Thursday, October 31, 2013

31 days: laptops and labradors

Thirty one days of blogging has been quite an undertaking! Apparently it was too much excitement for my laptop. The screen is sending out a blinking morse code distress signal. Sigh.

I have enjoyed sharing our home relocation experiences with you this month. I have loved your comments and insight and encouragement. Thank you!

It dawned on us not too long ago that our dog, maggie, has been with our family in all five of the houses we have lived in.

Here is what maggie has taught us along the way.

*A dog considers home to be wherever the pack that it loves lives.

*A comfy bed is essential.

*Do not mess with meal times and eat snacks whenever they are offered.

*Eat snacks when they are not offered, too...if you can get away with it.

*Age gracefully.

*Surround yourself with the people that love you, and they will forgive you for those times when you are not aging gracefully.

*Sit in the sunshine, listen to the birds, and enjoy the fresh air.

*Have a little fun every day.

*Squirrels are always the enemy.

*Arthritis stinks.

*Naps are always a good idea.

*Give a little love all day, and it will come back to you.

*Surprise people with your sassiness.

Thanks for visiting the café!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

31 days: neighborhoods vs. subdivisions

We used to live in a subdivision, but now we live in a neighborhood.
I am sure you are wondering...what is the difference?
For starters, let us look at the names. A neighborhood has at its root the word "neighbor". A subdivision? Sub divided.
We were a collection of houses that were divided. We talk to those people, but not those people. We socialize with them, but not with them. Those kids talk to us, those kids do not.
We drove cars into garages and sat on decks and never interacted with each other except in superficial ways.
It was maddening.
On our first scouting trip to the new city, my husband's boss and his wife drove us through the subdivisions near their end of town.
"How are your neighbors?"I asked.
"Well, we don't talk to them, so we don't really know them."
Later that night, I told my husband , "Honey, i cannot live like that again."
He understood.
We now live in a neighborhood, where people are neighborly. Everyone is invited, everyone is welcome, everyone talks to each other.
The way it should be.
Let's face it, we have too many things in this modern age that divide us. Politics. Denomination. Cell phones. Texting. Computers. Even the new designs of our homes can separate us from our neighbors, and even from the people living under our roof.
It is time to be intentional with our relationships now more than ever.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer felt it before the war that would make him a martyr.
"A new kind of monasticism," he called it.
A restoration.
We need to claim victory over subdivision and love our neighbors in real and tangible ways.
It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood. Won't you be my neighbor?

Family life today on Moody radio had  a wonderful program on this topic this morning! You can visit the website and look for more  info on neighborhood cafes and this exciting ministry from Amy Lively!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

31 Days: When The Move Is Not A Happy One

I remember that night so clearly. It was about a year after our move to Indiana, and I was completely broken. I was sick (again) from chronic Lyme Disease, and I was more than a little depressed about where God had planted me.

I was sitting in the basement, sobbing to my husband, while he held me in his arms and I told him how much I hated it there.

I had big hopes and dreams for that move. I had done my research. I'd picked a charming little small town with quaint shops and good schools and a big library. If it was so perfect, then why didn't I fit there?

One year later, and I was still friendless. Oh sure, some neighbors would wave, but I wasn't included in their social circle. The church was big, but a year later and we had connected with no one there in a meaningful way.

The boys were doing fine. They were going to school and making friends. In time, my husband and I were becoming more and more reclusive. We were going through the motions on a daily basis.

My sweet husband offered to let me move back home to live with my mom. He would start looking for a different job, anything to make me happy, to make us happy.

It was so tempting.

I really wanted to throw in the towel, abandon ship and shout out from my deck into the neighborhood and surrounding town "YOU WIN! I SURRENDER!"

But I didn't.

I knew that the timing was not right, and that my plan was not coinciding with God's plan for my life.

What do you do when the move is not what you expected?

