Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Shed-to-Classroom Makeover Update: 28 Days In!

I shared here how we're converting an ugly old outbuilding with loads of potential into a light, bright homeschool room! That post was published on July 7, so we're 28 days into the project. I planned to share this post on Monday, but glad I husband made some huge strides last night!
Here's what it looked like when we started:

We installed a door and window in the front, but weren't thrilled with it. I knew it would look better with trim and a paint job, but it wasn't what I envisioned. Here's what it looked like last week:

But then a friend gave us a sliding glass door they had pulled out during their home remodel. For free! (No worries...the white door will go in our tiny house!) Also, can I just lament all the construction mess for a moment? So. Much. Mess. You can also see the new porch light here...a cute little nickel farmhouse-inspired piece from Lowe's.

And just for fun, a little side-by-side comparison. Yeah, MUCH better. :)

When we started on the inside, it was dark, dingy, and full of junk.

Here's where we stand now. Let's face it, it's still full of junk, but at least it's construction junk?? :/ Again, with the construction mess. Ahem. Michael added windows to the back (from Habitat ReStore), a new window on the south/left wall, built out the loft so it's 4' deep, and built the ladder. It's all painted the same pale blue shade as the walls. The loft will become a reading loft!

Our original plan was to have the ladder against the wall so we wouldn't lose any floor space. But after much debate, we decided this was safer. That created a little nook area, so we've decided to do a built-in desk to hold our school computer. We don't use the computer much, but it'll be nice to be able to watch our math DVDs, movies from the library, etc. out in the classroom.

Here's the Master To-Do List. I've marked out what's completed...there's still a long way to go, but we're working hard to finish up by mid-August so we can start school!

  1. Repair the roof...bad storm sent a limb through the roof.
  2. Have A/C checked and have repaired, if necessary
  3. Remove old flooring, and install new
  4. Paint the walls and ceiling Decided against painting the ceiling; added insulation and we're going to cover it with something really cool!!
  5. Install the feature wall (I'm so excited about this idea, but I'm not sharing what the plan is until it's done! Yea for surprises!!) Decided against the feature wall; I don't want it to compete with the ceiling.
  6. Source materials-- Yea for amazing, generous friends, yard sales, and Habitat ReStore! :)
  7. Purchase and Install new lighting
  8. Install new front door
  9. Install new windows
  10. Sew cushions and pillows for our reading bench loft
  11. Add carpeting to the loft
  12. Paint or stain the table and chairs Started on this and I hate how it turned out. Back to the drawing board!
  13. Build/find shelves/storage solutions
  14. Sew curtains
  15. Find a rug
  16. Install porch roof and light We decided to hold off on building a porch roof, but light is installed!
  17. Build computer desk under loft New project added to the list
  18. Build loft railing 
  19. Build desk beside ladder.
To stay up to date, follow me on Instagram...I've been posting a few pics as we go. And I'm planning to do a video tour soon! What do you think so far? Any suggestions? What would you include in your homeschool room or art studio if you were starting from scratch?


Monday, July 25, 2016

My Favorite Things: Back to School Edition

As you know, we've become a homeschooling family. This isn't something I ever thought I'd do. In fact, I was against homeschooling for a long time! I know, I know...I've had to have my foot surgically removed from my mouth. ;) But we've been on a journey the last 2 years where we've felt God asking us, "Do you trust me? Will you let me take the life you thought you wanted and let me give you the life you never even dreamed was possible?" And we're saying yes. Every chance we get, we're saying yes, we're laying aside our own plans to embrace his. And right now, his plan for our little family is to homeschool.

While many families are taking vacations and trying to ignore the approaching school year, we've been working really hard to finish up our Shed-to-School Room conversion project. We've made huge strides and I Can. Not. Wait. to share the progress with you soon!! Hopefully it'll be ready to share an update this week. For now, I'll tease you with this terrible photo collage!

Obviously, still a TON to do! Trim around door and window, paint door and window frame, door knob and lock...the to-do list never ends!

