Thursday, June 30, 2016

What’s their story?

I have been avoiding being here.  It’s true.  I just keep putting it off.  It’s on my list of things I want to do.  I love blogging.  It clears my head, and I know God wants me to be here; but I’ve been avoiding it. 

I have so many thoughts rolling around in my head that sometimes it’s so hard to put them on paper, or computer, or the world wide web.

Even now, when I had a house that was full of peace and quiet; I was still avoiding it.  I went out and started weeding my flowers.  Yep!! I was weeding instead.

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Here I am tho.  After talking with my son today, I finally know the words I want to say.

I have had so many thoughts and feelings the last few weeks.  It has been an overwhelming June for me.

Summer hit me like a ton of bricks and I wasn’t ready.  I will say I had some big life factors that came into play that affected some of my emotions; but it’s all good now.  One of which was not being able to drink soda anymore.  That’s a big deal around these parts, and it affected me big time!!

After a good long heart to heart with Jex this morning about some of his own struggles with life and teenagerhood, I knew what I needed to share here.

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(umm.  ok.  He was nine in this photo.  he is almost fourteen.)

I knew how I wanted to sum up my life lesson, and I finally knew how to put into words how I had been feeling.  It’s funny.  I was trying to teach Jex, but somehow God was teaching me too. 

Jex is a teenager.  He is awesome!! We love him!!  You know how teenagers live in this bubble of not even realizing what is going on outside themselves. It’s a little bit about me and little bit about me!!

Today, we talked about taking a moment to ask himself anytime he comes into contact with someone, “What’s their story?”

It’s something that I have been thinking a lot about.  This last April during our churches General Conference meeting Sister Linda K Burton gave a talk titled “I was a stranger.” I have thought and thought about that talk. I keep hearing a particular phrase from it over and over in my mind and have for months.  I heard it again today.  

Sister Burton related this story in her talk: “Last summer I met Sister Yvette Bugingo, who at age 11 fled from place to place after her father was killed and three of her brothers went missing in a war-torn part of the world. Yvette and the remaining family members eventually lived for six and a half years as refugees in a neighboring country until they were able to move to a permanent home, where they were blessed by a caring couple who helped with transportation, schools, and other things. She said they “were basically an answer to our prayers.” Her beautiful mother and adorable little sister are with us tonight, singing in the choir. I have wondered many times since meeting these wonderful women, “What if their story were my story?”

That phrase, What if their story were my story, has gone through my mind many times.  It was brought to my mind again this morning as I was talking to Jex. 

I used it to remind him that everyone has a story.  Every single person has a story every. single. day. We wake up, and our story starts over.  Sometimes we have a good story one day , and sometimes we have a not so good story the next.  And over the course of a life time, those little stories add up to become our story.

It’s important to reach outside ourselves and ask what’s your story?  How are you? Have you had a good day? Can I do anything to help you today?

Jex really is very good at this.  He has also been very good at spotting when I have had a bad day without me even needing to say anything.  It was just a good reminder to him today, that sometimes we just have to stop and reach outside ourselves a little.  The use of electronics, becoming a teenager, and a little bit of worry about fitting in may have caused him to look a little inward the past few months.  That’s ok.  We all do that at times.  Sometimes we need to do that.  There are times when we have to take care of ourselves.  It was a good reminder for Jex and myself that it is so important to find true happiness by looking outside ourselves.

I have been working hard over the last couple weeks to look out side myself. I know that is what God wants me to learn. All of the those things I have been working on, I think truly can be summed up just by asking myself, what’s their story? and even asking myself at times when I need to be even more sympathetic, “What if their story was my story?”

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Life as a whole can be summed up by learning to maneuver through relationships.  We have to learn to work with our spouses, and be the best parents we can be.

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We have relationships with our parents, our siblings, neighbors, and friends. 

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God wants us to learn how to be the best we can be as learn how to maneuver through relationships.  I think we could all do better in each facet of this if we took the time to ask, “what’s their story today?”  We can even ask, “What if their story where my story?” 

