Home Office

I thrive on atmosphere.

While some might find that silly or frivolous, I find that I do my best when I’m in an aesthetically pleasing space.

In order to be more proactive with my writing I’ve scheduled writing time into my daily “schedule” (I’m not organized or cool enough to have an actual schedule.) This “schedule” is subject to change, and does often due to my husband’s constantly changing schedule. Right now what works for us is spending our mornings together until a little before noon.  At that time he heads up for a pre-work nap and I head over to my computer in the dining room to sit and stare at the monitor and online window shop. (I’m very good at filling a shopping cart and then closing out the browser after I look in horror at the total.)

We’re currently watching Grantchester on Amazon Prime during our together time. If you haven’t seen it- you should.  Especially If you love period shows like Downton Abbey but want a bit more murder and mayhem. I highly recommend you try it.  An inspector and a priest solving crimes together in 1953. Well, I think that’s the time period.  I’m too exhausted to think.

I’m over here sweating to death as I peck out this post.  I love Maine summers but what I would love even more is air conditioning.  We don’t have any.  (Well 5 out of 6 of us don’t.) I decided to write this while I “cool off” from rearranging what used to be the dining room.

You see, I did it again.

Some of you may remember my older posts regarding our dining room in New Mexico.  If not (or you’re new), you can find it here. Back there I took over the dining room out of necessity.  There was simply no other place for me to set up my own writing space.

IMG_0518Here in Maine I’ve a whole plethora of options. If you had asked me a year ago when we first moved in if I would convert my new dining room into my office/study I would have broken out in hysterics and declared no way.

I had a tiny room on the second floor just for me.

 

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Well, mostly for me.  We all know that mom’s never get a space all to themselves.

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Back to the now.

That little room on the second floor was mine for only a few months before we decided to upgrade and move our master bedroom to the finished attic which up until that point had housed two girls.  Those two finally ended up with their own bedrooms after years of begging and pleading and countless rolls of duct tape used to draw lines in their previous rooms…..IMG_5501

The kid in the plaid pajamas ended up in our old master bedroom (which has the only window air condition unit by the way.  She refuses to let us in to bask in its frosty delight.) Our youngest took over my office.  It’s just big enough for her twin size bed, the bookcase and a dresser.

From that moment on I was a nomad. A writer with no home, just a computer, her wits, and a bag of snacks. IMG_4285Ahem.

I had first set up camp in what I thought would be my new permanent home- the dormer area of my new attic bedroom.  It was perfect.  Window seat with views of our front yard, deep built in shelves that held my printer and other junk.  And a good spot for a desk I bought from my neighbor for $5.  I even had privacy.

Too much privacy.  Therein laid the problem.  I was two flights of stairs away from the hub of our life.  And the coffee maker.  Not to mention there’s no bathroom in the attic.  I lasted 2 or 3 months before I made my first move down to the kitchen nook.  Then the living room.  Back to the kitchen and finally I settled for the dining room.

Just like New Mexico.

Only this time I wanted to be here.  I still have options including the nice and chill basement, but I like being near the bathroom, the porch in case UPS stops by (I do love Amazon) and of course- the coffee maker.

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The coffee maker is over there somewhere I swear.

So here I’ve been for a few months now and it’s been great.  Except, it wasn’t quite mine.  I was sharing with the dining room.  A dining room, might I add, that only sees actual dining a few times a year. So after chewing on the idea for the past few days I decided to stick my metaphorical flag in and claim this rarely used room.

I don’t waste time once I hatch a plan. Much to my family’s chagrin.

I started by hitching the chandelier up higher.  This enabled me to claim the table as my desk.

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I needed it closer to the wall so I could plug in my computer. My original plan was to have the table parallel to the wall with the mirror and sit between wall and table but then I’d have a cord hanging.  Hello hazard!!

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I then enlisted my son to help me move my big, ugly, but very comfy leather chair and pedestal table from the living room.  I’ve plans fo that wall, but for now it’ll wait. IMG_4283

My green desk is now chilling over on the side.  This is where I’ll park my computer when I need the dining room.  The majority of chairs are now downstairs in the basement where they will remain until needed.  This desk will also serve double duty as storage and the occasional landing spot for one of my four kids while they do their “school work”. (Homeschoolers, we use “” for everything.  “Everything.”)IMG_4282

There’s more to do.  The cabinet behind me will be robbed of it’s collection of coffee mugs by the end of the day.  In their place will be books and the odd knick knack or two. And eventually that wall above the old squashy chair will be full of inspiration.

