Thursday, December 18, 2014

a Christmas cottage kitchen tour-before and after

 

Hello friends.

I hope you’re all enjoying these last days before Christmas.

The other day my Mom told me that my decorating seems different this year and she’s right. Even though we’ve been in this house since August the truth is, I’m still working on the basics. In fact our entry is still half-painted because I’ve been trying to pace myself.

So Christmas decorating—especially in the kitchen-is lighter this year.

This kitchen is not technically a true “After” because we plan on a total remodel sometime next year (fingers crossed) so I haven’t wanted to throw a lot of money at this space; it feels uncomfortable to add hardware to these beaten up cabinets that are peeling in places and when the appliances are so dated.

So instead we’ve painted, done a few superficial changes and I’ve basically brought my own style into the room.

In the meantime, I’ve been learning lots of lessons about living in the moment and being grateful for what I’ve got (smile)

So on that note, here’s a little update on my kitchen.

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The bamboo shades for this window are being installed the first week of January.

On the day we were shown this house I brought my camera. So we got to see how the previous owners used this space.

BEFORE

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AFTER

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Removing the broken microwave and cabinet doors and installing some white beadboard helped lighten this dark space up. (Thanks Dad)

BEFORE

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Apparently this side of the room is designated as a ‘family room’ on the original floor plan (go figure)…But there’s a second master bedroom next door that we’re using as an office/den instead.

So this entire space got painted in BM’s Brilliant White and we’re using this side as the kitchen nook.

AFTER

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I’m using this table from our previous home as the kitchen island for now…to make up for the lack of counter space.

And right now I’m looking for some vintage style stools that can fit underneath to save space.

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Remember this tray?

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the L shape counter (only counter space)

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There’s one thing I reaaaalllly miss in this kitchen and it’s the under the-counter lighting we used to have. Do you have it?

With this granite (not a fan) I can’t see a darn thing without my glasses so I stuck this little lamp (still looking for a bigger one) on the counter and…

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Halleluiah I can see!

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To help with storage I’m using my old office shelves on this wall and it holds our microwave, coffee cups and recipe books over here.

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You can see more of my rustic chic table setting HERE.

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I like using art in the kitchen, do you?

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I have plans for this corner.

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Well, that’s it for now my friends.

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Nothing ‘designer’ here, but I hope you liked seeing the changes

thanks so much for visiting..I’m so grateful for all the kindness and support I get on this little blog of mine.

xoxo

Leslie

I’m linking at Feathered Nest Friday, Grace at Home, Wow Us Wednesdays

 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

easiest Christmas napkin ring ever!

 

 

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Do you want to make an quick, pretty napkin ring for your Christmas table?

I tied this festive Christmas gift tag on some miniature twig wreaths that I bought at a thrift store.

At the time I’d absolutely no idea what I’d do with a plastic bag filled with these wreaths but for 99 cents I couldn’t resist getting them.

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So here it is…the easiest home-made napkin ring ever!

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Did I tell you?

We’re using this rustic table my Dad made in the kitchen for now.

(You can see this DIY project here)

 

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But after getting a large sliver in my finger I quickly realized that moving it indoors meant that I needed to sand it down and put a clear coat of polyurethane over it

—there’s only so rustic I want my tables to be.

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A lot of you asked about these cork-backed placemats that I got at Home Goods. They are heat resistant and have a clear wipe-able top coat on them…user friendly with a sweet message. I love them.

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the kitchen nook

 

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As a side note, last night we were floating on a 55 foot boat in the middle of the Long Beach Marina …

watching the parade of boats go by that were decorated with glowing lights, waving Santas and people like us

… who were staying warm with lots of good wine. 

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Here we are acting out the famous Titanic moment…

See?

It’s official…

we’re the ‘nerdi-est’ couple you know.

I’m off to do some Christmas shopping.

Hope you’re enjoying your weekend!

ox

Leslie

 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Christmas cottage details…

 

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Slowly…. painstakingly slow I might add… I’ve been bringing out the Christmas decorations. But this year will be very simple compared to my typical decorating.

(you can see my last holiday home tour HERE)

To be honest, I’m just now figuring out where things from my old house might fit in around here.

 

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Here’s a perfect example. Remember my big, black vintage looking clock?

