DIY: #2 Chalkboard Panels: Operation Decorate the New House on a Budget in Full Affect!!!!

If you haven’t read my prior posts (boy, you are missing out!!! :-)), I will remind you that we recently downsized and built a new home and are tasked with decorating it on a very tight budget. Ok, so I admit that this was among the first projects I completed. I finished it in October, however, it is probably one of my favorite pieces and I must say we use it daily. It is a panel of chalkboards. They are HUGE and take up most of the wall in our dining room. I know there are a ton of chalkboard models out there, but this was an original piece to accommodate an interesting space, so my husband and I kinda winged most of the project in order to figure out our unique design and all for the less than $75.

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We went to Home Depot and purchased 4 chalkboard panels. They were $10 each. On the same trip, we measured the perimeter of the chalkboard and had them cut several pieces of thin wood to attach to each panel. We also cut a large piece of wood to act as the base for the piping. Later we came back with new measurements to purchase the piping and flanges to attach the panels to the board. Our dilemma was, how to hang the chalkboard panels to the piping. We scoured Ace Hardware and found some clamps with screws that allowed the panels to hang.

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Once I stained the wood for the perimeter and painted the wood to use as a base, I charged my husband with the difficult task of drilling it all to the wall. That may have been the most challenging part as once all panels, perimeters, clamps and screws were attached, they were hung by one piece of plumbing pipe…and they were extremely heavy!!! YIKES!!!  My husband used his bulging biceps to miraculously drill the loaded pipe into the wall… and VOILA!!!!! Our newest replacement to sticky notes and refrigerator magnets!!!

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I use the panels daily to write reminders, words of encouragement, scriptures, weekly menus…you name it!!! I think the kids feel really special when they wake up to a sweet note left especially for them. Not to mention a welcome note to guests when they visit. One of my FAVORITE projects to date!!!! 🙂

Every Now and Then you Have to Stop and PLANT the Roses!!!!

SPRING IS HERE!!! The weather is BEAUTIFUL!!! We decided to capitalize on it. No phones, TV, video games, music, etc… (well a camera of course!!! 🙂 ) and not even a ton of money. After a family trip to Home Depot and Walmart, we set a small budget and chose some flowers and trees to plant in our new back yard. We eventually want to work up to a garden, but plan to take it slow while learning a few of the ins and outs of this venture. :-)Everyone was able to select a plant; then dig the holes, fertilize, set and water them. We had a BLAST. Each family member’s talents shined throughout different parts of the process, but ultimately, we set a goal and worked together to accomplish it. We successfully planted a couple rose bushes and an apple tree, while making memories along the way. Mission accomplished! Super fun for kids of all ages!!! Happy Spring and blessings to you! 🙂

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“I Want to be a Baller’s Wife!!!!!”

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“I want to be a baller’s wife!!!” I remember this being a common response from my female students when discussing future endeavors post high school. With so many opportunities, talents and gifts the girls had before them, I was disappointed that they were reduced to this option.

Oh, what is a baller’s wife you say? Well, I’m no Webster or anything, so don’t quote me on this, but my definition would be: an opportunist, a woman who latches on to a man at the height of his career with hopes of optimal gain.  This idea really bothered me, especially with the continual images on cable TV of seemingly wealthy women living a life of excessive glamour, fame, prestige and drama. I guess I can’t direct all my frustration on the Housewives of Atlanta (or the like), when Disney and other big name production companies have been pumping our heads with these images for decades. The Cinderella story, Rapunzel, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty… the idea that somehow a man is going to sweep an otherwise distressed damsel out of her misery. Save her. Take her on his white horse and whisk her off to a life of wealth, ease, and happiness.

Well, what’s so bad about this? I mean a man is supposed to be the provider, the protector. He is supposed to take care of his wife and children right? Of course he is, however the baller’s wife leaves women burdening the man with excessive provision. Burdening the man with rescuing her from all her problems. Burdening the man with relief from debt and other financial stressors. If we consider God’s plan for man and woman, it would change the entire trajectory of the mate selection process.

First of all, a man should have his stuff together. He should know his purpose in this life. After careful examination of his gifts and talents (over several years) and close relationship with God, he should know what he is called to do. Every step he makes after high school should line up with him getting closer to that calling. Unfortunately, men too, are inundated with the overwhelming requirements to gain status, wealth and a name. They settle for a goal with monetary reward vs the goal of fulfilling the call on their life. Ultimately this leaves him to a life of complacency, regret, envy and lack of true accomplishment.

