oh, HELL no!” But, the more I thought about it, the more it sounded like a good idea.
I need to lose weight, and I need to get in shape, so why not join the people I spend the majority of my time with, who can hold me accountable?
So, yesterday, before I did my normal weekly grocery shopping, I spent a lot of time planning healthy meals for myself, breakfast and lunches mostly. The thing is, I really do like eating vegetables and other healthy food, but I am usually too lazy to prepare it. Typically, I buy fresh produce and stick it in the fridge in those flimsy little bags and then throw it all way a week or so later, still in the bags.
Let me tell you what I did yesterday. I bought lots of produce (LOTS!) I came home from the store and rather than stuffing it all in the fridge, I unloaded it all onto the counter, then spent the next 2 hours washing and cutting and slicing and dicing and roasting some of my favorite veggies. The shelves of my refrigerator are now stuffed with stacks of little Rubbermaid tubs and Ziploc bags that hold those veggies and others with grilled chicken…all easy to grab in the morning when I am on my way out the door. I told Tony last night that my goal is for all of those containers to be empty by the end of the week, and not because I threw wilted and rotten vegetables away.
I typically eat pretty healthy anyway, but I am trying to eat very low carb, except for some fruit now and then because I can’t give fruit up completely, and I have high hopes this will help me get rid of my belly that is like a bowl full of jelly.
But eating better is only half of my plan. I am going to work out, too. I actually joined a local gym right after Christmas, and then 5 days later, I tripped over a dog toy and injured my foot and ankle. I spent almost 6 weeks in a giant, clumsy boot. Not really conducive to exercising!
I have been completely out of the boot for a week. I am still not in much of a condition to exercise, though. But as Sarah told me today when I was complaining about how much my foot hurts, “No pain, no gain, Rose!” So, I stopped on the way home from work and reactivated my gym membership that I put on hold just days after I joined. I won’t be able to do the yoga classes I initially signed up for just yet, but I think I will be able to walk on the treadmill and ride an exercise bike.
No matter what I end being able to do, it’s gotta be better than sitting on the couch watching HGTV, right? I actually walked around my block today, twice!
A couple of my coworkers are determined to win the pot of money, but my eye is on the real prize…that my belly will no longer shake like a bowl full of jelly.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

All is (or soon will be) Calm

Christmas is over. I have undecorated the house, and as it always is, undecorating was a little bit sad. I love how festive my house looks at Christmastime, how the sparkly lights make every nook and cranny inviting and warm. And cozy. Cozy is the best perk of all. This year, it was especially hard to take everything down and pack it away mostly because all the greenery and bows and baubles and lights made it easy for me to ignore the things in our house that are still unfinished after 8 months of renovations. Now that Christmas is packed and stacked away in a tall, neat pile of tubs in a far corner of our basement, it is as cold and dreary inside as it has been outside.
I miss all the shiny brightness that the Christmas is.
This Christmas season brought a great deal of joy, too…another reason why it was hard to wrap it all up and box it away.
For lots of reasons, I am feeling emotional not finding it easy to write about the past month, so I will show a few pictures, share a few words, and call it good.
*My kids were all home for Christmas. I’ve already written about that, and it was the best thing about Christmas this year. After all of my anticipation about having them all home, it almost didn’t even happen. Tony’s mom ended up in the hospital having heart surgery just 2 days before Christmas. Tony, Brandon and Lauren went to be with her, and they barely made it home for Christmas. On Christmas Eve, we met Justin’s new girlfriend, and she is adorable and very sweet. A weird new addition to our Christmas Eve celebration...I made Jello shots for my kids.

