Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Watch More TV

Friends!! I have been sooooo sick. In fact, I just hacked up a lung coughed and really I still am sick. But I can breathe through my nose and think about design again, and that makes me happy!

Besides drinking mass amounts of honey lemon tea, I have been cleaning out my DVR for the past few days. While I've confessed my love of TV before, I really don't have shows that are just "for me." The kids and Phil and I all watch shows together. Mostly things that they choose. {I did get so sick of the idiotic parents and general meanness on a lot of "kids" programming that we are now in season six of Seventh Heaven, TV's longest running family drama about a minister and his family of seven. I don't know what we'll do when that's done, other than campaign to bring it back. The kids from the show are all grown, most of them married. It could be great! Justin Timberlake could guest star...}

I digress. Anyway, I never would have just turned on HGTV and sat there watching a marathon of Love it or List it or Property Brothers. Until this past weekend! And my kids enjoyed it! Bela, especially, seemed to be enthralled with Sarah Richardson. It is so cute to hear her telling her brother and Phil about something that Sarah and Tommy did, in her sweet-as-sugar little voice. She also cleaned both her room and Griffin's! And G actually said he was glad I shared something I like with him. {No fever! These were NOT hallucinations!}

Candice Olsen
I saved my store of Candice Tells All for today. Back in the day, I used to look forward to Divine Design all week long. It was on Saturday nights at 9:30 p.m. But, lately, I just haven't been loving her rooms. Too much icy blue, too many knickknacks. Anyway, I had to change my mind when I saw this master bedroom makeover.

I love the way she uses color and pattern (the topic of the show), and I am THRILLED by the wallpaper. After some Internet searching, I've found it.  Drumroll, pleeeease!!!

It's an oversized lotus pattern by Farrow & Ball, offered in 14 different colors from Paint and Paper, a UK company. Maybe you can get it elsewhere. Maybe everyone in the blogosphere has already seen it and is so over it. But my tea is cold and I'm ready for another tissue (I went through a box a day during the worst of it, by the way.) 

What do you think? Do you love it? 

And do you watch TV shows that you like when the kids are around? It just seems like such a martyr-mother thing NOT to (although I did pass on Keeping Up with the Kardashians, my other guilty pleasure).

Friday, October 25, 2013

Our Move Date: Updated

This is one of my all-time favorite movie scenes from one of my top ten favorite movies.

It's also a good reminder -- as the chaos of packing a house to move gets stretched out even longer -- that how I respond is the TEST. I could choose to get angry and blame someone for the delay. I could cry and fret about how it will all turn out (and I have). Or, I can just keep filling boxes and stacking them in our garage, certain in the faith that everything will work out just as it should. 

Nitty gritty: the government shutdown earlier this month has delayed the processing of the loan for our buyers. Our seller is cooperating since our purchase of her house is contingent upon the sale of our house. Both our realtor and our mortgage person are total champs who are working hard for us!! 

We won't be in our new house by Halloween, but we should be there by Thanksgiving.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

ORC Week 4: Oh no! Only Two Weeks To Go

I think that headline pretty much captures how I am feeling about the One Room Challenge this week.

There's still a lot to do. I'm directing from three hours away and feeling a twinge of guilt about not being there to actually do anything helpful.

But, the new rug is down and the fabric is on its way. The order had to be re-placed. I don't know what happened but it never went through the first time; I am calling it user error. Once it arrives, my mom is going to be sewing it into a skirt for the bottom of the sink. The skirt will cover up the section of cabinet that a dog gnawed on and add a little vava-VA-voom to the space.

Imagine something like this but with blue buffalo check instead of the red...

I am also hoping that we can get some lattice to cover the furnace in the corner. I think the combo of lattice and louvered doors will be really nice together. 

Finally we need to decide on art for the wall to the left of the door in this area.

This is the BEFORE picture. The wall rack on the right is now gone! I think the door step has gotten some paint (lots of paws have passed through there) and all the "stuff" in the corner is going into a special cabinet that is getting painted this week.

