Category Archives: Haven

Boldness at Home from Around the Web

This is Day 4 in a 31 day series on Living Boldly. Check out the other posts here. Welcome!

I’ve told you that for me, bold homemaking means taking steps to bring beauty, life, and grace into my home, despite the fear of failure or other people’s opinions.

For you, taking steps toward hopes for your home in spite of fears may look totally different.

That’s part of the fun of living boldly–seeing how boldness plays out in each of our lives and being encouraged by the results.

On that note, here are some examples of bold homemaking from around the web. Whether these ladies felt bold doing what they did, I don’t know. But it looked bold to me and that was inspiring.

Sometimes you just need to see someone else pull up their carpet and paint the sub-floors to feel ok about doing something bold in your own space. Right? 🙂

Boldness at Home from Around the Web


That Time I Pulled Up the Carpet and Painted the Floors White :: Jones Design Company


What Progress Really Looks Like :: The Nesting Place

The Welcome Mat | A Simple Haven

Rolling Out the Welcome Mat in the ‘Hood :: Lori Harris for A Simple Haven

(One of my favorite guest posts here at ASH!)


10 Steps to Courageous Hospitality :: Sandy Coughlin for The Art of Simple

**Bonus link: Check out my blogger friend Em Miller’s 31 Days series on Gentleness for the Rest of Us (gentleness being her One Word for 2014). It compliments a series on boldness well :).



Boldly Loving Your Home


This is Day 3 in a 31 day series on Living Boldly. Check out the other posts here. Welcome!

I’ve decided that bold homemaking means taking steps toward hopes for your home, despite fears.

One of my primary hopes for my home is that it be a place I truly enjoy–a place where I find rest and beauty, even in the midst of imperfections.

In fact, I want to love my home. Boldly, in the face of fears. 

Fear that we might move (hey, it’s already happened 11 times).  That we won’t be here for too long (we’re at 2.5 years now and that’s a record). That loving it and investing in it will just make me more sad when moving day eventually comes.

The reality is all of these are possible, even likely. But I don’t want future possibilities to hinder enjoying the time I have here now.

I want to enjoy and share the home I have. I want to focus on the good and change or ignore the less-than-ideal.  I want to go hunting for beauty in my ‘hood with an expectant heart.

I’ve been attempting the whole blooming where you’re planted thing for a while now. And though the goodbyes never get any easier, I am more convinced with each move that boldly loving the home I have yields contentment and joy.

Homemakers manifesto cover2
Do you struggle with loving the home you have? If so, I’ve got a free resource for you–a short eBook called The Homemaker’s Manifesto. It’s a call to embrace the home you have (with all its imperfections), focus on the good, and invite people in.

Check it out here! 🙂




Living Boldly Day 2 :: Bold Homemaking

bold homemaking | A Simple Haven

This is Day 2 in a 31 day series on Living Boldly. Check out the other posts here. Welcome!

If boldness is acting in hope despite the presence of fear, what does that mean for bold homemaking?

It depends on what your hopes and fears are.

My Hopes & Fears

Here’s what I’m hoping for in my home: A cozy spot for my family and friends to find a haven from the world. A place full of life and beauty and grace.

And my homemaking fears?

Over the years, they’ve popped up in thoughts like:

“This paint could look terrible on that wall.” (Fear = making a mistake)

“People will be here in ten minutes and this recipe may be a total bomb.” (Fear = people won’t think I’m a good cook, won’t enjoy dinner, etc.)

“Oops. I’m hosting dinner and my bathroom/floor/living room isn’t company-ready.” (Fear = people will think my house is a disaster, I’m not good at cleaning, etc.)

“I can’t post pictures of my house on the internet. It’s not nearly as cute as all the other houses I look at online.” (Fear = people will think my house is lame and wonder who I think I am to post pictures of it)

Notice a pattern here? “People will think…” Yeah. I’m a recovering people-pleaser, approval-seeker.

Also? I’m afraid of making mistakes. (Ahem, also a recovering perfectionist).

So many of my fears are me-centered: What will people think about me, my cooking, my decorating, etc.?

But notice what I’m hoping for in my home: a haven from the world for family and friends, a place full of beauty, life, and grace.

It’s not about me. Sure, I want to enjoy my home, but my worth doesn’t rest in my homemaking abilities.

It’s not about perfection. My hopes for my home are achievable without perfect decorating, food, or cleanliness.

Bold Homemaking, For Me

So for me, bold homemaking means taking steps to bring beauty, life, and grace into my home, despite the fear of failure or people’s opinions.

