Wednesday, October 1, 2014

31 Days of Life Simplified: Purge, Organize, & Breath

It's here!!!  The 31 Days writing challenge (hosted by The Nester) kicks off today!

I love this challenge for the growth it brings as a writer and I love the unplanned posts that often come from this series.  I also love choosing a topic that will encourage me to take back some area of our home or life that's gone off course.  Why not be productive while we're at it, right?

The first year I went on a spending freeze and wrote on 31 Day of Working With What You Have.  The second year helped me avoid certifiable status during our cross-country move and develop some helpful tools for anyone with a move in their future with our 31 Days of Moving series.

So, what about this year? 

Welcome to...
Right now, there are several areas in our home that could eat me alive.  Most are closets, but sadly, some are full sized rooms. My small children are at the greatest risk of being swallowed whole by a mound of to-be-filed papers or buried under an off-season clothes avalanche.

These areas of the house stress. me. out.  They stress out my husband.  They make getting out the door a far bigger production that it needs to be, because where the heck are the soccer socks??

Drowning would be a good way to describe how I feel about the majority of our spaces right now.  Life changes can often mean transitioning spaces that need to adapt to a new function, and sometimes it's just the busyness of life that leaves us without much opportunity for wading through paper piles and painting walls.

It's been a cocktail of both that has lead to our most recent house on the way, a shift to homeschool, a semi-recent move, and the busyness that seems to pop up at the end of every summer. I'm ready to feel a little lighter.  Ready to restore order to the chaos.  Ready to ditch what's not working and find systems that work for our family's needs, right now. 

I always know it's time for a good purge/clean out when our spaces are overrun with STUFF and yet I have a growing list of things I "need" that would make my life so much better.  I've found that whenever that overwhelming Need Machine kicks into high gear that it's the perfect time for me to do the opposite and start getting rid of stuff.

It's so much easier to maintain less and our home is a lot more peaceful when we have systems in place that actually work.  Sometimes it takes a little out-of-the-box thinking to get there, but mostly it's just rolling up our sleeves and jumping in.

So, the next 31 days we're on a mission to stop avoiding the areas in our home that are out of control.  We'll be traveling to dark and dangerous places, like linen closets and junk drawers. 

I have no disillusions about having a blissfully organized home in just one month's time....but we'll hit it head on and see how big of a dent we can make.  And we're going to toast each little victory along the way!

I'll be updating this page with all 31 posts as they're published, so you can catch anything you missed right here.  You can also follow along on our Facebook page for daily post updates or add us to your favorite reader.

Anyone else ready to ditch the piles and the chaos?  Who's in?

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Office Reveal!

Really!  Not joking.  Did you think this would actually happen??  I doubted I would see the finish line too.

I am the queen of 80% when it comes to projects.  I make a big push on a project, get a ton accomplished (about 80%), decide to take a little break before the last leg.....and then lose. my. mojo.

I've actually been using this office at 80% done for several months and it's been so amazing!  Functionally, everything was in place...but there were several little projects that have been patiently waiting for me to finish them.

You've already seen a few of the items we checked off our list, like how we fixed the uneven bead board, my gold RASKOG sewing cart makeover, and the letter writing station we put together for our little girl.

I am so thrilled to say that the rest is finally DONE!  Granted that's because I simply let go of some of the projects I wanted to tackle, but for me, this is still a completed space.  And for a girl who is a terrible finisher, that is gold.

Here's a little refresher on where we started - a sweet yellow butterfly adorned toddler room...

No one could say it wasn't cute, but it really wanted to be a fabulous mom cave/office/haven.  Because this wasn't really working out....

So, I sketched out a plan that created 3 zones to meet my for blogging/computer work, one for household management, and one for sewing/crafting.

We used the LINNMON/ADILS table and leg system from IKEA to create a three-piece L-shaped desk.  It was key in creating those three important work zones. It gave me plenty of workspace without taking up a huge chunk of real-estate.

Everything else fell into place from there....

fantastic DIY office makeover!
This room is pretty tiny making it tough to get a full room shot.  So, we'll take a little tour around the space.

Just to the right of the door is my working wall.
fantastic DIY office makeover!

