Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A New Look for the Vanity

The main floor has one bathroom.  Although we’re planning to re-do things in there, we want to wait until we have finished a few other things first.  Like the other bathroom in our master room, and trim, and taping and mudding all the seams in the new area, and closets in the mudroom, and a sink for the mudroom, and….  Well there are several things that are just more important than beautifying a hard-working bathroom which is already serving us just fine.

Besides, it’s not like I haven’t done a little to it already.  And it has helped some. I painted the walls, and added a drop cloth shower curtain outside of the shower door, to hide the dark green tiles.  The tiles look new, so it’s wasteful to replace them at this point. But the vanity! It is so dark! And green marble would never be my choice for the countertop. 

I’d love to have bead board wainscot on the walls, recessed shelving and a little cabinet next to the shower, and then a vanity with a hutch kind of thing built alongside it.  It’s all in my head, and I am confident my handyman will have no problem accomplishing it.  But not yet. :)


Well, Saturday, I was washing my hands, looking up at the light fixture. Thinking.  Hmmmmm…. it’s not a bad fixture, I could get some of the metallic paint leftover from the chandelier I just painted in the hallway and see if that would help.

So I pulled in a chair and grabbed the paint and a small artist’s brush.  And I painted it where it was.  No need to take it down.


After it was finished, I decided to take the globes to GW and pick up 3 clear ones at Menards.  They were very affordable at less than $3 each.  And it was much better!  Brighter and prettier.

IMG_9711 IMG_9759

While I was at Menards, I visited the “oops” paint section.  It’s usually one lonely shelf, at the far end of the paint section.  It has paints, etc. that were mixed and then cast aside.  There was one little jar with a charcoal gray kind of dot on the lid.  It looked like it might be a great color for the bathroom vanity.  And for 50 cents, I felt like it was a risk I could afford.


I was so excited to get started on it, that I completely forgot the about the groceries in the back of the van.  Thank goodness it was a cool day!  After almost 5 hours, the ice cream was melting, but everything was ok.

I sanded the vanity, primed it, and painted a total of 2 coats of the gray paint.  Then I lightly sanded some of the decorative parts.

It was only slightly inconvenient for everyone. 

But I love how it turned out!


I also painted the mirror with the metallic paint, and changed the fabric on the bi-fold panel.  I had enough of a long piece of lace fabric to replace the 2 outside panels and then I cut part of an old white linen tablecloth for the center. I didn’t even hem the bottoms this time, just cut them so they draped softly.  Since I don’t imagine the panel being here permanently, this was a happy compromise for me.

What do you think?





Even the green marble countertop isn’t quite as…. green!


Here’s a side by side comparison.


 IMG_9708  IMG_9746


It wasn’t at all what I had planned for Saturday, which was to weed, but it was a very fruitful day nonetheless!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

On Kids and Chores and Gratitude

(This post is in response to a sweet comment on the girls’ garden party post. Although I didn’t intend originally to make my reply a blog post (!) by the time I was finished I couldn’t post it in my comment section because it was too long, and I thought maybe someone else might find something of benefit in our conversation.)
Hi Sandy!

I'm very glad you commented! It brought tears to my eyes when I read that you had a miscarriage, (I'm so sorry!) and that God used the words He gave me in that letter to comfort you.  I kept thinking about that yesterday - with amazement.  Truly it is not to us, but to Him belongs glory.  His kindness and mercy reach beyond anything we can imagine, don't they?
Thank you for your kind words about our home, too. Oh my! How God has sanded some pointy corners off me in that area.  :)  I'm thrilled for you that you can be home and homeschool your 2 little littles.  You'll never regret it!  It's hard work - but it's the best kind of hard work I've ever known.
I am happy to share some of the things we do in our efforts to maintain order around here.  Feel free to sift through them and add them to your mixing bowl as your family grows and changes.  Although I imagine your philosophy will remain consistent, your approach will most likely have several transitions.  I know mine has!  
I look for ways the kids can learn to be responsible and feel their contribution is important to our family. For instance, everyone has a laundry day, where they are in charge of running all the dirty laundry through the washer and dryer. We all help fold and put away each day, but only one is in charge of making sure it all gets clean! During busy school days, they can change a load in between subjects, or before or after lunch.

