Moving to the Country!

Yep. We decided to move to the country! Some people were a little shocked by this since we seem like “city folk,” so I thought I would give you all the full story. 😉

My friends who have known me most of my life weren’t surprised. I have loved horses as long as I can remember. I used to beg my parents for one and to move to the country. If things like that can be inherited, then I got it from my dad. He had horses growing up and even rodeoed for a living when he was younger. Here is a picture of him from his glory days.

And here is one of us both riding.

I remember my grandma (his mom) telling me that when he was a kid he said when he grew up he was going to have horses grazing right up to his front door. This sounded like a great dream to me, so I decided to make it mine as well.

I begged and begged for a horse for years and didn’t get one. But I did go to horse camp every summer growing up and rode friends’ horses any chance I got. And then, in high school, my parents made my dream come true by getting me a horse!! His name was Amigo and he was perfect. He came with me to horse camp one year, and we went on lots and lots of trail rides, play days, barrel races and I even competed in rodeo queen contests with him.

Rustin didn’t grow up around horses, but he did grow up around the outdoors. His hometown is in the Four Corners region and he was only 45 minutes from Durango, CO. Instead of spending their free time playing video games, he and his friends would ride jeeps in the canyon or go skiing.

When we met, he was living in Denver – where he always wanted to live. I won’t get into all the details or he said / she said 😉 but he was under the impression I was down to live there forever, but when it snowed in May this Texas girl was OUT!

So anyway both of us wanted to be in the country. Me to have my horses, and him to be in the “outdoors.” We thought we would save up for a few years and then make the move, but then when A1 was about to start school we felt like we were at a crossroads. We didn’t want to have her switch schools when she was older, so it was sort of now or never.

We knew what we wanted but at the same time didn’t. I wanted at least two acres so I could have a horse. To me, it was pointless to move to the country if I couldn’t. Rustin didn’t want to take care of a lot of land and didn’t want to be too far out and wasn’t too sure about a horse. He wanted lots of trees. I liked trees too, but also wanted a pasture.

First of all there weren’t a lot of options. If we wanted a one acre lot in a subdivision then we would have been set. But we didn’t want to see neighbors and didn’t want just a big yard. The few options that were out there seemed to be something either Rustin liked or I liked, but we didn’t agree.

But then we finally found a house and put in an offer. They verbally accepted, and in my mind, we were moving. Well a bit later we found out it was in a floodplain and would require expensive annual insurance. It may sound silly, but I was devastated. I didn’t think we would find anything again that we both liked, in a location we liked, going to a school we liked. I felt like my dream was crushed.

Well shortly after that another house came on the market. Again we put in an offer and they verbally accepted. It was a divorced couple and everything was done through their lawyers and took forever. So when they didn’t give us the signed contract for several days, we didn’t think much of it. I sold several pieces of furniture and once again, thought we were for sure moving. Then they came back and said they received another offer and needed us both to submit our best and final offer by Sunday night and they would tell us the decision on Tuesday. Of course the waiting was SO hard. And they didn’t tell us until THURSDAY that we lost the bid!

I was ready to be done but the NEXT DAY a house came on the market and I fell in love. I just knew it was for us. It looked like Joanna Gaines had designed it, it was covered in trees, in an area we liked, in our price range, 2 acres. Perfect. We worked with our agent on what offer would for sure get us this house and offered WELL over asking price, no contingencies and STILL lost it. 🙁

That one put us both under. We were completely emotionally drained from the process. Now A1 was in school and we started wondering if we should give up. One door after another was closing. We didn’t know if God was telling us this isn’t where He wanted us. So I prayed. A lot. I asked Him if he didn’t want this for us then to change my heart because I still so desperately wanted to be in the country.

We kept our search alerts up, but there was no inventory. I decided that IF it was going to happen, it would happen in spring or summer when more houses go on the market. That would be great too so A1 could finish the school year. So I put the whole moving thing on hold in my mind. Then one night our house came on the market. It didn’t even have any pictures up yet, just a description. Four acres, a guest house, shop, barn, heavily treed, but also a horse pasture. I immediately texted Rustin who was out of town and sent him the link with ALL THE HEART EYES!!

