"By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it's established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." Proverbs 24:3-4

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Fresh Snow

I had a bit of a sore throat and headache for about three days.

The weather here was dull, muddy, and completely uninspiring.

School lessons during this time of year lose their satisfaction and appeal.

We were just plugging away at the mundane...

Until I had heard that we were to receive a fresh blanket of snow!

I was excited for the change of scenery, and went to bed the night before in anticipation...

I could hear the storm rolling in as I laid in bed...

(The children and I enjoy flipping through the pages of our vintage children's books to look for stories and pictures that relate to the season and weather we are experiencing...)

Sure enough, we awoke to a glorious winter wonderland...

Every scene out every window was dazzling white.

Finally feeling back to normal, I decided on an early morning nature walk out in the snow.

(You can't fully see the sparkle and glitter of fresh snow unless you are out there in it!)

The children were busy with their morning routine and chores, so I quickly rugged up and told them I would be back in fifteen minutes.

The morning sky was a peculiar bright blue!

The air felt frigid on my throat and in my lungs.

I was thankful for tall warm boots.

Country life is still and quiet...

Just the trees and trails for neighbors.

(Our trees are great neighbors! They don't play loud music or stick their nose in our business. *wink)

This land has become my dear friend.

I know it inside and out.

Often I've escaped to these trails for alone time just to think and ponder and pray...

I always return refreshed, and thankful for this life.

I did nothing to deserve it.

It's a gift from the Lord.

My walk took me down to our swing...

My favorite spot on all of our land!

It sure looks different dressed in winter.

Hard to believe that in only a couple of short months, the green will be growing again!

I made it back to the house in under fifteen minutes. 

My fingers were frozen but the rest of me remained perfectly warm. 

(You learn to invest in a good quality winter coat when you live in the north. As Micah says, "There's no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear.")

The children had completed their chores, Nola was on the piano, and Roman had begun his arithmetic.

My heart rate was a bit up from the brisk walk on unplowed trails, so I felt as though I had begun my morning with some good exercise.

It made me remember a time when an acquaintance said to me how she thought I had a nice life except that it was missing exercise.

I don't have any interest in bouncing around my living room in front of a workout DVD in order to get "exercise". I would always rather go for a walk, breathe in the fresh air, and soak up a little sunshine out in the fresh snow instead.



~ Courtney ~

Saturday, March 3, 2018

When the Basics are Luxuries

The postpartum years are blurry in my memory.

I had four babies in five and a half years.

But I can remember when everyday basics like showering and laundry suddenly became luxuries.

Even getting to the coffee pot each morning was difficult.

Tremendous obstacles had to be overcome in order to earn that first hot sip.

Obstacles such as... The baby would be crying, needing a diaper change and a morning feeding... The toddler would need to be rushed to the potty as quickly upon waking up as possible, or I'd pay the consequences of having to clean up a tinkle accident... And an older child would have tried to pour himself a cup of juice, but spilled it down the cabinets and onto the floor. 

This is a normal day in a home of babies and toddlers.

I knew it was up to me to keep order and peace. But for years there were many days when toys would be all over the floors and couches, and the best I could do for dinner was a frozen pizza.

I learned during those years to be content with "good enough" and to just focus on the basics.

Of course, every mother must decide for herself what her basics are. For me I was comfortable letting most things slide, but my basics were clean clothes and bedding, and good enough meals. (Like cutting up some fresh fruit to go wth our frozen pizza, haha!)

Having babies is an unordinary and hard time in life, so the first hurdle (in my opinion) is mental; just coming to terms with the fact that homemaking isn't going to flow smoothly. Don't expect to be able to mop floors, tidy rooms, and fold laundry with the same ease as before.

Cheryl Mendelson in her fantastic housekeeping book, Home Comforts writes an encouraging and reasonable standard for the home during hard times...

"The goal during these hard times is to adhere, more or less, to some workable minimal routine. If you can still cook simple meals and food preparation areas are safe and sanitary, if everyone has clean clothes, if the bedrooms are dusted, vacuumed, and aired and the bedding is fresh, you are doing well."

