Vintage Highchair Makeover

When Greyson came along I started to look through the baby things than had been lurking in our basement. Most things could be washed and re-used. But our highchair had seen better days. I had been given the all clear to give Greyson solids a few months ago, but he wasn’t initially interested at all… But when he started wanting to nurse around the clock I decided it was time to try again.

I loved the look of some vintage redo’s that I had seen like this online.

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I had been keeping an eye on thrift stores when Trevor’s aunt offered to let us use her highchair from when she was a child! I was over the moon!

Here is what we started with. dsc_1193

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I got the all clear from her to repaint it and I chose Sherwin Williams Mod Mint. fullsizerender

I loved the dipped leg look, but I wasn’t sure whether or not to paint the tray. I was also torn over whether I should “dip” the legs with another paint color, or leave them their original wood color.

I figured either way I would tape off the legs and then decide once I had the mint color on.

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A cute helper always helps!

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I finally decided to leave the wood legs and tray and painted a small gold band between the two colors. Also, pro tip: for strait lines, always use tape. whoops.

It took 3 coats of pain before I was satisfied and I sealed it with a satin varnish.

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Insert cute baby and you are basically done!

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Also, for safety I considered adding a 5 point harness, but eventually added this buckle  on because I didn’t want to drill any holes into the highchair. It’s worked out really well.

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I was really pleased with how it turned out and with the fact that we were able to give new life to a piece of family furniture. I’m sure I will often think of Our sweet Aunt Karin when meal times roll around.

Judah’s Detective Mystery Party.

A few weeks ago… ok, ok, a MONTH ago, we celebrated Judah’s 5th Birthday! I think we have decided that every other birthday we will do a bigger style party for our kids and this year Judah decided he wanted a detective mystery party.

This was his first birthday party where we invited kids just around his age. In my head I pictured a fun, somewhat small gathering. Except that I seem to have a problem cutting myself off when it comes to inviting people. Oh well… it is a party after all, right?

I got a ton my of my ideas from this blog. And she got a lot of ideas from this blog. What would we do without pinterest people??

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The invitations went in a manilla envelope with a small magnifying glass (pack of 12 on amazon for $5.25). The main invitation was on the note and wrapped around the magnifying glass was a note in small print that was the start of the mystery.

It said: Judah’s Uncle Shane used to live in Marquette. Shane would often visit His great Uncle at Flynn Manor. His Uncle loved a good mystery and told him of a fantastic treasure hidden at Flynn Manor. He gave Uncle Shane the first clue to find the treasure, but Shane was never able to solve the mystery and find the treasure before he moved away. Shane has decided to give Judah the first clue on his 5th Birthday and we need your help to solve the Mystery of the Missing Treasure! 

First we had Judah’s Uncle Shane record a message about how he wanted to see if they were sharp enough detectives to be entrusted with the clue! He had put together some clues to follow. At each place, they would receive another piece of their detective kit (which also doubled as their party bag) that would aid them on their search. It’s amazing what Uncles can do from halfway across the country. 😉

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This led them to the dress up bin. Where, appropriately, they received a disguise kit, with a false mustache, fake glasses and a bow tie (party favor package from walmart). Also, the next clue.

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This led them to the train bucket, then the play kitchen, under the sink in our half bath… You get the drift.

Along the way they collected:

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I’ve rarely seen a group of 5 year olds more excited. It was so much fun!

Finally, everyone had proven their super detective prowess and were ready to receive the clue to the missing treasure from Uncle Shane.

Now they were ready to put their detective skills and kits to the test!

Uncle Shanes message led them to the back of our living room clock. But half the clue seemed to be missing… or was it *dramatic pause* invisible? Duh dun dunnnn! I used this grape juice and baking soda method since it seemed to be the only one that didn’t involve fire. Or waiting around an oven for 10 minutes.

They had to make their way through laser beams (red yarn) up the stairs.

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diffuse bombs (black balloons) which also held a clue that led them outside. They were nearly finished at this point!

