Cover Photo 3

Front Porch Reveal! One Room Challenge: Week 6

It’s done! My porch is done! I’m so excited to finally share my finished porch for the One Room Challenge, hosted by Linda from Calling It Home. It was so, so much work; about 50% of it was my husband building new railing, 49% of it was painting, and only 1% was the fun stuff, like pillows and accessories. But that’s how it goes, right?

First, I’ll take you on a little tour and describe some of the changes we made.

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Beginning with the front door, I painted the door and screen door to lighten it up a bit, painted the trim white, and changed out the lighting fixture. This one ($29 from Lowe’s) gives the whole porch a warm, homey glow.

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In weeks 3 and 4 you saw that Luke took down all the trellis and built a real porch railing. That and painting every surface on this porch clearly made the biggest impact. It’s truly amazing what a difference paint can make. I painted the ceiling in a pretty, aqua blue color, painted the paneling in the front of the house one shade darker than the other half of the house (although I’m reconsidering that color), painted the floors black, and painted all the trim white.

As you can see, I added trellis in front of the window as sort of a focal point, but it also serves as a privacy screen for my boys’ room (right inside the window with no blinds). I added lights (had to have some sparkle, obviously) and tiny potted plants.

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In week 2, I painted and stained those $4 nesting tables from a yard sale. I also stained the old IKEA chairs a tiny bit darker, and gave them new cushions from HomeGoods for a pop of color.

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This little corner might be my favorite. I added a few plants and hung our hammock (can’t wait to use that!). I also spray painted some little $1.50 house numbers copper to display at the entrance.

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I’m really proud of this DIY planter I made from concrete and copper liquid metal, using this super simple tutorial from Happy Looks Good On You. I’ll definitely be using more concrete in the future; at $5 a bag, the possibilities are endless.

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Moving right along, I added mulch to emphasize the garden area, and hung branches from my yard, planters, and lanterns to add a little privacy. But clearly, my husband’s porch railing is the star of the show here.

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I made hangers for my tiny potted plants with yarn and twine I had on hand using this tutorial, another quick and easy DIY from Free People’s blog (after figuring out how to make the first one, the rest took only about 10 minutes each).

The lanterns are from World Market; they were originally an antique pewter, but I painted them copper.

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For this corner, another favorite, I gave the director’s chairs a little makeover by painting the canvas with off-white chalk paint, giving them a coat of Minwax Spar Urethane to make them outdoor friendly, and adding throw pillows.

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The pillows are, again, from HomeGoods. The little watering can was $3 from Lowe’s (originally red, but I spray painted it copper). Hopefully it will remind me to water my plants and keep them alive.

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And that’s that! I had lots of help from my hubby and even my kids got in on the painting action.

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Now, just in case you’ve forgotten, here are a few before and afters to remind you of where we started:

Before:

Trimmed BushesAfter:

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Before:

Front Porch Before 1

After:

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Before:

Front Porch Before 2

Before:

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Before:

Front Porch Before 3

After:

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Before:

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After:

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As for the budget, I originally told you that I would stay within $200. That was before my husband decided to rebuilt the porch. Since the original plan was to just paint everything, I’m not counting what he spent in my budget. I know, that’s totally cheating, but that was his project.

Here’s the breakdown for my budget:

Floor Paint: $35

White Kilz Paint (for railing, trim, etc.): $17

Ceiling/Table Paint (I got 4 $3 paint samples because I didn’t want to buy a whole gallon…I’m a cheapskate!): $12

House Paint: $30

Stain for Furniture: $9

Spar Urethane: $10

Chalk Paint: $6

Copper Liquid Metal: $3.50

Light Fixture: $30

Pillows: $40

Lanterns (Splurge!): $37

Trellis: $7

Concrete: $5

Buckets for Molds: $5

House Numbers: $4.50

Plants (I bought some, borrowed some from the rest of the house, and got some from my Mom): $25

Mulch: $10

Watering Can: $3

Total: $289

So, yeah, I still went over quite a bit, without even counting the work that my husband did. But I still think I did pretty darn good for the amount that I accomplished with that money. I’ve opened my front door just to look out at it just about 50 times since I finished it. It makes me very happy and proud to be finished, and I can’t wait to spend lots of time on it this summer, reading a book in my hammock, listening to my kids playing and laughing. Although, I have a sneaking suspicion that it will sound a little more like kids fighting over the hammock, and me yelling at the kids and the dog to not get mud all over the furniture, but hey, one can dream.

