To Be Real, Part 2

I originally posted this post (well part of it) on my other blog. Now while my other blog is primarily a craft blog, I do on occasion feel the need to let it all hang out so to speak. This blog, however, is more about my transformation, so I felt the need to repost this over here as part of the journey. When I began this blog, I had just finished reading The Secret and had also attended a fabulous workshop about the power of attraction. I had sort of been in a funk because I felt like I wanted to surround myself with people that are in the place I want to be. I wanted to surround myself with what I wanted. I’d been feeling like those around me, no offense against them (and Eric excluded of course), were not on the same path as I am. I felt that I was moving in a direction that they weren’t moving or that they were not ready to move to. I have a vision of myself as fit, attractive, intelligent, creative, fashionable, etc. I wanted to be around people that exuded that idea. But, how does one do that. The answer came to me, I had to be what I wanted to be surrounded by. Be what I wanted to attract. I have one friend that really is this “ideal person” I envision, and every time I am around her I came away from our meeting feeling so excited, so inspired. I wanted more of that. So, I thought the best way to cultivate what I wanted myself to be would be to just do it – start a style blog. Why not? People blog about all sorts of things that they know nothing about. And style for me is how a lot of people view art – I may not know much about it, but I know what I like. So, I began this blog – and began my journey of being that which I wanted to attract. The blog allows you to be sort of anonymous, so perhaps it becomes a good place to start putting myself out there.

This blog hasn’t had a whole lot of focus, and I seem to be a little all over the place with it, but I think that where I find my true voice is when I open up and reveal those little pieces of me. Like in the post about my new shoes. I didn’t just talk about the fact I had new shoes, but what those shoes represented to me. My new journey to make my house a home is the same way. It represents me actually living my life – actually being present. It also represents focusing and becoming what I want to attract. I see all of these fashion blogs or home decorating blogs and I think – I will never be able to do that. But, really, we all start somewhere. There are probably women out there that read my posts and think the same thing. So, rather than continuing to discount myself – I’m going to embrace this blog further and let more of my own voice come through. The shoe post was actually a turning point for me in another way – a writer contacted me and wanted to use that piece in an article she was writing. It didn’t work out for that piece, but it did show me that people are reading – and even stumbling across this blog. Like Laurie, for example, her journey touched me and perhaps my journey can touch someone else. So, here’s the bit I posted on my other blog.

Yesterday I read a book (yes a book in a day, wonders never cease). I read Crazy Aunt Purl‘s book and thoroughly enjoyed it. I do enjoy her blog more, but this was of course condensed and intended to tell the story of her journey since divorce. My only hang up about the book was that she ceased to refer to her ex as “Mr. X”, which I thought was more appropriate than the name he is referred to in the book. But that’s just me. The book though made me really think a lot (which is maybe not the best thing to be doing when your husband is several states away). What I love about Laurie’s blog, which I may have mentioned before, and her book is that I can so totally relate to what she went through. When my own Mr. X joined a cult and up and left me (no I am not kidding), I went through a lot of the same things that Laurie went through. I didn’t gain weight so much after or because he left, but gained it while we were married (65 pounds to be exact). I was completely trying to hide, to be unnoticeable, to insulate and protect myself – I was miserable. His leaving was the best thing that ever happened to me really, although there are times it didn’t seem like it. Like when I was home alone in my little one bedroom apartment, and all my friends were with their families (husband, kids), and I felt I had no family. I spent an entire weekend winding all of my DMC onto those little plastic bobbins in order to try to shut out the loneliness. When I got to the point where I was ready to start dating again, I had no single girlfriends to turn to, so I traipsed through that mine field alone. But, it was better than being married to someone that I didn’t want to be with, but was with for the sake of being Married. The only regret that I sometimes feel is that I wasted so much time with my Mr. X, and that when I met him my life took a complete detour. It’s like I was on the highway of my life, and I got off and stopped at this truckstop for 8 years. Now I am back on the highway. I just sometimes wish I had those 8 years back. But, 8 years earlier I would not have been the woman I am now, and probably woudn’t have found Eric. 8 years earlier, he would probably not have been the right person for me either. So, it all happens exactly as it is supposed to, and I do completely believe that I create my own reality. So, I hope that I have learned some of the things I set up in that situation to learn. Some of them I am still learning. I still struggle with discounting myself and not wanting to be seen. I still find that it is so hard to take good care of myself, because somewhere deep down I still feel like I’m not worth it. But, I am working everyday on trying to take care of myself. I quit smoking seven (almost eight) years ago. I take my vitamins every day, and try to make myself drink water. I watch what I eat (except for between 2 and 5 at the office – that seems to be my weak time and I seem to lose all control of what I put in my mouth). I workout four times a week at the gym. I’ve lost 35 pounds of that 65. I’ll still have a ways to go after I lose that, but losing that 65 is so important to me. I count my lucky stars that this month marks five years that I have been divorced. I also cannot express the gratitude I have that I was able to be the woman that I became after 2002, and that I found someone like Eric who appreciates it. And now, like I said, I am still facing new challenges. I am trying to really live in my life, and not just go through the motions. I am trying to really make our house a home, and be grateful for the people, things, situations in my life. I am trying to be healthy and have my outside match my inside. I am trying to be able to fit in my boots that zip up. So, once again, I find myself grateful for Laurie and her willingness to live out loud and tell the truth and also to pick herself up and be fabulous. I’m working on it.