They finally found the treasure buried under a tree under our deck. It was play doh, candy and little dollar store knick knacks. Considering it had been under there since Uncle Shane was a little boy, it was in surprisingly good condition…

Obviously, the best part of the party was yet to come though. The cake!

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Judah had an amazing time, and we love any day that celebrates our sweet boy!

Becoming Real

“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’

‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit. 

‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’ 

‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’ 

‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

 – Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

 

I haven’t had many near death experiences… I’ve done a few fun/crazy things, but nothing terribly traumatic has emerged, thank God. Probably the most near death experience I have had was when I was about 10 years old. My family was having a day out at some park. My Dad was and still is a minister; but growing up, he also worked construction full time. Sometimes he would take Mondays off and every once in a while he would swing home and say to my mom, “lets go on a picnic”… we would pack up some sandwiches and mom would buy Dr. Pepper from the gas station while dad filled up the mini van. Then he would say to one of us kids, “pick a direction” and we would get intentionally lost for a day. Eventually finding a park, and playing frisbee… sometimes swimming in our clothes if the park had a lake. Dad would find a picnic table and stretch out to take a nap in the sun. These were some of my best memories from my childhood and something that has stuck out in my mind as a huge perk of our homeschool schedule flexibility.

Anyway, one of those times my brothers and I ended up going swimming in a man made lake. Perhaps it was an old quarry, I don’t know, but the shoreline dropped off fairly quickly. I was a pretty strong swimmer, but I didn’t notice that my little brother had swam up behind me and was starting to flag really quickly treading water. He wasn’t trying to hurt me at all, but in his panic, he climbed on top of me to stay afloat. My older brother was swimming fairly close to us and I’m told that He pulled my little brother off of me within maybe 15 or 20 seconds, but it felt like an eternity. I know I’ve digressed quite a bit, but here’s what I’m getting at: The one moment that has stuck in my memory that day was not really the fear of that experience, but the fact that everything seemed so silent when I was underwater. I gasped for air and pulled a lot of water in that I would later vomit on the shore. You expect these moments to be violent and loud, but for me it wasn’t. There was just… silence. Like in a nightmare where you try to scream but just can’t.

We have miscarried 6 babies in the last 5 years. 6 babies born into the arms of Jesus. We lost twins at 10 weeks and four others at 6 weeks, 8 weeks, 6 weeks and 12 weeks.

This is the memory that keeps flooding back… These 6 little lives that seem to have passed from our lives so quietly and surprisingly. We haven’t necessarily minded sharing our loss, but it doesn’t generally come up in conversation… So you kind of silently gasp; grief sometimes coming upon you quickly and suddenly and other times seemingly not at all. It’s like a fever dream; scenes and emotions bounce around you and just as you begin to grasp the situation the landscape changes again. And along with your empty arms and hollow belly it’s hard to not lose your voice as well. What do I say?… is it easier to say nothing? To bear this weight alone? Sometimes.

October is infant loss and awareness month. Most of these pseudo remembrance days pass without much recognition or pomp. But if you are anything like me, you see a post about this month and this day and immediately a flood of thoughts and emotions and memories flood in. I appreciate the voice that social media can give to an issue that often feels silent.

So many memories of doctors offices and sterile rooms where you are trying to find a measure of comfort in answers. But sometimes there are no answers. There is no one to blame. I have been through the gamut. I have asked so many questions. Watched the crook of my arm slowly bear a track mark from the number of times my blood has been drawn and tested. And each time the Doctor looks at me with sad eyes to explain that they just can’t explain why it’s not working out. I have changed my diet. I have taken hormones. I have rested and pleaded and begged for God to let my body hold onto our babies tiny form. They still tell me that the odds of a successful pregnancy are better than the chance of me losing another. This offers little hope to me anymore.

