Monday, November 15, 2010

swan song

When my second child was born almost four years ago, I was ready for a change. I had been plugging away as a part-time worship leader in my church, but had grown tired and ready to be a stay-at-home mom for a while. I had always had a dream of owning my own redesign business. It was something I was good at and had been helping friends redecorate for years just for fun. I started thinking, "Wouldn't it be fun to give it a shot?" I was blessed with a husband who had a steady job and we had always been committed to living on just his income, so there wasn't a lot of pressure to make lots of money right away. In addition, I had just given birth to my second daughter, and while she is a huge blessing now and brings so much joy to our family - she was not an easy baby! She refused to sleep at night and I was exhausted...I wanted somethiing "fun" to focus on. Thus, Nesting Instincts was born! I began working on a simple website, and when I started blogging in January of 2008, the business just took off! For a year, the business was just above and beyond what I could have hoped it would be. I was having so much fun. I remember saying to my husband, "I don't know how long this will last, but for now, it's just such a gift from God. He didn't have to bless this business, but He knew it was something I really wanted right now and he's brought clients and just really smiled on the whole thing this year."

And it's so true. I haven't talked about my faith a whole lot on this blog, because it's always been about promoting my business, but the fact is, I am who I am because of God. And my faith in Him colors everything about my life. I would be a mess without Him. So when my business started to receive accolades from even the most unexpected quarters, I thanked God, because I knew that "every good and perfect gift comes from the Father above" as the Bible says. While all of this was happening, I started attending a new church closer to my home and, while I no longer had to lead worship on Sundays, God wouldn't let me forget about worship leading. People who hadn't even heard me play or sing kept asking me to join worship teams or to lead worship at women's Bible study or various events. And then, almost 20 months ago, I gave birth to my sweet boy. He has been a huge blessing to our family and we're so grateful for him! However, he's also been an unexpected challenge. He's developmentally delayed, and we've spent the last eleven months in therapy, evaluations, testing, etc. to try and determine what the issues are and what the cause might be. We still don't have a whole lot more answers now than we did a year ago (except we know a whole lot of diseases that he doesn't have now).

And so, in spite of some big challenges and other time commitments, I have continued to plug away at my little Nesting Instincts. Decorating, shopping, bargain-hunting, graphic design, entertaining and throwing parties...I've always loved those things! And I always will! But recently, God's given me a new direction in life. He's shown me that he wants me to focus more on ministry to Him and to others and that the season of Nesting Instincts, the business, is coming to a close. Honestly, if you had told me a year ago that I would be writing this, I would have predicted that I would be feeling very sad and nostalgic right now...that there might be great "weeping and gnashing of teeth" as I close this chapter of my life. Actually, there is some nostalgia, but I am not mourning the end of this season! Mostly because I'm so excited about whatever it is that God has in store for me next. (And in case you ask, I have no idea what that might be.) I just feel like this is the right thing to do. God has shifted my priorities, and I want to be a part of what he's doing in the world. Many would say that I could have still ministered through decorating, etc. And that is true! And there is absolutely nothing wrong with decorating...I will always love it! But I've had a personal encounter with my God and I want to be available for the "something new" that he's going to do next. The when, what, how....I don't know that stuff yet. But I do know the "Who"...that's God...and because of Him, my life will never be the same.

I will always be available to help (and will enjoy helping) my friends and family decorate or plan parties or whatever. But I am going to put my business to bed for now and continue to seek God's will for my daily life and for my future. I have plenty to keep me busy...leading worship, parenting three little ones (one with special needs) and trying to be a blessing to others.

So, my friends...THANK YOU!!!!!!  So many of you have had me into your homes, asked my advice, read my blog, left lovely comments, purchased my cards, inspired me, supported me, encouraged me, blessed me. THANK YOU hardly seems like enough, but there is so much gratitude in my heart for each one of you that has played a special part in my life and in Nesting Instincts over the last three years! I love each one of you and pray that God will reveal Himself to you and bless you in a special way this year.

