Adventures in Home-owning: Renovation Vacation

Life lately has been a little… well, let’s just say hectic. Between work, social organizations, and some stressful situations, I was starting to feel a little (okay, a lot) burnt out. So I decided to take a few days’ vacation.

Bless it.

The main purpose of my vacation time, other than to rejuvenate, was to get some much-needed work done around the house. I have several projects that I’ve been needing to do, ranging from big to small, and I wanted to use this time to attack them head on.

Things did not go quite according to plan… Continue reading

Being Small

All praise and all honor be
To the God of ancient mysteries
Whose every sign and wonder turn the pages of our history
But tonight my heart is heavy
And I cannot keep from whispering this prayer
“Are you there?”

flower 2There is a small park near my work. It has community garden space, a few soccer fields, a baseball field, and a model airplane field. Maybe “small” is a relative term. While I’m sure on weekends the park is teeming with families rushing to and fro, watching their little one score a goal or hit a home run, during the weekdays there aren’t many visiting the park. Usually elderly men flying their model airplanes, or a few maintenance folks taking care of the fields. Occasionally during the spring and summers a few groups will show up to tend to their garden space. But, for the most part, empty.

I first started going to this park not because it was empty, but because there were picnic tables under a covered pavilion where I could eat my lunch. On sunny days, if it wasn’t too hot, I’d move to one of the uncovered picnic tables and get a little sun. It wasn’t until just recently that I found an even better reason for this park: the empty silence.

Many days I’ll venture to the park to have a tailgate lunch, followed by some walking or some deep thinking or some powerful praying. Sometimes a combination of all three. Lately I’ve seemed to need this time increasingly more. Sure, it’s always nice to have a quiet respite from a hectic day at work, but it wasn’t just a peaceful hour away from the office that I was craving. It was a deep desire for empty silence to sort things out.

Continue reading

Around Town: Jewelry Making at Michael’s

I like to think of myself as an intermediate-advanced DIY-er/crafter. Since I was a little girl I’ve tried the gamut of crafting. Cross-stitch, embroidery, paper mache, painting, scrap-booking, modeling clay, crochet, etc. You name it, I’ve probably tried it. I even took an after-school arts and crafts class in elementary school.

635714558934533676-2018525598_635710221010326190-22917261_tangledNow as an adult I’ve fallen into the self-esteem sucking black hole phenomenon that is DIY. I scour websites devoted to do-it-yourself projects. Hobby Lobby is on my “must-visit at least twice a week” store list. Y’all… I Pinterest. Hard.

Luckily,Β  I don’t have many DIY fails. Projects I attempt typically turn out looking okay. But I’ve also learned that when it comes to the majority of DIY crafts, I’d much rather spend the money on the real version rather than what I spent on the supplies to make the DIY version. But sometimes… a girl can’t help herself. Continue reading

On Being Vulnerable

β€œIt took vulnerability to forge strength, the way true courage required fear.”
― Martina Boone, Persuasion

flower 2One of the purposes of True Story Living was to serve as a platform for true stories. For the past few months my mind has been whirling a mile a minute with true stories to write, but the moment I get to a point where I can sit and write, my mind draws a blank. Blogging is a time-sucking entity, one that I, for several years, did rather well over on my book blog. Now, I seem to have lost that drive to let my time be sucked away by a blog.

I miss it. I crave that daily time to craft out a post and share my thoughts with others, knowing that I have created something to be proud of. For many years my other blog met those cravings and was often the highlight of my life. True Story Living is the brain-child of that other blog, a space to write about my personal stuff, adventures I go on, and subjects that AREN’T book-related.

This post, however, was sparked by a book. What can I say? I’m a reader. Continue reading

Bedroom Remodel: Take 1

Since buying my house I have looked up more room design how-to guides than I care to admit. I’ve started using Pinterest, despite STILL not understanding it. My purse has had no less than 6 paint chips in it since August. Normally, after this much research I would feel much more confident in whatever it was that I had been researching. Unfortunately I feel absolutely at a loss about decorating my house and ask at least once a day “What if I just left this room as it is? Is it REALLY that bad?”

Perhaps I should hang up this picture in my house as gentle reminders that yes… yes it REALLY is that bad.

