Darkness and Light

Over the past 6 months, the lightbulbs on this hallway fixture have slowly started giving out. I didn’t bother changing them because who wants to go to the effort of changing just one of 10 bulbs that are hanging from a 30’ ceiling, when there’s a good chance the rest will give out soon as well? After all, it’s crazy high, and I’m crazy short!

As it got darker and darker, I began liking this space less and less, and even thought about painting the hallway to make it brighter. “If only I had something completely different,” I would think, “then I’d be happier in this space.”

But today, I had a free moment, and decided to tackle the bulbs. The lightbulbs I had on hand were Daylight colored, which I don’t typically use, but not wanting to run to the store, I decided to try them here.

What I had forgotten was, that often, Daylight colored bulbs, can change the hues of beige and gray paint. And when I put these bulbs in, suddenly, the yellow walls disappeared, and I was left with a natural, bright space! Furthermore, the walls now appear to be the very paint color I was thinking of painting!

I think there’s an analogy here: This week I had an experience that burned out my lightbulbs a little. I could only see my side of things, and was angry. As the darkness got worse with every doubt, fear and negativity, I knew I needed help, and began praying for inspiration. Slowly, the Lord gave bits and pieces to help me. The “Partly Cloudy” Disney Pixar short (of all things), and the new Book of Mormon videos were just a few things that started my change of heart, but it wasn’t until I replaced these lightbulbs, that I realized the personal message that the Lord was trying to send me!

I think the Lord is always sending us inspiration. and when it clicks, it’s like changing the lightbulbs. We begin to see everything differently, and it starts to make sense! The color I’d been dreaming about for this room, was there all along, I just needed to change the lightbulbs! The answer to my anger was there all along, I just needed to look at it differently, and allow “His light” to brighten my spiritual room.

Darkness in our lives can be debilitating. The more we let the bitterness linger, the darker it gets, and the problem gets bigger. But when we realize where and Who we can turn to to change our thought process, and change our mental lightbulbs, our lights can burn brighter than before.

Romans 13:12

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Escape Room Birthday Party

We love escape rooms! The little puzzles and code boxes are so satisfying to decipher, it was only natural that our little girl would ask for an escape room for her birthday party! As it turned out, putting together the clues was just as enjoyable as figuring it out myself!

As guests arrived they came into the kitchen and started a craft. But about 5 minutes in, one of my kids came in and declared that someone had taken all the presents and left a note!

The clues in the note led them upstairs to the game room where there was a lock on one of the doors, and a balloon.

Popping the balloon revealed a key and a note that read, “Harry Potter loved to read…”

This led them to the bookshelf where there was a hidden key inside of a decrepit duplicate copy of Harry Potter. (While several party guests expressed shock over the damage to Harry Potter, I promise, the book was already on its last legs!)

Next, they needed to break the code to the bike chain that was around the door. (If I were to do it again, I’d use a different chain, because this didn’t securely hold the doors, and I had to remind the guests to open the lock, rather than rip it off.) The code was written on a party banner hanging on the wall.

Opening these doors revealed the kidnapped sister in handcuffs with a make-believe “explosive device” around her neck.

These two devices and several others that I hid around the room, came from The Ultimate Operation Escape Room Game that was a gift from my sister. It’s great for younger kids, but the older party guests just broke into most of the devices, rather than trying to figure out how to open them.

Once the victim was free, the kids began searching the room for clues.

They found a hidden key that opened a violin case revealing another set of keys.

Those keys unlocked the cooler, which revealed another game device.

They found a box inside of a backpack that was shut with zip ties. Another option would be to just secure the backpack with zip ties, but putting zip ties around the box gave another element to figure out.

They also found some scissors inside a drawer that had a combo lock around them.

The combination code was the playing cards taped to the desk. (For older kids, I would put the cards in another spot in the room, but it took the younger kids a long time to figure this one out.)

Cutting the zip ties opened the box and revealed components that went to another part of the operation game. And inside of that device was a black light.

I had several codes hidden around the room written in black light.

We already owned this safe, and they had to search the room for the clues to open it.

Inside was another game device that revealed a hidden black light message.

The kids had to use this decoder ring to decipher the clue.

The decoder ring gave them the word “Read” which opened this master lock.

The birdcage revealed another device from the Escape Room game that they had to figure out how to open.

That device opened to reveal another black light message that they needed the decoder ring to crack.

The decoder message led them to the guest bedroom where they found all of the confiscated Birthday presents.