Hugs, hugs, HUGS!!!
:-) Courtney

PS I will leave NestInk, my Etsy shop, open until Thanksgiving, for anyone that wants to order Christmas presents!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

the most important things in life aren't...chandeliers

So yesterday I was blessed with a few hours to myself in the morning. What a gift! I spent the whole time browsing along each and every booth at Monticello Antique Mall in Portland. I love that place! Many of the vendors are very gifted at display, and I like how each of their individual personalities shine through their choices of stock and collectibles.

this is one of my all-time favorite dining rooms from a magazine EVER.

I was on a bit of a fact-finding mission, scoping out vintage chandeliers and pricing them. For those that have followed my blog for a while now, you will be very disappointed in me when I confess that I STILL have no chandelier for my dining room. Yes, the room that received a makeover two and a half years ago. Uh-huh. That's the one. No chandelier. What I do have (don't be jealous) is a gaping hole in my ceiling where I have also neglected to even install a three dollar plastic cap to cover the electrical wires hanging from the ceiling. I'm trying to figure out some way that I can pass this off as some kind of new design trend, but you all are too smart. I'm pretty sure you'd see right through that one. Anyway...

Back to chandelier shopping. It was supposed to just be a pricing and fact-finding mission, so I could be properly researched and prepared when the big moment FINALLY arrived to actually make a chandelier purchase. (Oh my goodness, I just realized that I should have taken my camera with me and showed you pics of some of the chandeliers I found! Bad blogger! BAD!) But, lo and behold, apparently my guard was down or something, because I found one that I got sorta attached to. The price was really reasonable and it was a good combination of old, rustic, and glamorous (what with the silk shades and all!). To further sweeten the deal, the booth vendor happened to actually be there in her booth that day and she offered me an additional 15% off! Yowsa!

So as you might imagine, I took a pic of the chandy with my phone and promptly texted both my husband and one of my girlfriends. (I have no idea how to get a photo from my phone to my computer, so don't even ask to see it.) Then, when I got impatient for a reply, I actually called my husband, who had apparently only just received the text and hadn't formulated a response yet. I love and adore my husband and one of the things that he is really good at is finances. Me, I don't pay a whole lot of attention to the old finances. I mean, I am a bargain shopper, I do my best with the money the budget allows me each month as far as providing for the family's needs, etc. but I am not the one that pays the bills.

So, we had to have a difficult conversation. He didn't like it, but he had to tell me to "wait" on the chandelier, because there just wasn't the money available for it right now. He didn't like feeling like the bad guy, but there you have it. As you might imagine, I didn't care for it either. At the moment he did seem a little like a bad guy; not because he actually was, but just because in his quest to be a responsible money manager, he had to tell me to wait. And I wanted it. Now. Like, for some reason I've been able to wait for two and a half years, but suddenly I felt I could not wait another thirty minutes.

Well, here's the point to this whole long sob story. I'm ashamed to admit that I allowed it to ruin the better part of my day. But when I left the antique mall and got back into the car, there was a song playing on KLOVE that goes "I don't want to gain the whole world, but lose my soul". That line was convicting for me. It was a gentle reminder that life is not about acquiring things. Not even cute, on-sale things. Not even things we "need". I had allowed my disappointment in not getting to purchase that chandelier to suddenly cast a shadow over an otherwise lovely day.

When I was growing up, my mom had framed print in the living room that said, "The most important things in life are not things." I've always loved that quote, but apparently every once in a while, I still need to be reminded of the truth in that saying.

I was inspired to write this post because of a post I read over at Remodeling This Life called "There will always be something else". She's doing a series of 31 Days of Living Simply. And she's been able to make a similar point to mine in a much simpler way (haha) and with fewer words. You should check it out.

I read a lot of blogs about decor and design, and let me tell you, it's very easy to start feeling discontent with your own home when you see what others have. But once again I remind myself - "the most important things in life aren't things". I've been teaching my kids recently that when they are feeling discontent, they should make a list of five things they are thankful for. By the end of that list, their attitude has changed and they have a new perspective on things. Why don't I follow my own advice more often?

P.S. Oh, and I'm glad I have a husband who can stand up for what's best for the family, even when I don't like it. I sure do love that guy.

