How to Make a House a Home (decorating styles)

The thought of starting over both exhausts and excites me.  I am moving to a simple box of a home with an acre of wildness.  I asked a friend of mine who lives out there about wildlife.  “I suppose I will be back with wildlife,” I wrote.  “Deer?  Coyotes?” I ventured.

She wrote back, “Deer, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, bears, mountain lions, hawks, owls.”

My chickens are toast, I thought.

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Outside of fencing in the chickens, the rest of the gardens will wait.  Fencing, soil, amendments, and careful planning over the winter’s months will result in a full fledged gardening and farm animal movement.  In the meantime, I turn to the house.

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In my mind’s eye, I see it burgundy with white trim, dark brown rustic shutters, and a wrap around porch.  I have no doubt that will come to be, but first, we work indoors!

How do you get the feel of a house?  How do you choose your decorating and design in a new place?  It is easy in old houses.  The old wood floors and crooked lines and personality shine through.  Doug was surprised that I liked the house we chose.  He commented that I don’t usually like new.

The house we spent eight years in after being married and when our children were young was an ugly bi-level in a suburb.  The photos of the place were on the internet as we peeked at real estate recently.  Gone were my murals and whimsical painted cupboards.  Also gone were the broken hand rails and the bare sub-floor.  That house swiftly fell apart the moment we bought it.  We were astounded by the new recessed lighting, sharp looking kitchen, soft carpet, and beige walls.  It was very rich looking and very…boring.  That house was all about homeschooling and raising children.  The downstairs was an art room and library with cement floors they could ride their scooters on.  The upstairs was open for entertaining and was full of color.  I don’t miss it though.  Once we made our exit to the country, I didn’t think I’d be back in the city!

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Back in the city, in a fancy apartment that looked out across the skyline of mountains that we rented for a year while saving up for a house, I decorated with eastern Indian motifs.  Golds and sharp pinks, black and white designs, and an area for yoga so that I could look out at the mountains and wonder how our life got turned so around that I was living in an apartment a few miles from that first house!  The colors were stimulating and inspiring.  A country look would not have worked.  And that was my calming place to get my mind right after so much loss.

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My design inspiration for my current house.  I kept it on my fridge for a year dreaming of my own homestead.

Here in this home, that used to be a farmhouse, the design is simple.  We moved in with practically nothing and it didn’t take long to fill it with hand me downs and antiques.  It is colorful with chili ristras and my bright paintings, yet serene with comfy seating and lots of plants, thanks to all the natural light.  The decor is incredibly eclectic, bouncing from Amish country to New Mexican to old farmhouse.

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New house decorating inspiration.

We are now moving to a circa 1993 (my baby was born in 1993) home with brand new greige paint (the newest trend- grey/beige blend), and fresh floors, and newer appliances, and not a hint of personality.  But I can find it, harness it, use it to create a new home.

The house has an incredible view of the surrounding mountains.  The acre is filled with cactus and cedar and other southwest, desert plants.  Snowfall will create a breathtaking view.

We are at a different stage of our life now.  We want to have enough beds to host all of our children in hopes of big country Christmases.  I want the house to feel welcoming, calming, inspiring, grown up, with a sense of fun and whimsy placed here and there.  A homestead, but modern farmhouse style.  I will take the greige and use it as my base of ideas.  Creams, dark woods, and warm knits will give it a hygge (Nordic) feel.  A mix of industrial, Nordic farmhouse, and cabin elements with lots of light and coziness.

Clear the clutter will be my motto and striking single pieces will replace lots of stuff.  We have our eye on a large, tall book shelf complete with a ladder.  The high ceilings will allow it.  Image it filled with all of my brewing herbal extracts with suspended plants, and stained glass-like jars of canned goods lining the shelves.  I am painting my dark piano cream.

Our shelves of books will line a wall in our new office/sewing room with a pull out couch.  The guest room will boast a stunning queen sized bunk bed.  The television will sit on a roll cart that can easily be put in a closet.  I despise having to decorate around a blasted, ugly television!  An oriental rug in the slim kitchen and blackboard doors on the pantry.  The oil lamps keep getting knocked over by a very large farm dog, so they will be replaced (*sigh) with elegant lamps.  Whimsical vintage signs and things we love, like drawings from Maryjane, greenery, and photographs.  Yes, this will be a lovely home.