At the last minute, my sister and her family came to spend Christmas with us. It was so nice and the first time ever that I have spent Christmas with just Theresa and her family. We went to a local park for a walk since the weather was a bit warm, although it was damp and foggy. It wasn’t our typical way to spend Christmas day, but we all enjoyed it.
This picture makes me smile because it reminds me of how Brandon was always so difficult when they were all little and I tried to get a decent picture of all of them.
*My life the past month has been a whirlwind of cooking and baking. And I spent oh so much money at the grocery store. Holy wow! I do love having everyone home, and I want to make sure I cook each of my kids’ favorite meals when they are home. But having three home at once, along with holiday baking…I am saying with all honesty right now that I am tired of cooking and baking. I am hanging up my oven mitts and skipping by the baking aisle at Schnucks. 
So, why did I title this All will soon be calm?
By this time tomorrow, it will be calm around here for the first time in weeks. Brandon is safely back in Glenwood Springs, CO. The girls are both heading back to their schools tomorrow. By the time I get home from work, my house will be so quiet. Rachel has been home for the longest of all of them—almost 5weeks.
I am going to miss them all.
I am usually full of many words, but for now, that is all I can muster.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas...


I got a really late start on my holiday decorating this year. A really really late start.
 Typically, my goal is always to be finished decking the halls (and railings and trees) by Sunday night after Thanksgiving, have the tubs put away and the house clean so that I have a good month to enjoy it all without having to constantly work on it while climbing over bins and boxes. For the most part, whatever isn’t finished by the end of Thanksgiving weekend doesn’t happen. I prioritize the most important things—the tree, outdoor decor, staircase and dining room; those seem to be the tasks that are doable in 3 days. Sometimes, the weather doesn’t cooperate, and I may have to work on the outside lights after the weekend is over.

This year, too many things got in the way—a family wedding Thanksgiving weekend followed by a 4-day work trip, followed by a 3 day weekend in Memphis. Never mind my very Grinchy, un-Christmas like attitude in general. I was tempted to not decorate this year, but Brandon is coming home for Christmas. Brandon is coming home for Christmas!!! Since it will be the first Christmas he has been at home since 2011 as well as the first Christmas we have all been together in 4 years, not decorating wasn’t a real option. The last time we all spent Christmas together was in a hotel room in Great Lakes, IL when the boys were in boot camp. While I have known in my heart that I wanted to decorate, it sort of felt like more of a burden than the fun task I always enjoy and look forward to.
So, I took a vacation day on Wednesday, put on my Santa hat, filled my travel mug with coffee, took my boom box and Christmas CDs outside, and spent a freezing cold day trimming the porch with greenery and bows and baubles and stringing lights through the bushes and trees. There may or may not have been a little bit of dancing around while singing Christmas carols, too. There may also have been a few horn honks and amused looks from passersby.  I wonder how many people went home that day and told everyone about the crazy old lady dancing around her front porch wearing a Santa hat?

That sounds crazier than it really was. I sang quietly to myself, and the dancing was pretty calm, but I guess I still made somewhat of a spectacle out of myself.
I also nearly fell off the roof. And a ladder. (I wasn’t dancing then!)

I was sort of dancing when I tangled my feet in a strand of lights, fell and banged my knee on the brick retaining wall. (Thankfully, I was on the ground when that happened).
I also ended up with a hand that looked like I got into a fight with a cat after I made the very unwise decision to put lights in my very large rose bush.

Yeah, I think I am too old for this outdoor Christmas decorating. Or perhaps I shouldn’t combine outdoor Christmas decorating with dancing and singing.
At the end of the day, in spite of all the mishaps and my frozen hands, by some Christmas miracle, a smattering of something resembling holiday cheer had warmed my Grinchy heart, and my house had been transformed into a winter wonderland.  The only thing missing is some snow. (But, I gotta admit, I’m not missing snow all that much).

This treat at the end of the day may have had something to do with warming my heart, too. J

 I always treat myself to a bottle of Bailey’s right after Thanksgiving. I am not a boozy sort of gal at all, but I do enjoy a splash (or 2) of this creamy yumminess in my coffee on cold winter mornings when I have the luxury of staying home on the couch bundled in a blanket while I watch cheesy Hallmark movies. And on frosty evenings when I have spent the day outdoors decorating…
I am 2 weeks behind schedule, but I am thrilled to be finished, both indoors and out. (Except for the dining room table; I need to find my Christmas dishes that are still in some hidden box down in the basement).
I found a fantastic sale on plastic ornaments on sale at Michaels, and I thought they would add a fun touch to my porch.


