The Painted Smile

I love the color green and had painted the boys bathroom a celery green about 7 years ago.  The paint held up well, but I was getting tired of the color and it started to look dull.  After years of cleaning the walls from little marks here and there, it was time to make a change.

Kid's Bathroom

I went into Sherwin Williams and took a whole bunch of their paint samples.  I brought them home and placed them side-by-side.  I then chose what I thought was the perfect shade of blue for my kids’ little bathroom.  I chose an appropriately named color, it’s called Watery.

Kid's Bathroom

I also purchased some rollers, a tray and a paintbrush for edging.  I was excited to start!

As soon as I got home, I realized that I purchased the rollers thinking that we already had the roller frame (or poll) in our garage.  I couldn’t find it.

I was so anxious to start, that I decided to paint the bathroom with a paintbrush.  It seemed like an excellent idea at the time.  I would take advantage of my toddler’s nap time, and I would paint a room.  With only a small paintbrush.  Genius.  Interrupted.

Boy's Bathroom

I start painting the first wall and my arm starts to hurt.  I start losing steam ON THE FIRST WALL.  This isn’t good.  The small bathroom starts looking like Versailles from my vantage point.

Kid's Bathroom

I start convincing myself that the WHOLE bathroom didn’t actually need painting. I convince myself that only one wall should be painted.  I convince myself that the contrast between the blue and green is actually better than re-painting the whole bathroom. I convince myself that broccoli actually tastes better than cake.

But deep inside, I know the truth.  Cake tastes better than broccoli .  I must finish the project that I began.

Also, my husband was out-of-town and groveling for help, like with my Master Closet Remodel, wasn’t an option.  You can read about that “adventure” HERE.

Boy's Bathroom

So I kept going and positioned and re-positioned our ladder “cirque du soleil style” until I finished.  My paintbrush and I were done.  We did good.  We were rock stars.

I love the new color and I want to share some pictures with you.  What do you think?

Boys Bathroom

I did end up leaving a small nook at the very top, in the old green shade.  I added some blue pots to bring in some blue from the walls.  Not sure if I love the green nook yet.  Maybe I should go ahead and paint that too.  I have to wait and see.  Its a small area that I could paint it really fast, even with a paintbrush.

I hung up the towels and the shelves.  (The photograph does not accurately show the color. There is no natural light in this bathroom, making good photos a challenge.)

Kid's Bathroom

I purchased the towels from Frontgate and I love the quality.  They are holding up well and were a perfect match to the new color.

Kid's Bathroom

The shelf and a more accurate picture of the color.

Boy's Bathroom

Since my husband was out-of-town, he had no idea that I was doing this.

As soon as he got home, I proudly told him that I had painted the kids’ bathroom…using only a paintbrush.  No roller.

He smiled.

But I knew this smile.  I have given this smile before (Usually to my toddler, when he rushes in to tell me that he has “decorated” my bedroom.  I smile and excitedly say “YOU DID?!” and inside, I immediately start crying).

Boy's Bathroom

There is no joy in that smile.  Only fear.  My husband was afraid.

You see, according to him, he loves my decorating, but my DIY projects…

He says they either culminate in total success or…fear.  I think I have a pretty good batting ratio.  His opinion has no basis.  None that I would admit to.

Regardless, I was hopeful that he would love it as much as I did.  It would make the fact that I didn’t feel my right arm, almost worthwhile.

And…He loved it!  The smile was no longer forced.  He really liked it and so did the boys.

Even this boy.

By the way, that smile gets me every time.  Even when he uses toilet paper as streamers in my room.

Kid's Bathroom

Of course, I found the paint roller pole the next day.  God has a sense of humor.  I am sure of it.

– Maria

Advertisements

Enjoying the Better Part

Let me be the first blogger to welcome you to 2014!  Ok, maybe I am the last.

I have a perfect excuse though.  My husband surprised me with an apple computer for Christmas.  I was so excited to use it, I disconnected my old computer and connected the new shiny silver one.  I sat down to start blogging and then…I had no idea how to even open the internet browser.

