Thursday, October 31, 2013

day thirty-one | finish line + recap

This post is part of a 31-day series on curating a good life at home.  For the entire list of posts, go here.  For more about the 31 day challenge, go here.

Just yesterday I was saying that curating a good life at home has no finish line.  But writing about it does -- and this is it!

I made it through the entire 31 days.  Can you believe it?  I'm having a hard time believing it myself.

This has been the longest and most consistently I've blogged -- and I've been at this thing for a long while, well before this specific site existed.  Even with a computer that crashed every 2 - 4 minutes and an unexpectedly busy month at work, I finished.  (Okay, and sometimes I wrote a draft of a post and forgot to hit publish on the right day -- but looking back, there's 31 posts there and that counts for something.)

I've learned what I like to post about, what I don't and what I miss writing about.  I've given myself a clearer vision for this blog going forward and a minor case of carpel tunnel.

Tomorrow you can expect one more post and a new internet home (hopefully!), but then I'm taking a few days off.  I'll be back some time next with France photos.

Here's a recap.

During the 31 days of curating a good life at home, we talked about home cooking and buying groceriesworth-while investments and how I stay organized.  I shared how Tyler and I are dreaming dreamscreating family traditions and good habits and keeping the Sabbath at home.  I post reminders around our house and shared a few of my favorite quotes: here, here, here and here.  I also talked about remembering that putting in a good effort is worth it.  I'm realizing that a good life at home is a never-ending process and one that is usually unfinished.  I posted about how I decorate, which is mostly just collecting, copying, using what you have and bringing the seasons indoors.  I'm working on detoxing our home, so I shared a recipe for an all-natural all-purpose cleaner and a source for clean-burning candles.  I also shared how we maintain life with an inside dog.  I wrote about how I use pretty storage to make a space feel lived-in, in a good way, and our weekday morning routine.  Plus, my favorite home reading material and tutorials.    


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

day thirty | perpetual

This post is part of a 31-day series on curating a good life at home.  For the entire list of posts, go here.  For more about the 31 day challenge, go here.

One of biggest lessons I'm teaching myself is that curating a good life at home -- or a good life in general -- is a perpetual thing.  It's never-ending.  And that's not a bad thing.

As someone who likes fresh starts and new plans -- and someone with a husband who likes reaching the finish line -- I'm realizing that always changing, always growing, never stopping can be a good thing, if you let it be.

Sure it can be overwhelming when you just finished cleaning and now the dog is shedding everywhere again (I'm sure those feelings will be even more amplified when we have kids).  And a time or two I've just finished cleaning the kitchen from breakfast and it's already time to start lunch.  It can feel like you never sit down, never rest, never take a day off.  So even though you can't change the fact that you're going to have to wear clothes again tomorrow - and those clothes will eventually need to be laundered, you can change your mindset.

I've stopped thinking about our home as a point A and point B.  It's not something to finish.  It's on going, and for that I'm grateful.  

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

day twenty-nine | investments

This post is part of a 31-day series on curating a good life at home.  For the entire list of posts, go here.  For more about the 31 day challenge, go here.

Our cottage is filled with a lot of hand-me-downs.  I mentioned that we are in the process of slip-covering our couch -- well, that's because it was my mother-in-law's that she used for the entire time her boys were growing up.  Read:  germs have practically become one with the fibers.  It's a dingy greenish color that makes our already-tan living room walls feel even more...blah.

Our mattress came from a grandmother who wasn't using it and our desk/bookshelf combo actually used to be in someone's kitchen.

Tyler and I are so thankful that we have family who willingly bestow us with furniture and household items that we need, but as some point we'd like to make investments into good pieces of furniture we can really call our's.

There are a few worth-while investments that we've already made, and would recommend time and time again.  Most of them are kitchen-related, because that's just our thing.

01.  good (meaning, expensive) cookware.  preferably stainless steel.
After doing a lot of research for the best cookware, we registered for a set of All-Clad pots and pans for our wedding.  No one bought it, because the price tag was near $1,000.  That's understandable.  But.  We decided to be really strict with ourselves about what gifts we kept and which ones we returned -- only keeping the things we truly loved and would use, so when we made our returns we had enough store credit to buy our cookware set.  And we get so much use out of each piece (we have 2 skillets, one sauce pan and one stock pot) that it was worth every penny.

