Saturday, February 3, 2018

Kitchen Remodel [Progress]

The month before Christmas, Ben asked me if I wanted to do a trip for my Christmas gift, like we did last year. Last year, we took a four day get-away where we went antique shopping. I thought about it and told him that really, all I wanted for Christmas was a staycation where we painted my kitchen cabinets. At our last house, I was able to do a lot of renovation projects with the girls around. But with the addition of homeschooling plus another daughter, plus our garage/workshop is unattached to the house, it has been harder to do renovation work here. So I just wanted a few days without the girls where I could paint my kitchen cabinets!

The kitchen was in decent shape, but just very dated. I was content in it, but painting is such a simple and cheap upgrade. So, during the first week of January, we sent the girls off to their grandmas' houses (thanks Grandmas!), and we got to work on the kitchen! Here is what our kitchen looked like before we started working on it.

And after (in progress):

Here is another before, from a different angle. We moved the fireplace to the living room. We love the antique fireplace, but it seemed more fitting in the living room than in the kitchen. We haven't hooked it up yet, so we are not currently using it, but we hope to by next winter!

I painted the cabinets a light creamy gray and we bought new hardware, and then my husband said, "We might as well get new countertops while we're at." I wasn't going to argue with that! I really love the concrete look, so we considered doing concrete over the existing laminate, DIY-style. We opted, instead, to buy laminate that looked like concrete. It wasn't much more money to do so, and DIY concrete is messy. Additionally, people with concrete countertops say that they can be high maintenance, with water marks and oil marks being unavoidable. In our last house, we installed butcher block countertops, and we loved them, but every cup that was set on them left a water mark, and I hated having to constantly stay on top of my children and even guests about babying them. I wanted something much more low maintenance in this stage of our lives with young children and also with the desire to host.

My husband then said we might as well pick out a new sink too. I was really feeling like we were on a good roll at this point! (What else should we get, dear?) I actually did decide to take advantage of his willingness to upgrade the kitchen. We originally planned to just get a standard, black, granite sink. I couldn't shake off the fact that the standard black sink didn't seem authentic to my 1930s farmhouse kitchen. So, I started doing what every good housewife does. I started searching on Craigslist. And I found this gorgeous antique farmhouse sink that was just two hours away and was listed for right around $100. I couldn't get it off my mind for several days, so I called them, and they still had it! So then I brought it up with my husband. He was not so keen on the idea at first. It would mean more work for him, and it would certainly be more difficult since we had already ordered our countertops at a particular length. I told him that while I liked the sink, I only wanted to get it if he was interested in it as well. And I meant that. He thought about it and decided that we should get the sink. And would you look at this beauty! 

Hubby says he's glad we went with the farmhouse sink, as it definitely defines the kitchen. It adds character, and it's fitting to the age of our house. 

We debated about whether to put the sink up front, where we would have to build a ledge behind it, or to set it back more, so that the high back on the sink fit to the wall. At this point, I did the second thing that every good housewife does... I perused Pinterest and Instagram like it was my job, and finally landed on preferring the sink to be flush with the lower cabinets, with a ledge built behind. I'm so happy with my decision! I love my ledge.

On the wall opposite of where the sink sits, we have the refrigerator, pantry cabinet, and a few extra lower cabinets with a countertop. There is an old doorway behind the pantry that we plan to close in with drywall at some point. This door leads to the living room, but there is another door that leads to the same area that we use rather than this one. I plan to have my husband put up a few open shelves above the countertop area.

Here's the pantry cabinet before. I put deglosser on it, and then simply painted one layer of white paint on and sanded it down to give it this rustic whitewashed look.

We also have a Hoosier cabinet in our kitchen that I love. It's a beautiful antique, and we live in the Hoosier state, so it was a must for our kitchen! We found ours at a local antique store. All Hoosier cabinets are made different, and I don't love all of them. My husband really wanted one, so I searched for a while before I found one I truly loved, and then I surprised him with it :) 

As the title suggests, these are not our final kitchen renovation pictures. We still have some work to do, such as adding in baseboard trim, finding a new light fixture, adding open shelving, and building a small island. And a little further in the future, we would like to close in the doorway, buy a new fridge, and build it into the kitchen along with a built-in pantry. We also would love a new stove at some point, but we'd really love either an antique one or an antique remake, so we are waiting for now. We are so happy with the progress we've made, though, and we love our farmhouse and are content to take our time as we work on it. :)

The Fine Details:
Cabinet Paint Color: Valspar Signature's "Snowed In"
Wall Paint Color: Behr Marquee's "Cappuccino Froth"
Countertops: Laminate in Cookies & Cream from Menards
Sink Faucet: This Kingston Brass faucet
Backsplash: Shiplap painted in Valspar's "Snowed In"

Monday, January 29, 2018

Little Women Cottage School (Summer Kitchen Renovation)

One of the most difficult things about our farmhouse was that it was smaller than I had hoped. The old summer kitchen on the property, directly behind the house, gave me hope though. I envisioned it as the perfect little room to homeschool in! I don't need a huge house, but as a homeschooling mom, and as one who goes crazy in unorganized spaces (as does my husband), I knew a separate space for homeschooling was crucial. 

