Tag Archives | Real Life

Gettin’ Down to Bidness

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Saturday I drove to Brenham for Holly Mathis Interiors’ Creative Business class.  I spent the day in Brenham at her studio and then at her home for some serious inspiration and education from Holly herself.  I met a ton of other women at all different stages of doing this decorating/styling thing and the whole thing was EXACTLY what I needed.  It was like encouragement, inspiration, and a kick in the pants all wrapped in one.

First of all, walking into her studio space is inspiration in itself.  I couldn’t stop taking pictures of everything.  She’s dabbling in retail as well (her words) so it doubles as a cute little boutique: designer pillows, candles, local art, etc.

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And now I’m kicking myself- why oh why did I not come home with one of those designer pillows??

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We sat down at chippy farmhouse tables with perfectly imperfect mismatched chairs to scones & pastries on blue & white china with mimosas and coffee.  We each (there were about 15 of us) had our own spot with a hand written name card that was actually the envelope for a letter from Holly and then our notebooks chock full of info and space for note taking.

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After introductions and a first session, we carpooled up and headed to Holly’s house for lunch.  We got to tour her house and also it was a great time to chat and find out how others in the business are doing things.  What program do they use for moodboards, how do they address pricing, how do they access “to the trade” sources, etc.  My big question was “What is the Dec Center and how do I get in??” Some of you may be laughing at me and some of you may also have no idea what this is.  It was just great because I could totally be myself and open about what I do and do not know about this business.

I’ll show you a few pictures of her house.  Of course it was adorable in every way.  It was recently photographed for a magazine due to come out in the spring I think.

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Here we are in the kitchen, spilling out into the foyer as Holly prayed before lunch.

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I loved how open she was about her faith.  If you’ve ever read her blog, you know this about her- that its a big part of her business. It was just great to hear her encouragement- to allow the Holy Spirit to lead us and to pray, pray, pray.  She was also incredibly authentic and down to earth.  I loved that so much.

After lunch we headed back to the studio eager to learn more and ask a million questions.  For me, the best part was the information about making myself a “real” business.  I’ve struggled with fear and intimidation about a lot of that and have just sort of taken things as they’ve come rather than going about this in a proactive, intentional way.  I’ve got some goals for The House of Figs.  And that doesn’t necessarily mean growing and being busier… for now at least.  It just means getting some things organized and made official, not being intimidated by the whole “to the trade” thing, and starting to see myself as a real business owner.

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So in the words of Holly’s brother (did you know he’s Jimmy Don from Fixer Upper?  He makes all of Joanna’s metal signs!) It’s time to “git down to bidness!”

Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

xoxo Bethany

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Fear vs. Ambition vs. All or Nothing Thinking

Aka the world’s longest blog post title.

I get asked a lot how my business is going.  I so appreciate friends being interested in my work!  And my answer varies.  In fact, sometimes I’m not really sure how to answer.  I do still take clients and I do still work.  My littlest guy is in school two days a week now so that has opened up some time to work.  Its also shown me that I don’t enjoy working the entire time he’s at school and that for my own sanity I enjoy taking some of that time to do other things like grocery shop and clean my house, listen to podcasts & music, or just watch tv.  I know that all of this is a complete luxury and for that I’m very grateful.  Not all women have the option of choosing when and how much to work and I’m aware of that.  So I say all of this out of that knowledge and with a grateful heart of the situation I’m in.

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A gallery wall layout I’ve been working on with a client.


Sometimes I wonder why I haven’t pursued my business more, why I haven’t taken it “to the next level.”  Why don’t I feel a drive to grow my client base, make things more “official,” etc?  Some of it, I think for sure, is a little bit of fear.  I don’t actually know much of anything about business.  I know what I’ve taught myself about design, I know what I love to do, and that’s about it.  I struggle with pricing myself and how much my service should be worth.  I struggle at times with “selling” my ideas and my view of design because I truly believe it is SO subjective.

