Saturday, January 24, 2015

den paint, lamps and art

My parents came up last Saturday to help us paint the den. I agonized over paint colors for months and finally landed on “au lait ole” by Valspar. The color already on the walls was fine, but the room needed a paint job and I wanted a darker color. I’m already enjoying this room more, and I haven’t even decorated yet!

here is a before and after shot of the same wall:



….

I know. It hardly looks like we did anything! But look at how different the two colors actually are:

(notice the soot marks in the corner? yikes.)

You can see from the “before” shot and the “in-progress” shot that the original wall color looked different depending on the time of day I took the picture, and that’s the same with the new color. 

Complete after pics for this room won’t happen for at least a month because I have big plans to build a shelving unit. Wait, did I say I was going to build it? I meant my dad is going to build it. I’m going to try to help and not screw anything up. (He had to tell me to stop painting the trim because I was making a mess. Haha!)

Until then, I’ll show little peeks of what I have planned for the room. I couldn’t resist these two table lamps I found at Wal-Mart:


The gold lamp will definitely find it’s way into the den. It was $25 and I picked up a shade for it, too. The adjustable task lamp was only $18! Way to impress me, Wal-Mart.

And here are those two pieces of art I picked up in Georgia last November:



I know not everyone will share in my excitement over these ship prints. I DON’T CARE. I spotted them at Canton Street Antique Market in Roswell, and I knew right away that I had to have them. The price was right and the custom frames are in good condition. (They just need a little dusting.) The top ship was German and the bottom one was British. 

Are they not perfect for a den? I mean, really. I’ll just try to ignore the sounds of Andy’s video games while I write letters and study atlases. ;) 

Chaise fans: I have reached a decision. Well, Andy reached a decision and I regretfully agree. It’s outta here. It just doesn’t work with my vision for the room. I’d keep it for another space, but one of the wooden legs is split and sitting in it was a bit of a risk. Farewell, chaise! You were loved by my family and a few readers of this blog. 

Stay tuned!

Friday, January 16, 2015

den: before

I’m going into this project knowing I’m never going to get the “after” that I really want, because we have more important things to pay for than new flooring, custom built-ins and all new furniture. (If only, right?)  I love seeing room makeovers, but I’m often discouraged when I see that the owner’s budget was thousands of dollars. I have a dream of one day being paid to provide decorating consulting and styling for people on a more realistic budget, so what better way to practice than on my own home?

The room is in our basement, and has been serving as Andy’s “office.” Let’s call it what it really is: a place to put spare furniture. It was a functional space, but it wasn’t pretty. Andy would invite me to read on the couch while he played video games on his computer and I’d spend the whole time frowning at the room, trying to think of how to improve it.

I want the room to be a comfortable place to hang out, especially since it’s nice to have a second living area when entertaining guests. However, it’s not going to be our *main* living space, since we already have a lovely living room on the main floor that has our beloved leather furniture. (And our television.) So we’re going to make do with what we have and spend bits of money here and there to finish out the room. A few months ago I came across two pieces of framed art that I instantly fell in love with. I found them while visiting a friend in Georgia and had to have them shipped here, but the price was right and that purchase helped me hone in on my vision: I want this room to be a quintessential den. A cozy, secluded place for working and reading and playing games. A room with thoughtfully placed decor—a mix of masculine touches and pretty things.

Here’s what it looks like right now (halfway through getting stuff moved out so we can paint):




We used to have our black bookcase/cabinet along this wall, but we sold it on Craigslist a few months ago.  I wasn’t feeling it anymore. I’m not sure yet what will go here, but it will be some form of shelving.

We’re keeping the couch and the desk and computer chair. I’m on the fence about keeping the chaise and the glass-doored bookcase. Our first order of business is to paint the walls a slightly darker color. We’re sticking with a neutral since we’re working with a navy couch and potentially keeping that crazy fabulous chaise.

I can’t wait to finally get going on this room! Stay tuned for progress pics!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

around here

I’ve got HGTV on while I’m writing this and I need to put something out there:
I LOATHE Wayfair commercials. They are truly awful. I don’t know which commercials bug me more, Wayfair or the creepy Trivago guy.

Thank you for the kind and encouraging comments on my last blog post, friends. Each comment meant so much. Heck, each “like” on Facebook meant a lot! I’m humbled to know that my mom isn’t the only person who reads my blog.

These past two weeks since Christmas have been mostly slow and quiet, partly because I had a sinus infection last week and partly because that’s how our lives have been for some time now. In the next month we’ll hopefully be adding church and small group back into our schedule, and church basketball will finally be starting up. If you’re praying for us, you can pray for this transition to go smoothly. I get anxious just thinking about being around all those people. If I can find the words, I’ll try to write about my/our struggle with church and prayer and all of that. I know we aren’t alone in dealing with these things.

