By Gabrielle.

For those of you who still haven’t gotten around to setting up holiday decorations and feel guilty about it, let me introduce you to Danielle. Her calm attitude about enjoying Christmas is certainly contagious, and a sweet reminder that the most beautiful traditions are rarely about perfection or the latest trends or elaborate advent calendars (although this one sure was cute!); they can be as simple as a bowl of oranges on the table.

Sigh. Refreshing, right? Well, just wait until you hear the rest of what Danielle has to say about her holiday decorating. Cheers to reasonable and relaxed traditions. Let’s embrace them with open arms, Friends!

Q: Tell us all about the family who lives here!

A: Our family currently consists of myself, my husband Randy, our 11 year old tender-hearted son Aiden, and feisty nine year old daughter Maia.

I have the wonderful opportunity to stay at home, but I have worked in various positions in health insurance, escrow, and even as a notary public in California. My husband fills his days as a Respiratory Therapist at a local hospital and NICU, along with being the best handyman around. Our house rarely has a broken anything and I so appreciate that!

We have 17 laying hens and one silky rooster, along with three cats. We are in the process of becoming adoptive and foster parents. I am hoping to add one or two more stockings to our mantle next year.

Q: How did this house become your home?

A: We purchased our home two years ago, and to say it was in disrepair is an understatement. Tree limbs were growing back into the ground, nicotine stained the walls, and the septic tank was overflowing, but it sat on an acre of useable flat land in the middle of an urban city.

I think friends and family thought we were crazy, because the home we were selling was a brand new semi-custom beautiful home with all the bells and whistles. While that was a wonderful home, it just wasn’t our home. So we took a plunge and bought a huge fixer. We were not scared or nervous – just determined to see our new disaster evolve to our family home. This house was so bad that we did not even take our kids over to see it until we had done a few projects; we were afraid of their reactions! But, to our surprise, they were on board with the change.

It took a while for this house to feel settled, and we still have a list of projects, but I am so proud of the work we have completed so far. When we are able to share fruit from our apricot, cherry, or apple trees with a neighbor, or run a dozen of our eggs over to a friend, I know how right this house was for us.

That being said, I wouldn’t call this our dream home. In fact, I don’t believe in the concept of a dream home. Each home that we have lived in has special things about it and have served different purposes for us at that time. It might be because I enjoy change, or that I don’t see the need to restrict myself to the notion of the perfect home, but each home we have lived in is my dream home.

Q: Tell us why you love the place you live.

A: Boise is a hidden gem in the United States. We actually moved to Boise six years ago from Southern California; my husband was raised in Fullerton and I was raised in the Bay Area. We love California and always will – we miss the ocean! – but our day-to-day life in Boise is simple. Stores are close, traffic is rare, elementary schools are supported, and we have four seasons.

Our local ski hill is affordable and close and open for night skiing. Summer time mountain camping is a must. The mountains in Idaho are raw and gorgeous and wild. Some of our favorite camping spots are less then two hours away. The DMV is accommodating, and thrift stores are abundant. Plus, Trader Joe’s recently opened in downtown Boise. What more could you want?

Q: How would you describe your aesthetic? What are the must-haves in your home that make you crazy happy every time you catch sight of them? (Besides your family, of course!)

A: I would describe our home as an evolving collection that reflects our current needs. For example, this house has more of a farm house/rustic vibe, but our last house had more of a modern aesthetic.

One of my favorite pieces is a large farmhouse dining table that was generously gifted to me from my mother-in-law and mom as a birthday gift. It represents togetherness and warmth. It also represents that a growing active family with kids and pets resides here and uses this table. From kitten scratch marks to glitter glue, this table is well loved and I love it for that reason.

I try to have a more simplified approach to decorating, but the reality is I love depth, texture, and layering!

Q: How does your home work for you? Do you think about utility when you’re designing a space to share with your family? Or is it more important for you to be surrounded by beautiful things?

A: Utility and beauty are both very important to me when I design a space for my family. I don’t separate the two at all.

Any space can be organized and function well while being beautiful. I firmly believe in two things when it comes to designing a space: the motto “a place for everything, and everything in its place” and using what you have in a different way.

