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.

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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.

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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:

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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.”

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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.

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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

What Is Your Unword

Last week Darlene, Edie, Myquillyn and I shared our unwords for 2014.  Have you picked one out?  If you did, inspire us by sharing yours in either the comments or link up a post you wrote about that unwelcomed, undesirable UNword.

2014 Un-word of the yearMy unword for 2014 is FRET.

unword of the yearDeclaring an unword has proven to be successful so far.  I am much more mindful when FRET threatens to hijack my day, thinking of the little pep talk I wrote myself last week.  And, really, I’m seeing I do worry about some pretty silly stuff.  Or maybe that is my OCD.  Yep, didn’t you know that the old tagline of TPH was “obsessed and compulsive with offbeat beauty“?

The Un-Word of the Year

There is a little rebel in this good girl.  So when Darlene of Fieldstone Hill Design asked me to join her, Edie, and Nester in announcing an UNword of the year, I felt it was just the way to resist resolutions and do things a smidgen different.  And you can share yours, too!

But, first, what are the crazy chances that this post of the unword falls on my unbirthday?  What?  It’s your unbirthday, too?  Nuts!

Anyway, deciding on my unword was easy:unword of the yearI don’t know about you, but I was born with a furrow on my brow and worries in my little baby heart.  It is not easy to undo what is seemingly genetically wrought, but I’m aiming to be better at controlling the worry instead of the worry controlling me.

What I’ve learned about fretting so far in my life:

  • There have been countless times I have fretted about something, big or small, and let that fret twist up my stomach, keep my eyes wide open at night, whip my thoughts into a frenzy of speculations, and overall incite a general feeling of doom—and, everything turns out okay.  Every.  Single.  Time.  (Results aren’t always how I would have wished, but I make it out okay, smarter, possibly stronger.)
  • There have been fewer situations when I have chosen not to fret, and I let it go.  No twisted gut, no sleepless nights, no frenzies.  Just the little uneasiness of waiting for an impatient person like me. And, everything turns out okay.  Every. Single. Time.

It is a wonder that I ever choose to fret when the result is the same–but the toll on me is not.  Oh, the toll.

So, choosing to reject “fret” this year must mean I have immense amount of self-control.  Nope.   I wield my faith in God to banish worry–sounds pretty Tough Mutha,right?  It is not always easy, as my faith sometimes wanes more than it waxes.  But as a Bible believer, I’d be a fool to reject this counsel:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Phillipians 4:6 & 7

And from the mouth of Jesus,

And why do you worry about clothes?  See how the flowers of the field grow.  They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you?

There he goes appealing to my love of fashion.  I understand this.

But, Angela, why are you getting all Jesus on us here when we just stopped by your blog to look at furniture and paintings and rooms?  

I know, what does this have to do with The Painted House?  Pretty much everything.  Worry kills my creativity.  Worry spikes my anxiety, makes me sick, and represses my appetite for beauty and wonder (click on it if just for the photos).  But I can’t reject worry alone–I need the promise that there is someone bigger in control.  I respect that we all come from different places–but at TPH I can’t ignore that my creativity is one and the same with my relationship with God.

Now, let’s get back to these clothes Jesus said not to worry about.  Please come in size Tall–at least a 34″ inseam.  I don’t look good in yellow.  And, I have orangutan arms.  Thanks!

Do you have an unword for the year?

I hope you will link up with my sweet friends Dar, Edie of Life in Grace, and Myquillyn of Nesting Place next Tuesday, January 21, and share your unword for the year.  You can also post your unword to Instagram, #unword2014.  I’m angenigma on Instagram–see you there!2014 Un-word of the year

Don’t worry, girl, we’re gonna be okay!

girls at the loft

All this talk about fretting reminds me of a moment that changed my course of worrying during my husband’s illness 6 years ago.  I wrote this on the old TPH two weeks after discovering he had cancer.

Just as suspected, I hit a rough patch last night. Too much thinking, too much reasoning, too much trying to put the pieces together–I was struck with fear thinking of the worst case scenario. That churning nausea returned and I could feel my resolve weakening. Even though I told myself that I knew better than to doubt God, I still felt sick as I drifted off to sleep. Please, please help me, Lord, I prayed.

