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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Thirteen

It’s official. Today I am once again the mother of a teenager.

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It seems like just yesterday that a 5 pound baby was placed in my arms.

(2 week old Sweet Boy with an enamored Ann Curry.)

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As a rule he doesn’t like photos. It’s “One and done.”

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Begging him for “just one more” he shows his funny side by giving me “the model pose”.

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The move has been hard on him. He’s been eating lunch alone at school every day.

As his mom this breaks my heart.

You remember middle school don’t you? Fairly horrible even on the best day.

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In the meantime he is growing like a weed, eating us out of house and home and helping with the DIY.

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Happy 13th birthday Sweet Guy! You are amazing and soon enough others will see this.

Mom

Monday, September 29, 2014

Let the Fairytale Begin

We were handed the keys to the Storybook Charmer on Thursday. Let’s have a moment of “Oh Yeah!”

The house is kind of like a Monet painting. The bones are good and it looks great from far away, but up close it is a mess.

Whenever one moves into a new home they wish for a palace, the dream come true. You pray it does not end up like “The Money Pit”.

We hit the ground running on Friday. Mr. Décor began tearing up the old white chipped tile in the laundry room. It is original to the 28 year old house. For some reason the previous owners opted not to replace it when they updated the kitchen flooring even though there were boxes of the same tile left in the garage. You can see the abrupt transition below.

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It’s strange what you make a priority. To us it just made sense to replace the tile BEFORE our washer and dryer (as well as the rest of the contents of our storage unit) are delivered later on in the week. If you follow my Instagram Page you got a sneak peek of my demolition man in action.

There are no fewer than eight different flooring selections in the house. They range from two types of linoleum, carpet, wood laminate and four different types of tile.

“WHY????” she asks “WHY!!!!”

Soon I’ll share the “discussion” that the Mr. and I are having about this area:

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In the meantime, armed with natural cleaning projects, I began deep cleaning the well lived in home and started the slow process of taking down decades old wallpaper. In some rooms there was more than one layer.

 

Wednesday I’ll have a 10 cent tour and Thursday will reveal the design plan for the first room to soon be transformed.

Until then it’s back to the DIY.

Laura

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Listening

In the last few days that we were packing up our home in Phoenix we lived in a hotel. One night I was out rather late taking the dogs for their last evening constitutional before bed. I spied an extremely thin man sitting on the curb by the back door we were nearing. Rudi the dachshund seems to have the uncanny ability to sense when someone needs a dog. Time and again Eric and I have remarked that he would have made an excellent hospital aide dog. At our approach the man’s face lit up. (Wiener dogs tend to have that effect on people. They are joyous conversation starters.) He said “Best dogs in the world aren’t they?” By now Rudi was at his feet begging for a scratch. I try to respect that not everyone is as affectionate to dogs as Rudi is to humans so I admonished him to “Get down, not everyone wants a small dog in their lap.” The man laughed and said “Actually I would love that.” He began petting Rudi in earnest while Franz made the slow, wary approach he is famous for, soon joining in on the love fest.

It was clear to see that this man needed a dog or two.

I remarked that it was a nice evening for Phoenix. He replied that he lived in Oregon and missed the coolness but needed to be here for cancer treatments.

So there it was.

He could have just replied that it was a nice night and we may have quickly gone on our separate ways.

But he let a big elephant out into that parking lot. Some people might have become immediately uncomfortable and perhaps mumble “Oh I am so sorry to hear that” and walked away. To tell you the truth a small part of me felt that way too, but a larger part of me sensed a bigger picture.

So I remained and asked “Are you here alone while getting treatment?” somehow already knowing the answer. 

“Yes, he replied. At the Cancer Treatment Center.”

“Oh, yes, I know it. (and wanting to give hope…) it is supposed to be one of the best facilities in the nation.”

Then he said, “They really are great. They arrange all my travel, all of the different doctors come to me instead of me going a million places…..I really have already been given more time than most people do when they receive a Stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis.”

