Little Spice in Life

Fall is coming y’all!   I love fall.  I love the change in the temperatures.  I love getting back into a more structured schedule.  I love sitting on the back porch by the fire (having a good old s’more every now and then).  I love thinking about the coming holidays.  All of it spurs me to clean, to get up a little earlier, to read more and to cook more.  Fall just seems to be the season for hospitality and adding some spice to life.  It’s a time for laughter around the table, brisk walks in the cool morning air.  It’s a time to cheer on our favorite football teams.  Cinnamon, clove, nutmeg.  Barbecue sauces, roasted chilies, peppercorns.  Fall.

My weekly menus needed a little spicing up.  I was growing tired of our favorite summer recipes.  As I began this past week to think through some old fall favorites and peruse Pinterest for some fall cooking inspiration, I found myself inspired by the colors of fall.  Reds, green, oranges.  Apples, peppers, carrots, pumpkins and squash.  Yum!  Immediately I knew it was time to pull out one of my “tweaked” family favorites.  I grew up eating candied carrots.  The good old Southern kind smothered in butter and brown sugar, slow cooked until glazed and slightly browned.  While there is absolutely nothing wrong with that good old Southern recipe, adding a little spice always makes everything nice!  Honey Glazed Pepper Jelly Carrots.  Yep.  Nothing better.  Even grandma approved! Yes, the same grandma who taught me the traditional candied carrot cooking method.

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I promise you will want to try this recipe.  Go for it!  It’s the perfect balance of sweet and spicy.  Just enough heat to make you perk up, but sweet enough to comfort.

Honey Glazed Hot Pepper Jelly Carrots

I apologize to all my readers for my recent absence.  Life has just been happening and frankly, I needed a break.  However, speaking of needing a little spice in life.  I have a lot more to say on that subject.  I have been in a leadership training the past few days, and as I was prompted to think on my mission, think about my behavior style, I was reminded I need to be bold, to take more risks, to speak up and doubt less.  It’s time to get back at this blog thing!

 

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You Can Have it All, Just Not All at Once

This week I have been doing a little evaluating of my current life.  Back to full time work, two girls graduating high school, a home to manage, friends to see…  As I pondered my own frustrations, disappointments, I also saw a post from another hard working mom asking if there was such a thing as balance.  Another young mom messaged me asking how I managed, what could she do different.

As women we all struggle.  It is hard to be all the things we want to be.  Sometimes we have choices, other times the circumstances of our lives dictate whether or not we have choices.  As Christian women the struggle can run deep.  Not only do we hold ourselves to the standard of the world, but we hold ourselves up to the Proverbs 31 woman and create expectations we often can’t meet.

Going back to work at age 50 is a completely different experience from that of my 20s. It’s not better, it’s not worse.  It is just different.  Experience has taught me.  Struggles with anxiety and fear have moved me.  As I thought about the questions of dear friends, as I pondered my own momentary frustration I was reminded that today matters.  What I choose today is what matters most.  Who I am today affects my tomorrow.  I cannot be all things to all people at all times, but I can be who I need to be today to the persons God brings across my path.  I can choose today to return home from work and turn my attention to the ones I love most, preparing food, washing clothes, caring for their needs. There is not a lot of time for relaxation, for outings, for extra time with friends.  But that is okay.  All too soon the girls will be gone, their adult lives unfolding.  I will no longer have the chance to wash their clothes, light a candle to say welcome home, cook their favorite meal.  When that time comes there will be more time for friends, for personal rest.

Life is a journey.  Spiritual growth is a journey.  I can have it all, just not all at once.  Each season brings new opportunities.  Each season requires saying no to some things, so others can be cherished.  As I read back through scripture I am reminded the Proverbs 31 woman lived a full life.  She too experienced and lived her life in seasons.  And most of all, I am reminded that what God desires I learn from her is her character traits- patience, love, perseverance, joy, hope.

Remember.  God has you in this season to do His work where you are at this time.  You won’t be able to do it all right now.  But over a lifetime you just might have the chance. Be patient, love well, persevere, and hope in the future.

