Monday, February 22, 2016

To every thing there is a season

Hello wonderful readers!

It's been a very busy start to the year for my little family. My business has had a major growth spurt over the last month, my husband has taken on more hours at work, but most importantly - we are totally, 100% committed to serving and helping run a small church branch in Pietermaritzburg. 

I am a firm believer of counting the cost of time spent on various outlets. What fruit does that time spent bear? Does it bring joy & peace or does it subtly become a burden? I believe that God will not give us more than we can handle. It's so easy to smoosh in as much as we can into our lives without being willing to count the cost. Just because it's something that felt right for a season, doesn't mean it's right for the next.

I love sharing our projects and things that have dropped into my heart, but it's simply time to put my little blog on hold for a season. I am a mother, a wife, a business owner - serving in the ministry. There just isn't any space to fit in "blogger" for now. It's too tempting for me to spend hours on a blog post when I could be spending a quiet evening with husband or opening up the doors of our home to invite others in.

I cannot thank you enough for having taken time of our your day to read this little blog of mine. And hey, if you ever in the area - pop on in for a visit!

Ecclesiates 3:1 "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven"

Sunday, January 17, 2016

You can keep them home

And by them, I mean those delicious little children of yours.

I have been putting off writing this post for a few months now - to find the right words because it's all so new for me too. The kind of words that translate with grace. The kind of words that might perhaps make a mom in a similar situation out there go “I can do this if it’s something I’d love more than anything right now”!

I’m talking about keeping a toddler at home. Or a child of any age.

I have an amazing “will-give-martha-stewart-a-run-for-her-money” friend who has had almost both kids at home with her until they were 3 and grew ready to explore the new and exciting things that playschool has to offer. She is gentle, kind and humble – she will be the first to admit not every day is rosey, but she handles it was such grace. My favourite days were the ones that I could pop in for a cup of coffee and just take in the all the love and warmth in her home. One day while working an office job, I was unable to get off work and I desperately needed Jesse (then 3) to have a caring place to go to for the day. Said friend happily accepts to have him over and for the next few hours, I received photos of the kinds of things that might have given me heart failure if roles were reversed. One included all three toddlers helping with the dishes on little stools, having fun with bubbles and water. The other - all three toddlers helping bake in the kitchen. Three delighted faces with spatulas and bowls, enthralled with helping bake delicious cupcakes, and knowing that they won’t be under pressure to “not mess in the kitchen” or “keep it in the bowl!”.  

I also have an incredibly talented friend (see: legend in every way) who home schools her beautiful daughter in a totally chilled way. All while her toddler potters around, loving his home life and exploring new people, sounds and tastes ranging from family trips to beautiful places or sometimes just the simple quiet play in the garden with the neighbour’s kids. She is generous and kind. Just by her little boy being around her, he will learn the things that cannot be taught at school. How to serve and love, and go the extra mile when others might look away. Her toddler is just a few months old than my Jack, who has just turned 3. 

I could list some many other wonderful examples of close friends that have opted at some point and time to keep their little ones or big ones close to home and slow down. To be completely honest, I have always looked from afar and thought “if only I was that kind of mom, I think I’d be so much happier” or “if only I was that chilled out and didn’t take everything so seriously!”

  (Jack's first day of pre-school)

I worked at a corporate job for just over a year that ended the middle of 2014. I had taken this job for personal health & financial reasons. The hardest part of it all had been choosing to leave Jack at playschool when he was only 8 months old. It was the right thing - and I don’t regret it - but it was still tough. The tears came fast and often, but I put on that power outfit on and just gave it my absolute best.
As with all working moms in 9-5 or 9-12 jobs, you start to depend on that playschool for your life! 3 days off compassionate leave when your child has had a snotty nose for two weeks and STILL can’t go back to school? If granny or auntie isn’t available on said day or week, it’s a cruel and difficult type of stress. In an effort to cope with the demands at hand – balancing work life with my home life – I did what most A-type personalities will do – and that’s to put it all in a box. Find structure and routines, and hopefully some sanity. The hamster wheel. 

