Homemaking

Finding the Lovely in the Chaos

Motherhood is a chaotic business. Each day is filled with noise, lots of messes, and countless challenges. The days can be monotonous and exhausting. When faced with all the chaos, sometimes it can feel anything but lovely.

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Some days it’s easier just to focus on the challenges. To simply clean up the messes, change the diapers, and do the same things over again the next day.

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But every day has something lovely. Every moment. Even in the midst of a tantrum-throwing toddler, there is something lovely. The tear-stained hug when the crying stops, the laughter during the tickling that diffused the moment, the triumphant moment of standing your ground and not giving in to the kicking and screaming.

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“There is a correlation, I’m finding, between beauty and perseverance. It feels like beauty might be knots in the rope you are climbing, gas stations along the cross-country journey, the water stations strategically set up on a racecourse. Beauty is what makes it possible to keep going. And beauty is in the eye of the beholder, isn’t it? It’s not just in the things everyone sees, but it is what YOU see, what sticks out to you, the unique moments God gives you to collect up and hold and draw strength from.”
-Annie F. Downs, Looking for Lovely
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Motherhood is a long-distance marathon. A test in endurance. An uphill climb. When you’re in the middle of the race, you feel tired. Your feet hurt. You can’t breathe. But as you keep going, you see the beauty in the persevering. You find your stride, you get your second wind, you drink some water and feel refreshed.

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Annie F. Downs recently released her latest book, Looking for Lovely. It is, in every sense of the word, lovely. I read it in two sittings, absolutely unable to put it down. This book reads a little like a memoir, as Annie shares her struggles and the loveliness she fought to find in the midst of them. Because sometimes you need to actively pursue the lovely. You have to ask the Father to show you all the good gifts He has put in your life, to open your eyes to what’s around you that you maybe haven’t noticed yet.DSC_6251-2 copy

That doesn’t mean that the chaos disappears or that suddenly life and motherhood become a walk in the park. Or that the messes are magically cleaned and the kids will never fight with each other. But looking for lovely can give you – give me – the change in perspective you need to embrace the chaos.

I don’t know about you, but I can always use more lovely in my life. Looking for Lovely is all about collecting the moments in your life that matter. In these days when I’m knee-deep in motherhood, I would much rather set my mind on what matters – the lovely, not the chaos. The snuggling on the couch, the basketball in the driveway, the “I love you” scrawled across the heart-shaped paper.

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Will you look for the lovely with me? Check out Annie F. Downs and her new book Looking for Lovely. I promise, you won’t regret it.

I received this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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Sewing an attitude change

With all the beautiful home magazines and blogs out there, it’s so easy to fall into the comparison game. My house isn’t big enough, it’s not the right color, my couch isn’t the right color, blah blah blah. I do it. You probably do too.
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It’s even harder when you aren’t living in your dream home. We’ve been in our house years longer than we expected to be, and some days it’s really hard to focus on what I love about it, instead of what I wish were different.

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But a house is just a house. All of my babies were brought home to this house. I’ve watched them take their first steps, speak their first words, and grow and change everyday. This house full of memories and stories, and sometimes those are physically reflected in the floors or the walls! As the Nester says, it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.

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When I feel myself getting into a funk about my house, sometimes a simple change is all I need to get a new perspective. New pillows are my go-to attitude changer.

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I’ve been hoarding this Anna Maria Horner print for awhile, and these pillows make me happy every time I look at them. I tucked away the summer pillows, and these feel so perfect for fall.

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I used this method for making the pillows and backed them with a dark blue sweatshirt fleece (cozy + kid friendly). In just 15 minutes, I felt a little lift in my spirits.

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I know that pillows won’t change the world, but I do think they can change your attitude!

Happy sewing, friends!

Sewing in a small, shared space [Sewing room tour!]

We live in a pretty small house. Not tiny house movement small, but still small, especially when it’s shared by six people. As our family has grown, my sewing room has moved around – the basement, the office… currently, I’m sewing in part of our bedroom. Sewing in a small space can be a challenge, but it’s still possible to have an inspiring place to create. Sit back and take a little tour of my sewing room!