The photos in this post are a few dining rooms (and their chandeliers) that make my heart go pitter-patter. All photo sources: decor pad 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

master bedroom makeover...for free!

master bedroom before

Last weekend I had an opportunity to do a fun three-hour redesign for a client. Her husband was out of town for the week, but is preparing to deploy for Iraq after the holidays. Understandably, she wanted a serene and romantic space for their master bedroom before then. The bed is missing a headboard, and the room had the unique challenge of being in a basement and therefore having a ledge surrounding most of the room. I think I turned these features into an asset by using the ledge as a headboard and having it be a staging area for candles and flowers. Here it is...

Master Bedroom after

We did absolutely no shopping for this space. We only used what my client already had in her home. We found a table from another room, lamps from other rooms, extra bedding that wasn't being used, and used flowers from her own front yard to complete the look. Wouldn't you love to see this room at night with all the candles lit? Stunning, I think.

other half of the room, before

The other end of the room was even more challenging, because my client really didn't have any bigger pieces of furniture available to create the sitting area of her dreams. Therefore, we went ahead and staged this space using what she has, but she has a shopping list for Craigslist and will be looking for a few larger pieces.


We took an old chair from the garage (a "project" chair that is waiting to be revamped) and temporarily dressed it up with a throw and a pillow. Even though you can tell that more furniture is needed, the space is still warmer and you can see that it is the beginning of a lovely sitting area. This is a good-sized master bedroom (what a blessing!) and my client has the following items on her shopping list for this space:

1. wood blinds - the 2" plantation ones in a warm wood finish (white will work if she can't find wood)
2. either two comfy upholstered chairs or a small love seat.. A chaise lounge, possibly with a second chair, would work as well. 
3. a small end table
4. table lamp or floor lamp (for reading)

When I first saw the space, the ledge seemed like it could be a bit of a problem child. But as I got farther into the transformation, I realized the ledge could really be a unique asset. We raided the client's kitchen for a bunch of milk bottles, since that was something she had in multiples. I feel that repetition of a simple design element is a great way to fill a long shelf or ledge like this, without the overall look becoming cluttered. The great thing is, she can put just about anything in these vases. Cherry branches in spring, flowers in summer and fall, bare branches in the winter. SO fun.

To make the bed seem more luxurious, we mixed and matched and layered linens like crazy. Thankfully, the last few times the client has bought bedding, it's all been in a similar color scheme. As a result, she has several sets of sheets and duvets that all compliment each other. I used striped sheets, a toile quilt, and a mono-chromatic patterned duvet cover layered on this bed with a variety of throw pillows. I think the overall effect is soft, inviting, and elegant.

This just goes to show that it doesn't have to take a lot of money to get a new look in your home. Sometimes just a friend with a different perspective can be the catalyst to your next makeover. Or, of course, you can always call someone like me. :-)  I just love doing this kind of thing, and I've decided that master bedrooms are one of my very favorite rooms to makeover. Usually, for most of us, it's the last room to get any attention. It should be a safe and calming place...a bit of a sanctuary...but usually, it's not! I'm on a one-woman mission to change that for America. Well, okay, at least for Oregon. Oh, all right, for the Portland area. But yes, definitely on a mission to makeover the master bedrooms of Portland, one room at a time! ;-)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

and the winner is...

We assigned each comment a number, and my lovely assistants wrote down the numbers on scraps of paper. Here's my girls showing off the winning number! The winner of two sets of my custom NestInk note cards giveaway is:

Suburban Prep!

Comment #10
Suburban prep said:
"These are wonderful. I like the Contemporary Cluster for my self and the Iris for my mother. My mother loves Irises and well she has been a great help for me this summer during some stressful times."

