Let’s talk about happiness!

leafy plant maggie whitley

A couple weeks ago I made a $7 purchase and brought two leafy green plants home with me. I’ve known from the past how beneficial having plants in your home can be, my dear friend even talks about this on her blog (and often!). But I think it’s something I easily forget (especially with all the moving we do) because one day my planty lightbulb went off and I realized exactly what our home was missing… leafy green plants.

But not just any kind of plant, a non-flowering plant. I didn’t want any more color in our home. And really, all I was looking for wassomething that would grow with minimal care. So I picked out two plants that would thrive indoors, would be OK without any direct sunlight and could handle only being watered about once a week.

I don’t really know what it is specifically that brings so much happiness when leafy green plants surround us — does anyone know? But I do know they’re an instant happiness boost for me. They draw my attention upward or outward, wherever they’re placed in our home. Plants are the perfect companion to our books stacked tall, to the little clusters of toddler toys that decorate each room. They’re just so fun.

Other things that are making me happy this month:

- I finished reading What Alice Forgot and I highly recommend it!

- watching Maxwell drink out of a straw

- the rhythm of handmade: cutting fabric and sewing Caroline-made items

- orange juice with high pulp! (#pregnancycravings)

- holding newborn Cheyenne, my friends baby girl

PS. I meet up with a group of three friends regularly and we are all having babies this year! AND, there was a (very short) window where we were all pregnant at the same time. Having four new babies in our group has been making me happy all year! :)

 

6 small (yet impactful) changes for your home.

6 small (impactful) home changes to make right now // maggie whitley

Too many times I pretend I love our home without really, truly, fully loving it. Of course there are specific things about our home that I love, but there always seem to be bigger things I don’t love that somehow override what I do love. (Do you ever feel like that?) The apartment we’re currently in is perfect for our family right now, even though it has it’s quirks and disadvantages.

Our apartment may be a small space but it’s where we live, where we love, and where we practice grace. I’ve been slowly making changes to make our home even better for us and how we use it daily/weekly, and even more specifically I’ve been trying to build up momentum so these changes don’t take too long to for me to actually implement. Oh, the freedom that has brought me.

SIX SMALL CHANGES TO MAKE IN YOUR HOME:
1. ORGANIZE // our bookshelf has many purposes but was looking a little cluttered, so I re-organized a few shelves (this took all of 5 minutes) and now it’s more aesthetically pleasing.

2. HANG // for months I’ve been wanting a world map on the wall in the nursery, and I finally bought one! (See a glimpse of it here.)

3. MOVE // this one probably surprised me the most: I moved a floor rug a mere six inches so it now butts up to the wall (instead of leaving a gap of hardwood floor showing). The visual impact this change has is incredible, whoa!

4. MAKE // I grabbed some extra fabric and an hour of my time and sewed 2 new envelope-style pillow covers for our couch. This allowed me to re-cover two pillows that didn’t match our decor anymore using materials I already had on hand.

5. CHANGE // since our bedroom is really just a corner of our living room, it’s easy for the bed to become an immediate focal point, which I try to avoid. The first change I made was moving our bed so it isn’t the first thing you see when you walk through the front door. Then, I switched our bed quilt to something less bright and more neutral (even though I love bright/colorful materials). This two-part change stopped our bed from screaming “look at me!” and it’s also allowed me to create a neutral, relaxing bedroom nook inside our small apartment. I call that a win! :)

6. EDIT // I tidied up our 5-hook wall organizer (that hangs behind our front door) to include only the essentials. Anything we don’t use weekly was put away, but still within quick reach. This visible area is now refreshed and took me about 5 minutes to edit it’s contents.

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The great part about all of these changes is that, aside from buying the wall map, the only requirement needed was my time. Maybe it’s how I’m preparing for the birth of our second child, but my new mantra is that I want our home to be a little oasis from the hustle Los Angeles brings on so easily. I want our home to serve our family’s needs (relax, learn, love, grow). It may be small, but our home is full of intention. And, I want it to be a reflection of who we are while allowing us to grow individually. These six changes have made our home so much sweeter :)

I bet you could find a way to implement these six changes, too. Take 15 minutes right now and make your space something you love. You deserve to feel refreshed while at home — ready, set, go!

The beauty in small spaces.

kitchen maggie whitley

I’ve been a renter for ten years now, renting apartments & homes all over the country.