A few things happened that made us really think this is where God has us and we should put in an offer. They accepted – no back and forth. But then it was the stressful part – selling our house. This was at the beginning of December. I was so worried because who buys a house right before Christmas, mid-school year?? (Except us of course!) Again, we prayed hard and received an offer the DAY after it went on the market.

I didn’t want to move to the country to have a fancy house or anything like that. I wanted to move to get away from it all. To try to live a simpler life. I kept joking this past year that I wanted to move to the country and be Amish. I’m doing half. We’ll see if I do the other half 😉 If I don’t, I’ll be sure to keep you updated on all of our renovations and country life in general!


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But What If They Don’t Like Me?

This is my first “real” blog post since I have moved to this public blog. Before, when my blog was private and only read by people I knew, I wrote a lot more from the heart. Once I decided to switch my blog to a public format, I have frozen up. Sure I don’t mind sharing DIY tips or our vacation itineraries. But really writing how I feel about things like I used to do has become incredibly scary. So scary I have been paralyzed. I will think of something I want to write about and immediately start to worry if someone will take it the wrong way or if someone won’t like it.

I have always struggled with people pleasing and thought it would get better as I got older, but somehow lately it’s become worse. I used to think that once I had a husband and wasn’t worrying about the dating scene things would be much easier. I also thought I wouldn’t struggle with it as much if I was no longer in school or working and therefore not having to “prove” myself to my classmates/professors or co-workers/bosses.

But now that I am married and staying home with my girls, it’s still a struggle. Now instead of worrying about what a certain guy will think of me, I worry what that mom will think of me when she sees me hand my kid a non-organic snack. Or what my friend will think of me when she comes to visit my home knowing hers is worth 3 times mine. See, if you struggle with a sin and you don’t deal with the heart issue, it will never go away. It will just change with you as you go, causing a struggle no matter your life stage.

Knowing someone doesn’t like me kills me. And whenever someone is mad at me, my mind always goes to “what did I do wrong?” I never consider the possibility that maybe they’re wrong or struggling with something and taking it out on me. That may sound noble, but it’s really not. It leads to very wrong thinking. I always assume I’ve done something wrong to the person, and therefore I’ve done something wrong to God. So when someone is not pleased with me, my mind always makes the leap to – “I’ve failed God.” Because of that, I have been operating out of this mentality that says to please God, I must please all people all the time. The problem with that is the Bible.

Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 2:4-6, “On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority.” (emphasis mine)

And also in Galatians 1:10, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Wow. He goes as far as to say if I am trying to please people, I am NOT a servant of Christ. Ouch.

Even Jesus said, “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 10:22)

Coming to the realization that people disliking me is NORMAL and actually to be expected, not a sign that I am sinning against God, has been incredibly freeing for me. So freeing that I am writing this blog post.

I love writing. I want to share my heart, but I have become so scared to let anyone in past surface level that I have shut down. My fear of people has led me to not move forward with what I feel God is calling me to do – to write. So this is my first feeble attempt to push through. Feel free to call me out if I continue not writing, but don’t make me think you don’t like me 😉 (kidding of course)

*I feel like I should add a disclaimer here and say that if you ARE sinning, and people are mad at you because of that, then yeah you’re in the wrong and have done something against God. What I’m talking about here is not doing anything wrong, but people just not liking you for whatever reason (and with the Internet the way it is these days, people find a WHOLE LOT of ridiculous reasons not to like other people).*

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Tour of Texas

My husband and I have been wanting to do a trip to Texas Hill Country for a while, so we figured now is a good time! It was really a lot of fun, and I feel like we go to see so many things! And the drive from Dallas wasn’t bad. We definitely didn’t do EVERYTHING there is to do, but we fit in quite a bit. So if you’d like to take your own Tour of Texas, feel free to follow in our footsteps!

I declared our theme song to be “Texas Time Travelin'” by Cory Morrow. Although “My Texas” by Josh Abbott Band would have also been a good choice. We decided to do the biggest chunk of driving on the first day when we were still rested. Nowadays I don’t even mind driving. As long as there’s no kids, it’s a nice little break 😉 Our first stop was the Czech Stop in West, Texas. The kolaches and really everything there is SO good!