“Is this your first miscarriage?” the nurse asks glancing down at her clipboard. “no, it’s my fifth miscarriage… sixth baby, I tell her unnecessarily. She glances up at me sadly. “It was twins the first time”. Why am I telling her this? I think to myself. She doesn’t need to know this… but it just seems wrong that one of them is just forgotten. She asks me several questions. I tick off the answers. I know the drill at this point. She asks me if it’s ok if a resident accompanies my doctor into my examination. I tell her that I would rather he didn’t this time. She leaves and I sit with my legs crossed on the exam table… God, I hate how they never have a place to put your feet. I flip through People magazine. A beautiful celebrity just had a beautiful baby. I drop it on the table and take my pulse breathing deeply trying to just calm the flip down. Is it, breath in through your nose and out your mouth or the other way around? Who cares…

The Doctor comes in and so does the resident. I don’t bother telling him I don’t want him there. I know they aren’t going to examine me yet anyway; they will just send me out for labs and then an ultrasound. More questions.

He gives me the form to take to the lab and apologizes for my loss. I say, “it’s ok”… my voice sounds wooden to my own ears. Why did I say that? What else am I supposed to say? I make it out of the Doctor’s office and suddenly I just lose it. half way down the hall I remember having passed by an elevator with an out of order sign. I stumble to it as fast as I can pushing myself in the dimly lit corner and drop the lab orders, frantically digging through my purse for anything to wipe my face with. Nothing. I’ve been crying on and off for days and I didn’t pack anything. I finally pull up my t shirt and blow my nose, hoping that the snot doesn’t come through the fabric.

More labs, follow ups. One particularly painful ultrasound where the technician tells me excitedly that she thought she may have seen a heart beat. She spends the next 10 minutes looking for it. I lean back while another faint contraction comes and sob because I know that I’m miscarrying and it seems like the worst form of cruelty to offer hope.

We didn’t mean to get pregnant this last time. We cried when we found out, because I wasn’t ready to deal with another miscarriage again. And right now, that is what pregnancy means to me. But I had changed up my diet, I was on some medication and I had the “symptoms”. When we made it to 12 weeks I though, “maybe…” But no. No heart beat. That little one had died weeks ago and my body just hadn’t figured it out yet. I wrestled with feelings of hatred and love for my body. “You’ve worked so brilliantly in the past… don’t you remember? Why are you betraying me now? I’ve worked so hard to be good to you. Just work, dammit”

People have said things to me… people I love and that love me, have asked me questions that have seemed like the antithesis of love. “What did I think I did that made me miscarry?”, “Did I work too hard?”, “Did I need to change my diet?” “Maybe if I try “___” next time? “When it’s meant to be it will be.”, “They say when you miscarry it means that there was just something wrong with the baby”. Arrows breathed out with love that all whispered “what did you do or not do that killed your baby?”. Questions and statements that confirmed the very worst thoughts I fought thinking about myself. When I snapped at Judah or Eleanor maybe God knew that I couldn’t even properly love the kids he had given me and didn’t dare entrust another precious soul to my care. Lies. Lies. Lies.

Miscarriage is NOT YOUR FAULT. It is not your fault.

More doctors visits. “How old are your children?” a nurse asks. “3 and 2” I answer. “Well, that’s good. At least you have them”. Maybe I’m selfish… no, I know I’m selfish; but I wanted them all. I know what she means though and yes… I am so, so grateful.

The hardest nights have been when sleep has eluded me. Finally I get out of bed and walk around our home bathed in moonlight. Sometimes going outside when the weather was warm… Praying, listening… just being. And inevitably I end up in our kids room. I lean over their beds until I can see their perfect features and watch the blankets slightly rise and fall with their breaths. I slide my cheek up next to theirs breathing in their scent and thanking God over and over again for His goodness.

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And He is good. There is something amazing about knowing we have 6 children that have never known anything but the presence of Jesus.

Don’t fight becoming real. The wearing off of your perfect skin and shine of your eyes might happen without your consent or approval, but there is hope to be found. Even in the darkness, stars linger. And even offer direction if we can bear to lift our eyes. You can feel the warmth of embraces even better with your new skin. And the silly disguise of perfection is removed to reveal a vulnerability that draws you near to other real people. Trevor and I have grown so close through our grief. Though we would never wish this particular part of our journey on anyone, (even ourselves) our trust in God has been strengthened much more than if we had faced no hardship. For every time that someone has said something that stung, there have been 10 others that have cried with us and held us in prayer and loved us like Jesus. They give voice to our pain and tell us that yes, this child is immeasurably valuable.

