House For Six

The Year Of Stewardship

Deme Crinion6 Comments

With January almost over (how?! why?!) and our household finally out of the pass-the-stomach-virus game, I needed to sort through the spaghetti of thoughts I've had swirling about the new year.  Our new home marked a shift in our family's life, and I'm only just beginning to understand the ways that move positioned our family for new things and to better invest in what was already there.

To be honest, the past couple years have been full of so much change that we became really good at survival mode.  So good that we almost forgot what it was like to thrive.  Of course life wasn't without joy, but it felt like we could never seem to get our feet planted on solid ground. 

With our family a little larger (Hey, Liv!) and having committed to laying roots in a new place, I'm not quite sure what thriving looks like for us now.  But I think it's time to find out.  

(blank slate #seewhatididthere)

(blank slate #seewhatididthere)

Before Christmas, I started praying about the coming year.   I don't pin myself into a mega resolutions list each year.....sometimes I might land of a few specific goals, other times it might be a general area to focus, or maybe there really is a single word that feels appropriate for the year.  So many different areas came to mind as I thought about where to focus in 2017, but all of them carried the same theme:  stewardship.  

Stewardship is what we do with what we've been given, and I feel God asking me to look at how I can be a better steward of the gifts in my life, in our new season.  And there are many...

How am I using my time?  Where am I wasting it?

How do we view and use our home?  

What is my mindset towards our "stuff" and how do we treat it?  

How am I caring for the relationships in my life.....my friendships, my children, my marriage?  

How do I view and treat my body? What about my family's health?

How am I cultivating my faith?  Where have I become stagnant?

How am I using my unique gifts and talents? 

How are we managing our finances?  

It feels like so much to work through, but I'm not trying to figure this all out in a week.  I'm taking the year to really dive into this concept of stewardship, one area at a time.

Admittedly, I've avoided those questions, because I know some of the answers are ugly and embarrassing......we've been exhausted and over-committed. I've been lazy and indifferent. I've been anxious and fearful.  I've been irresponsible. And I've floated through the monotony of routines.   

And floating is dangerous, because before you know it the days turn into weeks, and weeks turn into months, that turn into years. I'm so much more aware of how fast the time is going (with our kids in particular) and I don't want to waste this time.  I can't afford to.  It's all far too important....for the here and now, and the life to come.  This is not about being perfect (no hope there), but about having my head in the game.  

So!  I'm going to offer myself a nice dose of grace, muster the courage to face some hard realities, and get ready to make changes for the better going forward.  I obviously don't have all the answers, but I hope we can explore this topic of stewardship together throughout the year.  

There will still be plenty of home projects and organization happening around these parts too, so I'm planning to run this as a monthly or bi-monthly series on the blog.  January always seems to bring that desperate sense of needing to PURGE ALL THE THINGS and I think starting with the excess STUFF is a good place to start.

How about you?  I would love to hear what's on your mind in 2017! 

 

Entry Inspiration and Plans

Deme Crinion2 Comments

Throughout this month I thought I would show you some of the spaces we plan to give some love this year.  After Christmas I like to sit down with a notebook and brain dump on house projects for the coming year.  My list is almost always too ambitious, but I do allow myself to just dump all those ideas onto the page and then I go back over it with a realistic editing eye.  

I've come to realize that too much of a rigid schedule gets me derailed and discouraged almost immediately, but I also know that I need some structure and guidance or I will be all over the place.  As much as I would love to knock out projects left and right, I can't keep up with that kind of pace.  

I haven't always planned with the seasons in mind either (I do not recommend attempting to paint furniture in the garage in the suffocating humidity that is summer #askmehowIknow).  I seem to have better success with 2-3 projects per season.  That usually ends up being one larger project per month, along with a few smaller things like organizing a cupboard or hanging some pictures. 

The two areas we're focusing our energy for the rest of winter are the laundry room and the entry. You've seen our plans and progress for the laundry room and I'm working on slapping a big fat "Done" bow on that one by the end of the month.  

As for the entry, a water leak damaged the flooring in our 1/2 bath and entry area....which sort of bumped this project up the list by default.  Can I admit that I'm secretly giddy about it?

We've spent a lot of time working on the main living/dining areas of the home, but this is the first thing people see when they walk in the door.  I'm really excited about creating something that reflects what you'll find throughout the rest of our home in this space.  

We had to rip out the flooring in the entire entry which includes a 1/2 bathroom (where the leak originated) and a full sized coat closet. Since the entry shares a wall with the stairs, I'm hoping I can convince James to suck up the pain and let us tackle the stairwell while we're at it.