Sewing in a small, shared space

When you sew in a shared space, you probably don’t have a lot of room to spread out. You need to be efficient with your storage and your usable space. It also means keeping your space a lot cleaner than you would if you could just close the door at the end of the night. But when you sew right next to your bed, you’ve got to keep things at least a little bit organized!

*This post contains affiliate links*

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I have enough room for two tables. I have a low table where I keep my serger, coverstitch, and sewing machine. I also have a counter-height cutting table.

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Since I’m not a quilter, I find that I usually have plenty of space on the table, even with all three machines. I can easily shift one over a bit if I need to. I can also quickly switch from serger to coverstitch when sewing with knits, which I find super convenient.

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I keep my thread spools close by, but I will fully admit they are NOT rainbow-tized. Seriously, I do not have time for that, friends! I’m just happy they make it back on their little rack. ;)

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Small spaces don’t have to lack personality. Since this one little corner of the house is just mine, I wanted to feel good every time I’m here. These sweet hoops are from my friend Alyson, and the print is from Mandy England (whose shop appears to be closed now).

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On the table, I keep things I don’t like to get up to find when I’m sewing: seam ripper, bobbins, scissors, tweezers, button-hole foot, tube turner, etc.

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I recently found these divided containers in the Target Dollar Spot, and they’re perfect for organizing my needles. I keep them in the basket, too.

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I picked up a handmade, magnetic pin holder at a local quilt museum, and it’s become one of my absolute favorite tools. I keep my zipper foot on here too, so that I can grab it easily.

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Behind the table is my big fabric shelf. I keep my knits in the baskets. This is new since reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and so far I really like this system! I can’t see all the fabric at once – I have to pull the baskets off the shelf to see everything inside – but it has definitely kept me from throwing everything on the floor in search of the perfect fabric. ;) I keep vintage sheets and bottom weights on the bottom shelf, and the bin underneath has clothing to upcycle. (I also have a bin with some jeans and sweatshirts in the closet… since I’m telling all!)

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When it comes to why I organize the way I do in this space, many decisions are kid-driven. For example, when you have a two-year-old who loves to turn on and off the printer all the time, moving it to the top shelf just makes sense. I try to keep most of my sharp things up high, as well as markers and paint. Because toddlers.

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I also have a small cabinet where I keep the rest of my woven fabrics. I recently went through all my fabric and took out a lot of things that I just didn’t love anymore. It gave me a lot more space for the fabric that I do love, and I can find what I need much more easily now. I also keep some more not-kid-friendly craft or office supplies in this cabinet. Like fabric markers. Because seriously… toddlers.

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On top I have a basket of knit scraps. I got rid of a ridiculous amount of scraps, because they just kept piling up. These are all good sized scraps, and most of them could make a toddler tee or baby pants.

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On the wall across from the bed, we have these built-ins. I keep most of my other supplies here. Bias tape, piping, hardware, extra scissors, cone thread spools, elastic, zippers, snaps, etc.

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I’ve been storing things in these Clementine boxes for years, and I have found a way to incorporate them in every sewing space I’ve had. The contents of the boxes change occasionally, but I’m not sure I’ll ever give them up.

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Across from my sewing machines, I have my cutting table. This is a recent purchase, and I l.o.v.e. it. My three-year-old pretty much built it on his own (seriously), so it’s incredibly easy to put together. It’s sturdy and has all these great cubbies. I’m not kidding when I tell you that I really do love this table!!

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Usually this table is pretty well covered with a project of some sort. Or something I’m hiding from the kids. Just out of the picture are the tools I use: rotary cutters, Gingher shears, rulers, pens, tape, etc.

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Because of the limited space in our house, we don’t have an office. So the computer sits on the end of the cutting table. It actually works really well, because if I need to look at pattern instructions or if I just want to watch something on Netflix, I can pull it right up. But it’s also easy enough to move, should I need the extra space. You can find a tutorial for the wall art here.

