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Life (and Projects) Lately

Oh hai there! Train of thought post, coming your way.

I feel like I’ve been running around doing a million things, but I have as yet to document them all here. So here goes! Stuff that has been going on and will continue to go on and that will make it here in the form of photos and words and whatnot. Ready? Ready!

My coffee table was styled up and shot three ways for Make it Better magazine. I have some outtakes and different angles that are super pretty, so I’ll put that together as a post for next week.

One Coffee Table, Styled Three Ways

• The wallpaper in August’s bedroom has been stripped and the room has been painted green. I am not in love with the green, but it is an improvement over peeling wallpaper.

Green in August's Room

• Speaking of wallpaper, two rolls of the stuff are en route for the upstairs bathroom. Also, art has been chosen and ordered for the downstairs bathroom. I get all weird about not sharing things until they’re done, but sometimes I think back to the random little updates I used to post ages ago when I first started this blog. I mean, seriously? My Pinterest and Instagram kind of replaced all of that, didn’t they? I’m digressing here. Blogging is weird, and so is this post.

No photo! Unless you want a screenshot of my receipts?

• Art in the hallway went up! Here’s a preview.

Art for the Hallway

:)

• Not too terribly long ago, I setup the prettiest dang Easter brunch. (I know, we’re nearing summer now. Hush. I’m proud of the way this turned out and I’m sharing. We also decorated eggs, if you’re inclined to see.)

Juice and Coffee
Paper Lanterns and Pinwheels
Easter Decorations: Paper Lanterns and Pinwheels, Garland, and Easter Bunnies

• I visited another designer showhouse, the Merchandise Mart’s DreamHome 2015. Do we want pictures? I have some pictures. These were from my favorite room, designed by Anne Coyle.

Merchandise Mart DreamHome 2015 Dining Room, Designed by Anne Coyle
Merchandise Mart DreamHome 2015 Dining Room, Designed by Anne Coyle

• I spent some time in San Francisco last month with a few of Target’s Made to Matter brands (Soma, Olly, and Suja) and a bunch of fellow bloggers. Always nice to be back in one of my favorite places, and in such good company. (I love this picture of us, taken by Thayer Allyson Gowdy.) I’ll be seeing some of these fine folks again in a couple of weeks in Salt Lake City when I’m back there to speak at Alt Summit.

#sunrisesf photo by Thayer Allyson Gowdy

• We had a birthday party for Eleanor, not at our house. (First time!) She loved it. At the last minute though, she asked for a science theme, so I went to the nerd store (ahem, science surplus store) to buy favors and decorations. Flowers in beakers and flasks, and voila: science theme! Kids are easy to please. Me too, judging by the amount of happiness these signs brought me.

Science Store Humor

• Two new additions joined our household after Eleanor’s birthday, bringing our total of living beings here to ten. Meet our guinea pigs, Speedy (the white one, so named because she is quick), and Gingerbread (named in advance, so we tried to find one that matched the moniker). They squeal and make little noises and are cute, and I like to pet and pick them up as much if not more than the kids do.

Guinea Pigs

• The pantry closet in the kitchen got organized. The old man on the oatmeal box no longer stares at me each morning as I make my breakfast and I’m not sure how I feel about it. I miss you, oatmeal man! I do like the matching containers and colorful bins that have replaced him though. I wrote about the whole thing on Crate & Barrel’s new blog.

Wrapping Paper Sheets and Clear Shelf Liner
Pantry Shelves with New Liners

• I’ve been fattening up a baby all day everyday. I know this is not news, but dammit it takes up a lot of time!

Calvin

• This happened between the time I went from upstairs to down, and back up again. Every stuffed animal (and daughter) in the house had a party on our bed.

So many stuffed animals.

And with that, I think we’re all caught up. Phew!

Oops. I Meant to Do That.

I just got back from a weekend away in San Francisco with an inspiring group of fellow bloggers. While at dinner, a few of us were talking frankly about living with so much of our lives online. “Is it difficult to know where to draw the line?” someone asked us. “To know what’s suitable for sharing?”

