How To Style Series: Couch Pillows

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience that I make a small commission from (at no cost to you), should you choose to make a purchase from these links.

With Pinterest and Instagram just a click away, we are bombarded with images of perfectly styled couch pillows from distant lands. Ok, maybe not distant lands lol but they can definitely feel out of reach if we’re struggling in this area!

This post is for the beginner, the one who wants to up her pillow game but doesn’t know where to start. There’s no shame in being a beginner and bravo for wanting to make your home feel more like your own. *fist bump*

Pillow styling is as varied as the day is long and there are lots of opinions out there, I encourage you to take what you can use and lump the rest.

Here are my beginner styling tips in a nutshell:

TIP: Try using a 22″ pillow for the first (layer), an 18″ or a 20″ for the second (layer) pillows, depending on how different you want the sizes to be and a 16″x20″ for the third (layer) pillow.

The colors of your pillows should be the colors you have chosen for your home color story. So the color story of the top sofa is Navy blue, Kelly Green and Teal.

The color story for the home of the bottom sofa would be Orange and Gray.

TIP: It doesn’t matter what the color of your sofa is, it’s a neutral color and you’re not trying to match your sofa. Your pillows should be colors from your personal color story for your home.

Below is a photo of a pillow grouping from one of my couches. You can see that my pillows do not match or even coordinate with my couch. My couch is a neutral and is not something I even consider when choosing pillows. I’m looking for colors in my color story.

These pillows look well together because they ‘are speaking to each other.’ The middle pillow has both the ivory (on the left) and the blue (on the right) in it. It also has the charcoal gray from the curtains. If I took out the middle pillow, it might still look nice but it won’t look as well put together as when the pillows have a color in common.

(I made the two pillows on the right but you can find the textured ivory pillow here at WorldMarket.com.)

How many pillows you have on your sofa is entirely up to you. Some women like a lot and some only like one or two. As long as your pillows have a few colors in common with your curtains and rug etc. and all are from your color story, you’re good!

TIP: bringing in different textures like velvet, corduroy or fur will add dimension and fun to your sofa style! The same goes for patterns and prints that are outside your comfort zone.

As you begin to feel more confident in bringing your color story into your room with your pillows, you can branch out with different patterns and colors, and even venture into colors and styles that are are a little out of the box for you! gasp! lol

Photo credit: Pier1.com

TIP: If you want to be able to ‘chop’ your pillows you need to purchase down / feather throw pillows. Pillows that are made with poly-fil are tough to fluff and can lose their shape over time. Down filled pillows can be fluffed whenever they need to be and are my personal preference.

If you currently have pillows on your couch but they’re not in your color story (maybe they came with your couch?) you can always buy new covers for them! They are just as many covers for pillows as there are pillows. Unless your pillow was handmade to a custom size, it likely fits within the standard sizes. Just check the tag for the size or measure your pillow from seam to seam and order the corresponding size cover.
Amazon.com has a big selection of throw pillow covers in all sizes, click here.

Tip: Quality down filled pillow inserts can get pricey if you’re needing a lot of pillows, I have purchased several of mine at estate sales. Now before you think- EWWWW, here are my tips: I never buy a pillow (or the insert) from a smokers house, or from a home that obviously had pets or strong animal smells. I ALWAYS do a smell test to check for ANY odors and I only purchase from super clean homes. When I get the pillow home, I check again for odors and stains, if by chance I do smell anything foul, I throw it out. Since I got it so cheap, this is a risk I can take. If all is well, I throw out the cover, replace it with one I made or bought and no one can tell the difference. The pillows (inserts) I buy from estate sales are so high quality I cannot tell them apart anymore from the new ones I purchase from a store.
If you’re looking for new down filled inserts try:
Amazon.com and Walmart.com amongst other sites.

Pillows are an easy and inexpensive way to bring new life into your living room, have fun with it! You are taking another step towards creating a home that you love to be in and that’s a good thing. Enjoy it!

As always, I’m here if you have any questions,

Blessings on your home,
Catrina

Relaxed Modern + Boho

This post contains affilate links for your conveniece that I make a small commission from (at no cost to you), should you choose to make a purchase from these links.

