I fell in love because of concrete.
You know, it doesn’t sound near as romantic when I actually say it out loud, but it’s true. Before I ever stepped into the Chamber world, I worked out on a ranch camp and retreat center in the middle of nowhere. Because it was in the middle of nowhere and I saw the same 5 people every day, I usually didn’t put forth much effort in making myself look good. But on one random morning in particular, a morning that I would never forget, I decided to make an effort. I washed my hair, put on some lipstick and picked to wear my pair of wrangler jeans that didn’t have any holes in them. Fancy, right? I attended my usual morning meeting then walked out the office door to start my day.
That’s when I saw my Kendall for the very first time.
The minute his big brown eyes caught mine, they darted away, and he continued to unload his mini excavator. What my directors had failed to mention during my work meeting was that we would have a construction company at our ranch for the next two weeks to pour the concrete for the new ranch kitchen. This was music to my ears! That meant two more weeks of getting to work with the rugged and handsome concrete worker with the big brown eyes. The rest of the story is history.
As you probably have assumed by now, the most recent projects that Kendall has been working on in our construction war zone has been concrete. This might sound like a bear to other home owners, but my Kendall loves his concrete projects. Too often I joke that concrete was Kendall’s very first love. Our biggest concrete project was completed months ago when we poured the world’s longest driveway. And now that Kendall has moved onto pouring our breezeway steps, patio and small pads for our air conditioning units, it’s suddenly feeling as though our house has always been established here. Day by day our house continues to evolve into our forever home and this concrete work has just been Kendall’s cherry on top.
Much to this wife’s dismay, Kendall has been working out of town for the past few summer months, so progress has definitely lulled here at the 22 Mile Home. When Kendall gets back home on a late Friday night, he of course focuses his efforts back on the house. He’s been putting in an order for a concrete truck to arrive on Saturday mornings at the crack of dawn, so there’s always been the pressure of having to get the forms ready on a Friday night.
For over a year now, we’ve been having to use the door into our garage as the main access to our house. The front door is inaccessible at the moment as it’s still a three foot leap to get in and is also being blocked by loads of sheet rock. Having the breezeway door accessible was going to be a life changer for us! Kendall had to split up his latest concrete project into two pours: one weekend pour to make the steps and the second weekend pour to finish off the rest of the patio.
For Kendall being the concrete expert that he is, not much drama was involved in this patio process and both pours went seamlessly. I’m sure that the concrete truck drivers thought that I was a complete idiot for running around like a crazy woman to take pictures of the concrete… but I got some killer shots so who’s the real winner here.
Now that we have this small bit of concrete finished, I’m amazed at how much we use this little space. And the best part now is that when people come over, they walk up to this little door to knock and come inside. Mind blowing, isn’t it!?
Even after four years of being with the concrete guy, I still know nothing about concrete. I’m not entrusted to pick up any kind of concrete tool let alone volunteer to help with a pour. So even though I’m basically useless during this part of our home renovation, concrete is still my most favorite project to watch unfold. I wish every day that I had a chance to go back in time and replay those first moments of meeting my Kendall. But in its own brilliant way, watching Kendall pour the concrete at our 22 Mile Home is just as though I am travelling back in time to that very first concrete pour.
Our (breezeway) doors are open and you are always welcome…
Ever since my sweet Kendall and I met, I’ve had a dear fried whose name just so happens to be Courtney right there with us to document every single milestone of our lives together. She was there for me before Kendall ever came along with my broken engagement. She was right here with me to celebrate an engagement that I knew wouldn’t be broken. And then after photographing our engagement pictures she was there with us to shoot our nautical themed wedding. Naturally the next photos we would graduate to would be maternity photos, so I’m sorry to let ya’ll down but, Courtney came up with an even more brilliant idea:photograph us both in our 22 Mile Home.
Now don’t get me wrong, I adore our wedding photos that capture where our story began together as husband and wife. But these photos right here below, I feel like I will cherish them all the more deeply for the rest of our lives. Here’s why.
The more time that I spend in this home, the more I fall in love with it. It dawned on me yesterday as I was watching my Kendall bust his butt as he poured our breezeway steps was that he is everywhere in this home. Everywhere I look, I see my Kendall. There’s not one thing in this home that has been untouched or improved by him. And to think, he’s been doing this all for me. Could there be any kind of greater honor?
I had no idea when I was standing up there on that altar and reciting my vows to my Kendall of what kind of adventure that we’d be getting ourselves into. And I wouldn’t change a second of it. There has always been some hard days thrown into our mix, but this house has made our relationship grow deeper, faster than I ever thought possible. There’s nothing more incredible then having a common dream and then pouring every blood, sweat and tear you have into it to see it come true.
And this home right here, it’s my dream come true.
To my dear Courtney, thank you for capturing the home and the deep love that Kendall and I have been building (cultivating) together.
Our doors are open and you are always welcome…
With graduation looming in the air, I am reminded of the vicious cycle I have had to endure when I was deciding what I wanted to be when I grow up. You know the drill. When you’re little, you think you know for sure what you want to be, then you get to high school and have no idea, only to finally pick a major in college and hope that that’s what you want to do for the rest of your life. Well folks, it’s taken me twenty-six years, but I’ve finally found my calling in life. When I grow up, I want to be a blackberry farmer.
Inspiration struck one glorious day this spring when I was on the Kansas State fairgrounds attending the MCC Sale with my Kendall. I was browsing through the plants they had for sale and that’s when I came across some measly ol’ blackberry thickets in a little plastic baggie for only $3. Blackberries are my favorite fruit… I’ve always wanted to “live off the land…” I had the $3 I needed to buy it in my pocket… So I took my chance and bought that three dollar thicket. Kendall laughed at the sight of it, but I was bound and determined to make this thing grow.
All of a sudden, my entire future became reliant upon this little berry thicket. I’d plant this bush, grow a bazillion berries and my future would be set. We’d live off the land and I’d be a blackberry farmer.
