Awkwardly Yours

Remember that time when my squishy baby legs grew so fast that my junior-size jeans couldn’t even skim the white leather of my Reebok high-tops?  Crop pants weren’t just an option but a unintentional fashion statement.

It wasn’t a pretty time (no matter how many times my Daddy told me so).  Awkward is mild in describing my transition from little lass to tween–orangutan arms of epic proportions and the kind of toothy, gummy, uninhibited smile that pays for an orthodontist’s mortgage and maybe his pool.

www.tphblog.comBonus awkward points:  playing with toes

But if you are an awkward tween survivor, you can attest that change brings beauty and strength on the other side.

www.tphblog.comThe living room in progress and host to furniture in need.  Color swatches = trusting my instincts.

A couple weeks ago I did an Instagram tour of our home based on fellow Instagrammers requests–photos of in-progress rooms.  What I thought would be a simple snap of photos around the house actually turned out to be a huge design lesson to me–one key point being, I am in a state of awkward change akin to a young child changing into an awkward adolescent en route to become a lovely and mature young adult.  Maybe your house is in an awkward stage, too?

www.tphblog.comThe cute calm before the awkward storm.

www.tphblog.comNew door detail on an old cabinet we’ve had for years + nomadic accessories + cool chair awaiting transformation

My house right now is preteen Angela–leaving a sweet ranch house behind and growing into a new image of herself.  Just like preteen Angela, my house has potential and really good intentions.  But much like my teeth–not everything is in the right place yet.  And much like my cropped pants that weren’t supposed to be cropped pants, my house just isn’t quite dressed right.  But this encourages me rather than discourages me.  I like to think I pulled through Aqua Net bangs and mom jeans (though there were sure to be other blunders down the road), and my house, too, will eventually make the transition to a lovely, mature-ish adult.

www.tphblog.comUnintentional cropped pants and bangs…bonus: our 80s living room.  And, shoulder pads.

The snapshots of the house helped me see the rooms in a different way than when I’m physically occupying the space.  I could see where I am hitting my goals and where I am veering off course.  The photos I shared (and didn’t share) helped me to clarify my purpose and direction in this house from the last house.

www.tphblog.comCurrent entry scene as furniture awaits reupholstery and a new resting spot in the house

The adorable shoebox rancher was deceptively roomy but much smaller in scale than our current house.  Smaller furnishings and accessories tucked in nicely at the rancher.  It’s traditional 1950s spirit called for an eclectic mashup of chinoiserie and mid-century modern–at least that was my prescription for the house.  Anyway, those things don’t always translate from house to house–where ceilings reach 2 feet higher and rooms stretch longer in width and length.

www.tphblog.comThe chinoiserie pieces we kept are in the bathroom for now + a chair that I just need to paint already!

Plus, there is the natural evolution of my personal style and curiosity.  While buying all new furniture isn’t in the budget, we are buying key pieces but making existing furniture work where we can, doing our best to support the vision for the house.  But the interim can be awkward–as I’m finding my way in a look I’m still defining and discovering for myself.  I’m learning how to combine the beloved vestiges of our past with new vistas–and my first tries aren’t always right.

www.tphblog.comFurniture from the loft + bevy of art = the leftovers party in the playroom

But now I know I’m just in my awkward stage, and this too will pass–please help me to remember it when sometimes things can’t happen quick enough.  But each little change and tweak gives me encouragement that I am closer to my goal.  And, I’m totally going to take more photos of the spaces I’m working on for my own deliberating purposes–and I’m trying to trust my instincts and question my tendencies more and know how to distinguish between the two.

www.tphblog.comNever awkward: being true to yourself and personality

The best part of this awkward stage?  Having photos to laugh at later.  Yep, it’s a good reminder to be generous with the camera clicks with my children in their tween years.  They’ll thank me someday.

www.tphblog.comThere is a bedside table plan, I just need to execute it.  In the meantime, this awkward arrangement.