 

Proverbs 31:10-31New International Version (NIV)

Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character

10 [a]A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Serve One Another

As a missionary kid I grew up in the midst of people giving their whole lives to service, to making the difference in someone else’s life, seeking to help and to share the gospel. Opportunities to travel the globe as a child and youth exposed me to needs, to political structures which stifled and caused harm to citizens.  I knew from the age of 14 I wanted to work in public service.

This week thousands of us in public service, join the Points of Light Foundation in remembering President Bush’s inaugural speech and his call to action.  We honor him, the legacy he built.  I remember watching the speech.  I remember the reference to the non-profit and government programs spread across the country “like shining stars”.  I remember, in those moments, knowing I had chosen the career that was right for me. Today, as I serve the citizens of Arkansas, President Bush’s words continue to inspire me. Programs and processes do not change people.  Programs ad processes may offer help, they may meet a concrete need, but they do not change people.  People change people.  I believe that, not just because of years of service with government and nonprofit organizations, but I believe that because I know we were created by God to have relationship.  We were created to need one another.

My work plans for 2017 involve the launch of a system to connect people to other people, helping people meet the needs of others.  In my personal life my desire for 2017 is to strengthen existing relationships and open myself up to new ones, to respond to needs when I see them.  As a mother, my greatest desire has been to teach my children to connect to others, to see the needs of those around them and sacrifice their time and resources to meet them.  That character trait is one I have desired to instill and rates high above grades or popularity in our home.  My prayer this week is that they, my girls, and you will read the words of President Bush, be inspired, and then take action.

http://www.pointsoflight.org/people/board-members/president-george-h-w-bush

LoveAllHeart

 

How to…

I am often asked how I get done what I get done.  Let me first say, I honestly don’t think I get more done than most people.  I think it often appears that way because I hold my emotions close, am fairly private and try to maintain my composure.  I fear I sometimes appear “all together” and that is often far from the truth (just ask my family!).  I will admit though, that I have also been a student of time management for as long as I can remember.  I was that child in elementary school who wanted to work my way through every SRA test seeing my name rise on the chart.  I was the high school student who wanted to make good grades, play sports, serve on student council and earn spending money.  I was the college student who had to work her way through college, so I needed to be able to balance studies with work.  I was the young wife who wanted to work, cook fabulous meals, entertain friends and business partners and create a “Southern Living” style home.  And then I became a first time mom to not one, but two beautiful baby girls and I wanted to be present in every way, have our home continue to be a haven and place for gathering, and I desperately wanted my girls to see me serving in the community.

 

I have have learned a lot about managing my time along the way.  Some lessons were learned through painful mistakes, while others were learned as doors opened and new opportunities presented themselves.  I am still learning.  I have revisited many of my favorite tools and books as I have re-entered the workforce after 16 years as a stay-at-home mom.  I have given a lot of thought to what advice I would share with others as I prepare to send my girls to college next year.  Here are a few of my favorite tips:

