Settling In

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We’ve been in our new apartment for three weeks now and couldn’t feel more charmed and content in this very cozy home-sweet-home. And guys, setting up and outfitting a new space during the totally legit phase in pregnancy they call Nesting?! I have been having WAY too much fun! I’ve posted a few sneak peeks on Instagram so far, but with the more limited natural lighting we’ve got here, my iPhone camera just isn’t cutting it. So, it may be time to invest in a DSLR (recommendations, anyone?) but in the meantime, I intend to borrow one soon so that I can share a few more pictures.

For now I want to just rave a bit about a few of my favorite purchases & finds for this new layout. (After all, this blog is all about sharing Good Things!) I had a nice little fund set up thanks to the extra furniture and other things we were able to sell due to downsizing, and I’ve been intent on spending it well on things that are practical and beautiful, and that truly “spark joy!” 😉

One of our favorite things about this apartment is the utter lack of carpeting (as opposed to the wall-to-wall carpeting in every single room of the old place). Here we’ve got durable laminate wood flooring throughout, which is wonderful for the sake of cleanliness. However, I knew I wanted a rug in our sitting area, mostly for the sake of having a soft place for the little one to hang out on, and also partly to add a bit of visual interest and separation from our kitchen/dining space. I spent more time shopping for this purchase than any other, but ended up scoring an awesome deal from RugsUSA.com. It arrived less than two days after I placed my order, too.

I was in the market for a bookshelf for my mini library since we no longer have built-in shelves, and I came across this one on Pinterest and decided it was perfect. (I should have read the reviews before I bought it, but it’s cute enough that I don’t mind the lack of quality so much.)

I’ve discovered that nothing makes a house a home or perfects any little vignette like flowers and plants. A trip to a local greenhouse was just as high on my priority list as Target was on our first day of settling in here.

Since we no longer live in a two-story house, we have no need for the second changing table we had found for ten bucks on a Facebook yard sale site. So thanks to a fresh coat of paint from a friend of ours who refinishes furniture as a side job and new knobs from Anthropologie, we found ourselves with a brand-new dresser. So fun! (Now to get the rustic plank bed that Caleb and his brother have been dreaming up made…then our master bedroom will be complete!)

Of course I’m also having a blast working on my nursery now that we’re finally in the home Frankie will be born in. That will merit a post all its own someday in the future, but you can sneak a peek at our registry awhile if you’d like an idea of where it’s headed.

What projects or purchases have brought you delight in your house and home lately? I’d love to hear from you!

We’ve Downsized!

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Over the weekend Caleb and I and our little womb resident moved into a new [rental] home about 12 miles (a 20-minute drive or so) away. This is the sixth time we’ve moved since we got married, so we are starting to feel like old pros!

The new place is a cozy little 2BR 1BA first-floor apartment that underwent a major remodel in the past two months, and has a completely different feel than the falling-apart, uninsulated 3BR 2BA two-story fixer-upper we came from. Our new landlords have been incredibly accommodating and welcoming and we couldn’t feel more certain that this is where we belong for now and that the Lord has blessed us with a sweet and special gift in leading us here.

Moving into a much smaller home feels in many ways like the culmination of this little journey of paring down + embracing minimalism (or as I like to think of it, essentialism). Since the completion of my KonMari project, I’ve continued to rid our home and lives of things that we can do without and that don’t “spark joy.” 🙂 And I’m having the time of my life furnishing, organizing, and styling our new space using only the very most practical and beautiful of material objects.

We’ve been here two nights and already find ourselves in awe of the impact being in a smaller, cozier space has on the way we eat, sleep, and interact. We had the most relaxing Sunday morning of our marriage thus far yesterday, eating together at the table which is mere feet from our bedroom, enjoying the hassle-free heat of a propane fireplace instead of needing to build a wood fire, and even sitting down and reading to Frankie before we left for church.

It’s so true what someone has said:

“Love grows best in little houses,
with fewer walls to separate.
Where you eat and sleep so close together,
you can’t help but communicate.
And if we had more room between us,
just think of all we’d miss.
Love grows best in houses just like this.”

We’re so excited for the adventures we’ll have here!

One-Page Guide to Decluttering

A teacher friend of mine recently asked me to talk to her high school Life Skills class about decluttering for a class period as part of their unit on Organizing. I put together this handout for her students and figured I’d post it here in case any of you might find it helpful.

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So, if you’re in the middle of or about to start your own process of paring down to just the essentials, click the image above for your free downloadable printable cheat sheet!