Congrats, Suburban Prep! Please email me to claim your prize!! Thanks to everyone else who entered the giveaway. More to come!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

GIVEAWAY and more lovely finds

Don't forget to enter my giveaway! Giveaway closes Monday, October 11 at midnight PST. The winner will be chosen at random from the comments.

blue mid-century chair painting by CottageHillStore

I spent time on Saturday working on a really fun redesign. A wife was re-decorating the master bedroom as a surprise for her husband who was out of town. I'm still working on getting the pics off the camera...I'll do a post about the redesign once the photos are ready. For now, feast your eyes on this loveliness, and check out these etsy shops:

"welcome" - archival art print from lovelysweetwilliam

artichoke print on vintage book page by CrowBiz

teal hummingbird with eucalyptus pillow (on sale!) by joom

Beautiful, no? Have a great week, my friend!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Fabulous Fall Finds

dripping cyan signed print by slight clutter

Usually I am not a fan of paintings or photographs of trees or forests in fall. I sort of hate to even admit this, because I feel that it's almost inhuman or something not to appreciate the colors and beauty of autumn. I do appreciate the colors, but along with them comes a deep mourning for the loss of summer. See, I'm a sun person all the way, and invariable I wish for summer to never end. I think my attitude is usually something like, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, summer's got to end, but I don't have to be happy about it!"

All of this brings me to the stunning work of Etsy shop slightclutter (pictured above and below). The photographs are gorgeous to begin with, but they have just the right amount of artistic tweaking that makes them absolutely breathtaking! These are photos of fall that I would be proud to display all year round in my home...and that's really saying something (since in general I sort of try to ignore the fact that it's fall!).

Man, I'm really swooning over this tree and its brilliant leaves. It's just so magical and surreal. I really dig it.

I also kind of fell in love with these handmade batik napkins. Don't you just love that color? I've included it in this collection of fall-themed things, but it could say "spring" just as easily, I think. I'm picturing these set on a rustic table, outdoors, perhaps at a little dinner party set in an apple orchard. I actually had a lady buy a huge and gorgeous candelabra from me at my yard sale this summer, and she said she was buying it for her friend who often hosts dinners outdoors in her apple orchard. Gasp! Can you imagine anything more perfect or magical in the fall? (Or anytime for that matter?)

This artwork really takes my breath away, particularly because it is A) original and B) 5 x 7 size (easy to frame) and C) under $10. Yep, you read it right...$10 for original artwork that's inexpensive to frame on your own! Oh. My. Goodness. I'm really smitten with the fall leaves above. The one below is gorgeous as well. 

fall is coming original art by artofjane

And moving on to the adorably cute and clever portion of today's post. Do you see those cupcake wrappers?  Is there really anything I can say about them that can add to their cuteness? I think the only thing that could make these better is having an actual cupcake inside them! Other than that, they are so sweet, I could almost eat them on their own. Having a child's birthday this fall? Why not make it a forest theme? Complete with deer, toadstools, butterflies, get the idea.

And speaking of clever, look what sweetsomethingdesigns did with cinnamon-scented pine cones! Attached them to rough twine for a really simple, woodsy-looking garland that also makes your home smell fabulous. Sometimes I get tired of the over-abundance of fake leaves you see in homes during fall (the finger's pointed at me own fake leaves included!) so it's refreshing to see something like this that is so organic and beautiful at the same time.   

Okay, I think I might be a little more ready for fall now! 'Cause like it or not, it's here! So I'm doing my best to revel in its beauty after all. :-)

And speaking of celebrating, don't forget to enter my giveaway!!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

no more chemo - let's celebrate with a giveaway!!!

beautiful Audrey, age six

***This giveaway is now CLOSED. Thanks so much for entering!!****

Our sweet little friend Audrey is now six years old and is in the first grade. Sounds pretty normal, until I add the fact that she has just finished TWO YEARS of treatment for leukemia! She has a clean bill of health now. I can hardly believe that it's finally over. I'll never forget when my mom called me on the phone back in July 2008 with the news that Audrey had been diagnosed with leukemia. Our hearts broke. Audrey is one of my daughter's good friends, and Audrey's mom is one of my very good friends. I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. At the time, it seemed that October 1, 2010, would NEVER get here. The end of her treatment felt so far away. But now, thanks to the thousands of prayers to a faithful God, and the capable, loving hands at Doernbecher Children's Hospital, she has completed her treatment. WOW!!