For years, we've had "teams" for kitchen clean up. I spent time in the beginning showing them the things I wanted them to do, wipe counters, clear the table, vacuum, etc. The makeup of the teams has changed many times, depending on the age and ability of the kids.  For a while we've had the girls alternating days with the boys. Recently Glenn had a great suggestion for a change that we are all very pleased with! Instead of the teams doing all 3 meals for each day, we have switched things up.  So now the twins and Olivia take care of breakfast clean up, Kate and Noah do lunch, and Alix and Luke do dinner.  The kids think this is great! So you see how we have maintained our philosophy that the kids should be helpful and learn responsibility in the kitchen - but our approach for the way they are doing that has modified.

We don't have assigned jobs for the kids regarding most things. If they want to assign the tasks within their teams when they clean, they do. But our attitude has been that we all are blessed to be in this family together, so we all work together. I'll call different kids to set the table each night, or to run in and fold a couple of loads, or to take the trash out.  And although I try to mentally keep track and spread it out among them, we emphasize that there is no perfect "evenness" of effort.  Life will never be perfectly "fair”, and we want them instead to feel thankful.  Thankful they have healthy bodies and minds and can do the things that need to be done around a house. Thankful they are blessed with many sisters and brothers and can serve each other... and know the blessing of being served! :) We want them to have willing, obedient hearts no matter what they are asked to do.

We clean house on Saturdays - sometimes Friday afternoon if we have time.  I showed the kids the way I wanted them to clean the kitchen/bathrooms, vacuum, etc. when they were younger. When they were little, they all came with me with rags in hand and we worked together. Now they can do it without me.  We wipe down the kitchen and bathrooms, clean the toilets and wash the bathroom floors, take out trash, and vacuum. They take turns each week, deciding among themselves now and pairing up for the jobs they know need to be done.
Their rooms are their responsibility, and although we like them to be generally picked up by the end of the day, I don’t require everything in its place. I used to, but not anymore. So they help each other pick up toys and clothes.  But sometimes after a particularly busy day, I may find myself stepping over clothes that were tossed aside, or books strewn about, as I sit down to read to the little girls in their beds.  And it’s ok.  Even though I like things tidy, I’d rather spend time at night reading to them, then cleaning up.  I’ve realized that now is when they are my little babies, too soon they won’t be little anymore.

I've learned to alter my expectations of them, depending on age/experience, etc.  And although they work hard, they aren't going to do it exactly like I would.  And that's ok!  I just try to be part of the teams every couple of weeks so I can catch something they may have missed. 

Can I share a funny story with you about this?  One night after dinner, about 7 years ago, I remember feeling frustrated with poor 10 year old Luke.  He was using the shop-vac in the kitchen after dinner and I noticed he was missing what I thought were incredibly obvious crumbs! Probably on purpose! I began to point out the error of his ways to him, when Glenn stopped me and pointed out something *I* was missing.  I remember saying something like, "I don't think you care about those crumbs on the floor" to Luke.  And then Glenn gently said, "He's a 10 year old boy.  You're right, he doesn't care about the crumbs on the floor."  :) What a light bulb moment for me! How ridiculous I had been! I laugh right now as I think about it.
The kids are learning practical, helpful things about stewardship and responsibility as we teach them how to clean, and how to order things, etc. But their motivation for doing this is entirely different than mine!  They want to please me with their efforts. They really don't care about how many dangerous germs they have just removed from the bathroom. What matters to them is that I am happy with their efforts, and that God sees their obedience. So I try to remember to encourage them as they are working.  They love to hear words of praise, it makes them work even harder! Especially if I point out something specific they have done well, when they didn't realize I had noticed. And when we're finished with our Saturday chores, or preparing the house for company, I often call everyone to me and say something like, "Thank you for all your hard work!  I couldn't have done it without you! You've blessed me."  Even the big kids love to hear that.

