Thursday, February 27, 2014

My "Mantel"

One thing I really wish I had in this house is a fireplace. To be honest, I probably wouldn't actually have a fire in it all that often. But I really want to decorate a mantel. Mantels seem like the perfect place for seasonal decor and other pretty objects I don't want the cat to knock over.

Mantels are so perfect for decorating because they are out of the way flat surfaces that can display your cool stuff. Even though I don't have a mantel, I do have other out-of-the-way-flat-surfaces-that-can-display-my-cool-stuff.

Exbit A:

Ta da! If your thinking that looks like the top of a piano, then you would be correct. I don't know why I never viewed my piano top like this before but is the perfect place to decorate like a mantel by swapping out seasonal decor. It's the perfect place to fiddle with when the decorating itch takes over.

I've already started messing with some other decorating objects I have on hand.

There are a few differences between this and a fireplace mantel though. First up, I need light because I play the piano everyday I definitely need some task lighting up in here. Secondly, I can't stand things that rattle when I play so everything needs to have some solid standing abilities. Other then that I am very happy I found my own version of a fireplace mantel and I can't wait to decorate it for spring! Using what I've got at it's finest.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Book Group: Winter 2014

I got together with my book group this weekend and took absolutely zero pictures because I am a bad blogger. But the books were good, the people were great so I’m going to write about it anyway.

We get together every three months to talk about two books. People are busy so this schedule works for us. This time around we read TheThings that Keep Us Here by Carla Buckley and The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman.

The Things that Keep Us Here is about a family fighting through a flu pandemic that spreads over the entire world. This book made me realize how utterly unprepared I am in the face of a disaster. In the story everyone is sick so there is no one to deliver food to the grocery store, run the electric company, how about water sanitation.  I don’t know about you but all the water in my house comes from a faucet and if it was contaminated I would have to walk pretty far to find fresh water. I’ve seen news stories of the world of natural disasters but in all of those situations people could help other people. I’ve never thought about a situation where people can’t help each other because they are contagious with a deadly flu.  This story is fascinating and although the writing was a bit choppy at times, the story line and circumstances were enough to pull me in. I even found myself thinking about if days after I finished it, and that is a sign of a good book.

The Life List is about a young woman who when her mother dies leaves her instructions to complete her life list (it’s like a bucket list) in order to receive her inheritance. The mother’s reasoning is that her daughter has lost touch with who she truly is. She has grown into a young woman who is successful on the outside but has abandoned the dreams of her youth. This story had me thinking about how I’ve changed since my childhood and teenage years. Although unlike the main character, I don’t think I’ve lost touch with my true self. The Life List was very enjoyable to read and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a love story intertwined with life unfolding, which is a lot how it happens in real life.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Why I Haven't Painted a Single Wall

For as long as I can remember I've wanted my own house so I could paint the walls any color I choose. Now that I am an adult, my husband and I have lived in our own house for the past year and a half and I haven't painted anything at all. This got me thinking, what's wrong with me?

This is a wall in my kitchen with two paint samples that have been there since before Christmas. Out of these two choices, my favorite is the one one the left. The reason I have yet to paint a single wall is because I'm afraid I'm going to pick the wrong paint color. I have never chosen a paint color anything ever. I want to paint the kitchen first because the faux stucco paint treatment is just not my style. I would really like something cooler to balance all the oak we have going on in there. 

Sorry, this is an old picture from before we moved in, but the lighting is pretty good. Anyway, with the counter-top, I think a gray would look nice on the walls. I know people would instantly want to paint the cabinets but I'm struggling enough with the walls that I can't even start on the cabinets. I've decided to work with them for now. As always, Pinterest is full of inspiration and I stumbled across two kitchens where I love the look of gray walls and oak cabinets here and here

Besides color, our walls will take a little more prep than normal. There is a lot of roller fuzz stuck to the walls from when they were painted previously and the perfectionist in me want to sand them down and make everything nice and smooth before we paint while the impatient part of me wants to get paint up there as fast as I can and call it a day. Alas, I think the perfectionist in me will win this one. If I spent the time and money just to paint it without sanding anything, I would be so frustrated with myself when I finally decide to go back and sand, prime and paint again when it should have been done right the first time. 