Most of the time people try to be kind and good.  We hope that people don’t go through life trying to hurt or ruin us.  When we feel like we are being hurt, it might be good to ask, “what is their story?” Is there more to this story, because I’m sure they didn’t hurt me on purpose. 

I learned a big lesson with this over the past month.  I let my emotions get the best of me.  I am going to call myself out on it, and tell you all about the mistakes I make. I do this in hopes that you know that I am real, this blog is real, and that we all make mistakes.  It’s important that we learn from them.

It was such a dumb mistake that I needed to apologize to someone that takes such great care of a few of my children.  I saw something with blinders on.  I didn’t ask myself if there was more to the story.  I just got sad and emotional(because we women do that sometimes), and then after the emotions got the better of me; I found out the whole story.  Boy!! did I feel dumb.  So I went.  I apologized.  I took her a treat, and hugged her, and said I am so dumb; please forgive me.  I ate my humble pie, but you know what?  It tasted good. It is good to be humble.  When we humble ourselves, God teaches us.  God taught me a great lesson about using my emotions to tell a story.  Emotions never tell the whole story.  I learned to ask myself, “what is the whole story, what is their story?”  The story is this woman is beautiful and kind and good. I am thankful that I can say that I know her better now, and I appreciate her even more.  I am grateful for her forgiveness.  I am thankful for the atonement that allows me to say “I’m sorry”, and that I know that I am forgiven.

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This has also had me thinking about “What if their story, were my story?”  It’s a good reminder not to judge right? It’s a good reminder to lend a helping hand.  This particular talk that I stole this line from is talking about the thousands and thousands of refugees who need love and support.  What if their story were our story?  It makes you stop and think about how blessed you are.  What more you can do for others?  How you can judge less?  How we can take the time to learn more about others, and were they have come from?

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I want to also take this approach in my parenting and my relationship with my spouse.  Sometimes I get so caught up in my own day and my to-do list, that I forget to ask, “what is their story?” Better yet, listen to their story.  My kids always have a story to tell, and am I really listening?  When they are grumpy about something, do I know the true source?  The story behind it?  It is hunger, are they tired?

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Did I take the time to catch up on my husband’s story today?  Am I meeting the needs of his story?  Did I really listen to what he was feeling, and then figure out how I could help?

During my summer month one(June) of soul searching, humbling myself, listening to God, and learning.  I decided to make a list of 10 habits to happiness.

These are my habits that I want to work on to be happy.  I shared them on Instagram.  I thought I would share them here too.  I thought it might get you thinking a little about what makes you truly happy.  These are not things I am perfect at.  They are habits I am working toward.   Now it’s going to have to be 11 habits because I need to add, “ask myself what’s their story?”

My 10 11 Habits to Happiness

1.  Be Humble

2. Boldly trust in God

3.  Say something kind to everyone I come in contact with

4.  Live in the moment/find happiness in the moment

5.  Put family above all other obligations

6.  Never Worry!! It’s not worth it!

7.  Expect the best of others

8.  Always be kind- never gossip

9.  Be proud of my kids in all things

10.  Believe I am deserving because I am His, but never forget to express gratitude in all things

11.  ask, “What’s their story?”

Monday, June 13, 2016

Designing on a Budget

As we have been building our new house, I have been thinking a lot about the best way to get the designer look on a budget.  What areas should I spend money and what areas should I be brave and bold in, and what areas should I play it safe in?  There are so many times that I have bought something for my house, and then thought weeks later, “well that was a mistake.”  I am hoping to avoid that as much as I can.  How can we do that?  What are some budget friendly tricks that I have learned in all the many decorating mistakes that I have made that might help me in the journey of putting the new house together?

I thought it might be good to write a few ideas down.  For myself, and I thought you might benefit from them too!

I think when decorating any space it is good to start with a budget. 

It is so important to be realistic about the budget as well.

Do you need new furniture in the space?  If so, the budget will need to be higher? 

