merry christmas and a kitchen preview

We had such a great Christmas this year in our new home! I think we're finally starting to feel settled. Little by little we're getting things unpacked and put away. I laughed this morning when I thought about adding Christmas presents to the mix. And next week we have a birthday with a certain young man turning 9. It just never ends! Boxes, boxes and more boxes.

One of the things we love about our home is the amount of company we've had since we've moved. It seems we're on the way to and from everywhere and lots of people have stopped by en route. Yesterday we had friends stop by on their way home to Idaho. This evening, some good friends of ours from Spokane will spend the night on their way down to Southern California. Sometime tomorrow Phil's aunt and uncle will stop by on their way home from Portland, and this weekend his cousin will stop by on her way home from Salem.

We were able to spend Christmas weekend in California with both of our families. The 5 siblings on my side of the family were together again after 4 years. The last time we were together was at my little sister's wedding back in 2007. It was fun to watch all the cousins play together.

Phil had to work Tuesday morning, so he and I left Monday afternoon. We've been kid-less for the past 2 days. :( Our kids stayed behind in Northern California with Phil's parents so they could play with their cousins who arrived from Southern California late the night before. My sister-in-law is driving my 4 and the cousins up to Oregon right now. They'll arrive this evening and stay through the weekend. Confusing? Let me interpret...f-u-n...and lots of it!!!

We miss our Spokane winters and all the snow, so instead we play in the leaf pile out front.

The kitchen is coming along nicely. I was able to unpack my dishes last week. No more washing plastic plates in the bathroom sink!!!

Hope your Christmas was wonderful, too.


a yummy [early] christmas morning

red velvet pancake batter in my new jadeite mixing bowl from Gracie

Today was Christmas morning at our house, since we'll be celebrating with family this weekend. When we unpacked last month, I was so sad to find a broken jadeite mixing bowl in one of our kitchen boxes. Gracie told Phil that she wanted to find one for me for Christmas, so they searched on Ebay, found one and ordered it. I was so surprised this morning!

yummy vanilla bean cream cheese frosting

Christmas on a plate

...and peppermint hot chocolate to go with



"There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort."
-Jane Austen

Sorry for another kitchen post.
I'm just having so much fun in here.

It feels so good to be able to cook again and to wear my apron again.
It's the little things...

I always sigh a big sigh as I tie on my apron strings again after a long trip. It just means I'm home again and all's right with the world.


the sweetest day

sweet little red coat ornament found here

We had such a good day today.
It was the first day our family was able to enjoy our brand new kitchen! Phil and I stayed up until 4 a.m. putting things together, installing appliances and unpacking boxes.

It looks so nice in here...the new kitchen, that is.
That's where I've planted myself for most of the day. We slept in this morning, came downstairs, plugged in our espresso maker, then just sat at the counter and drank coffee to our hearts' content.

The kids made themselves comfortable at the counter, too, and played with play-doh and perler beads. In fact, almost our entire day was spent in the kitchen, then we bundled up and drove down the street to a little town to enjoy a little window shopping and a horse-drawn carriage ride.

Are you curious to know what I cooked my first day using the oven? I'm almost too embarrassed to say. I had big plans, you see, but I asked my kids what they wanted and they picked Annie's macaroni and cheese for lunch and Papa Murphy's Take and Bake Pizza for dinner.

When I'm through here, I'm going to heat up on my new stovetop two mugs of the Spiced Cranberry Cider that I found at Trader Joe's
It's true what they say about hard work and enjoying the fruit of your labor.
We drink this yummy cider every year, but I think it's going to taste extra yummy this year.


hello there, part 2

I guess it isn't fair to write a post about being super overwhelmed and just leave it at that. A week ago I felt paralyzed by everything that needed to be done and by the things that had happened which were out of my control.

Last week a very dear friend of mine came to visit. God knew I needed her here. We've been friends for nearly a decade. There's just something about being with people who know you well...people who don't mind if you can't muster up words to say anything important. I felt like I had nothing to give. I couldn't even cook her meals, because of the state of my kitchen.

