September 25, 2015

Sixteen Days: Food Storage

One goal I had in mind when I set up my Sixteen Days of Getting My House in Order was to rethink our household food storage.

Our kitchen is not large, and therefore does not offer many options for food storage.  One way I've worked around this dilemma is to repurpose furniture pieces as food storage areas.

Just this morning we finished "moving in" to one of these repurposed furniture pieces and I quite simply can't believe we didn't do this sooner.

We have needed a designated space for snack items, lunch prep things, plastic utensils, and party items (think birthday candles, candy sprinkles, etc.) for a long time.  This hutch sits directly in the midst of our dining/kitchen/living rooms which makes it an ideal storage place for these items.  The only thing is, when we tried to use it without adequate shelving, it ended up looking like this:

I'm sorry you had to see that.

Once I decided a couple months ago to build shelving in this space, it quickly became a dumping ground.  I justified it by telling myself it was just a matter of time before we solved the problem.

But still.

The red teapot and rice cooker ended up in there after I put open shelving in our kitchen, but they never really belonged and simply took up room.  They now have a designated space in a hall pantry. We also moved the games down to the family room.

Here's the front of this beautiful hutch.  It's been ours for almost 13 years, and it's one of the few pieces Fireman has asked me to please not paint. I originally fell in love with this piece on the JCPenney website, and we waited and waited for a good sale to take the plunge.  It was still frightfully expensive to our young married selves.  I can still remember the delight and celebration of purchasing a quality piece of furniture back then.  It was like we had finally arrived.

The first thing I did was to prime the black interior with SW PrepRite primer, and then I painted two coats of Farrow & Ball's Light Blue.  I used a small sponge roller to paint and it went pretty fast.  I listened to "The Best of..." Midday Connection reruns while I painted because...well..... I love them, too.

Then, Fireman came home.

And before breakfast was over, I had sketched out my shelving idea on a yellow Post-It pad. Here is our conversation in brief:

Fireman: You want CURVES??
Me: I want it to look pretty.  And the curved edges on the shelves will mimic the curves on the front of the doors.  It will look like art.
Fireman (defeated): Why must you make everything so hard.....?

And then I went to the store, and I came back, and he had lovingly crafted this:

I couldn't believe how pretty it was.  And that it had curves.  That he had taken my HARD and made it a reality because he loves me that much.  I'm still getting emotional about it while I'm typing. I told him he's an artist because he truly is.  He just doesn't want to admit it.  

Before supper I primed his beautifully curved shelves, after supper I painted them, and by morning they were ready for move-in.

I split our placemats and table cloths into fall/winter on the left, and spring/summer on the right.  I may have to explain this a few times to my staff for proper future placement.

I already had the 2 woven baskets, and I bought the small wooden bins at Michael's for $6 each (all baskets at Micheal's are 50% off right now).  I had some adhesive-backed blackboard paper leftover from another project, so I traced around my yellow Post-It notepad to make three squares on the paper, then cut them out to stick on the front of the wooden bins.

I told Fireman I may never close the hutch doors again :)

I will end this post by encouraging you.  When I set out to complete these Sixteen Days, I didn't expect the process to be so rewarding.  There were so many small areas in our home I had neglected or kept meaning to address, but never seemed to make them a priority.  Making a list of all these areas, putting myself on a schedule, and then telling you all about it has not only been motivating, but the unexpected delight is that I get to enjoy the fruits of my labor in my very own home.

It feels good to be "watching over the ways of my household" as described in Proverbs 31:27.

For me, it was simply a matter of making a list, having a plan, and getting busy.  Let me encourage you by prompting you to take that first step!  Make your own list, put yourself on a schedule, and see where it leads.  I'll be cheering you on the whole way.

September 21, 2015

Sixteen Days: Stairs and Bravery

The last few weeks I've been preparing a Bible study based on Annie F. Down's book Let's All Be Brave.

According to Annie, painting risers on the stairs as part of my Sixteen Days of Getting My House in Order definitely qualifies as brave.

