the kind of movement that makes a difference

On a whim last Saturday, we decided to move the furniture around in our living room. This is a fairly familiar event in our house but the difference this time was John. Normally when I move furniture I wait until he’s gone, mainly because I work well with deadlines and I know I have to be finished before he gets home.

by the fireplace

But having him there meant I could bark orders instead of doing all the work myself. I found out I get really bossy and know-it-all-y when I’m moving furniture.

The thing about moving the TV to a less important wall is you also have to move the sofa.

When you move the sofa, you have to move the rug.

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Then the chairs need to go somewhere else and now there’s a big blank wall you need to fill and before you realize what you’ve gotten yourself into, three rooms of your house are completely different. (Cue mouse holding a cookie.)

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It feels just about right, now – an appropriate way to usher in a new season of change. I like how it fits.

My sunroom office is a little more full but I like it that way. It’s just the right space to settle in with Brennan Manning’s Souvenirs of Solitude in the mornings. His chapter called Really Human, Really Poor has been my morning reading for several days just because I can’t get over how true it is. He speaks of being poor in spirit but of resisting self-hatred, something I have struggled with understanding.

He tells this story and had me laughing outloud:

Distracted after a disturbing phone call, I left the monastery to give a talk to the inmates of Trenton State Prison and began with the outrageous greeting, “Well, it’s nice to see so many of you here!” And so it goes.

Frequently not in form, on top, or in control. That is part of my poverty as a human being, and self-acceptance without self-concern simply expresses a reality. An impoverished spirit prevents the poor man from being a tyrant to himself.

-Souvenirs of Solitude, page 92

His reaction to himself in that awkward moment caught my attention. There was no wringing of hands or heavy anxiety for having mis-spoken. There was only an acceptance of the reality of his own frailty accompanied by his refusal to hate himself for it.

And so I recognize a longing in my soul for this kind of lightheartedness. It helps to listen to Ellie Holcomb and Jillian Edwards sing With You Now. As I do, I take a few deep breaths in. It is in the delicate place of embracing my humanity without despising it – there is union with Christ in this space.

My to-do list is bulging, each task more time-consuming than the one I just finished. I have work to complete and a mounting sense of shame that the reason I’m unable to finish is not because it’s too much work but because I am lacking something vital to continue – organization, creativity, skill, the ability to focus.

All of those may actually be true.

But I’m learning my relief will neither be found in continuing to chase an ideal of my productive self, nor in hating myself for my inability to get everything done.

Rather than resenting my weakness, I believe Jesus is asking me to embrace my weakness. Being poor in spirit doesn’t mean despising self but releasing self from the expectation of being anything but poor. Small. Helpless. Worn.

My soul needs to remember the kind of movement that will make a difference:

Don’t try to handle your anxiety. Bring your anxiety into the presence of Christ.

Don’t try to fix your loneliness. Bring your loneliness into the presence of Christ.

Don’t try to hide your addiction. Bring your addiction into the presence of Christ.

Don’t try to change your attitude. Bring your attitude into the presence of Christ.

Don’t despise your humanity. Bring your humanity into the presence of Christ.

There is still responsibility, there is still action that comes from me. But my action is not to make right, to make whole, or to make better. My action is to usher my abilities, inabilities, failures and successes all into the presence of Christ.

Lord Jesus, remind us of your presence with us as we do the next right thing that makes sense. And may you keep our hearts light along the way.

let your home be your canvas

As we continue to consider the new year we now stand in, The Nester has turned the conversation about goals around to the home. I have a strange and fickle relationship with my home. It brings me a great sense of comfort – family, love, holidays, normal days, the kids toys, my pillow. I write from home, so I can walk into nearly any room and remember – there in the dining room was where I sat and labored over chapter 6, and then wrote it all at once in a flurry of inspiration. There in that chair at our Kmart kitchen table is where I cried in the middle of chapter 11, because I realized again that God is real and he want us to know it. For me, the rooms matter. The colors and the lighting matter. And putting energy and time into making home is a great joy for me.