Now that I am done (hallelujah!) and have a little time on my hands, I’m going to head over to the One Room Challenge and check out all of the other bloggers’ reveals, so I hope you’ll join me! I’ll leave you with a few more pictures.

Rachel

Cover Photo

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I’m also sharing this makeover over at these fantastic link parties:

Made by You Monday at Skip to My Lou

Remodelaholic

Home Stories A to Z

Inspire Me Monday

Dream. Create. Inspire.

Wow Us Wednesdays

Work It Wednesday

Pretty Project Party

Porch Painted 2

One Room Challenge: Week 4- Front Porch Makeover

This week for the One Room Challenge, my husband did a lot of constructing and I did a lot of painting.

We’re making over our double wide trailer’s ugly front porch (just a reminder for any new readers), and this is its original form.

Before

Trimmed Bushes

My plan was just to give everything a fresh coat of paint, but my husband got all industrious and decided to build his own porch. Really, he just built new supports, replaced a few boards, and replaced the trellis with slats, but it has been a ton of work and he’s been amazing…especially for having zero experience with “building” porches.

Porch Construction 2Before Paint

So, armed with a paintbrush, coffee, and Kari Jobe on Pandora, I got to work and gave it all a coat of white Kilz paint.

Coffee and Paint

Porch Painted

Painted Porch

(Don’t mind the big pile of construction stuff in the middle of the porch…it’s just going to be like that until Week 6.)

Now, I actually would have loved to have kept the wood unpainted to go with my sort of boho feel, but most of the existing boards were really old with layers and layers of paint, so the only thing that made sense, really, was to paint it all. But clearly, the white paint makes a huge difference, and I think it’s beginning to brighten up the space.

Well, back to work. Only 2 weeks left, and my to-do list is only about a mile long. Be sure to see what’s going on with all of the other bloggers in the One Room Challenge.

Rachel

 

 

Nesting Table Makeover

One Room Challenge: Week 3-Front Porch Makeover

Week Three means we’re halfway through the One Room Challenge, and I am nowhere near halfway through the amount of work that needs to be done, so this is the point where the panic just starts to kick in. But we did manage to get quite a bit done this week, and I feel a little more confident about the direction we’re heading.

As you may recall, I have a few furniture makeovers that I’m going to attempt, one of which was these bamboo nesting tables that I found at a yard sale for $4.

Nesting Tables

Well, this porch makeover, if all goes as planned, will be a lot of black and white, so I decided I needed a pop of color. I picked up a few paint samples, and settled on this Behr Ultra aqua color, Undine. I also used a stain I had on hand to stain the bamboo a slightly darker shade. Here’s the result:

Nesting Table Makeover 2

Nesting Table Makeover

I’m pretty happy with how they turned out; now they just need a coat of polyacrylic for protection.

As for the porch, we (meaning my husband, of course) did a little demo this week. We decided to take down the lattice (which I’ve always hated), replace a few handrail boards, and replace the ugly, bent, trailer-y looking supports with 4x4s.

Porch Construction 2

We will be putting up wood slats to give it a more traditional porch look, and it will all receive a fresh coat of paint.

As you can see, I still haven’t finished the porch floor. I gave it a second power washing with a more powerful pressure washer, hoping that would get the rest of the paint off, which it didn’t. So now, I have decided that I really, really, really don’t want to tackle stripping the porch, and I’ve settled on painting it instead of staining it.

That’s all for now. I’m so thankful for my husband, who did most of the work this week.

Hope you have a great weekend, and wish me luck! I plan to do a LOT of painting this weekend.

Rachel

 

 

 

 

 

Front Porch Mockup

One Room Challenge: Week Two-Front Porch Makeover

Welcome to week 2 of the One Room Challenge, where I have decided to makeover my ugly trailer’s front porch in 6 weeks with $200; I’m joining over 200 other bloggers in this challenge.

I’ll be really honest and let you know this week won’t be terribly exciting. I didn’t get a whole lot done.