I admire my favorite designers like Lauren Liess, Shea McGee, Emily Henderson.  They all work so hard and have such a defined style and client base.  I wonder about what it must take to get to that point.  What kind of ambition, sacrifices, hours of hard work, constant learning from mistakes, networking, etc has it taken?

I told myself at the beginning of this year when my littlest started preschool I was going to take the year to decide if I was really going to “go for it” in that sense.  That I would pray, work, use the year to educate myself in the business world some and then decide: will I go for it or will I just stop? I’ve spent so long just sort of awkwardly wavering in between.  Always on the edge of fear and ambition.

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A playroom/homeschool moodboard currently in process.

And so I have done exactly that over the past few months.

I’ve prayed, I’ve read, I’ve taken on some new projects, I even signed up for a design business class with Holly Mathis (another designer who’s work I truly admire!!) that will happen later this month.  More on that later, for sure.

And now I find myself in a little different mindset: does it really have to be all or nothing?

I read Present over Perfect recently (more on that later, too) and I resonated with so much of it.  If you’ve read it you know it speaks a lot to the workaholic (which I am not).  But it also speaks to remembering to be present in the moments when you’d rather distract or numb.  I can often find myself being lazy and/or afraid, desiring to numb rather than face whatever’s really going on.  And that distracts from my goal of doing this work thing intentionally.  That’s the word that’s coming to me in this season.  That’s how I desire this to be whether its small or big or nothing at all.  Whatever it is, I want it to be thoughtful and intentional.  Not haphazard and certainly not motivated by fear.

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A simple neutral guest room also in process right now.

So for now I work in a small way.  And I’m discovering thats okay.  It doesn’t mean I’m afraid.  I can work in confidence and take on what I feel capable taking on.  I want to take on what is good for our family and then say no.   I’m still learning how that looks for now, but anyway, that’s the long answer to “how’s your work going?” in case you ever wondered. 🙂

If you’ve read this far, you get a trophy now.  Thanks, friends, I’ll be back soon.

xoxo Bethany

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My Yearly DIY Post

I’m not a crafter and I don’t do much holiday decorating.  But there’s something about the crispness of fall that has me itching to create.  And I don’t mean creating gallery walls or moodboards or furniture layouts. I mean actually with my hands creating something.  Maybe it has something to do with being outside more?  I miss being outside so much during the oppressive heat of summer.  Lately I’m gazing at sunsets, watching the kids play in the yard, and hanging out on the porch.  Maybe that’s it?

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So I’ve found I’m in the kitchen more often, baking goodies that I normally would never be stirring up myself (my husband has the love of cooking in this family).  And last week I actually wandered around on that crafty aisle of Target looking for something fun to do with the kids.  I picked up this pad of punch out paper leaves and had no idea where it would take us.

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My daughter LOVED it.  She worked on painting and coloring leaves for over an hour.  My littlest guy painted a few leaves.  I found myself painting leaf after leaf.  My oldest couldn’t have cared less.  Oh well, to each his own.

I didn’t have a plan for the leaves when we were finished with them, but the colors were so pretty and fall-ish that I was inspired to make a banner for the living room.  I roped some twine up there and used some masking tape to attach the leaves.  I love the organic color of the watercolor paints and how it just brings a little bit of festive whimsy to the room.  I’m sorry to say that this pad was on sale so I can’t find it online to share with you.  Maybe they still have it at your local Target if you’re interested. If not, you could use this template to print out your own, though that would involve a lot of cutting (not quite as fun and easy.)  Here are a few more simple/minimalist fall garlands that would be fun as well.

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I totally get how decorating for the seasons creates this cozy atmosphere and builds a sense of excitement, especially for kids.  But as a sort of minimalist and practicalist (I know that’s not a word), I often forget that.  I don’t like to have little vignettes of scarecrows and plastic pumpkins and hay bales around even though I LOVE the coziness of them when I walk into other people’s homes or little boutique shops.  I even study them in my friends’ homes (they don’t know I’m doing it or I would be like a weird stalker) because I’m trying to figure out how it looks so cozy.  I think it has something to do with using what you love in your own home.  Which might be why it doesn’t work for me.  When I bring in stuff that isn’t me or my style, it makes me feel cluttered in my brain.  I’ve tried and usually end up returning it or putting it in a Goodwill pile.