I always hoped that one day I would be able to work from home again, kick aftercare to the curb and at least be with the boys from lunchtime on-wards.

My mother raised me to be an entrepreneur. It’s one of the greatest gifts she has given me - to teach me how to run my own business starting right from when I was a little girl. I remember vividly when I was 12 years old, my mom went away for a week on a church trip.  She left with me in charge of her home business, and my Dad simply did the driving. It felt completely natural to be in the driver’s seat of a business. 

Flash forward to Mom and I launching our own business together in June 2014. I had finally started working at home full time from about April 2014. Wouldn’t you think at this point, I’d be thinking – hey, I can finally keep that chubby-cheeked boy at home with me and make up for lost time?! The crazy thing is, I honestly thought that I wouldn’t be able to cope with him being at home while I was working. "I'm not like my mom friends who can." I had lost my confidence as a mother completely. Ask me what I really wanted? To be that mom that could keep him home.

We started planning our move to Pietermaritzburg at the beginning of 2015. I knew my 5 year old would join my husband at the incredible school he teaches at. It was perfect for him. I started looking for a pre-school to transition my then 2 ½ year old into. Family in the area were kind enough to send me lists of the best of the best playschools, and I started calling around. Please keep in mind that all this time I am working from home. Why was I in such a rush to get him in one school and straight into the next? I’d gotten so used to the normal baby -> pre-school -> big school routine, that I hadn’t given myself a chance to change that cycle, or at least delay it.

After calling a few places, I just could not shake the feeling that I was missing the big picture completely. When friends and family would ask about how our plans were coming along, they all seemed unphased that I hadn't found a school yet. “He can just stay at home with you though right?” I don’t know what finally did it, but the penny dropped. Not only was I going to take Jack out of school two months before we moved, but I was going to take BOTH out. I wanted to press the reset button on what had become normal for our family. 

The result? The first week was crazy. They’re everywhere! How will I cope? I have no space! I am cleaning all day! When do I get a break? How am I going to run this business? What was I thinking? The second week was calmer and easier, and by the third - my two boys would happily play for hours in the back yard or in their bedrooms while I tackled work and packing. There was no clock watching and snotty-nose monitoring. It was the strangest thing not to be stressed when they got sick! I was that mom who could keep her kids at home. It was liberating, and it brought untold joy and peace to my heart and our home.

The move to our new home was seamless. Two weeks after we settled, Jesse started at “big school.” And Jack? Well, I just never looked for that pre-school! I spent the last 6 months sharing a work space with the most loving and precious companion by my feet. I could watch him play in the dirt with his cars from my office window.Clint and Jesse head off at 7 after breakfast. Th at meant it was time for Jack and I to start the day with some quality time. Almost every day it involved cuddles and book reading on our stoep. Other days it was play dough / painting / puzzles. At 8 o’clock, I started working at my desk and Jack pottered around to his hearts content finding little spots to plonk and let his imagination run wild. At around 9 o’clock, it was snack time. Milo for Jack and coffee for mommy. We connected, chatted, sometimes went for a walk to the jungle gym in our complex – and then it was back to the office for me. Jack would get lost in his own world all over again and before we knew it – it was time for lunch and to pick up big brother. We popped down to Hillcrest about once a week so that he could catch up with little friends his age. We would visit the factory where my clothing range is made, and he managed just fine to stay by my side and win the hearts of all the seamstresses in the process!

I can say, and I know those who know me well can say, that this year is the happiest I have been in all 5 ½ years of motherhood. God knew. He knew this move was exactly what I needed to shake out the insecurities I didn’t even know I had. 

We prayed about what to do this year, and knew that Jesse’s school was opening up at RRR class. My business has really started to blossom and become more demanding on my time. Particularly in the month of November, I started to see that although I loved Jack being at home with me - he was going to need more attention that I would be able to give him. With family being further away, it was either an option of our seriously awesome housekeeper doing an extra day or two to help me, or enroll Jack in a sought after spot near his brother where he could play to his heart’s content. It was time. It’s madness to think he will be four years old in no time at all. 