Then sometime in the middle of the night my son appeared on my side of the bed. “Mommy, I had a bad dream,” he said. He does this occasionally and we pray together, asking Jesus for good dreams or no dreams at all. So last night, half asleep, I began praying out loud for him, “Dear Jesus,…” As soon as I said “Amen” he quietly slipped back to his room–comforted and secure. There were no doubts, no questions. And it was then that the phrase “faith like a child” popped into my head. Faith like a child. I need to stop trying to figure it all out–as if there was something to figure out anyway. Stop asking questions, wondering. All I need is to trust.

So today I have worried still a bit more, but then I stop myself and say “faith like a child.” It is so simple, all God asks of us. And, I thank my son and God for that reminder.

I think about that night a lot–it felt so supernatural and gave me a peace that transcended understanding, and it comforts me still.

Temporary Digs

Thank you, sweet folks, for sharing your encouragement and own settling experiences in the last post.  I appreciate the good thoughts so much.  Big changes are scary, altering life as I’ve known it for 6 years.  But I’m feeling more rested now and ready to roll with the next phase of change.  I’m sure my peace has something to do with our temporary home right now:
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It is a very fortunate thing to find ourselves chilling at a lakehouse until we can move into the new house.  A family is letting us use their lakehouse for a few months–which means we could put all our stuff into storage and not have to move twice, score!  It isn’t the most convenient to where we need to be, but neither is moving twice.  But what we don’t have in convenience we have in relaxation and in what seems like a summer’s long vacation.  The problem is, I have to convince myself that I’m indeed not on vacation even though it looks that way and there is still work to do.

But work is easy to avoid and in a week’s time of being here we’ve eaten 1 watermelon, grilled 7 tofu skewers, punctured 1 kid’s palm with said tofu skewer, and spit endless cherry pits off the back deck.

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We’ve seen 2 snakes–one dead and one alive.  We’ve been out on the lake 3 times on the waverunners and capsized 1 time.  The kids have jumped off the dock at least 5 times–Mommy none.

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We’ve fired up the grill 3 times.  And made chocolate chip cookies 1 time.

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I’ve napped, the kids have played Minecraft, I’ve read and blogged and taught some summer school, and I have read library books to three kids piled around me.  And the kitties…well, it didn’t take them long to make themselves at home and discover new acrobatic possibilities.  There is a reason phrases exist like “cats have nine lives” and “cats always land on their feet” and “curiosity killed the cat.”  The cats have fallen from the second story 2 times…that we’ve seen.

IMG_6103So here is to a hopefully fun summer on the lake and making the most out of temporary housing and to accelerated premature aging under the sun on the water.  You’ve got to live a little.

Moving On & Getting Settled

Well, that was sudden, wasn’t it?  I was surprised, too, when we had an offer on our house ten days after listing it back in April.  I really had no expectations when we decided to list the house–especially not an expectation of a quick sell.  But here we are at the beginning of June settled in a rental house with all of our stuff in storage and memories of our life in our 1956 rancher lives on only in photos and our minds.IMG_3554
It seems sudden, but really we have been volleying this move idea for years.  In fact, the question plagued us.  Should we or shouldn’t we?  We actually found a house in 2009 and put an offer on it, only to walk away from it (and our earnest money, ugh) six days before closing.  That was quite uncharacteristic of us, and we found ourselves feeling wishy-washy about all options.  Our serial MLS stalking only confused the matter more.  What might be a harmless hobby for some, is an obsession for us.www.tphblog.com

Obsessions can be good–and bad.  It’s a fun passion to share with my husband, but it also leads to doubts and concerns about discontentment, perceived needs, and perspective.  It’s just another thing that needs to be kept in check…says the lover of all things house.

For two years we almost decided we would stay in our rancher long-term and add on a bit.  I started a pinboard about the Great Ranch Redo.  The house is in a great neighborhood with wonderful neighbors–but a large-scale remodel ultimately didn’t seem to be the answer for our family.

While it is no fault of the house, it is the place we landed when we moved to Georgia and embarked on some challenging years–probably the most challenging of my life.  It is where I’ve been through homeschool struggles (and triumphs) and where I’ve felt the loneliness at the end of the day from the isolation that homeschooling and being an artist can bring.  It is where cancer struck.

IMG_3520Of course, there is so much good that happened here–a month after moving in our third child was born.  I’ve been able to play house by making some pretty changes inside and outside.  The most pinned images from this blog are from our exterior renovation, and it is the post I get the most emails about.  I learned a whole new way of cooking in the kitchen.  I’ve spent hours upon hours cuddled up with my children and so many delightful books.  This is the place my daughter found herself in art.  On and on and on.