Miscarriage has given me much more compassion to face the realness and brokenness in others. To know that not all scars are visible, but that the pain of those wounds often displays in seemingly unrelated ways. I bury this knowledge in my heart and remember it when words seem chosen only to wound.

We have been shaken, but our foundation is strong and steady. There is joy to be found in brokenness. Brokenness from a Christians heart is often the catalyst to desperately seeking the Father’s presence. And when we find ourselves in the presence of the God, we face a decision; to either turn away, or else unashamedly adore Him.

Your baby has value. Sometimes you are the only one that knows what is going on. Your voice is important and more powerful than you think. I found mine while I was becoming real.

 

 

DIY Diamond Tufted Headboard

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So… This project has only taken me the better part of a month (and a half) to post about.

This was definitely one of my bigger DIY projects, but I am thrilled with how it turned out. Definitely one of the best parts of DIY is the simple sense of pride you get from seeing and using the project and knowing that you helped create it.

Here is the Finished product:

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This is the look I was going for:

Source: Joss and Main

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Source: Etsy

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But rounding out at around $1000-$1200.00 for a king headboard means that this was meant to be one my “projects”. Trevor is my northern star when it comes to budget and I’ll just say that I knew he wasn’t going to guide me towards buying any of those beautiful headboards.

Credit where credit is due! I mostly followed this blog tutorial:
https://doordiy.wordpress.com/2013/08/11/tuft-luck/

And got further help and inspiration from here:    http://www.homemadebycarmona.com/make-diamond-tufted-headboard/

As well as watching countless vlogs on youtube. Pinterest is my mother ship.

Here is what you will need: 
Fabric (I used two 54×84 curtain panels from target)
Particle board
2 2×6 boards
2 twin mattress pad covers from Walmart
3 yards of fleece fabric
Staple gun
2 rolls of nailhead trim 
Screws for particle board
Washers
Button Maker 
button heads (size 24 (5/8″/15mm) is what I used)
4 L brackets

FABRIC:

I wanted a thicker fabric, because, let’s be honest; greasy heads will be resting against this headboard. Not that we ever get greasy. OK. moving on.

I LOVE my hometown of Marquette, MI. That being said, we are a small city and there have very limited choices when it comes to fabric shopping. I went to the few places that I could to search out fabric and didn’t find anything that I liked. I considered buying online… and I’m sure that a more experienced seamstress would not have a problem doing this, but I have such a limited knowledge of fabric that I was really nervous to buy anything that I couldn’t touch and feel first. Those of you that are far more patient than I am could probably order samples and then buy what you need… if you also happen to live 200 miles north of everywhere and have no access to a Joann Fabric.

Thankfully inspiration struck and I figured out that a curtain panel might do the trick. I really liked this curtain panel from Target and it worked out really well. I bought the 54×84″ size since that’s what they had in stock, but I ended up buying a second panel to cover the headboard wings. I think I might have been able to get away with 1 panel if I had been able to get the 95″ length, but I’m not sure.

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I had my heart set on a really tall headboard. Also, we decided to use two twin size mattress pad covers from walmart. So, basically our headboard is the size of a twin mattress.

We ended up using particle board because we were having trouble finding any plywood that wasn’t bowed. Basically trevor just trimmed it down to the width of our bed (we have a king size bed).

And so it began.

First, because I used curtain panels, we had to bust out all of the metal rings from the top of the fabric. I also let out the hem at the bottom to allow myself the most fabric possible. And NOOO, I’m certainly NOT using nail scissors to cut out the hem. I always have the proper tools at hand. *cough*

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After that, trevor cut our board and we laid out the mattress toppers so that the flat part was against the wood and then the bumpy side of the next piece was kissing the bumpy side of the first piece…. I probably should have taken pictures, huh?

We decided to use mattress toppers after reading one of the blog tutorials that had done the same thing. Plus… have you priced out Upolstery foam lately?! I wasn’t willing to sell Judah, so the foam toppers were a life saver coming in just under $20.

