The un-sparking of joy. KonMari update 6 months on.

Ok, I am calling BS on the Marie Kondo method. After my joy filled rose tinted post several months ago about organizing my entire life I need to come clean about my fall from the organizational wagon. When the impossibly well presented Marie Kondo popped up onto my Netflix watch list in February I looked around at my living room which was strewn with various neon coloured bits of plastic and eyed the bulging drawers I daren’t open and felt decidedly non joyous. This sweet lady was offering to spark joy in my life and all I needed to do was throw out all of my things in return. Simple, easy, I. can. do this.

So I drank the Koolaid, I immediately binge watched the entire show and decided I needed to get my life in order or I risked becoming one of those people who hoards newspapers and becomes the centre of a television show documenting how I was crushed to death by my lifelong collection of greeting cards (it’s a problem, I keep them for no reason). No, this would not be my fate. Everything needed to go and it needed to go now.  So off I went with my bin bag (that’s garbage bag for you North American’s) and began holding every piece of clothing I owned hoping for the elusive feeling of “joy”. Unsurprisingly, much of my pre-pregnancy closet did not spark joy so into the bag it went and off to the donation centre. I earnestly held towels, ornaments, shampoos and other random household items in my search for joy and most of them found their way into the bag too. A lot of times the notion of joy gave me pause. Honestly, how can a towel spark joy? It is necessary but I don’t have a strange magic feeling when I hold it. What about my wireless skin coloured bras? it offers comfort yes, but joy? no. Soon I had my husband involved and a mountain of bags ready to leave my house. I was an organizational wizard, neigh a goddess. Why hadn’t I done this sooner? I recommended the book to everyone who would listen to me. I carefully took pictures of my drawers and promised myself and Kondo that I would NEVER fall back into my old ways.

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Warning: this is an unrealistic, Utopian ideal.

Well it was all sunshine and lollipops for a few weeks. I carefully folded everything into strange triangles and put them into my drawers. I blogged about how amazing I felt and sang the methods praises. I must have been nauseating. But then things inevitably went awry. I must preface this by stating that I am a closet messy person. My house is organized and tidy on the surface but I have a nasty habit of sweeping stuff off counters and into the nearest drawer. It started small. Cables escaped their carefully organized box prisons. Bras were shoved into dividers rather than being carefully laid out. clothes were pushed into drawers in haste with the 0.5 seconds I had to myself.  Socks lay divergent on my bedroom chair. Folding the laundry became an EVEN WORSE job as I now had to take ages folding everything so bloody small. Perhaps a pivotal moment in the sullying of the Kondo method came when my 4 year old decided she wanted to dress herself daily and pulled every item of clothing out of her drawers. I could not face refolding. I couldn’t do it. I’m sorry Kondo but I have had my awakening. This was not sparking joy.

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She totally sparks joy but the mess that her new found style expression leaves does not.

So has my life turned into disarray and a joyless void since I stopped following the KonMari method? In a word, no. Folding and putting away my laundry, whilst not speedy, does not take 10 business days. I don’t want to cry in the fetal position every time my kid opens a drawer and spills the contents onto the floor with no regard for the hours of careful folding I have put in. It wasn’t a completely wasted exercise though. I have become a little more mindful of putting things back in their place, but I’m realistic. Sometimes you’ve gotta throw everything in the nearest drawer because you have company coming over. Sometimes you have things that just don’t have a “place” and end up moving between drawers. Sometimes All the time you don’t have time to fold your underwear into neat little squares. I’m not saying that her ideas are without merit, millions of people have bought her book and found a calmer life through her method but for the average, busy mum it is just a level of organization that is simply unattainable.

So there you have it. I throw my hand up and admit that I’m a messy person. I’ve been waiting 33 years to become a proper grown up who knows how to fold a fitted sheet and cared about folding underwear but it’s just not happening you guys. Will I ever be a grown up? But you know what? It doesn’t matter, what sparks joy for me is a relatively tidy home that is a place of calm but where you’re not afraid to get comfy or put your feet on the couch. Just don’t look in the drawers.

