When Wanderlust Calls

I have always lived within earshot of train tracks.

From the slice of suburban life that I called my childhood home, to the dilapidated balcony of my younger self’s great leap into independence; from the teeny tiny Californian apartment rubbing elbows with a new husband and a new name, to the solid brick ranch nestled in the vibrant green that is Tennessee’s cloak…

…the wail of a train’s whistle has penetrated the walls of every abode-and every stage-of my life.

“Come, see where I may lead you.”

I am inherently a homebody. My favorite personal accounts and sections of books are not the wild excitement of far off places and daring escapades, but the details and tender moments of daily life. Of people growing and learning together. Of the intimacy and beauty of life planted.

I’m the one who wishes the montage of Belle and the Beast getting to know one another was 30 minutes longer.

And though I have been fortunate to have visited a great portion of this vast country (more than I ever thought I would), my heart has been, and always will be, filled with visions of cool roots and familiar routines, warm hearth and a place of my own to rest my bones at the end of each day.

The itch of wanderlust rarely touches my skin.

But sometimes….the haunting cry of a train will rise with the morning mist, beckoning to me despite my flat feet planted in terra firma, and the life grown there.

And I am bitten once more.

Traveling by flight is an incredible thing; quick, efficient, and terrifyingly high. Between the pressure changes pulling and pushing your body, and the booming whirl of the engines filling your ears, the experience will overload your senses.

But as amazing as flying across the country is, it lacks the experience of transition. You miss the subtle shifts of land and people, scents and accents.

Travel by vehicle is better, in the sense that the slower pace enables you to truly view the world passing by. But driving requires focus in order to preserve life and limb, often robbing you of a thousand tiny glimpses and opportunities around you.

Most of all, the very sounds of planes and cars, with their various earth shaking thunder and shrieking horns, cause you to cringe or stiffen in unconscious defense.

But not a train.

It whistles to you, sings to you a melody of steel and steam, promising an unknown destination with a hundred sights before you reach it. Cradled within its metal womb, you can watch the world shift and change, see where iron and earth intertwine, where plains grow into mountains, or the ocean adjusts its hue.

Even the people around you change with the landscape. Commuters heading home with anticipation, small children gazing out windows in wonder, even lonely travelers silently wishing to be known by a stranger. Their faces are as diverse and emotional as the creation outside, there to teach you of a vast world full of vivid history.

All this while being swept along by something more powerful then yourself, lulled by the rhythmic clickity-clack of the tracks beneath. It breathes a sigh of magic with each mile, and promises adventure.

So as I wash my dishes, and sip my tea, bathe wiggly children, and fold laundry, I am thankful for the solid life that is mine. Both the mundane and extraordinary can live within the same four walls. Both wonder and routine can grow in a backyard garden.

But once in a while, the pull of unknown places and far off lands builds within me.

The wind has changed, and I hear the train.

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What calls to you? How does wanderlust grab hold of you?

What You Can See…When the Clutter Is Gone

 

A row of tiny, shiny rubber rain boots. The lyrics of a song that bring back memories of anticipation and romance. The way light pours through old, decrepit windows. A gallery wall of creativity. A hallway, that, although not decorated or changed at all, happens to be one of my favorite rooms in this rental.

And three little fuzzy heads nestled together on the couch, giggling at cartoons.

These are a few of the landmarks within our home that repeatedly bring a smile to my lips.

For when the clutter is gone…you can finally see what makes you smile.

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What To Give When They Don’t Want Stuff

Christmas is coming!

Like most families, we’re making plans and collecting gift ideas. It’s a wonderful, joyful experience to give someone a gift-especially if you know it’s something that would truly make them smile.

But what do you give a loved one when they really aren’t too keen on “stuff”….AND you’re not too keen on only giving gift cards?

Welcome to a post on minimalism-gift giving edition!

You may have a family member or friend who falls into this category, whether they use the label or not. They’ve cut back on their possessions in order to enjoy more experiences and relationships, their homes have few to no tchotchkes, little clutter, and few items that serve only one purpose.

