I didn’t go looking for Jesus in the bathroom…

….but there He was in the rubble.

Ok, it wasn’t exactly Jesus himself. That would be something though!

It was a little silver and gold cross The Mister gave me for Christmas a few years ago. And like Jesus himself, it was kind of a miracle I found it.




Regular readers of this occasional blog know that when The Mister gets bored he picks up a hammer, a saw, a crow bar and starts destroying, I mean remodeling something.

This time it was our master bath. Yup, the cobbler’s children are finally getting some shoes!

When we moved into this home nearly five years ago we planned to remodel that bathroom.  I know, most people would want to keep that dingy white carpet, the chair rail with the hunter green paint on the bottom part of the wall and…..

….this sexy wallpaper!

But, I was over it and he was bored, so begins the renovation.



The Mister had a meeting at church tonight so I thought I’d do him a solid and sweep up his mess from the last few days work of moving the water lines down, installing new drywall over the old spot and pealing that lovely wallpaper off. And it would be a nice surprise for him when he got home, but I was the one who got the surprise.

As I was sweeping up and emptying the dust pan I saw the cross! And my heart sang. I lost it nearly a year ago. And boy have I missed it. I thought it was gone forever. But here it was, in the rubble. Some how it wasn’t taken out when The Mister removed the carpet, or when he removed the padding. And I had swept up several pans, and handfuls of debris. I mean, I had an entire trash bag full of stuff. It was still there! How in the world! It makes me a little weepy to think about it, how it’s here, in my hand after all this time through all the rubble.

It made me think of God himself and the promises I’ve read in the Bible, and learned in church, and heard about on mission trips. God doesn’t leave you or forsake you. You may turn from him but he’ll take you back. He’s there in the rubble of your mess, waiting anxiously for you to return.

This is comforting to me as I go through the series we’re doing at our church. It’s called Idols of the Heart and it’s an encouraging and challenging message that’ s starting to rock my world a little. Each week there’s a message, and each day there’s a short Bible passage to read with an accompanying video from our pastors. If you’re interested in learning more, just click on the hot links.

If you have walked away from Jesus, it’s not too late. He’s there waiting, with open arms. He’ll take you back, dust and all.





Also, here’s the current state of our bathroom. Makes brushing my teeth a bit challenging.





 

 

 

 

 

 

Bless this home

When our church moved out of its storefront location into a free-standing building our pastor invited us to come in and write blessings, Bible verses and prayers on the floor before the tile was installed.

I remember kneeling near what would become a modest indoor waterfall and writing a prayer for some of my dearest family and friends who didn’t yet know Jesus. They didn’t know that he was sent to earth to cover our sins, the sins that keep us from heaven. They’d hear of him sure, but they didn’t trust him. They thought you could get to heaven by doing good works and being a “good person.”

At least two of them have come to trust Jesus, I’m still praying for the others.



I loved the idea of blessing a place. When the Mister remodeled our sunroom at the home we live in, I wrote blessings on the floor for us and anyone who enters our home. That sunroom is easily our favorite room in the house and it’s were visitors gravitate to and relax in. Many have told me how peaceful it is in there.

I knew I wanted to do the same thing at the investment property. Beyond the drama we’ve discovered that went on in this house , I wanted to really bless the new owners, and all who step foot in there.

So, as people stopped by to check it out, or to lend a hand, I asked them share their favorite verse or write a blessing or prayer.

We saw at least one contractor read a verse. Here are the ones we’ve gathered so far.

My prayer for all who enter.
A friend’s verse, the one we saw a contractor read.
This verse is close to my friend’s heart. It was one of the first he learned when he started trusting in jesus.
Probably the most popular verse in the Bible. It pretty much sums it up! This is in a child’s room.
And so is this one. Another awesome verse to lean into.




sometimes people think christians are stuffy and can’t have fun. I thought this Was perfect For the kitchen.
A pryaer for the master bedroom.
Another prayer for the master bedroom. And for me too!

 

I hope this post has blessed you in some way today. If it has, please share it.