Here I sit now feeling tired but satisfied.  I’m home.

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The Price Is Right

Yard sales for the WIN!

I scored this awesomely huge tv stand for …are you ready for this?….$10. Whaaaaat?! It has tons of storage for our components and dvd baskets and the red color compliments the fireplace. Not to mention it tones down the walls (haven’t gotten around to painting yet).

Aaaaaand that’s that.

mainly because I pressed the publish button on accident. Note to self- no happy dances while editing. Ha!

So I’m updating real quick. This is what we had there. See how messy it all looked? Not to mention there was no dvd storage. I love this shelf – a $75 find on Amazon prime. I had bought it for my kitchen breakfast nook, but had repurposed it when we needed a taller tv stand.

I am happy to report all is right in the world now. Well, in our house. For now. I do seem to love rearranging.

This $10 stand isn’t going anywhere though. It’s too heavy.

The Cozy Nook Gets a Makeover

With a big ol’ snowstorm headed our way (which has most assuredly arrived) we were busy this weekend preparing to be stuck inside. There was the usual mad dash to the grocery store for food, milk, and “good snacks”. (I have it on good authority that the thing to do up in Northeastern Maine is to stock up on potato chips for a storm.) But that wasn’t all we prepared.

There’s nothing worse than cabin fever, especially when your house is already feeling claustrophobic with clutter.  It didn’t help that I found myself binge watching a show focused on tidying recently.  (Hello, KonMari method)

There was the normal aftermath from watching for four hours.  The kitchen cabinets have been streamlined and everything has it’s own place now.  But that wasn’t enough for me.  Oh no, not in the least.  I was feeling the itch.  The itch to switch that is.

In the end I swapped out the kitchen nook furniture with a large leather club chair from our living room.

Here’s the thing- you’ll probably look at this set up below and think “Oh, that’s adorable and perfect for a small area off of the kitchen. (Well, okay, I would and I have.)  I’d sit there, drink my coffee, visit with friends.  Etc.”

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If you’re looking at this and thinking, “where’s the snow?” Well, you’ll be glad to know, this picture?  It’s old.

Only we never did.  Not often enough.

I can tell you what did end up there; 6 days out of the 7.  Clutter.  So much clutter.  On the table.  On the benches.  Even on the floor beside it.  What’s the use of a space looking good if it doesn’t function well?  After all, this is our home; not some feature on Pinterest or a photograph splashed upon the pages of an interior magazine.

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On the flip side, the big brown chair while comfy was rarely sat upon in our living room. Would you like to take a guess what usually landed upon it instead? I’ll give you a clue, it starts with the letter C (and no, not our cats although….). Once again, what’s the point of having a good looking set up if it’s only going to end up misused?

 

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For another “make do’ surface solution; I snagged this plant stand for $8 months ago. It just took a few minutes of slipping on my snow boots and sloshing outside to grab it.  Now there’s three spots instead of just one. Score!

The nook is now cozy, cute and ready for this storm.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a date with a book and a cup of coffee in my little nook. Before I go though, I’ll leave you with this simple girl’s simple tip- when it comes to designing spaces in your home, think about the function first and foremost.  Who’s using it?  What is your lifestyle like? Answer those and then jump in, have fun with it and make it you.  Look around your home and pull together what you have.  I spent zero dollars and just 30 minutes moving furniture here and there to create this little space.  It doesn’t have to be complicated; it just has to be you.

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This $20 thrift store cabinet holds a ridiculous amount of coffee mugs.  Those adorable cabinet doors, along with the white baskets above the shelf  hide the clutter to help keep this small space feeling bigger than it is. 

Getting Ready for Halloween

The sun is setting sooner, the air is getting crisper and the leaves are transforming from green to golden red hues.

Fall is here and if you listen closely you can hear us cheer.

Halloween is near!

I’ve been slowly pulling out all of my fall and Halloween decor from boxes and bins, and after weeks of scouring local stores and Amazon.com for good deals I can finally decorate to my hearts content.

Starting with our coffee nook.

Fun fact: The majority of what you see is from Dollar Tree over the years. The black spiderwebs on the windows, the Lucky Raven Cafe Sign, as well as many of the pumpkins and skulls.

A Little Goes A Long Way

I love how just a tiny drop of color can instantly change a room from liking it to loving it.