Blogging Like It’s Nineteen-Ninety-Two-Thousand-Six

I’ve been blogging since 2006, which would lead some to assume that I’ve learned many a technical thing in the span of almost nine years (wow).  But, nope, I haven’t.  Or made money.  Or something, right, to keep going?

www.tphblog.comThe Playroom

It seems like it’s time for a State of the Blog Address.  After much thought on what to do with with it while it sputters here in the dark ages, I’ve decided…

…to keep blogging like it’s 2006, for better or worse.  That means pure joy, no pressure, fun, on whim.  That also means that while I do care about how it looks here and it does pain me that it needs a visual overhaul, I’m going to be fine with it until I have time to polish things up around here, remember, no technical skills.  But right now I want to work on our home, prepare for homeschool (again) next year, and just write for the fun of it without the downer of maintenance (for this season, you get it, I know).

More than working on my house this last year (which was mucho), I’ve worked on myself even more.  And, many things were revealed, straightened away, fortified, or booted out.  I finally realized that the elusive balance we crave can only exist when we don’t try to do it all.  Because you can’t and I can’t.  This is hard for someone like me who wants to do it all and has a million and one ideas to test out.  I’m embracing good enough when good enough is acceptable, which, really, is almost always.  The stubborn perfectionist in me just cringed.

Blogging was just something I couldn’t cut from my life.  I do it for the fellowship with all you other creatives and the warm-fuzzy that comes from occasionally inspiring someone else with something I do here on The Painted House.  I just had to realize the blog balance comes from keeping things low-key here…uh, like it’s been.  I’d like a little background music for this:  seasons change, and this blog may someday.  Or it might always be 2006 around here.  Because I do have a million and one ideas.  Mind. Never. Rests.

www.tphblog.comWe are adding trim to the doors of this cabinet, painting it, and moving it to the dining room…using what we have!

I know it’s all, tell us something we don’t know, but I just wanted to say it all out loud, ya know?  That this a-little-here, a-little-there is intentional.  I’m still around here.  Just on a little slower time.

www.tphblog.comThe upstairs sleeping alcove…awkward space turned cool with mattresses from the loft…painting pizzazz in progress.

Thank you for sticking around here with me.  I am looking into obtaining some technical skills this spring that the kids and I can work on next school year.  I’ll share that post soon–SO EXCITED!  Hopefully learnin’ stuff will have a positive effect on ye olde blog.  And, things are getting done around here…guest light arrives next week!  And I promise to show good enough pics along the way.  Here’s to you, and to me, for knowing where we’re at and embracing the steps along the way.

And, you know you can find me in between posts on Instagram, that adorable, precious, time-suck app.


While I sat in my car crying in the hospital parking lot, a doctor sliced open my husband’s neck for a lymph node biopsy.  Days earlier a CT scan suggested that my husband had lymphoma.  While we prayed that the biopsy would not confirm this, I let my fears consume me in the waiting–I was immobilized.  I managed to stop the sobbing long enough to call my friend Erin and ask her how I should pray when frozen.  She told me not to worry about the words right then, that my tears, heart, and each breath would be enough for the Spirit to intercede for me.  We hung up and I sought distraction and maybe solace in music until the procedure was over.  And that is when “God Will Lift Up Your Head” by Jars of Clay played at just the moment I needed it.

The band included this reworked hymn on their 2005 album Redemption Songs and the words cleared my mind’s fog that day,”Into the wind your fears, hope, and be undismayed.  God hears your sighs and counts your tears.  God will lift up, God will lift up, God will lift up your head.”  Call me crazy, but then, and now, I knew that I was experiencing an undeniably supernatural moment.  The song ends with, “through waves and clouds and storms, He gently clears the way, wait, ’cause in His time so shall this night soon end in joy, soon end in joy, soon end in joy…”  Just like that, my sobs of fear turned to sobs of hope.  How did I deserve the promise, that whatever the biopsy, this night would soon end in joy?  The song became the soundtrack during my husband’s illness, stage-IV non-Hodgkins lymphoma, playing in loops to buoy my hope anytime it started to sink.  Six and a half years later, I still can’t listen to the song without crying.

