This house has been a dream come true for me. After renting a rather dark and what felt like gloomy house for almost four years, I have been so delighted to actually have our own little home! Yes, it’s little. Only two bedrooms, about 1500 square feet altogether. It’s little. But it’s oh, so cozy. And so full of natural light! I LOVE that.  And there is no landlord that says what we can or can’t do. :) Poor husband, now that his wife is let loose!

I felt really stifled in that rental, but you know, I think it was really good for me. For one, it makes our own house so much more special. And two, I think I learned creativity and contentment in a whole new way at the rental house. It wasn’t a natural cute house, so it took a lot of effort to make it cute, without pointing out all the unattractive things about the house. It was a real stretch especially in being content. I can’t say that I mastered that area, but I do feel like the Lord really helped me grow in that. And I keep growing even now.

I think the kitchen in our new house is one of my very favorite rooms. Yeah, well, they’re ALL my favorite. :) But this is especially a favorite. A lot because our rental house had a very very tiny galley kitchen in the middle of the house – no windows, only an overhead florescent light, and if more than two people were in the kitchen it felt overwhelming.

My new kitchen still isn’t large, but most standards. But to me, coming from a teeny kitchen previously, it feels HUGE!

First impressions, though, weren’t very pretty. It was almost the exact colors that were in our rental. Yuck!

BEFORE:

In the middle of January, in 30′ weather, this was very depressing. I had a hard time seeing potential in this place!

Kitchen before 3

Kitchen before 2

Kitchen before 1

Kitchen 38

Brown and yellow put together may come back one day, but I dare say it will not be for me.

We tore out some walls in between the kitchen and dining room and living room. It made the front of the house seem twice as big, and so roomy and spacious. The kitchen was probably the most work out of any other room in the house.

THIS was my kitchen inspiration photo. I think it came from Better Homes & Gardens. My colors and basic theme came from this.

Kitchen inspiration

Of course there are differences   that and MY kitchen – they are two totally different houses! So here’s my version… That cool flooring went in a bathroom instead of the kitchen.

So this is AFTER!

Entering the kitchen from the living room and dining room… Ben added these beams, which came from an old house locally.

Kitchen 6

The hardwoods were refinished, along with the rest of the house. I love the painted floor look too, but it wouldn’t have worked well with our open floor plan.

I made these 12 X 12 burlap squares, thinking they would go by a fireplace, but they seemed to fit here. These are words that describe what I want our home to be like: lots of love and affirmation, peace and comfort and rest, and lots of fun and joy.

Kitchen 35

The chalkboard in the kitchen was an idea I had wanted since years ago – partly for looks, because I think chalkboards are awesome, despite their ever-growing popularity, and partly because supper time can often be a crazy time of day at our house, and I thought this would keep the girls entertained instead of following me around every inch of the kitchen.

If you look on the first picture, it says, “Let’s celebrate Ben!”, from his party back in August. (see how long ago I shot these pictures?) But it’s covered in little scribbles. So yay, my hopes for this area being child entertainment are fulfilled!

Plus, it’s one of the first things you see upon entering the front door, so it makes a fun way to welcome guests!

kitchen 1

For the top of the chalkboard, I dry-brush painted two metal grates that I had found at an antique shop years ago, then tied jute string from one end of the other and clipped pictures of our friends onto it, wash-line style.

Kitchen 5

Entering the kitchen a bit more… Having a window above my sink is dreamy!

And can you believe that Mr. Husband surprised me with this apron-front sink?? I could scarcely believe it when he told me. This is what I really wanted in here, but gracious, they’re expensive. So this is my birthday and Christmas and birthday and Christmas and birthday and Christmas gift for the next decade. :) We tried to justify the $$ because we really didn’t spend that much on the rest of the kitchen. :)

Ben added crown molding on the ceiling, and also on the top of the cabinets to make it look like staggered heights. This side is existing cabinetry, with the doors removed on the top half. We did order all new doors for the kitchen. [side note: we ordered them online instead of in-person, and they were way too “fussy” in real life. I would have preferred something a bit simpler had I known].

The chandelier was a $7 auction find.

Kitchen 7

A close-up of the apron-front. I love this baby! Not only does she look lovely and old and vintage-y…

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… and fit so well with the butcher block counter top that Ben made out of old 2×4’s out of walls torn out of the house [isn’t that just precious??]…

Kitchen 34

… but it was perfect for bathing little children before the tub was hooked up…

Kitchen 36

… and it’s a perfect height for a little girl who loves to wash lettuce and is always asking to help in the kitchen.

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One more peek at her. :)

Kitchen 17

Quite frankly, there is nothing I don’t love about this sink!

I chose the rainy-day blue color because I wanted a cool-feeling kitchen. The color is “Kittery Blue” in eggshell finish from Benjamin Moore, but we mixed pure white with it as well to soften it – the color was too bright blue for me.