All jokes aside, I really have always had a yearning to garden. Dirt runs through my veins. I’ll never forget when I was growing up at my grandma and grandpa’s house how we’d always be feasting off of the harvest from my grandpa Delmer’s garden. Stealing sticks of rhubarb… eating corn on the cob… and my personal favorite, grandpa’s strawberries. Grandma would cut them up for us cousins, and then if we were lucky, she’d sugar them for us too. My grandpa Delmer was the rock star gardener and it pains my heart that he’s no longer here to give me the advice that I so desperately need to make my little blackberry bush grow.
I spent many nights researching online for all of the best ways to grow a blackberry bush, so once I worked up the courage, I planted my little thicket. I watered that sucker for almost a full month and nothing happened. It literally looked as though I was just watering a couple sticks that were poking out of the ground. But then, to my utter delight, one morning when I went to water my little thicket, a small hint of a green leaf had popped out to say hello. And that’s all it took for me to know, I was officially in business.
I can’t begin to explain the kind of adrenaline rush I got when I saw the plant that I nurtured actually responded and began to grow. So why stop there? Since I live practically right next to our local greenhouse, I rode my bike over to buy hoards of seeds to plant including: asparagus, watermelon, green beans, cantaloupe, carrots, broccoli, strawberries, zucchini and sunflowers. I plotted out a garden in the backyard and had to go through two rototillers to break through my rock hard, un-tilled ground.
This process took me absolutely forever and I had to stop several times due to the fact that I thought I was dying from a heat stroke. I grabbed my gloves and retreated back indoors to start some of my seeds in little cups before I transfer them outdoors.
The only thing that bothers me about gardening is the time factor. I prefer instant results… so it’s been painstakingly difficult to put a stick in the ground and five seconds later still not be able to eat a mouthful of blackberries. From what I’ve heard so far, it does take a while for the bushes to establish and then even yield a decent crop worth baking a pie for.
As impatient as I am though, nothing relaxes me more than being out in my little garden plot. I don’t know what it is, but there’s just something so soothing about taking your shoes off and letting your feet get dirty to nurture something. There’s the sweating, then the nurturing, the dedication and care, and then the eager anticipation and hope that all of your hard work is going to pay off. Even if I only get one whole blackberry to munch on by the end of this, it still has been so good for my soul.
So yeah. I wouldn’t say my blackberry business is exactly booming yet. It looks like I’ll be eating blackberries from the grocery store and having to stick to my day job for a little while longer, but stay tuned, for I have high aspirations of what my little farm could become.
Our doors are open and you are always welcome….
Grandpa Delmer, I dedicate this blog post to you. I’ve thought about you constantly during these past few weeks of my gardening ventures and I only hope that my garden can produce even half of what yours was capable of. I miss you every day and wish you were here to teach me everything you know.
The minute that I knew this home would be ours, my imagination wheels started churning and I was already longing for the day when I’d be able to decorate our new home. At first, I felt a little bit cheated as I had no idea how much labor I’d have to go through in order to get to the decorating stage. Though those days have been so long and the journey has been hard to get to this point, I still cannot believe that I’m finally being able to morph my blog into interior design posts instead of posts of utter destruction.
Though some days when I look around our home and feel overwhelmed by all that’s yet to be done, at the same time, I am amazed at just how close we are to completion! For the upstairs of our home, that is. By now I’m sure that we have all jumped onto the ship lap band wagon. I know that I sure have. While I have about 1,386, 077 different spots in our home that I wish were decked out in that beloved ship lap, I have tried to keep my creative urges under control; however, there has been one space in our home that I’ve always looked at and in my mind, ship lap has been on it.
The original kitchen was in the very heart of the home and it was though you had to make a complete circle around it to get to the rooms where you’d wish to go. After we completely demoed the kitchen, relocated it and removed pantries in the wall, we created a nice open wall and that’s when I knew that I wanted it to be ship lapped. Below is an arrow pointing to the original wall and then to follow is what it looks like after it’d been cleared.
Putting up ship lap on the walls have always been put at the very top of my priority to-do list and the very bottom of my handy man’s. So one day when Kendall and I both just so happened to get off work early before the lumber yard closed, I somehow sweet talked my way into firing up the pick up truck to go buy the shiplap for my wall.
The morning that Kendall had agreed to finally install my ship lap, I had a brunch event from my work to attend, so I wasn’t able to document the ship lapping progress like I had originally intended. My brunch only lasted a couple of hours, but by the time I came back, to my delight, Kendall had already covered the miserable maroon color in shiplap!
For those of you out there who may be ship lap snots, this technically isn’t true shiplap. True shiplap is a tongue and groove board and to my understanding, decently priced. So as an effort to save a little bit of money while still being effective with our technique, Kendall and I choose to use 1″x 8″x 8′ #2 pine boards. Kendall then beveled the edges of each board to give it the true shiplap look. I am obsessed with the way that it turned out! So long, maroon! I still intend on painting my shiplap wall white, but if you know me at all, I simply couldn’t wait to paint it before I shared a photo.
Months and months before Kendall finally shiplapped my wall for me, a big ol’ box nearly the entire length of the wall was leaning against it, containing our brand new dining room table. When Kendall and I got married, my grandma Lucy promised to buy us one special gift for our home. Just like my mom had done when she got married, I decided to choose a dining room table for our wedding gift. After being on the lookout all over the world wide web looking for the exact kind of table I wanted and wouldn’t break the bank, I found this beauty at World Market.
When you look at this photo the table looks tiny, because the room surrounding it is frankly, well, huge! But this farmhouse table will seat ten people comfortably and I’m sure lots more if we squeeze. I opted to keep both table leaves in permanently as I always want to be prepared to feed a lot of people. And who doesn’t just adore a gigantic table!?