For example, we turned a old piece of galvanized roofing tin that was left by previous owners into our headboard. The master bedroom in this house is extremely small, so we had to find a solution for a beautiful, space conscious headboard. I love it!

Q: You mentioned that you’re in the process of becoming licensed foster parents. What does that process involve, specifically? And what led you to that family decision?

A: My husband was adopted as an infant and raised as an only child. As an adult, he had an opportunity to reach out to his biological family, which included two younger siblings. Over the years, we have been able to visit them and even take a family trip to Hawaii, which was amazing. Our kids have ten cousins from his family!

Adoption has always been an option for us as a way to grow our family, and through my husband’s adoption experience has always felt right. We were fortunate to get pregnant very easily with our two children, but I was sick the entire pregnancy up until the moments they were born.

We have chosen to become licensed adoptive and foster parents through the state of Idaho. We are still new in the process, and I can see that being organized and determined are key ingredients to becoming licensed. It is a step by step process through the health and welfare office. So far, everyone that we have worked with has been extremely nice and easy to work with. I try not to look at the whole process, so as not to feel overwhelmed, but rather each completed step as movement forward.

It is exciting, scary, humbling, nerve wracking, and every other emotion one can feel. I am not sure what the end result will be. I am not sure what it will look like for our family, but I do trust that we are doing our best to understand the foster care system better and what our role will be in it. For anyone that is interested, I would suggest referencing your state department of health and welfare online and just start reading about the process.

Q: Describe your holiday decorating philosophy. Do you enlist your kids, or do you prefer to take it on by yourself? What are the traditions that you all look forward to every year?

A: My holiday decorating is pretty relaxed. We all trim the tree, and then I secretly rearrange the branches loaded with ten ornaments. I display oranges on the table and a handful of passed down family treasures. Every year, we gift our kids one new ornament, which is something my mom did for me, and follow the days with a chocolate advent calendar.

I listen to Christmas music like crazy, and usually most of my shopping is done by the time December rolls around. We host Christmas dinner at our house for my mom and in-laws and just fully enjoy Christmas Day. Some years we even make it up to ski on Christmas Eve.

I would love to have a more themed or decorated space, but it just has not been a priority at this point in my life. Truth be told, it probably never will be.

Q: What do you hope your children remember from this very moment in their childhood in this very house?

A: I know my kids will appreciate our house as a warm and loving family home. I know that me and my husband have always created a safe place for them. What I really hope they remember is that we were quick to love, quick to forgive, and quick to apologize. I truly hope they remember that we were not perfect parents, but we always did our best to accept mistakes and move on. I want them to not only visualize a comfortable home, but feel it. So when they go on to create and lead their own families, they do it with kindness and love and a warm spirit.

Q: What has been your favorite part about living with your own children? What do you already miss?

A: My absolute favorite part of living with my kids is seeing holidays, birthdays, and family trips through their eyes with their excitement. It makes all events so joyous and exciting! I love seeing them look for Elfie, which is our family version of Elf On The Shelf.

I love seeing joy on their face when they collect unusual eggs from our chicken coop. I love seeing them proudly display a school award. I love seeing them show off a new fort they have constructed in our pasture with random wood and beach blankets.

Those are the things I will miss the most; the simple everyday excitement of having kids around.

Q: Please finish the sentence: I wish someone had told me…

A: I wish someone had told me not to take that toy away from my 14 month old to share with another baby in the effort to teach him the concept of sharing. What was I thinking?! I still feel guilty about that.

I also wish someone had told me that I am an introvert. It would have made it way easier to say no to some of life’s social commitments!

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Thank you, Danielle, and our best wishes on your foster parent/adoption journey! May it be as wonderful as you’re dreaming it will be. (On a personal note, thank you for your words about being an introvert! You know I love that!)

I have to tell you I laughed out loud at your secret rearranging of the ten ornaments on one branch! I’m pretty sure we’ve all resisted micro-managing the tree trimming at one point or another, too! I’d love to hear all of your best and worst moments of holiday decorating, so please share with the rest of us if you’ve got a minute.

P.S. – Are you interested in sharing your own home with us? Let me know! It’s a lot of fun…I promise! Take a peek at all the homes in my Living With Kids series here.