The hold-up with the art, besides the fact that it is a small space, is that I envision something like this:
But my mom is not crazy about it. And it's her house... So I keep sending links and she keeps saying that she wants something different. Art is hard because it's personal. It has to speak to your soul as well as fit into your design scheme. Or, at least, that's what I think it should do.

There you have it... Two weeks to go! Be sure to visit the fabulous bloggers participating in the One Room Challenge here as well as the linking party here.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Life of a Commuter

There's a fascinating project going on right now in my community to improve the 19-mile corridor between the state capitol and the village where I live. This is the exact stretch of road that I use on a nearly daily basis. So it is super fun to follow along. 

Check out this sped-up video. They only go halfway--so you don't get to see the loveliness of Meridian Township, the quaint small town of Williamston, or rural Webberville where we live and the figurative end of the road. BUT it does show the downtown near the state Capitol and the edge of Michigan State University's campus including the entrance to West Circle where I lived as a freshman, the Union, and the sleek new art museum. 

Take note of the extra long traffic light in the video. That's the road where I turn to go to my new house... The construction near there, thankfully, was completed during the summer [while the students were gone]. It's funny. I grew up in a tourist town that got busier in summer. Now that I'm an adult I live in a town that empties out for summer. I prefer it this way. Summer should be slower.

Ours is a relatively short commute. Lately I feel like it is unbelievably annoying. After all, I just want to be home! But it also has this side to it. A beautiful tour through so many vastly different areas: from rural to urban all in less than 30 minutes! 

To read the article and watch even  more videos, visit the Lansing State Journal here.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick Maker

The butcher, the baker, the candlestick feels like my life intersected with all of them today. Or, at least, the modern-day equivalents. 

It was a half-day of school for my little people, and I have learned that rarely does this yield a productive day of work. So, instead, I had planned errands for the morning and for the space in between parent-teacher conferences in the afternoon. 

First, it was off to see the mechanic at my local garage for the clanging noise under my car. It turns out I need new rear brakes as well as front tires--an all-day job. I scheduled the work for tomorrow and headed off to a last-minute appointment with my doctor. From there I was off to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription and grab some vitamins, per my doctor's orders. As I checked my emails in the parking lot at the first kid's school, I saw confirmations for a hair cut and our homeowner's insurance.

Mechanic, D.O., stylist, insurance agent. Every single one of them is someone I have known now for years. Finding and sticking with good professionals is important to a calm life, I think. 

We also stocked up on hats, gloves, and fleeces at Lands' End as part of the 30% off sale! It's been cold here in the mornings. We might even get snow tonight!! If you buy from Lands' End online through Ebates, you can even get a portion of your purchase back (and both of us get a bonus). I like Lands' End because they will let you purchase a single glove or mitten at a discount if you lose the match. Totally worth it with kids!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Easy Menu Planning

Every day Bela asks me "what's for dinner?" and every day I'm expected to have an answer. It feels like the hardest thing I do all day. Seriously.

I would much rather look at a pretty kitchen than use one.

To make life easier I've automated our menu. Each day gets a catchy slogan. For example, Meatless Monday. Taco Tuesday. Pizza Friday. It's still new, so I haven't quite figured out what Wednesdays should be called. "Wonderful Wednesday" seems a bit too broad to be very useful.

Then Sudoku-like, I fill in the menu with recipes, knowing we should have a certain number of chicken meals, a fish, a red meat, etc. We complement with lots of frozen vegetables--keeping things quick & convenient--and tend to avoid starches and grains.

Meatless Monday is not meant to be a vegetarian meal so there might be bacon in the quiche or on the side of "breakfast for dinner" pancakes. Taco Tuesday can really be any sort of taco: fish or shrimp, shredded chicken, or ground turkey. 

I also like to leave room in the schedule for re-using leftovers. One of my favorite dishes to prepare is something I created with tortillas, leftover Spanish rice, black beans, and sour cream--and assembled like a lasagna.