I learned a few tricks throughout my baby and toddler years. Nothing revolutionary, but they really helped me. "Survival tactics" I suppose they could be called. I'll share them here...

1. I kept my bible open at all times on my kitchen table.

Before I had my babies I would keep my bible in my bedroom and read at night before falling asleep, or early in the mornings before rushing out to work. That system quickly became impossible after children came along. There's no such thing as alone time in my room. So my solution was to move my bible down to the kitchen and keep it open. 

The kitchen is a woman's headquarters, and where I spend most of my time. So if I had a few minutes while the pasta water was coming to a boil, or while I was feeding the baby in the highchair, my bible would be right there, and I could easily read. But mainly it came in handy at breakfast time. I would sit with all my children while we ate, and I would read aloud to them. Looking back, this was a fruitful time in our lives. My children memorized all of Psalm 23 and other large portions of scripture during the years my bible lived on our kitchen table.

2. I showered at night.

I still do this actually, but I went from always showering in the mornings to showering at night when my first born was a baby. It was just too hard to figure out how to shower in the chaos of the mornings. So instead, once the children are tucked into bed, I shower in the peace and quiet of the evening. Micah is home and can listen for the children while I'm in the bathroom. This way all I have to do in the morning is wash my face and get dressed and I'm ready to begin on breakfast and child-care. 

3. I've taught my babies that they are not in charge; I AM!

This one is important in our modern day. I have observed many young parents who cater to their children's demands and live a child-centered life. I taught my babies to be content in strollers, highchairs, and pack 'n plays. Chaos reigns in homes where the children are free to do as they wish and the parents have no control. This certainly doesn't mean we've never had chaotic days. I just mean generally speaking, my children know that I am the boss and they are not.

An example...

If I wanted to go to the mall I would strap my babies in the stroller and shop for as long as I wanted. They knew they were just along for the ride. If they fussed I would NOT get them out! I knew that letting them out would only teach them that I would give in if they fussed when they wanted something. 


4. This too shall pass.

I used to hate it when people would tell me this, but it's true! On hard days when I would spin my wheels on diaper change after diaper change, mess after mess, and toddler tantrum after toddler tantrum, it would help me to remember that these years are temporary. And I'll never get them back! Sure enough, as I write this, my youngest now is already three and a half! Daily life isn't nearly as hard as it was several years ago. It flew by, indeed! 

I am no longer resorting to just the basics. I can fit more things into my day, and even delegate jobs to my older children! 

But the most beautiful reward for surviving this season of life, is that once you get your "normal" back, you are still able to see the basics as luxuries.

Maybe it's a perk, or a gift from the Lord? I don't know. But I do know that I haven't taken clean laundry, a good nights' sleep, or an obstacle-free cup of morning coffee for granted ever since!

"He hath made everything beautiful in His time." ~ Ecclesiastes 3:11

Take care friends,


~ Courtney ~

Thursday, March 1, 2018

An Update on our Family Room Project

Hello Friends! 

Welcome back to my blog on home living...

I hope you are enjoying your home life this winter!

We have found ourselves up to our eyeballs in a renovation project.

A few posts ago I shared with you that we are sprucing up our family room.

Since one of my goals for this blog is to record our home renovation projects, I thought it'd be a good idea to share what we've accomplished so far.

This photo was taken exactly a month ago...

I suppose it would be considered "before"...

The bookcases, fireplace, ceiling and beams were all installed by previous owners somewhere in the 1990's.

Because none of it is original to our old farmhouse, we have no issue with re-doing any of it.

Of course, it would be ideal if we had a 100-year old fireplace we could restore, but this is not a perfect world, and not a perfect house.

We have always just done the best we can with what we've been given. 

You may remember that Nola and I painted the walls this past fall, so the next step was to paint the beams and ceiling...

Micah ran the beams through his planer first, to give them a more polished finish.

It is always a messy process...

Just like in all other rooms we've redone, Micah has installed new crown moulding...

Hand-making the corner pieces himself...

(Elsa is wearing pajamas with an Easter bonnet, hahaha...)