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A Few More Changes & Thanksgiving Decorating

Over the weekend, I spent some time taking down the Halloween decorations and putting out the Thanksgiving pieces. Above is a photo of one of my Harmony Kingdom pieces. It is sitting on our mantel surrounded by some fall leaves (silk) and pumpkins/gourds.

I really don’t have much in the way of decorations for Thanksgiving, but I did also put out my fall table runner, which I believe I purchased from Pier 1 Imports years and years ago. I also set out my amber glass turkeys. These came from Williams Sonoma a few years ago. I just absolutely love them. Eric is not so sure about the turkeys, but I think they’re great. I’d love to have an arrangement of some sort in between them for some height on the table.
Also this weekend, we hung one of the photos from our trip to Philadelphia. We chose one of Eric’s photos taken at Gettysburg, specifically from the top of Little Round Top. I love using our travel photos as art in our home. This photo is probably a little too small a scale for the entry, but it works for now. I am considering the entry way finished now.
While I was looking critically at our living room, it ocurred to me that I had never even considered hanging curtains in this room. Once I started thinking about it, I really wanted to do it. I had two panels from my apartment, so I pulled those out. I wasn’t able to match those and get a second set, so we ended up purchasing two new sets of curtains. We also purchased the rods. In my apartment I had brushed chrome rods, with sort of swirly ends. Those weren’t going to work in my Moroccan room, so we went with sort of a bronze-y brown color with what I would call “pineapple” ends. We also bought some tiebacks for the curtains in a deep red. Everything was purchased at Target, and the curtains were on sale! I love the way they look, they are casual, but make the room look so much more finished. They will help with trying to watch a movie during the afternoon too! I think the living room is definitely coming along.
Since I have been basically focusing on the downstairs, I should probably show you the upstairs. Next post I’ll show you the master bedroom and bath. Both rooms are very close to being finished, so they won’t need much attention.
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New Purchase – Wrap Dress

So, I ordered this dress from Old Navy. I’ve been wanting a black wrap dress for a long time. I wore it yesterday for the first time and felt really good in it. I got several compliments, and while I would like to imagine I looked like Giada deLaurentis in it, I still think I looked pretty darn good. The only thing better would have been if I’d been able to fit into my awesome fall boots that I can’t zip up. Oh well, soon I hope!

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A Few Updates

I have been working on the living room and kitchen a little bit more. It’s been rather inspiring to put my photos up and get some feedback, as well as to see other people’s homes on their blogs. First, the kitchen…

I replaced my three Pfaltzgraf mixing bowls above the refrigerator with this pedestal and platter from Pampered Chef. I’m working on changing out my green garden-type pieces with my red and yellow color-scheme and some white accents. You can see I also swapped out the candle that was up there for a red one.
Here I’ve also replaced my Pfaltzgraf items with white. I’m not overly fond of all this stuff sitting on the counter, but not sure where else to put some of our fresh produce. This was the day before shopping day, so usually these bowls are overflowing with apples, tomatoes, etc.
Above the cabinets on this side, I decided to put my red Le Creuset pot, just for a little pop of color.

