Homemade Laundry Soap

I’ve made this stuff and I love it!  It’s so cheap and it rids your wash of all of those chemicals in commercial detergents.

It’s only three ingredients (excluding water) and takes 24 hours until it’s ready:

Washing Soda
Ivory or Castile Soap

The recipe on the site will make 10 gallons, but I made a half recipe to try it out (and because I didn’t have two buckets available).  Next time I’ll be making the full recipe.

Visit Happy Hooligans for all the details!!

Freshened Up Kitchen Wall

We moved into our new home three years ago and we’re finally getting into some REAL changes to make it our own.

When we first moved in, we did the standard off white with some accent walls.  I love to paint, so I thought it was time to really go bold with some color!

Our kitchen is a wee bit outdated.  These first two photos are of the kitchen once we got settled in.  Since these photos were taken. we have installed a new ceiling fan, but that was about it.  The lighting over the counter top and sink we installed while moving in, and we bought all new appliances (except the dishwasher).  The rest is what it is now – except for that awesome brick wall!

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Texture is awesome, and I was in no way tearing down that brick.  It’s not brick paneling (while painting, I wished it was, but…).  It’s thin, decorative brick glued onto a painted-black wall.  Over the years the bricks became discolored by the baseboard heat, and just were old and in need of some TLC.

I purposely slated this project for the winter.  It gets cold here in January, and it was a great way to pass the time during a cold snap.

I selected Sherwin Williams Ovation paint in eggshell – color SUNDRIED TOMATO.  Oh my goodness, this color is the perfect color and wasn’t a disappointment once the wall was completed.

Here’s the “before” of the main wall.


One coat…


Two coats…


Yeah, it took three coats to get it right.


It took a solid three days and almost a full gallon of paint for just this wall.  As you can see below, I had a lot of nooks and crannies to paint.  I painted it all – the black “mortar” had to go and it makes the wall so nice and uniform.


Slow and steady!  I worked in sections while music or Netflix played in the background.  I binge-listened to M*A*S*H that week. 🙂


All done!  My clearance rack Lowe’s curtains pop, which is what I was going for!


There was no way I could cleanly paint from edge to edge.  So, lucky for me, this part of the kitchen is a dormer, so I have a cozy nook to paint!


This side was easy-peasy as it is just plastered drywall.  It still took three or four coats!

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I love this little corner of the kitchen.  I can’t wait to get some cute bar stools to make it the little bar it’s meant to be.

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Ta-da!  All finished!


More to come…entryway, family room, and basement!

Image Credit – All me!

Sure, I can handle it…(right!)


OK, November 3 was my last post.  Yikes!  Once the holiday season hits, it really takes over.

Things have been crazy, to say the least, lately.  I feel like what was once a well-oiled machine of routine has turned into an old, run-down jalopy in need of serious TLC…or the salvage yard.

Without going into too much detail, work just continues to take me down the yellow brick road of stress and uncertainty.  The days of people offering common courtesy of an RSVP is OUT THE WINDOW.  What ever happened to responding to requests you apparently made a commitment to?  One of many issues I have right now, but…

I haven’t sat through a church service since Christmas Eve – and I work for a church.  Figure that one out!

I digress as I feel my face flush with frustration and a little bit of anger.

Little makes me happy lately.  Thankfully, I have my wonderful husband, kids, and pets.  They’re the only thing keeping me sane and they have been most supportive of my feelings.

I just keep praying that someday soon I’ll be back to loving my job as much as I did before.


As for the Christmas season – it was pretty amazing.  I participated in my first choral cantata with the church choir.  Many, MANY hours went into practicing all the pieces – so much that my kids were singing along while I sang in the car and at home.  It’s still in their minds they now parody the tunes when they see fit.  It’s pretty hysterical!

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were pretty great.  Two church services and a late night on the eve and a remarkably relaxing day of Christmas.  Lots of presents and smiles.  I also had my very first week off in a really long time.  It was nice to just step away from work and email and everything!

Most recently I’ve been tackling a painting project in our kitchen.  I LOVE to paint and redecorate the house.  I wish it wasn’t so expensive, but I make it work.  We have this pretty cool brickwork in our kitchen, but the look of it is pretty outdated.  It’s white, very textured and has a black masonry look.  All it is is a black wall with decorative brick glued to it.  While I love the texture and overall look of it, the white and black had to go!

