A Few More of My Favorite Things

A few years ago before any remodeling when we were living contentedly "as is" in our home I had the BEST time decorating for Christmas. I think my all time favorite Christmas post is from 2013...

I've used this screen door all over the house...but this was my favorite.

And you can't talk about favorites without my favorite Christmas stories!!
This year continues to be dominated by DIY projects, but I do have a few things I'm L-O-V-ing...

This vintage Santa boot is always one of my favorites and this year I nestled it among evergreens and birch trimmings to give a punch of color.

This a sort of mantle on the landing of our stairway. 
The birch log and ladder both go up to nearly the ceiling. 

The mix of textures was a risk but I think it's a fun touch.

Last year we put in our fireplace for Renovation Realities and I love it all decked out!

And after Hailey opening that college letter -- this is our favorite addition to the tree this year!

Because my decor time has been limited this year and I'm trying to keep it simple -- I've used simple baskets of ornaments to add holiday punch. 

I set up this sweet little table for snacking or writing a note to loved ones. 
Trying to keep a place of simplicity.

It's so easy to lose the 'merry' among the merriment. This little desk reminds me to breathe and savor the moment. Look up and find a way to encourage others because it will make MY day too!

And of course one of the best parts of Christmas is gathering together just like these ornaments gathered in a metal tub. This is on our coffee table because the kids can easily move it right off to gather around and play some cards. A serious sport here at R7.

What are a few of your favorite things? Follow me on your favorite social media and show me!

From R7 to you --
Be a blessing.

Linking to:

Porch trimming with Fresh Greens

So one of my favorite parts of cutting our own tree is the piles of fresh greens you can pick up. 
I always have my helpers load the truck for filling my empty planters cozying up the porch a bit.

Someday I hope to have cowboy build me a great big porch but for now we L-O-ve what we have and make it BEAUTIFUL!!

It was so much fun to have a designer-in-training. She was TOTALLY into it!

The teacher in me, of course, L-O-v-ed teaching her a bit about the design...

                          1) use different textures of greens to create interest
2) establish your centerpieces first
                                        3) create a visual flow by working out from the centerpiece
                             4) use small branches to sort of "spill" out of the pot

Of course her favorite part was adding a little pop of color and wow factor...

Eventually nature will add it's own WOW factor...

Remember it doesn't have to be big and new to boast style and hospitality.
 This is just how humble our front porch is....

I like to put something different mixed in with the greens each year and I found this flashback when scrolling through the archives...

Of course, I always bring some greens inside like this simply elegant centerpiece...

I haven't decided on this year's project but I have plenty of greens left for it!

And this was the BIG SPLURGE!! A wreath for the end of the barn!!

From R7 to you --
Be a blessing.

Linking to:

Tree cutting 2015

Here's a throwback that makes my tough cowgirl heart just melt into a puddle!

This was our first Christmas. Cowboy and I were dating.
If you look closely Austin's tiny little hand is barely out of a cast from surgery.

Time flies and just a couple years later this guy was cutting and hauling the Christmas tree. 
This one has the makings for a Hallmark card.

Last year his big brother from Texas discovered how determination is needed to be out in the cold cutting your own Christmas tree.

And as Austin worked this year to make the cut...

He had a "supervisor"enduring the cold and discovering the magic of cutting your own tree!

I love the teamwork involved -- first in picking it out...

And then in bringing that baby to the ground!

Note the supervisor was a bit distant from the action. She did love making pots from all of the extra branches -- tune in soon for more of that.

They were just a little excited --

This year we cut our tree in Wisconsin!! It's just perfect -- they certainly know how to grow them. Might have to make that a tradition too!

The tradition of trying to find the "perfect" tree is one that I love! But even magical moments like that are not completely free of the fact that you put 5 personalities and different backgrounds all together trying to make a decision and it's a struggle to make each person feel validated and included.

So -- I finish off this post with a little nugget of wisdom from the Word for blended families.
If this will encourage someone you know -- will you please share?

From R7 to you --
Be a blessing.

Linking to:

Unglued Study -- Week 2

The struggle is real.

This is a sort of catch phrase that shoots darts at the idea of "all is well" social media like images.
Solomon told us that "...there is no new thing under the sun." (Ecc. 1:9) And even though I find myself using this catchy little phrase, this week's Bible verse for the #UngluedBook study reminds me that even this little catch phrase is nothing new.

"What causes fights and quarrels among you? 
Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?"  
"You want something but don't get it. 
You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. 
You quarrel and fight. 
You do not have because you do not ask God."
James 4:1-2

God made us. He knows the struggle is real.
So what do you say we back up in the book of James and take a look at what He had to tell us earlier in chapter 3? I get it. In that place of struggle -- I have to surrender to God. But, what if I didn't have to struggle inside so much?

You see...the place I'm in right now in life...most of the time my struggle comes from something mentioned earlier in verse 14 -- bitterness, envy, selfishness, denying the truth...

