Saturday, September 17, 2016

God Makes Broken Things Beautiful

On Etsy here

Five and a half years ago my life was a mess. I quit my job, was on the verge of divorce, and certainly in the midst of a breakdown. I was not myself, and I was so full of anger and sadness. I never wanted to come home, and I would do almost anything to feel "happy" for just a few moments. I told myself I did not love my husband any more. I was totally incapable of loving myself. I hated my life.

When I finally reached my lowest moment, when I was trapped in a corner with no other choice, I reluctantly agreed to go to counseling with my husband. In that first meeting, I sat on the country blue couch with tiny flowers, arms crossed, surrounded by rock collections and fossils, daring our counselor, a stranger, to make a difference in me. My husband and I sat on opposite ends of that couch, not looking at each other, not acknowledging each other, except maybe for me to roll my eyes. But I went. 

Every week we went. I finally began to talk and pour out my hurt and all the ways I had not been good enough. My husband was kind and patient and understanding, ready to reconcile all the struggles of our past, big and small, and I am so grateful for that. We learned together how to be better to each other and how to get through life together. Before then, I didn't know that was something you had to learn.

It took months for me to begin to see the world again. I began to occasionally taste a shimmer of hope and know what it was like to have my burdens lifted. I started back to an awesome school to study cosmetology, a hidden dream of mine for many years. We started attending a small group from a church our college friends went to (I wasn't ready for church for real). 

It was at this small group, surrounded by people that I had known for many years, who knew me before I had lost myself, when she said it to me through her own tears, "But Callie, God makes broken things beautiful." I had been crying, lamenting all my failures and guilt, and one of my best friends, Brandi, extended this little grace to me. She spoke truth into my heart, and it shocked me in a way, because until then, I did not think I could be beautiful like that ever again. It changed my view of the storm that I had been embroiled in and gave me hope. 

Fast forward five years and here we are.

Every day I wake up marveling at my life and my babies and my happiness. To go from hating yourself and everyone, to being filled and spilling over with such love is nothing short of a miracle. As a matter of fact, yesterday I walked the aisle of Lowes, a bounce in my step and loud music in my ear buds, almost in tears because of the ease of simply living my life. It takes so little to give me joy these days. Even when my spirited Roxie is in trouble at school, even when I have to do the quick math before swiping my debit card, even when hard things happen, I have joy. I was broken, now I'm beautiful.

We still see our counselor regularly, but it's more like once a month now. We are stronger together for having lived through the painful parts. We fight less because we have learned how to listen and speak to the other. We are best friends and so in love. 

And at this point, I don't mean to turn this post into a commercial for my Etsy shop, but it will come full circle, I promise. 

In 2008, my awesome friend Brandi (yes, the same one who gave me the words that inspired this post and the sign I made) opened an Etsy shop together selling funky, handmade jewelry. We did our crafty thing for five years, working many craft shows together and selling our garden gnome earrings all over the world. Those were some of my happiest times - drinking coffee, eating the endless supply of M&Ms in her apartment, and staying up all night creating with my friend. Her stuff would inspire me and vice versa. We were an awesome crafty team!

We finally closed our Etsy doors about three years ago. I had a one year old, and our lives and styles were changing. But when I finally started to feel the itch to create again, I felt like I wanted to revisit Etsy. It's been different doing it without Brandi, but still fun in a new way. 

I have been making hand painted wood signs with hand lettering and lots of hand-painted flowers and leaves, most with an inspirational or scripture-based message. 

On Etsy here

It has been a balm to my soul, therapy in its own way. I feel like I've rediscovered the woman God created me to be. I get so excited to sit down and paint and make, and that sometimes still surprises me. 


On Etsy here

This is only my own story, and it has a happy ending, but it didn't happen by accident. Because of family and friends  (and friends who are family) like Brandi who stood in the gap for me, prayed for me, and stuck by me when I was not very lovable by most standards, I came out the other side, brand new. Because of my sweet husband who loves me like Jesus, I came out the other side. Because I asked for help, from God himself, and from the human man with the country blue couch. Because I poured out my heart to the people who love me. Because I am not afraid to talk about the hard things that most people want to hide, those hard things are no longer so hard. Grace and love changed my life, saved me from myself, and made me beautiful. 