Now it’s your turn. What blessing, verse or prayer would you share?



Seven years bad luck? Ha!

Editor’s note: I added more at the very end.

When I arrived at the house yesterday I found pieces of a broken mirror littering the garage floor.

“What happened here?”

“I forgot there was a mirror on the back of a door and I dropped it.”

“Good thing we’re not superstitious.”

I used to be, then I became a Christian, started reading my Bible and tossed all the superstitions out the window. Much like I used to toss salt over my shoulder when I spilled it.

My interest in superstitions began as a young girl. I remember walking to the local library and checking out books on the subject, learning as much as I could.



There were the wishes:

  • I made my parents honk when going through a tunnel while I placed my hand on the car ceiling and made a wish.
  • When I saw a white horse in a field I’d lick my thumb, make a fist, wrap my other hand around it and make a wish.
  • Of course there was the turkey bone at Thanksgiving.
  • And the birthday cake!

There was luck:

  • I’d never walk under a ladder or cross the path of a black cat.
  • While walking down the sidewalk I wouldn’t dare step on a crack, unless I was mad at my mom. Sorry mom!
  • How many pennies did I not pick up because they were tails up? If they were heads up they would quickly find their way into my left shoe.
  • If someone gave me knives for a gift I’d have to pay them for them. Usually a quarter.
  • Oh, and the hairy arms. My childhood BFF Janice said if I had hairy arms I’d be rich.
  • And I no longer believe talking about something good will jinx it, much to the frustration of my bestie Deb.

I realize that some of our readers will think that Christianity is a superstition. I used to feel that way too. But now, years later, I’ve seen how Jesus has worked in my life and the lives of others. My life changed drastically when I started trusting in Him.

So I say bring on the black cats, the ladders, the broken mirrors and let’s talk about hopes and dreams. I’m not afraid!

I’d love to hear about the superstitions you’ve experienced over the years!





One last thing, this Sunday’s Easter. If you don’t have a church that you attend, consider finding one this week.




My friend Tammy notes some more on our Facebook page! How in the world did I forget these?

  • Knocking on wood.
  • Bad things happen in threes.
  • Wishing upon the first star of the night.
  • Sports rituals.
  • When the clasp of a necklace moves to the front, make a wish as you put it back in place.
  • Holding your breath as you pass a cemetery or go over a bridge.

It’s all about the relationship

When our friends Curt and Erin offered to help, we told them “no.” After all, while we hope that this house makes an incredible new home for a family, the bottom line is we hope to make some money on it. We couldn’t dare take help from friends when we’re in it for the profit. We wouldn’t want to jeopardize that relationship.

“I’m confused,” she said. “We could spend an enjoyable evening or afternoon visiting with you while we work on the house.”

They showed up with pizza and gloves and set to work.



And it clicked. It wasn’t necessarily about the task at hand. It was all about relationship.

Relationship is why our friends Matt and Deb helped us install the floor in the home we live in. And it’s why we helped them with the floor in their old home. It’s why we made umpteen trips to Goodwill when they downsized and handed them the keys to our truck.

Relationship is why Curt tore out the tile in the bathroom for us. It’s why Todd and Matt painted all of those edges. They know I don’t do edges!

 

Relationship is why Lori picked up the wallpaper steamer and helped peel some for a little while. And it’s why we painted Lori’s bedroom three years ago.

Relationship is why Jen and Erin worked on that fireplace. And I still don’t know if I’m going to like this whitewashed looked. But, we’re only one coat in so we’ll see.

Relationship is why Crystal came out and took pictures, then asked her architect friend if we could tear out that wall.

It’s not about the money at all.

If you decide to take on a daunting task and you’re friends offer to help, say yes.  You may find more blessings than elbow grease.



Ugh! Why is it taking so long?

Today marks three weeks since we closed.

Just 21 days.

I know that’s not very long. But yet I feel defeated, tired, like there’s no light at the end of this remodeling tunnel. I feel like we’ll never get this home finished.

