Friday, December 29, 2017

Christmas Cottage Tour 2017--and Life behind the pretty pictures

Hello friends and welcome to my little Christmas home tour.

I know-I know... in the blogger world— I’m light years behind all the wonderful home tours that have come and gone, but did I tell you? I’m living my design life out in dog years, so my holiday decorating now happens several years behind the blog world—and it’s working out pretty well for me.

Are you in the mood for some Christmas pictures from around here?

Wonderful!! I wish I could hand you a glass of wine through the computer screen, but we’ll just have to pretend about that part.

 I do however want to welcome you into my home with one caveat: you should know that behind each of these pretty photos is a lot of messiness. And I’m not talking dirty-dishes-in-the-sink-messiness I’m talking real life messy stuff that’s been a large part my 2017.

I’m talking about the stressful family dynamics that were happening not only in my little family, but also in my extended family as well.  

And I mention this because I’m sensitive to the power of images, and how easy it is to post a bunch of pristine looking photos for everyone to see--- that might give the impression that because my house might look spotless or stylish when I snapped the picture, my life must somehow resemble these ‘perfect looking’ images.

I know this because it happens to me.

 I can be busily blog-hopping through some crazy-beautiful Christmas tours and suddenly my eyes zero-in on all the negative parts of my own home with its dated kitchen and ugly master bathroom.

Please be aware 0f this sneaky kind of dissatisfaction. Because it robs you of gratitude for the most ordinary little details of your day and it confuses you into thinking that you don’t have ‘enough’ to be happy right this minute.
And have you noticed how comparing ourselves with others  creates invisible wedges between us? It happens when we assume that someone else is living a ‘perfect’ life or that their life is problem-free, and because we know our life is NOT, a subtle distance happens. Even if we're admiring them there's a sense that "well that's not me." And so we might miss seeing who they really are or most importantly, we miss the chance to relate to them with compassion.

A few weeks back I was talking with my Mom about a touchy family situation among my siblings and she seemed most upset about the timing. She actually said something like, “I just wish (this situation) would’ve waited until after Christmas.”

And although I have a lot of empathy for my Mom because of her painful childhood, and I can understand she has an image of how she wants the holidays to go, I also realize that having this “ideal” image of the holidays can really set us up for disappointment. To my Mom’s credit, this year she was more flexible than ever before.

But hers was a conversation I kept having throughout my holiday season. Whether I found myself in a wildly, loud Karaoke bar in Long Beach, or at a fancy-schmazy dinner with dear friends and regardless of any special date on the calendar, I kept hearing about real life struggles. The ugly aftermath of a divorce. Depressed feelings. Struggles with addiction. Having these raw, open-hearted talks with friends or family against the backdrop of white, twinkling lights, loud music and clanking glasses was a powerful reminder that behind every perfect image is a real person with real problems. And it’s these open wounds and human-ness that we share with each other that truly connect us.

When I’m able to talk about my personal struggles- or listen to someone else’s pain, I feel a warm connection with them. And after these recent conversations I was reminded of this distorted belief so many of us grapple with: that struggling is somehow NOT OK. Or that to be struggling emotionally, mentally, or physically either is wrong or bad or something to be ashamed of, especially during the holidays.

And it’s this judgment about what we’re experiencing or what we’re feeling that makes things so much worse. If this is something you do, please know that you’re not alone. And please know that you have absolutely nothing to be self-conscious about, nothing to hide. Seriously. You're doing great. 

Being Ok with where you are today is so important. Let’s not wait for all the stars to line up the way we want before we relish the beautiful parts of our lives. 

Whatever happened in 2017 is over. And I hope you join me in welcoming whatever Life brings to us with curiosity and humility. Instead of resistance or worry…. let’s ask this question instead:

“What can this experience teach me? 

How can I grow from this struggle?”


I hope you enjoyed seeing some of my pictures around here.

But as you leave my home I also hope you walk away feeling aware of your own specialness. I hope you pause to remember that no matter what your house looks like on any given day, it doesn’t say anything about the inner strength you’ve gained from your own life struggles along the way. And your house while lovely, certainly doesn’t tell the story of your unique brand of wisdom and the forging of your identity over the years.

As 2017 winds down, I do hope you think deeply about what really matters to you so that this coming year can truly be the year that you tap into your purpose in life.
Let’s stay in touch and encourage each other along the way.

Thank you so much for being the best part of my blogging.

Merry Christmas and Happy 2018!



I'm sharing this post here:


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Look what I copied from a magazine cover

I know this looks like another DIY post about a wooden Christmas tree box that turned out pretty well, but it's also a post about my Dad.

this summer with my boys

My Dad is 76 years old and for those of you who've followed me for awhile you know when it comes to construction, he can do almost anything. He hung drywall for 40 years and if you've ever tried to hold a piece of drywall over your head with one arm you'll know something about his robust view on life. Lucky for me, my Dad has been my DIY teacher around my fixer-upper these past years and I enjoy sharing what I learn from him---with you all.

Like this little project.

So I'm wandering through a antique store when I see this cover of a 2015 Country Living magazine, and I became instantly smitten with the rustic Christmas Tree box on it.

