Mod Podge Makeover

IMG_3888In early May, Hubby traveled back to New England to visit with his folks and work on a blueberry “fort” for his mom–dang those pesky birds! I don’t typically look forward to him leaving, but this time I could hardly wait to drive him to the airport. I had plans to work on a project I’d been itching to tackle since shortly after Christmas, but I wanted it to be a surprise, so couldn’t start until he was gone.

I dropped him off at the local airport early Saturday morning. A few short hours later, I’d pulled out the drop cloths (old tablecloths) and got to work…on my mahogany bedroom bureau.

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Yes, that’s dust on the surface. I have two friends who read these posts and who each keep their houses spotless. I can imagine the looks of horror on their faces at seeing the state of my bureau. 😉

When Kreh and I were first married, eighteen years ago now, we received much of our initial furniture from a good friend’s grandmother when she was moving into assisted living. Through that family’s generosity, we were able to outfit (and thus move into) our little attic apartment with bedroom, living, and dining room furnishings mere days after returning from our honeymoon. A huge blessing for newlyweds who hadn’t lived on their own up to that point.

Over the years, we’ve replaced several items. We bought a new bedframe when we moved to Colorado in 2002. Upon moving to Nebraska in 2003, we bought a bigger couch and matching glider at auction. Before moving to Montana in 2008, we replaced the dining chairs. And the mahogany coffee table now resides at Hubby’s office.

We have yet to replace our bedroom bureau and dresser, however. Mostly because of cost. Someday it might happen (we’d like to match whatever comes in with the cherry-stained sleigh bed we currently have), but after Hubby saw the relative success I had in redoing the mahogany sideboard, he’d uttered the words I’d been hoping to hear for a while: “When are you going to do the bureaus in the bedroom?”

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Sideboard makeover

Swoon!

I had ten days to complete my bureau and matching mirror before he returned. Sounds like plenty of time, but since I was pulling both mommy and daddy duty that week and a half, shuffling kids hither, thither, and yon, I only had school hours to work on it…plus I was committed to writing a certain number of words each day for a writing challenge. I succeeded in both, but the makeover took all ten days—and the master bedroom, being the temporary “workshop,” was a mess in the meantime. 😉

Here’s my process in a nutshell:

I used Bulls Eye 1-2-3 for the primer. It claims to have “outstanding adhesion to dense, glossy surfaces such as enamel paints and varnishes, paneling, laminates…” but so far, I’m still at a loss for a successful primer that won’t get knocked away (taking the paint with it) at the slightest bump. I used Valspar Warm Putty and Indigo Streamer in satin for the colors (along with tiny brushes for the indigo), and I’m very pleased with that outcome. And I used my trusty Mod Podge to adhere the fabric onto the drawer fronts. Lastly, I changed out the hardware, going with rounded square cabinet knobs from Amazon. Love them!

 

The mirror was the tricky piece, with the scrollwork and different surface levels, and I had a tough time figuring out how much blue accents I wanted. In the end, I think it came out perfectly balanced (IMO). 😉 Again, tiny brushes and a steady hand! (And if you’re wondering why the mirror-before-paint is hiding behind the door…it was the only angle that wouldn’t reflect my cluttered room in the background!)

 

 

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After

Hubby loved the makeover–as I hoped he would–so the plan is to work on his dresser and the matching bedside tables over the summer. We’ll see how far I get, heh heh. Considering my children’s second semester of school zoomed past in a blur, I know this summer has the potential for speed. No blinking!

How about you? Have you been able to tackle any spring projects since the weather has warmed up? Do you have grand summer plans ahead you hope to accomplish? Share in the comments below!

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Tinsel’s a Finalist!

30261707_870805173114442_9137794306675834880_nJust had to share my exciting news. So, I’ve entered a few book contests this year, and while the outcomes of most are still a ways off (I won’t find out how I did in one until next spring!), today my heart leaped in my chest when I found an email with the word “contest” in the subject line.