It is so hot so much of the year where we live, and i didn’t want a “hot” color to where i’d feel like i was roasting along with my dinner. I think this is the reason I chose cooler colors throughout most of the house, which is quite unlike me, really. I have always loved COLOR. And now I still like color, but more splashes of color than rooms of color. Even though I still people’s bright colors and think to myself how lovely it looks and perhaps i should have done that too… :)

Details in the window cupboards… Wanting it to feel cozy, not sterile (though definitely clean!).

I love my open cabinets. It feels so comfortable. Not sure why, but it does. And guests know where my glasses and everything are. No opening five cupboard doors before finding the right one!

My open cabinets were inspired by The Lettered Cottage and A Country Farmhouse in particular, and a few other magazine sources.

Kitchen 13

I had so many white/silver/glass dishes, so I didn’t go out and buy many at all. I did add a few little things I found for a dollar or two at junk shops.

Kitchen 12

Fun little cups I picked up at my favorite little junk shop. These are our chocolate milk glasses. :)

Kitchen 4

These are my fave. So sweet and cute.

Kitchen 23

This mirror was randomly placed here soon after we moved, when we tried to clean up the house one day to get ready for guests. And what do you know, but I really liked it there. So it stays! I dry-brush painted this gold frame, and I love how it made the molding stand out. This is also my little picture board while I’m washing dishes. Seeing happy faces while I’m cleaning up seems to make the job happier!

Kitchen 15

Kitchen 3

This reads, “peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. it means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.” [unknown] I so often need this reminder!

A container [found at Goodwill – does anyone even know how much I love Goodwill??] filled with glass vases. Sometimes this is emptied out and used at a salad bowl for company. And sometimes the vases are gone and scattered all over the house, holding various flower arrangements and buds.

Kitchen 29

And the third fireplace of the house is in the kitchen. Believe it or not. I can’t wait to use it in the winter! I think I will actually like cooking and baking then!

Kitchen 11

Little girl who follows me around the house while I shoot pictures. :)

Kitchen 10

Kitchen 9

And another look I’ve had on this mantel. It’s fun to change it around a bit, but I know I will not be one of those people who changes their mantels every single season. Because, with 5 fireplaces, that would be 20 different mantel-scapes, and I know is not going to happen here!

Kitchen 31

Kitchen 32

My baking corner. Pretty much all I need to bake with (pans, mixing bowls, ingredients, beaters, refrigerator) is within arms reach.

Before & After 033

Ben also made this concrete counter top. Yeah, he can do pretty much anything he sets his mind to. It all started when we began pricing new counter tops, and were blown away with how expensive they are! My ever-frugal husband began thinking of alternatives to the classic counter tops, and decided to experiment with this. The only cost was a few boards to frame up the counter top and the concrete to pour in it. Very very inexpensive.

People that make concrete counter tops as a business must have formulas and things for different colors. We didn’t, so it was pure experimentation. He added some black dye in the concrete when he first made it, but it only turned it a light grey, and we both wanted a charcoal color. So he rubbed ebony wood stain on top after it was dry, and then sealed it. It turned to the perfect color. I think he’s a genius. :)

Now that we’ve lived with it for a while, I still LOVE it. However, we would go with grout sand rather than concrete sand. It would make a smoother finish.

We searched online for “DIY concrete countertops” and found various blogs and tutorials.

I love the practicality of it as well – my pans can come directly out of the oven and be set on the counter.

Kitchen 25

Ben took away the old yellow vinyl and replaced it with beadboard. I really like this look.

Bamboo and white tongs in one jar, black and stainless steel in another. I’m funny about that.

Kitchen 28

A flat-top stove! Very, very exciting after my vintage model at our rental. :) I kept trying to tell myself that “Hey, vintage is cool!” but I wasn’t able to convince myself. A flat-top feels so clean and I have been loving it! We did get all new appliances in the kitchen.

Kitchen 8

Can you believe that my dear friend Linda found this at a yard sale for TWO DOLLARS, and GAVE it to me?? I couldn’t believe that she didn’t keep it for herself!

Kitchen 2

And now after seeing my perfectly clean kitchen, looking like it’s never used, I’ll clear up that illusion and tell you that this is what it looks like quite often. Almost daily, in fact. Except without the cookies.

Ben made these cabinets on this side, but we ordered doors.

Kitchen 18

And now you know that I live in a real world. :) Yes, I realize it does not look safe for my children to be on the counter. But if you only knew how happy they are to be up there with me, you’d allow it too. And yes, I do stay close by. Except when taking pictures. :)

Once more, before:

Kitchen before 3 Kitchen before 2

And

After!

Kitchen 24

[I think a round jute rug would look so very cozy right in the center of the kitchen, but where do I find one for super cheap??]

Kitchen 7

Kitchen 34

Thanks for taking my little long tour!