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From there we drove straight to San Antonio. Our first stop was the Alamo. Since I used to teach 4th grade Texas History, I could have totally led the tour. (Just kidding – I sadly don’t remember much. I blame having kids.)


Several people recommended getting dinner at Pearl Brewery, but we were very confused by this. We thought it was a brewery (one place) that also served food, but we couldn’t find a menu or any info on a “Pearl Brewery” restaurant. We just decided to go there and check it out for ourselves. We quickly realized that Pearl Brewery is actually a neighborhood complete with different restaurants, bars and shops.


We went to Southerleigh first (since it is actually a brewery) for drinks and appetizers.

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Rustin REALLY wanted the deviled eggs, and I have to admit they were pretty tasty! We left there and went to get dinner. There were several places to choose from, but we landed on La Gloria since you have to get Tex Mex in San Antone! Everyone was ordering these fun-looking drinks, so we decided to give it a try. It’s called a Mangonada.


La Gloria wasn’t bad, and it had a great patio right on the Riverwalk, but it wasn’t that great. I found out later that we apparently should have gone to Mi Tierra.

After dinner, we decided to walk along the Riverwalk several miles back to our hotel. The weather was absolutely perfect and everything was still lit up from Christmas. It was a great walk!


The next morning Rustin brought me breakfast and I stayed in bed watching HGTV as long as I wanted, and it was AMAZING!!



From San Antonio, we started making our way to Fredericksburg. We could have taken a more direct route, but wanted to go to Johnson City and Wine Road 290, so we took 281 north to Johnson City. I wanted to go there because they have the BEST BEEF JERKY EVER! The place is called Whittington’s, and I found out you can buy it online now. You’re welcome.


We also went to Lyndon B. Johnson’s boyhood home.


We got there at 1:59pm and a tour started at 2pm! I am a bit of a history geek so I loved hearing the stories and looking around. This is the parlor and the furniture is original.


And the kitchen –


And of course LBJ’s room (that is a picture of him above the bed) –


The road from Johnson City to Fredericksburg is called Wine Road 290 because, well, there’s lots of wineries. We had recommendations from friends so we stopped by a few  – William & Chris, Hilmy, and Woodrose (which was our favorite!).


As it was getting dark, we made it to our bed and breakfast – Cotton Gin Village – and we stayed in the Rio Grande cabin. I LOVED it!




The next morning we woke up to a delicious picnic breakfast!



The first place we went in Fredericksburg was the National Museum of the Pacific War (like I said – I’m a history geek). It was really a neat museum, and I highly recommend going at least once.




We headed to Fredericksburg Brewing Company and hung out in the Biergarten while we waited for our table. Prost!



We, of course, had to do a shopping stroll down Main Street then decided to try another winery – Fat Ass Ranch and Winery. No, I’m not making this up.



After that we went to Luckenbach. Not sure why, but I have been DYING to go there forever!! I don’t know what I was expecting but there wasn’t much to it, although if someone was playing in the Dance Hall, I could see it being super fun! We did total tourist things like taking pictures in front of the signs and buying a coffee mug and shirt.







The next day we were sort of tired (can you blame us?) so we thought we would just go to a few wineries. We went to one and while we were there, we decided to go to Garrison Brothers Distillery. Or should I say RUSTIN decided. I am not a fan of bourbon and wasn’t thrilled about going, but I had already drug him to several “not fun” things on the trip, so I figured we’d go. Well we were SO GLAD we did!! It may have been one of our favorite places. The ranch was just so neat.


They have several fire pits outside and a lot of refreshments (hot cocoa, water, wine, beer, and all the ingredients for s’mores)! All you have to do is put money in an “honor box” and get what you want. It was about an hour until the next tour so we hung out by the fire.


They take you on a little “hay ride” for the tour –


I wasn’t a huge fan of the actual tour because, like I said, I am not interested in bourbon, but Rustin had fun!


From there we started making our way back toward Dallas. Between Fredericksburg and Austin, we stumbled on Twisted X Brewing Company and stopped by there. In Austin we met up with Rustin’s cousin and her husband who runs Still Austin Whiskey Distillery (which is coming soon) for dinner.