When we ordered the flooring we used throughout the rest of this main level, we actually ordered enough to eventually do this entry space too.  Or so we thought.  We didn't account for the bathroom or closet space, and we would have been short just a couple of square feet in the main entry too.  No problem, we'll just order a couple more boxes right?  #ifonly

I could only find that flooring a couple of places online.  One didn't ship to our area and the other had ridiculous shipping costs for just 2 boxes of flooring (shipping was free when we placed our original bulk order).  We could have tried to order though another vendor but then we started entertaining the idea a plan B. 

Sometimes plan B turns out to be even better than plan A.   I simply hadn't let myself envision any other options in this space because THAT WASN'T THE PLAN.  Once the crew pulled up all the old flooring I could start to see something different altogether. 

If we were going with a different material we wanted it to be distinctly different from the wood flooring in the adjoining rooms......so it would look intentional and not like we ran out of flooring #oops #wedid

We narrowed our search down to a darker grey/slate tile, some sort of brick option, and something more bold in the way of color or pattern.  I'll spare you all the back and forth and in between.  

Bottom line: the slate tile felt too safe (and we have that look in our mudroom), the patterned tile felt too busy and had the potential to lose our adoring gazes over time, and the color options were limited and pricey.   Which left us with the brick.

At first, this felt a little safe too but then I came across this entry by Rhea Crenshaw.

It's still neutral but laying the brick in a herringbone pattern will give us the interest and impact we're after...while hopefully standing the test of time.   There are many expensive options out there, and we really needed to stay within our approved amount by the insurance company. So when I found this product at Home Depot we were sold. We're going with grey (which we saw in person at our local store) and it should be installed next week!

When we think about our plans for the space as a whole, this flooring makes sense.  We definitely want bring some white trim work onto the walls.  I love the architectural interest they add, not to mention the functionality - super easy to throw up some hooks for guest's jackets, bags, etc.  And then this space needs some color.  Our whole house does and it's one of our main house goals for the coming year.  

I sort of went color crazy in our first fixer and then went the other extreme in our last house.  I think I've finally realized that I need a mostly neutral base, so that I can bring in the bold color I love without it feeling overwhelming.

Here's a few more spaces that are getting us excited to tackle this project!

Striped+stair+runner+and+paneling+--+Studio+McGee.jpeg

Entry by Studio McGee

Entry by Mary Ross

via Southern Living

Our entry is covered in wallpaper and I really don't want to remove it (we still have the battle scars from our Albuquerque fixer).  It's in great shape, so I think if we take the proper precautions we can trim/paint right over it.  #fingerscrossed

Anyone else had success painting over wallpaper?  How about using a brick material for flooring?

Organizing and Storing Christmas Decorations

Deme Crinion2 Comments

I'm probably waaaay behind the power curve (and disclosing my complete slacker status) with this post as most of you probably packed up the tinsel weeks ago. But if there happens to be any fellow Christmas clean-up procrastinators out there, this one's for you!

Great tips for how to organize and store Christmas decorations.

I shared this photo on IG and it sounds like a least a few of you have similar looking dining rooms at the moment:

I finally finished purging, organizing, and boxing it all up yesterday and feel like I can breath again.  I did things a little differently than years past and thought I would break down that simple process today for anyone that needs a little encouragement.

Purge

The end of the season is always a good time to take a look at what you have, what you actually used, and what things you most enjoyed or added to the season.  We're at a point that we're craving more simplicity in basically every facet of our lives, Christmas decorating included. I used a lot more greenery than I have in years past and want to go more that direction in the future. Less chotchkies, more natural elements and accenting what's already there.  Hopefully that translates to less to pack/store!

I already purged quite a bit when we moved, but it seems every season we find or receive new things to add to the decor stash.  Which means we need to weed out some of the old if we don't want to end up adding a bin to our supply every year.  

If anything was broken, crunched, missing pieces, or otherwise falling apart it went in the trash.  If I haven't glued on St. Joseph's head by now then it's probably not ever going to happen.  In the past I haven't put out every single thing from the bins.  So this year, If there was anything I left in the bin for 2 years in a row (or more) it went to a donation box.  Even if it was something I really liked.

Wipe everything down  

Let's face it.  Our Christmas stuff stays out for a good number of weeks and even if we dust/clean during that time, there's still plenty of dust o' gathering.  No one wants to crack open a decor bin come next Christmas to be greeted with a nice puff of dust.  Nothing says "Merry Christmas" like an allergy fit.  

This year I dusted most of the decor items with a Swiffer duster, but I took an antibacterial wipe to all the kids stuff so that I could be assured everything was clean and ready to be played with when I pull it out next year.  