~clarita

Sources:
Farmhouse Sink: signaturehardware.com


Blue wall color: Kittery Blue; Benjamin Moore, in eggshell, mixed half/half with pure white trim paint [edit: this is discontinued. the closest thing I could find was ‘Harbor Fog’ by Benjamin Moore.
This Harbor Fog would not need to be diluted or altered; it’s the closest match to the finished wall color that I could find.]


Butcher Block Color:   Waterlox (a food-grade sealer), multiple coats, no poly

I’ve gotten a lot of questions about the butcher block countertop through messages, so I’ll answer a bit here:

The kitchen butcher block countertops are made from reclaimed Antique Southern Pine. We then used only Waterlox, multiple layers (like 4-6!) because poly isn’t food-grade safe. The Waterlox does give a water-proof sealant, and also a bit of natural color although it’s not considered a stain. We didn’t use any color/stain on the countertops. The amber color came because of the Antique Pine and combination of Waterlox.


Cabinet color: Dove White, by Sherwin Williams


Floor Stain: Dark Walnut; Minwax


Cabinet doors: cabinet door world

 

Well, we did it!

We went and had our first debut into the big wide business world of pretties and cutesy little things!

Thanks for all the sweet words and comments on the last post. Actually quite a few of the last posts! Sure is a great vote of confidence! :) You all make my day with your comments! Thank you all!

Back to My Faire Lady…

As usual, I only took a couple hundred pictures. :/ So to try to decide which pictures to post was a bit challenging. I decided on showing a lot of pictures rather than just a couple.

That’s your warning that this is a really long picture post!

As I said last time, this was a brainstorm I had a few months ago – to make some pretties and see if we could sell them at a local festival day. We thought it if does well, we’ll be excited and have a little extra money. Housewives always like a little extra money, you know? And if it doesn’t do so well, then, hey, at least we tried it!

So, at the end of this post I’ll tell you which of the two it was. :)
Until then, here is

My Faire Lady

itself!

The grand debut!

Thanks for coming and visiting! :)

The little booth… [and I could elaborate about how the setting up the tent the night before was a near-nightmare experience and how we ended up going and getting this nice new one last minute… Whew…]

Linda and Veronica showing our wares. :) It’s the beginning of the day and we’e super excited!

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Our little sign, which I painted on an old panel.

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Peeking inside the tent…

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And inside! Some of our pretties!

VERONICA’S PRETTIES:

….she made the cute little pillowcase-style dresses on the bottom of the rack.

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closer up…

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… she made an assortment of cute little flowers…
and if you look on the bottom right of this picture there are ribbon headbands that she made for little babies, with a bit of elastic at the bottom to fit all size of babies heads….

My Faire Lady, Oct. 2, 2010 017

…more of those ribbon headbands…

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… and just clip one of these flowers onto it and your baby girl will be good to go!

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Ribbon Pacifier clips, in white, pink, and blue.

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LINDA’S CREATIONS:

Absolutely darling cream bags, with a homemade champagne flower. I could hardly resist buying one of these!

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Really cool pillows.

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Monogrammed kitchen hand towels.

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Diaper Clutches, which hold a slim wipes box and 2 diapers. This is one of the greatest investments you’ll make as a mother! Trust me on this!

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And a grand assortment of many colors and styles.

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Chalkboard and Jute vases. Shown with a lovely fall arrangement.
ORIGINAL idea by Linda herself. Please congratulate her. I think they are sooo cute!!

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White window panels. These are very similar to the ones I made for my dining room, but lighter weight, and with ruffles on the top and bottom. Just precious.

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and
CLARITA’S COLLECTION
[that would be me. :)]

Kitchen aprons…

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My Faire Lady prep, Barkman Family pictures 155

Lots and lots and lots of paper balls.

My Faire Lady prep, Barkman Family pictures 201

Clipboards in small and large.

My Faire Lady prep, Barkman Family pictures 175

 

Baby Girl burp cloths…

My Faire Lady prep, Barkman Family pictures 158     My Faire Lady prep, Barkman Family pictures 162   My Faire Lady prep, Barkman Family pictures 157  

…sold in a set of three.

My Faire Lady, Oct. 2, 2010 049

 

Baby Boy burp cloths…

My Faire Lady prep, Barkman Family pictures 170    My Faire Lady prep, Barkman Family pictures 165    My Faire Lady prep, Barkman Family pictures 167

…also sold in a set of three.
Whew, I was glad to be done making these. I love how they turned out, but they took soooo long to make!

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Hair pretty holders in pink…

My Faire Lady prep, Barkman Family pictures 217

and brown.

My Faire Lady prep, Barkman Family pictures 219

and they were signed. Just for when we’re famous, you know. :) Ha ha!

My Faire Lady prep, Barkman Family pictures 210

Pillows –  in white…

My Faire Lady, Oct. 2, 2010 008

…and in charcoal.