GracefulOrder.com

Of course, it took me 20 minutes 2 minutes to figure out how to open the browser but the rest was a new world for me.  Basically, I have spent the last week getting acquainted with this computer and I know that I will love it, once I know how to use it.

About the blog…

I want to do something different this year with the blog.  I want to go room by room, so that we can organize our entire home together.  I didn’t want it to be a “challenge” where you feel pressure to keep up.  We have enough pressure from other venues.  Not here.  Nothing “graceful” about pressure.  I just want you to go at your pace and be inspired to start somewhere.  In a few days, we will start with the kitchen and then move into the rest of the home.

Graceful Order

2014!  My biggest resolution this year is to be Present.  I don’t want to be in a hamster wheel that keeps me from one event to the next, because I want to enjoy today.

I have two boys that still want to share every aspect of their days with me and I want to cherish that.  I want to be more organized so that I can be more spontaneous.  I want an organized kitchen so that I can be inspired to bake cookies and get flour everywhere with the boys.  I want an organized closet so that I can put things away quickly and I can get back to the things that matter.  I want more order so that I can enjoy the disorder.  Does that make any sense?

Of course, this means that I have to say “no” a lot more than I am used to because I am, without a doubt, a people pleaser.  I want to be liked, loved.  Don’t we all want that?  But when we say “yes” to too many things, we indirectly say “no” to others.  I don’t want to say “no” to spending time with the boys, with my husband.  I don’t want to say no to spending time with the Lord and even having some alone time.

And of course, spending time with my apple computer.  I seriously need to YouTube some tutorials (as soon as I find the YouTube icon).

So my resolution is simple but difficult for me to execute.  I want my focus to be on what I am saying “yes” to.  I intend to make memories.  I intend to take less pictures.  Is that a shocker?  It’s kind of crazy because I really see the importance of pictures, but I feel that I stay behind the camera way too much.  I want to create the moments and not worry as much about documenting them.  Here is one moment I had to document last week.  The boys playing at the park and my little one, who insisted on wearing his dino pajamas at 4 o’clock in the afternoon.

At the park

I want to let go of guilt.  I always feel like I am not doing enough.  For example, I scrapbook and I am always behind…like years behind.  Will the kids not know how much I love them if I don’t have pictures of every missing tooth and a journal entry about it?  Think about it.  I have like 1 album for my entire childhood…zero journaling…and I feel loved.

We always notice people who seem to do more than us.  I recently shared with a friend something that I read and impacted me.  “We compare our behind-the-scenes with others’ highlight reel”.  No one has it all.  We all fall short somewhere.  So you didn’t bake cookies with your kids this past Christmas.  So what?  There were lots of things that you did do.  So you didn’t work out as much as you would have liked last year.  Don’t let that disappointment keep you from believing in yourself this year.

One of my favorite bible stories is about Martha and Mary.  Jesus and his disciples stay at Martha’s home and she is consumed by working on being a good hostess while Mary (her sister) sits at Jesus feet listening to what he was saying.  Martha eventually complains that Mary is not helping her by saying “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” and Jesus replies…“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

When I first read that scripture I didn’t understand because I tend to be such a doer.  I used to think that her sister should help her and that way she wouldn’t be so stressed out.  But I was wrong.  This is not a story about how being busy is bad.  This is a story about priorities.  Martha is not wrong for serving food, she is not wrong for being a good hostess, she is wrong for being worried and upset over trivial things.  Her priority at that moment was incorrect.

If you have a choice between listening to words that feed your soul and arranging food perfectly on a platter….well…Mary certainly chose the better part.

So I want to remind myself to be more like Mary.

I will not eliminate taking pictures, or journaling, scrapbooking, cooking big meals or any other thoughtful thing that I do for my family and friends to show love.  I do want to eliminate the guilt.  The little voice that always says that I am not doing enough.  I will never be able to do it all, all the time.

I want to put the serving platter down and sit down and listen.  I want to be present.  I want to choose the better part.

