2019 | resolutions, habits, + dreams.

Some say that they don’t believe in making new year’s resolutions. well that’s fine for them, but as a stupid ex-boyfriend of mine once said, “to each to his own.” as a list-maker, I love writing down my hopes and dreams and goals and ideas for the coming year. now, are there things that have been on my list for the last five years? well, of course. but maybe this is my year! the year I’ll make things happen. and if not, there’s always next year, right? perhaps one of the reasons I am a fan of setting goals and resolutions is because there are always areas in my life I know I can and would like to improve. some of my goals may be a little lofty, but I would say most are reasonable and attainable. for the first time in tiny white house history, I am sharing these resolutions with you!

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hospitality

I find great joy in creating atmospheres that are welcoming and feel like home; but this year, I’d like to step out of my introverted comfort zone and actually invite others into our home and our lives. a novel concept, yes? this past year, I really struggled with insecurity and perfectionism and having the desire to host others, but feeling inadequate. towards the end of the year, after much prompting by the Holy Spirit, I decided to get over myself and invite the girls from my Sunday school class over for a girls’ night in. in the weeks before, I stressed myself out planning and cleaning and preparing and wishing I hadn’t mentioned the idea in the first place. but you know what? I am so glad I did. it was such a sweet time with some dear women in my life. I’m not saying the night or my hosting was perfect, but dinner was served at 6 and my guests lingered until 10pm, so it must not have been too terrible. and to think if I had let my fear of my house not being clean enough or nice enough or not being a good enough cook keep me from hosting, I would have missed out on the gift of letting others in.

I love the way Laura Bell puts it,

…both of them knew and understood the true art of simply opening their door.  They weren't prideful in what they had nor were they ashamed or afraid of not having enough.  Because they had that innate “southernness” about them, they understood that those who entered their home didn't actually NEED their finest china or greatest batch of sweet tea.  What people needed was them.  They needed their kindness, they needed someone to be family when theirs was falling apart, they needed to see and be touched by a strong marriage, they needed to be heard and not overlooked. 

The Greatest gift we have been handed is an invitation to walk in life with the One who gave life to us. If we are made in His image, doesn't that make us excellent extenders of invitations?

The Art of Inviting

another thing I’d like to do this year that falls in the category of hospitality is to meet our neighbors. I mean, we’ve met them; but I want to get to know them, to bake them cookies, invite them over for dinner. I want to share more than a friendly wave when we pass each other. this is another thing that makes me nervous and I’ve already overanalyzed and considered every possible scenario… they’ll be allergic to the cookies, they’ll decline a dinner invitation, etc. but my mother said I should offer anyway. she said they should be gracious enough to accept the cookies and then throw them away if it’s not something they like. so, I guess I’ll take my mom’s advice and just do it.


writing letters + sending cards

do you remember how exciting it was as a child to find a letter in the mail addressed to you? not a bill or anything of that sort, but a card or letter with your name on it. I suppose snail mail could be considered a lost art, which is such a shame. I’ve always thought it such a thoughtful gesture. I want to send more mail this year. on birthdays and special occasions would be nice, but what about sending a card to someone for no reason at all? I know that would mean a lot to me, so I want to try to do more of that.


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getting back in the kitchen + weekly family dinner(s)

another revolutionary idea, I know. this one is kind of weird [and maybe pathetic?] because I actually enjoy cooking, but don’t do it as often as I’d like or should. I plan to make more of an effort in the kitchen this year. I’m open to trying new recipes; but more than that, I want to gather around the table with my family and share a meal. we do this occasionally at home; but more often than not, our meals are shared on the living room floor—or kitchen, if it’s spaghetti night. a lot of the time, my husband and I will feed the boys, do bath time, tuck them in, and then enjoy our meal—whether home-cooked or takeout—once the house is quiet. I actually love this kind of dinner, but I want to learn to love sitting down to supper with all three of my boys and hearing about each others’ day and dining together like civilized-ish humans—you know, that kind of thing. my goal is to have family dinner at the table once a week. I realize I am setting the bar very low, but this is more often than we do now, so I’m good with it.