I recently put together a list of home decor accessories for a client and decided I would share the pieces with you, too! Their home decor style is relaxed modern with a touch of boho. This style is laid back with lots of raw wood, some metal and natural fibers. Their textiles are neutrals (black, cream, gray), with greenery and lots of comfy texture. Here are a few examples of this style:

Photo Credit: simplegoodsshop.com
Photo credit: simplegoodsshop.com

They already had a beautiful nailhead leather sofa, an off-white jute area rug and rustic wood and metal coffee table. Since the table top is wood we want to go with either black, gray (cement) or white for our accessories, these will look great against the wood.

I recommended these small trays for the coffee table. They can be used either alone or with a small orb or even a single piece of faux fruit on top.

No ‘relaxed modern’ or boho (short for bohemian) living room is complete without a natural seagrass basket with a chunky blanket hanging out. These were my recommendations.

Small blankets add warmth, texture and color to the room, even if they’re only for decoration. A visible basket with a blanket in it says- welcome, come on in, we are laid back and relaxed, here’s a blanket to make you feel more comfortable. :-)

Photo credit: viettimecraft.com

Because their current tv stand is solid black we want to flip the switch and bring in other colors and elements from their design story. This bowl below will be perfect for a short shelf on their stand and help break up the solid black. It can be used either alone or with a few orbs or faux fruit. The rough hewn wood speaks to the relaxed nature of this style and has an unpretentious feel about it.

These tiny concrete planters look great with some faux greenery or succulents either as a bookend for a few upright books or sitting on top of a stack of books. They are great for adding some greenery in the mix without it being overwhelming.

Nothing says comfort like pillows but they also work well to bring your color story together. These pillows are a perfect blend of ‘relaxed modern’ and ‘boho’.

And lastly, this planter adds color, pattern and texture to either the coffee table, end table or tv stand, just add greenery!

Bringing different styles together in one home can be a challenge for a lot of couples but its worth the effort and it’s also what makes the home feel like your own.

I would love to hear how you dealt with bringing together different styles in your home!

Blessings,
Catrina

My (Almost) Spring Centerpiece

I know, I know, you’re thinking it’s a bit early for Spring anything, right? Actually, it’s not necessarily a Spring centerpiece, it’s just a lighter, fresher centerpiece than what I had, that happens to feature flowers, so let’s just go with it. :-)

I love Winter, I look forward to it all year long. In West Texas, our winters aren’t much to speak of so when I see that the temps are consistently in the mid to upper 60’s, I sadly give up hope of any more cold days, embrace ‘Spring’, and I go on wishing that next year will be different. Sigh..

This was my winter centerpiece.

After Christmas, I was still in the mood for some greenery on the dining room table, minus the shiny bells and red velvet ribbon. Pinecones, brass candlesticks and faux cedar greenery in a wood bowl did the trick.

Until it didn’t.

I’ve mentioned more than a few times about how our homes are a reflection of where we are mentally and emotionally. Good, bad or somewhere in between, and like it or not, they reflect us.

A little over a week ago I started feeling like I wanted to change my centerpiece. And then I couldn’t stop thinking about it. You know what it’s like when you zero in on something you want to change, right? I think it had something to do with the fact that I was finally getting better (after being really sick for a month) and was feeling optimistic and energized. The more I looked at my Winter centerpiece (that I formerly loved) the more I felt uncomfortable with it. Weird, right?

So I knew I wanted something fresh, light and unstructured. I wanted it to feel easy and breezy. These words may not make any sense to you lol but they did to me!

I started by changing my runner. I had been looking for a new runner for a while and couldn’t find anything I liked. So I decided to make a ‘no-sew’ runner from an old wool blanket I had.

Y’all know how much I love estate sales, well, a few years ago, I got three of these off-white lambswool blankets for $15 at an estate sale. Bargain of the year! I washed the hallelujah out of them and saved them for such a time as this.

I pulled out my husband’s T-square to make this as simple as possible. I wanted a new centerpiece and runner but I didn’t want it to take all day. lol

I traced out 14″ by 40″ with a blue pen and carefully cut inside the blue line. Because it’s pure wool (and it’s been washed) it won’t unravel. #winning

Next up, I went searching for old bottles and jars from around the house. Some of these we found at estate sales, one was found in the walls of a turn-of-the-century home we renovated and others have been around so long I have no idea where they came from! lol

I arranged the containers on the runner and started clipping the florals and placing them in the bottles and jars.

This is where I usually got hung up.
“What if it looks dumb when I’m done?”
“I don’t really know what I’m doing.”
“I should wait and look at more examples before I start.”
“What if I picked the wrong flowers?”

Anyone else been there?