The KonMari Method | Books

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I mentioned in an Instagram post over the weekend that I’ve finally begun reading Marie Kondo’s sensational book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up! I really did not expect this book to be life-changing for me, since I’m already an obsessively tidy person. I figured there wouldn’t be much in the book that I wasn’t already putting into practice. Honestly, I planned on being bored with it, but since it’s a subject I’m passionate about and everyone else seems to be raving about this book (it’s a New York Times bestseller), it warranted a read anyway.

I was wrong. Marie’s method is changing even my already-super-tidy life. (Which, apparently, isn’t as super-tidy as I thought.)


My bookshelf was designated as the guinea pig project for the KonMari method. (She advises starting with clothes, but, as you know, my clothing collection has pretty much already been picked through to the max. I’m now inspired to change my storage methods a bit, but that’s a topic for another day.)

A couple months ago, I completely reorganized the bookshelf in order to accommodate every book in the house. This was no easy task. My goals were to have every volume fit, and for the overall aesthetic to be appealing. I spent probably a couple hours arranging and stacking and rearranging until I had it looking “just so.” It is with deep regret that I write, I failed to photograph my work of art yesterday before I destroyed it. So annoyed at myself–ha.

Anyway, because it was so perfectly organized, I just could not bring myself to take everything off and put it on the floor, like the book instructs. However, I did hold each volume in my hands as I asked myself the thematic question, “Does this spark joy?” I took quite literally Marie’s advice to discard the books I’ll never re-read, the ones I never read in the first place, the ones I was only keeping for their sentimental value, and the ones who I felt only brought me a moderate amount of joy.

I had so much fun realizing which books make up my “Hall of Fame,” another of Marie’s brilliant tips. (A few of my all-time favorites are featured here and here.)

Confession: I kept a few of the ones I have yet to read. Caleb and I enjoy reading aloud to each other in bed at night until one of us falls asleep. So a small pile is being relegated to the nightstand queue for that activity. I figure if we start them and don’t love them, I can get rid of them then.

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The “nightstand queue” — books we’re either in the middle of or want to read next.

I am getting rid of most of my collection of children’s books, as well. Which is sad, because they really haven’t even gotten used yet for their intended purpose. But I realized that the only ones worth keeping for my children are the ones that are my absolute favorite children’s stories. The rest can be borrowed from the library. Books take up so much space, and they are such a pain to move! (Caleb and I moved five times before we celebrated our first anniversary, and will likely be moving at least 1-2 more times in the next couple years–so, key factor there.)

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I didn’t take an exact count, but I would estimate that I started the project with over 200 volumes, and I am now down to 58, plus 30 picture books. (That 58 includes a couple Bibles, a handful of hymn books, and chapter books for older children.) I imagine there’s a good chance I’ll pare those numbers down a bit further still in the coming weeks.

So now, not only do I have a couple hundred books to move out of here, but there’s not much point in keeping the bookshelf for one shelf’s worth of books, either. I’m already rearranging my entire office in my head. It’s such a great feeling!

If you’re intrigued by or interested in this concept of whittling down your belongings to the bare necessities + most beloved treasures, stay tuned. There’s more where this came from. I’m so excited!

Questions to Ask During the De-Cluttering Process

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I love this excerpt from a blog post called Minimalism: Are We Doing It Wrong? by Kate Arends of Wit & Delight. Click the image to visit her site!

Who of you are in the thick of it with me right now in this process of reduction? I have been saying goodbye to so much useless stuff around here lately. My journey towards intentional minimalism, if you want to call it that, or to being left with only the essentials, largely started nearly a year ago when I first delved into the capsule wardrobe project.

Once I had my collection of clothing pared down to just the essentials, I started noticing other categories of “stuff” that needed to be sorted through as well. Over the past year, I’ve gradually been working at eliminating the excess of material things in our home. I’ve done a lot of reading on minimalism and de-cluttering, and along the way have learned ways to help me decide what stays and what goes. I decided it was time to compose a list of the questions that I find helpful in determining what meets my criteria for things that get kept. These questions, altered slightly, can also be helpful in deciding when a new purchase is worthwhile.

  • Have I used it in the last week/month/year?
  • Will I definitely use it in the coming year?
  • Does it spark joy? (This question is taken from Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.)
  • Does it correlate with my values system? (Non-toxic, space-efficient, beautiful, high-quality, etc.)
  • Do I have space to store it?
  • Would I buy it again?
  • Would I take it with me if I moved to a different home?
  • Would I miss it if it were gone?
  • Would I be happier with the money I could make by selling this, than with the item itself?
  • If given the choice between this and something else, would I choose it?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, there’s a good chance I will be motivated to throw away, donate, or sell the item in question.