Little People Nativity

For those cloth items like stockings and hand sewn decorations, I used a sticky roller to get off any lingering dust/fuzz.

Separate Into Categories

I started our Christmas take-down by directing the kids to go through the house, grab anything that qualified as "Christmas", and bring it to the dining room table.  From there I purged out the trash/donate items and was left with what we planned to keep.  

I could have just started packing it away and making a list of what was in each bin, but I thought I would try to make things a little easier on myself next year.  I started by sorting all the items into categories which ended up being Tree Decorations, Kids decorations, Advent Items, Books/Puzzles, and General decor.  

This gave me a better idea of how many bins I would need and in what size.  

Box it up  

There were some great comments on FB/Instagram about how to categorize and box up all your merry stuff.  Dwija said something that really made sense for me: some of us decorate in one fell swoop and others of us decorate over the course of days/weeks.  So she packs bins according to how they decorate in phases.  

I realized that my categories had fallen into a similar pattern.  We don't always put up Christmas and Advent at the same time, so dedicating the Advent items (Advent wreath, Giving Manger, Advent cards, Calendar) to their own box will make it much easier than trying to pull those items out of a larger bin.  On the same note, we usually spend a day finding and decorating the tree, another to the outdoor decorations, and yet another to sprucing the rest of the interior. So, everything we need for each of those events is together.

It's not that I didn't do this in the past, it's that I would put multiple categories into one big box, so the stockings and Elf would be in with the tree stuff, and I wasn't necessarily ready to put them all up at the same time.  Which meant the bin stayed out longer, half-emptied until I was ready to put out the rest.  Keeping the categories for each bin more specific and their containers smaller if needed was a key change that will hopefully make things easier in the long run.

I ended up with 1 large bin for the tree decorations/ornaments, 1 large bin for general decor, 1 medium bin for kid stuff, 1 medium bin for books and puzzles, 1 small bin for Advent, and another small bin for my white ceramic village. Within the bins I used smaller boxes and plenty of zip lock bags to keep items organized and contained.

nativity .jpg

I know many people have specific wreath holders (which I may invest in someday) but for now I stack mine inside a large trash bag and tie it up.

Label It 

It doesn't have to be fancy, but somehow creating a label that details what's inside each bin will make it super easy to grab what you need.  Next year I might be more motivated to create something cute, but this year I just used a sharpie and some large note cards.  I taped the labels on the outside of the larger solid bin and slipped them on the inside of the clear bins.  Then I moved them down to the basement and called it done!  

That pic was taken before I brought down the wreath bag and our outdoor decorations (2 light-up skinny trees, 2 light up deer, and one XL ziplock bag of bows/garland).  And I actually feel pretty good about bringing it all back up in approximately 354 days #dontfreakout

Hope that helps some of you that may not know where to start!  Or just be dragging your feet like me.  I admit the clean up sucks, but it sure does feel good to have a blank slate again.  Feel free to share any of your tips in the comments!

We'll be back later this week with an update on our entry.  3 months ago we had a major bathroom leak that damaged the last section of old flooring in the house (and thankfully didn't touch any of the new flooring!) and after working through some kinks, we've finally landed on a new plan.  So excited!

 

Closing Out 2016 and Looking Ahead

Deme CrinionComment

I thought about doing the ever popular "Best of 2016" post today, but as I looked back at the year's posts, it's clear that our move this summer dominated the year and the blog.  

Moving day

We've had major cross country moves before, but none has changed our lives more than our move across town this past summer.  And none have stretched us and eventually blessed us more either.  We've learned so much about patience, trust, faith, and community...and we still have so much to share with you! (catch the full story of how we came to our forever home right here). 

In fact the past two years have been quite eventful!

2015 was incredibly hard, although lined with many and grace-filled moments, as we navigated unfamiliar waters with a very colicky newborn.  One who missed the memo on the colic clearing up at the magical 3 month mark.  It was my most exhausting and trying year as a mother, but looking back I still see so much good.  

The same can be said for 2016.  What a whirlwind of a year!  We were asked to leap and we did.  We thought a soft landing was right on the other side, but it turned out that we spent a lot of time free falling in mid-air while we waited on God's hand to unfold.  But when it did, we were stunned by His goodness once again.  

new home!

It wasn't just that moving to this house cut our commute/car time by literal hours...or even that it placed us right in the heart of our community. We've lived in 9 homes in our 10 years of marriage. It's the contract nature of James' work. And with that came an element of uncertainty.