Here's why:

"The moment you take that first step,
the moment you start,
little seeds of courage,
the ones already planted there right now,
begin to sprout in your heart.
You aren't headed out to find courage.
It's in you, it is blooming,
and it is with you as you say yes 
to things that seem scary."
p. 23, Let's All Be Brave

The thought of painting my stair risers was, indeed, scary for me.  In spite of many hours painting furniture, walls, and various accessories over the years, painting laminated risers in a high-traffic stairway scared me.

I was afraid the paint wouldn't adhere, afraid that it would chip and scuff over time, worried that painted stairs would negatively affect the resale of our home down the road.


Because that's what it was ~ fear.  As I've studied, pondered, and evaluated the concepts of bravery and courage, I'm learning to better recognize and identify fear voices within my own mind.  This has been an intriguing journey for me.  In the past, I haven't been quick to identify certain internal voices as fear, but instead would have described my thoughts using the word "concern," or "nervousness."

As I'm becoming more self-aware, I'm learning to identify fear for what it really is ~ voices and thoughts set on sabotaging my freedom in Christ ~ and to consider how willing I am to let those fear voices dominate my daily choices.

Even if it's something as silly as painting my stairs.  Because yes, painting stair risers is not a life altering decision.  However, for me, the process of painting these risers last week brought me one step further (pun intended :) on my personal journey of courage and freedom.

The same fear voices I hear when I set out to paint my stairs are the exact same voices I will hear when I worry over my children, or feel a prompting to reach out to someone hurting, or agree to teach a class at church. 

Fear voices are prolific, but only if I let them be.

Now about those stairs....

I had this beautiful picture in my mind ~ a seed if you will ~ that was overdue to bloom regarding these stairs. Adding this home project to my Sixteen Days calendar was just the impetus I needed to take that first step.  And Annie F. Downs was exactly right:  The moment I placed the first run of blue tape on the first stair, my courage began to grow.

The thought of sanding all those narrow risers by hand would have certainly pushed me over the edge, so I opted instead to rub a Sander/Deglosser over each riser with an old rag.  The deglosser took the shine off the surface and helped prepare the risers for primer and paint.  When applying, I placed a sheet of wax paper over the stair below to protect it from drips.  I used blue Scotch painter's tape to protect the top of the steps from paint.

After the sander/deglosser dried (about 10 minutes) I applied one coat of Prep-Right primer and let it dry for a couple hours.  The primer application took me two hours, and I listened to Dave Ramsey podcasts the whole time.  I love him.

PrepRite® ProBlock® Primer/Sealer

That evening, I applied one coat of SW ProClassic (color: Creamy) in a Semi-Gloss finish.  The ProClassic line is amazing for cabinetry and trimwork since it self-levels (eliminates brush strokes) and dries with an enamel-like finish.  This coat, too, took two hours to apply. I let the first coat dry overnight before applying a second coat the next day.

ProClassic® Interior Acrylic Latex Enamel

The second coat didn't take quite as long, just over an hour to apply, and gave the risers that quality, professional-style finish that will hopefully be a selling point rather than a detriment should we ever sell this house down the road. 

As you an see, I also painted the ledger boards along both sides of the stairs.

I think I love it. 

For comparison, here is a view of our stairway the week we closed on the house five years ago:

And today, after a large dose of courage:


Bravery doesn't mean abandoning caution.

Bravery doesn't mean throwing yourself into an activity without first counting the cost (Luke 14:28).

What bravery does mean is listening, identifying and evaluating the voices in your head, and stepping out with an assurance of who you are in Christ.

You are not responsible for the outcome; you are responsible for the stepping.

And remember, you aren't headed out to find courage.  It is already in you, through the power of Christ.  And it is blooming.

September 7, 2015

DIY: Antiquing Urns for Fall

Every now and then a girl needs to post a DIY project, especially if it's simple and inexpensive.

If it happens to be the month of September and the project just happens to be fall-themed, even better.

These urns started out as flimsy white plastic containers from a thrift store.  They were $2 each.  I loved the shape and knew I could do something creative with them.

