dil·i·gence:careful and persistent work or effort

Proverbs 13: 4 The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Thoughts From a 1-Month Newlywed

Wow, guys.  Wow.  I'm here, and I'm looking around at this blog.  This place where I so loved to come, and I'm seeing that I have not been here regularly in over a year.  It's interesting how life changes, isn't it?

So, I have to tell you all something.  This happened:
Yep!  I got married!!  Since this has always been my place to share crafty and thrifty stuff, I hope to one day share all the ways we made our special day...well...special.  And how we did it on a pretty meager budget.  But, that's not why I'm here today.  Today I'd like to share some of my thoughts as a 1-month newlywed.  Take it for what it's worth.  I am certainly not an expert.  

And so, I present to you:  What Love Does.

Love puts his partner first.  Always.  In everything.

Love hangs his shower sponge under his wife's so hers is accessible when she needs it.

Love engages in musical cars when necessary so that his wife's car is always ready for her.

Love gets gas so she doesn't have to.

Love always reaches the tall stuff, carries the heavy stuff.

Love embraces the to-do list.

Love makes egg sandwiches for his stepson.  Every single morning.

Love works hard, long hours to provide for his family.

Love teaches with words but also with actions.

Love does so sacrificially.

How do I know so much about Love?  Because I married him.

Monday, December 16, 2013

An uncomplified Christmas

It was The Nester who originally came up with the term uncomplified, and it is exactly what I've striven for this Christmas season.
Sometimes it seems things are unnecessarily complicated.  Uncomplifying things makes so much more sense.

One of our favorite traditions is to cut down our own tree.  We went to Garver Farm in Mt. Airy this year and found the most perfect Fraser Fir.  Blakey was lucky enough to join us.

I had planned to put out only the Christmas decorations that I absolutely love this year, and Colin even surprised me by requesting that we put only our favorite ornaments on the tree.  It may be more bare than some would like, but - really - what does that matter?
I pulled out the P-E-A-C-E banner from Sharon at Elizabeth & Co. again this year for the mantle.  Sharon was kind enough to make this for me last Christmastime, and I treasure it.
And, this cute little red deer is the inside (cut-out part) from a free printable cut out that Amanda at Our Humbe Abode had up on her blog several weeks ago.  My sister had printed and cut it out and had it on display at her house one day when I was over to visit.  I immediately fell in love with it and told her how cute it was.  So, she fished the cut out part from the trashcan, and all of the sudden we both had new Christmas art!
Here are a few more shots that I took from around the house this weekend after I had cleaned in preparation for a family get-together yesterday.
I hope this Christmas season you, too, will take the path of least complification.  Simple is beautiful, and it leaves a lot more room for things like love.  And family.  And friends.  And all those things that really matter.

Merry Christmas, friends.  And, if you're local- stop by, would you?  The door is always open.  And, I really mean it.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Our Ektorp

I believe the last time we talked about our living room it looked something like this:

Well, several things have changed in this room, and I'd love to tell you about them.  I think I've mentioned that we're preparing for some renovations in our basement.  One of the preparations that we have made has been to completely empty the basement family room of all furniture so that the construction can begin over the winter.  Since that is where our main TV has always lived, we had to do some room reallocation and musical furniture, and the living room was up first.  It didn't take long to decide that if we were going to be watching TV upstairs, I wanted a more comfortable couch for that, and our old sectional from the basement was much too large for our...um...cozy living room.  You see, we did love the  leather couch that has been in the living room for 5 or 6 years, but it was never really a couch that you could snuggle into or nap on.  It was partially the material (leather is cold in the winter and hot in the summer) and partially the design.  The seat cushions seemed to be tilted outwards, which made it a great sitting-couch but a lousy lying/snuggling-couch.  And, when I'm watching TV, I want to be super comfy!  So, I began searching for its replacement.  It didn't take me long to decide that I wanted the Ikea Ektorp couch with a chaise on one side.  I have always loved the classic styling of this couch, and there were enough good reviews out there to help me not freak out about the bad ones.

So, on the Friday of Labor Day weekend, I posted our leather sofa up on Craig's List for $350.  By 11am the next day, the couch had been picked up, and I had 350 big ones burning a hole in my pocket.  Before I knew it, my dad and I were heading to Ikea- me from my house, and him from his- to get me a new couch.  We fit the two HUGE boxes in his van and headed back to my house.  I don't have much to say about the assembly process except that it was super quick and easy.  We had the couch unpacked and fully set up in about an hour.  And now, our living room looks like this:
As you can see, we had to change the orientation (And, we got a different rug- Target.  Light tan and creamish white is not a good mix for 2 dogs.  The other rug now lives quite happily in the lesser-used guest room.)