Well, I was afraid I would have a hard time keeping this short!  And I was right! :)  I'm glad to share the things God has taught me with you, anytime you ask, Sandy. I'm learning every day myself.

Monday, May 27, 2013

DIY Chalkboard

After seeing several versions of DIY chalkboards, I really wanted to try one of my own.  The mudroom/pantry seemed like a good place to put one.

So one day, in between coats of paint on the kitchen cabinets, I went out to the cobhouse in search of pieces for a chalkboard.

To me the cobhouse is like my own private salvage yard.  During our remodeling last year, we put many, many pieces of trim board, scraps of wood, and more in the cobhouse.  Just in case we could use them later. I love to go out and look over all it all. 

After scrounging around, I found 4 boards that seemed perfect to me.  And one of them was a beautiful piece of trim with moldings that had been over a doorway.



A little sanding and wiping down, and a little paint would surely help them out.  (there were 4 pieces, but one of them was leaning out of this shot, against the house)

With some help from Kate, I sanded them down lightly, and then applied 2 coats of primer.  One coat of my trim paint was all they needed afterwards. 

Then my Handsome Carpenter helped me measure the length we thought would look good for the finished product.  He had to trim a little off the edges of one or two of the trim boards to even them up.  Next he went to Menards, bought a piece of primed plywood for the chalkboard, and cut it to fit inside the trim.

2 coats of chalkboard paint gave just the right amount of coverage.

Here’s what I used!


Rustoleum 1 Quart Chalkboard Tint Base Paint 243783


It took less than 2 hours to dry outside on a breezy, sunny day.



Glenn used a combination of wood glue and screws to put it all together.  And then I sanded lightly with a sanding block to give it a “loved” look.



I insisted on a picture. 

He’s so handsome. 

I love his dimples.



We let the paint cure for 3 days, and then I conditioned it.  This was easy!  I just took a piece of chalk, laid it on its side and rubbed all over the chalkboard.  Then I took a dry, soft cloth and wiped it all off.  And that was it!



It’s so heavy, we just leaned it up against the wall.  Don’t worry!  It’s not going anywhere.  :)


I think it will blend better when the rest of the trim is finished around the window and doorway, but at any rate… I love it!

It’s irresistibly hard to walk by it without drawing on it or writing something.


As for the kids…  what do they think of it?

This picture really sums it up…


Friday, May 24, 2013



We have a new member of our family!  Here she is…



She is a 2 1/2 month old German Shepherd/Mastiff mix.

Sweet as can be.


She’s here primarily as a result of Alix’s many years of faithful, and fervent, prayers for a dog. All of the kids are in love with her and during her 1 week as a part of our family, she has received as much love and attention as any puppy could hope for.


The story of how God brought her to us is a reminder of God’s faithfulness and perfect timing.  For in the same way that the Proverbs say the king’s heart is like streams of water in the LORD’s hand – that He turns it wherever He pleases, God turned the heart of the puppy’s previous owner to find favor with us.


We originally bought her almost 3 weeks ago.  But after 3 hours, just enough time for the kids to fall in love with her, her owner called to say she hadn’t realized we were going to keep Promise outside.  She was very fearful about coyotes getting her and about Promise being neglected by the kids since she wouldn’t be inside the house every day.  She also told us that because of Promise’s Mastiff lines, her short hair wouldn’t keep her warm enough in the winter if she was outside at night.  

And although Alix was heartbroken when I told her, she looked at me with tears trickling down her cheeks, caressing the puppy in her lap, and said, “This is one of those trials that we’ve talked about, that God is giving to us to strengthen our faith.  We don’t understand it right now, but we trust Him, right Mom?”


So we gave her back. 

And truly, there was much weeping in our home that day.


We spent the next 2 weeks looking for puppies.  And both times we found one, the shelters changed their minds within 24 hours, and we had no puppy after all.

Then last Monday, Glenn asked me what I would think of calling Promise’s owner.  He had kept a correspondence with her because she wanted to help us find another puppy, one that was 6 months old or older, and could protect itself against a coyote.  She runs a dog rescue shelter in her home and is on several lists of dogs in urgent situations, and had emailed us a few times to try to match one for us.