I sobbed my heart out on Wednesday night before his first day on Thursday. A good, ugly cry. I cried from a place gratitude for the most beautiful opportunity to be a stay at home mom over the past year. To have been given a gift beyond measure. Yes, it’s a new chapter and letting go is tough, but I am learning that motherhood has a beautiful way of evolving, and with each new year comes something even more special that the last. I miss my big eyed boy in the mornings, but it’s different this time. He’s in school because it’s the best thing for him and not because “I’m not like those moms who keep their kids at home.” 

We broke the cycle and we’ve committed to staying open each year to see how God leads us as a family. It is without a doubt the very best plan. Maybe our kids will always be mainstream? Maybe we'll homeschool one day? Maybe we won't? 

To all the working-their-butt off in high heels moms, the stay-at-home moms, the home-schooling moms, the single moms, the work-from-home moms, the doing-whatever-you want moms - I wish you and your little ones the very best for 2016. We have the best job in the world!

Friday, January 8, 2016

First Look: DIY Lounge Wall Unit

We look back and laugh at the confidence we had to just oh, you know, build an entire wall unit in our new home. Our kitchen, dining room and lounge are all in one gorgeous open plan space. Add in the high ceilings, and you have one big empty canvas to work with. After setting up our existing furniture, the lounge seriously lacked character and it quickly became the area you walked through, but didn't actually settle in and enjoy.

I've been following a designer under her brand name Sita Montgomery for a while now, and everything about her home is perfection. She has used a white feature wall unit concept in quite a few of her rooms, and after showing Clint - we just had to have one!

So, the saving of our pennies began. We bought the wood for our project at a fantastic discount rate from a supplier in Pietermaritzburg and started one phase at a time. Bite size tasks. Over the next few Fridays I will be sharing each step with you. Who knows, maybe our crazy notions are right up your alley and you might be inspired to make your very own wall unit?

While we are chuffed as anything to have the main structure on the wall, but we do still have a few things to check off the to-do list:

* Board up the top smallest shelf to "close off" the unit, instead of it looking like floating shelves
* Add white crown molding to take it right up to the roof eliminating gaps
* The two bottom spaces are reserved for cabinets (yikes!) to hide DVDs, board games etc.
* Paint sections behind the wall unit (white?)
* Slowly collect meaningful ceramics, artwork etc to fill our beautiful shelves.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Make your own Tarn reading rug!

You know those really cute and cozy round rugs you see all over blog-land? I wanted one! Badly! I had the perfect spot in the boy's room where little bottoms would enjoy plonking down to read their books on something far more comfortable than the tiles. I'm not a massive fan of shopping at the mall, but when I have popped in - it's always on my list to look out for. Something soft, home-made looking and most importantly, round. There is something extremely lovely about a round rug. I came out empty-handed every time. 

You can imagine my surprise when I actually won six bobbins of 'tarn' along with a crochet pattern on how to make my very own...wait for it.....a Round Crochet Rug! Tarn hosted the fantastic competition. I am so impressed with their broad selection of t-shirt yarn, easy-to-follow patterns and overall brand. I'd highly recommend them for holiday crafting! A glass of something, kids playing in the back yard - all while you are crocheting up something wonderful - pretty awesome! I did exactly that, and after only two days I had made up the most perfect little reading rug. I literally had not crocheted a single thing in over five years and was amazed at how easy it is to pick it right back up. The thick yarn makes it easy to hide mistakes and a stitch picked up here or there. Most importantly, the boys love it. Jack finds a little spot, unpacks his treasures and plays for hours! 

Friday, November 13, 2015

First Look: The Boy's Bedroom


While I was busy photographing my latest project in the Boy's room (to follow) - I thought - hey, why don't I show you a little look around at where we are with this space and how we plan to use it?

Jesse (5) and Jack (3) have shared a room for the last year or so, and we all love it that way. When we first looked around our new home, I knew exactly which room was going to be theirs. A sweet room big enough for the two of them with bay windows that look over the back garden. A little boy's dream - they can spot the neighbour's kids heading over with a rugby ball from a mile away!