God knew that men would struggle with accomplishing their true purpose alone, so he created a woman. A woman is called to be a help mate. One who will work hand in hand with her husband to help him achieve the call on his life. They then, would enjoy success, fulfillment, wealth, and wisdom from the journey together. There is grace on this plan. Though it is contrary to popular belief, it works. If a woman was working on herself spiritually, emotionally, educationally, financially, getting her stuff together, she would not need a man to rescue her. She would be willing, and able to provide her husband with the help that he needed. Unfortunately, if a husband is distracted from his calling to perform the tasks of paying off his wife’s debt, working around her insecurities and making sure she is whole, he can’t possibly be all he is called to be. He is forced to use his entire check/salary to feed her whims. Her desires for $400 purses and drawers of makeup and racks of shoes used to fulfill her deeply rooted insecurities that are camouflaged as desires/needs. Unfortunately, this never works so it is wasted effort.

After 17 years of marriage, I guess some could say I appear to a baller’s wife. My husband is a robotics engineer, and a minister of music. He works from home, earns a nice salary and has provided a comfortable life for my children and me.  The difference is… He didn’t wake up like this!!! Lol. I met him in college. We were married soon thereafter and all the while, I have been by his side, hand and hand, helping him to make decisions that help lead him to his goals. Helping him with the behind the scenes tasks that allow him to shine. As he pursues the Word, he has all the components that allow him to fulfill his dreams with ease, which ultimately benefits us all. They say behind every great man, is an amazing woman. I believe that to be true. And any married woman can attest to the idea that her husband probably couldn’t put a good looking outfit together without her help.

My main point is for women to understand that they are designed to help their mate. It is not the other way around. The provision that a man will provide is a benefit of him reaching his true potential. But he needs you to help him do it. Often times, we are so willing to put the attention, time, care, effort into the visions of our bosses at work, in order to help him/her fulfil their vision for the company, yet we are reluctant to help our own husbands. Help him. Your efforts are not in vain. They will not go unnoticed. Whether you are a stay at home mom holding down the fort, or you help pack your husband’s lunch each day, help fill out resumes, or make necessary sacrifices for him to go back to college, there is grace on your ability to help him become all he is called to be.

While the Cinderella story, the woman standing on the sidelines at the basketball game, or the ladies on the hot reality TV shows seem glamorous, if you study them carefully they are merely a facade. A complete counterfeit of God’s real plan. We should strive to become all God has called us to be, so we can help our mates become all they are called to be. Together, with God at the head, there is nothing we can’t accomplish. There is no enemy or weapon formed against us that can prosper. And THEN, the happily ever after can commence… 🙂 🙂 🙂


DIY: Operation Decorate/Accessorize New House on a Budget in Full Affect!!!

So…we have been here for little under a year; our cabin retreat in the mountains. We sold all of the furniture from our last home which means we are completely starting from scratch with furniture, accessories etc… I love the challenge of that because, not one piece of furniture from our last home would physically fit in here, but it also wouldn’t stylistically fit either. The style and size are TOTALLY different. I love that I am able to put my unique stamp on this new home and take it one room at a time. I do have a small “renovation budget” if you will, (and I do mean SMALL) so I have to make each dime of that stretch. I love that challenge as well because it forces me to get creative.  This home is a custom build. Most every square foot of it was made by one’s hands, so I must admit, I am merely accentuating the beauty that is already here. Not to mention, we are smack dab on the top of a mountain, which needs no accentuation what’s so ever…

My latest piece is a barn wood sign over my master bedroom window. I plan to create a sign with a personal phrase over each major window in all the rooms. Interestingly, they all face the mountain so therefore my goal is to put a cherry on top of each amazing ice cream sundae.

This is our master bedroom. After careful consideration, I chose the phrase right out of the bible: 1 Corinthians 13:13 … but the greatest of these is love. I toyed with other ideas, but love is a theme throughout our home and I thought what better place to reference love than directly from the scripture.

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I went to the local antique junk yard and bought an old 8ft piece of barn wood.

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I painted it white. However, I wanted the wood to show through, so I added water to the paint to thin it out a bit. wp-1460700113866.jpeg

I then ordered some rusted metal letters from Etsy (LOVE LOVE LOVE ETSY!!!). I considered the size and wording and ordered accordingly.

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Once the letters arrived, the greatest task was measuring. My husband and I measured the size of the letters against the length of the (uneven) board and glued them accordingly. I attempted to hot glue them, however that did not work, so we used industrial strength wood glue to attach the letters to the board.