My heart dropped. I knew this diagnosis. I knew that the average life span of this diagnosis was 6 months. A large lump formed in my throat. I tried in vain to swallow it away. I wanted to give him…..more….encouragement….a focus.  So I said “You look like you are fairly young with the strength to beat it.”

“I am 50” he said.

“My husband is 50. So to me that is young. Do you have kids?” I questioned.

“Yes, three he sighed. The youngest is just 10.”

He then went on to say that his two older kids were young adults and that they were helping to take care of him.

I replied, “Well that right there tells me that you are an amazing father.” He said, “Yeah, they’re the best kids in the world. I’ve already made it a year and a half just for them.”

I said, “An incentive to fight the good fight is so important in winning the war against cancer.” At that point I stuck out my hand and said “I am Laura.”

He shook my hand and said “Nice to meet you. I am Kurt.”

Then came the moment that is never easy for me. I said, “Kurt, I am a praying woman. I have faith and I believe in miracles.”

Kurt said, “Yeah, I am told often enough that I am walking miracle. I’m having more chemo again tomorrow.”

At that a member of my family poked their head out of the door, no doubt concerned as to why I had been gone so long.

I told Kurt that I would be praying for him tomorrow for his procedure to go well and that I would continue to pray for him.”

He thanked me and with that I walked back inside and tears started streaming down my face. This man desperately needed a friend and I was soon leaving.

The next night I was loading the car to prepare for our long journey to Texas which would begin early the next morning. I once again spied Kurt, waved and walked over. “How did it go today?” I asked.

“It was a good session. He replied. I feel better than I have in previous sessions. I also had a great conversation with another man there receiving treatment. It was such a gift. It was almost as if I could feel your prayers.”

“Good, I smiled. Because I was saying them and I won’t stop.”

“So, you’re leaving tomorrow?” he asked.

“Yes, I said, my family is moving to Texas. My husband got a job there.”

“Well best of luck to you” he said.

“Thank you. I replied. Remember, I believe in miracles and will be praying for you.”

So, I have been in Fort Worth for two weeks now. I had left Phoenix with a summer cold. It didn’t seem to be getting any better and this last week I walked around, feeling feverish and as if a 1000 daggers were in my throat. I wanted to just crawl into bed. But bed was not an option. I needed to find and set up a home, enroll Sweet Guy in school as well as a million other major moving tasks.

Finally on Tuesday I was so weary and wondering just where I was going to find the strength to rip out floors, tear down wallpaper, patch holes, complete miles of painting and make a home for my family. In desperation I called our insurance and begged for a new primary care doctor.  By some miracle my new doctor had an appointment open for the following day.

The results came swiftly back. I had one of the worst cases of strep throat she had ever seen.

Relief washed over me. I knew that with a few days of antibiotics I would be back to my go getter self.

Like so many others I often take my good health for granted

At that moment I said another prayer for Kurt.

Let me know if I can pray for you.

Laura

“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” ~ 3 John 1:2

Friday, September 26, 2014

Making Sense in a Downsized Space

Have you recently downsized and are struggling to make your new living arrangements work?

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Two of my all time favorite clients, Ron and Suzi, were so saddened to hear Mr. Décor and I were moving. Over the course of 8 years I had decorated two of their homes with Mr. Décor as my wonderful handyman. Last year they moved into a wonderful senior living complex. We worked together to downsize from their 3000 square foot home to a 1500 square foot apartment and their place turned out beautifully. Suzi then graciously referred me on to new friends they had met, the absolutely delightful Kramer’s!

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The Kramer’s had recently moved to Arizona from the mid west and were also facing downsizing issues. Connie felt the room was really “beige and brown”. After taking a look at her existing artwork and asking a few questions we came upon an accessory and accent color palette of orange and aqua.

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I then suggested that a few things be removed from the room to open it up. The wicker chair went out onto the porch and the telescope was moved to a guest bedroom. The large vase was a family heirloom and it found a new home above the kitchen cabinets as did some of floral arrangements. The silver light fixture was moved into the office. 

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Here is another angle of the living space. As you can see it is an open floor plan with the kitchen to the left. The two areas were begging to be unified.