After dark, when we can't work on the shed anymore, or on the days it's been 100+ degrees and I'm melting into the pavement it's just not feasible to work out there, I've been making school year plans. I'm perusing curriculum choices, chatting with friends who have far more homeschooling experience than I, reading blogs and books, pinning like a crazy woman, and making a supply list. I thought I'd take some time to share my wish list for this year with you! (None of these are affiliate links, just things I've seen and wanted to share!)

I adore this wooden paint holder. But there's no way I'm willing to pay $34. So, I'm going to dig through the scrap wood pile (there are plenty of pieces to choose from!!) and make my own! If you don't have the time, skill, patience, etc. to make one, you can find this one at the link below, or search for "Waldorf wooden paint holder." There are a lot of similar ones on the market.

Bella Luna Waldorf Paint Holder

I adore liquid watercolors and have wanted to buy a set for our children for a few years now. This year I'm finally pulling the trigger and ordering some!
Discount School Supply

I'm also ordering binoculars for our nature studies! Our girls will be so excited to each have their own pair (and Mom is getting her own, as well!)

What's a homeschool room without beautiful, meaningful wall art? I love this scripture and plan to incorporate the arrow motif in a few places in our new homeschool space. This print is perfect!

Prints of Life Etsy shop

When the view behind your classroom is this:

I think it only fitting that you have an outdoor easel like this one from Play at Home Mom. And they've given close up photos and explained how it's built, so this should be a quick project! This was a request by my 6-year old who desperately wants to paint outside as soon as it's cool enough. And I'd like to make one so I can join her!

Play at Home Mom

I'm really excited about the upcoming school year and creating an environment that encourages all of us to learn and grow. And I'm excited to buy crayons because I guess that's just the kind of Mom I am. ;)


Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Shack (No, not the book...)

Sheesh, been awhile since I posted here! I apologize for my delayed absence. Since our move back to Oklahoma, we've been trying to get settled, get our feet under us, and develop some plans for moving forward. I shared here that our plan was to build a tiny house. That is still the plan so we've been working on finalizing a floor plan and figuring out WHEN to begin this enormous task. (Funny how a TINY house is such a BIG project!) ;)

Before we start on our Tiny Home though, we're creating our homeschool room/art studio. Since we're living with my parents while we build our tiny home, we don't really have room to do school in the main house. However, there's this outbuilding that is hideous has loads of potential. ;) When my parents bought this property, my teenage brothers adopted this building as their hang out/jam session space and nicknamed it "The Shack." That name has stuck all these years, and no matter how hard I try to stop, I keep calling it that! So, consider this your introduction to "The Shack."

This is the outside of The Shack. Once we finish, I hope it has more of a cottage feel vs. dirty garden shed. I would love to paint the exterior, but realistically, that probably won't happen until at least the spring, maybe later.

And this is the inside...oh my, where do I begin? In just a few months time, this dark, dingy shed will be a bright, soothing space for learning and creating. What's the matter, you don't believe me? Well, some days I find it hard to believe myself. ;) 

What a mess! So much stuff that needs to be discarded, re-homed, o reorganized! Eventually we're going to insulate and sheetrock the ceiling, but for now the plan is to use paint to brighten it all up.On the bright side, it's a decent size. It measures approximately 11x15 inside, about 165 square feet! So that's lots of room to create a reading area, have storage for supplies, and a table for working.

Here's our giant To-Do List:

  1. Repair the roof...bad storm sent a limb through the roof. We have all the stuff, but someone (NOT ME) has to climb up there and repair it. ;)
  2. Have A/C checked and have repaired, if necessary
  3. Remove old flooring, and install new
  4. Paint the walls and ceiling (What color, what color??? Oh, the decisions!)
  5. Install the feature wall (I'm so excited about this idea, but I'm not sharing what the plan is until it's done! Yea for surprises!!)
  6. Source materials-- This is a big one. We're going to try to use as much salvaged/recycled material as possible, so that could take some time.
  7. Install new lighting
  8. Install new front door
  9. Install new windows...with new windows on the back, this will be our view!
  10. Sew cushions and pillows for our reading bench
  11. Paint or stain the table and chairs (Decisions, decisions...)
  12. Build/find shelves/storage solutions
  13. Sew curtains
  14. Find a rug
  15. Install porch roof and light (Maybe...I want to, but we might run out of time and money before we need to start on the Tiny Home.)