And I wish the same for you!

Maria

A New Year

Almost 2014.  Wow!

The older we get, the faster time seems to pass.  Or maybe we are just more aware of the value of time?

Either way, it’s a new year.  New goals, dreams and opportunities to make memories.

In our family we start the year by eating together.  We end the year the same way…

I see a trend.

January 1st we always make the same meal.  Lentil soup and Spanish omelets.  They don’t seem to go together but somehow they work.  Spanish omelets are hearty and can stand alone.  Sometimes we serve it with a salad.  Lentil soup can also stand alone or you can serve white rice as a side.

A New Year

Since we purchase a Ham for Christmas Morning, I freeze the bone with some of the ham and I use it for my soup days later.  Here is the lentil soup.  Enough to feed the entire neighborhood that I live in.

Or just enough for my family.

A New Year

I usually make some sort of white cake as a dessert.  Either coconut cake or carrot cake.  This year it’s carrot cake.

As a refreshment, we serve white sangria.

A New Year

Basically, this is just another excuse to get everyone together.  We are all so busy that if we don’t schedule time for family, we don’t see each other.  It is important to make an effort, make traditions, make memories…

Start the year with family.

This year let’s spend more time with family.  Let’s extend more grace to others.  Let’s add that to the resolution list.

Happy 2014!

Maria

Breakfast Scones

I wanted to take the time to thank you all for your support of Graceful Order and for your comments, emails, suggestions…all of your time!

This blog has been so much more fun than I ever imagined and I look forward to a new year with new ideas to share with all of you!

Merry Christmas and I hope you enjoy this recipe for Cranberry Scones.  The recipe is from Ina Garten and I have modified it very little by adding extra sugar.  These scones are not super sweet, just sweet enough.

I usually make the dough ahead of time, I cut the scones and then freeze them in a single layer with instructions on the bag on how to bake them.  I make the drizzle right before I bake them.

Enjoy!

Chirstmas Scones

  • 4 cups plus 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 3/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 4 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water or milk, for egg wash
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 4 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix 4 cups of flour, 1/2 cup sugar, the baking powder, salt and orange zest. Add the cold butter and mix at the lowest speed until the butter is the size of peas. Combine the eggs and heavy cream and, with the mixer on low speed, slowly pour into the flour and butter mixture. Mix until just blended. The dough will look lumpy! Combine the dried cranberries and 1/4 cup of flour, add to the dough, and mix on low speed until blended.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it into a ball. Flour your hands and a rolling pin and roll the dough 3/4-inch thick. You should see small bits of butter in the dough. Keep moving the dough on the floured board so it doesn’t stick. Flour a 3-inch round plain or fluted cutter and cut circles of dough. Place the scones on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Collect the scraps neatly, roll them out, and cut more circles (or triangles).

Brush the tops of the scones with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the insides are fully baked. The scones will be firm to the touch. Allow the scones to cool for 15 minutes and then whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and orange juice, and drizzle over the scones.  Enjoy!

Love you all!

Maria

Organizing Christmas Gifts

I love everything about the holidays.

Except the long lines at the market, in the department stores and the post office.

I don’t know what it is about me and waiting in line.  I realize that no one likes waiting in line but…I could have a shopping cart full to the brim and when I see that there is a long line for checkout…I start to ask myself if I really need anything in the cart (besides my toddler).  🙂  Does this ever happen to you?

Now back to what I love.  Back to the merriness of Christmas.  Back to the beauty of giving.

Christmas Gift List

Back to how to avoid lines.  I avoid the lines by shopping way ahead of time and also shopping online.

I never shop during black Friday unless it is online.  With my fear of lines and crazy mobs at the mall, there is no way that I am leaving the house that day.  Visions of not finding a parking space and women fighting over the last special edition Barbie doll for their little girls, keep me home.  With my doors locked.

I am all about saving money but I find that the deals online match most of the deals at the store and even if I get an extra 5% off on black Friday, it’s just not worth it to me.  I need a cup of lavender chamomile just thinking about it.

