About a  month after my husband and I had moved into our first home, one Saturday we woke up and decided “let’s paint our kitchen today!”

Originally, the plan was to just paint over what was currently covering our walls. (dark blue paint)

We knew that there was wallpaper buried underneath a few layers of paint from previous owners, but it didn’t look bad so we figured we could just paint over top of it like they had.  Well, as we were taping up the kitchen in preparation for painting, it turned out that some of the wallpaper behind the stove was peeling off – surprisingly easily.  Curiosity got the best of me and I began to peel, and peel some more, and peel some more… before long, we had peeled the wallpaper off of about half the kitchen, and discovered that there was one very thin layer left behind on top of the drywall (there were no less than 3 layers of wallpaper on our walls to begin with, maybe even more).  Crap.

We googled a bit and figured that the best solution for us would be to use a vinegar and water solution, spray it on the walls, and use a spackle scraper to help us peel off the remaining layer of wallpaper.  This was much easier said than done, and the process of removing the remaining wallpaper took us well over a week of spraying and scraping what we could when we got home from work in the evenings.

Needless to say, it was not a fun job, and looking back on it, we’d have probably been better off knocking out the drywall and installing new, because the amount of putty we had to use to patch the dents we made in the wall with the scraper was astronomical.  A lot of this was due to our frustration and desire to “just get the wallpaper off!”, but some mishaps were inevitable and we’d have probably saved a lot of time in the long run if we’d started with a clean slate.

See all that orange-colored stuff? That's the final layer of wallpaper that is still stuck to the drywall.

After we’d finally gotten all of the wallpaper off and gently washed the walls with a dawn/water mix to remove all of the glue from the wallpaper, we were finally ready to spackle, sand, tape, and prime our walls for our new color.  We had the same color in our kitchen in our old rental home and loved it so much that we wanted to use it again in our new one.  For anyone interested, it’s “Dry Earth” by Valspar.

Ah… doesn’t it feel so much better already?  To me a kitchen should be airy and open-feeling, and changing from a dark blue to a light beige-green makes the kitchen so much more inviting and pleasant to be in!

What do you think?

Stay tuned for yet another DIY kitchen project that we just finished tackling – the last major kitchen project until we replace the countertops and add a backsplash next year. Hint: starts with “new” and rhymes with “babinet boors” :)

Simple Joys

Do any of you have dogs?  Have you ever noticed how the simplest things can make them so, so happy?

We have 2 dogs, Riley (black lab, girl, 2 years old) and Charley (coonhound, boy, 1 year old), and the things that make them so happy are so simple compared to the craziness that we request daily for entertainment or happiness.

For instance:

1) Charley’s nylabone – he LOVES that thing to death.  In fact, if you set it out in the middle of the floor and he sees it, it’s like a brand new toy EVERY time.  He’ll run over and pounce on it, shooting it across our hardwood floors, then grab it and prance around proudly for a few minutes before heading underneath the kitchen table to gnaw on it for a while. So predictable, but still so cute.

2) The couch upstairs.  Our upstairs couch is the old one that the dogs are allowed on.  Riley adores it and I’m pretty sure that she spends ALL day there when we are gone at work.  She wags her tail like crazy when either I or the hubby head up there to watch TV because she gets to be with us and on her beloved couch.

3) A nice soft doggy bed.  We got a new one for Charley recently and his happiness with it is so obvious you can’t help but smile every time you see him snuggled up on his new bed.  An added bonus is that it makes him smell like cedar chips instead of dirt.  SCORE!

(excuse the poor quality, I had to use my phone to take this pic!)

4) Sunbathing.  Both of our dogs love this.  The sun on your skin does feel just wonderful, I agree.  But, with both of the doggies being black, you’d think that their love of the sun would cease a little bit in the summer – but no.  They’ll go out in the backyard and bake (panting the whole time) for as long as they can stand before they come inside for some relief.  This may be an instinctual thing (?) but baffling none the less.

I love our puppies.  They put things into perspective for us and though they are a bit wild and crazy, we love their simple, pure joy.