Just less than 2 weeks ago we arrived in northern Maine and into our home that we bought sight unseen (well unseen in person) from southern NM.

Upon first arriving I wasn’t really on board with the wall color or the black square outlines of this dining room.

It’s not a bad color and the squares add a taste of whimsy, but they just weren’t on my personal style radar.

However. I don’t have the time or money to be transforming it in the near future. Way bigger things to focus on with my wallet. Like closing on our old home and you know, stocking a pantry.

I don’t know about ya. But my motto is, “If you don’t love it but can’t change it then just own it and change you.”

Just like we did with our new living room.

And this has definitely changed me. I’m in no hurry to paint now. (I might not ever paint it actually.)

Just a few tweaks here and there and suddenly I can appreciate the preexisting wall treatments.

First we brought in the mirror that was in our old house’s entryway. This was to form a connection with the black squares. Next we hung a painting we’d bought for our old bedroom. This helped to tie in all of the colors, but as I sat on that adorable window bench I couldn’t help but look around and contemplate.

It was missing something.

So to Pinterest I went.

I scoured and searched for ideas and inspiration and suddenly there it was. A color I hadn’t even considered. And then as if a sign from above – in comes the kid in the pink tank top and later another in her bunny pajamas.

And that’s how we got our accent color.

Helloooooo fuschia. Pink. Whatever she is, she’s beautiful.

There’s still more I’d like to do, but at least now I have a starting point. And it only cost me $10 at Walmart.

My Cozy Corner in the Midst of Chaos

I’m writing this to you as I sit right inside the eye of the storm. Well, okay, my living room. We moved in on Monday and we’re done.

With this room at least.

We worked at a frenzied pace this past week to achieve exactly this.

With everything still in a state of dishabille it was imperative that we had someplace that isn’t a wasteland of boxes. Somewhere we could take a moment, breathe, and just collect our thoughts.

And right now my thoughts are “Ah! This is cozy.”

I’d write more but I’m exhausted and ready to take a tiny cat nap – can you guess which spot? How about you? What’s your go to spot in your home? Comment below and have a great day!!

Transforming A Bathroom For Less Than $200

We’re just a week away from finally listing our house and I have definitely learned a valuable lesson with all of this.

Don’t wait until later to do what you can now.

For four and a half years I’ve been thinking of redoing our kids bathroom upstairs, but I always put it off.  My reason? It’d be too much work and would cost too much.

Oh how wrong I was!

In the end we spent less than $200.  I’d like to say it was under $150, but I’m just too tired to do the math right now.  Yes, worst blogger ever, but there you have it.  I’ll tell you what though- I’ll do an item run down at the end and you can do the math.

So follow along (and grab your calculator) and see how I turned a dark and outdated bathroom into a light and bright hall bath perfect for all ages.

It started with this.  Or at least something like this.

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I managed, in the chaos, not to take pictures of the bathroom before I let the painters loose in the house.  So using my amazing (limited) tech skills I searched Zillow for the listing of our house when we bought it back in 2013.

I’d been thinking for quite awhile now that I’d like to remove the mirrors.  My theory?  If I took those heavy dark mirrors off, the room would feel bigger.  I just kept putting it off for reasons already explained.

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So when I walked past the bathroom and saw the guys had removed the mirrors to prep the room I couldn’t help but do a fist pump of victory (and cringe at the mess).   I was right!  Instantly the room had grown, or at least felt like it. img_3294

Armed with resolve to transform more than just the walls, I informed them to not bother putting the mirrors back up and then proceeded to list them for sale on Let Go. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a yard sale app and I love it.  I’d say more but I’m not an advertisement. However, I did sell them within hours which was great because I was then able to take that money and transform the light fixture.

From this.

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To this.

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You might recognize these glass shades- they’re the same ones we used to update the dining room light fixtures. Then again, you might not because I just realized I never posted that because I’ve been sleep deprived since the holidays and I have the worst memory ever.  So here’s a tiny recap of that.

Once the paint was dry it was time to put some mirrors on the walls.  You can’t have a bathroom without mirrors, not when you have three girls….unless you like having them sneak into your bathroom at all times.

I don’t.

So we headed back to Lowe’s and began our search for mirrors.

I really liked these.

I just didn’t like the price tag.

Luckily, on the way to look at those we passed by the home decor section and stumbled upon these which were just under $30 each, making two of them cheaper than even just one of the fancy mirrors that tilt up and down.

