Living Room {Before and After}

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The next two weeks most of my posts will be about our recent remodel projects.

I love these kinds of posts and I hope you enjoy them too.

Today I wanted to share our living room before and after.

We extended our cherry floors from our kitchen into our living room and it made an amazing difference in the appearance of space and the ease of visual flow.

I love the color and minimal grain that you see in cherry floors but the softness of the wood is a huge drawback.

We already had cherry throughout the entry and large kitchen and it was cost prohibitive to start over with another wood.

Over time the cherry darkens and I believe gives the home a wonderful warmth.

We have a lot more dust bunnies and the kids don’t love all of the sweeping we now do (obviously they aren’t pros in the sweeping or we wouldn’t have the dust bunnies).

I am loving the updated space!

{BEFORE}

{DURING}

{AFTER}

For Such a Time As This {You are included in the adventure}

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This morning I went on an early morning jog real quick before I needed to make breakfast for Jack and Maddy.

Jack started high school last week (he has homeschooled up until now) and Maddy is starting a new two day a week school program for homeschoolers (that is 30 minutes away).

I will still be homeschooling Benjamin this year and he will continue to go to his one day a week enrichment school.

I love early morning runs or walks because I am quiet, the world is quiet, the air feels different and I am more likely to HEAR…really hear the Lord.

Today I was just asking for guidance with the children, school, the “to do” lists and the busyness that the past two weeks has brought.

I love lists and getting things accomplished but I don’t want MY plans and MY goals to get in the way of HIS plans.

I don’t like busy.  I actually get pretty mean and grumpy with busy and lots of driving around.

The older I get the more I have realized that we are given gifts and skills for our own joy, to bless others and to ultimately honor the Lord.

I talk about this deep belief in some of my online courses and when I teach in person.

I also know that he won’t beg you to use your gifts and skills.

The hard truth is that he doesn’t need us to do anything.

He can do anything he wants and needs without us but here is the best part…he WANTS to include us!

We are asked again and again to be a part of his adventures.

Are we too busy to notice or do our own plans get in the way?

Do amazing adventures pass us by and another person with an open heart and mind join him instead?

I love the story of Esther and this verse especially has made a lasting impact on me.

There are two aspects about this verse that bring me back again and again.

1) If you are not able to do this it is OK…but I will find another that will

2) Have you ever thought that maybe this is why you are here in the first place?

For such a time as this!

What are you being asked to do with your gifts and skills?

Who around you needs encouragement or support?

Do your children need extra time?

Does your husband need to be reminded that he is loved and appreciated and that you don’t want to live this crazy life with anyone but him?

Do you need to stand up for a wrong?

Do you need to forgive or be forgiven?

Are you not using your gifts and skills and keeping yourself busy with things that don’t really matter?

Are you afraid to step out boldly with your gifts?

Are you afraid you will fail?

I am adventurer at heart!

I love to travel and learn and to meet new people.

I love the Lord and want a heart for the things of him.

I get bored easily and want to jump in my car and just drive.

In fact, my kids laugh whenever I fill up the Jeep with gas because I get all giddy because I feel like I could just take off and head out on an adventure.

I want my children to see the world, meet people different from them, love people that they didn’t know they could love and taste life in a different way.

Whenever I travel I look up real estate in that area and wonder if I could live there.

I have always thought I had a bit of gypsy in me:-)

The truth is I have the Lord in me and he hopes I want to join in on his adventures!

I do. I do.

Here is a little inspiration for you:-)

Catching the California Light {our recent trip to the sand and waves}

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We just returned from two weeks in southern California and we are still adjusting to missing our friends and the ocean.

Our trip was magical in so many ways and the friends we stayed with lavished us with open arms, good food, laughter and incredible adventures.

After our time with friends we stayed a few days with Kelly’s family and then made our way to Santa Ana and Studio Cresendoh.

I had two of the best days ever teaching and creating with the students at this sold out class all about papers and portraits (I am really excited to tell you that I will be back next year).

Here is just a glimpse into our time away…

Our trip began with an incredible Mexican feast, a swimming pool with a diving board :-), music in the park with dinner and s’mores on the beach.

Not too shabby!

Our next day with friends began with a beautiful breakfast and cars loaded up for the beach!

This day was packed full of surf lessons, kayaking in the ocean and paddle boarding in the lagoon.

We felt very loved this day:-)

{Benjamin getting some surfing lessons}

Our night ended with what my friend does best…loving on you with good food and conversation.

Maddy even helped with the California rolls:-)

Our third day started with the coolest breakfast at Claire’s On Cedros and gluten free pancakes.

I had loved my hike at Torrey Pines on my last visit and they were kind enough to take us again.

This view would never get old!

After three days with friends we packed up and headed towards San Clemente to see my husband’s brother and family.