Decorating our homes is not much different than anything else in life, we think the ‘experts’ know what they’re doing, and well, we don’t.

Nonsense.

I love flowers and have always wanted to incorporate them into my home but didn’t know how to put arrangements together. That all changed last year when I said, “to heck with it, I’m going to try.. and just see what happens!”

And I made a few arrangements and what do you know, I didn’t die. lol

Here is my easy, breezy, light, fresh and unstructured Almost Spring centerpiece.

See how much lighter it feels?

Here are the links to the flowers I used:
Red flowers
White flowers with greenery

And my no sew wool runner worked perfectly!

I suppose I could have dressed the table and removed my salt and pepper shakers and antique bell to make this more Pinterest worthy but this centerpiece is for me and my home and it feels perfect to me (plus I was short on time LOL). :-)

As time goes by, I may want to add or take away from this centerpiece, but that’s the fun of decorating, it’s not a one and done deal, because we aren’t. We’re constantly growing and changing (hopefully) and our homes should reflect that growth and change. This unstructured, happy-go-lucky arrangement is exactly what I needed and brings a smile to my face when I turn the corner and see it.

If you’re buried under snow I hope this centerpiece brings hope of the coming Spring and if you’re in warmer temps like I am I would love to see what you come up with for your (Almost) Spring Centerpiece!

Blessings on your home,

Catrina

The (un)finished home

I follow a lot of other folks on Instagram who are also renovating and restoring old homes. Ours is a 1908 Craftsman Bungalow, others are renovating farmhouses and making homes of buildings that were formerly businesses.

There’s something we all have in common, that feeling that the work is never done. We cheer each other on, rejoice over the small victories and try to be an encouragement when the going is slow and rough, which is often.

This past month when I spent the majority of it in bed, I spent a lot of time looking up at the walls and ceiling in my room, that we have yet to renovate. Quite frankly, the walls are pretty lumpy. Lol These plaster and lath walls have been ‘repaired’ many times by folks over the years and boy do they show it. They’re difficult for me to look at.

We also need to remove the door and picture molding you see in the photo, and restore the walls, baseboards, floors and windows. You know, a weekend project! #not LOL

I wish I could say this was the only room in the house that needed this much work, but it’s not. We have done so much work on this house but we still have so far to go.

Having “so far to go” on a house can be discouraging.

Many of my instagram peers will have transparent moments where they share ‘behind the square’ photos and videos of what it’s really like to renovate a home in real life. It’s slow and difficult and absolutely nothing like your favorite HGTV home reno show, that’s for sure. Behind a few squares of super styled photos are rooms that are still in a rough state.

You know, whether you’ve started on one or two projects or you’re just dreaming about starting, I want to remind all of us that our homes, in their current state are worth celebrating.

I know it’s tough, believe me, I’ve had exposed lumber in my bathroom for over eight years. That same bathroom has never had baseboard and the vanity is too dang small. If you’re thinking, why don’t you just fix it, you’re a renovator for Pete’s sake?! I would say, I would love too!! But the reality is, before you fix that, you have to fix this, and before you fix this you have to fix that. You add in a busy schedule, and other rooms and projects that are a priority, and well, things just don’t happen as quickly as we want them to.

Maybe for you, it’s dealing with carpet you want to rip out, cabinets you want to replace or painting you need to get done, bottom line, it’s driving you nuts. And it’s impacting how you feel about your home and yourself.

I hear you.

Though I’m not advocating for just sitting in your mess and tolerating it, I am saying, during a season of ‘hurry up and wait’, try to remember all the good your home provides, even in it’s current state.

We love our home, I’ve said that many times before. But even I, if I focus too long on those lumpy bedroom walls will start to get down about all that still has to be done in this old home.

Our bedroom (though desperately needing renovation/restoration) still provides a warm and cozy place to sleep at night, what more can I ask for?

Would I love for our bedroom to be done and decorated the way I see it in my head? Yes, of course! But I also know that we’re not just sitting around and waiting for things to happen, we’re working as much on our home as we can, when we can.

I need to remember that this is just a season.. and seasons change.

I know I talk a lot about gratitude and focusing on the good and I don’t think I’ll ever be done talking about it. Lol The fact of the matter is this, regardless of what the situation is, everything will be better when we chose to look for the good and be grateful for what we have. The alternative, focusing on what we don’t have, brings nothing but anxiety, anger, frustration and even depression. Who wants that? Not me!

