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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Hello…it’s me again.

Hey friends,

I know, I know it’s been a long time. I started off this blog guns blazing and I desperately wanted to create something that people would flock to amidst the saturated blog market. It started off swimmingly, I was featured in Scary Mommy  and I felt unstoppable. The response to the article was widely positive (of course some lovely people felt the need to minimize by feelings from behind their keyboards but that’s the internet for you) and it was amazing to have people from all over the world reach out to me. I was asked to be a part of a collection of expat stories for a book which was really special. I felt unstoppable. But then, I started to run out of steam.

Desperate to make the blog a success that might allow me to supplement my income, I lost focus and direction and focused on writing about what was popular and might get more hits rather than what I really cared about. I became too bogged down in affiliate programs and honestly the content suffered. I started this blog as a space to be real about the trials and tribulations of parenting as an immigrant (not expat, thank you keyboard warriors) farm wife and to share things I am interested in. It’s time to get back to that and if success comes then fantastic but what’s more important is connecting with other women and men who might get a little laugh and support from my ramblings musings.

At the same time as trying to be the world’s most unlikely influencer I decided to start taking better care of myself and found that nap times were taken up by getting active rather than writing and my little window of available time slowly got smaller. Add to that the never ending mum guilt of having a 4 year old that constantly wants to play and I just couldn’t bring myself to sit down and write. Now, I chose to say yes to play as much as possible as I know my daughter will be going to school soon and I just want to soak up every delicious minute with her so I’m not complaining, it just naturally happened that the blog took a back seat. I just tried to enjoy this maternity leave as much as possible, I went on trips, took lots of pictures and made new friends. Oh and let’s not forget the most stressful, long planting season EVER (yes I’m a farm wife to those of you who are new) and my little space in the internet just gathered dust.

Now I feel like I want to write again. Maybe it’s the giant upheaval that’s coming in the form of returning to work? I mean I’ll have so much more time now right?!  I’m not sure but I hope that whoever is reading this blog is happy to have me back and enjoys what’s to come!

Love,

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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.

farmhouse_guestroom

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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The accidental farm wife

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“Don’t end up falling in love with an Australian and moving across the world!” These were my Mother’s pearls of wisdom before I set out on my three month adventure to Australia and New Zealand in 2008. Well, I took her advice…kinda.

Ten years ago after failing to secure a place on a graduate placement I decided to travel to Australia and New Zealand to clear my head. I booked the whole thing on a whim during my lunch break. It was crazy but maybe someone, somewhere in the cosmos lined up the whole thing because it was on that trip that I met my husband, a pig and cash crop farmer from Ontario. I remember laughing when my husband first told me what he did for a living as in Wales there aren’t a lot of eligible young farmers around. I pictured him with a small farm spending most of his days pottering around on a tractor. This wasn’t exactly the case and after trying to make it in Wales together, the reality that he couldn’t just up and leave his family farm set in so we packed up and moved to Canada.

Flash forward ten years and I live in a small town in Ontario, thousands of miles away from my home town of Wales with my husband and two daughters. I’m a primary school teacher and I absolutely love my day job. I have another job too, being a farm wife is no easy task. Add to that being an ex-pat and it can sometimes seem like the perfect storm. Here on this blog I hope to share my adventures on the farm, in the classroom and my every day life and create a space to give advice to others in my position (come on, surely more than one of us has met a dreamy farmer and uprooted their life!) Come join me for the ride!

Jo