Always thankful


Happy Thanksgiving, friends! Since it goes without saying that I’m thankful for a family that loves me (neuroses and all), the world’s greatest children (if not the world’s greatest sleepers), a warm house that welcomes both (vintage-home wear and tear included), and so on, I thought I’d list a few of the smaller luxuries I’m grateful for this year.

White noise apps. If I ever meet the genius who designed this sweet, sweet blessing, I’m buying them a lifetime supply of coffee. I’m pretty sure 85% of the sleep I’ve managed to convince Starr Baby 2 to take so far in his young life has been due to the lull of heavy rain/sprinkler/chimes/fan noise in the background via someone’s iPhone. Life. Saver.

Plentiful amounts of good coffee. Despite item number one, we have not been blessed with a strong sleeper as of yet (I’m hopeful he’ll get there in time — his older brother has been a fabulous sleeper since about 12 months), and thanks to some updated research noting that breastfeeding mothers can, in fact, indulge in a cup of coffee a day no harm done, I’ve taken advantage of this delicious elixir to power my days. Thank you, good people of Starbucks/Panera/McDonald’s/Keurig for giving this mama some early-morning sanity.

My Kindle. I’ve managed to read close to a dozen books since my maternity leave started, thanks to the flexibility of holding a Kindle with one hand while nursing or seeing my iPhone screen in a darkened nursery or flipping through virtual pages on my iPad on my lunch break. While I’m still a fan of the feel and design of hard-copy books, there’s no way I’d be able to get through them in this stage of life; having an electronic repository that follows me wherever I am, and is easy to hold and navigate through, makes a world of difference.

TV on demand. I’m not a huge follower of the latest TV, but for the shows I do watch, I’m on a small children schedule, not a TGIF lineup one these days. Having the ability to dial in to the show I want, when I want (even if that’s not until 10 p.m., and requires three pauses to replace a pacifier/change a diaper/rock back to sleep), helps make me feel like a semi-relevant adult.

Preschooler conversations. Oh, how much fun this stage is! The mind of a preschooler can be frustrating, but mostly it’s hilarious. I’m one more funny convo away from installing a Cash Cab-style dashcam in our car to record the backseat musings of Starr Baby 1. “Did you get to have Thanksgiving lunch in a special conference room today?” “Yes, mommy.” “What was the most exciting part?” [My expectation: Getting a special outing, eating a turkey dinner, seeing me in the middle of the day, going on an elevator…] “We saw a HOLE!” [Instead: Referring to road construction on the way to the event.]

May your holiday be filled with too much food, too many blessings and plenty of time to enjoy both.

Taking a (teeny, tiny, baby) break

Baby Boy number two is here, so the blog has moved to the back burner for a bit — in practice, if not in my mind. I have plenty of home and project updates to share — including this one’s nursery and an update to the playroom — just as soon as I am no longer balancing everything one-handed. #MomLife 


Happy, happy, joy, joy

30 inspirational quotes | The Sensible Home{Source}

I hear that mercury is still in retrograde, which if I understand astrology correctly, means the floodgates of crazy have opened.

30 inspirational quotes | The Sensible Home{Source}

I’ve found that to be true for the past three weeks, so maybe there’s some sort of gearing-up time involved? I’ve found myself visiting my Happy Book a lot lately for inspiration and solace. I started it in college, and it’s just a journal that holds my favorite quotes, notes and uplifting thoughts. I’ve used it to send notes to friends, fill cards, post at work, share on social media, and brighten my day. And based on how 2015 is going for most everyone around me, we could all use a little brightening. Here are a few of my favorites:

  1. I always wondered why blessings wore disguises; if I were a blessing, I’d run around naked. ~Sophia Petrillo (Estelle Getty), Golden Girls
  2. People have lives. Just because they decide to live them doesn’t mean you suck. ~Don’t Sleep with Your Drummer by Jen Sincero
  3. If the light goes out…wear it around your neck and go dancing. ~If You’re Afraid of the Dark Remember the Night Rainbow by Cooper Edens
  4. It’s only possible to live happily-ever-after on a day-to-day basis. ~Margaret Bonanno
  5. The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes. ~Marcel Proust
  6. I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure: try to please everyone. ~Herbert B. Swope
  7. I am not in this world to live up to other people’s expectations, nor do I feel that the world must live up to mine. ~Fritz Perls
  8. The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. ~Gandhi
  9. Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future. ~Paul Boese
  10. A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs. It’s jolted by every pebble on the road. ~Henry Ward Beecher
  11. It is in vain to expect our prayers to be heard if we do not strive as well as pray. ~Aesop
  12. If an ‘A’ is a success in life, then A = x + y + z. Work is ‘x’; ‘y’ is play; and ‘z’ is keeping your mouth shut. ~Albert Einstein
  13. Happiness is a journey, not a destination. ~Anonymous
  14. Fear less, hope more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; hate less, love more; and all good things are yours. ~Swedish Proverb
  15. No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. ~Eleanor Roosevelt
  16. God gave us burdens, but also shoulders. ~Yiddish Proverb
  17. Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm. ~Winston Churchill
  18. Being happy doesn’t mean everything’s perfect. It means you’ve decided to see beyond the imperfections. ~Unknown
  19. Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle. ~Plato
  20. God gave people a mouth that closes and ears that don’t, which should tell us something. ~Unknown
  21. Don’t miss out on a blessing because it wasn’t packaged the way you expected. ~Unknown
  22. A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. ~Herm Albright
  23. We could learn a lot from crayons; some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, while others bright, some have weird names, but they all have learned to live together in the same box. –Robert Fulghum
  24. There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all. ~Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
  25. Peace: it does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart. ~Unknown
  26. I cannot believe that the purpose of life is to be happy. I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be compassionate. It is, above all to matter, to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all. ~Leo Rosten
  27. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. ~Matthew 6:34
  28. Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have 24-hour days. ~Zig Ziglar
  29. When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, “I used everything you gave me.” ~Erma Bombeck
  30. You cannot prevent the birds of sadness from passing over your head, but you can prevent them from making a nest in your hair.

