Two Story Cottage

Summer Days

Dear Friends,

It isn’t officially summer by the calendar but it has arrived at our house.  Triple digit temperatures are forecasted for today and school is over for both kids.  I’m not sure it gets any more legit than that.   We have already started watching Mr. C at church softball games, itching and sweating, which definitely is a sign of the summer.

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Reid is officially finished with preschool.  I am no longer a preschool Mom.  I spent seven years hauling kids in and out of our preschool so it was a little tough to say goodbye.  I was sad and glad in equal parts.  There is nostalgia and gratitude but excitement regarding the experiences to come.  Regardless, it is the end of an era in my life as a mom.

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first day & last day of first grade 

Lacey and I got to spend a week of ”just girls” time together because her school let out a week before Reid’s preschool.  I’m excited for everyone to be on the same schedule next year but I’ll miss the special one-on-one time I have with each child right now.  Lacey and I cram in a lot of treats when it is just the two of us.  No allergies to worry about which is nice!

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Summer brings swim team which is already half over.  Both kids are doing it this year which means two happy kids attend practices and meets.  Reid has waited two years for his turn! I hold my breath every time he is on the block because just making it all the way across the pool is a big deal right now. Lacey is in 7 & 8’s where she gets to do all of the strokes which is exciting, but also means longer meets.

It is our first year going to the pool where we can sit on the side and not have to get in.  Sort-of. Every year brings new freedoms and this is one I’m relishing.  I still have to watch Reid like a hawk, but I’m happy to be dry and free of children pulling on my suit.

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T-ball is over now.  Spring sports are fun but so consuming.  I’m glad for a break from the action.  Lacey played golf and still has a handful of summer lessons but that is easy breezy without school in session.   Most of all, I’m excited not to rush everywhere all of the time.

The kids have a few little camps on the agenda but we are pretty free in June.  I’m thankful for the time to slow down and mellow a bit. I’m hoping for a lot of outdoor time before it gets insanely hot.

When did these kids get so big anyway?

-Erin

 

 

A Guest Room Confession + Big News

Dear Friends,

You might remember the many times that I have alluded to my sister’s future children.  They were figments of my imagination but a girl can always hope.  It turns out that all of that penny- wishing in the fountain made my dreams come true.  My little sister is EXPECTING and I couldn’t be more excited.   She is due in July with a baby girl.   Having been due the same month with baby Lacey (seven years ago!),  I feel a special connection to my future niece.

In fact I plan on stealing her as often as possible.  I’m going to be the crazy Aunt.

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In order to ensure that I get enough baby time,  I kept our crib to put in the guest room.   You have to plant the seed early you know.   The only problem – our guest room is pure chaos.   We don’t have any furniture except for the bed and side table so there should be room for a crib.  But the piles.  Ohhh, the piles.  They will eat the baby alive.

That is a horror movie we could do without.

People always assume that I am organized and orderly.  They imagine a perfectly staged model house and I’m not even close.   This past fall, the guest room was grounds for a call to TLC and an episode of Hoarders.  Not only was it not suitable for a crib OR a visitor,  it was a decorating junkyard.  Or a children’ s consignment store.  Or one giant yard sale.

Since moving into this home I have managed to keep most of our closets and rooms pretty tidy.   And it is mostly because anything questionable landed in the guest room.   It became the graveyard of, “maybe I’ll use this somewhere.”  And the home of, “I don’t want to Goodwill that – someone I know may want it. ”   My favorite, “I’ll hold onto it – maybe I can spray paint it” became a mantra of sorts.

I started to fear the room.  Just walking by it made me sort of hot and uncomfortable.  I was having vivid images of my grandmother’s basement with her lifetime supply of church bulletins and newspaper bags.

Sometimes you need a reason to suck it up and tackle the tough stuff.   I had to take deep breaths and do meditative yoga first, but I started the sorting process.

And sorted.  And boxed.  And toted.  And sorted.  And consigned.  And organized.  I quit a couple of times.  I had a mini-tantrum where I channeled my six year old, threw myself on the partially covered bed and declared it an impossible task.  There may have been foot stomping involved.

But I’m no longer knee-deep in stuff.  I can see my ankles and the surface of the bed.   The crib is inside of the room.   I’ve still got piles to go before I sleep (couldn’t resist) but the space is taking shape.  I will debut it in on the blog for the first time ever as soon as I can!