Here are a few things we did to make small changes for the better:

* I got a part-time job working in retail. Getting out of the house and socializing with other people at this particular women's clothing store was really important for me. I found fellowship there, in the work place, when I had found it no where else.

*We changed churches. We had been going to a large church that was a twenty to thirty minute drive from our house, and it left us feeling flat. We tried Sunday school, Bible studies, choir, book club, and none of it clicked for us. It wasn't until we discovered a small church plant down the road from us that we finally felt some connection. And even that did not come easy. We worked at it for three years before it felt like home.

*God gave us a new ministry focus by allowing us to open our home to our sons' friends on a regular basis. Our house became the spot for late night video games and cookouts and movie nights, and we really came to love all of the young men and women that our sons brought through the door.

*We began attending mid-week family nights at our church, and it was something we looked forward to every week. Ed served on the church council and I took part in women's ministry.

*I visited home and family whenever I could. It's important to get back to the people who know you and love you anyway. :)

*I continued to do the things I loved, whether it was alone or with one or more of my sons. Sometimes, I could even get my boys to go junk shopping with me if I bribed them with lunch. I went on a lot of girl's days out when I was the only girl in attendance. A Starbucks coffee, a trip to Barnes and Noble, a drive to the needle art shop in town. I would take a class, go on a home tour, visit a local festival. I became pretty accustomed to flying solo.

*I walked...a lot. On those mornings when it felt like I would lose it if I couldn't talk to someone who just completely "got" me, I would lace up my Avias and hit the trail for a few miles, spending time with God.

I will not lie. It was a tough five years. Sometimes, home relocation just does not gel for all parties included. Military families have a system in place for their transient way of life. But corporate relocations do not come with support systems. You live and you learn and you grow with every move. What works for one move may not work for another. Some towns and neighborhoods are just friendlier and more welcoming than others.

Today, we feel welcomed, included, and settled. We are counting our blessings in the good times and the bad, thankful for the journey.

Monday, October 28, 2013

31 Days: The Unmodeled Kitchen Part Two

If you happen to be looking for an older home with character (like we were), then you better be prepared for finding the quirky character in unexpected places.  Our kitchen is a big room full of quirky curiosities.

Hidden cutting boards...

Hidden pastry boards...

And more hidden cutting boards...

Need a rolling pin to go with all of those cutting boards? There's a vintage one, but it's screwed into the beams at the ceiling...

I do love my lazy Susan...

It's near the stove, where there is the best drawer for utensils...

...and pull out drawers for the pots and pans.

Did I mention that I have a Modern Maid?

Sadly, she doesn't do any of the cooking or cleaning! I do love cooking with gas, though, and I am making the best eggs of my adult life thanks to this old gas range!

Near the stove, there is a built-in trivet.

Yes, I like chickens. You got a problem with that? Take it up with the rooster!

My "modern" stove would not be complete without my "modern" double wall ovens...

They have a great feature...a hood vent!

My husband is waiting for the day when he comes home from work to find me in a skirt, blouse, heels, and apron, cooking him veal and checking the internal cooking temperature with this handy feature...

Sorry, honey! Don't hold your breath waiting for that one to happen!

My old appliances work great. Seriously, why would I replace them? The kitchen does have a new refrigerator and dishwasher, and they work great, too!

Next to the fridge is this handy home office area...

It is clutter central, all the time...a great place to put your purse and your keys when you are bringing in the groceries. I will get it day.

Will we make changes in the future? Probably. My husband would like to remove this built-in china cabinet to improve the sight line in the kitchen.

I would love to get some dark soapstone counter tops one day. Maybe a tiled backsplash would be nice. I also think I'd like to remove the black hole of the microwave over the stove and install a pretty hood vent instead.

Small changes, not a gut job. Because if I took the guts out of this kitchen, I would lose the quirky things that I've come to love, too. No thanks. I'm keeping this kitchen's quirky guts and its quirky heart, too.