Tory Burch
The final element is presentation. In fact, I just read that "some studies seem to indicate we even absorb more nutrients from food that is visually appealing." But more about that later...

So when Bela asks today, I have my answer! We are eating tomato soup and quesadillas tonight. 

{This has been day 21 of the 31 Days of ... A Calm Life series.}

Shared at Menu Plan Monday 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Packing Tips


Those are my moving tools above. I'm taping up boxes, filling them, sticking a label on top, and stacking them in our garage. We have no idea when we'll be moving. Even less idea now than initially due to the government shutdown. So I guess this activity is a leap of faith that everything will work out. 

Today started rainy and cold, a continuation of the same weather from yesterday. But we made it fun with pizza and Sam Adams Octoberfest, college football and Sweetest Day brownies, and now?? The sun is shining. It's a really beautiful, perfect Fall day. You never know what's going to happen... you may as well prepare for the best.

{This has been day 19 of the 31 Days of ... A Calm Life series.}

Friday, October 18, 2013

ORC Link Party: Week 3

Calling It Home
It's week three of the One Room Challenge Linking Party, and this post should have gone up yesterday... I have been fighting with my computer to upload the photos that my mom sent me for thirty minutes. I concede defeat.

Here are some shots of her new rug. I ordered the Radici Alba 1857 in Denim Blue from RugsUSA as a runner for the area in front of the washer and dryer near the back door. I had it sent to me so I could check it out first; I wanted to make sure that it would be plushy enough and that the colors were right.

This close-up shows the nice level of color in the pattern.  I had wanted a dark blue to ground the space. The paler blue inside the leaf keeps it "breezy" and the pale green adds another color for a little variety.

One of my concerns was that the rug hide dog hair well since my parents will always have a dog. 

As soon as I laid it down, my old girl decided that was her spot. The rug hid her blonde fur really well, and later when my parents arrived for the weekend, it hid the black fur from their little Buddy.

I was a teensy bit annoyed because RugsUSA charged my credit card but hadn't sent me a tracking message. That is until I arrived home from work one day and saw the rug on my doorstep. I'm hoping the same will be true with the fabric I ordered from Calico last week. I've gotten zip in terms of a confirmation or tracking...

Stay tuned for next week. Will we have fabric?? Will I upload photos?? 

And be sure to go visit all the other participants in the Linking Party.  :)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wedding Wednesday

Yesterday on the way to school I was telling my kids about the 31 day blogging challenge--how you write everyday for an entire month. From the backseat, Bela piped up that might not be the best idea for someone who is moving and planning a wedding. Out of the mouths of babes! 

I really do enjoy writing the series though and, just like I predicted, the more I do it the easier it gets. 

The house has been a major preoccupier (preoccupant?) of my time and I haven't written anything about our wedding plans since this day. But we have set our date, registered with the church, and later today I'll tour a potential reception site. I even won 100 save-the-date cards from a local printer!

I tried looking at idea books from the florist to determine our color scheme. It just made me more confused. Do I want peach or purple or pink??? I did discover I am a big fan of the way ranunculus look in bouquets.


The most exciting news of all, though, is that I have my dress! I had expected that I would visit lots of shops (including Becker's Bridal, which is only a short drive away and the subject of this book). Not quite as filmy as this Grace Kelly-esque dress above, mine is similar and it is PERFECT. It was the only one I tried on and it doesn't even need to be altered! Hooray!

We also bought Bela's little flower girl dress that day. It coordinates so perfectly. I don't know if she'll go for the floral wreath thing shown above, but isn't the whole effect so sweet?! 

I liked both of these images so much I pinned them twice. Pure coincidence! IF you can't get enough of wedding pictures, visit my board here. And leave me a suggestion about color scheme!

{This has been day 16 of the 31 Days of ... A Calm Life series.}

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Grow Calm Through the Five Senses

When I am feeling overwhelmed, with too much to do and too little time to do it in, I have a little trick. I grow calm through my five senses.