A beautiful room is hiding in this space and I’m determined to let it out.

-Erin

P.S.  Maybe I’m channeling the second trimester burst of energy.   I can’t wait until Emily get the nesting bug!

 

 

Swagger Wagon

Dear Friends,

It’s official.  I’m a minivan owner. I’ve joined the club and there is no looking back.  Of course, swagger wagon sounds better.  Gotta use the hip lingo to prove I haven’t completely turned in my cool card.  Oh wait.  I’m not sure I was a member of that club anyway.

If you were wondering why there were no costly house projects in 2013, this would be the reason.   We were planning our big purchase for months.  I was in denial until the big day but I’m glad I caved.

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I’ll admit, I took a long time to come around on the van idea.  I loved the idea of tooling around in my green CR-V with the two kids, not needing the giant hauler.  I was above it in my mind.  I know, total vanity is not-so-attractive, especially when up on the high horse. I fell hard from that perch when kindergarten started.   Driving across town to school and back is a beast, particularly since I couldn’t carpool with anyone.  My CR-V did not fit a third in the middle with a carseat and booster.

No carpooling.  No friends over.  No room for the dog.

I could have done a larger SUV.  It would have worked and I could have avoided official Soccer Mom status.   However, half of the carpool line is big black vehicles so I think they are poorly disguised Mom-mobiles anyway.   And I’m proud to be a Mom so I might as well wear it like a badge of honor.

The truth? Those sliding doors are like butter, y’all.

I’ve fallen head over heels in love in less than a month.  I’m going to be one of those Moms that tries to convert everyone in sight. Have you seen a power lift gate in action? Magic does exist.  And Mr. C likes it just as much as I do.  The technology has won him over.   Pure luxury on wheels.

The next thing you know I’ll be cutting my hair off.  It’s about time.

-Erin

 

 

 

Mimi’s Things {a collection}

Dear Friends,

Part of our whirlwind summer included cleaning out my grandmother’s home.  It reminded me of moving; you get to that point where you feel as if you are drowning in stuff and will never be able to surface for air.   There were fond memories and sentimental finds, but for the most part is was a get-the-clutter-to-the-right-donation center sort-of task.  Those depression-era folks keep everything from bread ties to threadbare towels.

I came home with the notion that perhaps I should get rid of everything I own. It is no accident that I’ve been in purge mode for weeks now.

The sunny side of cleaning out a person’s possesions is the special treasures.  I found a few more than I intended to take home.  Some I kept for sentimental reasons and others for aesthetics, but either way I am making room for more.

Yes, above I was talking about getting rid of things and now I’m adding to my collection.  The irony is not lost on me.

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That washing pitcher is a personal favorite.  I admired it from the time I was a young girl.

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The lamp is one of several my grandmother owned of that style.  The hand-held egg beater represents her love of cooking.  She was old school in so many ways.  The birdie soap dish was a gift from a friend in her later years and I couldn’t resist.

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Ahh.  The piece de resistance!  An Industrial Revolution-era chest of drawers.  My grandmother didn’t own much furniture so this is special.  I really dig the style.

glass_teacup_occupied_japanA “made in occupied Japan” bowl was most likely sent from my grandfather during World War II.  Hello, beautiful history!  The vase was a gift from us on her birthday many years ago.   The date happened to be September 11, 2001 and I vividly remember our conversation that day.

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Another white pitcher.  I love the age and wear it shows.

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I got talked into that little table at the last minute and now I’m glad.  It has personality and is very versatile.

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I love the milk glass!  That was a no-brainer.  The pictures are Lacey & Reid, but my grandmother wrote on them.  I like looking at her hand-writing.

I have so many wonderful memories of “Mimi.”  She lived a long, simple, content life yet she was a force to be reckoned with.  She was a huge presence in my world and I love the feel of her things in my home.

My home is a little bit cozier with the latest additions.  Now, I have to actually figure out where to put them!

-Erin

Dragonfly Design {Fabric Inspired}

Dear Friends,

Thanks for all of your input on the fabric samples!  I’ll keep you posted on the outcome.  I’m also going to track down fabric sources this weekend.   I can tell you the dragonfly pattern was a definite yes the minute I saw it.  I have a little thing for dragonflies.   I have them here and there throughout my house.  I don’t want to be the crazy dragonfly collector lady with an overload of kitschy dragonfly doodads.  My affinity is a little more subtle and I hope to keep it in the realm of normal.  Whatever that means.

