Raindrops on roses and muddiness on construction sites

It’s hard to drive by our house and see little progress. The rain and the holiday season delayed our renovation by a couple of weeks. The concrete has been poured and the framing has begun, but we really hoped we’d be framing two weeks ago.

Everyone said there would be delays and we should be ready for them, but it still kinda pains us to watch the place sit still.

Our contractor swears that the delays are not major issues and that we will be able to move very quickly now. We’re taking him at his word because, well, what else can you do? So when we walked through the house this weekend, I snapped some pictures and tried to get myself into a more open and eager state of mind.

Kitchen before:

Laminate. Stick on tile. No insulation. But we have a very nice paper towel holder.

Kitchen current:


Our initial plans for the kitchen didn’t include a pantry. I don’t have a pantry currently and I greatly desperately urgently wanted one. After the drafts went back and forth with the architect, and an exit was shifted to another part of the house, it became apparent that we could include one in the corner.

Hallelujah and pass the oversized KitchenAid mixer!

So as you look at this picture – just imagine that the window is gone and there is a walk in pantry in the back corner instead. Then the kitchen wraps around the pantry wall, with an island in the middle.

There are so many gorgeous photos of carefully curated pantries with glass jars containing lentils and cinnamon sticks. I’m such a sucker for that stuff. But, realistically, the thing I look most forward to is being able to pull out my crockpot without walking into the basement.

Our shelving will likely be laminate. It’s more cost effective than wood and that seems like such an easy thing for Mike and I to do ourselves in a couple of years after we’ve used the pantry and get a feel for any changes we might want to make. I can’t be expected to know how I will want to store my cinnamon sticks at the moment, can I?

So I’ll throw out the question … what’s the best way to organize a pantry? Any tips or tricks you’d like to share?

Raindrops on roses and muddiness on construction sites



Weekend Inspiration:

Is something weighing on you? A big goal? A big demand? Just set it down for the day. Worrying won’t help it (I know this one from experience). Pray about it. Maybe the answer will be revealed tomorrow. Maybe not. But don’t trade today for it. Further reading: Matthew 6:25-34

The world, the weather, the people, we all feel a bit jittery. What can you do this weekend to bring more peace to your household? Simple peace.

Where do you find beauty? In any form? Where do you find inspiration and how can you pull more of it into your life? Let’s all think on that one. Meet back at the club house with ideas next week, okay?


Getting my fiction mojo back


Reading for fun has fallen away for me lately. Over the last couple of years, I’ve found that I gravitate towards non-fiction books. There’s a part of my brain that always wants to know more – to uncover the secrets to mysteries I’m obsessed with: spirituality, organization, paleo cooking.

Good old-fashioned fiction has completely been shoved aside. I won’t be giving up non-fiction; however, over winter break I specifically checked out some fiction works that I’ve heard good things about and made it a goal to get through only those books.

What a ride! It felt good to actually read a page-turner again. My book club has always been a great source for me, but I really didn’t make it very often this year. So I went straight to the book titles that I suspect everyone in the world has read but me. The BIG names.

If you haven’t already picked these up, I highly recommend:

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. I think every book club read it this year and I know why. Talk about a crazy messed up set of characters. Each one draws you in and makes you want to scream, pull out your hair and pick their psyches apart. I lost a lot of sleep trying to get through this one because I wanted figure out what the heck happened.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Yes, I’m several years late to this party. But I hadn’t seen the movie and felt like it was worth reading. Again, glad I did. It’s been a long time since I had read a book where I truly wasn’t sure who was good and who was evil. Also, I did decide after reading these two books that I need to take a break from books about horrible, rotten marriages, which brings me to…

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Now, I’m not actually finished with this one, but given how fast I’m flying through it, I will be soon. Set in a futuristic world where civilization has taken a nose dive and everyone lives through a virtual program known as OASIS, the main character walks you through how he solved the greatest puzzle of all time. The book is filled with 80s pop culture and video game references. Recommended originally by M, who gets so many more of these references than I do (we didn’t own an Atari, people), it’s a really great read.


What are you reading that’s good? What should I read next? Tell me!!

Getting my fiction mojo back

Backsplash tile – are we done here?




When we started this renovation process, we thought we’d just redo our kitchen. (Insert laugh track here.) The house, though small and old and filled with little closed in rooms, had been updated by prior owners and wasn’t screaming for work. I actually found it quite cozy. However, the kitchen hadn’t been touched in years and definitely needed some updating.

Our plan was to gut the kitchen in five years. Simple. Straightforward. Well, five years, have come and gone and now we know that want to do a lot more work on the house. Moving into a home with a newborn and two-year-old is a very different scenario than living in a home with  8- and 6-year-old children. I could barely breathe, let alone think ahead to what our family would need in the long term.

