Saturday, June 25, 2011

Make a room feel brand-new... for free!

A blog I've recently fallen in love with is the Thrifty Decor Chick. Her tagline is "Sharing simple, inexpensive ways to decorate your home." She'll find something she likes on other sites, or at Pottery Barn, etc. and do it herself for less than half the price of the original. Or she'll just come up with amazing decorating ideas on her own. Her house is a work-in-progress, and she takes great pictures throughout the process. I think my favorite part is that her work is just my style. Often I'll see decorating ideas (especially in my BHG magazine), and think ewww... But Sarah is a girl after my own heart.

When I started writing this post, I was sure I'd gotten the following idea from her. But I searched and searched the last few months of her blog and can't find it anywhere! *blush* Now I'm feeling silly for attributing this idea to her when I really have no idea where it came from... But you should still check out her blog. It's amazing.

Anyway... the idea. I read and saw pictures somewhere about decorating the master bedroom.

We have a pretty simple, semi-small bedroom. This picture was from shortly after we moved in, in October 2009. The bed is against the east wall, a window on the north wall, the closet and outer door on the south wall, and door to the bathroom on the west wall (behind the photographer). Yes it's only a full-size bed, it's what we've always had, and we like it. :)

Fast forward a year and a half. We still have this exact same layout. I'd never considered anything else. Then I saw a post (somewhere...) about using a window as a headboard. Really? The window? We don't have a regular headboard, so I looked at the room, rotated everything 90 degrees in my head (or is it -90 degrees, Rocky?? :), and thought maybe it would work.

No pictures of the redecorate-in-progress. Not even of the full-length mirror that crashed against the cedar chest and broke into a bazillion pieces (thanks to the crazy cat...).

And here is what we ended up with:

Tada! Our full-size bed fits under the window PERFECTLY!! Since my nightstand is smaller than Rocky's, there was quite a bit of extra space to the left of it, and so I went downstairs and found a working halogen lamp. And as I moved the cedar chest I remembered it had all our extra pillows in it, so I took a few out to buff up the "headboard" space. Look what you can do to make a space brand-new, without buying a single thing!!

Of course now we have a huge blank wall...

Hmmm what to do with it... Any ideas??

Friday, June 24, 2011

Five Minute Fridays: Wonder

Today's Five-Minute-Friday topic is "Wonder". I kind of already wrote a post a few weeks ago for this topic... so I don't think I'm going to do another one.

But this post continues to be on my mind...

Want to participate in Five-Minute-Fridays? Let’s just write and not worry if it’s just right or not. Here’s how we do it:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat with no editing or tweaking.

2. Link back here and invite others to join in

3. Go and tell the person who linked up before you what their words meant to you. Every writer longs to feel heard.

It’s a great way to exhale at the end of a beautiful week.
I was doing so good at blogging frequently, then I kind of fell off the radar this week. I've got some ideas for posts rattling around in my head, so hopefully the next time I have a bit of free time I'll get those thoughts out for you!

In the meantime, here's a song that came to mind when I heard the word "wonder":

Why Do I - FFH
I find myself alone again
Staring at the stars You made
You threw them into place and then
Said it all was great

That You would choose to make me just amazes me
But You have told me follow and believe, so...

Why do I, why do I, why do I ever wonder why
Why You love me
Why do I , why do I, why do I ever wonder why
With all the ways You've shown me
Just how small I am and how tall You are
And where I was before, and I say
Why do I, why do I , why do I ever wonder why

I find myself awake again
Thinkin' bout eternity
How I am just a grain of sand and that
You have a plan for me

That You would chose to love me just amazes me
But You have told me "hold on and believe", so...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Carrie, Carrie, quite contrary... does your garden grow?!

Last Tuesday night was a beautiful evening for being outside -- and I took advantage of the weather to get outside and work on my garden for 2 hours after Abby went to bed. I'm just as excited as I was last fall in this post to work on my own landscaping and gardening stuff. Those new bulbs I planted came up beautifully -- the alium are blooming and filling in some little spots of color now that my tulips and irises are gone, before the lilies and hibiscus bloom! The bluebells also came up, but haven't bloomed yet. I bought a few flats of annuals to fill in some color, but it's been so dry I hope I haven't killed them... This spring I also got some black edging that I put in around the front and side of the house to hold in the landscaping I've done, and put down mulch. My, it looks so much different than when we put in our offer on this house two years ago!