The inspection on our new house is today and I will take along a measuring tape and graph paper to measure and plan.  This is my favorite part of moving!

Here are a few tips on how to find the personality and decorating style for your home.

1- Find the story behind the house.  Use surrounding scenery and house style to find the personality of the home.

2- Where are you in life?  Raising kids or working from home will all change the needs of the house.

3- What colors make you perk up?  What design elements (antiques, old/new signs, plants) make you smile?

4- Can you reuse what you have?  What do you need to buy?

5- Decorate with what you love.  Even if they don’t “match,” you will find that they end up seamlessly working with everything else.

6- Check out design and decorating books from the library and cut out decorating ideas you love from magazines.  I keep a huge binder of them and look at them each time I want to redecorate or move.

7- Fill your home with visiting friends, laughter, great books, candle light, and a kettle for tea.  Music, less electronics, and joy will make your home a respite from the world.  I think I might turn in my smart phone for a home phone and a record player.

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A Peaceful Holiday

The full moon hovered brightly over the land last eve and Yule was nigh.  The 12 days of Christmas was originally the 12 days of Yule.  Festivities, bonfires, hearth fires, the yule log, the decorated trees, feeding the birds and other wildlife, exchanging gifts, and checking on the elderly and homebound fill the days of Yule leading to new year.

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It is a quiet morning here in my cozy home.  Father Sun peeks through the windows while climbing to start the day.  I sip my warm coffee, the earthiness and steam filling the air.  We keep the lights on the tree on often.  Just sitting in my rocking chair watching the glimmering lights, scanning the many ornaments that hold place as story tellers, makes me joyful and calm.  I put a Christmas album on.  My favorite is Andy Williams.   The presents are piled on the bed ready to be wrapped in paper and bows.

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Christmas past when my children were very young. (1999)

The birds outside sing and dart about.  The fat squirrel looks at me through the window.  She is out of bird seed.  Sweet thing; I wish blessings on all the wildlife.  A young eagle landed in the tree the other day and we sat together for some time.  The geese fly overhead noisily, their synchronized flying like swimmers in the sky.  Upon this great landscape of earth is such a lovely place to live.  I am thankful each day for health, for life, for family, for this cozy home where the hearth fires burn.

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Dreaming of Christmas cookies

Yesterday I did ceremony on my friends who are getting married beneath the full moon by a fire outdoors.  Today I get the honor of officiating their wedding.  Tomorrow we are off to my cousin’s, the next day to our friends’, home again for Christmas eve and my children will all gather here.  Santa knows to come to Grammie and Pa’s house.  Christmas morning will shine bright with the love of family.  A late Hannukah celebration with family and my daughter’s birthday round out the festivities before the new year dawns with promise and light.

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Christmas present. My beautiful granddaughters, Maryjane and Ayla.

What are your plans for the holidays, my Friends?  From our home to yours, I wish you the happiest Christmas and a blessed Yule.  May you be with those you love and may peace fill your home.

The Saving Daily Walk (and Hugo and George at it again)

Two loads of wet laundry hit the winter ground with a thud and instantly were covered in dirt.  The entire clothes line had fallen.  I had asked my husband to tighten it for me months before but the real culprit was probably the innocent looking puppy who had pulled half the clothes off the clothesline the week prior and shredded them.  I looked over and two new articles sat on his bed.  I glared.

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Instead of cleaning up the freshly washed clothes I walked indoors.  It would wait a moment for me to compose myself.  Moments later Gandalf had one of my shirts from an open drawer and was running madly around the house.

Instead of crying, losing it, or pouring a shot of whisky, I grabbed the leash.  We both needed it.  We walked three and a half miles.  We made it home just in time for my appointment with a client.  I have found that there is always time for a walk.