We stayed the night at a hotel in Round Rock and the next day went to my Mothership – Magnolia Market. Yes, I am the typical Fixer Upper fanatic. I had a HUGE shopping list and I may be biased, but it is a really cool place. They have a big outdoor area, which is where Rustin hung out while I shopped. The weather was great, and he grabbed a cup of coffee and told me to take my time 🙂




I can’t wait to show y’all this Cup for Days rack in my kitchen! And of course I stopped by the bakery for cupcakes and they did not disappoint!


From there we stopped in West (again) at the Czech Stop for lunch and headed back to Dallas. I hope you enjoyed this post, and if you take your own Tour of Texas, please let me know!

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Nordstrom Anniversary Sale – ALL THE THINGS I WANT

I’ll be honest, before blogging I didn’t know much about this sale. I probably noticed it when it was already over. But since I started blogging, I’ve been getting all these emails about it and it really piqued my interest! Of course I don’t own a Nordstrom card – that is just asking for trouble – so I didn’t have access to shop early. So if you don’t own one either, well, solidarity sister! The good news is, we can shop soon!! I suggest having your wish list full so you are ready to roll tomorrow when the sale opens to the public! Prices go up August 7th, so get it while it’s cheap!

To help you dig through all the greatness, I have put together my faves. To make it easy, I split them up into two categories. Godspeed….


  1. I am OBSESSED with this Chambray dress. PLUS it’s off the shoulder AND only $31?!? Yes please!
  2. Cute, distressed Viggos destroyed jeans and they’re only $44!
  3. Oh Free People, you are my clothes soulmate.
  4. I have been DYING for a jacket like this since last year. You can’t beat the price on this one. Of course, if you are Miss Money Bags, you can splurge for the real thing. And if that’s you, feel free to take me to a steak dinner 😉
  5. I have to admit I am still in love with my Sole Society booties I got last year, but these are a pretty close match. If you’re in the bootie market, these are great!
  6. Ohhh emmm gee I need these!! They also had some like them in cow print, but they are sold out in most sizes and let’s be honest, I probably couldn’t pull it off.
  7. Tory Burch flats. I have a hard time with this because I don’t like spending this much, but I have been wanting them forever and love this neutral color.
  8. Do I really need rain boots? I don’t know but I’ve had my eye on them forever and they’re on sale so…..


Confession: I love Kendra Scott. Call me bandwagon, call me basic, whatever- I like it. The heart wants what it wants. The thing with Kendra Scott you have to beware of is if you get too much, it can all look the same. I like to switch up the color as well as the shape of my KS jewelry to avoid this. But my top (only) jewelry items are Kendra Scott. You’ve been warned.

  1. I love Elle earrings– I own three pairs! This color is super neutral and could go with so many things, but there are other color options available too.
  2. I have this necklace in pink and wear it way more than I thought I would. I love the option of a neutral color that would be super easy to layer with other necklaces. Like the one above, there are other color options.
  3. I already own this cuff. I got it as a gift and wasn’t sure about it, but have worn it ALL THE TIME! There are several different color options, but I am a gold girl.
  4. Nail Polish!! Deborah Lippmann – such great stuff and love these colors.
  5. Let’s be honest, NARS owns the blush game.
  6. More polish and I love each of these colors. This and/or #4 would make perfect gifts!

I hope this helps you narrow down your choices! Let me know what you end up getting!!

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My Night Alone in a Hotel Room


I realize the title may be misleading and make this post sound waaaaay cooler than it actually is. You’ve been warned.

I am an introvert. It’s just who I am. Because of that, I NEED alone time. Not in a – oh I enjoy this and would like to do it if I have time – sort of way. No, in a – I might go insane and copy that lady who just left one day and lived as a homeless person in Key West – sort of way. Since becoming a mom, I have lost my alone time in a way I never imagined.