And finally, this is the only purchase we have made so far for the “redo”. Eric brought home these pretty dish towels from Williams Sonoma to replace some green ones I had.
So, I think I’m beginning to see my kitchen moving in the direction I want, even though it is not getting there quickly. I’m moving slowly to avoid going out and making a bunch of impulse buys.
And then in the living room, the first thing I did after seeing my previous photos was to get rid of the pillows underneath the coffee table. The cats did love to sleep on them, but boy they were an eyesore. I never realized how much of one, until I saw them in a photograph. So, they are gone. I think the room got an instant face lift by doing that!!
The second thing I did was to bring in some accessories we had hiding in other rooms of the house. This water pipe we bought at the King Tut exhibit in Chicago. I love the cobalt blue glass.

Some wooden hands made their way onto the entertainment center. Eric and I would like to replace this entertainment center with a low table or cabinet that a larger screen tv would sit on top of. We’re thinking we may repurpose this piece of furniture, but it would need refinishing.
A brass pitcher that was my grandmother’s takes a place on top of the bookshelf. I love this piece, and I think it works with the feel of the room that I am trying to create. I’m also experimenting with color-organizing my books to make the bookshelf a little more orderly when you look at it.

And of course, I can’t forget one of my favorite accessories…

And this one too…
I’m pleased with all the little changes. I spent this weekend digging out some curtains that I had at my apartment, and I’m going to see if I can add some curtains to the living room. I think that would go a long way toward helping the room as well as, it will make movie-watching during daylight hours a little easier. Stay tuned!
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A Little Bit of Halloween

I’ve done a little Halloween decorating around the house. Often I find that it’s hard to make myself pull out the decorations and put them out, but I always feel better after I do it. The mantel is the best place for seasonal decorating. This year I put my glass candy corns in the crystal bowl, scattered some fall leaves, placed some of my Halloween cross-stitched pieces along the wall, and added my Harmony Kingdom Halloween pieces that I’ve collected over the years. I also used the patterns from allsorts to create the “Boo!” banner. I think it’s a fun touch.
I also added this little touch to the top of one of the speakers. Eric gave me this book on our second date, after we’d talked about how much I love it. I watch that movie every year on Halloween!
I put this little wooden witch on the entertainment center.

In the dining room, I took the opportunity to add a couple of things to the buffet table.

I just love these stuffed pumpkins. I bought these, but I think I could easily make some in some fun fabrics.

This metal jack-o-lantern would probably look cute with a candle inside (which I’ve never done!).

And in the guest bath, I set out these ceramic pumpkins with the cats chasing mice.

Just little touches, but I think they bring the seasonal changes into my home a little bit. Of course, something like this from the Pottery Barn catalog would be even better…

I’ve been making a few other little changes in the house, specifically in the kitchen and living room. I think it really helps to see the rooms in photographs to get a different perspective, as well as having input from others. Currently, I am making the changes I can make without spending any money. I think that’s a great place to start. It allows me the opportunity to rearrange and reuse things I already have. So, next post I’ll give you some glimpses into the changes I’ve been making. Thanks for visiting!

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New Purchase – Fall Purse

Usually I find myself carrying a black purse. Black goes with everything, right? Well, I’ve started trying to mix it up a bit. So, this year for my new fall bag, I decided to go with teal. Actually, I think they call it Petrol, for whatever reason. I am pleased with it, and I think it adds a really great accessory with a little pop. It’s a bit brighter than it appears in this photo (at least on my monitor). This should hold me over until I reach a weightloss goal and can reward myself with this…

Soon, I hope!!

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Living Room

I’m back to show you more of my home, and to take a look at how this room looks now and what I’d like to do with it. This is the living room, which is where we spend the majority of our time. In the photo above, you can see that this room is right off the kitchen. In the photo below, you can see it is also right off the entry way. Over the couch are three photos that Eric took on our honeymoon in Rome.
I’ve got more of my red in this room, with the pillows. I made the throw pillows myself. I wanted a sort of Morroccan feel to this room. The couch and love seat were a hand-me-down from my sister. I would dearly love to replace the couch and love seat with a brown leather maybe. This room (as is the case in many of the other rooms too) could probably use some window coverings, other than the standard mini blinds that were installed by the property owner. The entertainment center was my Grandmother’s. It is functional, but not necessarily what I would prefer. I would love for the stereo equipment to be hidden away. And the eggs on top are beautifully painted Japanese pieces. The coffee table was also a hand-me-down. It has more of an Asian look to it, which I don’t necessarily mind in here. I think the pillows underneath it need to go. They just look a little junky, now that I look at them in the photo. They don’t serve a purpose either, other than for the cat to sleep on. I would love to replace them with a Morroccan pouf or two, like this.

