Archive | thoughts

Q + A day | In which you can ask any and every question


It’s been a super long time (like two years!) since I have done my annual Q+A day.

Here’s how this works:

Since I chat at you post after post, sometimes it’s fun to switch things up and find out what you want to talk about.

For the next few days, I’ll be hanging out on comments answering your questions.

Any topic is open for discussion: family and life, faith, random things that you’ve wanted to ask but haven’t, decorating, blogging, business curiosities – any of it – I want to know what you’re wondering about.

I wish we could all sit together and chat in real life and actually have a conversation (by the water, perhaps?), but this Q+A is the next best thing for us online friends.

So go ahead and ask me anything in the comments and I’ll reply back as best I can.  Feel free to chime in and join the conversation as well! No topic is off limits and I’m a fairly open and honest girl … so … ask away!

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Currently | thoughts about life happening now

Every once in a while I like to play a game called CURRENTLY.

I have done it in blog post form a handful of times throughout the years (here, here and here, for example). Basically, it’s just a list of categories and the first thing that pops into mind is how you answer. It is fun to play in person, and also an entertaining exercise in self-reflection.

So let’s get to it.

LOVING | Our couch. Do inanimate things count?

My two sisters and brothers-in-law, my parents and all the cousins stayed with us this past weekend for a family staycation and that big, cushy couch was the perfect setting for lots of lounging, movie-watching, game-playing and laughing.

READING | At the recommendation of a friend, I started Emotionally Healthy Spirituality and have been surprised at how much it is resonating with me. Not my typical genre, but I’m pushing myself to get through it.

What is a more typical choice for me is the novel The Light Between Oceans, which I am also reading.

SHOPPING FOR | A new bed. We sold our pretty metal bed frame we had for the past 10 years and now I’m on the hunt for a simple upholstered one. So far, this is my favorite (but I’d like it to be about a third of the cost).

Here’s kinda the look we’re going for:

(photo taken in Seaside, FL at our pretty condo last summer)

EXCITED ABOUT | the Enneagram personality test. I finally jumped on the bandwagon and am already so intrigued. Ryan and I took the online test this weekend; he is a 1, I am a 9. If the enneagram is new to you, you can learn a ton about it here and take the test here. My friend Emily recommended this book which I promptly ordered and should have it this week.

TRYING TO | work out a few times per week. I do a variety of videos – Tracy Anderson, Barre3 and Ballet Beautiful.

WORKING ON | A new online class called Simplified Flowers. My mother-in-law is the expert and was here filming lessons about how to create easy arrangements with readily available flowers. We’re excited to finish up the production and share details with you!

ENJOYING | Getting a manicure every couple of weeks. My friend and I go together so it’s a chance to spend time with her and pamper ourselves at the same time. Plus, having nicely painted nails makes me feel like a grown up.

USING | This soap. It smells like heaven.

WEARING | For a very long time I’ve been wanting a cognac leather jacket. I finally found the perfect one and can’t stop wearing it.

PLANNING | Somehow I have found myself as the parent in charge of planning the 5th grade moving-up celebration. Not quite sure how that happened seeing as how I’m the new mom … but thankfully there are a bunch of other parents volunteering to help and it gives me a chance to meet new people.

SINGING | The other day the most random song from my childhood popped into my head. This weekend I told my sisters about it and we all sang the whole thing, not missing a beat. It is just the craziest thing that we can pull a song from deep in our memories without hearing it for at least 30 years. In case you’re curious, it was this song from a Cabbage Patch Kids cassette tape circa 1984. (I can’t believe I found it! The internet is so amazing.)

NEEDING | More sleep. Always and forever more sleep. Also, I need a haircut.

LEARNING | How to be sick. That sounds weird … but I’m really terrible about acknowledging when my body isn’t right and giving myself permission to just be sick. All last week, I was not feeling well and it was so hard to let things go, miss events, rest and admit that I felt terrible. Why is this so hard?! Please tell me I’m not alone.

LISTENING TO | Every teaching from Bridgetown Church. John Mark Comer is the lead pastor and an incredibly smart, interesting, Jesus-loving teacher. The series on Practicing the Way (starting with episode 36) is so foundational and worth listening to.

WISHING | For sun to be in the forecast. Alas, looks like rain.