Just as a reminder, this is the idea I’m going for with my makeover:

Front Porch Mockup

 

And since I didn’t share last week, here are a few images that I absolutely love and pulled inspiration from:

Inspiration 1

Woodsy Patio Hangout from cuckoo4design

 

Inspiration 2

Backyard Fire Pit from Blackbird

So this week, I began by trimming a few bushes. Here’s what they looked like before…

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…and here they are after I went to town on them.

Trimmed Bushes

Don’t judge my pruning abilities…I am no gardener. They look really sparse, but in order to open up the porch, I had to trim down to the level of the handrail, and all of the greenery was at the top. It made me a little sad, because they are really pretty bushes, but they were so overgrown that it had to be done, and I’m hoping they grow back in next year. I’m contemplating clearing out a flower bed around the bushes and adding mulch and a few flowers…if I have time, that is.

The next thing on the list was some power washing on the porch, which did wonders. You can see the finished and unfinished sides here.

Before After Washing

Porch After

I also got my stain for the porch, Behr Solid Color Weather Proofing Stain in Slate. And yes, it passed the puppy’s approval, just in case you were wondering.

Product Testing

I tried it out in a little patch to make sure it was what I wanted.

Stain

I love the way it looks. Unfortunately, there were 2 layers of paint, and while the pressure washing got rid of most of both layers, there are still traces of paint, which are not going to take the stain (as you can see where the shiny spots are). So, I’m going to have to use a paint stripper and scrape the rest off before I can finish the stain.

So, we’ll get there…slowly but surely. That’s all for this week. Be sure to check out all of the other bloggers over at the One Room Challenge…there is a ton of work being done, and so much inspiration to be found over there!

Until next week!

Rachel

Front Porch Mockup

One Room Challenge- Week One: Front Porch Makeover

Hey Y’all!

I know, I know…it’s been a while. I’ve seriously neglected this blog for a few months now, and thanks for being patient with me. I’ve been working on some things, and most importantly, working on establishing some good habits that were really important to me, and it’s been tough getting back into the groove.

So, I figured the One Room Challenge, hosted by Linda at www.callingithome.com would be the perfect time to jump back in with both feet. Although, after the first round I completed back in November, and now that I’m fully aware of just how crazy it can be to makeover a space in 6 weeks, I have to be a little crazy to do it again. But at least I’m not the only crazy one; there are over 100 other people joining the challenge along with me. Be sure to follow their One Week Challenge along with me.

For this challenge, I will be making over my front porch. No small task. If you’re new here to the blog…welcome! If you’ve been following along, you know that my husband and I, our 4 kids, and 2 pets, all live in a less than 1000 square ft., old, dated trailer that we have been working on renovating, trying to make the most of what we have, and bringing our own style into this small space on a very limited budget. So far, we have finished our girls’ bedroom, our boys’ Star Wars Bedroom (from last fall’s One Room Challenge), our front room, and are in the middle of working on our kitchen (see here and here).

For the front porch, here’s what I have to work with:

One very ugly front porch:

Front Porch Before 3

Front Porch Before 2Front Porch Before 1(And here’s another shot with our pretty dogwood tree to distract you from the ugliness that is our front porch.

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Two IKEA wicker chairs (so old that IKEA doesn’t sell this particular model anymore and desperately in need of a makeover):

Ikea Wicker Chairs

Two awesome directors chairs my sister and I found at Goodwill for $15 each (which also need a makeover and to be made outdoor friendly):

Director's Chairs

This set of nesting tables that I got for $4 at a yard sale (add that to the ‘needs a makeover’ list):

Nesting Tables

 

So, yeah…the front porch is bad…really bad. I pretty much haven’t touched it in the almost 2 years since we’ve been here…totally NOT because I’m lazy…but because I wanted the before and after comparison to be THAT much more dramatic. Yeah, that’s what I’m sticking with.

Here’s a mood board of sorts to give you an idea of the look I’m going for, black and white like the rest of the inside with sort of a Moroccan, bohemian vibe with lots of greenery and copper accents:

Front Porch Mockup

What needs to be done:

-A good pressure washing

-Sanding/staining/painting the walls and floors (I’m thinking white for the walls and black for the floors)

-Possibly painting the ceiling for a pop of color

-Build new posts

-The aforementioned furniture makeovers

-Paint or stain the woodwork and trellis

-Make some throw pillows

-Come up with some creative, DIY planters and plant displays

-Find and install a new light

Oh yeah, and the kicker…my husband and I have agreed on a budget of no more than $200. No big deal. I can already see lots and lots of coffee in my future. Y’all wish me luck, and be sure to follow along!