It all started after high-school graduation. I spent four years at Central Michigan University (2003-2007; where Zack and I met/fell in love) renting dorm rooms, an apartment, and then a house just off-campus. After that I lived in Lansing, MI for almost a year (2007-2008). Zack and I were married June 2008 and shortly after that we moved to Detroit, MI where we lived for a year (2008-2009). We then moved to Minneapolis, MN for three years (2009-2012). And now we’re to the present: living in Los Angeles, CA for almost two years (since 2012).

bathroom maggie whitley

Most of the places we’ve called “home” have been small and perfect for a him & her. For two years we lived in a very generous-sized house in Minneapolis complete with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a backyard, patio and private driveway. At 26-years-old we felt like we hit the rental jackpot.

But towards the end of our time in that large house Zack and I traveled to Tanzania, Africa with Compassion International (truly one of the most life-changing events I’ve ever experienced) — we came home, and pretty much everything about our lives changed.

The amount of space we live in…

The number of physical “things” we own…

The answer to a 14-month prayer of growing our family: your womb is full…

The yard-less yard… (This one is still hard.)

All of these things were suddenly not as they’d once been.

kitchen maggie whitley

When we decided to move from Minneapolis to Los Angeles the size of our home may have shrunk nearly 75%, but our hearts grew immeasurably.

Living in a small space has been really hard for me at times. It’s even hard for me to write that out! :) But it’s allowed me to look deep and hard at what I consider most important in this life…

I don’t share often enough about the struggles that come with living in a small space, but I’m inspired to change that.

Because as I’ve learned: where there are struggles there is also beauty.

accessories maggie whitley

We were not created to be defined by the size of our homes or the number of adventures we’ve been on. We are not defined by how much gorgeous sunlight pours in our windows, or the thick never-ending grass that grows off our patio, or by having a (unachievable) large social media imprint.

There is so much beauty, even in the small spaces of our home, and the best way to find it is to know the asnwers to these questions:

- what is your purpose for this season of life?

- what changes do you need to make so you feel satisfied with the everyday?

- what internal changes would help you feel more confident with where you are right now?

- are you giving your most important people first priority?

From there, however life sorts itself out (in a way that feels totally natural to you), is what you need to be doing. Don’t worry about what your neighbor is doing or what their life looks like.

When all think alike, then no one is thinking, –Walter Lippman

If you’re going to worry, worry you’re missing out because you can’t stop your mind/eyes from wandering elsewhere.

It’s perfectly wonderful to be different, to be brave, to be dancing to your own life beat. And that’s something living in a small rental has taught me.

to be continued…

Blog, home and African inspiration.

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I’ve been so inspired lately to really revamp my blog and the content found here that last night I finally purchased the Blog Life ecourse by A Beautiful Mess. I bought and completed Blog Love, their previous blog ecourse (written a few years ago) and loved it so much. I knew I would love this one, too, especially with all the new content included.

It feels natural for my blogging career to have highs and lows. After all, this blog is a small reflection of my real life. Some seasons (or years) are harder than others. Some seasons (or years) are incredibly fruitful and inspiring. Even though there are ups and downs I think the main lesson I’ve learned is if it’s important I should keep at it. The same goes for real life.

My online presence has slowed a bit since the new year, but I feel so confident about that decision. I know there will come a time when my family life is less busy, so there’ll be more time to easily sneak away and work on outside projects. But for now it’s incredibly different than it used to be. So rather than work against it, I’m embracing it. And to be honest it’s given me such affirmation and ease. Everything with my personal life seems to be 200% better than before. (I know, right?!) It was hard to make this decision but I feel so brave.

The other day I gathered some stray pieces of art and created a new collage for a wall in our little reading nook/play area (see above photo). It was so fun to have the inspiration to try something new (switch out the art inside the red frame and even repurpose old nail holes). We have some wooden “items” (I think one’s a talking stick?) from our trip to Tanzania, Africa two years ago, and I mentioned to Zack we need to hang them on the wall. I love showcasing non-traditional memorabilia on our walls. It reminds me of our adventures. Zack of course loved the idea. So, stay tuned ;)

I wish you a happy, peaceful weekend! You can find me working (slowly) on this ecourse… Three cheers for inspiring reads. xo