I finally pulled off the wrapping and of course..I decided to lighten it up before hanging it in the kitchen.

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I’ll admit, I was a little nervous about ruining it… but I had Christmas in Connecticut on in the background and it made me so happy I had to keep going.

Don’t you love Barbara Stanwyck?

Sigh, I could stay in my pajamas and watch old movies all day…

 

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Alright, back on point. The good news is that I didn’t ruin it and actually, I like it so much better painted white in this house.

Funny how some pieces no longer ‘fit’ in our new home. Especially being so close to the ocean. I’m craving more white.

 

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And since this corner needed something bold until I get some open shelving,

here it goes for now.

Right next to the giant Nestle’s girl who used to be in our TV room.

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And have you seen these adorable place mats around blog land?  They’re sold in packs of four at Home Goods and I absolutely love the message.

These made me feel so good when I put them on this table that I had to immediately run around and put together a quick place setting to show you.

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I saw this ribbon on Cindy’s blog. She’s collected some wonderful gift wrapping ideas that you absolutely should check out HERE and she mentioned that she got the ribbon at Marshalls.

Well I happened to be at one yesterday and I couldn’t believe they still had some.

Doesn’t it look pretty around a white napkin?

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Add a pinecone for a place card and you have a very simple and pretty setting.

This afternoon I’m hanging fresh wreaths from my kitchen windows and I’ll be able show you the whole room. Then I’m moving into the living room.

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Wouldn’t you know it? No sooner than I get one little section done and it’s time to switcheroo. I’m almost done decorating the living room—we finish the tree tonight-- but remember that ugly, mysterious (weird) living room wall?

Wait to you see how we temporarily ‘fixed’ it.

hint hint: perfectionists do not live in this house.

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So how’s your decorating going?  I’m hoping to be done by December 23rd.

Any other slow pokes out there?

 

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Happy December 9th!

xo

Leslie

linking up at Inspire Me Tuesday

             Elizabeth & Co 

          and The Scoop

 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

dealing with loss (and finding magic at Christmas)

 

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This really happened.

One minute I was sitting across from a beautiful woman at a candle-lit table in a seaside restaurant and she was telling me about her adult daughter’s wonderful new job in finance, and she was beaming with the kind of relieved, grateful expression that mothers wear when things are going well with their children.

And the next day her daughter was found dead in her apartment.

We found out about this tragic news from a company email that was sent throughout my husband’s bank and my first stunned reaction was, “What? How can that be?! We were just talking about her last night!”

But of course, this is what we do when death and reasoning collide, we grasp and claw at logic, desperate for answers that might slow the flow of shock and pain pulsating through us.

But this is not my story.

The story I want to tell you happened this past Saturday-- 700 miles from my home-- on a sun-drenched afternoon in Salt Lake City Utah.

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(cell phone picture)

Jim and I had flown into town for the bank’s annual Christmas party and while the hubby was in meetings, I grabbed my coat and began walking in the cold, brisk air in search of some pretty ribbon and a Christmas card for the woman who had lost her daughter.

This would be her first Christmas without her precious Megan and I wanted to acknowledge it with a note. I didn’t know this woman intimately, we saw each other through my husband’s work but she was a sensitive person, a fellow ‘feeler’ whom I could always relate to and I had been deeply affected by her daughter’s death.

This would be the first time I’d be seeing her since that dinner a few months ago and I had written down a few words I planned on passing to her in a card that evening.

Years ago when I had been in a dark period of grief I had read Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s diaries (Hour of Gold, Hour of Lead) and I had found tremendous comfort in her views on grieving. They were based on her own excruciating loss of her child and I often seek inspiration from people who have endured suffering and heartache and have come out the other side.  Some books can be bottled up in a few potent pages and for me, there were seven pages that I had marked up with a pen and re-read endless times because they resonated with my own suffering

Lindbergh spoke of the numbing and grief that happens after death and the eventual re-birth that can follow the darkness. She described the loss of someone we deeply love as a kind of amputation—”like a lost limb down to the nerve endings.” And she wrote about Remorse—beating oneself in a vain attempt to make what has happened “un-happen,” as a cautionary dead end. A kind of fake action that can never nourish and only deplete you.

At the time, these were words I needed to hear.