I’m on season 5 of Gilmore Girls and I’m not ashamed to say it—I’m in deep. The first three seasons were hard for me to get through and I felt rather “meh” about the whole thing. The characters are insane. The constant banter is insane. The amount of food those Gilmore girls eat without gaining weight is insaaaane. I flew through season 4, though, and now I’m at a point where I find the insanity a lovable trait of the show.

When I’m not watching Lorelei drink coffee, I’m drinking coffee myself, taking walks, pretending I know how to pop and lock, trying to find the cutest parts of a jigsaw puzzle (tiny people!), cooking or reading. I read 56 books last year, proving that reading is key to my survival. If you’re like me and always want to know what other people are reading, you can see my list here.

One thing I love to do if I don’t have a sub job is make myself a big breakfast. There’s something wonderful about cooking for yourself and making whatever it is that you want in that moment. I’ve gotten really good at scrambling eggs and I’ve almost perfected over-medium (my favorite). My current breakfast obsession is mixing heated black beans with my mom’s homemade salsa and eating it alongside two eggs and two slices of bacon.

If that doesn’t sound crazy delicious to you (you FREAK), guess what I just licked off my fingertips?Homemade crêpes stuffed w/ Nutella and banana slices and topped with fresh whipped cream. Oh baby do I know how to eat! Maybe I’ve been watching too much Gilmore Girls…

How do you end a blog post that is about absolutely nothing? With a song, I think.

Friday, January 2, 2015

I survived

I’ve been seeing all of these Facebook and blog posts about what people accomplished in 2014 and it’s really disheartening. I mean, what have I done? I’ve done nothing! I’ve done absolutely nothing for two years. I’ve tried to grow babies. That’s it.

I spoke those words laced with hurt and bitterness while hunched over on the bed, my cell phone pushed tight against my ear. Laura, you survived, my friend said with loving frankness. Some people in your situation give up completely. You are still married. Some people in your situation don’t stay married. You cannot compare how you’ve spent your year with how other people have spent it. Their lives have not been rocked like yours. It’s apples and oranges. Show yourself some grace.

I didn’t start a business in 2014. I didn’t get a new job, or move to a new city, or train for a marathon. I didn’t go down several sizes or go on a missions trip.

In 2014 I survived getting pregnant not long after losing my first child. I thought God was saying “yes” to my prayers for a new, healthy baby. I survived opening a registry and taking pictures of my belly and buying things for the nursery, all while grieving the loss of my son. I survived the doctor’s appointment at 21 weeks when I was told my baby had multiple defects and would need an incredible amount of pre and post-natal care. I survived the next day, when I woke up and had a feeling that something wasn’t right. I prayed “God, if you’re going to take my baby before I get to meet him or her, do it now.” I survived telling my baby that I loved it, and that it was okay to let go.

I survived seeing a lack of heartbeat on the screen for the second time in 11 months. I survived the most excruciating physical pain I’ve ever been in as the doctors tried method after method to get my dead baby out. I survived leaving the hospital empty handed, again, even though I had just given birth, again.

I am still here. I am still married. I have painkillers and alcohol in the house and I haven’t abused either substance. I have been less social than ever before and lost some friends along the way, but I haven’t completely cut myself off from the world — a world FULL of pregnant women and newborns.

I survived viewing post after post of “It’s been a great year!” on my news feed, while my own Year in Review said, “Laura, here’s what your year looked like in 2014” and showed a picture of my baby’s fingers against mine. (That app caused grief for others, too.)

I have shared quite a bit of my grief with you, dear readers. But, after I posted about coming home from Europe, a friend commented that she imagines I still hold back a bit when I share my heart. I was touched by her words, because they're true. I DO hold back. The pain is way worse than I’ve described it (which you would know if you’ve endured great loss). There are only so many words to describe how it feels, and even if I were to paint you a perfect picture of that doctor’s appointment, those hellish days in the hospital and the months of isolation and spiritual dryness that followed, most of you still wouldn’t get it. This disconnect is what causes me to feel alone, even if I’m in a room full of people.

I feel I’m on a boat, drifting away. I’m not on the course I charted. The trip I so carefully prepared for is not going as planned. I have my husband with me, but everyone else is on land and they’re getting smaller and smaller as we float away. We sway with each wave and get dragged around by the tide. Under the surface is an anchor holding fast, but in our anger and confusion we either forget it’s there or don’t fully trust in it.

Still, the anchor is there, and He is why I can say “I’ve survived."

