How we stripped our dining room built in

When we looked at this house for the first time, I was so excited when I saw that their was an original built in in the dining room. It had cute glass doors on the top and original beadboard inside the cabinet. I could just picture all of my beautiful, vintage dishes being displayed in it.

But after we moved in something was bothering me about it but I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what it was. It took me a few months to realize it just didn’t stand out enough. It blended in with all of the white wainscoting and the light colored walls I had chosen (Sea Salt by Sherwin Williams).

Plus if you know me at all, you know I’m a stripping queen (take that however you will ha) and I love nothing more than original, unpainted woodwork. It’s my love language. So it really was a win-win to attempt to strip it.

One of the things I was nervous about though was with it all being painted white, there was no way for me to tell before stripping if any of the old wood had been replaced. I very well could spend all of that time stripping paint, only to find a piece of new growth wood from Lowe’s hiding underneath the paint. But I finally decided it was worth the risk. If it all went wrong, I could easily just paint it white again.

Before I get into the nuts and bolts of the process, here is a list of supplies I used to get the job done, in case you have some woodwork you want to strip too.

Supplies:

– Citristrip (it’s less toxic smelling for when you have to strip indoors)

– Glad cling wrap (After applying the Citristrip, I cover it in Glad wrap and let it sit for at least 6 hours, sometimes overnight)

– Paint brush to apply the stripper

Putty knife to scrape off paint

Dental tool to scrape off paint in small areas like corners and trim

– Wide painters tape

Palm sander and sandpaper

– Mineral Spirits to wipe off wood before staining

Minwax Red Mahogony

– Paintbrush and rag to apply and wipe off stain

Minwax Clear Satin Polyurethane

Step 1:

I took off the doors from the top and bottom and took them out to the shed to strip. I applied the stripper and covered them in trash bags and let them sit for a few hours. I them used the putty knife to scrape off the paint. It took about rounds of applying stripper to get down to the wood. I wiped them clean with mineral spirits, let them dry and then sanded them before applying the stain.

When I started on the bottom doors my initial fear of finding non-original wood came true and I realized that the “middle” of the bottom doors was not wood at all but particle board. (sigh) This frustrated me a ton and I tried to come up with a solution…which ended up taking like 5 months. haha We finally decided on using some kind of beadboard in the doors, since the wood frame of it was original wood.

Chris found these beadboard pieces at Lowe’s and they could not have turned out better. They stained beautifully and in my opinion you can’t tell they weren’t there from the beginning.

Once we figured out that whole debacle, we stained them with Red Mahogany and wiped them off. I did two coats and once they were completely dry applied a coat of Poly.

Step 2.

Next up was stripping the trim. This was tricky because, obviously, we had to do it in place and I’ve never stripped anything inside. I was worried about the mess and the smell…and if i would ruin the walls. haha I am an effiecient worker but I am not a clean one so I think Chris was more nervous than I was.

I used wide painters tape to protect the walls and it did a good job!

I used a paint brush to paint on the Citristrip nice and thick and then covered it in the Gllad wrap. I left left the first batch sit for about 3 hours and then scraped it off with the putty knife. I then reapplied the stripper, covered it, and left it overnight. It works soooo much better when left overnight. It got off about two/three layers that time. But to my great dismay there were about 8 paint layers.

I used a paint brush to paint on the Citristrip nice and thick and then covered it in the Gllad wrap. I left left the first batch sit for about 3 hours and then scraped it off with the putty knife. I then reapplied the stripper, covered it, and left it overnight. It works soooo much better when left overnight. It got off about two/three layers that time. But to my great dismay there were about 8 paint layers.

I repeated the process again and it was ready for me to scrape by that night.

I am not going to lie to you and say it was easy to do…especially the intricate trip around the built in….it almost made me say some bad words. haha Chris helped me a TON and was so much better at the tedious parts than I was. I’ve always said hes the brains I’m the brawn. I get really mad at intricate things haha

We thought we were going to need to do another round of Citristrip, but then I had the ingenious idea to use a baby wipe (We’re parents okay. we use those things for everything ha) to wipe down the trim and it all came right off and you could see the beautiful wood!

Once the wood was dry, we ran the sander over it very lightly (um hello house full of dust) and then applied the stain. It took two coats.

Step 3:

Once the stain was dry (it took about 36 hours) we put the top coat of Poly on and stood back and admired what we had just accomplished. I was in love and I looked at Chris who said “We are never doing that again.” (ya win some ya lose some)

Step 4:

I am obsessed with green. Especially Artichoke Green by Sherwin Williams. In a few years I’m pretty sure my entire house will be covered in it. When I was picturing the built-in completed, I just felt like it needed a pop of color. The white shelves inside looked too stark next to the warm wood tones. So I took a chance and painted the beadboard and shelves green. AND I LOVE IT.