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My daughter on the other hand is constantly looking for a reason to decorate for an occasion or party.  I’m convinced she will one day have the coziest cutest house including scarecrows and hay bales that look adorably perfect for fall.  Anyway, I’m thinking I might ought to start taking her advice a little more often. She may want to paint the walls all pink though, haha.

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So here’s my fall decor for this year- watercolor leaves, and you can see those little white pumpkins on the mantle too.  I picked those up from Trader Joe’s.  I also got one of the big “Cinderella” pumpkins to keep on the breakfast room table.

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Cheers to the changing of the seasons, getting outdoors more, and creating a home you love, however that looks for you.

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xoxo

Bethany

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Loving Lately

We are having some very LONG days of summer lately- its so hot we can barely go outside unless we are in a pool.  Its safe to say we are all looking forward to school starting in a few short weeks, though I know I’ll miss theses kids when they’re gone all day!

I know I haven’t blogged much at all this summer, but I thought I’d pop in and share a quick post about a few things I’ve been loving lately.  I like to do that every once in a while (you can see my previous posts here).

Christy Nockels has a new podcast that’s really been inspiring. She interviews guests, but my favorite part is the beginning when she just share some of what’s been going on in her life and what God’s been teaching her either currently or in the past.  Its been good for my soul and I’m so enjoying it.

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My daughter and I went to see Wicked, along with several of the women in our family and it was SO GOOD.  She and I both loved it so much and have since downloaded all the music and she even bought her own cd so she could listen to it in her room.  If you’ve never seen it or don’t have the music, you can download it on Amazon music for free if you have Prime!

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I visited Magnolia Market a few weeks ago (which I will eventually blog about and share more pictures) but my favorite purchase by far was this new summer candle.  It has been burning so much in our house lately and I’m sad to say its almost gone.  The scent is amazing and really fills the house which is hard to do with our high ceilings.

Candle

Do you like to drink wine?  An old friend of mine from college has the cutest blog and she’s doing a series on wine- learning about different varieties (is that even the right word, haha??) and pairing.  I like a nice glass every once in a while but I don’t know much about it, obviously.  I love the way Amy writes and I’m looking forward to her posts!

The beach.  We went for just a few days this summer and even though it was such a short trip, it reaffirmed my love for the sand and the shore.  I will never tire of it.  The sights, the sounds, the smell.  Its my happy place.  (And it also reminded me of this great book that I am now rereading.)

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Lastly, the Olympics!!  Are you watching?  We are big fans over here, but we are also pretty exhausted every night and barely making it the end.  I’m not a big sports person, but I just love learning all the back stories and seeing all their hard work come to fruition on a world stage.  It feels so monumental. And Team Refugee this year?  Just amazing.

So what’s going on with you this summer? I’d love to hear what you’ve been enjoying, reading, watching, or doing!  I do have plans for the blog this fall when I have a little more time to devote to it, so though I’ve taken a break, know I’m not completely gone. 🙂  Hope to hear from you!

 

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On Taking a Break

Its summertime and I’ve been in need of a break.  I’m learning the balance between work and play, remembering I’ve only got 18 summers with them, but also knowing I need a little time for myself carved out in there too.

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Something had to give and it ended up being the blog for a time.

I’ve still been working a little and will have a few projects to share with you at some point.

I’ve been reading a ton (summer reading is the best!) and want to share those with you too.

But we’ve mostly just been going to the pool, staying up too late, watching too much TV, and taking a few little trips here and there.

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I’m stunned when I realize June is pretty much over and before we know it school will be back and the busyness and schedules will start up again. It’s funny how seasons are like that.  Ever-changing.  It’s been nice to just relax into this one.

