Thrifty Thursday: A Fireplace Makeover

It's no secret that I've always got a project going. Just about the time I finish one I've got another to follow up on. My latest project was something I undertook at probably the worst time. But now, it's done. It's over. And I'm happy with it. 

When we moved into our rental we noticed the wood burner. Jerrel and I grew up with wood heat in the winter. We had hoped that we would be able to use it in the future. But that plan didn't pan out so we moved on. Also when we moved in I took mental notes of the things that I could change easily and cheaply since we didn't know if this was a long term home or not. 

Almost forgot a before picture!

That faux ugly brick? That was pretty dang high on the list. With the news of the no go on the wood burner we decided to get a small electric fireplace and create a cozy hearth. I use the word "we" loosely. I suggested and showed the husband what I would like (onsale even!) and Jerrel ordered it. He would have just left it alone. I could not.

Our kitchen-which is right off the dining room has faux brick as well and it's colors are in the tan family. My brain could not handle any more of this distracting high contrast brick. I craved cohesiveness. So while I toyed around with faux painting the brick so it had reds and browns I decided to just go with the tans to tie the two together.

So literally one day I had enough. We ordered the fireplace I wanted and I went to the basement and gathered paint. Between what was left in the basement when we moved in and a gallon I picked up for FREE in a reject pile at the General Store in town I had all I needed. 

  • I started out by painting the whole thing white. It looked so much better already. 
  • Then I mixed up my grout color using white and my reject paint and painted all the grout lines. 
  • Next I found a sponge and dipped my sponge in the grout color and the reject paint color. I started sponging away. I made sure my sponge wasn't too heavy with paint though.
  • I dabbed and sponged until my sponge was empty and then started over. This technique made it easy to achieve a varied look. 
  • Taking a step back to look at the big picture every so often helped me make sure my finish was perfectly imperfect. 

The finish product is great! The process was scary for a while, I realized it was quite the undertaking about a fourth of the way through. I just kept saying "It is really ugly. Like really ugly. It looks better already. Just keep painting. Just keep painting. Just keep painting, painting, painting. The bricks were dirty. It is really ugly..."

And then it was done and the fireplace came. We moved the wood burner to the garage and told it we were sorry. It seemed like a crime. 

The day after Christmas my dining room looked like this. I about had a cornoary. The after Christmas mess mixed with this mess was too much. 

I tried to be patient while the dynamic duo put the fireplace together. 

My mom came over and helped me design the area. We hung my top door of a piano to finish the mantle/hearth look and finished off with my love grass wreath. I love that wreath. 

Now my brain is much less cluttered. I have some cohesiveness in the two rooms and our dining room is nice and cozy. For the cost of the electric fireplace from Home Depot that can move with us someday we have a whole new look!

Fresh, clean, and cozy.



Millie: The Retriever Whisperer

I've mentioned before that grew up with a Golden Retriever. Her name was Goldie. She was blonde, fluffy and sweet. We also had a Chocolate Lab for a while when I was a kid-and I have no comment on that dog situation. 

Needless to say Retrievers have my heart in the dog realm. I know other breeds are beautiful, I know other breeds are smart and sweet. I know other breeds are patient and kind. 

I also know that other breeds can be just as hyper, dingy, and onery. But the retriever? The retriever will more than likely always win. Especially after seeing the current retrievers in my life with Millie. 

Take the body pillow named Lucy for example. My parents got Lucy when I was 16. She had been around kids and a one year old but never really babies. But Millie doesn't even phase her.

In fact Lucy is the calmest and sweetest around Millie. She stays low and gentle.

Even when Millie is trying to sit on her head.

We love Lucy.

And then there is Chester. Sweet, lovable, dopy Chester. Chester who tests my patience and makes question my sanity. Chester who wants so badly to be good. Chester who is having trouble learning his in-home territory so he sometimes has to be leashed to the church pew. Chester who can get out of any type of pen or kennel. 

But this dog? He rocks with Millie. Or maybe Millie rocks with him. He gets a little wild, she squawks, he's done. Millie seeks him out throughout the day and I'm happy to have the break-now he's the one she's climbing all over for a little while. 