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Behind the table is where I keep my patterns and blogging/pattern shop papers. I also keep a lot of homeschool papers and books in this corner, because… I have no where else to put them. :)

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My sweet sister-in-law gave me these hoops that were used as decorations at her wedding. I love them just as they are, so they were an easy addition to my space! The fabulous prints are from Mercy Ink (top right) and Pen and Paint.

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Having my sewing space in the bedroom can sometimes be a challenge – if I relaxing in our room, I do have moments where I get distracted by all the projects I could be working on. It also makes late night sewing tricky, if my husband wants to go to sleep. No, it’s not perfect, and while I certainly would love to have my own sewing room again, I’m so happy with the space I’ve created!

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It’s easy to assume that everyone else has a gorgeous sewing studio, or to see beautiful sewing rooms on Pinterest and get frustrated with your limited space. But wherever you sew – on your kitchen table, in a corner of the basement, or anywhere in between – that space becomes yours once you sit down at that machine.

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In this season of my life, in my house that often feels too small, I’m choosing to be grateful for the space that I do have. For a husband who doesn’t mind that I set up shop in our bedroom. For kids who are thankful and excited for handmade clothes. For a fabric stash that certainly isn’t wanting.

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What do you love about your sewing space? Share a picture of it on my Facebook page! I would love to see it :)

Happy sewing, friends!

Create your own Summer Essential Car Kit

Summer days in our house are filled with play dates at parks and splash pads, zoo days, road trips, and spontaneous stops to get frozen custard. Over the years, I’ve gotten smart and have begun carrying some essential supplies in the car for the inevitable messes and to avoid as many meltdowns as possible. Because nothing can make a day go sour like a toddler melting down because his shirt is soaked or his hands are sticky or (Heaven help us) we forgot to pack a snack. My mom secret to disaster-less days is a Summer Essential Car Kit!
Summer Essential Car Kit - help curb all the mini-disasters that happen away from home

Every Essential Car Kit will look a little different, because each family has unique needs. And as the summer goes on, you’ll probably find that you don’t need something you thought you would or that you need to add something. I like to use the reminders app on my phone when I’m out of the house when I think of something that I need to add to the bin.

What to put in your Summer Essential Car Kit

  • Paper towels
  • Extra clothes
  • Snacks that won’t melt
  • Sunscreen
  • Huggies ® Wipes – even if your kids are out of diapers, wipes are a must. I can’t tell you how many times I’m so grateful to have them!
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Band-aids and/or first aid kid
  • Extra diapers, if you have littles
  • Water bottles (we prefer reusable bottles, but no one wants to be stuck without water on a scorching hot day!)

DSC_6785I put everything in a bin with a lid that snaps on, but you could also make a tote bag to put everything in. This is especially helpful if you want to carry your supplies with you when you arrive at your destination. I like to know that when I put it in the bin, it’s going to stay in there, and not fall out as the car moves or if it gets kicked around the car.

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One of my kiddos does NOT like to be messy. Anything sticky or muddy can turn into a major disaster. So carrying wipes with me is a non-negotiable. Huggies ® Wipes have Triple Clean Layers for handling even the biggest of messes. A change of clothes is also necessary to avoid meltdowns. I add clothes that are in the middle size range, since my kids aren’t all that far apart in age. They might be a bit too big or small for some kids, but will fit the kids that are most likely to make a mess and will work in a pinch for the others.
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Here are some other ideas you can put in your Summer Essential Car Kit:

  • Bug spray
  • Larger first aid kit
  • Bubbles (for when you arrive at the pool before it opens and have to wait!)
  • Sweatshirts for cool summer evenings
  • Blanket
  • Instant ice packs
  • Extra sunglasses or hats

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Stock your Summer Essential Car Kit before your summer gets too busy, Because Kids Outgrow Diapers, Not Messes*
Here’s to a meltdown free summer!