Our beautiful homeschool room didn't look like this to begin with, though.

We actually finished renovating this space at the end of the summer. I think I have procrastinated writing this post because I plan to paint a sign to hang on our schoolhouse, and it hasn't happened yet... but, I've procrastinated long enough. So I write write the post and hopefully paint a sign for our cottage school this summer. This is the exterior of our summer kitchen turned school house. I love imaging the years this little building was used as a summer kitchen. 

The summer kitchen looked like this when we bought the farmhouse. It was simply used as a shed in its most recent years. 

The insulation had years of mouse droppings stored inside, so we tore all of that out.

We then installed new insulation, added drywall, and used plywood to created shiplap walls. We left the original ceilings and floors, because, hello! Beautiful!

I sure am thankful for this space. It's so nice to be able to keep some of our books in here (because we sure do love books in this house!), and it's such a fun space.

I found an old school clock at a vintage fair, and it fits perfectly in the schoolhouse. I also keep craft items in the school house.

People always ask us if we are using the school house during the winter. I really thought we would, but we haven't been. Once it started getting cold, we began doing school inside. In order to do school in the school room, we would have to buy a heater. For now, with just one student, it makes sense to just do school inside. During the warmer months, the younger girls play outside while I do school work with Sophie, but during the colder months, the girls play inside with all of their toys, so it makes sense for me to just be inside with them as well. We do keep many of our school supplies in the school house still, and I just gather what I will need each day. It's incredibly nice to have a separate space for all of our school books and supplies! And we look forward to when it will be warm and we can do school out in this space again.

We had animals in the school house every day. Farm schooling at its finest!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

A Very Merry Homemade Christmas

Four years ago, my friend asked me to go to these girls' craft nights with her, and I always responded that I wasn't crafty. My friend now makes fun of me for saying that and complains that we could have been crafting together all that time.

To be honest, I didn't know I was crafty or could even like things like sewing and painting. I was the nerdy one who always had a book in her hand, a paper to edit, or a topic to research. I still love those things. But now, I've discovered that I have a love for keepings my hands busy as well. Since learning to sew and paint three years ago, I have made it a goal to make one thing for the girls for each birthday and Christmas. I don't believe it's always happened, but I try. Well, this Christmas I went a little overboard! I just kept finding too many things I wanted to make, and then the girls would ask me to make things as well.

A year ago, I bought a pattern for a doll I really wanted to try to make. I knew it would be a challenge for me, as I truly am a beginner sewer, but I enjoy challenges. I started making one for Violet a year ago, and then I got scared and put it down. Sophie asked me about it and asked if I would make her one, and, well, one thing turned into another, and I ended up deciding to make one for each girl for Christmas.

This was definitely the hardest thing I made, and there were many times I wasn't sure if they would get done, but they did, and I love them... and so do the girls!

Sophie and Brielle have little felt dolls and carry-along cases that I made for them two Christmases ago. I have always assumed that I would make one someday for Lyla, but she loves to tear things apart... so I was in no hurry to make her one. But then she started asking me when she would get one like her sisters, and she asked so many times, that I felt like I must make her one as well. So I hand sewed the little doll and I machine sewed the house, and she was so excited when she got it on Christmas morning and that it was purple! 
(Dollhouse pattern: Here)
(Doll pattern: Here)

For previous birthdays, I have made Sophie and Lyla stacking dolls. Brielle didn't have a set, and she has asked a number of times about having one. I have procrastinated a long time... I think because it always seems like it will be a lot of work. In reality, it didn't take that long, and Brielle is very excited to have her own set now.

My grandma got the girls a felt doll with cloths from a garage sale a year or two ago, and they play with it often. They asked about getting more... I searched for a while online and saw that you could buy more. I bought them through amazon, but then had to cut them and their wardrobes out. I then had this idea that Ben could build felt boards in which they could play with their dolls on.

I wanted to make some things for family members but just ran out of time! I did, however, have fun making these sandwich and snack bags for my nieces and nephews. 

I was also commissioned to make a few things for others. A church friend asked me to paint on slate some signs for her family members. 

And this one she asked me to make for my in-laws :)

My dad commissioned me to make these chocolate covered strawberries. I have never made these before, but as mentioned above, I always love a good challenge.

Making things with my hands is such a beautiful outlet for me. It helped me through a really hard time in my life, and now it's a way that I rejuvenate and a way that I can give to others. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Christmas 2017

Another Christmas season has come and passed. I love this season, and every year I reevaluate the way we will celebrate and savor the time. For me, the most important part is for Christmas to be peaceful and focused on Christ. 

Christ came to give. He gave of himself to save our souls. So at Christmastime, as we focus on Christ, my hope is that we will outpour of ourselves into the lives of others. Sophie was wanting to make a doll. So, in September, she began hand sewing a doll that we planned to put in an Operation Christmas Child box. We were so excited when the time came to send the doll and the rest of the goodies and necessities!