So, onto the actual couch review:  we love it.  Love, LOVE, LOVE it!  It is very cushy and comfortable but still easy to get into and out of.  The seat cushion are not as deep as some other couches, and that might be a con for some.  But, for us it works.  And, there's this thing you can do where you take off the back cushions and turn the couch into a couch-bed with tons of room for stretching out and snuggling with dogs (or whatever).  It's really, really good.  And, with the chaise lounge part, more than one person can be stretched out at the same time.  No fighting for one single best sofa spot!

This corner right here actually happens to mostly be my favorite spot.  I'm sitting here right now, as a matter of fact with my legs outstretched on the chaise part with Blake to my left and a cup of hot tea with honey on the table to my right.
I keep this Ikea sheep skin here most of the time, because Blake loves to rest his chin on it.  What can I say?  He only likes the softest of surfaces.
The quality of the couch and of the slipcover (which, by the way, is machine washable) is superb.  I ask:  does this look like Ikea to you?
 If I must find something to nitpick, I will admit that I dislike the way the chaise cushion hangs over the frame.  It didn't scoot out to get like this- this is the way it is.  It's almost like it is made too long.  But, I put a basket for pillows and blankets there, and that helps to make it less noticeable.  Or at least, that's what I tell myself.
 Overall, we are loving our new living room set up, including the new Ektorp couch.  If you're couch shopping and the Ektorp is on your list, I say you should head straight to your nearest Ikea without delay.  With the slipcover I chose, the total price came to $699 for a classic couch upholstered in a durable medium tan twill.  With the $350 I made selling my old couch, that was only $350 out of pocket.  To get this look at Pottery Barn, I would have paid over $2000 for the least expensive upholstery, which was simply way out of my price range.
And, we humans aren't the only ones.  The canines are liking the new furniture as well.
Told you Blakey prefers to rest his head on Very Soft Things.  And, it turns out Piper has learned to as well.

Oh, and because Instagram is so good at catching real life, this is what the living room looks like most of the time around here.  Note the ottoman on the other side for extreme multi-person comfort.  This is life.  Unedited.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Initial art

Wow!  Look at this!  I go months without posting, and now I'm whipping together two posts in as many days.  All I can say is don't get used to it.  :)

According to Pinterest, it was over a year ago that I pinned this image.  (I am unable to link to the original site, as the Etsy link is now broken.  If this image belongs to you, please let me know so that I may give credit where credit is due!)
Apparently, my taste was as good a year ago as it is now, because I still love the idea of framing a piece of craft paper or fabric and topping it with a chunky letter.  I finally made the time this past weekend to get on it.  I already had the wooden letter, a sheet of craft paper and the simple Ikea frame.  All I needed was the 5 minutes it took to put them all together.  And, the new creation got a place of honor in our growing wall of art.
This is my view from the kitchen sink.  Perfect if you ask me.


Friday, August 30, 2013

Old door turned new desk

When I first spied the Craig's List ad for a chippy, old, solid wood, raised panel door for 10 bucks, I knew I wanted to give her a new life, and I knew exactly what her new job would be.  She was destined to become my new work surface.  I paired her with two $15 trestles from Ikea, and bam:  a new desk.
We are smack in the middle of a huge, house-wide round of musical furniture as we prepare to hopefully do some renovations in our basement.  All of the rearranging has left me without a desk or any real work surface on which to blog, craft, pay bills or work from home as necessary, because Colin now has his desk in his bedroom instead of in the common area of the basement.  And so, for now, our former breakfast room is a breakfast room no longer.  Meals are served in the dining room, and the sunny, cheerful breakfast room is home to my new, equally sunny and cheerful old door turned desk.
Of course, the door needs some work.  I need to fill in the areas that were chiseled out for the hinges, and there is still some old hardware on the door, too.  And, then there is the paint job.  On the one hand, I love the chippy old goodness, but on the other hand, I feel like I could clean it up a little.  And, I will eventually top the desk with a sheet of plexiglass.  But, that will all get done in time.  For now I've been using it as is- bumpy, old, uneven top, chippy paint and all.



Thursday, August 29, 2013

Looking back on a month of de-owning

After some major success with No Buy July, I boldly declared the next month De-own August!  A month of de-owning unnecessary things that were perfectly good but sitting unused in the dark recesses of my closets and robbing me of my precious space:  what could be better than that?!

In anticipation of a major home space re-allotment (more on that later), I figured it'd be nice to go through as many items in my home as possible to honestly and ruthlessly answer the question:  do I *really*need this?  Not only did the timing make sense for me, I also had several other willing victims parties.  Colin is saving up for a new computer which provided him with motivation to pass on some of his old toys.  A friend Jen is attempting to downsize some of her possessions and was game to de-clutter.  My mom and dad have recently moved which really helped them evaluate the importance of their stuff, and my sister is also at a point where less is more.  So, we decided to do what any, reasonable group of hoarders would do.  We scheduled a yard sale.  We picked the date about a month or 6 weeks ahead of time to give us plenty of time to sort through our junk treasures.

