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January 07, 2013

"Happy" Happy New Year | A Living Room Update... with My Painting

This morning, Emma is back at school, I am sitting in my new kitchen office (that Mike and I created yesterday... I'll share it later this week when I've had a chance to style it), drinking coffee, watching Mr. Darcy play in the backyard, deciding what to make for dinner, doing laundry, writing about happiness and enjoying the new Capri Blue "Currant Blossom" candle I splurged on this weekend.  Happy. 

Last year about this time, I wrote a post about my vision was for this blog entitled, "Let Your Heart Be Light."  I wrote:

"Life is to be lived and felt - richly and abundantly.  We are all so blessed - stop worrying and live happily." 

January has arrived again, and I find myself very happy.  Not because of the endless list of blessings in my life (which are all good reasons to be happy), but because I choose to be happy.  I make small and big decisions all day long that fulfill the decision to be happy. 

A couple of weeks ago we met with an architect to talk about the addition we're planning for our house.  She was fabulous - asking all of the right questions.

"What do you want out of the new space, beyond the rooms and the physical vision, what is it that you're looking to feel, experience and do in your home that you aren't able to now?" 

I started spouting (in a hurried fashion, of course):

I want to be able to work and leisurely cook in the kitchen while being able to watch Emma.  I want a cozy table in front of a fireplace at which to spend hours on Saturday morning enjoying coffee and long dinners at night after Emma goes to bed.  I want us to have a big pair of cozy leather chairs (also near said fireplace) to lounge in and watch TV.

When I start talking about the picture perfect scene that the new addition would create, I can't help but double back and think, is it really possible for a room to add that much happiness to my life?  In some cases, yes.  I love to cook and being able to cook while giving Emma space to be (safely away from boiling water and frying bacon) would make me happy.  But can't we sit around our current dining room table and have long leisurely brunches?  Yes.  And don't we have a leather chair in our living room that is pretty darn close to a fireplace and a TV?  Yes.

There is an trend in our culture that says, I'll be happy when.  Instead of waiting for those things to happen to be happy, go ahead and make the choice to be happy now. 

Slow Down.  Relax.

As I begin to examine that picture in my head, the big thing I notice is the casual, laid back, easy going, relaxed feeling that I see.  Most of the time my life does look and feel like that.  But... sometimes (ok, too often) I find myself rushing through things.  Dinner, cooking, shopping, working, writing, shooting photos, cleaning, even vacations... everything.  I find myself feeling like I can't relax until everything is done, or everything is clean, or everything is put away and neat.  When Emma is at school, I run around the house multitasking my a** off so I can "feel good" when I get home.  Huh?

Don't get me wrong, in my true core, I'm a very, very laid back person.  But sometimes I find myself getting sucked into keeping the same standards I had for myself, our home and our lifestyle before Emma.  And the reality of it is, is that I just need to let it go.  Rushing around for hours so I can feel relaxed for 10 minutes at the end of the day because my to-do list is checked off doesn't make a lick of sense.  And it drives me crazy.

So, here's to lounging on the sofa and reading some blogs, flipping through Foolproof (continuing my "Month with The Barefoot" Project) deciding what to make for dinner instead of putting laundry away

At least for a good 20 more minutes this morning...

While Mr. and I are lounging, enjoy this update on our living room.  You can visit this link to see previous progress photos, as well as sources for purchases and paint colors in the room.  As you can see, there are a couple of new additions.

Mainly this painting created by... me! 

I'm not claiming that it is a masterpiece, as it is surely very flawed.  But I like it.

I based it on this photo I took on our honeymoon in Tuscany.  It is the first "real" thing I've ever painted... besides 100's of pieces of furniture, over and over.

Mostly, besides that it reminds me of the amazing views off of our honeymoon terrace, I love that I could use any colors I wanted and I could customize it to be exactly what I wanted for our living room... something I was struggling with while looking for artwork.  I chose a more muted palette than that of the photo, as you can tell.

My method was simple : I drew a grid on the printed photo, then a grid on my canvas.  Then I just started sketching and painting using acrylic paint.

I love the texture I was able to get with the acrylic. 

I'm looking for a gallery light to hang above it... but they seem to be very expensive, of course.  It only took me a couple of hours - and was fairly inexpensive (less that $50).  I'm thinking of creating something a little more airy for the Spring and Summer months...

Here is a pin for your bookmarking!

Other new things around the room include drapes and antique brass drapery hardware (similar to our master bedroom)...

And the paperwhites have replaced the garland on our mantle.  Cozy, don't you think?  I think I'll grab yet another cup of coffee and light that fire : )

As I said, daily happiness is a choice that we make through small and big decisions we make.  A little one for me it is consciously taking my time and choosing to be relaxed even though my list is long and my to-do's many. A big one is the 6 day vacation I just booked to Seaside (where we got married) for us in February - talk about relaxing!   See that photo above?

You might remember this photo from my post about happiness last year - Mike and I in Seaside just after we got married.   I can't wait to share our favorite place in the world with Emma.   How do you choose to be happy?  Please share - you might inspire someone... or me!

Just a reminder, you can visit this link to see previous progress photos, as well as sources for purchases and paint colors in the room.


  1. Anonymous1:06 PM

    Well said Jenny, something we all need to remember!