  1. Choices:  We all have the same amount of time.  We have to make choices.  Anything we choose to do fills our time and requires we say no to something else.
  2. We all need help.  Even the Proverbs 31 woman had help.  She had maidservants.  We cannot keep our homes, do all the shopping and all food preparations, volunteer at our children’s schools and at church, work, serve our friends and maintain our sanity.  We have to allow others to help.  If our budget allows that may mean a hired housekeeper.  If not, it may mean our children have chores and our husband helps. We may need to swap childcare services with a friend.  When I chose to go back to work this year I knew it would require budgeting for a housekeeper and passing off some of the household shopping to my husband and girls.
  3. We need to know our personal rhythm and build our schedule around it.  I am a morning person.  I do my best thinking in the morning.  I have energy in the morning.  As a result I make it a habit of setting my work hours early.  While I would love to be one of those people who goes to the gym at 5:30, it doesn’t fit my rhythm. I do much better jumping right into work and then fitting in a workout on the way home late afternoon/early evening, giving myself a time to transition and a little energy boost.  My natural rhythm also means I need to go to bed early.  I am usually in bed by 9:30 and try to have lights out by 10:30.  I have tried many times to adjust my schedule, to be more like someone else, but in the end my natural rhythm is a part of my DNA and there is no fighting it.  I am a better version of me and am able to perform better when i embrace my personal rhythm.
  4. I live by the 15 minute rule.  Any time I feel stuck, am dreading an assignment or find myself with some extra time I employ the 15 minute rule.  You will be amazed at all you can do in 15 minutes.  Giving your undivided attention to something for just 15 minutes can be the difference between never getting a task done, never starting on a project or complete success.  Here is a list of just a few things you can tackle in 15 minutes:
    1. Empty the dishwasher
    2. Clean out your purse or car
    3. Make your bed
    4. Respond to email
    5. Update/sync your calendar
    6. Create a work plan for a project
  5. Always build in white space.  I always add 15 minutes to the front end and back end of appointments.  This allows me some buffer, keeps me from running late, and is often a source of some 15 minute blocks to tackle some of the daily tasks.  I also leave at least two weeknights open.  This means I have seldom joined a book club or a Bunko group.  This means my husband and I say “yes” to very few charitable events.  (we will pay for a ticket and gladly give someone else our seats)  Early on in our parenting my husband and I made a decision to not let hurry and events run our lives.  We have chosen instead a slower paced way of living, making certain we AND our girls were at home as often as possible.  To some this may have meant keeping our girls from opportunities, denying them the chance to be popular, the best at their sport.  All I can tell you is I have well-rounded, happy girls.  They both have activities they love, lots of friends and our home during these years high school years has been the gathering place.  They would tell you they didn’t miss out on a thing.
  6. Use a calendar.  I am a list maker, but that is not why I advocate use of a calendar.  No.  My advocacy for calendars stems from my desire and intent to be aware of where and how I spend my time.  I want to make choices and know what choices I am making.  Life can and will quickly take control if we allow it.  By using a calendar (which for me is still a paper version) I see how our schedule looks, I know what I have planned for the day, week, month.  I become more conscious, more aware.

I do get a lot done.  However, there are also a lot of things I don’t get done, and most of those are by choice.  I try to extend grace to myself.  I try to maintain discipline without being rigid.  The “how to” is a lifelong learning experience and each season brings new challenges, new lessons, new methods.

If you are struggling to get things done, to get our from under the weight of your calendar I hope a few of my tips will help.  Most of all, I pray you will find some time this week to step back from your life, your daily routine and give it some thought.  Take a leap of faith. Say no where you need to.  Make the desires of your heart your priorities.  Reset your schedule and live your life, not someone else’s.

Family: the Ties that Bind

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Father’s Day.  As with any holiday there are those who celebrate with great joy, but I am mindful too there are those who struggle with this holiday, having been abandoned, hurt or maybe even never knowing their father.  I thought of those yesterday, maybe because in my circle I know too many struggling there.  Maybe because it was the Spirit’s prompting as I seek this year to be mindful of joy, to be mindful of others.

My small family is pictured above.  A family my husband and I longed to have, waited to have, and fight for every single day.  As I watched my girls prepare for the day, celebrate their father, I had to pause and thank God, not just for this man of mine, but for giving me the wisdom and the discernment 26 years ago to pick this man.  26 years ago my own family was going through a difficult time.  Relationships were strained.  Somehow in the midst of it all, I was able to see this man for who he was.  He didn’t let the strained relationships of my family deter him, instead he became my rock, my encourager. He often held me accountable, reminding me time heals, and that what I did with the situation would set the course for my life, more than the situation itself.

My girls wanted to get their dad a tie this year.  Yes, the proverbial tie.  It was a stylish little Southern Tide model.  They always seek to keep their dad in the latest and greatest.  He loved it.  He really did!  As I reflected though over the course of the day the tie became symbolic.  My husband works for himself and NEVER dresses up for work.  However, he is a traditionalist when it comes to worship and every Sunday dresses in his very best-right down to the tie.  The tie for him is  a symbol of “best”, a reminder of more traditional days and times.  It is a reminder to me I married a man who values tradition, not in an “I refuse to change kind of way”, but in a traditional values and morals matter kind of way.  He believes in family.  He fights for family.  He encourages family and friends a like to value their family.  He has raised our girls to honor family, even in the difficult times, even when it hurts.  He holds firm to the biblical teaching that God created family, it is His plan for man on earth.  It was created long before the church.  Family matters, and matters more than church, work, ministry.  Family isn’t ALL that matters, but it is priority, it is the foundation on which societies are built.  I am so thankful this man has taught right priorities, has lived what he preaches.

