Sunday, March 27, 2011

No Trash Here. Only Treasure.

I'm actually going to "show AND tell" about some of the little projects I've been working on around our house lately. No, it's not enough that I have these two incredibly intricate and interwoven projects going on but the creative juices have been flooding our own home as well. We seem to only be able to handle all of these tiny, baby projects. The ones that take only an hour to accomplish instead of a week or a month.

We've been on the cusp of biting the bullet to re-do our kitchen and just when I think we're "almost there," we chicken out again. Why? You might ask? Well...let's see. Because we watched Chris' mom and dad and his sister and her new husband gut their kitchens and even though both kitchens turned out ah-MAZING!!!! The time it took getting there....they had no walls, no floors at times, dust in their eyeballs and underpants, men going in and out of their homes at all hours of the day (uh...sometimes nights too), my in-laws used their microwave for EVERYTHING...while it sat in their family was so odd. Oh...and did I mention that both couples have no kids??? Ha! (Oh, wait...well, my in-laws have kids. They are my husband and my sister-in-law. Both of whom no longer live at home anymore, thank the Lord.)

See? That's why Chris and I are HUGE CHICKENS!! Where will we live and where will we go during the renovation that Chris and his dad will want to do? Yes, I KNOW they can do it but they'll kill each other and everyone else in their path along the way. I'll need a direct line to the Novi police department at all times and we'll spend $1,000,000.00 in gas (well over our budget) money for all the trips they'll both take to Home Depot. "No...honey. We don't need to hire contractors. I can do this myself," Chris will say. "Yes, babe, I know you can," I will say. "But we won't be able to handle the Dr. Phil-then-Jerry-Springer-show ramifications when this is all said and done."

There's really nothing like using your own home as a blank canvas though. A testing ground. A place where you can try that new paint, that roll of wallpaper or that new technique of whatever it is you found in that book you bought at Michaels. You just have to find the nerve to TRY.IT.OUT. You have to be brave. You have to not be afraid to be bold...or worry about what your friends might think. Because who knows?? You might start something that will sweep the country and you'll end up on Nate (Berkus)!! (Notice I didn't say Oprah?? Yeah, she's retiring so she's out. Nate is SO in!) :)

The other thing bit of advice...PLEASE, PUUHHHLLLLEEEEZZZZZZ do not feel pressure to spend a gazillion dollars to jump into every trend that hits the stores each season only to find later that it's "out" in 6 months!! It's so very sad when I watch people do this and oh, by the way...half the time they don't really like this look anyway...they just feel they better have their home look like Julie's house down the street so they're not ridiculed for not keeping up with these so-called, "trends!" Have your own style! Be your own person and FIND GREAT DEALS!!!

When I went to the Cash & Cari FABulous estate sale last Saturday, I walked out of there with FOUR BAGS of the coolest finds for all of $36.00!!! Since I went on the second day, the entire house of treasures had been marked down to 20% off! That's one of the tricks to these awesome "weekend-long" estate sales. Some people really criticize these estate sales (or another person's garage sale) and say, "Why would you EVER go through another person's belongings like that?? It's like going through their TRASH!!" But to those of us looking for that one chair at a steal or that shelf that would look great with a new coat of bright paint and some funky wall paper on each shelf?? Those turn into our TREASURES!! And TRUST me!!! Those pieces of furniture will forever and always be more of a conversation piece than any true JUNK you'll find at Art Van/Nebraska Furniture Mart (same kind of place for all you guys back in NE)!! Hahaha! (Uh, the stuff I have from there is already scratched to the hilt and STINKS!! You stink so bad, Art Van. The furniture I have from you in my house reeks. I'm currently spraying air freshener around my kitchen table that I purchased from you!!)

So. The moral of the story is: A) Chris and I will eventually take the leap and get our new kitchen. B) NOTHING will come from Art Van. C) I will be searching high and low for the greatest deals of all time and the coolest style I can find from today and yesteryear, even if I have to get the stuff out of a dead person's home. Hehe. (That might not entirely be the politically correct way to say "estate sale" but it sounded funnier, so that's what I typed. Please forgive me, if I did indeed offend.) D) I won't care what any of you think even if I decide to glue pink gummy worms to the walls, paint the floor purple with yellow polka dots and have jello counter tops! It will be ours and we WILL LOVE IT!!! :) (Crescendo!!!!!!! And!!!! Silence. ) :)

I will now show you some VERY inexpensive ideas to try around your house. If you like them? Thank you! If you hate them?? THANK YOU! :)