Next, we laid out our fleece fabric that we were using as a sort of bunting and stretched it tight across the foam and then flipped the whole thing over and started stapling.

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Once we stapled everything (and pounded in any staples that weren’t flush) we flipped it back over and I made my final choice in fabric. The picture I have above is actually a curtain panel that I was considering and didn’t end up choosing, but it was the best picture I had of the board before it was covered with my final fabric choice. Notice how the edges are a bit bumpy and look kind of pleated where the fleece fabric has been pulled tight from the staples. Don’t worry, this will smooth out when you staple back your next piece of fabric.

TUFTING:

Next we laid across our fabric and trevor started drilling the screws and washers to create the tufting.

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The fabric plus padding means that there is quite a lot of give and eyeballing that needs to take place. That being said, trevor was pretty meticulous with how he measured and if you decide to try this then always, always start in the center.

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Here is where is started coming together and becoming stupidly complicated all at the same time. With the tutorials I read and watched… basically they got to this point and their fabric was such that it had enough give to simply pinch it and it would fall into this gorgeous pleat. I’m assuming that the fabric I was working with was a lot thicker and much less forgiving. Because I pinched and pinched and pinched and… nothing. I was basically left with a fabric bubble, but it in no way resembled the sleek pleat look I was going for.

About two second earlier I was all, “Heck yes! I’m the headboard queen! I’m going to have this entire project done in 2 hours flat!” And then I became all… “You’ll still love me honey if we just spent 100 dollars on one of my crazy ideas and it doesn’t work, right?”

PLEATING:

Here comes the fun part. I realized that if I worked with the fabric enough I could pinch a bubble pleat into place… a pleat that then needed a seam to be hand stitched across to ensure that it stuck. 😁🔫
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See those needle nose pliers? I broke 4 needles pushing them through this fabric. You know how new guitarist get blisters learning to play? I have tufting blisters. Hardcore crafter yawl. This stage took me probably 8 hours. I watched the better part of a season of friends before it was all said and done. 
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But once it was, it started to look awesome.

BUTTONS:

Next was making the buttons and gluing them into place.

Start by cutting your fabric into small squares.

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Next you will need your button maker that looks like this:

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Not a very complicated tool, but brilliant for its purpose. Next, cover the inverted plastic with your fabric and put the head of your button face down so the cup side is facing up. Like so. IMG_0122

Next, take your little pink “pusher” and… well.. push the button in till it feels secure. It should be quite a tight fit.

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IMG_0124This should be what you are left with.

Next, trim off the excess fabric.

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Again, my fabric with super thick and just didn’t work the same way as the tutorials I had looked at. Glue gun to the rescue.

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After sustaining two reasonably serious burns, a friend recommended keeping a bowl of ice water at hand just incase you get the glue on your skin. By that time I had pretty much got the hang of it, but I think it’s a great tip.

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Careful pushing the back piece on. That mother is hot.

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Voila! Buttons!

Then I just glued those suckers into place. With a stupid amount of glue. Those babies aren’t going anywhere.

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I made 55 buttons… Feel free to cringe with me. It took me about 45 seconds -1 minute per button once I got the hang of it.

Once the buttons were finished we stapled the fabric from the edges tightly to the back of the board.

POSTS:

Next we made the posts. Trevor cut the wood to reach from the top of where the headboard would end up (3 ft above the mattress) to the floor. That height will depend on how tall you want your headboard and possibly how high your mattress is as well.

Next, I wrapped the posts with my fleece fabric and secured them around the back and the tops of the posts like presents and stapled them into placepost 1

 

Next comes your nailhead trim. Screenshot 2015-07-16 16.54.23

It comes in rolls like this. Every sixth head, there is a hole where you place your nail and secure the strip into place (I’m pointing to two of them in the picture below). I used a rubber mallet to nail these nails into place so I didn’t dent the nail head.

 

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Last step… stay with me.

Secure the posts to the sides with L brackets.

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And DONE!!! I had saved up all my receipts to add up the total… but, then we had a family vacation and I think they all got lost about a month ago. In total, I believe this project cost me about $120.00. It probably would have been cheaper if I had been able to find fabric that I liked that wasn’t a curtain panel, but there you go. Still much cheaper than it’s thousand dollar counterpart.