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After the letters dried, we finally drilled the sign to the wall. In order to maintain the integrity of the old wood, we used the holes that were already in the wood and successfully drilled it in. And Voila!!!!… our finished product!!! 🙂

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SUPER UN-SIZE ME!!!! Retired by 37… Catalogue of the Downsize…

The American order of operations: graduate high school, go to college, meet your potential mate, start an awesome career, work, work, work, get a new car, a super apartment, an awesome wardrobe, get married, buy a new house, start a family, get a master’s degree, get a promotion, upgrade to a bigger house, have more children, get a bigger car… (out of breath) WHEW!!!!! Work, work, work. Get more and bigger and better and higher and more and more and… (PANTING…)

Maybe not in that exact order, but it seems the pot of gold at the end of the of the rainbow is the biggest house, with the nicest car in the driveway, the highest level of employment, with a wardrobe filled to overflow. Often times it comes at any expense.

The Rat Race

I admit, and for no selfish or keeping up with the standard type of reasons… I genuinely couldn’t wait to graduate high school and complete the necessary requirements for becoming a high school English teacher. The year was 1999. I graduated college, got married, started my first teaching job, bought my first house all by the age of 22!!! I was ready to GOOOO!!! I started having kids; an awesome boy and two years later, our sweet girl!!! (CHECK!!!) I got my Master’s Degree AND earned a 4.0 GPA.  (CHECK!!!!) I became lead teacher and soon after named Teacher of the Year. (DOUBLE CHECK!!!!) We built and bought houses, had 3 cars to fill our 3 car garage, sunny vacations etc… By all typical standards, after 15 years, I was fairing pretty well in the race to “the great.”

However, I found out pretty quickly that as I was conquering my checklist, I was missing out on the elements of this life that really brought me joy. At least at it’s true depth.

Contrary to popular standards, after careful prayer and consideration, my family and I made the decision to downsize. I completed my final year of teaching. We put our beloved 5 bedroom 5 bathroom home in the suburbs up for sale. Sold all of our furniture, donated most of our clothing and accessories. And prepared for a totally new life.

The Great Downsize

Less than a year ago, we had a home built in the Northern mountains of Georgia. It was a place we vacationed regularly. It was a place where we found peace. A place we could be free of the rat race and enjoy the most important things in life. I must say, it has been a major change, but the greatest promotion of our lives.

First of all, though I miss teaching a TON, I now have time to put my family FIRST. My days are filled with peace. Instead of working hard to build another man’s industry/visions and dreams, I am helping to build my own legacy right in my own home.

We start our days off pretty calmly. My husband makes breakfast for the whole crew. Thereafter, I take the kids to school while calling him on speaker phone for our family morning prayer. After dropping the kids off, I am able to read my bible, pray and get before the Lord uninterruptedly. I get to exercise, enjoy lunch or short shopping dates out. A couple weeks ago, I spent my entire afternoon planting new flowers and grass for the backyard. I am able to volunteer at church, school or wherever is necessary. I have time to plan and prepare healthy meals for our family. Thankfully, we never have to eat fast food, school lunch, microwave or prepared meals. We grocery shop each Sunday based on the food we will cook for the week. I am available to help with projects and homework, practices, performances, fieldtrips and games. I am so much calmer than when I was attempting to juggle it all before. Not to mention the time, love, energy I am able to devote to my marriage.

As for the kids, they attend the public high and middle schools in our county. Both schools have less than 700 students, which allows for smaller class sizes and a more personalized education. Our town is small and yes, it takes 15 minutes to get to the grocery store, but the pressure to wear name brand clothes and perform, compete, or exist in a crowded school or town where you are a merely a number, has been eliminated. We all are forming meaningful relationships and exchanges. People value each other and family is a priority.

Financially, though we decreased our income by eliminating my salary, our needs and desires have been recalibrated and our plight for “MORE” decreased right along with it. Of the 6500sq ft of house we sold, I think we truly only occupied 1,500 of it. It was unnecessary and wasted space that cost more to heat, furnish, clean etc… So, our new home is indeed smaller, but it is a little slice of heaven for us and we use and enjoy every inch of it daily. We have 2 cars that we own outright and refuse to acquire debt of any kind.

True Abundance

I could go on and on. But overall, the clichéd idea of quality over quantity reigns supreme in our home. I plan to stay happily married to the same man that I made a promise to God on my wedding day. I only have one chance to raise and enjoy the time I have with my children. I can’t think of anything more meaningful or worthy of my devotion than that.  Ultimately, I wouldn’t change a thing. Who knows, I may go back to teaching someday, however, I am open to the ways God will allow me to use my teaching gifts in greater capacities. Recently, my husband and I had breakfast one morning in the middle of the week. I couldn’t help but notice the restaurant filled with senior couples and friends there enjoying themselves.  I noted then, that no matter what, I refuse to wait until I am 65 years old to take time to enjoy this life… and at age 39… and one year in, that is precisely what I am doing… enjoying every moment of this incredible, once in a lifetime journey…

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John 10:10 “…I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”