I just love every little detail of this table. The natural pine color was at the very top of my wish list as I shopped for a table. I wanted it to be able to contrast nicely against the future dark colored hard wood flooring that we will soon lay. Between all of the raw wood colors that are currently being exposed from our floor sheeting, the ship lap wall and my unpainted pantry door, my poor farmhouse table’s color looks a little out of place. I am confident that once we’ve got paint on the walls, and seats around the table, this table is going to pop and be a true highlight in this space.
Now that my table is assembled, I can already sense a new addiction coming on as I just know that I’ll quickly become addicted to buying place mats, cloth napkins, different glasses and cutlery to create a beautiful variety of my future tablescapes.
Between the fact that my heart just aches for warmer days and that I’m not quite able to decorate my unpainted walls yet, I have become slightly obsessed with covering my house with greenery. I don’t know what it is about a live plant, but there’s just something about it when I bring one into our house that makes it feel so much more homey.
Over the past months of living in our home, I have collected several different plants and I think I’m slowly morphing into the crazy plant lady. And I’m totally okay with it.
Just the other day, Kendall and I were at a sale and I decided to try my hand at gardening when I bought a blackberry thicket. Since there’s still a likely chance of frost outside, I decided to start out my blackberry farm in a terra cotta pot inside. Once if begins to bloom, if it begins to bloom, I’ll transplant it outside to watch it grow and then live off the land and feast on blackberries for the rest of my days.
I mean, how cool would it be to be able to say that you grew your all-time favorite fruit right in your very own backyard?! If you’ve got any experience or tips for what it takes to be a successful blackberry farmer, then by all means, please let me know.
Though the days seem to stand still some days and I go back to my feelings of being overwhelmed by the dust and the chaos, I look around me at these new pieces of pretty progress in our home. There is literally nothing than brings me greater joy than being able to collect different aspects that make up a home and put it all together to create a space that is especially unique to my sweet Kendall and I. Creating spaces and making a home is what I was born to do.
Our doors are open and you are always welcome…
Never in a million years did I think my Monday evening would turn out like it just did tonight. After a day back at work, I came home to make Kendall and I supper and then we retreated away into our room to watch a movie and unwind.
About an hour into our movie, the dog started barking as though the world were coming to an end and sure enough, someone was knocking at our front door. After a quick glance out the window, I thought I saw my close family friend’s suburban so I took off in a dash to catch them out the door. I opened the door only to discover that it wasn’t who I thought it was, and to my utter horror, I was instantly humiliated by the fact that I was greeting a complete stranger in my Little Mermaid onesie.
This gentleman then quickly explained to me that both he and his family used to live here in our twenty-two mile home just prior to us buying it at an auction and proceeded to ask if they could come inside to see the progress. I was stunned. I have always wondered in my heart about the family who used to call this place home before Kendall and I would, and suddenly, to my utter delight, they were standing right there at my front door step. I had to just own up to the fact that I’d have to stride out in full confidence despite the fact that I was wearing a Little Mermaid onesie so that I could meet my long lost family.
I instantly fell in love with each one of them. As they walked the halls of our home, it was such a treasure to hear them recall how the house once was and compliment us on how we have reshaped the home. We took them through each room of the house and showed them the new nooks and crannies that we had created. They loved our shiplap fireplace and the wallpaper in the office and the new cabinet doors my sweet Kendall had made.
This whole entire time of the tour, my head was completely spinning. For one reason being the fact that I did not picture meeting my new family in my Little Mermaid onesie, but another for the fact that they were actually here in our home! I was elated to hear that they had discovered my blog and was keeping up with the progress, but then soon lost track once I had to rebrand my new website. I gave them my new little business card with my new blog address and they took a picture with my V.I.P. tour sign and then they were on their way…
The minute they had left and it finally sank in that I just got to meet this dear family, a million questions began to flood my mind that I wish I would’ve thought to ask them. I wish I could’ve asked them about the portrait drawing that I had found in one of the walls of the house and who it was… I wish I could’ve asked them who Stan was, because I found his name written on some of the wall studs that I exposed… I wish I could’ve told them about all of the bird books and children’s books that I found in the house’s little crevices and about the one little roller skate and rubber boot that I found that were each missing their mate.
I wish I could’ve heard the stories about how they had built this home and what it was like living there with their family. I wish that I had had my big farm house table all set up so that we could sit around and tell stories for hours on end. I wish that I had asked each of them for their mailing addresses so that I could write to each of them about our house progress and send them the newspaper clippings of my writing about the house.
My only glimmer of home in the midst of this all is that because I had given each of them my blog address, that they would find me on here and read this note that I have written special for them. So please, my new dear family, if you are reading this, please click on my “Contact Courtney” link so that I can get in touch with you and be able to stay in personal contact with you! I am hoping and praying that this will work.
Honestly I don’t know how I’ll ever be able to sleep tonight. I had no idea that this measly Monday would turn into a day that I will never ever forget. I feel as though my extended family grew by 10+ people tonight and my heart couldn’t be happier.
To my new family, you will forever hold a special place in my heart for allowing us to live in this home. Though you had no idea that we would be the winning bidders at the auction that day on September 6th, this house was destined to be ours next. This home now holds a huge chunk of my heart and I eagerly anticipate the many, many years that Kendall and I will spend together building a big and beautiful family just like the one I met of yours tonight. I hope you all know that our home will always be open to you and I hope that you won’t make yourself strangers. I also solemnly promise not to be wearing a Little Mermaid onesie the next time that I see you all. Thank you for having the courage to knock on my front door so that I could meet you.
With much love, Courtney.
Our doors are open and you are always welcome…
The very first time that I stepped into what would eventually become our forever home, I immediately began to dream about how I’d make this place our own. I knew right away that the bright salmon colors, the baby blues and the tacky wall quote clings would be the first things to go. I spent countless late nights on Pinterest pinning my inspiration and saving them for the long awaited day that I’d actually get to put new paint on the walls.