For a buck I bought it and thought, "I gotta make this!"
Well at least I planned to.
But the last weeks in November were so hectic that I ended up showing the magazine to my Dad when I was home for Thanksgiving and gosh, it was so darn nice to just sit back and watch him make this.

Here's the final project:
(you can see more pictures on my Instagram)

If you look my magazine picture you'll see that the wood looks dry and old.

So we used basic 6 inch Redwood fence pieces from Home Depot.

After Dad measured the standard size of a tree stand he decided to make the "box" 24 inches around and we both decided to skip the extra step of adding a bottom.
I stood around talking and watching him and I'm glad I did because of the little things I keep learning.

He basically made 4 panels (here's two of them).
The height of each was easy, he just stacked the three 6 inch redwood pieces together.

In addition he cut these little pieces (8) to fit on both sides of two of the four panels.
He used wood glue and his nail gun to connect the sides. Here you can see how he fit the three wood pieces into one finished panel. When I saw this step I understood the purpose of those strips of wood.

Here's a picture of the last panel being connected:

About this time I took a video of my Dad working and I asked him, "Have you made one of these before Dad?

and I have him on video giving a classic answer,

"Oh come on,'s just a box."

That pretty much explains why I'm a DIYer. I usually begin each project not having a clue how it's going to turn out but my Dad has a way of making everything seem totally do-able. No matter how complicated it might look to me.

Ok. As I mentioned before that we chose not to put a bottom on this box to make it easier to handle--plus this was the day after Thanksgiving and we were short on time.

The last step was adding these metal strips on the sides.
I followed my Dad to his backyard shed and he showed me the different screws I could use on the strips. I still have no idea how to find the right ones in a Home Depot, but at least I now know that there are metal screws that exist. :)

Once home I hand-painted the letters Holly Tree Farm on the front and decided I didn't any stain for this wood.
This would age nicely in our attic and the best part of this project is the time I spent hanging out in the patio with my Dad... while he made this.

Well, I sure hope you enjoyed this little tutorial.

Thank you friends for stopping by.


Friday, November 17, 2017

How to Create Meaningful Moments for Everyone on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has always been a big deal in our house.

It's the one holiday that's always hosted at the cozy, little home my parents have lived in for over fifty years. And each year my Mom starts thinking about her Thanksgiving table weeks ahead. The color theme, the flowers, the table settings and yes, games too because Mom is a "game person." 

 As the only daughter, I'm considered my Mom's personal stylist/floral designer and we always plan her pretty table details together. It's been like this since I was in high school.

But one thing has never changed.

Over the years my Mom has always insisted on including a  fun activity that gets everyone interacting. No stuffing your face and instant snoring on her day--at least not until everyone joins in for "one of Mimi's games".

Over the years we've had trivia games (using holiday theme words)  modified game shows or a version of Charades. There are always teams--(usually girls vs. guys) and my Mom has little prizes. And because we're a loud, competitive bunch--it ends up being one hilarious expose of our quirky personalities. 

Yep, it's true we've got our share of bizarre political views, the 'crazy uncle,' and the tipsy relative...but somehow everything gets put aside when you're laughing together.
Have you noticed this too?

In other words my Mom's focus on 'doing something together' helps us bond.

 The Gratitude Question

This year we're trying something new and it's an idea I'm love with because its a chance to be a little real with each other.

Enclosed inside each glassine envelope is a single question about gratitude. But here's what's different; it's not a question asking for your general thoughts about gratitude... no, it's a question that is focused on the people sitting around the table. Right there in front of you.

If you opened one of these envelopes you might find:

  •  A question that asks you to share a favorite (or funny) memory of someone across from you.
  •  A question that asks you to share something you appreciate about the person on your right. 
  • A question that asks you to name a quality you appreciate in the person on your left
Here's the point of these little questions.

Intellectually we know Thanksgiving is a holiday about gratitude, in fact it's become quite a trendy word in our culture today. We see everywhere. But the challenge for us is, how do we transform these lofty concepts into something that feels meaningful and personal  to us?

The answer is....well, we get personal.

And we do this with the very people in front of us at this moment.

Isn't this why we spend so many hours decorating our tables, pouring over recipes, waiting in grocery lines, and cooking our favorite dishes?

It's about the people.

Even if it's only a few genuine words, a spontaneous story or a unexpected compliment, these are the kind of moments that we remember long after the dishes are put away.

This is how we experience the true meaning of Thanksgiving.

When I get to my Mom's house we'll set the table and decide where we'll put these little envelopes. It's easy to tuck a sprig of fresh rosemary or pressed leaf into the string at the last minute.

In the meantime I decided to set a quick table to show you how pretty these envelopes look. Right now we're thinking we'll open them once everyone is finished eating but still sitting at the table, maybe before dessert and coffee.

And later we'll be trying our first "white elephant" game too.

 Well, I sure hope I gave you something to think about today.

Whatever you've got planned for your holiday--I know it will be wonderful because you will be part of it.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends who are reading this post right now. Please know, I am incredibly grateful for every visitor to my little blog. ..I consider you one of my special blessings.


sharing this post:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...