Can you tell that I just love, love LOVE decorating the outside of my house? It is usually the very first thing I do, sometimes, even before we put up the tree. On Wednesday when I was outside, three different people stopped to say they wondered what was going on because it was the first time they had seen my house not decorated. One person, who I didn't know, said he'd been living here as long as we have, and every day, he drove by wondering why I hadn't decorated yet. My next door neighbor came over when he got home from work to tell me that he and his wife assumed I must be sick. I didn't realize how much people notice things. 

don't typically decorate much in the kitchen other than putting a few flowery things and a candle on the windowsill and a Christmasy tablecloth on the table. But, I am rather tired of looking at the unfinished frame around the new door that Tony put in, so I decided to hide its ugliness with greenery, bows and lights. And wow, I am so glad I did! Honestly, I think this is one of my favorite decorations this year. It doesn't totally disguise the mess that the wall still is, but it sure helps. Rachel came home yesterday and said, "Mom! That is sooooo CUTE!" That is high praise from a teenager. I don't know how "cute" it is, but I am smitten with it.

Pretend you don't see that large hole that is STILL in my kitchen ceiling. Tony did bring us one step closer to being able to close up that hole this weekend--I think he finally got the plumbing problem fixed. The hole will remain a bit longer just in case, but I really am hoping that very soon, that hole will be gone. I won't miss it looking at the upstairs bathroom pipes every time I am in my kitchen.
I know, this is very picture heavy, but I'm not finished yet! Part of my problem is that I am still trying to figure out my camera, so I take lots of photos with different settings trying to get the perfect shot. I have a long way to go! (That is why the walls in pictures of the same room look very different. I clearly have not mastered my camera after more than a year!)
My second favorite thing to decorate is the stair railing. Even when the lights are not on, it makes me smile to see it first thing when I walk in my front door.
While you are pretending you don't see the hole in my kitchen ceiling, keep those rose colored glasses on and pretend you don't see my STILL unfinished stairs. There is probably dog hair on them because they are rough and hard to vacuum, so pretend you don't see that as well. :)
Remember that basket I filled with fake fall leaves and pinecones? Well, I developed quite a fondness for it, so I decided to keep it for Christmas and fill it up with holiday-ish fake stuff.
I have saved the best for last.
My dining room and my new silver tree. I never thought I was a metallic tree sort of person, but I was inspired by my super duper Christmas decorating extraordinaire brother in law who has the most amazing and beautiful gold tree stuffed to the brim with only metallic ornaments. I loved it and couldn't get it out of my head.
Soooo...I purchased a silver tree at Hobby Lobby a month or so ago. It's tall and skinny--the first time Tony saw it, he asked me why I bought a Charlie Brown tree--but once I put a few metallic ornaments on it and wrapped it with silver polka dot ribbon, I think he likes it. 
Even if he doesn't, I do! It's not quite as spectacular as my brother in laws tree, but I really do like it tucked in a small corner of my dining room. Most of the ornaments on it were ornaments I already had, including all of my angel ornaments, but I did buy a few new ones, including some sparkly icicles. I wanted to put a small angel on top, but I haven't been able to find what I want.

More photos of the dining room:


Clearly, I do not believe that “less is more” when it comes to Christmas decorating, do I? J
My house is festive, and my heart is finally feeling festive as well. Mostly, that is due to knowing that by this time next week, all of my children will be safe and snug here at home. My heart will truly be happy then!

 My wish to make this holiday season extra-special for my family, most especially Brandon, inspired me. It sure looks like I have found some Christmas cheer, huh?

Everything looks and feels homey and cozy, just how I like it. I am now sharing one last photo...of my Christmas tree. I took this last night when I was snug as a bug on the couch watching yet another corny movie.
Now, it’s time to make it smell as wonderful as it looks, aka, the time has come to pack away the decorating supplies and let my kitchen be taken over by sugar, flour, chocolate and candy-dipping tools. My next post will be titled, “It’s beginning to taste a lot like Christmas.”