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And in some numbers. Copying Pottery Barn a bit here.

My Faire Lady, Oct. 2, 2010 063

And flowers.  I can’t forget the flowers.
This was a really fun experiment. I found tha the more sheer the fabric is, the better it curls.
I like the curly, cottage-rose look.
Some of the satin-y fabric were really pretty too…

Tiny 2″ flowers…

My Faire Lady, Oct. 2, 2010 039

4″ flowers displayed on a tree branch.

My Faire Lady, Oct. 2, 2010 109

My Faire Lady, Oct. 2, 2010 037

These were headbands, with approximately 4″ flowers.

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My Faire Lady, Oct. 2, 2010 045

My Faire Lady, Oct. 2, 2010 047

My Faire Lady, Oct. 2, 2010 117

…adding some feathers…

My Faire Lady, Oct. 2, 2010 118

…adding a little bit of vintage-y lace…

My Faire Lady, Oct. 2, 2010 113

 

And the prettiest thing there – though not for sale! – my little sweetie, who got her first face painting at the fair!
She was so proud of that little cupcake. :)

My Faire Lady, Oct. 2, 2010 127

 

And that is a glimpse of our little booth at My Faire Lady!
Of course, real life is much better than simply a visual tour, but thanks for visiting anyway!

Because, see, it was such a fun day, and we were glad we did it!

But see, we discovered too late that we were rather out of our league that day.

See, there was this little plastic pumpkin stand directly behind us. Not real pumpkins.
Plastic.
Yep, sure were.
From Walmart, we think.
Wow, sure are cheezy…” I thought to myself. Shhhhh. Don’t tell.
And then little leaves and scarecrow faces were drawn on the plastic pumpkins.
And people’s names; last name, then all the family members.
“Definitely not my front porch item,” I also thought.

Well, what. do. you. know.

But that little pumpkin stand was cranking out the pumpkins and scarecrows and leaves just as fast as they could write/draw on those little plastic pumpkins. They were quite amazing in their speed too. I was quite impressed.

And by the end of the day, the three of us [Linda, Veronica, and I]
laughed ourselves almost silly because the plastic pumpkin stand was almost wiped out
and here we were, with nary a thing sold from our darling little booth.
Well, almost nary a thing.
About enough to pay for our booth fee.

No kidding.

Of course, we were prejudiced, beings that we made everything and all.

But seriously, plastic pumpkins over cutesy little beautifuls???
It really was quite funny.
And quite sad.

So, now, I have 5 years worth of gifts left over. :))

OR,

you can check out our page on facebook –
My Faire Lady –
and buy anything that you’d like!

[That’s just my little plug]

 

:))

~Happy weekend to you!

How can it be anything BUT happy when the weather is the most glorious 70′ since over half a year ago?!
Shrimp saining for us tomorrow on the islands!

~clarita

 

 

My online time the couple of months has been greatly limited, due to a three main things.

1. The daily joys and challenges of being a wife, mother, household-keeper, laundress, chef, grounds-keeper, teacher-of-how-children-should-get-along [to one’s own children]…

2. The weekly involvement in a Bible Study with four girls from our church’s youth group. I LOVE LOVE this… even though finding the time to studying amidst #1 can be challenging some weeks.

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3. The preparation for My Faire Lady!

This was a brainstorm that happened upon me a few months ago – the idea to have a little booth at a local festival, exhibiting a few little things that are homemade. Cute homemade. ;)

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[ruffled pillows, in charcoal and [not shown] in white]

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So, after talking to 2 wonderfully talented friends in the area, the three of us decided to try to make a go of our idea! I am sooo excited to be doing this with Linda and Veronica – both amazing seamstresses and talented women!

[covered clipboards in small and large]

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We are all having our own little niche, certain things that each of us are doing, and then we’re overlapping a bit too, in what we’re doing. Our little things include [this is all of us, not just me]: window panels, shoulder bags, diaper clutches, pacifier ribbon holder, burp cloths, clip boards, hair flowers and pretties…

[whoever knew there is so much COOL fabric out there. i want to start sewing for my girls next!]

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[ruffled half-apron, in the making. Can you tell I’m in love with anything ruffly (??) right now? :)]

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[Zoe, age three. Loving to be involved, and is constantly saying, “I want to WATCH you…”

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So, in a little more than a week, we will be full-swing into

My Faire Lady – an eclectic assortment of things beautiful, vintage, and feminine.”

[a sneak peak into the burp cloths]

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[hair flowers. these are called ‘lollipop flowers’ – i googled them on youtube to learn how to make them]

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It’s either going to be a grand success, OR I will have five years worth of gifts left over!! A little nervous about that.  :)

So, these are just a few of the many things that will be [attemping to be] sold at our little county festival! If you’re local, be sure to come and check us out!

