On the Porch

Originally appeared in the November 2018 edition of the Round Top Register –Ed.

Anita Joyce has a city house in Houston, a country house near Shelby and a flair for French style. The former engineer is a wife and mother as well as a self-taught photographer, interior designer, blogger and online entrepreneur who founded cedarhillfarmhouse.com in 2011.

The Truth Will Set You Free

I knew I wasn’t supposed to tell a lie, and I took it to heart. On the TV show ‘Bewitched’, when Samantha kept a secret from Darren, it always ended in disaster. Every 4 year old knew that. So when my mom got lost driving around town (it happened a lot) the first thing I did when my dad got home was to inform him of our unfortunate experience. “Well, we got lost again.” I announced to anyone within hearing range. “And, yet again, we went the wrong way down a one way street.” To my father’s amusement, I blabbed every time we got lost. 

My mom had a very different response. 

I think she had some murderous thoughts every time she was ‘outed’ by her preschooler, so she began to coach me to keep my mouth shut. “We don’t need to tell Dad everything, Anita. It can just be our little secret.” I stared at her like she had horns growing out of her head. Why would you keep important information like that to yourself? It wasn’t that I wanted to be mean, I just couldn’t comprehend the concept of keeping my mouth shut. The truth will set you free, that was my motto.

It was obvious that if you wanted to keep a secret, you could not tell little Anita. Not only did I have no filter, I felt almost compelled to spill the beans, any time I had any to spill. One day as I went with my mom to the beauty shop, I once again found it difficult to keep my mouth shut. Instead of getting her normal hairdo, my mom opted for something new. She normally got a beehive, but today she chose a style that didn’t work for her face. My mom was disappointed in her new look, and instantly regretted it. She knew it looked bad, and didn’t need any feedback from a pint-sized fashion critic. I imagine she grabbed the steering wheel and sighed, hoping for a quiet ride home. It wasn’t going to happen, not on my watch. I took one look at her, then looked straight ahead. I said almost as if to myself, “Your hair looks terrible.” As if talking to a peer instead of a four year old, my mom explained that she already knew it was dreadful and would never get her hair done like that again. I shrugged. It didn’t really matter to me, I just felt that she needed to know.

My grandmother gave us a big starburst clock for Christmas that year. It was big! My grandmother was a woman of firm opinions, used to getting what she wanted. She told my parents exactly where they were to put the clock. My dad, also used to being in charge, decided to put it somewhere else. Little did they know that Anita was on the case. The next phone call with my grandma, they told her that the clock had been assembled and hung on the wall. Before another word came out of my dad’s mouth, I spilled the beans. The clock was not in the ‘correct’ place. My parents had been folded once again. After giving me a few evil eyes, they moved it to the correct place. It was worse than having Alexa spying on you.

One day, my mom was upset because of a fight she had with my dad the day before. It was a small house, so of course I had heard every word. The next time my mom and I were headed to the store, we were once again in the care alone together. I had an opinion, and I felt I needed to share it with her. I turned to her and stated in the most straightforward way, “You need to stand up to him. He’s only running over you because you let him.” And that was that. She did end up taking my advice, but it was much later.

Due to my overzealous honesty, I was not only a tattle and a critic, I now moved into the realm of the busybody. My honesty had officially became a fault rather than a virtue.

These days, I’m a reformed truth teller. I’ve realized that often it’s best to keep some things to yourself. People don’t really want to know if ‘these jeans make my behind look fat’, nor do they want to be told their child is not the smartest kid in the class. I’ve even created a personal rule that I don’t offer unsolicited advice except under very rare conditions. I have found however, there are many ways to be honest and still kind. Rather than saying ‘your hair looks terrible’ I have learned to say, I think that shirt looks great on you or I love your shoes, are they new? I’m still being honest, but not annoyingly so. Unless I’m asked about the ‘bad hair’, I’ve learned to look the other way.

Speaking of honesty, I’ve got to be honest with you. There are a few things people do that can make their homes look bad cheap less than their best. Here are a few things that might be shortchanging your home;

Curtains that don’t go to the floor

If your curtains are not going to the floor, then you might want to replace them. You don’t want them looking like high water pants. If your window is several feet from the floor, then one option is to replace the curtains with shades or blinds instead. Since shades are only supposed to be the height of the window, they will work perfectly with a window that is high on the wall.

Rugs that are too small

We’ve all done it, setting out a rug that really isn’t big enough for the space. It ends up making the room look skimpy. Try getting a rug that is large enough for your living room for all of the chairs and sofa to sit on top of it. If you are using it in a dining room, you want it to extend several feet all the way around the table. For a bedroom, be sure the rug sits under the bed, and extends several feet on the sides and on the end of the bed. Bigger is almost always better.

Using only overhead lighting

Lighting affects the feel of a room so much, and overhead lighting can feel harsh. It’s so important to have lamps or other lighting in your room. They will give the room ambiance and a cozy feeling at night. Also if you don’t use incandescent bulbs, check to be sure the ones you use don’t make the room look too blue.


Clutter happens so quickly. We end up buying new things for our home over time, but never get rid of the old things. Then things stack up, and before you know it, the room feels like it doesn’t breathe any more. Try to remove excess things from a room. Clear out the extra stuff sitting on the tables and on the floor. You will be amazed at how much more you will love your room.