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In every apartment I’ve lived in since finishing college my bedroom has been the one room in my house that I’ve neglected. There’s never been a true “theme” or coordinated decor. It’s basically been a hodge-podge of random mismatched clutter. I’ve tried, but have always felt it was more important to focus my decorating efforts and limited budget on rooms that guests would actually see.

There’s an episode of Sex and the City where Miranda talks about decorating her bedroom. She says that if she isn’t happy in there, how are men going to be happy in there? While I’m not planning on inviting men into my bedroom (you know, because my life isn’t an episode of SATC) anytime soon, I like this sentiment. I should be happy in my own space. While technically my entire house is my own space, my bedroom is JUST my space. It’s the one place in my home that doesn’t have to show off for anyone. It’s my comfort zone, my happy place, the one room that doesn’t have to put on any airs and pretend to be something it’s not.

It had to be the first room to be decorated.

I had this vision of my room and I think I’ve come pretty darn close to achieving it. Sure, a few things have changed. I’ve altered my plans and thought about slightly different directions. But overall, the look is one I’m quite proud of!

The first step was to pick out paint. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been walking around with paint chips that I picked out back in August. I was dead set on a certain color, but knew I needed to have an alternate just in case. Here were the two contenders:

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Originally I loved the color on the left, until I saw it painted on the wall. It was MUCH more grey than I thought and definitely not the direction I wanted to go in. I liked the color on the right much more, but wasn’t completely sold on it. I got a couple other options to test, but after seeing them I kept going back to this color, Indigo Batik.

Now, I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m TERRIBLE at painting walls. It’s probably my least favorite thing, and I’m certain that if there is a place for me in hell (which I don’t think there is) I will be painting walls every day for eternity. But I sucked up my loathing of painting, bought my supplies, and got to work.

For anyone who says one of the easiest ways to spruce up a room is to paint it, I have only this to say to you: you are out of your @$%&$@ mind. I cannot begin to tell you how filthy my language got towards the end of painting. It was hard, it was messy, it was frustrating, and it just frankly was awful. Streaks! That’s all I saw. Streaks EVERYWHERE. Little taps of paint hit the ceiling from my runaway roller. I won’t even tell you how bad the trim work looked.

Then this happened:

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Half a gallon of paint… right on the carpet. See? I told you I hate painting.

And for all of you who may feel so inclined to leave me a kindly “how to” comment… please don’t. Painting and I have said our peace and gone our separate ways, never to discuss the nightmare again.

I will say, in my defense, I think the paint had something to do with it. I used some paint and primer combo and it was super thick, which made it very hard to go on the walls. Yes, I blame the paint.

But my painting nightmare aside… I finished up and started moving all my furniture in there. I still have to put a dresser in there, which I will whenever my parents bring it to me from their house, but otherwise everything fit in nicely. Once my bed was made up, I sat on it and just stared at my work.

room 3

I am so proud of it. That’s all I could think while I sat there. It turned out so lovely.

The picture doesn’t really do the colors much justice; it’s not nearly as dark as it looks. With its vaulted ceiling, the room looks open and bright. The color really pops and the contrast of the white trim and white ceiling just looks fabulous. I’ve got some things to hang on the walls – such as the mirror that’s on the bed – and I’m hoping to find some great art to go on the walls.

I truly couldn’t believe I did this on my own. I had major qualms about it and was nervous for over a week that it was going to be a disaster. But it wasn’t, not in the slightest bit. This is my room and I’m happy.

 

 

What no one tells you about being a homeowner

Homeowners are often the best resource for advice about owning a home. They’ve been through the struggle of it and, for the most part, come out on the other side successful. I’ve gotten a lot of good information, tips, and “I’ve been there” type support from my homeowner friends, which makes me very appreciative. But I’m starting to think there are some things that no one shares with you about owning a home. Not because people are petty or maliciously want you to fail, but maybe because they have mentally blocked these things due to some level of home owning PTSD.

After closing and before moving, I had this idea that I would spend all of September getting my house “in order” so that in October I could start inviting people over to show off my new home. I had visions of painting rooms, unpacking ALL my boxes, and decorating the mess out of the house. It never actually crossed my mind that this ISN’T a reality… unless I want to pay someone.