30 inspirational quotes | The Sensible Home{Source}

What would you add?

Aim high: 2015 goals

If January dates are still in single digits, I can still say happy new year, right? I’ve finally drafted my 2015 goals and chosen my word for the year: dynamic. There’s lots going on, and I’m feeling a lot of momentum and positive energy. (Hopefully I can also channel some of that to the good ol’ Chicago Cubs. This is the year!)

Here are some goal highlights worth having some public accountability:

2015 goals

Spend less on food and home/health items. We use Mint for keeping track of our finances and budgeting, and I love it in part because it’s free and provides lots of data in terms of where your money is going. For us, food and home and hygiene items seem to always top the list, and I feel like those are easy areas to find more savings. I plan to try the DIY route with several things, like hand soap. Anyone have great resources to recommend?

2015 goals

Improve my meal planning system and stick with it. I’ve been a meal planner for several years, although my systems is not perfect by any means. Many times, I have good intentions that I just don’t follow through with. I’m hoping to buckle down and be more intentional (and realistic) with our meals, make them healthier and prevent the “let’s just grab something” money suck. It doesn’t happen as much as it could, or as much as it used to, but I’d still like to see it reduced. We’re buying a second freezer in anticipation of baby milk storage needs, so I’m hoping to start doing more freezer meal stockpiling.

2015 goals

Make a dent in some “big” house projects. Top of mind: Decorating and furnishing our living room and master bedroom, and finishing our kitchen and dining room. The boys’ bedrooms are definitely happening, so I’ll be tackling those first, without making them a separate goal. We’ll also be relocating the husband’s home office and incorporating it with a basement man cave, next door to a “mom cave” craft space. Ambitious enough?

2015 goals

My reading goal for this year is 15 books. It seems like a low number, but given my current season of life, it’s practical, and would nearly double the number of books I got through in 2014. I spent 6-8 hours each day nursing Owen in the early days, so having a few good books for Baby No. 2 will help keep me awake. I’m still using Goodreads to track my progress and give recommendations.

2015 goals

Invest some time in my crafting hobbies; namely, cross-stitching and sewing. I hope to finish my current stitching project (The ABC’s of Parenting sampler by Lizzie Kate), slated for the boys’ playroom, and start/finish another, most likely something for the nursery. I also hope to enroll in an online sewing class so I can spend more time creating with and less time cursing at my machine.

I’ve found several goal-setting worksheets on Pinterest for creating specific objectives and timelines for each of these so they have a better chance of coming to fruition. Need some help drafting your 2015 goals? Here’s the planning sheet I use.

Looking back to look forward: My 2014 goal report

I don’t know why new year’s resolutions are everyone’s red-headed stepchild — you’re either prone to goal-making, or you’re not; you’re either going to be serious about setting goals and sticking to them, or you’re not; you either think the whole process is worthwhile, or you don’t. But there’s nothing wrong with the start of a new calendar year to make you feel energized and refreshed and ready to tackle some projects. If goal-setting is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

Before laying out my 2015 goals, it’s time to take a look at what I accomplished in 2014. Below are the goals I laid out on my blog a year ago. Some were met, some weren’t, plus a lot of projects and life happenings came up in between. I wouldn’t expect 2015 to be any different.

Annual household chore system | The Sensible Home

“Finally implementing my tickler system of home maintenance. It’s an annual chore calendar that breaks down all the mundane tasks of housekeeping to make them more manageable and less frustrating. I’ve spent a lot of time creating it, organizing it, and admiring my color-coded index cards…but not actually following it. That changes now.”