But it wasn’t feeling like home should.  Actually, to be perfectly honest, nothing felt settled in our life.  If you’ve ever found yourself in that position, you know how helpless the feeling is–wanting desperately to settle things that aren’t for me to settle necessarily.  And I know that you all who read here are a varied bunch, and we don’t all approach things the same way–I respect that–but I share this in honor of authenticity of myself:  I begged God to settle things, one thing at the very least, because I couldn’t.  I prayed that for months and months…probably years.  And then, just like that, one by one, things began to fall neatly into place.  Kinda neatly–there were enough hiccups along the way to test and strengthen my faith and make me relinquish my control, but in the end, things are getting settled.  Insert Hallelujah Chorus.

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But getting settled in a complicated life is a test of endurance.  The last few months in particular have pushed me physically and emotionally.  I committed to Room Service when I didn’t know I would be moving out of my house two weeks after installation.  A cherished weekend with blog friends was scheduled before I knew my house would hit the market two days before we met and would drain the personality out of me.  ”Bring your own food,” said the hostess with the mostess, swallowing a big pill of humility, when she couldn’t muster the energy to prepare for her guests.  And there was finishing the spring semester of homeschool and fitting in endless appointments and paperwork to get my kids in school for this fall.  Yes, huge life changes all around.  The stress of it all was enough to have me giddy about an appointment for dental work because I could have happy gas with a Valium on the side.  A little dentist cocktail doesn’t offer solutions, but it was a welcomed way to spend a morning this spring.

To sell a house means we have a place to go, right?  We thought we found the right property, ripe with design challenges for me to solve, and beautiful acreage to spread out and act like farmers.  It was a troubled property that necessitated meetings at Wendy’s and Dairy Queen to work out the kinks with third parties.  We never choose the traditional or easy route, it seems.  Offers were in, everything looked optimistic, but as I settled in with a funnel cake and coffee in the shadow of Cinderella’s castle in February, our agent called to tell us we lost the house.  I was really bummed, like an ugly stepsister who lost out on the prince.  I mean, I had started a pinboard and everything about it–that’s how optimistic I was.

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Maybe we should build?  There were lots of afternoons looking at lots–most of which weren’t even for sale.  My husband wrote at least 20 letters to property owners asking if they might be interested in selling.  Nothing promising turned up.

And then a house that had sat on the MLS for ages stirred up new interest in us.  Maybe I should go look at it?  I met our agent there and it felt really good inside–design problems galore, to be sure, but that is how I like them.  I scheduled another showing so my husband could see it, and as I drove to the house to meet him, a Vampire Weekend song was playing on my phone.  Cryptic lyrics aside, I got chills when the moment I glanced down at my phone I saw the words “I’m strong enough, I’m ready for the house.”

Really?  Am I?  I’m just the type to read into lyrics.

So, we close on the new house soon.  I’ve been so ready to get to this point.  June 1st, June 1st, I just need to get to June 1st, I repeated over and over–the date that our house would be sold and the move completed.  And you know what happened on June 1st, my body crossed the finish line and completely and utterly fell apart.  The exhaustion covered me like a cloak.  I’m still shaking it off, but I feel so much better now.

I don’t pretend that new houses ease challenges, but it is enough of a change that it signifies a fresh start.  All the beautiful moments I witnessed this spring, those right-time, right-place moments, that are more than coincidental, carried me through when my energy ran low and doubt crept in.  And, I’ve learned at this point in my life that plans change, life is hard, but I’ll always be okay.  So while I may think that this is our long-term house, God might have other plans, but at the moment I’m embracing this direction.  And, this is about so much more than a new house, please know this.  It is about being settled in so many ways, about accepting where we are, about me being a mother rather than a teacher.  People, school in the fall!  And what happens to me while they are in school–I’m excited to see.

I’ll definitely give all the details on the new house once it is officially ours.  Right now I’m trying to figure out how to pull myself together–personal grooming hightailed it 27 unwanted hairs ago.  I’m the opposite of lovely.  In fact, the last time I met with our builder he told me I looked terrible.  That’s a nice way to kick off a project!

More soon…and more levity, I promise.  We’ll squeal together about a whole-house reno coming up this summer!  Of course, there is a pinboard on the new house…go see my multiple personalities and tell me what to do.

(See what I did here?  I totally used a heavy post as an excuse to post cute cat pics.)

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