Friday, June 30, 2017

The Cottage: A New Front Porch

Today I'm sharing a few additions to the front porch of our new home.

Most "cottage" style houses do not have large front porches. A few of the homes we looked at in our current neighborhood had more of a covered stoop than a full porch.  We were pleasantly surprised to find that our model has a much wider porch, with ample room for a rocker or two.

Yes, I did bring my new welcome mat with me to this house. I left an older back door mat at the Illinois house, but this one had to come with matches the chair cushions perfectly! I couldn't leave it behind.

I picked up some flowers at bargain prices this week! Hanging baskets, potted plants, a few flags and stars for fourth of July.

Hello, Miss Jemma!

The barberry bushes were really overgrown, and the beds were filled with weeds. My husband and I spent a few hours last Sunday cleaning it all up. My sister, Jenny, loaned us her power hedge trimmers, and that really saved us a lot of time and effort. Six yard waste bags later, and the front yard was looking presentable again.

Why would anyone plant pokey barberry bushes along a sidewalk? In all honesty, I think contractors plant cheap bushes from garden centers, and then homeowners think that have to keep what has been planted.

Not this homeowner!

We will probably do some major re-landscaping this fall. For this reason, I decided to just plant some annuals out front, and leave the major perennial planting for another day.

I found these great shepherd's hooks at Aldi this spring for about $5. What a deal! I had to buy a new hummingbird feeder this week when I saw a little guy hovering in front of my office window as if to say "Lady! We're starving out here!"

Last night, Sam and I stood in the front yard with Jemma and took it all in.

"Wow. It's only been two weeks, and already the house looks so much better!"

We are really loving our new home and neighborhood. The neighbors are friendly, with lots of dog walkers, bikers and strollers in the evenings. The natural setting is idyllic, with creeks and woods attracting birds, deer, and lots of woodland animals.

In the evenings, I sit outside and watch the bats swoop over the marsh, gobbling up insects as the frogs chirp. So peaceful!

It's hard to imagine that Independence Day is next week. I want to press the pause button on this summer. Time to slow down and enjoy.

Blessings, cafe friends!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Watercolor Wonderful

I have been blessed with some wonderful mothers.

I made this card for one of my three "moms".

I stamped the images on some patterned print paper, and then used watercolors to paint. I think I like the effect!

{Today's Brew: stamps from Hero Arts, sentiment from SU, patterned paper from SU, Kuretake Gansai Tambi watercolors, Simple Stories enamel dots}

Bright, cheery and colorful...just like my moms! So happy that we've closer to all of them!

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Cottage: Our Fun Family Basement!

We've been living in our cottage for just ten days now, and the final load of boxes arrived this weekend. We are mostly unpacked at this point, but still trying to figure out where everything should go. Pictures and artwork still need to be hung on the walls, and curtains and other decor items need to be updated. We are taking our time and just going slow, enjoying the process and the summer at the same time.

Our oldest son, Luke, is keeping most of his belongings in the storage areas until he moves in to his own place next month. In the meantime, it's feeling just a tad bit cramped as we try to find new systems to store everything. The pantry needs more shelves, the laundry room needs better organization, and my husband needs to move all of his clothes out of my too small walk-in closet.


Today, I thought I'd show you the basement that is coming together quite nicely!

When we made a list of the spaces we'd need in our downsize house, my husband really wanted a basement movie area. We knew that it would have to be a space that met all of our needs. When you downsize, you have to make certain that there are no wasted spaces. In our last house, the basement never got enough use. Perhaps we just didn't like spending time down there.

This basement feels as if it was custom made just for us!

There's even a small kitchenette where we can sit and eat while playing games and watching movies!

I've officially dubbed this space "the coffee bar"!

The basement also has a full bathroom, a huge bedroom with walk-in closet (Sam's dream teen space!), and the craft room. I promise, more photos of that room to come.