Thanks for visiting the cafe today!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

31 Days: The Unmodeled Kitchen, or How To Embrace The Perfectly Unperfect

 Today I thought I'd show you my unmodeled kitchen. Not remodeled, just unmodeled. Left alone. Unfussed with, untrendy, untouched.

 No fancy countertops or fancy appliances.

 A vintage kitchen that has been nourishing families for nearly fifty years.

Fifty years of dishes washed at this sink.

  Fifty years of dinners cooked at this stove.

A place to make a cup of coffee.

A place to grab a snack.

A place to let the dog out...

...fifty times a day.

A shelf for cookbooks...

...a pantry full of shelves for food...

...and a pantry to hang up cute aprons and not-so-cute school snacks.

A place to light a candle and sit with a good cup of coffee and a good devotional.

Because a kitchen should not just nourish your body. It should nourish your soul, too.

And when a kitchen has functioned this well for fifty years, you learn to live with the unmodel before considering the remodel.

Today, it is perfectly unperfect. A lot like me.

Is it any wonder that I like it as much as I do?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

31 Days: The Dining Room Debate

So, where do you stand on the dining room debate?

Do you feel that a house needs to have a dining room to make it a real home? Or do you feel that a dining room is wasted space and not necessary if you have a big eat-in kitchen?

Our last house had a dining room that was so small we could not fit our furniture in it! That's what we get for not taking proper measurements of the room and our furniture before choosing the house! We had to put the dining room furniture in the great room next to the kitchen, and move the kitchen furniture into the dining room. We never really used that room as a dining room. It sort of became a front parlor where my husband would often sit with his laptop and catch up on work.

Personally, I love dining rooms. For some reason, it transforms an ordinary meal into something special when we eat it together in the dining room.

When we were house hunting, I never put "dining room" on our must-have list. But the house I fell in love with had a dining room, and I'm so glad that it did.

Our new dining room is big, with plenty of room for our furniture.

It had a lot of potential. Hard wood floors and crown moldings. Beautiful custom curtains and a lovely neutral grass cloth wallpaper.

The sun shines through the big window in the late afternoon, bathing this room and the neighboring garden in light.

My husband still likes to sit at the dining room table with his laptop, which is fine by me. We don't save this room for special occasions. We may sit here to work on homework or play a board game. And we gather here when all of the boys are home, to eat spaghetti and talk and laugh and share.

I am looking forward to the meals we will share at this table during the holiday season.

Does your home have a dining room? If so, how often do you use it?

Friday, October 25, 2013

31 Days: Hooked on Houses

Are you Hooked on Houses? I know that I am!

I've been a big fan of Julia's blog, Hooked on Houses, for a few years now. I think it started when I became obsessed with the Stuart Little house. And then the Daddy Day Care house. And of course, the Gilmore Girls house, and then...well, you get the idea. Julia shares my obsession for movie set houses and real houses, too.

My bathroom remodel is being featured on Julia's blog today! Check it out here:

Hooked on Houses

There are some amazing bathroom remodels featured today! I'm humbled that my little bathroom facelift is featured along with some of these fantastic projects!

Do you have a favorite Hollywood house?  When my Mom and sisters came to visit last month, my sister Jenny told me that we have The Father of The Bride house! (See what I mean? We're kind of obsessed with movie houses in my family. It must be genetic!) I'm certain that Steve Martin and Diane Keaton's characters had a much grander house than mine, but I appreciate the comparison none the less.

Grab a coffee and go visit the blog right now. You will be glad you did!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

31 Days: Repurposing

Whenever we move to a new home, we find ourselves repurposing objects.

A rug used for the front porch becomes just the thing needed in the laundry room.

A sofa table finds a new purpose as a front entry table.

You have to get creative with your belongings.

An office armoire now resides in the corner of the living room.

It became the perfect spot to hide a small television.

I needed a neutral-colored pillow for the entryway bench, so...

...I covered a pillow in this pretty dish towel and tied it up with twine.

