A simple wedding.

Last night we held a small celebration to celebrate our wedding and, of course, one of our main objectives was keeping it simple. And, since this is a blog about my trying to simplify my/our life, that’s what I’m writing about today.

First, let me tell you–we were incredibly lucky to have found the venue we did. It’s a small farm in Kernersville, Smith Hollow Farm, that is owned by the nicest people and the setting is just perfect for what we wanted–outdoors/bbq/kid friendly/farm/lake/firepit/etc/etc/etc. The really nice part, though, was that we honestly felt we didn’t have to decorate. They have made the space so beautiful with hanging lights and wood accents, that it is a perfect spot just as it is. I did put together some table toppers and a few little things but we especially chose this location because of the simplicity in decorating, honestly believing most of it had been done for us.

The whole night, in fact, was designed so that everyone (including Chris and myself) could relax and not feel stressed or pulled in any one direction.

Here’s how we designed a simple wedding:

Table Decorations: 

The table decorations are flowers I picked up from Michael’s over the last couple of weeks while they were on sale. They were part of their spring flowers and while they are fake, I love that they don’t look like regular fake flowers. Side note: these are also what I will be decorating our entire house in now that the wedding party is all done.

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I also picked up pretty glass jars wherever I could find them, which was mostly Target and Michaels. Target dollar spot had the pretty textured ones and Michael’s has a whole selection of metal plant holders. Wait until that 20% coupon on everything, including sale items, and you’ll be all set!

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Most of the signs came from Target as a last-minute find and even our guest book was a dollar spot find.

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We also didn’t have a color theme, which was probably one of the best choices I’ve made for the wedding. It allowed me to say “this is pretty and I want it in the wedding” even if it wasn’t a specific color. That freedom was much greater than I would have thought.

Favors: 

I should preface this with the fact that I’m allowed to say it’s simple because I didn’t do a ton of the work. Chris is the one who went to Lowes and bought 50 succulents and then to Walmart and bought 50 tiny canning jars the day before the wedding because I saw an idea on Pinterest.

But never mind that…I was really happy with the favors because they were simple enough to put together, didn’t cost a million dollars, and (I hope) something people thought were cute and wanted to take home. Option B was Mentos wrapped with notes that said “mint” to be together so you can all thank me later for skipping that one. Okay, thank Chris.

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Activities: 

The last part I really can’t take credit for, except in choosing a location that had kids activities built in. We had a fire pit for smores, hayrides, farm football, cornhole, and more. Kids could visit the farm animals with their parents and run around. I found all these cute “things for kids to do at a wedding” ideas on Pinterest and not a single one of them would have happened because there was just so much fun stuff to do at the location itself.

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I have a million more pictures to share, and trust me, I will. But, I wanted to get this out there—our party was simple so we could spend time with the friends and family that came to celebrate with us. And just because it was simple, doesn’t mean it wasn’t full of love, great food, and great times. It just meant we were also able to enjoy it in the process.

One Week. And Paint.

In one week we close on our new home. We won’t actually move until the middle of April but we have a few projects that we are focused on before that big moving day. Mainly painting. While we’re so eager to actually get moved in, I can’t tell you how nice it is to have time to paint a few rooms without furniture in those rooms.

The one we knew immediately how we wanted to paint was the dining room. In Chris’s old house he painted his dining room and living room this fantastic gray color (Pewter Cast) and we agreed before even purchasing the house we would paint any future dining rooms gray.

This isn’t the best image to represent the true color but it shows how much the white trim and accents pop against the darker gray. We already have white artwork picked out that should really be striking once we get that room all done. The rest of the room will be decorated with wood accents to help soften the space.

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Gray in Chris’s old dining room. How amazing is that built in??

Here’s what the Pewter Cast looks like on Sherwin Williams:

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Source: Sherwin Williams

For the master bedroom we chose Weekend, which is a Magnolia Home paint color. This color is a little out of my comfort zone (which consists entirely of gray) but we were both really drawn to it and it has the warmth and coziness I am looking for.

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Source: Magnolia Home
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Source: Magnolia Home

We will also be painting the living room fireplace next week. It’s a darker gray, which I normally would like but the tint is a little off from what I’m looking for. Here’s the fireplace now:

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We’re choosing something much lighter, and much closer to the wall color, with HGTV Home by Sherwin Williams “Grayish.”

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So instead we’re planning to tone it down a notch with.

