Visual Clutter

The week after Christmas we slowly, slowly, slowly wrapped and packed and stored Christmas decorations around our home.  Instead of doing it all the day after Christmas, I gave myself grace and time to get them all put away over the course of a week.  It helped that we really didn't have much else going on in-between Christmas and New Year's.

After the counters were clear, the railing simplified, and the living room put back together without the tree, I let out a sigh of relief.  As much as I absolutely love putting the decorations out after Thanksgiving, I feel the same way storing them after Christmas.  Our home felt clean (even though it wasn't) and clear of visual clutter. 

I gave the room a good wash down with soapy water and swept numerous piles of pine needles into a dustpan.  As I started to go around to get all the items that usually stood on the end tables and the counters, I stopped.  It was so easy to clean, so easy to breathe in the space without the books and the knick knacks and the stuff.  So I didn't.  I didn't pull out the pile of books that stand at attention on an end table.  I didn't have Kevin move the oversized peeling faux-leather chair back into the corner.  I didn't get the few knick knacks I have sitting in random spots around the room.  I just didn't.  And I liked it.

If you know The Nester, she talks about quieting a room.  Her definition of quieting a room is removing everything, except for the furniture, rugs, and big art, from a space.  Then she suggests sitting in the space and looking for any areas that feel cold.  Add something meaningful to those specific places. Store everything else.  I guess you could say not putting all of our everyday decorations out after Christmas is my version of quieting our main living space.  The quiet feels peaceful, clean, simpler, and better without all the stuff.

   There is a reason my home is feeling better without all the stuff.  Visual clutter affects not just our homes, but how we feel.  UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives and Families(CELF) studies show clutter has a strong affect on mood and self esteem.  The same study concluded the amount of stress women feel at home is directly proportional to the amount of physical stuff they have accumulated.  Visual clutter matters to the overall feeling of not just our home, but of how we feel.  Wow.

So, this quieting the room thing is working so far for me.  The books on my end table were just for show and I usually ended up straightening them three or four times a day because the kids knocked into them.  They are now corralled on the bookshelf.  The oversized chair that's peeling mainly just got jumped on and was in the way.  I got rid of it on the swap page.  The knick knacks collected dust and moving them to clean was a pain.  They can stay stored or maybe I will even make a trip to Open Door Mission to get them out of my house. The dark and cold winter months are a good time for me to quiet everything, to remove the excess and focus on what is truly useful and meaningful in my home. And the peeling chair certainly isn't it.

What could you remove today to make your home simpler and the things in your home more meaningful?


Sunny Saturday

Hey friends.  What a week.  After a long, fun weekend last weekend, this week was all about getting back to our routine and our normal.  We had a few playdates on the calendar, but otherwise we were home doing life.  It was cold anyhow.  

Here are a few things that made my week a tad bit sunnier.

Have you heard of May Designs?  I heard Mica May, the founder of May Designs on The Happy Hour podcast with Jamie Ivey and decided to order one of her notebooks to try out for a planner this year.  You guys, it's beautiful.  And customizable.  I chose a marble pattern and then was able to customize the inside pages to fit my needs.  It is so so cool.  I am using it as my to-do list/planner and am loving it so far.  It works because I can keep my to-do list in it as well as my lesson plans for preschool and appointments and playdates.  Because it is a semi-blank slate on the inside, I can make it be what I need it to be.  Love it.

Deep breathing.  Some podcasts I have been listening to lately have talked about meditation.  The last few weeks I have had an ongoing headache and have found a few deep breaths give me some relief.  It grounds me and helps me to focus on the present.  Also, we talked about it in our Journey Group this week. I think God is giving me a nudge.  My next step is to try and set aside a few minutes at the beginning of my day to get some breaths in. It's good to have goals.

Christmas decorations are down.  Except for one.  This beautiful ornament was made by my dear, dear friend, Nicole.  She creates canvases, notebooks, and works of art over at Natural Joy Boutique.   This one might be up for awhile.