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5 Things To Know Before Beginning the KonMari Tidying Method

Joy

Does it bring you joy? Such a simple question but one that packs a huge punch. It is the mantra of Marie Kondo and the cornerstone of the KonMari tidying up method and is at the heart of the craze that is slowly but surely taking over the world. Instagram is littered with pictures of perfectly organized closets and drawers with people praising how Kondo has changed her life. Social media right now is total organization goals and I’m hooked. There is something so satisfying about looking at other people’s things all neatly lined up and it is oddly soothing to me. When I found out that Marie Kondo had a show on Netflix I HAD to watch it and from episode one I was hooked. Kondo herself if the neatest person I’ve seen. The woman is perfectly put together with her gorgeous clothes and picture perfect hair. After binging the entire season in two days I needed to organize all the things immediately. I am a sucker for a bandwagon and if it promises me joy and happiness then I am jumping right on that bad boy.

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Confessions of a secret slob

If you look at my Instagram account you would think that I have the perfectly put together home and yes, on the face of it my home is clean and decluttered but a look into my kitchen junk drawer or closet tells a different story. My whole life I’ve struggled with keeping things tidy. I love my home being neat but I find it easier to just sweep things into a drawer rather than actually take the time to put it in its place. Then I lose things and panic and stay up for hours scouring the house until I find it (I’m type A, what can I say?). Have you seen the episode of Friends where Monica’s junk closet is exposed? My basement puts that closet to shame. It is a deep hole of junk that just keeps growing. I’m not proud of it but it is what it is and at the ripe old age of 32 I’m ready to be a grown up and get organized. So my friends I will be your KonMari guinea pig and will be reporting on my progress. Hopefully these posts will become a series and my home, and maybe other aspects of my life, will become zen, harmonious and incredibly tidy. You can learn from my mistakes and see the KonMari method take place in real life, with a real person who just can’t seem to keep her damn junk drawer in check.

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5 things to know before starting the KonMari method

  1. Understanding the theory is the cornerstone of the process

    Starting is ALWAYS the hardest part of any journey. It just seems so overwhelming to get everything in your home in order. I think that the most important part of the method is the philosophy and theory behind the madness. I have tried to tidy so many times in my life that I’ve lost count. I get everything neat and throw out my clothes and vow to everything that I will never let my drawers get into that state again but somehow elves or something come into my home at night and screw everything up. I genuinely believe that this is because I don’t truly buy into the process and just do it as a means to an end. If I am to become a KonMari convert I am going to have to totally immerse myself into her beliefs and theory. So, I ordered the book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” from Amazon in the hopes that it would give me some divine inspiration.

  2. You’re going to have to drink the KoolAid

    I will admit it, I scoffed at the notion of thanking various items around the house and asking if they bring me joy. I mean it sounds like absolute lunacy to look at a tin opener and think that it would give me any joy but it is an important part of the process. I think this is why you start with clothes. It is easier to attach emotions to the things that show the world what we’re all about and therefore easier to gauge how it makes you feel. So put cynicism away and get in touch with your softer side, feel each item, think about it and unabashedly thank it when you throw it away (most of the people in your house would have long run for the hills when you tell them you’re tidying up so at least you’ll look loony in private).

  3. Picture what you want to achieve at the end of the process

    I am new to this visualization thing. I am terrible at anything remotely zen and new age-y. My yoga teacher tells me that I have “monkey mind” as I would sneak out of meditation because I just couldn’t deal with laying there with my thoughts as it seemed a little weird. However, this year I have told myself that I want to be positive and a big part of that is visualizing positive situations in my life. So, I thought “why the hell not?” and had a mini meditation session about how I wanted my life to look after this process. When I thought about the organized home and how much less anxiety that would bring I knew that I needed to achieve it. No more Tupperware avalanches every time I open the cupboard. I will be a put together, thirty something whose organized drawers are reflective of her organized life. The main thing I want out of this process is less stress and more calm in my life and this is the driving factor that I hope will get me through the process and keep me on the straight and narrow.

  4. Get all the boxes you can find

    Ask your family, friends, neighbours for any small trinket boxes that they don’t need anymore. You really will need a ton of them to successfully separate your drawers and tidy. If you put things into a drawer without dividers they will inevitably smoosh together within 24 hours and all your hard work is undone. I’ve bought a bunch of these Ikea organizers that I LOVE and are perfect for socks and underwear. I also use jewellery and cosmetic boxes. TOP TIP – separate the box and the lid as both can be used to organize. The lids make awesome little holders for pens and small items!

  5. COMMIT COMMIT COMMIT

    I’ve only just started but if I’m honest I’m already a little overwhelmed. My house is full of bin bags and I am freaking terrified of when I reach Komono (the phase when you do bathroom, kitchen and miscellaneous tidying). However, even the small amount of organizing I’ve done so far has truly lightened my mind and has in turn brought me joy. I know that I have to see this process through and it might take me a few weeks but the process will be so worth it. Keep that visualization in mind, write it down, put it on a mirror with lipstick, whatever keeps you going. Marie Kondo will be asking me for tips at the end of this marathon.