I would also love to set out something like this as a decorative accessory.

I wouldn’t want this room to look like a Night at the Casbah, but just to have some accents, or touches, of Morocco.


Looking back towards the loveseat, you can see the door to our “media room” and the hallway that leads to the guest bath, our office and the door to the garage.

Opposite the couch, between the windows is the fireplace. The door leads out to our “patio”. The photo by the door is a photo Eric took of the Chicago skyline on our trip there last year.

I’ve got some work to do on this room, obviously. But, this gives me a good idea where to start. Any suggestions?
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Kitchen

I have to admit that I am feeling a little unsuccessful with my attempts at decorating my home so far. Seeing the blogs of people that just have a knack for decorating really inspire me, but I don’t know how to translate it to my own space. As I mentioned before, this is a rental home, so we can’t paint or change things up too much. The kitchen is one of those places where it is really apparent that there is so much that really needs to be updated and changed. I almost hesitate to show it to you.
In this room, I would really like to have more of a French Country type feel to it (at least touches of it). Of course, being right next to the Asian dining room may have you all wondering if I am design schizophrenic. Maybe I am. Is there a way to pull all these different things into one house without it looking crazy. I want our home to have a world travel sort of feel to it. Maybe there’s a way to have one style throughout the house, but with eclectic, world touches?
The photo above shows the doorway that goes into the dining room. We were making dinner, so the crock pot is out (which it usually isn’t). I’d love this room to have touches of red and yellow in it. The birdhouse cookie jar on the counter is part of my Pfaltzgraff set of dishes that I’ve had forever. At my apartment I had more of a garden theme going in the kitchen with birdhouses, etc. But, I’m kind of done with that look and wanted to go in a different direction. The refrigerator is ours. Eric had to do some creative “rearranging” of the cabinet above it in order to get it to fit underneath.

There isn’t a lot of wall space for artwork in the kitchen, so I hung this print over the refrigerator to add a pop of red. I wish I could find a place for the panini press other than on top of here. Now that I look at this photo, I’m thinking the candle needs to go too. I’d love to add a wire basket full of lemons or something instead.
This photo really shows the things I would change if I could – ie the cabinets and that horrible flourescent light fixture. Should I try to incorporate more of my color scheme above the cabinets? Fill it in a little more? I’d love to put a ceramic rooster or something up there.
In the corner, we have these great windows. I love all the light they let it (although it makes it difficult to take a great photo). I made the curtains to allow for some privacy since our neighbor’s front door is right there, but still let in the light. I actually just bought some sheers, and then cut them off and hemmed them to the right length. We had to sort of rig something up for the curtain rods though since there is no “wall” in between the windows. We ended up hanging the rods from cup hooks, which seems to work pretty well. I love the decorative plate, which I bought at Macy’s several years ago. We’ve got a pot of basil there in a great pot from Pottery Barn, and three African Violets (two of which are actually blooming).
To the right of the sink is the oven and stove, which are brand new. Unfortunately, when they replaced that piece, they didn’t also replaced the hood and metal “backsplash”, which are a different color from the stove (which is white). I’ve got our cookbooks up above on this side, and I like the color they add (plus, they’re out of the way). The copper tea kettle was a gift and I was told it is an antique.
The doorway to the right here leads into the living room. The microwave is ours (another new purchase when we moved in). I would love to buy my husband a fancy espresso machine.
The framed piece is a Lemon Meringue Sampler cross-stitch that I stitched this year. I love Lemon Meringue Pie, and thought it would be perfect in the kitchen.
So that’s my kitchen. In the corner opposite the sink is a double door washer/dryer closet. We also have a small pantry. I didn’t even think to take a photo of the floors, but they are a neutral tile.
Like I said, I would like to incorporate more of a French feel in here through little decorative touches. Our handtowels are red, and I would like to get some white with yellow dish towels. I’d like to incorporate some more little touches above the cabinets too, like maybe the wire basket with lemons, a rooster, that sort of thing. Any suggestions? Am I heading in the right direction?
Thanks for looking at another room in my home, I appreciate your visit and comments!
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Entry and Dining Room

Welcome inside!

