Coffee Break #48
It’s Coffee Break Friday! In this month’s behind-the-blog break, I’m chatting about Taylor Swift (I mean, who isn’t these days?), a funny thing that happens each time we move, and how I got started decorating our rentals. This one’s a good one, friends. So grab a cup and let’s catch up!
Officially In My Swiftie Era
It’s taken me a while to admit this to myself…but, friends…I think I’m officially a Swiftie.
For the past decade+, I’ve definitely been a fan of Taylor Swift’s music. But in a very casual way. I knew all the hits on the radio; and when I’d be painting a room or working on a project, I’d pull up a random album and sing along to the few hits I knew. I followed her on social media and (very) loosely followed her relationships. I would say I was a “fan,” but no where close to the “Swiftie” moniker.
And then this summer happened. Right?!? Anyone else shift from “fan” to legit “Swiftie” in the last 4 months?
I, like so many, watched the TicketMaster debacle on the news, which then had me paying more attention to the tour this summer. The fan fervor, the sparkly leotards, the TikTok concert clips, the celebrity appearances, the album re-releases. I knew she was big…but I had no idea how big; and all the excitement…quite literally…had me captivated.
Before I even realized it, I was educating myself on the re-recording project (had no idea), figuring out which albums I didn’t know existed (she now has 10 albums?!), learning what colors go with what albums (ya’ll know I love color coding!) and what “Easter eggs” even are (not the kind the bunny brings). And I’m not gonna lie, this video pretty much sums me up of late…like…to a “T.”
I officially was forced to acknowledged my Swiftie identity when I all-too-eagerly raised my hand at the bus stop for joining in on the opening weekend showing of the Eras Tour movie. And while I didn’t have a cute outfit or bracelets to trade, I did (quietly) sing along to almost every single song, many of which I literally learned this summer. Because…despite of or maybe in thanks to the sparkles and the hype and the whole cultural phenomena…her songs really do hit different. And I’m a fan….nope, not a fan…a Swiftie 😉
House Muscle Memory
There’s a funny phenomena I experience as part of changing houses so frequently: house muscle memory. I’m sure that it’s not all that uncommon, but I’m always amazed at what my body will revert to, completely out of the blue, regardless of how much time has passed.
What am I talking about?
Our bodies learn…and remember…how to navigate our homes. How to walk around specific furniture, where light or lamp switches are, how high steps or toilets or shelves are, which way doors open and which drawer has the scissors. It’s most pervasive in the kitchen: where the microwave is placed, where the silverware drawer is located, which side of the sink the garage disposal switch is on.
Our bodies learn these locations and navigating our homes becomes practically mindless, without us even being aware of it.
Until you move.
And those muscle memory patterns remain, regardless of how well (or not) the new house/kitchen matches the old one.
In our previous home, our microwave was above our stove. In this home, it’s under our coffee station. Just the other day…18 months after moving into this house…I walked over to the stove area and reached for the microwave handle, ultimately swiping at thin air. It happens much more frequently with the silverware drawer than anything else. I am constantly opening the wrong drawers!
Every time, all I can do is roll my eyes and chuckle, because I can’t even remember which house had what layout anymore!
It All Started with a Sewing Machine
A reader recently asked:
Q: How did you get started? Were you a designer or simply bitten by the creative bug?
A: Most definitely the latter!
I am not a trained designer…at all. But I was raised by a very artistic and talented Mother in a household that was (quite literally) busting at the seams with fabric and yarn and paper and (so much) more. Projects and homemade creations were always around me for as long as I can remember.
I do have memories of decorating various rooms throughout my life. Even at a fairly young age, I begged my Mom to paint my ivory walls bright white (ha, some things never change), and I remember her and I doing it together. I hung some makeshift curtains with orange pom-pom trim on a tension rod in one of my dorm rooms and painted some second-hand furniture bright blue for my first college apartment.
Once upon a time, I almost went to school for Interior Design, but ended up with an undergraduate degree in English (which I clearly still use every day!) and a masters degree in Exercise Physiology (of which I…ahem…don’t use at all).
The creative bug really bit, though, when Greg and I moved overseas to Okinawa, Japan just one week after getting married. Suddenly, I was in a foreign land in a (very) bland apartment, without any friends or family. Lonely, overwhelmed, and a bit sad, I clearly remember one day on the phone, my Mom…who herself was a Marine wife of 34 years…said “If I send you a sewing machine, will you use it?”
When it arrived, I used a Better Homes & Gardens magazine to teach myself to sew (remember, this was pre-You Tube and pre-Pinterest!) I started with throw pillows and placemats, then (rather quickly) progressed to homemade curtains, pillow shams, basket liners, chair cushions, and even slipcovered my government-issued furniture…all using whatever I could find and figuring it out as I went!
I bought what I assumed was wall paint in the Japanese hardware store (couldn’t read the labels), shopped second-hand furniture in local thrift stores (bargaining with my fragmented Japanese), and hunted down every poorly-signed fabric store on that tiny island.
For a solid three years, I painted, upholstered, decoupage, framed, lined, organized, and accessorized every inch of that apartment.
Even though my tastes have (dramatically) changed and my skills have matured, I still look back on that first apartment with so much joy (yes, despite the Gumby-green walls).
Because turning that sterile, empty apartment into a space I loved not only helped me feel comfortable, settled, and at home while living in a place that was anything but, but it also taught me the (slightly addictive) power of using my own two hands to transform my surroundings. The confidence, pride, and sense of accomplishment I gained at that time was like nothing I’d ever experienced before…and I was hooked.
We moved three times (and I decorated each new place) all before I discovered home decor blogs and Pinterest. And when I did (finally) discover this amazing online world, our first baby was brand new, we had just moved into our fourth home, and I was (yet again) feeling pretty lonely, overwhelmed, and sad.
I immediately…and I mean immediately…knew there was a place for me in the online home space. At a time when most were tearing down walls and installing real tile backsplashes, the concept of decorating a home in an un-doable way was an entirely different angle that I felt uniquely qualified to tackle. After all, it was something I had already been doing for years.
I’ll never forget telling Greg about my blog concept (which I had already established on good ol’ Blogspot when I eventually told him). Having just finished graduate school, he couldn’t understand why I wasn’t starting a health/fitness/lifestyle blog. And I remember saying, “Because that’s my job. This is just for fun!”
And for a long time, the blog was just for fun. Decorating rooms and painting furniture and then sharing it all online got me through my first few years as a new Mom, a long hard deployment, and two more moves. When I made money for the very first time, it then became a way to simply cover the cost of my projects (best gig ever!)
Eventually…through a ton of hard work and perseverance…it turned into the biggest blessing I never saw coming: a way to build a career, an income, and my own identity as a military spouse who is forced to relocate every 1-3 years. This blog has truly allowed me to remain fully and wholly supportive of Greg’s military career and the lifestyle challenges that come with it. Because I’m content, he’s content; and as a result, we’re both able to keep on serving.
To think…a simple sewing machine…given to me by my own military spouse Mother…is what started it all.
You guys always ask the greatest questions, and I love answering them! If you have any topics or questions you’d love to see me cover, submit them via the (anonymous) form below.
Thanks for catching up with me this month!