Today's card was also repurposed! I stamped the focal point tree a few days ago, but didn't like it with anything. I painted the background and grass with Ranger Distress Stains, and wasn't sure that I liked the all.

I left it on my desk for a few days.

Today, I picked it up and thought "This little tree isn't so bad. It just needs a little love." {insert Charlie Brown voice here!}

I trimmed it down, paired it with some new colors, and totally repurposed it. Saved from the scrap pile!

{Today's Brew: stamps from Waltzingmouse Stamps, card stock from SU, distress stains, SU embossing folder, SU button, button twine (PTI), nailhead trims}

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

31 Days: Relocation for Young Adults

Hello! Today, I thought it would be fun to hand the blogging reins over to my oldest son, Luke. Luke, who is 23, graduated from college in May and moved with us here to Pittsburgh. Let's here what he has to say about the experience:

"As a 23 year old guy that has lived in 4 different states, I have quite the perspective on moving from state to state that I'd like to share with all of you. My most recent move......

Occassional follower: Wait, you're a dude and your name's Mary Rose?

Dedicated follower: 23 years old? I thought you had a husband and 3 kids, one of which is also 23?

Random person that's using StumbleUpon: WHERE AM I?!?!?

Oh that's right, I almost forgot! I'm not Mary Rose Kulczak. I'm her oldest son, Luke Kulczak!

Occassional follower: And here I thought you had cruel parents that gave you a girl's name.

Dedicated follower: Thank goodness! I was about to say....

Random person that's using StumbleUpon: Is this where I order a coffee? I want a Venti sized Pumpkin Spice Latte and a.......

Coffee? Venti sized? No, this is a blog, not an actual cafe. You'd have better luck at Starbucks. Anyway, where was I? Ah, yes! My most recent move has been a new and interesting experience for me. This is the first time living in a state in which I am no longer a student. I was born and raised in Michigan for 15 years. Afterward, we lived in Missouri for about 3 years and then moved to Indiana where I finished both high school and all of my classes at Ball State University. Since May 2013, we're now living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

So far, Pittsburgh and it's inhabitants have been good to us! Everyone's enjoying themselves here, and my younger brother John is still able to go to Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology down in Terre Haute, Indiana. I'm working at Soergel Orchards while I look for an internship in Construction Management. I've also joined a new bible study. It didn't take long for my family and me to settle into Pittsburgh and make new friends.

Every relocation has been a different experience for me. The first time I moved to a new state, I was going into high school for the first time. I wasn't very nervous, though. I was excited to make a new start and have new friends. The weather in Missouri was different from Michigan, so I had to get used to the heat in the summer time. The move to Indiana was a much needed one, because we visited family in Michigan quite often from Missouri, which was a 9 hour drive every time. When we moved to Indiana, I was 3/4 of the way done with my junior year of high school. Once senior year rolled in, it was easier for me to adjust to a new state. I made a ton of new friends in Indiana, especially when I was in college. Most of my time in Indiana was spent in college rather than at home with my family, due to the distance from college to my parent's house.

Now in my fourth state, I'm enjoying more new experiences in a new place and with new people.

The best way to handle a move to a new state or town is to have a positive perspective. Moving isn't as scary as long as you have something to be excited about. I do miss the friends I don't get to see as often, but I also enjoy meeting new people. It takes a while to adjust to new routes and roads that you've never been on before. That's why I'm driving with my GPS most of the time. It doesn't take long for us to adjust to a new house. We quickly make it a home for us and know how to renovate. It's also great to see new places and try new restaurants. So as long as there's at least one thing to be excited for when moving to a new state or town, the moving process will be less stressful and more enjoyable. I've moved around from state to state since I was 15, so each move has become less of a hassle for me over time.

Instead of worrying and fretting about moving, you should think about all of the good things about moving!"