The truth is, I've been so busy since we moved from Washington this summer, that I haven't really settled in yet. We stayed with family in California for a month, then moved into a hotel for two months while we waited for escrow to close. We've lived in our new home six weeks now, all the while doing major renovations. It's been a crazy few months, to say the least.

But what I've loved about this crazy season is seeing how relentless Jesus has been in pursuing my heart. I can't really explain it, but I feel it. I've doubted Him and questioned Him, even blamed Him for things. But then I find my bearings again because He rescues me from self-pity. I'll never know why. I've been ugly these past few months. I won't lie.

I just can't stop thinking about and grieving over what we left behind in Spokane. Have you ever heard Sara Groves' song "Painting Pictures of Egypt"?

...The places I long for the most
Are the places where I’ve been
They are calling after me like a long lost friend

I’ve been painting pictures of Egypt

Leaving out what it lacked

The future seems so hard

And I want to go back

But the places that used to fit me

Cannot hold the things I've learned

And those roads closed off to me

While my back was turned

When I went to her concert last month in Spokane, she opened with this song. I was hoping she'd sing it that evening, but she opened with it. It made me cry, of course. My sweet friend, Andi, held my hand and said, "That was for you." I think it was.

I've always thought I relate well with the Israelites. Something about needing to learn the same lessons over and over again, and how God parted the Red Sea for them and it just wasn't enough...as if God would really perform miracles on their behalf and then dump them off in the wilderness to fend for themselves. I love this line from Joy Williams' song, "Beautiful Redemption"

I've walked with sand from the ocean floor on my feet
To turn and say, 'you left me'

I wonder if the Israelites still had sand from the Red Sea's floor between their toes when they spewed out complaints from doubting hearts. Unfortunately, I can relate.

This past Saturday I told my husband and my friend from out-of-town that I felt paralyzed, like I couldn't function among the stress of the boxes and the paint and the microwave and the laundry. Later that evening we found out that her flight home, which was scheduled for the following morning, was cancelled due to weather. Cancelled. Just like that. Our airport is tiny, so her chances of getting home the next day were very slim. Phil thought it would be best if she made arrangements to fly out of the busier airport 3 hours north of us. So we (she and I) packed our things and left right away. We decided to stay overnight in a hotel near the airport so we could be there first thing in the morning. What a whirlwind!

I must say, this whole cancelled flight thing was no accident. Do I really think Jesus would allow that flight to be cancelled so He could restore my soul in the midst of all the chaos? Yes, I think He would do that and I think He did. I realize there were probably a few more factors that played into this whole thing, but my weary heart was certainly one of them. I was gifted several hours of drive-time and the chance to listen to music that turned my heart to worshiping Jesus instead of doubting Him. It truly was a gift. I had this thought last night, that maybe my kitchen isn't the only thing being renovated around here.


my almost-done dream kitchen

I thought I'd take a few minutes to post pictures of our kitchen...things are really coming along!

The countertops will be installed tomorrow morning and we still need to put up the trim, the baseboards, a few more cabinet doors and the cabinet door knobs.

I love the view from the kitchen with the far wall removed. There was a tiny bit of space between the end of the counter and that wall--too small for a table--it seemed like such a waste of space. The countertop on the peninsula will extend out about a foot so we can tuck stools underneath.

Original hardwood floors (c. 1925)

The freshly-painted white cabinets make the kitchen look so bright and cheery!

See this post for a few before pictures.


hello there

I've hesitated to blog, because I fear my updates will sound like one long list of complaints. When people inquire as to how things are going with the house and I fill them in, the usual responses are something like, "You're kidding me!" I'm really not complaining--just filling people in.

These are the facts...We don't have a kitchen. We hosted Thanksgiving. I wash dishes in the bathroom sink. I cook with a crockpot, a griddle and a microwave. We've had company staying with us since day one. Our kitchen flooded. The flu went through our house when the plumbing wasn't working so there was no washing, no flushing and no bathing for about 36 hours. My husband has been working crazy-long hours. It's almost 12:30 a.m. and he's still in surgery. It's quite possible that I've cried more in the last 2 months than I have in the last 2 years.