Glenn suggested to me that we keep Promise crated in our mudroom at night, and then take her outside each day, until she was old enough to protect herself against the coyotes.  (She will certainly be big enough!)

  Then if our barn/garage isn’t ready by next winter, we could make a heated dog house for her in our cobhouse. I thought it was a great idea. But I had doubts the owner would change her mind.


But God moved her heart like a stream of water. He directed it where He chose.


And this sweet puppy is home. 


Loved and adored by all of us.


Well maybe not quite all of us yet.   Ahem…


But they are making progress…

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Garden Party

Alix and Kate have been planning their first garden party at Kenilworth for at least… ohhh... 2 months or more.


They made a list of guests, planned the food, made decorations and prepared for the day.  Although it was overcast and raining occasionally throughout the morning, the Garden Party was a sweet success.  The girls just moved it indoors and had a grand time.


They asked me to pray for them before they started, which I was honored to do.  Then I added a couple of suggestions about seeds and other “food dangers” and how to handle them in a ladylike way, per one of our etiquette books.

For example, the grapes we were serving happened to be the extra large kind with a few seeds in the center.  Did you know that traditional etiquette says to remove the seeds the same way they went into your mouth?  So if you ate the grape by hand, which is most likely, you should take the seeds out of your mouth by hand and place them discreetly on the edge of your plate.  I think the key word here really is discreetly.

Or you could just swallow them, which I know at least one of the girls chose to do.  ;)



After a delightful time of eating, the girls played a few games, and took pictures of each other. 


IMG_9056 IMG_9053


It was a lovely time of fellowship between friends and cousins.


Monday, May 20, 2013

A Shiny New Chandelier

When I first saw this chandelier, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. But it was such a great buy at $9.99, I couldn’t pass it up.


I started with some metallic silver spray paint.  But it was just not right.

So I sanded some of the silver off, but it was still not quite right. 

Too much of the black was showing through.

But by now I was beginning to get a clearer image in my mind of what the chandelier could look like. I wanted something that resembled brushed metal.

Olivia and I went off to Menards for a mother/daughter search for the perfect paint.  We went to a section that had metallic paints and looked through their selection. After a few minutes of comparing, we chose a color called “Champagne”. 

Once we got home, I used a small craft paint brush to apply the paint.  It took only 2 coats and then a few touch ups here and there.


We also replaced the socket covers, since the old ones were cracked and burnt.  This turned out to be the most challenging part of the project!  The chandelier needed 3 inch covers, and we could only find 4 inch, which is apparently the standard size for those types of covers.  After hunting around online, we decided that the easiest solution was to buy the 4 inch and cut them down to 3 inch. My handy handyman had them finished within minutes.

Here is the “new” chandelier!  I love it.  It’s so much prettier. Don’t you agree?


Here is a shot of the old flush mount compared to the new chandelier. 



Such a difference the light fixture made!


From this:


to this:



All with a little paint! 

Friday, May 17, 2013

I Finally Painted the Kitchen Cabinets

If you really know me, you knew the day had to come.  Sooner or later, I had to paint the kitchen cabinets. 

The kitchen was just too…. brown.  Although the cabinets are almost new, and in excellent shape and very nicely made, the cherry stain and the dark stained hardwood was just too dark, and really not my style.



White and neutrals are soothing and serene for me.  They refresh and revive me.  :)

There were a few helpful and concerned friends who really abhorred the idea of me painting beautiful stained cabinets.  They cajoled.  They pleaded.  One even threatened to take away my white paint and all my painting tools! 

They’re so funny.

But if you know me, you knew I would paint them.  You knew it all along.  And you didn’t try to dissuade me, or tell me I was making a big mistake.  You just smiled and nodded knowingly when I told you my plans.

I read many, many tutorials on painting kitchen cabinets.  No two people did it exactly the same way.  I learned some very helpful tips, like putting Vaseline or Chapstick on the inside edges of the cabinets and drawers after they are painted, to keep the paint from sticking as the paint completely cures.  This was hilarious because we all kept forgetting it was there.  So we would open a cabinet and smear our fingers on greasy Vaseline.  Several times, I saw one of the kids wiping their hands off on their pants after getting a drinking glass out of a cabinet.  But it worked wonders.  The paint has stayed in place.