It looks like painting that wall a risky color, hosting Thanksgiving dinner in a tiny apartment, leaving some kid clutter on the floor when company comes, and trying a new recipe when hosting girls’ night.

All of the above have made me a little uncomfortable. But also? They’ve all turned out just fine. (Or I’ve repainted :)). Which gives me courage to try the next bold thing.

What are your homemaking hopes and fears? Come on, be honest :).






31 Days of Living Boldly :: Day 1

31 Days of Living Boldly | A Simple Haven

Welcome to 31 Days of Living Boldly!

Scroll on down to read Day 1. I’ll be adding the links to the other days as they’re up!

{Living Boldly at Home}

Day 2 :: Bold Homemaking

Day 3 :: Boldly Loving Your Home

Day 4 :: Living Boldly at Home Around the Web

Day 5 :: This Might Not Work

Day 6 :: Boldly Purging 

Day 7 :: Boldly Making Progress

Day 8 :: Boldly Saying Yes to Hospitality

Day 9 :: Boldness and Food for Company

Day 10 & 11 :: Boldly Getting to Know Your Neighbors

{Boldness in Relationships}

Day 12 :: Boldness in Relationships + Weekend Links

Day 13 :: What I’m Hoping for in Relationships

Day 14 :: Boldly Making Friends When You Might Be Moving

Day 15 :: Boldly Believing the Best in Friendships

Day 16 & 17 :: Taking Initiative, Despite Fears

{Boldness in Daily Life}

Day 18 & 19 :: On Being Safe

Day 20 :: Bold in the Face of Insecurity

Day 21 :: Encouragement Toward Living Boldly

Day 22 :: Boldly Talking About Babies

Day 23 :: Boldly Asking

{Boldness in Parenting}

Days 24-27 :: Boldness in Parenting: Keeping My Eyes on Hopes, Not Fears

Day 28 & 29 :: Parenting Choices That Have Felt Bold

Day 30 & 31 :: What Bold Parenting Has Done For Me

Day 1 :: Boldness Defined

Boldness. It probably brings a myriad of images to mind. Here’s how I’m defining it:

31 Days of Living Boldly | A Simple Haven

In lieu of big goals and resolutions for 2014, I chose one word to be the theme of my year: Bold.

I wasn’t sure what a commitment to boldness was going to look like, but it felt right. It felt like an exciting experiment, actually.

An Experiment

What if…

I chose to act in hope instead of in fear? In small, everyday situations as much as in big momentous ones?

I chose to believe that–given that I’m acting with some shred of wisdom as well as boldness–the worst that can happen really isn’t that bad? That my anxieties are often more unfounded than not?

What would happen? Would I be pleasantly surprised by the results of bolder actions? Or would I fall on my face?

A Disclaimer

Because we all have different hopes and fears, acting boldly will look differently for each of us. My version of bold isn’t going to be the same as yours.

In fact, you may laugh at some examples of how I’ve attempted to live boldly this year–either because you’d never fear what I fear or because you think I’m crazy for doing what I did.

(It’s ok. Laugh on).

But it’s not the specifics that matter most. It’s the general principle: acting in HOPE, despite the presence of FEAR.

I’m planning to be pretty darn honest with you about my life this month. And that feels bold to me.

However, I’m trusting that the hope that has carried me through this past year will carry me through the month of October.

For me, that hope is based in the trust there’s a good God who loves me and will somehow bring good even from the mess, the hard parts, the junk.

A Spoiler

Spoiler alert: my year of living boldly ends well.

At least so far.  But I’ve only got three months left, right?

Turns out boldness is good for my soul. It opens doors to amazing experiences, builds faith, is healthy for relationships, and helps me shake off perfectionism.

This month, we’ll chat about boldness at home, in relationships, in parenting, and in life in general.

It’s my hope that by the end of October, hope will seem bigger and fear smaller.

Any thoughts on boldness? And will you be doing a 31 days series? Please share if so! 🙂





Keeping it Real in a Pinterest World :: Accepting “Imperfect” Help

Keeping it Real in a Pinterest World | A Simple Haven

Welcome to “Keeping it Real in a Pinterest World,” where Breanne from This Vintage Moment and I explore what it means to live purposefully in a world that bombards us with a million good things.

We’re just two moms on a journey toward being ok with not doing it all and fully embracing the season of life that we’re in–with all of its joys and limitations.

We’ll share about our crafting fails, what we’re currently saying “yes” and “no” to, and the beautiful reality of daily life. Won’t you grab a favorite drink and join us?