What I'm really excited about, and where I spent most of my time last week, is my new "project area." Originally I was thinking of using this space for landscaping and maybe some berry bushes and plants. Nothing too fancy.

Then Rocky put the idea in my head of using the space for my vegetable garden. The more I thought about it, the more I liked it. I watched it for a few days, and realized it does get a lot of sun (I'd thought it was the north side of the house, but it's really more northwest).

So away we went! The day I put the edging around the front of the house, I put edging around this section too (it's behind the garage, down a hill to the walk-out basement).

The next big job was tearing out the grass in the area I wanted to use.

Eventually the rest will come out too, but this was as much as I could do that day. And I didn't want such a big garden I'd be too overwhelmed to continue.

On Mother's Day my gift was uninterrupted time outside. :) I scratched in some topsoil, and planted my seeds. Keeping it simple this year -- peas, carrots, beans, and zucchini.

A few weeks later (on our anniversary actually!) I got some marigolds to go around the outside -- hopefully deterring little creatures from eating my plants. I'm trying to keep up with watering, and last week, like I said, I spent almost 2 hours out there weeding one night. It was so great to see the progress!

Now I need to dig out as much of the rest of that area as I can -- I have a friend with strawberry plants who wants to split them once their season is done, so in just a few weeks. I saw some green peeking out of the grass, and look what I found!

I guess I'll be transplanting a couple hosta plants too!

Sorry for the long post, I just couldn't contain my excitement. :) Do you have a garden this year?

Saturday, June 18, 2011


I've been struggling this week with reading devotions in the morning... Adjusting to a new, non-school schedule has been difficult. But this morning I read this passage from Matthew 6:

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Or as the NLT ends it: "Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be."

I'll admit it. I can be materialistic. At least in my head. I don't often act on it (I was raised with a better understanding of money than that), but I keep my wish lists, and I'll spend time looking at ebay for the best priced cover for the Kindle I don't own.

I know the good Christian answer is to just be thankful for the things I do have. I'm reminded of the Veggie Tales movie about Madame Blueberry - she is a very sad berry because nothing that she has is good enough. She goes to "Stuffmart", where she buys everything thinking it will make her happy. She of course learns along the way that things don't make you truly happy. She encounters a couple of little kids and learns to be thankful for what she has.

I've heard that if there's something you want but don't necessarily need, to wait a couple weeks, or a month or two, and then re-evaluate whether it's still a good idea or not. I really do follow that process. But after those couple of months, I find myself thinking about the object again, wondering how beneficial it would be, is it really worth spending that much money on, but I really do want it...

Maybe if I look at each item on my "wishlist" through the eyes of the verse above... Why do I want the item? Is it just "stuff" that will eventually break and be thrown away and forgotten, or will it somehow help me store up treasures in heaven? Whatever that may look like...

How do you handle "stuff-itis" in your life?

Friday, June 17, 2011

My girl is famous!

One of my first posts in Book Talk Tuesday/Thursday was about one of Abby's favorite books - Ten Little Ladybugs. I often think of this blog as a little thing that not many people really read (<---- based on my '15' followers...), so imagine my surprise when I got a comment on that particular post:

"Hi! I work for the publisher of Ten Little Ladybugs, Piggy Toes Press. If you'd like, we can make Abby our fan of the week and send you a free book. Email me at ...... if you are interested!"

How cool is that?? So we were in touch, and here you have it: my Abby-girl is Piggy Toes Press's Fan of the Week!! Thank you thank you Piggy Toes Press!!

Five Minute Friday: Home


Home is something we take for granted. A home is different from a "house." The word "home" has a sense of emotion, belonging, more than just a roof over our heads. When we moved into this house a year and a half ago, we knew it would be a place we'd stay for awhile (at least 3 years or we'd have to pay the homeowners credit back! ;). But how do you make a "house" a "home"?

By being there. If your home is just a place to sleep at night, it's just a house. You need to hang out there, play games, run in the yard, invite people over.

By keeping it clean. Most people feel uncomfortable when walking into a messy house. Granted, it does feel "lived in", but if there are dirty dishes all over the counter and dust bunnies in every corner, it makes both you and your guests feel a little tense.

I could spend more than 5 minutes on this topic, but I'll stop there for today.


I wrote another post recently about point #2 above.

Want to participate in Five Minute Fridays? Just write for 5 minutes and not worry if it’s just right or not.