Tinsel in a Tangle is one of the finalists in the Selah Awards! *fist pump, happy dance, squeal of delight and all that jazz*

While I’m no longer slogging through that writer’s desert of last year, I still have my discouraging days, but I’m so thankful that every so often God blesses me with another dollop of encouragement to keep me writing. Whether it’s a reader who reached out on Facebook to tell me she LOVED my book (yes, it was in all caps), or a friend who shared her excitement over cleaning a client’s house and finding my book on the bedside table…or being a finalist in a contest.

Of course, winning in my category would be heavenly–not gonna lie–but I’m soooo excited to be a finalist. It represents years of endurance, hard work, tears, and tremendous self-doubt. It represents personal success of a childhood dream. It represents courage and pride (the good kind) in my work. So, I’m going to allow myself to bask in this for the next two weeks before the winners are announced. 😉

But even more than winning or losing in a few earthly contests, I need to remember that in God’s economy, when we’re accomplishing the task(s) He’s set before us (be it writing a book or screenplay or a medley of poems, be it changing diapers or chauffeuring kids to activities, be it standing in a board room with a powerpoint presentation or selling wares at a farmer’s market), when we work to His glory, there are no losers. Ever.

 

A Little Bit of Knit

As I write this, my daughters and I are visiting relatives in MA during my girls’ Montana spring break. We’re nearing the final few days, and I’m trying not to blink.

Whenever I go on a trip (heck, sometimes when Hubby just drives us to church), one of my must-haves is some kind of knitting project. Something simple that doesn’t require too much attention, so I can use that attention for socializing. 😉 This time, I’m working on re-knitting my daughter’s blanket that she’s had since her first year of life. She actually has two identical blankets, but I unraveled her favorite one (full of holes and stretched stitches and looking like it would fall apart in the next wash) so I could knit it into something sturdy again. Four rows are constantly repeated throughout the blanket’s length. Boring to knit when I’m home alone, but a perfect no-brainer for when I need to concentrate on something—or someone—else. 😀

Friends of ours are expecting twin girls in late May/early June. They already have a two-year-old son (who’s going to make an awesome big brother), so back in February, I found this pattern on Ravelry.com and knit up a trio of bunnies for the children.

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They were quick to make, and I love how it didn’t involve a lot of sewing. You knit the legs, arms, ears, and tail first, stuff the pieces, then perform a three-needle decrease (closing the top row but not binding off), and keep the remaining stitches live on extra needles.

 

When you start working on the body from the bottom up, you incorporate those limbs and such as you go via more three-needle decreases, so that once you’ve closed the hole at the top of the head after stuffing it (the safety eyes are attached before stuffing), there’s just the nose to embroider and loose ends to sew/weave in. A fast, cute project to make, either as a gift for someone else or to grace a little nook in your own house. 😉

My eighth grader received her first smartphone this past Christmas, and since its measurements were nothing like her “dumb” phone, I needed (okay, really wanted) to make her a new phone carrier. She loves blue and eventually wants ombré walls in her bedroom, so I thought an ombré carrier might be a fun place to start. She loved the zipper feature on her old carrier, thus her new one couldn’t be without. The blossoms and branches were needle-felted after the carrier was felted in the washing machine.

 

I confess I was enamored with the result, and since most of my iPhone 5 carriers don’t fit my iPhone 6S (I was forced to make the switch this past summer when an update ruined my 5—snarl, grr), I figured it was a good excuse to knit a new carrier for me. One of these days, I’d like to change what I use for a handle, but for now, the chain is a quick, efficient, and reliable option.

 

IMG_2365Remember this travel bag I made the other year? I’m itching to make another one—smaller with different colors and a different flowered pattern. I found the flowered pic below on Pinterest and spent a good hour or more translating it onto graph paper. I had only knitted about seven or eight rows into it, however, when I remembered something very important about the knit stitch: it’s wider than it is tall…but I had used normal graph paper (i.e.: equilateral squares). If I continued knitting, my flowers would turn out looking squashed!

Sigh. So, I ordered knitting graph paper from Amazon, and while I waited for its delivery, I ripped back the intarsia rows. Not an easy feat when you’re dealing with different colored yarns twisted together (so there are no holes in the end product) and knotted at the beginning and end of a color. That was not a fun hour. At. All.