I wish all my cafe friends could come over! I'd make you all lattes, we would throw on a chick flick or the Hallmark channel, and we could craft the entire day away! It's such a fun space, and we are constantly splitting our time between the main level and the walkout basement. I walk down every morning because, hello!, that's where the coffee is!

A fun, colorful space for my fun, colorful family.

Thanks for visiting the cafe today!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

A Consuming Fire

When you become a temporary "resident" at a Residence Inn, you really do meet some extraordinary people.

I've been a "resident" twice this year: first, in March when we vacationed in Florida, and again this month when we waited to close on our house.

On both occasions, God placed me in a spot to be a comfort to someone who had been displaced due to a house fire.

I had the pleasure and privilege of meeting Maggie back in March. We chatted at the breakfast buffet, and I offered to help her carry her food to a table, as she was using a walker. That's when she told me the story of the house fire. Maggie (who was in her seventies) and her son and grandchildren had made it out alive, and she was so thankful. But she told me that the grandchildren still suffered from nightmares, reliving the horror in their sleep.

It had been a tough year for her, she told me. Two daughters had died just months apart the year before. And now, after the fire, she wasn't sure where they would live after the insurance-approved period of temporary housing ran out.

We talked for several days, and I told her I was lifting her whole family up in prayer. I did, and I still do.

The day before we left, I had a question that needed an answer.

"Maggie, do you have a church family?" I asked her.

I wish you could have seen the sweet transformation of her face. It was as if a temporary sorrow had been replaced with an eternal joy. Her sweet smile said it all.

"Oh yes!" she said with gladness. And she proceeded to tell me how her church family had gathered around them in love and support.

That is the kind of joy and comfort I am hoping to find in my next church family.

When I read this verse, I was surprised to find some treasures about worship tucked in. I've been thinking about worship a LOT this year. It has thus far been a transformative year for me, not just in relocation, but also in my faith. I found these notes from a commentary on this verse to be so insightful that I needed to add them to my page.

This month, I met Mike, a single Dad who had escaped from a kitchen fire with his son, two dogs and a cat. When I met Mike, he still had the hospital band on his wrist after being examined for smoke inhalation. He wanted to met Miss Jemma, and as he gave her love (which she soaked up), Mike told me the story of the fire, of crawling under beds to retrieve his beloved pets, who were cowering in fear.

The most amazing thing happened during this encounter. Jemma, our wild child, became a comfort dog!

Here's a photo of Jemma from that very same morning, after she had rolled in green goose poop at the dog park, necessitating a trip to the Do-It-Yourself Doggie Wash shortly thereafter. Silly girl!

At one point, Mike buried his head in her soft and freshly bathed neck, and Jemma leaned in gently just like a good comfort dog should do. She gave this man such peace that it brought tears to my eyes!

After the ServPro disaster people do their wonders to his house, Mike and his teenage son and furry family members will have their home once again.

"Perhaps God wanted you to have a brand new kitchen," I told Mike.

"But I didn't want a new kitchen!" He laughed.

"Ah, but see, God wanted you to have one!" I said.

"Therefore, let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire." 
Hebrews 12:28-29

After too many weeks, we will finally get to church tomorrow. I plan on bringing a heart full of reverence and awe...for our God is a consuming fire.

Blessings on your weekend, cafe friends!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Vanilla, with a Side of Bacon

Do you know what goes great with a vanilla latte? A sprinkling of cinnamon, and a side of bacon!

 I started with a vanilla card base and cut out the peek-a-boo window. It looked like the perfect spot to showcase this little piggie!

{Today's Brew: stamps and dies from MFT, picket fence die from Lawn Fawn, PTI card stock, Lawn Fawn papers, felt flower (SU), enamel dot}

And inside, a fun little sentiment with a little extra fencing.

A fun card for someone facing not-so-fun circumstances.

Blessings, cafe friends!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Leaving A House To The New Owners

This is a post on how a house should be left to the new owners.

It should  be left this way. But in our experience, it rarely is left this way.

For starters, before a house is even listed on the market, there is a certain level of cleaning that should take place.