It has my brain dump board with to-do's, post ideas, etc.
fantastic DIY office makeover!

We installed three hooks right into the bead board for my camera bag, working bag, and extra purse.  You can see how we made over that once plain white file cabinet here and snoop around on the inside here.
fantastic DIY office makeover!

The banner above the white board is just a ream of our most recent ultrasound pics.  

I spread out the strip and cut a slit between each frame, stopping about a 1/2 inch from the top.  Then I used some washi tape and thumbtacks to pin it up.

Washi is also holding up a little creative inspiration...
On the adjacent wall is one side of my L-shaped desk - the Home Management Zone.  This is where I keep track of our calendar, pay bills, file papers, etc.  My inbox sits right in between this zone and the computer zone since we do most of our banking/bills online.
fantastic DIY office makeover!

We moved over to a Google Calendar as the master hub for all our family's activities, but I created a weekly cork board system using IKEA heat trivets ($2.99 for a pack of 3) and some of my favorite label plates that I already had on hand.
fantastic DIY office makeover!

I use this to jog my brain for special event reminders and for things I need to do in preparation for upcoming activities (birthday gifts, online orders, etc.). 
fantastic DIY office makeover!

The corner where the magic happens....
fantastic DIY office makeover!

This is where I do most of my "work".  Whether it's home management, school planning, blogging, or just keeping in touch with our friends and family.  I love that it's right in the center and I can easily move from one zone to the next.   And I still have a great view out the window.
fantastic DIY office makeover!

I picked up the two succulent plant hangers above my computer from the Target clearance rack several months ago.  They were a bit plain-jane, especially with all the white in the room, so I wanted to spruce them up somehow with paint.  When I saw Mandi's Paint-Dip Planters I knew exactly what to do!
fantastic DIY office makeover!

The framed thank you card may seem random, but it's a daily reminder that there is always something to be thankful for and that gratitude can instantly change my attitude.
fantastic DIY office makeover!

I picked up this gold dot sugar jar from Home Goods a long time ago and it's the perfect size for my paper clips.
fantastic DIY office makeover!

fantastic DIY office makeover!

 The last section of my desk is for sewing and craft projects.  It's also where we keep Mia's letter writing station.  Since I typically do my computer work while the boys nap, Mia often likes to be in here with me during her quiet time. 
 Letter writing station for a little correspondent

Letter writing station for a little correspondent

She let's me borrow her washi tape, so it works out.
fantastic DIY office makeover!

I keep my sewing machine on a RASKOG cart that we blinged out with a little champagne gold spray paint.  I certainly don't consider myself a fashionista, but I've always had fun with clothes and find so much inspiration in different styles and textiles.  These amazing prints are all the work of Brittany Fuson, whose shop I could peruse for hours.
fantastic DIY office makeover!

The basket next to the cart belonged to my Grandmother and I use it to transport my machine if I ever go out to sew with friends.
fantastic DIY office makeover!

And that wraps it up!
fantastic DIY office makeover!
fantastic DIY office makeover!

The room has actually become one of my favorites in the house.  It gets amazing light throughout the day and my view is nothing but the corner of a neighbor's house and trees for days.  It's small, but it's more than enough.  I'm going to enjoy it for just a couple more weeks before we start shifting things over for our newest little resident!

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
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Monday, September 29, 2014

You Don't Have To Try So Hard

Happy Monday!  I hope you all had a great weekend!  We have something incredibly exciting and nerve-wrecking to kick off the week here!

I am Brave and Beautiful is a beauty movement sweeping the globe. Colbie Caillat started it with her recent song and video called TRY. My blogging friend Megan of Brassy Apple wanted to push this movement along and invited women from all over to share what they looked like without make up.  Eek!

Colbie's song says, "Take your make up off. Let your hair down... Look into the mirror at yourself, Do you like you? Cause I like you...You don't have to try so hard"

Megan and her friend Cobi of Peacefrom6pieces are the team behind this whole project. Their worldwide vision included creating their own video inspired by the song TRY and the talent of Robbins Creative made it possible for them to pull it off.  You have to click play and see the beauty and bravery might even recognize a few faces in there.