Happy weekend to you!

-clarita

This is one day where, if it were possible, I would call Husband and ask if he could please come home from work at 10am, while I go and hibernate the rest of the day. Perhaps make the one hour drive to the nearest coffee shop and sit there. Maybe finishing my book, Cry, the Beloved Country and feeling like I’m really expanding my mommy brain. Something beyond child-training and husband/wife relationships. Which is good in its place, but somehow doesn’t feel very mind-stretching. I want to think outside of my world sometimes.

Not that I have a bad life. No, not at all. I really do love my life. Really.

But as we are all human beings, and as rather young human beings can be rather hard on a bit older human beings (read: children are unnerving mother), let’s just say that today is one of those days.

At the moment, life is quiet. Both girls are in bed for afternoon naps. I am sitting on the couch, still in pajamas (is that part of my problem, that I never truly started my day?), with a delicious broiled sandwich and a murky glass of lemonade. The murkiness is due to a certain 3-year old who was helping me in the kitchen one day during a baking project. And was mixing sugar into the flour container and flour into the sugar container. And as you well know, I’m sure, that sugar and flour are nigh to impossible to separate, I now have flour as well as sugar in my lemonade. Thus the reason for the murkiness.

This morning: not so quiet. The girls are beginning to have “sisterly competition,” to put it mildly. Let’s just say that big sister and little sister aren’t having such good days with each other, which can result in not-so-good days for mother as well. Little sister seems to be the main culprit, and loves to tease big sister to the point of tears. This morning was the occassion of many such tears. And at one point, having had enough, big sister pulled little sister off the couch by her feet, resulting in little sister landing squarely on her head, wailing loudly. Well, I would wail loudly too, if I were her.

I, the ever-wise mother (please read that very sarcastically) promptly rapped big sister on the head so she caught a small taste of what she did to little sister. Which was really a very bad idea, because then they were both wailing at the very same time. Well, I would wail loudly too, if my mother had just rapped me on the head. That was definitely not the love and tenderness of Jesus coming out just then.

And that was just a small glimpse of this morning.

Yesterday morning a bowl of cereal exploded in the kitchen, after someone accidentally dropped the honey bear into it from 2 feet above. I thanked the Lord that Zoe had vehemently requested a PLASTIC cereal bowl that morning, or else we would have shattered glass amongst the milk and granola that had landed up to 8 feet above the floor level, and spread in a 8 foot radius around my previously sparkling kitchen. Oh, and landing in my hair and eyebrows and face.

Oh, and did I mention the someone was not my daughter? No, it was, in fact, myself.

This house is full of imperfect people today.

I’m just so glad my PERFECT husband is coming home in a few hours! And will be home for the weekend!

Dear Husband, I’m so glad you’re the kind of man that I know will always come home to us…

And yet, in the midst of days that seem like “bad days” like this, I’m reminded of how precious life is, the lives of children who can have me so exasperated one moment and laughing the next.

With living across the street from the best children’s park in town,  both of the girls frequently ask to go and play there. Well, Olivia points and jabbers incoherently. But they both love to go.

On Saturday, when I was outside with both of them, Zoe frantically yelled at me, “OLIVIA’S ON THE ROAD!!!” I look over from working in the flower beds not far away to see her completely crossing the street BEFORE MY VERY EYES.

I raced over to her, as fast as my legs in go in a dream-like state, where you want to run so badly but just can’t quite go fast enough, and scooped her up. Holding her tight as I could. Realizing that on our street, with a lot of fast through-traffic, I might not have ever held her again if…. Heart pounding. Mind racing.

I had nightmares all night and weekend about that incident. Waking up and seeing visions of things that didn’t happen, but could have happened. Realizing that on Sunday, instead of having people over for lunch as planned, we could have been planning a funeral. Sounds terribly morbid, I know, but I would wake up with a jerk thinking of what could have happened…

And I’m reminded once again of God’s Sovereignty, and am so thankful that He protected the life of our little girl. He would not have had to, but He did. And I am so grateful…

So today, I’m reminded of how sacred it is to hold them in my arms and rock them, singing lullabyes… Even though some days it feels like all we do is climb walls and write on white pillows with pencils and colored chalk. Today is sacred.

