Saturday, February 27, 2016

For My Grandma

Hey, Friends. I'm sorry for the sudden silence over here on the blog. Three weeks ago, I got a call that my Grandma had a stroke and was not doing well. After it became clear to me that she was not going to be recovering, I drove down to FL to see her. She passed away the next day. The next week was a rush of grief, arrangements, traveling back home to NC, then traveling back to FL for her funeral, getting to hug and spend time with my family, and lots of crying.

Growing up, we lived just down the street from my grandparents. They were a huge part of my upbringing and were so good at being present for the everyday. I moved in with them when I was a teenager and lived with them until I got married. After I got married and moved away, I talked to them several times a week. Then, after Grandpa died, Grandma and I talked on the phone every day for 5 years until she moved into a nursing home and wasn't able to use the phone anymore. Then, I switched to letters and trying to visit as much as possible. I'm so very thankful for the years and close relationship I had with both of my grandparents.

I was going through pictures for the funeral and was so thankful for my pack rat tendencies. :) I have literally kept almost every single note Grandma has ever sent me (and she loved writing letters!) along with boxes and boxes of pictures. As I was going through them, I was just flooded with all the memories and all the life lessons Grandma taught me.

Don't just think nice things about people, go out of your way to tell them.

Listen and consider the other point of view.

Don't procrastinate.

Don't spend more money than you make.

Save money.

Be frugal.

But, make sure to take trips and enjoy life with your loved ones.

Be polite. Say please and thank you. Write thank you cards.

Get an education.

Have a career.

Work hard.

When buying a house, location, location, location.

Help others in need.

Be generous.

Open up your home to others.

You never know what others are going through.

Waste not, want not.

Don't say "Huh" :)

The best style is casually elegant.

Never go to bed mad.

Be a strong, independent woman.

Never stop learning.

Everything in moderation.

Seek wise counsel.

Grandma was an amazing seamstress and used to sew me all kinds of clothes. She even sewed my Barbies clothes! Here, I have the chicken pox (and an unfortunate mullet compliments of my brother!). Grandma slathered me with calamine lotion and sewed my Barbies new clothes.

Grandma used to tuck me in bed at night and sit on the side of the bed and pat my arm. I loved it. I remember when she was in a ton of pain late one night when I was living with them, I sat next to her and patted her arm. She used to call my Liddy when I was little and dress me all up and do my hair.

My grandparents used to pick me up from school a lot and take me back to their house to swim and have a snack. I used to sit at the kitchen bar and tell Grandma all about my day and she would always rejoice in the happy moments and offer advice when I needed help. I was the only girl in my class in 6th grade, so I definitely needed help. :) She always listened and I knew she always had my back. 

I traveled a lot with my grandparents. (I got to enjoy retired life with them!) I spent summers with them in the mountains and took many road trips with them. We traveled to the majority of the eastern states together. We always took our time and stopped and stayed in towns along the way to our destinations. We'd always bring in a cooler of food to eat on the road to save money and would spend nights on the road playing cards and swimming. When I was in high school, we went on a cruise together which was so fun!

One summer, Grandma decided to perm my hair. The most ironic part is that now my hair is naturally curly! 

Grandma had a toughness and spunk to her. She was tough when I was acting up, but I always knew she loved me and wanted what was best for me. But I also knew I had better do what she said! Ha! She was spunky, active, and youthful, even into her late 80's! She took me on my first roller coaster, she and Grandpa took me on my first trip to Disney, and in Grandma's mid/late 70's she went horseback riding with my cousin and I in the mountains! Look at her saddling that horse!

Grandma was a great cook and was famous for her cinnamon rolls. She used to love the cinnamon rolls at her favorite coffee shop, so she set out to make them herself. She finally figured it out and has been making them for our family ever since. I have made them with her since I was a little girl and every time I make them now, I think of us standing side by side in the kitchen talking and making them together.

Making cinnamon rolls together (Don't ask about my hair. FL humidity + my thick hair = Whoa)

Grandma loved to entertain. We always had a big New Years party and Grandma thrived on getting ready for it, cooking for it, and getting to host a crowd of friends. She always planned her menu with dessert first. Smart woman. ;) Our house was always an open door for friends and family. I loved when family would visit from out of town and our house was bustling with activity.

Grandma used to worry about everyone in the family. She worried a lot, but it taught me to care about others and their struggles and to invest in people. She used to love talking on the phone with everyone in our family and getting to hear all about what was going on with them!

Grandma had a lot of health issues when I lived with her. I've called 911 and followed an ambulance, watching her white, curly hair in the back more times than I've cared for. I can hear the sound of a blood pressure machine a mile away and could wake from a deep sleep when she stirred across the house. I worried myself sick over them, but along the way, learned that God is in control, not me.

  Clearly, I need to clean my scanner, but this is the three of us in the mountains when I was about 15.