DOING | Now that the carpet is in and walls are painted, I can start decorating the upstairs. This adorable swan was the first thing to go up on the walls in Audrey’s room.

DREAMING OF | a trip to Italy for our 40th birthdays in two years. We’re going to make that happen.

So this is me.

Want to play along? What are you currently up to?

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Sometimes life takes precedence in the work-life balance

The kids had mid-winter break last week which basically meant all things work flew right out the window.

It’s okay, though. I think I needed a week off and I always strive to find that crazy balance between being an engaged mom and responsible business-owner. This week forced me into choosing and I went with life.

While I was away from the computer, we were plenty busy with celebrating, adventuring, house progress, family and friend time.

Remember back in the day when blogging looked way different and it was mainly just a daily recap of life? We’re throwing it back to 2010 and going with that journal-y-play-by-play recap of the past week type of post.

Here it goes …


Our mid-winter break started by celebrating this sweet girl’s 7th birthday.

I mean, what??!!! Were you here when I started blogging and she was growing in my belly? Having a daughter woke up something in me – a creative spark and passion for inspiring others – and I’ll always be so grateful to my Audrey-girl for making me a better version of myself. She is funny, sweet, a little bit sassy, loves a stage, an animal lover and a joy. What a treat to have her in our family.


We were supposed to head up to the mountain for a day of skiing, but a last-minute change of plans found us at the rock gym instead.

The kids have been climbing a few times, but this was my first time watching them at this gym. They are all such good little climbers! I think we found our new favorite family activity.


We finally made a decision on carpet! We’ve been back and forth to the store, ordering samples, trying them out around the house to test the lighting and durability. The carpet will go on the second and third floors in the bedrooms and hallway and will be here in two weeks. Which means in the next two weeks, we have to move all of the furniture downstairs, remove the baseboard and window/door trim, and paint all the walls and ceilings. Our carpet installer will remove the carpet and pad, put in the new pad and carpet and then we can update the trim. The upstairs is going to look so good!


The kids had friends over and spent the entire day outside on the trampoline, which gave me and Ryan the motivation to tear out his office and give it a facelift. This is the front office that had oversized built-ins and mauve walls. The built-ins were super functional, but just too big for the space. We took them out and gave the walls and trim a fresh coat of paint (walls: Ancestral by Behr, trim: Iron Ore by Sherwin Williams). Then we stole furniture from around the house, built a new desk and things are coming together! I’ll post the full tour soon.


My girlfriends and I took our kids to the rock climbing gym again and then had lunch at our favorite market. While there I spotted the most gorgeous orange tree and somehow came home with it :) I still need to read up on how to care for it so if you have any tips, I’ll all ears!

I also added this new fern to my growing collection of houseplants. I can’t stop.


Audrey and two of her friends had money to spend and so we ventured to the American Girl store for a little shopping.

It was such a great lesson in money management. At one point, Audrey was starting to get upset that she couldn’t get another Bitty Baby since she didn’t have enough money. It was one of those moments when your kids reflect back to you something inside yourself … just a few days earlier I was feeling bummed I couldn’t get the wool berber carpet I really wanted and had to choose something less expensive … and here she was dealing with the same real-life emotions. Thankfully, she pulled herself together and was perfectly happy with her new puppy and Bitty Baby food blender (such a weird choice!) just as I am perfectly happy with our carpet choice.

On the way home, we decided to pop into IKEA to grab a few things. It was right off the freeway and my girlfriend Erica wanted a couple of items, too, so we decided to stop.

Um … want to know the absolute worst idea ever? Thinking we could pop into IKEA on a Saturday. The place was insane. Only after trying to get through as quickly as possible did we realize that it was the grand opening of our new two-story massive store. Wrong day to visit. But we made it through, got everything we came for, ate an ice cream cone and played on those wonky carts that don’t push straight.

Fun times.


The boys spent the night with some of our very best friends who we don’t see enough (do you follow Rae’s blog and instagram? If not, you should. So much style, wisdom, love, playfulness, cuteness in one family) and so while Ryan was off picking them up, I had the house to myself for maybe the first time ever. I cleaned up the perpetually messy kitchen, vacuumed, moved around throw blankets and snapped this picture of the freshly installed drawer pulls in the studio:

One step closer to getting that place organized.