After transferring the pattern onto the knitting graph paper, I was ready to begin again—but my schedule wouldn’t allow it, as I had too many errands to run and packing for this trip to do. And because it would have been too much of a hassle to bring it with me to MA (myriad skeins of yarn requiring too much of my attention when I’m supposed to be visiting with people), I left it at home. Ah, well. Something to look forward to when I return, I suppose.

I pray the rapid approach of April finds you starting to thaw out from a frigid winter and able to enjoy some more pleasant days (although I heard MT got dumped with more snow yesterday). Any spring projects of your own you want to tackle soon? I’ve got a painting project up my sleeve (furniture, not canvas!), but it needs a string of warm days so I can work on it outside. Sounds that will have to wait a little bit longer… 😉

What Do We Expect?

This started out as a Facebook post, but I changed my mind in the end. Did I take the coward’s way out? Maybe (although I did link this to my home page). FB is such a volatile place these days, I don’t want to add to it. But does that mean I stay completely silent? Sometimes, yes. This time, no. Will I get a backlash from some? Possibly. I have to take that risk.

First, let me say that what happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida is horrific. As I read the newsfeed in the privacy of my home yesterday, I sobbed for the futility in it; I cried for the families who have needlessly lost loved ones. I prayed–and continue to pray–God shows up in amazing ways; that His presence is felt; that His children in the area and beyond pour out love and support to those hurting families; that in the end, it will be shown that good did triumph over this evil.

But I do have a question in light of the following…

*Since the early 1960’s, we’ve slowly but surely taken morals, values, ethics, and the sanctity of life out of schools.

*We’ve torn apart the foundations of the family unit.

*We’ve taught children that evolution is fact…which means, to be consistent with this belief, that people are nothing more than random particles stuck together…which then means people have no real purpose in life.

*We’ve allowed children access to video games that desensitize them to the act of hurting or killing a person (video games the military uses to desensitize their troops in the case s/he must take a human life).

*We’ve allowed little kids access to pornography through the internet, as well as R- and X-rated movies (Deadpool, anyone? Fifty Shades of Grey? No, I haven’t seen them. I don’t need to, to know their negative effects on a developing mind)…which means seeds have been planted for a future addiction to porn, a desensitization to sex, and warped thinking about women and sex, as these children grow into adults.

*We’ve taught teens that if it feels right, do it; abstinence is futile; girls need to put out; guys need to act on it; and we turn a blind eye to the sex-fest that goes on in many colleges & universities (dare I say all?). We hide the statistical repercussions for such behavior–emotional, mental, physical, spiritual–and then wonder why marriages and other relationships are falling apart. To top it off, once these kids grow up and enter the work force, or even worse, should they land a government job, we then penalize them for the very actions we once condoned.

*We’ve glorified Hollywood and its on-screen actors, most of whom live broken lives off-screen.

*We’ve encouraged the love of Self above Others with the tsunami of social media.

*We’ve taught children that all truth is relative…which means, to be consistent with this claim, that for some people, adultery is considered allowable; it’s their truth. Rape is considered allowable; it’s their truth. Stealing & lying? It’s fine; it’s their truth. Murder? Why not? People are just random particles stuck together, anyway, and it’s their truth. On and on I could go. Does this sound harsh? Not if we’re being consistent with relative truth. Who has the authority to say these things aren’t allowable, if there is no absolute truth? “But it’s against the law in this country.” Says who? The government? Who sets up the government? Man? What is man? We just learned man is nothing more than random particles stuck together. Where do random particles get the authority to tell other random particles what’s considered right and wrong? Let’s be consistent if we’re going to claim relative truth.

(Er…guess I touched upon one of my hot buttons with that last one.)

Here’s my question:

Given this kind of upbringing, what do we expect these younger generations to look like once they’ve reached adulthood?

Hint: They won’t look like law-abiding, respectful, considerate people.

