for my fellow pact-breakers (or anyone who needs a little help with everyday organization)

So you made a pact with yourself that you’d be more organized in 2015. You’d send hand-written notes. Or you’d stick to a menu or buy only what’s on your shopping list.  You’d remember birthdays or keep everyone’s activities on one central calendar.

All are such good pacts … unfortunately they are just so hard to keep!

Paper Works (our monthly club with stylish designs made to keep your organized) was created with us pact-breakers in mind.  We have great intentions, but unless there’s something right in our faces reminding us of the goals we’ve set, we’re lost.

feb-this-week

Paper Works is filled with helpful prompts, schedules, blank notes, calendars and shopping lists to keep us focused and organized in the day-to-day tasks. But it’s more than just an ordinary organization system … it’s cute.

Because you know what makes me more likely to write a hand-written note or post a chore chart? If it looks cute.

feb-paperworks-notecards

The designs are new each month and that makes Paper Works fun to receive and equally enjoyable to use.

As a paper works member, you get a new set of original designs each month. Want to see what we have for February?

february-collection

Included each month:
month calendar*
weekly calendar*
daily planner
dinner menu*
weekly menu*
grocery & shopping lists*
dailies chart*
chore charts*
original art print
note cards
blank notes page
scripture memory cards
wallpapers for desktop, iphone, ipad
surprise extras

Simply open the pdf files and print on your favorite paper. Items with an * are editable, which means you can type directly on them before printing. This works great for general chores, recurring events on the calendar or regular monthly meals and especially if you don’t love your handwriting.

The scripture cards are useful for memorizing, but also posting around the house for encouragement or sending to friends.

feb-scripture

And each month we put an extra little bonus in with the collection. This month’s bonus are these petite valentine cards (great to send with your kids to school or to tuck into your husband’s coat pocket!).

feb-bonus

Choose the paper works option that works best for you:

paper works digital // you have access to all pdf files and can print as many as you need. Try it for free for 7 days to make sure it works for you!

paper works printed // receive a professionally printed package of your monthly goods. You also have access to all pdf files.

feb-packaged

For all of the details and many more images, click here.

feb-sign-up

Here’s to hoping we can keep working towards those great-intentioned pacts!

PS. If you are a paper works member, your goodies are in your account. You can log in here.  Enjoy!

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lovely prints now available (and a discount)

The Month of Love is right around the corner what better way to celebrate than with our lovely prints and a sale!

new-designs-love
Use them to decorate this Valentine season or to give to a special someone as a love-day gift (gently nudge your husbands, ladies!).

ampersand-styled

(ampersand)

love-never-fails-styled

(love never fails)

love-one-another-styled

(love one another)

still-do-styled

(i still do)

Valentine’s Day comes and goes and the best part about each of these prints is that they remain relevant long after the conversation hearts are consumed. Prop one on your nightstand, tape a reminder to your bathroom mirror, hang in your children’s rooms or give as a wedding or anniversary gift. Love never goes out of style.

Each of the prints come in three sizes – 11×14, 8×10 and 5×7.

still-do-sizes

We also have Lindsay’s fabulous greatest is love prints back in stock (they sell out quickly, so grab one now!)

greatest-is-love (greatest is love in white)

(greatest is love in slate)

as well as the darling twirl print

twirl-print

To say thank you for your kindness and support and to celebrate this upcoming month of love, please enjoy a discount on all art print purchases between now and tuesday january 27th.

lovely-artprint-sale

start-shopping

(and remember: shipping is always free!)

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an entry re-fresh (tell us what you’d pick!)

This is my friend Rae (and her spunky/darling/super fun daughter, Tilly):

rae-front-porch

Fun story: Rae married Ryan’s best friend from high school and we met right before their wedding. Two years later, they moved in with us for several months while they looked for a house in our area. They found one and lived there for 6 years.

A few years later, my best friend, K.C., and her family moved in with us for several months while they looked for a house. They bought one in our neighborhood and lived there for 5 years. Then they moved to Texas (sad).

