The Fat Hydrangea

Sara Michelle - Columbus, Ohio

Master Bedroom White Wood Gallery Wall Reveal

Sara Michelle B.Comment

The first project I undertook in the new house was the gallery wall in my bedroom. I wanted this room to be my haven, and what better way to do that then to be surrounded with beautiful pictures of people and places I love! I spent virtually all summer picking out my favorite photos to go on the wall and finding the perfect frames/prints. The result is a focal wall that absolutely overflows my heart with love, joy, and hope when I look at it!

I knew I wanted something very organic and something I can add to and modify over time. I bought tons of different styles of frames in different shades of white. Most are 12x12 basic white frames from Target (I removed the mats and went with full frame look). I also got a few rustic wood frames by Face to Face Home from one of my favorite local shops- Bungalow Home. A couple of the beach prints I custom ordered online with the frames (see the links below). Everything is a little different, but it all comes together perfectly.

In terms of the pictures, most of the pics on the wall are iPhone pictures that I converted to black and white in Photoshop using the standard Photoshop presets- nothing fancy! I played a little bit with the exposure, saturation, and clarity until they looked just right but I seriously didn’t spend more than 60-seconds per picture. I also had one professional picture of me and the boys on the beach in California last spring which was taken by Cori Kleckner (she’s amazing!) I then uploaded and ordered all of the prints from Costco.com and they were delivered to my door within a week. Easy as can be! (And a tip: I ordered more photos than I knew I would need… it was nice to have options to play with once things started coming together!)

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When it came to hanging the frames on the wall, I pretty much winged it and just went with what felt good and what was pleasing to the eye, rather than precisely planning, mapping, and measuring everything out. (That being said, I did use a level!) I started by spreading out the pictures along the length of the wall and then filled in with the smaller pictures. It is still a work in progress, but even knowing there are blank spaces for future memories brings me joy when I look at it!

Overall, I just love waking up and falling asleep to these happy, beautiful, inspiring images and quotes. The best way to start and end a day is with gratitude, and this definitely helps to foster that!

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Here are links to some of the prints and products used on my wall:

I got this framed print “Breathe” by Emily Denis from Minted.

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I got the sign “That which does not Kill Us Makes us Stronger” from Face to Face Home.

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I got the framed print “Lineup” from Lauren Marttila Photography, which is the centerpiece of the whole wall.

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I got a couple of the the weathered wood “Case” frames from Face to Face Home as well.

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Hope you love it as much as I do! It’s probably been my most favorite, most meaningful home project ever <3

 

2019 Word of the Year

Sara Michelle B.Comment
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I love the trend of selecting a word that captures your intention for the year. So simple but so powerful.

That being said, the word I chose for 2019 is the word “Dream.” (I’m having flashbacks to my 16-year old self by choosing this particular word… I’m pretty sure I had a bright pink sparkly “Dream” bumper sticker on the back of my first car -yikes!)  Even if it is a little cliche,  I think it is a really perfect word for me for right now.

The last year, I feel like so many of my dreams fell apart. Both the dreams I was living, and the dreams I had for the future. I had a happy, whole family.  A loving, best-friend of a partner. I recently had become a stay-at-home mom and I LOVED it. Every second of it. We had zero debt except for a small mortgage which we were aiming to pay off in a few years. We lived in an adorable house we had worked really hard to renovate.  We were slowly hunting for just the right house to make our forever home. Most people don’t know this, but I was actually in the process of starting up my own interior decorating business as well. Life as I knew it was pretty darn good. In so many ways I was living my dream.  All of our hard work was JUST starting to pay off, when WHAM, it all fell apart. My husbands illness took over. I moved across the state with the kids. I went back to work full-time. Everything changed seemingly overnight. 

Obviously my life as I knew it took a huge hit, but all the sudden so did my dreams for the future. And that’s just as hard, if not harder to process… All of the sudden there were no more family outings or family trips with the five of us. All of the sudden there was no more being home with the kids as they got home from school or spending long summer days at the pool and the park. All of the sudden there was no more freedom to explore my passion for design and dreams of entrepreneurship. All of the sudden there were no more romantic getaways and no more dreams of holding hands as we rocked on rocking chairs at age 95. And that’s just the very tip of the iceberg.

It felt like not only did I lose my dreams, but everything I wanted was replaced with something I NEVER wanted. I can’t even go there.

It’s hard to swallow.

And since things fell apart, I’ve mostly been in survival mode. It’s been 99.9% about making things stable and just keeping things going day to day.  I’ve landed us in a good spot where we are happy, healthy, safe, and secure (and for that, I am BEYOND grateful), but the future has also felt like a weird combination of more of the same routine and a completely blank slate. While I’m thankful for all we have and where we are now, I also have always been a big dreamer and a very goal oriented person. I’m finally to the point where I feel like it’s time to lift my head a little bit, start to think more about the future, and DREAM some new dreams. What would I do right now if anything were possible? What would I really love my life to look like? My boys childhoods? What is the most wonderful, beautiful vision I can create for myself from here?

