Friday, October 31, 2014

random randomness 10/31/14

saturday--pumpkins are totally fall-ish, right? not just for halloween?  because this looks cute.  and fun.  and i'd probably slice a finger or two off while making it, but still.  fun, right?

sunday--have we become so concerned with creating a life of meaning that we've forgotten we already have one?  what if your life is already the best thing?

monday--i've been steering clear of coffee lately.  it does not nice things to me.  and i don't mean digestively-speaking...i mean IN MAH HEDDDDDDDD.  and then i read this.  and it all makes so.much.sense.

tuesday--caramelized butternut squash?!?!? ok.  i've got to be honest and admit, she had me at "caramelized." caramelized lemur liver?....mmmm...caramelized...it must be good.

wednesday--a good life story always gets my attention.  this one did not disappoint.  well worth the seven minutes it will take you to read it.

thursday--even if you're just the teeniest, tiniest small-business person like i am, this applies.  food for thought.  i've already read it twice this week.

friday--several links about capsule wardrobes in the past few weeks.  this will help you keep your pennies in mind, in the event that you're considering updating/revamping your fall attire. 



my cat has a doctor's appointment this morning.
which equates to me having a bit of alone time.
desperate times, friends, desperate times.  it's pitiful when you look forward to vet visits for a bit of peace and quiet.
we're going up to lake geneva for fish fry with my daddio tonight.
local fish fry joints on friday evenings...this is totally a wisconsin thing, isn't it?
i mean, we live in illinois...and we once lived in michigan...but no one does friday night fish fry like wisconsin.
saturday is already filling up with chores...why is it that saturdays are always soooooo full of stuff that must be done?  wouldn't it be great to be a kid again?  wake up on saturday morning..."hey, i want to stay in my jammies and watch Bonanza all day!"  those were the days. 
alas, our saturday promises gutter-cleaning, shed-clearing, leaf-burning and more general frivolity.
the best part of saturday?...dinner with friends.  now that is fun.
church on sunday...looking so forward to it.

happy weekend, y'all!
savor the time with your loves.

xo

{from my IG this week...i'm @tweetpotatopie over there, too.}

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

finding balance {mary's story}...


