Posts tagged home
Living in every room

Some days I get on these thought trains.

  • The ones where I dream of having an incredible house like Soandso. Oh, how amazing it would be to walk in the front door and have all that open space. And that fireplace.
  • The ones where I envision a sunroom, and a deck, and a patio, and a pool...and a studio all added on to the back of our house. How awesome it would be to live with that space added.
  • The ones where I wish we had a larger garage to store more and a a wrap around deck with that porch swing...and to have a lake house like Soandso. Or that vacation home.

Dreaming and working towards goals is incredibly motivational and wonderful. That's not so much where my thought trains take me.

They lead me to Station Disappointment and Dissatisfaction. I have an incredible imagination and 99% of my life it has served as an amazing blessing.



I let it move me to an unsettlement with the goodness around me. Maybe if I'm dissatisfied, I'll get more.

I have a wonderful home (gigantic by world standards) that functions well, fits all of its people and some fish and two cars, and just about anything we want to do as individuals or as a family.

This post is not about my house - how big, how small, how lovely, or how ugly it might be. It's about appreciating what I have, what we have. Some data shows that we, as Americans, are in top 1% of the wealthiest people on the planet.

So, this is about me moving from an imagination - a thought train - of needing more, or at least different, to one of appreciation and gratitude. I'm shedding away some of the old practices and bringing in the new.

I'm challenging myself to a simple task this year (and beyond). Giving myself a little kick in the imagination pants. I have 16 rooms in my house (counting bathrooms, laundry room, mudroom, etc.), and I don't really live in them all. I've been making this effort, slowly, over the last two years, to

  • Declutter
  • Reduce
  • Create space for new imaginations

We've changed our never-lived-in living room to an art room that gets daily use for piano practice and crafting. We've reduced the amount of stuff we have in storage to make room for things we love and want to keep.

But there's still more to do. Before I feel the twinge of jealousy (or at least immediately after), I'm challenging myself to see my own spaces (all 16 of them + garage) with fresh eyes and a sense of gratitude.

Do you live in all your rooms? Maybe it's a hangover from college/apartment life where I functioned from 3-4 rooms....

Want to challenge yourself, too?


PS. Check out Dagmar's list of ideas for kids spaces. I bet you and I could change just a few things to make our children's bedrooms and play spaces feel a bit more creative.

A one-week challenge: Always Clean

Let's talk truth here, friends. I stink at cleaning. Wait, let me rephrase that. I stink at cleaning on a regular basis. If I know we're hosting friends or family, I know how to get the place to sparkle (after many, many hours), but on a day-to-day (or more like hour-to-hour with three kids) our house can be an absolute mess - sink overflowing with dishes, laundry unfolded all around the actual laundry room, dust bunnies multiplying under every piece of furniture.

I grew up in an Always Clean house. My mom spent a lot of her life energy making our home warm, tasty, and clean enough to always have a hint of bleach smell throughout. Sometimes I wonder how our kids will remember the state of our house. My guess is that it won't really stand out, but nevertheless, I think about it.

And sometimes I wonder, "What would it be like to have an always clean house?" Would we have friends over more often? Would I sleep better at night? Could we avoid more sinus infections/common colds?

I recently came upon this list on Pinterest from the Gaddis Family Adventure, and it got me thinking. What if I tried it? What if for at least one week, I kept to a regular weekday schedule, rather than sporadic weekend and vacation, for cleaning? Would I feel more relaxed at home? Better about the environment I create for my family?

So for the next week, I'm going to follow this (slightly modified) plan, which includes daily morning and evening tasks as well as a handful of weekly tasks. We are a family of five with a three-story house, two children in full-time school/one in preschool, and two full-time working parents. I'm nervous to see how this is going to go, but I want to try it.

Wanna try it with me? You'll make me braver.

Here's what I'm thinking.

