The well has run dry.  I’ve been searching for my creative vein lately and all I can find is unsatisfying dust.  It seems as though I can only tap into this creative source so much before it blows and then I must search for a new avenue to draw from again.

A dear friend encouraged me to write again today…and well here I am, plopping away at the keys, not sure what’s going to come out, exactly.  But writing is a discipline and I don’t intend to ever let it go completely.

It’s 8:07pm and I am typing this on my favorite spot on the couch, feet propped up.  I had to perform tricks and jump through fiery hoops to get an internet connection.  I am typing to the hum of the massive tractor that is tilling our fields and which I find rhythmic and  comforting.

It has been a long evening, one in which I’m parenting by myself; and though the girls have been saints, it is still exhausting.  I’m praying they will need little from me in this next hour so I can use some reserves on this post.

Being a year into this house, I suppose it’s time for some updates.  But I can’t promise any pictures, not tonight at least.  So words, for now.

Since my last update, we have actually finished a few rooms.   The entryway and library are both complete.  That is a very settling feeling as it it is the first thing we see when we walk in the door.  With the addition of some new artwork and exposed pipe shelves, the living room is complete as well.  I’m sure I will still layer in a few pieces here and there but that is the fun part; filling a space with the things that make you happy.

The kitchen is our main push this month.  We’ve been fridge shopping, purchased subway tile & hardware, added a new light fixture, and N is building some new upper cabinets.  I promise pictures when it is complete.

We’re going to skip the laundry room for now, as it hasn’t been touched, nor does it feel like a priority.  Maybe not even a 2015 priority.

Going up the stairs, the stair runner is down, a gallery wall lines the steps, and there is a nice little vignette at the top.  All that is left to hang is a large family picture.  After the kitchen is complete, we will shift our attention to this hallway and add new flooring and light fixtures.  That should be easy to get to this summer.

Finally, we have the bedrooms.  All three need a little TLC, some paint in one, and some decor.  We did something we’ve been talking about for nearly 9 years and purchased a king size bed.  We moved our queen to the guest room, but both beds still lack a character giving headboard.

When those are complete, all that’s left is the bathrooms.  Both could use a partial, if not complete makeover.  We’ve had a few contractors over to  give us bids.  We’ve only received one bid and it was astronomical.  Even if we did scrape together the money to do it, we would probably never recoup it in a resale….so for now, we will probably stick to things we can DIY ourselves…new floors, shower curtains, countertops, and paint.  Our ultimate hope is that by the end of this calendar year we will be 95% done with house projects and can finally feel at rest in our schoolhouse.

Bea’s birthday is in just 4 days.  My parents gifted her a Jungle gym which seems perfect for our adventurous climber.  My dad and N stayed up late putting it together last night and it matches perfectly with our playset. I’m excited to add to this a sandbox for her birthday.  Every schoolhouse needs a play ground, no?

I’m intentionally slowing down on SMM.  Not as in taking less orders, but just purposing my time so it doesn’t consume me.  I never imagined it would take so much of my time, but it takes as much as I give it.  I’ve started giving myself my evenings back to work on fun things or relax and it has made a world of difference in my stress level.  When N has a few days a week off this summer, I plan to ramp up my output a bit more.  I have some ideas of new products to add, I just temporarily burned out the creative flame to pursue them.

Speaking of summer, I am mentally there, though not yet physically.  The weather has greatly improved my mood and all winter coats, gloves, and scarves, have been packed away.  This is the time of year where we start making our summer plans.  This gives us the final push to make it through the last trying weeks but also helps us not to waste our summer days away and forget about the memories we want to create as a family.

Our saintly neighbor tilled up our vegetable garden today.  Our seeds and seedling will go in the ground in between the promised rain storms this weekend.  I’m setting low expectations for our output this year.  I’m just hopeful that it is enjoyable.  That will be enough for this year.

I’m reading a book right now that I don’t really like but that everyone raves about the ending.  I’m only reading it to see how it ends.  Sometimes a good ending is enough to turn my opinion 180 degrees.  Does that make me fickle?