I obviously lost a lot of my alone time when I had my first daughter, and it took some time to adjust, but since she was the only one, I was guaranteed alone time when she was sleeping or visiting the grandparents. Ever since #2 has been thrown in the mix, I have been walking a thin layer of pudding skin between normal and crazy. I always have one kid with me. In the bathroom, when I’m sleeping (my oldest has started the creepy thing of coming into our room at night and looking at us), in the car, running all errands.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids to pieces and wouldn’t trade staying home with them for anything, I’m just saying it was to the point where I needed a sanity break. I had joked that my dream was to get a hotel room alone for just one night ever since I was still nursing my first. It seemed so magical to be in a room where NO ONE would talk to you. You could lay in bed as long as you wanted. You could watch whatever you wanted on TV. YOU COULD SLEEP IN AS LONG AS YOU WANTED!!! The thought was so wonderful. Usually when my husband would bring it up, I would say “oh no, it’s ok” like a good mom-martyr. But this time he asked and I said YES. I think I surprised him by my response. I guess it will teach him to not ask questions if he doesn’t expect me to take him up on it hehe.

So I did it. I stayed in a hotel room by myself. As I was driving to the hotel (which was like 5 miles from my house) I started thinking the only thing that could make it better was if it was raining. When it’s raining, I somehow feel validated that I’m in bed being lazy. When it’s all sunny and pretty outside, I feel guilty that I’m not out enjoying it. Well this day it was sunny and no rain was in the forecast. Shortly after checking in to my room, the sky got dark and a HUGE rainstorm came! God had already given me my dream night away, He didn’t owe me this. He didn’t owe me any of this. But it just reminded me of how good He is. And even in times we don’t see Him, or feel like we’re unraveling and He’s not doing anything, it reminded me that He will always provide and provide abundantly.

So back to me being lazy and watching TV… I wasn’t sure about this part because I wouldn’t have my DVR, Hulu, etc. What shows would I watch?? I love true crime shows. Like addicted. The First 48 is my favorite. I turned on A&E – nothing. So I did other things, got food, etc. Turned it back…. The First 48 was on… for HOURS!! I did a small dance in my bed… alone (again did I mention I am ALONE – no one asking for food, no one crying, no one asking to watch Daniel Tiger).

Even though this wasn’t something crazy and huge, it made a world of difference for me. I felt refreshed. I felt like I could handle life again. If you feel like you are about to lose it, I highly encourage you to do this. Take just one night to relax alone.

Of course, I couldn’t be away from the fam for too long, so I told them I would allow them to come visit me at my oasis in the morning to swim. But not before 10am. Because I was going to wake up when I wanted and watch HGTV while drinking coffee #heaven


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Splurge vs. Save – Sandal Edition

So as we’ve discussed before, I have champagne taste on a beer budget. So if I ever spot something that looks designer for a fraction of the cost, you know I am all about it!!

I first fell in love with the Joie a la Page brand last year when I saw this photo.


I loved everything about it!! The Free People dress, the beach, and especially THE SHOES! I had to do a lot of digging to find out what they were and was so excited when I tracked them down, only to be let down by the fact that they were Joie a la Plage and $400. Come on!! But some good came out of it…I found out who this girl is. She has a blog, and the BEST braid tutorials on her YouTube channel. I’ve tried several and LOVE them for days when I don’t want to wash my hair. So yeah….every day. (You can also follower her on Instagram @amberfillerup)

I was able to find a less expensive version of the sandal. Unfortunately it was still about 10x what I would normally pay, but I was obsessed, remember?? And $100 was a heck of a lot cheaper than $400!! I got them last year, but they still have some at Zappos.


But anyway – back to the sandals on this post. I decided I would never pay that much for sandals again, but still found myself obsessed with Joie a la Plage. And I’m not the only one. Reese Witherspoon and several fashion bloggers have been spotted wearing them. So what’s a girl to do? Find a cheap look alike of course! Enter Target. I mean can we all just say a collective AMEN for Target?? Forever 21 has a pretty good dupe as well.


If you just have to have the REAL thing and are a huge fan of Joie like me, you can find them here. Or if you’d rather go the Target route, you can find those here. (They have them in both black and gold. I MAY have both colors…)

If you end up getting some, post a pic on Instagram and tag me (@thelilacdoor). I would love to see you lovely ladies wearing them!!

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Our 8th Anniversary

Rustin and I celebrated our 8th anniversary last week! I know everyone says this, but I really can’t believe this was 8 years ago…


We’re usually pretty lame and rotate between the same three restaurants all the time, but we decided to get a bit fancy for our anniversary and go to downtown McKinney! I absolutely adore that area.

Our first stop was one of my all-time favorites – Landon Winery. I love how you can sit outside on the patio, and on the weekends they have live music. Their Yellow Rose and Peach wine are to die for!