You really want to get them something…something they would enjoy, and is not likely to end up on the Goodwill pile a month after Christmas (sorry, that’s the truth of it). If this is you, then I have some good news for you!

There are PLENTY of gift ideas for a minimalist! But before we get to these ideas, there are a few points that need to be made, to help you understand your loved one’s mindset better:

  • They DO like stuff. They just don’t enjoy the unnecessary or general excess in their lives, and are more selective when it comes to material items that stay with them.
  • A thoughtful gift will have more meaning to them, and likely be something they will always remember.
  • They recognize and respect a friend who has paid attention to who they really are, minimalism included

Okay, now to the fun idea list! Gift ideas galore!!

  • movie tickets
  • concert tickets
  • sport event tickets (you get the idea)
  • paid membership for something they enjoy (gym, dance class, climbing, etc…)
  • if you’re a really close friend, personally contribute toward something you know they have been saving for (car, travel, house, etc…)
  • If you know they’re traveling in the upcoming year, gift them something they can enjoy there (wine tasting, dinner, hotel upgrade, special tour, ect…) Many of these can be booked ahead of time
  • Netflix/AudioBooks/Amazon Prime subscription for a determined time
  • Cooking classes
  • Special dinner for two in their city
  • A “Stay In Date Night” package: wine, movie rental, popcorn, candy, etc…
  • Overnight getaway to a local spot
  • Hire a cleaning service for a month for their home (if they have little kids, this is awesome!!!!)
  • Offer to come over and do laundry one week
  • Meal deliveries (homemade or paid for)
  • Spa/massage certificates (yes please!!!!)
  • Offer to the pay for or be a babysitter for their next date night (that is HUGE!)
  • If you’re a handy person, offer to come over and help with around the house projects for the next month
  • Pay for a car detailing or offer to do it yourself
  • Schedule flower deliveries for the next month (a special thing in January!)
  • Zoo membership
  • Swim classes for kids
  • Offer to carpool for a week
  • Offer to help with all the prep/set up for the next birthday party
  • Donation to a cause they’re passionate about in their name
  • If you’re friend/loved one is pregnant, offer to help with “nesting” to prepare for the arrival of the new baby (a nine month preggo lady climbing up and down chairs is not a good time…)

These are all gifts that, although do not always take material form, are extremely meaningful. And, in addition to all the above, there are always gift cards, which are wonderful gifts!

One last thing, if none of the above strikes you, or perhaps you still would rather just give them SOMETHING…..then all you have to do is ask. Seriously, just be honest. Say, “I know you prefer to have fewer things around, but I would really like to get you something for Christmas that you would enjoy. Would you give me some ideas?” Boom! Done! Odds are, there is something they would like, or would like to replace/update, but may not be something you had thought of. Always ask. It’s greatly appreciated.

I am one of these people. A minimalist in my own way. The older I am, the less I enjoy things….or rather, many things in one place. This past birthday, my mother took the above approach and asked me to put together an Amazon gift idea list for her to use. That was one of the best gifts in and of itself to me. I appreciated that she recognized how uncomfortable I am now with clutter. She wanted to give me something I genuinely wanted.

So I did. It was fun, low pressure, and I knew I could put anything on the list and not worry about how it came across. Some items were practical, others were updates to household items I already had. And a couple were lovely extras. It made my birthday feel all the more special. And she got to choose ultimately what she wanted to give me. Win win!

So maybe think outside the box this Christmas, and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the joy you bring and give!

Unless something else pops to mind, this may be my last post for a little while, as I prepare for baby #4’s arrival in just a couple of weeks!!

Merry Christmas to all!!

 

DIY Project-Touchable Wall Art

Here’s the deal: I finally hung frames and canvases in our living to create a gallery wall and LOVE it (even though I have yet to paint one of the canvases….)! Here’s the before:

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Frames and canvases hung-before any changes

 

BUT……a frame and one of the canvases hangs low enough for our little ones to touch.

That’s right fellow moms, I purposely hung something low enough that three kiddos ages three and under would be tempted to touch.

And we both know that no matter how many times I tell them not to, THEY WILL TOUCH THEM!!!

Fine then, I had two choices. I could move the frames, but that would change the entire look……OR I could give them something “cool” to touch.