Even so, Dear Husband, I can’t wait until you come home…

~clarita

 

Or perhaps I should name this,  “Dining Room Before. And After: Prepared for a Dinner Party”. That’s too long for a title anyway. But that’s the gist of these pictures. I was going to do before & after pictures of this room anyway, and then during preparation for my husband 30th party I snapped these pictures. And no, my dining room is not set up for a dinner party every day! :)

It has been SO FUN to decorate this home on a budget. Other than blinds/shades for the windows, and light fixtures, I tried to not buy much at all to decorate with in this house. Unless I made it myself, then I allowed myself to buy items to make it with. Or found it at Goodwill, or a cheap antique shop, or something. You know, where I could justify it. :)

I was thinking the other day, and wondering what this house would look like if I would have had unlimited resources to work with. But then I thought some more, and said to myself that I think it would not look much different. I might have shopped at high-quality, high-dollar antique stores, maybe. But I think the basic look would be the same. But then that’s today. It seems like “my style” [whatever that is] is always emerging, developing, changing… :)

Because, I like uniqueness. Originality. I like it that I didn’t just walk into a store to buy my stuff, and that a lot of things here are unique to me, and to this house. I like to make a lot of things, because that makes it more unique. More one-of-a-kind. That’s just what makes me tick. :)

So, not sure why I said all that before a dining room, because there’s only so much a girl can make for a room like that!

But here, it is.

Welcome to Room #2 of the house tour.

BEFORE:

There were walls everywhere. These were the first to go. The rooms are quite small even without the walls now, but it makes everything *feel* so much bigger. If you can trick your mind like that your comfort level is much higher. :)

Dining Room Before 4

 

Behind that wall in the first picture – in the tearing out process.

Dining Room Before 3

 

Fireplace #2 of 5 in the house. Blue paint is not original to the house, so I didn’t ruin historic value in this century-old house by painting it!

Dining Room Before 1

 

Lovely blue trim. And I didn’t get a picture of the ceiling, but it was a light sky blue too.  Someone really liked blue, is all I can say!

Dining Room Before 2

 

And AFTER!

[if you remember from the living room post, this is opening from one side of that room]

Dining Room9

I found the bike/bakery shop/flower pictures before we got married at Michaels or A.C. Moore. My grandmother framed it in an inexpensive frame, then had a friend glaze it to make it look like an oil painting, but it’s really a cheap poster.

We painted the fireplace mantel and brick under it a pure white, and I love the fresh look that it gave!

Dining Room 5

 

A few antique-joint finds on Saturday…

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These paper balls were hung especially for the dinner party. My theme in decorating was “Garden Party Indoors.” I looooove outdoor parties, but it’s just not possible here most of the year. 100 degrees and 100% humidity for an outdoor party just isn’t very enjoyable. I tried it one year, and dripping sweat and buzzing mosquitoes just wasn’t very pleasant. Trust me on that one.

This was a little challenge for me to know how to pull off my theme without it being too girly for my husband 30th party! Afterward I kept asking him, “This wasn’t too froufrou for you, was it? It wasn’t too girly?” And he kept assuring me that no, it was good. :) Although when I mentioned keeping those paper balls up there permanently he got a little scared and said he might have to find another place to stay. :)

Martha Stewart gets the credit for the instructions on how to make these balls. I had read tutorials online, but was thoroughly confused. Martha Stewart to the rescue. In three easy steps I had made these balls and was so delighted! I would have made hundreds of them by now if I would have known how easy they are!

This girl has made something similar, only in flower shape, that are so beautiful. She was a main inspiration for me wanting to make these in the first place!

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These window panels were inspired by Pottery Barn Teen. A few friends and I were looking at a catalogue one day and said, “We have got to make these!” I found fabric on clearance for $1.50 a yard, so spent about $20 for fabric and thread. I made these with a different twist than the ones Pottery Barn sells, but got my idea from them.

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The Pottery Barn price was $68 per panel. Unbelievable difference. :)

The wide trim was present in the house when we bought it. I LOVE it.

I cut bamboo rods for curtain rods for these panels, like the ones in the living room. This saved me about $50 doing that, because these were free from our old backyard. I did have to buy the brackets to hold the bamboo rods, which ended up being about $10 at Home Depot.

The bamboo Roman Shades come from Kmart. I love this purchase. I think it really dresses up the room, and I love the different textures and media.

This old door was in the house as a laundry room door when we bought it, but in too poor a condition to actually use. I couldn’t  bear to throw it away, and one day had the inspiration to put it in here. The chalkboard dresses it up a bit, and is a fun place to write notes, menus, or inspiring quotes.

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[yikes, should have pulled the dead leaves off my “friendship plant!”]

This chandelier was a bargain I found on craigslist. (I know, right?! Who could even bear to part with this kind of beauty?)  It’s the Pottery Barn ‘Celeste’ which was selling for far less than store/catalogue price. I was one happy girl to pick this baby up! And I was trying not to appear over-eager as I handed her the money and drove off, totally beaming!!! This was one deal I couldn’t BELIEVE I actually found on craigslist. I loved the bit of glamor it added to the older historical elements in the room.

 

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Dinner Party Details:

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The centerpiece was three simple green arrangements. This was just an elephant ear leaf in a milk glass vase. I love milk glass. My Aunt Grace has collected them for years, and the past three years I’ve picked up pieces as well when I find them cheaply.

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This potted arrangement was given to me after a dear friend’s wedding. Isn’t it beautiful?!