Lastly, Henry wants his room painted to look like outer space. Black to be exact, but mommy won veto powers over that suggestion. Instead I’m leaning more towards something like Salty Dog from Sherwin Williams. It has a brighter feel to it but will still give the same effect of the night sky when we put stars on the walls.

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Source: Sherwin Williams

We’ve been painting for weeks at Chris’s house and I thought talking more about paint would be the last thing I would want to do today. But I’m super excited about these choices and getting to put these touches on our own home. In one week!

I built that.

Y’all. I built something. A coffee table to be exact. Using big girl tools and all.

This is completely out of my comfort zone.

A couple of months ago we made a random stop at a sweet (and big!) consignment store in Winston-Salem which then led me down an internet path where I stumbled upon a woman right here in the triad who offers construction classes for ladies: Simply Janelle Designs (And who also gave us the most amazing trip idea but more on that later.) With the new house on the horizon, and a few pieces of furniture added to the “to buy” list, I was excited about the opportunity to try my hand at making a few pieces instead. (I’ve already signed up for the bench and the console table for future classes!
Now, a few things to note because, yes, Chris could have made this for me for only the cost of materials or taught me himself. But:
  • All of his tools are locked up in storage somewhere.
  • A townhome is not the most ideal setting for a construction site.
  • It would have involved an extra trip to Lowes (okay, five extra trips to Lowes).
  • I really just wanted to do it on my own. 

I learned how to use a kreg jig (and, let’s be honest, what a kreg jig is.) This is similar to the one she used and comes with just about everything you need, including the clamp.

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Source: https://www.lowes.com/pd/Kreg-K4-Pocket-Hole-Jig-Master-System/3278831

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I loved every second of it and definitely learned new skills that empower me to take on new projects at home. I keep saying “I know I could build that” but never actually do.

If you follow me on instagram, you’ll know I’ve already starting collecting new books to help me learn more. I’m also in love with Shanty-2-Chic, a website created by women with tons of free furniture building plans. Now that I have a few basics, watch out!

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Simplicity Podcasts.

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Here’s a picture of me in a car. Probably listening to a podcast. Also waiting for HomeGoods to open.
Getting ready for a trip always leads me to seek out a new audio book. Two weeks ago I wanted something to continue with my simple-living mission but couldn’t quite find the right fit. I love audio books but if I’m going to listen to one person talk for 8 hours, it has to be a voice I can handle.

 

I am just getting into podcasts and decided to do a little exploring in internet land about simple living podcasts for my drive to work in the mornings. That brought me to A Welder’s Life Blog https://www.awelderswife.com/2017/09/favorite-simple-living-podcasts/ in which she features her favorite simple living blogs. I half picked “Cohesive Home” randomly and half because it was a really pretty blog.

I was a little nervous going into this podcast because Kate, one of the authors (?) podcast-ers (?) has two children and lives in a tiny home and that’s an immediate red flag for me. But when you read their “what we believe section” Kate and Melissa call themselves “lazy minimalists” and I so I didn’t close their page just yet.

Which is a good thing because within five minutes of listening to their first podcast I was pretty much hooked. Mainly because of their reasoning for creating their podcast–to create a community of people who wanted to live simply but didn’t want to live minimally. Emily Ley also writes about the same concept–living minimalist is an extreme, rarely actually attainable by anyone who is also normal. Living simply, Kate and Melissa say, is more focused on intentional choosing of what you do with your time, your number of responsibilities, and deliberately selecting what you own.

While I don’t want to get completely sidetracked with this podcast, it lines up nicely with what I’m currently reading. However, there are items that I feel like I will need to return to if Emily Ley doesn’t address them–children’s artwork guilt being the number one concern that I am also avoiding like the plague.

love the episode on “Kids Spaces.” It delves into an issue I find incredibly hard to overcome. There are a lot of great points made and the message is clear: the more kids have, the more mess they can make and the less “white space” is available to them to create and play. Kate and Melissa say

“I’ve noticed…if they are just surrounded in clutter, they lose that inspiration to engage in imaginative play. ..They can’t see past the clutter, like we can’t.” This really hit home for me. If I can’t process when the house is a mess, how can I expect Henry to?

They also relay that it’s important to start

Management of the stuff–one day’s mess carries over to the next day. How this is just as bad for us as it is for kids.