Callan6mo_39First round of chemo

Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 12.25.22 PMOur photo session with Magic Hour, organization of photographers who serve cancer patients and their families

If you have read TPH for a while, you know our story.  But I can’t tell you how meaningful it was to me to relate this experience last weekend, face-to-face, with a member of Jars of Clay.  The Ugly Cry happened, y’all.

Jars of Clay celebrated their band’s 20th anniversary with a music-filled weekend in Nashville that we were lucky enough to attend.  Coincidentally, it is also the 20th anniversary this year when my husband and I met and fell in love…and also became Jars of Clay fans with their first album.  If you love music like we do, it can be hard to love contemporary Christian music.  Jars of Clay changed the contemporary Christian music game, massively, influencing many artists who came after them.  And, they are still the standard against which I measure any new Christian band or sound.  We’ve followed every album, attended many of their concerts through the years, and even had one of their songs used for divine intervention, no big deal.  It was a pleasure to celebrate with them last weekend.

They performed acoustic rarities Friday night at the offices of Blood-Water, a non-profit organization the band founded that helps the AIDS/HIV and water crises in Africa.  It was cozy and intimate, but the poor guys (good sports) had to pose for many photos with fans–our goofy family included.

Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 1.24.23 PM

The band hosted coffee and tours at their Gray Matters recording studio on Saturday morning.  The kids came along, too, because they are big fans themselves.

IMG_4433Outside Gray Matters in Nashville


A band amasses mucho memorabilia over 20 years–t-shirts, posters, stickers…Grammies and Dove Awards, too, just lying about.  We chatted with the band, and when we cornered Charlie Lowell–keyboardist for Jars of Clay–I mustered up the courage to tell him how their song pulled me through my husband’s illness.  I almost didn’t because why would he want to listen to just one more fan story, I assumed.  But he graciously listened like I was the only one there, even with the ugly cry and snot.  It felt full-circle to me.IMG_4437

IMG_8656Sitting at the studio, practicing their “serious album cover” shot

IMG_4445They delivered a fabulous 20-years-of-music concert in the historic theatre in Franklin, Tennessee. (Franklin, by the way, is too cute for words.  I’ll be back.)

jars of clay

IMG_8663Q&A with the band before the concert

And, you know what, of all their many songs, they played “God Will Lift Up Your Head.”


Twenty years is a long time, with the multiple lifetimes we’ve packed in; yet it goes by fast.  The years are a gift–and all the good and bad within those years, too.  Two weeks ago my husband had his annual CT scan, that time of year when I alternately ignore it from fear and pray over it with desperation, depending on the moment.  It came back clear, thank you!  And, so, we are now two years out from his last reoccurrence.  Twenty years out will be a dream come true…thirty years…fifty years out so I can see the day when our children will change our diapers.

When I could barely eek out that prayer six years ago for him, for us–for our children, that they could have years with their father please–God promised me joy.  It is written on my heart forever.


IMG_8662And now that chubby baby knows exactly how wonderful his father is, the nuances of Daddy’s personality, the absurdity of his corny jokes, the dedication to his family’s happiness.  That little boy can now say deliciously preposterous things like, “You’re the Daddy…you can do whatever you want.”  Every year is a gift.

Thank you–Charlie, Matt, Dan, and Stephen–for a fabulous music weekend.

