A Simple Life

cottage kitchenCottage kitchen via BHG

Lately I’ve been thinking more and more about something that I’ve shared a few times already on this blog. Nothing revolutionary for me, but it is something I still think about a lot! The older I get, the more I crave a simple kind of life. Not simplicity in feeling like I necessarily need to get rid of everything I have, sell our car, change our color scheme to all neutrals, live off the land for our survival, or move to a 500 square foot house or whatever others might view as simple, but finding a regular rhythm of life that works for me. I find fulfillment differently than I used to.

One thing I know for sure is what might appear to be “the simple life” for one person doesn’t necessarily equate to simple for another. Right now in my life simple means slowing down, staying put and nurturing what I already have rather than seeking simplicity somewhere else, taking off on a new adventure or adding new things to my already overflowing plate. Simplicity is about being in the moment and embracing life right where I am.

It comes down to the choices I make day to day to keep life simple. What do I do every day that complicates my life?

small bedroom

 bedroom via BHG

For me a complicated life tends to begin with starting big new things, moving to new places or a different house I have to set up or putting too much pressure on myself to do more around my house. It really hasn’t mattered to me where I’ve lived, big house, small house, in town, out of town, it is always more complicated if I set myself up in a life or environment that doesn’t work for me. And the moving to a new house is always more complicated than I remembered! It takes years for me to really feel settled.

I like having enough room in my house to feel comfortable with things I love to have around me, the type of decorating I enjoy doing and the kind of entertaining we want to do as a family. I love to have enough space to myself so I can hide away from the hustle and bustle of our home, but not so big of a house that I am over burdened by more than I can take care of or handle. There is a delicate balance there on what I’ve decided works for me in this season of life.

A well taken care of and maintained home is more important to me right now, in this moment, than a place that requires lots of work and effort. While it is fun to dream about remodeling or living a new adventure (and trust me, we are always dreaming of what house or adventure we’d like next!) I’ve been there, done that and it was a bit more stressful and less romantic than I thought :-).

While I’m all for chasing dreams, I’m finding a new level of contentment with a life that is creatively more simple. It can be tiring and distracting chasing after a new kind of adventure, so I love this season where I can choose to slow down and appreciate what I already have. Not to say we aren’t busy, we are crazy busy. But I can make the choice to not complicate things further!

beach cottage

front porch via BHG

Simple contentment isn’t something you can always find by moving to it by downsizing or upsizing or moving to a different area or style of house or starting something new to fill that creative desire, for me right now it is what I’m finding by staying where we are and nurturing what we already have going on in life.

Ironically to us, this new house away from our favorite “homes” in Portland, in this area we never dreamed of living in, will be the home we’ve lived in longer than any other house we’ve ever had. Now I have a glimpse of what life is like for people who haven’t moved every few years. And I really like it!

I know it isn’t always possible to stay put (you military people know this better than anyone!) but for me right now, it is nice! I love it. I’ve always thought that I would really like the simplicity of being in a place that we’ve lived in for awhile, one that is “nearly done” over having “a long way to go.” And I was right, I do like it! Of course I love keep enough projects going so I don’t get bored (obviously, I’m always working on something creative!).

I’ve discovered a comfortable way of life that might be different than I dreamed of but it works for me, for now.  I realize now I can handle living close enough to shops that I can have some “me time” at a coffee house or window shopping, but far enough that I don’t get in a regular habit of shopping to fill a void in my life that should have been filled with simpler pleasures. Living near enough (but not too close!) to shopping or other “spending” temptations helps simplify the budget too! It’s good, even if it isn’t what I had originally imagined as a perfect life or location for me.

cottage bedroom

Cottage bedroom via BHG

I’m feeling more and more comfortable right where I am, even in this new house I never would have dreamed of for my forever “home.” While once in awhile the notion of moving to some fun new place with new projects to do and new experiences to have still comes flashing across my mind, I remind myself that the simple, romantic and fulfilling life I desire is something I can probably attain by staying where I am and appreciating what I already have.

A better home or life isn’t always found elsewhere! Sometimes it is right in front of you. It isn’t just settling for what you have, but I really feel like sometimes your best life might really be under the roof you already have. I just have to make different choices every day in how I spend my time or money or where I focus my attention. Deliberately slowing down the pace right where I am will likely get me to simplicity.

While I can’t say for sure where life will lead or what new opportunities that might come our way in the near or distant future, I do love that I feel more content right now to stay where I am than ever before. I’m a bit of an adventurer when it comes to homes and I love chasing new creative ideas, but I’m learning the art of contentment right where I am. I’m embracing a growing desire for simplicity and understanding what that actually means to me. It is a really good feeling, like I can take a deep breath and just enjoy being here.

What do you think of when you think of a more simple life?

For those of you who aren’t just starting out in life, how has your idea of what “a simple life” means evolved over time?

{Love the Life You Have} Create Personal Style

self confidence

aka: Chose the Funky Glasses. Sponsored by Lookmatic

When I was nearing the end of high school, I was asked what I wanted to do when I graduated so they could add my plans to the video they were going to play when we walked across the stage to accept our diplomas. I had two directions I considered for my career. One was in fashion, the other in home decorating. I loved both. Fashion made ME feel fancy, and houses made me happy. Both were a way to be creative, fun and express myself in personal style.