I thought I would start the tour with the obvious “front rooms”. Above is a photo of the entry way in our home. I love the rug. There’s really not much else to see other than a silk plant near the stairs and a cat condo. I really hate having the cat condo be the first thing you see when you walk in my house. I just couldn’t find a better place for it. The entry way is just so plain an uneventful. I don’t think it really reflects who we are. Eric took an amazing photo at Little Round Top in Gettysburg recently, that we are having printed and will frame. I would like it to hang on the wall at the bottom of the stairs behind the door. I love using our travel photos as artwork for our home. Just inside the door, we have this little tile with an “L” for our last name.
The dining room is just off the entry way. When we got married, we didn’t have any furniture for the dining room, so these pieces were our first (and only) purchases. I love the table and the buffet – I think they are just beautiful. The table does have a leaf in it, so it can be made smaller.
Because of the style of the chairs, we decided to go with some Asian decor in this room. The napkin rings are black iron looking, and have an I-Ching looking coin on them. I searched for a long time for a Buddha statue that I liked. This one actually came from Target.
For the buffet table, as soon as we purchased this I knew it was perfect to hold Eric’s swords. He collects swords and these needed a place of honor. We have our woven straw coasters on the left corner. On the right corner, that little box holds a sword-cleaning kit. There are Japanese characters on the lid. On the bottom shelf sits our three crystal decanters and a Mah Jong set. Above the buffet are some of our wedding photos.
We have a little jade piece hanging from the light fixture. The light fixture itself came with the house. I believe the jade piece is a character for wealth.
I consider this room “finished” except for one thing.
My Kimono quilt top has been assembled, but has not been quilted. I need to quilt it and finish it into a wall hanging. At the moment the quilt top is just tacked to the wall. The wall it is on is really too small for it, but as this is an octagonal-shaped room, there wasn’t really another choice. I love this quilt though. Once we started on the Asian accents for the room, I worked really hard to complete it.
I don’t know that I really like “theme rooms”. I do like rooms to have a certain feel to them, and as I have a degree in Art History, a lot of the rooms I am attracted to are based on specific cultures or periods. I do love the idea of having “period rooms” throughout the house, and hopefully they will all work together as a whole.

To “finish” these two areas I intend to have the Little Round Top photo printed, framed and hung as well as to quilt and finish the Kimono quilt. Any other suggestions?

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Home is Where the Heart Is

Recently, I’ve been reading a lot of blogs and seeing some wonderful decorating and renovating ideas. Mostly, I’ve been inspired by Laurie’s mission to make her house a home. I think the reason that this struck me is that because we live in a rental house, I haven’t felt like it was our permanent home. So, I did some decorating, but there were a lot of things that I just didn’t bother with, because of that whole “we won’t be here long” mentality. But, I agree with Laurie that it is important to really “move into” your life and your home. To be present in your surroundings. So, in an effort to change my perspective and begin really being in my home, I’ve decided to use this blog to record my efforts.
So, Eric and I were married in April 2006, and I moved into this house in March of that year. Eric moved in after the wedding. So, we’ve been here a little over a year and a half. The photo above is of the house about this time last year. Not that you can really see the house through all the trees. Below, are photos of the house now. Basically no difference, except for the large tree on the left that was ripped out of the ground by a storm a few months ago. I think it looks better with less trees, although I hated to lose the tree.
As this is a rental house, we can’t make any permament changes to the house, so we’ve basically left the landscaping alone.
I do love the red door though. I think I may have to have a red door in my next home too!

Our house is a cute little house, and I love the amount of light we have inside from all the windows. It is a two-story, and about 1200 to 1500 square feet maybe. We have three bedrooms and two baths. We do plan to buy a house of our own in the near future, but I’m not going to wait for that before making a home for the two of us.
Next time, we’ll take a look at the inside!

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