Rachel

 

 

 

 

 

Cupcake Toppers Closeup

Downton Abbey Farewell Party (With Free Printables)

It’s the end of the world as we know it. No, I’m not talking about the GOP after Super Tuesday, although that statement would be an accurate description of what happened yesterday. I’m speaking of the end of Downton Abbey this Sunday night.

downton-abbey

I’m finding it hard to forgive Julian Fellowes for this devastating loss. I have faithfully watched this show and fallen in love with its characters and witty conversation ever since my first blissful introduction to (and subsequent binge-watching of) the first season on Netflix. But alas, all good things must come to an end.

If you’re still reading along, I’ll assume you’re a fan, too; otherwise, I can think of no good reason for you to still be reading. And so, dear reader, I offer you my sincerest condolences, as you will, no doubt, be feeling the loss as strongly as I.

My mom, sisters and I will be watching the the series finale (sob!) together this Sunday night, so I thought, why not throw a mini party to really live it up one more time?! On a side note, if you’re local, the Tennessee Theatre will be showing the finale; it’s free, you just have to wait in line the night of. For my family and I, there will be one too many tears shed for us to be comfortable viewing it in public.

With the impending finale, I’d like to suggest a few activities to get us in the early 20th century aristocracy mindset to really prepare us for this final viewing of our beloved show.

First off, I would suggest that we invest in a little bell, and do a little role-playing. Let’s pretend that our spouses/significant others are the butler, Carson, and be sure to ring our bells when we need something. We might even suggest that they dress up a little when they serve us dinner. Of course, we’ll never mention exactly what’s going on, just be sure to let them know, in great detail, what our expectations are. Secondly, I would suggest, for those of us who have children, that we dress them up in black, using our handy little bells once again, and let them know how we expect the house to be run, clean, dinner prepared, etc. During both of these activities, never, EVER, say thank you. Aristocrats do not thank the hired help. Will our spouses/offspring catch on to this little game? Maybe not, but if they do, hey, we could make this a thing!

Now that we’ve done these things to get us in the spirit, I’ll share a few things I’m making for our Farewell Party. As usual, I didn’t have a lot to spend, so I hit up the Dollar Tree and Aldis to see what I could find that I thought would work for a proper English tea party. The early century aristocracy may have shopped at Dollar Tree, I don’t know. I found tea biscuits, melba toast, silver plasticware, plastic champagne glasses and candlesticks at the Dollar Tree. Then at Aldis, I found some really good cheeses (including a delicious goat cheese with honey), assorted cookies, and some chocolates to round out the menu with tea and sparkling juice. I also found ingredients at Aldi’s to make these little blackberry brie tarts, lemon curd and these simple scones, and cupcakes.

Food Setup

Food From the Top

Then, to make things really interesting, I made these little cupcake toppers with some of the best insults and zingers from everyone’s favorite, the Dowager Countess.

Printout 2

Cupcakes and Flowers

I even made a printable so you could make your own. Just do one thing for me if you print off your own set and add them to your store-bought WalMart cupcakes (that should really make Lady Violet roll over in her well-appointed if somewhat fictional grave). Before you shove the entire cupcake in your mouth, arch your finely sculpted aristocratic brow (all pretend, of course; we all know most of us haven’t plucked our non-titled brows in two months), tilt your nose up a few inches in the air so that you are firmly looking down on your companion watchers, muster your most haughty and indignant British voice, and give your best Cousin Violet impression. Make us all proud.

You can download the printables here. Happy watching! May the finale be everything you hoped it would be!

Cupcake Toppers Closeup

Cover

Last Minute Gift-Wrapping Ideas from the Dollar Section (and a Teeny, Tiny House Tour)

It’s Christmas Eve Eve, and folks…we finally have a tree! Am I the only one who waits until the very, very last minute for shopping and wrapping gifts? I just finished up my shopping yesterday, and started wrapping today. I wanted to show you just a few cheap and easy gift-wrapping ideas that I’m using this year.