Fortunately for the fashion blogging world, home decorating won out in the end. In hindsight, fashion was a lot more fun for me when I was 18 years old, wore a size two and had approval to use my mom’s Nordstrom card to make myself look cute every day. What I was going to wear was pretty much all I had to worry about back then.

As life marched on I’ve dealt with more pressing stressful issues like working and taxes,  kids and dogs, mortgage payments and health insurance. What shoes went with which outfit became the least of my daily worries. Many days I was just lucky to find two shoes that matched each other, let alone ones that matched the outfit.

lookmatic glasses the inspired room

It wasn’t like I didn’t care or want to look decent, but fashion became more of a necessity than fun — clothes were often the only way to camouflage the latest unfortunate bulge. Where I used to think more about what was “in style” or what would show off my figure, I am now more inclined to consider what could possibly (impossibly?) cover all the figure flaws. You know? I’m a blogger and bloggers readily admit blogging makes you, well, wider.

Funny though, even at 18 years old and when I was a size two, I thought of myself as a little chubby. I was self-conscious back then, for no reason! GRRR! Where was my self-confidence when I should have had it?

If only we could be as chubby as we used to think we were, right?


Getting older seems to be an eye-opening experience.

My latest literal eye-opening realization is that I need eye glasses. For real.

While most of the youngish bloggers are out there buying themselves nerdy glasses these days to look trendy and hip in their blog photos, I’m actually wearing my new trendy nerdy glasses so I can SEE to blog.

Have mercy. Honestly though, there is more to it than wanting to see better. I do want to have fun and take a few risks with personal style and build self-confidence with who I am at this stage of my life.

One thing I am always learning is that whatever age you are and no matter what is going on in your life, it is important to take time for yourself, to get yourself and your house dressed in a way that makes you feel happy, refreshed and alive! It is easy to let one or the other go at various times in life, yet both our homes and our express an important side of ourselves we need to hang on to.

Just as creating a style and way of life in our house is so important to how we live, who we are when we walk out our front door is a significant part of how we see ourselves. Who are we when we leave the kids for a night with our hubby or go out to lunch with friends or head out for a weekend conference?

Do we have enough self-confidence to actually forget about ourselves, or do we spend more time worrying about our flaws than caring about the people we meet? If we focus too much on our imperfections, maybe we haven’t given enough time to ourselves to be at our best or most confident selves. Maybe we need more rest, more personal time to get our haircut or do our nails or shop for clothes that make us feel better about ourselves.

We may not be 18 any more (and if you are still 18, enjoy every minute of that youthful self!), but we can fully embrace the season of being 30 or 40 or 50 or beyond and find a style that works for us.

take time for yourself

I’m not talking about spending lots of money or becoming overly obsessed with how you look, what clothes you wear or what you decorate your house with. But I am talking about making yourself and your home more than just “presentable.” Maybe I’m suggesting having more fun with your style and finding more time to take care of yourself— without apology or hesitation.

You don’t have to go crazy and get your nose pierced (unless you want to, of course), but maybe just step things up a little bit from what you are used to. I’m not a fashion expert by any stretch of the imagination so take my advice with a grain of salt, but I do think a fresh personal style is attainable for everyone who is brave enough to try new things and admit what they really love. You don’t have to know what is “in” or what all the fashion bloggers are wearing in order to have personal style!

For some of us, maybe we would start simply by putting on some makeup, fixing our hair and getting dressed every day in something cute, even if we are just staying home. I love yoga pants and sweatshirts as much as the next gal, but maybe try wearing a comfortable dress or a cute top, stylish jeans and boots, just to shake things up a bit around the house.

Invest in the little things that can make life more fun and even awaken your creativity and personality.

What if you chose the funky glasses instead of the sensible ones, or bought a coat in a shocking color that might not go with everything (gasp!), or wore a bright floral scarf or the striped shoes with the polka dot blouse (can you do that? why not?)? Do things just because YOU CAN! Don’t ask or worry about what other people think, unless you are asking a trusted friend. Wear what makes you feel like YOU, and what makes you LIKE yourself.

organize your purse

Take time for yourself!

What if you set your to do list aside for awhile and went for a walk all by yourself just to have time to breathe fresh air? What if you got a fun new haircut, or organized your purse with pretty patterned zip up bags that simply make you happy and feel more put together when you walk out the door?

Little things make such a big difference on how we feel!

Create a look for yourself that expresses who you want to be right now. Live the life you’ve always wanted to live, and design a home you actually love to be in, even if you are not in the perfect house. Those elements will all become part of your personal style.

There is always something about ourselves or our life to make us feel insecure, or a “glaring imperfection” that can rob us of our happiness and contentment with who we are and where we are right now. Things that make us want to hide behind the computer screen.

Those whispers in our ear that tell us things we used to be, love or want out of life are distant, not important, or just plain silly to even think about right now. We should be responsible adults, forget about ourselves and always choose the sensible shoes.