Here I thought I was a somewhat patient person. As a career photographer and videographer you have to have some patience, you know, waiting for that decisive moment to make the picture. Somehow I thought it would transfer over. The patience. But noooooo, it didn’t.



Regular readers of this blog know that I like to do things fast. I wrote a whole post on it: I have a confession to make Oh, and I’m still not going near those edges. Here’s a look at the ceiling in the family room. Aren’t those beams beautiful? Original wood, don’t think we’ll be painting those. Squirrel!

Where was I? Oh yeah. But you can’t flip a home fast. Not if you’re going to do it right. And our goal is to create a home we’d live in. We’re not just slapping paint on the walls, rolling out new carpet and calling it a day. No way.  It takes time to do it right.



We are making progress though. We’ve already gutted and remodeled the master bathroom, the Mister is still putting finishing touches on it. I’m in the process of painting the cabinets. Boy, what a tedious job! And we’ve taken out one wall, and expanded a doorway.

And, we’ve scrapped more wallpaper than we thought was humanly possible. When we took the chair rail off in the dining room we found even more! Ugh!

We’ve removed the kitchen floor, yuck! That was a smelly job!

And, picking out this much paint takes time.

Choosing the right paint is really hard for us. Because, like I said, we want to make this home into something we’d like. But with the paint color selection we have to TONE IT DOWN.

The home we live in is filled with bright, bold colors.  Here’s a very flattering picture of me in front of two walls in our home. Our kitchen wall is bright yellow and our living room was green screen green.

Yes. It’s true. We painted our wall green screen green. It was both bright and functional. (We filmed a few scenes on it, check it out below around the 4:05 mark.)

We’ve since painted that wall orange. So, as you can imagine, it’s hard for us to tone it down!

I think we did ok though finding neutral colors. When the “after” happens, I’ll be sure to share pictures!

I just wish the “after” would hurry up and get here already!



 

 

 

 

 

Sabbath and Biscotti

So, when we decided to buy this home we made a pact. We would not, I repeat, would not work on Sundays!

Everyone needs a Sabbath.

That would be our full day off from all things House. Unless that was the only day we could get help, then we’d switch our Sabbath day to Saturday. But we would take one day off per week.

So far, so good.

We also want to eat healthy during the week. By healthy we mean we won’t eat the following for dinner:

• Fast food

• Popcorn

• Peanut butter sandwiches

And, we strive to get the Mister to eat something other than just meat and bread.

During the last three weeks we’ve prepared a meal on Sunday that would last us a few days and then midweek we’d do another one. And we’ve made a batch of biscotti to satisfy our sweet tooth cravings throughout the week.

Again, so far, so good.



About that biscotti, my dear friend Gale taught me how to make it. Actually, she’s taught me how to make several things over the last few years. Not only is she a fantastic cook and teacher, she’s a great friend. When I came back from a mission trip in Haiti last summer she came over to my house and listened to me prattle on about it, non-stop for I don’t know how long. She didn’t even look at her watch or her phone one time! And she asked questions. Squirrel! Back to the biscotti.

About two weeks before we closed on the house she invited me over to learn all about the biscotti and of course to catch up. We made two batches: Apricot, Pistachio, Rosemary and Chocolate Hazelnut. When I took them home I didn’t expect the Mister would like them. They’re kind of a hard, cookie without a bunch of sugar. Boy, was I wrong! He devoured them. So I decided to make a batch each Sunday.

 The biscotti I made with Gale!

The first batch was Apricot, Pistachio, Rosemary. It was really good! But I forgot to sprinkle sugar on top. No biggie. The next week I made the Chocolate. But I didn’t have hazelnuts. Gale said I could sub in any kind of nuts. So, in went walnuts and almonds. Yummy! And I sprinkled regular sugar on one and  Haitian sugar on the other. The Haitian sugar tasted good but looked kind of gross as it ‘s brownish.

Cranberry, Almond!