So, that's it...huge list!!! Some of it I can do myself, but most of it, I can't do alone or at all. But I'm hoping this project will be a good primer and I'll learn a lot so I can be a better assistant when we start on the house. ;)

I'm planning to keep you updated as we move through this project...I am even considering filming some videos of the process. This week we'll start sourcing materials and if we can get our hands on a paint sprayer (still trying to decide if we should buy or rent one), we'll begin painting!


Thursday, June 2, 2016

Sharing Your Truth

When I was in middle school, our youth group went to some sort of youth conference. I don't remember many details except that it was crowded, and loud. And I remember the speaker going on and on about "absolute truth", the idea that truth is in no way subjective. What's true for one is true for all. If something is wrong in one situation, it's always wrong. That sort of thing.

And I'm really not going to argue that point with this post. I've learned a lot about "truth" in recent years and if I tried to type it all out, it would be book length and probably not make as much sense as if you and I just sat over a cup of tea and chatted.

But I was thinking this week about my "current truth" experience. About what I'm learning right now in my walk with the Lord and my journey through this life. I've noticed that any time someone is learning something, they want everyone to know it and embrace it as their own truth. They want to share that new found wisdom with the world. And I think that's a good thing....I really do. It's how we stay connected and grow together, by sharing our truth.

Right now I feel like I want to shout it from the mountaintops that you will have far less stress and far more joy by owning less, by jettisoning every unnecessary possession from your physical space and canceling every unnecessary event from your schedule. Because that's my current truth. It's the journey I'm on right now, the journey to finding contentment, REAL peace in not just owning less, but also in not wanting more. 

But I've also learned that mercy triumphs over judgment. And while judgment flies over gorillas and mothers, over GMOs and pharmaceutical companies and every other little thing that exists in our world, it's important to choose mercy. To align myself on the side of love and grace. Sometimes (maybe even most times?!) it's more important to choose grace and mercy over being right or being heard or clenching my fists around my own dogma.

There are very few hills worth dying on. I'd much rather live together with you, each journeying toward the Lord in love and grace, rather than trying to kill one another over the issue of the week.


Monday, May 16, 2016


In just one short week, we'll pack up a moving trailer and head back to Oklahoma, just one week shy of living in Kansas City, Missouri for 15 months. This season was shorter than I expected it to be, but I'm learning (ever so sloooowly) that when God says something is for a season, it's best to leave my own ideas of what that means by the wayside and simply trust.

We are different people than we were 15 months ago. If you'd told me in February 2015 that I would voluntarily move back to my hometown, give up my dream house in favor of a tiny house 1/5 the size, leave my sisterhood tribe that I've found here...well, I would have said that you're crazy. But that's exactly where we find ourselves. And not out of necessity, or because we have no other options or because we've hit rock bottom...but because we simply chose.

We've chosen to shed the unnecessary baggage that comes with having a large house...the maintenance, the accumulated belongings, and yes, the mortgage, utilities, taxes. 

We've chosen to move back to my hometown, not like a dog with its tail tucked between its legs, but as a family newly committed to living and loving wherever God plants us. And for right now, he's calling us back to that land, and that people.

We've chosen to leave the friends who have become family, not because we don't love them or because we hate living in a big city (though let's face it...that's partially true), but because we're heeding a call we can't deny any longer. 

Yesterday, I stood in the living room feeling utterly defeated. I was surrounded by moving boxes, by piles of stuff we're taking to donate. The stuff we've accumulated over the years (and willingly held onto!!) is mind boggling. I was feeling so disgusted by the sheer excess. By the waste. By what it symbolized...our inability to deny ourselves. It's evidence that, for a good chunk of our lives, we bought the lie that the key to a good life is to accumulate more, buy a bigger house, climb the ladder. I hugged my husband and said, "I wish someone had told us years ago that we didn't have to make this choice. That we could have said no to all this nonsense."