Does this not sound like one complaint after another? I don't mean for it to be. I haven't always maintained a stellar attitude, I admit, but I do know that this chaos will pass.

So now I'll fill you in on the details...

Our kitchen is still in the works, but we converted the downstairs bedroom into a makeshift kitchen. We set up our kitchen table and a little pantry and work area. I've been able to cook with our griddle, crockpot and a microwave the previous owner left behind. The bathroom is just around the corner, so it's not like I'm lugging dirty dishes all over the house.

We've had company staying with us for the past month and a half, but they certainly didn't come for a vacation. They've worked hard. And with Phil's long hours at work, we've needed all the help we could get.

Our kitchen flooded this past weekend when we pulled the plug in the upstairs tub. First the downstairs toilet overflowed, followed by the downstairs shower stall. Then the inevitable happened. Our kitchen sink has not yet been installed, because we're waiting for our countertops to be installed. We hadn't gotten around to putting those plastic caps on the pipes in the kitchen, so water of course gushed out of the pipes onto the floor...the newly-stained hardwood floor that still had plastic tarp over it. You'd think that the tarp would've helped contain most of the water. Nope! It was on the tarp. It was under the tarp. It was under the cabinets that are now nailed to the floor waiting for countertops. Yesterday we noticed that the floor is starting to buckle from moisture trapped beneath. And guess what we had done 2 days before this mishap? We moved all of our boxes from the dining room into the kitchen so we wouldn't have to eat our Thanksgiving dinner in the downstairs bedroom. By the time we discovered the water in the kitchen, our boxes were sitting in a puddle of water.

All the while, one of my girls came down with the flu. And water certainly is a necessity when the flu comes for a visit, but there was to be no flushing, no laundry and no bathing until further notice. All weekend we kept hearing glub, glub, glub, so Phil poured something lethal down the drain before bed on Sunday night. Monday morning as he was leaving for work, the glub we heard proved to be very productive and the septic backed up into the shower. It wasn't pretty. He quickly called in to our homeowner's insurance agent and she made arrangements for a plumber to come over pronto. Thankfully, he fixed the problem.

The kids are still loving school. They love it so much. One of my very best friends is flying in from Iowa tomorrow night and staying until Sunday. I can't wait! Last night we went by our storage unit and grabbed our Christmas decorations. Hopefully we'll get the house decorated this week. Two weeks ago I was able to fly up to Spokane for a weekend. I was able to see this little miracle celebrate 1 year of life and attend this concert with dear friends. It was such a special trip.

I'll try to post pictures soon!


upstairs bathroom


It's so fun to paint when you really enjoy the color you're working with. Here's the upstairs bathroom. We're not done yet. I still need to apply a second coat of paint and we're waiting on the flooring to come in. I picked out a black and white hexagonal tile.

down comes the wall...

All done! I LOVE this change. It really opens up the kitchen. Please ignore the mess and imagine a really great dining room back there. :)


We don't really like the idea of ivy growing up the side of the house, but at least it's pretty.

We'll have to tend to this after the kitchen is done.

I'm loving this view from my bedroom window! It'll be nice to actually have time to sit in these chairs (courtesy of our wonderful neighbor in Spokane) once we get a few more projects done around the house.

in the girls' room

I found this corner hutch for the girls' room this week, and they decided to display their special tea sets from Papa (my Dad) on it along with a few of their American Girl accessories.

One of the things I love about this hutch is the knobs. I had these very same ones on my dresser drawers when I was their age.


the girls' room

I've been trying to find time to use the Internet since we've moved out of the hotel and into our house. Yesterday I found a few minutes but I couldn't get the pictures off of my camera. I have so many pictures to share, but for now I'll just post these two...a before and after picture of the girls' room.