  1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
  2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
  3. Get a little crazy with encouragement for the five minuter who linked up before you!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Book Talk Thursday: The Red Tent

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant was recommended to me by a few people when I asked for suggestions of something new to read. I came across it on my friend's Kindle a few weeks ago, and then I checked it out of the library. I honestly have mixed opinions on it...

As a work of fiction, I really enjoyed it. It was very well written, with great character development.

But as a work of historical fiction, I was a little turned off. "Her name is Dinah. In the Bible, her life is only hinted at in a brief and violent detour within the more familiar chapters about her father, Jacob, and his dozen sons in the book of Genesis. Told in Dinah's voice, this novel reveals the traditions and turmoil of ancient womanhood -- the world of the red tent." There were many times as I was reading that I thought to myself, "There is NO way Jacob's wives would have done that." A lot of the traditions and rituals described were very idolatrous and heathen, and while there is nothing written in the Bible about the women's beliefs, I can't imagine the house of Jacob would have behaved that way...

So as I read, I continued to remind myself this was a work of fiction. And I really did enjoy the book. I'll be looking to see if Diamant has written other books, and searching for other authors of similar style.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Appetite Study

Found out about an interesting study through the simplifried blog:

"The Appetite study was conducted at the University of Birmingham in England. Twenty-nine women were fed identical lunches: a ham sandwich, chips, and water, about 500 calories in total. Some of the students ate their lunch with only their random thoughts as company. Others ate while reading a newspaper story about changes in the size of chocolate bars and fizzy drinks in England. The rest ate while listening to a three-minute audio clip encouraging them to focus on the look, smell, flavors, and textures of their food. An hour later, the professors brought the students back and put before them plates of cookies, among them chocolate chip and chocolate fingers (apparently a British thing; we will trust that they are appealing). The students who focused on their lunch ate roughly 50 percent fewer chocolate-chip cookies and 60 percent fewer chocolate fingers than their newspaper-reading and mindless-eating counterparts. Or as the researchers put it: 'Rated vividness of lunch memory was negatively correlated with snack intake.'"

The middle-of-the-afternoon is hardest for me when it comes to snacking. Even now I'm finding myself wondering what's in our cupboards that I could snack on. But when I turn my thoughts to what I had for lunch, that craving subsides a bit. Maybe I'll start focusing more on my food as I eat it... and maybe that will help me just enjoy it more too...

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Party 'till the cows come home!

It was 2 weeks ago, but I had so much fun decorating and preparing for Abby's first birthday party that I just have to post some pictures for the blogging world to see!

[Plus, have I mentioned how much I love hosting parties and just enjoy having people over? That's a post for another day...]

So Abby has this stuffed cow... it's one that you press it's hand (hoof?) and the mouth moves and the foot taps and it sings "Don't Worry, Be Happy." For weeks she was fascinated by the thing. She wouldn't go down for a nap unless she could watch it while snuggling with me. So that's where the inspiration for a theme came from...

We had the party at Rocky's dad's house, on a lake. We were hoping for a nice day to get out and play in the water, but it was kinda rainy and cloudy most of the day.

To go with the cow theme, I found super-cute cupcake liners at I made dark chocolate cupcakes and topped them with vanilla frosting, and vanilla cupcakes topped with dark chocolate frosting.

I made a marble cake for Abby's smash cake from some of the cupcake batter. I baked it in a small Pyrex container, and it was the perfect size! I spent $4 on a cake decorating bag and tips, and I'm so glad I did. I love how the frosting turned out.

From -- her shirt says "Holy cow, I'm ONE already?"

And after all that time I put into her cake? She only picked at the frosting. Very delicately. No smashing was involved. No cakes were harmed in the filming of this day.

After a full day, we all took a pontoon boat ride around the lake. What a great end to a great day!

Will we put in this much effort for a second birthday party? We'll have to wait and see...

Friday, June 10, 2011

Five Minute Friday: Backwards

Ok, time for a new blogging meme (what's a meme you ask? click here!). This one comes to us from The Gypsy Mama, who I found through In the Whisper (who also participates in this meme).

Got five minutes? Let’s write. Let’s write in shades of real and brave and unscripted. Let’s just write and not worry if it’s just right or not.
1. Write for 5 minutes flat for pure unedited love of the written word.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Get a little crazy with encouragement for the five minuter who linked up before you.

