Saturday, December 17, 2011

A few of my favorite (house) things...

We are very happy with our new home. I love that it is old and has all the charm and details of an old home! A few of my favorite features:

Lots of cupboards means that I can have one dedicated to just jars! I love opening this up to get one out!

This little corner cupboard is in the dining room and is just darling. I want to add some more shelves, and then it will be really handy.

Our house has two French doors - the front door and then this one off the kitchen leading to the laundry room. They are so pretty!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Settling in (and some Improving)

We've mostly settled in, although I still need to hang things on the walls and finish organizing a couple of rooms. We've been able to do some small improvements - I am continually re-amazed at how much of a difference cleaning, painting, and removing or replacing (small) things can make! I was really bad at taking before pictures, since we were so focused on doing things, but I did get a couple (although they are mostly in-progress pictures).

The living room - this room we painted, and I love the cheery yellow (it was a dirty, dingy white)

The kitchen - this is my favorite room in the house, which is funny because when I first saw the pictures of this house online during our hunt, the pictures of the kitchen made me cringe. We removed the doors on some of the cupboards and I am loving the open shelves! I also replaced the foil-covered burner pans on the stove and I feel like I have a whole new stove!

Before Pictures:

The dining room had old ugly wallpaper (the sellers also left their huge, heavy treadmill which is still sitting in our garage until we figure out how to get rid of it), which we started removing. The first layer peeled off easily, leaving the lower layer firmly stuck to the wall. I started scraping that off - my plan is to paint the top half of the wall yellow, and the trim blue, but that will happen sometime next year!

Here's what it looks like right now:
My drying rack is also in there right now, which helps with the electric bill! =)

And, on with the tour!

I have to admit that the bathroom isn't my favorite room, probably because it needs the most work. The bathtub and the surrounding tile wall (and the floor, probably) need to be ripped out to fix the water damage behind there. We have a shower curtain covering the falling-off tiles until we can get to it - hopefully sometime this spring/summer.

I do like the linen closet, though. We removed the ugly, plastic, accordian-style door and I'm planning on hanging a cute curtain there.

The bedrooms are small; ours pretty much is what you can see, except for the closet behind the door, and the dresser next to that. Curtains for this room are first on my list, since there are no blinds, and I'd like to replace the black plastic garbage bag we have hanging there right now! =)

The kids' room before:

Dark, ugly paneling - not a very attractive room.

And now:

We painted the paneling, and that made a world of difference! The room is bright and happy now. Red will be the main accent color in their room - I can't wait to get some red curtains at the window for some color! Ezra has just about outgrown his basket, so after Christmas we'll be getting another bed set up for Joanna, and he'll be moving into the playpen.

The laundry room is definitely still in progress. There's a bunch of stuff in it that needs to be moved to the gargage, and I'd like to put up some more shelving. We did remove some built-in shelves to make room for our chest freezer, since I preferred that to not have to be in the garage. I'm loving the new-to-us washer and dryer! The house didn't come with those, and after a few unsuccessful tries at getting some off Craigslist, we were able to find these at a used appliance store.

And last but not least is the office/library/sewing room.
This is technically Seth's office, but my sewing stuff and our books are also in there. This room mostly just needs organization, but Seth also has plans for painting and someday replacing the ugly built-in shelving that is currently there.

That's our house! We are absolutely loving it and are so thankful for it! We do have lots of work to do (we also have to do some electrical and other work), but are very encouraged by the small improvements we've already done. I'm looking forward to the spring, when I can get outside and dig a garden and plant some flowers!

Our House

Our house was such an unexpected blessing. We had not expected to be able to buy a house for years, mostly because we hadn't realized how low house prices had come, but also because we thought we needed a much bigger down payment than was actually required. Although I wanted my own house eventually, I was fine with renting. Earlier this spring, when we were seriously looking for a bigger apartment, we were frustrated when we couldn't seem to find anything. Several places that looked promising just didn't work out for one reason or another. Then all of a sudden prices went up, and what we needed just wasn't affordable anymore. I knew that God would provide something for us, but I was impatient and anxious when nothing seemed to open up. I had no idea that he wasn't letting us get an apartment because he had a house waiting for us! One day just after Ezra was born, Seth just happened to look at a real estate site and he was amazed when he saw what a monthly mortgage payment would be. Everything followed from there - visiting the bank to find out what we might qualify for, looking at houses. We found one house that we were going to put an offer on, but it went off the market that very day (only to come back on right after having the accepted offer on our house) - can God speak any plainer than that?
Our house was the first house we had seen that fit our needs and seemed to be in pretty good shape. It is an old house, so it does need some work, but it is definitely livable, and everything it needs can be done slowly, as resources (time and money!) become available. We feel so incredibly blessed and are so amazed with all that God has done for us!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Moving, Part 2

After four long months of waiting, our house finally closed November 3. After the sellers moved out, we spent the first week cleaning, painting, making a few minor improvements, and moved in November 12. We have been busy getting settled and enjoying our little home and I can't wait to share pictures!