Next we went to dinner at rye. I have been wanting to try it for a while. My friend Michelle’s husband, Jeff, is the chef. Back when Michelle and I were teaching together, we would get together to watch The Bachelor and Jeff made snacks for us a couple of times, so I knew it would be good! And it did not disappoint!

We started out with the “Book Club” Peppers for an appetizer, but apparently Jeff decided we needed a bit more because he kept sending out bites of other things for us to try. And each one was delicious! Rustin and I split the Guajillo Chile Rubbed Niman Ranch Pork Tenderloin and the Grilled Beef Filet.

As if we weren’t stuffed enough from all of that, Jeff sent out a dessert sampler to help us celebrate complete with the Chocolate Pot de Creme, Apple Pot Pie, and Lemon-Ricotta Cheesecake. Although they were all delicious, if I was forced to choose my favorite, I would say the cheesecake.

If you are looking for a fun date night or a new place to try in downtown McKinney, check out rye. You won’t be disappointed!



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Finding Contentment in the Craziness


I NEED alone time. What I mean is if I don’t have some alone/downtime, I start to lose it a little. My kids are four and one. We went through this phase where one of them was awake at almost all times (except for a few hours at night). I was never alone. Even if I did seem to get them both down at the same time, there was the husband. Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband, but it just seemed that at every second of the day someone needed me and I didn’t have time to recharge.

Along with no alone time, I also seemed to have no time to do my normal “mom duties” like clean, do laundry, and cook. I felt like everything was crumbling. I was going crazy, and I felt like the enormous piles of dishes and laundry (that never seemed to go away) were going to suffocate me.

Then to add to my feeling like a failure, it seemed I had no time for God. In college, I would wake up two hours before class and spend time praying, journaling, and doing a Beth Moore study. (Who was that person??) But I somehow made it a priority to fit that in amidst class and work. In fact, in college I was always a full time student and at one point had three jobs. Surely if I could handle that, I should be handling this mom thing, right??

After about a year of struggling and finding anger boil up in me towards God when my kids woke up early from naps or at night, I decided that I could keep living like this or I could try to make changes. These are a few practical things I did to try to keep from going insane:

1. Understand it was a heart problem. I was letting discontentment have complete dominion in my heart. It took me a long time to realize this. When I think of contentment, I tend to think of how it relates to material things – “Am I content with my car, the size of my house, my clothes, etc.?” But it’s so much more than that. In fact when Paul spoke of contentment, he says, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” (Philippians 4:11, emphasis mine). I realized I had to accept that these were my circumstances right now. I have two very young children who need me, and with whom I chose to say home. It won’t always be like this. One day I will use the restroom alone. But that day is not today. One day I may be able to have that two hour quiet time with candles burning while I sip a homemade latte. But today it’s ok if my quiet time is reading the children’s Bible with my kids in the morning and praying at breakfast. In fact, I realized maybe that’s better? Doing a quiet time by myself (while necessary for my soul sometimes) isn’t modeling for them what it looks like. If I invite them in to my time with the Lord, that is teaching them more than my words ever could. Instead of complaining and being bitter about my lack of “me time,” I am praying to be content with whatever time God gives me. After all, He doesn’t owe me anything. If I have 15 minutes to stare at a wall, and that’s all I have that day – praise Him. He didn’t have to give me that. It’s a constant battle with my heart to not demand He provide more and to trust that the time He does give me is enough.

2. Wake up before my kids. There are two groups of people reading that statement. The first group read it and said, “Duh!” The second group (where I used to fall) wants to stone me. I love sleep. In fact I’ve written several posts about that. My view was that if God, in His goodness decided to part the skies with angels singing and make my kids sleep longer, I would be ungrateful to not take advantage and sleep longer myself. But after hearing from many moms how this helped them so much, I decided it was a sacrifice I needed to make if I wanted to see changes. I started out slow, waking up just 30 minutes earlier. I told myself, “Really how much less tired is 30 minutes going to make me?” I have to admit, now that I’ve been doing it, I’m hooked. It is literally the only time during the day when no one else is around. I take that time to pray, work on my Bible study, and if I finish those and by some miracle my kids sleep past 7, I get to watch the Today Show ALONE while drinking coffee. It’s pure heaven. That alone time has made a huge difference for me.