I mixed up a chalk paint mixture of 1/2 cup Sherwin Williams Pussywillow (a gray/taupe color) with 1/2 T unsanded grout and started painting.  Chalk paint sticks to almost anything, including dirty, cheap plastic from a thrift store.  Truly.

Here they are, still damp from the paint.  This picture doesn't look much different; however, the paint color darkens as it dries.

Once dry, I applied Annie Sloan's Dark Soft Wax,

Image result for annie sloan dark wax

with Miss Mustard Seed's waxing brush (although you can use any dry paint brush, or even a soft cloth),

Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint - Wax or Paint Brush - LARGE

...paying special attention to the grooves and curves of the urn.  I wiped off the excess wax with a dry cloth.

You can see how the wax darkened the color of the urn to give it a rustic, aged depth that is SO much better than white plastic.

Filled with dried grass, a few pumpkins, and some colorful gourds, these urns make beautiful table centerpieces.

They would also be beautiful filled with ivy plants.

I love things like this that are extremely inexpensive but make a huge impact.

Happy 'Antiquing Wax' Fall to you and yours ~

September 1, 2015

Sixteen Days: Linens and Sons

What is this love between a mother and a son?

In moments, her heart so overwhelmed it truly aches.

Her soul and spirit pregnant with hope for who he will become.

Right now, a celebration of his nearness.

So many high stakes and choices and crossroads ahead for him...for young men today.

What is this love?

Bending down to retrieve another sock left behind, all the while whispering a prayer for his life-giving and salt spreading and servanthood in the halls of school today.  Because this daily bread is now, this present, and grace abounds right now.

Complete, unconditional forgiveness for the neglected sock in light of these more important things.

Complete, unconditional love to bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things.

A mother's heart beats with the cadence of prayers for her son.

I am listening to a beautiful story in the mornings this week, a love story between a mother and a son.  A God story, really, because in ourselves we simply do not have the capacity to love that long, that completely, and that well.

But He does.  And through our love for Him, we do, too.

I was going to share about linen closets today, and in a sense I guess I have.  The basket of toilet paper, the shaker-style cabinet where I've hidden the extra towels (shhh), the beautiful stack of themed, monogrammed pillow cases from Grandma Coon, the beach towels up high ordered from a Lillian Vernon catalog oh so many years ago....'s straightforward and plain as far as linen closets go, this tiny space in my boys' bathroom.

But it speaks of the life we are living right now, a life that requires cleaning and upkeep and order to maintain a white margin in our days.

I see these charcoal towels and offer a prayer of thanksgiving for two rapidly growing bodies that still need towels every day, who will come find me if they're missing.

I love it when they come find me.

Complete, unconditional love for using all seven towels and not hanging even one of them back up.

It's still a training grounds around here, after all.

But this love?

It pulses with such force and fullness, I may never understand it.

I see yet dimly.

Until that day.....When I shall see face to face.

August 27, 2015

Happy Pink Fall!

For a moment, can we interrupt Sixteen Days of Getting Our Houses in Order to talk about the color pink?

I just picked up the mail and was tickled (wait for it....) pink when I saw the front of the new Ballard Designs catalog.  Have you seen it yet?

And then on page 6, this beautiful chair and ottoman.  In pink.

I don't know about you, but something about this bold pink color reminds me of this ~

And this ~

And this ~

This isn't the first time I've painted or decorated something, only to see within days a similar furniture piece or style.  I like to tell my family I'm ahead of my time.

Truth be told, it's most often coincidental.

Here's a Before of the little pink desk I finished painting last week. Found at a local thrift store, it was pretty beat up and tired-looking, but the the top took stain beautifully, and a good sanding prepped it well for its new pink paint job.  I also spray painted the original handles to freshen them up again.

I think it could hold its own on the pages of Ballard Designs, don't you?  With beautiful Suzanne Kasler perched on its corner?

 The pink little desk that could.  For sale now ~ Check out my All Mimsy FB page if you're interested in joining the new trend this fall :)