Sunday, March 29, 2009

Design to Dwell/Sell, Anyone?

Our friends and family often express amazement at how The Man and I get a notion in our head (like painting our entire house) and how quickly we tend to put these ideas into motion. Case in point, this week Lisa LaPorta on the TV show Designed to Sell mentioned her favorite paint color is English Tan. Two days later, our entire main living area is now painted in English Tan.

Well, let me back up a minute. While we're sitting around here waiting to see if the Money Pit will be ours or not, we have a bullet list of repairs to this house that need to be completed if we are to put it on the market successfully. We are diligently working to complete the list so that we will be ready. Or, even if we don't move this time around, it sure is nice to live in a house with fresh clean paint on the walls (minus Sashi's artistic marker creations or the bumps and dings created by countless light saber wars...). Knowing we needed to paint, we debated whether or not to paint the same color - several years ago I convinced The Man we needed five gallons of my color of choice at the time (a very neutral buttery cream color) - after painting and repainting portions of our main living area three times over the course of the current color, we still have two gallons left. So, the Dave Ramsey girl in me said: Paint the same color. The Nester/LaPorta/Layla part of me said: TRY ENGLISH TAN!

Here's my new favorite wall, complete with my Nester-inspired Succulents in White.

I'm still trying to decide what else to place on the shelves...I scoured my photo archives for a before (cuz, you know - when you're hot in the middle of painting your entire house in a day, you don't, like, take before pictures, you know what I'm saying?) Cuz right there in the middle of those shelves used to be a painted-on-the-wall poem (not buyer friendly) that read ...something about family and mirrors and looking into the past, the present, and the future...WOW! How quickly I forget...Anyway, I'm feeling very minimalist lately (and designing to sell...or not), so I don't want to add a lot to the shelves. But, they are definitely a little bare. ... OK, just that top one in particular. Anyone have any ideas what to add to this wall?

While I'm at it, here's a picture of my newly updated curb-appealing front porch. You know. Just in case we have to sell this place. Cuz I never, not once, ever sat out there with my glass of wine and my computer and pretended to watch my kids play in the yard. Never done that. Nope. Nope, I just did it cuz people might be driving by one day and decide they want to buy my place...and, if not, I'm enjoying it anyway...

Hope you all are living in a well-designed to dwell-in home like us!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My Strength

Sometimes I wonder how easy it must be to not be a believer. I mean, isn't it easier to not believe that a baby - half human and half God - was born to a virgin, and that a man - half man and half God - walked on the earth and was killed and three days later was found walking on the earth again? Isn't it just easier to not believe this message? Perhaps it's easier to just believe Jesus was a good person. Perhaps He was just a prophet or a healer or a magician. Isn't that easier to believe? I mean, maybe believers are just a little off-kilter as certain TV shows would portray them. Fanatics. Just a little bit crazy. Or a lot crazy.

Wouldn't it just be easier not to believe?

But then I look at moments of my life, especially some otherwise very typical, mundane, in fact, moments recently when I have fallen flat on my face with the realization that there is a God. And He knows me. And He knows my heart. And the hairs on my head. And how many of them are gray. And the number of my days. And He not only knows this about me. But He knows this about every person out there. Whether they believe in Him. Or not.

And I just can't imagine not holding onto Him to get through my days. Even the most mundane ones. The good ones. The bad ones. The long ones. The short ones. He is there. Where would I be if He wasn't there? I'd be lost. I'd be worm food. Is that the legacy I want to leave to my beloved children? "Honey, you are worm food. Just like me. Just like my mama and her mama and her mama before her." That is Lost. Thank God there is more to life than that. God knows my heart. He knows where I am. He plays music for me. Just for me. He finds friends for me. At just the right times. He allows me to be tested. And He allows me to fall. And to be caught. Because He has plans for me.

I can't imagine falling without knowing Who will catch me. I can't imagine living life without Faith that He was born to a virgin. That He was crucified, died, and was buried. That on the third day He rose. That He has ascended into Heaven and sits at the right hand of My Father. I can't imagine life without Him.

I just can't imagine life without His Strength. It is not by my own strength that I manage my way through this life. Quite honestly, I prove to myself on a daily basis that I am unable to manage my life on my own. Is it blindness by which I move? Is it craziness to believe in the unseen?

No. I have seen. For certain I have seen the glory of the presence of the Lord. Indeed. Without Him, I would be blind. Without Him, I would be crazy. But with Him, all things are possible. And I thank Him for giving me the Faith that this life requires. He is where my strength comes from.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Meet My Friend

The seam ripper.