Sunday, November 20, 2016

Live Beautifully

A couple of months ago, I created an Instagram account. I am not a big social media guru by any means; facebook is enough for me to keep up with. But, I joined Instagram because there are people I wanted to follow.

One of those I follow does beautiful brush calligraphy, something I have been trying to teach myself. Not only is her lettering lovely and elegant, but she adds swirls and flourishes and layers of colors that are the perfect finishing touch. I have no fantasy of ever creating anything even close to the quality of her work (she’s a professional artist), but I have been having fun in my free time. I don’t have much of that these days, but I try to take 30 minutes or so a few mornings or evenings each week to practice. Cuz as the beautiful letterer that I follow says, “Practice makes perfect!” J
The above title of this post, in her graceful writing, was at the top of my Instagram feed one early morning a couple of weeks ago.

Live Beautifully.
I stared at it for a few seconds and let it soak in before scrolling down the page. Then, there it was again. And again. This person also has daily lettering challenges, and I follow some of those who participate in them. Apparently, “Live Beautifully” was her challenge of the day.  

I had a busy day at work, but as I went about my tasks, I kept that thought and what it means close: Live Beautifully.
When I got home from work, I again took a few moments to peruse Instagram while dinner was cooking.  And you guessed it, there it was again. I saw it three more times in the minute or two that I was looking at Instagram that evening.

And in yet one more case of “How scary and mind reading can the internet really be?” when I got on facebook the next day, there in the sidebar where all of those annoying ads magically appear, was an advertisement from Amazon for a book called, “Living Beautifully: With Uncertainty and Change.” No, I am NOT making that up! I don’t know if by me clicking on a few of the Live Beautifully calligraphy photos some signal went zooming through the world wide web straight to facebook, but wow, how very bizarre. (By the way, I did purchase the book on my Kindle because it was too intriguing NOT to. I haven’t read it yet, though).
Two simple words, but they have had a profound impact on me these past few weeks.

They have been a kick in the pants that I really have needed.
I haven’t been living so beautifully lately.  The past months have been filled to the brim with frustrations and problems from every direction…my job, my kids and life in general. I so often trudge through each day in an endless parade of sleep, work, deal with problems, sleep, work, deal with problems...

 My house still is not back in order, which surely has not helped, and I have been finding it most difficult to even enjoy being at home like I normally do when life is crazy. My home has not been the snug and comfortable haven I try to make it be. It’s still fairly devoid of furniture and most everything is still packed away in boxes and bags in the basement; I hadn’t even decked my house out for fall like I normally do because it seemed pointless when so many things are unfinished and uncertain and in disarray. (If I had to choose a word to describe my life right now, that would be it…DISARRAY).
I seem to be at a crossroads in more than one area of my life. I want a job change, but I’m not sure how to go about it since I actually love the work I do, just not the actual JOB anymore. Everything is so out of whack and downright distressing with my parents, and I am trying to come to terms with that in a way that I never have before. I’m having a tough time transitioning from a mom who is used to having what is going on with my kids rule my life to being an almost empty nester with way too much time on my hands some days. I’m having an even tougher time transitioning from a mom who could fix a child’s problem with a hug, a batch of cookies and putting them on my lap to read a good night story. This is perhaps what I am struggling with most of all…being a mom to adults and all that entails.

And then, there is my house. Back in April when we decided to put down new floors, I was beyond excited, as I’ve written before. It is now November, and after so many setbacks and changes of plans, the house is still in chaos, which isn’t helping my mood any.
I have been so focused on the inside of my house that the outside was sorely neglected to the point where I was beginning to feel embarrassed by it while wondering every day as I pulled into my driveway what the neighbors must think.

Most of my kitchen necessities are not yet unpacked, so I have not been cooking very much. Since cooking is something I always enjoy, especially when I am frazzled and in need of something to take my frustrations away, not having what I need to make anything beyond the basics has caused me feel out of sorts  and out of patience.   
I would never have dreamed back in April that our house would be in this condition for so long. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t, because I doubt I would have taken it on.