We moved them in with their original single beds each, kiddie-themed matching duvet sets and a side table that we borrowed from the guest room. We managed to hang the same navy curtains (we wondered if they would be wide enough for the bay windows) from the previous home which saved on moving-in expenses. I also brought in a "toy sorter" that I set up a few months before the move. It's a plastic shoe rack that I converted into a bright & fun storage system. Lastly, we temporarily put a small white bookshelf in place that also used to be in the guest room / baby room. We have a plan to change the entire layout of their room, so everything just went in as is. 

  Since moving-in day, we have made three really fun changes to their little haven:

1) We painted a feature wall behind their beds (same colour as dining room feature wall - bonus!)
2) We added anchor vinyls to the new and improved wall (post to follow)
3) I crocheted a tarn reading rug for next to their bookshelf (post to follow)

Over the next few months we would like to change things up a bit to accommodate their new-found love of drawing and lego etc. Basically, they need more of a big-boy space.

*Bunk beds. This dream is coming true this week-end - more floor space, hooray!
*New duvet cover sets. As much as it might not be "stylish", I really didn't mind having my kids choose out their bedding from good ol' Mr Price. It also definitely helped them transition from baby room to big boy room. Having said that, they've moved onto bigger, more important things, and bedding just isn't on their priority list. Hooray, now Mommy can shop! I'm not entirely sure what I am looking for yet, but I will know it when I see it, ya know? Just not too matchy-matchy.
*The side table will move back into the guest room.
*In place of the white bookshelf, we'd like build a custom desk that will allow both boys to comfortable sit / draw / build. 
*Fabric blinds. I find that the dark heavy curtains really close off the stunning window area. I would love to do a reading nook near the bay windows and the curtains just take up far too much space all round. 

I hope you have enjoyed a little sneak peek into our boy's bedroom. Honestly, I cannot wait to get started on their desk over the holidays. Please could all this paper, glue and goodness knows what else on my kitchen table find somewhere else to party?! Let's build that desk Mr Kyle, and fast!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

DIY Wooden Geometric Mirror

**Aw, so I really thought I had saved the first photos of how this mirror started, but they must have been deleted accidentally when organizing photos post-move. I will break it down for you instead.**

Picture a few pieces of really scrappy wood, shoved behind an old broken gate. Then picture my husband's face when I told him I'd like us to turn that into THIS. A gorgeous octagon-shaped mirror. I was so inspired by Kelly's awesome tutorial on 'View Along The Way', that we just had to try it. We were still living in our home in Waterfall at the time, and I had originally planned for this mirror to go right above an entrance table. When we moved to Pietermaritzburg, our entrance layout changed and we decided to use it as a focal point for the dining room instead. I um-ed and ah-ed about this idea a little at first, but Clint was convinced and I am so glad he pushed me in the right direction. You can see an update on our dining room here.

Okay, now let's get really real. If we thought we were going to whip the frame right up and have it painted by dinner, boy were we wrong. I was relieved that Kelly and her husband had trouble with this project too or I would seriously be questioning if we'd lost the DIY touch.

Once Clint had sanded the gross pieces of wood down, I was in charge of drawing the correct angles on to each piece for cutting. I thought I had done the most perfect job, obviously. Clint set off to his folks place to cut the pieces, and we were both generally feeling rather pleased with ourselves. He returned and lay everything out on the table. Our OCTA....wait, hang many pieces did you cut?! NINE pieces, I tell you. Nine. I totally messed up the angles, which meant as he went along, it made sense to add another piece to close the frame. Let's take a moment of silence for the Octagon mirror dream being shattered. The silver lining? We were going to have an awesome GEOMETRIC mirror instead - go us!

