Saturday, January 28, 2012

{pretty, happy, funny, real} the living room edition

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~

Last week I was having some serious contentment issues with my living room.

Though we make do with lots of thrifted and hand me down furniture, this room was driving me crazy. I looked around and there wasn't one thing in it that I liked. I was not happy.

I can't really find many good "before" pictures, but I'll give you an idea.

Here is the room at its best, decorated for fall. 
The couches are comfortable enough, and purchased very cheaply when we first moved to the island and didn't have anything on which to sit. But I don't like the colour and pattern.  The rug that we got for cheap to keep the floor warm actually matches the colour of the couches and matches the rusty colour of my great-grandfather's old recliner (complete with duct tape). It almost looks like I planned it!!

The other furniture is a mish-mash of styles and wood finishes. The only thing I really like is the coffee table, which Micah designed and made.

There's a brass lamp, very functional, not my style.

Due to the placement of outlets, there's only one place to put the tv. It's a big old tv that we have to whack from time to time to get the picture to appear, with rabbit ears sitting on top, and the surround sound wires and speakers are hard to confine.

The room is also awkward for furniture placement, because there are 2 regular sized doors and a set of double french doors leading into the room.

There's only one coat of off-white paint on the walls. You can see where the previous owners cut in a second coat around the trim. The white curtains were hanging from a tension rod inside the window frame, crowded into the narrow frame, in need of hemming, looking very blah against the walls.

Here you can kind of see the curtains, and part of the tv in the corner,
blocked off by some furniture to keep this little bundle of mischief away. 

And the room also needs to be safe for Arden to play in, as it's where most of her toys and books are.

I looked around and felt VERY discontent. I was on the point of doing something drastic - looking online for new couches, or at least new couch covers (which are very expensive!), searching for new rugs, thinking of switching the contents of this room entirely with the room next door (our music room and library), sampling paint colours. . . in other words, I was on the verge of spending a lot of money we didn't have!

So I called Mom.

I vented my frustration to her. That felt good! After talking it out, I realized that part of the problem was the room just didn't feel like "me." Other than the coffee table and a plaid wool blanket I brought home from Scotland, there was nothing really personal in the room. Nothing to make it feel like home, like our living room, instead of a second hand show room. We talked about a few different things I could do with the stuff I already had. After hanging up, I felt much better.

I prayed for some contentment and some creativity. And then got to work with a determination to make a difference.

The results aren't drastic at all, but they do feel different to me.

Here comes the {prettier} and {happier} part.

The main thing I did was add one of my big bookshelves to the room. I put some of Arden's toys on the lower shelves, and picture books and my LM Montgomery collection on the higher shelves, accompanied by a few little knick-knacks. I think it helps give the room more presence and personality.

It feels more balanced to me now.

I do love my books!

My little Gog and Magog.

I got rid of the big dark end table (dark wood is not so much my thing) and used one of my little pine tables instead.

While I'm not sure these curtains are the best fit for this room (at least with the colour it is currently painted), I did spend $9 and bought a proper tension rod that fits up inside the valance, so the curtains aren't squished into the frame or piling up on the floor. The valance is not centered over the window, which I find odd, especially when the curtains are open. But it's better!

Right now the chair is pushed against the tv to keep Arden from turning on the power to the whole tv set up.

And here is the room from a few other angles.

French doors which lead into the music room/library. 

Door to the hallway.

Thus endeth the tour.

I would still like to paint the walls, which is in our budget for the next few months. I'm not sure how to best work with the furniture though. I could do a richer creamy colour. I'm also considering a netural sort of understated green. Green is very tricky. I also want something to complement the music room/library next door, since the rooms are often open to each other. (That room only has white primer on the walls right now, so it will need to be painted too.) Any ideas??

I have a few items which are my palette inspiration, but it's too dark to take any good pictures at the moment, so maybe I'll show them next week!

BUT, my victory consists in the fact that I overcame my discontent, made some changes with what I had on hand, and am now feeling more positive about the room and its future! :)

{funny} & {real}

This is the light fixture in the living room. It's just not the right kind of vintage to be considered pretty in my books!

The exposed spiral bulb is classy, don't you think? What a nice yellow glow it casts over the room. Eek. I am on the lookout for an inexpensive replacement!

And in the meantime I will try to ignore it.

round button chicken


Thursday, January 19, 2012

{pretty, happy, funny, real} on January 19

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~
Brought to you by Like Mother, Like Daughter


I woke up one morning last week to this beautiful frosty moonset on one side of the house . . .

. . . and the sun rising gloriously on the other side.

Oh it's lovely to see the sun rising just a little earlier every day now!


Coffee generally contributes to my happiness in the morning. And this mug, a Christmas present from my sister, makes me even happier! The little creatures put a smile on my face.

And behind the mug you can see a stack of books. This stack is the result of trips to two different second hand stores this week.

I was quite pleased with my finds!


There was a kids' show on TV when I was growing up called The Polka Dot Door. When Arden is in these pyjamas, we call her Polkaroo!

Here she is demonstrating her new game, where she makes her hand disappear inside her sleeve and then reappear to the amazement of all. :)


Real is the tiredness I've been feeling running around after our little Polkaroo and the little bit of anxiousness I've been feeling about our second child's arrival in April. What will it be like with two? But even more real are the words of encouragement in an email:

"God Himself is watching over you! So trust -- TRUST! Be confident and happy."