Little did I know that the one thing I wanted to do most would take well over a year of waiting before I could begin.
During that time of waiting, I would work alongside Kendall and watch him as he played his part to bulldoze, reshape and rebuild our twenty two mile home into its new layout. As much as I yearned to make my mark, painting would just have to wait and be the icing on the cake.
Once we made the decision to hire a sheet rocker to finish the drywall, my days of waiting finally came to an end and I was able to go and pick out my paint samples.
But let me tell you! If you follow me on social media, you probably are already aware of my dilemma in finding the perfect gray for our walls. Who would’ve thought? Gray is gray, right? Wrong. And yes, I am completely aware of the undertones that are put into gray colors and the affects that it has on the gray… but seeing it on the color swatch and then seeing it on your wall is a whole other ball game.
For almost two weeks, I just tapped swatches of paint with various undertones onto the walls and starred at each one of them hoping to be more inspired by one then the other. We ended up going our color called “silver plume,” which is the second color down on the swatch below. Now that a decision had been made, it was time to paint!
Our entire first floor in our house is completely covered in brand new sheet rock. The walls, the ceiling… It’s everywhere. And all of it requires a coat of prime and a coat or two of paint. I laugh at the irony because it’s finally the day I’ve been waiting for and now suddenly I had these feelings of dread as I blankly stare at the large task ahead of me. My shoulders and arms ache just thinking about the pain I will have to endure from rolling on all of that paint.
Last Sunday after church, one of my dear friends from our church small group came up to me and asked if Kendall and I would like to host a painting party in lieu of our traditional Friday night Bible study. I thought I’d have an emotional break down right there in church because I was so completely thankful for their willingness to take part in making our home feel even more complete. Obviously, I said yes, and agreed to pay all of my workers in an unlimited supply of tacos and chips and guacamole.
Prior to our Friday evening painting party, my boss allowed me to take the Thursday and Friday off in order to get the house prepped and ready to go. I gave the entire house a much awaited vacuuming with our shop vac in an attempt to eliminate all of the depressing sheet rock dust. That task alone took me nearly five hours to complete, but thankfully, my life feels a little more normal once again now that the dust is gone.
Once our work crew arrived and we had fueled ourselves with tacos, I kid you not, the house instantly began to transform right before my very eyes.
I wish that I could have properly captured all of my dear friends as they worked, but they all wouldn’t fit into a single picture frame! They disbursed into every nook and cranny of our home to ensure that every bit of sheet rock was covered in primer. Now that I come to think of it, I didn’t even touch a single paint roller or brush during the painting party.
Putting away the taco bar and filling each person’s painting trays with paint and making sure everyone stayed hydrated kept me completely occupied and then just like that, our walls were primed.
After only two hours of painting, our work crew had done all that they could do… because they ran out of primer! I had purchased ten gallons of primer in preparation for this party and they went through all of it. Minus the exception of our master bathroom and stairwell, they completely primed our entire upstairs walls.
Bethanne, Darren, Corina, Karissa, Jake, Yvonne, Gina, Rachel, Dan and Candace… you all are my heroes and will forever hold a special place in my heart for the work that you each put into our home.
Though it’s only primer, I am blown away by how much of a difference that paint can have on a space. The room is brighter and feels even larger than it already is. And not to mention, it just looks fresh! I’m not quite sure that my photos even do the space justice.
Now that the walls have been primed, the next and final step will be to paint the gray walls. Once the walls have been painted, it’s crazy how that will instantly unravel another 1,285 projects that we can now accomplish since the walls are finished. We can trim the windows, lay the flooring and maybe just maybe, begin to think about what I’ll want to hang on the walls.
After the painting party, I was completely beat. I mustered up all of the remaining strength that I could to scrub the paint off of me and then I was out like a light. When we woke up Saturday morning to the smell of fresh paint, Kendall and I were both inspired by the white walls to finish another long awaited project on my list: the shiplap fireplace.
Yes, it still has yet to be painted (white of course). Yes, we still need to add the sliding barn doors to the TV portion on top. Yes, we need to buy a new TV to fit the space. Yes, we are still going to make a custom mantel piece to put above the fireplace… but! The finished ship lap is just another small bit of progress, and I think it looks absolutely beautiful. Once again, these photos don’t even do this fireplace justice. This area in our home continues to prove itself to be my favorite little spot in our home.
As I sit here on a lazy Sunday afternoon in front of my newly ship lapped fireplace, my heart is overflowing with excitement for the days ahead. Suddenly our home renovation has evolved into what I call the “pretty process” and just like that, our house is looking more and more like a home. We couldn’t have gotten to this point so quickly without the help of our willing friends who came to my rescue. We are blessed with the best!
I have about a million other pictures that I would’ve shared in today’s blog post, but it’s all a part of my evil scheme to just come to our home and see the pretty progress for yourself. So come on by!
Our doors are open and you are always welcome…
In the past few weeks, I believe that I have officially entered in to a new kind of “low” as I live in the midst of our construction war zone. Even though my sweet Kendall and I decided to bite the bullet and hire a sheet rocker to finish our upstairs walls and we see new progress every day, the process has been completely overwhelming for my homemaker’s heart.
Throughout this whole renovation process, the various stages of progress have not had nearly the overwhelming, depressive influence as this dusty stage has had on me. Sheetrock dust has not only taken complete control of our home but has also rudely disrupted all of the small aspects of home that I had arranged in the nooks of our home. The dust is in my purse, in my shoes, on the pieces of mail I’ve placed on the counter and on my kitchen table.
While I understand that my “stuff” has to be moved and shoved around in order for progress to be made, I feel like I’ve been robbed of my only comforts of home. Even our master bedroom, our little getaway, has turned into a hoarder’s nest for all of the things that we don’t wish to be ruined by dust or large droplets of sheet rock mud.