We had 19 kids, ages 6-11 trying to do the room, which was probably too many, because I noticed some kids just sitting around while others figured out clues. But for the most part, I think everyone had fun!

Balance

Balancing family, sick kids, funeral services, race training, church service, hubby’s schedule and kid’s activities leaves very little time for my projects these days!

But that’s just my season of life right now!

And while there are times that I’m tempted to doubt my choice to be a stay at home mom, hate the situation we’re in and give in to fear and sadness; I’m learning that balance is all about choice.

Choosing to let go of the selfish things I want as well as letting go of the emotions and feelings that don’t bring joy, and instead, choosing to focus more on my family and spirituality is what seems to bring the most balance to my life.

What brings balance to you?

Powder Bath Refresh

Before:

One decorating trend here in the great state of Texas, is to paint your bathroom orange. Don’t ask my why, but it’s kind of disturbing just how many orange baths I come across… it really is a thing here!!

My powder bath was going true Texan, complete with a rust colored ceiling, and walls that made everything from the toilet to my skin, look a shocking shade of apricot!

Now, I don’t mind orange in my juice, but I can’t handle it in my bathroom.

So I spent the week painting.

This is Anew Gray by Sherwin-Williams.

After:

It’s amazing what color can do. Before it was a dark cave of bold, glowing citrus! And now it’s a peaceful, calm place to get down to business!

I found the Texas road sign at a flea market, and shopped my house for the rest of the decor.

Worth It

A sweet friend and I decided to trade this old nightstand for her vintage bench.

My friend wanted the nightstand to be navy blue with gold handles, and I got to work sanding and painting the piece, but every time I thought about putting those dated, tarnished, mirrored brass handles back on the piece, I was filled with dread!

Since we had no budget for new hardware,

I did some Internet research and found Bar Keepers Friend (BKF), which works wonders on many things, so I picked some up and started scrubbing.

One handle was particularly tarnished and after a great deal of scrubbing, I realized there was a gorgeous brass metal underneath! It almost looked like brushed gold! It was beautiful!

I was stuck with a dilemma. The BKF had cleaned up most of the tarnish, and the handles would be acceptable the way they were… but if I wanted a real transformation and uncover the shiny brass, I would have to put the work in and scrub all 10 handles.

As I sat pondering on what to do, the piece spoke to me.

“The hard work will be worth it!”

Yes, it would take a while, ruin my manicure and be a pain, but it would be worth it in the end.

Several hours later I had 10 shiny brushed gold handles and the piece looked amazing!

I couldn’t help but find a parallel to our lives in these handles.

As we journey through life, we become tarnished with sin, heartache and pain. It’s easy to leave the tarnish there thinking it doesn’t matter, but if we’re not careful it can ruin us.

It can be tempting to think that the tarnish is too much, that we should toss it out, and try to make something else work; but we can’t forget there there is something beautiful still there. Underneath our pain is a shiny, beautiful soul.

A soul that is worth it.

And putting in the effort and the work to repent, forgive and find that beauty again is always worth it.

But we can’t do it alone.

Phillipians 4:13 says “I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me.”

Through the atonement, Christ takes our tarnished lives and makes them shiny again, because we are worth it. It takes work on our part, and it’s not easy to repent, to forgive ourselves and others and to move forward, but it’s worth it, because we are worth it.

Just like these handles gave this nightstand new life, if we put the work in, no matter how long it takes, through the healing power of the Savior, we can find peace and uncover the beauty that is in all of us.

Painting Low-Traffic Furniture: The Easy Way

Every piece of furniture is different so this isn’t a fail-safe formula, but it’s great for most low traffic items like end tables, armoires, beds, accent chairs, sofa tables etc.

Sanding the pieces even a little helps the paint stick, but isn’t necessary for low traffic items. Again, every piece is different so use your own judgement about whether to sand or it. High traffic item like kitchen tables turn out better with more prep work and more durable paint.

Steps:

1. Clean the piece with water or mineral spirits and let it dry.

2. Paint Zinnser Shellac base primer with a disposable brush. It’s super runny so make sure you have a heavy drop cloth or plastic on the floor.

3. Paint with a flat or Satin sheen paint. I love sample sizes of paint from Sherwin Williams because they are cheap and come in a pint size.

5. Paint one or two coats for desired coverage.

7. Glaze and or distress as desired.

9. Top coat with Polycrylic. It gives the piece a smooth finish. I like Minwax or Stays Clear from Benjamin Moore

10. I recommend letting the piece “cure” for about a week before you set items on it.

Chippy Goodness

Do you ever worry about the health factor of old “chippy” paint?
I fell in love with this antique chair that I found on the FB marketplace, and thrilled over its flathead screws and aged layers of paint. The layers of paint were at least 1/8″ thick and I thrilled thinking about all the people who had spent time painting this chair to match their decor.