By engaging my senses of sight, sound, smell, touch, and even taste, my stress melts away and I find myself back in the moment. It's the best method I have yet figured out to become mindful quickly. I adapt "taste" to what I'm feeling in my body since I'm not always eating. 

I actually think this (the five senses) is one of the things I like best about Pinterest. Through pictures I can tap into all five senses very easily. Here are a few of my recent faves.


via Gold & Gray
Just look at all the color and pattern in Mick Jagger's gorgeous Parisian apartment. The chandelier. The millwork. The rug. There is so much beauty to look at.


I don't know where in the world this is but I imagine that it is very quiet there. Just the sounds of nature and the wind blowing through the trees.


via Belgian Pearls
Is there any smell fresher than oranges?! It's my favorite of many lovely fragrances. In fact, I have a bottle of orange essential oil in my purse for when I need a hit of that sweetness.

Luxuriously soft fur you could sink your hands deep into (if they'd let you get close enough).


BBQ. In a crockpot. Mmmmmm. Click here for recipe.

Here are a few links to think more about this concept.
  • Read "13 Questions to Ask Yourself If You're Feeling Overwhelmed" and check out Eckhart Tolle's recommendation at the end (I'm in good company!)
  • Some families and houses have a certain smell ... from the Little Green Notebook
  • Becoming Minimalist shares how to declutter your mind

Monday, October 14, 2013

Tick Tock Mindfulness

“Quiet minds cannot be perplexed or frightened, but go on in fortune or misfortune at their own private pace, like a clock during a thunderstorm."
Robert Louis Stevenson An Inland Voyage

A quiet mind. It is something that I aspire to as I journey toward a calm life. But there will always be something to disturb my peace. I psych myself up and then have a dead iPhone, 72 spelling words, a forgotten lunchbox, a government shutdown as I'm trying to sell my house threaten my great day. So I must find that thing inside me that ticks on regardless of what's happening around me.

Likewise a clock can be a steadying force in a room's design.

This collection of three cuckoo clocks makes an interesting focal point. By using an odd number and balancing it through size and color, it looks curated and not random.

In this semi-modern kitchen, the stainless steel frame of the industrial wall clock mixes nicely with the wall oven, cabinet hardware, and light fixture.
This vintage clock works well over the fireplace. Its oversized dimensions are perfect for drawing the eye up toward the cathedral ceilings. 

A similar style works nicely in this rustic modern dining room.

For traditional elegance, though, nothing beats a grandfather clock. This is the Arendal by Howard Miller. I love how the rich cherry finish contrasts with the filmy white drapes.

Do you use clocks in your decor? What's your favorite style? How do you get your mind to tick quietly?

This has been day 14 of the 31 Days of ... A Calm Life series.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Life in the Village

It's homecoming weekend in our Big 10 university town. Any day now we'll be moving back there, but for now we still live in a rural village twenty minutes away. Even though it is so far from anyone we know, it's a nice little place.

Our house is in a newer subdivision on the far edge of the village, just past the high school. The kids and I walk down Grand River Avenue, the main thoroughfare through town which, before the Interstate was built long ago, was the route from the capital city to Detroit. Anyway, the kids rollerblade or bike and I walk our dog. Together we walk to the community gazebo or the library. 

There is only one traffic light in the village. This is the downtown. There is a GREAT pizza place, a saloon, a Masonic lodge, and a consignment store. On each corner, there is a diner; the pharmacy; a newly-opened, long awaited ice cream shop; and a party store. Not long after we moved Griffin wanted me to take him to the party store, thinking that they would have cool tricks for performing at parties. He was quite disappointed by the reality and said, "Why do they call that a party store?! All they have is beer and snacks!" which pretty much sums up the Midwest definition of a "party store."

We moved here when Griffin was in first grade, younger than Bela is now. A really huge chunk of their lives has been spent in this house so I imagine that I'll have some sad feelings about leaving. However, not yet. Maybe because I'm too consumed with packing boxes; too excited about where everything will go in the new house; too happy with all of it to feel anything else.