And most importantly, do I trust that God can still do amazing things with my life?  Small things AND big things?

I want to think anything is still possible and that if I can dream it, it can happen! What those dreams are? I honestly haven’t thought through it in depth at this point yet, but I will keep you posted as they start to formulate.

Also, one little last note on the subject… I found this necklace at “The Giving Keys” . It is a delicate gold necklace with a teeny tiny key on it with the word “dream.” I just find it helps to have a little token as a reminder of my intention!  Next best thing to a bright pink bumper sticker! :)

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Farewell 2018

Sara Michelle B.11 Comments
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2018… Where to begin? It was hands down the hardest year of my life. I dealt with things I never imagined I would deal with as I watched the person I love struggle and sink into the dark depths of alcoholism and addiction. My world as I knew it rapidly fell apart around me. I dealt with wave after wave of relapses and the turmoil that comes along with it. The year was marked by an immense amount of exhaustion, worry, confusion and heartache. I was tested and stretched in every way as I tried to navigate my way through what was happening and had to make some incredibly difficult decisions. “Hard” really doesn’t even begin to describe it all.. the shock, the sleepless nights, the panic attacks, the breakdowns, and the tears…. It was a traumatic year for everyone.

But the thing about these types of life-rocking challenges, is that they truly show what you are capable of, what really matters, and who really cares. If you look for the lessons and keep the faith, the challenges can actually make you blossom, grow, and preciously grateful.

While in the midst of the challenge of my life, I look back and am really, truly proud of what I was able to overcome. I trusted my gut and did what I knew was right for me and the boys, even in the face of immense opposition and fear. I cared for three little boys as a single parent for the majority of the year. I made sure they were safe, healthy, and happy- and I’m proud to say they are thriving! I packed up our entire house, found a moving and storage company, and managed every step of the sale of our house and our move 2.5 hours away. I spruced up my resume, tapped into my network, interviewed three places and received three offers, and ultimately landed a job with a firm I am loving and that allows me to provide for my family while still giving me work/life balance. I found the perfect, happiest little house for us 10-minutes away from my parents. I did tons of research, made lots of decisions, completed oodles of paperwork, and made it happen. I researched and visited numerous daycares and found a place my kids and I LOVE! We all agree that school 3-days a week has been beyond good for the boys. They’ve made so many friends and are learning so much. I also found a nanny for the other 2-days who goes above and beyond to help me care for the kids and the house. I got us settled in our new home and into a really good routine. I created a new life for us that is actually working and we are doing ok.. better than ok! I also read every single book I could on addiction and tried desperately to understand my husband’s disease. Though I had my bad days and though I had to set fierce boundaries, I never stopped showing love, forgiveness, and hope for the person who was turning our life upside down. I never thought I could do these things.. I truly didn’t believe I was capable of any of it, but with hope, support, and faith - I actually did it all.

Dealing with the hard also makes you appreciate the good so much more. I learned how to soak in the good even if the bad is still there. (You HAVE to learn how to do that in this type of situation). And there was so much good. The boys each turning a year older and watching them grow… the big things and little things. Swimming lessons, soccer games, first words, first sentences, first steps, catching frogs, dancing in the kitchen, playing in the rain, reading books, playing in the mud in the lot, watching the construction crew build our house, playing at the park and going for walks, saying our prayers together, the million smiles, hugs and kisses… so many moments I will forever cherish. I also loved having the opportunity to live with my parents again until our new house was finished. They were so supportive and truly helped me get back on my feet - physically, mentally, and emotionally. They and the boys completely bonded and the time we lived with them will always be remembered as such a special time. My parents, the boys and I also took a trip to southern California to visit my sister over my 35th birthday in May. One of the highlights of my year was walking down the street in Newport beach and looking up and seeing my BROTHER who flew in from Chicago as a surprise! I cried when I saw him and I still tear up thinking about it! Best surprise ever. It was so good to get away, spend time with the people I love, do something FUN, soak up the sun, and breathe. It was one of the best weeks of my life and lifted my spirits so much. Before we went on the trip was probably my darkest, hardest time. My nerves were shot, I was beyond sleep deprived. I was burned out, depressed, and fragile, but I left the trip with hope, an ignited sense of motivation, and a feeling that things would actually be okay. I also just deeply appreciate and love this new house. I’ll be honest, though I knew I had to move, actually committing to selling the house and committing to buy this new house terrified me. It was so scary knowing there was no going back and I second guessed myself a lot. But I trusted my gut and trusted God and it seriously turned out to be the best decision I ever made. ‘Home’ has always been so important to me, and this place felt like home from the second they started digging the lot. I feel like the floor plan was seriously designed for us and putting my touches on it has been a joy. We are so happy here and I’m so thankful for all the wise decisions we made throughout our whole lives that allowed me to land in this perfect house at this perfect time.

