Hunting the Hummingbird - by David C Hoffman

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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Design on a dime

Living in rented, temporary housing is interesting.
On the one hand, I want to make this space our family's home...a comfortable, fun, peaceful, sacred space for the four of us to spend our days in. 

On the other hand, we're only here for 21 months. I don't want to spend a lot of money - or time - decorating this place, knowing that when we leave, anything we've acquired we will either have to get rid of or pay A TON to ship back to Portland.

Both those options sound kinda like an unnecessary hassle. We want to be able to maintain a lifestyle that allows us a semi-easy getaway when our time here is, we do not want to have an entire apartment full of things we need to either donate or sell next summer. 
That's the reason we've spent the last nine months without a toaster =). The college didn't provide one, and we don't want to spend 8KD ($26.56, the cheapest I've found here) on an appliance we're just going to get rid of in the near future and we have a perfectly good toaster waiting for us in our storage unit back in Portland. 
Also, we're here to save money, so we do not want to spend a lot decorating OR shipping things back home. 

Knowing we'd want some familiar things up in our home here, we packed a few small framed pictures in our boxes we shipped when we moved, but that was basically it as far as things to hang on the walls. 

Both David and I are not big fans of blank, white walls.

So when I was at City Centre over the Winter, I snagged these two sheets of crepe wrapping paper for 50 fills (less than $1.00) to hang in the living room.
It felt good to at least have something hung on the walls.

The gift wrapping section of a grocery store...where our family purchases wall art. 
Because we're classy like that.

Then, finally, earlier this year, we set to work hanging things...

Reem brought us this lovely prayer mat back from her recent trip to Mecca
Isn't it beautiful?

It's really detailed, these pictures do not do it justice.

It was so thoughtful of her, and I was touched she thought to bring us a souvenir from her pilgrimage. 
Since she knows we are not Muslim and would not be using it for prayer, she thought we might like to hang it up as a wall decoration. I loved that idea! I asked her if there was any particular way we should hang it - I didn't want to accidentally put it up in some disrespectful or offensive way unknowingly - and she said however we wanted was just fine =).  
We hung it in our master bedroom, and I love the color it adds in there!

I had also been looking for a way to add some color to the eternal hallway.
I didn't want to spend a lot of money, but wanted bright and cheery, and fun to look at.

I finally decided to have several pictures printed of our first six months here in Kuwait, and then just cut different colors of construction paper out and glued the pictures on them.

From the living room... 

The other end...

I went down the entire length of the hallway, and in six more months I'll print more pictures and do the other side.

It's by no means ornate, but it definitely adds a bright and cheery feeling to the longest hallway in the history of hallways =).
And I love looking over the adventures we've had and memories we've made over our first six months here in Kuwait! It serves as a great reminder of all the good times we've had here on the hard days when we're missing home.

Then over the last few months we've collected random other things to brighten up our walls. 

David brought home these postcard sized prints from work one day...

We picked up this shall during Liberation weekend...

And then our latest sweet sister sent these beautiful prints of Scripture and lovely quotes with my-inlaws when they came to visit, and I finally got around to hanging them up with some construction paper behind them...

Thanks Amanda - they really brighten up the place =)

So, there you have it. I don't think Joanna Gaines will be taking any design tips from us, but we've done alright for now with our temporary space.

And toast is overrated anyways.


  1. So when I printed those Bible verse prints for you, I just went through my whole Walgreens cart and did two of each. I had grand plans for laminating my set and putting them on the bathroom mirrors like our other Bible Verse cards but well, mine are still sitting in the package from Walgreens so you are WAY ahead of me. I'm glad you like them. That's a genius idea to simply put paper behind them. I don't like things that don't have a border behind them, but often the frames cut off part of the actual verse. I'm stealing that idea- thanks :) Maybe I will get some of mine up on the wall.
    The prayer mat is gorgeous. And how perfect for you to have up in your wall in Kuwait, but also in your new home in Portland when you come back. Such a thoughtful gift from your thoughtful kind friend that you can have as a symbol and reminder of your friendship.
    Our stairs in our house are pretty bare- we have frames with photos of extended family members on the lower stair wall. The upper stair wall Noah and I envisioned a big map of the US National Parks with the patches, postcards and pictures we collected when we visited them. He brought home a big piece of foam core board leftover from a convention sign and printed a massive map on the plotter at work and it's just a matter of securing to the wall. We want to be able to take it with us when we move...some day. The map fell down (we had it up with out the foam core board) so now it's just a sad cluster of postcards on one end of the wall. Oops. Need to get on that. Perhaps you could put up a map of the area and print out photos from your travels and hang them up with string showing where the pictures were taken.
    It would expand on your home school and serve as a reminder of some of the INCREDIBLE memories you are creating in these 21 months.
    I like that you printed out the photos of the new pictures..not just posting pictures from previous pictures back home. I think that is symbolic. I know you have pictures from before you came to Kuwait and loved ones already up and on display. Think dedicating your world's longest hallway to the here and now memories is a fabulous idea.
    I was just visiting a friends house this week and was reminded how well I like her idea of decorating her entryway. She used fabric I think, perhaps just scrapbooking paper. And had 3 "wrapped canvases". But instead of even spending the money to buy canvases, she simply made wood frames and wrapped the paper or fabric around that. It looked very HGTV like. Perhaps the kids could make some kind of frames out of popsicle sticks (I think that even sounds fancy and like a STEM project- art and building together) and you could wrap them in fabric, wrapping paper, scrapbook paper, whatever. Your crepe paper above the couch looks awesome.
    Our toaster wasn't working well. And it was taking up too much precious counter space. We know use our toaster oven instead when we desire toast. The toaster oven is AWESOME especially since turning on the oven here in the desert just isn't always very practical. I don't miss our toaster very much. Do you have the option for a toaster oven?
    Thanks for sharing your creative decorating with us. I love seeing glimpses into your world.
    Much love,

  2. This was just the greatest post. I love your art and the way you are displaying it and making your apartment suit your needs. The prayer mat is wonderful. I agree with Amanda about how thoughtful it was of Reem to get it for you. It will serve as such a nice reminder when you are back home. Sorry about the toast.

    Love, Aunt Carol