Anyway, this would have been a much better post with photos, but by the time I drag my camera out of the closet to go around snapping pictures and then download them to my computer and upload them to the blog, it'll be another 31 days. Maybe I'll do something on Instagram one of these days... I would really like to photo-document the journey from our house on the edge of a cornfield through to the kids' schools in our college town and on to my downtown office within view of the state capitol building. It's kind of a wild ride.

This has been day 12 of the 31 Days of ... A Calm Life series.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

ORC Week 2

Busy times around here!! I'm finally done with all the stress-inducing activities that have had my hair on fire, and can start thinking about fun stuff again like wedding planning and moving. :)  

But first a quick update on mom's laundry room, the blue and white breezeway. To read about week one, visit my first post about the One Room Challenge here. And be sure to check out all the other amazing projects in the linking party below.

One Room Challenge Linking Party
The inspiration for mom's breezeway is this sunroom. It's bright and airy and open to the outdoors. I'm even planning to use blue and white since blue is her favorite color!

We are using a dark blue to ground the space. I purchased a runner from Rugs USA that I believe will do a good job of hiding dog fluff and muddy paw prints. 

I've also set aside some lanterns, wire baskets, and blue hydrangeas that won't fit into the design plan of our new house, but are perfect for the breezeway project. 

There is some art that still needs to be purchased for the wall; mom has been busy painting and re-purposing; and this fabric will soon be making an appearance, too.


More to come... 

Thanks again for all of the nice comments about the project during week one! It really meant a lot to me to read such sweet, thoughtful encouragement. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


I don't think I can write about living a calm life without adding a note about stress. Experience and the desire to live cheerfully is making me an expert in my own life.

Every week this month has a major hurdle to overcome. Last week it was a custody challenge. This week, work events. All the while, in the background, the sale of our house and the purchase of a new one hums on. 

The house is chaotic with boxes packed and stacked, here and there and everywhere. In response, tonight we are not making dinner. We are eating take out and cuddling to watch a favorite TV show. If the dog fluff piles higher than the Barbies all over the floor, well, then so be it. 

I'll just imagine I am in this happy place... or Pinterest.

{Today has been day 8 of the 31 Days to ... A Calm Life. There was no day 7...}

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Lazy Rainy Sunday

Outside it's raining. I had a topic I wanted to write about today, but now I really don't seem to care that much. Maybe I just don't have the words anymore. Like they were washed away by the rain. It did occur to me this morning that choosing to participate in the 31 Day Challenge is a great way to document our upcoming move. Except I don't really feel like packing anything either. 

There's always tomorrow...

{Today has been day 6 of the 31 Days to ... A Calm Life}

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Designing a Calm Room

Can a room be both calm and dramatic? Looking at the room above, I say YES!

Why does it work?

The pillows on the dark sofa are a shade darker than the upholstery.

There is just one oversized piece of art, and the subject of the art is simple--beach and sky.

There are just a few items on the coffee table symmetrically arranged. The flower arrangement is monochromatic, but introduces a new, fresh color into the space.

The contrasts are subtle. Nothing is too dark and there are no pure whites. Everything is kind of in the mid-tone range: from the creamy white walls to the charcoal sofa. It's a design that has really limited color and pattern, which is nonexistent.

Texture is the true star of the room. Imagine the plushiness of the sofa, the cool hard feel of the marble, the roughness of the carpet, the bright brassiness of the picture frame, and even the way the moldings just out from the wall.

I like when you can engage one of your senses (in this case, touch) in a room rather than just seeing. What do you think?

{This is Day 5 of the 31 Days to ... A Calm Life}

Friday, October 4, 2013

Simple Routines

On certain days when it feels like all the attachments get left off the important work email and nobody is calling me back and my head is pounding and I just might be getting a cold, it is so nice to have simple routines around the house. 