3. Prepare meals ahead of time. This one is still a work in progress, but what I did was get a crockpot meal cookbook that had a grocery list pre-made for seven meals. Usually I waste so much time going through recipes, making sure there’s no weird ingredients that I don’t know where to find, etc. But I took a different approach to this one – “cookin’ without lookin’.” I bought every single thing on the list and decided I was going to cook every single meal – weird ingredients or not. I prepped them when my mom was here one weekend and put them all in the freezer. My family wasn’t going to starve!! (ALL the praise hands!) The drawback was the meals were pretty bland and not my favorite. But they were healthy. And they were food. Even if it’s not a crockpot meal, I’ve had to make myself do the prep ahead of time – either the night before or during the kids’ nap time. I’ve also had to tell myself it’s ok to cut corners. Yes, I know it costs more money to buy the prepackaged salad, or the frozen pre-cut onions, but my sanity has a value too. And sometimes it’s just worth it.

4. Utilize the Samodoro method. That’s right – I made up my own method and named it after myself. This is very loosely based on the Pomodoro Technique. The entire technique wasn’t going to work for me. If I had several chunks of 25 minutes to work with each day, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. I figured I could swing ONE 25 minute chunk that did not include my morning alone time. I decided this chunk would be right when I put my kids down for nap and would be dedicated completely to cleaning/household chores. I realized what was happening to me with house tasks was that it was constantly so overwhelming and to get it all done, I knew it would require 5 hours. So when I knew I was only going to have about one hour when the kids were napping, I sort of gave up and did some sort of escapism activity like waste 30 minutes on social media. So when the kids went down, I went to the kitchen and told myself I didn’t have to get it all done, I just had to give it my all for 25 minutes (or sometimes just 15 minutes). Giving myself the freedom to not have to completely finish, made me feel a lot better. I would set the kitchen timer, turn my phone on silent, and attack it. The funny thing was – with no distractions, a lot of times I was able to get it completely cleaned. If things were still out of control, I would do the same thing when I put the kids down at night. Again, giving myself the freedom to not have to finish it, but just work at it for a certain amount of time helped me not get so discouraged and feel like I had to give up my entire “night chill time.”

5. Clean with Kids. Again this is another one I think there are two groups of people reading – one that says “duh” and one that says “no way.” I was in the no way group. It seemed whenever I tried to clean with the kids, another equal or greater mess would be made in another part of the house, so there was no point. I also felt bad cleaning when they were around. It was this mom guilt that said, “Why are you wasting precious seconds with these two angels who will grow up so fast with cleaning when you could be cuddling them and squeezing their cheeks??” But it is important for them to learn they need to contribute to the house, and what I’ve found is they actually like it! The key to not making things worse is to do the task with them. Leaving them to do the task will almost always result in a mess. Yes doing it with them will take longer and it may not be done as perfectly as you would like but in the words of Elsa- “Let it go.”

I feel like I should add a disclaimer: I have not perfected this. There are days when the kids are up at night and I turn my alarm off. Or everything wars against me in the morning – like my plan backfires and the kids wake up earlier (how do they always KNOW you’re awake??) or I just can’t deal with dinner and we get pizza. And the messes sometimes pile up and my house is Hoarder worthy. But those things are slowly becoming the exception and not the norm.

I hope a few of these things will help someone not go insane 🙂 And if you’d like to share your methods to keep your sanity, please share!

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DIY Painted Pallet Art Tutorial

Even though I love the simplicity and “rustic” look of the plain wood pallet art, I wanted something with more color for my daughters’ rooms.

I started out the exact same way I did the non-painted ones. For a full tutorial on that, please see this post.

After staining the wood, I added Vaseline around the edges to give it a distressed look. Then I painted the entire piece. If you are painting a large area, the most cost effective way I have found is to buy paint is to buy a sample at Sherwin Williams. It’s less than $10 and gives you a LOT of paint!

After painting, I sanded all over to give it a distressed look, and since I had used the Vaseline on the edges, the paint came off very easily.