But first, let me take you on a little Christmas tour of my house. This holiday season, I’ve been taking it easy. No going all out decorating all over the house or spending days and days on a gallery wall like I did last year. It’s been a whirlwind couple of months, and I wanted to relax a little and try to enjoy the season. I haven’t really relaxed, but that was the idea, anyway.

I did, however, spruce up just a few little corners of my house just to make it festive enough to keep my kids happy.

I already shared with you my little corner where I made some DIY Christmas Art from my Stendig calendar that I wasn’t able to use this year.

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My mom gave me this pretty chalkboard pillow from Kirklands that she wasn’t able to use, and I added greenery from my yard to my little oil can planter. Just a tiny detail, but I love it.

Pillow 2

Oil Planter

Over on my chalkboard wall, I added a Christmas-y chalkboard art and prints, and hung Christmas paper plates…I don’t have any Christmas plates of my own and paper plates are cheap!

Accent WallChalkboard 2

Over on my entertainment center, I added a pine garland, which was so hard to hang! Let me know if you know of any tips or tricks for hanging live garland, because otherwise, I’m just getting a fake one next year!

EC

I made a print (you can download your own version here), and filled in the ampersand with a metallic gold marker. The 25 was from my Stendig calendar again.

Lastly, our tree corner. We have no floor space for a tree, so we got a smaller one to go on our entryway bookshelf. I added black and white ribbon and colorful bulbs, to keep with the black and white theme I sort of have going on. I wrapped the base with one of my scarves.

Tree and Noel

I made the Noel artwork with scrapbook paper, and cardboard letters with moss hot glued to them.

Noel CloseupNoel

And that’s it! Just a few simple accents to make it feel a little more like Christmas around here.

And now, as promised, just a few tips and tricks for gift-wrapping. The first two are kid-friendly, but hey, I’d be happy to get these gifts as an adult.

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For the first gift, I used black paper from WalMart (which also has a cute black and white chevron print on the other side). I wrote the words on the black paper with a chalkboard marker after measuring it out for the gift.

chalkboard marker

The pompoms are from the Dollar Tree, and I strung them with a needle and thread, then wrapped and taped them around the gift.

PomPoms

merry and bright

With the same paper, I used strips of glitter foam sheets also from the Dollar Tree to form a linear tree. I originally wanted to use washi tape for this, but at $2.50 per color for a total of $10…a $1 multi-colored pack from the Dollar Tree with just a little more work sounded better to me.

Line Tree

For the last gift, I used white paper from the Dollar Tree, scribbled on some Christmas trees with a Sharpie, and wrapped it with little tinsel from Walmart (just $1.50 per roll).

Tinsel

And lastly, just another little tip, these glittery bottle brush trees are from WalMart for just $.75 to $1. And I was able to use my Stendig calendar again! So glad I’ve been able to get some use of it since it broke my heart that I wasn’t able to use it for my house.

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Well, that’s it! I have plenty more gifts to wrap, and I’m sure you do too. Have a very Merry Christmas with your friends and loved ones. Thank you all so much for following along; I really appreciate each and every one of you!

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DIY Stendig Calendar Christmas Art

This year for the Christmas season, I’m giving myself a bit of a breather from decorating and blogging so I can actually enjoy the season, and I’m just not going all out on my Christmas decor. However, I will be sharing a few little corners of my house that I’ve spruced up a bit just to make it a little festive and keep the kids happy.

Last year around this time, I was so excited to get my first Stendig calendar, and I had big plans for displaying it in my kitchen. However, I forgot to measure it, and it turned out that, sadly, it was too big to display anywhere in my house. I was very disappointed, especially because it was kind of a splurge for me to spend that much on something for my house.

Then, just a few days ago, I had the idea of incorporating it into my Christmas décor. So now, I am very happy to say, my beautiful Stendig calendar has gotten some use; not in the way it was designed, but it still makes me happy.

I used a page from my calendar to make a sort of a modern, design-friendly artwork with a bit of a play on an advent calendar.

I laid out my calendar page and picture frame, and measured the size I needed and placement I wanted with my picture frame.

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I grabbed a $.99 tube of green glitter glue from Walmart and outlined and filled in the 25, just to give it a little pop and emphasize the date for Christmas.

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After letting it dry thoroughly, I cut out my artwork and put it in the frame.