So when we started contemplating renovation, it always centered around the kitchen. By now, you know that we’ve taken this renovation process waaaay farther than the kitchen. We’re adding on a second floor and a small addition out the back. With the help of a great architect, we’ve completely redesigned the home’s layout.

However, the kitchen is where I’ve spent the most time dreaming and plotting. Pinterest is so great for this. I know that it gets a bad rap for setting impossible standards, but Pinterest can also save your bacon when you’re trying to describe something and can’t quite make the point.

White kitchen cabinets were a must. I love the classic, clean look of white and because the house will still be on the small side, we need light and bright to help balance and open up the smaller spaces.

I also really wanted light or white countertops. There seems to be something inspiring about setting down fresh vegetables on a clean white surface and I just kept coming back to it. There are so many pretty surfaces out there, it can be overwhelming. Marble and granite felt too busy for my taste and so I’ve settled on a white quartz that I think is going to be really clean and simple.

The lighting wasn’t great in the store. But you get the idea!

These decisions were made rather quickly. I know what I like and I don’t waste too much time going through every option on earth. Some people love the debate back and forth, but I tend to want resolution so I can move on to other things.

Tile, however, was a different story. Subway tile is what I gravitate to, but in this case, it didn’t make sense to do more white in the kitchen. It would just be too much.

After logging some time at a tile shop, I finally settled on this one below. Thankfully, Mike was right on board with my choice.


We reached the final decision over Christmas when Mike had time to go and look at the surfaces in person. Yee-haw! The price was more than I wanted to spend, but we don’t need a huge quantity, so we can make it work with our budget. I’m going to use less expensive tile in other locations to balance out this cost increase.

Our overall progress is behind schedule due to rain. It’s hard watching the house just sit with no one working on it, but I’m trying to keep perspective. This is all piddly stuff in the grand scheme of things. We’re happy and content in our rental home right now, we’re all healthy and safe, and if construction runs long, well, that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

Backsplash tile – are we done here?

Breathing in a New Year


The air in January can be quite cold and biting where I live. Chicago isn’t exactly known for mellow winters. However, the start of a new year always brings with it a certain brightness that I relish. I feel fresh air pumping into my lungs despite the weather.

Our goals seem to be quite straightforward this year. Build a house. Move back into the house. Try not to lose our minds and financial footing in the process.

These are the macro goals. Perhaps you have your own BIG goals like making progress on a home project. Pay off some debt. Welcome a new baby or settle into a new town.

Sometimes our goals seem so big and obvious that we don’t even bother setting them down. I get this, I totally do. But I find the act of writing a few things down on paper or mentally setting them apart, can be helpful. It prompts me to outline how to reach the big goals.

After all, the BIG goals are really just a bunch of little ones pushed together, right?

So this year, I’ve made myself some little goals/resolutions that I think will feed into our family’s bigger picture. Here’s what’s been rattling around in my brain:


We want to help ease tensions in our family and marriage that come with the renovation process, which means Mike and I have to be more intentional about things like date nights and compromise when we’re making house decisions.

KEEP MARITAL PERSPECTIVE is one of my goals this year, and implementing this looks like some texts to a babysitter and prioritizing each other in our schedules.

Packing up our household led me to uncover all the things we own but do not use. I’m not talking about decluttering here. I’m talking about things that are put away for various good reasons (organization that was intended to help, but just resulted in something put out of sight and then forgotten about; “nice” things saved for some future date; or things for a life we don’t lead, but we’re holding on to until the day we do – like a crème brûlée torch… for when we’re fancy).

USE IT UP is one of my goals this year, and implementing this means I’ve gotta pull things out of boxes and determine if I’m going to engage with this thing or move it on out.

Writing and blogging has been an enormously fun creative outlet for me (which in turns makes me a happier person to live with) and yet I fall off the wagon when I’m not sure I have anything “important” to say. WORK THE WRITING MUSCLE is another goal this year, which means I need to block out time for photography and writing. Frankly, when I just try to write for myself and my family and friends rather than writing for THE INTERNET, I always have fun, so I’m just going to try to let it be what it is this year.

Our schedules always seem packed. I have a hard time saying no when a kid wants to join a club or sign up for an activity. However, I’m trying hard to keep mind that this stage in life is about EXPOSURE. Not measurable success. If we need to skip out on a practice or class because our family’s sanity is in jeopardy, then I need to just flat out pull the plug for the day. KEEP EMOTIONAL HEALTH IN BALANCE is a goal for the next semester, which is already looking to be very busy.

These goals won’t change the world when reached. But our family will be healthier and better off if we’re mindful of them. I love the fresh start of a new year and goals and finding inspiration and energy in the newness of it all. And this year promises to bring some big new changes.