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So I’m still here.  Just doing my best to soak up this summer.  Giving myself permission to take a break.

xoxo

Bethany

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The Ministry of Mediocrity

It came at a time that I needed it most. I was knee deep in comparisons; trying to keep up with the Joneses (and failing miserably) and that’s when I read it.  A friend of mine wrote a blog post about her “ministry of mediocrity.”  This was years ago and she doesn’t blog anymore but recently I contacted her to ask if I could write about it here. I still think about that post often and I’m so thankful she said yes.  It has to do with the “purpose” side of home-keeping, hospitality.  And it has nothing to do with a perfectly made bed, fluffed pillows, or a well curated gallery wall.

It has to do with being mediocre.

So what is this ministry of mediocrity, exactly?  Well, it could mean inviting friends over to hang out with a sink/counter/table full of dishes and not apologizing for them.  It could also mean not shaving your legs or repainting your chipped toe nail polish and still wearing shorts and sandals because its hot outside.  Its remembering that we’re all human, nobody’s perfect, and revealing your own imperfections creates a space for true connection.  Sound scary?  Maybe it is, a little.  But its also brave and leads to intimacy and realness- creating a sense of belonging that we all crave.

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When we furiously scrub our houses, selves, and lives to gleaming perfection before interacting with anyone, we give this impression that this is how life really is.  We appear untouchable and unreachable. Our homes may be even a little uncomfortable.

But what if instead of perfection we purposefully aimed for mediocrity with the intent of ministering to others?  What if we aimed for just “good enough” housekeeping?  Just “good enough” cooking, party-throwing, hair-fixing, decorating?  Whatever it is that eats you up because you’re just not perfect or its just not your thing- let it go. Enough of this super-woman “I-can-do-it-all” lie.  When we reveal our imperfections to one another, we actually minister to eachother, saying “you are free to be exactly who you are.”

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When someone invites me in from the perspective of a ministry of mediocrity, I feel at ease, I feel comfortable. I know they are more interested in connection and friendship rather than creating a mirage of perfection. I am allowed to be myself and reveal my own imperfections: messy house, unshaven legs, at times ill-behaved children, and all.  They have ministered to my soul by just being themselves: which is at times genuinely, perfectly mediocre.

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Three Things on a Thursday

Hey there!  I’ve been away for a while, but today I’m back with three things, perhaps random, but its what we’ve been up to lately…

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I was just on a quick trip with my husband, Paul to the midwest.  We were there for my cousin’s wedding, but since our 12th anniversary was a few weeks ago and my 33rd birthday was just last week we decided to make a little extra celebration out of it and stayed in Chicago a little longer just the two of us.

Cloud Gate

 

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Our favorite thing about traveling together is food.  While we are eating a meal we are literally planning where we will eat our next meal.  And Chicago has got some great eats.  The weather was not the greatest, but we definitely got to experience why its called “the windy city.”  Check out Paul’s Instagram for more pictures.

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Amazing cinnamon rolls at an adorable Swedish breakfast spot

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Stunning sunset views from the Hancock building

Next up, we’ve been having fun taking some new pictures for HandUp Global Goods.

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This company has a special place in our hearts and I’d love for you to take some time and read about them and maybe even find a bracelet or two when you get a chance.  I’ve blogged about our photos for them before here. Creating these photos has been such a fun way for us to combine my love of design and fashion along with Paul’s skill and creativity behind the camera.

I bought some grocery store flowers and a few props and had no idea where things would end up.  We knew we wanted springy, fun, and colorful but just went from there.

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Our old white Corian countertops have come in quite handy as a backdrop.

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You can see a few more of the pictures on HUGG’s Instagram and Facebook pages.

Lastly, have you seen the new line for kids’ bedrooms at Target?  Maybe I’m late to the party here but its called Pillowfort and is so adorable.

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They’ve got bedding, rugs, wall decor, adorable pillows, lamps, etc. I’m researching big boy beds and bedding for my littlest (*sniff *sniff*) and am loving some of these combinations.  Anyone gotten anything from this line yet?  What are your thoughts?

I hope you’re doing well, I’ve missed you all!

xoxo

Bethany

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