But. Home can also be my greatest source of shame. When I have ideas to pretty her or to clean her, sometimes it seems I stop just short of making a real difference. Even though we just had a huge yard sale in October, it seems I all of a sudden have piles of things I no longer want or need. Why does this always happen?! And immediately the critical voice pipes in – Hey you there with all your January intentions – I know you want to be more organized, but it’s impossible. So give up already.

Shame doesn’t have to speak too loud. A whisper when I open the junk drawer is enough – failure. And I grab the gum I’m looking for and chew it hard and angry, wishing I could get a handle on that drawer but believing the voice of shame instead – impossible.

And so my goal for my home this year? I want to change the voice I listen to. And I want to change my mind about “organized.” I don’t want to just get rid of stuff in order to be organized, I want to get rid to make room for something else. Namely, the art.

I believe this year will be one of creativity, of daring to let go of the burden of my own insecurities and allow God to uncover the imprint of his image on me. It is easy to compartmentalize goals and to think that this pull I have toward making art this year is unrelated to the desires I have for my home. But I think that would be a mistake.

Thinking of it this way changes the conversation for me. When my stuff is cleared out, my head is cleared out, too. If I think of it as a clearing out for clearing outs sake, I will lose steam, and fast. But if I think of my home as a canvas for the art I want to create, well that’s another thing altogether. I want to make time and space for the art, and that means getting rid of some scissors.

As we think about the coming year, it is good to remember that January is no different from November. That worry and fatigue and the ever dreaded funk will show up in even in the middle of the best intentions. It helps me to remember Natalie Goldberg, who made it a goal to write everyday. But also said, if she doesn’t meet that ideal, she is “careful not to pass judgement or create anxiety” because no one lives up to their ideals. We don’t have to live up to them perfectly. But it helps to have them. Thanks to my sister for giving me the opportunity to think this one through.

paint avoidance

Last year, we painted our kitchen cabinets black. I do not regret painting them, as I like them much better than what they were before. Still, I have been thinking about how I might like to have the top cabinets painted white while leaving the bottom ones black.

But I am a lazy girl with two books to write. So instead I changed the curtains.

In the two years we’ve lived in this house, the curtains in the kitchen have been changed three times. Currently, they are dressed in this buffalo check from Country Curtains. They have brightened up my writing space quite nicely. And it has been a much easier change than re-painting the top cabinets.

on consequences

crooked wall

The wall’s not crooked, the candle plate with the f on it is. But I didn’t want the shot with the foreground wrong, so I changed reality a little. I tend to do that. I like for the thing up front and here now to be right and hope that the thing later in the background works itself out. Sometimes it does. Other times, I regret my neglect of the crooked walls.

lampapalooza

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Lamps. Our warm-lighted, mood-setting, friends. Lamps are kind of like shoes: I have way too many and not nearly enough. I hesitate to participate in this lamp showing party because I feel like y’all have already seen every nook and cranny possible in this house. But she’s my sister and I love lamps and I just can’t help myself.lamps-1

That lamp is really big. A Marshalls original. It is my favorite in the house.

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The Nester says every kitchen should have at least one lamp and this chandelier counts since it has shades. Only problem is it is hung too high. I’m too lazy to change it.lamps-3

Our dining room chandelier is hung lower, as you can see. Notice how I like to put lamps in front of mirrors to make it look like more lamps. Also notice our kitchen cabinets through that door there before we painted them black.

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Then you got your sheep lamp…

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your shell lamps…

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…and your bird lamp. I have more, but I’ll stop now. Head on over to Nesting Place to peek in other peoples houses and get a glimpse of their lovely lampage.

painting cabinets: a follow up

Last week, I had fun showing you our black kitchen cabinets. Many of you wanted to know how to paint cabinets. I have to tell you that I did not paint our cabinets myself for three reasons: I am impatient, I am sloppy, and we had some extra money to hire someone.