There’s nothing worse than coming home after a long work day to cook supper, only to have to perform an archaeological dig as you would to uncover a dinosaur to find my stove. Some days I’m just tired and end up calling Kendall on his way home from work to ask for burgers and shakes for supper. Though I always love a good burger, once I’m finished eating, the wife guilt ensues for not making something myself.
That’s when I silently vow that once this construction process is over, I will make everything from scratch. I’ll get a steer to butcher my beef and plant a small wheat field in the backyard to harvest and make my own buns so that I will no longer have to feel guilty about eating a hamburger ever again.
Just when I think that I am going to be swallowed up in my sheet rock dust, a little light shines at the end of the tunnel. You see, where there’s sheet rock dust that means that a paint can is nearby, and paint means the end of my war on dust. Soon, roles will begin to change, as my handyman will step down as head contractor, and I will get to step up to my greatly anticipate role as head decorator.
I’ve been working to collect paint samples and am putting splotches onto our fresh sheet rock to take them out for a test run. It’s amazing how much that one little splash of color on the wall gives me hope. It’s a little sign on the wall that brightness and color are ahead, and very soon I won’t have to shop-vac our supper table before we eat.
Just today after we were leaving church, my dear friend Corina who is a part of our Bible study asked if we were ready to paint. When I replied yes, she shared that our whole small group wanted to have a painting party this Friday for us. “Courtney, we are going to get your whole house painted in one day!” she said. I wanted to burst into tears right then and there. In just a few short days, our house is going to completely transform.
I literally cannot wait.
Even though I had suffered through a couple of days of feeling completely overwhelmed by our current living situation and it’s not exactly in a state that up for hosting, it does my heart a whole lot of good to have people over. I love for them to be able to see the progress with fresh eyes and not affected by the dust. Without even realizing, their encouragement has been a life saver to me as I hear them compliment all of the new additions that they notice our home. It’s a reminder that even though it’s dusty, the progress continues and we are getting closer than we were yesterday to getting our house to feel like a home once again.
People always tell me that Kendall and I will look back one day and remember how chaotic and adventurous it was to live in our dusty home for a little while… But that’s when I’ll reach down into my pocket, pull out a handful of sheet rock dust and throw it at ’em.
Dust has brought the cranky out in me, and I’m so incredibly thankful that this dusty season in our life is nearly over. Maybe one day I will want to remember the dirty days of the Critchfield dust bowl of ’18, but today is not that day. Bring on the paint!
Our doors are open and you are always welcome.
On the night before Valentine’s Day, after my Kendall had fallen asleep and I tip toed over our squeaky hallway floors to set out his gifts and a card, I had an epiphany.
As I was writing down a small note to my husband in the obnoxiously over sized card that I got him, I wrote my typical “I appreciate you and all of the hard work that you do for me.” In that moment of silence as I wrote on our newly poured concrete counter tops, already bearing a thin layer of sheet rock dust, I took the time to soak in what those words actually meant.
I know that everyone has a mixed view on how they feel about Valentine’s Day. Some ladies love it. Other guys are annoyed that it’s just expected for them to do something spectacular. This year I was not disappointed as I still received my beautiful bouquet of a dozen roses, six red and six white… but as I was being sneaky and preparing my handy man’s little valentine surprise, I couldn’t help but become overwhelmed by his display of love and affection for me through something much greater than a bouquet of roses.
All I had to do is look around.
As I look around every aspect of this home, evidence of my handy man can be seen in every nook and cranny. It’s seen in the hanging pantry door that I begged to be installed even though there were many other things higher on our priority list that needed to be done. It’s seen in the newest addition to our home, our concrete kitchen counter tops, as I revel in the memory of watching my sweet handy man loyally attend for hours on end to ensure that the finished result was perfect. It’s seen in the massive pile of wood scraps in the middle of our living room, bearing claim to the countless hours of work that he has put into making our customized kitchen cabinets. It’s seen in the surprise of new ship lap on a Saturday morning as my handy man knew that I’d been itching to see shiplap applied to our living room’s fireplace.
We’ve all heard of the “five love languages.” Mine has always rang true to be words of affirmation and quality time. But for my Kendall, his way of showing love has always been through acts of service. It just has hit me on an even deeper of a level of just how truly special this twenty-two mile home has become to me.
Yes of course a first house for any couple is special, but I feel ours is much, much different. We have had to fight and struggle for our home in a way that not many people I know have. Just when I begin to crack a sweat because I think I’m working hard, my Kendall is right alongside me, working even harder. From stories I have heard from his mother, Kendall came out of the womb and was ready to work. That hard work ethic is in his blood. But oh, how amazing of a feeling it is to know that someone is working as hard as they are because they love you.
This epiphany came at the perfect time as just yesterday we had the whole entire day to celebrate my sweet Kendall on his birthday. Yet again, I prove my point as Kendall worked the entire day here at the house, when others would’ve asked to be relieved of their “duties” for the day. As Kendall worked around the house, I was baking in the kitchen and preparing for his birthday supper.
Besides Kendall’s obvious love for me and for concrete, his third love that I had yet to mention is ice cream. Kendall has always been hard to shop for when it comes to gift giving… but this year I prided myself in coming up with Kendall’s 27th birthday present: an ice cream maker.
Every night after supper, without fail, Kendall will ask for ice cream. So I bought the maker, let Kendall open his present early because why not, and then took to work on making my first ever batch of homemade cookies ‘n cream ice cream. Minus a few minor tweaks, the ice cream was a success and I was able to serve it along with the chocolate cupcakes I had also made for Kendall’s birthday bash. My original plan had been to serve the cupcakes and then make a small cake for Kendall to cut in to and blow out the candles… My plan was going swimmingly well until I turn my back for one minute… only to find… OUR DOG ATE KENDALL’S BIRTHDAY CAKE.
But I’ll save that story for another day.