If the adages are true, that “you reap what you sow,” and “you are what you eat,” then the older generations have sown disrespect, a lack of accountability, a lack of self-control and self-worth, dishonesty, hypocrisy, promiscuity, a sense of hopelessness, greasy grace, among so much more…and the younger generations have eaten from that harvest. We’re beginning to see the results. It will get worse.

It could get better—if we start by re-instilling those morals, values, ethics, sanctity of life, and yes, absolute truth. It starts there. (And I would argue it actually starts before that–with the Church on its knees.)

But are we willing to make the sacrifices required, in order to weave those threads back into the fabric of society and mend the brokenness?

Joy in Discipline?

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Welcome to 2018! Have you jumped aboard the bandwagon and chosen your word for this year yet? Last year, I chose the word purposeful, because I knew I had to be just that in how I used my time to get things accomplished between all the writing-related deadlines I had on my plate. Well, I met my deadlines, but I had to look back through my posts the other day and remind myself that I’d even chosen a word for 2017! What does that tell you? 😉

As I pondered this past year, full of extreme highs and some of the lowest of lows, two words sprang to mind for 2018. Discipline and Joy.

home-office-336377_1920Discipline in writing. After a year in which my old and new WIPs (works-in-progress) saw very little forward movement, my creative juices have begun to flow again—praise the Lord—and I must shift writing back near the top of my priorities. You see, it became easy this past year, sometimes necessary, to forgo my laptop in lieu of my knitting needles or a book or allow errands to swallow my days. Now I sense some internal resistance when I come to the laptop, even though ideas have begun to blossom in my mind. Traces of fear niggle at the back of it all. (Still? Yes. Ugh.) “What if I can’t get the words out?” “There’s an expectation now. What if my next book isn’t as good as the first?” “Um…will there even be a next book?” I’m trying to quell these little doubts; to keep them, well, little. I want, instead, to cling to what the Lord has shown me over the last six months—His love, His approval, His blessings—and move forward with confidence.

sports-1050966_1280Discipline in maintaining a healthy body. I’ve been fit much of my life and have a high metabolism, but I am in my forties now, and it’s become harder and harder over the last few years to motivate myself to go for a run or workout. And, sigh, I still don’t like my vegetables. 😉 But slacking off now is the last thing I should be doing if I want to see good health into my fifties and sixties. So…discipline. To get up at 5am to squeeze in a workout. Or put on those running shoes after I take my youngest to school in the mornings. To reach for that apple instead of the pretzels (c’mon, let’s be honest: the chips and salsa). Not much fun in the process—when is it ever fun to tell yourself “no” to something?—but I’ll be thanking myself later.

macaroni-2863299_1920Discipline in keeping house…and prepping for dinner. *embarrassed chuckle* Really, who wants to vacuum and mop floors, fold clothes, dust furniture, scrub bathrooms, and all the other nit-picky stuff I can’t remember at the moment, when I’m just getting back into a writing groove and there are new projects to knit and friends to hang out with and books to read and…and…and… And am I forgetting I wanted to be a mother and housewife? Hello! These duties are part of the job I’ve wanted ever since I was a kid. (Why, then, do they become more trying and annoying each year?) And while I might not enjoy cooking day in and day out, there are things I could do to make it easier on myself…and show hubby that I love him and appreciate him going to work day in and day out, providing us with a warm house and money for food and all the extra amenities we take for granted here in America. So, I’m pulling out my dusty copy of Sink Reflections, by the Fly Lady (anybody else remember that gem?), and I plan to implement her suggestions as I had done once before, years ago, to mild success. (Don’t ask me why I stopped, if it was a success. I don’t know!)

By now you’re probably thinking I forgot about my other word for 2018: Joy.

I didn’t.

Not only do I need discipline to accomplish these different things, I want to enjoy them while I do them. I want to write with joy. Clean with joy. Grocery shop with joy. Cook with joy (gasp!). Left on my own, I’m not a joyful person (probably why I gravitate toward people, books, movies, etc., who can make me laugh), but I want to be. I should be. Between the Bible and one of my girlfriends, I’m encouraged it can be done.