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Really, I wish I could get a proper picture of these two blurs, but they are constantly playing and moving.  We missed an opportunity (perhaps it is not too late) to name the four month old, gigantic abominable snow puppy, Hugo and his little black sidekick, the five month old Merlin, should have been George from the Bugs Bunny cartoon (my own little bunny rabbit…”

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The whir was happening right behind me yesterday as I typed but these kids are fast!  The kitten jumped on the chair, the puppy trying to catch him.  The puppy pulled the tablecloth to get to Merlin and down went all of the oil lamps.  Shattered chimneys carpeted the floor.  Gandalf scared himself so much he backed up into the hall.  They upset the big, black, older cat so much that Booboo chased Gandalf in circles until he begged to be let out.

“How’s the zoo?” my husband emailed from work.

“Hugo and George at it again!” I replied.

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The leash came off the wall and we walked.  We passed hundreds of chirping and bleating red winged blackbirds.  They have returned.  The villages of geese congregated for a meeting on the wide expanse of lake as the sea gulls danced above.  The mountains in the distance were a violet hue against great blue sky and the golden fields and reeds stretched out around the glimmering, icy waters in technicolor.  Calming breath entered my lungs as the puppy skated slight on the ice as he licked the frozen water.  We were exhausted and happy as we skipped home.

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A simple walk daily can improve your outlook, bring you back to present, connect you with what’s real, and with the natural world, and will help your heart in more ways than one!  Being a new parent to a puppy and kitten not required.

The Home Practice

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This is not a photo of me. I am usually in pajamas doing yoga with my cats.

I was always the last one to be chosen for a team.  It was disappointing for kids to see my height and seemingly athletic limbs then to witness my ability.  I can dance, that is about it.  I get a stomach cramp running, hurt my wrist weight lifting, daydream enough to get hit by a ball, and couldn’t catch one to save my life.  I do notice though that if I do not do any exercise my back starts to hurt, I am more fatigued, and long intervals between workouts cause any good work I did to unravel.

I am brilliant at creating ideas and medicines and magic but having so many ideas at the same time does tend to make me flighty.  A personality trait I doubt will leave me.  I need a workout that will keep me focused.  I also need a workout that I can tailor if my old knee injury or sciatica flares up, or the nerve damage in my toe from ballet kicks in, or I slept wrong and my neck is out of whack.  I also do not need to compare myself to fit twenty year olds.  I also don’t particularly like leaving the house if I don’t have to.  So, the very best practice for me (and I don’t wonder for you too) is a home practice.

We know exercise is absolutely imperative to cardiovascular, lymphatic, and skeletal health.  Hormones are improved, mood is improved, and a good booty are all reasons to get our cute selves into the living room!

I am a huge advocate of yoga.  There are many types of yoga and lots of videos that can be checked out a week at a time from the library.  I love all types of yoga.  I never feel like I want a serious, back breaking, sweat inducing workout.  Yoga makes me focus so I don’t fall on my head, effectively clearing my mind and making me feel calm, but I also get a much better workout than I think I am because I like the feel of stretching, dance motions, and the feeling that I am connected to nature though movement.  I stand up straighter, feel stronger, and am more flexible.

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This is me, I would LOVE to be able to do yoga on a beach each day. I guess the back yard works too.

Yoga also encourages you to slow your mind, meditate and send out your prayers for the day.  Breathing regulation and the body moving in natural ways seems to me to be the very best and a very natural form of exercise.  It can be done anywhere and can be done with or without a video, and can be altered to the body’s desires for the day.

Walks in the park and swimming, hiking in the mountains or a quick jog are all lovely but when the desire to stay in one’s jammies hits (every day) we can always roll out the yoga mat in the living room and get an effective and invigorating workout.

 

“I Trust You”-Learning to Live Peacefully and Happily

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We all have had less than positive things happen to us and it can fuel worrying even further.  How do we release worry and fear in our day to day to life so that we can enjoy more moments?

I can sure get myself worked up over nothing.  What if he gets in a car accident on the way to work?  What if she died?  What if…  I have to stop myself pretty quickly before a full blown, out of proportion, fearful scenario transpires in my mind.  I simply whisper, “I trust you,” and oddly, I am calmed.