Putting away the dishes from the dishwasher, loading the dirty ones into it, clearing the counters, wiping everything down.

It's that kind of day around here.  Thank goodness for little jobs and simple routines.

**Thanks so much to all the wonderfully nice comments about the ORC link-up!! 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

One Room Challenge

Today begins a challenge within a challenge. Besides my third consecutive day of blogging, it is also the start of the One Room Challenge Linking Party

The One Room Challenge (ORC) is a semi-annual tradition, in which 20 designers & bloggers transform one room in six short weeks. This is the first time that it has been opened up to linking participants. 

I might not have considered playing along since our house is not really our house anymore and we haven't yet moved into our new home... But my "blogging fairy godmother" asked me, and since this is just the first babystep toward that dream of being in the ORC, I made a plan.

As with most of my plans, I called my mom. She has been a big supporter of Cosy Carolina since the outset. In fact, she was the one who always said I should become an interior designer, but in a fit of teenage rebellion I studied something else in college, and now here we are... 

Over the past ten years, my parents have experienced LOTS of life's hardships: breast cancer, my grandma's Alzheimer's diagnosis/moving in with them/passing away, retirement from my mom's very stressful job, and the excruciating divorces of both their kids.

Doing something nice for them by re-designing a room feels like my little way of giving back. 

This is the breezeway/laundry room. It is the room behind the door in the first picture with my mom above, and exists between the main house and the family room addition where they spend most of their waking hours.
They have an absolutely beautiful house, built by my dad and decorated over the years by my mom. Together they have talents most of us wish for: carpentry, sewing, crafting, painting. You name it, they can probably do it or figure it out. Which is great for this project, because I am three hours away.

My plan is to spruce it up without a lot of big changes. We'll be organizing, decorating, and making things a bit more functional. I hope that you will check back next Thursday for the progress report.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Good Stuff

Today has been hard. I had to literally come face to face with some fears. To stand up for myself and what I stand for. And it's still not quite over...

I decided in January that my word for the year would be "lucky"--as in Lucky 13. 

Today, I am lucky to be marrying the love of my life who soothes my soul even on my very worst days. I am lucky to be the mother of Griffin and Bela, the two sweetest children I've ever met, who make my heart soar with pride. I am lucky to be the daughter of two of the kindest people I know (and the sister of another). I am lucky to have a great job working for truly great people. I am lucky to have a wide, compassionate circle of friends who inspire and encourage me. 

And this is all that really matters, isn't it? 

{This is Day 2 of the 31 Days to ... A Calm Life}

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

31 Days of ... A Calm Life

Visualgraphc via Stripes and Sequins
Last week I wrote about how I might link up with The Nester's 31 Days. There is an ulcer's worth of hectic in my life right now, but this summary of what it's all about is pretty irresistible:
"please do not worry about whether or not someone has written on your topic before. Because, yes, they have. And they will in the future. This is not about coming up with a perfect topic that no one has ever heard of before. This is about accepting a challenge. This is about falling back in love with writing. This is about being afraid and saying yes anyway. This is about encouraging others with something you’ve been through or taking that first step into learning something new." (emphasis added)
So, I guess, consider this Day One... 

I'll write a little everyday about style and what has worked for me. I hope to encourage or inspire someone in some small way. And to overcome my own fear in order to live a happy, calm life. Will you consider following along? :)

Day 2   The Good Stuff
Day 3   One Room Challenge  
Day 4   Simple Routines
Day 5   Designing a Calm Room  
Day 6   Lazy Rainy Sunday
Day 8   Stress  
Day 10 ORC Week Two
Day 12 Life in the Village
Day 14 Tick Tock Mindfulness
Day 15 Grow Calm Through the Five Senses 
Day 16 Wedding Wednesday  
Day 18 ORC Link Party: Week 3
Day 19 Packing Tips  
Day 21 Easy Menu Planning
Day 22 The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick Maker
Day 23 The Life of a Commuter 


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