Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Kitchen Lights

We have new lights in the kitchen! Aren't they lovely?

(Please don't be distracted by the floral wall paper that used to go all the way around the kitchen but I could not stand it anymore and pulled most of it off. This was left because that part of the wall in going to be gone.)

But, back to the lights.

They may not look like much, but that is kind of the point. They are just ordinary, recessed lights from Lowe's that nobody should notice. 

But since you are looking, aren't they great?

We had one pretty lame light fixture on the working side of the kitchen - See it there in the upper left corner?  The one with no shade? 

(I had to replace the light bulb and could not bring myself to put the shade back on. Trust me when I say this looks a million times better.)

Any-who, that was the light we had. 

Hero holds the box for the stuff falling out of the ceiling as the electrician cuts the holes for the new lights.

There is a small light over the sink, but it's pretty useless. We'll get on that one when we bust out that soffit above the cabinets. 
FOTO Pendant lamp IKEA Gives a directed light. Good for lighting dining tables or a bar area.

We are thinking about this cutie pendant light from IKEA for sink lighting.

See what lurks in the ceiling? Insulation. That's a good thing in the ceiling. Not all over the kitchen.

All the goodies from Lowe's to make our kitchen nice and bright. 

All over the kitchen table.

That's okay. Our electrician is awesome and when he was finished, this was nice and clean.

Midway. Four holes with wires from the box ready to go!

Since we took the doors off the upper kitchen cabinets, Hero duck taped a towel over the food cupboard. 

What a smarty!

This was the old switch. (Normally it was on the wall correctly.) This switch with the ancient wiring was disconnected and the new switches moved to a much better location. And now there are two switches - with dimmers - for lots of flexibility in brightness.

And here they are in all their glory. 

Note the little round cover in the center. That will be dry walled when we have more dry walling to do.

What a difference these lights make - In all there nondescript blending-in-ness.

We just love them.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Changes for the Season

We had quite the dilemma this year when decorating our small house for Christmas. 

We have been collecting ornaments, Nativities, greens and other Christmas treasures for years, and for the last six years we have had a big house to decorate, which means we had space to spread out and add to our collection regularly.

And then we started on this new journey to downsize our house and possessions and we sold the big house.

Now that the Christmas season is here, it's time to haul out the several boxes of decorations and ornaments and cover every surface of our house with stuff.

Well, we could have done that, but we chose not to. 

We made the effort to choose our very favorites.

Like these funny little gals. And that little jar of candies. The jar is actually boot shaped and at least 50 years old. I remember as a kid wanting to crack that thing open and scarf up those little balls of sugar. 

They are really sealed up tight to still be hanging around.

For many years I collected Nativites. This one (also pictured at the top) I found at a city garage sale for just a few dollars. It is such a great set.

This little box is another favorite in our house. It has to be at least 60 years old, back when men wore hats and there were hat salesmen. This was a Christmas promotional that has a little hat sample inside.

The little hat always has a place of honor on the tree at the top, near the star.

When we lived in the big house, we cut down the tallest tree we could find at the tree farm. Last year had to be the tallest and biggest ever - about 14 feet tall and a diameter that took up about a quarter of the room. Seriously.

Even at that size, the tree never looked sparsely decorated - We have that many ornaments.

We have almost all of them on our eight foot tree.

I love love antique ornaments. When I see them at garage sales, flea markets and antique malls I have to check them out. I absolutely do not need ONE MORE ORNAMENT, but I can't help it. I don't usually take them home anymore though.

This Silent night ornament is one of my favorites. It has a great patina and the color is amazing.

And I could say that about most of my ornaments.

The basket of Christmas stories under the tree. Love reading to anyone who will listen. Fortunately, my kiddos still listen.

Our little fireplace even got a little Christmas spirit. Hero got these cool string lights that flicker like flames.They are so cool. 

And lighting the fire is super easy.

Another little Nativity.

This one has lots of charm. And very wobbly legs. If the table gets bumped, they go over.

Except for the cow. He sadly has one let shorter than all the rest, so he has a blue sticky tack foot, and now he never falls!