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I just love the bold, modern, graphic black and white look of the Stendig calendar, and since my front room already has lots of black and white graphic elements, I knew it would be perfect for that room.

I chose to display it on my Design Sponge inspired closet door, and added some bright, colorful ornaments with baker’s twine where my air plants used to hang.

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You’ll notice I also put peace on earth, so…you’re all welcome for that.

If you like this idea but don’t have your own Stendig calendar, you’ll be happy to know that, with just a few simple supplies (black paper, a cheap stencil set, a chalkboard marker, and a $.99 glitter glue tube…all from Walmart), you can make your own Stendig-inspired Christmas art.

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Just measure out a grid (my letters were 2″, so I made my squares 2.5″ tall and 4″ wide…room for 2 characters)…

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…pencil in your numbers with the stencils (make sure to right or left justify all of your numbers; as you can see, I right-justified mine)…

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…and fill the letters in with your chalkboard marker. Lastly, go back over the 25 with your glitter glue. Allow to dry thoroughly, frame it, and you have some really cute, modern Christmas art to display. Mine took me just about 30 minutes.

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So, there you have it! I’ll be bringing you a few more quick and easy decorating ideas like this one in the next few days, so stay tuned!

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Hope you’re enjoying your Christmas music, shopping, and peppermint mocha lattes as much as I am!

Until next time,

Rachel

 

 

I’m also sharing this project over at at http://www.remodelaholic.com.

Negative Space

What I’m Thankful For: The Negative Space

In my college drawing class, way, way back in the day, one of the first things we learned about was negative space. Negative space, which you’re probably familiar with, is (according to Wikipedia) “the space around and between the subject(s) of an image.” We did several exercises where our teacher would set up a little vignette, and ask us to draw not what we could see immediately, but to draw what we couldn’t actually see, the space around the objects. And as we drew the negative space, a shape began to form of boxes, or a bicycle, or a vase of flowers. The picture below is an example from my very first drawing class; not perfect, but you get the idea. This exercise not only taught us to expand our mind to see things differently and therefore draw more accurately, but it is also a powerful tool for creativity in art and design (see some great examples here).

Negative Space

As I’ve used this method over the years when drawing or designing or painting, I have been struck with the realization that this thing, this negative space, reminds me a lot of the presence of God. When you look at me, what you don’t see all around me, is guiding every step that I take, every decision that I make, and forms the shape of who I am as a person.

When you look at me, you may see a slightly frumpy, frazzled, disorganized, sometimes grumpy, always clumsy person who doesn’t command a whole lot of attention and certainly makes lots of mistakes…sometimes even yells at her kids (gasp!). But what you don’t see is that this somewhat unlovely and sometimes unlovable creature that you’re looking at is a beautiful masterpiece that He intricately designed and created into exactly who He wanted me to be, and He loves me so much that He sent His only Son to die for me, yes, me…the frumpy one…so I can live with Him in heaven someday.

When you look at me, you may see (on a good day) someone who looks happily married with four relatively well-adjusted kids. But what you don’t see is the scared, unmarried 22 year old pregnant girl who didn’t want anything to do with the father of her baby (my husband now), never wanted kids, and seriously considered having an abortion to cover up the mistakes she made. But God worked through those mistakes to bring my husband and I together; we had that beautiful, healthy baby boy, and went on to have three more, the best things that ever happened to me. I thank God every day that He didn’t allow me to go through with my plans for my life.

You may see a church-going “good girl.” But what you don’t see is that this “good girl” struggled with the worst attitude possible about church and God most of her life, and if it wasn’t for that same husband who took a stand and pressed the issue of church, could have very easily just walked away. But he kept me in church, and through hearing for myself and learning for myself, stopped looking at God as a Punisher to whom I could never measure up, and started to develop a very real, loving relationship with Him that has helped me in every area of my life.

You may see a creative (or maybe that’s just wishful thinking), but He is the One who gives me any good idea or talent that I am able to use.