02.  a dutch oven.
A Le Creuset dutch oven was on my wish list for years before I finally convinced Tyler that now was the time.  I use it at least once or twice a week, and it serves so many functions that our All-Clad pots can't.  So worth it, in my opinion.  (I have a 9 quart round oven in Dune.)

03.  big lamps.
I read something a few weeks ago that said most people's mistake when decorating is buying lamps that are too small.  I wouldn't consider myself much of an interior decorator (I admittedly prefer to copy, remember?) but I couldn't agree more.  When I was in college, I had a gaggle of small Target lamps that I tried to make work when we moved into our house.  But our rooms just felt off, like something wasn't exactly right.  I found two lamps for $40 each at TJ Maxx and since we've put them in our bedroom it feels so much cozier.  I'm currently on the hunt for a bigger lamp for our living room.

04.  cleaning equipment that you'll actually use.
It doesn't matter how good or how bad your vacuum cleaner functions if you don't use it.  For a long while we tried to use a cheap broom and small dust buster to clean up after Lou, but it just wasn't cutting it.  Once we invested into an expensive vacuum (read more about that here), our cleanliness has shot up because we want to get our money's worth.

Monday, October 28, 2013

day twenty-eight | organize

This post is part of a 31-day series on curating a good life at home.  For the entire list of posts, go here.  For more about the 31 day challenge, go here.

I've always been a "planner".  It's the first thing I say when asked what I'm good at, and it's my comfort zone.  I'd rather plan out a hundred great ideas than actually follow through on them (something I'm working on, I assure you.)  I've always been a goal-setter and a list-maker, an all-around Type A.  I've used day planners since high school, and when I attempted to give them up earlier this year I felt frazzled and unorganized in ways I didn't expect.  

And I'm a sucker for good design.  For years I've felt like I was settling as I stood in front of the yearly planner sections at the bookstore and picked out a planner that I wasn't completely in love with.

Enter the Simplified Planner and Emily Ley, who speaks directly into my heart that wants things to be organized and pretty.  Tyler bought me a pink Simplified Planner in July as an early birthday present and I've been using it and loving it ever since.  It's where I keep everything.  And I mean everything.  From meal plans and grocery lists to store coupons to work out logs plus every to-do and appointment.

Today Emily revealed the new and improved Simplified Planner for 2014 -- and I'm already thinking of ways to convince Tyler that I need it, too.  It really is my favorite way to organize my mind and my heart, and to not get overwhelmed with all that comes with creating a happy life at home.    

Sunday, October 27, 2013

day twenty-seven | anniversary

photo by Heather Hester

This is a brief time-out from the 31 days series.

Today is our first wedding anniversary.

I honestly can't believe it's been an entire year since that cold October day when Tyler and I committed to each other forever.

He makes everything worth it, and my entire life has him at the center.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

day twenty-six | it's worth it

This post is part of a 31-day series on curating a good life at home.  For the entire list of posts, go here.  For more about the 31 day challenge, go here.

Maybe it's just in my social media world, but I've been noticing a trend as of late that has started to upset me.  It's mostly a trend among moms, and maybe I have no right to even approach the topic because I'm not yet a mom.  But a lot of people have been posting articles and blog posts that more or less say, it's okay not to try.

They are good-intentioned, meant to be reminders to women that you don't have to do everything.  You don't have to be perfect, you don't have to hold yourself or your family to unreachable standards, you don't have to be what you see on the internet.  You don't have to cook dinner for your family -- McDonalds will be fine.  You don't have to keep a clean and welcoming house -- your family will be fine.

For the most part, I agree with these sentiments.  Perfection is an unreachable standard and one that will only make you crazy when you go searching for it.  We can all agree that comparison does nothing but steal your joy.  But that's not to say that any good effort is wasted.  

I know that life is overwhelming -- it's hard and days are long and there's hardly enough rest to go around.  Creating a happy home for yourself and your family may not turn out exactly as you planned.  Sometimes the laundry sits without getting folded for an entire week, and sometimes you just don't want to turn on the stove or look in the fridge to cook.  It may not always be perfect -- heck, it may not ever be perfect -- but it's worth it.