If you are feeling lost and alone, like you'll never be enough, please know there is hope, and grace, and beauty in pain.


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Vintage Card Catalog Transformation

Are you familiar with the Instagram hashtag #colddeadfingers? It's a really fun rabbit hole to fall down, full of awesome vintage and thrifted finds. As in, "You could have this vintage card catalog in my living room, but you'd have to pry it from my cold, dead, fingers!"

A few weeks ago, a librarian friend of mine was looking to get rid of one of her old card catalogs to raise money for her school's new media center. She's turning it into a coffeehouse for her students! What an awesome idea! She knew I was dying to have a card catalog of my own, so she messaged me first, and I had it picked up a couple days later. I bought it for a really decent price, especially considering they go for anywhere from $500-$800 on Etsy and Ebay, and momma's gotta pay for two kiddos in daycare! 

Here is the before photo she sent me in those first messages. 
When I got it home, I sanded down the top and sides, and stained it with a mix of Minwax Early American and Weathered Oak. I got lazy decided to leave the twelve drawers in their original state, with all the original hardware. I think my laziness paid off, because it turns out I'm a big fan of that contrasting wood tone. But then I knew she needed something else... a lovely pair of legs!

I am in love with midcentury modern hairpin legs. I love their straight lines and the bit of industrial vibe they bring. I found these on Amazon with free shipping, and thought they were a great deal for 4 legs. They came raw and untreated, so I spray painted them with Rustoleum spray paint in oil-rubbed bronze so they would not rust. I liked that they were made here in the U.S. of A, and they are gorgeous. I just screwed them straight into the bottom of my card catalog, and Boom! Done! 

Y'all, I just love it so much. It's got great surface area for dropping keys and sunglasses when we come in the door, and allllll those drawers! I haven't even filled them all  yet! I'm thinking they'll be great for odds and ends like stamps and address labels, crafty supplies I need to get my hands on regularly, and my girls' small toys.

What do you think? Are you super jealous? Do you have any #colddeadfingers finds in your house? Should I paint the inside of my plain front door something fun?? Let me know in the comments! 
P.S. I'll be back later in the week to talk about the sign I made hanging in the entryway! 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Ultimate FRIENDS Themed 30th Birthday Party!

*Brace yourselves, friends! This is going to be a long one!*

My college besties are the best kind of besties. We all met when we were between eighteen and twenty-one, over twelve years ago. Over the years, we have celebrated marriages and new babies and new jobs and new houses and vacations. But most of all, we have celebrated BIRTHDAYS. When each girl turns thirty, she gets a big, over-the-top, themed surprise party, and I really think they have gotten bigger and better every year. 

We relived the rock n' roll 80s for our first party, transported ourselves to Hogwarts for a Harry Potter party, transformed into our favorite princesses for a magical Disney party, and threw a fabulous, Gatsby-worthy Roaring Twenties bash. Just this year for my birthday, we broke out the Spice Girls and Hanson CDs, the Furbies and Tamagotchis, and I donned my old overalls for a awesome 90s party! 

Me getting "slimed" at my 90s party

Even though they're a ton of work, these parties have brought us such joy. Everything we do is DIY and on a budget, and it's exciting to see what kind of creativity and talent each girl brings to the party-planning table. 

But really? This last party was one for the books. 

Have you ever heard of a tiny little show called F.R.I.E.N.D.S?? 

It's kind of our favorite. We've seen every episode, know all the lyrics to Smelly Cat, and we can accurately quote even the most obscure lines. We are obsessed. So when it was time to plan the party for our youngest FRIEND, there was no question what theme we would choose. We called it, "The One Where Aubrey Turns 30!"

I think the hardest part was reining in all the ideas and inspiration. If I had all the money in the world, I might have built a to-scale replica of Central Perk, I was that excited. 