Whether you are courageous enough to shop black Friday or just shop another time…have you noticed that there is always that ONE gift that drives you back to the mall during Christmas week?

To avoid forgetting that one gift, I started keeping a Christmas list years ago that keeps me on track for purchases and holiday spending.  I created a similar list for all of you to use.

I do realize that I should have thought of this a couple of weeks ago but I have been wrapping gifts like a madwoman and I figured it would still be useful.  You can either use it to check off the gifts that you already purchased and/or see what you still need to buy.

Here is the list:

Graceful Order Christmas Gift List Copy ”

I hope the list will be helpful!

I am excited about our Christmas breakfast and in a couple of days I will share with you my recipe for Cranberry Scones, so stay tuned!

Until then…Happy Wrapping!

Maria

Christmas Morning Breakfast

Every Christmas morning we host a pajama breakfast at the house.  Our whole family knows that they are invited to swing by, eat and hang out.  They also know that they are welcome to come in their pajamas.  I really look forward to this day and so do the boys!

Christmas Breakfast

The menu is plentiful but the cooking is really simple because most of all, I want to enjoy my boys opening their gifts.

The night before, I prepare a couple of casseroles and I place them in the fridge.  These casseroles are supposed to be refrigerated so that the flavors can marry.  One is sweet and the other is savory.  As soon as I wake up, I turn on the oven, get the casseroles in there and turn on the timer.

My husband buys a ham the day before.  I prepare a fruit platter the night before.  I bake some cookies with the boys the day before and also bring them out to the table.

Christmas Baking

I prefer to buy or make everything myself because that way I know that all the food is laid out on the table and I don’t have to fuss with it again.  If I delegate the dishes, then I constantly have to come back to the table to re-arrange once the guests arrive, I have to re-heat dishes…you get the point.  It may sound easier to delegate but if your goal is to spend time with little kids…consider an easy menu that you can execute yourself.

My husband gets up really early and starts making the hot cocoa and grinding the coffee beans.

Christmas Cocoa

We put both the coffee and the hot cocoa in carafes so that they will stay hot for the duration of the breakfast.  Thermal carafes are a great investment because you wont have to re-heat or make more coffee.  These are pretty inexpensive and you can find them “here“.

I set up this coffee/cocoa station the night before.  Hence the dark cell phone picture!

Christmas Drinks

I sometimes make scones and freeze them in zipper bags with instructions for baking.  If I have any left in the freezer come Christmas morning, then I will bake them but only if I have extra time.  They are delish!  The ones below are cranberry scones.

Chirstmas Scones

Whatever you do, keep it simple.  Do as much as you can ahead of time.  Buy some of your items, they don’t all have to be homemade.  Have a checklist.  Have fun!  Whatever you do…don’t miss this!

These are my boys opening their gifts…this is my favorite part.  There is no scone that is yummier than this moment.

Christmas Gifts

I love you all!  Remember to give.  Remember to live.

Maria

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, Isaiah 9:6”

Organizing Thanksgiving

Yes!  Even the holidays can and should be organized.

There is definitely an art to hosting a dinner party and my goal is to share some of my tips with you so that you can avoid some of the mistakes that I have made in the past.  These are general dinner party tips but you can definitely use them for Thanksgiving.

Our Thanksgiving table last year.  I buy items right after the holiday is over so that I can decorate the following year to my heart and wallets content!

Our Thanksgiving table last year. I buy items right after the holiday is over so that I can decorate the following year to my heart and wallets content!

Have you ever had a dinner party that 30 minutes before your guests arrive you are still running around like a chicken turkey with your head cut off?  The moment they arrive everything is done and you think to yourself…”if you only knew how crazy my day has been in order to pull this off!”  Basically, they are ready to start having fun and you are ready for a nap!

Situations like this make us want to avoid having people over.  It’s a shame to avoid dinner parties altogether considering that when we move into a home, when we buy new dishes…we think of entertaining.  We think of well orchestrated dinner parties.

