Friday, March 29, 2013

In The Yard, In the Closet

I find myself chuckling a little bit every now and then because I write in my dressing room now. I mean, it's a room with three closets off the sides, built in dressers, a built in desk under the window, and it connects the bedroom to my bathroom. Mine. All mine. No boys allowed. I chuckle because Angela always, always insisted that I call where I wrote the library. Not an office. A library. Writers need libraries (that was her motto). I can't very well do that now, because, truthfully, I'm writing in the closet. She would find that funny. And insist I call it the library anyway.

I've been slowly but surely making that little room mine. I painted the walls a pale blue. I bought a chair to sit in. There are curtains now, and eventually I'm going to put mismatched knobs on the built in dressers. It's a good room, and it makes my life so much easier.

So these days I find myself either in the closet, or in the yard. Yesterday Jane and I had a dinner picnic on the patio. We don't have a table and chairs out there yet, so we spread a quilt and ate on the ground. Matt was working, as he is so much these days, and we gals have to find special things to do to distract us from the fact that our little family until isn't getting to be much of a unit these days. We ate dinner and then Jane played in the yard until the sun started to go down. I'm pretty sure she would have slept out there, and the only way I could get her inside without a fit was to bribe her with a bubble bath. She totally knows the difference between a bubble bath and a regular bath.

"Bubba bath?" she chirped on our way inside.

"Yes, you can take a bubble bath," I assured her.

"Bubba bath?" she queried again, emphasizing the word bubble to make positively sure I knew she didn't want a regular bath with boring old water. There must be bubbles always.

So that's how we wrapped up our day. Hours in the yard, bubbles in the bath, and wishing Matt was around more. Thank goodness it's Good Friday. Here's hoping tomorrow is Good Saturday.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Whoa Nelly: Blogs and the Ugly Side of Comparison

I'm an instagram nut. So the other day I was "liking" pictures and I came across one posted by Oh Joy of rainbow colored pancakes. I mean. Come on. Gorgeousness. And as I looked at the comments, I noticed one from another one of the "big" bloggers, Holly from decor 8. She said the following:

"your life seems so peachy perfect, I often wonder what's wrong with me when I read your blog Joy!!! Ha ha!" 

Now, first I need to clarify a few things. I do not know these women. They seem very lovely online and I in NO way mean to present this example as a judgement on either of them. These two women are probably friends. Holly may have been being ironic. Or sarcastic. She may have not meant it like it sounded at all. But my knee jerk reaction to it was a very southern "Whoa nelly."

"I often wonder what's wrong with me when I read your blog..."

Her comment does sum it up, though, right? The way that blogs can go from fantastic sources of inspiration to burdens around our necks? In the face of such beauty, and inspiration, and obvious free time and money, we're left feeling a bit empty, wondering what we've done wrong. It's like we're back in high school  all awkward with bad sun-in hair color and weird complexions and the teacher assigns us a seat in biology behind the most popular, beautiful girl in school. So we show up for school, trying our very best to get our makeup right, to be on time, to look good, but her very presence is a daily reminder of all that makes us unhappy about ourselves.

And guess what? That beautiful, perfect girl? She probably felt exactly the same way inside.

It's the ugly side of comparison. And sadly, it's the ugly side of blogs.

"My house isn't that big."
"I don't have time to make recipes like that."
"I don't have the money to dress like that."
"I don't have the genetics to look like that."

Ouch. The whole topic is overwhelming and discouraging. So what's the answer?

Here's what I know, for me, personally.

I know that I don't have the skills to craft like Alicia Paulson, or to decorate with her refined, classic taste (Alicia, if perchance you are reading this, know that I'm your most ardent reader and we should be friends).

I don't have the patience to become an adventuresome cook like my friend Jerusalem (but lucky me, she feeds me sometimes).

I don't have the will to food color each individual pancake in a stack rainbow colors (although I do enjoy seeing pictures of someone else doing it).

I don't have the skinny, dancer figure of Naomi.

I don't have the healthy body that would give me lots of kids like Amanda.

I don't...

The list could go on and on. But guess what? I have lots of other things. And you do too.

 I have a husband who has always, since the age of 19, made me laugh every single day. Not just a chuckle here or there. Hard, belly jiggling laughter at whatever inappropriate joke he tells me.

I have a daughter who is pure sunshine, and just like her father, makes me laugh every day. If I do nothing else in my whole life but know that I helped bring her onto this planet, that's enough.

I may not be a classy decorator, I may not know my head from a hole in the ground when it comes to paint colors, or furniture... but I do it, and I have fun.

I have sisters, though far away, that would happily go to the mattresses if someone made me cry.

I have a dog who loves me (don't poo-hoo if you're not a dog person).

I have a job that provides.

I have a relationship with God, the heavenly father of all that is, that is my ever present companion in times of trouble.

I have friends.

I live in a beautiful city.

Also, doggone it, I have good hair.

And guess what? So do you.

Your list may look similar. Or very different. But you have a list, and it's a great one.

So what to do? If  you're in a stage of life where blogs make you feel bad about your life, stop reading them. Not forever, obviously, because you won't always be in a dissatisfied place, but stop until you can regain your perspective. Stop and think only on your blessings. Why am I qualified to give this advice? Because I've had to do it in my own life. I've taken blog vacations. I blogged for myself and ignored the rest. I didn't check my google reader. I didn't pin. It's a beautiful thing, and oh so liberating. And while I'll certainly miss you, if you need to take a break from Mabel's House, by all means sister... do it. You are too beautiful, too special, and your life is too wonderful to waste your time in the ugly side of comparison.