We weren't able to build an exact replica, but I think we did an pretty fantastic job capturing the laid-back vibe of the eclectic coffeeshop in the Village, especially considering ours was located in a church fellowship hall! We scoured thrift stores, the church storage rooms, and our own homes to decorate most of this party. And since both Central Perk and Monica's apartment have that bohemian, shabby, flea market style, it was easy to mix and match and make everything work. 

This was our opening scene, and the first thing that Aubrey saw when we brought her into the party. Instead of yelling surprise, our party guests shouted "I'll Be There for You!"

We found the orange sofa at a thrift store for $40 and the rug and coffee table were borrowed from around the church and our homes. The backdrop is colored pencil! More on that a little later...

Not only did we visit Central Perk, we also had a little nook for Monica's apartment! We made sure to have a purple door and that iconic frame over the peephole. I just painted the frame on acrylic paper then glued it onto cardboard.

 The "Jouets" poster is identical to Monica's but it usually lives in my bathroom! All the furniture and accessories were sourced from around the church, and we brought the TV to have episodes of the show playing throughout the night. 

Remember the Geller Cup?? It's from "The One With the Football" in Season 3. 

I was so excited to find that troll doll in an antique store for $3! I dirtied him up with watered down acrylic paint and hot glued him to a 2x4. Plus the birthday girl got to take it home at the end of the night! 

We also made miniature versions of Phoebe's weird 3D paintings, Gladys and Glynnis. Soooo creepy, and we had to do a lot of mutilating to those poor Barbies. 

"Whoever doesn't get Gladys, gets Glynnis!"

This was our photo booth area. I made quote bubbles with some of the most famous sayings from the show ("We were on a break!"), as well as the friends' faces and various name tags (Princess Consuela Bananahammock, Crap Bag, Ugly Naked Guy, you get the gist). I also found these and these awesome photo booth props on Etsy and they were only $12 total. We hung up lobsters because, you know, he's her lobster. 

This was such a fun place to take photos, and the genius last minute addition of the Dollar Tree umbrellas was a really fun touch! 

I painted the Central Perk logo on the glass of a large frame I found at the thrift store to replicate the large front window of the coffeehouse. I was thrilled when Aubrey wanted to take it home to use in her house! 

I also whipped up this simple framed chalkboard out of scrap wood, and we used it to write our coffee bar options on. How awesome is that Estelle flyer?? My friend Brandi made it, and it's that level of detail that makes my heart so happy! 

Speaking of attention to detail, let's talk about the fountain backdrop. I had a vision of an oversized image of the fountain that the gang splashes around in, but couldn't figure out an affordable way to make it happen. Like I said, if I were a millionaire, I would just build an actual life-size fountain, but sometimes my ideas are too out of reach. I called around to every copy shop in our town, and the cheapest quote I found for a print out in the size we wanted was $60. That may not be much in the big scheme of things, but like I mentioned, we do these parties on a major budget, and we couldn't spend $60 on a piece of paper we would probably throw away. 

So. My solution was to have Office Max print out this image in 4 separate BLACK AND WHITE 24x36 engineer prints. Then I painstakingly colored and shaded it in with good old fashioned Crayola colored pencils! It took me about ten hours total, but I was so proud of how it turned out. It's massive! With all four prints pieced together, it measures about four feet tall and six feet wide. 

Here it is in progress. You can see I had the show on my iPad and a cup of coffee nearby! I'm in love with how it turned out, so now I'm gonna have to find a wall in my house huge enough for it! 

Now let's talk about the FOOD! With Monica being a chef and Joey being such a fan of food, this was a real challenge to narrow down. 

Here you can see tiny bars of Mockolate (Season 2, "The One With the List") and tiny packs of gum (Chandler: "On second thought, gum would be perfection.)

Inside the box is the irresistible cheesecake from Mama's Little Bakery, Chicago, IL. You know, the one Chandler and Rachel eat off the ground when they should've returned it to Mrs. Braverman downstairs (Season 7, "The One With All the Cheesecakes").

We made simple cupcake toppers for store-bought cupcakes, plus we made mini cheesecakes too. 

