Monday, December 14, 2015

I'm just happy to be here. (with a dining room update)

On a sun-drenched afternoon a few days ago I walked into our yoga studio and hugged my friend who proceeded to tell me why she's been missing from class lately. Turns out she's been caring for an elderly friend who is in the last days of her hospice care, and I listened to her describe her first experience bathing a frail body.


Then on Saturday night, when I was a guest on a yacht draped in glittering white lights and floating in the middle of the annual Holiday Boat Parade in Long Beach, there was more. Against the backdrop of jolly Christmas music and flowing wine, I sat in a corner and spoke with a mother who was grieving the loss of her adult daughter during this holiday season.


Wouldn't it be powerful if we could hear a faint bell each time we came in contact with love and compassion and tenderness?

Just to bring us back to what really matters?

I've been noticing these little heart-opening moments more lately, maybe because of my yoga practice or maybe because I'm trying to be more intentional about slowing down and observing myself.

I'm especially aware of my tendency to focus on all the things I'm not getting done and I can see how easy it is for me to get stressed and feel "behind" on my list of things to do.
And then suddenly

I find myself brushing shoulders with someone who is struggling with loss or sadness or sickness and boom.  And I'm instantly reminded of what's truly important. The love and the kindness...and the generosity that we share with each other.

And slowing down long enough to experience these moments when they happen.

These days this is my favorite mantra.

I don't know why, but I saw this little phrase somewhere and it resonated with me; I've found that when I take a deep breath and say these words, it really helps me come back to a grateful place. 

It's such a joyful little line.


(the floors aren't actually this dark)

Ok. Speaking of gratitude and moving on to a practical topic, I have to say that I'm really thrilled with our new wood floors. Even though they were installed some weeks back I'm just now getting our house put back together after being away for Thanksgiving, and then for our annual Christmas visit to Salt Lake City hosted by the hubby's bank.

And today I thought I’d share some pictures of our newly repainted dining room.  It's interesting how changing one thing leads to another.

You might remember how it looked before. Even though I loved the dark drama of BM's Kendall Charcoal, once I saw the wood floor in here I instantly craved a warm white and now I absolutely love it.

We also had French doors and beadboard installed in this room and although I still need to finish painting the doors, you can get an idea of the peaceful ambiance.

Ikea's Linen white curtains got hung today.

I hung my boxwood wreaths on the French doors. And I found three swags of glass crystals that I had bought at Pottery World years ago and hung them along with green garland to dress up the chandelier.

I plan on adding fresh garland and berries into the chandelier.

On this side of the room I decided to hang white plates and found all my plate hangers today at Wal-Mart. The plates are courtesy of the thrift store.

I was having a hard time getting the candles to stand straight in these brass candlesticks so I added moss to the bottoms and I really like the look.

I can't wait to add some flowers in here.

Here's a close up of the corbels we found when we picked up our reclaimed lumber for our living room bookshelves.

The lighting was poor when I snapped this photo but you can see how they frame the dining room.

(what you can't see: the paint cans and the roll of plastic near the bottom of the curtains)

Oh, here's another project I finished today, my fur-lined candle holders.

They're kinda funky, kinda chic, but these are so easy to make.

Are you in the mood for a quickie project?

Here's what I used:

Cylinder glass vases for candles
fur fabric cut in strips to fit around the vase
ribbon of choice
(I found my suede piece in the jewelry section of the crafts store).

I added bells for a Christmasy touch.

While I had my hot glue gun out, I glued some starfish to ribbon and hung them on our tree to celebrate our beach location.

And voila! Here's my furry candle holders in our shelves

A close up view.

The lighting fixture is from Restoration Hardware.

Well that's it for now. Sorry I bombarded you with pictures but it's been awhile since I've been here. As always, I am so grateful for your visit and I'd love to hear how your December is going.
Have you been hearing the faint sound of bells lately?

 peace and love 


I'm sharing this post here:

The Scoop

My Uncommon Slice of Surburbia


Vickie @ Ranger 911 said...

It's so easy to get caught up in what I haven't done yet this holiday season, and you've got the right idea to just slow down and enjoy! Your dining room looks so different than it did last year, but I'm loving the bright white look as much as I liked the drama of the dark walls. And your built-ins around your fireplace...wowza!! Your beach themed tree is perfect for your new home and the fur trimmed candles are so fun and trendy. Thanks for the little peek into your home, Leslie, and enjoy the season!

ci said...

yes , the ding, ding of the bell has been ringing for me. You see, i live in a gated community and we have an e-Mail type place to post stuff for others in the community to see. A neighbor posted about a family in need.....get this.... a Great Grandmother who has just gotten custody of a 10 and 3 yeaar old. can you imagine? that in itself is a real big deal. but it turns they had no decorations, or anything for Christmas. A call went out to the neighbors and people answered quickly with donations of gifts, decorations, dinner, cookies and gift cards. So cool to see every post on what people want to do. Everyone is so happy and excited to help. I believe this new family will have a joyous time for Christmas and prayfully, they will be happy together in their future. And me..."Im just happy to be here, too!" great post of yours!!

Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces said...

I have made a deliberate attempt to slow down this not become stressed...and to remember what is important. I think I will have a little bell in my mind now as a reminder!
Your home is so lovely and restful...I could move right in. I am in love with the moss in the candlesticks...
I hope you have a wonderful Christmas with those you love, Leslie...xo

michele said...

i hear those dings. those tings. those ring a ling a lings. but for me they register as more of a hush--of time standing still, if you will. they are everywhere if we tune our ears to hear and stay awake. your dining room is absolutely glorious with its european/spare/tranquil feel that i so love. the floors are such a great contrast, and i can't wait to bring in white linen drapes like yours! wonderful progress on your home, leslie. it's exciting to see it unfurl in loveliness. i'm feeling overwhelmed and disoriented after being in the desert for vacation but i am sure i will get things done and be back in peace mode soon. love to you.