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projects + home improvement

if you’ve been following the blog for any length of time, you know I love a good project. and while I don’t believe this is our “forever home,” (which is such a silly term to me. there’s really no such thing, but that’s another post for another day.), there is still much I’d like to do to this house before our time here is done. ironically, my husband thinks it’s kind of pointless to do a lot of projects if we don’t plan to stick around longterm. and I see it from the exact opposite point of view… if we aren’t going to be here forever, I’d like to get to work now and do the things I want to do, so we can enjoy them while we live here before our time here is complete. and it’s nothing too major… our home renovation knocked all the big tasks off the to-do list. it’s small(er) projects like making over the friends’ entry to our home, planting an herb garden, landscaping the front yard, finishing up the laundry room remodel, that kind of thing. I’m sure my husband is not thrilled if he’s reading this, but none of this is news to him. I submitted these work orders a long time go. time to get to work!


taking photos + having them printed

almost five years ago, I bought my first DSLR camera. though I have no desire to be a photographer, I have certainly enjoyed my camera and “gotten my money’s worth.” I don’t struggle so much with actually taking photos as I do with promptly editing and ordering prints. I have maybe a handful of printed photos of our family, and that’s being generous. this year I want to be intentional about printing photos for framing, but also to fill photo albums. I’d love to have something that isn’t a screen that we can use to reflect on memories, as well as something tangible to share with our children. I’ve had plans to create a gallery wall of black + white family photos in our stairwell for some time now, so accomplishing this will kill two birds with one stone.


blogging

this little blog of mine is certainly a hobby and creative outlet for me. I can’t believe it’s been nearly five years since it was created! in 2019, I’d like to share on the blog more frequently and maybe figure out the business side of blogging. this, along with most of the “resolutions” mentioned above, has been on my to-do list for awhile now. I’ve been researching how to monetize your blog for some time now, and let me tell you, the internet is hard. but really and truly, I’d love to be able contribute financially to my family, so I’m hoping to make real progress on this front in 2019.


I suppose these are more than simply goals or resolutions… these are habits that I want to create and make long-lasting, and I think 2019 is just the year to make it happen.


your turn! do you set new year’s resolutions? if so, what’s on your list? if not, why?

laundry room remodel | pt. ii

progress report.

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It's time for a quick update on our laundry room remodel!  there was a time when I jokingly said that I hoped we'd have this project completed by the end of the year, thinking how in the world could we not? these days, I think it will be a Christmas miracle if this thing wraps up while we're still in the year 2018.  if you're just tuning in, catch yourself up on our laundry room remodel by reading part one here.

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To be sure, we have made progress.  after all, this wouldn't be much of a progress report if there was no progress.  the new countertops are nearly complete.  all that's left to do is a final coat and sealant once they have cured, which takes thirty days.  if you're just joining us, we covered our laminate countertops with concrete.  sounds a little crazy, right?  it probably is, but my thinking behind that is that nothing can be worse than the dusty blue counters we began with.  I mean, even with a risky DIY such as this, it's hard to mess up something like that and have a worse outcome. we were willing to take that chance, anyway.  I will share more about this process in the final reveal post.  for now, I am really pleased with how things are looking.

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After removing the upper cabinets, which were glued to the wall, there were quite a few spots that needed to be patched.  a little drywall tape and joint compound fixed that right up.  a fresh coat of paint and several true crime podcasts later, the wall looks brand new.

a couple weeks ago marked our five year wedding anniversary.  we spent the evening celebrating the most romantic way I know how—DIYing. with a little research and absolutely zero experience under our tool belts, we installed a tile backsplash ourselves! I would bet a million dollars that five years ago, my husband never would have imagined that's how we'd spend any anniversary.  in my mind, though, we're right on track!  I'm teasing… sort of.