Not very authentic, but works like a charm. 

We resolved the dilemma of decorating without going overboard by leaving some things in the boxes this year. It was fun to look at everything, but then we thoughtfully chose a small part of our collection. 

Next year we will have more area to decorate - hopefully the kitchen will be finished by next Christmas - so we'll keep everything at least until then.

It is a good dilemma to have - lots of lovely choices.

Friday, November 30, 2012

I Didn't Know...

I didn't know it was time to get rid of the pantry.


I'm sure most folks would be confused by such a reaction to such a useful kitchen feature. And normally I would totally agree.

But just look at it:

Really - Try to look past that lovely ceiling fan.

It is so awkward. I get the idea of it - use valuable real estate for storage in a tiny kitchen - but it is just not working.

(It used to have doors. We ditched those a while ago. Trust me when I say it looks better this way.)

A close up. When someone sits in the chair there, they are in the pantry. 

Even closer. 

Functional? Yes. Off center? Yes. Throws balance of eating area off? Yes. Attractive? Not so much.

And the molding flanking it - The "finish" is peeling off.

(Again, try not to be distracted by other "beauties" of the kitchen. That flower floor will be nixed with the kitchen remodel.)

So, when I mention to Hero that filling the hole from the pantry would be practically free to do, he got out his crowbar and went to work. 

Um - Holy cow! 

This is just one of the gazillion reasons Hero is my Hero. He is almost always on board with my harebrained ideas. 

(What does that phrase even mean? Something like this  - "having no more sense than a hare". Which I am going to translate for myself here - "I just rattled that off and we should totally do it.")

Destruction is really fun for boys. That is probably why Hero has all the right tools for the job.

For all it's "not going to work for this set of Murphy's", it is pretty well made. 

Didn't even get dirty!

It took all of about 4 minutes to get that off the wall, and already a big improvement. 

Finish up pulling a few nails and we are good to go!

Under the "floor board" we found this amazing vintage relic - Petrified carpet padding!

Really, it was crunchy. Um, hey, let's just get rid of that, okay?

Inside the pantry looking down.

I am asking myself, "Did someone really carpet the pantry?"


Making progress - So much better already. 

At this point of our project (where Hero did all the work and I took photos and encouraged him), I had to leave for work. Sorry Hero, you are on your own.

When I got home from work, there was no more pantry! 

Wait till you see what happened!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

I have so much to be grateful for, and so much more than what my family and I need.

We love the community we live in, we have an awesome home and terrific jobs. 

We have plenty to eat, clothes to wear and activities to entertain us.

We have lots of gadgets to play with, hobbies we get to enjoy and lots of opportunities do what we want (even if sometimes that is nothing).

We are able to meet all our needs and can enjoy lots of our wants.

We are so very blessed. And for that I am so very grateful.

But the things I am most grateful for are not things that can be lived in, eaten, played with, or displayed.

My top three are:

Number One - Having a testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and knowing that Heavenly Father is aware of us, loves us and has a plan for each one of us. I see every single day the hand of God in my life.

Number Two - My awesome Hero and super terrific kiddos. I would be very sad indeed if any of them belonged to someone else.

Number Three - The fantastic friends that we are privileged to have.

I love this time of year, but I know how blessed I am every day.

I hope you have a fabulous Thanksgiving, with lots of opportunities to recognize your greatest blessings!

photo from

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Small Plans

While we are saving up for some bigger small house projects, we have a few things on the list that are inexpensive and/or free to tackle. Stuff like removing wallpaper from the stairs and the bathroom, painting the front door and cute window frames and creating fun pillows are some things that are getting done around her on the cheap. 

Projects done + not much money + crossing things off the list = Yay!

Another task coming our way is in the basement. 

Remember this? After just a few days of owning the small house, we filled up the lower level with junk treasure.

See the bricks there? That is a fireplace.

(See that blue port-a-crib? That is where Jett slept while he and his mom visited while we were moving. We are such gracious hosts, right?)

See all that other stuff? Junk.

Want to play I Spy? 

I spy a Christmas tree, 2 chairs and a window frame.

That was fun.