my friend, mary, is sharing her finding balance story today.
mary can be found on instagram at @snailsandponytails.
i originally found mary while looking through IG for recipe inspiration.
more than just an incredible cook, mary's authentic way of life
 encourages me to be the best "me" that i can be. 
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Balance. What is it and how do we apply it to this thing we call life? Is it possible? What are we striving for? Perfection? Oh, dear. Ever since Erin asked me to write this post, I have been sort of nervous on the inside, questioning my ability to be clear on this very important subject. To be honest, my life is quite chaotic at times and far from perfect, although, I struggle with perfectionism...okay, see...there you have it, I am probably the most unqualified person, EVER, to write this, but for the love of my fellow sisters in Christ and in the name of womanhood...drum roll please, there will be drama to follow...I am willing to be a little vulnerable. 
So, let's see...a little about me. I'm a wife and mom. We have five children; ages 11  to 1. We homeschool. My husband travels for work. We have a daughter with diabetes {type 1 and not to be confused with type II}. She was {I mean, we were } newly diagnosed 18 months ago. She requires shots of insulin and frequent blood sugar tests on the daily. She is 8 years old. I cook. A lot. We live on a whole foods diet, which means everything is prepared fresh and at home, three times a day. We do not eat out, with the exception of very rare occasions and when we do, there are limitations.  We also deal with food allergies, including the increasingly popular, Celiac. Food is kind of a big deal. We frequent the farmers markets and are currently attempting to grow our own. It's a learning process , which is perfect for homeschooling. Yes. And No, I don't have a nanny or many resources when it comes to outside help. I scrub my own toilets. Not that any of this really matters, because, we are all different, with different stories, backgrounds, struggles and abilities, but I do get an awful lot of "How do you do its?" , " I could nevers" ,  and most recently, "Just how do you hold yourself together?!" Most of my responses have had to do with positivity or just a simple smile, but my most recent response was, "Prayers, lots of prayers, smiles, hugs and a whole lot of letting go."  Sometimes you just have to go with the flow, you know? Control is a big issue with a lot of 'Type A' personalities, like mine, and having children has taught me that if I want to live until tomorrow, I am going to have to let some of that go. Through many unplanned events I have recognized that I am not the author of my life, I have learned to laugh in the midst of craziness and try my very hardest to let Him drive, and when I do, I feel the biggest sense of freedom and peace. Just to be clear, I don't think this means we should never do anything, or never take anything seriously, definitely not. Being a wife, raising the future and caring for a home comes with a hefty load of responsibility and a lot of hard work but hey, no one ever said it would be easy.  So we might as well do it with a smile and a laugh here and there. 
With that said, I must also say, I do not thrive in negativity and I do not like pity. I believe God put us all here for a purpose and He doesn't give us anything we can't handle. Each day we wake up to a new beginning, another chance to be the best version of ourselves, to do better than the day before or simply leave the past behind and just do. With love and in love, because God is love and all things are possible with Him.
Love is at the root of all things;  if we could just uncover it, we will find our burdens lighter and our paths brighter. Beginning with ourselves; if we can get up in the morning and just be happy with who we are and find peace in our current chapter and place in life, we can more easily be at ease with our husbands, children, other family members and even friends. Amen? And if we are at peace with ourselves and the people around us, we can better love them and serve them. Comparing to other people and what's going on in their lives can be used as a learning tool if used as a means of inspiration or bonding, i.e. " Oh, I have a three year old son too! " ...Us women, we do that, it's how we relate to one another. It opens doors for communication and it's how we can inspire and be inspired. But, if we aren't careful, it can set us up for judgment. To judge and be judged, and that will get us nothing and no where, besides disappointment and distraction from the things that matter most. In order to avoid this game of comparison in my own life, I choose to  unplug as much as possible. I don't do Facebook , I don't watch television {when we cut cable five years ago and eventually Netflix, it did wonders for our family in terms of quality time and focus. Less TV with the exception of movie time on the weekends, has been such a blessing for us. } When it comes to people in the world, I try to focus on who is in my life currently and that focus is usually centered on my husband and children, for now, that is where I am being called. Right in the center of these 6 souls. And that. Is more than enough for me.
Having a large, homeschooling family, not only accounts for most of my attentions, but it has drawn me close to the terms of intentional living and simplicity. To me, they mean to declutter the heart and home and they are definitely my goals in our every day. Less is more, so much more. Last year, I was overwhelmed with an abundance of 'to do lists'. First, trying to figure out diabetes and other auto immune and food related issues. We completely switched our diet to gluten free and 99 % unprocessed food. I found myself in the kitchen more than I'd ever been before, good thing I love food and cooking, or I probably would have broken into a million pieces and even though I didn't, not completely, I was definitely at the breaking point in this area of life we call 'busy'. I was trying to balance a new disease, a new baby {who was only two weeks old at our daughters diagnosis} , homeschooling, gardening, housework, husband, piano lessons, and 3 children who danced 4 days a week. I literally never had a day off, I lived at the dance studio, farmers market and church and even though those aren't necessarily bad places to 'live' I felt like I wasn't able to focus on what truly mattered. So, this summer and this coming school year, we are taking a break from extra curricular activity. We will focus on academics and all things having to do with this, including fun field trips. Food. Faith. Health. Garden. And home. I know this is where I need to be right now if I want to remove myself from this rushy, seemingly competitive routine and refocus my energies on the fruitful things. I am so looking forward to a slower year. 
Now, I am not saying these things are wrong or right for you. I do not believe there is a one size fits all remedy for life. We are all unique and have been given different gifts and abilities, what I may be able or unable to handle may vary greatly from one woman to the next.  And that is okay. We are all on a journey and we're all in this together. So, let us love and help each other to grow with encouragement and positivity. I just love virtuous friendships, don't you?
Oh and one more thing: Expectations. Having a grateful attitude for each day and expecting nothing from no one, helps to keep grace flowing. I think. Grace gives us a little wiggle room for failure, which strengthens the resilience factor. Being able to forgive ourselves and others for shortcomings and trusting in the One who IS and always will be there guiding us in the direction we were meant to go. That's what life is all about, and that is how you really get it all done. Because at the end of the day, if you have prayed hard, loved hard...laughed at the broken dish, endless dirty diapers and vicious cycle of laundry and given your very best, even though you have aching feet and tired eyes, what could make you feel more accomplished or more complete? 