She gets on his bed and he meets her there. I am so thrilled that these two will be able to go out and play someday. I am so thankful they have each other's company. Even if I wonder what I was thinking in saying yes to him. Because like Lucy, Chester is his calmest around Millie. He stays low, at her level, never jumping on her. He is sweet to our Millie. 

Even when she is trying to sit on his head. 

So that makes Millie the official Retriever Whisperer. 

Cue the collective "AWWWWW."

Yes, I believe they are both keepers.



I'm Hungry-Breastfeeding & Hunger

I just finished breakfast.

I just pushed the bowl that was heaping full of oatmeal away from me. I'll admit that Millie got a few bites. But I devoured the most of it. Not surprising. I may or may not have selfishly thought "She gets the boob."

This is part of our morning routine. We get up brush my teeth, change her diaper, start water for oatmeal, and eat together while I peruse facebook, Pinterest, or read. We empty the bowl together, I push it away and then...I wonder what I can have for a snack.


The hunger that I feel as a nursing mother is another thing that I didn't exactly account for. It's always there. Sometimes it is right in your face-being the only thing you can focus on, other times you can push it down until it's time to eat a meal again. But it's always there, always running, like the refridgerator. And it feels like I will never catch it. I am still nursing at least six times in a 24 hour cycle. It's probably usually closer to eight. And so every time I sit down in that glorious leather recliner I picked out at 5 weeks postpartum, I may look like and feel like I'm relaxing- but I'm not. I'm working. Making a meal that 10 months ago I was not.

"The average woman secretes between 425 and 700 calories per day in her breastmilk according to the American Pregnancy Association. To compensate, you'll need to increase your caloric intake by 500 calories bringing your total daily requirement to around 3000 calories."

The first few weeks of hunger I was not surprised. After all, I had completed the ultimate marathon. Labor and birth. My body needed recharged. Now? I am hungry for everything. Healthy stuff. Junk food. Meat and potatoes. Salads and soups. Smoothies. Cheesecake. My mouth is honestly watering just typing it. I eat as much as Jerrel-if not more sometimes. So I hunt for food to stifle the hunger. But I'm not always very successful.

My body weighs less than before I was pregnant but I'm eating more than ever, It's just how it responded to this crazy amazing process. So if you can't seem to locate me sometime, look at the grocery store, a restaurant, the kitchen, the fridge, the potluck, or the soup supper. Or my recliner. I eat there a lot too.

I think I'll look up a smoothie reciepe now. Or maybe I'll just beg my husband to cook me a steak. That'd work too.



Trike is Short For...

Trick Bike...obviously. I myself had never made the connection.

But don't worry my ten month old connected the dots for me. 

We can learn so much from little ones. 

Sometimes I am afraid (literally) that Millie inherited SO much of her father. She is so very adventurous.

Last week I watched Millie drag a box to an end table to use it as a step stool. She's just so busy...and smart. 

I know Mom..."Be careful."

Disclaimer: Baby was not crying. She fell is slow motion. I decided to see how this was all going to work out.
She has learned to fall gracefully from pretty much any position. And can get herself out of most predicaments.

My mind is flashing back to when one of my brothers was really into trying to be a BMX rider. Ramping, jumping, no hands. Oh the bandaids and bikes we went through. Good thing we had a friend who worked in the "Sanitation Pick Up" industry. Endless supply of dumped bikes.

I think we are heading down that same road.

This time she managed to wriggle her way out without a fuss, stand her trick bike back up, scoot it a little ways, and hop right back on.

See mom, I'm fine.

Be careful baby.



Laundry Lady

It's Laundry Detergent day at our house! 

Excuse the drip pans. I think they are beyond cleaning-I've tried. Time for new! 

Every couple months I get my borax out, washing soda, and some other necessities and mix up a big batch of detergent. I have always made our detergent. This time I decided to try a different recipe. This is the recipe I used. It's along the same vein as what I have been making but just a bit different.

You see, every other time I've made my first recipe it turns lumpy, bumpy, and annoying. It still works but it looks nothing like how it's supposed to. I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong. So I had enough and went to Dr. Google. Lo and behold Wellness Mama had something that looked pretty good. I do love her blog. So I've mixed up her recipe and it's looking better than my old recipe.