We never really knew how long we would be in one place.  James' work has brought us to many places we've enjoyed, but they were all far from family or didn't feel like the right place to raise our brood for the long haul. I never felt that I could really settle in our previous homes, because we didn't know what the future held...but who does?

I would muster forced attempts to live in the now and "settle in" regardless of a potential move, but I have felt unsettled in my heart for many years.  I have longed for the comfort and assurance of a forever home.  For myself, for James, and for our children.

When James' job unexpectedly moved us to Ohio, God answered a prayer that we had barely even whispered.  This area had so much of what we've always wanted for our family.  And when we moved to this house he delivered so many hidden desires for a slower pace, 4 seasons, interesting places to visit nearby, a quiet street, a house with a kitchen sink overlooking the backyard, the school/church a short walk from home.  And community.  

I don't want to sound like a broken record but this community...I could just cry. I didn't even know if communities like this still existed.  Where neighbors acted....neighborly, the kids bounce between houses playing in the yards, dinners are shared with no pre-planning, moms sip coffee together in toy strewn houses, the garden's fruit is exchanged in bounty, as are meals and flowers in times of strain and grief.  Our children will grow up with lifelong friends, and with an older generation that is passing on their wisdom, humor, and love.  Is it perfect?  No.  Because we're a community made up of imperfect people and life isn't always roses.  But, it is a gift.  

Sometimes I wonder....what if we think this is our forever home and then we end up moving again? The truth is, that could totally happen.  But that's a thought from a place of fear.  We've made a conscious decision to put our roots down here.  Which means we now have the freedom to say no to opportunities that would uproot our family once again.  We also trust that if we did ever move, that God would make it abundantly clear and provide the means to do it.  

Sometimes we don't get a choice and life chooses for us...other times we get a say.  We're thankful we were able to make this choice our family and couldn't be more grateful for this home. I finally feel like I can breath here....that time isn't slipping away while we wait and wonder about what's next.  

So what does that mean for 2017?  

After a year or two filled with change and uncertainty, it feels like 2017 is a year to dive into how to be the best stewards of what we've been given....including our home, family, time, faith, finances, relationships.  It's going to be a year for rolling up the sleeves.  Doing some of the less than glamorous work, but the stuff that feels so rewarding once it's done - to finally go through moving boxes that have followed us unopened through the past 5 moves, to continue the work of purging and ridding ourselves of excess in order to live more freely, and maybe to actually get some pictures up on the walls #whydoesittakemesolong

The blog has definitely reflected the shifting nature of our family life over the past couple years and now that we have a fairly consistent napping toddler vs. constant screamer, I'm looking forward to devoting more time to this space!

I've always loved working on our home and encouraging those of you that have been bit by the home-bug too.  We also love sharing those things that have helped make our daily life as a family of six a little easier.  Here's where I see us heading in the coming year....

Thanks to the sale of our old house, we knocked out some big home projects when we first moved in.  So while we're letting the budget recover, I'm turning my attention to some of the smaller projects around the house.  The kids' rooms are 75% done and Liv's nursery hasn't really been touched. I'm determined to be a better finisher.  I'm great at knocking out 80% of the job and then dragging my feet on those finishing details.  Maybe we can work on that together - I'm thinking about a monthly series on hanging meaningful art throughout the house.

There's a lot of paneling and trim still begging for paint, and if you've been following along on IG you know that we're finally addressing the entry flooring that was damaged by a water leak. Which of course has my wheels spinning on an entry/stairway makeover #someonecomeholdJames

And hey, how about that mudroom?  #bueller?  She's so close to done!  Hopefully, I'll have her finished, photographed, and posted by the end of the month.  How lame is it that I'm sad I didn't get to throw some garland up in that room for Christmas?  #nextyear

Some of the home management systems we had in place at the old house transferred here seamlessly, and others are warranting a total overhaul.  We're still very much in that phase of figuring out what stuff worked for the old house but doesn't work here - that goes for furniture and systems.

It's also been about 3 years since I purged my closet and went down to a 30ish piece wardrobe.  Still my most pinned post of all time!  As a person who is perpetually cold, I had to make some adjustments living in a place with real winters, but for the most part I've been able to stick with that system.  I'm planning some follow up posts along those lines (including kids clothes) if that's something that you guys would be interested in.

I'm sure we'll throw in a few recipes that manage to please all 6 resident Crinions, and maybe a few thoughts on faith/motherhood as they come. Let me know if there's anything particular you would like to see us cover here!  

I hope you all are going into the new year feeling hopeful.  I'm so grateful for each and every one of you that stops by here.  Your presence and sweet comments over the years mean the world to me - thanks for sticking with us!