Laundry is a never ending chore.  Literally, never ending.  This week I have made it a priority to keep up with it so it doesn't become overwhelming.  I have read in a few different places to throw in one load of laundry a day, so here I go.  One load of laundry a day, maybe two if I want to get ahead.  As if.  

Last, but not least.  Chili.  Winter around here calls for chili on a weekly basis.  I try to mix it up a bit with different recipes, but it's always on the rotation.  This week I tried a version of this recipe and used ground pork instead of beef and it was delicious.  The only bummer about chili is there are usually limited leftovers, which is because of few in my clan eat seconds and thirds.  Also, I always throw in frozen sweet corn because it is the best.   

We have a slow weekend at home and I am going to bask in staying in my pjs all day.  Have a Sunny Saturday, all!


{ He Said, She Said } 9

Today is supposed to be the last really, really cold day for awhile.  All the praise hands.  I am a homebody by nature, but my kids need some fresh air and sunshine that isn't filtered through our living room windows.  Warmer weather is coming.

Here are some articles for your reading pleasure.  There are some good nuggets of information in these gems and these authors definitely challenged my thinking a bit.  Hope you enjoy!

Why Kids Books Should Be a Little Sad

What Do You Need Right Now?

7 Ways to Make This Year More Mindful


Sunny Saturday

This week was full...of good things.  It was a MOPS week, so I was able to connect with friends.  Unfortunately, one of my MOPS mornings was cancelled due to some winter weather.  My mom was also here, so I was able to knock out some meetings and see some friends.  Kevin and I are sneaking away today for a delayed birthday date.  I am one excited girl.

Today I'm sharing some things that made my week a bit sunnier...

Last Saturday I was not feeling the best.  I was taking cold medication habitually and the only thing I was drinking was water, both hot and cold.  I ate spoonfuls of honey to soothe my sore throat and kept Kleenexes in my pocket at all times.  It wasn't the end of the world, I didn't have the flu or anything.  Just a cold.  But it still made me feel crummy enough to cancel plans I had for the day.  One thing that made that day so much brighter, were fresh flowers scattered through my home.  I received some beauties from various friends and family.  There is nothing like flowers to make a girl feel loved.

Caramels.  I am a caramel lover.  Kevin brought a Shotwell Candy Company box home from work and they are so yummy.  The box is adorable and would make a perfect gift.  Buy one for you and a friend.  So good.

I was absolutely spoiled last weekend.  A dear friend of mine drove to my home with all kinds of goodies, this magazine included.  She gifted me a subscription to The Magnolia Journal and those of you who know me well know I love Chip and Jo.  A year and a half ago I made the trip with girlfriends down to Waco and loved every minute of it.  I am super excited to have this arrive in the mail.

I would be remiss to not mention my mom and hubby this week.  I had a full week and they were by my side (not literally) cheering me on.  They watched the kids and fed the kids and did 'all the things' for the kids.  I was able to have have some meetings and time away with them at home in my corner.  Thanks, guys.

Last, but not least, this yummy Beefy Tomato Soup has been making the dinner rotation often.  It is perfect for cooler weather and super filling.  It comes together quickly and I have made big batches to feed friends and family.  This week I ground up a bunch of hamburger on Sunday to use throughout the week to make this recipe even simpler.  

You can find me snuggled up with my man somewhere in downtown Omaha.  It's going to be a good day, friends.  

Have a Sunny Saturday!



Christmas is over.  The fog between Christmas and New Year's has passed.  We know what day it is.  We are back to real life.  We are in the thick of it, again.  School.  Playdates.  MOPS.  Parties.  Meetings.  Dates.  Real life. All good things.  All real life things.