my card design called "happy"...NestInk

So, I feel like a celebration is in order! To celebrate, I'm going to give away some of custom embellished set for you, one for a friend! There are three ways you can win:
- Please check out my shop and then come back and leave a comment telling me which style you'd choose for yourself, and which style you'd want to give to your friend.
- share about this giveaway on Facebook or Twitter and be entered to win again (leave another comment to let me know)
- write a post about this giveaway on your blog for yet another entry (leave another comment with the link to your post)

You'll have until midnight PST on Monday, Oct. 11 to enter this giveaway. So start commenting!! :-)

"iris cluster" (close-up)

And YAY for being cancer-free!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Love you, Audrey!!!! <3

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

corner cupboard makeover

Here's just a little project I did recently. It only took me about twenty minutes, but I think the difference is great!
corner cupboard before 

I started with this white corner cupboard. Actually, when it was first given to me by my mom, it was navy blue. I promptly painted it white and put it in the girls' playroom. Fast-forward a year or two and it took on new life in my kitchen. However, it was pretty boring and I felt it needed more color...not to mention, I have a lot of white dishes that I'd like to display, but I felt that white dishes in a white cupboard would really be BOR-ing.

cupboard after

So, I whipped out some paint I had purchased for another project, and in about twenty minutes, had a whole new look! Just one coat did the trick. Now, the white dishes really stand out more, and I have more of my favorite color (turquoise) in the kitchen now!

Monday, September 20, 2010

my kitchen

Just because I promised (and not because I'm in love with it!) are a few pics of my kitchen. A lot of it is somewhat in shadow...this was taken on a sunny day and the light was just beginning to really stream through the window over the sink. But, you get the idea. There's a LOT of cabinetry in my kitchen, and I love the style of it...just not the finish on the cabinets.

This is my kitchen from the other angle. You can see my "gallery wall" at the far end...the ever-rotating display of my children's artwork. It's just clothespins stuck on cables, which are jerry-rigged to the wall. I could have done it a lot more professionally, but (long story) I ended up making it happen with cuphooks and ribbons to cover the ugliness where the cables were anchored to the wall. I have close-ups of this project, but of course, can't seem to find them at the moment! So you will have to let your imagination do some of the work. (And by the cabinets are not really that bright ORANGE - just that darn afternoon sunlight combined with my poor photo editing!)

Ah - there's the culprit - the one window in my kitchen without blinds (or any window treatment at all!). Why, you ask? Eh, just haven't gotten around to it. Come on, people, I've only owned the house for seven years! It takes time to do things like purchase blinds, you know?

Hmmm, tough crowd. ANYWAY...

The kitchen of my dreams would have white cabinetry, except on the island...where it might be grey or black...carrera marble countertops...some open shelving....some glass doors on a few cabinets...and maybe white or marble subway tiles on the backsplash. The whole room would be bright and clean, but with a homey, vintage feel to it. Perhaps a chandelier or two. Maybe I'll do a post on inspiring kitchens of these days. I have to confess, after starting to write this post (several days ago!) I went off looking for inspiring kitchen photos...and got so lost in all the inspiration of blogland that I never came back! So for'll just have to imagine my dream kitchen. And, of course, donations are always welcome. ;-)

Friday, September 10, 2010

"virtual nesting" at NestInk

If you follow me on Facebook at all, you know that I've been dealing with a house full of sickies this week. I mean really sick. I've never seen my girls sicker, in fact! Without going into too much detail, let's just say that I have had a LOT of messes to clean up this week. So glad that I took my nice, neat living room photos a few weeks ago. 'Cause it ain't pretty now, folks.

What I did get a chance to do today is finally some updating and housekeeping at NestInk. Editing photos and creating listings on Etsy is very time-consuming, but it's obviously necessary if you want know...sell stuff. And that I do. Want to sell stuff, I mean. Oh dear...nevermind...

Anyway, I'm trying a different approach with my photos. I'm going for a much more zoomed-in look as the main pic, the hope being that it will attract attention and get people to click on the item for more information. Each item photo on Etsy really only shows up as a small avatar, and so it's important that the photo packs a big punch on a small scale.