Karen said...

Like Linda, your reader comment above, I've had to slow down this year due to the stomach flu followed by a terrible cold. I think its the best thing that could have happened. I'm enjoying the simple Christmas decorating I've done and feel more relaxed than usual, even though I'm late to finish my shopping. Somehow I feel like it's okay. After reading your introduction, I too feel lucky to be here.
I'm so happy to see the latest pics of your dining room and projects. It's coming along beautifully. So calming and pretty.
Happy Christmas to you and yours.

Laurie said...

I hear those dings more often now that I have had a close call with a brain aneurysm. I too feel lucky to be here and am grateful for every day. Thank you for your beautiful posts. They are truly moving to me.

On another note could you share what kind and manufacturer of your beautiful wood floors in the dining room? They are beautiful!

Merry Christmas to you and your family and the best for the New Year!

Susan Nowell @ My Place to Yours said...

Beautiful progress in your dining room, Leslie! It really exudes serenity.

My favorite part of this post, though, is the beginning. I, too, hear the bells ringing. Our family chose many years ago to scale back on the gift-giving and give donations in honor of family members instead. It's greatly cut down on the stress — and "upped" the joy — as we think about what's important to each family member and choose organizations/ministries/someone to bless in their honor. As you know, when we pay attention,"real world" situations come to light, and we have a ready-made opportunity to share Love with our neighbors. ...The teenage boy who needs stylish clothes; the reformed drug addict/prisoner hoping for a job; the mother of 3 working for $9/hr; the grandmother grieving the loss of a granddaughter; the lonely, depressed man living with no running water... May we never stop hearing the bells!

Merry Christmas and God's richest blessings to you and yours in the new year!

karen@somewhatquirky said...

Well, I for one, am also glad you're here. I'm so ambivalent about Christmas as it is today that I have to try hard to not be bitter about it. I remind myself that I've got so much going for me that I should spend as much time thinking about that as possible. There are so many people that are hurting and that pain is just exacerbated by the holiday season. I do try to close myself off from the media about this time of year because it screams everything I don't want to hear. I need a better plan of service starting in mid-November.
Your house is pulling together! I know that is a good feeling. Would you mind sharing what you did to hang your corbels so flush to the woodwork. I have two that hang in a door frame like yours, but I struggle with getting them as flush to the frame as possible.

Gypsy Heart said...

Lovely post, Leslie! I think it's so important for us to pay attention to the bells ringing rather than focusing on what we must do, buy, decorate, etc. Are we trying to impress the outside world or make a welcoming home for our family and friends? A dear friend recently had a major brain hemorrhage and has been in ICU for weeks + two surgeries and countless tests. She spent last year fighting cancer ~ 2 surgeries there plus chemo and radiation. I think of her and what we can do to make things better for her recovery. Losing my granddaughter 2 years ago has forever changed our family and holidays, especially Christmas. That was her favorite.

I've decided on minimal decor and buying. We are very fortunate to be here, indeed! Making the holidays better for others like Susan said, is vital I believe. I just can't deal with a jillion Christmas trees, 10 mantels to decorate and every room bursting with "stuff". Sorry if I offend anyone...that is not my intent.

Your home is looking beautiful, as I knew it would! Love the idea for the candles, thank you!

Merry Christmas!

La Contessa said...

Your in Long Beach?!!!Why did I think you were back EAST?I zipped by you last weekend!Everything is looking very festive!Love the moss in the candlesticks!!!I miss those boat parades!!!I lived a wee bit south from you in the early 80's!!!!!

Leena Milligan Lanteigne said...

Hi Leslie! Merry Christmas! This was a great post! Something important to think about, your gorgeous dining room redo to admire and get inspiration from and those cute and creative furry candle holders - a great way to satisfy that crafting urge without a lot of time or expense, with a fantastic end result! The trifecta of posts! My December has been really busy, preparing to move! Details on my blog. I can't wait but I don't think I'll ever get this packing done! Who let all this stuff in our house? LOL! Enjoy your holidays! Hugs, Leena (pinkcherubmoon)

Mary Ann Pickett said...

SO so pretty. The IKEA curtains look great and I love the elegant simplicity of your dining room. I'm glad your are here, too. Merry Christmas.

Karena said...

Leslie, all so serene, inviting and full of charm, I love it all!

The Arts by Karena
The India Hicks Collection!

Sherry @ No Minimalist Here said...

Leslie, Great post. Your dining room is beautiful and I love the antique corbels. Happy Holidays to you and your family.

Tamera Beardsley said...

Such a lovely post my dear! I couldn't agree more with your holiday sentiment!


PS Your dining room is looking gorgeous!!

Veronica Roth said...

Lovely Christmas preparations and lovely thoughts on compassion and happiness. That's a timely and very important post Leslie. We all need to look around and sound our own jingle bells. I bet you'll have a wonderful Christmas supper in your new dining room. That's one room Robert and I keep trying to decide what to do with here in England. But in the Vancouver house it's not the dining's the painting. I haven't painted the walls since I moved in 5 years ago! That's on the agenda as well. Makes such a difference. Big hugs form me all the way over here in Oxfordshire for a month or so. :D

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