Step 5: (optional)

Fill your built in with beautiful, Fire King and Glasbake dishes. And watch your dreams come true through happy tears.

I hope this is helpful to any of you who may have dreamed about stripping woodwork in your old house. Take heart…if I can do it, ANYONE can. It’s a lot of work and you’ll ask yourself “What the heck was I thinking??” about 10 times throughout the process, but I have never regretted uncovering beautiful, historic woodwork. Not once.

2021 Garden: phase 1

Last year I miraculously overcame my “black thumb” (get it, instead of green thumb) and actually managed to not only keep my ferns alive, but also grew plants for my garden from seed and they produced fruit! You don’t know what an accomplishment that is for me! ha

I fell in love with gardening and have since been dreaming and planning for this years garden. I already have my seeds and Chris even helped me draw up a sketch for where everything is being planted.

But what I’m super excited about is we are moving our garden to a different location and fencing it to keep the chickens and dog out of it. Last year my raised beds were sitting on a slope (I know rookie mistake) and every time it rained, the water would pull out soil from underneath and by the end of summer my raised beds had about half the soil they originally had in them. So my reasons for moving the garden are mainly to move to a flatter part of the yard.

The other reason is I want a larger garden (I had three small beds last year) and since most of our yard is shaded, the only spot was in the corner by the carport. We will have to cut down a dogwood tree that is there, but once that’s down it should be in full sun for most of the day. (in the above picture the garden will be going in the left corner)

So two weeks ago we began what I like to call “phase one.” It sounds way more exciting than it is, but basically we just put the fence up. ha

We did a matching picket fence like the one around the rest of our yard and Chris is going to work on finishing the gate this week (in all of his spare time ha) and eventually we are going to do a pretty arbor above the gate. I also picture some string lights hanging across the entire garden. Ahhhhhhh.

My vision is the do raised beds starting at the blueberry bushes (along the carport) and go all the way around to the gate. I will also do a few circle raised beds in the center and use gravel of some sort over the grass.

I am so excited not only for gardening season, but to have a designated space that can’t be attacked by animals or small children. ha I will keep you guys updated as we continue through the “phases” and get this baby ready for Spring planting!

Cultivating a Peaceful Home Life

There was a lot of uncertainty in 2020 but the one common thing we all experienced was home. We worked, schooled, and played from home. And things don’t seem to be changing as we enter 2021.

And while I will never claim to be an expert on home, I do have some systems and techniques that I’ve learned through trial and error to make my home a place of peace and enjoyment. Because let’s be honest, without a plan or system in place, the walls can begin to close in pretty quickly.

Tip #1

Shift your attitude.

This tip is 100% free to do and requires no supplies or equipment. Ha But this is a key step. Whether you struggle being at home because you are an extrovert or you don’t like where you live or the type/style of home you live in, we can all find reasons for why we don’t like being cooped up in our houses.

But contentment and joy is not about circumstances, it’s about choice. We can choose to see the beauty in where we live. We can choose to be happy where we are.

Tip #2

Address your stressors.

Being content doesn’t mean you can’t improve the things you CAN control. If the wall color of your living room makes you angry, that’s a $30 fix! If the clutter makes you claustrophobic, take a week and declutter your house and donate what you no longer need. If the layout of your bedroom isn’t flowing, change it up!

I have found that viewing my home as my field of work changes my mindset from one of victimization to one of purpose. If I was working an office job, how would I handle systems that weren’t effective? Would I continue to do the same thing over and over at my job if it was ineffective? If it ain’t working, change it!

Tip #3

Create rhythms instead of schedules.

I am about as “type b” as they come, meaning I do not thrive under rigorous schedules and I’m generally pretty laid back when it comes to organization etc.

And as much as I wish I was super organized and scheduled, that just isn’t my thing. But all of us, no matter our personalities, need order in our lives.

I’ve found (through much trial and error) that I stick with rhythms in my day and not time set schedules.

So what do I mean by rhythms?

For us, it’s a general flow of the day. I try to get up a little before the kids and do my bible reading, they come out of their rooms at 8 (they have clocks in their rooms), we eat breakfast and do our read aloud and character cards.

We work on schoolwork and chores after that, in whichever order work best for that day. After lunch they sometimes do quiet time in their rooms, or will watch a movie in my bed.

Our afternoon is spent either catching up on schoolwork we didn’t get to in the morning, or playing outside.