We played around with a few (a lot) of ideas of how to attach the mirror securely and ended up going with the following:

1. We used framing nails to secure the pieces, creating the frame
2. We cut masonite board to the exact shape of the frame and nailed it to the back
3. We went to PG Glass and they kindly cut the mirror to fit perfectly inside our shape, then glued it

Clint painted the frame with Annie Sloan chalk paint in 'Pure White', followed by a clear furniture sealer. He then sanded down bits here and there to give it a weathered look. We added hardware to the back of the frame and finally, after 6 months of procrastinating (on and off working on it), we hung it proudly in our new home. It is by far my favourite item in all of the rooms.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

First Look: Dining Room

Let me start by saying that I am a huge fan of incorporating a ton of white into my home decor. I do however also love bold pops of colour and mixing and matching of patterns / prints. Our previous home had a two-toned taupe wall along with warm tones in the tiling. This meant we pretty much went all white er'where with our home decor to brighten up the space and keep it feeling fresh. 

In our new home, it's almost the total opposite. Here, it's bright and light all on it's own! Light streams in from bay windows, both the existing walls and tiles are shades of cream / white and the high ceilings emphasize it all. I LOVE IT. Imagine my surprise when we moved all our furniture in and it all just felt a little the rooms were still echoing! Too much white? I didn't think that was possible. One month in, our main living spaces still didn't feel like 'home' and needed some key features to bring warmth and balance. 

We have recently started on our biggest DIY project to date in our Lounge, but we are only planning to have that finished by the end of the year. A simpler project to work on in the meantime is our Dining room. We are by no means finished with it, but this is a sneaky first look at where we are at and what we started from. Right before we moved in, the space looked like this:

Initially, we dumped everything in this room that we didn't know where to put anywhere else. We actually hosted our first church lunch on the day pictured below. We were so excited to have people over to our new mansion that we didn't care much for the piles of un-hung artwork and frames.

We decided to take everything out into the garage that we absolutely didn't like for the Dining room area, and rather start from the beginning again. Ahh, I could actually start to think clearly.

*We mounted a white curtain rod
*We started out picture frame wall
*We painted the chandelier white
 *We left only the bookcase, the curtains and the table and chairs. The rest of the furniture and nik naks we moved out.
*Clint recently made a gorgeous mirror for me that I had intended for an entrance way of some sort. That pain-staking project deserves a whole story of it's own so I won't go into it too much, but we decided to use it on this Dining room wall. Read: Clint desperately wanted it there!! :) 

On paper, this looks pretty as a picture. In real life, it lacked character and since it's the first thing you see when you walk in the front door, it needed something. I've fallen in love with a specific shade of blue-grey that I've seen in a few magazines recently. It's not too cheesy. It's not too dark. It's timeless. It's classy. It's easy to match. It flows with the rest of the open plan. More importantly, it's perfect for our feature wall in here! Our first tin of paint was a flop - way too purple (see swatch below on far left)...

I'm having a little laugh out loud here that Clint's shirt matches perfectly to the shade gone wrong. Anyway, enough staring at that wonderful human. He returned the tin for us - I get so shy about that kind of thing - and we had Builders Express make up our perfect colour instead. At only R290 for 5L, we were very happy overall.

* Clint poly-filled a few unnecessary holes in the wall
* I used painters tape to section off the wall
* We tag-teamed painting two coats while the kids did their own arts + crafts at the breakfast table

Finally, here is where we have ended up as of this past week-end! To say we are pleased with the changes so far would be an understatment. It makes me happy every time I walk into the house.

The projects on our to-do list for this space are as follows:

* Update / fill photo frames 
* I'm torn between keeping the frame wall simple or making a really large one
* The bookcase (you can see it on the first pic) will either need a coat of Annie Sloan chalk paint or else we may replace it altogether. We would also like to move all the books and games out into the Lounge and have this bookcase serve as a display case instead.
* Our random assortment of second-hand chairs need a little attention. Three of them are still begging to be re-upholstered, and we'd actually like to switch out two of them. 
* Replace our dining room table. Clint made this one using a friend's discarded door, but it's shown wear through the move. Clint's Dad has kindly offered us an unfinished oak table base that we will turn into a sturdier table. I have a feeling we will keep this all natural wood and rather incorporate white accessories on the tabletop. 

There you have it! I hope you are inspired to tackle a project of your own this week-end!