Finally, It is my prayer that all women will be strong in their faith; in who they are and in all that they do. Because, We are fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14

Much Love & Big Hugs,
Mary


{the other posts in this series can be found here.}

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

on getting lost...and a giveaway!

last month, our family went on our yearly vacation.
i've chatted a lot about it here...
we covered thousands of miles and eight or nine states.
{i can't remember exactly how many right now...it's all a bit of a road-trippy blur.}

during our time in south dakota, we got lost for a bit while looking for our next landmark stop.
again, my memory fails me, but really the destination bears no importance in this post.
what i distinctly remember is my immediate frustration at the realization that we were "lost."
in reality, nothing had changed.
we hadn't run out of gas.
we didn't have a flat tire.
none of the kids were car sick.
we weren't stranded, destitute, or forsaken.
really, all that had changed was what we knew...
we knew that we were headed in the wrong direction.

but that knowledge is all it took to set me off.
i was annoyed.
worried a bit, but mostly, just annoyed.
now, instead of it taking forty-five minutes to get "there," it'd take an hour and ten.
i huffed and i puffed and if it had been there, i probably would have blown the house down.
i didn't want to be lost.

and then i had one of my chats with myself.
and it dawned on me that i was being completely silly.
and what's more, i was missing the entire point of a road trip!
getting lost isn't a tragedy.
it isn't an emergency.
if viewed through the right eyes, getting lost isn't even really an inconvenience.
in fact, one could argue that getting lost is ofttimes the entire point of the trip.

getting lost allows us to focus on our current surroundings more than our destination.
getting lost forces us to look at the "now" rather than the "then."
and more times than not, getting lost causes us to slow down and stop.

i think i need to get lost more often.
this week, i'd like to take my kiddos for a country drive, just to look at the fall colors...and get lost. 
{trust me..."getting lost" in this scenario will be extremely easy for me.  i'm one of those people that has no internal compass whatsoever.  i could get lost in a paper bag.}
this week, i'd like to pick up a good book and get lost in the story.
i'd like to listen to a beautiful song and get lost in the message.
i'd like to watch the world right outside my window and get lost in the beauty and incredible wonder of nature.

come on.  join me.  let's get lost together.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
i was thrilled when, shortly after we arrived home from vacation, melissa lyon west contacted me to see if i'd like to do a giveaway of one of her prints.
i browsed through the prints she has available in her shop and when i saw this one, i knew it was the one i was meant to have...especially considering the lesson i'd learned just a few days prior.

melissa's family is a bunch of traveling nomads...and she's well acquainted with getting lost...both figuratively and literally.
this past summer, melissa contracted lyme's disease.
during the hopelessness that ensued from that diagnosis, she experienced a severe panic attack during which her "saving grace" was a bit of paper on which she'd hastily scrawled a verse.

without her even knowing it, lines of grace had been born.

the pieces that melissa now hand-letters are shared with those who need encouragement, but they are expressly made for her and her struggles...
full of words that cut deep to heal, uplift, and give grace.

the heart of lines of grace is the happy mail society...
for less than a trip to the coffee shop, you can receive hand-lettered hope delivered to your doorstep each month, to keep reminding you who you are in Him. 
{readers can sign up for a free copy of the current month of the happy mail society here! note: this content is different than that included in the free month offered on the website, which you could also sign up for!}

melissa has graciously offered to give away one of her prints to one of you this week.
here's what you have to do to enter:
1. visit melissa's shop and pick out your favorite print.
2. come back here and leave a comment stating what your favorite print in her shop is.  please be sure to leave your email address with your comment.  comments without email addresses with be disqualified.
3. for an extra entry, follow lines of grace on instagram {@linesofgrace} and come back and leave a separate comment stating that you did so.  again, please be sure to leave your email address with your comment.  comments without email addresses with be disqualified.

winner will be chosen and notified via email friday morning {10/31}.

happy-happy-win-win!!!
xo


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giveaway closed.
lindsay, you're the winner!!!
i'll be contacting you by email today.