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So there you have it, the things you need to know before embarking on this tidying journey. It’s going to long, hard and probably emotional (I’m sentimental and hoard cards and trinkets that I’ll have a hard time parting with) but I am loving it so far. I honestly cannot see how I’ll ever go back to over flowing drawers and once I get used to the folding I’m sure I’ll learn to love it (or at least tolerate it). I really recommend reading the book and starting your own KonMari tidying journey along with me. Misery loves company.

If you don’t hear from me then I might be buried under a pile of early 2000s glitter jeans and old emo CDs so maybe check in on me.  Don’t forget to subscribe to our mailing list!

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My farmhouse style guestroom makeover on a budget.

I thought I was so grown up when my husband and I went into the brick and purchased our very first bedroom set. It was a glorious cherry wood sleigh bed, chest and bedside table combo and I thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. It would be the PERFECT addition to our home and I would love it forever and ever.

I guess farmhouses weren’t built for giant queen beds…

I remember the day it arrived at our red brick farmhouse. The delivery truck rumbled up the long driveway and came to a halt outside of our ancient front door (the only one wide enough for any furniture to fit through). The delivery men struggled up the porch with the huge boxes and queen mattress set and started the very steep climb to our “master” bedroom. I use the term “master” loosely as this bedroom was about the size of a large shoe box with no en suite and a minuscule closet. However, it had beautiful stained glass windows and a working vent (very important during a Canadian winter).  As the boxes mounted in the room, I began to sweat. We previously had a double Ikea bed and Hemnes chest in the room and it was pretty tight. Even in pieces, this bedroom set seemed ginormous. However, I kept the faith and thought back to the beautiful lacquered cherry set and how awesome it would look. The time came to bring the mattress up the stairs and everything came to a halt. Apparently they didn’t have queen sized beds when the house was built and the mattress became wedged in the staircase. “No problem, we’ll try the straighter back staircase”, I said cheerily to the delivery men. After one attempt which resulted in the mattress becoming tightly stuck into the stairwell, they wiped their brows and told me I was on my own. Off they went in their delivery truck leaving me with a mattress wedged in my stairwell and no clue how to get it to my lovely sleigh bed frame. Already my love affair with this bedroom set began to cool. However, I soldiered on and after cutting some door frames, the box spring and a lot of shoehorning and swearing we got the mattress up the stairs and onto the waiting bed frame. It looked awesome and again I told myself I would love it forever and ever. It came with us when we moved to a newer house in town and was a much better fit in our new “real” master bedroom (with an en suite and walk in closet, what a time to be alive). Then Joanna Gaines entered my life and so did my love affair with chalk paint and white wood furniture. My beautiful cherry set began to look tired and a little outdated. Moreover, the set was beginning to look a little rough around the edges after being manhandled up and down a farmhouse staircase, put into a delivery van and put back together again. I reasoned that we needed something fresh for our master bedroom and that the sleigh bed would be much better suited to our guestroom. There it stayed for a couple of years, and slowly but surely handles began to fall off, the veneer began to chip and the screws loosened. My beautiful grown up bedroom set was a sad shadow of its former self.

The Farmhouse Style Makeover begins

One evening when I was pregnant with my second child I had the nesting urge come on strong. I decided that I hated everything in the house and every paint colour on the wall and it had to be changed IMMEDIATELY. My parents would be staying after the baby was born and they needed a fresh bedroom. I got my husband to help me paint the walls in Benjamin Moore Balboa Mist one Friday night and determined that the beautiful new colour would benefit from beautiful painted furniture. I was a woman possessed. I looked online at beautiful white painted solid wood bedroom sets but couldn’t help balk at the price tag. I was going to be on maternity leave and I couldn’t justify spending thousands of dollars. However, in my crazy pregnant nesting state I NEEDED to do something about the room or I couldn’t rest. So I thought, why spend thousands when I could achieve the painted look myself for the price of a can of paint? If I ended up ruining the bedroom set then it wouldn’t really matter as I didn’t like it anyway and if it worked, then just call me Joanna Gaines. So I went out to Home Depot and picked up two cans of Rust-oleum chalk paint in linen white, brushes and drop sheets and returned home and set straight to work.

Here’s how I turned this…

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into this…

First things first, can you really use chalk paint on wood veneer?