I like to start by making a list of what I need for the space with a rough estimate of how much it will cost for each item.

Where should you spend your money?

I think it’s good to put your money into your furniture.  It’s like a good pair of jeans.  You will wear them every day.  With that being said.  Don’t buy furniture that will date itself in 2 years.  Buy neutral furniture and spice it up with fun pillows. 

We had this gray couch for over 8 years and it has seen it’s share of colors, and patterns.

LIving Room 1

(Ok Y’all this is like Circa 2008.  When we first bought this couch and I thought the chair we bought to go with it was awesome.  You know when RED was awesome!!)  This was the very first home we owned in Arkansas in a place where it is cool to say Y’all!!

Living Room

Then as then months went along it was easy to switch out the pillows and add a new color, because my couch was neutral!!

Living Area (3)

Then I changed that paint on that red wall in the back, and went a completely different way with the pillows and decorations, but I kept the couch.

….and then we moved, but the couch came with us:

New house in PA (18 of 35)

This was our rental house in Pennsylvania. Then we moved to our current house in Utah, and once again we brought the couch:

House tour Kitchen and Great Room-0287

and that’s changed too:

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See what you can do with a neutral couch?

Spend your money on good furniture, that has a nice finish, that will last through your children, and can stand the trends!!

It has been so nice to just be able to change the pillows, or the room decor, but never have to worry about making room in the budget for a big piece like a couch.  This couch has been through 3 homes and several different styles; all of which worked.

We did just get this fun new furniture set for our new home.  Navy is the new neutral so I was so excited to find this with the brass nail heads.  It will fit our coastal home style very well.  Which brings me to my next point. 


What is the feel you are going for?

If I wanted a very modern feeling home, this is not the furniture to buy.  Buy pieces that fit the feeling you are going for.  You want modern, you want clean lines.  Do a little research about the style you want, and go with a list of specific elements that you need to fit that specific design. Then you will never have that buyers remorse that I mentioned earlier.

I love coastal, so I know that I am looking for pieces that have the driftwood feel, brass, navy, stripes, beach glass blues, pebbles, chipped wood and paint, glass, or lanterns.  Anything that would remind me of the ocean.  This mirror reminded me of that coastal feel.  I loved that driftwood feeling that it gave me:


What if you need new furniture but it’s not in the budget? 

Well say this couch was older and I wanted new but couldn’t afford it?  I could use my budget for new pillows and fun new throws to just freshen it up.  Our home is coastal so I picked up this fun coastal throw. 


A throw and new pillows can really enhance a couch that you may not love.  I have been doing that for the last few years actually.

Making inexpensive changes like this can enhance things that bother you.  You could also invest in slip covers.

Another great idea is to paint furniture when you can’t buy new!

We recently had our kitchen table repainted and also this buffet.


House tour Kitchen and Great Room-0289


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You can hire people to paint for you.  Which I did in this case because of my neck, but I have always painted furniture myself in the past. 

Here is my favorite paint recipe:

mix 4 T. of plaster of paris with 1/4 C. of Hot Hot Hot water until the plaster is dissolved

then add:

An 8 oz. paint sample from home depot(color of your choice)

then paint by hand with a nice brush

no sanding needed!!

I painted a FREE piano that I got so that it matched our home.  It was also pretty ugly and beaten up, but now I love it.

Thanksgiving 2014-0140

(This was a Christmas time)

When redecorating my sons room, I didn’t have it in my budget to buy a new bed for him.  We had a bed that my sister had given us.  I didn’t really love it so I just took out some metal pieces that were in it that I didn’t like, and then painted it gray; and now I love how it looks in his room.

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Another neutral that I spend my money on is comforters!

I like to buy white and gray comforters.  Then I can just keep them for a really long time and just switch out pillows.  All the boys in my house have gray, the girls have white, and my master is white. 

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Room colors can be switched around easily that way. 

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In fact, I don’t have to buy any new bedding for the new house, but the kids will have new bedroom decorations.

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That saves a lot of money!