Our family is far from perfect.  On both sides of our family we have those who have hurt us, some who have strayed from faith, others who have never known faith.  I am thankful the leader of my family says, “That’s no excuse to quit family.”  I am thankful my girls are learning grace, how to give it and how to except it through family relationships.

Families are the ties that bind.  They are the building blocks of society, they are the building blocks of the church.  How we manage our families, how we respond to crisis, hurt and disappointment in our families reflects our faith.  Who we are at home reflects our true selves.  Families are the ties that bind.

Home Matters

If you follow my blog, you know I love home.  Having grown up moving a lot (and I mean a lot-like 24 times before I was 30) there was always a part of me that wanted to “settle down”.  However, in all honesty there is still a bit of wander lust in me and I do like a change of scenery every now and then!  Any way, back to my point.  I love home.  As a Christian woman and mother, I have always felt like home was a critical part of my role, my purpose.  Early on I spent time studying about how to care for home. Fortunately I went into marriage and motherhood pretty well prepared thanks to parents who taught and expected a lot.  I remember reading Emilie Barnes’ books and her statement that “wives set the tone for the home” impacted me, stayed with me. I have always wanted my home to be a safe haven, a quiet place for my family to refresh, regroup, share, rest.  I have worked hard at trying to create the right atmosphere-sometimes too hard, sometimes too focused on the material contents and keeping order.  These days, as a mom of teens and quickly approaching 50, I have found myself settling into a bit more balance, lowering some of my expectations, and really focusing on the tone of my home.  Tone of home is a feeling. It is that “home sweet home” sense you get when you walk in that familiar space that makes you feel safe, important, valued, loved.

8_4_9 home sweet home 2

I want that tone to extend beyond my immediate family.  I want everyone who enters to feel that sense of welcome, to know they can stop and take a deep breath.

As I was reading through Home Life magazine from Lifeway, I came across some word art in the front of the magazine.  It resonated with me.  It reminded me of how very important home is.  It made me stop and voice a prayer of gratitude for these days I am able to be at home, home school, raise my family.  It made me ask forgiveness for those nights I awaken worried about our finances, wondering if I will ever have a job of any substance once the girls leave home and I venture out to help pay for college and all the associated expenses.  It reminded me that while others may seem to have it all, be more together, have less worries, I would not exchange my life for theirs.  Our finances aren’t easy.  I walked away from a career I may never have again.  We have to make choices and our girls are a part of those conversations.  But it is worth it.  Every moment home with them has been worth it.  Home’s importance drew me to my Mary & Martha business, where I have opportunity to equip and encourage women to engage in hospitality.  (www.mymaryandmartha.com/shana).  Home’s importance is why one of my best friends and I run an organizing business.

I have posted the words above my desk-a daily reminder.  Not my words, but words that encourage and remind.  I wanted to share them with you.

We believe in the home. It’s the place where ministry starts and ends day in and day out.  We stand for dynamic marriages that beat the odds and practice commitment.  We believe in family meals and talking about your day.  We believe that your corner of the earth, whatever it looks like, is an extension of the church, a place where community is grown and nurtured.  We believe that if you change the home you change the world.  There’s a lot of life between Sundays. (January Home Life magazine/Lifeway)

I hope those words encourage you and challenge you.  Be grateful for home.  Remember it is a high calling.  The lives I impact in my home will forever impact the world.  Home matters.  It matters enough to give up some other things.  It matters enough to set aside time to invite your friends in.  It matters.  The church does not create godly families.  Godly families create the church.

The Center of Our Home-Where Things Change

The center of our new home is literally my great room coffee table.  Our home is a very open concept, so you walk in the front door to a large entry from which you just flow right into the dining room, great room and kitchen.  I LOVE IT.  And literally in the middle sits my coffee table.