I’m also a little obsessed with the idea of a toy library (hello–librarian over here!). The toy library works like this:

  • Most toys are organized in bins and stored out of site (say a basement or garage)
  • Bins are labeled with toys inside.
  • Kids select 1-2 bins to play with in their rooms. 
  • When they are done playing with those toys, they go back in the bins and swap out for a new set of toys.

This is the prettiest picture I could find of one: 

 

 

With a garage in the future house, this may be a possibility. It looks like it’s time to purchase some bins.


In other Podcast news, I love Jolenta and Kristen over at By The Book and here’s a link to their Marie Kondo review. If you’re looking for a real-life review on The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up (or really just any self-help book) they’re the ones to check out!

 

Girl’s Day.

This weekend I was given the absolute best girl’s day I could have asked for. First, we had high tea at O’Henry Hotel. As long as I’ve lived in Greensboro, I’ve never had high tea! It was perfect.

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We ordered the “O’Henry Tea,” which really just includes each of their finger sandwiches and a pot of tea each.

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Next we went to one of my favorite places in Greensboro, Mad Platter, where we all painted pottery and ate more macaroons.

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I tried really hard to pretend to be Rifle Paper Co. I can’t wait to see how they turned out.

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When I had a blog years ago, I loved sharing times like this and there’s definitely part of me that missed that part of writing. As I navigate this new space, I’m looking forward to sharing more moments like this where, in the middle of chaos and busyness and uncertainty, we can all take a day and just have, simply, a fantastic time.

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The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind. We are officially less than one month away from saying “I do” and I have finally picked out a dress, flowers (homemade on etsy!) and shoes. So the important pieces are covered. Ha.

And then, just to add a little more excitement to the mix, Chris and I made an offer on our first house together. Friday morning we became officially under contract and, while inspections are today so I still want to hold my breath before sharing too much, we are over the moon with the possibilities. We’re hoping, once we officially close, to make this house feel like our home by decorating with a mix of diy (I’m taking furniture building classes!–Also, Chris already knows how to build furniture) and unique finds we acquire along the way.

Let’s just say this blog is about to get a lot more decorating-ish.

I’ve just created a Pinterest Board: Simple Home Decorating to help keep me on track. We both love the farmhouse style and, while we will have space to fill, we want to make sure we’re only bringing in items that create the home-feel we are seeking.

Speaking of, is it any surprise this guy is one of the first pieces of art work we picked up to decorate our new home?

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Source: Homegoods!

I was also completely inspired by Magnolia’s instagram pic here:

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Seeing as I kill every plant I look at, I love the idea of fake flowers that provide the look of real (and actually look pretty real). They’ll never replace natural flowers but we’re all doing the world a favor by not sacrificing living plants for the goal of my decorating.

So a quick trip to Michael’s and I had my start. I will more than likely order Joanna Gaine’s actual plants shown in the picture above because I couldn’t find *quite* what I was looking for but I did get pretty close.

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The flowers are actually for the wedding party decorations! Here’s a sneak peak:

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Basically I’m picking flowers I can later use as house decorations. That’s fair, right?

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This space vs. New space.

I had to make a judgement call this week to help our current situation and get past a mental block that’s been bugging me for weeks. We’ve been around and around with de-cluttering and are simply at the limit of things we are willing to give away *because* in the next few weeks we are going to begin the house search for a home that will, hopefully, have more space. (I fully understand that minimalists everywhere would argue we need less space than we currently have and while that’s probably true, it’s just not our reality and I’m okay with that.)
That being said there are a number of items that *might* not have a space in a new home, and a number of items that *might* stay. And I’m not willing to make that call until we’re in a new space and understand what those limitations may be.
Until this future home materializes, though, I’ve been stuck in this middle space of a bunch of stuff (books) that I’m unwilling to part with but don’t currently have the available space right now–or at least the space to hold all these things and feel de-cluttered at the same time.​
So this weekend I went to work removing those items so that our current space will feel more open and less cluttered. It’s also helping me to think about it as “staging” for when we are ready to put the house on the market.
In the process I did get rid of a few more items and a few items, ahem, got rid of themselves.
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It’s a slightly different way for me to look at simplifying–a more temporary one.

Coziness.

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My cozy morning.

I found what I’ve been missing. Driving down the road I was listening to one of the favorite podcasts, By the Book, and this episode was all about The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living. And it was everything I needed in that very moment.