When they moved out, Rae and her family moved in (yay!).

So now my friend Rae lives in my friend K.C.’s house. It’s the best.

emily-and-rae

Anyway, Rae and her husband have 5 adorable kids:

raes-kids

and we love having them just down the street. They only lived a few minutes away before, but now that the kids can walk to each other’s houses, we see each other way more. The best is when we get together for dinner and have 9 kids running crazy around us. It’s pretty entertaining.

Last week, she asked if I could help with some ideas to make her entry more cheerful and welcoming. It’s sort of a funky space – a bit narrow and dark and empty – which looks nothing like the rest of Rae’s bright/colorful/cool house.  Of course I said yes.

raes-style

(a bookshelf in her living room)

Here’s the space we’re working with:

entry-straight-on

from the top:

entry-from-top

and when you open the front door from the outside and from inside looking to the corner:

entry-first-view

Its a small area with a coat closet and room enough for a few hooks, mirror (always a nice addition to an entry space for light-reflection and last-minute hair/outfit/something-stuck-in-your-teeth checks), bright art and a rolling crate for shoes (a diy project we’ll do). There is a great mudroom area off the garage entry that the family uses for daily use, so this is more for guests. Rae is hoping for a cheery, welcoming feel.

We talked about a few things and decided on painting the inside of the door (black, I think), dropping down a pendant light, adding a colorful runner and some fun art for personality.

I pulled some ideas together and sent her my favorite options:

rugs hooks lights art

Rae made her picks instantly, but we thought it would be fun to see what you think! Here are three photoshopped images of our favorite combinations:

entry-option-1

light / art / hooks / rug

rae-entry-option-2

light / art / hooks / rug

rae-entry-option-3

light (spray painted) / art / hooks / rug

Do you have a favorite? What would you do if this were your entry?

We’ll be back soon with a few diy’s for the space and the final reveal. Until then, be sure to check out Rae’s website and instagram feed (you will probably fall in love with her).

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our house: then + now

The house a few doors down from us is for sale. It is a duplicate of ours (don’t you just love how builders do that?!) and looks the same as it did when it was built 8 1/2 year ago. As I was walking by, I peeked at the flyer and it made me smile to see the photos – my how our house has changed over these 8 years.

our-house-then-and-now

It’s easy to forget all the progress we’ve made when we still have an ongoing list of what updates to make, so I thought it would be fun to compare a few before and afters just to see the difference.

I’m actually using the professional photos from the current listing (with permission from our good friend who is the agent) because a. they are really good and b. i can not find the original photos we took when we bought the house (boo!). Like all great real estate photos, these make the house look slightly better than it does in real life, and my after photos are quick ones taken by me, so don’t judge too harshly :)

The only difference between the neighbor house and ours is the cabinets (ours were medium-dull-toned), the tile (greenish-gray – which you can see in this post) and we have a second window next to our front door. Otherwise, it’s a match.

Here we go!

ENTRY THEN

entry-then

ENTRY NOW

entry-to-office

changes: painted walls white, added hardwood floors, taller baseboards, changed light fixtures, painted interior of front door, hung curtains for privacy, painted wallpaper in office

LIVING ROOM THEN

living-room-then

LIVING ROOM NOW

living-room

changes: painted walls white, added molding to divide tall walls, resurfaced fireplace, added built-ins, new mantle, installed hardwood floors

KITCHEN THEN

kitchen-front-then

KITCHEN NOW

kitchen

kitchen-then

kitchen-to-eating-area

changes:  removed upper cabinets, added open shelves, painted lower cabinets, added beadboard backsplash, extended counter top and island, granite countertops, under-mount sink + new faucet, changed lighting, added built-in bench, painted door, painted walls and ceiling, added crown molding, new stove, dishwasher, refrigerator and added beverage cooler, installed hardwood floors. Whew.