What’s nice about rhythms if they are so adaptable. On days where the weather is pretty in the morning but it is supposed to rain in the afternoon, we shift it around so that they have outside playtime in the morning, etc. You get the gist.

But I’ve found when I don’t box myself in my a strict schedule, but rather a general list of things that need to be accomplished at some point each day, I feel less stressed and stick to it on days where it all hits the fan.

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That’s about all I have for today. I have so much more I could share, and I may compile some more tips on creating a peaceful space through your decor if that would be helpful? Having a beautiful space that reflects YOU really does help a lot and it isn’t as hard as you think!

Anyways, I hope this helped and encouraged you guys. I hope home becomes a peaceful and sacred place for you guys.

How We Found Our Farmhouse

As many of you know, the journey to finding our new home has been a long and dramatic one. Thank y’all for being such supportive friends and praying for us during all of the ups and downs!

It all started when we moved into corporate housing…a tiny 3 bedroom apartment in Anderson, SC. Don’t get me wrong, I am so thankful Chris’ job provided 3 months of free housing, but it was TINY. The living room was so small the coffee table took up most of the space. We had no intention of staying in it the whole 3 months anyway, we were going to find a house as soon as we could.

We moved into the apartment in early December (well the first apartment…which had mold in it. A few weeks later we were thankfully moved to another mold free unit) and by Christmas had found THE house.

It was a 1920’s brick home that had a grand staircase, original clawfoot tubs and floors. And all of the wooden doors were unpainted and had the antique door knobs! If you know me at all…you know this was right up my alley.

It was about a mile from the historic downtown in Anderson and although it was still and hour and 10 minute commute for Chris’ work, we were only 30 minutes from our church in Clemson. Our goal was to be as close as we could to our church family and community in Clemson.

We tried to make an offer on December 26th. The house had sat on the market for over a year so we figured even though it was the holidays, the seller would be eager to sell. I even wrote a letter explaining how much I loved the home and all of the original details and that I would do my best to preserve those things.

Well no such luck. We didn’t hear a response from the seller until the first week in January. She countered back to our offer with the asking price. A “screw you” if you will. ha

It took us 3 weeks to get to an agreement and be under contract. She told us if we paid the asking price for the house she would put in a new HVAC system, since the current one wasn’t in working order. With the house being 4,000 sq feet, that seemed like a fair deal to us.

Ahhh at last we were on our way to having a home.

Then the inspection report came back.

The electrical was all tube and knob and needed updating. This would be a $30k job at least. We decided to try for a renovation mortgage to cover that cost. We loved the house and were trying our best to preserve it and have it in the best shape possible. So new electrical would be an asset if we ever needed to sell it.

We had electricians come out and quote the project, which took a week. Then we realized the seller was only going to put a small HVAC system in the house…one that would cover a typical 2,000 sq foot home. We were SO frustrated. We had agreed tp pay full price and now we felt they were not holding up their end of the bargain. And I for one do not want to live in a sweltering hot house in the South in the summer…

We told them we would get the HVAC system ourselves if they would pay for all of our closing costs (which for this house was a decent amount). They agreed and we now had to get HVAC guys out for quotes, which took even more time.

Finally we were a week away from closing. It was the end of February…which was cutting it close since our apartment lease ended March 7th. We asked for another month in the apartment and were granted it, due to the work (rewiring and HVAC instillation) being done on the house. So we were all set! Everything was lined up.

We then got a phone call from our lender. The house didn’t appraise for enough for us to get the renovation mortgage we needed. And we couldn’t afford over $40k the repairs were going to cost. I couldn’t believe it. We were going to have to say goodbye to this house.

I shed a lot of tears. We had 6 weeks to find a completely start over.

As I searched Zillow and Realtor.com for homes, there were not a lot of options in Anderson. But there were several we liked in a town closer to Chris’ work…but further away from our church.

Would it be worth cutting Chris’ commute in half and having a home we would love…but also having to start over from scratch when it came to church and friends? Chris’ commute was starting to take its toll and I was not a fan of him basically only being involved in our lives on the weekend.

We called our parents and asked for their advice. Would moving away from our church be a mistake we would regret?

They both told us the same thing: having a commute that long is going to be really hard to sustain over the long haul. Having Chris in our lives more would help our family immensely. We need him.

So we started the search in this new town.

We looked at this white farmhouse 3 times before we made an offer. I don’t know what it was but I struggled to be sure this was it. Which is weird…because I’ve always wanted a white farmhouse! But I was worried it didn’t have enough bedrooms for us to grow as a family and would need to move again.

But at last I was sold and we made an offer and within two days were under contract!