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Even with all the extra time, I would do it again and I’m really happy with how it turned out.

Console Table Project

So, this project wasn’t nearly as time intensive as the last two projects I have posted, but it was a lot of fun!

I wanted an entry table to catch keys, mail and most importantly, hold a lamp since we don’t have enough light in that dark corner

Here is the end product.

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This is the original table I was drooling over: img41o

But at $849.00 plus shipping… it wasn’t meant to be. West Elm breaks my heart like that a lot. So, I started looking everywhere for interesting pieces of wood and reclaimed lumber. Our friend, Jeremy had helped a friend take down an old barn, but then had changed his plans for repurposing the wood for himself. He told us we could pick through the wood if we wanted. Score!

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wood

We picked through and after a small mishap (I managed to impale my hand with a rusty nail… brilliant) we were left with this lumber gem. I scrubbed it up in the bathroom and we went back and forth on what we would use or build for legs. I managed to find a website that sold the same peg legs from my west elm table for between $23 to $32 per leg on hairpinlegs.comDSC_9607

Trevor pre-drilled the holes and then secured the screws. DSC_9609 DSC_9614

And there you have it! DSC_9615

Then, I just decorated it, and voila! Done! DSC_9620 DSC_9621

I love the distressed detail and think I even prefer the worn edges over it’s perfect west elm counterpart. 🙂 And yes… I accidentally was zoomed in on the train toy bucket and was too lazy to take (and upload) another detail shot. Sorry.

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Entryway Stencil Project

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So, I promise at some point I will post more pictures of our house, but I’m posting on more of a project by project basis. When we moved in, I really loved the look of geometric wallpaper or wallpaper with a Moroccan print. Like this:

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0r this:

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But I quickly realized that wallpaper (or at least the wallpaper I liked) was way over my budget for our entire entryway. So I started to look into stencils. I stumbled across this blog and with her printable template I decided to give it a go since free fit very nicely into my budget. 🙂

Here is the printout.

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I measured out the size that I wanted the template to be. For me it was 11 inches. I printed out the pattern on two pieces of paper and cut them out. Then I traced it onto cardboard and cut that out. The cardboard was used on the flat spaces of wall and the paper was then used around any corners or odd shape.

It took me a WHILE to get the knack of it. At first, I tried to leave space between the stencils to paint the lines, but after part of a wall I realized that it was just throwing everything off. Instead, I needed to trace the stencil using the edge of the stencil to become the edge of the next stencil… make sense? Then I would paint directly on the line instead of trying to paint right outside of it. Even doing that though, there is quite a lot of room for error, so I was constantly using a level to make sure that my lines and edges lined up with each other.

Thankfully, there wasn’t any randomness in the design, so at least I knew that the edges of one stencil were the beginning lines to the next stencil. DSC_9540 DSC_9541

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I included the above picture because that corner was the one time that my pattern became very, very wonky. Unless you are close to it, you don’t really notice, but let me just encourage everyone that might attempt this to measure and remeasure.

This took me several days of nap time and kids bedtime activity to complete, but this kind of monotonous work is greatly helped by a good podcast or book on tape. DSC_9542 DSC_9544

I highly recommend a hippity hop for a painting chair on the lower parts of your wall. 🙂DSC_9546

There was still a lot of room for error, so as much a possible I used the stencil and then corrected any differences between the stencils free hand.

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I used a eggshell paint on the wall and a semi gloss paint for the stencil. I wanted it to be slightly reflective when the sunlight hit it to get more of that wallpaper look.

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I have two small walls left to complete at the top of the landing, but the project is mostly wrapped up and I’m thrilled with how it turned out!

I’m really interested to hear if anyone has actually purchased a stencil, how they found that process to be, so be sure to tell me about your experiences in the comments below.

 

 

 

Staircase renovation

I’m so excited to share our first major project with you: Our staircase renovation!

