Monday, November 20, 2017

The House at Christmas, 2017

In the bleak midwinter
Frosty wind made moan.
Earth stood hard as iron
Water like a stone.

Snow had fallen
Snow on snow
Snow on Snow
In the bleak midwinter
Long ago.

(Christina Rossetti)

When the snow fell, in early November, 
our place turned into Christmas, overnight.
Suddenly it seemed right and proper to clip boughs,
wrap gifts, and sprinkle fairy lights around the house.

We used pink this year, and tiny bits of red:
 vintage ornaments that we've collected for years, 
and glass birds, and plaid flannel we already had. 

The tree is narrow (I love how narrow it is), and it's standing in an old wood box from Antiques Downtown in Elk River, MN. 

Our favorite vintage ornament, capturing light, mirroring and refracting little bits of Christmas.

Our packages this year. We ordered the butcher paper from Amazon, the craft paper is a painter's roll from a home improvement store, the ribbon and bells are from Jo-Ann. Our youngest daughter does most of the wrapping and all of the lettering.

At dusk, the tree and mantel lights begin to glow, and I can hardly wait for dark to fall, when we'll sit here together, gazing. It sounds boring but it's probably my favorite part about Christmas.

And every morning, I flick on the tree lights and feel a quiet joy settle over me. 
Christmas lights are always the right amount of light, no matter the time of day.

I kept simplifying this cabinet top, till almost nothing was left. If your Christmas house is making you anxious, try taking things away before you add anything.
Quiet your space.
You'll find when you do this, your heart has more room, and you can breathe easily.

The mantel.
Here too, I kept taking things away, till all that was left were white pine branches, lights,
and one little bird.
Then we hung the linen stockings.
I made these six years ago, when I was pregnant with Malachi. The kids didn't know about the 
baby yet. I told them the fifth stocking (not shown here) was for the dog.

The stockings are made from old linen clothing, and trim from vintage pillowcases.

The dining room table.
Cedar branches, cranberries in canning jars, tea lights.
There are four of these candle jars, so we'll use them as an Advent Wreath.

A Target tree on the shelf,
a bit of eucalyptus on the island.
Green in the wintertime:

The tree is in a vintage pewter cup, with a bit of faded flannel tied around it.
My Grampa made the wood rooster.

Now for some random glimpses of Christmas around the house.
Here's the lettered piano panel in the tiny library.
(all lettering done by my daughter)

The library sofa, with our shabby silver tree in an ice bucket.
This sofa has been with us since we married, it's from my parents. We've had it recovered twice, but now it has a new linen sheet thrown over it. It looks tidy, but only because we rarely use it.

Our shiplap headboard, with linen twine strung above it, and a few vintage ornaments.
Malachi violently objected to this particular decoration.

Anna Kate's room is all decked out, thanks to her love of paper art.
Here's her new scroll.

Her shelves, with a new paper tree in a vintage clipboard.

What can I give him,
poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, 
I would bring a lamb.
If I were a wise man,
I would do my part.
Yet what I can I give him,
give my heart.


I pray for you a Christmas full of warmth, rich in love, simple as a stable, with room for the treasure that your heart is longing to receive.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Julia's Wedding (Part One)

They're only 22 years old, but it seems they waited a long time to get married.
They met in kindergarten, when Julia was five and Ben was six.
They used to orchestrate how to meet in the hallway at school,
and once they were there,
they would kiss.
Just little baby kisses.
I knew nothing of this.
The next year, in first grade,
they were placed in separate classrooms,
and Ben was very sad about that.

My daughters getting ready, early morning, July 29

Julia's dress

Many years washed by.
 Our little girl grew up, strong and gentle, capable and creative, lovely and easy to be with,
 and Ben grew up too (mostly in Georgia). 
They reconnected on social media,
Ben visited Julia in December of 2016,
and by February 2017, 
they were engaged.
Honestly, Nate and I were a little rattled.
It was so fast.
And we knew Ben, kind of, and he seemed like the sweetest kid.
 And we knew his family, both from school and from church.
But marriage.
It's such a big deal.
Do you really love him? I asked my girl.
And she answered with no pause,
Yes, Mom, I really love him.