Even the rooms in my home that are ‘done’ are still not done being decorated, they’re not where I would like them to be. I still have a choice to make, to focus on the good, work on what I can and be grateful for the rest.

We have a few more (big and small) projects to complete before we plan to tackle the bedroom or bathroom so it will be awhile yet before I’m seeing smooth walls in my bedroom.

But let’s just choose together, to work on what we can, and rest in the season and home we find ourselves in.

Blessings on your home,

Catrina

Your best color

If it wasn’t obvious before, I am definitely a fan of color.

I think color makes the world go ’round and has the power to make or break any room in any house or building, or any outfit, for that matter.

Color can depress you or make you feel optimistic, it can deflate you or empower you, that’s some serious power!

Which is why it makes me a little sad to see so many women settle when it comes to color. What do I mean by “settling?” I mean this, you choose a color that you hate the least for your wardrobe or your home decor. ughhhh Or you choose whatever everyone else is choosing because it’s easier.

Color has a bad reputation. When I say, “let’s try and bring more color into your home (or wardrobe)”, people go to the extreme, and think this is what I’m talking about:

photo credit: digsdigs.com

Now if you like this, awesome! But if you don’t, rest assured this is not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about bringing in colors that you love and that look good on you!

What does this quote from Coco Chanel have to do with your home, you may be thinking? I am soooo glad you asked! Lol

Now this may feel a little sharp, but hear me out friend.. your home and your wardrobe should be on the same page, similar colors and similar style.

If you have taken the time to figure out which colors look best on you and make you feel the most empowered, why would you not want to surround yourself in your home with those very same colors?

If a color looks good on you it’s going to look good around you! In the same way we feel like a million bucks when we find a shirt that looks great on us in a color that compliments us, imagine feeling that way everyday because we’re surrounded in our home, in big and small ways, with the very same color. Weeeeee!! (That thought makes me happy) :-)

So the sixty four million dollar question is: do you know what colors look good on you (and around you)?

It took me awhile to figure out ‘my colors’, I was a bit of a slow learner, well basically, it’s because I’m self taught. lol But now, (in my old age) I’m very confident in my wardrobe and home decor choices.

If you don’t already know which colors look best on you (and around you), are you willing to do the work to find out?

So often I will see two women standing side by side wearing similar outfits and one receives multiple compliments and the other, none at all. Now don’t misunderstand me, the point is not to search out compliments, at all, but the only difference in the complimented woman is that she is wearing a color and style that compliments her! She has figured out which colors work for her instead of against her. She didn’t just choose a scarf in a color she hated the least or whatever was available, and she didn’t go with a color everyone else is wearing, she searched until she found one in the color she knew would make her skin tone look its best! The same goes for our home color scheme.

Imagine the time and energy you would save if you could skip over entire sections of colors in stores because you knew they weren’t going to work for you!

What if this year, 2019, you decided that you were going to figure this out once and for all?

Truly the best way to figure out which colors work best for you is to grab a super honest friend and spend some time putting different colors and swatches up to your face. You will be able to tell pretty quickly which ones drain the color from your face and which ones give you life.

But here’s a few other resources for you:

Here’s a link to a three-part series to help you walk through the process online of discovering your colors. It’s a free resource that will definitely get you on the right track if you’re willing to put in the work.

Here’s an affiliate link to a popular book on the subject of personal color, (that I will receive a small commission from (at no cost to you) if you choose to purchase through this link). This book covers the four “seasons” in coloring and will help you finally put to rest the question of which colors look best on you and around you.

As with everything, remember these two points: hard work pays off (you will get out of it what you put into it) and there are exceptions to every rule. I don’t suggest these resources to be hard and fast rules that you must obey! Not at all. These resources are meant to be a guide rather than a rule. No book or online course will help you half as much as you being completely honest with yourself about why you’re choosing certain colors, especially if they’re not complimenting you.

There’s no reason in the world why you can’t feel 100% confident in your wardrobe and home decor choices. This is not just something for ‘those women over there’, this is for you.

You were created with specific hair color, eye color and skin undertones. These inform what colors and shades make you look your best. A color may be gorgeous to you but makes me look sickly. I may love a particular color on me but it makes you look tired.

I know I’m always talking about not following the crowd but this is one area where you really want to find your own way and what works best for you.