I swirled it around and it's gelling up already. No bumps. No lumps. So far-not annoyed.

So laundry detergent day has come and gone again. Ahhh...the life of a housewife. Do you make your own laundry detergent?



10 Months of Millie

We have hit double digits! Seems like I just sat down to write the monthly Millie post but thats what the holidays do-speeeed everything up. Like always this month has been busy, busy. 

This month Millie has become a fashion icon and innovator. Momma's shorts turned baby infinity scarf. The girl is going places. 

We had opportunity to use the swing still earlier in the month. Now not so much...

We have trekked to quite a few basketball games donning our orange and black. Go Uncle Evan!

When she isn't at Basketball games or creating new fashion trends, Millie loves to eat her toes.

She's also taking modeling lessons from her dad. I call this "Blue Steel." Name that movie.

Then of course we had Christmas where Millie had so much fun and received so many nice things!

Like this really cool trike! Girlfriend just sat up there like she was born to do this.

Then we got all dolled up for Christmas Eve. My mom made her dress, I made the hair bow, Millie made the outfit. Look at her "ankles". Love my squishy baby. 

I dreamed of a classic picture in front of the Christmas Tree on Christmas. Millie had other did Jerrel's hair.

 Presents! We need to open presents guys! No time for pictures. Millie loved floating from person to person, seeing what they were opening tearing up the paper and moving on.

There's a nice picture with Momma! I found her jammies at the Thrift Store for $0.25. Hardly worn-of course. I figured they were worth the photo opt! She wore them all week I think.

Then we had our own little family Christmas. Millie was quite pleased with her new blocks and push toy.

So another month has flown by and I'll admit that I'm starting to plan her first birthday. Reluctantly yet excitedly. We had a month of learning to shake our head "no", blowing kisses, playing with new toys, giving Chester said toys, moving and then uses boxes has step stools, showing us her tongue on command, new teeth, playing shy, and so much more. It's a joy and an honor to be her Momma. 

Here's our girl from 9 to 10 months. Is it just me or has she grown? 

10 months going on 10 years.

Happy 10 Months Millie Girl!



New Year

I've never been a "New Year's Resolutions" type of person. Always seemed to me that the same people were making the same resolutions every year. The same weight loss companies produce the same commercials. The same organization tips surface. Come February everyone is eating the candy and not using the planners anyway. I just couldn't seem to get why people couldn't get their stuff together. 

I promise I'm not always so cynical. 

But this year, I've decided to make a couple changes, vows, or yes...resolutions. 

The first is to read more. More specifically-read more books, to myself and to Millie. I have gotten a lot of recliner time as a milk maid and I have slipped into the bad habit of wasting time online or on Netfilx. Generally I am reading something online. But I miss books. The smell, the sound of the pages, getting totally lost in a story and anticipating the next time I can sit down to read. I used to loose hours in a good book. I'd settle for loosing 20 minutes in this day and age. 

The reading more to Millie bit? I've already figured out my trick. Bath and Book time. She plays, splashes, and glances now and again at the book. I have a captive audience, she isn't trying to tear or eat the pages and she isn't trying to wrestle with me or running off to terrorize Chester. So far it's working. 

The next is to write more. The last two months have been nuts. I had a writing dry spell. I suppose with something that is creative-like writing is for me-the ebb and flow is normal. However, I didn't like it. So I'm going to try to make time to write more often. Even if I don't publish the piece. 

Finally I want to keep my closet clean and organized. Does this one make me sound like a child? Overall I feel like a better human when I have a clean closet. I can see what I have. What I don't wear, what I want to wear. My time is used more efficiently when my closet is easy to use. Keeping my closet clean snowballs into a whole other issue; I must become more discerning about what comes in, more practical about what stays and harsher on what goes. Right now I have about 7 shirts I want to keep but I don't have enough hangers for something is going to have to give because I'm not buying more hangers. It's part of the process of keeping my closet from going to the dark side.

So if you have tips, suggestions, tricks, have your own resolutions, or want to join me, I'm listening! I'd love hearing from you!

Here's to my three year-long goals.