In this spirit, 101+ blogging women from different backgrounds, religions, ethnicities, ages, shapes and sizes have also decided to be brave and share their natural beauty - no make up, no editing. You can join in this movement too by sharing what you look like without makeup on, and you don't need a blog either. Just tag your photo with #IamBraveAndBeautiful on Instgram and search the hashtag to see who else has joined in. Also, if you tag it with a second hashtag - #ColbieTRY we just might be able to get Colbie Caillat's attention since she was the inspiration behind it all!

So, are you ready for it?  No make up, no editing.  What I really look like...

My first instinct is to point out all the flaws in this picture...just so you know that I know, and there's nothing you could notice that I haven't already.  Isn't that sad? 

I bet if I asked you to name the things about your face or body that you would change, you could easily spout them off for me.  But if I asked you to list the things you like about yourself, all of a sudden that becomes much more uncomfortable.

I actually took about 30 different selfies with my camera before this, trying to at least get a shot from my "good side" (my left by the way).  But the light in the mirror was making all these weird shadows, so at the last second I asked my 7 year old take a quick picture of me.  

She only took one picture (the one above) and you know what?  I actually like it (see, that was even hard to type).

But do you know what was the hardest part about taking this picture?  My hair.  I don't wear a ton of makeup as it is, so even though I wasn't crazy about showing you my face makeup-free and not being able to touch up some of those wrinkles/blemishes, I could work up the courage.  But my HAIR.  

I had planned to blow it out smooth and style it....hopefully distract you from a few wrinkles, right?  But that sort of defeated the whole purpose of this project.  If we can't embrace all of who we are, then we're missing the point.  

This is my naturally curly, very frizzy hair.  I wear it like this during the more humid summer months and when I don't have time to "do" it.  And it has a mind of it's own.  I get a lot of compliments on my hair (usually when it's straight but sometimes curly too) and somehow I feel like it's a saving grace of sorts.  Like if I have an adult acne flare up, then at least I have good hair....or something along those ridiculous lines.

Sometimes I get mad if I take the time to straighten my hair just to step out to some public place and find my hair growing and frizzing by the second.  Ugh! Why did I waste all that time??

Indeed.  Why did I spend all that time?  Why do I fight or change or hide what I've naturally been given?  Why am I trying so hard?

Please don't misunderstand.  I'm not saying we should never take time to do our hair or boycott make-up and clothes that help us feel good about ourselves.   But if there's a voice, however small, that's saying you aren't good enough....pretty enough...skinny enough...outgoing enough....and you're desperately trying to change yourself or present what you think you should be...I'm here to tell you that voice lies.  

There is no one else on this earth exactly like you and no one else was created for the specific purpose that your life holds.  God did not make any mistakes with you, and when you walk freely as the unique woman you are, it empowers others to do the same.  When you let down your walls, you invite them to let theirs down too.  When you let go of having the perfect wardrobe/hair/body/family/house/lifestyle, you open the door for real life...real relationship...real beauty.

Think about the most beautiful women you know.  All the ones that come to my mind are beautiful in body and spirit.  No, they don't have perfect bodies or faces, according to the world's standards.  But the beauty of their spirit also reflects on their faces.  They are full of life, strength, and love, and they make the people around them feel important, just the way they are. 

And that's the secret - we don't have to try so hard.  Because we're already beautiful.  Already amazing.

share your natrual beauty -

Now don't stop here. Get clicking around - its a blog hop! Below are more brave and beautiful women bearing more than their natural beauty. They each have a little bit of their heart to share with you. Some get very personal. Some share stories. For some this was very hard to do yet they gathered their courage and did it anyway. We hope as you click around (and YES pin these different posts!) you will feel the importance of it, the empowering effect it has and that it encourages you in some way.

women sharing their natural beauty - no makeup
women with our makeup on and what makes them beautiful
women from around the world share their face with no makeup on -
Mommy bloggers share their face without makeup and what makes then beautiful
Natural beauty untouched photos
raw natural beauty - join the movement
beauty and bravery - women wearing no makeup -
#colbietry #iambraveandbeautiful

So are you ready in join in? Snap, hashtag and share! Tag @BrassyApple and @Peacefrom6Pieces if you can and follow our Bravery and Beauty PINTEREST board for more inspiring posts.

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
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