In my case, I love to entertain and have dinner parties.  I have had great and not-so-great dinner parties and I can tell you that planning makes the difference!  The ones that were not so great had nothing to do with the people I invited.  I was just simply too exhausted to enjoy what I had worked hard to put together.  Nowadays, although I have small kids and I can’t entertain as often as I would like, I still have dinner parties.  And….

I plan.  I plan EVERYTHING.

I have a timeline of when things need to get done.  I even write down when to turn on the candles, when to start playing the music…those are the little things that you can easily forget to do until after the guests arrive.  Those are the things that really set the ambiance for your party.

Whether you like to be really fancy or really laid back, a list will make all your gatherings more enjoyable.  Whether its paper plates or fine china, a list will keep you on track and relaxed.

These little pumpkins were about 1.00 each on clearance.  I had to wait a whole year to use them but I loved the result!

These little ceramic pumpkins were about 1.00 each on clearance. I had to wait a whole year to use them but I loved the result!

The point of the to-do list is not to stress you out or to try to impress anyone with “the perfect dinner party”.  The point of the list is to help you relax and know that everything is on schedule and that you don’t need to be anxious about anything that you may be forgetting because everything is written down and accounted for.

The point of a dinner party is to have fun and to entertain but that is impossible if by the time that guests arrive you are so tired that you are counting the minutes until they leave and you can take off your shoes.

The truth is that even with a schedule, things happen.  Food can burn, overcook, things can spill.  However, these events are much less overwhelming when you have a schedule.

So with Thanksgiving around the corner, I wanted to share some printables with you to help make this dinner party go as smoothly as possible.

Let’s face it, Thanksgiving is the mother of all dinner parties!  There are so many dishes to keep track of that without a schedule I would not be able to pull it off AND have fun.

Even if you decide not to do a list for all your dinner parties, consider doing one for thanksgiving.

Some of the things that I suggest adding to your list are:

  • Setting the table one to two days before a dinner party.
  • Make ahead anything that can be so that you can check it off your list.
  • If a dish cannot be made ahead then perhaps do the chopping and prep-work ahead of time.
  • Take out all your servewear so that you can have all the platters handy on the day of the dinner party.
  • Print out or make copies of all the recipes you are using so that you can staple them together and have them handy on the day of the event.
  • Set up your coffee maker ahead of time so that you don’t have to fuss with it when your guests are there.  Just press a button and you can join your party once more.
  • Set up a coffee station or a platter with coffee cups, sugar, creamer and stirrers so that you can just bring the pot to the table along with all the necessities.
  • Have a couple of music playlists that you can play during parties.  A more soothing one for the dinner portion and a livelier one for later.
  • Try to wash dishes as you go to lessen the clean up later.
  • Empty your dishwasher so that you can fill it up after your dinner party is over.

The most important TIP is that you have fun.  I love lists but the list goes out the window the moment that my guests arrive.  It’s all about them at that point and about enjoying myself with them.

Your guests will feel it if you are stressed out, so relax.  If you are relaxed then they are relaxed.  If something burns, just move on…laugh about it.  No one really ever remembers what they ate or the table linen that was used…they remember how they felt.  People remember having fun, good conversation.  In the end, the list was never to assure that they had fun.  It was to assure that you could have fun with them.

Here you can find the lists that I made on JPEG format.  I hope they make your holiday a more enjoyable one!

THANKSGIVING MEAL PLANNER

THANKSGIVING MEAL PLANNER

THANKSGIVING GUEST LIST

THANKSGIVING GUEST LIST

THANKSGIVING COOKING SCHEDULE

THANKSGIVING COOKING SCHEDULE

Below you can find them in PDF Format :

THANKSGIVING MEAL PLANNER

THANKSGIVING GUEST LIST

THANKSGIVING COOKING SCHEDULE

Remember: Do as much as you can before your guests arrive but when they do (regardless of what still hasn’t been crossed off your list) throw this list away and just have fun!

With that being said, Have a Happy Thanksgiving and count all your blessings.  There are many.  You can make a list about that too!

Happy Organizing,

Maria