Advent has been a part of my family Christmas off and on for most of my life.  As a pastor my dad loved to include the advent candle as part of our worship.  Some years we did the same at home, others not.  With my own children we have attempted some form of Advent each year.  When they were young it was about the Advent Calendar.  My mother-in-law purchased a wonderful nativity scene advent calendar from World Crafts years ago.  My children loved trying to figure out which pieces to put in the pockets so the story unfolded correctly.  We also used the Advent box purchased through Family Life, where the children open a new gift box each year.  As they grew it sometimes amounted to nothing more than reading the daily scripture.  Then, last year I came upon Ann Voskamp’s, “The Greatest Gift”.  We purchased an Advent Wreath and candles.  We are using the same this year and have added to it our “Gather Round” from Barbara Rainey’s Ever Thine Home and the “post-it” notes provided on Ann Voskamp’s website.  (Each morning after reading the “post it ” reminder, we place it on the Gather Round Wreath.)

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It is here our hearts are stirred.  It is here our minds are cleared.  It is here the quiet settles in and His truth permeates the stillness.  The center of my home is where things change.  Each morning the “post it” cards prompt us to new thoughts, transforming thoughts and action.  Action following love, the love He imparts through grace.  Each evening our spirits are quieted as we stop to relinquish the day, prepare for rest.  Life may get messy in between.  We will fall short of His glory.  We may even lose sight of Christmas, but this place, this centering spot, brings us back.

If Advent has not been a part of your Christmas, head over to Holly Gerth’s site (see the button over on the side).  Today is a round up of Advent Resources.  You are sure to find something.  You won’t regret adding this to your traditions.  And remember, if you miss a night, life goes on, don’t give in, just pick back up.

Mary & Martha: Coming July 2014

I have been struggling to blog lately.  The move, end of school stuff, building needs, etc… are frankly keeping me busy.  Yesterday, in the midst of it all, God answered a prayer.  There are still more to be answered, but it is incredibly cool to see something come together.  I don’t have time today, but tomorrow can’t wait to share a little about the “how this came to pass” part of my story.

 

The Move that NEVER Ends

I have spent my whole life moving.  Growing up I moved about every two and a half years.  My husband and I built and moved numerous times before having children.  All that to say, I know how to move.  I am accustom to moving.  But, let me tell you something.  This recent move, well it just won’t end and it has been the worst of moves.  Now, before I seem like I am complaining, let me say-I am fully aware I chose to make this move and therefore am not complaining.   (Well, maybe I am a little, but…)

I have learned some valuable life lessons in the move.  I am sure I have more to learn, seeing as the move isn’t over yet!  Just so you have a little back knowledge here is the course of events:

We have been living in our current home, which we were able to custom build, thirteen years.  We moved in about 6 months before the girls turned 3.  Wow!  Where has the time gone. Being who we are, loving construction, not being real good at putting down roots and getting really tired of stairs, we began talking about moving.  We longed for an open, one story plan with a pool out back.  Problem was finding where to put this house we dreamed of.  Well, we found a lot and a friend and building partner offered to build for us!  Who could resist.  Of course, add this to the fact I am now home schooling one of my 9th grade daughters (yes, something I said I would NEVER do) and the other will be transferring to a different private Christian school.  LOTS of change.  Any way, we decided to build and well, once we decide something we get right on it.  We began construction.

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Within a month of beginning construction I put our home on the market, with prayers it would sell before we closed on the new house.  Well, sell it did.  Three times we had the house under contract.  One time to fall through, the second time to close, the third as a full price back-up offer.  Long story, but suffice it to say we sold.  However, selling meant finding temporary housing for 60-75 days.  Not easy.  Being the organized person that I am, I began researching movers, storage options and furnished apartments. I found what I thought were the best solutions for all three and the packing and moving process began!

