Monday, July 21, 2014

Play House Reveal!!!

At one point, the lower level of our home, looked like this.

 

It was big, open and had this awesome echoing affect.

Like, I am telling you, I seriously sounded like Whitney Houston when I would sing..."annnddddd IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII, eeeeeeeee-IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII, willllll always lovvvvvvveeeee YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!"

NO lie.

It made sing alongs amazzzzzing, but kind of fell short in the whole style department.
 
 

After our third baby was born with some health issues, my husband and I started evaluating our lives and professions very seriously. We decided that since we didn't sound that great singing OUTSIDE of the basement, with its lovely acoustics, that a singing career was probably not in our immediate future. 

( Though I am still waiting for Simon Cowell to respond to those tapes I sent him.....)

Instead, we determined that if one of us could work from home, it would make attending numerous doctors appointments and specialists appointments, much easier.

We got started building up walls, taking walls down, and generally redoing the big open space that was once our beloved singing hall.


We had these great plans, and we got started by adding some character.


We went from using our lower level as a storage container....

  

To turning it into a construction zone.


You could say that the better part of my one year mat leave was spent dreaming up ideas for this level of unused space. This particular small corner had me dreaming up possibilities and ideas.

 

We had to clear out the storage and the plethora of boxes filled with all of the things that babies come.
 
 

And then we got to putting my big dreams down on paper.

 

You see, I may be pushing upwards in my thirties, but in my mind, I am still a five year old little girl who could spend hours playing house and make believe. I wanted to create a space in our home for our children to enjoy, and ultimately, I wanted the space to be enjoyed by potential clients and their babies.

If you have been following along here for a while, then you know that I am a licensed hair stylist and with the idea brewing in our minds, that one of us should stay closer to home,  I was the likeliest perfect fit.

 

Thankfully I have a husband that has the skills to create the ideas I conjure up -- so was the case with the salon play house.

First, though, we needed to determine what the structure should look like. We enrolled our four year old son as the lead architect since my husband and I could not decide which side of the play house should look like what.

 

We love having our children involved in the building process of everything we do. The play house was no exception.

 

You could say this play house was our fourth baby, because, it definitely took a long time to create.

#workingparentproblems

 

Here are the plans that I shared with you a long longgggggg time ago.


 

We had little people available to product test along the way.

#winwin
 
  

After my husband had installed the walls and the shingles and the stairs, I got to work priming and painting, primping and decorating the play house.

#teamwork


Today, when you visit the salon, the play house is always available for your children to come and take full advantage of. Or, if you are child like, like me, you too can cook imaginary food in the lower level kitchen and let your imagination run wild.


The upstairs level of the play house is comfy and cozy; the carpeted area is usually strewn with throw pillows and is a great escape for little ones.


We call the upstairs the "book nook" or the "library" and the baskets are overflowing with books for all ages.

My goal was to make my salon as family friendly as possible, and I think the play house is the perfect touch to do just that. I knew that Mamas like myself, who worked away from home, struggled with choosing between spending a day off with their babies or getting themselves taken care of at the beauty salon. I realized that combining the two, and allowing parents the opportunity to bring their children along with them to the salon, meant that the power of parenting was left in the caregivers hands. 

The bossy side of me loves that. 

Now, if you need an afternoon off to focus on yourself, you can do that, or, if you would rather save the babysitting money and put it towards a giant Starbucks drink to make it through the day with your baby by your side, than you have the ability to choose to do that.

We are all about mamas and families in general, and I hope This Little Salon reflects just that.


It is hard to believe that this space was once unused.

 

That we started with this awkward closet, without a door, to this.



Just the way we dreamed up.


What do you think of an indoor playhouse? Would you ever build one in your home? Would it be for you, or the kids in your life? Yaaaaaa, if I am being honest, I cant decide which one of us gets more use out of it! ;)

To get caught up, check out some of these previous posts about our lower level or This Little Salon:

Read Part Three Here (New ceiling and flooring!)
Read Part Four HERE (Getting the kids involved!)
Read Part Five Here (A little tour!)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Gold Dresser {The reveal}

If you have been following along here for more than a few posts then you are well aware of my love for gold. 

As promised, I wanted to share with you the curb-side-cast-away that I made over into a shiny beauty.

 

And ofcource, as always, paint suprises me with its power to completely transform a piece. 

Cue "I believe I  can fly" by R. Kelly, circa 1997 in the back ground for the next minute or so.

This little piece was discarded on the roadside in our neighborhood one day. It was solid wood, Bombay Company made, had dove tailed drawers and was FREE. 

