Two Story Cottage

When Trends Don’t Work for You

Dear Friends,

Earlier this year, I had a mini-blog crisis where I wasn’t motivated to write.  Part of it was moving, part of it was the summer schedule, but a big chunk of that was a lack of motivation regarding home decor.  I just wasn’t excited about the usual makeover madness.  I aimlessly flipped through my favorite magazines.  I was stuck in a parallel universe where everything decor-related was a big, fat Eh.

I finally realized that it was a trends-related decorating block.

I’m just not in love with about 95% of what is in style at the moment.  That doesn’t mean I don’t like it.  I certainly appreciate the amazing work of many others but when it all comes down to it isn’t me.


*I don’t love 70’s decor. Midcentury is fine but I’m not interested in most everything else.
And there is A LOT of that right now.

*Navajo style is beautiful but doesn’t jive with my colors and style.

*I don’t own an animal head although never say never on this one.

*White walls are nice but I’m not driven to bust out the paint roller.

*Gold is fun but I like to mix my metals.  I’ll take it in small doses.

*Cowhide made me sort-of shudder until I got my fab family room pillows.
Maybe I’m a convert there.

*Dream catchers are fun but I don’t see me getting on board.


Do you ever feel like the lone person not jumping on the trends train?  Well, the good news is traditional and transitional decor will always be around.  Stick with the classics and you can never go wrong.  Invest in less expensive trendy accessories like pillows and side tables if you enjoy them.

do love wallpaper, banquette benches, and angel wings.  I’m not exactly bucking the trends with an anti-conformist rock the boat sort-of protest.  I’m just saying that my style isn’t what is out there right now. Regardless, I think you can always learn something from the current bandwagon fashion whether you are inspired or wrinkling your nose.

After all, chevron has become a household staple and I wasn’t sure at first.

What are your thoughts on the current gotta-have-them trends out there?








Restoring the Balance

Dear Friends,

Change is hard but it can be good.   I’ve made done some life-tweaking this fall that has lifted my spirits immensely.  Somehow, I got on this blog train 3 and 1/2 years ago and it was smooth sailing until all of a sudden it wasn’t.  I felt like a speeding bullet about to derail at any second. When I started blogging, I needed an outlet.  I was at home 24/7 with two small children.  My husband worked long hours and this was my answer to keeping my sanity.

I loved it.

Suddenly, I’m a Mom of school-aged children, spending hours in the car taking people places, volunteering, and “killing time” between preschool and big school.   Nap time has been replaced by quiet time where nine times out of ten I’m attempting some sort of vegan allergy-friendly concoction for the boy.  The afternoons are now filled with reading and outdoor play. Blogging has become an early morning or night time activity.

I’m not loving it.

BUT I don’t want to stop.  I do have a couple of “free” mornings each week due to preschool.  I pictured myself using that time for the blog but instead I’ve chosen to invest it in myself.   I was a runner before all of this started and a pretty healthy person.  Over the past three years, blogging has replaced exercise and tipped my mental scales out of balance.  I’ve always believed in moderation,  yet I’m not practicing what I preach.


I’m proud that I’ve never let it interfere with the kids.  I’m proud that they don’t associate me with a computer; however, I am trying to create a universe where I can blog AND exercise AND maintain relationships with others.

Does that exist?  Maybe.

Running 3 days a week has nearly cured me.  Following along on a “light” version of a year-long Bible class is challenging me in a positive way.  Mumford and Sons and the iPod are a close third for nurturing the soul.

This isn’t about quitting or about finding an answer or solution.  No tips for squeezing the most of the day.  I’m just a girl trying to stay content, be a good mom, and do a little good where I can.

My blog is lean at times, my pictures are fodder for photography failure, and I don’t always have the answers.  I just want you to know that when you land here,  I’m doing my best.




Fighting the Urge to Hoard

Dear Friends,

I consider myself to be pretty good about purging, especially in recent months.  Why, I’m practically a minimalist.  Or not.  I had a recent revelation regarding a mountain of decorating magazines.


Every Better Homes and Gardens, Southern Living, and House Beautiful for the last few years. Add to that a few random off-the-shelf purchases, plus a few retired mags, and you have the motherload of media stealing space in my hutch cabinet. The first step is admitting the problem.  I was in denial until the unthinkable happened.

I couldn’t stuff another magazine in the shelf.

And the door wouldn’t close.

All at once.

Talk about a buy one get one free wake-up call.  This was no different than an attic full of Reader’s Digests and I refuse to be crazy lady who can’t climb into her bed because magazines have taken over the house.