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Move day came, and well, things didn’t go as planned.  A move that was to end at 4:00 p.m. or 5:00 p.m. didn’t end until 2:00 a.m.  Boxes of dishes were broken as a result of being packed upside down and under boxes marked “Heavy/Books”.   It would have been very easy to be very mad.  And, I won’t lie, we were a little angry.  However, 4 days before our move one of the most destructive tornadoes to come through Arkansas hit close to home.  While we were bemoaning smashed boxes and a broken dining table, there were families placing remnants of yard equipment, photos, kitchen cabinets in storage, just happy to have found anything in the midst of the rubble once called home.  It gave us perspective.  It continues to give us perspective.  Move finally completed, we took our clothes and some other essentials and moved into a furnished executive apartment managed by Marriott.  This was supposed to be the arrangement for the next 60-75 days.  Ha!  Not this time, Not this move!  In a series of events I have yet to know or understand the apartment complex and Marriott chose to no longer do business with each other and we are to move the 30th of this month.  Yes, move again.  According to Marriott, “this has never happened”.  Of course it hasn’t!

So, as you can see, our move just won’t end.  We have taken it all in stride.  I am actually pretty proud of how well we, especially I, have taken it in stride.  It is evidence to me I have changed, grown, matured.  While I feel the aches and pains in my body, see the evidence on my face, it is nice to know my spirit and mind have done a little growing of their own. We have managed to laugh about most of it.

Lessons learned courtesy our move that never ends:

1.  You can never plan enough/be organized enough.  Life is life.  People are people.  Things happen.  Just be ready for the unexpected.

2.  I have not taught my children how to pack and set up a room.  I was reminded we can not teach merely by word, but we must teach by example and we must often do the task with them the first time.

3.  My expectations are almost always too high.  I think it is fine to have high expectations.  In fact, I would say it is good.  However, one needs to be prepared to fall short or be a little disappointed.  It doesn’t mean I need to lower my expectations (if I did that I might not strive as hard), but I need to have grace when life or people or I fall short.

4.  Very few people today care about others as much as they care about themselves.  I am reminded I need to teach my children to do everything as for the Lord, striving to care for others as much or more than they care for themselves.

5.  Family is strong when family works together, prays together and plays together.  My family exceeded my expectations.  There have been no major meltdowns.  A little grumbling (but hey, don’t you think we deserve a little?)  We have weathered the storm and in the midst everyone worked hard, we prayed for ourselves and for those around us and we took time to rest and play together.

6.  Home is indeed where the heart is.  We are a little displaced right now, but life carries on.  Our daily routines continue and what is important still happens.  We eat breakfast and dinner together.  We share in taking care of the dogs.  We laugh, we bicker, we work…  We are at home, because we are together.

We look forward to being in our new home.  A little displacement will only make us appreciate it all the more.  This move may seem like it is never gonna end, and that’s O.K.  I’d rather be on a journey with my family, than stuck.  I’d rather be tested and grow, learn, than stagnate.  We will move into our new home.  We will nest and get settled.  In the end though, it too is temporary.  Our real home is in heaven.  It’s a mansion our Jesus has gone on to create.  I pray my family learns our lessons as we move.  I pray we are acting in obedience as we journey on.  I pray our hope remains in Him and the knowledge that one day it will ALL end, and we will be at home at last.

Well Planned (intentional) Home: Master Bathroom & Closets-tips for organizing and building

We are embarking on a new construction build and family move.  It requires a great deal of planning.  Last week you saw the items I use to ensure the plans are just right and all the building information is in one place, organized and readily accessible.  This week I am giving some tips on how to plan for living in your new home, ensuring the spaces and storage fit your needs.  After all, why else would one go through the tedious process of building?

The process begins with knowing what you have.  This is yet another great time to purge!  And everyone knows how much I love to purge!  The point is not to make the move easier, but to ensure you are taking with you to your new home what you love and use.  Knowing what you are taking, provides you the perfect opportunity to build the cabinets just right, include the perfect shelves in your closets etc…  Too often we just get excited about a new home, new possibilities and we fail to remember the same people will be living in the new home, taking with them all their same stuff, including habits!  The new plan not only needs to flow, but you need to know exactly what you will be doing in each room, how you will use the space, and what storage items you will be taking with you.  It’s the nitty, gritty details that will create the home of your dreams.  You can have a great floor plan, beautiful flooring, extravagant light fixtures, but if you don’t have the right space for your stuff, you will be frustrated and unhappy.  You might as well take time now to try to get it right!