Last night was the best so far! Cranberry, Almond. My tastebuds were dancing I tell you, dancing! Gale said I could share the recipe so here it is:

Cream together 4T butter and 1 cup sugar, add 2t almond extract + 3 eggs. In a separate bowl mix 3 cups flour, 2t baking power, 1/2 t salt. Then add it to the wet mixture in three batches. Once that’s mixed up add 3/4 cup slivered almonds (I used chopped because that’s what I had) and 3/4 cup cranberries. Mix it in. Roll out it out into two logs about 3′ by 12″, sprinkle with sugar. Decorator’s sugar is best if you can find it. Bake on parchment lined sheet at 350 for 25-28 minutes. Cool completely and cut in 1″ slices. Lay them on their sides and back 8 minutes. Pull them out, flip them over and put them back in for 8 minutes. And that’s it!

Check back next week for step-by-step recipe with pictures!

Oh, and for dinner, we had Black Bean and Beef Enchilada Casserole. It was awesome! We subbed out the peppers for an extra 1/2 pound of ground beef and four for corn tortillas.





What do you do to make cooking through the week easier? I’d love to see your tips. Please, comment below.

 

 

 

9 Tips for removing wallpaper

I’m going to say it. I hate wallpaper. It’s too permanent for my tastes. It’s hard to put on, it’s hard to take off. It dates a house after just a few years. The flipper house has two whole rooms of wallpaper. The dining room and family room. And the people who put it up were very good at it! Here’s my tips for removing wallpaper.

1 Buy a scoring tool. This tool is used to put tiny cuts into the paper so when you apply the water, steam, or chemical to the outside it can get between the paper and the wall to loosen the paper. We’ve had the red one, made by Zinsser, for about a dozen years. And it still works great! Now, we haven’t used it every year but we’ve used it about half a dozen times and it’s still cutting like new.

The orange one, made by WP Chomp, we bought for this job. It lasted about three swirls around. It was junk. We returned it. Spend the extra 12 cents and go with the Zinsser.

2 Buy a scraper. Previously I used a putty knife because I’m so cheap. This week the Mister went behind my back and bought a scraper. And boy am I glad he did. It had a more ergonomic handle than my old putty knife and my hands were very thankful.

3 Rent a steamer. I thought we could get by without one, remember, I’m a cheap skate. But I’m so glad we got our hands on one. It made our work go so much faster! To save on the time we had it, we used it just to get the outside layer off. Be careful with the steamer, follow all the directions carefully. It gets very HOT. I know, Mr. Obvious. 

4 Skip the chemicals and make your own remover solution. I mix hot water and cheap fabric softner together and put it in a spray bottle. I’ve seen some posts that use vinegar. Spray an area, wait about 4-5 minutes, then spray the next area and scrap the first area. Repeat. The recipe I use varies. Usually it’s 1:1 fabric softner and water. As I start to run out of softner the ratio shifts and it still works.



5 Use a drop cloth. Live and learn, you can see we didn’t. We left the tack strips in because we plan to install carpet in this room. It made a huge mess, and this picture was taken after I swept up!

6 Protect your trim. If you don’t cover it, be sure to wipe it down as you work. The water or chemicals can ruin it.

7 Protect yourself. One of my besties was over helping me and she took one look at the walls and said, “you have to wear rubber gloves.” Our walls are heavily tobacco stained. She sited a recent case of a man who was restoring a bar and ended up in the hospital with nicotine poisoning. She’s a doc so it wasn’t some fake news story she read somewhere. It was legit.

8 Speaking of besties. Ask your friends for help. It’s always more fun working with a team than alone. And believe it or not, pealing wallpaper can be somewhat soothing.




9 Gotta have the tunes playing. The old CD player filled the rooms with Michael Martin Murphey’s Cowboy Songs; Mary Mary’s The Sound; Don Henley’s Building the Perfect Beast; and a mix tape featuring old school Newsboys our son made for me. I ventured away from memory lane for a bit to treat my ears to some new AA Sound of the Saints. That’s an incredible record! Their title track features images from their trip to Haiti. It just touches my heart so much. I love and miss our Haitian family.  Perhaps I’ll more about that another time.

What tip did I leave out? I’d love to hear from you!