Both my and Kendall’s immediate family came to celebrate my sweet Kendall at our home. I can’t begin to tell you how much my heart had overflowed with joy in seeing the people that we both the absolute most in our home and celebrating the man that made this twenty-two mile home all possible. As always, it was so fun to show each of them the updated progress that had changed since they had last been to visit.
This will have been my third birthday celebration with my handy man and I only can hope and pray that I get many, many more. Each day I am blown away by the fact that Kendall is my husband and that he has chosen me to build his life with in this beautiful home of ours. A house may just be a house, but mine was forever be more than that because to me, it’s a brilliant display of my sweet Kendall’s love for me. How much more lucky could a gal get?
Happy birthday, handy man. I love with you my whole heart.
Our doors are open and you are always welcome…
In the past few weeks as progress has continued here at our 22 mile home, we are nearly reaching the time that I’ve been waiting for ever since we ripped down the first piece of old sheet rock from our walls… making things look pretty again. On such a Sunday as this, I’m sure a lot of people have got football on their brains, but I cannot help but be the odd man out here as I’ve got something nothing but concrete and shiplap on my mind.
As we get closer to being ready to pour our concrete counter tops in the kitchen, our cousin Misty inspired both Kendall and I to pour a concrete hearth for our fireplace to tie in with the counter tops. Now Kendall may be the concrete pro, but all of his expertise has been put to use outdoors. I was thankful for our cousin’s idea to pour the concrete hearth as this presented Kendall with the perfect opportunity to “practice” for our kitchen counter tops.
My fireplace and the two window seats on either of its sides are by far one of my favorite features in our home. While the original house still had the fireplace, it did not have the windows. Kendall had the thought to put a couple of our extra windows on both sides and then I made up the design with the window bench seats. They came out exactly how I had imagined them in my head and I think it frames the fireplace to create a unique bit of character.
Once the set up prep for the hearth began, I tried to make myself scarce in an effort to give Kendall the complete concentration that needed. He has a “concrete zone” that he goes into whenever he pours, and since he was working on my fireplace, I sure as heck didn’t want to mess this particular project up. So though I made myself scarce, I tried my best to document each step.
Kendall started out by making the forms to hold the concrete together. It’s in these beginning steps that he never ceases to amaze me as he works patiently and meticulously to ensure that he has set things up the way he knows they will work best. Me, now I’d be all too anxious to see the end result so I’d rush the process… but not Kendall. As you will see here in a bit, his patience will have paid off ten-fold.
The next step was to mix the concrete. Kendall somehow managed to lug in the overly heavy concrete mixer that my Grandma Lucy had bought us for Christmas. Then he brought in the six bags of concrete mix, each weighing in at over 90 pounds. Kendall hooked up the extended garden hose and ran it into the house from the outside, creating his very own little concrete plant. I was impressed.
Once the concrete was mixed, the pouring began! I think the hardest part from this whole entire process was keeping our curious wiener dog Susan away from the concrete. Later once the concrete had been all poured, she attempted to jump up on the still wet hearth to see what the fuss was all about… but thankfully, I caught her just in time and was able to save both Kendall and I some heart break.
Even though I married the concrete guy, I still only have the slightest concept of how this whole process works. But as I watched from afar, Kendall continued to patiently pour and trowel and pour and trowel the concrete some more.
Once the concrete had been all poured and the sides edged, we just sat and watched the concrete dry. I was still in a daze and maybe even a little bit of disbelief that the concrete hearth had actually been poured! Once reality hit, I refused to go within even five feet of that fireplace for fear that just even looking at the concrete would ruin its perfect finish.
For the next six hours, Kendall would intermittently tap on the sides of the concrete forms with a hammer to help release some of air pockets that still might’ve been trapped. *That’s a concrete professional tip right there… you’re welcome. He tap the concrete and then troweled the top a little bit more, resulting in a perfect finish.
This morning it was as though it were Christmas morning all over again at the Critchfield house. Kendall and I both popped out of bed to see how the concrete had dried over night. We discovered that Kendall’s constant love and care paid off and the hearth turned out even better than I expected. All dressed up in his church clothes, Kendall removed the concrete forms to unveil my beautiful, freshly made hearth.
Once we arrived home from church this afternoon, the first thing we both did was come in and stand in front of the fireplace and just stare at it in all its glory. As if my excitement couldn’t heighten anymore than it already had, Kendall commenced to hang the shiplap! I think seeing the finished hearth made us both desire to see the finished fireplace as well!
It’s made pretty obvious in the picture below that I didn’t have the patience to wait to write this blog post until the entire fireplace was covered. I was far too thrilled to show it off. Once it is all hung though, I plan to paint the shiplap a nice clean white color and then add the raw wood mantle on the top.
Even though this past week has personally been a little overwhelming for me with the sheet rock dust and saw dust covering over everything I hold dear, it’s seeing this kind of progress that makes it all worth it in the end. To me, this shiplap and concrete hearth is a reminder to me that the end is in sight and making one small area in our house look pretty gives me the energy to go on another day.
As I sit and stare at this fireplace, I can’t help but think about all that this one small aspect of our home will mean to us. If we carry on some of the traditions as were done in my family, this fireplace will one day be the spot where our children sit to take their picture together after a birthday or music school program… It’ll be the place where our stockings will be hung and the place to discover what presents Santa brought to each of them… And most importantly, it’ll just be a focal point to gather around and sit with all of the people that we hold most dear. Oh my beloved little shiplap fireplace with the concrete hearth, this story is only the beginning for you.
Our doors are open and you are always welcome…
As much as I love to see progress continue here at the 22 mile home, I will be the first to admit that I can feel a little bit overwhelmed at times with the work load ahead of us and sometimes crave a weekend getaway. Kendall, of course, will never complain and will take each day head on and full steam ahead. There are some days that I have to be the “rest dictator” and literally demand that Kendall puts his hammer down and stop working to just rest a little bit.