We've had so much fun in their room! The color we chose was a soft pink called ballet slippers. We still need to paint the trim and the closet door white. The girls and I have been reading a story-a-day from a fairy tale book and yesterday we read The Elves and the Shoemaker. I told them that our house was built in 1925 for the shoemaker here in town. We tried to imagine where his little elves might have hidden. Gracie picked the attic, and Lily picked the chimney. :)


my hero

I love this man!
I tell you, there isn't much that he can't do.
Every time a problem arises, he's able to fix it.
Just like that.

Electrical? No problem.
Plumbing? He'll just move the pipes over, thank you.
Knock out this wall over here...
Raise that floor over there...
Pour cement to fill in this hole...

You name it? Done.

He's pretty amazing.

the boys' room

This picture was taken when we walked through with our realtor and the previous owner was still living in the house. It's my only "before" picture of this bedroom.

The first thing we did was pull up the carpet, then we tackled the wallpaper. Unlike the wallpaper in the girls' room which came down in sheets, this stuff had to be picked and scraped off. It took 3 days!

One of my little helpers

The night I started on this room, I immediately felt discouraged because the stuff was caked onto the wall. I sat there and asked God for help. About a half an hour later one of my boys came into the room, sat down and started to work alongside of me.

Then he asked, "Want me to sing to you?"

"Deep in the hundred acre wood
Where Christopher Robin plays..."

So we sat there together for almost 2 hours peeling wallpaper, talking, and singing "Winnie the Pooh."

When we stopped by the Home Depot to look at counter tops he found a paint color called Christopher Robin's Swing.

So here it is...the new and improved boys' bedroom in Christopher Robin's Swing.


becoming home

all done peeling the wallpaper in the boys' room--it only took me 3 days

Today was our big day!!! Phil rented a U-Haul to move our things from storage into our new house! The kids were overjoyed to see their things again. It felt like Christmas morning, for sure.

We still have a little ways to go, but things are coming along well enough. We'll probably be able to check out of the hotel within the next couple of days.

The kitchen floor is sanded and ready to be stained.

It was so good to see our things again! Seeing them in the new house certainly makes it feel like home.


kids, floors and more

I must say, I have the best kids! They've done so well this year with all of our craziness. As I was upstairs tonight peeling wallpaper, I could hear them playing together happily and I thought about all the transitions they've gone through so far this year...

we started packing in late June and they lived in a pretty toy-less house for the month of July

we drove down to Oregon, put our things in storage, stayed in a couple of hotels in order to look for a house, then went camping on the California Coast

we drove down to California to stay with family. During that time we flew down to Arizona for a family wedding and then Phil and I drove back up to Oregon for another house hunting trip

we moved up to Oregon and into our hotel room August 29 so the kids could start school and Phil could start work

they started a new school, which is really a big deal, because they started school--they've been homeschooled up until now

we've visited a few churches since our move, which means they have to try new classes every Sunday

we've taken 2 quick (5-hour drive) weekend trips down to California for family parties

and for the past week and a half, we've been to our new home daily to do repairs and renovations. The kids just explore and play while we work and then we hop back into the car to sleep at the hotel

They're great kids, I tell you! And I'm so proud of them.

Here's what's going on at the house...

We're plugging away in the kitchen. Phil is going to knock out this wall to open up the kitchen into the dining room.

The kitchen is basically gutted. I've sanded the cabinets and have started to paint them white.

Phil's sister is staying with us and she broke up all the floor tile and hauled it outside to our dump pile. Under the ceramic tile, she found 4 layers of linoleum flooring. Four layers, folks!

Once they stripped it down, look what they found...

Yep! That's hardwood flooring, and it matches the older hardwood in the rest of the house! A friend of ours from California is up this weekend and he's sanding the floor for us right now. I had a really great slate-colored tile picked out, but I'm hoping the hardwood cleans up nicely.


my little helpers

My fingers are so sore from peeling wallpaper.
It's a good thing I had these two little helpers today.

They asked if they could work in their room while I worked in the bathroom.
I wish you could have heard them giggle and sing as they worked.
It was so sweet!