Thank you, Luke! 
Here's a photo of Luke with his not-so-small group from church. That's Luke, tailgating at a Pittsburgh Pirates game and wearing a Mr. Roger's "It's all good in the 'hood" t-shirt.
Luke has always been a positive guy. I call him my Barnabas because he has the gift of encouragement in a big way.
I'm so proud of him! He's really making the most of this transition. Making new friends, going to weekly bible study, and working whenever and wherever he can.
By the way, Luke is looking for work as an intern in construction management, preferably in the Pittsburgh area. If anyone knows of a construction company that would take a chance on a young, positive guy just out of college, drop me a line!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

31 Days: Home Relocation With Children

Let me introduce you to one of the bravest ten year old kids I know.

Uprooted from his school and his friends and his neighborhood, and plopped into a new city, with a new house and a new neighborhood, then shipped off to a new school to make new friends.

It cannot be easy for Sam.

And yet, every day, he leaves for school with a smile on his face. And every day, he'll tell me that school was awesome.

He is taking piano classes, for the first time.

He is taking cartooning classes, for the first time.

We've had a lot of "firsts" since the move, and Sam has embraced them all as a new adventure.

It wasn't always so happy.

The night we broke the news to Sam, he got tears in his eyes and said "I'm not happy about this!"

He shared a lot of his fears with us. We talked...a lot.

Here are just a few things we did to make the home relocation process a little easier on our youngest son:

*We took Sam on every one of our house hunting trips, and he became better than the realtor at showing me all the positives and negatives of the houses we toured. Such a trooper! Each visit to Pittsburgh made the transition a little easier.

*We communicated the situation to his teacher early in the process, and she did a wonderful job helping Sam prepare for the move.

*We let Sam decorate his room just the way he wanted. He picked out new bedding, new colors, new posters. 

*We bought Sam a new bike for his birthday so that he could easily explore his new neighborhood.

*We spent the summer and fall exploring the attractions...zoo, ball park, downtown, state parks. All of these experiences helped Sam to connect with the town and gave him lots of experiences to share with his classmates.

*We continued to do the things that our family always does together...cookouts, trips to the park, walks, church, movie nights. All of these things helped the days feel "normal".

*We continue to talk about the friends and places we left behind, and keep the happy memories alive.

*We pray together, every morning, before the bus comes.

* We participate fully in everything that the school has to offer...PTA, Fall Family Night, book fair, volunteer opportunities, we are there.

*We ask questions and value did you like that restaurant? What did you think of church today? What's your favorite place to visit? Who is the funniest kid in your class?

I wish there was one secret formula to make home relocation easy and stress free for children of all ages. There is not. But thus far, we've had positive experiences, and we're thankful that our sons have embraced this new adventure.

Tomorrow, I will have a guest blogger here to speak about home relocation for young adults, so stop back!

Monday, October 21, 2013

31 Days: Simple Gratitude for Church

We've been attending a church in our new Pittsburgh home for about two months now. It is a nice church, and it is a BIG church, but it is not my church. I know this, and I am at peace with it. This church has been nice for a season, but I can feel God calling me in another direction.

I've been attending a Bible study with other women in this church, and it has been great fellowshipping with these ladies. Our leader, Gerry, is a seasoned southern woman of faith, but she confessed that this was her first time leading a small group. She was a parochial school teacher for more than thirty years, so you can bet that she keeps us in line and on task! LOL!

Two weeks ago, we had a great class with a lot of discussion. When it was over, I approached Gerry and said "You are doing such a great job leading us in this class. Thank you so much! It has been a real blessing to me every week."

Tears welled up in Gerry's eyes, and she hugged me and thanked me for the encouragement.

It was a simple thing to express gratitude, and I could tell that it meant a lot to her.

This week, as we walked in to worship, who should be our greeter that morning at this huge church but Gerry! We hugged (because we're on a hugging basis now) and greeted each other by name.

Connected in Christ. It's a beautiful thing.

It reminded me that a simple expression of thankfulness can have a big impact.

{Today's Brew: stamps and dies from Lawn Fawn, papers from WRMK, sage shadow card stock (SU), sequins and twine (Lawn Fawn}