Monday, August 28, 2017

In Home Washer & Dryer


Guys!  I have a washer and dryer in my house!  Finally after owning this house for over a year (I can't believe it's been that long already!), I have a properly functioning washer and dryer!  Last summer, I bought a used wash machine, but after it was delivered, we discovered that we didn't have the correct connections or a drain.  We rigged it up so that it worked for about a month.  The picture below shows how the washer drained into our yard, and we didn't have a dryer (no vent) so I had to line dry clothes or take them to the laundromat.

The seams in the PVC pipe used inside to 'drain' the water ended up breaking and water went everywhere in our utility room!  In June, after months of weekly trips to the laundromat, Hubby graciously agreed to buy me a brand new washer/dryer unit and to hire a plumber to come correctly install the washer and fix other plumbing issues that we had.


So now we had the washer hooked up and running, however we still did not have a vent for the dryer.  We have a cinderblock house and I was not about to bust out a window to vent through.  I looked on Youtube and decided I could tackle the project of drilling the hole myself.  I bought a new hammer drill for the tasks and everything!


Sadly, the wall won!  I could not drill through.  Thankfully, my father-in-law is a licensed contractor and he and my mother-in-law were going to be in town visiting.  I asked if he would be willing to tackle the project and he graciously agreed!



After purchasing a chisel and hammering away - we discovered the block has abnormal webbing (of course) and the spot I started drilling in was solid concrete.  BUT, between FIL and MIL and me on the inside - the dryer is now properly vented to the outside through the block wall!!  This past Sunday I celebrated - by doing laundry - while still in my pjs!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Making Our House a HAPPY home...

A friend of mine posted a meme on facebook a few days ago.  I can't get the image out of my head or my heart.




I never considered myself a control freak person who needs to have control over all aspects of my life.  I always thought I was a go-with-the-flow, easy going person.  

And then I married my wonderful, amazing husband.  My husband, who does the laundry - but folds the clothes differently and does the dishes - but puts them away in other places or loads the dishwasher differently (when we have one that functions properly).  One day as I was re-loading the dishwasher the right my way, God spoke to me.  I felt convicted.  Did it matter which way the dishes were loaded in the dishwasher? Does it matter how the clothes are folded? No.  Simple answer.  My loving husband was choosing to serve me and help with the chores around the house and my actions were telling him that he wasn't good enough, he wasn't smart enough.  Did I think this of him? Not at all.  But that's what my actions spoke.  I wasn't trusting him to help me.  Thanks, God.  Got it!  I'll let go of all the control and learn to trust others and receive help from others, lovingly and appreciatively!

And then my nieces and nephews came along.  My nieces and nephews are amazing beings whom I absolutely love and adore and want to spoil like crazy.  But I wanted to spoil them on my terms.  My nieces and nephews live far away from me.  I have 'special' foods that are staples to me.  I have some weird food issues, so I'm picky about my treats.  There are only 2 brands of hot cocoa that I can have - and they are expensive.  I also enjoy my Silk chocolate almond milk.  Those are the two that come to mind right now that I had a REALLY hard time sharing.  And they are chocolate... and most kids LOVE chocolate :)  One day I realized that I was seeking control.  In a strange way, I needed to be in control of my food and make sure that I had it for me.  I can't pinpoint when I felt convicted of this, I just know that I was.  I realized that I wasn't trusting God with my gifts from Him.  I was hoarding for myself and not sharing with others.  I can't explain the joy that I get from seeing the smiles on my nieces and nephews' faces when they are sipping on chocolate milk with me or drinking their hot chocolate with marshmallows (that I usually add for them since I can't have them) :D  Thanks, God, for reminding me of the joy of sharing and letting go of control - again!