My hoarder instinct demanded that I conjure up all my superhero strength and toss it into the back set of our vehicle.

I obliged The Hoarder within.

 

At one point, we thought this piece was going to get a transformation and fit perfectly into our master bathroom, but we all know that day will never come. ;)
Instead, this thing kept begging me to make her over.

After a complete wipe down, and approximately with five month of pondering under my tool belt, I got to work on our back deck, shaking a gold spray paint bottle and hoping for the best.




I sprayed and shook and sprayed some more, and then stood back wondering how I could counteract alllllll the shine that was going on on my castaway-turned-gold-dresser.

You see, it looked crazy bright. 

It was a bright gold after my spray painting ways and I wanted it to be a pretty subdued gold, not an in-yo-face kind of gold.


I decided to use some acrylic paint mixed with a glaze to take the sheen and shine away from the dresser; the technique of paint and wiping down, worked wonders for adding depth to the dresser.

I mixed half glaze and half paint and used a cloth to wipe the mixture into the crevices of the piece and over the flat surfaces as well. The only difference is, I wiped more gently on the front drawers and sides. :)


When that was all said and done, I replaced the ancient knobs with some sparkly glass knobs and immediately loved the contrast of the gold drawer front and the silver pulls.


She was pretty again and deserved a new, good home, where she could shine for all to see.


I moved her down to This Little Salon and replaced the toy box that once stood under the watchful hands of the clock, with her.

 (See what I just did right there? See? "Watchful"?? CLOCK. See?)

You must excuse me, I got my mothers good looks and my fathers humor. #interestingcombo #likejimcarrey #lolfordays


She now holds soft toys for babies who come along with their mamas to the salon. 

Pretty and practical is a great combination, in my opinion.


I love turning something overseen into something eye catching. 

I really do.


Thanks for sticking around this long to see how this little piece ended up.

She has come along way from being on a neighbors curb, to almost becoming a vanity, to finding her destiny as a beautiful side table. She loves playing double duty and completes the gold love over here at This Little Salon.



Friday, July 11, 2014

The Porch Project {Spreading positivity and praise one porch at a time.}

So, the last time we talked I shared a bit of my heart with you and the questions that are constantly flowing, like waves, through my mind.

I introduced "The Porch Project" with you and want to share more about this new positivity spreading initiative.


You see, today is a day and age where the only things we usually find on our porch, or in our mailbox, are dreaded mortgage bills and paper flyers showing off all the latest gadgets that we cant seem to obtain because of said mortgage bill. Or, those dead mice your feline friend keeps gifting you with.

Long gone are the days of snail mail and birthday cards arriving to our door steps. I don't even see our USP guy anymore, as he runs up our porch and quickly hangs the "sorry we missed you" note from the head office over our doorknob and scurries away before we have to make human contact with each other.

I miss the days of receiving a hand scrawled letter from a friend and I am sure you do too. 

Remember when you knew who had written you a letter because you knew their handwriting just from a glance?

The Porch Project is sure to help with those desires to know what our friends hand writing is like, to spread a little bit of positivity and to gain some in return.

So why The Porch Project?? 

This whole idea started forming in my mind years ago.

 My girlfriends and I started exchanging things via the front porch as a way to show that we remembered birthdays and special occasions. Sometimes it was impossible with nap schedules and work schedules and LIFE, to stop in for a coffee or a mid-day-bad-day-margarita, so the drop offs on the porch made total sence for all the business that is life.

A girlfriend turned thirty? Well then we left a gift bag full of things that would help her realize she was an old lady now and things that would make her giggle. A couple tea cups and saucers, a cheapy electric fan for the hot sweats she would most definitely be facing, a luggage tag for the trip she was planning with her husband to celebrate and other odds and ends. It never had to be much, it just had to be something that made her feel cared for and special. 

That same girlfriend delivered flowers on my door step, after a recent hospital procedure, along with the darlingest card of encouragement I have ever read. 

Another friend, who I exchange porch presents too, will sometimes drop off a big ole coffee and a top ten list of things I should remember that day. Encouraging things. Great things that she believes in me. Ten things, when I cant even think of one!

That is love.

We need more of that in our lives. 

We need to spread positivity, praise and pleasure with each other, with everyone.

 It is as good for us who give, as it is to receive. It does something to our souls and bonds us deeper then before, it encourages and brightens our days. It can be life changing to know that someone cares enough to take the time to just drop by a sticky note with the hash tag "#youareawesome" written on it. It does something to your weary heart when you check the paper taped to your front door that reads:

"You are beautiful. Inside and out. Your heart shines beauty and spreads it everywhere you go. Keep at it beautiful soul."