The vase in the background is filled with magnolia leaves and an old magnolia flower pod.  Also in milk glass.

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More paper balls:

 

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Place settings:

Silver chargers were found at garage sales and discount stores, for around $1-2 each.

White place settings: Pottery Barn outlet, on sale. They’re called “Suppertime.” I purchased a set of 10 dinner and salad plates with a gift card given by husband a year and a half ago. I LOVE these. They feel special for everyday, but for a more formal dinner they look the part as well. And they hold up splendidly with years of use.

Goblets: you can find these for $1 each at Dollar General. Walmart, Pottery Barn, and other places sell them as well, for a bit more money.

White cloth napkins: found at garage sales, goodwills, re-use-it shops.

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Mix-matched chairs. The table set was a wedding gift given by my parents, but for a larger party I have to pull out every chair I have around the house!

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And can you believe that I forgot to take any pictures of the actual party?! No food or people pictures. Sad sad sad. I was feeling very scatterbrained at the last minute. That’s my excuse. :)

Here’s the final before:

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and after:

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Hope you enjoyed the tour!

Wishing you all a lovely day, wherever you may find yourselves… Feeling a bit somber this week, thinking of my sweet friend who suddenly lost her father a week ago. Tragedies like that always remind me to hug a little tighter, tell people that I love them more often, and just put life in perspective so much. I ache for my friend, who has to find a new normal, and learn to live without someone who has always been part of her life.

And while I hurt for her, I’m reminded, for myself, to treasure today. Even if my kids are cranky. If they spill pink nail polish all over the floor. If they cry over every little thing. If they won’t take long naps. If they put flour in the sugar container and sugar in the flour box. If it feels like I just can’t sweet my floor enough, it’s always dirty from kids’ crumbs.

Because those are all just inanimate things. Just things. And these years of raising children are such a small part of the time span of my life. So love them well, Mrs. Yoder. Kiss them, and hug them, and laugh instead of getting upset, and take time to read that same book for the hundredth time. You don’t know how long you will be able to hold them, and cuddle and kiss them. You don’t know, so treasure today…

~clarita

 

 

I may have lived in the South for four years, but let me say, I am still in open-mouthed awe at the trucks these people like down here. Or maybe “awe” isn’t the right word. Perhaps “amazement” is a better word.

We were driving in a small southern town within several hours of where we live, when we drove past this truck. “TURN AROUND!” I said, in  shocked tone of voice, not believing what I thought my eyes had seen. Dear, obliging husband turned around. And we both stared, open-mouthed, and then I remembered my camera and whipped it out.

“Oh nooooo!” Groaned husband. “You’re going to put this picture on xanga, and everyone is going to think that southerners are soooo redneck!”

Yes I will put this on xanga, but I will make a disclaimer and say that not *all* southerners drive a truck *quite* this big. Only half a big. :)

Need I even say that we live in Redneck Country?!

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Wow.

That’s all I can say.

WOW.

~clarita

 

 

Wow, it’s been a good past couple of weeks.

-Celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary (this was more like 2 months ago!).

– A 10-day trip back home (I still think of Pennsylvania as “home,” even though Georgia is “home” to me too. But Pennsylvania is “back home.”). Just so great. I came back feeling so blessed and overwhelmed by the family and friendships God has given me. It’s not a matter of if I have family and friends to see when I go back, but rather how much time I have to see people – which is never enough, and there are always people I wish I could have seen that I wasn’t able to, and the people I did see I wished to have seen more of.

– Celebrating my husband’s 30th birthday! This is what really made my weeks fly by, because I felt like I was planning his birthday for months! Maybe more on this at a later date.

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Olivia is walking! It took her a while to discover she really could do this, but now she is toddling all over the house. I love the word “toddle.” It sums up wobbly baby legs, balance challenges, and baby grins all in one. And lots of bumps and bruises. Don’t forget those.

 

It’s been a busy but happy time. This morning I thought to myself, “I am just so happy to be alive today.”

Part of that had to do with the fact that my girls slept in until  9:30 (!!!!), and I was able to have a few HOURS (hours, not minutes) alone before they awoke. That definitely is a reason to be happy. :) [And I wish I knew what I did right, so that they could sleep in again like that!]

And then, because I had some time alone with my God, I felt ready to greet them. Happily greet them, as I heard little feet pattering on the hardwood floor. Ready to greet them with long hugs and snuggles, and say, “I’m so happy to see you!” and really mean it, rather than thinking, “Oh, why did you get up so early today??!” :)

And now, at 2pm, they are just recently gone to bed because of sleeping in so late. And I have a bit of quiet once again… I love quiet.

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But now, here’s to celebrating 5 years of being married!

The Man.

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The Lady.