We made a trifle, y'all. My friend Jessie is a kitchen magician, and she is responsible for most of the food. We tossed around the idea of making a trifle like Rachel's, but decided our trifle would be a successful one, not one including beef sautéed with peas and onions! And it was the best thing I've ever eaten. It did NOT taste like feet! 

We ordered the "Joey Special" (two pizzas) and had his favorite food, sandwiches! We also made "Grandma's Chicken Salad" (read it in Joey's sexy voice), as well as scones ("Stupid British snack food!"), Ugly Naked Guy's mini muffins, Phoebe's grandma's chocolate chip cookies ("Nesele Toulouse. You Americans always butcher the French language."), and avocado hummus ("Hummus! I got the hummus!" from "The One Where No One's Ready in Season 3).

My friend Maggie made all the cutie-cute labels for every dish so that even the non-super fans would know why we chose the food that we did. 

Even the chick and the duck made an appearance! This is a terrible photo, but by that point in the day, I was just glad to have clothes on and clean hair, and I had little time to spend taking photos. We lucked out when we found that plastic toy couch at the thrift store. I cleaned it up, spray painted it, and added the fringe. 

Look at the joy on her face! After we brought her into the party, we mingled a while and fixed coffee at our coffee bar, WHICH I FORGOT TO PHOTOGRAPH. Y'all, by 6:30 I was not all with it, and I forgot to take photos of the coffee set up as well as the table decoration. Maybe I'll be able to add more as other people post their photos. But we had three (yes, THREE!) Keurigs set up with various creamers, syrups, and toppings. 

Then my favorite part... "The test is ready."

We played THE trivia game. You know the one! Where the girls compete against the guys to see who knows who better? And they end up losing their pretty purple apartment because Rachel thinks Chandlers job is "A transponster."

Aubrey and I especially had fun quoting all the memorable lines from this episode (Season 4, "The One With Phoebe's Uterus"). For a minute there, it was like we were living inside the world of Friends, which is the exact feeling we were going for! 

Part of me is sad that our big parties are over with (we agreed we're going on a cruise for our 40th birthdays!), but I am so happy this is how we chose to end it. In a way, it was like a party for all of us to enjoy, and it did not disappoint. 

Here's to the friends that will be there for you when the rain starts to pour!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Master Bath Reveal and Playing Catch Up

Y'all, I'm back! It has been an embarrassingly long time since I've posted, but I am so excited to be writing today. I have approximately 742 million things to talk about, so bear with me, and I'll try not to lose my train of thought. 

First of all, thank you to everyone who commented and messaged me after my post about my spirited girl, Roxie. It was a vulnerable topic to talk about, and all the sweet messages and encouragement I received made it clear it was the right thing to do. And there's good news! Roxie has been at her new daycare for two months, and life is so different. She's thriving there, responding to redirection, and her meltdowns have drastically decreased. She even likes to shop now! I still can't let her walk or wander around on foot, but she loves to ride in a shopping cart up and down the aisles. You better believe we hit up Target and Lowe's together on the regular! 

Also,  I finally invested in a "real" camera to use for the blog. I'm still learning and still terrible, but I'm hoping it will help shoulder some of the load when it comes to photography around here. Be patient with me while I keep learning! 

And now for the fun stuff! Even though I have been truant from the blog, I've still been busy around the house. A few weeks ago, I finished redecorating our master bathroom. This room was one of the spaces we decorated in a hurry in the days after we moved in. I chose paint colors on a whim at Lowe's and never really loved this room. 

How dark and tragic is this bathroom? This bathroom was going through her emo phase when we first moved in. Very dark and twisty indeed. Granted, this room is very hard to photograph. It's L-shaped, and this photo is the short, bottom part of the L. The window over the tub is the only window, and this photo was taken at night. 

But look how beautiful she is now! 

She may be a bit of a late bloomer, but this room has become my new favorite in our house! We did A LOT to update in here. We hung a faux brick panel as an accent over the tub, painted the walls a light and bright gray (Gray Owl by Benjamin Moore and Simply White by Sherwin Williams on the faux brick), framed out the massive builder's grade mirror, painted the cabinets (Kendall Charcoal by Benjamin Moore) and added hardware, spray painted the light fixture and replaced the glass shades, changed out all the beige outlets and switches for white, and updated towels, decor, and storage. 

