A Little Christmas

Remember that Christmas when we didn’t have enough furniture to fill our house so we compensated with an enormous tree?  And, remember that tree was so big that we didn’t have enough ornaments to fill it so we compensated with paper plates and party hats on a whim?
www.tphblog.comRemember that Christmas when we used leftover Ninja party lanterns to fill in the new-house void and distract from disparate pieces of furniture?

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Remember when that Christmas is this Christmas?www.tphblog.comI hope this Christmas is a season of joy and peace for you no matter what stage of the game you are in with your house.  www.tphblog.com

Giveaway Winner & a Monkey

Congratulations to Maurie, who writes the blog Gracious Interiors, on winning the handmade Mexican pouches!  Thank you to all who shared their holiday memories…I’ll admit, that was a ploy for you to entertain me with stories.  There was the one with the pickle-juiced, week-old turkey and the holiday with one pumpkin pie to feed 22 people.  I loved the stories!

Maurie, it was a toss up on which souvenir from our Mexico trip to give away–I might send you this monkey instead.

www.tphblog.comwww.tphblog.comI can’t even.  I totally paid $10 on the streets of Playa del Carmen to take a few photos of my kids with this monkey.  I assumed the mites we contracted afterward would be thrown in for free.  Don’t worry, Maurie, I’m not sending you a monkey…or mites.

You do know we don’t have mites, right?

I’m ready for a guest room reveal, aren’t you?  I’m still waiting on the backordered chandelier, which they now say is backordered until the end of December and could change again.   I’m deciding what to do about that–maybe order a different one that is just as perfect?  I could take photos without it, but I think photos would be better with the chandy.  And as much as I love you guys, I don’t want to do photos twice.  So we’ll wait it out together, holding hands.  My in-laws had sweet things to say about the room over their Thanksgiving visit, which I hope made up for my unexpected early PMS (from the devil himself) that doesn’t render me hostess with the mostest.  They are the best and forgiving.

But in the meantime, I’m decking the halls here at TPH, figuring out how to have a cozy Christmas in an unfinished, partially-decorated house.  I’ll share soon. And, oh!  I just placed an order with Grey for a (long dreamed about) custom kitchen table.  It is going to be stunning!  And a navy antelope rug for the bedroom and a family room sectional are arriving soon.  So, good things are on the horizon for this partially-decorated  house!

Guest Room by Thanksgiving, Part 5

Given my buffoonery confidence at the beginning of this project, I really was surprised when self-doubt pounced on me last weekend.  Man, I was all over that red bed when it arrived last Friday, but then…the weekend whispered to me, maybe it’s too red?  Too much?  Bedrooms are for resting and calm and peace.  But, let me kick you out the door, this is the guest room where we are providing a fun experience for travelers escaping their norm.  After we set the bed up on Monday, I was feeling good again about the very vivid red bed.  And, no, no photos today!  Because I’m mean.

But this reminds me of a funny I saw on Jamie Meares’ instagram (paraphrased):

The Creative Process

  1. This is awesome.

  2. This is tricky.

  3. This is poo.

  4. I am poo.

  5. This might be okay.

  6. This is awesome.

I am currently at #5.

So, I’ll be quick because I have someone special coming to see me and I need to go ice my chocolate cake.

The basement floors are all finished!  I am so HAPPY about this!  Now I can work on my mural, which I will attempt to finish before Thanksgiving.  I do believe I’ve decided on an over-scaled floral scene.  I took a bajillion photos from every angle of my springtime peonies because I knew I’d paint them someday.  My hillbilly printer has provided me with some perfectly soft images for reference.  I’m hoping for a soft billowy effect behind the graphic red bed.  Please say a prayer for me, will ya?

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In other news, I’ve ordered bedding and picture frames, cut 2x4s for the bed support, and ordered a chandelier…that is backordered until December.  Of course.

I’m mulling over art for the frames.  I’ve always wanted to use these two hotties somewhere, side by side–maybe in the guest room.

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That is my father on the left and my maternal grandfather on the right.  My father, in Brazil, is 20 years old in this photo–and I’m guessing my grandfather is 20, also, but in Japan, I think.  They were only 7-8 years apart in age–my dad robbed the cradle.

I’m also printing these photos, too, just in case I want to use them.  My dad totally needed an Instagram account.  He was handsome, knew it, and knew how to compose a photo.  These were taken in Brazil, where he was born and raised.  There are more hot brazilians here and here.www.tphblog.com www.tphblog.comOh, and, I was just joking in the last post about the red draped wall.  (Major side eye)  Thank you for believing me.  But, really, I’m just trying not to be mad at you for not saying, “Don’t do it!”  I’m doing a very tasteful and subdued ivory instead.  I just couldn’t stop thinking about Shelby’s armadillo cake from Steel Magnolias with that red fabric and gray walls.

Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 1.48.45 PMOne last thing…this apartment has been on my mind as I think about the guest room and my house in general.  It is the Milan home of designer-architect Gae Aulenti in Dwell magazine June 2014.  Colorful sophistication, playful and arty academia.  I like looking at these photos.

dwell magazine by leslie williamson

dwell magazine by leslie williamsonphotos by Leslie Williamson

I’ve been following along with Linda’s One Room Challenge–did you see all the reveals last week?  Good, good stuff.

See you next week when I hopefully will report progress on the floral mural.  I’ll post some sneak peeks on Instagram.  Enjoy the weekend, y’all!

Twenty

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

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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.

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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

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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 www.tphblog.com

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.”

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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.

boys

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.

Housey House Stuff & A Big Idea

Well, I can’t believe it’s been four months since I last posted.  So what’s the status of this old blog?  I don’t know.

But what I do know is that all of the kids are in traditional school this year.  For the first time in 12 years, I have time alone during the day.  While this would be a perfect segue into the Great Soul Searching of 2014 of what will I do?, I’m not up for writing that beast right now and, really, you just want to see the house stuff.  There are a million and one ideas I could pursue, but at the moment I’m taking a breather with my family, managing the cottage business, and focusing on the house, making it cozy and such.

To get me out of the house a bit, too, I am working on a little design project for a medical office and will teach a handful of elementary and middle school art classes in Asheville, North Carolina, this school year.  Otherwise, no other commitments.  And, I like having the margin to be available for any needs that arise in our circle.  The breathing room feels precious, sacred.  So, yeah, the blog, I’m not making any big decisions about it now, even though it is an embarrassment to me.

Like anyone making decisions for their own home, I’m scared to death.  I have a semi-clear vision for this house, but it is soooooooo easy for me to get derailed.  My attention is turned to the layers of the house–rugs, drapery, wall treatments, etc.  You know, the things that could be fat, expensive mistakes.

Some fabrics I’m mulling over:

I love this Cindy E. Barganier, New Turquoise Chain, for my daughter’s room.  I think.

www.tphblog.comShe is sold on it so there is kind of no going back on it.  The colors are just too similar to her artwork that I’m afraid it will be matchy.

Aya by Larsen is the top contender for the living room:www.tphblog.comAlthough, the first pick was handpainted Tangled by Porter Teleo, to which Sherry Hart introduced me, but the colorway was off a bit.  Instead I’m going to use it as inspiration for wall painting in our front entry hall.

www.tphblog.comI can’t decide about Aimee from Clarence House.

Aimee Clarence HousePart of me adores it and the other part of me is all, “whatchu talkin’ about, Willis?”  I mean, look at all the colors!  But then, look at all the colors.  Partly it feels good and Bauhaus-y to me–or, it feels like kids + marker.  This color bonanza is under consideration for the mint kitchen.

So that is about as far as I’ve gotten this year on interior work.  I took the summer off and spent with the kids.  A fair amount of my time was spent on finishing the landscaping.  I’ll have to post some after shots, but here is the pic I took when the cypress tress arrived.  It is funny what one fights about with one’s spouse.  He wanted cypress trees.  I didn’t.  But then he didn’t want a wife who blows all his hard-earned money on endless rounds of furniture, so, compromise.www.tphblog.comYeah, so, one of my millions of ideas is this:  remember up there a few paragraphs I talked about my precious breathing room?  I’m thinking about homeschooling again…just for one year.  I guess it was the whole traditional school with rules and set hours and dress code and rules, that I started to get all itchy in that independent streak of mine.  But!  This time would be different.  We’re thinking about world schooling.  Learning through traveling the world.  Trust me, it took my husband a full month to come around and actually talk it over with me.

Unlike a lot of world schoolers, we would not spend the whole year abroad; but, instead, we would take trips in 2-6 week increments with 6 weeks or so in between trips for instruction about our next destination.  My husband would join us on some of the travel, but mostly I would be traveling alone with our children, hopefully never away from hubby more than 2 weeks at a time.

Anyway, we talk like it’s happening.  The kids are intrigued.  There are many details to work out.  But now it is just for me to decide if I can really handle it.  It isn’t all crepes in the shadow of the Eiffel tower and curry on the beach in Thailand; it can be, as I experienced on our recent trip to Europe, car sickness and abdominal cramps and diarrhea in a public restroom.   So I need to know if I’m ready to deal with my own diarrhea and diarrhea of three kids, so to speak, in a foreign country before I commit.  But I need to decide soon because planning will need to start right away.  And, if we do this, I will be consumed with this until August of 2016.  I share in hopes you will add some insight!

Okay, no promises on what will happen here on the blog, but you can keep up with TPH on instagram.  See you there!

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