Today's topic? "Backwards."

Even though I only worked two days a week at FCCS, I loved being part of activities whenever I could. Spirit Week came the last week in January, and I showed up on Wednesday of that week completely forgetting it was Backwards/Clash Day. The week before I had thought long and hard about what I would wear for that awesome day... for nothing. BUT. I was wearing a long-sleeve, zip-up hoodie, so I was able to turn it around backwards for the day. Elementary school is so much fun.

I've really enjoyed my time at FCCS this year and am glad the opportunity came up for me to join that team. A year ago I never would have thought I'd be a part-time-working-part-time-stay-at-home-mom. But I love it. I love being able to get out of the house and interact with other people twice a week. I love being able to leave my daughter with my best friend and let her get interaction with another person too. I love being able to use my skills and talents to better another group. I can't wait to see what this next year brings!

Well that kind of got off topic, but oh well, at least it got me writing! :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Dave Ramsey would be proud

Well I'm finally taking the time to do it. I used to be so good at keeping up with our finances, tracking where our money went. Then life got busy, and we were doing fine financially, so the tracking got pushed to the backburner.

Then I started buying gift cards through the TRIP program at the school I work for. And I made a new year's resolution to start keeping track again. But the gift cards made things tricky. Would I record when I bought the cards, or when I used them to purchase things, or both? How would that filter through my nifty Excel formulas to tell me how we spent our money? So the tracking stayed on the backburner.

Well today I got inspired. I don't like not knowing where our money is going. If every dollar has a name, I'm less likely to spend it somewhere else under another name. So I made a brand new spreadsheet:
I totaled up the gift cards I have, ones I've bought from TRIP and ones we've gotten as gifts over the years... holy cow we've got a lot of $$ in gift cards waiting to be used! That's encouraging! So we'll see how things go. If I just force myself to take the time to do this, it WILL happen. We WILL find extra money to save for Abby or finish the basement. We WILL pay off our house early. I just need to put my organizing-perfectionist-beaver-type personality into it!

What about you? Do you live on a budget? How do you track where your money goes?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Women in the Word Wednesdays: June 2-8

Thoughts on what I've read this past week...

Thursday 6/2: Romans 2:4
Do I tend to accept and relish in God's kindness, tolerance, and patience, or do I brush them aside? Maybe not in contempt, but taking them for granted?

Friday 6/3: John 14:1
This verse comes right after Jesus predicts his betrayal and Peter's denial. Don't worry about what the future holds!

Monday 6/6: John 14:27
He will never leave me. Even though he physically left the disciples (this past Sunday was Ascension Sunday), he sent the Holy Spirit to guide and comfort us.

Tuesday 6/7: John 16:27
This verse was tough to understand taken out of context. I think it's again confirming and comforting the disciples before he leaves.

Wednesday 6/8: James 3:10
I haven't read this week's chapters in The Ministry of Motherhood, but I have a feeling they're about using your words to show grace and compassion. This verse reminds me of a verse in Ephesians about using our words to build each other up, instead of tearing others down. As Abby learns to understand my words, I need to be careful what I say to her.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I need your input!!

Ahhh it's finally here! The last day of school! Both Rocky and I will be done by noon tomorrow! And while I have to work once or twice a month and Rocky will have some tennis practices to go to, we've got soooooo much more free time! Yay for being married to a teacher!!

So that brings up the question -- what do we DO?! I find amazing blog posts like this one and this one and this ebook and get so inspired!! But then I think... I have a one-year-old. Boo. She can't appreciate most those things. :-(

So I feel stuck. I want to be "intentional" and plan activities and outings and things for our family. I don't want us to sit on the computer and watch Abby play with her toys and discover summer is half over and we've been lazy.  I'm a natural planner, and Rocky likes to have a plan for any given day.

I need your input!! What should we do this summer?? What activities can we do, what places can we go, with a one-year-old?? Help!!!

Musical Mondays (belated): What if I Stumble

Heard this quote at church on Sunday:

"The best argument for Christianity is Christians: their joy, their certainty, their completeness. But the strongest argument against Christianity is also Christians--when they are sombre and joyless, when they are self-righteous and smug in complacent consecration, when they are narrow and repressive, then Christianity dies a thousand deaths." --Sheldon Vanauken

Made me think of this song:

Sorry the quality isn't that great... it's an older song, and it's one of the few videos I could find of a live recording of dcTalk.