To finish off the break, the kids and I half-watched/half-read/minecrafted the Oscars while Ryan made dinner (still going strong with Hello Fresh, in case you’re curious or in need of dinner help).

I’m feeling grateful for a week of time spent with friends and the kids, knocking out house projects, guilt-free lounging on the couch with a good book (a reader sent me her newest novel and I’m almost done. It’s good!), a little bit of shopping, lots of sleeping in, and a break from the regular routine.

And now that I’m filled up on life, it’s time to get back to work :)

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The Best of JDC in 2016

With the start of a new year, it gives us a chance to look back at the previous 365 days.

I love going through old posts and remembering what happened throughout the year.  So here are the highlights and favorite posts from 2016:


The year started with an impromptu video house tour.

This was such a popular post that I’ll be copying it with a video house tour in our new house soon. There is just something about seeing how a house flows together through video that makes more sense than still photos.

The new year also brought with it an important message about being kind to ourselves.

Still something I’m learning and I love reading back over this post to remind myself.

It only took two years, but I finally finished Audrey’s classically cute bedroom makeover.


Coffee Chat videos became a thing. Here is the first one:


I installed removable wallpaper all by myself and just loved how it turned out.

And our Simplified Penmanship class opened up for the first time.

I have so much fun teaching my favorite things in the form of online classes. We launched two in 2016 (penmanship and decorating) and have another coming in 2017!


We worked on a mini budget friendly master bathroom update. I’m still pretty in love with this design board:

I shared my top Spring Outfits.

And we announced that we were headed out on a 4 month family Road Trip.


The kitchen was missing something and we figured out what it was.

My big sister let me share her gorgeous kitchen remodel.

And my little sister did a quick weekend fireplace makeover that turned out so good.

So much trip prep and planning. With 9 days to go before we left, our list was long and slightly overwhelming.


Let the #jdcroadtrip begin!

Our trip began by heading down the west coast from our home in Seattle.

By the end of May we had made it to the Oregon Coast, Redwood Forest, San Francisco, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Zion + Bryce Canyon, Moab, Mesa Verde, Albuquerque and finished by staying with friends in Oklahoma. Whew.

See all of the road trip posts HERE.

We also took you on a tour of our Airstream trailer.


We made it through the first month of our new traveling life! The travels continued through hot, wet and humid Texas, a few days in New Orleans and a vacation from the vacation on the Florida Gulf Coast.

I shared my Summer Wardrobe which basically consisted of blue, white, denim and gray.

By the end of June, we had traveled through St. Augustine, Savannah, Charleston, the Outer Banks, and Virginia.


We celebrated Independence Day in Washington, D.C. with my parents. It was such a cool experience after spending so much time learning early American history as we traveled up the east coast.

Things slowed down as we spent longer times in each city. A week in D.C., a week in Philadelphia, a week in New York City.


After all of the walking and sight-seeing, we were pretty much exhausted. Our quick pace caught up with us and it greatly impacted our next stops in the Northeast.

This region (Watch Hill, RI, Boston, Cape Cod, Maine, upstate NY, Niagara) is one we went quickly through and definitely want to visit again to do it right.

Our journey back across America included a drop down into Lexington and Nashville, a sleepover in St. Louis and a few very enjoyable days in Chicago. Another place we can’t wait to visit again.

We left the big cities and spent the final portion of the #jdcroadtrip in scenic places like Mt. Rushmore, Jackson, WY and Yellowstone.

And then – just like that – it was over.

You can see all of the posts from our road trip HERE.


Back at home and easing back into normal life and a new fall season.

I did some reflecting on what home means and why Absolute Minimalism will never feel like home to me.


I started the month by wishing myself a happy birthday with 37 (errr … 38) things.

And a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT! We bought a new house.

And we chatted about changing decorating styles and opened my new Simplified Decorating course.

image via @bradytolbert


With fall in full swing, I shared nine of my Favorite Looks for Fall

Our old house was on the market and quickly sold (yay!).

We accidentally started a kitchen makeover.

We launched a new House + Home shop


December has been all about the new house. So many projects. Such a chaos. We’re making progress, though and things are looking much better.

Work on the third floor was underway.

I spent many evening painting over the orangy-wood trim.