We all worked very hard over the weeks leading up to the yard sale.  Signs were made, Craig's List posts were crafted, flyers were hung at local establishments, and Facebook was blasted.  On yard sale eve, my spare bedroom looked like this:

And, my living room looked like this:
Jen posted this picture to Facebook of her dining room:
And, if I had photos from my parents or sister, I'm sure they would have been just as bad.  Needless to say we did not have a shortage of stuff to sell!  When it was all said and done, our entire driveway (large enough for probably 5 vehicles) was full of stuff and so was half of our front lawn!

The yard sale was wildly successful with everyone getting rid of a ton of stuff.  There were times that we had probably 25 or 30 shoppers milling around.  At times, parked cars lined both sides of the street with a narrow driving lane down the middle.  The sale went strong from about 7:30 am until 12:30 pm, at which time there were still shoppers, but we were so tired and hungry that we just wanted to be done!  We could have kept going, but- for me- the return on my time investment had dipped past the threshold. 

In light of our success, I'd like to share some of my thoughts on what made the day fun and successful:
  • Online marketing:  We took an informal poll of our buyers as they paid for their goods.  Many, many folks (the majority?) found us through our Craig's List ad.  Jen wrote the ad brilliantly including keywords for many of the items we had for sale.  The idea is that you want your ad to come up on as many searches as possible.  If you have it for sale, list it!  There are also several yard sale websites that pull feed from CL and link to them on their site.  Jen also listed the yard sale in our local Pennysaver.  Cost of online marketing:  free!
  • Apps:  For the i-phone and android users who are looking for sales while they're out and about, apps are key.  Jen used the most popular app for each, and further marketed our sale that way.  Posting to these apps was also free.
  • Paper marketing:  Signs, signs and more signs!  We made 16 large, fluorescent, easy to read signs to post around our neighborhood and surrounding area to lure drivers to our street.  I didn't bother listing the actual date or full address, because I didn't want to clutter up the sign with unnecessary information (plus, now I can reuse the signs for future sales!).  In addition to the large signs we posted on Thursday under the cover of darkness (so they'd be visible all day on Friday), I made 10 flyers to post at local businesses.  We had to get permission to tape our flyer on business doors/windows, but the owners we spoke to were very accommodating.  Total spent on paper marketing:  $21 (but, again- the signs can be reused).
  •  The other fun thing we did was all wear matching colored shirts.  The color we chose for the day was hot pink, which made it really easy to direct a buyer with questions to the correct person ("I'm not sure, but my mom over there in the hot pink shirt can answer that.")
Overall, the day was very fun.  I think I can speak for us all when I say that it felt good to watch some of our under-used stuff go to a new home, and make some moolah in the meantime.  I won't go into details about profits made, but let's just say that there were lots of smiles on lots of faces at the end of the day when we counted our proceeds.

I think all the hard work paid off for sure!



Monday, July 29, 2013

No Buy July

Near the end of June, I declared publicly on Facebook that I was embarking on a No Buy July.  What exactly is a No Buy July?  It was my attempt at getting through an entire month without bringing any unnecessary items into my home.  It wasn't a spending freeze- we were free to go out to dinner, catch a movie, or spend money on fun, non-tangible things.  Rather, it was an attempt to totally eliminate purchasing non-essential items for 31 days.  Aside from consumables, like food or necessary toiletries, I attempted to not buy any **things**.

So, how did I do?  Pretty good, I think!  I was not perfect, though.  The exercise taught me several very important lessons:

  1. I want a lot of things!  Perhaps I wanted more this past month, because I knew I wouldn't be buying anything.  But, honestly I suspect this is my normal.  I was surprised at how many times "I want that!" crossed my mind.
  2. Once some time passes, I realize that I don't really need most of the things I want.  Yowza.  That lesson right there was worth the whole month of delayed gratification.
  3. Waiting on something and planning for the purchase makes it all that much sweeter.  So, I guess there really is something to this whole delayed gratification thing.  There is a purchase that I have been waiting to make since the beginning of the month.  When August 1st finally get here, the purchase will be all that more rewarding- not because of the purchase itself, but because I had to wait so long for it.

So, where do I go from here?  I mean, this was a good exercise in self control and all, but I don't want to go back to my old ways.  I have decided to make a wish list.  In the back of my calendar (yes, I still use a paper pocket calendar to keep track of my schedule), there are several lined pages with the header Notes.  I plan to record my wish list here, dating each entry.  My goal is to wait one week after adding something to the list before purchasing it.  Often, the "need" wears off within a week, and I can't wait to see how many things I am able to cross off after deciding not to purchase them.

So, how did you all do?  I know there were several who joined me in a No Buy July.  Learn anything through the month?