If you want 2019 to be the year you step out of ‘neutral zone’ and into what actually works best for you and your home, I hope you will check out this book: Reinvent Yourself with Color Me Beautiful: Four Seasons of Color, Makeup, and Style.  If you get stuck on any part of it, reach out to me, I would love to help you in any way I can!
As you probably noticed, I’m very passionate about this topic, lol Because I want you to feel as confident as I do when it comes to choosing colors for myself and my home.

Blessings on your home,
Catrina


(Happy) New Year?

I had big plans for the last two weeks.

I was going to do a live house tour of my Christmas decorations on facebook, I was going to shoot, edit and air my next installment of Q & A in the Car with Catrina, I was going to put in two solid work days on the island we’re making for our church, I was going to do a blog post and I was going to do a live update on my goal to finish my kitchen in 2018.

Whew!

I was excited for the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019!

Then everything changed on the Friday after Christmas, when I finally succumbed to the flu germs I was exposed to on Christmas Eve, and I was down for the count. It was the kind of ‘sick’ when you start thinking of your funeral and there seems to be no relief. You might as well be dead because that would be better than your current suffering. That kind of sick.

I started feeling better by the 2nd and was able to clean our Airbnbs and even watch some littles so their parents could have a date night, I took the Christmas decor down on Saturday, went to church on Sunday morning but by Sunday night, I knew something was off.

I was right. I spent Monday and Tuesday of this week in a near Nyquil induced coma just to survive, taking every natural immune booster known to man and getting very little relief till I asked my husband to buy me some Silver, and I began to feel better within a few hours. That was last night. Feels like a miracle.

And so here I am, still coughing like crazy but out of bed and not wanting to die. Progress!

These last two days I barely had the strength to pick up my phone a few times the entire day but a few days ago when I had a little more strength it seemed like everyone, everywhere was talking about how happy they were for the new year and all the plans they were excited about and I couldn’t hep but feel like I was getting further and further behind.

How could I feel so much better (like night and day) and then be back to square one with horrendous flu symptoms one day later? I did nothing to cause this relapse! (i.e. eat a ton of sugar or carbs.) My best guess is I came in contact with someone either at church or at the restaurant with a fresh set of germs that I could not withstand because my defenses were so low. So down I went. Again.

When thinking is the only thing you can do, you do a lot of it. I was working overtime not to feel sorry for myself. I was absolutely miserable with body aches, nausea and fever etc. so I made myself focus on my blessings. My warm bed, my safe home, my attentive husband, the comfort of a warm bath, being self employed so I can take sick days when I need to, my church, my nieces and nephews that I love so much etc..
And I was praying for anyone and everyone just to get my thoughts off of my own misery and onto something positive.

I didn’t know why I got sick (both times), I take good care of myself and don’t indulge in a lot of common American ‘treats’, but it still happened.

Crap happens.

Bad things happen to good people and sometimes healthy people get sick.

That’s just the way it is.

It still comes as a shock. We still want to ask- why me?

But this is just reality. Well, it’s certainly my reality.

So what now?

Well.. I suck it up and press on.

Seriously though, what is the alternative? Get pissed at the world and shake my fist screaming- it’s not fair!? Been there, done that, so not helpful.

I see a lot of this in interior design and home decor groups online. A lot of “Well, if my husband hadn’t fallen at work we might be able to afford a new kitchen, too, oh well.” or “If I had her kind of money I could renovate my whole house too, but I married for love.”

Life isn’t fair folks. And the sooner we accept this as reality and not something that’s happening to poor us the sooner we can switch our thinking to solutions rather than focusing on our setbacks.

I wasn’t planning on this to be my first post of 2019, but life handed me a bag of lemons. lol I hope, more than anything, that whatever you may be going through, seasonal sickness or something much more serious, that you will look for the good in your circumstance and focus on all your many blessings till you’re through it. You got this!

I’m heading back to bed, I’m resting as much as I can, Happy New Year Friends!!

Blessings,

Catrina

My Last Minute Gift Guide

This post contains affiliate links. When you use the links I provide for your convenience, I make a small commission at no cost to you.

Every Christmas I try to not be a last minute shopper, yet every year, I am. Ugh.

I do feel a little bit better that I won’t be shopping on the 23rd this year, so there’s that. Lol

Here’s my last minute Christmas gift guide for your loved ones.. or for you!