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Monday, October 27, 2014

four years ago at this time...


i'm writing those words, typing them...
and even as the characters appear on the screen, my heart rate increases,
i can feel it pounding in my chest.

how has it been four years?
that thought is what woke me from a deep, sound sleep last week.
how can it possibly have been only four years?
it already feels like it's been forever.
and just as that thought raced through my hazy mind, buried in the dark of night, i just as quickly realized that while four years of not-here-ness seems an eternity, in reality, many more years than that stretch before me.
that moment, that second of realization, that must be what despair feels like.

i miss her so much.
and most days, that missing just seems like background noise.
like a low, dull, thrumming ache...it's there, but i'm used to it.
but in october, that noise seems to escalate...
always crescendoing during the final week of the month.
and yet, every year, i'm convinced anew that this is the year it will become easier.  this is the year it won't hurt quite so bad.
and then, every year in late october, the noise threatens to drown out all but itself...
it mutes the laughter, the music...and its pain feels sharp, stabbing, rough, jagged.
mom went home to be with Jesus on friday, october 29, 2010.

so, while this coming wednesday is the actual date of her home-going, 
this week--the last week of october--feels like the anniversary.
you'd have to know how mom's passing came about. 

the short-short, though, is this.
she had friends in from out of town for a couple days of crafting the prior thursday and friday...
they left to go home on saturday morning.
she went in to the hospital on monday the 25th.
she went to heaven on friday the 29th.
it was that fast.
really, really fast.
a nineteen-year battle with cancer...
ended in less than seven days.

we were blessed.
we were truly, immeasurably blessed that it happened so fast.
she had very little suffering in her last days.

but imagine a book with 6,764 pages.
that's how many days are in nineteen years--the length of her cancer-battle...
now imagine that the final chapter of that book is fewer than seven pages long.
there's a bit of relief that the book is done...
that you actually know how it ends...
but you really thought the ending was going to be a little longer...
you didn't think it was going to come so sudden...
especially given the fact that the book was so long.

and the fact that mom's final chapter literally happened entirely in a seven-day period of time,
has etched the details of those days into my memory forever.
four years ago today--on that monday--my dad and i took my mom into the hospital.
she was weak, unable to stand or walk...
drowsy, tired, not herself.
once the hospital staff got her all settled in, hooked up to oxygen, her color returned and so did her appetite.
she was sitting up in her hospital bed eating, cracking jokes, talking about whether she'd even have to spend the night there.

i remember the pulmonologist beckoning me out into the hallway...
he was talking oxygen levels and lung functions and all sorts of things that were generally latin to me.
i must have been giving him a dazed, confused look, because he suddenly cut to the chase...
"this could be what kills her."

i still remember how that felt.
a shocking, startling slap in the face...
that sudden jolt to a reality that just didn't seem possible.
she was talking.  eating.  my word, she was even joking with the nurses about how bossy my dad was!

she spent monday night in the hospital.
by tuesday, she was antsy to go home, but her oxygen levels still weren't anywhere near what they needed to be.
one of her best friends--one who had just been here the week before for crafting--came back into town and camped out at the hospital with us.
my mom's room had the general atmosphere of a party...
visitors coming and going...and more coming than going.
at one point, mom insisted on buying lunch or dinner for everyone there...close to twenty people!

much to mom's frustration, tuesday night was also spent in the hospital.
she was due for some important lung tests early wednesday afternoon.
those early wednesday hours seemed to crawl...
and then, dad called...
the tests came back with less-than-desirable results.
i needed to come to the hospital.  now.
suddenly, everything seemed to blur by.
that night, my two younger brothers flew in from california and met my dad, 
my youngest brother (I have three), and me at the hospital.

that wednesday night, all five of us gathered around her bed to say good-bye.

that wednesday night, i spoke to mom for the last time...
the last time she ever acknowledged me.