The pictures you see above start with our stairway being just an empty, boring staircase with plain, white walls, some scratches and knicks that need to be covered and overall? An area that's just BEGGING to be decorated!! I wasn't exactly sure how I wanted to hang everything, so I started placing the items on the floor in various arrangements so I'd have an idea of what I liked and didn't like. That's why you'll see the various floor shots. My goal is to paint the entry way and staircase walls a chocolate brown (much to Chris' dismay...ha!)...maybe even have the walls striped and then take the artwork all the way up to the high ceiling, change out the light fixture to something much more contemporary, etc. I WISH I could tell you how LONG this project actually took with Chris getting involved!!! I actually video taped some of it to post out here!! I just need to figure out how to post videos...argh!! He's an engineer and I'm obviously of the art tribe so when it comes to this kind of stuff...we do NOT mesh well! I don't measure like he does...ok, sometimes not at all around here...but this project took HOURS once he stepped in....COME ON, MAN!!!! :) I love you....hehe! I just have to say about the overall cost of these items. The two prints are a STEAL right now at Ikea!! BOTH posters together, in a pack, are $6!!! I still want to add mats to them though. Probably a bold color. The frames are $6 a piece, also at Ikea. The black square, shadow boxes I purchased at Target last year for $12.99 a piece and the decorative balls I purchased (there were 3 in a set, all sitting in a wooden tray) at a flea market in Grand Rapids for $8!!!! So, total cost of this wall: $48.00!!

In conclusion! Just have fun with your home! YOUR SPACE! Your oasis! It shouldn't be a place of stress and anxiety!! "Where will I get my draperies?? Where will I get my rugs? WHAT IF JULIE DOESN'T LIKE MY DRAPERIES OR RUGS???" Hey. Julie. Stop tormenting your neighbors and get a life, would ya? Thanks.

Fill your home with your heart. And some art.
Home is where your art is. :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

An Evening for Lisa

Ok, so I lied when I said my next blog would have some design work in it. So sorry. This one has a bit more "ponderings" but you'll understand why. I just couldn't go to bed without sitting down to blog a bit more. Some of my girlfriends and I from our moms group at church attended a benefit tonight in honor of Angela Hospice in Livonia. They're an amazing facility and if any family in or Livonia is ever faced with the difficult decision of needing hospice care for a loved one...there are true angels working tirelessly at this place. http: (

This was our first time attending but we were there for a very specific reason. One of the young mother's at our church passed away last month from a very long battle with cancer and we were there in her honor. Lisa was only 33 years old with a loving husband and two young children when her life was cut too short. When Chris and I first moved to Novi and started attending St. James it was pretty difficult not to notice Lisa with her beautiful bandanas on her head and then various wigs that she then wore as she battled the raging cancer. This went on for two years. She was consistently on the prayer list during mass when all the names of those who are ill were called off and the entire parish got to know her fight. As she was one of the founding members of our group, we knew her history and her struggle for her husband. At the end it was tough for him just to get help to pick up the kids from school and have their days be as normal as possible as they brought her home from Angela Hospice during her last days. We reached out to them hoping we could do anything possible. Cooking meals, one of our nursery instructors said she would even pick up the kids for him...anything to pitch in.

One of my last days actually seeing Lisa in church happened to be sitting in the pew right in front of them. She had changed so much and I actually didn't recognize her except when I saw her husband and kids so I realized who it was. She was walking with a cane and was no longer able to stand during mass and when she went up to communion (I can't get this picture out of my head)...she walked behind her husband with her head resting in the middle of his back for support while one hand held onto his shirt and the other grasped her cane. She seemed so weak. When she got back to her seat, I could hear her whisper to her husband and her children...asking that they all say a prayer together. I never saw her again.

The day we were in church and her name switched from the "...and please pray for the ill of our parish..." list to the "....and please pray for the deceased of our parish" hit me and so many others very hard. I remember letting out this little gasp when they read her name. She had effected so many of us in our parish, whether we knew her or not, and it was horrible finally knowing that this 33 year old mother of a daughter, age 6, and a son, age 7, was now gone.

When we were at the wonderful benefit for the Angela Hospice tonight, we had some donations to give to them in Lisa's name from our moms group. The women we gave the donations to had remembered her name so it was a perfect ending to a perfect evening in honor of such a brave young woman. For all those who have lost a loved one to cancer or for all those battling cancer right now, I send many prayers your way. You're never in this alone.

The great C.S. Lewis (seen above) once wrote: "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world."

A Quiet Morning...

Happy Thursday, Everyone! It's a ridiculous 20-something degrees here in Novi today...not what you'd call a Spring day when the high is supposed to be around 30, but that's what you get when you live in Michigan. I have to say that I wouldn't care if was 20 degrees below zero though. I have the house COMPLETELY to myself!! Chris accepted a job at a new company and starts next week so we've had the luxury of having him home with us this week. Bless his heart...he said he couldn't wait to take Lexi to school every morning and take Ava to her "Mom & Tot" class this morning. So now I have approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes left of a quiet house. I'm not sure if you realize how talented I am...but I'm currently typing while doing cartwheels all over the house and through my yard...hehe.