And this presence, which I am so thankful for and which I can see so clearly as I look back through every circumstance and every mistake, gives me complete peace. It’s not just something that I believe because it’s what I’ve been taught all of my life, although I have. Just being taught something isn’t powerful enough to change a life. It’s something that I feel in my heart, and if I didn’t have this peace, I would have stopped believing in God long ago. It’s a peace that I don’t have to do anything for…I don’t have to pray more or work harder for it; it’s a finished work that Jesus already gave His life for. It’s a peace that, like He promised in Romans 8:28, He is working everything out for my good. Even if that means I lose everything tomorrow, I know He’ll give me the strength to get through it, and give me the peace to trust that He is working out His will in my life. It’s a peace that I will see my loved ones who have gone on before me again someday. It’s not something I can describe, and I know it doesn’t make sense looking at it from the outside, because it is a peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). And it’s not something that makes me better than anyone else, because I’m {painfully obviously} not. I’m just an imperfect nobody who still does things wrong, but He forgives me when I do and gives me the desire and strength to do better the next time. It’s not something that is only for a select few “chosen ones.” It’s for anyone and everyone…no requirements, no prerequisites, no strings attached.

So, the next time you see a picture like the one above, or a beautiful silhouette, or notice the sun shining between the branches of a tree, or see a cleverly designed logo using negative space effectively, I pray that you will be reminded of the presence of God in your life, and I pray that you can look back at your life, and see the ways that God has led and directed in your own life. I might not be able to see it when I look at you, but it can be what forms something beautiful in your life as well.

If you would like to know more about this peace I’m describing, please, please send me a message…I’d love to talk to you. Or you can even read more about it from my church here.

Rachel

 

 

 

Zoey

What I’m Thankful For: The People Who Love My Kids

My daughter Zoey has been a little fashionista since she was old enough to pull open her drawers, yank every item of clothing out of said drawers, and toss them with abandon sporadically around her room. That talent progressed to changing her outfits no less than five times a day shortly after she could walk. When we would take the kids shopping, she would, without fail, walk straight past the toy aisle and head straight for the sparkly, flowery, shiny shoe aisle. And she hasn’t slowed down. She has a very distinct idea of what she thinks is cute; in this case (picture above), it was two skirts, one as a shirt, and Mommy’s heels…of course. She LOVES clothes. And she loves dressing up.

A few weeks ago, we received a package in the mail from a dear friend addressed to Zoey. She was so excited to get her very own box in the mail. We opened it up to find the cutest book with her name, which surely must have been written just for her, Zoe Gets Ready. It was all about a little girl trying to figure out what she wants to wear based on the adventures she thinks she might be getting into that day, all the while wildly flinging clothes in every direction, as she changes outfits over and over again. It was so perfect, so my Zoey. Inside was a little note from my friend, saying it reminded her of Zoey, and she even personalized the book with little y’s to make the spelling the same as my Zoey’s name.

I can’t even tell you how much that meant to me. I love my kids more than anyone else in this world (along with God and my husband). And to know that someone else would see this book, know my little girl well enough to recognize this unique little thing in my little girl’s personality, think of her, and take the time to send her a sweet little package, just meant the world to me. It was so incredibly special. And this story is far from being the only time people have singled out my kids, have seen something special in them, and have treated them with extraordinary love and kindness. I’ll never forget when we were moving from Delaware to Tennessee, the sweetest couple took all FOUR of my kids out to eat so we could finish up our packing. And then there are the grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers, Sunday school teachers, friends and fellow parents…so many, many people who pour hours of their time loving, soothing, admonishing, babysitting, teaching, preparing lessons for, playing with, dancing with, and getting into deep conversations about really interesting things like Pokémon with my children. Your time and love and special attention and patience do not go unnoticed. We as parents notice it all, and we’re so very grateful for you.

I think I can speak for all parents when I say that there is no greater gift that you could possibly give those of us who are parents than to love our kids. To spend time with them, get to know their personalities and what makes them special. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts when you’re patient with them even when they act up a little (or a lot!), give them great big bear hugs after they’ve been playing outside and smell like sweaty old goats, really listen and let them know you care when it’s obvious they’re upset about something (usually) ridiculous. They’re not always easy, and trust us, we know that better than anyone…we live with them. But you love them anyway. You patiently draw them out of their shells when they’re shy but you can tell they want to get involved. You give them little toys and pieces of candy to see their little eyes light up with excitement. And sometimes, you have to get onto them when you know they’re doing something we wouldn’t want them to do. All of this is such a gift to us parents.

So, to the people who love my kids…you’re my favorites!