We were never meant to know the news of the world.  Our minds and hearts are not prepared to handle so many things that we cannot control.  We have nearly zero control over anything, if we must be honest.  I have to believe that when we were placed on this earth we were not left alone to our own devices.  Just looking at the millions of medicinal and food plants made synergistically to us.  Miracles upon miracles (coincidences?  I have had too many crazy things happen, several healings, unexplainable escapes from certain death…) and people showing up in our lives at the right time and for the right season with the right lessons and the doors opening for us at each turn.  And sometimes the doors closing.  Which we can only understand in hind sight.  Because we have no power over much, I believe that is why we feel so much worry.

I look up and whisper, “I trust you.” Maybe that is to ancestors, friends that passed, my Creator, Mother Earth… I blend together plant extracts for ailments I have no power to heal myself and just whisper, “I trust you,” to the plants.  The medicines always work to my great relief and joy.  Things really do work out.  We are given fight or flight to deal with stress and worry at that very moment, not light years before anything happens, if it ever even does.

We must learn to live happily, peacefully, and fully on our journey here, knowing there are plant and animals spirits, ancestors, loved ones here and passed, and of course, our Source looking out for us.  Just relax and whisper, “I trust you.”

Smudging 101, Deer Visitors, and the 10%

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There is a Talking Circle at my shop the first Sunday of each month.  Not really church, just a place to be with others and pray traditionally with Native influences and customs.  This last Sunday we talked about focusing our energies on the 10%.  90% of what we worry about is what the media tells us about, world issues, family issues, and many, many things that we have absolutely no control over.  As we focus more and more on the 90% we lose track of the 10% of things we can control and our gifts that we carry that can assist in this world.  Focusing on the 90% leads to anxiety and depression and helplessness.

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Last night I felt an overwhelming sense of desperation and helplessness.  How can we possibly afford anything in the state that has the newly highest cost of living?  How can we survive?  How can we stay near our babies if we had to move?  and on and on with scenarios that may or may not exist.  I went to sleep early as slumber will renew me and oft give me answers.  I woke up renewed.

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Within the realms of the 10% I can choose my back up plan in case we cannot get the large farm.  I could very well be an urban homesteader while making a difference in a career.  The career that I would be best in (in my opinion) is teaching young adults.  So, I relooked at my curriculum choices for school with a renewed sense of purpose.  I will let things unfold naturally, while saving money, since I cannot see the future.  No matter how hard I try.  Meanwhile I call on strength from the Great Spirit and the Directions.  This is how to smudge (prayers and blessing).

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Traditionally Cherokee prayer herbs would consist of Sweet grass to renew positive energy, Sage to rid negative energy, Tobacco as an offering to the Great Spirit, and Cedar as an offering to the spirits; animal, plant, and the deceased.  In a pottery bowl (heat proof) place the herbs desired and light.  Using a feather to spread the smoke around a room, over thyself, or in the Four Directions.  Any feather will do.

We call on the spirit of the East direction for strength and hope and faith.  We give thanks to the Creator for all the things in our lives and our own life.  We thank Grandfather Sun for rising each morning and providing warmth and light. 

We call on the spirit of the South for childlike wonder and awe, for lessons, and we thank our four legged brethren for providing us with companionship, food, and clothing, and to the plants for giving of themselves for food and medicine.

We call on the spirit of the West for strength, health, and endurance.  We give thanks to our ancestors for guiding us and praying for us.

We call on the spirit of the North for calm and wisdom.  We thank the north for rain and snow, for lessons learned, and for peace and breath.

We call on the spirit of the sky (galun’lati), to the star people and Grandmother moon for protection and inspiration.

We call on the spirit of the Mother Earth (alohi)for caring for us, for her life, therefore our life as we pledge to be more careful with her.

We are thankful for the ceremonial fire as our prayers are taken upward on the smoke and carried on the winged ones’ feathers and for our connection with all around us. 

We draw the smoke over ourselves that we will have a clear heart, a love for all, and will do things in the right way. 

And as my breath and peace came forth, the beautiful deer (ahwi) came to see me.

Wishing you peace and less worries….ehmenah.