Ten bonus points if you recognize where this print is from! This faux brick wall is just fantastic. It was so easy (I just nailed it to the studs and painted!), and I love its industrial vibe.

The lighting in this photo makes the cabinets look more blue, but they are a darker gray in real life. I was inspired by this colorful geometric shower curtain from Target, so I incorporated lots of hexagons and other geometric shapes. 

Like these shelves! I built these hexagon shelves out of simply pine boards, and they are so sweet!! I might've patted myself on the back after figuring these bad boys out. I'm still playing around with how to style them, so I just threw some random things up there for now. I am super into gemstones and quartz these days (throwback to my nerdy rock tumbler days!). 

We ditched our cheapo over-the-toilet cabinet from Wal-Mart and I hung these simple pine shelves. I intended to stain them, but I ended up loving the raw wood look, so instead I just gave them a quick coat of poly for protection. 

There's so much about these shelves that I'm obsessed with. I love the cutie little jars (one of them is a spaghetti sauce jar!) up top that store q-tips and feminine stuff. I made the simple wood signs out of scraps and added the agate slices from our local natural history museum. 

 I bought the milk glasses vases for a couple bucks apiece at the thrift store, and they're perfect for storing my extreme bracelet collection. 

I wish so hard that I had a before photo of this cabinet we use as a medicine cabinet and towel storage. This little thing has been in every home I've ever lived in since birth, and I am in love with the latest update (this is the third time I've painted it in the last ten years or so). That minty fresh color, the vintage botanical prints, the raw wood trim! 
Allllllll the heart eyes for this beauty. 

I know this post is crazy long, but I needed to show you all these changes! Thank you so much for stopping by my little blog and keeping up with my house. I have so much fun doing these projects, and to have a place to share them gives me the creative outlet I crave.

Please let me know what you think in the comments or on Facebook, and if you have any questions, just ask! Is there anything you would like to have more info on? Let me know and have a wonderful day! 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Raising My Spirited Child

Today I'm not here to talk about crafty things or home decor. I've hesitated to even talk about this situation beyond my closest friends, but it has been weighing so heavy on my heart. I haven't been blogging or even doing many projects because my mind has been constantly elsewhere. So today I'm going to let it out. 

This is my three year old daughter, Roxie. 

Over the last three months, Roxie has been kicked out of two different daycare programs for her aggressive and violent behavior. I don't share this to cast a negative light on either center. They had to make the difficult decision to expel her, and they both worked as hard as they could with the tools they had to help her. They loved her too. 

But now it has become clear to my husband and me that Roxie has some serious behavioral problems and needs more specialized care. 

It's hard to admit. It's hard to admit that I am embarrassed. I feel this tug between doing what's right for my kid and feeling that I've somehow messed her up, turned her into a brat who hits other kids. I'm ashamed when she pulls other girls' hair and pushes them down. That is never okay. I'm embarrassed when she goes limp in the grocery store, screaming like a wild animal in the throes of another meltdown. It's scary and frustrating when she sprints away from me in a parking lot or crowded mall. 

And also... I'm jealous. I see your well-behaved children trailing after you in Target. I see their neat clothing and perfect hair bows. I'm jealous of the confidence in your shoulders. You know your kid won't try to escape as soon as her feet hit the floor. You can even walk a few paces ahead of her! I'm jealous when I see those same children participating happily at preschool, standing in line, fingers on lips, minding the teacher. I'm jealous that you never get a phone call to pick up your child early because her meltdown has completely disrupted the day and no one can calm her down.

And before you suggest various disciplinary strategies or that she "just needs her butt wore out," hear me out. We do discipline. Till we're blue in the face. We prep and coach her about appropriate behaviors before we leave our house and before we arrive at our destination. Roxie spends a LOT of time in time out until she can calm the raging storm of emotions and input that sent her into the meltdown in the first place. We have been known to give her spankings, though we have learned the hard way that it only whips her further up into a frenzy, prolonging the screaming and the fit. We don't understand how to teach her not to hit others by hitting her (and let's leave it at that).