Color Me Floral Book
Y’all know how much I love color! And flower arrangements! This book has been on my radar for several months now. I frequently post Kiana’s beautiful arrangements on my Facebook feed, they are gorgeous. This would be a perfect gift for yourself or someone who loves beauty! Here’s my affiliate link to purchase the book: https://amzn.to/2GzyOGT

Copyright: Kiana Underwood

Car Phone Mount
If you have a risky driver in your life like I do in mine, not to mention any names.. lol you know that person who likes to drive while talking on the phone? You will definitely want to check out this car phone mount! I use it all the time when I shoot my Q&A in the Car w/ Catrina episodes and it works great! I definitely recommend it. Click here to check out this car phone mount (that’s under $15)!

Copyright: Mpow

Be Bold Book
If you’re really looking to stretch yourself and your home decor in 2019 (and I hope you are), I strongly urge you to check out this book! It will expand your ideas about color and pattern and give you a nudge to try new things in your own home. It’s on my Christmas list! Feel free to copy this link and add it to your list!

Copyright: Emily Henson

Hyde Countour Scraper
If you have watched any of my videos on instagram or Facebook, you will have seen me use this awesome tool by Hyde. It has interchangeable blades! I absolutely love it and could not do all the restoration that I do, without it. I have several of them and recommend them to everyone. If you’re thinking of dipping your toe into some wood or furniture restoration this coming year or know of someone else who wants to, this tool is indispensable! You can check it out here: https://amzn.to/2LpZGb7

Below are some of my favorite stocking stuffers! Yes, my husband and I still fill each others stocking, even after twenty-five years of marriage. And why not? Lol
Click on the images to check out the details on the items.

My favorite-ist candy ever!!!
I may have almost eaten an entire bag of these in one sitting. “May have.” My husband and I both love these!
No stocking is complete without my favorite lip balm!
My second favorite candy ever! The bigger the bag, the better! Lol And my husband hates them so I don’t have to share! :-)
Because we’re always needing new tools for our renovation work, I always get a knife or box cutter in my stocking! (Weird, I know, but I may not be normal.)

OK, that’s all for now! (I need to quit, I’m starting to crave some of these goodies! Lol)
All of these items (except the knife) will arrive before Christmas if you have Amazon Prime AND order tonight or tomorrow. :-)

I would love to know what you like in your stocking! Leave me a comment below or come visit me on my Facebook page and tell me there.

I wish you and yours the merriest of Christmases!

Blessings,
Catrina

When you can’t find your Christmas Spirit

(An affiliate link is used in this post. If you purchase from this link, I will receive a small commission, at no cost to you) 

I love Christmas. I’ve said it before.

But last week, I found myself stressed out and absolutely not in the Christmas mood. I look forward to this time of year, all year, but I can try and cram too much into it, leaving me tired and pissy. Lol

I did an informal survey on my Facebook page asking how many had the Christmas Spirit and I was a little shocked by how many said they did not. 

It’s perfectly understandably, really. We have pretty high, pretty unrealistic expectations for this time of year and when the ‘holiday season’ doesn’t measure up, it can put us in a slump. All of this on top of the day to day duties that don’t go away just because it’s Christmas. 

When I was younger, I struggled with the ‘Winter blues.’ I absolutely LOVE the cold weather and all that comes with it but I would often get depressed. Maybe it was unmet expectations and maybe it was something else, but it was very real. 

I’m going to list below some ideas that help me when I can’t find my Christmas Spirit but I don’t want to gloss over the fact that for some, this is a very difficult time of the year. If that’s you, I want you to know, that I understand. 

I can remember one Christmas season, I was probably 21 or 22 at the time, I was lying in bed, looking up at my makeshift Christmas wreath on the wall of my tiny 300 sq.ft. studio apartment. This “wreath” was nothing more than tied-together pine tree scraps that I found somewhere then I wove an old strand of colored Christmas lights onto it. It was my Christmas tree, because I couldn’t afford one.

I was crying.

The room was dark, lit only by the tiny colored lights and it was quiet. My ears were filling up with my tears as I lay there. I was alone.

I was sad and I was exhausted. I was managing at McDonald’s at the time where it took me 45 minutes to get to work, on foot, every shift. 

In my little world, everywhere I looked, I saw pain and difficulty and hardship. I saw nothing to be happy about in that moment. 

Both my heart and the room were filled with heaviness, it was my favorite time of the year but my Christmas Spirit was nowhere to be found. 

