I don’t want to toot my own horn but if there's one thing I’m good at it's making things cozy, even at the expense of class or socially acceptable standards (toot toot!). :) I've had an obsession with coziness since I was a little girl. Some of my fondest memories from childhood are going on road trips with my family. My parents would always wake up early and pack the car before the sun rose. While the grass was still dewy, at the last minute before we left they'd call my little sister, little brother and I to the van, half asleep and tuck us into our seats. I say tuck us in because my mother always had fluffy pillows and soft blankets surrounding us. I’m sure that was at least in part because they were hoping we’d get a few more hours of sleep before the fun of three fully awake children asking, “How many more hours?” started. 😊 But Mama always liked to make things cozy too. I think a big part of making people feel cozy is making them feel safe. Maybe that's the most special thing about it. It feels good to know that people feel safe around you.
When Colt and I lived in our previous house, we had a space between the back porch and the kitchen that was kind of empty. I’m sure it was meant for a breakfast nook, but with a four year old, two year old and newborn, that space was better used for matchbox cars and a stage for pretend shows they would put on for us. It always seemed a little bit cold and empty, especially when I had cleaned up the toys for the day. One night after the kids went to bed and before Colt got home from his gig, I went into the garage, rifled through the Christmas decorations and found a strand of the old C9 multi colored Christmas lights. I spent the next 45 minutes nailing it to the ceiling, as quietly as I could hammer with three sleeping babies, in a zig zag pattern so they hung over the play area like it was a swanky café. Then I sat down in my chair and waited for Colt to get home. When he walked in the door late that night, he looked at the lights, then looked at me and said, “Someone has been busy.” I asked if he liked it and he said, it was fun for the night, but it might look like a college dorm room if we left them up for good. The next day, seeing the kids’ eyes light up, figuratively and literally when we plugged in the lights solidified them as a permanent fixture in our little nook. That evening, we sat and watched a movie under the glow of those old Christmas lights and we all silently knew they were never coming down. I did eventually change them to white café lights, but they had the same effect. Christmas lights are magical. They just are. When we moved into our new house a few years ago, I tried to resist the urge to put Christmas lights in our main living room like we had in our old house. This house is a little bit bigger and for sure more sophisticated with its newer finishes. And then the first Christmas rolled around...Something about Christmas makes the magic of the holiday season shoot out of my fingertips and overwhelms me with the instinct to light everything up. I discovered a really pretty strand of warm white twinkle lights at Target that I loved (and that were cheap) so I bought a bunch of them. Again, one night after the kids went to sleep, before Colt got home from his gig, I got to work hanging several strands of twinkle Christmas lights around our living room and kitchen (the rooms we spend the most time in). Many people don’t realize this, but the room that we film our videos in with Colt and the kids isn’t our living room. It was a room we didn't really know what to do with, so we used it as a sitting area that no one ever really went in other than to play on the piano for a few minutes or grab a guitar off the wall. Now it’s where the band practices, and has become a real puzzle to vacuum, but its getting some good use! 😊 Anyway, back to the lights. I hung them from command strips that I attached to the ceiling around the perimeter of the living room and kitchen because I didn’t want to damage the trim I had built a few weeks before. In our old house we had lights hanging in that one little play area/breakfast nook but this new light configuration around a much bigger area really cozies the place up at night.