i held her hand...
both her hands...
her arms...
any part of her I could grasp on to...
i told her she was my best friend...
(she was...and to this day IS the best friend I've ever had)
and she nodded...and patted me as i hugged her.
and when I started sobbing on her chest,
she shook her head...
as if to tell me not to cry...
not to be sad.

that night, we sat in a family room on that floor of the hospital,
calling hospice...
talking with the hospice nurse until the wee hours of the morning...
making sure we could get mom home.
that's what she wanted.
she had told us so.
she wanted to go Home from home.

on thursday afternoon, we brought her home.
hospice nurses met us here...all preparations had been made...accommodations were set.
the closest of family friends trickled in throughout thursday afternoon and evening...to hold her hand...to pray with her...to just be near her.

i still remember crashing exhaustedly into bed thursday night, setting my alarm to wake three hours later to take my part of the night shift with mom.
during my shift, i rubbed a dampened sponge on her lips, just to get a bit of moisture into her mouth...a little lip balm occasionally...
rubbing her feet, growing ever colder...
tucking the covers in snugly around her, trying to preserve those last fleeting bits of body heat...
and holding her hands...
holding and rubbing and stroking and making circles and memorizing every line and indentation and fingerprint.

soon, the friday morning sun streamed through the sunroom windows where mom's bed was.
it was her favorite room in the house {the house i now live in}...
we knew that's where she wanted to be...she had told us so.
my brothers trickled into the room, rubbing backs sore from random couch sleeps.
dad was there.  sister-friend becky.  a few others, i'm sure, but my mind blurs beyond that.
and then...it was over.
just like that.
i'm still a bit envious of becky.  she was there as our friend, but being that she's also a nurse, she had her stethoscope with her.
becky heard mom's final heartbeats.  for long moments after her last breath, her strong heart continued to beat.  and then, at last, she was gone.  completely gone.
----------------------------------------------------------------


i've never written this out quite as exhaustively before...
and why i'm doing so now is beyond me.
loss, and the grief and pain that accompanies it, is a strange thing.
it's something we are all destined to go through, but generally, those who have not been through it have no desire to hear about it.
pregnant mothers, baby-swollen bellies, soak up birth stories from other women.
adventurers of all sorts revel in collecting stories and experiences from more seasoned thrill-seekers.
parents of toddlers question parents of teens.
novice cooks glean wisdom from kitchen experts.
amateur artists look to the masters of paint and brush and canvas.

we will not all be mothers.
we will not all climb mountains nor dive unsearchable depths.
we will not all be parents.
we will not all cook or bake or sautee or fry.
we will not all paint or sculpt.
we will all experience loss.
and yet, for the most part, loss is a hush-hush topic for those who've never been through it.

and i'm finding, the longer i live on "this side" of my great loss, 
that those who have been through it long to share a bit of their story.
i can't paint with an all-encompassing brush here...
there are still those who hold their stories of loss close to their hearts, carefully guarded, opened to few.  
and that's fine.  and understandable.
but i'm not one of those.
ask me about my mom.
ask me about my loss.
ask me how it felt then...and how it feels now, four years later.
chances are you may feel uncomfortable bringing it up.
chances are you may feel uncomfortable when i start crying...which i inevitably will.
but the certainty is that i'll remember you forever as one of those who listened.  one of those who cared.
i guess that's why i'm sharing this today. 
i'm sharing this for me...
and i'm sharing this for all my friends who have lost loved ones...
and and for all those who haven't yet, but one day will.
for those who have lost know the relief of getting this off my chest...
of talking about it...about death...
of not having to mince words, of not feeling taboo.
and those who haven't lost yet will only benefit from empathy gained and experience gathered.
i'm sharing this simply because i want to.
because it feels so good, even if only once a year, to walk over this sacred-to-me-ground...
stepping tentatively at first, then more assuredly...
covering the holy, the hallowed, the suffering, the grief.

thank you.
thank you for listening.
for letting me share.