And then I realized that someone already did.

He's been telling us over and over, in a million ways, that the path to joy isn't found in stuff, but only in him. Maybe for the first time ever, we're finally taking him seriously on this. I know there a lot of people who will argue against what we're choosing. I've heard them say it: "I could never do that." And I used to say that too. And then I realized that what I really meant wasn't "I COULD never do that" but "I WOULD never do that." 

I wasn't saying that I'm not capable of making the changes necessary, but that I wasn't willing. And Jesus called me on it. Because he loves us too much to watch us waste our lives on meaningless pursuits. So we said yes. Yes to giving away our possessions, the evidence of time, money, and life wasted. We said yes to living in a smaller space in order to make space for the people and experiences that we truly value. We said yes to being uncomfortable because if we've learned anything from our time in KC it's that Jesus' primary concern is NOT our comfort, but our maturity and growth.

We're saying yes. We're making hard choices. And you know what? It feels so good. And I'm so grateful that God didn't leave us where he found us, climbing a ladder that doesn't really exist, in pursuit of some elusive dream. Because when he offers living water, it's real, it's meaningful, it's life changing. The rest is just stuff.


Monday, May 2, 2016

Writing a New Story

Three hundred and seven. 307 items I purged from our 2 bathrooms tonight, after a potato soup dinner, and before tucking our beautiful daughters into bed, kissing foreheads and snuggling down for hugs. 

Three hundred and seven. How is it possible that there was that much junk, that many expired medications, dried up nail polish bottles, and broken bath toys. But there was that much (and more actually...I lumped like items together to make it easier to count.)

Why count at all? Why take the time to make hash marks on a scratch piece of paper and tally the extent of accumulation? Because I needed to see it. I needed to see the dollars wasted, the time spent organizing what should never have been purchased, only to see it added to the donation and trash piles.

When we moved to Kansas City, our schedule was stripped down to the bare minimum. All the activities and people that had filled our schedule were now 330 miles away. We took a few months to re-calibrate as a family of 4 in a city that felt like a desert island. Ever so slowly, we began filling our schedules again; we found a church that we loved. Eventually we began to make friends, joined a small group. I started a group for stay-at-home-Moms in our home. We enrolled our daughter in a homeschool co-op. The difference this time was that we only added in what we absolutely wanted to; we only signed up for the things that added the most value to our family.

Now we find ourselves in a similar position. Only this time we're stripping down our possessions to the bare minimum. We're selling off excess items. We're paring down the silverware, the clothing, the toys, the art supplies, the furniture. And hopefully this summer, we'll decrease our home size; we have plans to build a 600 square foot tiny home. 

We're choosing fewer possessions in favor of more freedom. Less stuff to maintain, more time to spend together. When I think about the sheer volume of items that have passed through our hands, items we've traded a piece of our lives for, it makes me sick. But it also gives me hope. Because now we know. And now we can write a new story for our family.


Thursday, March 31, 2016

Shop Update!

Hi, friends!

Laura and I have been feverishly working on our Etsy shop Willing Hands Workshop. (You can always click the button in my sidebar to find the shop, too!) This weekend we are setting up shop at a fundraising event and are so excited to share our creations with all the visitors. If you aren't in the Kansas City area, please check out our Etsy shop and let us know what you think! 

Here's what we've been working on for you! 

Laura has a beautiful new color scheme in the shop called Spring Blossoms. It's reminiscent of wild violets and dandelions, grape hyacinth and tulips. Available in large and small cloths and large hand towels, these are super durable with scrubby power, yet soft enough for face and hand cleansing.

Laura has also added more items from the Woodland Collection!

I'm really excited to show you these fun "Happy Camper" paintings! I love painting these and can customize some of them with your family or campsite name.

I also have more journal covers in some awesome fabrics!

And just in time for Mother's Day, I'm running a special on this beautiful Journal Cover and Tote Bag!

There are several other new items available too, so be sure to check out the link in the sidebar and tell your friends! We welcome custom orders, so if you have an idea for something, let us know! And starting next week, we'll be running a special for Mother's Day and you won't want to miss it!