So when I got an invitation from my sister Kayla to go on a little weekend getaway with her to Kansas City, I knew that this would be the perfect opportunity to literally pry Kendall away from the house for a little while. The sights, sounds and rush of the big city was definitely the change of scenery that we needed for the time but I still couldn’t help but immediately miss our new home and the sense of comfort that it now brings to me.
Okay, so enough about me! Let’s talk about the whole reason we even went to Kansas City in the first place. For all of your curious minds out that still may be wondering… Kayla had just recently started dating a high school class mate of mine. Still to this day I’m wondering why I hadn’t thought of this perfect match made in heaven myself! In the same way that Kendall evens out my overly spunky self, Caleb is the steady, gentle spirit that I think is just what Kayla needs.
As Kendall and I were chauffeured around by the two love birds through the rolling hills of Kansas City, I was able to see how they both share the same love for the city life. They both crave the hustle and bustle. i\I’m telling you, these two can’t sit still for very long! They constantly are looking at the next adventure ahead of them.
Caleb took us through beautiful downtown where we were able to witness beautiful murals and then we were able to go see where he works and the airplanes that he worked on.
Naturally, my favorite part of this road trip was when Caleb asked us if we wanted to make the trek into IKEA. I don’t think that my clout alone would’ve convinced him to go there, but since Kayla hadn’t been there before, I got to take them on the grand tour into homemaker heaven.
Immediately as I stepped into the doors, I saw about ninety million different things that I wanted to buy for our house. I adore each of the mock up living rooms that were on display and took mental notes from each place that I gathered inspiration. I’ve tried really hard to rein in my spending on items for the house until it was to a place that it’s finished and I know what I’d need for each space. But of course, going to IKEA would be a waste without getting a few little souvenirs. Both were two staples for my home that I have always wanted, too!
I snagged the most darling little white tea pot complete with four matching cups and saucers to boot. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been watching a lot of Downton Abbey lately or what, but I just had to have it. I also got two of IKEA’s iconic faux plants that I plan to put in little pots and proudly display them on my kitchen’s open shelving. All the while that we were shopping and I was drooling over every throw pillow and area rug, Caleb and Kayla seemed a little out of their element. And yet, Caleb still manages to find Kayla a round basketball pillow to buy as her IKEA souvenir. I don’t know how he managed to find the one semi-sporty piece of merchandise in the entire store but he did, so I suppose I have to give him a little bit of credit for that…
After my adrenaline rush from being at IKEA had subsided, I was ready to be back at home. So we said our sad farewells… little did Kayla know though, what we all had secretly planned up our sleeves. You see, Caleb and I had been scheming for well over a month’s time to surprise Kayla and take her to a KU basketball game, which just so happened to be the following weekend.
Fast forward to the following Saturday… Kayla thinks that she is coming over to my house to hang out with me for the day and I teach her how to do a weekly meal plan. I told her to go into my pantry to get a few ingredients and ta-da! There was Caleb! Thank the Lord, I was no longer bound to my secret and the secret was now out that we would be getting dressed and headed to Lawrence for the KU versus Baylor game that same day. Sadly, amidst all of the excitement of the surprise, I was unable to document that Caleb was at our 22 mile home and got the VIP tour. So we improvised.
Now basketball games aren’t really my cup of tea, but even I will be the first to admit that there’s nothing more exciting that being there, live and in person, to watch a team that you’ve grown up cheering for. Once again, it was such a joy to see Kayla and Caleb embark on another adventure together. I was just thankful to be along for the ride.
To Caleb and Kayla (try saying that ten times fast)…
I wish you nothing but a future filled with adventure, crash-free hover board rides, John Mayer music constantly playing in the background and one day hopefully the realization that IKEA stands for “I knead everything always.”
I know this blog post is a little off kilter and not my typical renovation update for you all, but today as I write, I am reminded of how important it is to take time away from the daily grind and spend it with the people that you love the absolute most. More often than not, those moments of time are made into memories that you will cherish for the rest of your life.
Our doors are open and you are always welcome…
I remember “back in the day” when the best three words that any mother could utter were “No school today!” You knew immediately that once you heard those blessed words, the rest of the day was dedicated solely to doing nothing, except maybe watch a movie or five. Now that I’ve become an adult, snow takes on a whole new level of meaning. It means scraping your car and bundling up. It means driving to work like a granny and being next level anxious the whole time you’re on the road… but sometimes, just sometimes, you will get a call from your boss and she says “Stay home.”
I think the initial disbelief that I was getting a snow day caused me to not think to stop and take a picture of our 22 mile home in its first ever snow, in its new location at least. So this top picture doesn’t do justice to how beautiful the snow made our house look.
Once it finally sank in that I had the whole day to myself (Kendall sadly still had to go to work), I had to figure out what the heck I was going to do! The high schooler in me wanted to relive the good ol’ days and stay in bed and watch movies all day, but I decided to be a homeowner instead and get some odd jobs crossed off my list.
Now that Kendall has all of our cabinet doors built, all of our contents inside of the cabinets will actually be protected. Who would’ve thought! I mean I am all about the open shelves concept, but I was getting pretty tired having to first blow off a decently thick layer of dust off my spices so that it wasn’t the dust I was sprinkling into my food.
I took every can of food, every pot and pan and every spice that I had managed to stuff into the few shelves I had assembled and completely washed everything. My salt and pepper shaker, my bottle of vanilla… I washed it all. Maybe it’s a little pathetic that I am so excited about my freshly organized cabinets, but man does it feel good to have one more thing in our house be dust free.
Another small labor of love that I decided to tackle was sweeping up our entire upstairs in order to rid myself of a little more saw dust. As I sit here and type, I am listening to the loud hum of the table saw, so the dust-free floors didn’t last very long. But I had to do it for my own sanity.