The best part is, the TWINKLING! It looks like there are hundreds of tiny, twinkling stars all around our living room, kitchen and dining room. My favorite part of the day is settling down at night under the glow of all the twinkle lights, covered in a sea of blankets and pillows with Colt and the kids, and watching an episode from an old season of Survivor or Amazing Race (we switch shows every other night) and pretending its 30 degrees outside. :) These cheap little lights have become a big part of what makes this house feel like home to us. To me, that is the most important part of decorating your house. How do the things you fill your home with make you feel? I know my Christmas lights might not look Pinterest perfect, or fit in with the houses you see in magazines. I’m fully aware they might even look tacky to some people. It took me a minute to get over that, and realize how our house makes people FEEL is much more important to me than how it looks. My cousin, Alexandria came over a few months ago and as she was leaving she said, "I just love your house. Its a homey home." That was maybe the best house related compliment I've ever received. I know my kids will remember the warm glow the lights give off and I know they’ll appreciate how crazy their mama is when they think of them when they’re old. If my home was filled with things that everyone feels like they’re supposed to have, or conformed to a style that was more socially acceptable, all the heart and soul of my home would fly out the window along with Bellamy and I’s eyeball and chemistry beeker Halloween display (because heaven knows the Pinterest police wouldn’t let us get away with that madness). But I can see on her face what it means to her that we kept her first decoration display out for all our guests to see when they walk in. If people can’t see YOU when they come inside your home, then what’s the point? When you walk through my front door we’re fully on display. Musical, creative, bohemian, eccentric, slightly messy, warm, cozy, and maybe just a little tacky. 😊
Below are a few pictures of our fall decorations that Bellamy and I have been working on. I picked up a few clearance section fall florals and the fake hay from Michaels, but almost everything else was stuff I already had from previous years. Just to preface all home decor related posts, I feel it's my responsibility to say this will never be a blog about buying a ton of new, expensive stuff and telling you to go out and purchase the same items. Feel free to decorate, or not decorate in any way that you please, and spend (or not spend) as much money as you feel necessary. Interior design and decorating for the holidays is just a passion of mine so I thought I'd share. For the most part I like to decorate with things I already have and repurpose old decorations or thrift store finds for the season. You truly can make things look really cool and festive for very little money.
I love designing new tablescapes for new seasons, but full disclosure, we don’t leave it on the table for decoration all the time, simply because we use the table for homeschool. We decorate it for fun or if we have people over for dinner but we need the table space otherwise. I keep a few boxes of cheap decorations I pick up, usually at thrift stores, and rotate in and out. They feel like new when I pull them out of the box a year later when I'm ready for a change. Almost everything I love in our house is from thrift stores, things we've purchased from Craigslist/Facebook Marketplace, or even found in the trash and refinished. The green buffet under the TV in the picture below was a trash find! My sister and I spotted it in the trash pile in a neighbor's yard a few houses down. I knocked on the door, asked if I could take it, and we proceeded to haul that thing half way down the block on the hottest day in May. I painted it, added some hardware and it was good as new. Knowing the work that went into finding, fixing or refinishing each piece makes them all feel more special to me, and it saves a TON of money. Another thing that I like to do is mix and match pretty much everything. I mix and match plates, cups, pillows, artwork, etc. That way, if anything breaks or is destroyed, I don't have to worry about finding that specific item again. I also like the variety of different colors and textures. If I find a plate I love, I'll buy one and mix and match it with other plates in my little collection. Never thought I'd be a gal who enjoyed a plate collection, but alas here I am. :)
Today was a good day. Every year, when the first “cold front” of fall blows in, and the temperatures dip down into the lower 80s (I know if you’re from anywhere north of here you are laughing right now), the mood changes. Everyone seems to have a little bit of pep in their step. Those few lost degrees breathe new life into us. I was able to do some yardwork today without feeling like death was near which is also a benefit to this time of year. The changing seasons is one of my favorite things in life. There’s so much anticipation and excitement from one season’s events to the next. When you’re in the searing heat of summertime in Florida, even a couple of cloudy days and the hint of a temperature change to come can catapult you off the couch, put you on a ladder in the garage to retrieve the fall decoration bin, and inspire you to start sprinkling pumpkin décor on anything standing still in your home. I’ve often thought even if I had nothing to be thankful for in life, I would be thankful for the change of seasons.