Wherever 2016 finds you, we hope your year gets off to a wonderful start. You don’t need me to tell you this, but I will anyway — Be safe, be kind, and remember you are loved and cherished.

Breathing in a New Year

Tuesday morning


Wow, does this blog still work? It’s been awhile and we apologize, but our renovation plans have turned into the actual beginning of a home renovation. Life has been full of fun things like sorting through closets and packaging our dishes in bubble wrap.

We’re in that holding period right before a move takes place. House of boxes is the look we’re currently going for and it’s totally working. Cardboard is highly underrated in the
design world, don’t you think? It’s so very… modular.

Our back deck was torn down last week to make way for new foundation, and we have a huge construction fence snaking around our property. But on the bright side, there’s a lime green port-a-potty in our front yard, so our neighbors have something pretty to look at each morning.

Soon we will vacate, camping out nearby in a rental for the next few months, and this empty house will morph into a construction site.

Deep breath in… deep breath out.

It’s a great blessing to be able to do this project and we’re actually pretty excited. There are so many ticking time bombs in our house (like plumbing!) and the inconvenience of construction will be worth it because it will ultimately help insure that our house is solid and stable for the future. Plus, I’m going to get a kitchen pantry. So really, it’s kind of a tie in priorities between stability/future and a place to put my rice cooker. You understand these things.

It’s all got me thinking about movement and transition and how to keep us all even keel when we’re struggling to locate our socks and toothpaste next week.

There’s an underlying theme in the book of Genesis that God creates order from chaos. It keeps popping up in a bible study I’m participating in this fall, this idea that in the beginning of creation God’s hand created order and brought light to the darkness. And I keep gravitating to this concept because I’m keenly aware that there will be a lot of chaos around here.

There’s something so important about creating order and rhythm amidst the confusion. Creating a foundation that is not related to an actual physical home, that’s what is key. After all, our home is where WE are. It’s not a paint color or a cabinet style. Family = home. I think that’s science. Or maybe it’s math. Whatever… during transition, we also must balance with order and rhythm.

We may be renovating a house, but our home is actually going to be the rental for the next six months. Then our living situation will shift again (hopefully into a house with more reliable plumbing at that point), but our family is where our foundation lies. Family = home. Repeat these words back to me when I forget, ok?

Have a good Tuesday. And if you are in the neighborhood and need a porta potty, well, we can probably help with that also…

Tuesday morning


Another week flew by. Friends, I feel like October is going to be one giant blur. Like I can already seen the end of it hurtling towards me. Every item I put on my schedule is now for November. And not even the yummy smells of of pumpkin flavored breads and lattes are slowing things down, which is a shame because if there’s a smell or taste I’d like to wallow in, it is pumpkin.

We’ve had so many “future” plans in the works for the last year or so and now they’re actually here. The future is now, people.

We will be moving into a rental house in a few weeks (4 or 5 weeks, if you wanna get specific) and then renovating our own home for the next six months. Lord, be with us. I gravitate from anxious and excited to overwhelmed and crabby.

Yet, I know some of the decluttering and organizing is paying off and that is reassuring. My love of decluttering (some might say obsession with getting rid of ALL THE THINGS), has paid off and I’m happy to say that we will not have to rent a separate storage unit. All our stuff has to be moved because the place will be totally open while they do roof work, etc. but our rental is comparable in size and has a basement so we can put most of our stuff there and in the garage.

I had a mini breakthrough last weekend when I realized that not only had we gotten rid of a lot of stuff, but we’d also gotten rid of the containers and storage units that hold the actual stuff. Cue the rainbows…

We’d like to really live more minimally in our temporary space. This means a lot of the kids’ toys and books and craft supplies (except for the super special, everyday items) are going to remain in storage bins. Mike and I have a lot of books ourselves that are going to remain in bins, not to mention tools and board games. However, we’re in that weird murky area of time where we’ve started packing the obvious things, but we’re not sure what should come next. One week out and everything will be thrown into boxes… but with that little bit of extra time I just find myself more or less just organizing…

And really, that’s kinda where I land on the whole “nesting” thing. I think rather than being a person who wants to make a place cozy and lovely (although I enjoy this also), my instinct is really to organize and discard. Maybe I should have this needlepointed onto something… “Home is where the heart is… and nothing else, because I swear I’m gonna throw it away if it’s sitting on the ground for long…”

Touching, I know… you’re feeling very warm inside, aren’t you?

And, now, folks I leave you with a picture of flowers I took last week. Because I kinda lost track of my usual Friday posts and I’m trying to salvage it with this lovely photo…

Have a good weekend! Hug someone you love!