Friday, December 19, 2014

Vienna and Salzburg

I had a heated discussion with Andy about the meaning of continental Europe before I left. I’ve been to Europe before (I studied abroad in Ireland and went on a family vacation in London), but I said something about it being my first time in continental Europe and Andy nearly choked on his coffee. It’s all continental Europe, he said, laughing at me. I’m right, though! Hear that, babe? I’M RIGHT.

Back in August my parents told us we wouldn’t be doing a big family trip in 2015 like we had all hoped. Miss “I’ve got the travel bug” over here was really disappointed. Then, one day in October, my sister called and told me knew how bummed I was that we weren’t doing a trip. She mentioned the Christmas markets in Austria and how mom thought it would be fun to do that for her 60th birthday and take us girls, so... did I want to go? I burst into tears. Wait, what? THIS Christmas? A few days later, our tickets were purchased. It was crazy, I tell ya! I was so overwhelmed by it all that I kept the news mostly to myself for a while. 

Anyway, on to the trip! There is so much to share, but I’ll stick to things that stand out in my memory and share more little details in personal conversation.

Our first stop was Vienna. We arrived the morning of Dec. 2nd and stayed until midday Dec. 4th. We then stayed in Salzburg for three nights before heading to Innsbruck on Sunday, the 7th.

A few highlights from Vienna:



If you stand on any street and spin around slowly, you’ll take in at least one incredibly ornate building or beautiful park or crazy statue. OR all three. Vienna was simply glorious. Walking down each street felt like a new adventure! There were lots of skinny alleyways with shops tucked inside and cafes everywhere. 

We had great goulash and wiener schnitzel in Vienna, but my favorite meal was at a tiny Italian restaurant called Cantinetta La Norma. A friend of ours had been there and recommended it, and we weren’t let down. I also loved the hot dog we had outside of St. Stephens. The vendor took a baguette, skewered it with a rod, squirted mustard and ketchup inside the middle and then shoved a long skinny hot dog down into hot, sauce-y bread. (Is it just me or does that sound like a violent way to make a hot dog?) Well, it was fabulous. My sister ate at that same hot dog stand five years ago and had been dreaming of it ever since. I can see why!

Part of the fun of being in Europe in the winter was seeing everyone all bundled up and sporting cute boots. People were out and about at all times of day and night and every glühwein stand was PACKED.  ’Twas all very cozy. :)

A quick rundown of what we did (not in chronological order): walked in, around and on top of St. Stephens, explored multiple Christmas markets, listened to a opera soloist accompanied by a harpist at the beautiful Vienna State Opera, viewed training of the famous Lipizzaner stallions and walked through the grounds at Belvedere palace.

A few highlights from Salzburg:



The coolest thing about Salzburg is seeing the fortress/castle everywhere you go. Unless of course, you’re inside the fortress, and then you have an incredible view of the city and surrounding countryside. We were in Salzburg for three nights and we went up to the fortress three times. On our first night we took the funicular up and we practically had the whole place to ourselves. The next day we walked through the city and up to the castle. It was a steep walk. We spent a good chunk of time walking through the various rooms, checking out the little Christmas market inside the castle and doing an audio tour (which was actually really good). On our last day we walked to the castle by crossing the river and taking a path over the Mönchsberg mountain. I would definitely recommend making that hike if you’re in Salzburg!

As if being in picturesque Salzburg wasn’t dreamy enough, we were upgraded from our perfectly lovely and large junior-King suite to THE PRESIDENTIAL SUITE. It had a doorbell. And a huge flatscreen in the master bathroom. And a dining room table. We also had access to the hotel’s VIP lounge, where we could eat and drink whenever we so pleased. Free beer on tap. Champagne at the ready. THE best hot chocolate I’ve ever had. Plus, we were served by a really sweet girl who snuck us snacks out of the kitchen just to make our stay even more delightful. My mom asked her where the hotel bought their stollen and she brought out a box for us to take home, on the house. She also introduced us to Nic-Nacs, crispy-coated peanuts that quickly became my new snack obsession. It’s embarrassing how many bags of peanuts I stuffed into my suitcase...

One night we ran into a group of TERRIFYING costumed creatures that we later found out were Krampus. (The server I mentioned told us she was afraid to walk home after work because the Krampus scare her so much. Kind of like this.) Thankfully, none of us were whipped!

Other than exploring the castle, we also walked up and down the streets of the Old City and did a bit of shopping, lots of Christmas-marketing, walking inside churches with our heads back and mouths open, checking out Mirabell Gardens and devouring the best apple strudel at Café Tomaselli (the oldest operating coffee house in Austria). We also took a bus to the Christmas Market in Hellbrunn, just outside of Salzburg. (Notice the Advent markings on the windows.)

Oh, and WE WENT ICE SKATING! In SALZBURG! Somebody pinch me.

a few more pics...