What do you think? I'm hoping this approach will help attract more business and more people to click-through each listing. 

They're not the highest-quality photos ever (because I'm cropping them waaayyy down) but I'm liking the overall new look that it gives my "storefront".

I've also added several sets of 10. I've received enough requests for varying quantities that I think I just need to start listing them. Up until now, I've just sold sets of 6 (unless otherwise requested). But now I'll also be offering sets of 10 or 20 as well.

Anyway, sorry about all the shop-talk. It's just what's on my mind today, and it's been refreshing to spend some time on something for me while my kids are continuing to recuperate. They are at that point now where they are weak enough to stay out of trouble, but well enough that they don't need constant nursing.

I'll bring Friday's Finds back again soon, don't you worry! Have a great weekend, friends.

Monday, August 30, 2010

time to front room

My front room this week 

I spent a fair amount of time cleaning, redecorating, and organizing my home this week. Not something I would have ordinarily planned in addition to my already busy schedule for the week, but something happened that I wasn't counting on. When you get an email from a magazine editor who is considering your home for a feature in their magazine (WHAT?!?) but they need a few photos of the layout of your home, you get busy. Never have I had better motivation to clean and organize. I don't even want to admit how long it took me to get each room ready for these photos. When you have three kids under five...well, you can imagine how scary things can get around this place.

my front room...from another angle

It was great motivation to finish a lot of half-finished projects, too. I got several things spray-painted that had been waiting for weeks...months?...for their lovely new coats. I'll show you the details of those things in another post.

my mantel with artwork I embellished myself (more on that in a later post)

This is the closest thing I've got to an entryway! This is that yellow vase I made a while back.

my "entertainment center"...really a yard-sale buffet

my beloved piano and newly re-re-painted mirror above (remember the yellow disaster?)

my favorite huge white bowl (from Crate & Barrel) with lemons and my mantel in the background

these roses were all from my own front yard...I love the colors!

Anyway, hope you enjoyed this little tour of my front room (which is really two rooms!). I'll show you my kitchen later on this week. I still don't know whether they will want to shoot my home for the magazine or not...but I figure, even if they don't...the amount of cleaning and sprucing up I did this week was PRICELESS!  In fact, the whirlwind of activity was so impressive that my husband tried to tell me that somebody wants to photograph our junk drawer for a magazine and could I spruce it up for pictures? He's a funny guy. ;-)

Monday, August 23, 2010

i'm such a tease...but this gorgeous photography is no joke!

Disclaimer: I am teasing you now. I have some REALLY fun projects to show you. But there's only so much time in the day, so you all will have to wait till I have a chance to upload the photos, edit them to the proper level of fabulousness (or as close as I can get them, anyway) and post them to this little corner of blogland. I also had some amazing news the other day about an opportunity that is so exciting that it helped turn a really icky week into a really great one. But I can't tell you about it yet. Let's just say that I have been spending the last couple of days, in between other real-life duties, decorating and staging and photographing my own home for a special project. I'll share the pics with you will get a bigger glimpse into my home than ever before...and eventually I'll even tell you why I went through all the pain and suffering of the intense cleaning it required to even feel like my home was ready to photograph.

In the meantime, you have to check out this beautiful original photograph. I found it some time last week, and now that I've gone through the exercise of re-decorating and staging my own home, I realize one of the reasons I like it so much. The three colors in this photograph are my three favorite colors for accessories at the moment! I seriously have little touches of aqua, yellow, and hot pink all throughout my living and dining rooms. The colors are fresh, cheerful, and summery...although I'm not sure I can blame it entirely on the season (as I've been loving these three colors for quite a while now). This gorgeous print can be found in the very lovely Etsy shop AddieDesigns. Here are a few more photographs of hers that I am really digging right now:

Every single one of these photographs by AddieDesigns speaks to me in some way. Please check out the gorgeous shop of this talented artist who is not only a photographer, but does watercolor paintings as well! Can you believe it? Here are some examples of her paintings:

Gorgeous, yes?? Please go see AddieDesigns, give her some love...tell her I sent ya! :-)