You’d think that doing these two chores wouldn’t take too long, but it took up the entirety of my morning. Worn out, I decided to take a little break and do some painting. My only new year’s resolution this year (besides finishing the house haha) was to be more intentional about sending loved ones “happy mail.” So I got out my water colors and made a few notes for some people that have been on my mind.
By the time that I had finished my little cards, my sweet handy man came home and immediately wanted to take advantage of the long afternoon he had left to work on the kitchen. We took a ten minute date to the lumber yard and that’s where I begged Kendall to buy me my hinges for my swinging pantry door. You might remember me mentioning once that hanging the pantry door was on Kendall’s “not a priority” list, so to my shock and utter delight, Kendall bought me my hinges!
I had originally bought this door in the company of my mother-in-law, Denise, as we made a trek out to a barn sale in search of my perfect pantry door this past summer. I found the perfect fit, that turned out not to be the perfect fit, so my handy man had to plane down one side of the door and add a little more length to make it fit the opening.
Of course, I was too impatient to finish the door before I had it hanged… so I feel obligated to tell you that this isn’t going to be the look of the door forever! I plan to sand the door down even more and paint it matte black to match our lower cabinets. I could stare at this newly hanged door forever. It blows my mind with each little new addition that we make to the house as I can feel it become more and more like home.
I’m a firm believer that there are just some (snow) days that we need to dedicate to ourselves for doing absolutely nothing. But for this particular snow day, I am extremely thankful for the opportunity that I was given to be at home and nest a little more. It’s been so good for my soul.
Once the snow melts, come over for some tea.
Our doors are open and you are always welcome…
Ever since I became a housewife, I have striven to keep a neat and tidy home. I’m a firm believer that everything has a place and that it should be kept there when it’s not being used. The older I get, the more severe my OCD gets, but having to live in a construction war zone has forced me to throw that OCD out the window. I can’t tell you how many times I have to give myself a little pep talk just to calm my nerves down and say “This is just my life right now!”
I thought it’d be fun to write a blog post a little bit different than my usual progress updates and give you all a little glimpse of what it’s like living in our construction war zone… and also to remind myself that these things that I am living with right now are only temporary.
When we first moved into our 22 mile home, I would try to be like a little invisible cleaning fairy that would swoop in behind Kendall and clean up the messes that each project would ensue. All too quickly I learned that my striving was all for nothing and that I needed to learn to let go a little and realize that a little bit of dust is okay. And oh, you should just see my house now that I’ve found this new freedom of mine! My floors are by far taken the worst hit.
Now that Kendall has shifted all of his focus into our kitchen and building the cabinets, there is sawdust anywhere and everywhere that the eye can see. My first reaction is to sweep, but five minutes later, it will be right back to the way it was. I always walk around our house in my bare feet and developed feet of steel, but I have met my match with our cabinet’s little wooden shavings. I had to do a minor surgery on the bottom of my feet to remove all of the splinters and sadly wear shoes inside now wherever I go, but this is just my life right now.
I think if I found a genie in a bottle and he told me that I only had one list, I’d probably ask for the counter tops to be done.
My dad came over this morning to help out with the sheet rock and the rest of my family joined later at lunch time to eat with us. All the while that I was doing the meal prep for my hard working boys, I kept having to wash and re-wash my worn out little bamboo cutting board so that I could have a clean surface to make each of my meals… but this is just my life right now!
When my sister Aubs was dishing up her pizza and caesar salad at lunch today, she said “I like the way the counter tops are looking right now!” but I quickly set her straight and said that she needs to stick to an actual counter top look. But if by some chance that this “look” becomes all the rage one day, I am totally taking all of the glory for it.
Once I had our lunch meal all prepped and ready today and the pizza was coming out of the oven, it dawned on me that we didn’t have a single non-dusty place to sit. Kendall has converted our current kitchen table into a building station for our cabinets, so it was completely covered in wood shavings and drill bits and mountain dew pop cans.
Kendall’s grandma Jennie gave us three card tables and folding chairs and they have seriously been a God-send. I hustled to get the least-dusty table from my stash and set up a place to eat smack in the middle of the kitchen. It was a tight and cozy fit with all of us squeezed around the table, but everyone was so gracious. I started to apologize for the seating situation… but they already know… this is just my life right now!
Kendall and I are still camping out in our little “studio apartment” that we have blocked off for ourselves in an effort to have one aspect of our home feel a little normal. This bedroom that we are staying in was the house’s original master bedroom, so there is private bathroom in this room. Since we plan to turn this bathroom into a guest closet, we didn’t hook up the toilet and shower… so that bathroom now serves as my make shift walk-in closet.
Even though that old bathroom has done a decent job of keeping all of my clothes organized, I still needed a place to hang coats and scarves and hats. Our studio just doesn’t have the capacity for that, so I have made our vacant entry way into a second dressing room for myself. It also doubles as a dumping ground for random objects that I don’t know where to put and then also Susie’s little place to eat.
I have aspirations of turning this entry way into a beautiful display and first impression when you walk into our home, complete with double doors and a gigantic mirror to check your lipstick on the way out… but this makeshift ironing and dressing station is just going to be my life for right now!
My original plan in creating our studio apartment was for it to be a little retreat space that we could run away to and hide from the chaos of the construction. I even started to decorate and make it feel a little more homey… but somehow the construction followed us when we’d sneak away. This room has become as equally dusty as the rest of the house, as you will see in the picture below of our poor little end table. It’s a good thing that I like the color white because that’s the color that our pesky dust is turning everything. I kid you not, I will dust off these end tables and within an hour you can already see a new, thin layer of dust on the wood.
Breathe in… breathe out… this is just my life right now!
All jokes and dramatization aside, everyday is a new lesson for me to be thankful for every season, even the dusty seasons in life. In those morning moments when I’m just walking into work and look down to see my black pants are now white from the dust, I want to choose to be thankful. Even if it means just being thankful that this dust won’t be in my house forever! This is just my life right now!
Our doors are open and you are always welcome…