Dramatic much?

Well, you start with one cabinet and multiply that by a couple decades and I’d be in real trouble.  TLC would be calling and the irony would be that my love for decor started a design nightmare.

Okay, enough is enough.  Here are the rules:

1) I’m going through one or two magazines a day.  If I love it, I rip out the page.  I can put them in a binder later on.

2) I can keep a few extra special issues.

In the days of the Pinterest and other digital inspiration, it is good to know that magazines are king.  I still jump up and down when BHG comes.  I save it and pour over every inch.

I know I’m not the only one.

Do you have a cabinet of shame?



Fall Decor Confessions

Dear Friends,

Fall decor is not always contrived around here.  In between the burlap and gold, I try to include some kid-friendly elements.  This is a family home and more often than not the “styled” parts are hidden gems.   You’ll find laundry, school stuff, paperwork, mail, newspapers, and usually a wayward shoe if you look not-so-carefully.  Dig deeper, and the the liability is yours alone.


There is also spontaneous thrown together decor. In my hurried attempt at spreading fall cheer, I made up a quote for the chalkboard.  Pure laziness.   I couldn’t even be bothered to google.  I can’t fool you – this is how I roll.  Did you notice it is also the shortest quote humanly possible?  That is by design, folks.


I let the kids paint pumpkins and apples for display.  Actually, that isn’t the “real” story.  I could say, “look at what my sweet, perfectly perfect kids did after school today” and you would say, “aww, she is some mom.”  In reality, I had run out of construction paper and Lacey wanted to paint.  I had the brilliant idea of using a spare pumpkin.  Well, what do you think child #2 wanted when child #1 got to paint a pumpkin?  Uh huh.  And do you think I had any more random little pumpkins? Uh,no. Which is why apples from our refrigerator are now covered in paint.

So much for tomorrow’s fruit in the lunch box.


This spider web is a hot mess if I’ve ever seen one.  I let the children do it together and they used enough tape so that I have no doubt it is probably permanently attached to the wall.   One day, when we sell this house I will try to leave my special spider web out of the mls pictures.  Wouldn’t want to scare anyone with that in the middle of the summer.

Did you get my Charlotte’s Web joke?

This decor makes me just as happy as any attempt at designer goodness.  I’m also less critical of it.  I’m not trying to change it or eye what is wrong with it.

A beautiful home has balance.  We tip the scales both directions but I aim for the middle most days.




Gardening Gone Wild

Dear Friends,

As you know, gardening is not my forte.  I’m not hopeless, but my plantings are always average at best.  Never spectacular or even that noticeable.  Forget nursery-worthy!

On the plus side, I can usually keep them alive.  Occasionally, even resuscitate a plant in dire need.  I could earn a Girl Scout badge if I had to.

This summer was a whole new venture in landscaping.  As I’ve said forty thousand times, we had weeks of never-ending rain.   Due to nature’s own sprinkler system, there was growth- Jack & the Bean Stalk style.  It was such an anomaly that I’ll probably be telling my grandchildren about it.  The story would be titled , “The Summer the Plants Ate Our House.”


This is the part where you tell me I should have trimmed.


In my defense, I  planted, I watered,  and I even deadheaded which is practically above and beyond in my world.

Thank goodness I didn’t fertilize.


Can you tell I’m the girl who waits until her hair is split end central before a trim?

Luckily, it looks fine and dandy from the road.  Colorful and you can’t tell it is out of control.   Thank goodness nobody ever comes to the front door.


The seasonal plantings aren’t the only out-of-control landscaping.  We have bushes that have tripled in size. A few plants bit the dust due to rot, but for the most part stuff has thrived and then some. 

I’ll be rethinking my summer planting choices for next year.  Of course, it will probably be a record-setting drought.

Is your landscaping on steroids?


You can see the “before” here.  Crazy-town, I tell ya.


The Naked House

Dear Friends,

Mr. C thinks mentioned recently that it looks like we are moving.  We aren’t but I get his drift. It certainly feels that way at our house right now! I’ve gone into back-to-basics mode and done some serious decor removal.   It isn’t permanent but I wanted a chance to ponder a few spaces without interference for a little bit.

I can even pretend to be a minimalist if I want to.


Honestly, it started with the broken lamp heard round the internet.  I stowed the sofa table in the hall so I could evaluate what I wanted  to do with the space behind the sofa.  Somehow, emptying the mantel helped me think.   I needed a clear picture to figure out what will work best.