I think it might have started because of my love for the Dragonfly Inn on Gilmore Girls.  Can I say best show ever on TV?  Except for Friday Night Lights of course.  Oh, did anyone see the finale of The Office?  Thoughts? #jimandpamforever

ANYWAY, I thought I’d find some dragonfly inspired pics for you to peruse while you drink your dragonfly tea in a dragonfly mug.

Now that would be too much.  Just to clarify, I own neither of those things.

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Dragonfly source
I had the bronze version of this door knocker on our old front door!
Not everything is my style but I’m going to show the love to any and all of my fellow dragonfly divas.  This has inspired me to do a treasure hunt and photograph all of my dragonflies. Maybe I am the crazy dragonfly lady after all.
TGIF!!
-Erin

Corner Porch Update: My Cozy Spot

Dear Friends,

I had a very blessed Mother’s Day weekend.  One of my dear friends hosted a special brunch on Saturday so I was spoiled two days in a row.  My mother was in Durham, NC visiting my ill grandmother meaning our traditional coffee date will have to wait. A little bittersweet but Mother’s Day is for so many.   I look at what I have in my family and realize I have little to complain about.

Thanks to Mr. C, I savored a little slice of peace yesterday afternoon, reading on our corner porch.   I have spruced it up a tad since the last time you saw it so I thought I’d share the updates.

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Whoa, chevron.  This rug was my chevron initiation and I’ve had it since last fall.  I’m pleased with how it held up over the winter.

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The original striped Dash & Albert rug (pictured above) is now residing on the screened porch.

 

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I can see it from my kitchen so it is nice to have something neutral that is attractive. It also covers an accidental spray paint stain.  Occupational hazard, right?

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My second World Market garden stool ended up out here.  I needed a perch for my coffee and it works nicely.  I can grab it back if I need it in the family room. I’ve had this throw for a few years now and the fact that it coordinates is a happy accident.  I was skeptical about leaving it outside but it is machine washable.   So far, so good and it has been a very yellow spring.

I think of this porch as my personal oasis.  A little selfish maybe, but it has become my little spot to get away from it all.

Do you have a special cozy spot in your home?

-Erin

 

 

 

Welcome, Home.

Dear Friends,
Welcome, Home!  This is my new site and the permanent home for Two Story Cottage.  The change has been in progress for many months so to say that it is exciting to reveal is an understatement.  I know it is a little bit different than what you are used to but I hope you will grow to like the new platform.

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I’m ready for an easier time commenting back & forth with readers. I’m also going to be accepting advertisers on the sidebar.  I’d love to help etsy shop owners and crafters promote their businesses.

WordPress is new to me so if you have any experience and/or advice, please let me know.  I know that it opens a lot of new possibilities but I’ll have to work through the learning curve first.

So, welcome to my new home & have a glass of sweet tea on me.  Or a printable anyway.

 

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Download the high-resolution, watermark-free pdf by clicking the picture.

The printable is sized to 5 by 7.

Thanks for all of your continued support!

Erin

 

Growth & Change {Blogging}

Dear Friends,
    I like to pretend that this blog is not important to me.  It keeps me from stressing over something that is mostly a joy.  I had heart palpatations when I joined an ad network last year.  It required accountability and a transition in thinking.  Hobby or job?  I do better thinking of this as my little side vocation.

Growth has brought the need for something more.  I have a new blog design that will premiering this week.  A whole new website.  The real deal.  I invested in this little venture.  I invested in myself.

As if the website wasn’t enough, I finally bit the bullet and got my big girl camera.  I don’t really know how to use it yet but it feels right.  Some people might spend eight years of credit card points on a vacation. Or airline miles.  I invested mine.

One of the best parts of my new blogging platform will be my ability to engage better with my readers.  If you comment and I reply, you should get it by email (fingers crossed) as opposed to now where my replies disappear into the great blue yonder.

If this blog brings me nothing more than what it has so far, I am satisfied.  Thank you for being my virtual sidekick as I figure out this design journey.  I will make mistakes.   I may only have one good project a month.   But if you stick with me, we can grow together.

Work in progress and all.  Didn’t think I would change that, did you?

A New Gig & A Lesson For the New Year

Dear Friends,
    On the cusp of a new year,  I’ve got an exciting assignment on the horizon.  I’ve been accepted to the 2013 Design Team for the Charlotte Observer and News & Observer (Raleigh).   That just means that I’ll make an occasional appearance in the “Home” section of the newspaper with my thoughts on a particular design topic.

