Introducing #realmomMonday

I’M NOT A MOMMY BLOGGER.  Yes, it’s true that I’m a mommy and a whenever-the-wind-is-blowing-at-15MPH-to-the-East-during-a-Blue-Moon blogger, but I don’t venture into the Mamasphere on my blog.  Parenting is hard.  I’ve only been at this gig for a little over a year and I don’t expect it to get easier any time soon.  I applaud the women who are brave enough to share their parenting journeys with an expansive, critical and, often times, relentlessly nasty audience of faceless people bursting with opinions, judgment and primed-to-be-hurt feelings.  Those bloggers have skin made of rubber.  My skin is made of hot glue, which is why I stick to crafting and picking paint colors on my blog.

Since I blogged incessantly about my son’s nursery during my pregnancy, I’m all over the Internet as a ‘mom’ and viewed by some organizations and advertisers as a mommy blogger lying in wait.  I’ve been approached by organizations asking me to weigh in on baby products or to talk about safety issues on my blog.

My answer is always the same.  No, no, and, no.

Although I knew my reluctance to blog about the thing that I devote 95% of my time to nowadays would severely impact the frequency with which I blog, I also knew the minute I decided to jump into the shark infested mommy blogging waters that someone would get hurt.  I don’t want to talk about things related to parenting that could be viewed as judgmental or that would hurt the feelings of fellow moms who are just trying to do their best every day.  So here I stand with my feet firmly planted in home décor, crafting and DIY land, vigilantly protecting my friends and readers from feeling shamed and criticized for the choices they make and things they accomplish as mothers.

Or so I thought.  Recently, a friend posted this article on Facebook, which made me feel like I got it all wrong.  The article is about mothers feeling the sting of an ever-present desire to achieve domestic perfection in a world where social media makes sharing the ins and outs of our daily lives easier every day.  While I thought my choice to stay out of the wars being waged on the mommy blogs was the way to ensure I wouldn’t be seen as judging or shaming my fellow moms, this article made me realize that I may still be impacting them in a negative way by continuing to share a perfectly styled version of my life on Embrace My Space and its social media platforms.

If you read the article in the above link, it mentions that some of the negative feelings associated with the failure to achieve domestic perfection are likely related to the innate human desire to overachieve, especially for us Type A personalities.  I do agree with the article in that I think we are all in control of our own feelings and reactions to things–including the pretty things we see on Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter–out there in the world.  That said, I certainly believe social media has a way of turning us all into unwilling pawns in a never-ending game of Keeping up with the Joneses.  Unless you swear off all forms of social media, you’re bound to be confronted with images of “perfection” on a daily basis.  And, let’s face it, when you’re suffering with a good ol’ case of the Mondays (or Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays), all this perfect stuff can be a hard pill to swallow.

All along I thought I was just showing a picture of my new bedding or the cake I baked for my son’s first birthday.  This is all safe territory, right? No feelings could possibly be hurt in the posting of these pictures.  But perhaps what I was doing unknowingly when sharing these things was causing a fellow mom ask herself why she didn’t make her bed that day or why she had to buy her cake from the grocery store.  Of course, the last thing I want to do is make another person feel like they aren’t enough.  I’m here to share, to inspire and to encourage others to create.

I’m not here to say that I will stop blogging styled images of my home or my day-to-day, because I’m a creator and it’s what I love to do.  Social media also gives me the feeling of connectedness in the solitary existence that is being a stay-at-home mom.

What I am here to say is that I want to show support and compassion to my fellow mamas fighting the good fight.  I’m here to say that I acknowledge how I could be feeding your inner perfection monster by sharing only pretty pictures of my home and life.  I’m here to say that I will make an effort to remind everyone that even though my bed was made in that picture I just posted on Instagram, that the rest of my house is messy, my laundry is not done, my refrigerator is empty, my kid has spaghetti sauce on his face and I’m still in my pajamas at 3PM.

Enter #realmomMonday.  A friend recently suggested that we should use this new hashtag to show the world motherhood in all its real, messy glory.  I think it’s a great idea and from here on out I will be sharing not-so-perfectly-styled snippets of my attempt at being the best mom I can be every Monday (or Tuesday, because real mom’s can’t always stick to a schedule).