My favorite thing about the change of season is how hopeful it is. I’ve written before about how much nature inspires me, and from my perspective, there is no greater example of how much nature can impact our mental state than the anticipation of a new season. A new season is for everyone. It's free. There’s no price tag you can pay to pre-release fall or winter for even the wealthiest among us. There’s no dollar amount that will slow a season from finishing. We’re all in it together, experiencing the beauty and wonder, as well as the trials and frustrations in different ways, but together. Every winter, I have to mentally prepare myself for the fact that Christmas day is probably going to be around 75 degrees. It just is. I like to believe that I like the cold weather, until we get a cold front that leaves us hanging at 40 degrees for a few days, and I feel like walking to the truck is the equivalent of braving the frozen tundra. The truth is, I like a little of both. The really cold days make me appreciate our normal warm subtropical breezes, and the really hot days make me long for a good cold snap. I think this is true in life also. If everything always stayed the same, what on earth would we talk about for the 80+ years we all hope to be hanging out here? People get married, your tulips bloom, babies are born, you make Thanksgiving shopping lists, you change jobs, the leaves fall, you lose your keys, you lose a loved one, you show your kids snow for the first time, you put your feet in the ocean, you buy sparklers on the 4th of July, and on and on and on until you die. That may sound morbid to some, but I don’t see it that way at all. When you know something isn’t going to last forever, it’s easier to remind yourself to savor the temporary joys of that season. The big things outline your life like bullet points, but the little things flavor it. And if you know how to look for them, the little things are abundant and free for anyone to find the beauty in.
I know I’ve mentioned this before somewhere in this blog, but one thing I have the kids practice a lot, is finding the beauty in things that might not look so beautiful on the outside. When I was a little girl I used to drive my sister and brother crazy, because every time we would be riding in the car and they would try to talk to me, I would answer them and then say, “Can you please leave me alone for a little bit because I’m thinking.” I used to love to ride in the car, look out the window and just think. I thought about the houses that we passed, what the people were like that lived inside, what the owner's favorite part of the house might be, what my favorite part was, and on and on and on. Now that I’m older, my love for these kind of drives and thinking hasn’t diminished a bit. Colt and I take drives with the kids all the time. One way we’ve learned to find beauty in life is to find beauty in things that aren’t obviously beautiful. I will ask the kids to look at a house we’re about to pass and find something about it that they think is beautiful. Many times the houses I choose to draw their attention to are run down, and pretty shabby looking. But if you look long enough, you might notice a sunny spot in the overgrown yard that would be perfect for sitting and drinking your morning coffee. You might see a straggly tree that shades a broken porch, but imagine how cozy it would feel to sit near it, under the cover of the porch on a rainy day. There’s always something. That’s how I feel about the different seasons. There’s always something to look forward to. Even if I hate the blazing heat of summer, I sure do love how warm the sand feels on my feet at the beach, and the little yellow flowers that fill the sand dunes. I hate how it gets dark so early in the winter time, but I love the cooler weather, and the excitement of the holidays and Christmas lights. There’s always something.
This year has been a hard one for so many of us. In many ways it feels like this year started, and then we all fell into a black hole for six months, and are just starting to crawl out and look around again, apprehensively examining the damage. Many of us are still stuck in the hole. Our family has been very lucky through these last few months to have found something to focus our minds on in performing the songs every other day and communicating virtually with so many people around the world. We’ve been in such a pattern with learning new songs and performing them every other day for the last several months that missing a few days feels very strange to us. Colt was experiencing some neck, shoulder and arm pain this last week. He could tell there was something wrong in the middle of last week but thought he may have just slept on it wrong. By last weekend he was in misery. He went to the chiropractor and determined that his neck was out of alignment which is what was causing the pain. After several adjustments he is feeling much better. These last few days that he has been in bed, not able to spend as much time with us as we’d all like, I realized how spoiled we’ve become with his presence. Before Covid-19, Colt was working usually 6 days a week, with double gigs on Fridays and Saturdays. He was able to be home during the day to help with homeschool, but he left pretty much every day that he didn’t have double gigs around 3pm and didn’t get home until around 10 or 11pm. So many couples depend on some time apart to keep their relationship fresh and give them space. Colt and I are just the opposite. The more time we have together, the closer we are. We have always said that you could put us in a completely empty box of a room, and we’d find ways to make each other laugh and entertain each other. To put it simply, although it sounds cliché, he really is my best friend. Colt’s gigs are trickling back in slowly, which we are so thankful for, but it will probably be a while before things are back to “normal”. And even though the financial aspect of that can be daunting, I truly love all the time we are able to spend with each other. As with everything, if we look around, there’s always something… Something to learn from, something to look forward to, and something to be thankful for. Today I am thankful for 80 degree cold fronts, twinkle lights, and the four faces I get to wake up to every morning.