On the way we were told by friend Lissa to do whatever is necessary to eat at The Ramos House Cafe in San Juan Capistrano.

We are soooo glad we obeyed:-)

THE best meal! So good!  Get their gluten free hush puppies if you go.  We are still talking about them!

The next two nights were spent with Kelly’s family enjoying their pool and the beach.

After a few days with family we were off to Disneyland!  We took Jack and Maddy to Disneyworld when they were little and decided we needed to blow the cash on Ben too.

We stayed almost until close (to get our money’s worth of course) and pretty much fell into bed exhausted.

The next morning we made our way to Coronado Island and enjoyed San Diego over the next four days.

The first day we just rested in the hotel and enjoyed the downtime. We had been running for days and really needed the break.

The next day we took the train to meet my friend Alexis and her boys again to play at Legoland.

Ben was in heaven and loved every minute.

I think this day we spent about five hours at the pool. I made art and the kids swam.

{photo by Jenny Doh}

{photo by Jenny Doh}

{photo by Jenny Doh}

It was then time to make our way to Santa Ana and set up for my two day workshop at the Cresendoh Studio with Jenny Doh.

After we set up we were able to meet some of my aunts, uncles and cousins for dinner and I think we closed the place down.

The next two days I was surrounded by beautiful women that truly showed up with their art.

It is always the biggest joy to see women take techniques and make a piece their own.

{photo by Jenny Doh}

{photo by Jenny Doh}

{photo by Jenny Doh}

California was good to us.

Acts of Service Advent Tree

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Good morning!

I have been getting a lot of questions and emails about our acts of service Advent tree that was seen in the housewalk.

I had intended to write this yesterday but you know how that goes.

Even though it is December 11 (how did that happen) you still have time to do some of the acts that I will share.

Obviously, you can create your own that work with your family too.

This idea originally came to me while I was watching Anne Marie’s Twig Tree video in Home for the Holidays.

She was creating a small twig tree to hang on the wall and I knew right away that I wanted to make it big and hang acts of service off of it.

I sat down with my mom and we started brainstorming things we could do as a family.

We even asked the children to help with a few ideas.

I typed all of the acts up in Word and printed them out.

We cut the acts of service into strips and folded them over to get them ready to stuff into the stars.

Our stars are made from craft paper using a star template I found online.

We (my mom) started to sew them all shut with the acts of service inside but my machine was driving her NUTS so I told her we could go with Plan B.

Always have a Plan B.

For half of the star we glued them shut with a glue stick (only getting glue around the edges to keep the glue off the acts of service) and we used a white gel pen to make thread marks on the outside.

It worked for me and possibly saved my mom’s sanity.

If you are going to hang the stars as shown …make sure that whether you sew or glue them shut that you include the end of the string in the star before you close it.

I then just randomly hung the stars on the twig tree.

Here are our acts of service for this year.

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I hope to do this each year as a family because

1) who needs more candy each day through December

2) who doesn’t need more times in their lives to think of others more than their selves

As much as I love, love, love the month of December if you are not careful it can turn into just shopping, eating too much and sugar comas.

I feel like each time we so something like this we take a huge exhale, slow down and focus.

I am thinking we will keep it up year around and have weekly acts of service.

I will let you know.

Thank you for asking about this and thank you Anne Marie for inspiring this project.

Home for the Holidays is still open for registration.

This course is full of projects videos for gift ideas, decor and recipes.

Come back on Friday to find out more about my brand new e-course Studying Under The Masters {becoming an apprentice} and I will also announce the winner of the $300 Dick Blick gift card.

Vintage Christmas Tree With Balsam Hill

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If you have had a chance to see our home dressed up for Christmas you will see over and over that I love vintage.

I love beautiful things that tell a story.

No matter where we travel I am always drawn to the art and the history of the culture.

If I have the choice to buy something new or go searching for something that may be a bit tarnished…I usually choose the tarnished.

Even when decorating I search for ways to incorporate my love of vintage, art, textures and layers.

I think that sometimes the holidays can feel overwhelming if you think your home, your tree or your gifts need to look like others.

We all have a style and have beautiful things that we surround ourselves with.

You don’t need to look far to find the inspiration you need for your whole home this holiday.

This year when I was offered the opportunity to try a Balsam Hill tree I jumped at the chance.

I decided to put the tree in my art studio and to make the theme of the tree the vintage items that I have around my studio.

My son and I were dumping out vintage hardware, crystals and vintage treasures from my trips in Europe, Mexico and even local flea markets.

Before long I had vintage French pocket watches, French laundry labels, French convent chore name sticks and vintage buttons ready to decorate the tree.

I found some of my favorite ornaments, some red ticking ribbon, star garland and starting playing with the tree.