Lipstick in mama's room. 
Those are my babies, there on the wall.
That little fluffy-headed girl between her big brothers
is our Julia, age two.

Sure. They were so sure of themselves.
Remember being 22, and knowing everything?
I found out later that they almost eloped.
They were tired of being apart,
Julia was tired of our loud household.
They wanted to be together.

 Julia's dress with a pink satin ribbon

So we began to plan.
It seemed like playing Wedding, at first.
Anna Kate started with lists and vendors and pricing.
The budget was tight, we'd have the wedding at home,
in the cute quonset-hut barn that Grandma Murphy had had built.
(Thank you, thank you, precious Grandma).
We had five months to empty out that full barn, and make it pretty.
Every other detail came together like a simple, beautiful weaving.
Emptying that little red barn took most of our time, most of our energy,
and we didn't get the last thing out of there (a huge ladder)
till mere hours before the wedding. 

 In a blur of emotion, I draped Julia's dress over her head, put her necklace (made by me, with love, over many weeks) on her neck, and tied her satin ribbon around her waist. I was crying so hard that I'm surprised any fotos turned out.

Months went by, Ben and Julia were able to see each other a few more times.
They were so sweet together.
Young love is new, unhurt, unsullied.
I was glad they were marrying quickly,
but the dread of her leaving home was making my heart heavy.
At first, I stalked her.
That got old (mostly for her).
I had to loose my grip on this sweetest girl of mine, 
and let her belong to somebody else.

 Giving gifts to the bridesmaids

Julia's bridesmaids were Linnea, Ellie, Lydia and Anna Kate. 
Her sister was her maid-of-honor
(And Chief Wedding-Planner).
Lydia is Ben's sister.
Ellie and Linnea are Julia's oldest friends.
The gifts were pearl necklaces, each unique,
in vintage beaded clutches.
Ellie and Linnea are emotive,
and they said so wonderingly,
"Julia! Julia! Oh Julia!"

 First Look

Ben and his best man waited patiently outside.
The girls did their own hair and make-up,
and it took much longer than we expected.
First look was out in the meadow, in the brilliant morning sunshine,
and it was lovely.

Always be humble and kind...

 And always, always make her laugh.
Humor softens everything.

Lydia, Anna Kate, Julia, Linnea, Ellie

They are so young, fresh and beautiful!

Roses and eucalyptus

I made the bouquets from Farmers Market flowers, several bunches of roses and a big spray of eucalyptus. Caleb and Krista went there for us. The bridesmaids' bouquets were in water-filled vintage glass beakers, they looked special. 

Ben and his groomsmen

These were the most relaxed, groovy groomsmen. Ben's best friend,
his two brothers,
two of his cousins.
They wanted a sunglasses pic,
but no one had sunglasses.
So they borrowed the girls'.

(Fun fact: Julia has two brothers named Isaac and Caleb,
Ben has two brothers named Isaac and Caleb.
All named before I knew Ben's mom.
Weird, huh?)

Julia Jordan-Rose, laughing...

....and pensive.

Luke, Austin, Joe, Ben, Isaac, Caleb

 My baby girl forever

The tent at the back of the barn, where the wedding party was seated.

Caleb and Krista, Ben and Julia, Anna Kate, and the two single guys: Isaac and Malachi

We are totally blessed by our five children.
We're grateful that they're finding spouses who follow Jesus.
We didn't have much of a plan, but God did.
We love them, we pray for them, we do our best to let them go.
That's been the hardest part.

Ben's family: Lilia, Caleb, Ben and Julia, Isaac, Lydia

Oh my goodness. Adorableness.

Julia with Nate and me

 I had to include a pic of Nate! He adores his daughter. 
Also, the wedding would not actually have happened without his hard work.
He built the stage, raked the meadow, took out 100 gopher mounds, cleared the last heavy things from the barn, set up the sound system, and showed up in time to walk his daughter down the grass aisle.