Hopefully they will be coming soon! =)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Moving, Part 1

It's been a while!

This house-buying/moving season has been a crazy whirlwind for us.

First there was the short sale that was taking longer than we were hoping.

Then there was the landlord, who, since he knew we were going to be moving, decided that he wanted to rent out our apartment before he went to Arizona for the winter.

Then there were anxious days, wondering where we were going to live for a couple of months while we waited for our house to close, followed by an answered prayer through some friends at church who needed to rent out their condo.

A huge provision and blessing! Far beyond what we truly needed for our short stay, we have thoroughly enjoyed our two bedrooms, washer and dryer, numerous closets, and lovely back patio area where the kids can get outside often.

Moving day was an eye-opening affair. Seeing the enormous pile that was our belongings was overwhelming. How did we fit all of that into our little apartment? We try to live simply and don't buy a lot but somehow we had amassed a disgusting amount of stuff. We spent quite a bit of time purging, followed by a garage sale that earned a little money to put aside for a larger table, as we are definitely outgrowing ours!

Most of our things have stayed in boxes, since I didn't want to have to pack everything back up again. I have enjoyed having less stuff around and expect that when we unpack everything in our house, I probably will trim down even more!

The short sale on our house was officially approved at the end of September, and we are now in the middle of the loan process, so the plan is that we will be moving again the second weekend of November! We are so excited to be settled in our own house. We have been on an emotional roller coaster ride these past few months but have been blessed and encouraged by God's blessing, provision, and grace that we have experienced. Onward and upward!

Sunday, August 21, 2011


the best way to be organized is to not be organized at all!

For a long time I thought the best way to organize my plastic lids was to keep them with their corresponding container. That way, they were right where I needed them. But lids are awkward and they were always getting in my way, or falling out of the cupboard, or something. It really wasn't the best way!

Then one day I had a brainstorm. What if I put all my lids in a drawer? They wouldn't be falling out of the cupboards or getting in my way, but I'd always know where they were. I had already packed some kitchen stuff up, so I had an empty drawer. All my lids are in one place, and I just dig around for the one I need. I've been doing this for a couple of months now, and it is one of my most useful organizing ideas ever! It really makes my life a little simpler!

A Busy Month...

Seth just started his Master's degree, which meant he was gone for 10 days. We're still waiting for approval on the Short Sale house we're trying to buy, but we have to move out of our apartment at the end of the month, which means boxes...everywhere! Life gets crazy sometimes, but we're thankful for a God that always provides, family that is always willing to help, and the fun little things that make every day special!


Freshly dried lavendar
The start of homemade healing salve (calendula infused oil)
A trip to the zoo
The laughter of children
Lots of love
Projects getting closer to completion!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Around our Home

We have been enjoying:

Fresh Summer Fruit
Since I rarely buy plastic wrap or foil, I thought I'd try using one of my fabric bowl covers on the watermelon. It worked great - if you go a couple of days without using it, the edges can get a bit dry, but that's not a big deal, and it stays securely on the watermelon, unlike foil!

Playing in the Closet
This makes the perfect little hideaway!

Fresh Sprouts
Using a bowl to prop up the jar is such an obvious solution, I don't know why I hadn't thought of it before!

Ezra's Cute Smiles
That's the best picture I've been able to get so far!

A Trip to the Beach

I was lucky enough to grow up with grandparents who lived right on the beach. I have so many memories of spending summer days (and days during the rest of the year, too) on their beach. And I want my kids to have some of those memories, too. So Saturday we drove up to visit my grandma and enjoy some time on the beach. Thankfully, it was a beautiful day (rare for us this summer), and the kids had a great time playing outside.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

These Days

When Benjamin was a baby, I remember being a little overwhelmed with taking care of a baby and a home. I just didn't seem to have time to get everything done. I remember mentioning to my mom that I didn't know how people were able to care for a baby and older children - and I especially didn't know how they were able to also do things like crafts!

Thankfully, things have gotten easier since those baby days. Thinking about that, it's kind of funny that I now have a baby, two other children, am usually able to get most of my housework done, and am still often able to work on craft or other projects!

And I'm not trying to say that I have it all together (because I certainly don't), or that we don't have bad days (because we certainly do), but for the most part, our days run relatively smoothly. Somehow new babies just fit into your life (and they're much easier when they're not your first!). Having Joanna, I remember, was a bit of an adjustment as I learned how to take care of more than one child, but since I already have that down, Ezra has just kind of fit right in without too many ripples. I am so thankful for that - another example of the fact that God doesn't give us more than we can handle!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Fresh from the garden...

The first spring I was married, our apartment had a community garden that I was able to take advantage of to grow some of our own produce. Since then, I have been limited to container gardening on our deck, and it hasn't gone well.

This spring, though, my parents offered my brother (who also lives in a condo) and I garden space in their back yard. We took them up on it, and so this year we have been blessed with our own fresh produce once again!