In my note to this grieving mother I had shared an Anne Morrow Lindbergh quote and I remember wondering if I should have bought her the same book, but it was a hard book to find and I’d had to special order mine. Too late now.

As I walked on the bustling downtown streets of Salt Lake City I was struck by its baby blue skies and its clean beauty and I was momentarily lost in my thoughts, not even caring if I got lost. Which is unlike me.

 

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After stopping on the sidewalk to ask directions to a “shop with pretty ribbon” I ended up at this street corner and I was abruptly taken aback by this gorgeous mural of the Blessed Mother. If you know me, you know how I feel about HER and the divine power of her love, especially as a source of comfort for mothers.

And suddenly I felt like I was on the right path.

I kept moving down the street until I approached a stack of books in a gray metal cart outside a dusty, stained glass window. And when I stepped back I squinted my eyes in the bright sunlight and read the words.

Rare. Books.

Unbelievable, I thought.

 

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(cell phone)

I had no idea where I was but I had just stumbled unto my version of heaven.

 

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(cell phone)

I opened the door and felt instantly transported to someplace ancient and magical. Besides two bearded men talking about authors over a glass case of yellowed, delicate-looking books, I was alone in the store.

The sight of a worn, blue velvet couch, mountains of books and the musty smells of antiquity all made my heart flutter.

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(cell phone)

In the narrow aisles I ran my fingers along the worn, rippled spines of hard cover books looking at the titles I recognized from childhood. When I saw a copy of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm I casually picked it up and found this inscription inside:

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(cell phone)

And I wondered if Michele had liked this book too. Was she still alive and reading?

I liked to think so.

 

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(cell phone)

After some time I asked the store clerk if he had any books by Anne Lindbergh Morrow and he sent me down a long aisle at the far end of the store

where I bent down to the lowest shelf and tilted my head to examine the titles.

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(cell phone)

And of course.

Wouldn’t you know it?

There were only two titles by Lindbergh and yes, one was the book I wanted.

What were the odds?

As I stared at the book I felt something serendipitous about my afternoon; it was fleeting thought that by being completely open to my surroundings--and in a giving state of mind—it had somehow resulted in my holding this book in my hands, and even though I seldom use this word,

‘grace’ came to mind. I figured that I was meant to pass on the book, but more important was the message I hoped to convey to this mother.

The idea that we are all connected through our wounds and that sometimes this shared pain is all we have to offer someone who is hurting. But is there a more comforting message than this:

You’re not alone my friend.

No, I’ve never lost a child but I do know what it’s like to love one with every breath in your body. And I can imagine your pain, and I’m not afraid of it.

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If you’re dealing with loss and sadness this holiday season this post is dedicated to You.

Please believe me, it will get better. Really it will.

But until then, these are a few things that helped me when I was once overwhelmed with grief.

First and foremost life is too short to fake it.

Give yourself permission to cry, to be sad, confused, or angry.

Absolutely DO NOT judge yourself.

Write down your thoughts and feelings. It’s amazing what comes out.

Grab your coat and get outside and start walking. I guarantee the fresh air will help.

Whatever your spiritual beliefs, find time to meditate or pray or simply sit in silence, this is how you honor your most vulnerable feelings.

Listen to a comforting tape of Tara Brach on Loss.

Volunteer-don’t worry about the cause just get around other people for a common purpose.

Be selective about your sharing. Talk to those special people in your life who will let you  feel exactly how you feel--- and won’t try to minimize or deny your emotions. This is how we get through our pain in a healthy way. Be curious and open about those shadow feelings that might be uncomfortable. Because you deserve to feel whole.

And if you want me to send my favorite Lindbergh passage on grief.. leave me your address and I’d be happy to send it to you.

And one more thing--if your grief begins to overwhelm you—please don’t hesitate to get professional help. Walking around with a tight smile while you’re hurting inside will take a physical and emotional toll on you. And sometimes a death can unleash bottled up feelings that a trained professional can help you make sense of…

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In the meantime, let’s all remember that Christmas is a time of rich memories which can cut both ways. We can feel those losses in our life more acutely.

Let’s be careful that we don’t get so caught up in the festivities of the season that we forget those around us who might be quietly suffering.

 

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Tell me…

Can you relate to this post?

 

xo

Leslie

 

linking up with Flower Patch Farm Girl and Inspire Me Monday

 

 

 

 

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