Once the beams were refinished and the moulding was up, it was time to get started on painting...

We have the most adorable little helpers!...

I've helped a little with the painting, too, but Micah's done most of it so far...

One night, after the kids went to bed, he painted their names on the ceiling to surprise them when they woke up the next morning...

The kids got the biggest kick out of this!

(Little kids are so fun and easy to please, haha...)

Well, would you like to see it painted?

Our family room is now white!!!

I would LOVE to be able to show "after" pictures, but remember, we're only one month into the project. So these are "progress" pictures...

I really like how Micah's beams and moulding turned out!

A painting tip: 
I learned long ago that I love a sheen finish on my ceilings. It bounces the light around and gives the illusion of a taller, brighter room. The reason I mention this is because over the years professionals behind paint counters have always tried to talk us into a flat finish for our ceilings. When we stand our ground and say, "No thank you, we would like this mixed in a shiny finish" they reply that, "Most people paint their ceilings in a flat finish." Micah and I insist anyway on our shiny ceiling paint, and just smile at each other as we leave the paint store. Because he and I both know we are not 'most people'.
 Throughout our home our ceilings and trim have been painted in a sheen finish, and our walls in an egg shell finish. I have always been happy with this decision. It reflects the light around the room beautifully. 


Well friends, this is currently where we are in our family room renovation.

I plan to post more as we plug along!

to be continued...


~ Courtney ~

Monday, February 19, 2018

What to Wear at Home (in the Winter)

"When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet... She is clothed in fine linen and purple."
~ Proverbs 31:21-22

When I first became a wife and mother, I took no interest in looking my best at home.

Why should I? I reasoned. No one sees me!

When I would be out shopping, I only wanted to spend money on clothing that I could wear out in the world, because I didn't think that what I wore at home mattered. And when I would get ready for a day at home, I didn't want to waste my time, products, or nice clothes, so I would just scoop my (still damp) hair up into a clip, and put on a pair of old, faded sweat pants.

It wasn't until just somewhat recently that I began to question why I was doing this...

I spend most of my time at home... I thought to myself...

But I only look presentable when I go somewhere...



Home is the most important place!!!


I began to wonder what other stay-at-home mamas wore at home, so I decided to do a little research.

I couldn't find much for useful information on the topic!

Typing in 'what to wear at home' only resulted in advertisements for pajamas, and asking my friends, "What do you wear at home?" only resulted in laughs and confused looks!

There have been, however, research and writings done on the topic of dressing for success, but more for the workplace, not necessarily for at home.

Research shows that what we wear affects our mood and mental processes. So, why haven't I heard much about this concept being applied by mamas for life at home?

Well... today's post is my attempt to take matters into my own hands.

I am writing from the perspective of what I would have wanted and needed several years ago myself!

(But of course, please feel free to leave a comment if you have ideas to share!)

In my opinion, it all starts with a person's attitude!

Being able to enjoy winter at home requires a change of mind and heart. Don't think, I am cooped up in the house! Instead think, I am the Queen of my home, I get to be here and run it any way that I want! What a blessing!  And instead of wishing for green grass and nature walks, decide that being cozy at home with a fire and some baking or reading to do is just as pleasurable!

The beautiful author Fiona Ferris in her book, How to be Chic in the Winter, writes, "We are going to get winter every year whether we like it or not- it's at least a quarter of our life. And that's a good thing. I always think it is better to see another winter than not, don't you? Please don't wish away the cold season, because that means you are wishing away your life. Why not enjoy yourself instead?"

Isn't that inspiring?!

Now that we've changed our attitude, we want our appearance to reflect it!

"What a traditional woman did that made her home warm and alive was not dusting and laundry. Her real secret was that she identified herself with her home."
~ Cheryl Mendelson, Home Comforts 

I decided to begin this winter season with a handful of lovely sweaters and soft leggings meant to be worn at home.

I actually went out shopping to look for at-home clothing! (A much different approach to my usual shopping trips!)

I wanted my at-home clothes to be:

Soft and warm (because it's chilly!)

Comfortable and stretchy (because I deal with little kids all day!)