Just about every night since moving day I’ve sat woefully on my couch, watching Big Bang Theory reruns, and mourning the fact that my walls aren’t painted, I’ve barely unpacked anything, my clothes are still in suitcases, and projects are only half-way done. I’ve felt defeated, disheartened, and like I’m a complete failure at home owning. On top of those feelings, I’ve felt extra high levels of anxiety and worry over the house, that it’s never going to be finished and that my life is a complete disaster because nothing in my house is organized.

Short story, I want to get my house finished. NOW.

Like always, this is one of those situations in my life where I learn a valuable lesson about patience. The other night at small group we were instructed to encourage the person sitting to our right about how God is working in our lives. The person to my left told me that she saw God working in my life through my new house. There were some other very nice things said, but that was something that really hit home for me. God is working in my life through my new house. Later that evening, after feeling extremely discouraged about getting things done, I had one of those “a ha!” moments.

I am missing out on the joy that comes with turning this new house into my home.

This must be the season for house buying, because I have 3 different friends who have all bought houses around the same time I did. One of those friends shared on Facebook a picture of two glasses of champagne, showing that she and her husband were celebrating their new house. While I TRY not to let social media influence me, who am I really kidding? Seeing this picture and reading the excitement of my friend’s comments left me thinking: I have yet to celebrate my new home.

This thought combined with the realization that I am missing out on the joy was like a very kind blow to the gut. I’m missing out on reveling in the process of turning my house into a home, something that I wanted from the very beginning. And why? So I can invite people over to show off? What does that REALLY say about me? Don’t answer that.

I struggle so much with patience and appreciation. I’m in such a hurry to get to the next phase that I miss out on the current season of my life. I can’t think of an example when I’ve regretted not enjoying something more, but in the past I haven’t had anything as significant as I do now. Well, maybe graduation. I do wish I had reveled in that a teensy bit more!

The understanding that there will be difficulties and set-backs isn’t foreign to me. Trust me… the house buying process showed me this and I’m prepared for them. But what I seem to forget, or maybe didn’t even know to begin with, is that this house IS God working through me, whether as a way to teach me to be patient and appreciative and strong and independent or just as a way for me to better use my spiritual gifts.

No one really tells you this lesson you learn after owning a home. Maybe I won’t tell the next person. Maybe this is just one of those lessons that I had to learn on my own and isn’t mine to share with others.

Or maybe I will just hide these high anxiety times in the very back filing cabinets in my mind because all I can remember is the joy of creating my home.

 

 

Road Tripping: Chicago

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted! But I have an excuse!

This past week I’ve been in Chicago for work. We had our fall show up there so I’ve been extremely busy/worn out. But now I’m back home and getting back in the swing of things and hooray!

Let me start this post out by saying that I freaking loved Chicago! Of all the places I’ve ever wanted to visit Chicago has never been one of them, but I was pleasantly surprised at just how much I enjoyed the city and how nice it was.

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I was expecting it to be similar to New York, big city and all, but was surprised to see that it was a little different. Sure, there were big similarities, but it felt a lot less intimidating, a little warmer maybe. And there were flowers EVERYWHERE. I was very impressed by the giant planters every few feet that were overflowing with flowers and sculptures. I wish I had gotten a picture of some!

Which brings me to the next thing I loved about this city: the architecture. Now, I’m no Ted Mosby, but I honestly could have spent a day walking around and looking at the buildings. They were just spectacular. The variety, the artistry… oh I could have easily turned into a pompous snot looking at them. Seriously though, this city was so beautiful and I wish I’d had time to explore it more!

As I mentioned, we were there for a show so there wasn’t a lot of free time; we mostly just had evenings free. However, we finished early on Wednesday so we went to the Navy Pier for the afternoon. While I did feel it was a little overrated, it was a place I could have just sat and people watched, watched all the boats on the water, and overall just enjoyed the beautiful weather. Which… is kind of what we did.

We also went on the gigantic Ferris wheel and I may have had an incredibly nerdy moment. You know the scene in Divergent where they climb the Ferris wheel? I rode that! Unfortunately there was no one around to really fangirl over it. It was a special moment though. πŸ™‚

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And the view from the top? INCREDIBLE!

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