Doesn't that make you smile? Just reading that here

Now, imagine if you found that same note scrawled in a friends messy cursive, or in your husbands capital letter script, or in your mamas neat printing. 

It isn't hard to spread positivity. It takes all of a few minutes and yet the effect stays in ones memory and lingers in their heart forever.

I love what Mark Twain said, "I can live on a compliment for six months."

That quote resonates with me, it doesn't take much and yet it makes all the difference to be reminded that you are beautiful, hard working, a great mama, a sweet friend, a lovely confidant or a positive presence.

My Mama always told me that if I wanted a friend, I had to show myself to be friendly.

I often thought, as most children do, that my mother had no idea what she was talking about, and then, then I started putting her concept to good use. 

I have learned that a little love spreads like wildfire into a heart and cant be contained there for long. You might be the wind that comes along and helps spread that fire from one heart to the next, or you might even be the first one that ignites that little spark in the first place, you wont know though, until you go out there and start showing yourself to be friendly, just like my Mama use to remind me to do.

This Porch Project is a challenge for me and a challenge for you. It is an initiative that hopefully we will all try out at least once. 

Think of a new friend, or an old friend, a colleague, or a girl you know from the gym, or that neighbour you sometimes wave at over winter snow banks, or that person in book club who you admire, or that friend of a friend that you seemed to "click" with that one time. 

Think of that person, and then do something.

If you are brave, and you chose to spread some positivity to a person you don't know very well,  then you could always press on a little sticky note to their mail box, or their locker at wok or the gym, (if you dont know where they live, clearly.) Or you could write down an inspiring quote and share it with them as well.

If you are like me, and that is terrifying, then maybe just pick a friend in your life, drive by their house and drop of a funny acronym of their name, or a quick thank you card for that time they lent you their shoes you never returned them, or a little note saying how much you have been thinking of them, how much they inspire you or how great they are in whatever role they play. 

I am telling you, you cant go wrong with this. 

You will hear me say it once, and again and again: Positivity will always prevail. 

You might feel awkward at first doing things like this, but the person on the receiving end of your care, will benefit so much from you throwing your hesitation out the window, on the car ride by their house.

I have so many good ideas to share with you if you cant really think of how you could be a part of this summer project. I hope to share some examples with you soon. Until then, if you want to be a part, and this speaks to your giving heart somewhere, then just start. 

Pick a person and start spreading some positivity and praise through "The Porch Project." If you are a social media type, then remember to tag #theporchproject too, so that others who want to participate can get ideas on how to spread the love this summer.

Now, go light that spark. 

#loveislikewildfire



Thursday, July 03, 2014

The Porch Project {Reflecting on life and my best idea yet.}

I wasn't planning on sharing this, here, in this public forum, but this new fun initiative I am about to embark on, comes from somewhere deep within my heart. And you know what? I don't want to keep it all to myself; because I think you will want to be a part of this too, something that easily has the capability of spreading positivity and love.

Lately, I have been questioning my life. 
I mean, really questioning my life. 
So much so that I have been wondering about the bigger questions. I wanted to share all of that here, cause, I mean, if you have stumbled here, then we are all friends here, right?

I KNEW I didn't need to be nervous to share my heart.

You see, the first time I felt the way I feel today, was almost five years ago. I had just given birth (via c section) to our second child, a daughter. She was perfect, her birth was prefect, her latch was perfect and we happily went home, proud as can be.
It didn't take long for my new-mama growing headache to eventually alarm me though. 

It was excruciating and I eventually realized it wasn't just after birth hormones. 

Something wasn't right. 

What was suppose to be a quick trip to the ER, to check on my nagging head ache, landed me back in the hospital, post baby, for another week. 

To make a long story short, I arrived at the hospital completely septic. 

My entire body had contracted an infection after the surgery and birth of my precious baby number two, and it took a week of constant care, a few blood transfusions, MRI's, cat scans and a collapsed lung for me to realize that I really, really, REALLY wanted to live. 

That might sound silly. I mean, we all know we want to live. 

If we dissect it, the opposite of living is obviously death, and we all do our part to avoid dying a billion times a day. 

We wear our seat belts, take our vitamins, pay attention to our cholesterol, maybe make a quick appearance at the gym, we are careful, we are calculated and we ultimately protect ourselves in every which way, all day long.

In this moment though, where I was helpless, laying in a bed, passed out for days, with absolutely no strength and no answers to why all of this was happening to me, I realized that I wanted to get up, put on my clothing, walk out of this place and live like I never had before.

I wanted to live more than I wanted anything and I wanted to live well. 