Here at ASH, I’ve made it no secret that I’m a recovering perfectionist. I probably mention it once a week.

I like to emphasize the recovering bit because it reminds me that:

a.) perfectionism is something that needs recovering from (because the pursuit of perfection is a recipe for frustration and stress–and if I’m honest? It makes things all about me) and

b.) the “-ing” means it’s an ongoing recovery–I’m still in process, I haven’t arrived, and that’s ok.

I’ll probably always tend toward wanting everything “just so.” But at least I’m in the place where I can (sometimes) catch myself mid-neurotic-pillow-arranging/fancy-dessert-making/fussing- -over-my-kids’-mess and say “Woah, Jenn. What’s the goal here, anyway?”

And if the answer is impressing others or meeting some wacky standard that actually doesn’t line up with my goals/values at all, I can dial things down a bit.

But in this process of recovery, you know what’s been hard accept?

Other people’s help…when it ruffles things that I tend to want “just so.”

Like where I put my kitchen tools, how and when my babies sleep, what my kids eat, etc.

What helped me learn to more readily accept help–especially help that didn’t look exactly as I’d choose? A season of great need.

My son was God’s tool to make me more flexible: an unexpected pregnancy (And a boy?! But I had all the girl stuff already!) that came while preparing for a cross-country move and ended with spending Christmas in the hospital with my newborn–in a town I’d lived in for about three weeks.

With a husband who’d just had double foot surgery and was about to start grad school and a new job. (For fun: picture Hubs in double foot-booties + me at 36 weeks pregnant asking our 20-month-old to bring us more pillows on the couch).

The bottom line? I was in no place to pursue perfectionism. Pursuing survival was more like it.

And it was my need for help that made me realize that “imperfect” help was better than no help.

And really? It wasn’t imperfect anyway. It was just fine. More than fine–it was a gift, something to receive with gratitude, not a critical heart.

I’d rather have to hunt for my can-opener later than not have someone help me with my dishes.

I’d rather have someone feed my kids junky stuff for a day than not have the help with them.

I’d rather someone pack my picture frames in the same box as my clothes and books than not have helping packing.

I realized that if something was a big enough issue to me, I could just respectfully say, “I’d actually prefer if you could do it like this.”

Otherwise, I could just shut my mouth and gratefully accept the help.

(I also realized there weren’t as many “big enough issues” as I’d thought).

Learning to accept help in various forms has been a journey for me. But being able to say “yes” more readily–even if it looks different than what I might prefer–is so freeing for this recovering perfectionist.

Do you struggle with saying “yes” to help?







What’s Making My Busy Season Easier

What's Making My Busy Season Easier | A Simple Haven

I’ve shared before (here and here) that this is an unusually full season of life for my little family. Daddy’s working longer hours, is in the middle of his toughest semester of grad school, we’ve started a little more structured pre-K stuff with Bun at home, and baby #3 is due to come in December.

Over the years, I’ve become loads better at exercising my “no,” so thankfully I’m not struggling with over-commitment.

But juggling all of my priorities in the midst of less energy and more solo parenting is still a challenge.

So lately, I’ve been thankful for some perspective changes, extra help, and little tips & tricks that have made the road smoother.

What’s Making My Life Easier Lately

A Monthly Housecleaning Service

Duh, right? I’m sure this would make anyone’s life easier.

I had to get over the whole “I’ve failed as a homemaker if I’m hiring help for cleaning” thing (false) and find someone with reasonable rates so we could make it work in the budget.

Now that I have? It’s amazing. Deep cleaning is taken care of monthly, so I just have to maintain things until the next month’s service. I don’t know if we’ll do it forever, but it sure is a treat while I’m pregnant.

This App

31 ways to pray for your kids

Created by my friend Bob Hostetler (writer and owner of the best book collection ever), 31 Ways to Pray for Your Kids reminds me to be intentional to pray things for my kids besides “God, please let him not have just peed there” or “Jesus, make him want to wear pants.”

Ok, I’ll stop. But honestly. 2 1/2 year old boys.

Each day’s prayer is based on a Bible verse and it’s easy to set up notifications to remind you to pray at a certain time every day. I’m usually really slow to buy apps, but this one is my new fav.

Bonus: great photos, too. $1.99 and available on iTunes here.

Knowing that I Don’t Have to Justify Myself…

About schooling choices, parenting practices, homemaking preferences, etc. I can do what’s best for our little family in this season of life and not worry about whether or not I have others’ approval–even if we’re swimming upstream against some norms.