It is easy to let yourself, your house or your dreams go downhill or cause you to give up when the stress of life settle in, the bills pile up or you are considerably wider or older than you remember and you do a double take in the mirror wondering what the heck happened to your neck! But we can’t just hide away and wish things were different, we need to get out there and make things happen.

Sometimes life is frustrating or exhausting, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to make things around you beautiful in your own way. That is what true personal style is about. And young moms, don’t forget yourself along the way. I promise, your kids will benefit and thank you for treating yourself right!

Is there something small you could do this week to help you better love the life you have? Maybe something to inspire you to break out of your fashion frump or decorating slump, enliven your boring routine or awaken your creative side?

modern eye glasses the inspired room blogIn my quest to embrace my personal style, I am wearing funky new glasses from Lookmatic called the Holly glasses in black.  Lookmatic is an online sunglasses and prescription eyeglass boutique, with a large celebrity following. It was painless and actually fun to order online! I love how modern and quirky they are! I am so happy I took a risk.

How to Fall in Love with Your Home

how to fall in love with your home

I‘m living in a fairly newly built house, but I still have a crush on older homes. You may not get crushes on older houses, but I really do. I fall hard. I adore the character that comes with a charming house built before I was even born. The rounded wood doors, creaky wood floors, the chunky wainscoting, the old lanterns in the hallways.

For more tips & inspiration on how to Love The Home You Have, check out my new book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble!

I’ve been blessed to live my dreams in many beautiful old houses. And I’ve been infatuated with many more old houses I’ve only loved from afar. I obsess over older homes in neighborhoods and I stalk them online. When I was younger I dreamed of castles and fairytales and all that romantic girlie stuff, so it is only fitting that I’d romanticize life at home.

charming old house

But alas, owning an old house isn’t always as romantic as it sounds. Trust me on that. With character and age come many expected and unexpected updates and repairs. You dream of decorating and furnishing that lovely old home, but in reality your money might go to exciting things like new sewer pipes, roofs, and electrical panels.

Ahhh, the romantic love of an older house can easily dim once you experience what it’s like to replace a sewer line when you were saving up to buy a brand new six burner stove for that charming but oh-so-out-of-date and non-functioning kitchen.

said no home blogger, ever.

That is one of the reasons we chose to buy a new house this time around. We needed to know with relative confidence that we wouldn’t have a major plumbing repair or roof leak in the first few years of ownership.

Ain’t nobody got time or money for that.

charming new house

We had so much else to focus on when we moved here that an old house just wasn’t something we could handle at that time. But, alas, the romance, tingly toes and giddy feelings we normally had with houses we had crushes on and planned to buy just weren’t there this time. This was more like a practical, business-like decision you make with your head — not a love affair of the heart.

white farm house

But the saving grace with this more practical house buying endeavor was I’ve always had a bit of a secret dream, to buy a new house and give it the character I’ve always loved in my old houses. Maybe if I added some old house character I would feel those goosebumps about my new house too? It was worth a try to see if we could have the best of both worlds.

I’m not sure my new house will ever be as romantic to me as that beautiful old house in my dreams. But if I’ve learned anything at all about life thus far, it is that romance is often something we need to create. It can be right in front of us, if we only would nurture it and see it as worthy of falling in love with. It’s worth the effort to try!

beach cottage

Unless you are already living in your dream house (or have a tiny crush on your house already), your love affair with the home you have probably won’t even start until you fan the flames and flirt with it a little bit. You have to make the effort. You can’t settle for mediocre just because you don’t feel the love yet. We might need to get creative and shake things up before we even see a spark.

Maybe we need to start a 40 day love dare for our house. Do something loving for your home every single day for 40 days, and then see how you feel about your home. {update: see my new book, Love the Home You Have, where I share a 30 day love your home challenge!

If those giddy feelings of infatuation for your home are not there yet, all hope for love is not lost. Maybe you have fallen out of love with your home and are looking for greener grass. No house is perfect and circumstances aren’t always ideal. Old house, new house, rental house, borrowed house, military housing, apartment, big house, small house … they all have their issues.

love the house you have

But let’s not give up on romance, even if you don’t think you could ever truly fall in love with the home you have. If you let your heart wander a little bit to see the house of your dreams, the home you picture probably doesn’t really resemble what surrounds you every day. And maybe it is as far from it as you can imagine.

But that is OK. Real life romance is much sweeter and more precious because it is what you actually have. It is YOURS to nurture and cherish in whatever way you are able to right now. Even if you won’t live here forever, make the best of the time you have.

Whether it is having fun setting up family dinners at the table, cleaning out a closet to make room for a neglected hobby, hanging a new charming light fixture in place of a standard builder light, recovering some throw pillows in a favorite fabric, painting a wall a color you truly love, counting your blessings every day, or working on something bigger like fixing up a bathroom or kitchen — they can all add to our home’s “love bank.” It’s worth investing emotional energy in the home you have, because you’ll feel that love coming right back to you.

Love and romance take time. You have to start somewhere, anywhere! You just have to start! Build the memories one by one, take care of what you already have, add a little more character and personality every day, and layer by layer you’ll probably fall more in love with your home.
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