...because home doesn't happen overnight.
08.18.14 / I Drink Coffee Now

coffee

When I was noticeably pregnant with Mabrey, strangers would ask “So how many does this make for you?” When I answered three, I would sometimes get the “oh, I love the dynamic of three!” from all-knowing parents of three. But I was surprised by the reply I most often received…

“Ohhhhhhh, I started drinking coffee after number three.” And then they would nod their head slowly as if remembering something they hadn’t thought of in a long time.

I get it now. I drink coffee now.

I had always enjoyed a cup of coffee here and there. In college, I would occasionally grab a cappuccino for late night study sessions. Before Mabrey, a hot cup of jo was a special after-dinner treat on chilly nights. But I never drank it regularly until Mabrey was about a year old. I started out drinking a cup maybe once or twice a week in the mornings, usually on the weekends. Eventually, I really looked forward to those rare cups. I would purposefully wake up earlier than everyone else on coffee mornings to sip my joe in peace and quiet. It made for some good me time and gave me a chance to mentally prepare for the day ahead.

Fast forward to this summer. It turns out, I need more than one to two mornings of me time per week! I’m drinking coffee almost daily now. Just one 8-ounce mug. For me, it’s more of a mental – rather than physical – ritual. I don’t get headaches or fatigue on the random days I miss my daily cup. But I do cherish those quiet moments. They are little slices of happiness that set the tone for the rest of my day.

I recently read an article in Real Simple magazine that discusses happiness. Here’s what one contributor had to say:

“…I really believe that happiness is a collection of small, pleasurable experiences, like buying flowers or eating a square of chocolate. I try to have a few of these moments every day.” – Anne-Marie Slaughter

I couldn’t agree more. Does coffee itself make me happy? No. But having that pause before the chaos of the day sets in is what really does it for me.

So here’s my question to any coffee drinkers / snobs out there. What coffee do you drink and how do you brew it? Currently, I have a Keurig that my bonus mom gifted me earlier this year. To save money, I have been using a reusable filter cup and inexpensive ground coffee but I’ve been bouncing around from brand to brand and haven’t really fallen in love with a particular brew. Seeing as how this coffee thing is such a big part of my happiness (ha!), I’d really like to make it special. I’m open to other methods of brewing as long as they don’t yield a whole pot of coffee (I’m the only coffee drinker in the house) and aren’t super involved. I’m not opposed to grinding beans – whether at home or in-store. A few years ago while on vacation, I had coffee brewed in a french press and it was AMAZING. I’ve heard wonderful things about Chemex but, I’m not gonna lie, it looks intimidating. So, please, for the sake of Monday, spill the (coffee) beans and let me know what you’re drinking and how you’re brewing it! Thanks!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

08.16.14 / Made Me Smile

first day 1st grade

Everett started first grade this week. We did the obligatory “first day of ___” photos while waiting for the bus then Layne asked, “Why don’t we take a picture of dad on his first day of work on Everett’s first day of 1st grade? Wouldn’t that be funny?” Why, yes, yes that would be hilariously funny. Luckily, Steve was game so I think we’ve started a new tradition. #firstdaydads

More things that had me smiling this week…

*Are you following this DIY kitchen reno? Oh, the power of paint never gets old.

*An ingenious idea for concealing trash and recycling bins. (Thanks for the inspiration, Amber!)

*Project #5 in this roundup of bathrooms features black hex tile and Ikea kitchen cabinets fashioned into a vanity. LOVE IT.

schoolhouse electric & supply co house tour

*The house tour of Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co.’s owner is pretty amazing.

*An Ohio guy dreams big. You guys, PotatoStock 2014 is happening.

*Can’t wait to read this book which addresses the princess problem.

*#RIPRobinWilliams (Smiling with a few tears in my eyes.)

Have a lovely weekend. Make someone laugh.

images: 1) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 2) Jeremy Bittermann

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Did you happen to see this streamlined family home in the most recent issue of Dwell magazine? The article struck a chord with me. The <700 square foot space belongs to a young family of three – soon to be four. It’s the result of a four-month-long renovation which brought more light and storage and better function and design into the apartment. The use of sliding doors, ample windows and Murphy beds go a long way in making the space feel bright and airy. The execution of a stowaway bunk bed in the children’s room is particularly captivating.

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In embracing small space living, the family spent the last year and a half selling off most of their books, furniture and decorative objects.

“It really made us scrutinize what’s important and what we can do without. Rather than being a burden, that has been liberating. We don’t feel weighed down by stuff we don’t need or use.” – David Friedlander, resident

“People usually try to fit their old furnishings into a new space. We fit ourselves into the space.” – Jacqueline Schmidt, resident

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In addition to being small, the apartment was also in less-than-perfect condition upon purchase. The poor condition yielded a low price tag which meant the family could afford a complete remodel and a few splurge-worthy materials like wide-planked oak floors.

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The kitchen is the perfect marriage of high and low: Ikea cabinets + marble countertops and backsplash.

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The bathroom boasts marble tile and a floating vanity. Natural light streams in through the shower window.

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You can see more of the family home here. I find it so encouraging! It’s a wonderful example of how living with less can actually be a luxury. Even though our home is about twice the size and we’ve done a fair amount of purging already, I am motivated to edit our belongings even further. Having downsized ourselves, I have to agree: living with less is freeing on so many levels.

Have you ever been inspired to go through your closets after seeing or visiting a smaller home? What one drawer / shelf / closet / room in your home needs a good purge session right now? Our junk drawer and the boys’ closet are calling my name…

images: Matthew Williams for Dwell

08.09.14 / Made Me Smile

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Last week I didn’t publish a Made Me Smile post. My grandmother passed away and my heart wasn’t up to the task. So this installment includes two weeks’ worth of smile-worthy links. I hope you find something that inspires you in some way!

*Did you listen to NPR’s TED radio hour, Growing Up, last week? I loved it.

*SHE FOUND HIM.

*Terrible real estate agent photos + hilarious captions = a good way to waste time.

*Be still my organizing, laundry-loving heart.

*My favorite hand soap in bulk refills!

*Such a great mix of old + new in a home with a family history. (The home is also featured in the current family issue of Anthology magazine. So good!)

*A smart and stylish galley kitchen. (Don’t let the initial 30-second ad turn you off. You won’t be disappointed!)

ensemble architecture

*Architecture lust.

*I’m usually one of the last people to try new apps and tech-y things but the issuu clip is right up my alley. Clipping and pinning directly from the pages of a magazine? Yesssss.

*Patrick Dempsey’s thoughts on being a caretaker of a home (not just an owner) make him even hotter. Trust me, it’s possible.

*Tips for creating a bright kitchen in a basement apartment.

*A house inspired by Tom and Jerry cartoons. Needless to say, it’s a giant indoor playground – for kids and adults!

*It’s National Book Lovers Day! A few on my wish list: Clutterfree with Kids, Tiny House Living, You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap).

What are you up to this weekend? We’re laying low and gearing up for the start of another school year. Here’s to backpacks, jackets, lunch boxes, books and homework overtaking the mudroom once again!

images: 1) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 2) Ensemble Architecture