{In case you missed it, here some of the previous house updates we’ve done.}

The weather is beautiful here today.  Seventy-five, sunny, and partly breezy.  More early than late fall.  We ran out early this morning and finished our Monday errands and then ate lunch and did schoolwork (sidewalk chalk alphabet of course) outside.



It was heavenly.  I’m trying really hard not to let my mind believe what my body is telling me…that spring is around the corner.  But I’m not trying too hard, because I am of the opinion that a little ignorance never hurt anybody.

IMG_2549 Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset IMG_2479 IMG_2544 (a few other fall pics snapped this week)

N was on fall break this past week and we took advantage of his time at home to get some house work accomplished.  One of our awesome sitters (holla for living in a small town in between two Christian universities) came over on Thursday and then Grandma came over on Friday, freeing up even more of our time to work.

And on that note, we put the finishing touches on the powder room!  The first room in the house to be completely d-o-n-e (for now :))!

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(The paint color is Old Navy by Benjamin Moore.  Light fixtures are from Lowe’s.  Mirror is antique.  Shelves are made by Nate.  Illustrations on wall are from artist Mari Kloeppel)

Also, we had our fireplace installed this weekend(!!!!!!!!)  I am so incredibly excited to have a fireplace; I’ve been dreaming about one for the past 8 years.


It’s about 85% finished so more pics to come.

We’ve moved upstairs and started work in the hallway.  We didn’t have ANY hallways in our last house so I’ve had fun dreaming up possibilities for this little space.


After the stairs are finished being painted (no they won’t stay both grey and white–just grey–this was just N’s genius way of painting them while we were still able to use them) we will lay down a runner.bDSC_0056 bDSC_0049

We hung a “hometown” gallery wall in the hallway.  You can purchase some art like this for yourself in my shop 🙂


(the pink barn and field are well-known landmarks near where we fell in love <3)


N started tearing up the hallway carpeting and I think we will lay down a herringbone patterned wood floor…ideally made from an old, dead tree we cut down in the yard.  Wouldn’t that be amazing if it worked??

Next up: the wall of books to go in the “library”, painting the upstairs, and a fun little project I am working on for the upstairs hallway.

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Stay tuned!!


School House Dreams, Take 2

This is a continued series about my love found in the small details of our house.

Last week it was the circular driveway, this week, the brick sidewalk.

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I have no idea where this brick came from (wish I had asked the previous owners), but it is intricately detailed, old, and has a sheen to it.  Some pieces are cracked, others chipped but they are still so tightly wedged into the ground that they form the perfect path to lead one in and out of the house.


School House Dreams Series, take 1

I mentioned last week that I wanted to highlight some of my favorite features of our house.  I think the love for one’s house is in the details: this niche or this corner or that backyard hideaway.  I wanted to make a capsule, of sorts, to help me remember the details that make this house our home.

The first one that comes to mind is the circular driveway.  I fell in love with the driveway upon first sight of it.  Most of the day, some part of it is flanked in shade by the large and ancient tree at its perimeter.


I have first view of anyone who pulls up to the house (a luxury I always missed at our last house)


One of my favorite “visitors”

And seeing as how we don’t exactly live in a neighborhood, it affords plenty of parking when we have gatherings.

Schoolhouse dreams.



Gosh, I guess it’s been since May when I last blogged some of our home improvements.  We worked really hard this summer and crossed quite a few more off of our list.  Though our list is still quite long, I’m starting to feel really good about the amount we’ve accomplished and what we have left to tackle.  I guess you could say the light is visible at the end of the tunnel.

When we first moved in, I worked like a maniac.  Then I hit a lull and lost my passion and drive for a bit.  I started to get bogged down with all that I wanted to do but couldn’t clear my vision enough to decide where to go next.  N helped me through it.  July was another month of hard work and I think August was the turning point where I started to feel very accomplished.  Here are some things we’ve done since May:

-dormers This was one of the first things on our to-do list and we were itching to start them.  It took about three weeks start to finish (but boy were those three long weeks.  The Amish crews started promptly at 7:30am and by start I mean they were pounding on the walls (to our bedrooms) or climbing through the gaping holes in our bedrooms.)  We also had roofing crews and interior crews to live with but I kept telling myself, “this will be worth it!”  And it was/is!  We have so much natural light pouring into these rooms now.