I have painted cabinets in a couple of bathrooms. But I’ll leave the real tutorials to those who know a thing or two. Google it if you want the technical. I’m good for a few tips, though.

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First and most importantly, buy some black poster board and hot glue it to the cabinets to see what they will look like. Don’t skip this step.

cabinets-in-process

Take the doors off. But leave the cabinets on. Very technical, I am.

Sanding? Eh. Maybe a little. But cleaning them is more important, really.

Use a gray or black primer (if you are painting them a dark color).

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When the doors go back on, they may not hang exactly as they used to. Get over it. It’s okay.

Don’t paint the inside of the cabinets. Unless you want to be painting for 17 years straight. Then definitely paint the inside.

Know that some people will still like it better the other way. And some people will tell you that it is not okay to paint cabinets. Learn to be okay with that.

By far, the most repeated comment I received on that post went something like this: I love your cabinets and would love to paint mine, but I’m too afraid.

Uhhh, what? Seriously, girls. It’s time to take back the house, put on our big girl pants and face that fear. Was I afraid? A little. Why? What if I didn’t like it? What if people laughed at me? And what if it was wrong? Besides, there was plenty of opposition.

My father-in-law said not to paint the cabinets.

My realtor man said not to paint the cabinets.

And yes, even the painter said not to paint the cabinets.

But all of these people had two things in common: they were all men and none of them live in my house.
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I could have left them the way they were, pleased to know that my realtor, father in law and painter’s wishes were being met. Or. OR? I could do what I wanted to do and love my kitchen. You know what I chose.

If your husband is the man who doesn’t want you to paint the cabinets? Well, I can’t help you there. Lucky I’ve got The Man who thought it was a great idea. But maybe if you find enough before and after photos to show him, he can be convinced.

If you need more inspiration and courage, check out this post written by The Nester. She knows how to face nesting fears head on and shoot them point blank with a hot glue gun.

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unplug

And due to the fact that Kimba is closing the internet on Friday, I’ll announce the gift card winner on Monday. Or Saturday. I haven’t decided yet.

dare you to paint your cabinets black

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As of today, I have been chatting at the sky for exactly 300 posts! Let’s celebrate with a little kitchen tour. Ready to get right to it?

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This is the part where the people before us had a washer and dryer in the kitchen. You can read more about their magic clothes and how we did a cabinet switcharoo in this post.

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This is the part where you get to see just how orangey-pink these cabinets really were. And the part where you notice how the island was green granite and the rest of the counter tops were green laminate. All the way up the wall. Awesome.

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island-after

This is the part where you notice how much better the island looks now and you decide to read all about the island transformation on my guest post at Nesting Place.

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This is where I stood when we walked through the house for the first time and I almost cried because the owner had just told me they had recently updated their kitchen. This is also where I stood when I realized how much I hated it and I didn’t want to pay for their new, ugly kitchen in the price of the house.

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This is the same place where I stand and make food for my kids and watch them color and fight and play cars. Its also where I chat on the phone with my sister and think up blog posts and love. my. kitchen. And we didn’t have to knock out walls or pay for new cabinets or buy a new oven. We made some drastic changes. But we didn’t have to start over. And the ugly kitchen wasn’t a deal breaker in buying the house.

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This is the part where I tell you we considered knocking out that random wall to make the kitchen feel more open.

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And this is the part where I tell you that, as it turns out, that vent on that wall is sorta important and when we heard how much it would cost, we decided to live with it and hang a yard sale picture there instead.

I know some of you would like to see what is behind that wall that we did not take out.

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It’s basically a grown-up friendly kids corner. As opposed to a kid-friendly grown up corner. There is a difference.

Most of this work was done when we first moved in. But this week I finally finished putting the knobs and drawer pulls on the cabinets. Actually, that is a lie. I’m a little bit lazy. (and a little bit country. and a little bit rock and roll). I still have nine drawer pulls to go. Sue me.

One last thing.