Next, the lettering. This is a LOT harder than what I did on the plain pallet art. I ended up printing the words out then cutting each letter up and using them as a stencil. Of course, if you aren’t like me and DON’T have the handwriting of a 3rd grade boy, you may just be able to freehand. I am way too OCD for that!

To do the lettering, I used a large Sharpie oil-based paint marker. I traced around the letters then filled them in with the marker.

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Here is the finished project for my youngest daughter’s room. I just love this verse and pray that it is a constant reminder to her to let herself be defined by God and not by the world’s standards. I know as a girl it’s tough to compare yourself and not feel as pretty as someone else, but I just hope that she finds her identity in the One who created her.




And this is in my oldest daughter’s room from Proverbs 31:25 –


Let me know if you have any questions and if you attempt one, I’d love to see pictures!

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DIY Pallet Art Tutorial

I have been slightly obsessed lately with all the reclaimed wood art. But wood is a little out of my comfort zone. I mean it’s hard core compared to the stuff I sold in my Etsy shop – it’s heavy and you have to do stuff to it that has the word “power” in front of it like power sanding, power sawing, etc. BUT… I LOVE the signs!!

I saw a few on Etsy that were cute, but they weren’t big enough and also since I’m cheap, I didn’t want to pay for them when I knew I could make one.

I scoured Pinterest and pinned several different things that would help me do what I wanted to do, but they weren’t all in one place, so I thought I would write this post in case someone wants to make one on a budget and without any fancy machines.

The first step was to get some wood. A friend of mine gave me a tip to check local nurseries (you can also check construction areas where they are building new homes or Craigslist). So the next day I was driving by the one by my house and lo and behold, a shipping pallet was just sitting in their trash pile! I walked in and asked if I could have it. They reluctantly said yes, but did not offer to help me load it. (I guess I can’t really complain though since it’s free??) Anyway pallets are deceptively heavy, but I managed to get it loaded into the back of my SUV by myself. Also, if you can’t find any pallets for free, the guy at Lowe’s told me they sell them for $10.

Next, I needed the pallet broken apart WITHOUT breaking any of the wood. I tried a little and it didn’t budge, so that’s where the husband came in. It was pretty tough since pallets aren’t made to come apart (I found out), but he got it done!

I sanded the pieces down (by hand), but not much because I wanted that distressed look. Next, I stained all of the pieces I wanted to use. I ended up using seven boards. For the stain, I used Minwax Dark Walnut. They aren’t kidding when they say dark. But our hardwood floors are REALLY dark, so I wanted it to go with them. After I brushed on the stain, I wiped it off with an old cloth. Then to lighten it up even more, I sanded it lightly when the stain dried.

Now I needed to get them to all the stay together. Rustin rounded up some spare wood for me and I thought I would just nail it to the back. Well I didn’t get small enough nails and they went through the front, so I just decided to do wood glue. (There is a picture of the back when I show how I attached the D-rings to hang it.)

And the part that was stressing me out the most – the lettering. I have the handwriting of a 3rd grader, so free-handing was not an option. I could have went out and bought a Cricut or Silhouette, but spending an extra $200 would have really blown the idea of doing a “thrifty” project. Luckily I found this tutorial and it worked perfectly! So I just figured out the size font I wanted, printed it out, cut the letters out, scribbled chalk on the back and traced over each letter with a pencil. Then it left the chalk line and I could paint it from there. (She goes into more detail in the tutorial.) You can tell my lettering isn’t perfect, but hey, it’s handmade. 

About the verse – it is from a favorite hymn of mine – Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing. Rustin and I went back and forth on what to write. (It was comparable to what we went through when we were naming our CHILD.) We thought about a Bible verse, but for some reason I really wanted a line from a hymn. It’s funny that it’s musical and I don’t have a musical bone in my body – pretty sure my singing can break glass – but I love music! Every time I see the sign, I start singing that hymn. And did anyone notice the typo?? Oops! For years I thought it was “sing thy praise.” I found out it was “grace” a couple of years ago, but I guess old habits die hard. Luckily I caught it before I painted it!

Then I just hung it using two D-rings and picture wire.

So the cost breakdown was:

Pallet – free

Paint – already had

Stain – about $7

Chalk – 77 cents

D-Rings – about $3

So the total was about $11 for a 26″ x 40″ personalized wood sign.

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