**Adapted from the Gaddis Family Adventure.

I'm going to have to set the alarm earlier to accomplish dishes, laundry, and another domestic duty on top of lunch prep, kid prep, and my prep. Follow @parscaeli over on Instagram this week to see how I handle the additional tasks. I'll be keeping it real, sharing the journey, and trying not to take cleaning too seriously.

How do you keep your home mess-free and clean?

xoxo, MJ

PS. In our house, my husband handles a lot of the dishes, vacuuming, and laundry. We'll see how he adapts to this new schedule, too!

Chat It Up: Bring Out Spring

First day of spring? Are you feeling it? Fact is, we have very few signs of spring around here with gray sludge decorating the streets and parking lots, and skies that need some clear, azure additions.

I desperately want spring to be here. Now. My daughter, C, our summer babe, asks e-very day if it's spring yet. "I just want warm again, Mommy." Oh, she'll be our child to live in a tropical climate and bask in the sand (and I will lather on my SPF1000 and excitedly visit her).

When we visited the local farmer's market last weekend, I knew I'd find bunches of pussy willow branches. I had to grab a handful; they remind me of my childhood in western Pennsylvania, in our rural backyard brush. The fuzzy blooms served as the early fore bearers of blossoms to come.

This time of year I gravitate to nurseries and garden centers. I dream of jasmine and gardenia fragrances lofting indoors from my front plantings and I plan, hand-in-hand with my husband, what we will nurture in our veggie and herb gardens.

How do you make it to spring? What tricks are up your sleeve for managing the still-here winter blahs?

xoxo, MJ

Chat It Up: Color Must Haves

Heya! Thanks for joining the chat today. I'm home with my little guy and his yuck case of pneumonia. Let's get to talking to cheer me up, k? The topic: color. Specifically the colors we live with and the colors that scream, "this is my abode."

From every window in my house, a static perma-gray landscape can be seen. Living in Northern Indiana, I'm used to at least five months of monochrome. I deal with it by putting a whole lot of color in the interior. Remember the show Trading Spaces? Where they'd take over a neighbor's room and make it a new funky color or glue flowers to the walls - all in a super short period of time? Well, I used to be all about that show especially all the bright hues they'd add to any old dull space.

In the last two years, I've transitioned our main living spaces into more neutral tones to allow just bits of color to be more of the focal. Our once monarch orange kitchen (it was lovely, I promise) is now a classic khaki. And for the most part I'm happy with these more calming neutrals (my house has moved out of the 90s). But there are two rooms whose color I think I "need" to both cheer me and calm me.

Our dining room: For the last decade it's been this ladybug red color, not too bright, not too deep. To me it's the perfect shade of red lipstick and with the wood moulding to frame it in, the saturated tone whispers sit down, stay a long while, and eat, eat, eat.

Our bedroom: I've never had a green room in any house/condo/aptmt I've lived in, and I wanted to give it a try. I found a swatch called "rejuvenation", and I knew I wanted that in my sleepy, cozy, dreamy space. And I adore it. It feels fresh and warm at the same time, and I now identify this color as part of me.

So tell me what colors must you have around your living space? I'm not talking about your favorite colors necessarily, but what feels good for you to live in - that you'd take to another living space just because it's part of you?

Or am I just crazy color lady?

I'm okay with that.

xoxo, MJ


Happiness: In Our Home

My home is a place of unconditional belonging, which is part of its pleasure, part of its pain–as Robert Frost wrote, home is "Something you somehow haven't to deserve." At home, I feel a greater sense of safety and acceptance, and also of responsibility and obligation. With friends my hospitality is voluntary, but my family never needs an invitation.

~Gretchen Rubin, Happier at Home

How about it, friends? Let's start something new. After the great reminders and reflections in The Happiness Project I'm ready for a little more Gretchen Rubin and her latest book Happier at Home is right up my alley.

My mom and mother-in-law were both stay at home moms for most of our (hubby and mine) childhoods, and I think they both did an awesome job of creating a space of comfort, safety, and love.