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Friday, October 24, 2014

random randomness 10/24/14

saturday--this week, i won a giveaway from this girl...and this tea was included as part of the package.  y'all.  i am so not a tea drinker.  but this tea?  i'm addicted.  like, i don't know if i'll ever go back to coffee again...that's how addicted.

sunday--have you ever had something that you love so much you couldn't bring yourself to use it?  i have.  and long ago, i resolved not to do that again.  read this.  it's pretty near perfect.  and so are the other 111 suggestions in the series.

monday--i need a t-shirt that says this.

tuesday--another link my husband sent to me.  it's like he knows i could live on soup.  i could.

wednesday--how do you start your morning?  and these are helpful, too.

thursday--i rarely laugh out loud.  it's just not my thing.  if something is really funny, i smile.  i'm stoic like that.  this made me laugh out loud.  no guarantee it'll do it for you.  but it did for me.

friday--my sweet friend, natalie, re-stocked her etsy shop and has a few of these left {surprise! surprise! today's your lucky day because they usually sell out scary-fast!}  they're the best, folks.  seriously.  get one.  or two.  or four.  {enter "tweetpotatopielove" at checkout for 10% off!}



homeschool group today...
and then nothing planned for the rest of the weekend, other than church on sunday.
i'm hoping to snuggle in and get some fall nesting done around my place...
clean out a few closets, organize some drawers, do some purging and simplifying and de-cluttering.
yes.  that's my favorite way to spend my down-time...
i must be crazy.

have a great weekend!
xo


{my favorite IG post of the week...i'm @tweetpotatopie over there, too.}

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

finding balance {amy's story}...

my friend, amy, is sharing her finding balance story today.
amy has a cute little online shop and can be found on instagram at @amyboliba.
amy's instagram feed is constantly inspiring me to downsize, to simplify, to enjoy the "little pleasures" of life.
her radiant smile never fails to brighten my day.
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I've thought and thought and prayed about writing this piece about balance and I've got nothin! 
Let's look at the definition of balance, "a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions". Hmmm, that would mean all aspects of my life I treat equally so as to not rock the boat so to speak. Oh my! Fail! 
Or as a verb, "keep or put something in a steady position so that it does not fall". Yikes! Sounds like a juggling act to me! 

Here's my little secret, drumroll please... My life isn't balanced at all and I'm not trying to get it balanced. And here's why. I am not good at everything, big shocker, I know! I have some things under control like I feel pretty competent in the cooking department now, even though it took years to get there! I have a pretty good grasp on keeping the house in order and clean, most days! 
But, y'all there's a lot I can't do and a lot I don't want to do. I don't like to be busy just for busy sake! I don't have a full calendar of events to go to. Heck, I don't even have a calendar! I'm a professional homebody and I'm okay with that! My main focus right now is within the home, my family and the needs of my family and trying my best to live through Gods will and His plan for me! To some, my life might seem a little boring but to me it's not. 

There is great joy in going into the garden and picking the first squash of the season, seriously, we are gardening nerds over here! Or, sitting outside after supper and watching my boys catch lightning bugs. I love when we all walk down to the goat barn and the boys run ahead because they can't wait to get down there. And we can here them giggling with each other and teasing each other to see who will get there first. 
 So, right now, my life is out of balance and I'm okay with that because it's leaning toward the people I love the most and our God who gives us everything! Because He is in the details, He is in my little boy's smile, He is in a sunset over a cornfield, He is in the first daffodil in the spring, He is in the smell of fresh cut hay, and He is where I want to be.



{the other posts in this series can be found here.}

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

living room tour {autumn 2014}

i'm so excited to invite you into my house today.
i should start this visit off with a few disclaimers...
first of all, this is a long post.  
you may want to grab a cup of coffee and curl up in your favorite armchair for this one.  
or wait until your kiddos go to bed later tonight.
second, i included a ton of photos in this post.
yes, it's only one {little} room of my {little} house...
but i know that when i see home tour photos on other blogs,
i'm always wanting a closer look at the little details...
what's that book? what does that hoop say?  what kind of plant is that?
so, if detail isn't your thing, scroll on past the smaller photos...
the larger ones will give you the overview you want.
you detail-seekers...have fun.  i think you'll find all you need here.
in addition to the copious amount of photos, i included too many little tidbits about where i found particular items, what certain things mean to me, and other related minutia.
also, i feel it necessary to point out {although it's glaringly obvious} that i am not a photographer.
all of my blog photos are taken with my phone.
i'm currently working toward a more thorough understanding of shooting with a camera in manual mode...which will give me greater quality and higher definition in my photos.
however, for now, i'm working with what i've got.
please excuse the graininess, lack of sharpness, and general amateur photography skills {or lack thereof}.
and lastly, i want you to know that this is just about the most un-staged room tour ever.
never fear, you won't leave this post feeling like your house is a shambles...
but you may think that my house is!