Is this one for the people? Is this one for the Lord?
Or do I simply serenade for things I must afford?
You can jumble them together, my conflict still remains
Holiness is calling, in the midst of courting fame
'Cause I see the trust in their eyes
Though the sky is falling
They need Your love in their lives
Compromise is calling

What if I stumble, what if I fall?
What if I lose my step and I make fools of us all?
Will the love continue when my walk becomes a crawl?
What if I stumble, and what if I fall?

[What if I stumble, what if I fall?
You never turn in the heat of it all
What if I stumble, what if I fall?]

Father please forgive me for I can not compose
The fear that lives within me
Or the rate at which it grows
If struggle has a purpose on the narrow road you've carved
Why do I dread my trespasses will leave a deadly scar
Do they see the fear in my eyes? Are they so revealing?
This time I cannot disguise all the doubt I'm feeling

What if I stumble, what if I fall?
What if I lose my step and I make fools of us all?
Will the love continue when my walk becomes a crawl?
What if I stumble, and what if I fall?

Everyone's got to crawl when you know that
You're up against a wall, it's about to fall
Everyone's got to crawl when you know that

I hear You whispering my name
"My love for You will never change"

What if I stumble, what if I fall?
What if I lose my step and I make fools of us all?
Will the love continue when my walk becomes a crawl?
What if I stumble, and what if I fall?

[What if I stumble, what if I fall?
You never turn in the heat of it all
What if I stumble, what if I fall?
You are my comfort, and my God]

Is this one for the people, is this one for the Lord?

(Gosh I love dcTalk's music... I wish they would get back together again...)

I can't change how other "Christians" act.

But why do I do the things I do? Is this one for the people, or is this one for the Lord? I will stumble. There is no doubt about that. But thank goodness for a forgiving God. If only the world was so forgiving...


Saturday, June 4, 2011

I wonder...

I wonder what life would be like. What Sunday afternoons would be like. What family parties would be like. If she was still alive. I would have a true mother-in-law. Not a step-mother-in-law who feels like a mother-in-law to my own husband. Would there be as much drama? As much stress? Would I have more of a mother-in-law relationship with her, or more of a mother relationship?

Sometimes I want to ask her things. How to perfectly make a pumpkin roll. How to deal with Rocky's depression flare-ups. How to mother my own daughter.

How would our family dynamics be different? Would it just be the 6 of us at the dinner table instead of the 12 of us? We would never have met the other girls. Rocky's step-sisters. It's difficult to begin a blended family when we're all adults. There wouldn't be a "lakehouse" and a "Byron house." Would we all still attend the same church?

I wonder.

Would she like Abby? Would Abby like her? Would she see the Velzen genes in her? Would she teach Abby to waterski? Would she want to have Abby sleepover?

I had a difficult time putting together this page in Abby's scrapbook a couple weeks ago:

I wonder how things would be different. But I can't change what happened. I have to embrace what our family is today. Sometimes it's just so difficult... 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Women in the Word Wednesdays: May 26-June 1

Thoughts on what I've read this past week...

Thursday 5/26: Proverbs 14:1
The CEV says it this way: "A woman's family is held together by her wisdom, but it can be destroyed by her foolishness." I need to be conscious of the decisions I make - am I being wise or foolish? The results will affect my family.

Friday 5/27: Proverbs 31:26-28
This is a difficult chapter for me, with so many things this "perfect" woman does and accomplishes. But just looking at these 3 verses, it seems very doable. 1) Speak with wisdom and faithful instruction, 2) watch over my house, 3) don't be lazy or idle.

Monday 5/30: 1 Peter 4:8
"Above all..." comes in the midst of talking about living a holy life, being clear-minded and self-controlled, offering hospitality, using your gifts. So loving each other is the most important thing we can do.

Tuesday 5/31: John 21:4-14
(Pick out the verse(s) that spoke to you the most) = "As soon as Simon Peter heard him say "it is the Lord!" he wrapped his outer garment around him and jumped in the water." Peter had been so reluctant to walk on water earlier, and now he jumped right in when he saw Jesus! Do I have that kind of devotion as a disciple? How will I teach my kids to have that kind of devotion?

Wednesday 6/1: Matthew 22:37-40
"All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments" - by following these two commands, all the others are fulfilled too. Loving God has to be my top priority, and loving other second.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...