“Do Not Disturb”

“I didn’t have very much to do this evening, so I thought I would touch up a few things.”

“Do you have to paint everything in sight?”

“I didn’t paint everything in sight.  I painted a breadbox, an end table & that chair you’re sitting on.”

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“I’ve just got to get that house in order.  Are there any other antique dealers that we might visit today?”

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via Getty Images

Anyone that knows Audley and me could totally imagine that these are conversations between us as we are working to put our new house in order.

{All four of our kids will attest to this.}

In fact I am positive we’ve actually had these conversations before… on more than one occasion.

In reality, these are lines from the extremely cheesy and comical 1965 Doris Day movie “Do Not Disturb”.

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The subplot of the movie is Doris Day’s character trying to decorate the new home she and her husband have moved in after transferring with his new job.

{Sounds familiar, right?}

moving in

You would think after fourteen moves I would have the art of decorating and organizing a home nailed.

My reality is quite the opposite.

unpacking the house

I’ve always managed to have two or three main living spaces mostly put together in our home, but the remainder of the house stays partially complete.  For example, we didn’t have curtains in our living room of the house we just moved from until this past December (just before a large Christmas party we hosted); we found out we were moving early January.  Our master bedroom wasn’t complete until we lived in the house for three years (and I was having major surgery that would have me confined to the bed for quite a while).  I redecorated the kitchen three different times because I couldn’t find something that spoke to me without a massive overhaul that just wasn’t possible because we were leasing.

You get the picture.

I’m really bad at putting it all together without doubt in my mind, and extremely bad in finding a way to pull my eclectic style together.

Peak of new dining room

Our antique dining room suite

I’m constantly saying, “I’ve just got to get that house in order” and then heading off to do something else.

paint project

I do have a paint project in the works… and I can’t unpack certain boxes until it’s completed.

Mainly because I don’t know what I want or doubt how to make it happen.

When we closed on our house several weeks back and moved in two and a half weeks ago, Audley suggested that I not waste any time and put our house in order; to do what I needed to do to make our new house a home without doubt or fear or procrastination.

new furniture

Our new sofa from Ikea

So that’s what I’ve done.  Staying within a budget we set, box by box, room by room, and shopping expedition by shopping expedition I’ve been slowly turning our new house into our new home.  We are so close to the empty nest, things that I’ve not done because I didn’t think it was kid/family friendly, or didn’t want the kiddos to mess it up are no longer valid excuses.

accessorizing

Pillows… Plants… Color…

Colors for the walls were done the week before we moved in, we have curtains hanging in every room, big pieces of furniture arranged, and I think that I have a grasp on how to make my eclectic style work with our not quite empty nest.

on the mantle

Working on the mantle… Mixing it up with antique books

We shall see and hopefully in the coming weeks I will share a little of what Audley and I have pulled together.  Until then I hope you enjoyed a few glimpses of what we’ve started on and will stop back by as we finish!

flowers on the mantle

For now, “Do Not Disturb.”

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{Meet} The Neighbors

Sometimes I think common courtesies have totally disappeared from our society.  More often than not, I feel like we live in the most selfish culture in the world.  For example, last week, I had a flat tire on the interstate about 10:00 at night with my son with me.  Stranded on the side of the road, not one single person even stopped to help, much less even move over to keep from blowing us off the road as people sped by in their cars!  Fortunately, Audley was behind me, and though I knew he was taking care of things,  he was gone 45 minutes!  If you have never been stranded on the interstate late at night, it can be quite  scary!  
As if that little instance didn’t bother me enough, we pulled into our driveway over the weekend to find our neighbor spray painting the property line.  It seems my pretty little pussy willow tree Audley planted had crossed over the boundary (part of it was on our side!) and he didn’t like it. 
{Talk about petty!}
I guess my point is that it often seems so many people are scared or even don’t care anymore about feelings or emotions of others around them.  No one communicates, they just react, or even ignore those around them.  It is quite discouraging, especially when you are trying to teach your own children to put others first.
There is a ray of sunshine amid the clouds.  Between these two events, one of our new neighbors walked over with her little boy to bring a loaf of fresh banana-nut bread to welcome us to the neighborhood and introduce herself.
It truly made my whole day and warmed my heart!
But it also got me to thinking; would I do the same for someone else?  I would like to think so!  
In Alabama my nearest neighbors were my in-laws and a pasture of cattle.  I always noticed when new cows were added to the pasture, so surely I would become acquainted with our neighborhood well enough to know when someone new moves in.  Kind of like “Wisteria Lane” without the drama!
In a era of self gratitude, what is acceptable when meeting new neighbors?  
*This is the one time it is perfectly acceptable to venture out of your comfort zone and take a stroll next door to meet your newest neighbor without calling first.  The whole idea is just to say hello and welcome them to the neighborhood.  
*Perhaps you have noticed your neighbor likes to walk their dog the same time every day, or work in the yard.  Maybe you have seen that they leave to pick their children from school the same time everyday.  Use that time for a quick hello.  
*Don’t wait until the dinner hour approaches to pop in, and certainly don’t make it a long visit!  
Meeting new people can be awkward sometimes.  There is not really a specific time frame for meeting a new neighbor, but if you have acknowledged them with a nod or slight wave on several occasions, you really ought to take five minutes to introduce yourself.  Sharing a written list of area highlights or great places to shop would be a most welcoming gesture.  While an offer to babysit may not be as acceptable since you are obviously unknown, offering to help move furniture or haul off empty boxes would be a huge help to those just moving in.  If you would like to welcome a neighbor with a gift, a loaf of homemade bread, a candle, wreath for the door, even a six-pack of pansies go a long way to making someone feel at ease. 
 What ever you do,  don’t spend your visit badmouthing other neighbors or putting down the neighborhood.  Moving is stressful enough without creating the feeling that someone may have made a huge mistake in your choice!