 My husband and I have worked very hard to get where we are now and thankfully those sad days are few and far between. But sometimes when I’m lacking adequate rest or overwhelmed with life and not able to do all that I want to in the Christmas Season, I will slip back into Boo-ville, lol these are some of the things I recommend to ignite our Christmas Spirit:

Give a gift
This may feel cliché but the old saying – it’s better to give than to receive, is actually true! This gift doesn’t have to cost you a thing, it can be as simple as walking a neighbor’s dog for them, babysitting a single mom’s kids so she can get some shopping done or some much needed rest, taking your gently used clothing to a woman shelter, inviting someone over for a cup of coffee or a simple meal or just visiting an elderly neighbor. You absolutely will feel better when you give a “gift” to others. Try it!

Take some time to reflect on your blessings
My entire life I have battled the depression demon. I have to will myself to find the good in things because by default, I see the bad… and then wallow in it. lol
But I know this to be true, there is always good to be found, even in the darkest situation, we just have to train ourselves to look for it. When we choose to focus on all that we have vs all that we don’t, our entire outlook can shift. We are so blessed, every one of us. 

Crank up some old Christmas tunes that you love
One of my favorites from my childhood is Silver Bells by Bing Crosby and Carole Richards, it was old when I was young but it brings back so many fun memories. Another is O Holy Night by Mariah Carey and the beautiful Carol of the Bells by Pentatonix.
What are your favorites? How long has it been since you cranked them up, sang at the top of your lungs and danced around the house, if you felt like it? Music is powerful. Let it remind you of the beauty of the season.

Watch your favorite Christmas movie
When I have the Christmas/Winter blues I need to be reminded how good my life is. One of my favorites is the movie: One Magic Christmas

Copyright: Walt Disney Studio

Have you seen it? The young mom in the movie is completely stressed out and disillusioned with life and the season. She receives the “gift” of a great tragedy to make her realize how good her life was. I hope you’ll check it out, it’s a game changer! You can purchase it here on Amazon or possibly find a bootleg copy on youtube. :-) 

Remember the reason for the season
If you’re a person of faith (like I am), sometimes the only thing that will do the trick is to read The Story in Luke, chapter 2 to recalibrate our thinking. There IS a reason we celebrate Christmas and that is the birth of Jesus Christ. One of my all time favorite books to read during the Christmas season, especially if I’m in a slump, is An Angel’s Story by Max Lucado. 

Copyright: Max Lucado

It’s a short but fascinating, fictional account of what may have happened in the spiritual realm during the birth of Christ. It completely takes my mind off of what I may be dealing with and puts my focus on what really matters and that is the miracle birth of baby Jesus. You can purchase it here with my affiliate link from Amazon.com. Add it to your cart with all your other purchases and let me know what you thought of it, I’m sure it will become part of your Christmas tradition, too! 

I wish you all the best of this beautiful season, friends! Maybe do something you’ve never done before to receive a gift that you’ve never known before. :-)

Blessings on you and yours,
Catrina

Oh Christmas Tree!

Earlier this year, when Summer was giving way to Fall, l was suffering with insomnia. Night after night I was wide awake long after I had hoped to be asleep. At first, I was stressing about it, I knew how much work I had to do during the day and being sleepy all day was not part of the plan. After the first few nights I knew I had to switch my thinking, stress is not good for the body and it clearly wasn’t changing the situation.

So I started to think about Christmas. Without question, it’s my favorite time of the year. As a December baby, I feel most like myself in the cold winter months. (Everyone tells me that that doesn’t have anything to do with it, but I don’t care, I think it does. lol)
I began concocting elaborate decorations in my mind, trees decorated like I’ve never seen before using colors I’ve never seen on a tree. To pass the time (and not focus on the fact that I wasn’t sleeping) I dreamed up opulent garlands and wreaths loaded with fruit and flowers, they were amazing!

My insomnia finally passed and right after Halloween I began to see Christmas trees popping up on my instagram feed. Oh no, too soon, I thought! There seemed to be an unspoken contest to be the first to post their tree and decorations. Towards the middle of November, I was hard pressed to find a post that wasn’t Christmas related.

I started to notice, again, the overly styled photos, that looked an awful lot like all the photos before them. It was easy to spot the trends. It was easy because they were everywhere, in nearly every photo.

We got super busy in November, we had our 16th annual bowling tournament for our non profit, finished up a few bits with our kitchen renovation, hosted Thanksgiving and then my niece’s wedding. Before I knew it, it was time to decorate my own home for Christmas.