with all that in mind, come on in and enjoy!


we'll start off facing the fireplace...
since that's the focal point of the living room.
when i take a virtual tour of a room, i like to get my bearings.
if you were standing, facing the fireplace, you'd be facing north.
for the rest of the post, we'll move in a clockwise direction...
turning east, then south, then west.
just turn on your gps if you get lost☺

i love decorating my mantel for the seasons.
my mantel decor gets changed 8-9 times a year...
but that's pretty much the extent of my seasonal/holiday decorating {other than at christmastime}.

the "pallet" background is actually made of old, weathered barn wood.
one night when my hubby got home from work, i presented him with a rudimentary drawing...
"do you think you could build this? really quickly?"
a couple hours later it was hanging on my wall.

{edited to also note: those incredible, fabulous, nearly-one-of-a-kind antique cast iron owl andirons
 were my last-christmas's gift from my baby brother.  
he read this post and called immediately to let me know
 i'd left out that very valuable piece of credit information.
he'd probably also want me to tell you that he's my very favorite of all three of my brothers.  
but i can neither confirm nor deny that.}

somewhere along the way, this cast iron squirrel nutcracker was given to my parents as a christmas gift.
when i was a child, he always came out every year with the christmas decorations.
since he's become mine, though, i bring him out during the fall.
i think this season just becomes him more, don't you?

several weeks ago, i got a wild hair and decided that i wanted a wreath for the focal point of my fall mantel.
i knew that i wanted it to be ultra-natural, kind of wild and wooly and nothing tame about it.
i gathered a few goods at the madison, wi, farmer's market, and the rest of the elements were found growing with abandon in our back field.
it took me three or four hours to put together...
and i completely enjoyed every minute of it.
there is something incredibly cathartic about doing a craft that 
you just can't even possibly mess up.
{nutcracker--family treasure; toolbox, antlers, binoculars, cameras, toy truck, paint-by-number--very inexpensive thrifting/antiquing finds; ceramic pumpkin--gift from mom; acorn--once mom's, now mine♥}
this old yellow dresser is one of my very favorite pieces of furniture.
paul and i bought it when we were first married, during the brief time we lived in michigan.
i remember finding it at a garage sale...
it was late on a saturday afternoon, the sale about to close for good.
the lady had it marked for $25...i tried desperately to get her to go down to $10 
{this was over 10 years ago, mind you} and really questioned whether i'd eventually regret paying her the $15 she insisted upon.
i have never, ever, ever regretted it.
the yellow dresser used to sit kitty-corner over here, but recently it started bugging me that it was taking up so much room.
i put it flush against the wall {on the same wall as the fireplace} and now it holds our my library books.
{cookie jar--vintage Ransburg pottery--found at an antique shop for $5! 
someone didn't know what they had!}
this old ladder just recently came to live inside the house.  it had been out in my shed forever...
many of my houseplants were looking rather forlorn, not getting quite enough sunlight.
this ladder was the perfect solution...nice and narrow, for a room that didn't have a lot of space to spare.
{bobwhite--gift from my dear friend, denise; happy flags--from sweet natalie at natalie creates}
a tip i've shared more than once, but one that still bears repeating.
while i love our white ikea sofa, washing that slipcover on a regular basis can be quite a chore.
i've found two vintage white coverlets--one chenille {pictured here}, one hobnail--and they buy me a good deal of time between slipcover washes.
simply fold the coverlet in half lengthwise and tuck the ends tightly under your cushions.  the best part is, you can turn the coverlet over and get two uses out of it!
work smarter, not harder, friends!
my book pile--bibles {mom's and mine}, bel canto by ann patchett {i'm about to give up on this one}, devotion journal, thankfulness journal, and mom's thick devotional book {those are all her little colored post-it note tabs, still peeking out of the top♥}.
{pillows--small gold and green--thrifted for a song; aqua with pom-poms--from @salvage517 on IG; chenille coverlet--thrifted; sawtooth quilt--has several large, light stains--perfect so that i don't have to be uptight about it--$15 at an antique store!}
that's our front door...just in case you're wondering.
you don't get to come in that door.  no way.
"back door friends are best!" that's what my hubby always says.