Sophie and I talked a lot about why we were doing this and who would be receiving the box.

She worked so hard on her doll, and it makes my Mama heart happy to see her finding joy in giving her time and talents to others. I hope her abilities and heart will grow with each year. We found out last week that our box went to Mexico! This was so neat for us because we have been studying Spanish and reading a book about a little Mexican boy. God is always at work in the smallest and biggest ways <3.

The three older girls participated in the Christmas program at church. Their cousin Braxton sang with them, too. They were all adorable.

They helped me wrap gifts and draw on the paper :)

We made cookies! We made some with my mom and sisters, as we do every year. We always enjoy this baking day!

I decided this year to also do our own cookie baking day. We made a few new kinds and I finally made the Millers famous chewy walnut treasure cookies all on my own. The girls asked me if these were good sizes for their oreo balls :)

Violet mostly helped by eating whatever she could get her hands on. She was a very happy taste tester and very grumpy when she was pulled away from these duties. We definitely hit a wall on sweets after this batch of cookie making!

We went with friends from our homeschool co-op to a live nativity. Afterwards, we walked across the street to a building that housed a display of Christmas trees. Upon learning that you could pay $1 to vote for your favorite tree, Sophie begged me to let her vote. I finally agreed and handed her a dollar, and she voted. I assumed the money went toward the organizations who made the trees (such as the animal shelter, which was the tree Sophie voted for). Imagine my surprise, when a week later, I got a call saying Sophie had won a tree! We shoved it in the back of our van, brought it home, and Sophie was the happiest girl in the world. #thankfullywehaveanupstairs #catsanddogsalloverthetreearenotmything #howboutthattreetopper

This is why we have few decorations and nothing fancy... #children #everythingisatoy

My sister and I both wanted to pierce our daughters' ears, so we took them together :) Fun cousin bonding. 

We also read a lot of Christmas stories. I found a really good book list and began borrowing from the library as soon as Thanksgiving week came! We love books in this family, so every night before bed, we would read a Christmas story together. We also, of course, spent time reading the Christmas story from the Bible, and Sophie put together a little play to do at her Grandpa and Grandma Miller's Christmas gathering. We also read Christmas poems together, and Sophie learned Long Long Ago and recited it for her Grandma Lori who loves the song. And we sang Christmas songs together every day. I taught the girls a few new ones this year, like O Come O Come Emmanuel and Joy to the World. Sophie is taking piano lessons now, so she and I learned Christmas songs together on the piano. Sophie was extremely motivated to learn these piano songs, and she even learned some by heart! I love having a little piano player in the house!

The month of December flew by, and Christmas Eve snuck up on us before we knew it! We spent Christmas Eve with Ben's family and enjoyed our day with family there. I made a lot of gifts this year (*ahem* probably overcommitted myself), so I think that made the month go especially fast. I spent every night the whole month working on a gift!

Christmas morning came, with the gifts nestled under the tree and kitty trying to climb it.

My morning bird buddies, Violet and Sophie (and the kitten), hung out with me and patiently waited for the rest of the family to wake up and for the cinnamon rolls to be ready. (I am not a morning person, but alas, Moms don't get a choice in these things.) We finally woke up our sleepers, Brielle and Lyla (and Dad), at 9am, and the festivities began!

Violet had very few gifts (because fourth child), and most of those that she did get were books... but babies don't care. She got an applesauce squeeze packet, so she was happy.

I'm so glad the girls love books as much as me, because I love buying them new books! Brielle has especially loved the Little House on the Prairie picture books lately, so she was excited to get some new ones :) Sophie's been trying desperately to make one of our chicken eggs turn into a chick, and I keep telling her you have to have a rooster and that keeping it warm with your hands won't turn it into a chick... so I bought her a book that will hopefully help her believe me and understand the process ;) They got other books too, because there's no such thing as too many books :)

Brielle was really excited to get her own stacking doll set (farm animals, painted by me), as her sisters Sophie and Lyla both have a set and she had asked me for one of her own.

Lyla had been asking for me to make something for her that I had made her bigger sisters a couple of years ago, and here she is opening it. I just love this picture of these two sisters. The girls were so good about waiting and being excited as their sisters opened their gifts. They loved seeing what their sisters got just as much as what they got <3

I made each of the girls a doll for Christmas. It was a true labor of love, but something I very much enjoyed doing.

It was such a sweet moment to watch them open this gift and react with joy to seeing their dolls <3

 Their final gift was felt "paper" dolls and felt boards. My grandma had given the girls one of these felt dolls previously, and they loved it. So I bought a doll for each girl (they came on a felt sheet, and I had to cut out the dolls and clothing), and then Ben built flannel boards that they could set up and play with their dolls on.

After enjoying our cinnamon rolls, we packed up and drove through the snow to our Walton Christmas gathering.

It was a good Christmas. We thank the Lord for a season set aside to focus on him and his deep love for us. We thank the Lord for a time to give, of ourselves, of our time, of our finances, and of our abilities. We thank the Lord for a time to receive, from others, and most of all, from God, in His great gift of sending Jesus to us.