would you believe we actually both enjoyed this project?  I know this because Drew actually started on it without me.  typically when it comes to home improvement, I am begging/having to consult and formally schedule with my husband to begin a project.  not so this time around... while I was chasing our youngest through the house, I passed by the laundry room to find Drew spreading thinset on the wall with a trowel and putting the first subway tile in place.  "what do you think you're doing?" I demanded.  he turned with a smile, "I just couldn't wait anymore." though I appreciated his enthusiasm, I had been dreaming of this moment for months and wanted to be a part of every second of the tiling process.  needless to say, we tucked our boy into bed shortly after and headed straight to work together.

a couple days after the thinset dried, it was time for grout!  to be totally honest, this part was not as fun as I had hoped and neither of us much enjoyed it.  but it is a necessary step and we got it done and that’s what that counts.  it was our very first time to tackle a tile project; and though it was a small area that didn’t require too many cuts, I’m happy to add this skill to our resumé. I’m sure a professional could take a look at our work and spot imperfections immediately, but I think it looks pretty darn good if I do say so myself. I’m proud of us for trying something new and tickled that the results were decent. I'll share more details in the reveal post about products used, tips, etc. 

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The wood brackets for the open shelving have been painted, as you can see.  the lumber for the shelves has been cut.  I need to prime and paint the boards.  and the plan is to install it all this week. I am extra excited about this part!

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I hung a few woven trays on the wall near the desk, so we've got that going for us as well.  I am so happy to see this room slowly coming together!  I think it's shaping up to be a really lovely space. I need to pick up some spray paint and lock my other handyman [aka my father] down. he’s always been skilled in spray-painting, so I’ve recruited him to help me give the old metal lockers a fresh coat of paint. here’s hoping we knock that out in the next week or two! if we do, it looks like there may just be a chance we could wrap things up before the clock strikes twelve on 2018. I’ll keep you posted…

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if you want to keep up with all the little details between blog posts, give the tiny white house a follow on instagram.  I post there more frequently,  and almost always share as things are happening on the laundry room remodel... as well as in other rooms + projects taking place!


laundry room remodel | pt. i

the before.


I tend to wait until a project is complete to share it here on the blog.  but this time, I decided I'd share this project as we go, updating you along the way... because honestly, when it comes to home improvement projects, things can move a little slow at the tiny white house.  that's not necessarily the speed at which I like to do projects, but that's just life right now.  and slow progress is better than no progress, right?


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Despite the desperate need for updates throughout our home, there were several features that stood out the first time we saw our house.  it had good bones, if you will.  the laundry room was a prime example.  at 8' by 10' with two windows, it is an open, airy space, far different from the tiny laundry closet in our first home.  I had big dreams for this space the second I laid eyes on it.  I knew it held such potential.  one of the main reasons I want to make the most of this room is because it is seen.  while we don't exactly "hang out" in it, our laundry room is directly off the kitchen and open to the side entry, or friend's entry.  it also leads to the garage.  plus, there is no door to the laundry room, so there's no hiding what's in there.  we might as well make the most of it!

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With so much else on our to-do list [see extensive list pictured above], though, the laundry room just got the basics: popcorn ceiling scraped, wallpaper border removed, a fresh coat of paint, a new light fixture, and new tile flooring.  this did wonders for the room, of course; but my vision was far from complete.

since this is larger than the average size laundry room, I really wanted to take advantage of the space in this room, using every single inch.  here is the game plan:

  • replace upper cabinets with open shelving
  • refinish laminate countertops
  • paint lower cabinets + update cabinet hardware
  • install some type of locker system, whether it be wooden built-ins or metal lockers
  • create a home office + command center
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CABINETRY

the cabinetry, though dingy and worn, provides excellent covered storage.  I considered keeping the existing cabinets and getting new cabinet doors, but the upper cabinets were small and the shelving was practically useless—too short to store cookbooks or a box of detergent upright.  of course, I could lay books sideways; but the more I thought about it, I really wanted to have a little open shelving.  I know this is very "in" right now.  as a rule, I tend to steer away from anything trendy.  but since this is a small space, I thought it would be a good place to experiment.  besides, I am fairly confident I can create open shelving that is both timeless and traditional.