The frame was inexpensive so I wasn’t too worried about that one, but what would I put on the canvas that would be fun for little hands?

Rocks. BOOM!

Kids and rocks. You can’t go wrong, right? So I gathered up a few supplies and tried my hand at this:

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Supplies gathered (pardon the glare…)

 

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Gluing madness! (I burned my fingers several times..)

 

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A few coats of flat white spray paint

 

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Annnnddddd voila! Crazy, touchable wall art!

 

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Gallery wall with current updates

To be honest, I’m not yet sure how I like it. I don’t dislike it, but I’m not sure if it is quite right….

 

I still have the other canvas to mess with, so perhaps that will bring it all together!

First, let’s see how long this one lasts on the wall…..I’ll keep you updated!

When Renting =Frustrating

Always a renter, never a homeowner.

Well, someday that step will finally be ours, but until then, we continue our adventure of living in various cities, apartments, houses-and the numerous experiences they offer.

From a 200 square foot room that we called home in the early years of our marriage, to the current brick abode filled with echoes of little munchkins, we have learned to adapt and enhance each temporary space we have been given.

But to be honest, renting can be frustrating.

It becomes so easy to be swept up with what you cannot do: can’t repaint the walls, can’t plant a garden, can’t remodel, can’t replace old windows, can’t sand and re-stain the hardwood floors,  can’t repaint cabinets, can’t have a playground for the kids in the yard, can’t build a shed, etc…

Can’t. Can’t. CAN’T.

Before you know it, you are so frustrated by the restrictions that come with renting that you look about your home no longer with an eye of thankfulness and opportunity, but with discontent and resentment.

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The home no longer a gift, but a burden to bear.

But it is a gift. An incredible gift! And as Myquillyn Smith at The Nesting Place says, “It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful”

So I sat myself down, and penned a list of creative or practical tasks I CAN accomplish here in our rental home.

I CAN:

  • finish repainting all the trim and doors in the house (white on white-they’ll never know) the prior tenants left countless dents and marks all over the house. Never underestimate how much cleaner a house feels with freshly painted trim
  • find a temporary shed (I am intrigued by this tent model) in which to store our lawn equipment, bikes, etc.. (currently on the back patio)
  • spruce up the back patio and transform it into a cozy +fun outdoor family area
  • hang curtains in front of laundry closet
  • DECORATE! hang pictures, guitars, mirrors, paintings, etc..
  • replace the throw pillows on the couch to update the living room a little
  • transform the spare room into a dual guestroom/writing room
  • clean and Rainex the exterior windows. Sparkling windows make everything inside all the more beautiful
  • replace and update bathroom towels +rugs to freshen up the bathrooms
  • fill and touch up paint the various holes and marks all over the walls (the owners left touch up paint under the sink!)
  • plant as many flowers, herbs, and veggies I want, so long as they’re in containers. It may not be my dream garden, but I can work with that!

You know what? That is a big list!

When I kick myself into examining exactly what I CAN do while we live here, I realize that I have plenty that can make our home more lovely, more beautiful, and a little more ours.

The truth is, I don’t have time to focus on what I can’t do. That list is long, I better get busy!

 

Hearth and Home

hearth
noun
  1. the floor of a fireplace
  2. used as a symbol of one’s home

There are few things more satisfying than snuggling into deep cushions, sipping an enticingly hot cup of tea, surrounded by glorious stillness and calm-all the while gazing into the mesmerizing flames of a well stoked fire…..

Oh, wait.

I don’t have a fireplace.

My husband has strictly forbidden me from “playing” with fire indoors (notice there was no mention of outdoor restriction….)

And glorious stillness has become a rare and treasured occurrence when three tiny humans invade most moments.

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All the above may be true, yet I am still drawn to the idea of a fireplace hearth. Once upon a time, it was the hub of a house-a place of nourishment, warmth, and dreams. Its essence was the center, the very heart of every home.

This provoked a new thought. I may not possess the physical presence of a fireplace in our current rental abode, but what would I say holds our essence, our heart-what would be the hearth of our home? Continue reading “Hearth and Home”