YES! Now I wont say that the finish is as hard as nails but the very nature of chalk paint allows for imperfections so the overall look is actually complimented by a bit of wear and tear.

How to paint veneer with chalk paint

  1. Prep your furniture. You will need to wipe down your furniture with a damp cloth to remove all dust. Here is where all of you hardened chalk painters and professionals will probably collectively gasp but I didn’t prime. I know, I know, priming is key but to be honest I couldn’t be bothered and didn’t want to spend more cash on primer.
  2. Shake up your chalk paint and try a test area to see what kind of finish you will achieve. You will want to use a firm, short bristle brush for control and cover. You can buy special chalk paint brushes but I didn’t do this and the result was as good as when I’ve used the expensive brushes in the past.
  3. Paint the first coat on your furniture and wait a couple of hours until it is dry.
  4. Repeat with a second coat.
  5. Depending on whether or not you want to see brush strokes you might want to add a third coat. I only went over some areas for opacity.
  6. Once the final coat is dry you get to have fun distressing. I used a very fine grit on my electric mouse sander as a I am lazy and don’t have the arm muscles necessary for hand sanding. I also wanted a pretty intense distressed look so I knew that an electric sander wouldn’t be too much. If you want a more delicate distressed finish then you’re going to want to use a sanding block. There isn’t any rhyme or reason to my distressing, I just focused on areas that would have had a lot of wear (around handles and corners) and sanded until I could see the wood underneath. It is easier to distress more if you need to so go easy.
  7. When I was happy with my distressing I wiped everything down with a cloth and applied beeswax to protect.
  8. I found cup handles in a brushed nickle to update the look of the piece and add a little farmhouse style.bedside table

Finishing touches

My beloved sleigh bed was dated and held together by years of braces and I thought that splashing out on a new bed would be something I could stretch to. I actually found the bed frame for under $300 at Walmart and LOVE how the rivets add a little edge to the feminine feel of the room.

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I finished off the room with a painted sign from Homesense (you could easily create your own). I painted a wooden box I had lying around with some left over chalk paint, filled it with 3 dollar store mason jars and some fake lambs ear foliage to add that Fixer Upper-esque pop of green.

And there you have it. It took me a weekend to complete and I am beyond happy with the result. The whole room came in at around $500 if you include all the paint, the bed and finishing touches.

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Now onto my next chalk painting project…

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A Day In The Life Of A Mum On Maternity Leave As Told By GIFs

Maternity leave is amazing. I get to spend lots of quality time with the kids, wear leggings or PJs all day long and watch tons of daytime TV (I’ve watched so much HGTV I’m positive I can now redecorate a run down farm house on a $50 budget). Living in Canada means that I am able to take a whole year off to stay at home with the kids on maternity leave which is fantastic! I cannot imagine being in work right now especially as it would mean washing my hair and putting on real pants. No buenos. However some days I feel like I am going to go nuts from being stuck indoors with a baby and a toddler and only Joanna Gaines for company (let me clarify that I understand that she is on the TV and not actually in my living room talking to me). My husband often comes home and asks “how was your day?” and honestly some days I can’t even put it into words.

Here is a little collection of GIFs to explain what my day looks like.

  1. Wakey wakey Mummy. Forget those peaceful alarm clocks that wake you gradually from your slumber with the peaceful sounds of birds or whales. If you have an infant you’re getting full on screaming to jolt you awake every morning.

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2. COFFEEEEEE

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3. Make breakfast for everyone. This task will usually involve at least 34 different types of cereal, 52 changes of cups for juice and being told “I don’t want orange juice, I want ORANGE juice”. What does that even mean?

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4. Husband leaves for work. I’m on my own now.

Disney Hello GIF by O&O, Inc

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5. Try to get the kids to do something educational like read.

Read Beauty And The Beast GIF by Disney

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6. Nope, that was fun for 10 minutes and now she wants to get out the Playdoh.

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7. Get kids ready to go out

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8. Get self ready. Hair is a little crazy but it works

Sigourney Weaver Derek Stevens Comeback GIF by Saturday Night Live

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9. Have a snack as I probably didn’t eat breakfast. Toddler hears wrapper and promptly seeks me out and steals my snack.

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10. Story Time at the library. Mamma gotta show off her moves.

“Open shut them, open shut them, give a little clap”

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11. Baby has fallen asleep in the car on the way home. Gotta get this puppy into her crib without waking her.

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12. Baby wakes up

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13. Make lunch and throw away pretty much everything because your child got distracted by shadows and now refuses to sit at the table and eat while she investigates.