So, when we moved into this house, we knew that we’d have to do some things to the kitchen to update it and make it more our style.  There wasn’t quite enough counter space (the “island” below wasn’t there when we moved in), and the cabinet faces were super outdated and had so much gunked up paint on them that they weren’t salvageable.  At first, the kitchen was an odd mix of colors, navy, maroon, and beige:

But before we went to work on changing the color scheme to something that fit our style more, we wanted to go ahead and build an island so that we’d have more cooking and food prep surface.  As you can tell in my about me section, I love to cook, and a kitchen without enough counter space was a deal breaker.

We started by drawing out our kitchen in CAD software (yes, we’re engineers) to help us figure out how much clearance we had and how much we’d need to keep between the island and the fridge and the oven so that we could still open everything all the way when needed.  We decided a 33″ base cabinet would work, so we purchased a premade cabinet from Home Depot.  Before we purchased anything else, we brought it home and set it in place for a few days (and even used the box as a temporary countertop) so that we could be sure it wasn’t going to be too large or too small.  It turned out to be just right, so we proceeded with the next step.

Then, we went out and purchased a pre-finished toe-kick from the same manufacturers of the cabinet, a piece of outside corner molding, and a sheet of primed wainscotting to cover the unfinished back (all from Home Depot). We had already decided to do a butcher block counter on the island, so we shopped around and it turned out Ikea was our best bet for that.  Their countertops had great reviews and it was also the cheapest option by far.

To put it all together, we cut to size the toe kick, corner molding (2 pieces for the corners on the “back” of the cabinet), and the wainscotting to cover the unfinished back.

Then, we glued the toe kick to the front with liquid nails and let it dry while we were cutting the butcher block countertop to size.  After the glue was dry, we attached the wainscotting to the back with the TINIEST nails we could find.  This was crucial, because the cabinet we bought was particleboard, and larger nails would cause it to split.  This was by far the hardest part, since there isn’t much of a lip for you to nail the wainscotting into.  You just have to be careful and patient.  There may be a better method to this, but we just kind of went with what we knew.  We didn’t use many of the nails, probably only 12 total around the edges of the cabinet box.  After we’d attached the wainscotting, we glued the corner molding over the back corners, and the cabinet box itself was done!

Voila!  Much better already.  We lucked out because the primed wainscotting was exactly the same color as the rest of the cabinet (and it was evenly primed), so we just left it as it was and didn’t bother with paint.

The countertop was simple in theory – all we had to do was cut the ikea countertop we bought to size and then sand the heck out of it.  However, when you’re not totally careful sometimes you have to re-do things, like we did.  We let our circular saw slip a little bit at the end of the cut, which meant wood splintered in a lot of messy directions, so we had to cut it again to hide our mishap.  After we did that, we sanded, sanded some more, and then sanded some more to hide the edge that we cut.  We followed the directions that came with the countertop to attach it to the cabinet, and…

TA-DA!! An island!  No, it doesn’t match our cabinets exactly, BUT, it cost us under $300 to do, whereas purchasing a similar custom-made island would have been well over $800.

We loved this project, and it only took us one Saturday to complete!

Have you ever built an island?  I’d love to hear about yours!

So today, my husband came by my desk and explained a circumstance that we’ve been dealing with lately and I am so unbelievably proud about how he handled it.

We have some friends who we’ve known for some time now, and we have lately been very concerned about how they are doing spiritually.  We “go” to the same church (I use quotations because we haven’t seen them there in at least 3 months), but their actions and lethargy about attending church and plugging into our community have been signs we’ve interpreted to be that they are losing touch with their God, their savior, their friend.  They rarely think of others before themselves and don’t seem to want to make friends in this amazing city.  They aren’t serving in any way we are aware of, and they don’t seem to be being poured into either.

My husband was the best man in their wedding several months ago, and since then we haven’t seen them but once or twice in passing.  We have desperately hoped for them that they would be rejuvenated by the Lord and want to participate in the incredible power of Christian community, but that just doesn’t seem to be happening.

My husband is closer to the guy in the pair I’m speaking of, and he’s been texting him regularly to make sure they are doing all right and trying to encourage them to engage in their community.  Today, Daniel realized that this person had been giving him exactly the same answers every time he texted him about things, and it was a turning point.