Kind of a new revelation for me and so freeing.

A Personal Retreat

I’m a huge proponent for the personal retreat, whether it’s an overnight in a B&B by yourself, a stay at a friend’s house, a solo trip somewhere fun, or just a half day spent in coffee shops and local parks. Recently, I opened up our guest room to my first official visitor to my little B&B for weary mom friends and so enjoyed taking care of her.

Then I booked my own stay in a local B&B in November. It felt a little crazy to drop the money on it, but I hoping it’ll be worth it for a nice slice of quiet and rest before baby #3 comes.

Being Ok With Less-Than-Ideal

It’s been a long road for this recovering perfectionist, but I feel like lately I’ve made new strides in being content with “good” instead of making “perfect” my goal.

Ex: My ideal is that my kids watch little to no TV during the week. The reality? Many days, it’s super helpful to have Little Bear mind the children while Daddy’s studying and I’m cooking dinner.

And I’ve decided that for us, that’s ok for now.

Strategically Including the Kids…

See? They're totally helpful about unwrapping presents.

See? They’re totally helpful about unwrapping Mommy’s birthday presents.

In household tasks they can legitimately help with–so I can save the tasks I truly need to do alone (certain phone calls, writing, anything that uses a good chunk of my brain) for when they’re asleep/resting.

My little big girl is napping less these days, so I’ve started including her in household projects like sewing, painting, crib assembly, and moving large pieces of furniture figuring out furniture situations in baby’s room. (Are you reading Hubs? I promise I’m not moving large pieces of furniture…without help).

It’s not as productive as doing it alone, but she loves helping Mommy with “projects” and can now identify various types of screwdrivers and pliers. Win.

What is helpful for you in the midst of a full season of life?






Weekend Inspiration


Hi friends!

As birthday princess week draws to a close (yes, I just said that, and yes, I’m dead serious), I find myself thankful for my sweet mom’s visit, Bun’s numerous birthday “telegrams” (perhaps the only person in America still sending telegrams?), the bouquet of flowers from Hubs, and Defense Driving .com’s annual birthday greetings.

Totally kidding on the last one. Who wants to be reminded of the time and money they spent on DD, let alone the reason why they were doing DD in the first place?

But I digress.

Hosting company, birthday festivities, and life as a pregnant mom of littles has left the blog a little quiet lately, so I wanted to say hello and share some good finds from around the web.

PS, on the pregnancy note, woah do I feel pregnant. I’ve never been one of those women who’s all, “just get this kid out!” come third trimester, but I very well could be this time. Magical pregnancy cream/tea/discomfort-management suggestions are very welcome. 

Also taking baby boy name suggestions (we’re just that desperate).

Weekend Links to Inspire and Delight

What Progress Really Looks Like :: The Nesting Place

Oh, Myquillan, how I love you and your imperfection-celebrating ways. Plus, isn’t it just the truth that house stuff always looks worse before it looks better?

So What if This Doesn’t Work? :: Modern Mrs. Darcy

I love this post because it reflects a little of my One Word 2014: Bold. So what if something doesn’t work (or work perfectly)? It’s worth a try and the results might surprise you.

My Facebook Investigations :: Thoroughly Alive

Sarah Clarkson puts words to my web of thoughts about FB lately. I love what it makes possible, I hate what it can foster in my heart and mind. Right now, I find it doing more good than harm as long as I can maintain some boundaries. But I so appreciate Sarah’s thoughts on the matter.

Oh, Hi September [A Free September Calendar for your computer/device!] :: Oana Befort

Oana’s calendars have become a little gift to begin each month with. Her work is just lovely and she seems so too.

Bonus: This Pillow. Raise your hand if, like me, you are snort-laughing at it or are tempted to buy it for a friend. And I say friend and not myself because I doubt Hubs would be as amused as I. I’m also tempted by the Tom Selleck mug.





Flower and Whale Crib Sheets :: Two Stories and a Tutorial


I originally published this post in January of 2013, but found myself referencing it to make baby #3’s crib sheets. Baby #3 is another boy and will be getting sheets made from this fabric. Fun, huh? I’m pretty much loving all of Teagan White’s art right now.

I’m very visually-oriented. From my day planner to the Kitchen Aid mixer, to where I hang the picture frames–if it’s not just the right design, shade, or placement, I’ll fixate on it until it feels right.

It’s a bit compulsive, really. Or HSP. Or whatever.

Is the result of this neurosis a perfect-looking house? (Snort-laugh) No.