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COUNTERTOPS

the lovely, blue laminate counter boasts a stainless steel sink, albeit small.  but that dusty blue obviously has to go.  I considered painting it, but am leaning more towards refinishing it using a concrete overlay.  there are roughly one million blogs giving detailed tutorials on this and reviewing why concrete countertops are awesome and/or horrible, so I'll leave that to them.  for us, the choice was easy and meets all our criteria:

  • it fits the budget
  • I like the way it looks
  • my husband doesn't want to do it

that's how I know it's the perfect fix.  but seriously, after much research, this is our best option.  many of the articles I read mentioned scratching + staining as one of the downsides of concrete countertops.  since this isn't a high traffic area and since it is in our laundry room, I'm simultaneously not too worried about that and preparing myself to be okay with such things happening.  after all, this is a laundry room and a scratch or stain on the counter is far from the end of the world.

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LOCKERS

I also wanted some type of locker for storage, whether it be built-in or actual metal lockers.  there is a perfect spot for this, in the corner right next to the door that leads to the garage [pictured above].  for awhile, I was set on built-in wooden cubbies.  it seemed like it would be more difficult to find the kind of metal lockers I liked for a reasonable price, so I thought built-ins would be easier.  again, this was not at all a priority and we never even got around to getting measurements or supplies to build lockers.  then one day last February, I found some for sale on Facebook.  an old gym in town was being remodeled and they had tons of lockers they were getting rid of.  I got a set of six for $72.  I had been looking for awhile and never seen any that I liked as much and none as cheap, so that seemed like a good deal to me.  here they are, sitting in our garage... where they've been for the past seven months.  they still need a little work, but I think they'll be perfect for this space.

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HOME OFFICE

my husband gave me a beautiful, antique table for Christmas a few years ago and I knew it would be perfect as a desk.  I tend to write, draw, make lists, jot things down in my planner, etc. from the comfort of my bed.  now don't get me wrong—I don't ever mind snuggling up in bed for any reason.  however, it would be nice and more practical to have a spot specifically for these tasks—a command center, if you will.  eventually I'll clear this pretty little piece off.  until then, it makes for an excellent catchall.

PROGRESS

the last week of August, we decided to make September a no spend month.  I was itching to do a project [shocker, right?] and with the boys at their grandparents' overnight, it seemed like the perfect time to get started on our laundry room!  of course, since we're on a spending freeze, there's only so much we can do.  lucky for us, demolition is F-R-E-E.  early Saturday morning, we got to work and removed the upper cabinets.  our home renovation didn't require much demo, so this was kind of a first for us.  it took a little elbow grease as the cabinets were glued to the wall, but we got the job done.  since I was in work mode and had leftover paint from other projects, I went ahead and painted the lower cabinets.  our house was built circa 1980, never updated, and the cabinets didn't get a fresh coat of paint when we moved in in early 2017, so it was much needed.  I can't wait to pick out new hardware and install it!

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it's exciting to see my vision come to life... slowly, but surely.  maybe when October rolls around and we can spend money again, we'll knock more things off the to-do list.  I can't wait!  stay tuned for progress reports...

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 sources:

wall color | Wool Skein by Sherwin-Williams
light fixture | Lowe's

home.

Home.  for the last year, this is the thing I have longed for most.

On March 9th, 2016, devastating flood waters swept across our town and left many without their homes, businesses, and churches.  I was eight months pregnant with our first baby when water began seeping into our home underneath the baseboards.  within thirty minutes, there was a foot of water in our home.  we stood there hopelessly as we watched the life we had built in our tiny white house nearly fall apart.  I have never felt such despair.  it was a moment I will never forget.

We left our home that day with only what we could carry.  from the street, I wept as I watched our house fill with water, covering all of our belongings + our most treasured possessions.  that day, we said goodbye forever to our tiny white house.  this was the home I found driving around one day, signed the lease the next day, and sat empty for five months until our wedding.  this was the home my husband carried me across the threshold the night of our wedding.  this was the home we learned so much about love and loss and marriage and forgiveness and life.  this is the home we planned to bring our baby home to the very next month.  but in a moment, everything changed.