My grandparents had two careers. They owned and operated a grocery store, then after they sold the store, they went on to have second careers as Realtors. After they finally retired, Grandma took up painting. She took lessons and painted dozens of paintings, including the pink flowers in my hallway gallery wall. She hand painted designs on several pieces of furniture as well. She taught me to paint, spending hours teaching me the different techniques and painting several paintings together with me. She always used to tell me that once you start painting, you see the world differently. You notice how the light hits and shadows fall. So true.

Both of my grandparents loved music and dancing and could play the piano. Grandma taught me how to play piano. I can still picture us playing The Rose side by side and hear her singing along as we played. She also taught me the waltz and we waltzed all around the living room as she sang and counted off. I was horrible at it, but she and Grandpa were great together!

Grandma loved to shop for bargains! We would scour thrift stores for great deals and could comb through clearance racks together like no one's business. Grandma used to shop throughout the year for Christmas presents and would always have us try on the clothes as she bought them, then wrap them up for Christmas. We usually knew what we were getting for Christmas months ahead of time! Haha!

Speaking of Christmas... One Christmas, I found out Grandma and Grandpa weren't planning to do stockings. I incessantly teased them about it and gave them a hard time, trying to persuade them to do stockings for tradition sake. They insisted no stockings, but then on Christmas day, pulled out this gigantic stocking they had found and Grandma had decorated to prank me with. They got me back good! Ha!

I love how much my Grandparents loved Jeremy. Grandma always used to worry when I was out, but used to tell me she never worried when I was with Jeremy because he was so sensible and trustworthy. Grandpa passed away before Jeremy graduated grad school or we had kids, but Grandma was so proud of Jeremy for getting his PhD. She loved our kids so much and I'm so thankful for the memories I have of Grandma holding Little Man and making over Little Girlie. 

I could write a thousand more things, but you know the memories I hold the most dear? The everyday moments. The three of us eating dinner and talking about our day. Grandma and I teasing Grandpa about his love for her cooking. Grandpa and I teasing Grandma about anything we could! The laughter. The hugs. The late night chats. The phone calls. Doing the dishes together. Swimming together. Riding in the car together. Watching Reba. Grandpa and I watching Friends and chuckling when Grandma would turn off her hearing aids so that she didn't have to hear it since she didn't like it. The nightly search for Grandma's glasses. Grandma sitting at the desk with her legs up talking on the phone and Grandpa next to her in the chair... on and on and on...

I cherish the relationship I got to have with my grandparents and am so thankful that they gave up years of their retirement to raise a teenager. Not an easy task, but I'm forever grateful and forever shaped by two wonderful people I was incredibly lucky and so proud to have as my grandparents.

Love you, Grandma, and I miss you every day.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Neutral Winter Wreath

Hey, Friends, how was your Super Bowl weekend? I have to say, I was really pulling for the Panthers to win the Super Bowl for my hubby's sake, but we all know how that turned out. Sigh. On top of the stinky game, Little Man came down with the stomach flu and is absolutely pitiful. I haven't seen him this sick in a long time! Poor guy! 

Before the sickness set in, I did get a fun craft done this weekend! I don't know about you, but after Christmas, I never know what kind of wreath to put on the door. I'm not quite ready for a spring wreath, but can't do much in the way of Valentines decor because my door is coral and does not play well with Valentines colors. 

This year, I decided to create a neutral winter wreath, focusing on texture instead of pops of color. I'm a color lover at heart, so was worried it would look too lifeless, but I ended up loving the results! As an added challenge to myself, I decided to try to make my wreath exclusively with materials I had on hand already. Free decor for the win!

You'll notice it is very similar in style to the spring wreath I made a couple years ago. I love, love, love that wreath, so thought this was a good neutral version. 

I had a spare wreath form in the closet that I picked up during a sale at Michael's about a year ago for a couple dollars. Then, I rummaged through my fabric scraps from previous projects and came up with enough stuff to create the embellishments! 

I used leftover polka dot burlap from my no-sew pillows and this flower tutorial to make the burlap flowers. I used leftover felt from the spring wreath and this tutorial to make the loopy flowers. I had a roll of ivory yarn that has been floating around for years now to make a couple pom poms to look like snow balls/flakes. Here's a great pom pom tutorial if you need it. 

Then, I finished my wreath off by gluing on some pearls (again, leftover from my spring wreath) and wrapping some twine around a section of the wreath. I think the twine gives it a rustic touch and adds some balance, but my husband thinks it looks weird. Haha, gotta love the honesty! What do you think? Both the twine and leaves were inspired by this wreath

I'm so happy with the results and thrilled that I was able to pull it together for free! Hope this inspires you to rummage through your scrap piles and see what you can come up with! 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Office: Before & Progress

It's finally time to show you our office! I've never shown it before on the blog because it is a hot mess! But, it's the room we've been working on lately, so I'm giving you a glimpse inside.

The office is actually a mother-in-law suite over our detached garage. It was mainly a catch all room until right before Little Girlie was born. As we were preparing for Little Girlie, we moved our guest bed out of our third bedroom to convert the bedroom into a nursery. We then fixed up the office to rent out to a friend for a few months (Miss you, Nicole!!).