Paint Your Cabinets Black

Wall Paint: Sherwin Williams Ivoire (6127)

Cabinet Paint: SW Tricorn Black (6258) Semi-gloss finish

Any black will do. For me, I picked the blackest black on the color wheel.

Island Paint: SW Navajo White (6126)

Granite: New Venetian Gold

(Giallo Ornamental was in our old kitchen with black cabs)

Window Mistreatment Topper Fabric and Fringe: Hobby Lobby

Damask Window Panels: Target

Window Mistreatment Inspiration: The Nester

Back splash: Bevel Hampton Sand with crackle finish (2×4)

before-and-after

For more details, check out the follow up post.

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For more posts on painted wood, please visit Edie’s beautiful and creative blog @ Life in Grace.

This post is also linked with Sanctuary Arts at Home’s You Should Have Seen it Before! party.


kitchen tease

The kitchen is almost done! All that staring yesterday gave me just the boost I needed to finish the job. Now for the task of photographing it all and inviting you in. Here’s a sneak peek, a special Friday the 13th preview.peek

Turns out its really difficult to photograph black cabinets. I’ll be working on that this weekend so I can show you the whole thing next week. In the meantime while you have kitchens on the brain, head on over to My First Kitchen.

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She’s hosting a survey about cooking habits and could really use your help. It takes about 25 seconds to complete. And you can win free spices, so its totally worth it. Take the survey here. Enjoy your weekend!

Admin Note: The comments are going to look a little crazy for the next day or so, but they’ll still work just fine.

more house

I’ve been meaning to do a post about our painted cabinets. If you checked out my guest post over at Nesting Place yesterday, you got a good partial glimpse. I wanted to wait until the cabinets are all the way done before I did a full fledged ‘after’ post. But they just aren’t done yet.

knobs

Case in point? The above photo is of the knobs we are going to put on our cabinets. They are lined up neatly on the countertop but have yet to be installed because I am two parts lazy and one part scared of the drill. I’ll get there. And, just so you know? These knobs? Anthropologie has them for $8.00 each.

Did Emily buy those? No, she did not. Because Hobby Lobby had them, too. And they were half off. Two Dollars each, people. Two little dollars. I great-big-red-heart Hobby Lobby. But you already knew that.

So maybe soon-like I will finish them up and post some after photos.  If you are itching to see some housey stuff until then, here are a few links of some other rooms of the house we have redone.

Related New Old House Posts

A Happy House

1964 Bathroom Spruce Up

1964 Living Room Makeover

The Office: A History

Portrait of a Kitchen (from our previous home)

still voting?

Thank you all so much for voting for Chatting at the Sky in the Weblog Awards. We are holding on to a solid third place position, which isn’t too shabby considering that the competition has wielded some pretty strong endorsements, not the least of which is Keira Knightly. You know, the hot actress? With lots of fans? And lots of computers?

Remember you can vote once per day per computer. Feel free to ask your readers to vote too, as I know my winning a very nice but somewhat meaningless award is certainly at the top of your bloggy priority list. Thank you June, Kendra, Dana and Daisy, Laura and Nester for already doing this! You are so great.

And just think: if all my readers AND all your readers voted once a day for the next four days, it could really make a difference. Throw in the entire state of Rhode Island and we just might win this thing.

Voting continues until Monday January 12.

Here’s a peek at my ballot for some contestants in other categories:

Best Parenting Blog: Blissfully Domestic

Best Diarist: Velveteen Mind

Best New Blog: Blog Nosh Magazine

Seriously, this has been fun. The begging for votes, the shameless promotion, the general selflessness of it all is quite refreshing.

As a thank you for voting, here are some before and after shots of my house. (Do I know my audience or what?)
The twins room the day we walked through the house for the first time and our heads began to spin…
And the twins room after our Fairy Godmother showed up to ready it for the ball. Cleans up nice, huh?
The downstairs hallway leading to the kitchen before we moved in. Check out the wood paneling.
The downstairs hallway now…with a little peek into some recent cabinet painting. But that’s another post. Curious? Good. Now go vote.