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This post is looking back over the past 8 years. Remembering when the love first began between Ben and me. This is going to be a nutshell version of a very veeeeery long story. :)

I was 19 when I first met him. He was hardly 22.

I was independent, loved being single, and wanted to be single until I was 30 because I loved where I was at so much. Marriage was NO WHERE in my near future.

However, I was fascinated by his crystal-blue eyes, easy-going personality, and slow southern drawl. He first noticed my curly hair and long eyelashes. :)

We had never met before, but were thrown together in a group of about 60 Bible School students for 7 weeks. We interacted, became friends, but he was seeing another girl at the time and I thought that was that.

Meanwhile, I was mapping out my next five years,which included mission trips to Africa, Colorado, Asia, as well as furthering my education. And was I ever excited. However, God started speaking to my heart and softly telling me not to view marriage so adamently. Asking me to surrender my dreams for the future, and to trust His plans, even if they were different from my own. This was such a difficult thing for me, because I really did not want to get married soon at all. But my answer to God, through much wrestling and struggle, was, “Yes, Jesus, I will do what you want me to do, whatever that is.”

 

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Several months later, Ben asked my dad if he could date me, and after a few months of dad com municating with Ben, Ben and I had som contact through phone calls and emails. This is a really reeeeeaaaallly long story, one that I’m not going to go into detail now, but after some months my answer to Ben was “no.” Interestingly though, my heart was opening to the idea of romance , and even of marriage sometime in the future! Even though I did not think this would include Ben.

We parted ways, heartbreaking to both of us because of our friendship, but my heart was not ready for him. Over the next year, I dated another man, thinking Ben was a person of the past, and excited about where God was taking me.

But for unknown reasons, God did not give me rest with staying in that relationship. It was mysterious to me, and had nothing to do with the man himself but only the way God was leading me.

Heartbreak again. I wanted to make a vow of celebacy for the next two years just so I wouldn’t have to even think about love again! My parents refrained me, much to my (then) chagrin. They did allow me to make a 6-month commitment. Looking back, I think they really wanted me to get married! Ha!

Shortly after that, I spent two months in Central America with my sister, Jana, and two friends. Antigua, Guatemala, was where we studied Spanish, and central point from which traveled all over the country! Great times!

During those months in Central America, my heart was strangely drawn to Ben again. Wondering why, wondering how, but my heart was restful that if God had something for us in the future He would bring it to pass.

Ben asked again, brave man. And this time, almost two years after we first met, we began dating. This time my heart was ready for him, and delighted to be entering a journey alongside him!

I was 21, he was 23.

We dated long-distance of 800 miles, seeing each other about once a month for a weekend. He shocked me when proposing after only 8 months of dating, but my answer was “Yes!” Our engagement was 5 months long, two months of which I was away from home living with my widowed grandmother in Florida and then on a mission trip to Africa.

[In Africa on a mission trip, 3 months before our wedding. So neat that we were both able to go!]

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Funny FUNNY looking back at these pictures! Makes me laugh, like, did we really both change so much?!

[He joined my extended family campout while we were dating.]

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I was 22 when we wedded, he was 24. Such a happy happy day…

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[working on our first house, tearing wallpaper off…]

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And now, it’s five years later.  A lot has happened in those five years. We lived in Pennsylvania, we moved to Georgia, Ben and I taught school, we had a baby girl, Ben taught another year of school, I had another baby girl…

And before we were married, people would talk about the work that it takes to have a good marriage. I would listen and politely nod, but think to myself, “They must not have the kind of relationship that WE have!” Five years later, I can honestly say that a good marriage DOES take work – hard work, and lots of it.

It’s been a wonderful, crazy, mysterious, fun, scary, beautiful, frustrating, amazing journey together! There are challenges we’ve faced that I never would have imagined, yet glad that I didn’t know about beforehand. This journey together is one that I wouldn’t trade for the world, and yet one that makes me need God more than anything in the world. This is a sacred journey, one of commiting my life to one man, until death do us part.

Because it’s in that covenant that God is revealed. We don’t bail out when it’s tough. We’re in it together, thick or thin. Easy days, fun days, hard days. We’re in this for life, and we’re going to give it our best shot. We’re going to love each other, forever…

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Really cool/funny thing about this photo shoot a few weeks ago: It was taken very impromptu after a day at the beach, and my sister Claudia Barkman took the pictures. She overheard an older couple talking as they walked by. “Wedding?” asked the man [did he not see the BROWN dress?]. “No, engagement,” said the woman. We had a laugh about that later. And thought, “Awwww, we still look like we’re engaged!” while wondering what the couple thought about the two babies playing in the foreground…! :)

I’m the lucky woman who gets to be with this man!

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Lovin'

And, somehow, two people make more people… :)

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Daddy & Olivia

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It’s a forever kind of love…

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… even with the sometimes long days of childen who are[n’t] getting along well…

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Forever, Baby!

~clarita