So that's why I haven't painted any walls in my house at all yet. At least I have time to pick a color since I have all that prep work in front of me first.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

I recently finished Sarah Addison Allen’s latest book, Lost Lake. It did not disappoint. It had all of the elements that make her stories both lovely and magical.

It’s about a young woman who after a loss takes her daughter to visit her great-aunt whom she hasn’t seen in quite some time. While visiting her great-aunt she meets some interesting characters and memories from her childhood resurface leading her on a new adventure.

Now that was a very vague description because I’m always afraid I’m going to give away too much, but what I really want to talk about is a unique reoccurring thing in all of Sarah Addison Allen’s books. In every single one of her stories most of the characters are self-employed. They own sandwich shops, sporting goods stores, catering companies etc. I don’t know if that is intentional but I really like that element. It allows their jobs to be flexible around the story. So instead of a character working as a marketing executive for a big company and waiting for 5pm so that they can go out and continue their adventure they can get up in the middle of the day and keep the story rolling on. I don’t know why I notice things like that but it just jumped out at me.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Love for the Waterlogue App

I am jumping on the Waterlogue app bandwagon and I'm lovin' it. If you haven't heard Waterlogue is an app available on the iPhone for $2.99 that turns any photo into a watercolor. Above is Cinderella's Castle in Disney World and the barn picture below is one of my favorite photos from fall.
 Here are the original photos for comparison sake. I kind of like that the Waterlogue app makes the people all blurry. If I wanted to hang this up in my home the focus of the picture would be the castle and not all the people standing in the foreground.

I love this photo watercolor-ified. It makes the colors some much brighter and richer. I shared the watercolor version on Instagram with #waterlogue and the people at Waterlogue actually liked my photo. I felt famous for a hot second.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Goals in 2014: Making Adjustments and Staying on Track

Why am I talking about goals at the beginning of February instead of the beginning of January like everyone else?  Because I am trying a few new things this year and I want to encourage others with what I’ve learned.

Setting goals is something I’ve done different this year. At the start of 2014 I asked myself, ‘where do I want to be by 2015?’ Asking that question and reflecting in 2013 helped me realize that I need to take action in order to make the changes I want to see in my life. I listed different categories, home, travel, personal etc. and then just wrote down realistic goals. For example, I would total love to completely redecorate my house, rip up flooring, replace all the doors, remodel my bathroom etc. But my time/money/skill set wouldn’t realistically allow me to do that. So instead I am focusing on what I can do, right now with what I have. This year I want to focus on making small changes in the kitchen, master bedroom and one of the guest rooms and some outdoor improvements. Of course life happens, just because I say those rooms are what I am concentrating on doesn’t mean that I can’t make changes in other areas of our home but picking just a few rooms/home projects makes my goals much more achievable and realistic.

Now that I have my big year long list I use it to make monthly and weekly goals.  At the beginning of each month a take a look at my 2014 goals and I use them to guide my list for the month.  Then each week I look over it and pick some specific tasks to work on that week. Breaking big goals into small steps is the best way to reach them. I know I am not the first person to think of this, but making myself do a weekly reflection keeps me on track.  I have definitely made more progress this year than I have in years past.

The weekly reflection of my goals has also allowed me to make adjustments when needed. Two of my 2014 goals required daily attention. I wanted to read the entire Bible and play piano every single day, but by mid-January I skipped a few days of Bible reading and then I found myself discouraged to continue since I was falling behind and finally I decided that something needed to change. Commitment wasn’t really the issue, I was still playing the piano daily and actually, I read the entire Bible over the course of 2010. The problem was I didn’t like the reading plan I was using. It skipped all around between different books of the Bible and I wasn’t feeling connected to it. So I decided that I needed to make some adjustments. I am now reading the Essential 100 plan, which can be found on the YouVersion app. It’s not a reading plan for the entire Bible, but I am really enjoying it. It keeps me in the Word everyday which is ultimately the most important part of this goal.

So my Bible reading plan is just an example. Do you know why you have fallen off track with your fitness goals? What about your financial goals. Now that the newness of 2014 has worn off I encourage you to make adjustments and even set some new realistic goals so you can make this your best year yet.