But as soon as I put it here on the porch, the kids started sitting on it, and I began worrying about the layers of paint that kept chipping off into their hands!
And when I considered the lead-based paint of the 30’s, and the shocking lack of hand washing my children naturally do, I decided to sell this chair.
Thank goodness there are lots of other gals out there who love old furniture too, so this lovely piece could find another home!
🌿Tip: You can seal in the lead-based chemicals from old paint with Shellac or Poly. Just be aware that it may change the shine and color of the current piece.
🌿Tip: BE CAREFUL! Always Wear protective face respirators and gloves when scraping, sanding or painting over old paint!
What old piece have you fallen in love with only to realize it wasn’t quite what you expected?

DIY Farmhouse Star

If you don’t have access to a saw for cutting wood, try making this simple Star out of wooden rulers or yardsticks!!

1. Cut wood to 18″x2″ strips that are about 1/8″ thick.

2. Paint or stain the strips if desired

3. Arrange the strips into a Star shape

4. Apply wood glue to connect the strips

5. Secure with clamps and let dry for at least 45 minutes.

6. Remove clamps and enjoy!

There are many places you could use these! We’ve loved them as Christmas tree toppers, wall decor, arranged in garlands and even as wedding decor!

The Little Lights

The other night, my little girl opened up about her trouble falling asleep. Occasionally she’ll come into my room in tears because she’s awake and no one else is, and it has really concerned her.

She sleeps on the bottom bunk, which is extra dark, and in our family, the bottom bunk is the least desirable bed to sleep in. I imagine that more often than not she’s sitting sad and alone in that dark room with just her thoughts.

My heart broke for her because I know it takes a lot of courage for her to come to me. I prayed for inspiration… and then I started thinking…

I’d been wanting to make a lighted garland for a while, but hadn’t gotten to it because I was unsure where to put it. But after my girl expressed her concerns the little lights in my creative mind turned on!!

So here is what we did!

I made this garland out of an old bed sheet and some lace curtains, and tied the fabric onto a string of little lights. We were lucky to find an outlet next to the bed, and I hung the garland underneath the bed slats of the top bunk. She can turn it on and off whenever she wants, and my sweet friend even recommended a timer so it will turn off after she falls asleep.

She loved it and happily said that when she’s awake she can turn on the lights without bothering the other two girls, so she can read some books! (I also kinda love that she’s turning to books when she’s bored!)

That night she fell asleep right away, happy and cozy under the lights, and it felt like a big win for this momma!

Stay tuned for a tutorial on how to make this super simple garland.

Now the other two girls want something special over their beds too, so I’ll be putting together some big plans for a sweet little girls room.

Faith and Furniture

This mirror has been left in a packing box, tucked way back in a closet for 4 years. It has nagged at me, but I’ve never known what to do with it. Lately, I’ve been trying to use it as a free-standing mirror, but it’s just not working out. I think it’s time for some paint, and maybe a new location on a wall.

But this mirror got me thinking…

Furniture is a lot like faith.

We first get it and it’s exciting and shiny and new… but if we don’t care for it, problems sneak in. A nick here or a scratch there, and eventually that piece becomes less needed in our minds.

How many times have we stuck a piece in the corner, garage or attic and forgotten about it? Having it is good, but it’s easy to forget the importance of it.

When we do find that piece again it almost becomes a burden, and something that was so wonderful at one point, now requires tedious, time consuming repairs and fixing.

I’ve had this happen many times, with furniture and with my faith… and I gotta say, taking the time is worth it.

Whenever I refinish a piece, I’m amazed at how wonderful it looks in the end. Yes, the work is messy and frustrating, and always takes longer than I think it should… but it’s worth it because when the work is done, I’m left with a piece that is better than it was to begin with. A piece that is stronger, updated and ready to serve it’s ultimate purpose of supporting me!

My faith is like an old piece of furniture because it gets better and better as I work on it and care for it. It looks completely different now than it did when I was a child, but the scratches and dings of sin and doubt are beautiful reminders to me of how I’ve grown.

I’m reminded that the One who heals all our wounds was a carpenter himself. And as we turn to Him, all of our scratches and dings can be strengthened and repaired. And our ever evolving pieces of furniture can be better than they were to begin with, full of hope and strength as we put our trust in Him.