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The area above the kitchen cabinets would soon benefit from a bit of editing as well.


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Here is a closer look at what the kitchen pendants looked like. In the background you can also see that I edited quite a bit from above the kitchen cabinets. I grouped all her crocks together for impact and brought in an orange flower painting from the bedroom.

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While walking through the home I had spied a light fixture in their office that was exactly like the two pendants hanging over the eat in counter area, only larger. We just simply swapped out the wicker light and the silver light.  It instantly made the living and kitchen area feel so much more cohesive.

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Although Connie liked her dining room table, she found that the chairs were uncomfortable to sit in for any length of time. The addition of some orange chair pads from Anna’s Linens brought in color and comfort.

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The entire space began to feel pulled together with just a few simple and low cost changes. Artwork was also moved around the home.

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But still more color was needed. I looked closely at the upholstered chair which was covered in a beige and taupe stripe….

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…as well as the couch that featured a beige and taupe scrolling floral design. Challenge on!


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The plush orange velvet pillow was found at Cost Plus for a steal. The floral pillow was from the Better Homes and Gardens collection at Wal Mart. The design works with the couch because it has a bit of beige and taupe but also features a scrolling floral. A repetition of elements will always work when mixing patterns. 


A perfect way to bring in accent colors and move away from boring beige!

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I felt the room could also use a bit of softening and suggested curtain panels. Connie did not want the desert view blocked in any way so a good solution was to use a short curtain rod on either side of the window. I selected antique mahogany brackets, finials and rings from the Home Depot Martha Stewart collection. Just one 6 foot rod was needed to create two rods. Mr. Décor used a miter saw to cut the rod to the new lengths. 

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I had brought 3 different curtain panels. A higher end stripe from Serena and Lily, a mid range taupe from J.C. Penney’s and a budget priced “Ritva” panel from Ikea. In the end we both liked the Ikea panel the best.

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Unfortunately, given the time of day I did the install the mid day light was blinding and I could not get a clear photograph of the finished look. A pity, because the drapes MADE the room! :)

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The important thing though was that I had VERY happy clients! Aren’t the Kramer’s adorable?


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Many thanks to all my wonderful clients that I worked with while living in Arizona. You made my time there pure pleasure!

Laura

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Creating a Nautical Look on a Budget

I recently had a client with an empty room and a minimal budget.

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The carpeting was in excellent condition and the paint color was a nice neutral.

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I did suggest that the dated window covering come down. When the clients budget allows, simple panels will shine until then a clean look is fine.

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Media cabinets can be pretty expensive. My solution was to take an IKEA “Kallax” bookcase and turn it on its side. The television can sit right on top and baskets can later be added to control dvds and video games. The side tables also were a great deal from Ikea.

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I found the two chairs at an upscale consignment shop and the coffee table was found at a Habitat for Humanity thrift store. It just needed a bit of clean up. Amazingly the glass top was in perfect condition!

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The sofa is also a basic piece from Ikea. By keeping the furniture neutral the homeowner can change themes and/or colors on a whim.

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Wanting a cool palette during the hot summer I kept my colors choices in the blue and green family. The raffia fringe on the $5 pale green pillows reminded me of a hula skirt.

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The beachy painting is from Ross, the mercury lamps were found on clearance at Kirklands and the blue and white ceramic vases on the media console came from Target. Together, they help create a soft nautical touch.

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Sea grass plant baskets also came from Ikea. The sea grass tray (on the coffee table) and the side table (between the two chairs) came from Ross. A bag of shells and the hour glass were purchased at Marshall’s.

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As the clients budget allows she can add in a few other pieces of accessories and furniture to the room. But for now the couch is pulled away from the wall to create a cozier feel.

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I wanted to keep this sweet rolling tray from Ross for myself.

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While I myself liked this rolling tray placed directly behind the couch, the client liked it against the wall. Since she lives there she won. :)

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I had a $700 budget for this space. Given the amount of large pieces that were needed for the room it often requires a bit of a hunt and a elbow grease to create the perfect look.

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Do you like nautical decor?

Laura