Like decorating dominoes, one thing led to another.


I cannot leave the sofa hanging out with a naked backside.  It just wouldn’t be right.  The wheels are turning and I’m working on a solution.

In the back of my mind, I’m also prepping for a few things coming my way from my grandmother’s house.  As I mentioned, she passed away earlier this month.  She didn’t own much and lived simply in her two bedroom place, but there are still treasures in the form of furniture, dishes, pitchers, glassware, etc.   Sentimental items mixed with fun, vintage decor.

Just like I’m not afraid to add things, I’m not intimidated by subtraction, although math was not my friend in school.  I’d like to make sure that we are using our house as efficiently as we can.  I like my pretty and practical to collide.  Another thing I’m contemplating while the blank walls are talking to me.


I kept it real for you today.  A photo of not just our lack of curtains, but an everyday mess. No staging – this is how we live.  We aren’t a robot family, you know.

I told Lacey that starting kindergarten at a brand new school was a blank slate.  I’m liking the idea right now, truth be told.  We can blame the broken lamp but sometimes, you just need to breathe.


P.S.  I see the pictures and am itching to decorate.  Maybe I am cured.  Oh, the ideas…

Ode to A Good Lamp

Dear Friends,

The inevitable happened.  If you follow me on instagram, you may have heard the sad news. One of my sofa table lamps bit the dust, quite literally in fact.   One minute it was a pillar of strength and an example of “why yes, I can have breakable things with small children, so there.”  The next second it became a giant “I told you so.”

It may have had nine lives.


Precarious indeed but I had time on my side of the argument.  We had made it over a year with the lamps playing chicken in a high traffic area.  It was nearly absurd so the fact that it happened proves that all is right with the universe.

Now I have to decide what to do.  A first world problem for sure, but it really changes the vibe of the family room.  Do I keep the widowed lamp and let it live a lonely, single life and decorate around it?  Do I go shopping for new ones knowing that their days are numbered?

I know a shorter lamp with a round booty would have a better shot at a full life.  Sir Mix-A-Lot sure thinks so.  It would look better too. However, I don’t know if I want to tempt fate again.

To buy or not to buy.

I’d go cheap again for sure.  Those lamps were HomeGoods lovelies that I already owned.  Otherwise I would have gone for something a little less statuesque.

And for the record, Reid knocked into the table.  It wasn’t Mr. C.  He had more near-misses with them than anyone in our family but was not the guilty party in the end.

The odds will catch up with you.  Perhaps I’ll go buy a Powerball ticket.

Happy Weekend, people!


P.S.  I was not actually at home when it happened which does lead to all sorts of conspiracy theories.  If you are the X-Files type, anyway.



Haven Conference 2013 Recap

Dear Friends,

I had the opportunity to attend the Haven blog conference over the weekend.   It had been over a year since I’d brushed up on blogging but let’s be honest I was most excited about attending DESIGN sessions by some very talented individuals.

I’ve been blah about blogging this summer.  I truly enjoy it so it hasn’t been an imposition but I was in a creativity ditch that was smothering my attitude.


I’m good now.

A blogging conference with other people in your niche will inspire you like nothing else.  I’ve got ideas whirling through my brain Wizard of Oz-style.  It wasn’t anything I saw in particular but more of a feel.  The buzz of my people.

Sometimes you need to get out of your bubble.

Managing Reid’s extensive food allergies has been a mind-sucking vortex that left me feeling like a dulled version of myself.    I haven’t felt negative but just tired.

I’m cured and ready to get my passion back.

I’m a student of design right now.  Not in the back to college sense but in the soak in the magic, study the masters way. And instead of drooling like a puppy over my design idols, I’m learning from them.


Ashley {the handmade home} and Me {duh}

Ashley of The Handmade Home, Kristin of The Hunted Interior, Amanda of Amanda Carol Interiors, Sarah of The Yellow Cape Cod, and Emily A. Clark are in my virtual textbook.

Studying is fun, people!

I’m cultivating new relationships with Carrie from Making Lemonade, Jessica from Decor Adventures, Lindsay from Life of Splendor,  Holly of hcb interiors,  Angela of Unexpected Elegance, and Jena of Involving Color.

Fun times were plentiful at the conference.  Sponsored parties with umbrella-wielding gentleman, a Haven exclusive DIY shuffle, pink cocktail drinks, and loads of chocolate.   Girls just want to have fun indeed!