  2. Being in the moment (and letting the laundry and dishes pile up-a little bit!) is something that took me years as a parent to get the hang of! I think happiness lies in being kind to yourself, always knowing that there is another opportunity tomorrow to get it right. Also, wine and hot baths help a bit :)

  3. Jenny1:48 PM

    Yes, yes! I forgot to mention my request for a soaking tub in our new Master bathroom - it almost seems like a necessity!

  4. You have such a beautiful, well kept home! You're such an inspiration!

  5. Oh so true! Thanks for the reminder. I too set very high standards for myself....all these could be accomplished before my little man arrived. I find myself trying so hard to make those "things" happen again and it is so much more difficult. I know I need to relax and simply enjoy the moments with Harper right now. PS-Ikea is a great place to look for gallery lighting that is less expensive.

  6. I read in a book once that it was a good idea to keep a log of the things that make you happy. They called it a "Serendipity Log". In life it's easy to let the stress and negative aspects surround you and take over. Keeping a Serendipity Log will allow you to look back on the things that once made you happy and get you to that place again. It could be something as simple as your husband opening a door for you or a phone call from an old friend at a needed time. Try it!

  7. What you said about stressing all day just to achieve a few minutes of relaxation at the end of the day is SO true. I never looked at it that way before! I have two little ones at home and my happiest is when I'm on the floor playing with them - those moments when I tune out all of the mommy responsibilities and just PLAY...those are the best!

    1. I think it is so easy to plan for what happiness will one day look like. We can not forget to be content & find your bliss with the present. Life can be hectic nowadays & it certainly seems to fly by faster with each year that goes by. That is why I could not agree more with your casual easy going lifestyle philosophy. For me the perfect live in the moment day to kick the to do list aside may look very similar, starting out searching for creative inspiration on my daily blog reads. Maybe a little Pinterest, maybe a little to long, finishing with an outing to our local shops & antique markets. Taking inspiring photography along the way of course to share on my blog upon my return. Ending with a cozy evening at home with my hubby.

  8. This was the best post, on a topic I feel passionate about. Like you, I choose to be happy. Gretchen Rubin has written a couple of books on Happiness that gives a person tools for happiness. One of her tips that resonates with me is to "act like you want to feel"...when things go wrong, and sometimes they do, keep your attitude and demeanor as happy as possible, you eventually line up and feel better as a result.
    You are a talented artist. The painting looks lovely.

  9. Well done with the painting. It is lovely. I too have been feeling like my to do lists creates an inability to enjoy family/friends and take in my surroundings. It is nice to realize people are having similar experiences. I need to analyze and balancing what is truly important and brings the most happiness. Great post!

  10. Anonymous3:28 PM

    Loving your painting and beautiful living room! Definitely inspires us to do a little revamping of our home for the new year as well.

  11. I am an artist and I must say for a first attempt you have done a fabulous job. I love that you were creative enough to use the paste for some relief work, this will really add some depth to your painting.

    I paint huge canvases of flowers in oils, if you get the chance pop to my blog and look at my "paintings" page. I think you will like them. Peonies are my favourite. I haven't painted for over a year because of my mother being ill and passing away but I am going to start again in February and have lots of amazing Peony photos I have taken with a real contrast in light and shadow.

    Love your house and your blog.


  12. Anonymous7:08 PM

    I'm sorry but "School" for your one year old while you take photos, and write a blog a couple times a week? I don't get it, why do people have kids so that others can take care of them these days?

    1. Dear Anonymous - Boo! I hardly ever reply to negative comments because I don't usually feel that it is worth my time or the negative energy, but I really do not like it when someone insults my parenting.

      What is it, the 1950's? When did being a working mother become a bad thing?! I think it is pretty incredible that I can work part time from home, earn a great income and still be able to spend 153 hours a week raising my daughter, less the actual 15 hours she spends at school.

      Shame on you for passing judgment and discounting the work that I do... all the while, you're reading MY blog, benefiting from what you dismissed as "take photos, and write a blog a couple times a week."

      I think you should examine your "Happiness" meter.


    2. Well put Jenny!!!!!! Don't ever let those comments get into your head, you are a class act.

  13. Well said Jenny! :) Love this post!!

  14. Anonymous9:57 PM

    I love the simple cream curtains you used in this room, do you mind me asking where you got them....Thanks.

  15. WOW! Great living room! The painting goes well with the room; it’s certainly a personal touch that will never go unnoticed.

    - Gerry Bossier -

  16. I struggle with the same thoughts you mentioned in your post too, looking forward to the next thing which I believe will make me happy rather than being happy in the now.

    I find what helps me is to, each morning, make a list and focus on what I'm grateful for and that lifts my mood.

    Great post, can't wait to read more of the "Barefoot" series!

  17. I love your living room and your painting! Just wanted to say that I think you are doing a great job at ALL that you do and your daughter is blessed to have you as a mom!

  18. You have inspired and motivated me! Love the painting! I've been trying to decide (for two years) if I have the skills and/or courage to attempt a whole-wall, colonial style mural on our dining room walls. I was going to sketch it all out on rolls of large paper and put it on a grid. So it's great to see someone who's done something similar! I think I can. I think I can!

  19. Such a pretty, peaceful and elegant room- my ideal version of traditional! You've shared great words to live by (and a great piece of artwork!). Your sweet family will benefit from your positive outlook.

    My favorite place to be is at home with my family... and at my family's homes right near where you are! I love Kansas City! Being there makes me happy. Would love to go to Seaside someday, too.


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