I was looking at Sashi's poncho in my photos. And thinking it looked a little like a bad Mexican sombrero (and yes, those types of things are related, but this one was not hitting my Texas side in a good way). After looking at the photos from the pro (Teacups & Tadpoles), I began recalling the convo I initiated with the cutting lady at the fabric store. It went something like this:

Me: So, how do I sew this here ball stuff on? Do I sew it this way or do I sew it that way? {I demonstrated two ways on my fabric with the bally stuff}
Cutter: Well, you could do it like this. Or you could do it like this. {She demonstrated the same two ways on my fabric with the bally stuff}
Me: Ah. I see how that might work. Very good then.
And out the store I went. Much less enlightened than when I had gone in. So, I sewed it on from the inside. Making said poncho look like a corny cow-skinned lampshade from the 70's. But, not after first sewing Pookie's ball fringe stuff on and then completely removing it. Twice. Last night, I sewed Pookie's ball fringe stuffy on from the outside of the poncho (third times a charm!) - and it looks RIGHT! (Not like a bad sombrero OR a cheap lampshade OR an embarrassed zebra! --- I didn't say that...Did I?? --- No, not at all any of those things! Rather, it looks RIGHT!) So today, I spent the better part of my day ripping out the seams from Sashi's bally fringe that I had spent all night the night before sewing on with strategic accuracy. And tonite, I will be repairing said damage.

Why is it that with all things sewing, I must try, rip, try, rip, and try again? Guess that's why I own three seam rippers. (why, yes. Yes I do.) And also why I stamp. Because stamping is soooo much less time-consuming ...OR costly. (Have I told you how much it COST to make these ponchos?! Go ahead and buy yours from Teacups & Tadpoles. It's worth it, believe me!)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Making from Cow Hide?

Busy making. Busy making. Busy making.
What does this look like? (besides a Pioneer Woman rug...{sorry, can't find that link...})

Nope, not a rug! But, I was inspired by Teacups & Tadpoles, a woman who in real life makes beautiful things for mommies and kiddies. I wanted a poncho for my baby. But I couldn't justify the price tag. And since I got a suh-weeeet sewing machine for Christmas, I decided to try my hand at making ponchos. I went into Joann's with the idea of the cute little Red Riding Hood poncho for my cute little Sashi. But I went with Pookie. Who has a very different design sense. And she decided she, too, wanted a poncho. But not a poncho in any normal color - you know, like red. Or pink. Or normal. No. Not my Diva I mean Pookie. No, she chose this fabric for her poncho:

And, under the circumstances, that sorta meant that Sashi couldn't have just any poncho color, either. So, she got this one:

I think it makes a statement. Don't you?

But...maybe this wasn't the look I was going for...

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Frantically working on the thank you notes that match these pretty invitations:

Why is it that I leave 16 out of 20 of the steps required to complete a task for the absolute last possible moment (i.e. I promised they would be done tomorrow...wait. That's like in an hour! I blame my mother. {Isn't that what we're supposed to do?!})

Just wait! I have more Almost Free Vacation stories to share - PLUS more crafts --- that I vowed Monday I would finish over spring break --- to show you in the upcoming days! (I know you're as excited as I am!)

See you, if I could just get Sasha to sleep through the night, I'd be doing pretty well with a midnight deadline for bedtime...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Zoo, BooHoo, and WooHoo!

Day 2 - at the zoo - was lots of fun (woohoohoo!)...
then, came the call from the realtor (boohoo).
So, at the end of the day, we gave our last and final, absolute best we have to give, offer on the money pit - I mean dream house. We'll see. It's doubtful. And that's OK.

We spent $0 today at the zoo! I packed lunch and snacks, and though those burgers on the grill near the carousel made my mouth water, we decided to come home and grill burgers for dinner, instead of letting the zoo eat that $20 I'd stashed in my pocket. So, net paid out at the zoo = $0! And though I forgot to take Pookie's $10 gift certificate to the Zoo's Build-a-Bear store today (now THERE's a money pit!!! ... ), she's been promised a trip to the mall to 'spend' her free money. And I have a gift certificate to a cookie store there, too. That means we'll fill the sweet tooth, supply the desire to spend cash (also known as 'Pookie's obsession'), and actually throw ZERO dollars into the wind.

(without the BooHoo)


Monday, March 16, 2009

Spring Break '09 & Spending

The kids have a list half a mile long of all the things they would like to do during our "St. Louis vacay." (and yes, we live in St. Louis...) I, too, have a list half a mile long of the things I would like to do (namely, a bunch of crafts that have been sitting on my to-do list fo-evah...)