It’s taking a long time to paint – and many coats! – but it’s looking super!  I chose the Sherwin Williams color Sundried Tomato.  It takes about 4 coats to get to the super deep (deeper than blood red) hue, but it’s worth it!  I have a hard time not standing and admiring the work already done because it just looks so great!  There’s just a lot of sloppy application of the paint due to all the nooks and crannies in the brick, which takes time.

And real quick before I close this post, my daughter and I have been trying to get a little craftier, so I hope to feel motivated enough to share some things we’re working on or things we find that we hope to get around to…I’m also embarking on a Prayer in Color group in church.  Stay tuned!

Image Credit: Healthable.org

Rescue a Dog!

We adopted the best dog from a local shelter on September 22nd.  I’m reposting what I updated the shelter with because it’s still true.

Update on Penny (Penelope). It’s been just over a week month since we brought her home and she really is OUR dog. 🙂  She’s really coming around; starting to respond to her name a bit, adjusting to our routine, becoming playful, and is an amazing walking companion!

She is the first dog we’ve ever rescued and I don’t think I could ever have it any other way from now on. More animal lovers need to take a shelter pet in on faith.

We got this dog, who was looked over so many times over the past 15 months or so based on a quick look. We literally spent 10 minutes with her before we adopted her and we hit the jackpot! Sure, she was scared and timid at first, but it took her all of a car ride home to know she was with her forever family.

I pray more people will take the leap of faith on all the other pets you have waiting for a forever family. They don’t know what they’re missing!!

I know rescuing an adult dog is not for everyone.  Our kids are tweens/teens now and I’m not as reluctant to take the chance on a dog that I have no history on.  This girl is 50 pounds of love, kisses, and silliness.  We are so thankful she waited patiently for us and allowed us to be her new family.

If you’re just itching for a companion, check your local shelters!

Image Credit:  Me!  Be kind and just leave her here.

15 of 23 Signs You’re Secretly an Introvert

15. You notice details that others don’t.

I once got a fortune in a fortune cookie that said:

Over-prepare then go with the flow.

That would be me to a tee!  Not only am I a perfectionist with most everything (it’s usually with things with work or anything that could be scrutinized), I’m constantly noticing things that are usually glossed over.

Spelling errors.  Color combinations.  Graphical layouts.  If it doesn’t seem quite right to me, it’s got to be fixed.

I guess I am a little OCD.  Not with everything, and not certainly enough that it impedes on my everyday life, but if there is something that just doesn’t sit right with me, it bothers me to no end.

I think that’s what made me a decent photographer.  My brain is just wired in a way that once my eye is looking through the viewfinder, I see things that no one would otherwise notice.  I guess I have a permanent viewfinder on me and at times it can be a little overwhelming because I miss out on just being blissfully ignorant.

What I wouldn’t give to be blissfully ignorant…

Image Credit:  Flickr.com

To My Son…

Dear Little B,

Don’t be a bully.  Just don’t.  The hours suck and the pay is not all they claim it to be.  It won’t make you famous and it certainly won’t earn you respect.

Don’t be a bully.  Everyone’s onto bullies.  Schools abhor the behavior (despite the fact that their “actions” don’t do much to dissuade the practice) and parents are always wringing their hands over the latest drama that crosses the threshold of their hearts – weeks after the bully has “attacked” because you didn’t want to say anything.

I was bullied, bud.  Quite a bit.  From K through graduation – that’s a long time.  I may not have been assaulted physically, but I’m pretty damaged inside.  Sure, I seem all tough and together for the sake of you and your sister, but I’m a broken mama.

You see, being bullied is so much more than stolen lunch money, wedgies, swirlies, and the occasional black eye that are portrayed on TV and the movies.  It’s slow-acting torment brought on by the muffled giggles as you walk by.  Name-calling (even though we tell you to ignore it, I know it hurts every time) that makes you feel like you’ll never be good enough for anyone (you’re good enough for anyone, by the way).  Soon you’re stripped of self-confidence.  You’re second-guessing everything – from the clothes you wear, to the food you bring for lunch, even being criticized for being TOO good a student (nerdy is good – just look at the handsome fella you call Daddy).  This has followed me through adulthood, and I pray you can get rid of the hurt now.  Leave that baggage behind!