And then I became a bonus mom to an amazing little girl, whom I call Cinderella because she likes/d to call me her God-mother.  Cinderella and her mom stayed with us for a while when we lived in Michigan.  She loved to help clean and wanted to do something special, so she loaded the dishwasher by herself and ran it by herself - sans detergent.  She also loved to help with the laundry and her folding skills were different than mine.  It took all I had to NOT refold the laundry.  The smile on her face as she sat next to me, helping me with chores - ones that I don't particularly enjoy at that!  I would give most anything to be able to fold laundry next to her right now!  I knew that her smile would fade if she saw me re-do everything she did.  Instead, God revealed to me to use it as a teaching moment.  I watched her fold, and for the most part she did a great job - it was just different than my technique.  There were a few items (larger towels, work pants, etc) that needed to be folded a certain way to either avoid wrinkles or just to fit in their proper places.  I was able to come along side and show her how to fold those items.  The same with the dishwasher.  I was so touched that she loaded and ran the dishwasher without being asked, without anyone knowing.  She just got up one morning before everyone else, and decided to do it.  Instead of getting frustrated (like I would have in the past), I thanked her for caring enough.  I then asked how she knew how much detergent to use, and she sheepishly told me that she didn't use any because she didn't know it needed it.  After the water drained, we opened the dishwasher and I showed her how much detergent goes in and where.  I learned in that moment, how freeing it is to have help from others.  Even if it's not exactly how we would choose to have it.

In all those circumstances (and others), I realized that all this control stemmed from my pride.  My pride telling me that my way is the best.  That I know what's best for me and my family.  That I don't need anyone else.  The truth is - I need God first and foremost.  And then He put others in my life because I need them too (and hopefully I'm a blessing to them and they 'need' me too)!  I don't have all the answers, and I need to be willing to learn at all times.  Even if another way isn't better than mine, it probably gets the job done just as well and it's always handy to have another route to take.

I was reminded today at the laundromat of all this.  There was a momma and her little boy, he looked to be about 4 or 5.  She was pulling her laundry from the dryers.  As she pulled out the clothes, her son was grabbing them from the cart, laying them on the table, and then proceeded to fold them and put them in the laundry basket.  When the mom finished unloading the dryer, she saw what the little boy had accomplished.  She scolded him, grabbed the 'folded' clothes from the basket and dumped them back into the cart.  She proceeded to refold the clothes and put them back in the basket.  I will NEVER forget the look at that little boy's face.  He was defeated.  He really wanted to fold the laundry, it looked as if it was his favorite part of being at the laundromat (which doesn't surprise me because some of my favorite memories are that of me with my grandma at the laundromat) and she wouldn't let him help because he was doing it wrong.  The shirts that he folded looked better than mine!  

Oh, how I don't want a household like that.  I don't want to kill someone's joy of helping because 'it's not good enough', because it's different than how I would do it.  I want an all-around happy home!  And I will GLAD(den)LY accept help if one would like to give it.  I will choose JOY in learning new ways to accomplish tasks and I pray that I will nurture A HAPPY Gladden Family.

I little reminder that I created for myself:




Philippians 2:3&4
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Friday, March 10, 2017

GEL STAIN!!

Okay, so in Michigan this wouldn't have excited me *as* much.  BUT, here in South Carolina, Varathane Gel Stain does not exist... except for one small mom and pop hardware store 3 1/2 hours away from me, and even then, the colors weren't guaranteed to be there.  I searched high and low for *any* gel stain at various home improvement stores.  Lowe's and Home Depot had 4 colors available: Hickory, Mahogany, Cherrywood, and Honey Maple.  None of those colors were close to what I wanted, nor could I mix any of them to create a color that I liked.

I'm SO thankful for online ordering and ship to home possibilities, because this showed up at my door today:


Thank you, Menards for shipping to SC, even though your closest store is over 300 miles away!  I was able to purchase the exact colors that I LOVE and cannot wait to get to phase 2 of our kitchen redo!  Phase 1 is coming along nicely... here is a preview:


I'm excited to finish our kitchen make-over, and add our touches to this house to make it our home :)

Monday, March 6, 2017

Coffee

I love coffee!  My love grew when I worked in a hospital cafeteria.  I had easy access to free coffee for employees, Starbucks & Grand Rapids Coffee Roasters brewed coffee in the cafeteria for relatively cheap, delicious and amazing specialty coffees made to order at 2 coffee kiosks that supported the hospital foundation, and as a last resort (usually on weekends when the kiosks were closed) I had an actual Starbucks across the street.  It was very easy for me to get my coffee fix!  It also took a chunk out of my paycheck haha.  I did learn to make my own specialty coffees at home for a whole lot cheaper, though I do like my Biggby coffee when I make it back to Michigan!  But that's for another day.  