I confess, that for a moment I began to overthink the decorating of my own home. I feel in a small way that because I talk frequently about decorating and home decor that my tree and my home needs to be “picture perfect” and/or “share worthy”.
Foolishness, I know, but those thoughts ran through my mind.

Then I thought about all the millions of women who follow the trend setters, style makers and influencers who will never post a photo of their Christmas tree (that they love) because they don’t deem it “instagram worthy.”

How very, very sad.

I didn’t go with my opulent decorating plans. Somehow after the intense November that we had, I only wanted calm, traditional and predictable.

So my tree looks exactly like it did last year.

It has no particular color scheme.

It’s faux.

It’s not flocked.

It doesn’t have a fancy ruffle skirt or a trendy box.

It’s not share worthy.

Catrina-At-Home-Christmas-tree-2018.jpg

But I love her.

When I see her, I see ornaments that my nieces and nephews made me, ornaments that were gifts from friends, ornaments that I found at estate sales, one ornament that has survived since my childhood and ornaments that I made because there was no money to buy any.

This tree tells a story, our story. And like so many trees in so many homes across America  they will likely not receive any ooohs and aaahs from others but they will do what they were designed to do, bring a few days or weeks of joy to our homes and lives. And that friends, is what decorating should be about.

Maybe next year will be calmer and I can revive my dreams of opulent decor, or maybe not, who knows? What I hope more than anything is that we all have the courage to buck what is expected and pursue what is right for our families in this season. Because that’s what will make the season memorable! I don’t want the 2018 Christmas season to pass in hurry and stress, it’s too important to me.

If you haven’t already, I would LOVE for you to share your tree with our little community on Facebook! Just click here to post a photo of your tree in the comments and tell us why it’s special to you.

Blessings on your home this season,

Catrina

 

 

3 Ways to Instantly Improve Your Home for the Holidays

The holiday season is in full swing and I’m excited!

I was in one of the home decorating groups on Facebook recently and I saw a comment that a woman made on another lady’s Christmas decorations. The commenter was bummed and she said, “I’m not doing anything this year because I don’t have the money. Me and my house will be sad this year, but oh well.”

Her comment made ME sad!

I wanted to reach through the screen and say, “Don’t give up so easily! There is much you can do for your home to make it feel warm and cozy and someplace you want to be!”

So I put together this short list of  3 ways you can instantly improve your home for the holidays:

  1. Turn on some tunes!
    Music is transformative. It has the power to encourage, empower, brighten and lighten you and the mood of your home! Whether it’s Christmas music in your favorite style or by a favorite artist or music from your high school or college days or even a favorite movie soundtrack, don’t underestimate the power of some good tunes to change the mood in your home for the better. And best of all, even if you went to buy music from a music store, vs a download, it’s very affordable, definitely a good bang for the buck.

    close up photo of a woman listening to music

    Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

  2. Put on your favorite scent!
    Burning candles or incense is another way to instantly transform your home. When you or your guests walk into your home and it smells amazing, it’s an instant atmosphere shifter and mood lifter! Even the smallest, darkest space is brightened by a burning candle, there’s just something about it that says, comfort. Most of us have candles tucked away that we have forgotten about or just don’t use, I encourage you to pull them out and burn them often to lift the spirits of your home.

    burning candlelight candles container

    Photo by Adrianna Calvo on Pexels.com

  3. Smile!
    This may seem obvious or even simplistic but it’s probably the most important. Our smiles tell ourselves and others that we’re optimistic about the future, grateful for the present and happy to be here! What it doesn’t say is, everything is perfect, we have zero problems and thousands in the bank, etc.. Those things don’t have to be true to wear a smile on our faces. However humble our homes may be, however humble our Christmas may be, we can still live in gratitude and that will always change our attitude.
    A smile says, welcome! It also says, I’m choosing to focus on all that I have vs what I’m lacking this season. Trust me when I say that a friend would rather share a bowl of ramen noodle soup with you in a cheerful, welcoming home than an fine meal in a highly decorated, squeeky clean mansion where they feel unwelcome or unwanted.
    Your smile can transform your home.. and you!

    pasta dish

    Photo by Buenosia Carol on Pexels.com

So remember, it doesn’t take a lot of money or much effort to create a home that is cheery and inviting. We have got to resist the notion that is pushed on us from society that we need the latest and greatest things to have a nice home or a nice holiday. We don’t.

We are the makers and shapers of our homes. We set the pace and the priority.
We determine whether or not we have a good holiday. The choice is always ours!

 

Blessings on you and your home,

Catrina