I know it’s hard now – and it was so hard for me all those years, but looking back it truly was a gift from God.  *I* get it.  *I* have felt it.  All of it.  You’re not alone and will never be alone, for I have all the hurt saved within me so I can help you and get you through it all.

You are none of the things you were called.  Those boys are just afraid to get to know the awesome kid I have the privilege of calling “son.”  You’re mine forever and they’re just jealous.  You’re full of love and compassion.  You’re so trusting (sometimes a little TOO trusting, but you’ll learn) and respectful of other people.  You’re a gift from God.

You have what seems to be a very long 6 3/4 years to go until graduation, but we’ll be here with you every step of the way, so don’t let it damage you for too long.  I have enough damage for you and your sister so you can heal.  Just keep coming to me – talk to me!  There are no secrets in this family, remember?  There’s also not much we can’t handle and get past.

I’m sorry you were treated poorly.  You deserve better.  We’ll get through it together.  I love you!


Image Credit:  WeHeartIt.com

14 of 23 Signs You’re Secretly an Introvert

14. You screen all your calls — even from friends.

The phone rings.  The first wave of feeling comes over you – anxiety.  Then quickly to the second wave – annoyance.

Every phone call, I go through that.

Why do I hate the phone so much?  I don’t get many calls, which is a relief, but when I do I just hate it.

We got rid of our landline phone years ago, which was a blessing, because landline phones seem to bring in mostly junk calls – telemarketers, politicians, etc.  I do not envy those who are complaining about the amount of annoyance calls they get during the day (and now, well into the evening!).  That doesn’t fly with this girl.

So, I have my cell.  I think the greatest feature of a cell phone is being able to pick and choose ringtones for each and every contact on your list.  And do I ever take advantage of it!

The upside to that is the warm, fuzzy feeling you get when that certain ringtone is heard when those you want to call actually do.  If those calls ever go to voicemail, it’s because I wasn’t around to get the call.

Then there are those other ringtones that you know, but don’t necessarily want to talk right away.  Those calls usually get a good eye roll.  Sometimes I answer, sometimes I let it go.

Then, there’s my default ringtone.  Anxiety and annoyance.  Every time!  Those don’t even get to ring the whole time – DECLINE!  LOL!

Do any of my fellow introverts out there use the crap out of their blocked number features or apps that make it easy to keep calls from coming through?  My favorite is Mr. Number.  This cute little app is so great – it’s has a running database that can help determine if a number is legit or if it’s a scam.  You wouldn’t believe how many scam numbers get through to people.  With one little click, I can have my phone go to voicemail or simply disconnect the call each time that number calls me.  It’s a dream come true!

I get a lot of phone calls where I know the person, but I don’t like to be caught off-guard with the topic, so I hope and pray they give me some insight as to why they are calling in their voice message.  Voicemails I hate the most?  “Give me a call back, I have some questions for you.”  Aaaaaaaah!!

In the meantime, don’t be offended if your call to me goes straight to voicemail.  It’s just who I am. 😉  If you’re someone I know, I will call you back…just as soon as my arrhythmia settles a bit. 😀

Image Credit:  The Cornish Life

Back to Your Regularly Scheduled Programming…

I sit here, with “Fear of Walking Dead” streaming on my phone next to me, still unkempt from a typical crummy night’s sleep.  I’m waiting for my laptop to update (this thing is in desperate need of a reload!) and thinking about where this week is headed.

Wednesday begins the new school year.  Parents everywhere are rejoicing in this wonderful time of year!

Don’t get me wrong – I love my children with all my heart, but I’m so glad to get back into the regular routine.  I’m even feeling the negative effects of sleeping in too much and staying up too late.

I’ve been blessed with kids who have never had separation anxiety when it comes to school.  They’ve willing parted from me with a new excitement!

I now have a 13- and 12-year-old…things become increasingly “grumblier” as each new school year approaches.  It’s comical, really, because I think back to all those “first day of school” I endured as I was growing up.  As an adult, how I wish my only responsibility was good grades.

My kids don’t know how good they have it!