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First, James 1:5 tells us “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m thinking it would work that way for joy, as well. 😉 Second, my girlfriend tells the story of how her husband has always loved to hunt elk, but she used to hate eating the game meat he would bring home. In time, she came to see how her rejection of the meals he provided for the family hurt him at his core, and she began to pray that God would help her like the food her hubby provided. Once again, in time, God answered her prayers, and today she can honestly say she enjoys eating elk meat. She’s an inspiration to me in so many ways, so I figure if God can change her tastebuds, surely He can change my attitude when it comes to the mundane tasks of life, especially cooking dinners for my family.

That’s it. Discipline & Joy. Joy in discipline. Simple…but not easy. The two don’t have a natural connection most of the time, but for me in 2018, I pray they become so interwoven that by the end of the year, I can’t see their separation. (I’ll let you know how it goes.) 🙂

Happy New Year, everyone!

From Deserts to Green Pastures

I recently celebrated my 41st birthday, and as I reflect over a year that began with me stumbling into a writer’s desert, it looks like I might finish it out emerging onto fertile grasses. All glory to God, who never left my side through the dry and barren wasteland.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned…and pray I don’t forget anytime soon:

  1. God loves me. Even when (especially when) I throw an adult tantrum and tell Him I hate Him.
  2. While I’m quick to thank God when something good happens in my life, I shouldn’t be as quick to blame Him when something bad happens. At times, it’s just Life…and at other times, the devil’s trying to thwart the greater good God is working on in the background.
  3. Just because something is difficult for me doesn’t mean God doesn’t want me to pursue it. Specifically, just because it takes me more effort and time to finish a manuscript than another writer doesn’t mean I’m on the wrong path. Just because my head doesn’t swim with as many story ideas as other writers doesn’t mean I’m not a writer.
  4. No matter how many more books I write, no matter how Tinsel does, I’m a success simply because I fought against myself (and the devil) and won. Despite the depression and debilitating negative thinking, despite the dozens of rejections from agents and publishers, I slogged forward one step at a time and, with the Lord’s favor, I saw a childhood dream come true this fall with Tinsel’s release.
  5. Thanks to Priscilla Shirer’s Discerning the Voice of God, it finally sank into my thick skull that the Lord will never speak to me in a condemning voice. Ever. Thus, if my head is drowning in words of condemnation, I now know they stem from either my negative self-talk or the devil—and I’m encouraged to ignore both.

As Christmas approaches and a new calendar year creeps into view on the horizon, I look forward to enjoying more green pastures and less sandy dunes in 2018. I anticipate more words on the page, as well as a spirit of patience and peace on those days when the page stays blank. I pray for more of Jesus and less of the world, and the ability to discern between the two. 🙂

Thank you to everyone who bought an ebook and/or print copy of Tinsel in a Tangle over the last two months. I found out a few days ago it’s now available in audio format through Amazon, so I’m passing along that information in case you’re one of those people who get more reading done when you’re listening to, rather than looking at, the words. 😉

IMG_0754Tinsel and Niklas, at long last adorned with shoes and coats to keep them warm this time of year, want to wish you a blessed, Merry Christmas and an amazing New Year. I’ll “see” you again in 2018!

A BookSweeps Giveaway!

Hello, friends!

I have two things to share with you today.

First…thanks to so many of you, TINSEL IN A TANGLE made it to that monetary threshold and is coming out in paperback!! IMG_5515Paperback copies are actually available now online at Barnes & Noble and will be available later this week over at Amazon.com. The cherry on top? It’s also coming out in audio format in time for the holidays at Amazon, narrated by Angie Hickman. Yes, I am one happy, blessed little elf. Thank you to all who bought an ebook copy to bring me to this point. 🙂

Second, how about a little more fun to usher in this magical season? I’ve teamed up with 51 fantastic authors to give away a huge collection of inspirational romances to 2 lucky winners, PLUS a brand new eReader to the Grand Prize winner! You’ll also receive a collection of FREE ebooks just for entering. You could win a copy of TINSEL, plus books from authors like Susan May Warren and Robert Tate Miller. If you’re interested, simply enter the giveaway by clicking here: http://bit.ly/inspy-holidays-nov2017. Enjoy!

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