Nesting Place, the Book

It’s a rally cry for imperfectionists.  It’s encouragement to the desperate perfectionist.  It’s permission to love your home where you are now.  
Screen shot 2014-05-01 at 12.08.11 PMAnd it is full of beautiful photos styled and taken by its author in her rental home.  It is The Nesting Place, the book.

nesterMyquillyn Smith sent me a pre-release copy of her book, signed!, that I nearly read in one sitting.  I didn’t even need to use the disco ball bookmark she included in the package.  I also ordered another copy from Amazon to keep at the cottage (the signed one stays home with me!).

I’ve read her blog since I discovered it in 2007; and, so, I was excited to read the backstory to how she has arrived at her decorating manifesto: it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.  She starts the book detailing each house she and her husband have lived in during their marriage so far– 13 houses in 18 years!  The following chapters are filled with encouragement, wisdom, tips, and have-I-mentioned-her-gorgeous-photos?.  In short, the book is like sitting down with her over iced coffees in striped paper straws–conversational, warm, real.  I promise you, you will love your home even more, even without changing a thing, after you read her book; and, furthermore, you’ll have the confidence to embark on that project you’ve been mulling over, fresh from Myquillyn’s pep talk, to really adore the house you’re in now.

cottage(I won’t even tell you how excited I am that our little North Carolina cottage is mentioned and pictured within the book.  You couldn’t handle that much exuberance!  Mr. Sunburst Mirror and Sculptural Candlestick Duo are enjoying their moment for sure.)

I’d say the book has a truth for everyone.  For me and our new house (we’ve been in it for 5 months but have owned it for 11), the truth comes in that the decorating can be slow, it won’t look anywhere near done or perfect for a long time.  But my people are here, it’s neat and clean, it has lovely natural light and a specially-crafted shell and for these positives, the incompletion and imperfection and memory of a difficult remodel do not diminish from a beautiful artwork in progress.  Don’t you like to see an artist midway through a piece?  See the process and direction?  That is what is happening here and will be happening here for awhile at the Painted House.  A curtainless window, a rugless floor, a settee that needs redoing, a table that needs painting, chairs that need new fabric all testify to this fact.  I’m embracing Myquillyn’s philosophy.

sofaAs for that sparkly bookmark, it rings-around the partial neck of the torso in the living room–a true Myquillyn move.  (The torso would wear a Myquillyn eye patch, too, if she had, well, an eye…or head.)

torsoThank you, Myquillyn, for the beautifully-written and -photographed book!  Follow her at her blog, Nesting Place, where she and her husband are renovating a farmhouse and barn on the site of an old sawmill.

Checking In, Links, and an Unscientific Instagram Study

Hey, everyone!  I’m happy to say that I’ve been plugging away at projects here in the “new house” (the family and I still call it that).  While the to-do list is still as long as sitting through a piano recital, I am pleased that we’re making progress.  Having our first dinner guests over recently was a kick in the motivation pants I was needing.  The dining room, finally free of moving boxes and stacks of art, was dreamy to dine in at night with the pretty chandy aglow and a vase full of dogwood blossoms.  Screen shot 2014-04-14 at 2.25.12 PMAnd, nope, we didn’t serve quesadillas as the dining room was designed for.  We had burritos, decidedly more sophisticated than q-dillas, with cashew-salsa verde sauce and pico de gallo, and chocolate cake and raspberries.

Having guests over in our new place and watching all the kids laughing around the whole house filled me with joy.

I’ve made the decision over the last few weeks that I’d work on the house with the few free hours I have instead of blogging.  Am I considered a blogger anymore?  Whoops.  But I do feel like I am at a point where I can show in-progress photos of the house–if I wait until the rooms are finished, I wouldn’t post for years.

Also, I need to post the last stop on the loft tour.

Speaking of which, thank you to my friend Myquillyn for featuring my loft tour recently on her Saturday Bird Watching post!

She is living exciting times right now with the launch of her family’s new encouragement website hope*ology and her new book The Nesting Place, which you can pre-order on Amazon, coming out the end of the month!