But as far as I have the time/energy/money, I’d rather not just tolerate, but truly enjoy the things I look at daily.

Inspirational Decor

And yet with some items in my home, it’s not just about them being pretty–I’d also like them to be meaningful.  To not just please the eye but also remind me of a truth, a fond memory, or a vision of what might yet come.

Bear with me if you think I’m getting too lofty for a post on baby sheets.

Case in point: the bedding for my kids’ rooms. I’m going to look at it every day. And every night. I’m going to launder it, sometimes multiple times a day depending on who’s potty training and who’s sick and who’s got reflux.

So, I might as well really like these darn sheets. And if they’re somehow encouraging? Even better.

Flower Sheets

For Bun, I was drawn to ones called “garden party;” they were kind of vintage-y and pretty without being too pink.


And  then as I registered for those flower sheets, I got a vision for my sweet unborn daughter. She would be like a garden. Her father and I would plant seeds of truth and words of life in her soul. We’d tend her little life and pray that all of this would cause her to flourish.

I wasn’t planning to get all spiritual over my crib sheets, but there it was. Every time I saw them, I was reminded to pray for our little Bun and for us to be the kind of parents she needed.

Whale Sheets

Then along came baby brother, whom I was sure (ok, hoped) would be another girl–only because I was grappling for some kind of consistency in my life at a time when our future was very uncertain.

But, at 20 weeks pregnant, you know what helped me get over the initial freak-out of having a little guy?

The fabric I found for his bedding.


Yes, it was just the right combo of yellow, grey, pale blue and cream, in quaint patterns of Dutch-looking windmills and whales that made me ok with–even excited about–having a boy.

Call me shallow. But there it is.

Sorry, Buckaroo. We love you dearly. And you are the perfect baby for our family.

Sorry, Buckaroo. We love you dearly. And you are the perfect baby for our family.

Not only were the colors just right, but the whales were a nice touch. I’ve always been fascinated by blue whales. Their massive size (their hearts are the size of cars, people) simply makes me stand in awe of the God who made them.

(Now I’m really tempted to go on about whales for a while, but I’ll resist and leave you with this instead. You’re welcome).

So, my daughter’s bedding prompted a vision for parenting and my son’s reminds me of the glory of creation. Pretty impressive sheets, right?


Now, let’s pick a pretty (and inspirational?) fabric and make some.

Crib Sheet Tutorial

{for a standard size crib mattress, typically about 51 5/8″ x 27 1/4″–for other size sizes, simply measure the length and width and add 16″ to both}


*2 yards of fabric
*80 inches of 1/4 inch elastic
*ruler/measuring tape

1.) Wash fabric, cut out a rectangle that’s 45″ x 68″. (If your fabric is only 44″ that’s ok).


2.) At each corner, measure 8″ squares and cut them out.


whale sheets21

3.) Next, take the two sides of one corner of the sheet and bring right sides together. Pin and sew, using about a 1/4″ seam allowance.

You’re basically making pockets that will go around the corners of the crib mattress. Do this on all four corners of the sheet.

whale sheets

4.) After sewing, serge or zig-zag stitch the seams.

5.) Then, serge (or use a sturdy zig-zag stitch) around the entire edge of the sheet. You can also iron + hem your fabric 1/4″ all the way around to keep the edges from fraying.

(I don’t have a serger and didn’t even have a great zig zag stitch at the time. But, my fabric was too narrow to hem 1/4″ around so I just made do with a simple zig zag on the rough edges. All sides have held up just fine over the course of a year).

See? Really lame zig zag. I think something was wrong with my machine. But it’s held up fine.

See? Really lame zig zag. I think something was wrong with my machine. But it’s held up fine.

6.) Iron about 1/2″ around all edges of the sheet. You’re making the casing for the elastic.

whale sheets331

7.) Sew the casing. I didn’t pin around the whole thing because it takes too long and ironing seemed to keep the fabric in place just fine.

**Remember to leave a couple inches of space to get the elastic in and out. Marking that space with two pins is helpful. Start sewing at one pin and stop at the other**

Sheet Tutorial

8.) Grab the elastic and attach a safety pin to one end. Insert into one opening in the casing and thread it around the entire sheet until it comes out of the other opening.


9.) Take the two ends of the elastic and pin. Sew a zig zag stitch over the length of the overlap.

Sheet Tutorial1

10.) Sew the opening in the casing closed.


11.) Admire your new sheet! And then go wrestle your kid’s mattress/crib bumpers until it’s securely on.

whale sheets221