And I couldn’t have done this all without my amazing family and friends. I knew they were amazing before but wow, did people step up to help. To physically help with the boys, to help me move, and to pick up the pieces of my heart that were broken into a million pieces. My parents who just stepped right in and were my absolute rock. My sister and brother who countless times stopped what they were doing or stayed up with all night on the phone as I was crying, analyzing, or worrying. They always gave me perspective and hope, and talked as long as I needed to talk. Not sure they got any work done in 2018 but still ;) Even being hundreds and thousands of miles away, it always felt like they were right there with me. (They were!) I was so blessed by friends and extended family who booked flights and came to Cleveland to stay with me, no questions asked. They just showed up and took care of us and made us smile. My dear friends who constantly checked in on me, asked how I was “REALLY” doing, listened, cried along with me, and directed me back to the light. My next door neighbor who would pop over every couple of days to watch the boys so I could squeeze in a quick uninterrupted shower! The friends who loved on me full well knowing I didn’t have anything to give in return. The blessing in all of this is that it has stripped away the superficialities and deepened my friendships beyond measure. Even just the kind words and outreach from people who I haven’t talked to in years or the wonderfulness of some of my friends I met through this blog who I’ve talked to online but have never even met! It has meant SO much. Every thoughtful message and every act of kindness was like a candle being lit in the dark. Never underestimate the impact your kindness can have on someone- truly. Even the smallest, tiniest little things. I am truly blessed by how much light the people in my world brought to me the last year.

I’ve learned more lessons than I can even count, but here’s a few: There is good in every day and you have to choose to focus on the good. It’s really, truly, okay to ask for help. You are capable of far more than you think you are. Even at your worst, you can move mountains. You are loved more than you believe you are. Being vulnerable sets you free. In every challenge there are gifts. Allow the joy to break through the grief. Love is always the answer.

And FAITH… There is too much for me to even say on this topic and I’ll dive deeper into it all at some point in time, but two things for now 1) I seriously made it through this year by the grace and strength that can only come from God. Hands down. No questions asked. 2) I’ve never seen more “signs” from God than I saw in 2018. Too many things fell into place too perfectly. I truly believe God was looking out for me and laying out the path ahead of me.

I didn’t see 2018 coming. If you would have told me at the beginning of the year what I’d have gone through and where I’d be now, I wouldn’t have believed you. I wouldn’t have imagined this in a million years. (It is honestly still difficult for me to process that this is my life.) And while the year was clearly marked by immense heartache and hardship (that I’m still struggling with, by the way), I’m also very thankful for all of the good and all of the growth that came out of it. I’m a better person because of it. A better friend, a better mom, a better me. I truly look at the world differently now, and there’s a lot more beauty, appreciation, wisdom, and hope. My understanding and view of my life and purpose on this earth is just so different and deeper now. In the sense of how much I’ve learned and grown, I wouldn’t even want to unwind or reverse things. “The gifts of grief” I heard someone say recently, and it is so true. And that is what I choose to take away from the year, the gifts.

Love,

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New House Kitchen Design

Kitchen, New HouseSara Michelle B.Comment

One of the rooms I'm most excited about in our new house is our kitchen! I'm actually going with a similar vibe to our previous kitchen because I loved it so much. (In fact, I'm 99% sure I'm going to do the same Silestone Snowy Ibiza Quartz countertops!) and a subway tile backsplash (although I may do all white grout). The major difference in styling is that in our old house we went with oil rubbed bronze fixtures and hardware, and in this house we're  going with satin nickel. As I mentioned before, I'm going for a less traditional, more light/bright feel and I think the lighter fixtures complement that vibe.

In terms of the details, I picked out these beautiful Harmon Pendants from Restoration Hardware to go above the island. They just arrived... I can't stop looking at them! They will be the gem of the room! I also ordered these beautiful Riviera Counterstools  from Serena and Lily. They were the first thing I bought for the new house and I feel like set the fun blue/white vibe I'm going for! Love them. (In fact, the whole house is going to have a LOT of Serena and Lily details! The store is my current obsession!) We're also doing the Kohler Whitehaven farmhouse sink and the Moen Noell Kitchen Faucet (We had a similar Moen faucet in our old house and it was the best). We're also going with Kitchenaid appliances. So excited! It's truly better than Christmas!

The catch is that we are doing these details AFTER we get ownership of the house. The upgrades from the builder were just not 100% what I wanted, and quite frankly, they charged a freaking arm and a leg for them! So, we really only upgraded the cabinets with the builder.  We are doing the backsplash, sink, countertops, and light fixtures as upgrades once we move in. It's kind of a pain, but I want it to PERFECT and so I have no doubt it will be worth the hassle and the wait to get it exactly the way I want! Plus it feels good to pay for these things with cash rather than roll them into the mortgage and be paying interest on them. (I know, I'm a nerd). Anyway, what do you think?

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I literally fall asleep dreaming about this kitchen, lol. :) 

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