  • Chuck E. Cheese's (check)
Tomorrow, we're headed to the world famous St. Louis Zoo (best zoo in the whole wide world. Believe me - I am a zoo oficianado. And It's Free. What more can a Dave Ramsey girl say?)

Now, that brings me to the envelope method of spending. My husband introduced this concept to me two weeks ago. Can I tell you how effectively it works to curtail spending? It does. Work, I mean. In a world where people believe there is something called 'good debt' (there isn't --- good debt is an oxymoron), the deBIT card actually proves (almost) as eeeeveeil as the credit card. Today, I took $18 and 2 free McD's meal coupons with us to Chuck E's (plus my driver's license, of course!). The kids played for over two hours. And they ate lunch - on the way home. And I didn't get swooned into thinking we should spend any more than that on our Chuck E. fun by their sweet little faces pressed against my bosom. No sir. No how. Nor was I able to justify popping out the ol' deBIT card to go ahead and buy one of those yummy smelling pizzas when I only planned to spend $18. Good thing I didn't have my deBIT card. Cuz $18 and two free coupons for food is plenty for a day's fun on our springly vacay. That leaves plenty in the envelope to enjoy more goodness throughout the week.

(thanks Chuck E. for the photo)

It's a relatively new concept - fiscal responsibility. Spend what you have and not a penny more. Shucks. I came home with change. Are you listening, America? Fiscal Responsibility. It's new! It's Fun! It can be done!

Off Box.

Friday, March 13, 2009


I could have just as easily titled this post


Sleep has evaded me lately. Well, let's just be honest. For about 7 1/2 years now. But recently, it's not due to the children.

Last Sunday, we took the family on a little walk. It was such an inspirational idea. The weather was nice - a little chilly with the unassuming wind, but nice enough to bring out all the bikes and bicycle helmets, the stroller, the dogs --- we made quite a sight with our own little parade headed down the sidewalks of our neighborhood. Add to that the occasional - OK, constant screaming coming from Sasha in the stroller and the less-often heard shouts of anger from the older siblings as they jockeyed for first-in-line position, complete with left hooks as one rode perilously past another and then more noise as everyone now behind the Original Orangatan guffawed at the first's audacity.

Anyway, we made our way through the streets. We enjoy gazing at homes as we pass --- discussing, dreaming...and my husband mentioned 'if that one house ever goes up for sale...' And lo and behold, it was. And we grabbed the pamphlet. And we gaped at the price. And we called the realtor.

image from This Old House

It seems this house is in preforeclosure. It's called a 'short sale.' I can't tell you all of what that means. But what I can tell you is that this house is quite charming. On the outside. And on the inside, well, to say it requires a lot of work would be an understatement. So, we made an offer. A very low offer. And now we wait.

I'm not good with waiting. I'm not good with change. I sit here this morning in some sort of limbo. I love the potential of this home. It is a property where we could raise our children to adults and see them return for future Christmases with their own families. I can romanticize certain aspects of the home from now til eternity. But the reality is, the kitchen is barely livable for our family of six. The children's bedrooms are no bigger than our current ones. The work to be done to make the house just clean is daunting.

Our current home is not the home we moved into. It's frame and walls remain, but the home that we built here is literally the home that we built here. To my specifications. By the sweat and blood of my husband. And it's hard to imagine starting over.

Yet I would love to. To go into a home where the price was right enough that I could make it my own. Not one that is already done and the price reflects it, leaving no room for us financially to make any changes that I might want. This one, though rough around far more than just the edges, gives us flexibility.

And so we wait. Our realtor says it might be three to six weeks (so much for 'deadlines') before we have an answer. And I wait.

Anyone up for taking a walk?

Monday, March 2, 2009

plan ahead

those words make me quake. kate gosselin has them on her kitchen table.

plan ahead

as soon as i saw them sitting there the first time, i nearly turned the channel. i am not one who plans ahead. yet God placed me in a marriage with a planner. (He's got a sense of humor, doesn't He?)

well, actually i think He has a plan. Ahead of mine. far better than mine. for certain.

do you know Jesus' schedule was so predictable that His disciples knew where to find Him? do you think anyone has lived with more purpose than Christ?

i tend to be idle. i have all kinds of excuses for idleness. i'm enjoying my coffee. the kids want to watch tv. i'm tired.

God's plan is purposeful. He calls me to plan ahead. He calls me to be purposeful.

i have been absent more often lately because i am trying to be more purposeful with my life. God is working on some things in my heart that aren't for public consumption. but He is glorious in His Faithfulness to me. i need to work on my faithfulness to Him.

i think it's time to plan ahead.
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