Still, we passed by them to go look at the actual bathroom mirrors. The mounted ones were out of stock and we’d decided to just order them online despite the hefty price tag, but these white framed beauties stayed on my mind.

I’m pretty sure I dreamt of them that night so by 9 a.m the next morning, we were back at Lowe’s (they really should give me my own parking spot) and not long after they were up on the wall.  Hooray for handy handsome husbands.

I admit there’s quite the gap between the mirrors and the light, but when you’re on a budget time-wise and financially? you just have to work with what you’ve got.  I’m thinking about finding a thin sign or other wall decor to go between but for now, we’ll just leave it be.

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That cute white bin on the counter is courtesy of Target’s Bullseye Playground. You know, that section right by the entrance- the one that sucks you in only to spew you out with $$$’s worth of stationary and little knickknacks you didn’t need?

Well I needed this for the million toothbrushes my kids owned.  Seriously, I went to clean out their bathroom and I found thirteen toothbrushes.  THIRTEEN!  And yet, they still manage to forget to brush at times.

I mean, at least I didn’t find a sandwich on a tiny pink plate underneath the cabinet, one so hard I could’ve scrubbed the toilet with.  Not that I’m speaking from experience. Okay, fine.  Judge me.  I am speaking from experience.

But I digress, let’s move on before my eye starts to twitch. Again.

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I first thought to use it as a little counter caddy to corral their toothbrushes (which we narrowed down to four) and such, but in the end I stocked it with shampoo, toys, and rubber duckies.  It now resides under the cabinet. The one that used to have a sandwich – wait.  We moved on.

Colors! Let’s talk color schemes!  Exciting.  Oooooh.

I chose to go with navy blue and white for this bathroom because they’re going to be two of the main colors in our new house so everything I’ve bought for staging our old house can be used in the new one. IMG_3344 This shower curtain was also from Target because let’s face it- if I’m not at Lowe’s I’m at Target. 

And oh would you look at that, we’re at the end!  Just to recap and to save you from scrolling up at the risk of spraining your finger here’s a before and after.

And if you’re wondering;  the toilet is to the right behind it’s own door.  I’d show you, but it’s a hot mess right now.  And I’m tired. And it’s late.  And… Oh wait!  Here’s a picture of it. So fancy.

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Okay!!

Before: Dark and Dingy

After: Lighter, Brighter

And now the run down.  Grab them calculators or throw off your shoes and slip off your socks and get to counting. By the way- I’m rounding up here on the prices.

Lowes

Mirrors: $30 x 2 = $60

Light Shades: $8 x 3= $24

Light Bulbs: $5 x 3= $15

Target

Caddy: $5

Shower Curtain: $15

And not shownthe blue and white basket from Ross (it’s on top of the toilet holding toilet paper) : $5

For a grand total of…well you tell me.

Just kidding.

$124!!!

Yeah baby.  And wait.  Hold up.  Back that cart up… I made $45 selling those big mirrors.  Add that in and I spent $79.

Of course, all that money I saved went to Starbucks there at Target.  Hey, a girl needs her caffeine, but not as much as she needs sleep.  Ya have a good night, this girl is gonna go count some sheep.

I’ll leave you with this-  you don’t have to spend a fortune to transform a space.  Have a vision, make a plan and think outside of the box.  Those mirrors weren’t meant for a bathroom, and you can update a light fixture just by changing the shades.  Oh and Bullseye’s Playground has some great stuff that can be used so many different ways.

Project Pantry

Everybody loves a good before and after.

My pantry was a hot mess.

Not a big deal except we’ll be putting our house on the market soon and nothing screams “this house doesn’t have enough space” like clutter so little things like this go a long way.

A happy side perk is the fact it’ll be much easier to pack it all up. Just put each basket into a box/boxes and bam! Ready to relocate to our new home.

Ain’t No Day Like A Paint Day

Just a teeny tiny post.  A glimpse if you will into the chaos that is my Saturday.   After spending all of Friday patching up walls and ceilings, the awesome crew of Gonzalez Painting began the biggest and most important step in getting our house ready for sale. Every room (except our front room and family room) is getting a dose of Benjamin Moore’s Balboa Mist.

I’ll admit, I was a little hesitant when they first started painting.  What if the color isn’t as great as I thought?  Will it blend well with my greige front room and light blue family room? The backsplash? I decided to just see how it goes and throw all my nervous energy into the impending yard sale.