It seemed perfect to make the final touch to the tree some pine cones I had collected in our neighborhood, simple cream candles, “chalkboard” ornaments created from Pickmonkey and of course the star made of twigs.

Under the tree was my beautiful vintage grain sack tree skirt and packages wrapped with our hand stamped wrapping paper.

I want to fill our home with beautiful items that we can use.

Look around your home.

What are you drawn to and what do you collect?

Have you ever thought to decorate with your vintage china, your grandma’s lace or your favorite art supplies?

Did you notice that I snuck three vintage paintbrushes in my tree?

It is in my art studio…why not!

Do you crochet or knit? Your tree would look stunning with crocheted garland and ornaments.

Your tree would look amazing with white lights, berries and a pine cone garland.

How about decorating your tree with white lights and black and white photos of your family tree?

Your decor should reflect you, your passions and your family.

**********

When I was asked to go to the main page of Balsam Hill and pick out a tree I felt completely spoiled.

I sat with my children looking at all of the trees and to be honest…it was hard to choose.

We finally decided on the Nantucket Blue Spruce Christmas Tree because of the color, how real the branches looked and it was a smaller tree.

We chose the 6 1/2 foot and prelit with white lights.

I thought it looked beautiful in the photo without one ornament.

I am a live tree girl so I didn’t know what to expect.

When the box arrived I asked Kelly to open the box and help me put it together because…

1) I don’t like to read directions

2) I don’t like to read directions

Kelly called me to the garage 5 minutes later.

He started to laugh and told me to look at the tree.

I was worried.

Then I saw what he was talking about.

It was perfectly put together in minutes.

I think it took him longer to open the box than put the tree together.

He told me I could have done it without reading directions:-)

The tree was gorgeous. Serious!  So pretty and came in three sections that snap into each other and it is all prelit.

When we put it into my studio to decorate it my son touched it and still asked if it was real.

I think THAT is impressive.

I think we should also go back to the fact that you won’t have to read any instructions:-)

Thank you Balsam Hill for the beautiful tree!

Here is a sneak peek at the gorgeous (and I mean gorgeous) tree of Courtney of French Country Cottage.

I am honored to be sharing my Vintage Christmas Tree as part of

Balsam Hill’s 12 Bloggers of Christmas Series!

Here are the links to all of the Christmas tree posts.

Monday December 2nd:

Vanessa (At The Picket Fence)

Ashley (Cherished Bliss)

Tuesday December 3rd:

Beth (Unskinny Boppy)

Candace (Vintage News Junkie)

Wednesday December 4th:

KariAnne (Thistlewood Farms)

Kristin (My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia)

Thursday December 5th:

Kim (Sand and Sisal)

Laura (Finding Home)

Friday December 6th:

Courtney (French Country Cottage)

Jeanne (Jeanne Oliver)

Saturday December 7th:

Jen (Jen Rizzo)

Heather (At The Picket Fence)

You will love all of the inspiration!

Dream Maker {Everyone Should Have One}

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I always had the mom that told me I was special and talented and could do anything.

You know…the mom that tells you amazing things about yourself and you roll your eyes.

You think your mom tells you nice things about yourself only because she is your mom.

That is part of it.

The other part is that she can see past what you see.

She can see the good and the bad and the potential.

She can see what your gifts could look like once you grow your character and see past yourself.

Moms don’t look at you through rose colored glasses…they look at you through the eyes of love and hope.

So, here I was a girl that had grown up with a mom that spoke life over me.

Life.

As a young adult she spoke hope over me.

As a woman she believed in me and continued to pray for my future.

When you have someone speak life over you…you think differently about yourself.

You look for different in others.

You believe and search out what is best for you.

That is how I found my Kelly.

I first noticed him because he was handsome.

I later loved him because he was good.

So, so good.

When we had first started dating I remember sitting in a restaurant with Kelly and it felt like he was planning out the rest of my life for me.

In reality it was only the weekend but I felt myself panicking:-)

I was 26 years old and had really tried to protect myself and heart very well by then.

Sometimes you have a huge list of all the things that won’t happen to you and it can take you awhile to realize that you won’t have good things if you are always protecting yourself from the potential harm.

I had rules in my head about how, what, when….it kept me safe.

At least I told myself that.

I had all these things I didn’t want to become.

I had watched what “becoming” can look like and it scared me.

Marriage scared me.

Even though I wanted it and hoped for it…I didn’t at the same time.

So, here I was with this new boy that I had only been dating less than a month and he was planning out what we were going to do one day after the next.

I panicked.

I felt myself instantly wanting to push him away and then a very strong voice spoke in my spirit.

Don’t.

Just tell him.

This is good. It can be good.

Just tell him.

So, I did.

I asked this boy to slow down. I told him how much I liked him and wanted to really see where this could go but I needed him to slow down.

And he did.

He listened.

We were engaged four months later and married eight months after we met.