This post was inspired a long time ago by my sister and by Hobby Lobby.  She had purchased this very cute sign for her kitchen/coffee bar.  I love LOVE the phrase and wanted something similar for myself.



I have 2 issues with buying the premade sign though. 1) I am rebellious, in a good way (I think).  I DO NOT like to go along with everyone else and I want to be different.  I don't like having things that other people have.  Since my sister already had the sign, and it is still available for sale at Hobby Lobby, I didn't want it.  Everyone else is going to have the same one.  2) Our house is made of cinderblocks.  It is VERY hard to hang anything on the walls.

My solution: Use the phrase and paint it on the wall.  I printed a template displaying the fonts that I liked.  I'm not really good a free-handing letters.  I taped the template to the wall.


I used a fine point Sharpie marker to trace the lettering.  This bled through the paper and created a light outline on the wall.  Way easier to me than trying to create a stencil, or using a transfer behind and having to press super hard.  Our walls are a layer of plaster over the block, and you can see where the tape pulled the paint right off the wall when I removed it.


Originally this was how I was going to keep it... however I didn't have the right color to touch up the spots where the tape removed it.  So, I filled in and smoothed out those areas so they were flush with the rest of the wall and painted over it with an off-white/beige color that I had left over from previous projects.


I love how it turned out and actually am thankful that the paint chipped.  The light background makes it stand out so much more and shows the dark blue better.  Before it looked like it was black.

One downside: If I ever want to change it, or when we move, I don't get to keep this.  It stays where it is or will be painted over.  BUT, I always have the option to do it again. :)

Friday, March 3, 2017

New Routine

Ok ya'all, it's about to get real!  When I first created this blog, years ago, I had the intentions of using it to display creative and frugal ways to do home improvements and storage solutions to make our house, our home - hence the title 'Making My House a Home' :)

Over the past few months, I have worked hard on being the perfect wife and homemaker - which I am far from!  My husband will tell you otherwise, on most days, because he's the most gracious man I know and I am so grateful to have him by my side for the rest of our lives!  I am also so grateful that I can stay home while I finish my classes, so that I can focus on school, and the house.  However, over the past few months, I have been very unhappy and stressed out about life.  I criticized myself all the time and would get so upset, and beat myself up over things that didn't get done properly, or at all.  It was in one of my moments of despair that I realized my focus was on all the wrong things of life.  I would wake up in the morning and check my emails and facebook, before I even got out of bed!  I would spend close to an hour looking at my phone.  I would also spend that time comparing myself to others.  Others who seemed to have a perfect life and have everything together - because that's what we do on social media - we display the best of the best of our lives. I'm guilty of it too!  We want to show off our lives to others and be proud of what we've done or who we are.  It's fun to be able to share in momentous occasions and share in joy over finished projects and awesome life happenings.  This is good.  What's not good, is when *I* compare my life to those other lives, instead of just being grateful that I can be apart of their lives from the sidelines.  And it's not good when I can't separate myself and remember that we are all called to live for a different purpose and we all go through different stages of life at different times.  

In that moment of despair, I realized I needed to shift my focus.  Our house *could not* become a home, without God being first in my life.  A house is not simply a home because of what it is made of physically.  But a home is also made up of attitudes and behaviors.  I want my home to be based on Jesus Christ and His love and grace.  I needed to spend more time with God, in His word and in prayer!  I needed to remember that I could talk to Him about anything and that He desires a two way relationship.  I made a choice to check out of social media for a while.  And while I still check it on occasion, my first priority when I wake up is no longer to look at my phone, but to sit down and spend time with Jesus.  I started this around a month ago, and the difference is so amazing to me!  It's not that God left my side, but that I didn't intentionally spend time with Him.  I was relying on myself for strength in every way and I was drained!  Since spending time with God, I (for the most part) have more energy and I have more of a sense of purpose as a Godly wife.  Slowly, new routines are taking over.  My time is being spent better, less time watching TV or movies and more time reading, cleaning, being outside, and homework!