Roxie at her best is spirited, intense, persistent, sensitive, and so high energy. At her worst, she is anxious, slow to adapt and straight up out of control. In the middle of typing that sentence, she crawled sweetly into my lap, then knocked my very full coffee cup onto the keyboard and floor. 

This is my life every day. I never know if she will wake up happy and compliant or if the day will be one big, long fight. I don't know what she "has" or where she will go for childcare now. 

We have been to a developmental medicine clinic to see a pediatrician who specializes in behavior problems. He diagnosed her with an "unspecified anxiety disorder." We saw a licensed counselor who, after one hour of knowing my daughter, recommended medication for ADHD. I have read a lot, a lot of books.

There is so much I don't know, and I don't have a happy ending to share today. I am posting this mostly as a way to move past my shame and embarrassment. I know my husband and I are doing all the things for our kid. We are working hard and seeking out the best ways to help. Yes, her behavior still sucks a lot of the time, but we have nothing to be ashamed of. I am posting this as an explanation to everyone who sees us, whether you know us or not. I want you to understand that you might see my child watching my iPhone and eating marshmallows in the shopping cart at Wal-Mart, but what you are really seeing is a reward for not hitting anyone that day. We are taking baby steps over here. Last, I am posting this as a form of accountability for myself, as a reminder to keep my head up. I want to re-read this post in six months or a year and think, "Look how far we've come."

Friday, February 5, 2016

Custom Built-In Shelf for the TV

Years ago when we were house hunting, the first things that attracted me to our little house were the great natural light in the living room and the hardwood floors. The second thing that caught my eye was the recessed alcove in the wall, presumably to hold a flat screen TV. I had never seen one quite like it before, and I still haven't. I liked that it gave the room a focal point and that I didn't have to worry about mounting a TV to the wall or finding a large piece of furniture to put it on. What I didn't like is there was no good space for our various electronics: the cable box, AppleTV, and Blu-ray player. For five long years that stuff sat out on a small Lack table from Ikea, right in the walkway. 

My three-year-old used that table as her own personal lunch room and exercise bench. For years I've been wanting to build a floating shelf inside the alcove to fill up the negative space and clear the floor. I sketched up so many plans for it, but I was intimidated by the building aspect. 

I got a circular saw for Christmas and decided it was now or never. I took myself to Home Depot and bought a 2'x4' sheet of 3/4" plywood and some 1"x2" furring strips to make the ledgers and the shelf itself. I didn't take photos of the process because I was working on it by myself, and I needed all my brain power to get it right! But I used this tutorial to give myself a basic plan, and just cut the wood to fit my space. 

A very professional tape job right here.
Here it is after I installed it, but before painting.  I had to drill some holes near the back for all of the cords to come up through. I tried to make the holes pretty, but really this part will always be hidden. I also added some chunky trim across the front (1"x 2" poplar from the hobby wood section of Home Depot) with nails. I think it makes it look more finished that just the skinny plywood alone. I caulked the nail holes across the front and sanded them smooth. I painted it with Snowbound by Sherwin Williams, and I'm so excited with the end result! 

We have so much room for activities now!

Now my kids have room to strew all their toys around and we don't have to swing out wide when walking around the corner just so we don't smash our shins on that table. Success! 

Not only does everything now have a place, but now the TV is lifted up higher and it sits more at eye level, for our viewing pleasure. 

I won't lie, I am super proud of myself for this project. My measurements turned out just right, and the TV slid in there like a glove. It gave me the confidence to build more stuff! I asked my husband, "Do you think I could build a pergola on the deck??" He just rolled his eyes at me and said, 
"Why don't you take it easy there, champ."
He's probably right, but I'm still proud of my first build! 

Does anyone else in the world have an alcove for their TV like this?? Like I said, I've never seen one before. Are we the only ones?

As a bonus, here's a photo of the other alcove we have in our house. 

I didn't know what else to do with it, so in went our owl, Otto! 

Thanks for stopping by, friends. I'm so humbled every time someone takes the time to read about another one of my projects. It warms my heart for sure! 

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