I find an incredible amount of joy in replacing junk with empty space. An organized, clean home is something I value highly, and the process of elimination is more conducive to that end than any other task. I continue to be amazed, each time I do a purge, at how content I can be with less than I used to believe. Prime example: there are 4 pairs of shoes in my summer capsule wardrobe. I’ve worn mostly just one of them, all summer long. And I used to be the girl who would take like, four pairs of shoes just on a weekend trip. 😉 How many people in the world wish for just one pair to call their own? I still have a long way to go.

What would you add to this list? How do you determine what is worth holding onto? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Free Art on the Internet

Once I was describing to a friend where I’d gotten each of the pieces that compose the gallery wall in our master bedroom, and she asked me, “what do you mean, free printables?” So in case there are more of you who have yet to discover the world of royalty-free art on the World Wide Web, allow me to introduce you.

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Most of the artwork displayed in my home was found online, printed on my own cheap Epson printer, and matted and/or framed with yard sale/Goodwill finds. Pinterest can be a great resource for beautiful prints, but not all of them are free! (Printing a copy of someone’s art that they are selling on Etsy is stealing!) Instead, try Google searches using terms like “free printables,” “free wall art,” or “royalty-free art.” To help you get started, here are a few collections I think you might love.

I like to mat things with recycled cardboard cut from boxes that come containing things I’ve ordered online. And Goodwill is an excellent place to find beautiful frames for cheap. You can remove their original art or just cover it with your own. They’re easy to spray paint, or you can use Sharpies to give them a unique touch.

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// The hexagon corkboard tiles were from Target and it doesn’t look like they sell them anymore, but you can get square ones here. Target does, however, still have an awesome selection of push pins! //

If you’ve found another great resource for (legal) free artwork, post a link in the comments! What are other ways you’ve found to decorate your walls for cheap?

The Solution to a Closet-less Room: Easy DIY Industrial Hanging Clothing Rack

IMG_7429When Caleb and I moved into the rental house we currently call home nearly a year and a half ago, one of the upstairs bedrooms had just been completely stripped and remodeled. So even though it wasn’t the obvious choice for the master bedroom, we of course opted to take advantage of the brand-new drywall and windows and lovely rustic exposed-beam ceiling. The only problem was that a closet hadn’t been built back into the room. This forced us to get creative with a clothes storage solution, and I’ve been thankful ever since! I love this industrial-style hanging rack so much that I may not even want or use a real closet in our next house!

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This may be one of the very easiest Pinterest-inspired DIY projects we’ve ever taken on. I searched for things like “closet alternative” and “closetless” and Caleb helped me form a vision for the super easy, super simple option we came up with. If I remember right, we were lying in bed the morning after we moved home from Florida, brainstorming, and ended up heading to Lowe’s first thing for our materials (some heavy-duty rope (similar), screw hooks, and 3/4″ galvanized pipe with threaded, capped ends). A few hours later, I had this beautiful rod and was hanging our clothes on it.

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This rod holds our capsule wardrobes (yes, I finally got Caleb to finalize his own :)) and our belts/ties and the like hang on hooks on the back of the bedroom door. Our shoes are stored in an over-the-door pocket shoe holder on the other side of the door. This system works great for us — no clutter, and no room for things that don’t get worn!

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The Real Reason Why I Believe in Making the Bed

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According to Psychology Today, in a Hunch.com survey of over 60,000 people, “71 percent of bed makers consider themselves happy; while 62 percent of non-bed-makers admit to being unhappy.”

There is a whole chorus of voices on the internet these days proclaiming the good in making your bed first thing, every morning. (Don’t know what I’m talking about? click here, here, and here for just a few examples.)

They say that people who make their beds every morning lead happier, more productive lives. The reasons are endless: making the bed daily is an exercise in good habit-forming, it keeps the bed cleaner and healthier, it can lead to better quality sleep, and it gives us a feeling of accomplishment.

I certainly can relate to and agree with U.S. Navy Admiral William H. McCraven’s statement that “if you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. And by the end of the day that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed.”

But the real reason I make bed-making a priority upon rising each morning is that a made bed creates a welcoming atmosphere, a haven of rest for my husband and me to come home to in the evening. Even after a crammed, hurried, stressful day, when the rest of our house is reminiscent of the aftermath of a hurricane, we have a visually appealing and restful place to retreat to at day’s end.

I can exhibit a good deal of OCD when it comes to keeping my home tidy, but there are days when exhaustion cries louder than perfectionism. When I’ve taken those 2-3 minutes in the morning, while fresh and energized, to prepare the bedroom for our return, I can close the door to the rest of the mess and relax in the simple, clean order of our little haven.

Do you make your bed every day? If so, it is merely out of habit, or do you have similar intention-filled motives for this menial task?