pretty, happy, funny, real...

{pretty, happy funny, real}

Over the course of the last few months my husband and I have prayerfully been considering if we should move or not. Now that Courtney is home full-time and therefore we are in the house 65-75% of our days, I was beginning to think there had to be a better floor plan for our family.

Our Cape Cod Cottage was built in 1969 by the Levitt Brothers. It is a solidly built home and we have been very happy here for the past thirteen years. It's small at 1100 total square feet of living space but then with only two children, we do not need a mansion. There would be more to clean.


We chose the house so Courtney could be on one level and that was hugely imprtant for our day to day living. There was no inheritance to put in an elevator to the second floor and carrying a 5'6" and 103 pound young woman up and down a flight of carpeted stairs was NOT recommended by our chiropractor.

Thankfully, we found this little diamond in the rough and over the past decade have replaced everything in the house but the roof, light fixtures, carpet and the kitchen counter/cabinets. The bathroom in not handicap accessible but we make it work.

We looked around for a few months and realized between the economy, what was available in our limited price range and the fact that everything we saw was multiple levels which would severely limit where Court could be in her wheelchair, that baring a winning lottery ticket, this would be our home for the foreseeable future.

Then I took a good hard look around and I began to write a list of what needed to be done. Paint (it had been seven years since the last paint job), flooring (the carpet had been down for at least 20 years and we knew it needed to go...desperately), new drapes, lamps needed to be replaced and the list kept growing and growing. I began to panic and will admit to feeling completely overwhelmed at the job I were facing.

So much needed to happen to update things. It was looking as old and tired as I felt. Ugh...

So I sat down and called my BFF Christine and freaked out over the phone for a bit. There is no money in the budget right now for anything. Not paint, not flooring, no nothin baby. things are tight, tight, tight. That money we has set aside for sprucing up went to put two new tires on the wheelchair van, Jonathan's insurance deductible for a recent accident, Courtney's Physical Therapy co-pays, and so on and so on... You get the picture.

But with the holidays coming I knew I needed to make some changes or I would be heading down into the depths of depression once more. I have a tremendous need to be in a clean organized space. It makes me calm and happy.

Calm and happy is good. Very good.

My BFF talked me down and said that she could assure me that with a few hours and some serious sweat equity, she and her two assistants ( aka. her two awesome daughters) would be able to turn things around and create a "new" living space without spending one dime or painting anything. She would shop my home and we would rearrange things and make it real purty.

This way I could get through the holidays and begin to prepare to paint in the Spring.

Game on...

I began to empty my living room in preparation for her arrival the next morning.

I had had enough of the cruddy carpet and knew that the clay tiles underneath would be fine flooring and much easier to keep clean. I had figured that out when we pulled up the carpet last Christmas in Courtney's room. So I made the bold decision that the time had come to pull it out of the living room and hallway and it would need to be done in one night.

Oh hubby was thrilled to pieces...but he went along with it and we worked our tails off until the wee hours of the morning.

This is what we started with...

Everything had to come down off the walls so they could be scrubbed. Even though we weren't painting I never let a chance to give things a thorough cleaning when I can. Just ignore the icky carpet on the stairs. That will be removed in the near future.

Did I mention I have a ton of things on the walls...

A minimalist I am not. Once I got everything off the walls, the bookcases were next.

Sweet Mama, we own a lot of books...

Once more I took the opportunity to purge. Boy howdy did I purge.

I ended up donating ten bags of books to our local library and that's after I set several aside that I had read and knew my young decorating assistants would love. Let me tell you it felt good...really good to get rid of more stuff.

Like the horribly stained and horrifically dusty twenty year old carpet. Blech! That was a nightmare. The dust was so bad that we both wore masks and made sure Miss Courtney was far away happily breathing clean air. I was amazed at what was under my carpet and I vacuumed EVERY day!!

Ugh. I will never have carpet again! I just wish we could get rid of it upstairs as well. In time I suppose we will.

Once that lovely chore was done, I cleaned like I have never cleaned before. I scrubbed on my hands and knees to get the tile clean. Holy moly did I feel it too. There was much Advil taken that evening for sure.

The next day dawned bright and shiny and my sweet friend arrived and was stunned to see and almost empty living room and nothing on the walls. Stunned I tell you and also secretly thrilled because she was about to become very hammer happy.

Over the course of the next eight hours, I received a most incredible gift.

A new feels like we just moved in. The walls are cleaned, the furniture polished, the clutter (almost) gone and the bookshelves and pictures retuned to their proper place. We even found a spot for my sewing machine so I could be in the same room with Courtney while working on my Christmas gifts. Yea!!

The furniture is against the wall to allow greater access for Courtney and her wheelchair. Not my favorite arrangement but the needs of my sweet girl come before my decorating desires. Christine did an awesome job of mixing photos and art as well as my husbands military memorabilia and medals. I have plans for a new quilt for the sofa but for now this is what we have.

We got rid of some pieces of old beat up furniture and that really helped lighten things up. For the first time ever, there are no books on the floor so I can easily sweep.

So excited!!

One of my favorite vignettes she put together was the area over the TV using the icons and some holy prints we have. There is still space for more icons to be brought in as well. Which is good since I know there will be a few under the Christmas tree. I love it. She moved some of our other prints to other walls so now I have the saints throughout the downstairs living area.

This is another favorite wall. The prints are from Mort Kunstler's Civil War collection. He happens to be my husbands favorite military artist. Jerry was thrilled that these prints were no longer relegated to just his office. You will of course notice they are not "battle" scenes but "homefront" scenes. I was OK with that. The sword is my father's. He gave it to Jerry on our wedding day. We cut our cake with it. I love that it is now a part of the decor.

Another pretty spot. A few of my favorite photos along with an image of Our Lady that always makes me smile. The quilt to the right is the "door" to our master bedroom that was featured last week. It allows for clearance of Courtney's wheelchair.

Door jam's (sp?) are not our friends.

We spent less than ten dollars on this re-make for picture hangers and spackle. BEST money I ever spent. The rest was pure sweat equity and believe me there was plenty of that.

I am so blessed to be surrounded by such creative women, especially when they are willing to share their talents with me. This was one of the most productive days I have ever had and the company made it all the more fun. Thanks doesn't even come close to how I feel.

Now I am ready to head into the holiday season feeling calm and at peace with my surroundings. I can't wait until spring is here and we can paint, paint, paint!

Here it is this morning. I left the laundry on the sofa just for you. Always keeping real here at Passionate Perseverance. It's simple and filled with special things that have meaning to us as a family. The bonus is that at the moment it's sparkly clean...yea!!

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~