I hope #realmomMonday catches on.  And when my fellow moms are feeling a bit overwhelmed at the thought of facing the new week, their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds will be filled with reminders from other moms that, while our lives may be messy, our love for our children is perfect and we are enough.  And that is all that matters.

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Everybody (HOME)talks

Do you have a new home?  Are you a DIY machine?  Is HGTV your favorite television channel?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, you would probably love to spend some time over at hometalk.  It’s a website that brings together a community readers interested in all things home, craft and DIY.  You can browse projects and pin to boards similar to Pinterest.  The difference with hometalk is that the site is very interactive so if you have a problem you can’t solve, post it to the page and watch all of the helpful hints roll in!

As a home decor and DIY blogger, hometalk is also a place where I like to share my projects.  I recently posted about the makeover of my in-laws’ basement that I helped to design a few years back.  If you aren’t familiar, you can check out details here.

Hometalk noticed that a lot of readers enjoyed the basement makeover, and one of the editors asked me to curate a board featuring finished basements.  After searching the site, I pulled together this board full of super creative ideas!

Hometalk

If you’re currently working to make over a basement or other entertainment space in your home, check out my board for some ideas to make your space functional, beautiful and comfortable!

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Small Projects that Pack a Meaningful Punch

IT’S A PROCESS.  This phrase is applicable in so many facets of life that I often get tired of hearing it (and saying it!).  But the fact is that anything worth doing takes time and hard work and perseverance.  I’ve been dedicating most of my time, hard work and perseverance to raising a tiny human who just had his first birthday party about a week ago.  All the while I’ve been watching my home blogging friends leave me in the dust as they trim their Christmas trees in preparation for holiday blogging, while there’s nary a pumpkin in sight on my blog and Halloween is 10 short days away!

I often get discouraged with my own progress when I see everyone else around me moving at the speed of light.  When this happens I try to remind myself that creating a beautiful home I love is a process and that I have made a ton of progress.  And when I’m drooling over DIY kitchen renovations all over the web and scratching my head over why I’ve only completed one item on my quite aggressive “to-do in 2014” list, I like to take a step back and reset my priorities.  Instead of stressing myself out by starting a project that will take way too long (i.e., my foyer stencil, which is still nowhere near complete) or cost way too much, I ask myself what I can do to make a meaningful impact on my home with a manageable amount of work in a reasonable amount of time.  This takes a bit of creative planning, but the payoff is always great.

Today I wanted to talk about the progress I’ve made in my front entry, and how biting off a smaller project in the midst of this massive transformation helped me to feel productive and, more importantly, happy.

Foyer Before

You might remember that when we moved into our house in November of 2012 the majority of the walls were painted or wallpapered in very fleshy, beige tones.  I traded in the beige for a warm white.  If you’ve toured my blog you might be surprised to see that I used white in such a large area of my home.  But I had big dreams for this big white space, the first of which was an eye-catching blue railing.

I also have plans for an insanely gorgeous and intricate stencil for beneath the chair rail on the first floor, which I’ve been working on for an embarrassingly long time.  I just can’t seem to find the time or motivation to knock out large chunks of the stencil during the week.  Right now I have three walls complete, and about six walls to go!  I also need to find the perfect console table, wall sconces, art, area rug and maybe even some plants to finish off this area of the house.  Translation: I need to spend a lot of time and, most likely, a lot of money to shape up this space.

Embrace My Space: Stencil

But enough about the down stairs, let’s walk up the steps and see what’s happening.  Oh, that’s right.  Not a whole lot.  This catwalk leads to my bedroom and I walk past this blank, white wall at least 10 times a day and then several more at night to get my son who still hasn’t discovered the delightfulness of SLEEP.

Embrace My Space: Blue Stairway

I’m sure you’ve experienced this before.  Maybe it’s the wall above your computer in your office or the empty cabinet in your dining room.  It’s the one space you look at time and time again thinking I really should do something here.  I look at this wall so many times a day, and it was just leaving me feeling quite cold and empty.  Ok, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I think you get what I’m saying.

But, with all the items on my to-do list as well as other unfinished projects lurking around every corner, did I really want to tackle this white wall?  I mean, the possibilities were endless.  It’s literally a blank slate.  The answer was a resounding YES!