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14. Afternoon activities. I wanted to try some pinterest crafts but I’m EXHAUSTED so I pretty much let my kids do whatever. Insanity has set in as this point. You want to try that Indian ink calligraphy set on the white carpet …

Do It Whatever GIF by Abbey Luck

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15. why is it still only 2:30?

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16. Try any means possible to get baby to sleep but they wont.Gluten Free Crying GIF

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17. Make your child’s favourite dinner. Oh you thought pasta was your child’s favourite food? Think again. You are wrong.

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18. Husband walks through the door. TAG.

Seattle Seahawks Im Here GIF by NFL

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19. Observes the chaos

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20. He plays calm games with the children.Wwe Spinning GIF

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21. Bath time. Hope you got the bathroom floor waterproofed!

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22. You get the kids to bed. You’re freeee!Baby One More Time Dancing GIF by Britney Spears

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23. Your toddler has an existential crisis and wants to get out of bed but you’re too experienced for that nonsense. Not after I’ve clocked out junior.

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24. Pour a small glass of wine
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25. Do fun and exciting things with the hour you have before you fall asleep.
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26. Try to go to sleep but your head is spinning your to do list and you think you just heard the baby.

Black And White Sleeping GIF by FilmStruck

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So how does your day look? Do you put on proper pants?

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How to add a little farmhouse flair this Christmas. Using black & white plaid, natural wood and whimsical elements to create a laid back festive style.

“And you need more ribbon why?” my husband groans as he struggles with the giant Rubbermaid containers that hold my relics of Christmases past. I will admit it, I am fickle when it comes to my Christmas decor. I love the thrill of heading to Michaels and looking at the abundance of ribbons and trimmings […]

“And you need more ribbon why?” my husband groans as he struggles with the giant Rubbermaid containers that hold my relics of Christmases past. I will admit it, I am fickle when it comes to my Christmas decor. I love the thrill of heading to Michaels and looking at the abundance of ribbons and trimmings and needlessly spending my hard earned cash on things I don’t need   picturing my family smiling around the tree. I can’t help myself. Surely there must be a support group for people who hoard decorations?

Trees of Christmas past

Growing up we had a very classical Christmas tree. My mum always decked it out in beautiful shades of gold. I remember BEGGING her to buy tacky trinkets and red decorations but she was steadfast in her Christmas decorating ideals. At the time I didn’t understand her and I promised myself that I would allow my children to go nuts with the tree and decorate it however they wish. I wasn’t going to be that Christmas mum. I was going to let me kids adorn the tree in all the tack they wanted.

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Trees of Christmas present

Flash forward 20 years or so and what do you know, I am that mum. I like my tree how I like it but I’ve come up with some compromises along the way that fit in with my control freak tendencies my aesthetic whilst speaking to the 10 year old child inside me who wants ALL THE THINGS on the tree. Living on the farm, I was inspired by the rustic Christmas decor I found at the local country stores. Think metal stars, checked ribbon and mismatched whimsical ornaments.  Over the years I’ve refined my style into one that I would call put together rustic. This year, I experimented with buffalo plaid and wood to create a chic farmhouse feel.

My Farmhouse style Christmas tips

It doesn’t just have to be red, green and gold

Think outside of the box when  it comes to your colour scheme. Black and white plaid adds a classic touch to your decor theme and mixes well with a white farmhouse pallette.

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Get a little touchy feely

Mix textures. Fuzzy, soft ribbon mixed with weathered wood gives laid back feel to your tree

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Showcase international finds

Add little nods to family with cute ornaments that you have collected from your travels. Don’t be afraid to add things you might consider tacky. You’re dressing your tree for your family and it should reflect who you are. Not everyone needs an instagram perfect tree!

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Bring the outside in with touches of green 

I am obsessed with my white kitchen but it can look a little clinical sometimes. Christmas is all about warmth to me. I create this in my kitchen with twinkling fairy lights and greenery. Honestly, I wish I could leave the wreath up all year but I think it looks a little too festive for the 30 plus degree days of summer.

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Add a little kitsch fun to your apothecary jars

If you follow any farmhouse decor blog you know that these bad boys are everywhere. Usually filled with grains that no one eats or faux fruit, they look polished but for Christmas it’s nice to try something a little different.

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So there you have it friends. My farmhouse decor tips for Christmas. So how do you decorate for the holidays? Are you a full on festive control freak, Clark Griswold (BIGGER IS BETTER) or a go with the flow kind of person?

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