For me home is my reprieve and it's also my mainstay. As a professional who works in and out of the office, my home can't always be a place of total relaxation; it must also function as deadline keeper and motivation hot box. Home is not always a clear equivalent to happy.

Every other Thursday (when I'm not chatting with Joy about turning challenge into goodness) I'll be offering you my own reflections on happiness in our homes, grown-up style, and sharing snippets of Gretchen's book as well.

Here are some of the great topics coming your way:

  • Possessions and Simplicity
  • Marriage
  • Parenthood
  • Interior design
  • Time
  • Body
  • Family
  • Neighborhood
  • Now

What one thing makes you happy every time you enter your home? I'd argue that we all need something that elicits something happy right when we enter.

Mine? This silly canvas of my son with a face full of spaghetti. It's larger than lifesize and it greets me, with a smile, every time I come home.

It's good to be home.

What's yours?




A tri- to try


It's Friday, friends, and that means it's time to gear up or downshift for the weekend. I've got a tri- for you to try in your home, on your blog, and in your office.

Today, will you be dressing like friend to pretend your twins for the Twins Day Festival? No? Well, then make sure you grab a hot dog, pretzel, or whatever else suits your fancy to ring in the party for National Mustard Day on Saturday. Call your sister or spend the whole Sunday with her on the 5th because it's officially Sisters Day. We'll be celebrating sisters in a big way at our house on August 18th during our annual Sisters Day (more on that later).



Nicole over at Making It Lovely posted an awesome how-to guide on pattern layering. I love her mix of whimsy and classical design. It makes me want to try some new pillows or a new tray in my living room to create some more interesting vignettes.


Victoria over at VMac and Cheese has a bundle of fabulous ideas. Did you catch her ideas to drive more traffic to your blog? Number 2 and number 3 have me thinking that maybe I should change some things up!

On a bloggy note, don't forget to join me and many, many other amazing bloggers tomorrow (Saturday, August 4) for Blog Brunch. It's an amazing hour over on Twitter, and we're talking about Growing a Readership.


Lexy of The Proper Pinwheel crafted some mighty cute pinhole cards that you and I could totally create this weekend and send to each other. All you need is some great colored cardstock, a scissors, tape, safety pin, (I've got all those!) and a mirrored image of the text or image you want to create.

We're hanging out at home and soaking up one of the last weekends of summer with birthday parties, back-to-school shopping, and good old-fashioned rest.

Have a bright weekend, friends!




Mommy and Daddy School: Creativity

Hello, friends! Happy Wednesday to you. It's a beautiful day here in Pars Caeli. We're talking about creativity for Mommy and Daddy School, and I'm sharing more about me and my family over at the loveliness of Classic Play. Have you visited before? Please, go take a gander.

I had the pleasure of learning from Jen Cooper during her Alt Summit class (that girls knows her stuff on great writing), and, when she asked me to come on over to be a part of her Creative Family Series, I (jumped out of my skin) and said yes, yes, yes!!

As a parent, I look for ways to cultivate creativity in my children. More accurately, however, I don't need to find ways to inspire them (they are bubbling over with ideas and energy), but I do foster avenues for channeling creativity and a solid foundation from whence they can feel confident to explore their God-given talents.

How do you nurture your creativity? Were you raised in a creative home? What do you do when you feel lacking in inspiration? These and more great questions were a part of my interview with Jen. Here's a teaser to get it started. I'd LOVE to hear your thoughts!! And, thank you, thank you, to Jen for offering me the opportunity to write about a subject I so adore. Such an honor.

Now walk on over... XOXO, MJ

Creativity? How would you define it?

For me, creativity is the making of the new–anything from a re-creation to an inventive solution to a masterpiece. I have yet to meet a person that I wouldn’t consider creative. Creativity isn’t special pixie dust reserved for the brilliant artists of the world. We’re all born with it, and some of us cultivate it in broader ways than others.

Have you always considered yourself creative?

I snicker at this, but, yes, I think I have. In times of challenge, I’ve always hung my hat on my creativity. I’m the youngest of three...