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So, When we bought our house, I had some pretty ambitious ideas for our staircase and Trevor awesomely agreed to the craziness. We decided to tackle this project (mostly) before we moved in so that we weren’t trying to live in the chaos of masses of boxes and half varnished stairs.

Here is what we were starting out with:

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The trim around all the stairs had been painted black and the stairs themselves had seen better days. Underneath it all though, was solid oak that was begging for a refurb.

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We started off by applying a paint varnish remover. Beware, the varnish remover is pretty potent stuff, so you will want to use a mask if you tackle a project like this!

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Trev’s dad helped us out a lot during this process.  Even splitting the workload, it was a pretty big undertaking.

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After the varnish remover the sanding began. Trevor and his dad tackled the sanding and started with 40 grit sandpaper with the belt sander and an orbital disk sander. They then moved to 80 grit and then 120, 180 and 220.

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Occasionally using a hand sander or a dremel with a sander attachment for the hard to reach places.

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We also started to prime all of the trim white. Since we were going from black to white it took 4 (!!) coats to turn all this moulding and trim white. I did seriously consider stripping and refinishing the top railing to match the tops of the stairs, but to be perfectly honest, we were running out of steam in the sanding department and I thought they would look really good all white anyway.

Big shout out to our good friend Alex Dykstra who was a champion painter and also stripped and sanded all the trim pieces for the stairs.  He is a master carpenter in the making ya’ll.  Also to Lindsay Schramm for her priming skills.

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After sanding, Trevor conditioned the stairs. The stain needs to be applied within 2 hours of the conditioning process.

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Then the staining began. We used a Dark Oak stain.

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We just did one coat of stain letting it dry for 8 hours. Next came the varnish. This was an oil based high gloss varnish. This took longer to dry but is the hardest wearing kind of varnish you can apply. We left between 6-8 hours for each coat of the varnish to dry. Can you see why we wanted to do this before we moved in? If we were living here we could have done the every other stair option, but 1) it would have taken twice as long and 2) I think our 2 and 3 year old might have struggled a little to remember to not step on the stairs and what stairs they were allowed to step on.

At this point, it started looking amazing.DSC_9535 DSC_9536

We added the trim back on and the stairs were done!

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I’m so happy with how they turned out. 🙂

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Goodbye’s and Hello’s

Many changes of season both physically and metaphorically seem to be upon our family right now.

I said a very tearful goodbye to my sister a couple weeks ago as she headed off to do an 1 year internship at a church in New Zealand. She is going to join my brother there that works full time at the church she will be interning with and while I absolutely know that she is going to love her time there… I already miss her dearly. I prayed and prayed that before she left home I would live close to her again. The Lord very graciously answered my prayer, but now of course I realize that there would have never been “enough” time… I would always selfishly want more. We had a small “Bon Voyage” party for her before she left.

We had games and a few small activities planned which never ended up happening because people just wanted to visit and talk and love on Hannah… which was perfect. I even held it together during the party and only started bawling once I arrived back home. Win.

I made some decorations themed around hot air balloon travel (Hannah loves hot air balloons) which I then forgot to photograph at all. Trevor snapped a couple pictures with his phone before everything got taken down for the night so that was nice, but not the best quality ever. oh well. IMG_0928-001

That picture frame above said, “please leave a memory, a prayer or words of wisdom to encourage Hannah in the year ahead”. IMG_0929-001

super easy bunting made from an old resale shop atlas. IMG_0930-001

these were probably the biggest flop of the night. I had helium balloons that I foolishly thought would be strong enough in their buoyancy to hold up the thinest tule that I could find at the store… I had seen something on pinterest of course. Well, the idea was to cut off the basket handles and make it look like a hot air balloon. Well, long story short, the standard size balloon is not made to hold up even the lightest object and I resorted to holding them up with twigs I gathered. It didn’t really look like a hot air balloon or… anything really. I made one and started laughing… but what can you do? It was the day of the party and I didn’t have anything else planned. I’m not sure it falls into the pintrocity category, but it sure as heck didn’t look like a hot air balloon! IMG_0934-001 IMG_0935-001

Oh my Hannah. Be brave baby girl… You were made for greatness.