So I did what I always do before I tackle a wall project: I shopped my house.  What did I have lying around that I loved but just didn’t have a place for yet?  I zeroed in on my DIY button monogram.  I made this back when I lived in Pittsburgh.  It’s a piece of matting from a frame store mounted inside a spray painted IKEA Ung Drill mirror frame.  The colors are certainly relevant in my new home and my last name hasn’t changed so this little DIY gem still worked for me.  Up it went smack dab in the middle of the wall.  This beauty hung by itself for a few weeks before I decided how to round out the wall on either side.

Button Monogram

After staring at the monogram for a while I realized that the funky frame and the gold buttons would work perfectly with these two gold trees I purchased at the Clover Market in Philadelphia last winter.  I went to the market with a few close girlfriends, and it was literally one of the first times I left my baby for more than an hour.  Even though I didn’t know where I was going to put them at the time, I snatched them right up!  They were just too weird not to buy.  The roosters are so cool, but, since I’m an avid babywearing mama, it was the mom wearing a baby on her back whilst riding a donkey with her family that really sold me! See if you can spot her.

trees

Finally, I’d been playing around with some family pictures on the Waterlogue app on my iPhone recently, but I just hadn’t committed to anything I’d created.  If you haven’t heard of Waterlogue, you must check it out.  The app turns any image into a watercolor.  Then you can save the watercolor to your phone and use it the same way you’d use any other image.  My friend Jill who blogs over at You Me & We introduced me to this fabulous app.  Jill has a great description of how the app works that you can check out here.  I figured this big, blank wall would be the perfect spot to use a few of my Waterlogue creations.

waterSo what do you get when you throw together a DIY project, flea market finds and some family photos turned into watercolors with the swipe on the iPhone?  This….

Embrace My Space: Family Watercolor

The collection is so simple and came together into a beautiful wall installation.  The combination of the preppy watercolors with the funky pieces is the perfect statement of my style, which I call coastal eclectic.  If you think about the pieces for too long, none of them really make sense together.  But there’s something about this collection that just plain works for me.

Embrace My Space: Family Watercolor

I ran some photos of my husband and I playing with our son on the beach through the Waterlogue app to create these gorgeous, personal pieces of art.  Family photos are awesome no matter what, but adding the special touch of the watercolor is a truly unique way to turn them into stand out pieces.  And let’s face it, photos of your family, favorite landmark or even a tree in your back yard that you took yourself are just so much more special than a run of the mill art piece you can buy at a big box store.

Watercolor

I printed my Waterlouge images onto canvas using the Tiny Prints website.  I’d heard of Tiny Prints through advertisements for their cards, thank you notes and invitations, but I didn’t realize the site also has a ton of home décor pieces.  When the prints arrived I was so happy that the coloring was perfect!  The canvas prints, which are mounted on sturdy wooden frames, were a bit thicker (probably close to an inch) than the prints I’d ordered from other sites in the past (closer to a half inch).  Waterlouge + Tiny Prints canvas = LOVE!

Embrace My Space: Family Watercolor

Nestled right in the corner of the landing is a rocking chair that has been in my husband’s family for a long time.  The tiny cane chair fits perfectly in the corner and I use it to display my woven wraps (baby carriers) when I’m not using them.  A perfect complement to the babywearing mama hanging out on the one tree.

Embrace My Space: Family Watercolor

When you simply look at my wall it seems really simple, right?  I measured, hammered 5 nails into the wall and, bada-bing, I’m done.  But when you think about it, this whole project from start to finish was quite the process.  I used a DIY project I created years ago, art I selected at a flea market over the winter and a photo-art project that required taking the pictures, creating the watercolors and working with the designer to bring them to life.  The finished product is small, but impactful.  Now every time I walk down the hall I have warm memories of my son’s first time at the shore, a fun girls’ trip to the flea market and my old Pittsburgh home.

The almost instant gratification I feel after completing a smaller, thoughtful project like this reminds me that curating a lovely home is all about the process.  It’s layers of projects, big and small, that come together to create a well-loved home.   And while I love a big ol’ before and after whole house makeover as much as the next guy or gal, I also love tabletop vignettes, well-placed souvenirs and other tiny moments that tell a story about a home and its owners that no can of paint or subway tile backsplash could ever do on its own.

Do you have a spot in your home that’s craving some attention?  Taking a few minutes to assess what small changes you could make to your home that would make your life easier or your day happier can lead to big results!

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