One blogger in particular,, had the best idea yet.  Instead of doing the entire kitchen at once, she broke hers down into 3 weeks.  Wow!  What a great idea! 

We have company here almost every weekend, and I didn’t want our kitchen to be a mess, with cabinet doors everywhere while we had guests.  So I began with the wall of cabinets where the refrigerator is.  Turns out this was sheer, accidental genius on my part.  Not to brag. 

That’s because after I finished that section and moved on to my other 2 in succession, I realized the first one had had the most  nooks and crannies to try to poke a paint brush into, as well as the most doors to take apart and put back together.

I left everything in the cabinets, since I didn’t need to paint the insides.


I took off all the hardware for each door or drawer, put them into little baggies and numbered them in order of how I took down the doors.  Then these little baggies followed their doors or drawers wherever they went.  When the doors were being painted outside, the baggies were on the floor or the bench directly in front of their door.  When I brought the doors in at night to dry in between coats, the baggies came in, too, sitting right in front of their assigned door. 


Taking off the hardware and removing the doors, and then replacing it all afterwards was very time-consuming.  For the first section of cabinets alone, it took me almost 2 hours to put the hardware back on and hang them when they were finished. It was about the same amount of time to remove them. But it was worth it.  It’s just not possible to get a smooth look while trying to paint around handles and hinges.

I started by painting 2 coats of Zinsser oil-based primer, using a midget foam roller and a small brush for the hard to reach corners.  I made sure to sand before I started, and between each coat of primer, and I painted with light, thin coats to minimize dripping.

Then I used a 2 1/2 inch Purdy paintbrush to paint the semi-gloss paint on the doors and drawers.  I sanded between every coat.  Yes, it was time consuming, but I think it really made a difference in the final look. I painted 3 coats of my Crisp Linen white trim paint, the same color I have used on all the trim and in the dining room and our new area. 


Don’t forget to use paint conditioners.  For the oil-based primer, I added Penetrol.  Then with the latex, semi-gloss paint, I added Floetrol.  That was another tip I learned from this blogger,  The conditioners make an unbelievable difference!  They make the paint a little thinner, so it is easy to apply, they help lengthen the drag time in case you see a spot you want to touch up while you’re painting, and they help the finished look to be free of brush strokes.  The additives work like a charm.  And they are inexpensive.

Floetrol Qt. Latex Paint Conditioner

I also spray painted the mounting hardware for my little sink curtains.  The rod was already silver, but the holders and screws were brass.  Since they would be a little more obvious against the new white cabinets, I decided to go ahead and take care of them while everything was already a mess.  So I stuck the screws in a little green floral foam block to keep them upright, and sprayed them and the brackets with some silver metal spray paint.


They matched the rod perfectly!


For 3 weeks, I started each of my cabinet “zones” on a Monday morning. In between monitoring school for the kids, and other household tasks, I painted and sanded.  I have to admit that by the third week, it wasn’t quite as “fun”, and I had lost a little of my original zeal and enthusiasm. But I couldn’t exactly quit, right? 

And now…. I love it!!  I’m so glad I did it.  The kitchen is now so bright and cheery.  For the first few days, Glenn said it felt “disorienting” to walk into the room because it just looks so different! 

One funny thing I realized was that although I hadn’t liked the pattern or color of the marble countertops when the cabinets were brown, I am perfectly content with them now that the cabinets are white.

Although we’re not completely finished, the girls told me to go ahead and post pictures.  So I will.  :) 

Here are a few “before” and “after” shots:









And just a few different angles…





We plan to put up a beadboard backsplash, some pretty decorative brackets under the upper cabinets, and some finials on the lower ones, to look like feet.  But that is a few weeks away.  Eventually, we will also replace the 2 cabinet doors above the range with a solid face and a mantle.

But for now, it’s good. :)


Have a great day!