After seeing that “Live Beautifully” quote, and really letting those words embed themselves into my brain, I realized that I have been putting things I enjoy on hold until:
My house is finished…

Things at Share slow down…
Issues with my kids are resolved…

Issues with my parents are resolved…
I have the money to __________...

Yada yada yada…and on and on and on.
I realized there always seems to be something that I let stand in my way.  

And that is not living beautifully.
Pondering all of the ways I have not been living beautifully lately segued into giving some thought about what living beautifully means to me. I have narrowed it down to a short(ish) list:

*It means coming home each day to a restful home. (Even if it is not in perfect shape and there are unfinished projects)
*It means spending time with and talking to people I love. (Even when life is kicking my butt and I don’t feel like I have much to offer other than a foul mood)

*It means taking time each day to notice, really notice the blessings and beautiful things around me. (Even when they are next to impossible to find)
*It means feeling good about what I do each day. (Even during times when work is stressing me out and I am feeling more hate than love for my job)

*It means doing things for the people I love to let them know how much I love them.  (Even when I am exhausted and want to hibernate and/or run away)
*It means making time to do things I enjoy. (Even if I am super busy and the only time I have is 10 minutes in the morning to have coffee on my porch before work)

Like I said, I’ve been thinking about how to live beautifully a lot in the past few weeks, and I have to say, it has made a difference in so many of my days. Again, I have written a shortish list.
*Even though there is still a hole in my kitchen ceiling due to an unresolved plumbing issue and the baseboards and molding around the French doors are unfinished, I was tired of looking at my beautiful new kitchen that was still “undecorated.” I bought a new tablecloth, futzed up the top of the cabinets, bought a new lamp, and hoped that making the kitchen look warm and cozy would help me to ignore the giant hole in the ceiling. It didn’t quite do that, but it is much homier now, and I try to not look up very often.



*Even though I still don’t have blinds or curtains or a rug in the family room, I have slowly started putting that room back together.
 I found these candles on clearance at Michaels, and I had to have them because they really add a warm fall touch to the room at night. They also make me think of Brandon and the beautiful aspen trees in Colorado. I was inspired by something I saw on Pinterest and purchased the metal bin with clear glass bottles. I added some fake greenery and some colored flat marbles that I already had, and I love how it turned out.

I also bought a Rosemary bush. I haven’t yet unpacked the other items that are normally on this table, but the plant smells so good, AND, I can use snips of it when I cook.
*Even though my dining room is completely bare other than the table, I decided to go ahead and pretty it up for the season like I enjoy doing. I always have fun trying to be creative and mix and match what I already own to come up with an interesting table setting. I picked the acorns off the ground at the park the day of the Share walk.

I have probably written more than enough for one post, but I want to share a few more photos.
*I finally decided to clean up the porch, weed, throw away the leftover dead summer flowers, and make it look fallish. (Even though my front door looks like crap because the door frame needs to be replaced and the door itself needs to be painted)

Once I decided to decorate for fall, I went all out. Again inspired by Pinterest, I put together this basket that sits by my front door. (Even though the staircase it sits next too is ugly and still unfinished!) There are a few pine cones in there that I gathered a few years ago when I was visiting a friend in Maine. They were in her back yard, and every fall when I get them out, they bring back such fond memories. I also tossed in a few cinnamon pine cones from a bag I bought at the grocery store, so it smells delicious as soon as I walk in the door. The other nice thing about this basket is that I didn’t have to buy one thing (other than the cinnamon pine cones) because I used what I already had in a new way.

(Ugly staircase!)
I also found this woodsy pumpkin, a real bargain for only $9 at Kirkland’s a month or so ago. I hung it on the pantry door (that still is waiting for me to paint it).

I will close with one last photo. Remember how this post started, with my admiration of an artist and her brush calligraphy? I was so inspired by her words and artistry that I made my own version of Live Beautifully in my own brush calligraphy, embellished by my own art work. I’m no artist, and I will never be one, but I don’t think it turned out too shabby. I framed it and found a place for it in the corner of my desk. My hope is that it will keep on inspiring me to live beautifully.