And the words of Scripture which leapt off the page that very same day:

"I will trust and not be afraid." (Isaiah 12:2)

Real is also the happy realization that as much as I like looking through snapshots of other people's lives and homes, I wouldn't trade my life for anyone else's! That's contentment.

round button chicken


Monday, January 16, 2012

Freedom from possessions

As Christians, our relationship with our possessions should surely be influenced by our relationship with Christ. In the quest for "living simply," and being a responsible steward of what God has given, I came across a post by a "charming" blogger I've been following for quite some time.

Mat. Emily is an Orthodox Christian blogger, and I enjoy her perspective on the Christian life. In one of her latest posts, she quotes The Very Reverend Thomas Hopko on what it means to be Christian stewards. Take a look here!

What do you think?

I wonder how I can live at a standard of only what is necessary (having less) and make mercy a concrete way of life (giving more). The goal is not a law about what I can and can't have, but about being free from possessions, free to be more godly.

Questions to ponder:
Is the acquiring of possessions preventing me from godliness in any way?
Are there certain "things" in my life that have begun to possess me?
Do I ever refrain from giving because I want more than I actually need?
How do the things that surround me reflect who Christ is to me?


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Picture Book Wish List

There are so many children's books I'd love to get! I've started building up our library, but I still have quite a wish list. These are just some of the picture books.

The Jolly Postman (Janet and Alan Ahlberg)

A Bear Called Paddington (Michael Bond)

Marshmallow Kisses (Linda Crotta Brennan & Mari Takabayashi)

The Mitten (Jan Brett)

Stone Soup (Marcia Brown)

The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Eric Carle)

Miss Rumphius (Barbara Cooney)

A Squash and a Squeeze (Julia Donaldson)

The Leaf Man (Lois Ehlert)

Wynken, Blynken and Nod (Eugene Field & Johanna Westerman)

The Magic Hat (Mem Fox & Tricia Tusa)

Where Does the Butterfly Go When It Rains? (May Garelick)

Imagine a Day
Imagine a Night
Imagine a Place 
(Robert Gonsalves & Sarah L. Thomson)

Harold and the Purple Crayon (Crockett Johnson)

Once Upon a Golden Apple (Jean Little & Phoebe Gilman)

Make Way for Ducklings (Robert McCloskey)

Blueberries for Sal (Robert McCloskey)

The Lion and the Mouse (Jerry Pinkney)


The Little Engine That Could (Watty Piper)

10 Minutes Till Bedtime (Peggy Rathman)

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (Michael Rosen & Helen Oxbury)

Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day 
(Judith Viorst)

The Velveteen Rabbit (Margery Williams & William Nicholson)

Owl Moon (Jane Yolen & John Schoenherr)

What are your favourite children's picture books?


Single-handed Theology - And a little child shall lead them

Maybe being a parent means being less of a grown-up.

Her dependence on me, the me who lacks so much wisdom and experience, is humbling.

It is this humility that gives me the heart of a child, breaks me open enough that I must run to my Father and say “help please!” because I cannot put the pieces together the way they should go.

She looks up with so much eager wonder, with outstretched arms and pleading eyes, with total reliance, and I see myself in her.

She is the little child leading me back to God.

(Isaiah 11:6)


Thursday, January 12, 2012

{pretty, happy, funny, real} Twelfth Night Bonfire edition!

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~
Brought to you by Like Mother, Like Daughter

This year, I decided I wanted to have a Twelfth Night Bonfire. Never having celebrated Twelfth Night before, and not knowing much about it, we kind of made it up as we went along. I got the idea from another blog, where a suggested activity for this night was having a bonfire to burn the Christmas tree and any other greens that had been brought in the house over the Christmas season. I thought that sounded like fun!

The only trouble was . . . I couldn't make it work for December 5th! The people I wanted to invite over were all involved in another activity that Thursday, and they were working on Friday night, so the first night we could do it was this past Monday night.

So it was actually a Sixteenth Night Bonfire.

But Monday worked out perfectly! It was a calm, clear winter's night with a full moon and no wind. We had friends to dinner for sweet and sour pork ribs and tourtiere pie, then bundled all the kids up and went out to burn the tree. . .


But wait, where is the tree? Wasn't it standing up on the back porch?

Something bushy is moving over there, and off the kids go to investigate!

How did the tree get over there? And why is it making funny noises?

We have a runaway tree on our hands!

I think the tree is trying to blend in with the others to prevent its fiery fate.

There's the crazy man behind the shenanigans!


And then amidst much laughter and excitement, we lit the tree on fire! 

The kids thought it was pretty cool. (And I think the adults did too!) 


Arden wasn't quite sure what to make of her first bonfire. It was past her bedtime and she refused to keep her hands in her mitts!

At this point she was asking for her blankie!


It was a beautiful night. The full moon in the starry sky, the fresh snow, the dancing flames.

It was a little sad to see our beautiful tree go up in smoke. But perhaps a better - and certainly more memorable - end than wasting away slowly in a corner of the yard?

I wish I had taken a picture of the moon, but I was too busy cuddling with a sleepy Arden!

The magic of fire...

After the kids had their fill of marshmallows and the cold started to creep into our bones, we went back in for hot spiced apple cider and the last of the Christmas cookies!

I think it was a great success, and maybe the start of a new tradition in our family!

round button chicken

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