I say "fixed up" in the loosest way possible. We gave it a fresh coat of paint, replaced the warped and ripped vinyl roller shades with blinds, and purchased a washer, dryer, and mini fridge to make the apartment fully functional. It was still completely undecorated and a catch all for furniture we didn't need or have room for in the house anymore.

Ready to see? Oh goodness, after my organizational flops post, I can't believe I'm about to post these pictures on the Internet! Excuse the quality of these first pictures. They were phone pictures I snapped to send to Nicole when she was searching for an apartment.

When you first open the door, you see the kitchen area. For a one room in-law suite, it does have a pretty good kitchen. I love all the windows!

If you turn to the left, you see this little nook that we pushed our spare bed into. You can see that it's a hodge podge of furniture we've collected over the years. The school chair has been in my family for 50+ years and my Grandma painted it for me when I was a teenager. The chest was made for my Grandma when she was a baby and she and I painted it together 15+ years ago. Sweet memories! The black bookshelf stored Little Man's toys in his play area at our old house and the big bookshelf was Jeremy's growing up. The lamp was another hand painted item my Grandma made and the beach painting was my first painting I did without Grandma's help. Lots of memories, but also a crazy mix of stuff, right?!

Here's the view from the kitchen looking back toward the door. The rug totally didn't fit. It was another thing from our old house that we held onto over here for a while. We bought the desk the second year we were married when we lived in a tiny one bedroom apartment and I used to sit at it Skyping my mom who lived in another country at the time! 

Here's the view from near the bed. You can see the laundry nook which now has a washer and dryer and the door to the bathroom. The piano belonged to my grandparents and they gave it to me when I moved away. My Grandma taught me piano basics on this piano. She and Grandpa could both play beautifully! 

So, are you scared off yet?! Do you see why the office has been our recent project?! 

Jeremy has been working from home for a year now and has been living with the crazy. But, it is high time to spruce it up in here and inject some life to this poor space! Our plan for this room is to make it more cohesive, warm it up with some decor, and make it a more organized and functional office. Here's where we are at now!

About six months into working from home, Jeremy couldn't stand being pushed against the wall anymore, so moved his desk near the window. That left the bed in a super weird spot right behind the door, so we got rid of the bed. Getting rid of the bed already makes the room look so.much.better! We also got rid of the rug and stored the school chair and chest for now. I'm thinking of using those pieces in Little Girlie's room when we convert it to a big girl room. We still needed the big bookshelf, but we moved it into the closet to get it out of the way. 

We purchased a futon to give Jeremy some comfy seating as well as serve as a guest bed if needed. It's more modern then we normally go with, but it was the nicest of the dirt cheap futons. :) We hate the legs, so I'm cooking up a plan to make some new futon legs. The pillows are placeholders for now. They came with our couch and are way too big, but they've come in handy while we save for pillows. 

The office seems to have no insulation at all because it is freezing over here in the winter and hot in the summer. We purchased a big shag rug to help the temperature out over here and so far it has worked surprisingly well! It's such a comfy rug! The end table is on it's way to the thrift store. It used to live in our living room. I thought about giving it a makeover for the office, but the shape and style just doesn't jive with the futon at all, so out it goes!

The Panthers collage was my gift to Jeremy last Christmas. He's been a huge Panthers fan since before we even moved to NC (hoping they win the Superbowl on Sunday for him!), so I pulled together some cool and meaningful photos and made a custom photo mat for them. It's a big picture, but it seems a little lost on the wall right now. After we finish everything else, I may add some other artwork around it if it needs it. We'll see... 

The last big thing we need to do before we can get to the fun decor stuff is build a desk. Jeremy wants an L-shaped desk with built in storage for the printer and some books. He slid our existing desk and little bookshelf together to create a makeshift L-shaped desk for now. Yes, Jeremy is crazy. This is what I'm working with, people! Haha! And, yes, his chair is on cardboard. The chair was marking up the floor, so Jeremy threw down some cardboard to protect the floor until we could get a chair pad. A year later...he's still on that blasted cardboard. Ahhhhh!

I have lots of decor ideas swirling around my brain! I've been letting Jeremy call the decor shots over here since it is his office, after all. ;) I'll be back next week to show you some of my decor ideas!

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Linking up with Savvy Southern StyleRemodelaholic, and many other awesome blogs!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Ten Gender Neutral Valentines for Kids

Hey, Friends! Are you all getting ready for Valentine's Day? My hubby and I don't do much for Valentine's, but Little Man has a class party at school and where he'll be exchanging Valentines with his sweet little friends. I'll admit, we bought a $4 pack of character Valentine's this year and called it a day. Of course, I've since seen a million adorable Valentine ideas around blogland. If only I had looked for ideas a little earlier, right?!  Oh well, there's always next year for us! 

Thankfully, you still have time! Here's a few of my favorite Valentines from around the web! They are so creative and are all gender neutral. Score! Enjoy!

Click the images or the links to go to the original blog posts to obtain any printables or instructions. Please pin from original sources and leave some love while you're over there! :)

 Love Bugs via Dandee Designs

 Hooked on You via Frugal Coupon Living

 You're a Star via It's Always Autumn

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