I wanted to be present with my children, I wanted to be grateful for every day, and I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to love more, give more and be more.

As with any near death experience, my life evaluations led me to question my life's path. 

It was after that experience that I realized I would need to change my career if I wanted to be as present as possible with my growing family. (I will leave that for another post.)

If it wasn't for that awful experience, I would not have decided to pursue my creative side. I wouldn't have completed a long three year apprenticeship in a salon and I wouldn't have begun working from home, I wouldn't be able to walk my babies to and from school and I wouldn't get to make dinner and feed them each night and hear about their days. 

The good ,the bad , the day to day and the ugly.

Sometimes the thought of losing something, big or small can catapult us into amazing changes.

And that is exactly what happened to me -- five years ago.

A lot has changed since then. 

We have endured other challenges as a family, no doubt, and through it all I have tried to remember to embrace gratitude every day. 

Recently though, I had another health scare. This time, the doctors visits didn't include being pregnant or bringing home a baby, so they were obviously not happily anticipated. The situation isn't all sorted out, but that is not too bothersome at this time, I am focusing on the positive.

Which, finally, brings me to this post.

Recently, during one of those moments where I was feeling bad for myself, during one of those moments where I just wanted to feel like my old self: healthy and happy, I began to wonder about my day to day life.

My thoughts went something like this:

Was I doing enough to show others how much I love them, was I too focused on house projects to nurture friendships, was I too bogged down by my busy working-mama-full-time-mama-life to really listen to the needs of the people around me? Was I even making a difference in this world? If I had another near death experience, or worse, would the ones I care about KNOW that I care about them? Do I love hard? Do I show that I appreciate others? Am I self focused and house focused and family focused, in such a deep way that I am missing meeting the simple needs of others?? 

How can I know for certain any of the answers to these questions, that played and continue to play over and over in my head? 

How can I begin to know if my love and care are being effective? If even known???

I think we can all can ask those questions or similar ones of our own lives. 

Am I loving well? Am I giving enough? Am I going the extra step to show care to the ones I love? Am I offering help to my friends? Am I showing my appreciation to others? Am I stepping out of my comfort zone to brighten someones day? Am I living a joy driven life? 

And most of all, am I using my natural gifts and abilities to spread light in dark places.

I want to say yes to all of this. 

I want to be the sunshine in someones day. 

I want to use my life, this fleeting life, to share love and to show love and to be love.

So, I came up with a way to do just that. 


I cannot wait to share this project with you. 

Together, I think that we have the ability of doing small things with great love, and ultimately, have the chance to touch lives in little ways that will make a big difference.

Isn't that why we are all here?

Why we strive to make connections, why we want friendships, why we long to feel loved and appreciated? 

Yes.

We want all that, and we want to FEEL all of that in return.  

I have the perfect project that will give the empty parts of our heart meaning, and an idea that will help answer the questions that keep us up at night.

Stay tuned!

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” - Mother Teresa

Saturday, June 28, 2014

40 years later. {The biggest love story of all time}


Once upon a time there was a young man who was 100 pounds soaking wet. 
The only problem was he was only 21 and had the spirit and courage of two or three men his age. 

#loudmouthpipsqueak

He was studying to be a minister, was full of passion for spiritual things, for people, for the underdog and he had a huge giving heart, in his slim little chest.

The other problem was, he was opinionated.

One day he noticed this beautiful girl sitting across the classroom from him. 

She was striking, with her big green eyes and long dark hair, which she would iron on her ironing board until it was pin straight. 

She was the epitome of the adorable 70's girl. Fashionable and sweet, in a down to earth kind of way. She was new to the rules of the Bible college she was attending, the one she enrolled in after winning a singing competition and claiming her prize for a year scholarship.   

Strange, I know. 

She rocked short maxi skirts, gogo boots, loved the Beatles, and great literature.

One day ,the slim boy hand wrote a note and passed it along, from student to student, until it ended up in the hands of the beautiful girl with the legs and the skirt. 

She opened the note to reveal that the passionate, opinionated, seemingly twerp, was in fact demanding that she lengthen her skirts when she comes to class.

She, being the sweet and coy girl that she was, wrote back.

 She told him, that if his eyes were where they were suppose to be, he wouldn't notice how short her skirts were.

It turns out that note passing boy's two "only problems" started a 40+ year love story between the two of them.

As epic love stories go, two dates later they were engaged and soon after they were married, six children in twelve years and thirteen grandchildren later, they are celebrating 40 years of marriage today.


I have learned a lot over the years from seeing first hand a marriage that I would describe as being "full".