On behalf of me, my family, and Mabel, consider yourself cyber-hugged today.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


That's really the best word I can think of to describe this past week. Bluster. Wind. Rain. Cold. Fog. Gloom. And I've loved every minute of it. No really. I love spring, and this is part of it.

The yard is coming back to life. It's muddy and messy. Bright green things are sprouting everywhere, pushing their way through the dirt and slugs and into the foggy cold air. I imagine people who live in England, or Oregon, might find this weather a little less magical than we here in the south. That's probably because we know that in August, when we've been sweating in our bras through triple digit weather all summer, we'll be shedding tears of longing for this beautiful, moody weather. But that's the beauty I find here. We get a little bit of all of it. Frigid winter temps. Beautiful, crisp fall days. Magical, blustery spring weather. Hot, pool centered summers where little kids run around with Popsicles melting down their arms.

I love it all. But I especially love this, right now.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Chalkboard Entry Hall

I am not necessarily the most adventurous gal when it comes to decorating  Oh, I love the wild ideas. I pin all of them. I'm like the chick up on the high dive, all confident and "I got this" and then mid bounce I freak out, don't want to high dive anymore and start clinging to the end of the wobbling diving board.

But not this time. Somebody high five me.

Truthfully, I just wanted my entryway to have more "punch" and the blue I'd painted it wasn't doing the job. I had a killer roll of wallpaper, but let's face it, I can't sew or follow a simple recipe. Wallpaper would have been a disaster of gargantuan proportion.

So I started sorting through the cajillion paint cans in the coat closet and found a pint of chalkboard paint. I'd chickened out of doing anything with it in our previous house, mostly because I'd read that if you ever want to paint over it you have to sand it and use oil based primer.

But this time I'm not sure what happened. Maybe it was the thrill of spring air and yellow daffodils popping up all over the yard.

Or maybe it was just because I was out of money and this project was free and right in front of me.

Either way I'm glad I did it. Happiness today is totally worth the sand paper and oil based primer tomorrow.

And by tomorrow I mean in a decade.

Monday, March 25, 2013

A Homemade Year

I love when I read a good book. I love it even more when I can recommend a good book. I love it triple times more when I read a good book, get to recommend said book, AND get to call myself a friend of the author. I'm so proud.

Jerusalem is one of those women that makes everyone feel at home in her house. She takes people under her wing. She makes you feel like you could confide something shocking to her and her response would be, "Huh. Been there. More cake?"

She threw a party at her house this Saturday. She'll never know how much I needed to be there, out of my house, not cleaning, not changing dirty diapers. It was lovely. 

Now on to her book.

I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of her book. It's for sale April 1st, and you can pre-order your copy here.

I'll start by saying that most books filled with beautiful photos, craft projects, and food make me feel a little bad about myself. They make me feel like I should be making tarts and sewing pillow cases on my Saturdays, instead of what I actually do, which is:

1. Yell at the Mabel for knocking Jane down.
2. Change Jane's diaper.
3. Feed Jane breakfast.
4. Wash sheets and towels.
5. Yell at Mabel for knocking Jane down.
6. Balance the checkbook.
7. Put Jane in timeout because she's playing in the trash can.
8. Change Jane's diaper...

You see where this is headed. Obviously not to the land of beautiful homes and tarts.

But this book is different. Jerusalem is, above all things, beautifully honest with her struggles, the reality of life, and her relationship with the Lord. This is by far my favorite quote from the book, and it sums up her message.

"Looking back, it occurs to me now that God uses food and the domestic rituals that surround it to call me into his presence. It is his love language to me."

This isn't a book that will make you feel as if you're not measuring up with the Joneses (or in this case, the Greers). This book calls our domestic lives into focus within the context of the Lord and our own personal spirituality. Instead of telling you what you ought to be doing, Jerusalem will make you feel as if you have PERMISSION to cook beautiful food on Saturday instead of doing laundry.

How's that for mind blowing?

This book is inspiring. I don't say that just because she's my friend. I say that because as a (hopefully) Godly woman, it's nice to take a step back and look at my domestic life with a different set of lenses. A rosier pair of glasses. 

So please, buy a copy. Buy a whole bunch of copies.

And if you make some of the recipes in here, call me so I can come over and eat with you. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Happy Spring Break!

Those tiny purple flowers, that look like miniature hydrangeas (and smell awesome too), what are they? They're popping up in the yard. But just as soon as they make their beautiful introduction into the fresh air and sunlight, Jane ferrets them out and goes all Hannibal Lecter, picking them apart tiny bud by tiny bud, mashing them against her nostrils and sighing, "MMMMMM."

I was inspired to find a romantic mirror after getting my hair cut here and sitting in front of  a real life "mirror mirror on the wall." This one is much different, and smaller, but I love it so. I hung it in the chalkboard entry hall. You know, that I painted with chalkboard paint with the sole intention of drawing my own wallpaper and then subsequently had the equivalent of a home decorating writer's block and didn't draw my own wallpaper, but instead twisted my hands and said, "But I don't know now..." I think I'm settling for something easy and simple, like some olive branches or stars.

Also, does anyone know what's blooming in this last picture? These guys are popping up everywhere, but so far now flowers. I so appreciate all the work the previous owner did in the yard. Now if I can just not kill everything I touch...