Status: DONE. Yahoo! This has seriously been huge for my sanity. Not because the house is spotless and I’m constantly up-to-date on chores — far from it, especially in the latter quarter of 2014 — but because I know there’s a system that I can jump back in to, and that every chore has a date instead of them popping into my brain at all hours as something that I can’t forget. It’s also still going strong after a year of use, which to me equals a win.

luggage storage closet

“Fixing the craziness that is our luggage/handbag closet — and saying buh-bye to its 1950s Pepto-pink carpet.”

Status: Started. I managed to empty the closet, organize all the bags, get rid of the ones that were damaged/never used, and clean them all. We also purchased self-stick laminate tile to put down in place of the rad carpet. Actually building a wooden cubby system and replacing the flooring? Hasn’t happened yet. While it’s an easy project, it’s also one that won’t be seen by anyone but us and thus slipped down the priority list.


“Converting our pantry into a walk-in one by extending it into an unused closet space. Yes, that means we’ll be wielding crowbars. Get excited.”

Status: Not started. Lots of discussions, measuring, more discussions, Pinterest searching, etc., but no actual movement here. Probably because we’ve come to the (sane) conclusion that this project should involve a professional, since it requires knocking down one wall and sealing up another. But one day, my friends.

vera bradley kindle cover goodreads

“Less random Internet browsing, more actual book reading. You can follow me on Goodreads to see what’s on my list (and whether I’d share it or pitch it).”

Status: DONE. I managed to get back in the habit of spending half an hour most nights reading, especially before bed, and opted for book time during some lunch hours as well. I got through quite a few books and the routine has helped me fall asleep faster, too. I’m still active on Goodreads as I slowly make my way through my ever-growing to-read list. Here’s what I finished this year:

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas
Twisted Sisters by Jen Lancaster
The One and Only by Emily Giffin
The Theory of Opposites by Allison Winn Scotch
All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner
Totlandia: The Onesies series by Josie Brown (currently finishing the fourth and final book)

Go, Dog. Go! Puppy Birthday Party | The Sensible Home

“And, [Murphy dog] turns five years old in a few weeks! Which calls for a party, natch.”

Status: DONE. You can read all the details about our Go, Dog. Go! themed doggie birthday party HERE. We’ll still celebrate his sixth birthday this year, but a bit more mildly. But who can resist whipping up a peanut-butter puppy cake??

Not too shabby — I clearly need to set tougher goals for 2015 ;). How did everyone else fare?

A few of my favorite things

There are still 12 hours left to be reflective on 2014, and I’m all about maximizing time. Yesterday, I posted about my most popular blog posts during 2014 (some of which were posted the year prior); now, I’m sharing my list of which posts were my personal favorites, specifically from the last 12 months. (But I do still love those souped-up clipboard gifts.)

best productivity apps websites tools

10 Productivity Tools You’ll Love

Because I love organizing. And streamlining. And apps. This is also one of the first posts I was able to work on from my newly-redesigned home office, the first time I’ve lived somewhere that has such a space.

Hey Y'all Wall Art

Hey Y’all

My DIY entryway art with a Southern flair makes me smile every time I walk past it (which is a lot), and it took one naptime to create. I love that it was very easy and is very me.

mother's day & kitchen stories

The stories my kitchen tells

One of my personal goals for this blog is to let it be a space where I can continue stretching my creative writing muscles to complement my day job in communications. I could stand to do quite a bit more of that, but this post was one attempt. If you want to know what my blog’s about, read this.

sage white burlap dining room

China cabinet stylin’

I was apparently the last house-hunter on earth who was overjoyed to find both (a) a separate dining room and (b) built-in corner china cabinets, and getting them styled was one of the first house decorating projects I finished. I’m still so happy with how they turned out.

Craftsman-inspired silver sage & chocolate nursery

Sage-and-chocolate nursery throwback

As I get ready to create another nursery this spring, I’m even more sentimental about Owen’s original nursery in our old house. I spent a LOT of time planning and executing it, and I still remember finishing the paper stars hanging above his changing table, two weeks before my due date, and thinking, “Now what?”

how to get a toddler ready for school the sensible home

How to get a toddler ready for school

Seriously, I need to keep better notes and make this a series. Small children are a hoot, and oftentimes more fun to talk to than adults.

There were plenty of other parties and projects I’m fond of, from the husband’s 30th birthday recap to using my vintage Junior League cookbooks as functional kitchen décor, but these are the highlights.

I’m off to find my new Post-its and make an IKEA list. Bring it, 2015.

A very merry Christmas

IslaysTerrace Christmas Wall Art Typography @ Etsy{Source}

Wishing you a bright and cheerful day filled with family, friends and all things lovely. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Check out my holiday posts:

A Sensible Home holiday house tour

Customizable gift tracker spreadsheet

December photo-a-day challenge

Elf on the Shelf: a challenge game for grown-ups

Winter Survival Kit ideas

A month’s worth of children’s Christmas books

DIY kids’ Christmas quiet book

DIY toddler travel pillow (Christmas edition)