Ive been kicking around for 31 years of their marriage and I am so grateful to have had them as my example of love.

They taught me that you don't need to have money in the bank if you have love in your home. 

They showed us that love is what is important, all that other stuff wont get you very far. But, the love of a partner is what will keep you going through it all. 

I love how they have always made time for each other, despite so many other responsibilities, they really focused on perfecting their marriage. They went on dates often. 

When I was a teenager, I remember if I wanted to find them after 6pm on a week night, they would be at a near by coffee shop, holding hands, sharing a coffee, sitting on the same side of the bench and talking like they were on their first date.



They showed me how to be selfless and they did so by serving each other in little and big ways. 

I clearly recall my mother packing a lunch for my father every day, she would fill up a giant jug of water for him, when he worked grueling hours doing landscaping as a side job. In turn, I watched him treat her like a queen, giving her hugs for seemingly no reason, telling her how beautiful she looked from across the dinner table with screaming kids all around them. I learned by watching them interact, that one can be selfless and receive selfless love in return.


They constantly showed me that a marriage could be filled with friendship. 

I still get teary eyed when I drive with my parents places. 

They will sit side by side, usually my dad in the drivers seat and my mother in the passenger seat and they will turn up their cd of choice and sing loudly together, smiling, laughing at times, and just enjoying each other. 

It is truly so beautiful to see your parents being friends. 

I remember the long road trips we would embark on and when they would turn off the cd or radio and they would sing in two part harmony for hours; the whole time my dad tapping on the dashboard or my mom rubbing his neck, or them coming together and holding hands. They showed us often that they adored each other and that they were each others biggest fan. 

I know now, that seeing that kind of love daily, is such a gift to a child.



They showed others how to be persistent and how to be happy during the hard times. 

They had six children together; my father worked as a minister and my mother would run women's meetings and craft groups out of her kitchen and home while being a stay at home mama. 

They didn't have piles of money rolling in, but they worked harder then any other couple I have ever known. 

They counseled couples on weeknights, hosted big families in for dinner, they ran youth groups and planned activities for their church and for the community, they went without being thanked, without being paid and they gave and gave and gave some more. And you know what? They did all of that happily. 

They taught me that perspective is everything. 

They were probably overwhelmed with responsibility for most of their lives, but they always gave back happily and consistently to anyone who needed it. They are the type of people that others can count on and the type that can do so because they count on each other.

They are the two richest people I know.


They showed me that their faith was the center of everything. 

They acted it out too. 

More than once, they gave their last penny to others because they trusted in God to get them through the hard times. In a world that has a difficult time letting go, they did so continually in their marriage. They prayed before meal times and bed times with six babies, they planned after dinner devotions and taught us songs and inspirational readings from the Bible. They scraped up pennies and worked longer hours to send us to a school that offered a great education. They put Christian values at the center of their relationship and always encouraged us to do the same. 


They taught us that love gives, does, perseveres, grows, stretches, expands and can last a life time.


I feel so blessed to have been a part of their marriage. 

To have seen, firsthand, the falls and the triumphs. 

The times my father would humble himself in front of his children and apologize to my mother for a harsh tone after  long day at work, the times my mom would stay up later than usual, when she was exhausted, just so they could be together, the times they learned to parent six completely different, but hardwilled children, the times where they would make small occasions and outings seem amazing, the times they got creative on how to give their children everything they desired, the sand-castle-building-beach-days, the stuffing-everyone-into-a-hotel-sleep-overs, the singing, traveling, family days and the countless hours of car games to pass the time during family trips. 

The times they would leave love notes around the house for each other, the times my Dad would make acronyms out of my mothers name and treasure hunts just for her, the times they would agree to disagree, the times we would find them kissing in the kitchen and would applaud them with barfing and gagging sounds, the times where they forgave quickly, even without an apology, the times they were gracious and giving, and the times of personal sacrifice and the times of unfailing love.

Their marriage is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. 

It has been one of my life's greatest blessings to watch a relationship blossom and flower, and to see the seasons of life change it for the better.


Forty years of love, change and growth. 

Who would have thought that one handwritten note, passed across a room, would change it all.

I'm so happy that my father was opinionated and assertive way back then, I'm so glad my mother was humorous and gentle hearted and didn't take offense.

 I'm so glad they saw something so special in each other that made them fall in love and ultimately, I'm so glad they have continued to fall in love for 4o years since, with that same assertiveness, gentleness and humor.


Happy 40th wedding anniversary Mom and Dad, I am feeling very blessed today and always to have watched your love story be written, chapter by chapter.

xoxoxox

 
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