Everything in this process was normal, the inspection and appraisal were done early and game back great. It seemed we had smooth sailing!

The day before we were to close, Chris got a phone call from our lender saying he wasn’t sure if we would be able to close the next day due to an insurance issue. We called them every hour trying to get updates because this time we really were down to the wire.

We had all of our furniture being delivered two days from closing and only had 10 days left in the apartment. If this fell through what would we do!?

That night was horrible. I tossed and turned all night. Why was this process so difficult?? Were we ever going to be able to buy a home and start getting settled. We were going on 4 months in this tiny apartment and it was wearing on all of us.

I asked for prayer on Instagram and I was blown away by how many messages and responses I got from you guys saying you were praying. It was truly humbling.

The next morning felt like a lifetime. Chris was texting me with real time updates as he got them from the lender and around 11:30 we got word that it had been resolved and we were still good to close! (our closing was at 2:30 so juuuust in time!)

I cannot describe the feeling we experienced when we drove away from the attorneys office and it was done. DONE. We owned our home and this nightmare was over!

I kept freaking out randomly on the way back to the house. I would smack Chris’ arm out of the blue and say things like

“CHRIS WE OWN A HOME!!”

“I CAN’T BELIEVE I HAVE A FARMHOUSE!!”

“AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!”

It scared Chris every time but I couldn’t help myself! haha

Even though a part of me will always love that old brick house in Anderson, God knew this one was the one for our family. This house is more “me.” It’s less formal and pristine…it’s more casual and charming. The green roof feels like a wink from the Lord to me because I grew up on Anne of Green Gables and the house was always my favorite part of the story. And now I have my very own Green Gables…and Gilbert 😉

So that my friends, is the story of how God brought us our farmhouse. It was in a totally different area than we were looking and yet He closed doors to lead us to open ones. And I’m so at peace and thankful. He is so good to us.

(For a video walkthrough watch here)

This Thanksgiving I don’t feel like being thankful

We are on the road to South Carolina to spend Thanksgiving with Chris’ family. Our mini van is packed to the brim. This is our first road trip as a family of six, since we welcomed our two year old foster son, B, into our home two weeks ago.

As he was having his fourth meltdown in only the first hour of our trip, I found myself looking out the window trying to tune out his piercing screams.

I don’t feel very thankful.

 I feel tired and drained. And frustrated and like I’m not doing a very good job.

Learning to love a little child who comes with all kinds of hurt and trauma was something I thought would come much more naturally to me. I absolutely love children and I’m extremely empathetic.

But these two short weeks into foster care have opened up the abyss of my selfish heart. In moments where I should be kind and understanding, I find myself clenching my teeth and sighing heavily. In moments where I should be patient, I am not.

I find myself becoming protective of my biological children when I see them struggling with their new brother and not understanding why this complicated little person is acting the way he is.

When your four year old wakes up from his nap, and then after 5 minutes around his foster brother asks to go back into his room, your heart begins to hurt. It’s been hard not to have an “Us vs him” attitude when stuff like that happens.

So in all honesty, I don’t feel thankful. And I don’t really want to try to be thankful.

Now I know that isn’t right. And I need an attitude adjustment. ha So naturally with it being Thanksgiving tomorrow, I decided to search the word “Thanksgiving” on my Bible app and let the Holy Spirit do His thing on my heart. ha

And no surprise, I found some verses that brought on the encouragement AND conviction.

“Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving And pay your vows to the Most High; Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me.””‭‭Psalms‬ ‭50:14-15‬ ‭

I’ve read this verse a million times, but the word that stuck out to me tonight was sacrifice. A sacrifice of thanksgiving. Okay Lord I see You. Sometimes it’s painful to be thankful. Sometimes it takes work and toil to be thankful.

“But I am afflicted and in pain; May Your salvation, O God, set me securely on high. I will praise the name of God with song And magnify Him with thanksgiving. And it will please the LORD better than an ox Or a young bull with horns and hoofs.”‭‭ Psalms‬ ‭69:29-31‬ ‭

When life just flat out sucks and praising and being thankful is the last thing on our minds, when we do it out of a sincere heart…it’s worth more than any other sacrifice. God sees me when it’s painful to praise Him, when its excruciating to be thankful. And when I walk in obedience and do it any way, He sees that too. And it is a pleasing sacrifice to Him.

So as we gather and celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow, if you’re afflicted, if you’re weary, if life is downright hard and you would rather just cry, I encourage you. He sees you. You are not alone and I promise you, you will not regret crying out to Him with a heart of thankfulness.

And just remember, I’m right there with you.