"Such 'wisdom' does not come down from heaven 
but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 
For where you have envy and selfish ambition, 
there you find disorder and every evil practice."
(James 3:15-16)

Stay with me....there's hope:

"BUT the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; 
then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, 
full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 
Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness." 
(James 3:17-18)

So you see the struggle is real. But the hope of more is also real. Back down to James 4, verse 6

"God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble"

That's right. If I'm just humble enough to admit my weakness and need for help with the struggle. He steps right in. He wants to be that rescuer and the One to free me from the struggle.
All I have to do is be willing to admit that I struggle and ask Him for the help.
Hmmm. The struggle is real. So is Help in the struggle.

From R7 to you --
Be a blessing.

Unglued Study - Week 1

Kick your boots off and come on in!

This time of year in the midwest is so beautiful and cozy. The trees are vibrant with changing colors. The quiet crunch of leaves under your feet brings a new energy. The fields are busy with the hurried labor of harvest. It has its own kind of magic. Let’s not forget to mention the fabulous potential for fashion in the fall. Boots and sweaters and layers

As I reflected on the concept of Unglued, I can’t help but wonder if “Mother Nature” shares our sentiments for fall.  I mean her crops are being cut down, the ground is being turned over, the leaves are falling and branches drooping. Everything is getting kind of barren and ugly. To me it sort of reminds me of the times when we feel empty and change is making us uncomfortable, and sometimes we feel downright ugly.

“God gave me emotions so I could experience life, not destroy it” (Unglued). That’s both the positive and negative emotions. That’s the spring and it’s renewal and the fall and it’s change and loss. Why did God want us to have those emotions? So we can experience His life and love. He made us to be His companions. He could have made us perfect, but instead he gave us the ability to become “unglued” because He wants to be the glue that holds us together. He sent his Son Jesus to die so that his mercy and grace would hold us together.

I’ve been through times when I’ve learned to control my emotions. And CONTROL was just what I was after. Not freedom. When we are free we still feel. We feel pain, we feel frustration, we feel anger. We are not meant to become empty, stoic vessels. When we don’t feel those things, we are in a scary place. One that we’ve created to gain control rather than giving control to the One who made us.

It’s that ever difficult balance -- I must be actively involved in maintaining emotional balance, but I must not try to be the one in total control of emotions. I must look for patterns where I can use self-control that follow God’s design.

Romans 12 is so full of powerful messages for living. Verse 2 says,

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is -- his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

There’s a lot of talk about mindset these days. Fixed mindset and growth mindset. God wired our brains to be trainable if you will. I can focus on all of the negative emotions and let them control me or “I can ask God for a better perspective to help me see good even when I don’t feel good” (Unglued).

I don’t have to be overtaken because I know that God is in control. We find comfort in the “unglued” state of nature in the fall because we know that it is necessary. It is part of the renewal process that allows spring to come again and for the ground to be fertile and ready to bare fresh life in the spring. Do we trust God with that same renewal process in our lives? When things start to fall off or feel empty, do we trust God that He is in control and that if we wait on Him to do his work that He will use the “falling apart” to bring new life in our lives and those of others?

Isn’t this really what we are talking about in Romans 8:28? Waiting for Him to do His work...

"And we know that all things work together for good to those
who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose"

From R7 to you --
Be a blessing.

Fresh look at fall

I've really enjoyed the lighter blues and greens being mixed into fall decor. Although I can't resist the warm autumn colors for outdoors and in a few cozy places around the house, in areas of high traffic like the R7 dining room -- the simplicity of the neutral tones is so appealing!

In the spirit of the "cozy minimalist" I've been really trying to slim down my seasonal decor. This 'season' of life just demands attention to other things. I am embracing that.

So I let go of some of my absolute fall favorites at the barn sale and farmhouse market sale....

There will be other times that I want that bigger seasonal punch, but for now...I'm absolutely loving  keeping it so simple with this collection. 

Although simple, it's so rich with varying textures of glass, metal, wood, and burlap.

How about you? Are you simplifying your seasonal decor or adding in touches of less traditional fall decor colors in some way?

From R7 to you --
Be a blessing.

Linking to:

Feeling like Fall

In the spring I so envy my southern blog friends. There spring starts so early and their growing seasons lasts so long. But, this time of year is THE BEST for living in the Midwest...

It also gave me a good chance to use the abundance of pumpkins we've had scattered about.

We have had SUCH great weather! 

The dry weather is sure helping the farmers get the crops in!

I love decorating outdoors for the fall season.

The entrance to R7 says come on in.

These huge trellises were fun to work with this year.

I even drove the T-posts down myself...

No wonder cowboys have such big muscles.

I was pretty excited when this wagon didn't sell at The Farmhouse Market.

It's such a fun piece...

My purple fountain grass is the star of the front porch.

Pumpkins peek out against the fall foliage of sun-loving impatiens.

How do you welcome friends and family home for the harvest?

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