Today was yard sale day and as I slowly climbed out of bed, I couldn’t help but wish we’d decided to start our yard sale at nine o’clock instead of eight.  Then I could’ve slept in until seven instead of six o’clock.  It was so early, that even the sun wasn’t up yet.

Four hours and four boxes later and we were done. Normally I end yard sale day with a quick drive to our local Savers to donate the leftovers, but this time around I finally got wise and called a local ministry to come by and pick up the four boxes stuffed with clothes and shoes that didn’t make the cut.

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And while we’re talking boxes: this was what greeted me this morning. Yay me.  Hours later it’s still crazy but not this crazy.

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Or as crazy as this human cat who spent the entire morning climbing walls.

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Speaking of crazy check out this lamp a friend’s daughter gave me for Christmas.

After a couple hours of allowing King Frog to bask in the sun, I decided I’d go ahead and take him up north to Maine and give him a spot of honor. He’s so hideous he’s handsome.

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But not as handsome as my house will be. Once we finish up with the painting.  I’m already looking into our next project for Operation Sell Our House.  Light fixture updates for our kitchen and family room.  I have a feeling that by the end of the house facelift, I’m going to wish we were staying.

Parting is such sweet sorrow.

How the Grinch Stole the Christmas Wreath

 

Twas the night before Thanksgiving,
when all through the house the kids were all sleeping because I wore them all out.
There was cleaning, and dusting, and scrubbing of pans.
We were sweeping and mopping and ….just kidding, who do you think I am?

They’re sleeping because it’s Thanksgiving week and we’re chill like that.  Movies have been on almost non-stop and the weather is finally starting to cool down.  Yes, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, at least by southern New Mexico standards.  Only one thing stands in our way.

Turkey Day.

I cheated this year and ordered a prepared holiday meal from my local grocery store.  I had a choice between a whole turkey or a turkey breast.  I chose the boob.   I’m not lazy.  I’m resourceful. Yeah.  That’s it.  I’m so resourceful I somehow made a really really cute wreath quite by accident and for  less than $10.

It all started when I came across this picture on my Facebook photo albums. I had made this wreath about 5 or so years ago and I can’t believe I hadn’t done it again.338036_10150404699373813_244230887_o

With this simple yarn wreath fresh in my mind, I found myself standing in the craft aisle of Walmart.  They had these green styrofoam rings for less than $4.  Right across the aisle was a nice selection of yarn.  Now, I had planned on reviving my white wreath, but my eyes landed on this gorgeous green.IMG_0946

Armed with my new wreath form and yarn, I headed home and quickly began to wrap it…just kidding it takes forever.  Especially when you have the attention span of a kitten on catnip.  I had plans to later go to Hobby Lobby and pick up a few embellishments to add to the wreath.  No particular plan.  I figured I’d know it when I see it.

Well I couldn’t get to the store when I wanted and I’m not known for my patience……

 I went online to Pinterest to idle away my time and stumbled upon this tutorial.  Well, there I was with almost a full skein of yarn and nothing to do.  After a quick scavenger hunt in the garage, I set about making a wrapping board like the one on the tutorial.

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It took quite awhile to make these pom poms but considering the fact I’m not the craftiest person and I was new to the pom pom game, it’s no surprise.  So I pushed on, trying different methods until I ran out of yarn.

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This one clowned around with the incomplete wreath while I made a trip for more yarn.
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A happy accident occurred at the store.  I bought the wrong shade of green yarn, but I found a Santa hat and green paper plates…..

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Printed out a coloring sheet of the Grinch, colored the eyes with a colored pencil, and then cut them out.  Ended up a perfect fit.  Used pencil and then a permanent marker to create the rest of the face.

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Once I was finished assembling the wreath, I needed something to hang it.  A loop of left over yarn that I hot glued to the back of the hat got the job done.

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He’s a mean one, Mr. Grinch and he’s hanging on my door.

Well,he will.  Just after Turkey Day.

Now, I could’ve went into more detail but to be honest, tutorials are just not my thing.  However, I stumbled across a whole slew of Grinch wreaths on Pinterest.  My ego took a hit- I wasn’t original, but hey it means you can find some helpful tips and ideas.   I plan on making a new one and perhaps using fluffier yarn.  Also, a friend suggested adding a red heart- I love that idea.  And I’ll do it, just as soon as I recover from stuffing my face full of pie.

Until then…..HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!