So, I'm continuing to realize just how much I know absolutely nothing about technology. For those of you that already know me, you know that Chris purchased an iPhone for me about a month ago. My almost 6 year old knew how to use it within a day of it being charged because my sister-in-law and my father-in-law had already had one for a year. She's a bit frightening with it, however. I look at her and think she's playing this, "Angry Birds" game and it turns out she's filming me while I'm getting dressed. I have to go through all the movies on it at the end of the day and delete what's on there because the girl can forward anything...I'm sure she'll forward these to YouTube and before I know it, I'll be on GMA. Not needed at this point in my life. I have a bucket list but this is currently not on it.

I have so much to already do on this blog and it's already bothering me. The look of it, getting a banner...even just putting my logo on it yesterday made me laugh out loud. I was playing with the "gadgets" button and figured out how to get my logo out here. Little did I know my logo would end up being the size of my head. Need to fix that! My two insanely talented artist friends have been kind of enough to offer their time to help whenever they can (they're also insanely busy)...because even though I consider myself an artist at heart, this computer stuff really makes me want to cry. Chris could help me but his "engineer self" would come out and one of us would be sleeping at his parents' house for the night...ha! So, I have a lot of work to do here. I hope you can all be patient with me while I'm learning. :)

I don't know about you, but juggling everything is tough. This parenting gig is really the toughest thing I've ever done in my whole entire life. I have an almost 6 year old that's a truly old soul and says she already wants to be a teenager which makes me sad because she acts like it most of the time anyway. Kills me. Then I have an almost 3 year old which makes me spend a full-on FORTUNE in hair color. I'm not kidding you...I need to be hooked up to box of L'Oreal #240 for super gray haired joke...haha! So, that with their activities and friends (yes, Lexi's friends are already calling the house for her...WHAT THE??!!) and turning 40 this year and finally figuring out what I want to be now that I'm almost grown definitely a challenge but you just have to try to find a balance, right? Do we ever find that balance or do we just continue to smear on more cover-up under our eyes and drink a little bit more of a caffeinated beverage?? You know, I JUST started drinking (maybe one a month though) those frou-frou coffee-like beverages at the local coffee shops. My mom-friends that show up places with those in their hands look so cool!! But then I taste true coffee and want to throw up in my mouth.

I have really been blessed with this little business and my family and friends for supporting me when I really wanted to throw in the towel. I'm sure anyone trying to be a small business owner has hit a lot of bumps along the way. I just didn't know the small bumps would actually turn out to feel like huge, fiery craters with molten lava at the bottom where nothing ever gets out alive. Haha...ok, that might be a slight exaggeration. But man, when you're in the thick of wanting to throw in the towel after pouring your heart and soul into something for over a year (oh...and did I happen to mention also loosing all your money as well??) Yeah...uh. It pretty much sucked. But you live and learn and move on and then around the bend came two BEYOND fantastic jobs that I never in a million years would have thought could bring me such happiness. Including my very first commercial job for a retail space in Novi that when the grand opening hits...I truly might have to wear Depends, it's going to be such a blast...hehehe!

So...that's probably it for now...that's definitely telling you all about my current projects, a LOT of my ponderings...and what about some "play". How about this:

I'm going to see if I can try to download a funny video of Ava and what she puts me through on a daily basis...hehe. I hope I can do's from my phone. Cross your fingers. :) Next blog will be all about design, I promise. :)

(Hmmm...I've been trying this all morning and uploading this video to who knows where but it never ends up here...haha! Will try try again later...)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

It's Here.

Well? It's here. The first one. The first blog post. It's 12:01 am and I've done it. I've created my second blog after 5 years. It's beyond exhilarating and terrifying all in this one sentence. I had my first blog when my oldest daughter, Lexi, was about 6 months old. I used it to write poetry and observations of the world in my life at the time. I was a beyond panicked new mother and writing gave me a sense of peace when Lexi took her afternoon nap.

Now, here I am. A mother of two girls. I own my own small decorating business. I'm working on two incredibly exciting projects after almost quitting at the beginning of the year. Learned some VERY tough lessons in this business world after people I trusted betrayed me but you know what? You live and you learn and you start over with the people you hold dear to heart.

This blog will be a labor of love for me because I do really love to write. I've been writing off and on my whole writing along with talking about design and how we can make this world a more beautiful place after tackling one flea market at a time?...haha...Great fun. Through the fun projects we can do together - And through the various crazy ponderings I may have (really, I do have a lot - whether you want to stick around and read them or even view them - yes, I've begun filming items that I plan on turning into a "show") - and all the play I plan on doing along the way? I hope it will be a ride that you all will enjoy and get some actual use out of.

I'm sure you'll see the look change a gazillion times. This is just a template in the background so don't get used to it. Just getting these four paragraphs out of my head took about 3 weeks.'s to a new beginning. To making new friends, welcoming the ones I know and love already and heading out on this adventure. One blog post at a time. :)
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