Carly and Benjamin Meet Pooh and Tigger

This event is a few weeks old, but definitely worth sharing. It was probably one of the cutest moments ever. We knew that Carly would love meeting Pooh and Tigger on our trip to Disney World. We don’t watch much television, and we have only allowed her to see a handful of movies. The classic Winnie the Pooh is one of them, and she loves it. I must confess…we all love it!

There was a slight concern in my mind that Benjamin might totally lose it when we forced him to take a picture with the over-sized stuffed animals. I had visions of him breaking down and having to apologize repeatedly while making up some excuse like, “he didn’t have a nap today.” Either that, or maybe he would just pinch their nose (like I did to Mickey when I was his age).

However, we were totally shocked to see him run full force into their arms and NOT LET GO. I mean it. He absolutely loved them, and I’ve got the pictures to prove it.

Our Trip to NYC

Back in January we had an amazing opportunity to visit NYC. My boss was hosting an event there, and needed our help. We instantly jumped on the chance to visit the Big Apple, and scrambled to find people to watch our kids while we would be gone (thank you again Mom, Nancy, Jesse, and Meg). It was a big leap of faith to leave our little ones behind for the first time ever, but we survived…and had a great time!

When we weren’t helping for the event, we took advantage of every spare moment to experience the city. The highlights were a carriage ride in Central Park…

Carriage Ride in Central Park

Afternoon tea at the Plaza Hotel…

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Which also included these lovely culinary creations…

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It was a surreal experience, and yes, we spent most of the time at the Plaza remarking on how we felt like royalty. It was AMAZING.

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Other highlights include a trip to Little Italy (for the best spaghetti I have ever had), gazing at the city from the top of the Empire State Building, visiting Ground Zero (which was a five minute walk from our hotel in the Financial District), and walking quickly through Times Square and then desperately hopping in a cab to get as far away as possible (it was way too touristy for us). Speaking of cabs, we had many fun scary cab experiences, but all part of the wonderful NYC experience.

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It was a great time! I wish I had more pictures to share, but we aren’t the type to walk around with cameras all the time and give ourselves away as outsiders!

Utilizing Small Spaces

Katie and I actually prefer a small house. While looking to buy our second house last year, there were a few larger houses that tempted us, but there was always this feeling of being overwhelmed before the house was even ours. More cleaning, more maintenance, more furniture, more stuff, and more things to go wrong. No thank you.

One of the reasons we like small spaces is that it provides more of an opportunity to get creative. When you are limited on space, every square foot matters.

When we first looked at the house, the lady that owned it had her dining room in this nook off the living room. It seemed very crowded to us, and we decided that we would rather leave it more open and functional (our dining room is now where the previous owner had her family room, but we didn’t need a family room and a living room).

DIY Desk, Bentwood Chair, Chevron Lamp

Now the space functions as a place for our family computer. With the burlap pin board above, we can post notes and pictures. The rack to the left holds magazines and books.

Gray Ektorp, Cottage Style, Hardwood Floors

From this angle you can see how not having a dining table in the room makes the space feel larger and provides a clear pathway through the living room into the master bedroom (the door in the corner).

Before, floral, country

Yellow water can, cottage style, striped jennylund chair

And just because before and afters are so much fun to look at…

Before, Country Style

After, Cottage Style, Ikea Ektorp and Jennylund, DIY shelves

Hard to believe it is the same room! And because this post is about small spaces, look what we did with this other tiny corner in the living room:

Rustic mirror, Jennylunds chair, key art, nautical rope decor

This is literally contained within a 16 square foot space, but we maximized the area with a small chair, an end table with storage, and a shelf that provides more surface space. The giant mirror helps to reflect the light and make the space appear twice as large. We’re no strangers to tiny corners. We loved this similar space in our last house:

Small corner, wall sconce, west elm chair

So, are there any small spaces giving you a challenge? Hopefully this blog has helped you to see some new possibilities!

What Does Failure Look Like?

It looks like this:

Sweet Potato Pancake Fail

This was my very sad attempt at trying to make up a sweet potato pancake recipe. I had high hopes, but they all turned to mush…literally. When life hands you mushy sweet potato pancakes, write a blog about it, and try to make it meaningful.

We don’t talk about failures much in our society. We love to post status updates about our weekend plans, our latest accomplishments, or what we had for breakfast, and THAT’S fine. Who really wants to dwell on failures?

With the explosion of social media outlets like Facebook, or Instagram, we have created an alternate reality that includes only a sliver of the bad, and a nice hefty portion of the good. The problem is actually one that has been studied by psychologists who noticed that the more people use social media, the worse they feel about themselves. It’s not really surprising. You see cute pictures of the kids, a house that is always clean, and happy smiling people. You don’t see the meltdowns, the tantrums, the dishes piled in the sink, and the mold growing in the shower. Of course, none of this applies to my own life. Things are just fine and dandy here. Ha!

After extended periods of dwelling in the social media realm, we start to forget that EVERYONE has issues and we can’t measure our own worth based off the illusion that others (unintentionally) portray.

I heard a phrase recently that troubles me. The phrase is, “alone together.” Basically, there is an increase of people that are missing out on life events because they are too busy updating the world about their life events. Parents with their kids at the playground are on their phone – instead of playing with their children, husbands and wives are at anniversary dinners tweeting about their anniversary dinners – rather than developing a deeper relationship.

I’m not saying social media can’t be used for the good, but I am saying BE CAREFUL and moderate your usage. Live your life without trying to prove to people that you are living your life.

Yes, all of this was inspired by my sweet potato pancake mush. And on that note, here is a cute picture of our daughter playing with the kitchen I made her last Christmas:

Carly playing with kitchen

The Lighthouse

I love this scripture in Matthew 5:14-16

You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

I’m being reminded more and more that I have a responsibility to represent Christ to the people that I come in contact with on a daily basis. That means saying goodbye to that nasty little attitude I’ve carried around for a long time…easier said than done.

The reality is that bad attitudes and mindsets are running rampant in the land of the free, and the worse it gets the brighter the people of God will  should shine. How can we shine? We can start by:

  • Smiling at people and LOOKING THEM IN THE EYE
  • Forgiving others even when they don’t deserve it
  • Serving others when we least feel like it

I’ve got a long way to go, but I am determined to get there!

Lighthouse Inspired by Matthew 5:14I found a picture of an old Erie lighthouse, and created this little graphic inspired by the Scripture I shared above. I’m planning on giving it to Katie’s mom for her recently renovated bathroom. The bathroom has a “cottage by the lake” theme, so I think it might work.