The other women (whom I know and admire, and whose blogs I love reading) both answered immediately. Yes. It’s hard. There has to be a balance of being aspirational and approachable. They talked about consciously adding in a few ‘oops’ moments to some of their posts, to counter the possible air of perfection. And they get it — I get it. Nobody wants to read the blog that makes someone feel bad about themselves, and nobody wants to be the person causing those feelings.

“I probably include too many ‘oops’ moments,” I joked. “Maybe I’m not aspirational enough!” I mean, that rug? I don’t know about it. I’m having second thoughts, which is probably annoying to you guys. It’s annoying to myself. But I do something, I get excited, and I share. The layout of the library? It’s tricky. Incorporating all of our home’s oak and fir? I’m doing my best to do it justice. Sometimes I know exactly where I’m going with the design of this house and sometimes I’m figuring it out along the way, and perhaps I share it too soon before I’ve got it all sorted. But that’s what’s fun about having this space. That’s what I love writing about, and that’s what keeps me happy day after day and excited about blogging here.

For a long time, I thought I was doing it wrong. I watched people grow their businesses by taking on contributors and assistants, by posting more frequently, by analyzing results. More. Bigger. Better. I thought I needed to follow suit, and I learned that it wasn’t for me. There are so many rules and tricks to blogging with the intent to grow, often as quickly as possible (it is literally my job to teach them). Remain relatable. Include photos of yourself X% of the time. Work Pinterest with tutorials and the right image formats. And you know, the formulas work! But they also lead to burnout (and I do include that caveat in class as well, lest I lead my twenty-year-olds astray). Other bloggers do what’s right for them and I love to watch and learn, but ultimately I need to do what works for me even if it isn’t ‘the right way’ to do things. This blog is dear to me and incredibly important to our family as it’s our income, but I want it to succeed in a way that feels true.

I think about spaces. I think about our home, and the fictional fifteen other homes I would decorate if time and money and locations were unlimited. I think about style and the easy reinvention of a wardrobe that comes with a great new pair of shoes or a killer dress. I think about turning out amazing meals and mixing the perfect drink and having children that will eat quinoa as easily as they will Coco Wheats. I have an idea of where I’m going but I make mistakes and I share as I go because that’s life, not a business strategy. I’m so appreciative of having people alongside me, even as I waffle, rethink, redo, and correct. That’s life, and that’s part of the fun.

Plants by Lila B. Design at Stable Café, San Francisco
Photo taken over the weekend at the beautiful Stable Café in San Francisco. Note the burned out light bulb. ‘Oops.’

NatureBox Giveaway

I’m working with NatureBox again today with a giveaway for two of my readers to win!

NatureBox Snacks

I always have a snack in my bag in case I’m out with the kids and they need a little something, and on days when I teach, I make sure to bring something to tide me over until I get home. I leave the house right after breakfast, and then when I get back in the early afternoon, I have to nurse the baby before I can make lunch for myself. I usually grab something from our NatureBox delivery because the snacks are healthy and tasty, and they have enough variety (over 100 options!) that I don’t get bored bringing the same thing every time.

Oak Park, IL

Green Line 'L'

Reflection

Columbia College

Grant Park, Chicago

NatureBox

Publish

NatureBox is a subscription service that delivers your choice of snacks each month, with free shipping in the continental US. They work with a nutritionist to insure that the snacks are made with no high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, or trans fats. No artificial sweeteners, flavors, or colors either. Each bag has 3-5 servings, and you can choose different snacks each month so you’re always discovering something new (or you can stick to your favorites, of course). Brandon loves their Sea Salt Pop Pops so we always choose that for one of our snacks, and then I like to mix up the other options to try something new each time.

NatureBox Snacks Giveaway

Giveaway

NatureBox is offering a free trial for new US and Canadian subscribers (not valid on gift subscriptions, and can’t be combined with other offers). If you join, you’ll get a free sample box of some of their most loved snacks!

You can also enter the giveaway: browse all of the snacks that NatureBox offers right here. Which would you like to try? Let me know in the comments, and you’ll be entered to win one of two free 6-month subscriptions to NatureBox! This giveaway is open to readers in the US and Canada only, and entries must be received by midnight CDT, April 23, after which two winners will be drawn randomly. Good luck!

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