So much for slowing down.

To read our story you can go HERE and HERE.

I don’t want to talk about that tonight though.

Today is our 15th year anniversary.

Tonight I want to tell you that Kelly has been my dream maker.

He has been my balance and calm.

He has been my exhale and safe place.

He has been my quiet and best friend.

He has been the man my mom prayed for me.

She knew I would need a man like him.

A man that wouldn’t make me scared to love or to be vulnerable.

A man that would see me as his equal and partner.

A man that would look at me through eyes that see the good and bad…and still see the best.

See the potential.

See the hope.

See the tomorrow.

Our children have a father that loves them, plays with them, encourages them, spends time with them and KNOWS them.

I don’t take it for granted that this creative life I get to lead is a gift.

I know it.

Kelly gave it to me years ago.

He didn’t realize it but he was the one to continue what my mom started so many years ago.

He spoke life over my dreams.

He listened and asked how could we make them happen.

He told me I was special and different and that my gifts needed to be used.

 He took time away from himself to give me more time to create.

He has packaged and made post office runs.

He has gone without so the business could grow.

He has edited and edited and edited video.

He has bragged over me and to others.

He has told me I “make magic” and that he will help with whatever dreams I have “because your ideas don’t fail.”

He prays with me over our marriage, children and business.

He has never…I mean NEVER…complained about this creative life.

Not once.

Mom, thank you for being my first dream maker and helping me realize my life had value and purpose…even if I rolled my eyes at the time.

Kelly, thank you for being my second dream maker and for this life you have given me.

This life of being a mom, homeschooling our children and getting to live creatively.

This life of creating dreams together.

This life of dreaming of what will be next.

Lord, thank you for being the giver of dreams in the first place.

Thank you for the gifts that I want to use to be a reflection of you.

Thank you for opening doors and creating the desire to keep dreaming more.

I hope you have dream makers in your life.

If you don’t…become one.

Search them out.

Surround yourself with them.

Choose people that will speak words of life over you.

Be a speaker of life.

**********

Creatively Made Home {home for the holidays} begins this Tuesday!

 

 

The Creatively Made Home courses bring your favorite magazine to life.

 

Join me and eight other creative bloggers for interviews, decorating, gift giving and cooking videos.

This course will change how you love on your friends and family this holiday season.

I also hope it will change how you love on your family day to day.

To read more click HERE.

To register click HERE.

You can also pay below.




Finding Fall Home Tour {16 Bloggers and BHG!}

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Are you getting ready for fall, baking too much, lighting candles in every room and wearing your UGG boots everywhere?

No?

Is it just me?

If you are ready to jump into cooler weather, baking, yummy soups, hot cider, open windows, colorful leaves, bonfires and pumpkins you will want to come back here on Monday!

The talented Laura of Finding Home and Better Homes and Gardens has brought 16 bloggers together for a fall home tour.

You will be able to “visit” each home, one after another, all week long.

I will have my pumpkin spice lattes ready for you when you come through the door:-)

Here is a little peek into the schedule for next week…

*Monday

Finding Home, The Yellow Cape Cod and Jeanne Oliver

*Tuesday

Hooked on Houses, Thistlewood Farms and Jones Design Company

*Wednesday

Shabby Creek Cottage, Four Generations One Roof, The Old Painted Cottage and The Graphics Fairy

*Thursday

My Sweet Savannah, At the Picket Fence (where you get to see two houses including Heather’s new home) and Jennifer Rizzo

*Friday

The Handmade Home, All Things Heart & Home and In My Own Style.

Isn’t this line up so amazing and fun!!

I keep pinching myself that I am included with such an talented group of women.

There is even more because Better Homes and Gardens…yes, THE BHG.com will be sharing some of their favorite fall decorating ideas!

They are creating a Pinterest board where you will find fall inspiration from BHG and the 16 home tour bloggers.

Just a BIT exciting!

All of the details and BHG links will be coming on Monday.

We are ALL so giddy about this home tour and can’t wait to see you on Monday!

We will be sharing sneak peeks on Instagram under the hashtag …

#findingfall

Here is a little sneak peek of our home dressed up for fall…

See you on Monday!

And if you want more holiday inspiration from now till the end of the year, BHG is offering a 100 Days of Holidays newsletter – sign up here and get a free gift for signing up!

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For even more inspiration I hope you will join me and eight super talented bloggers for Creatively Made Home {Home for the Holidays}.

Do you want to be inspired, relaxed, present and encouraged this holiday season?

Join us!

Creatively Made Home {home for the holidays} is now open for registration!

The course begins on October 15th!

We are already busy putting together all of the videos and this course is going to be so fun and inspiring.

I am blown away by the talent in this group and can’t wait for you all to be a part of it.

To read more click HERE.

To register click HERE.

You can also register by paying below.