I look forward to this year, it’s my daughter’s last year in junior high (O. M. G!) and, due to the district’s plans for consolidating grades into two schools from three, my son’s last year of junior high is this year, too!

This whole summer revolved around horseback riding and lessons for my daughter, Scouting events and activities for my son, bike riding and many church activities as a family.  They’ve grown so much in the past few months, they are clearly not babies anymore.

This fall will push them even further into young adulthood with my daughter gaining more experience with babysitting and a wonderful program through her school she was chosen to participate in – she’ll be working with the special education kids throughout the school year.  I can’t wait to see the opportunities with that group.  My son continues to plan for an international trip with the Boy Scouts of America next year.  To think he’ll be heading to another country at his age just makes me so excited for him!

I’m thankful for all the opportunities we’ve all had this summer, but I’m ready to get back to the old routine…get up, get ’em out, and get on with the day!

Good luck and many prayers to all the kids back in school or awaiting their first day back.  I pray it will be full of opportunities and success!

Image Credit:  Christ Covenant Church

The Lord Made Me Do It…

Something I struggle with in my faith is whether or not there is a “master plan” or if God intervenes in our lives.  I don’t believe God is a puppeteer, but I think He’s there always trying to get our attention.

I’ve moved away from the “master plan” because the God I know through the Bible and just living my life can’t possibly plan for awful things to happen – plus it removes any kind of responsibility on our part if we just blame everything that happens on God – or blame Him for not doing something when things go down.

Today is the perfect example of, what I consider to be, pure intervention.

I have had an insanely busy week.  As the Director of Christian Ed, our annual BIG fundraiser is the annual Basement Sale – and it’s a stressful week of transforming our hall into another thrift shop.  If we didn’t make so much money for our youth, I’d not do it!  So there’s that plus the fact that we FINALLY (after two long years) are closing on our home.

In the mess of all of that, there’s everyday life:  laundry, dry cleaners, shopping for elusive copies of the latest Rolling Stone magazine.  As the week draws closer to the Basement Sale opening, I’m living in a flurry of to-do lists.

“Dry Cleaners” is on my list and it’s usually an afterthought.  However, on the Search for the Rolling Stone, I was reminded that the clothes I dropped off were ready (I usually forget about my clothes for a good week after they’re ready) so I headed over.

Naturally, it’s pouring down rain, but I get out of the car and run in.  There’s a young man with a delivery of laundry and the elderly woman working the counter was on the phone.

“I’ve gotten busy here, so I’ll have to call you back,” she says to the person on the other line.  She hangs up the phone and after a few beats says to the room, “That was my vet.  We thought my cat just had an simple autoimmune illness – I was just told he has feline AIDS.”

It was silent for a moment and the young man was very consoling and sympathetic to her, as he says he’s a cat lover himself.  She was clearly blindsided by the news that her beloved cat would die.  She did not cry, but she appeared disoriented for a moment.

The young man dropped off his order and offered her a hug.  He said he would think of her and her cat and left.

It was my turn.

It took her a moment to take my ticket as she continued talking about her cat and how she couldn’t yet understand this new development.  She took my ticket and went to the back room to retrieve my items.

As soon as she disappeared, I pulled out the fully tied pocket square I kept folded in my front purse pocket.  It was beautiful – and very purple – with a verse of scripture.  Every knot I tied was tied during a time where prayer was all I had left.  So I prayed and prayed and prayed!

She took my money and while I was due only $8.00 in change, she grabbed a $10, $5 and started counting $1 bills.  “That’s too much change, hon!” I told her.  She put the $5 down and continued counting the $1 bills.  “That’s still too much,” I said.  She was clearly distracted.

She gave me my change and I then handed her my pocket square and explained what it was.  I then told her, “maybe I was meant to come here today.”  She agreed and appreciated the gift.  We briefly exchanged our love for animals and then I wished her well and told her I would be praying for her and her cat.

Yep, the Lord made me do it.  He was there with me, guiding me, and cheering me on.  I always wish there was something more I can do, but maybe, from her point of view, it was just what she needed in that moment.

If we open ourselves up to His presence – it can be pretty amazing what we can get out of it.

Image Credit:  Me!  And our incredible Prayers and Squares group at Westmont Presbyterian Church.