Here is the girls’ bedroom before, ours had the exact same set-up with only a skylight for natural light.  (get a load of that wallpaper and carpet too!)IMG_8427

End of day 1!  Good thing it didn’t rain!IMG_8460 IMG_8462 IMG_8467

Collage of progress pics and one from the outside

We also painted both bedrooms and added new carpet to them


Styling the girls’ room is far down on my list right now, but it looks so much better with the new paint, carpet, and windows!

-blinds  The house came with lace curtains that did not afford any privacy and at the same time obscured the view (I mean we practically bought the house for the view).  We decided to have roller blinds installed instead and I am VERY happy with this choice.  I love that we can completely hide them when we want to see our view or we can customize the length depending on the height of the sun.  I love how the color adds a bit of dimension to the walls as well


osmosis  We had our well water extensively tested and it came back completely healthy.  However, the taste was not one I wanted to get used to.  We added in a reverse osmosis system to our sink and refrigerator.  I love the taste and am so happy with this choice!!

-paint (doors, trim, etc) No inch of the downstairs has been left untouched by a brush.  The upstairs still remains to be painted but all of our initial focus has been on the down.  I burned through quite a few This American Life episodes while painting trim/doors and can still recall some of the more impactful episodes as I am looking at different parts of the house.


Our powder room went from beige to Benjamin Moore’s Old Navy.  Dramatic difference!

-living room ceiling  The living room ceiling was covered by a particle-board type wainscotting that didn’t look professionally installed.  N ripped all of this down and whitewashed the weathered boards underneath.  I like this look so much better!


Side by side of wainscotting and boards underneathIMG_9198

Progression pic, you can see the particle board, boards underneath, and whitewash

hang pictures  Hanging pictures was, admittedly, one of the hardest things for me.  I drug my feet over it.  N really had to talk me into it.  I definitely wanted to wait until we had the walls painted but even after that I was having a hard time committing.  It was really hard to reconcile decorating this house with all of the things meant for another house.  But I truly think this was a turning point for me.  Once the walls started to come alive, it no longer felt like our house was in a constant state of undone.  The vision finally started to take place and I found my motivation to continue.

Some of the artwork included is by my mom, myself, Brad Johnston, and my great Uncle Les

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-art cabinet  Love this beauty that got left behind.  Right now its full of the girls’ art supplies.  I couldn’t bring myself to chalk paint it as I had done the other two pieces of furniture but instead tried a gel stain and updated hardware.  Love the finished product!


sold the hot tub/other for the sake of the fireplace  We’ve been going “gazelle intense” (thank you, Dave Ramsey) for the sake of the fireplace makeover (the next big thing on our list) and selling everything we aren’t madly in love with.  The hot tub was a nice little perk for our house but ultimately one we never really used to it’s full extent nor cared about all that much.  Selling it (and a few other things) brought us very close to our fireplace goal.  No regrets!

Still a few more things on our list and I am excited to tackle them one by one.  I’m sure things will slow down a bit as we regroup our time and money but I feel great about the point we’ve made it to thus far!

I also thought it would be fun to start another mini-series (can you tell I like these??) that would highlight small details of the house that I love or have grown to appreciate.  While certainly far from flawless, this house is not lacking in character.  I’d love to capture the things about it that make it unique, starting next week.  Stay tuned.



Well I think Miss Bea can officially be done with babyhood.  Her first birthday party is in the books!


I had so much fun planning this party and seeing the vision come to fruition.  It is SO much easier planning a summer party versus a fall one.  We barely spent any time indoors and even though it was a little hot/buggy, no one complained!


For food we grilled hamburgers and made fruit skewers, veggies and roasted eggplant dip (eggplants for Bea, of course :)), and chips.  We asked everyone to bring a side which greatly helped and then served cupcakes for dessert.  It was very easy and required no cooking the day of!


For activities we had water balloons, yard toys, ice blocks/chisels with toys frozen inside (plan to do a post later to explain), and our very kind neighbor hitched up his carriage and took the dads and kids for a ride!

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Even though it was a good month after Bea’s birthday, she still devoured a cupcake and played along while we sang.  I loved that it was the first day of summer and felt like it was the perfect soiree to bring in the season.