Screen shot 2014-03-26 at 9.42.38 PMI’ve pre-ordered mine, and I can’t wait to get it.  She was the first decorating blog I found, way back in 2007.  I’ve loved watching her grow her blog into a successful business and now a book–blessings and talent for sure!  We also love advertising our cottage on her blog each summer.  Thank you, Myquillyn!

Thank you, also to Erika Ward of BluLabelBungalow, who wrote the sweetest post about her family’s stay at the cottage recently.  Erika, Erika, she is like a calm, radiant angel with a wicked sense of humor.  I loved working with her on Room Service Atlanta, an organization that she and Dayka Robinson co-created to coordinate designers with service projects for those in need of beautiful surroundings.

Screen shot 2014-03-26 at 9.20.42 PMAfter seeing this photo on her blog of little Cam’s cheeks, I should have crashed their mountain weekend for some baby love.

Screen shot 2014-03-26 at 9.22.29 PMphotos | BluLabelBungalow

Thankfully I didn’t have to suffer long for a baby fix…

Screen shot 2014-03-26 at 9.23.27 PMphoto | Fieldstone Hill  Instagram

I had some quality time with Georgia Lu, who brought her mommy along, in Maryland on the Chesapeake Bay.  My friend Natalie, from 4th grade, and I made a road trip out of it and just swung into Pennsylvania to see Darlene’s historic stone house before settling in on the bay.  People, it’s gorgeous and full of the charms old homes bring.  I don’t know why this bellissima signora doesn’t show us around her house more.

Screen shot 2014-04-14 at 1.34.14 PM

I took this photo whilst resting on Dar’s vintage silk sectional, sipping coffee and falling under the spell of this room.  She’s got skills and a husband who baked us two loaves of homemade bread to take on our girl trip.  Seriously.

So while I’m away from the blog here, I am still making appearances on Instagram.  I told my friend in the middle of the Great Instagram Boom of 2014 (when my feed grew substantially from Jenny’s endorsement), that soon a mass exodus would occur when everyone realized who they started following.  And I was right!

I love being right.

It wasn’t until I posted this photo that I noticed I was losing followers with every new post–offensive, ill-compositioned oranges:

Screen shot 2014-04-14 at 1.13.51 PM

Hmm, I thought, this is fascinating!  So I embarked on a week of charting “unfollows” corresponding with each new photo I posted, just to see if there was a trend–because this social media stuff is so interesting to me.  While I was so tempted to post shocking or calculated photos, I didn’t because I felt it was manipulative.  So I just posted photos as I normally do, in the moment and spontaneous.

The first one was my husband biking at sunrise on the beach.  ”Hey, sweetie, your photo cost me five followers right away!”  He loved hearing that, ha!

But the photo that cost me the most was interestingly the one in which I proclaimed, “free da be me.”

Screen shot 2014-04-14 at 1.13.16 PM

I’m free to be me, but not everyone will like it–especially if they think those are my legs and bottom, with a stick up my rear.  Or they hate Frida.  Those red stems belong to my partial mannequin not me.

The photo of our powder room resulted in the fewest unfollows.

Screen shot 2014-04-14 at 1.23.45 PM

From my official study, I’ve determined outdoors/family/silliness lose the most followers among my group.  Interiors lose the fewest.  I know, you’re asking, don’t you have better things to do, Angela?

It is just so interesting!  While I’m sure people are just mainly cleaning up their feed, my imagination can’t help but create a scene of my photo popping up on a person’s feed and she screws her face up in disgust, pulls her pointed finger above her head before plunging it down on the “unfollow” button, and yells, “darn you, angenigma, and your germy kids–no more!”  Or something like that.

But enough about the people who left the party early, I’m so grateful that such personalized communities exist–and I adore the interaction with others on my photos and the photos of people I follow.  If you follow my Instagram feed, thank you for the coming along for the ride where I’m free da be me!

I will be enjoying the dogwoods until next post. Screen shot 2014-04-15 at 12.04.40 PM

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...