Sunday, October 29, 2017

Live for Today

Our family gallery wall featuring our nephews and nieces
When we bought this house, it was not meant to be our ‘forever’ home.  We bought it because it allowed my hubby to move out of his gracious brother’s house, me to move from Michigan and for us to live cheaply while I traveled between South Carolina and Michigan to finish school.  Redoing the kitchen and putting a laundry room in were easy decisions.  However, I pretty much stopped there.  I didn’t want to make the effort to make this house our home, after all, we weren’t planning on being here forever.

Over the last couple weeks, God has revealed discontentment in my heart.  I realized that I wasn’t living each day to its fullest potential.  I wasn’t living for today and mostly, I was putting my life on hold for things to come.  While, it’s ok to plan and dream, it is not alright to not enjoy today.  I was only given so many days in my life here on Earth, I need to make the most of them.

Years ago, I bought inexpensive picture frames from Ikea.  We had a wall in the living room of our house in Michigan that I wanted to make our family wall.  I never did.  I decided that to help make the most of this house and my life right now, I was finally going to make my family gallery wall.  This house doesn’t have a lot of open wall spaces, but we did have one empty wall in our TV room.  I bought 2 8x10 canvases to paint, and command hooks to use to hang all the frames and the canvases.  I decided to use command hooks because I had 11 frames to hang and I didn’t want to put that many holes in the wall, especially because we don’t plan on being here long term.

The Command hooks in formation on the wall.
The blank canvases that I used.
The Ikea Picture frames.

The frames were white and too plain for what I wanted.  I decided to paint them and initially that was a mistake.  The frames are made of a material that repelled the acrylic paint.  After getting annoyed at first, I started applying a thicker coat of paint and that held better.  I used carbon paper and traced each niece and nephew’s name and birth date onto each frame.  When I went over it with a black permanent marker, the paint started chipping away.  Again, I became irritated and almost gave up.  After stepping back though, and looking at it with fresh eyes, I loved it!  Since the paint chipped off so easily, I ended the process by spraying two coats of clear coat spray paint over each frame.  I painted the background of the canvases to match the frames and then painted a quote on each one. 
The canvases and quotes that I painted.
I chose these quotes because our family is scattered all over the country and we don't get to see our nieces and nephews nearly as much as we would like.  We don't have the opportunity to play as big of a role in their lives, but we still love them to pieces and they are our world!  I love the end result and am so happy that I decided to tackle even little projects to continue to make this house our home, while because we still live here!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Kitchen Redo #2 Continued

It is a well known fact in our household that I am great at starting projects, and not so great at finishing them! Our kitchen has been a work in progress for many months.  Thankfully this progress hasn't made it a war zone though, like our previous kitchen.  We still have had full use of cabinets and counter space.  My first post said that I had 2 phases to finish the kitchen... and now it's turned into 4 :)  I still have to complete the 4th, which is staining our lower cabinets.  I am not completely sure when I will actually finish the kitchen, but I wanted to share the progress that I've made with phases 1-3.


Phase 1

This phase was just painting all the upper cabinets.  This took a bit more effort than the initial small bank that I showed previously.  The rest of the cabinets had paint that was chipping from the previous paint job and some had greasy spots that I couldn't wipe clean.  These doors required much sanding.  I set up my sanding station outside using old chairs and an old door.  I do what I can with what I got, and I didn't have a work table/bench or saw horses to use! :)

I washed the cabinet doors down and then went to work sanding.  As you can see if some of the pictures, the old paint just started peeling right off!

If I I would have known the severity of the need for sanding, I would have used my electric sander.  However, I just figured it would be a few spots here and there so I didn't bother.  My arms got quite the workout, and my fingers had blisters!

I started to paint them outside, but bugs kept flying into the paint!  So I set up shop inside.  I used the same chalky paint mixture as shown in my previous post.

After painting two coats, I applied Minwax Polycrylic for protection.  With chalky paint, you can either wax it or use a poly.  I prefer the poly because I already had some, and I won't have to keep reapplying every year (or more often since kitchens get a LOT of usage).  I prefer the polycrylic over polyurethane because it's a water base, therefore easier to clean up and it doesn't yellow over time like an oil base would.

For the actual cabinets, the prep work was a little easier.  I didn't have to sand and I didn't have much scrubbing.  I did have to 'fill in' one area because there was a gap and you could see right into the cabinet.  For this, I measured the gap, and then bought a square dowel that was close in thickness.  I used my hand saw to cut the length to the correct size.  After sanding the edges, I applied liquid nails and clamped it to the cabinet.  Now that it's all painted, you wouldn't know it was ever repaired (unless I pointed it out to you - which I just did! haha).

After the cabinets were painted, but before the doors were put back on:

Phase 2

Phase 2 was simply painting our bar/wall that separates the kitchen and living area.  For this, I did not use the chalky mixture.  I just used the same ratio of the latex paints to create the same color and mixed it without the calcium carbonate.

Having it the same color as the upper cabinets brightened up the space so much.

Phase 3

Our house has cinderblock walls with only 3/4" styrofoam and 3/4" plaster/drywall.  This combo makes for a very difficult process of hanging anything of substance.  This means that hanging my decorative wall shelves and many of my pictures weren't an easy option.  Since this house isn't our forever house, I didn't want to put all the time and energy into trying to decide the best way to anchor everything without huge holes everywhere.  With the wood planks that I bought YEARS ago for a bed project (that never got completed), I decided to build open shelves on the bar.  This still allows for an open area from kitchen to living, and light to pass through which is important because these spaces are small.

I measured 3 or 4 times before I cut the boards down.  I ran into the problem of warped boards from age and storage.  So the cuts weren't perfect and my measurements ended up being off a little.  I was still able to make the shelves work.  I found stainless steel L brackets to stabilize and secure the wood so the system wouldn't collapse under weight.  

I am really happy with how our kitchen is turning out.  As I said earlier, phase 4 will be staining our lower cabinets and also adding new hardware.  I will update again as I finish that phase.  For now, here are the after pictures of our kitchen area!

Don't mind all the dirty dishes! That's my project for today :)
The shelves filled with my treasures.  And a whole lot of clutter on the
floor that still needs to be taken care of haha!

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


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


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. :)