So, where to begin that overwhelming process.  I begin by taking one room at a time.  I write down all the things I love about the room.  Next, I write down all the things I dislike about the room-decoration, function, storage etc…  Then I attempt to brainstorm solutions.  Once I have completed that process (which can take a couple of days and MUST include interviews of the other family members sharing the space) I get out the new plans and consider where and how I can implement the solutions.  Most often this requires lots of measuring, looking on line for inspiration and even some catalog shopping.  I know, it sounds tedious.  It is a little, but it can also be inspiring!

This week the Master Bathroom was assessed.  Currently there are separate his and her walk in closets.  The new space will have one big closet.  Immediately it became apparent there would need to be some clear delineation using built-ins so the space felt “separate” and husband and wife each had “their” space.  There is no linen closet, and neither party wants those items in the closet, so clearly some linen towers/cabinets need to be built into the separate vanities in the new home.  Neither husband or wife likes clutter, so drawers, and cabinets need to be able to hold toiletries and be easily accessible.  Here are some shots from the current master bath.

Bathroom vanity towerInside vanity towerUse every inchVanity drawerOver the toilet cabinet

The current bathroom has some great storage.  This either needs to be replicated or cabinets with similar measurements built in the new house.  The use of Lazy Susan’s is one of my favorite tools.  In this cabinet there is a his and hers.  The shelving is adjustable so tall items can be incorporated.  Perfect spot for those items you use multiple times a day.  Another great space for storage is the front of the sink.  A pull out tray is great for holding toothpaste, floss and toothbrush.  If you choose to keep a toothbrush here just know you will have to wipe it down once a week to keep mildew from building up.  Clear acrylic trays are great for makeup, nail clippers, hair brushes etc… Again though.  These items need to be measured and given to the cabinet maker so drawer dimensions will accommodate the storage items already owned and utilized.  Storage over the toilet is a must for me.  It just keeps life simpler.  Toilet paper is in reach.  Medicine can be kept sorted, contained and out of reach in handy $5.00 Rubber Maid white bins from Wal-Mart. Again, measure!  I would not go to the expense of having adjustable shelving in here, making it even more critical you know your measurements and what you want to store.  Having items already organized in this way also makes the move easier.  Like items can be packed together, the storage items placed in the same box, and in the case of the bins over the toilet, they can be packed with all the items remaining in them.

The closets can be a little trickier.  Remember, that the new space must be usable, not just pretty.  And it must be usable for the person using it-not you as the designer or planner.  Rods should be hung at different heights-not just for pants, dresses or etc… but also based upon the height of the person using the closet.  My husband’s rods are hung 8 inches higher than mine.  This eliminated an extra shelf in the top of his closet, but ensured taking things off the rods would be comfortable, and his clothes would not drag the floor.  It is important to also include shelving for shoes, or if like me, space to place a store purchased shoe organizer.

new blog 064new blog 065

What are we doing different?  We will have a second linen tower.  I don’t keep a lot of linens (remember only two sets of towels per person) but we still seem to need more storage than we have now.  We have also agreed we would like space to sit in the new bathroom or master closet, along with a landing spot for rings, watches, wallets etc…  The decision has been made there will be two chests, one on each side, of the new closet.  I have also determined that in the middle of the closet, tucked close to a center wall of shelves (16-18 inches deep for shoes and storage bins) will sit an old hope chest from my husband’s family.  It has been an item moved from place to place, never quite finding a home in the current house.  A pretty rug underneath and maybe a seat cushion will turn it into functional storage-perfect for keepsakes, special blankets and a place to sit and put on shoes.  I am thrilled to know this family piece will finally have a home, serve a purpose and no longer prove to be a decorating challenge.

Going through this process took some time.  I had to take extra time to really talk to my husband about his ideas, things that worked or didn’t work.  I had to be intentional.  That theme has been running through my life.  Maybe I need to call it the Intentional Home, in lieu of the Well Planned Home.  Being intentional makes us better.  Being intentional provides opportunity for creating better spaces.  Being intentional makes us think about how we live, what we want to change, what we love and who we are.  Whether you are moving, building, or just trying to get your home in order, remember just that.  Be intentional.

Next week I’ll hit the kitchen.  Hmmmm-dishes are my weakness, this could be tough.