Praying together, right before the ceremony

.....and that concludes Part 1. 
The ceremony and reception will be posted after my friend Jess gives us the fotos,
and after I dry these pesky tears.
They keep falling and falling.

(Beautiful images by Justin and Jessica Wohlrabe, Minneapolis)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Five Tips for a Summer Refresh

Welcome to our porch! You're probably coming from Noting Grace's lovely home tour, and I'm glad you're here. We switched up a few things, let me show you around. I have Five Easy Tips for summer refresh decorating, they don't cost much and they're easy to do! I'd never want anyone to spend more than they can afford, or needlessly add clutter. Here's how I make summer as pretty as possible, while staying in budget.

1. Don't go little - go big!
Our old chairs were needed elsewhere, for extra patio seating, so we went hunting for something more comfortable. I hoped to find rockers, and these were at a local home improvement store. The colors are perfect for our porch We could have spent this money on pots, plants, rugs, candles and lanterns. Um nope. I'd rather go simple, and have furniture that we enjoy sitting on.

2. Add a new color, and repeat it a few times.
Julia's fiance, Ben, gave her this red geranium, and although red flowers aren't usually my thing, doesn't it look darling here? Julia is picky about how I take care of it. She doesn't exactly trust me with plants.

A peek of the potted lobelia, the brightest, richest blue flowers. They often fade in the heat of summer, I'm hoping these hold out since they're often shaded. A few flags from Target Dollar Spot fill out the pot and tie in the red and blue.

A flag, a fern, a blue ceiling, wicker rockers, and a rolling meadow to gaze upon.
All you need are the classics.

3. Add green, as much as possible, as cheaply as possible.
 This big fern was only $15 at Costco. All the indoor greens are free from our land. Branches, ferns, blossoms and leaves - they make every space lively and interesting.
We are painting, making, cleaning and planting to get ready for our daughter's July wedding. This old piano panel needed fresh paint, then simple lettering by my younger daughter. We'll probably use it at the wedding, with Ben and Julia's names on it.

The flag flutters in the breeze. Last year we didn't have landscaping or many plants. It's so fun to have these blooming shrubs and perennials. They're thriving so far, although several of the peonies didn't bloom. C'mon, ladies, I'm counting on you for all my giant-flower goals.


4. Add a touch of boho 
{Our living, dining and kitchen areas} 
I restyled the cabinet for summer, using a big frame that my husband made from vintage trim. Also tree roots from Lake Superior, a potted Prayer Plant, and an antique bottle cap press. My favorite elements of boho are the plants (sometimes weird ones), the pottery, the macrame and the fresh white to set everything off. I've added plants, macrame and white, but I'm still on the hunt for vintage pottery. 

And now that I've suggested adding this, that and the other thing - here's my last, most important tip:
5. Take away - don't add!
Most rooms need less stuff, not more. The easiest decorating in the world is to simply take everything off the walls and off the surfaces, and start over. 
Instead of shopping, try cleaning. A clean, plain house is a beautiful sight.
Then add your plants, a few pillows, interesting art and whatever makes your heart sing.
But your heart doesn't need to sing all the songs, all the time.
Just one song, maybe even a single note.

The two fotos above are from
my daughter's room, which she decorated completely by herself.
I like the elements of paper, art, live plants, and vintage treasures.

With Malachi on his fifth birthday, when we put a plastic tablecloth on the table and played with a water blob! Grab each summer, they are so precious.

Now click here to head over to Seeking Lavender Lane's beautiful and rustic home.

Below you'll find a list of all 13 bloggers in this Summer Hop. Our posts are short and simple,
but full of lovely ideas.  Enjoy!

Bees N Burlap
Don't Disturb This Groove
Farmhouse for Five
Honey N Hydrangea
 Love Your Abode
Nina and Cecilia
Noting Grace
 Seeking Lavender Lane