DINING ROOM THEN

dining-room-then

DINING ROOM NOW

dining-room

changes: painted walls, new hardwood floors, wood-wrapped openings in walls, new light fixture, taller baseboards installed

Obviously the before and afters look different because of the furniture and art on the walls, but just going through the list reminds me that we’ve really done a lot with this house! It truly feels like we’ve made a standard builder-grade home into one that reflects our style.  I like to call it making builder-grade better. 

For more photos of our house, click here.

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what i miss most about Rwanda

It’s been six months since our Style For Justice trip to Rwanda.

Goodness, I miss it so much.

I miss the ladies I was with and the people we met and the crazy drivers and the fact that our smart phones didn’t work and so we spent our time talking and laughing and not worrying about clicking away at our phones. I miss waking to the strangest bird songs while wrapped in mosquito nets and the morning lattes and the ways my heart was broken and opened and stretched.

But most of all, I miss my friend Solange.

solange

Isn’t she just the most darling lady you’ve ever seen?! This photo was taken on the day we visited her home and met her family and the day I made a soul-friend who couldn’t even speak my language. (I wrote a bit more about her in this post about Twirling in Africa). A few days later, IJM & Noonday hosted a dinner for all of the sewing group and their families, as well as a handful of IJM clients and I sat with Solange and her family. That hour of visiting with them was the highlight of my whole trip and probably ranks at the top of my favorite moments in all of my life.

I’m not sure how it happened, but the conversation turned at one point from me asking a million questions about their family and schooling and country to them asking me the most endearing-a-little-bit-embarrassing-wow-our-lives-are-so-different-but-really-not-at-all types of questions.  Solange’s oldest son, Jean Luc, his cousin and uncle asked about my pale skin – if it got hot in the sun like theirs (yes), what the dots were (freckles), what it felt like (same as their dark skin!). They asked about flying on an airplane and how you relieve yourself and I told them you can get out of your seat and walk around and that blew their minds. We talked about the ocean and snow and I shared a package of cheezits (a hit) and almonds (not so much). They taught me Kinyarwandan words and laughed and my terrible pronunciation. I taught Solange a few English words and it turned out she could speak them beautifully. We wrote out phrases to practice and she told me she loved me very much.

kinyarwanda

That was our last night in Kigali, Rwanda and it was a teary goodbye. Thankfully, she has an email address and we’ve been able to email back and forth since July. A grown-up pen pal, if you will.

Our emails are funny – she writes in surprisingly good English and tells me of her family or her prayer requests or the ways she is praying for our family. I write and ask questions :)  I just love learning more about what life is like for a 40-something mother in Africa and finding ways to relate. If I learned anything from the trip it was that while we are so different in many external ways, we are truly all the same inside.

solange-and-emily

One of the things I value most in friendship is honesty, but it’s been weird figuring out how to be honest with my friend from Rwanda. It’s hard to type in an email, “we’re heading up to the mountains to go skiing for the weekend!” when I know that opportunity or even idea doesn’t exist in her life. I want a true friendship that is based on sharing our lives and day-to-day experiences and it’s challenging to do that when what is normal in America is so not-normal in Rwanda. It has made me step back and appreciate what I have, but also dig deeper for things to talk about and share and ask questions that transcend our cultures and socioeconomic status.  I never would have expected a trip to Africa to teach me about humanity and friendship the way it has.

While in Rwanda we collaborated on designs with the women at the sewing co-op for Noonday Collection. We split into teams, came up with products and brought them back for vote at a nation-wide noonday trunk show this summer. The votes were counted and two items were selected, the seamstresses have been hard at work and we’re excited to announce that they are now available for purchase!

SFJ-Products---Simple-Flyer The art work I made was turned into a journal (with really nice, thick paper I might add) as a fun extra.

The clutch was my very favorite of all and the big tote is super great for carrying at the beach, to the market, at the gym. Best of all, ordering any of these items supports Solange and her co-workers half-way across the globe. There is a limited quantity of each, so hurry over to Noonday to order!

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