In fact, I was in the paper on Saturday much to my surprise.  I didn’t know when it would actually be in print.  

The article is about trends in home decor for 2013.
Want to know what is “in” and what is “out”?  Go here to read the whole thing.

The lesson here?  I applied last January but got denied.  I was attempting to put myself out there which was one of my blog goals for 2012.  I did but it didn’t happen and I patted myself on the back for trying.

Fast forward to Thanksgiving this year when I was asked to be on next year’s squad.  Yep, sometimes putting yourself out there pays off in the long run.

A good reminder with 2013 on the way!   Do you have anything you need to get out of your comfort zone for?

I’ll admit when my very nice neighbor came over with an extra copy of the newspaper reality set in.  I’m trying not to think about all the people I know that will now see my blog.  It wasn’t exactly a secret but it was tucked nicely away in my nest of things that not that many people know about.

My comfort zone just disappeared into a cloud of smoke.  Poof!

Bring it, 2013,  I say with a brave face while quaking in my boots.

Wednesday Musings: Mr. C & Me {Ten Year Anniversary}

Dear Friends,
   It’s official.  I have been married for a decade.  I’m cool with that but I’m just not sure where all those years went.  The first five are memorable.  The last five?  A bit of a blur.  Two moves and two kids might play a role.

It is so fuzzy you would think it was 30+ years ago.

To celebrate we escaped the children and hopped on a jet plane to Maine.  We hadn’t had an official “trip” since Lacey was two.  We almost bailed at the first of the month.  We made the plans in January but it suddenly seemed too difficult.  Too tough to leave work for Mr. C.  Too scary to leave the kids for me.  Too sandwiched in between other summer travel and obligations.  Too many what-ifs.

But we came to our senses.

The kids spent two nights with my parents and two nights with Mr. C’s parents and everyone stayed here in Charlotte.  Dividing the time ensures that nobody gets overwhelmed.  The two little people plus an aging dog with bladder issues are a lot to leave behind.

This is the post where I talk about our anniversary.  Mr. C & I needed that time.  That irreplaceable one- on- one slice of sanity.  Mr. C is a good man.  Solid, with a moral compass the size of Texas.  And a sense of humor as juvenile as mine.

But dealing with me at the end of the day can be like fishing in a dry creek-bed.  My energy and humor have dwindled to an unmeasurable trickle.

We needed time to just be.  To soak up what makes us work so well.  That bottom line that makes us giddy.

Oh,  And traveling without children?  It has been awhile.

The airport?  A cinch.  If Mr. C wants to fumble with his belt and shoes it’s no skin off my back.  I’m not trying to get myself and two kids plus a stroller through security.  Ahem.

The drive?  Oh, there is traffic.  Oh well.  More time to listen to the radio.  No white knuckles necessary.

Dinner?  There is a wait?  Lovely.  We’ll take our buzzer to the bench by the bay.  That sure beats our usual eyes-only conversation that involves an I-told-you-so.  Because I’m a little slow, you know.

At the beginning of the year,  I was polling friends on destinations.  Aruba, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico were popular suggestions.   The escape to an island resort was tempting.  But it just isn’t what either of us was really looking for.  Consuming a novel by a pool with an umbrella drink should be nirvana.  But I was envisioning myself reading on a big porch in a small town.  With an iced coffee.  Walking to get dinner.

You can talk soul-mates all day long when your teen years are only an exit back in the rear-view mirror.  It is romance personified.  I mean, we just “got” each other, you know?  At thirty-something, it seems a little more abstract.  A soul-mate might look more like a figure washing dishes than someone who gets me.

I needed the reminder that Mr. C  is my soul-mate. Because what other man would be as happy as I was to tour random towns in New England? Our days were filled with wandering, relaxing and restaurant seeking.  Added bonuses? A decent dessert, and down-time.

Work peeked through here and there.  But I’ve come to expect that.  I even took care of a little blog business to pass the time.

The best part? We spent two nights at a B& B.  Told you Mr. C was my soul-mate.  It was something out of Gilmore Girls.  A years worth of funny.   Whenever I need a good laugh, I can think back to our bumbling host.

Ten years is a long time.  I’ll raise you ten more, Mr. C.  I like them odds.

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