My two garden spots have done quite well, and several times now we have come home with a heaping bag of lettuce, peas, some spinach, carrots, and even a little broccoli! We only got a little spinach and broccoli because the few really warm days we have had this summer caused both to bolt and go to seed quickly. (On a positive note, broccoli flowers are actually quite pretty and made it into a lovely bouquet I also brought home with me!)

I also have beans, tomatoes, onions, and peppers that are still growing - hopefully those will be fruitful as well!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A project in the works...

The past several days I've been really wanting to work on a sewing project, so after a trip to the fabric store, I'm finally going to start on a project that's been in my mind for quite a while. In fact, I had originally planned to have Benjamin's quilt finished before Ezra arrived.

I had a design in mind, but just the other day had a brainstorm and changed it, and it will now not only be a lot faster and easier, but I think it will look better, too.

The fabric is all cut I'm anxious to get sewing!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Baby Projects...Revisited

Before Ezra was born, I had made a few new baby things - things I was anxious to try out once he arrived. Here's how they're working out:

Because my regular prefolds had been so large and bulky on Joanna when she was a newborn, I had taken some of my diapers and cut them down into smaller contoured diapers I thought might fit better on a small baby.

These do fit much better - they're not bulky at all - but unfortunately I think that there is not quite enough to them, because they leak pretty badly. However, I do think that the fault might lie more with Ezra than the diapers because I have had a number of leaks even when I use my regular diapers, a problem that was extremely rare with the other kids. I think that he might just be a really heavy wetter. So while the contours fit really nicely, I'm only using them as back-up diapers right now, simply because I prefer a bulky diaper to wet clothes.

I decided not to purchase a $20 swaddling blanket in favor of making my own for just a couple dollars. I am so glad I did! I absolutely love this blanket - it is lightweight yet warm and is the perfect size to get a nice snug swaddle that won't come undone. I think this might be a new go-to for nice but inexpensive baby shower gifts!

After using this a few times with Joanna on my back and liking it, I was anxious to try this with a new baby. I just have to say - I have finally found a baby carrier that works! I have now used this for a couple hours at a time with no neck or back pain! That is so exciting to me! There is a bit of a learning curve, with the long straps and having to tie everything up, but it's pretty simple once you get the hang of it. It has been great for taking walks or doing some shopping, and it works wonderfully for helping Ezra go back to sleep when he wakes up early from a nap! I am absolutely loving this! I still think I would make the straps a bit narrower if I were to make another one, but the wide straps haven't really bothered me, and overall I am extremely pleased with it!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Potty Treats

Although Benjamin has been fully potty-trained for a number of months now, sometimes he has a challenging day (or week, or longer), and I've found that bringing back the "potty treats" is the best way to encourage continued success. In fact, sometimes we have a bit too much success - he often goes from seemingly forgetting the potty chair is even there to all of a sudden having to go use it every five minutes. But I suppose doling out a few extra gummy bears is better than having to clean up a few extra messes!

Monday, June 27, 2011

New Uses for Old Shirts

Usually, when we have a t-shirt that is worn out or just isn't wanted anymore, I cut it up for rags. However, I have found several ways to make even better use of an old t-shirt!

There are lots of tutorials out there showing you how to turn a t-shirt into yoga-type capri pants. I used this tutorial, which was great except for the waistband instructions. I didn't understand what you were supposed to do with the waistband, and ended up finishing it my own way, adding elastic to the waistband so it fit better. I absolutely love these pants! They look better on than they do in the picture, and they are so comfy! Perfect for a lazy summer day.

After I made the black yoga pants, I planned to make another pair from another t-shirt Seth didn't need, but then stumbled across this tutorial for how to make a skirt from a t-shirt, so I thought I'd try that instead. It required me learning a new technique - shirring - which was a lot easier than it looks! I didn't do as many rows of shirring as is instructed in the tutorial, since the skirt was already a bit on the shorter side. The end result is super comfy and pretty cute, too! Definitely something I'll be making again!

Once I'd made my skirt, I followed another tutorial on the same site - for making a bib from the rest of the t-shirt! This was another quick and easy project, and I absolutely love it! This bib covers great and is easy on/off with no snaps or buttons! Even if you don't want to make the skirt, this bib is worth cutting up an old t-shirt for!

While rags are great, I'm thrilled to have some new resourceful ways to use an old t-shirt!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Three Weeks!

These past three weeks have flown by as we have been settling in, enjoying our sweet little baby, and slowly getting back to doing all of our normal stuff.

The older kids love little Ezra and take any opportunity to snuggle with him!

My little helper!

There is nothing as sweet as a brand new baby to cuddle.

And in the midst of having a new baby and getting back to normal life has been the fun, overwhelming, and crazy busy adventure of house hunting! Somehow, while searching for a new apartment, we came to the realization that we could purchase a house for the same (or less) cost as renting. We found one darling little house that sold just as we went to make an offer, which was very disappointing. So we have to believe that something else is out there for us - and we are hoping (and praying) that we will find it soon!