As my mind and body eases into this real life thing yet again, I can't help but yearn for the slowness, the calmness, the still of that sweet week between Christmas and New Year's.  There were multiple days spent at home, in pajamas, a fire going and nowhere to go.  Kevin and I made bacon almost every morning, refilled our coffee cups multiple times, took turns working out and playing with the kids.  We talked and read and snuggled under blankets since our furnace couldn't keep up with the negative double digits outside.  It was slow and it was good.  It was almost a bit boring, in a good way.  It was the feeling of home all day everyday for seven days.

Those magical days can't last forever.  Kevin must work.  The kids must learn. I must wash my hair.  We must enter back into civilization.  But I think we can still find ways to make those moments reappear here and there this winter. We can stay home more instead of running frenzied to the city for a 'quick Target run' for the one ingredient we absolutely don't need.  Layering the kids up in their winter coats is tedious anyway.  We can make a fire even when we don't need one.  It doesn't hurt to save a little dough.  We can carve out time to read more, maybe even while the kids play.  Monkey see, monkey do...right?  We can be intentional about slowing down, soaking in, and being still.  

I want more of that.  More quiet, more slow, more time for my mind to wander and ponder and think.  More time to watch my kids play, more time to make muffins.  Yes, more of that.  I want less hurried, less 'stuff' on my to-do list, less keeping up with Facebook.  Less, less, less.  Winter is the perfect time for less.

For us, this is a time of year when it's okay to hit the brakes a bit and enter hibernation mode.  And I think that's just what we'll do.


1 month until 1 year

That's right.  Our littlest man is 11 months, yesterday.  He is our smiley, chubby-thighed, walker-who-wants-to-crawl, little brother.  It's hard to look at him and not break out in a smile.  He brings joy to our family each and every day and all of us love him to pieces.  He is our Jude.

Here is what Jude has been up to this past month...

  • Jude takes three to four steps at a time, but only if he is truly motivated.  He prefers crawling to get what he wants.
  • Eating is still one of Jude's favorite things to do, although he has gotten a bit reluctant on unfamiliar food.  We have to trick him into taking a bite and then he is all in.  Raspberries are still his go-to.
  • Jude is a power sleeper and we love him for it.  He is still taking two good naps a day and sleeping twelve hours at night.
  • Following Luke and Lily around is still one way he annoys them and entertains himself.  He loves his big brother and sister.
  • Jude can make a friend anywhere.  He lights up into a smile at strangers and they (usually) smile right back.  
  • Pacifiers are Jude's jam.  He almost always has one nearby.  He likes to have one in his mouth and one to hold onto.  He sleeps with at least five in his crib at a time.
  • When it gets warm out, Jude and our dog, Abel, are going to be best friends.  Jude can't get enough of his four-legged friend.
  • Fires have been going in our fireplace lately and it is Jude's mission in life to get through the barricade to see what all the fuss is about.  Good luck, kid.
  • The cabinet under the sink, the toilet, and the cabinets in the bathroom are places you can find Jude if he is missing.  He loves to get into all kinds of mischief there.
  • Dirt is Jude's love language.  If there is dirt, Jude will find it. And absolutely get dirt under his fingernails as well as everywhere else.
  • When Daddy runs a bath, you can hear Jude's hands pat the ground as he races to the bathroom.  It's his favorite time of day. 
  • Also on the top of Jude's fun things to do is crawl all over Daddy.  He loves it when Daddy lays on the ground and he has free reign.
  • One of our favorite things Jude does right now is cuddle.  He puts both his hands and arms by his bell and lays his head down on a shoulder. There is not much better.
We love our Jude and feel so blessed he was chosen for our family.  Now, this next month just needs to slow down!


{ He Said, She Said} 8

Slow and cozy are two words I wanted for this Christmas season.  I wanted to bake cookies and listen to Christmas music and wear pajamas all day.  We have done a lot of those three things and it has been slow and cozy.  Today I'm sharing some great Christmas-y reads.  Enjoy.

If Your Star is Crooked and You Burnt the Cookies

A Holiday Pep Talk for You

Perfect Biscuits

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