I also realized that physical energy needs to be nourished.  I was chronically dehydrated... I hate drinking water or juice or pop or ... I am just not a drinking person, unless it's chocolate or coffee flavored.  So, I have also taken on a personal challenge to drink a gallon of water a day.  I will tell you that I fail miserably at this every.single.day!  BUT, I do on average drink around 70 oz, which is 70 oz more than I used to and I still start my day with one cup of coffee :)



Now that I've gotten into the routine of waking up with Jesus and drinking more water, I've added in a 10 minute intentional workout everyday.  Today was actually my first day of it (which is why I am using a sleeping bag and towel instead of a yoga mat :D).  I enjoyed the first workout very much and I'm praying that I will continue with it.  I am also thankful for my accountability buddies to cheer me on and for me to cheer them on!



I write this not with the intention of 'Hey, look at me'... but as encouragement to others who may be struggling with similar issues.  We are all made for a different purpose!  Remember that!  And also, life is so much happier when love, grace, compassion, mercy and forgiveness are involved -- not only towards others, but remember to love yourself and who you are, be gracious to yourself, have compassion for yourself, have mercy on yourself and forgive yourself!

Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Kitchen Redo #2

Phase 1

Our kitchen is... not pretty... yeah, that's how I'll word it.  The upper cabinets are a mint green (my husband says they're blue) and the lower cabinets are an ugly brown.  I prefer rich colors.  From the first day I saw the kitchen, I knew I wanted to repaint and stain the cabinets!  Thankfully the counters are pretty decent!

Before pictures


Blue, or green? :)

I didn't want to spend a lot of money on this project, especially since this isn't our forever home and I'm going to school and not working currently, therefore we are living off just my husband's income.

Thankfully we have a TON of random opened paints.  I decided I wanted to go with a light color, possibly gray for the upper cabinets.  I found a light beige in a 5 gallon bucket that I had used to paint the walls in our old house.  I also still had the blue left over from that kitchen.  I love the look (and ease of use) of chalky paint.  I recently bought plaster of paris from Walmart for less than $5 (I think) and Chip Paint Brushes from Dollar General for $2 (for 3 different sizes!).  Today I bought a glass jar for $3 to store the mixed paint color in because I knew I wouldn't be using it all up today.

So mixing fun I had!  1 1/2 cups of beige to roughly 1/3 cup blue.  I actually used 5 Tbls of blue because I wanted to add it 1 Tbls at a time to make sure the color didn't turn too blue or too dark.



The recipe I use for chalky paint is:
2 1/2 Tbls Plaster of Paris
2 Tbls cool water
stir and mix until smooth - adding more plaster for thicker, chalkier coverage
1 cup of paint
mix all together


Because I only wanted to test one bank of cabinets to make sure I liked the color, I only wanted to mix 1/2 cup of paint.  So I only used 1 1/4 Tbls plaster and 1 Tbls of water.  After the mixture was smooth, I added 1/2 cup of my newly mixed color.


The thing I love most about chalky paint is that prep is super easy!  I took the cabinet doors off, and then the handles off the doors.  I wiped them down using a degreaser and let them dry.  On goes the first coat.  




The second coats have been applied.  I'm waiting on the doors to dry so I can flip them and do the back side.  Each coat only takes roughly 30 minutes to dry (another bonus of chalky paint).  I'm anxious to see the color tomorrow morning after it has dried and in the sunlight!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Laundry

Our house has a utility room that is home to our wash machine, however, we do not have the correct connections for the washer or a vent for a dryer.  While my husband and I jimmy rigged our washer so that I could wash clothes, we still don't have a dryer.  And actually, I can no longer use the washer because our jimmy rig failed haha.  BUT, when I could do wash at home, I needed a place to dry.  In South Carolina, the weather is decently warm for 7-8 months out of the year so I figured a clothes line would work.  I did not want to spend a lot of money on one though, especially since we are planning on purchasing and hooking up a dryer - eventually.  So, I put my creativity to good use and off to Home Depot or Lowes (I can't remember haha) I went.  I purchased PVC pipes and connectors and cement rebar.  We already had rope, pvc glue, and garden stakes at home.
 I used a hand saw to cut the PVC pipes to size and a drill to create holes for the rope to be tied through.
I drove the rebar poles into the ground about a foot, and then placed the long PVC pipe over it.  This gives it support and also holds it to the ground.  It is a little flimsy and doesn't hold a lot of weight, however it works for now.
 The garden stakes were added to help support the PVC pipe.  After loading the clothes on the line, the pipes would bend inward without the extra support.  For less than $25, I have a clothes line.