Up until now, we’ve tried to love them by being nice despite the elephant in the room.  Not anymore.  Daniel told him that we KNOW they haven’t been going to church and we KNOW that they aren’t being poured into nor are they pouring out God’s love onto others.  Daniel told him that we are absolutely here for them, but that his attempts to keep his friend accountable have been met with apathy and putting on a facade.  Daniel will not continue to act like a father and pester him about how they are doing and where they are getting involved.

Sometimes, loving other people doesn’t mean being nice to them.  Sometimes it means telling them what they need to hear, regardless of whether or not they want to hear it.  Jesus set this example clearly in the new testament and His movement was so clear to me as Daniel was telling me about his conversation this morning.

Lord, I love my husband and the courage and strength he showed in a simple action of refusing to say what his friend wanted to hear, and instead spoke YOUR words of truth.  Thank you for using our family in your plan and for making it such a blessing to me today! Amen.

Finally I am starting this blog!  I created it about a month ago, before we moved into our new house, and then was quickly swept away by the long list of “to-do” items to make our home, well, ours.  I’m not sure who I will share this blog with yet… for now, I’ll just let it sit here and share with friends on an individual basis, as well as whomever happens to come across it online.  I could spend this post writing about myself, but there’s an “about me” section that’s already there for that, and I really started the blog when I was in the process of packing, because I struggled with that a bit.  So, here’s to an inaugural blog post all about packing for your move!

This most recent move was my second move as a married woman.  The first one was from a duplex in our college town to a rental house in Greenville, and this time was into our first home.  I learned a lot after both moves, and I’ll share what really helped and didn’t seem to help much.

Things that were very helpful for us:

1) PLAN AHEAD!  Start packing several weeks in advance, at least.  The second go round, we started packing about 3 weeks before the moving date, and that was perfect.  I’d pack a few boxes a night, and could still spend time with my husband or just relaxing and watching TV.

2) Label boxes largely and clearly.  This made a huge difference in our second move, since we had a crew of friends helping us move.  I labeled which room the box should go in, whether or not it was fragile/heavy, and what was in the box.  I know lots of people spend TONS of time writing every little thing that is in the box, but we were very general and didn’t have any major issues finding things after we were moved in.  We were also moving ourselves and didn’t need to consider how trustworthy a moving crew was, so your situation may be different.

3) Pack the fragile things early.  This is what really made packing for our first move difficult for me.  I packed the fragile things last (ahem… the day before the move), and by the time I was done I hated bubble wrap with a passion.  Once you’re married and actually have nice, breakable things that were wedding gifts, it’s much more time consuming to pack your dishes and kitchenware.  Lesson learned there. Pace yourself with the breakable stuff!

4) Don’t overpack boxes.  I have a tendency to try and use EVERY nook and cranny in a box.  It’s the engineer in me.  When you’re moving, that’s not necessarily the best approach.  Heavy boxes aren’t good for 2 reasons: 1) you may not be able to lift it  2) the cardboard can tear and all of the things in your box can go spewing all over the place.  Be ok with using lots of balled up newspaper and packaging supplies to fill empty space in boxes!  I was very intentional about this the second time we moved and was SO glad that I had done that.

5) Resist the urge to throw things haphazardly into boxes the day before the move because you’re rushed.  Try to keep some type of organization going throughout the entire process of packing.  You’ll be thankful you did.

6) Try to put everything in boxes.  There will always be at least a few things that are just too awkward to put in a box, but if at all possible, box it.  It makes it much easier to load and unload your moving van.

7) Pack the small things into the moving van first, then large things/furniture last.  The bigger stuff will hold the smaller things in place when you’re in transit, and you can also get your furniture placed correctly in your new home before you fill each room with boxes.  This way, you’re not having to move boxes around so that you can fit your furniture into each room.

8) Have someone be a “director” for the unloading process.  I was the lucky one who got this job when we moved a month ago :)  That person should be one who can tell everyone where to go with what furniture as they exit the truck with something in tow.  This made unloading super-efficient for us.  It took 8 people (none experienced movers) under an hour to have EVERYTHING out of the truck and into our new house. Not bad!

Do you have any recommendations for the moving process?  Though we aren’t planning to move again anytime soon (if ever again), I’d love to hear them!