But back to the bricks.

That fireplace in the corner there was built by Hero's dad. It has a gas insert that wouldn't take too much finagling to get it up and running - according to Hero. 

It was made with leftover bricks from when the garage was installed. Isn't that thrifty? That is just like Hero's parents. And it really is kind of fun.

But there are a few things that could be better with it:

1 - It's in the corner. We had a corner fireplace in the big house, and it does make it challenging to arrange furniture. It's actually more than challenging - It is a pain in the neck.

2 - The bricks are great - really. I am just not in love with the color.

3. Not sure why the panel above is a different color.

We have some plans for this baby:

1 - It is going to have to stay in the corner - No getting around that without a MAJOR project on our hands. So we will get out the heating pad for the neck pain and deal with it.

2 - Paint.

3 - More paint.

And add some molding. And install the flat screen TV. And purchase an insert to make it functional.

Here are things at the moment - After much editing:

Lots of potential here. One thing for sure - this project could not go forward if we had not reduced the amount of stuff (not that we intended to keep it all). But excess stuff does have a way of keeping people from going forward with plans to improve their homes. 

The big clean out always feels SOOOO good! But - there is a super great way to maintain that good feeling - by not buying a bunch more stuff, by editing out often the things not being used or loved and getting things back where they belong. Then that good feeling lasts and lasts.

And editing out is free! 

Try it - start with a small plan. Clean out one kitchen drawer, take at least 5 movies nobody loves anymore to the library, or donate at least 2 pairs of shoes that just don't work for you anymore. Once you take one step, you can take another. 

All those small steps feel really good, too.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What Happened To All the Stuff?

When we moved from the big house to the small house, we knew we would have to edit some of our stuff out. 

And that is a serious understatement.

Think about it - Going from a 2100 square foot fully furnished and accessorized space to an 1100 square foot tinier space, something had to go. In this case, lots of somethings had to go.

Before we moved, we pulled out a bunch of stuff that we knew we did not want to haul over to the new house and donated it. We had grand ideas when we did move that we would have lots of treasures to choose from when it came to decorating.

It did not take long to realize there was a TON of treasures that were no longer treasure to us.
And then we had a grand idea to have a garage sale with all the leftovers.

Um, and when would we do that?

Between updating the new house, traveling to Idaho and Minnesota and the regular work, family and church responsibilities, it became very clear very quickly that a garage sale was not in our near future.

Which we were not too horribly sad about. We would just put it all back in the house.


We called Vietnam Veterans of America to come and get it. They are so great! Just schedule a pickup online, put the junk treasure out on the driveway and say goodbye. They load it all up and leave you with a receipt and a Thank You.

No, Thank You VVA!

We were pretty ruthless when it came to cleaning out. We really had no choice if we were going to have any walking around room in the small house. But we were ready for that challenge.

Feels good to have this clutter (to us) on its way to a new home.

Do you ever feel the need to edit? 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Um, This Is Not Working

Our small house has lots of brown. And beige. And tan. 

Nothing wrong with these colors. Just not the direction Hero and I want to go with this place.

We are loving the gray with white trim. And while we have been able to make some headway on the inside, the exterior is going to have to wait till next spring.

But, we just could not handle the beige front door that swings into the hallway and really, really clashes with our sweet, clean gray.

So, it had to go.

As usual, I remembered to capture the "before" photo after I started.

See that lovely trim? Yep, it needs some freshening up, too.

After the trim around the window was dry, I could really make some progress on the door.

I painted all these parts with a brush first. Nice look, huh? 

Do you ever feel in the middle of a project that things are just not going the direction you envisioned? At this point, I was doubting a successful outcome.

Note to self - Avoid this combination in future plans. I don't love it.

But because I bought the paint and I can be a little stubborn, I pressed on.

There we go - Much better!

I used a mini roller for every flat surface I could and it came out nice and smooth.

This works so much better with our plan and it looks terrific with the interior color.

Here it is from the outside. It will eventually work just swimmingly with the tan brick.

Just as soon as we get rid of that brown storm door.

And the beige trim.

Love it - What a difference!