The other place that I like to spend my money is on items that I see and love right away!

Something that I know right where I want to put it, and something that is unlike anything I have ever seen before.  Those statement pieces are worth snatching up, and usually are worth the money. I fell in love with this unique table.  Once again it was the fun wood, and I had never seen one like it before.  I have never regretted getting it:


One way that I love saving money is by finding ways to make things myself! 

For Example, I love this Brass Geometric Himmeli Wreath which sells for $185:


It’s one of those show stoppers right.  Like, the I gotta have this right now kinda things. Well, I learned how to make it myself.

You can buy the brass kit to make it for $65 dollars, or you can make it like I did out of cocktail straws for like $5; then spray paint it brass. This is mine:

Saba Winter 2015-0300

(once again at Christmas time)

This is another example:

Easter 2016-0342

I really wanted a succulent planter from a store for $100.  I made mine for $30.  Read more about it here.

There are lots of ways to stay with in your budget by doing DIY.

As you budget for your space make sure you shop online for sales(amazon, and overstock are favs), and even hit your local TJ Maxx and Home Good Stores, they often have the best finds!  If you find something you love, but don’t think you can afford it:

1) Save for it.

2) Shop around and you will probably find something so similar for a much better price. 

3)Never Settle when it’s that one true love

What I mean by that?:

when it’s in the case of that one true love:  If you met your one true love, and then the average guy came along and you settled for him; you would always be thinking about your true love.  That will always be true about your furnishings.  So it’s almost always better to just buy it the first time because you will end up spending more money.  You will settle for something that you hate and go back to the thing you love.  If you can’t afford what you love, and can’t find anything similar enough at a cheaper price, it is worth it to wait and save. Because then you will have bought two things.   UNLESS!! and I mean UNLESS!! this means that your family will go hungry for the next three years while you save for this $10,000 couch you love.  You have to be reasonable about the item too.

The Details there should be room in the budget for the details:

I can usually find the last little tiny finishing details at those little shops.  The little things are the pieces that you don’t want to spend much money on.  They are the things that you will cycle through your house more, but they are the details.  The details are important too!  I don’t spend more than $20 on these items. Like $3-20.  Check your thrift stores, Target,  garage sales, and vintage markets.


I also hit my local thrift stores for old books, or old dishes for styling shelves.

Make sure you don’t forget to budget lighting in there!

Make room for lamps.  Lamps can get expensive.  I like to make sure that I buy matching lamps.  A set of two usually always looks better.  If you don’t have the money for lamps, you can always repurpose by spray painting ones you have?

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If it’s time to replace your overhead lighting too, that is another great place to invest your money.  Those are the details that stay.  Trust me. 

I have had so much fun, and so many headaches picking out the lighting for our new house; but I know the difference it is going to make.  In fact, if you are doing a remodel on a space and need a new light, I encourage you not to go for the boring builder grade.  Save some money somewhere else, and put that money in your lighting.  Buy yourself a fun light!!! It doesn’t have to be through the roof expensive, but it will make all the difference in your space.

Wanna see the ones I am ordering today?



These are the sconces for our breakfast nook, and great room by our fireplace.  See they have brass and stripes; very coastal.  I found them here.

So to recap:

Be BOLD with your lighting!!! Save money for lamps. 

Buy neutral furniture and budget for that.

Buy neutral bedding.

Use pillows and throws to change the look of beds and couches as the years go on.  Don’t buy new bedding or new furniture as often.

Shop Sales!! Hit Thrift Stores

Don’t spend a lot of money on the little detail items.

Learn to DIY

Repurpose when you can

Stay true to your budget

Never Settle when you are in love with something, unless it means you’ll starve Smile

If any of you are working on remodels of rooms of your own and need a little design help visit this great company who can help you design your dream space in about 10 days.  They come up with all the products with the links and sources you would need to buy them.  It looks like a pretty cook way to have someone help you with the design process if you are a little bit nervous about it yourself.  Check them out at:

Laurel and Wolf and their great designers also have a few tips for mastering your Decor Budget:

Decor Budget

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Evolution of Design

It’s crazy how quickly design and styles can change.  It’s really hard to keep up with it all.  It’s even harder for our pocket books to keep up with it all sometimes. 