Here’s a little video of the fun:

lb 1st party from Kate  on Vimeo.


Finish Line

Wow the last nine months have been a marathon.  Going from having a baby with lots of help (N + family were around so much), coming off of that and it was just me and the little ones (4 months and 2.5 years), to  N’s new job that required much more out of him (and us), to selling and moving, to setting up our temporary home, to an extended stay in California (minus Daddy), to buying and setting up house again, to all of the home projects we have attempted to accomplish since…And that only touches the physical aspect, not the emotional ebbs and flows as well.  I am exhausted.

But summer is upon us, we have made it.  N’s schedule begins to significantly slow down this week and I am soooo ready.

When we first moved into the house, my drive to complete projects was overwhelming.  I didn’t sleep very much in the early days but in that time I accomplished much.  For a while the adrenaline kept me going.  Now I am chugging along on fumes.

I’m sure this week we will take time for a lot of R&R but once I get the bug back I do hope that N and I can knock-out quite a few projects this summer.  Worried that it was going to be all work and no play, I also created a bucket list for our summer to make sure we really enjoy this special time as a family.  I’m so excited MG is at a great age to do and learn so much.  We are no longer tied down to her nap schedule if we don’t want to be.  And Bea is old enough to absorb things too.  This is the magical age where you get to see them observe things for the first time!

Here is what I came up with (with a few blank spaces to add in more ideas as they come…I already realized I forgot to put the State Fair on there!)

2014 bucket list summer

I printed this out on card stock and hung it on our fridge.  Whenever we have a free day we will attempt to check something off as a family!    Also in the plans: We also hope to have people over to the house and improve our hosting skills.  The attainable (?) goal is once a week.  We’re including Bea’s party as one of those weeks.  We also have a W family vacation (can’t waiiitttttt) and maybe another family trip somewhere in there.  N is starting his doctorate this summer so that will suck some time and also have the routine things like doctor’s appointments that we try to save for this time of year. Whew!  This summer is going to be busy but in the best possible way!  Maybe we’ll get ice cream tonight to kick it off?

If you want to create your own bucket list similar to mine , here is a blank printable for you to save to your computer and print off.  You can either hand write in your list or if you know how to use any type of photo editing software you can add in your layer of text on top. Enjoy!


2014 bucket list summerx



One of the things we wanted to add to our new house was a playset for the girls.  This house doesn’t have a playground within strolling distance like our last two 🙁 🙁 and I knew having a hang out in the back yard would be a useful addition for many summers to come!


I began scoping out our options on Craigslist, convinced we could beat the price of conventional play grounds as long as we were willing to put in a few blood, sweat, and tears (we were.  we just didn’t realize how much blood, sweat, and tears would be required).  I spent a few days playing the CL game….frantically emailing/texting, waiting in line, bidding and negotiating.  It was only a matter of time before we found one that really struck our interest, was within our driving range, and priced just right.  We won the bid and made plans to pick it up a few weekends ago.


We knew this was going to be a big project but we had no idea how to quantify it.  We both thought N would have to disassemble the entire thing and then carefully attempt to reassemble it at our house.  Thankfully it came apart in only three manageable sections but that meant two, hour and a half trips out there, two different size trailers, and some much needed help from both our neighbors and some boys from the college.

After a long day of driving and hauling, N made it home for a quick bite of dinner before bee-lining it to the yard to put it in place before losing the remaining daylight.  He had three boys on hand to help him and the first thing they did was get the trailer stuck in a muddy ditch in our front yard.  Next thing we knew, one of our neighbors was driving his tractor over in a, “hey it looks like you might need some help” kind of way and rescuing them from the ditch.  He stayed to see the entire project through and even brought over some new hooks for our swing.  Meanwhile, I got a phone call from our other neighbor saying, “hey, do y’all need some help?”  (think we must have looked a little pathetic??!!).  “I was driving by and couldn’t stop in the moment but I’d be happy to run over now!” Just a few minutes later they victoriously finished the set with just enough daylight for MG to get a few celebratory slides in before bed.