Baseboards should be wiped clean. Light switch plates should be wiped clean. Hand rails should be wiped clean. And if the curtains are dirty, with dusty rods, these should be washed and hung up again...clean. Free of suspicious stains. Clean.

After the house is emptied, touch up the walls if at all possible. This is where all of those leftover paint cans hanging around in the storage really come in handy. It takes minutes to do, but it goes a long way to make the house look better.

As cupboards and drawers are emptied, have a bucket of Lysol and a sponge handy. Wipe down the drawers and shelves. And while you are at it, wipe down the cabinets and door and drawer fronts, too. Counter tops? Yes, wipe them down. That should go without saying. You'd think.

Realtors will tell you the floors should be swept before you leave. Yes, they should. And the carpets should be vacuumed as well. Yes, yes they should.

If you have panelled doors in your home, then you are probably aware that they can get just as dirty as your light switch plates. The handles need to be cleaned regularly, the bevelled edges need to be dusted, and the whole thing needs to be wiped down regularly. Regularly.

Bathrooms are tricky, because you obviously will need to use it right until you move out. But if you've been maintaining a certain level of weekly cleaning, then this job should be fast. A swish of cleaner in the toilet, a wipe down of the sinks and showers and tubs with a Chlorox wipe. And if you've been regularly cleaning and scrubbing your bath rooms on a weekly basis, this should suffice. There are some big "if"s in this paragraph.

We all know that moving is a huge job, and packing up all your possessions is a time consuming affair. But you really shouldn't neglect your lawn and garden. If you've been spending any amount of time in your yard, then you know what it needs. It might take an hour on a Saturday to pull a few weeds.

And if the bushes are so overgrown that you cannot walk down the sidewalk to get to the front door without getting scratched and poked? Yes, take care of that. How is an owner expected to get their belongings indoors in one piece?

It's probably too much trouble to wash windows before you leave. Hopefully, you've had clean windows all along to help the sale of your house. On moving day, you probably only need to clean the front door, the doggie smudges on the back patio door, and wipe down a few mirrors. That's not too much to ask, is it?

A few fresh flowers cut from the garden for the new owners...just a nice way to say "Hope you are happy in your new home. I know this house is probably the BIGGEST financial investment you may make in your lifetime, and we tried hard to make it look like it was worth it for you."

And that is how a house should be left for the new owners.

That's all I'm going to say about that. ;)

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Home, At Last

Home, at last!

We've officially been in our new house since last Friday, and have been working every day to unpack and make it feel like home.

In the past moves, I've known pretty quickly if a house will work for us and if it will feel right. And in this house, I knew right away that it would end up being our favorite house yet. It is so comfortable to live in, there's plenty of storage, and we love the ranch with walkout basement.

This sweet little cottage might just turn out to be our forever home.

Of course, I still have to put my own style to it.

So for starters, I did everything I could to instantly make it lighter and brighter.

These curtains in the great room came down about five minutes after we had the keys. ;)

And these curtains covering the french doors to the office room? Gone.

My husband saw the front door at the foyer and said "I know this frosted glass is used for security, but I'm not a fan."

"Oh my gosh, do you know how expensive that will be to fix?" I asked him.

"No," he replied. "How much do you think it would cost?"

"Free!" I laughed, as I began to pull away the frosted vinyl cling covering.

Here, you can see how much light comes in on the right hand side, as opposed to the left that still had the frosted window covering.

And after all frosting and curtains were peeled away, I gave everything a good scrubbing. It's always amazing how much lighter a house can feel when the windows are cleaned.

Seriously, who needs a security system when you can have a Jemma instead?

I'm not a fan of words on walls. I like words on signs, but words on walls...not so much.

I put Sam to work peeling these off, too.

We've been doing a LOT of cleaning, and a LOT of scrubbing. And the walls will need a LOT of painting in the future.

It has more than a few weeds, but we love it...warts and all.

Feeling blessed beyond measure.

More updates to come this week, so stop back to the cafe soon!