With our move, I have been looking over some pictures of how our house has changed over the last 3 years.  It is crazy to see how a home can evolve over 3 years.  I am known for not sitting still.  I do have a tendency to change things around a lot.

I thought it might be kind of fun to see how things have changed a little over three years.

When we moved here, we came with what we had through residency in our starter home.  We also bought all the furniture that the owner left behind in this home.  Some of it was my taste and some of it wasn’t, but it filled the spaces for the time being; so it has slowly been replaced.

I don’t know how it works for you, but when I buy something new for my house; it can almost affect the whole house.  I put it in a spot that I think it will look great in.  Then I take that thing that I replaced it with, and I replace it with something else, somewhere else in the house, and so on, and so on.

You know what though? That is what makes me so HAPPY!! I love seeing my spaces look fresh and new all the time.  I also love spending the time putting a new spin on them because that makes me feel good inside, and it’s what I love to do.  We all have things that make us happy.

So… here it is…

The Evolution of our house:

The Exterior:

The Year we bought it:

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Along the way:

Summer Flowers-0023

On the way out: (I say on the way out, because we just put this house up for sale)

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We have really worked on adding to the flower beds here, and some fun pots of flowers to the porch.  We have also touched up the exterior paint on the outside, got a new porch outdoor rug, and pillows for the rockers.

Our Entryway:

The year we moved in:

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Along the Way:


On the way Out:

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We had the whole house repainted shortly after we moved in.

The Great Room:

The year we moved in:

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The wallpaper in the house was killing me?

Along the Way:

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On the way Out:

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The Great Room part 2:

The year we moved in:

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Along the Way:

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On the way Out:

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The Kitchen:

The year we moved in:

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That Wallpaper again?

Along the Way: (This happened to be at Christmas time)

Thanksgiving 2014-0224

On the way Out:

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The Office:

The year we moved in:


Couldn’t find an along the way so you get two on the way outs:

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Tessa’s Room:

Can’t find one from the year we moved in, so you get two from along the way:

Tessa's Room-0364

Tessa's Room-0378

On the way Out:

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Isaac’s Room:

The year we moved in:

Isaac's room-0411

Along the Way:

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On the way Out: (His Room is the one that changed the least)

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Master Bedroom:


On the way out: I only have my room as it is now.  I haven’t taken any pictures of it along the way because it has taken me until now to get it to this point.  To the point that I love it!! I still would love to replace that light fixture, but I will let the new owner do that!

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Kid’s Bathroom:

The year we moved in:

Kid's bath-0416

On the way Out:

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Jex’s Room:

The year we moved in: (In the beginning he shared a room with Isaac, and this was the playroom.  Then we turned the playroom into his own room.)

Basement Bedrooms Before-0252

Along the Way: (We quickly put his room together in a weekend and I never loved it)

Jex's room-0320

On the way Out: ( SO we slowly adapted , and made it more us, and Now I LOVE it!)

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Stella’s Room:

The year we moved in: (Stella originally shared with Tessa, and this was the guest room.  Then we moved her down here, and she got her own room! This is what the guest room looked like.)

Basement Bedrooms Before-0257

Along the Way: (This was also put together quickly in a weekend, and then we slowly simplified and made it more Stella along the way.)

scrapbook weekend mantua-0258

On the way Out:

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Family Room:

The year we moved in: (This space was the catch all for the leftover furniture.  I was left with the red chairs in the background, and I always hated them.  I was happy to get rid of them; along with the red and pink in the room.)

family room-0296

Along the Way:


On the way Out:

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Since we are building a new home, this house is actually listed for sale on the market now.  If you are interested in buying this house you can find more information about it on the MLS here. 

If you want to see what’s happening with our new house, you can follow me on instagram @valleyviewabode

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