N and I were almost brought to tears by the willingness of our little community to help.  This has definitely been a season of reliance on others.  We’ve had to suck in our pride a little bit and accept help, advice, and even shelter from our friends and family.  In some cases we’ve had NOTHING to offer in return. Literally nothing other than a sincere thank you.  I don’t know how much longer this season will last but I am feeling myself being changed through it.  For that, I guess, I am grateful.


Window Shopping

A lot of my “free time” these days has been spent browsing the Internet for house ideas.  We have a bit more space to decorate in this house and a totally different aesthetic to go along with it.  I envision the rustic/vintage/antique theme that is so popular right now, with a bit of farmhouse, industrial, and Anthropologie mixed in.  Make sense?  As you can see I am all over the place right now! I’m definitely trying to pace myself as I figure out what exactly I’m looking for, what I can DIY vs. buy, and what I want to buy thrifted vs. new.

On a quest for light fixtures, I discovered Schoolhouse Electric.  Not only do they have period style lights they also have a full set of home decor.  If you culled West Elm, Restoration Hardware, and Anthropologie for all of their industrial home goods, this would be it. And the name alone . . . Could it be anymore perfect?

Here are some of my favorites:


schoolhouse lights copy

I think I have a thing for cage-y lights                                          (all images sourced from here)



schoolhouse furniture copy

(all images sourced from here)

Their furniture costs an arm and a leg (hahaha). . . but seriously, look at that blue velvet couch and that credenza (swoon)


schoolhouse quirky copy

(all images sourced from here)

The metal baskets, the house number sign with a built in planter, that drafting chair (don’t you think it would be perfect in my art room?). . . love!


schoolhouse quirky 2 copy


(all images sourced from here)

The cafeteria tray that doubles as a desk organizer??  The clock that says schoolhouse. . . these are my two favorites that I may just have to splurge on.

So where do you go to window shop?




I guess I don’t really have very much interesting to say…which is why I took an unintentional blog break last week.  Just a bunch of random updates…


Well the house is coming along, but the further we go into it, the more there seems left to be done.  It is equal parts exciting and overwhelming.  There is not a single room in the house that is done.  All of our stuff is here, and mostly put away…but we are far from finished.  I’m trying to be better about letting people in to see a little of the chaos and trying not to preface everything with: “well we still want to add/change/do….”  I guess I still haven’t learned all of my moving lessons yet, but one of the biggest things I’ve become aware of is how the unfinished nature makes me feel out of control, which in turn makes me ratchet down on things I do have control over, which never turns out well, and ultimately spirals from there.  Our kitchen is the most completed room and likewise the area we spend the most time in, so that is a blessing.

Our respite has continued to be the outdoors.  Yesterday afternoon, we took a walk, fed the neighbor’s mules, and then played and ate dinner outside.  It was storybook lovely and I hope we never take it for granted.

We tried a new church yesterday at the prompting of our neighbors…and liked it for all of the opposite reasons we liked our first church.  I guess we have some more decisions yet to make.


Lately I have been struck  by how grown up MG is becoming.  Her vocabulary is quite extensive now and her memory is spot on.  I am often amazed at the things she remembers and what triggers these memories.  We’ve been talking a lot about the story of Easter these past two weeks since being home and though death and arisen and sin are far from her conceptual grasp, she really does understand the heart of the story.  It is amazing how clear the Gospel is, that even a three year old can understand.

N shared a beautiful picture with me related to all of this.  As you know, MG has always been very drawn to babies and even still equates Jesus to being a baby.  How neat is it that God  created in her this unique attraction and used something that resonates deeply within her to begin wooing her to Him.


Speaking of babies, I babysat two boys for some friends of ours while they were away on vacation.  The boys were just about the same age as the girls which was a lot of fun, but also crazy…like having two sets of twins.  MG was my constant left-hand man, always willingly.  In fact, she has now begun assessing situations and inserting herself into them as need be.  I am so blessed to have such a smart helper as my first born.


And Bea has taken to the role of the baby.  Cute and sweet, always on the verge of a giggle.  True to nature, she will not let the attention stray to far from her, but only grabs for it sweetly, with a big smile, or a flirtatious giggle, or a lock of the eyes.


God has blessed.


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