Reasonably priced (because I don't wish to be heartbroken if a little bleach spills on them!) 

And... Pretty! (because I want to feel good about myself while I work around the house.)   

This is an example of one of my at-home outfits...

I had Roman snap this picture of me about a month or so ago. (This topic's been on my mind to write about for a while!) But I've had my hair cut since then...

This photo was taken more recently...

I am hopeless when it comes to selfies, but another at-home outfit can be spotted here. I love this blush pink sweater. It's comfortable and I think it's beautiful.

I even purchased a nice warm pair of slippers for my at-home wardrobe...

They're soled, so when I put them on in the mornings it feels just like I'm getting dressed right down to my shoes.

"You act differently when you have clothes and shoes on. You are more professional."
~ FlyLady Marla Cilley

It feels good to finally take my role at home seriously in the way that I dress. I find that I work better and feel happier on my 'stay-at-home' days!

I have enjoyed my winter home clothing. I don't have much. Just several garments that I rotate and wear over and over. Like a uniform! 

Here's another example...

For me, part of getting dressed every morning also includes hair and makeup. Some women can look adorable with no makeup and a messy bun. I have never been so fortunate.

 If I am working on a task and I don't want to deal with hair in my eyes, I'll clip back my bang section, like this...

Some simple jewelry and a light spritz of perfume can take the doldrums out of any ordinary winter day and make your day feel special and dignified; like you're about to do something important... Because we are!!! 

"You have the most important job in the world, raising productive adults."
~ FlyLady Marla Cilley 

I realize as I write this, that we are in the middle of February, and most people by this point are over winter and anxious for spring! 

Me too! Me too!!!

But the truth is, (for those of us northerners) we still have quite a long way to go before we can safely pack away our wool, boots, and furs.

Fiona Ferris, on creating a capsule wardrobe - "It does not matter if you are in the middle of a season, you can still look at what you have, see what your favorite outfits are, lay everything out on your bed and start counting your items... If it's in the middle of a season, this is almost a better time to start, because you have already had some experience with your clothes for that season, and you can see what you're enjoying wearing, and what you are bypassing."

I sure hope this encourages you!

A couple of summers ago I dropped in unexpectedly on a friend. I was in her neighborhood and decided to pay her a quick visit. I was so delighted to see her in a bright, floral skirt with a matching v-neck tee. She was also wearing little ballet flats... And she's a stay-at-home mom! I was so inspired by her at-home outfit! It communicated to me her outlook and attitude- that she was happy with her home life!

(Perhaps in a few months I'll write 'What to Wear at Home in the Summer'.)

"When we put on a piece of clothing we cannot help but adopt some of the characteristics associated with it, even if we are unaware of it."
~ Professor Karen Pine 

Well friends, whatever you choose to wear at home, I hope it makes you feel like the Queen of your castle that I know you are!

Until next time...


~ Courtney ~

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy Valentine's Day!

"Oh, if it be to choose and call thee mine, love, thou art every day my Valentine!"
~ Thomas Hood

I'm just popping in quickly today to say, "Happy Valentine's Day!" to my dear, sweet readers... my friends... that's YOU!

I hope you are lavished with love today!

This bouquet of roses was waiting for me in the kitchen, with a love letter... my favorite!!!

And Roman, who's nine, brought me breakfast in bed...

I know YOU will be spoiled today, too! 

"I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck."
~ Emma Goldman

(I must say, I agree!)

I am sure your day will be filled with all sorts of special and lovely things...

We have made our cards...

And baked our treats...

(The kids love to help frost and decorate...)

And had our "Red Dinner" (a family tradition) on Valentine's Eve...

(The kids hung the hearts themselves!)

But what about YOU?...

What will you do?

Whatever it is I'm sure you'll make it wonderful and those closest to you will feel loved!

Remember to read today from the greatest love letter ever written... God's Word!

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we may be called children of God; and that is what we are!"
~ 1 John 3:1

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life."
~ John 3:16

We are so loved!!!

Make it an extraordinary Valentine's day, friends!

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."
~ Eden Ahbez


~ Courtney ~