speaking of my hubby, he found that enamel-topped green rolling cart for me on the side of the road.
no joke.
in the condition you see here.  on the side of the road.
peeps are crazy, i tell ya.
and it's a hoosier.  bonafide. scroll down, you'll see the pic.
i died.  well, not really.  obviously.
but almost.
the green.  
it's so perfect.

that "give us this day our daily bread" stitchery you see up top there?
all while i was growing up, my mom had the twin to that one hanging in our dining room.
it's been long gone, but i found this one at a garage sale in michigan a year or two ago and may have squealed out loud.
really, really loud.
{quilts--made by mom and aunt colette; hoosier--found on the roadside; vintage aqua typewriter--thrifted; cattails stitchery--gift from @piecesofmeegs; mirror--old medicine cabinet we found in a barn--we ripped the cabinet part off and hung it sideways.}
i told you this was unstaged.
all those coffee cans aren't sitting there now, i promise.
i took these photos during the one, ten-minute peek of sun we've had in the past two weeks.
it just so happens that those coffee cans were sitting there, waiting to be shipped.  they're gone to their new homes now...and yes, the antlers, too.

this photo doesn't show it off very well, but that little green rolling cart that paul found almost identically matches my "computer desk"...
which is just a retro-fitted old hoosier cabinet for a kitchen.
my friend, denise, and i were garage saling, and i found this cabinet, disassembled, tucked far away in the back of a guy's garage.
it was loaded down with engine parts, transmission fluid, and motor oil.
but i saw the enamel work surface.  and chippy green paint on the side.
chippy paint is my love language.
and green just makes it all that much better.
i asked if it was for sale...
he said i'd have to give him a couple days to get it cleaned out...
but that if i really wanted it, i could have it for $50.
i've never handed over a Grant so fast in my life.
it's another one of those "furniture" purchases i've never, ever regretted.
the "matching" office chair {extremely sturdy, surprising given its age} was found at a garage sale this summer for $5.

{blue cabinet--gift from dad; light-up globe--from @chrissiegrace on IG; mini bunting from sand and starfish; white canister--vintage Ransburg from eBay; vintage golden guides--eBay; 2015 mini desk calendar--recipe for crazy}
as soon as my oldest daughter found out what my "one word" for 2014 was, she stitched this hoop for me.
i'd say i definitely chose the right word.
{relationship}
{large stick star and giant Dresden plate hoop--handmade/hand-stitched by me; dried flowers leftover from my wreath projects--no, they don't "go" up there, i just haven't put them away yet--from madison farmer's market; old toy trucks and license plate--cheapo antiquing finds; pair of theeeee greatest paint-by-numbers ever--found in an antique mall on my road trip with @contentedsparrowmegan...don't ask her...she still insists they should have been hers.}

this may be my favorite shot of the entire post.  
i love how you can see the color of the autumn trees in the window reflection.  just.love.it.
{wreath--handmade by my friend denise; cat halloween decor--ages old from hobby lobby}
snoozing sherlock, left-out clue game, misplace awana book...
not.staged.
oh, vintage school map, how i do love thee!
really and truly, if you can ever get your hands on one of these, do it.  it's one of my most favoritest things ever, ever, ever.
{school map--from an old school; perfect green-ish-blue-ish crackly table--garbage-picked by my hubby; antlers--amish junk store; aqua crate--dug four of them out of the free pile at a garage sale!  can you even believe?!?!}

so, i lied.
this right here may be my most favorite shot of the post.
i can't decide.

how about you?
what were your favorite parts?

i hope you were able to wade through the grainy photos and incessant babbling to find a little bit of inspiration for your home.
i'd love to see what ideas you come up with!


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