What I realized I was missing was the connection between simplifying and still living comfortably in my home and spaces. I like the warm blankets laying on the couch. I like the Polish Pottery Easter bunnies sitting on my mantle right this very moment. I like the 8-million drawings Henry made, and the family pictures, and the invitations, taking up every inch of the fridge. Taking away all of these things for the sake of simplicity was starting to feel like losing in another way.

Let me start over: By the Book is a podcast one of my good friends introduced me to where Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer read a self-help book and then live that book for two weeks, after which they give their hilarious and brutally honest results. They lived by and reviewed KonMari last year, which is a book I’ve read and processed myself. They chose The Little Book of Hygge and immediately said it was the anti-KonMari. It’s all about creating warmth and comfort in your home, while still simplifying and slowing down.

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Source: Barnes and Noble

The ladies had mixed reviews and I am going to Barnes and Noble today to pick up my own copy and decide for myself. But there was one word that kept being repeated that changed my whole mindset while listening (and it’s not hygge). It’s “cozy.”

The one thing I don’t want to give up on my search for simplicity is the coziness of a warm, lived-in, home.

Now, that being said, I’m not actually comfortable in clutter. So simplicity is still the focus, but now there’s something more to it: a cozy simplicity. And finding our simplicity.

Also, I woke up today and while scrolling through my social media I saw EMILY LEY posted on instagram about hygge! It just makes sense.

 

 

Starbucks Study Break. For a six-year old.

There are days I feel I hit a wall with homework and chores and dinner on the table by a certain time. This week Henry has a number of morning-work sentences that have to be caught up on for one reason or another and I needed more coffee  wanted to make it maybe a little more fun so we decided ​to work at Starbucks.
It’s no surprise it’s easier to work in a coffee-shop environment. My grad school loan should have included an allotment for Starbucks, itself. But I never really think about it as something that will help a six year old.
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But it did. One slice of warm pumpkin bread and an hour, we had pushed through his sentence corrections, without much effort at all. There were no legos sitting out to distract him. The TV wasn’t staring at him from across the room, asking to be turned on as soon as the work was complete. Mommy wasn’t distractedly folding clothes and trying to clean dishes while trying to help sound out words–my full attention was on him.

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We may make this a new habit. Once a week, Starbucks study date with mommy. It’s a simple fix that I honestly believe saved the evening for us both. The truth is, the reason he had so many sentences to re-do is not because he doesn’t know how to do the work, he just doesn’t want to do the work. And if he didn’t want to do it first thing in the morning at school, you know at 5:30 in the afternoon, after a full day, he certainly isn’t over the moon to re-write more sentences. Changing the environment changed the feeling of what was being done and we both left happy and ready for home.

The Planner.

The one area I am shockingly not drinking the Emily Ley kool-aid is with my planner. Don’t get me wrong, I love Emily Ley’s planner. I was first introduced to the Emily Ley brand because of her Simplified Planner. It’s adorable, and, duh, simple. It might be on the pricey side but my rule of thumb is if it is something I use every day of the entire year, I’ll fork over a little more for it to do exactly what I need it to. As a school librarian, it just doesn’t do what I need it to. I need a planner that allows me space to look at my entire week, write in media assistant lessons, and add class visits, co-teaching, etc., without running out of room.

That being said, my planner of choice is the Erin Condren Teacher’s Lesson Planner. I convert as many people as possible to this planner it’s just. that. good.
I’ve also had multiple librarians ask me within a few minutes of meeting me if I had an Erin Condren planner. When you have found the holy grail, you share.
She offers one million adorable cover choices. I went with the “Floating Florals” pattern this year but didn’t get it personalized just so I could rush shipping. (You can also purchase new covers whenever you get a wild hair and want that fresh planner feel.)
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You are in charge of placing all the month stickers but that’s tedious and horrible sort of fun.
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For classroom teachers there is an entire section dedicated to your grade book. It’s more space than I need for my media assistants so I often do two-three pages for their grades and save the extras for something like battle of the books meetings, etc.
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The lesson side is the really beautiful part. There are seven “subject” blocks across the top and Monday-Friday on the left hand side. These take a year to write in for yourself are completely customizable and it’s worth it.
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I have four blocks of classes each day so I often use one of the extra blocks as a to-do list and then one for exercise or dinner plans. It’s a very clean lay-out and perfect size.
I won’t lie, Erin Condren planner’s aren’t cheap. It’s an expense I am willing to make once a year, though, because of how much I rely on my planner and how perfectly this one works for me. Because of that it’s worth every penny.