The weeks that followed were a blur, marked with tears, disbelief, fear, exhaustion.  we moved in with my parents indefinitely.  I was so grateful they took us in, but still heartbroken about the loss of our home.  people told me how nice it would be to have all the help once the baby arrived, but truthfully, I wasn’t exactly thrilled about stepping into parenthood with an audience.  I remember crying most of the month of March and a lot of the month of April.  in addition to the flood uprooting us and the pregnancy hormones and preparing for a baby and all the changes that would take place upon the baby’s arrival, the job I had loved and held for five years was changing.  for the first time in four summers, I wouldn’t spend my days with the children I nannied.  and in the fall, Andy would begin kindergarten so they wouldn’t need me at all. it was just a lot at once.  I know I was an absolute pleasure to be around during those weeks.

"it's just stuff."  I heard this more than once.  and it's true, it is just stuff.  it's only temporary.  in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter.  but let me tell you this: I love my stuff.  probably a little too much.  days after the flood, I was going through what had been salvaged and I came across a damp index card.  it read: "if you're identified by what you have, who are you when you lose it all?"  my Sunday school teachers in middle school had asked that question and I held onto it all these years.  I wept as I read it, never having understood the gravity of it and that I would be in a place where I'd have to ask myself this.

Some mentioned that the flood was a "blessing," or would turn out to be.  this was laughable to me in those first few days, even months.  however, I was overwhelmed by how we were blessed through this trial.  men in boats and trucks helped my family and others to salvage what we could.  people helped with the flood relief.  people gave to us.  I saw with my own eyes the church being the church.  I saw people we knew + loved and some who barely knew us before the flood love us in a way that only the Father can. 

and because of the flood, I was given one of the sweetest seasons in time with my family.  I learned so much about home this year, and how it doesn't matter so much where you are, but who you're with. and people were right—all that help with the baby was nice.

the next month, we welcomed our son into the world.  the days following that were filled with joy, tears, and hope.  in a time of darkness, the Lord so sweetly showed me how much He loves me, through His constant + timely provision and in the way He trades beauty for our ashes.  every time I held our baby or saw him smile, I felt as if the Lord was saying to me, "I know a lot has happened, but here's this really great thing I made just for you."  His goodness is overwhelming.

life got a lot sweeter after the baby arrived.  we adjusted to a new normal.  we began saving as much as we could in hopes of buying a home.  and then we waited.  and waited.  and waited.  we waited for a credit score.  we waited for a house. but not just any house.  the right house.  our house.  we found a few we liked.  I could have seen us living in any of them.  they all had potential and would have been fun to fix up and call home, but the timing just wasn’t right.

in October, seven months after the flood, we found it.  I had driven past it hundreds of times and always thought it was beautiful.  in fact, the afternoon we went to look at it with our incredible realtor, I passed by it earlier that day not knowing it was for sale and thought, “wow.  now that’s my dream house.” I never imagined it would be mine.  two months later, we signed the papers.  and now it’s ours.

I have seen firsthand how the Lord provides.  I’ve seen this throughout my entire life, from childhood to adulthood.  He was always faithful to provide great friends in all the places we lived growing up and He has been our joy + provision in the unknown.  I know He will provide, though I struggle at times with unbelief.  but one of my favorite parts of this story is not just what He provided, but how He provided.  not just a house, but a home.  a home that was better than I ever could have dreamed of.  a home that was immeasurably more

we've spent the last three months renovating this home.  it has been an adventure, to say the least.  I'm sure my husband would say that's putting it nicely.  it wasn't a major fixer upper, it just needed a little love... and some fresh paint, new flooring, bathroom updates, de-popcorned ceilings, a revamped staircase, and all new light fixtures + hardware throughout. but that's it really.

it was certainly a challenge.  that needs to be said.  but it was fun, too.  of course, fixing up a house has always been a dream of mine.  so while it's not for everyone, this kind of thing is right up my alley.

we are so grateful and humbled and I can't wait to share more about this adventure and our renovation story on the blog!

"now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! amen."
Ephesians 3:20-21

"and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though He is not far from any one of us."
Acts 17:26-27

"for every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God."
Hebrews 3:4