Often conference wrap-up posts are kind of a who’s who celebrity run-down but I’m going to stay away from that this year. I’ve grown and I feel comfortable in my blogging place.  I put on my big girl pants, drove to a CRAZY city, and started conversations with people I didn’t know.   I’m starting to see this mad hobby as a marathon that I’ve barely begun.

One step at a time.





Ode to the Tchotchke

Dear Friends,

Sometimes it’s the little things.  The tiny trinkets that make a house a home.  Of course there are Mommy Treasures, but I’m referring to the things that we pick up here and there just because.  Special souvenirs or even dollar store finds.  The not-your-taste pottery from your favorite Aunt or a special picture frame that makes your heart sing.   Some trifles make us tingle and others are put in a special drawer, awaiting a visit from a certain family member. That relative who is sure to ask where the parakeet statue is before crossing the threshold into your home.

Thank goodness for special drawers.  None were needed for this post.


Do you see the book that is made to look like the number four, sitting on the ottoman?  I like that it represents our family, although Lacey is quick to point out that it should be a five to include our dog.


That houndstooth cup is from the Target dollar bin but it gives me a little zing every time I see it.  I can’t put my finger on it, but why question a warm fuzzy?


A picture frame with a romantic message is a sentimental piece.  I’m a sucker for love.


An antique candle snuffer with no place else to go.  And yes, it is still spring so the eggs stay.


And my newest treasures, the inspiration behind this post.  My sister brought me the vase and hand-carved owl from her trip to Greece.

While I was one man down last week, driving all over the planet for end of school activities, Emily was sipping wine and eating fried Feta Cheese overlooking the sea.  I tried to emulate by watching Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and having souvlaki for dinner on the porch but it was not quite the same.   I’m sweating through swim practice, getting texts about red beaches and cliff jumping.

While I’m tempted to jump off the closest cliff the last weeks of May, June brings a joy that keeps me on the brink of sanity.

One week left and summer will be ours.

Do you have any sentimental figures or crazy tchotchkes that keep things fun?


Jeans & Confessions

Dear Friends,

Sometimes this blog gives people the crazy notion that my house is “perfect”.  Say what?  I dislike the idea of any unattainable, I’ve-got-it-perfectly-together image out there.  I’m sure Mr. C would be happy to correct any misconceptions.    We all have things that make us tick. For me, it is home decor.  Creating.  If it makes you feel better, the guest room could be confused with a storage unit.  Minus the dead bodies.

If you are looking for flaws, my car looks like someone has been living in it.  I’m afraid to dig through my purse for fear of what I might find.  For the love of Pete, just don’t let it be sticky. Eventually, I will clean them both out.  But the cycle will start over.  I’m as predictable as a TV sitcom.

On the flip side, I keep up with the laundry and the dishes and the paper clutter.  It is the only way I know to keep my inner slob at bay.  She is forced to live in my purse and in the car.


Take #43

Wait, wasn’t this post about jeans?

I’m in a jeans drought.  I’ve never, ever been in a jeans drought.  My “about me” page says that I love jeans.  I’m a recovering jeans-a-holic. I’ve been known to collect them. I have paid big money for fancy jeans and less than $10 for an Old Navy pair.  I still wear those by the way.

So, how did I end up with a closet full of worn-out jeans with holes?   For starters, I can’t remember the last time I shopped for clothes.  I shop for “home” things but recent clothes and accessories purchases have mostly come from Target or Marshall’s because both of those places carry home decor.  My socks have holes in them, my bra has been bleached too many times, and my pajamas have chocolate stains.

I’m about five degrees short of a hot mess, y’all.

Mr. C asked me the other day why I haven’t gotten new socks. Um.  I guess I don’t pass the sock aisle on the way to the home stuff?  In my defense, my kids are well-stocked in socks. Huh.

I’ve managed to stay in style with cardigans and statement necklaces and scarfs and boots.  I can mix and match with the best of them.   The styling part of home decor carries over to fashion which has kept me relatively in the loop despite my lack of new material.


But I need jeans.  And I  want good ones.  Not too heavy or I’ll feel confined.  Lightweight, butt- hugging but comfortable.   Not heavily distressed or adorned with a lot of extras.  Tough enough for the soccer field but dressy enough for date night.   Not so low that I can’t sit in My Gym without flashing the teacher.  Eww.

Now that I’ve poured out all of my imperfections, I need your help.  What are your favorite jeans?  Expensive or cheap, I want to know.

Thanks for your help!  Now, I’ve got some socks to throw away…






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