PS. Also please know that I realize my “affliction” pales in comparison to the suffering many are going through right now. I just wanted to share where I am at in this moment and hope these verses could encourage those going through the real fire. Always feel free to shoot me a message and I will pray for you.

Our Journey To Foster Care

 

Back in May, during my quiet time one morning the Lord kept pressing foster care into my heart over and over. This is not the first time this has happened.

When Chris and I first got married we had already started the process to become foster parents but when I became pregnant with Rhett and was crippled by severe nausea and exhaustion, we stopped.

Children who are without love, protection, or a safe place ALWAYS weigh on my heart…especially since having my own. Feeling the movement and kicks in my belly and giving life to a precious human being created a permanent soft spot in my heart. Abortion keeps me awake at night, orphans make me catch my breath and swallow hard.

I am a doer. This is what Jesus commands of us as Christians.

“But prove yourselves doer of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.” James 1:23, 25

Because abortion weighs on me, I am a counselor at my local crisis pregnancy center to be there for women in their moments of fear. I don’t want to just say “Oh that’s so sad that there are so many children in foster care.” And never actually DO something about it. But at the same time, I have a 4, 3, and 2 year old at home and at that time we lived in 1,490 square foot home. I felt like I had legitimate excuses for not now.

That is, until the Lord told me that day back in May, “Stop making excuses and just do what I ask you to do.” *gulp* Well alrighty then.

So I googled foster care agencies in Columbus and called two of them.

One never returned my call, and the other called me back almost immediately.

Enter Hope Foster care. This faith based agency was brand new to our city. They had been in Macon, GA for awhile and decided to open a branch here in Columbus. I can’t remember the exact timing but I feel like it had only been up and running for a month or two before we called.

We went to an orientation meeting to have all of our questions answered and at the bottom of a sheet of paper they handed us at the end of the meeting it said “If you are ready to move forward and go through our 10 week training, sign here.” Wait….make a decision now? I figured we’d go home and talk in depth about it and analyze everything to death on why this probably wouldn’t work right now, etc etc etc.

I looked at Chris and he looked at me…and we both signed it.

We went through the training, and it was 3 hours once a week for 10 weeks. There were supposed to be three groups going through it, us, another lady, and another couple. But by week three it was just Chris and I.

We absolutely loved our trainer, Alyssa, and we had a blast with her. She brought us snacks and candy each week to help us make it through the training and even tacos several times (I think those were a peace offering for the nights we had to go over sexual abuse and neglect cases haha). We learned soooo much in those weeks. Practical things and some very heart heavy things about what these kids go through.

We were always reminded that if at any point we didn’t feel like this was a good fit, we could walk away, no hard feelings. That helped take the pressure off a ton, because honestly the more we learned the more I felt “I DON’T KNOW IF I’M THE RIGHT PERSON FOR THIS.”

In the middle of our training, we bought our current house and moved and that was SUPER fun for Alyssa to have to do two home studies (still sorry about that girl haha). So our certification took a couple of months longer due to that and due to the fact that I’m forgetful and slow when it comes to paperwork.

But we had prayed that the Lord would bring us a bigger home for a while. We wanted more space for ourselves, but mainly to have guests more often and to have room for foster kids. It was an answer to prayer, just weird timing.

So right before we moved into the new house, we got a huge curve ball thrown at us. My Krav Maga instructor approached me about becoming a business partner with him and another guy. I had wanted to become an instructor for awhile now and I would be in charge of the women’s program and teaching other women to defend themselves really appealed to me.

But there was NO way we could do this and foster.

We spent a week asking the Lord what He would have us do. And He opened doors and gave us peace about buying into the Krav Maga school. So in my mind foster care was something we would do later. Our tentative plans were to try it around February or March on 2019, so not terribly far off, but would give us the time we needed for me to settle into my new role at work. I still had some last minute paperwork to wrap up before we were certified anyways.

Then about two weeks ago I get a call from Alyssa.

“I have some exciting news! Your home is now officially open and in the time I was waiting for you to call me, DFCS has already called with a two year old boy. Talk to Chris and y’all decide if you want more info or if you want to pass on this placement.”

I think my text to Chris went something like this “GKUHIFHWRRGKJEBFTJWHWRKFJWK CALL ME.” haha

We prayed and asked the Lord for direction and honestly I felt a lot of conviction because I think in the stress of me starting this new job, I just made my own decision about the timing of foster care out of logic. And the Lord just made what He wanted to happen happen in HIS timing in HIS way.

We were terrified and said yes, having no clue what we were in for. We had very few details about the little boy who was about to enter our lives for an unknown amount of time.

But when the Lord says “Yes” so do we.