Besides, gossiping does not make anyone look good.
Whether you have lived in your neighborhood for a while or are new, there are common courtesies that will make us all good neighbors.
*Say hello or wave to your neighbors whenever you see them.  A smile and wave can go a long way to brightening a dreary day.
*When you have time, stop and talk.  There is no better way to get to know someone than to stop and talk! It doesn’t have to be a long chat.  If you want to visit longer, plan a lunch.
*Call ahead before visiting.  Make sure it’s a good time to stop by.  Once friendships are established, this may change to a more casual drop-in, but as you are first getting to know people, always call first.
*Don’t make your visit an all-day affair or sit around and wait on an invite to dinner.  We all have things to do, even if it is just folding clothes.  There is a time to linger and a time to be brief.  Know those times wisely.
*Don’t take advantage of a neighbor’s generosity.  If they offer to help with something, it is fine to accept, but don’t abuse the offer.  
*Honor your neighbor’s privacy and property.  Clean up after you dog if he visits their yard and don’t cut through yards to get somewhere else.  
*Keep your yard looking nice.  In an area with manicured yards, an unkept one will stick out like a black-eye.
*Most of all, say thank you.  No one likes to feel unappreciated, ever.  And if a neighbor is willing to do something for you, be sure to return the favor.
{Several of these ideas have been adapted from Emily Post’s Etiquette, 2011}

 Who knows, maybe if we all try to be good neighbors, stopping to help someone will seem more the norm and less the trouble.
I am working on a post this week to help you with stocking your pantry in Kitchen Matters this week and I have a fabulous recipe for a a refreshing strawberry pie I can’t wait to share!  I hope you will stop back by to check it all out!

Kitchen {Therapy}

“They tried to make me go to rehab, I said no, no, no….”

My name is Jennifer, and I am a dish-a-holic.
Audley says I need a 7-step rehab program
I think the moving company probably agrees.
Last week as my house was being packed up it took five hours for three guys to pack up four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a den, living room, office, three walk-in closets, a hall closet and dining room. 
 It took one guy four hours just to pack my kitchen.

The poor guy kept saying “there sure are a lot of dishes in here.”


Why yes, those boxes are stacked three and four high.

And just for the record, the moving truck was unloaded on Friday.  I bought groceries on Monday and cooked supper in my fully unpacked and organized kitchen.

Looking Forward

No matter what is going on, I always try to look for the positive.  As a mom sometimes being positive becomes an act for the sake of the kiddos.

As my house is being packed up today I am extremely sentimental and sad, but truly positive all at the same time.  While I am going to miss so much, it is no act that I am positive in the future plans for our family!  I am even a bit excited.

So what am I looking forward to?
Over the last 14 months I have catered several events and even baked cakes for a profit.  It has all been very exciting.
I have an appointment to tour the Culinary Institute of the Carolinas the week after we move.  I hope  to return to school, to add a culinary degree to my management degree.  I love to cook, I love to plan. I love to entertain.  I love to make people feel special.  Why not put it to use?!
I truly hope that this pans out, but if it doesn’t, I will be OK.
Oh, the possibilities!  I have a plan, but it will be several years in the making.  Being a wife and mother comes first in my life, so I will continue to enjoy my children and lay the foundation for my dreams.
I am looking forward to the convenience of city living.  Ten minutes from Publix, Bi-Lo, & Food Lion, yes, please!!  No more small grocery store featuring sub-par produce and lack of stock.  I’ll also have a Target, Hobby Lobby & TJ Maxx within five miles.  Yes, I am excited!
I am also looking forward to space as we go from an 1800 sq ft home to 3000 sq ft!  I love our little country place that has been the source of so many wonderful memories, but with thwo teenage daughters and a nearly teenage son, the concept of space is so exciting!!
our new home!
Just a glimpse of that space, you say?
The great room looking down from the loft bedroom
Another view of the great room; the carpet is not ripped, but has electrical outlets installed!  No cords spread throughout the room!
Stairs going to the loft
Front entryway
Part of my galley kitchen
As you can see I have a blank slate that I can’t wait to tackle!
While I am so excited about future possibilities, I am mostly looking forward to being with Audley again!  He has been at his new job for over five months now, and I am anxious to live in the same house again as a whole family.  Audley is my strength, support, and encourager.  He is my biggest fan and cheerleader.  He makes me laugh (even at the worst of times), and my heart hurts when he is away.
I will have limited internet for several days as we make our transition, but I will be popping in and out!  I hope you’ll make this adventure with us!