And somehow things were pulled together by Christmas. We worked hard … and still have so far to go. I couldn’t resist doing a quick house tour after Christmas just to document the progress.

2016. What a year.

I’m tired. :)

In all honesty, this was a big year of trust, jumping, transition, inspiration, relationship, pulling back, pushing ahead, and a reprioritization of family.

Ryan retired from fire fighting, we sold a house, bought a house, lived with friends, launched two classes and a new shop, remodeled the kitchen, third floor and studio, started new schools, found a new church, caught a mouse and have a phone that keeps telling me storage is almost full (I blame the thousand of road trip photos I haven’t organized yet).

This is a year that we will never forget. And not just because it has been filled with really good things. It has also been really hard. We’ve grown a ton, had to think hard and have hard conversations. We don’t have it figured out and continue to seek wisdom and receive grace through it all.

Our word for 2017 is confidence. That one was Ryan’s idea and I’m fully embracing. Confidence in our marriage, our family, ourselves, our faith, our business decisions, our design aesthetic – all of it.

Thank you, as always, for being such a delightful part of our lives. We can’t wait to see what 2017 has to hold.




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screen-shot-2016-11-15-at-4-31-57-pm When we look back at the year 2016, I think we are going to say, “Whew. That was a lot.

We road-tripped. We bought a house. We sold a house. We went to full-time self-employment. We created a new class and launched a new shop (well, as of next week :)). We parented four kids and transitioned to a new town. We did business trips, family time and even lived with friends for six weeks. It’s been so good. And a lot.

And here’s the truth: I’m tired.

My poor mom came to help me at an event last month and I’m pretty sure she has never seen me quite so drained. She keeps bringing it up and checking in to make sure I’m doing okay.

I keep assuring her; I’m doing great. I’m just a teensy bit tired.

I’m so grateful for all of the goodness that has been 2016, but I’m a regular 30-something who can’t do it all.

To top it all off, I’ve been seeing a naturopath and discovered that my iron levels are ridiculously low. The weird symptoms I thought was just me being out of shape or how I’ve always been (shaky hands, short of breath, light-headed … ) turn out to be big indicators that my body is lacking oxygen. Who knew!

My doctor has me on a weekly IV dose of iron and we’re hoping it will help this body heal.

All to say …

In blogland it is so easy to share the projects, take the pretty photos, present all the good and miss the chance to connect with readers in the fact that we are just as regular as ever.

Our life is pretty fun right now with a new house and business opportunities, but that doesn’t mean it all comes without an insane amount of effort, letting go of many, many things (ahem, boxes everywhere) and just taking things one day, one project, one IV treatment at a time :)

front yard sun shining On a very practical level, I realize that I am a fairly productive person and so here are a few things that allow me to get a lot done:

Use a check list.

I am so motivated by crossing things off my list so I pretty much always have a paper to-do list waiting for me. I love the paper products from our membership site called Paper Works (shameless plug). Cute designs + a task list = happy Emily.

Outsource whatever we can. 

It’s a total luxury, but wherever we can move things off our plate in a budget-friendly way, we say yes. Landscapers come twice per month, our meals are delivered weekly, at our old house we had a housecleaner, my sister does all of our shipping and packaging of products. These are all things we could do, but by hiring others to help out, it frees us up to do the things we are best at (which for me is definitely not meal planning!).

Recognize that life is a series of seasons. 

We never would have been able to take the road trip or be self-employed or move to a new house with so many projects when we still had babies. Life, finances, parenting demands were all different then.

There are times when you have to just make things happen and times when you need to wait for the right season. I’m not sure what that exactly looks like, but I do know that much of my ability to work so hard right now is because I am no longer spending my day caring for toddlers.

When I see mamas with little ones who feel like they can’t get anything done, I can’t help but encourage them that there will be a season soon when it will all change. They will be able to sleep in on a Saturday or leave an open can of paint out or take a shower in peace.

It takes patience, grace and resisting that powerful urge to compare and instead sit confidently in our current season.

Which is why I always do my best to be honest on this online life I live. Please don’t ever let the photos fool you into thinking we’ve got it all together over here. We’re a regular family who works hard, loves in the best way we can, messes up, succeeds, takes on a lot and can sometimes feel just plain #tired.

So be encouraged my friends, wherever you are.

xo, Emily

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