If you’re anything like me you tend to be a little wary of change. Even in my anticipation of change I tend to cling to my familiarity; kissing the old goodbye and greeting the new with a stiff handshake.

We are also saying goodbye to Trevor’s childhood home that we have been renting from his mom since we moved to Michigan which is so bittersweet. It has been such a great home for our family to live for the last year and a half, but we are excited to build memories in a place that we can truly make our own.

We have been on the lookout here and there for houses to buy in the last several months. It’s been a while in coming for us as we had a certain downpayment goal that we wanted to hit before we purchased another home. But a couple weeks ago we decided to go look at an older home that had just come on the market in our desired neighborhood and we just fell in love. We love to do projects, but we weren’t necessarily wanting to take on an entire home remodel. This house felt perfect for us. It’s also ideally located about a block from the park, a few blocks from the lake, library etc. 10957725_10101427488304180_5173273883963944089_n

 

It’s an older home with the charm or quirks that an old home brings, but the first two floors have been completely remodeled. We will paint and decorate, but focus our TLC on the basement and third floor. Everything has been happening so quickly and we close on the house in 1 week… about three and a half weeks after we first walked through the house. I will be showing our updates as we do them and I can’t wait to share them with you! My pinterest boards are brimming and I can’t wait to tackle new projects as we make this house into a home!

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Our house is overflowing with boxes and chaos as the moment as we get ready for this move. The kids are having fun making forts from the masses of boxes and have yet to discover that a lot of boxes of toys have been “packed” for Vinnies (the local resale shop). IMG_7669

I’ve done the majority of the packing during nap times and in the evenings and I’ve discovered NPR’s Serial series on podcast… I’m OBSESSED. Oh man, did Adnan do it? Did jay? You need to listen to it now. So good.

Even in the midst of all this clutter right now, it’s been so good to be able to sort through our things and start to take stock of all the things we need and don’t need. We still have saved a lot of things that we don’t need, but many boxes of unused things will be given away this week. It’s so good to clear out the excess and seems to be a theme of my life at the moment. Find the valuable, lost what you don’t need… lighten the load.

Ok, off to pack more, and obviously listen to the next episode of “Serial”. Genuinely glad I discovered this after the final episode had aired and I don’t have to wait for the next week for the next part of the puzzle. Aint nobody got time for that.

Pizza, Popcorn and pancakes

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Pizza, popcorn and pancakes are the three P’s that bookend the nighttime and morning of any great childhood sleepover. Two of our nephew’s were in town this week staying with my parents and Judah and Eleanor soaked up their time with them like they had never had friends around before. They are the first generation of cousins in our family and I’m excited and curious to see how their relationship grows in the coming years.

Already my nephews seem too grown up compared to the red haired babies that captured my heart with their easy smiles and big blue eyes. DSC_0013

 

At 4, they are this amazing mix of child and little men. Freckled princes that fight dragons by day, but need their bravery renewed with blankets and teddies at night. DSC_9327

 

We wrapped up our week with playtime and pancakes. Confession: up till a few years ago I just couldn’t even eat pancakes. It’s my dad’s favorite morning breakfast, and I know that this is probably the whiniest thing I’ve ever said, because HELLO, how many kids have their mom cook a hot breakfast for them all the time?!, but I just got to the point somewhere in my teenage years where I couldn’t eat one. more. pancake.

However, my husband really likes them, so I finally went on a kick of finding the perfect pancake recipe… I tried tons of recipes and I think this one is the best. This batter is great for waffles as well. So here is my perfect, super fluffy always perfect pancake recipe!

PERFECT PANCAKES:

1 1/2 Cup Milk
4 Tbsp white vinegar (this sours the milk to make it like buttermilk)
2 cups all purpose flour
4 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp Baking soda
1 tsp Baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
4 tbsp melted butter

Combine the milk and vinegar and set aside. You can substitute lemon juice for vinegar if need be. In separate bowls, combine dry ingredients and melt your butter. Mix it all together. It is a really thick batter, so if you would like a slightly thinner pancake, thin it out with some milk.

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