A Planner

I’m a planner.

Well, no. That’s not entirely correct. What I mean to say is that I’m a natural worrier which is a bit like planning but involves spending much more of your time thinking up outlandish worst case scenarios than actually doing anything to prevent them. But I do own a planner.

That’s something, I suppose.

I bought a physical planner this past fall for the first time since I was in college. I’ve tried to manage things off memory, caffeine, and a smartphone for years between graduation and then and while I don’t know that I’ve missed any critical life events, I did miss last year’s annual association meeting for my neighborhood. For which I am the secretary. And required to be present to read meeting minutes from the previous year and take minutes for the current year.

We had our 2017 association meeting this evening which meant I had to cop to my absence from the prior year and explain to my neighbors why I chose to have a date night on the same evening in 2016. Which really shows you how terribly I need a planner since my husband and I date about 3 times a year, give or take. What are the odds that it would coincide with the one time a year I’m committed to my neighbors?

Joke’s on me though because they took the opportunity to reelect me to this position for another 3 years. Well played, neighbors. Well played.

So here I am. Nearly 30 and going back to the school aged’s lifeline: the planner. And I love it. I’ve absolutely been more prepared in the past several months than I’ve been in ages.

Every Sunday, I go through my phone to copy down work events into my planner to get me thinking about what my week will entail. I look up the weather for the week and write down the highs and lows for each day. I take that book with me nearly everywhere so I can stay up to date with appointments, events, and reminders. And it’s not always that I’m entirely organized. Sometimes I start writing down my To Do / To Call / To E-mail / To Buy / To Focus for the week and I come up with blanks.

But do you know what blank spaces beg for? Something to fill them. It’s a natural call out to a life that’s slipping into maintenance living. Unintentional and carried away.

I have a few more months with my Sugar Paper academic planner and then I’m switching over to my pre-ordered Passion Planner. And I’m so nerd-ing excited! There’s something wonderful about starting fresh midyear! Yet as the bloggers at Day Designer reminded me this week, we can really start fresh every single day…

Garage Entry



I didn’t think to take a picture of the garage entry in the beginning, but it would have been a plain brick wall with carpet. Boring. The entry space was covered in wallpaper (as you can see on the right (please excuse my short shorts)) and is now wallpaper-free with easy-to-clean tile for those wet winter boots! Freddy cut and laid the tile himself and he did an amazing job with the angles I envisioned.

The wedding board has since been repainted with a magnetic paint and a new coat of chalkboard paint; it will soon be our weekly hub for schedules, notes, and to-do lists! We got the perfectly sized bench on sale at Home Depot and moved over some throw pillows from another room. The bins were on sale at Sears (check out Sears for this type of stuff – they always have great sales on home goods!); they’re the perfect height to easily place and grab hats and gloves during the winter. The rug was a recent Target find.

IMG_5537 (Winston is just showing off!) IMG_5695

The Heart of the Home

For many families, the kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s the place that you spend the most time together and the place where a home’s love is tangible and taste-able  In our home, we make no exception. In fact, as self-proclaimed “foodies,” our love of this space is probably somewhat heightened from the norm. I mean, come on…culinary greatness happens in this space, people! (Not by my hand of course but you’d be blessed to share a meal that Freddy has cooked!)

Combine our love of food with the fact that we gutted our kitchen in mid-December and have only just had the counter tops installed and what you get is an utmost appreciation for this space. And it is a beautiful space!

When we bought the house, we had our plan laid out to refurbished the existing cabinets. A fresh coat of paint and some new handles would give it brand new appeal! That’s what we thought anyway. The counter tops looked okay and we figured it would be too much to tackle up front with all the rest of the must-complete projects on our list.

What we didn’t see in our two quick stops inside before committing to buy the house, is that the kitchen cabinets were cracked, damaged, full of don’t-touch-that tacky paper and other stains and messes. Ultimately, it looked as though we had just discovered the next big project on our hands.

Here are some “before” pictures. The first two are edited to make the space glow. It is charming, isn’t it? The last picture is not edited. It gives you a better idea of what we were really working with (although, as my mom will attest, it doesn’t do the kitchen justice). Let’s just say it wasn’t the most inviting place to house your dishes! I should have taken pictures of the insides but alas, I didn’t think about it until now.


We considered making the kitchen space work despite the intense amount of work it would take to bring the cabinets up to par but when it came time to cut up our new flooring around these existing cabinets that needed to go, we decided to bite the bullet; new cabinets were ordered.

As I mentioned earlier, we ended December sans kitchen but were fortunate enough to have a sink and some counter top space downstairs to get us through. We placed the order for cabinets just before Christmas and by the first week of January the cabinets were installed.


It happened quickly and right on schedule and we falsely believed we’d have our kitchen back in no time! Appliances were delivered as we waited on our counter tops and the days started ticking by…

Without giving you a dramatic story, the counter tops came in late but were FINALLY scheduled for Wednesday, February 13th, totaling nearly two months without a functioning kitchen. Freddy and I had a busy week that week but Freddy worked out his schedule to come home for the install.

On Tuesday, February 12th, Freddy and I had plans to celebrate Valentine’s day. He made a dinner reservation close to home and told me he had a good surprise. I came home Tuesday evening to the best Valentine’s Day surprise anyone could possibly receive: Freddy had gotten the install moved up one day and my counter tops were in place!


Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. He had to pull me away from them so we could make our dinner date on time! Having the kitchen in place has rejuvenated Freddy on the house-front and he has been tackling project after project ever since. It’s incredible. I am certainly blessed to have such a handy man who has been able to save us a ton of money by doing it himself.

Women, find yourselves a handy man!

So there’s a look at the heart of our home. It’s still in need of a back splash, some paint, and a refurbished light fixture, but it’s otherwise perfect! We’ve also started on the dining room:


The wagon wheel is NOT a permanent fixture 😉

kitchen before2IMG_5700

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 4,800 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 8 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.


Thank you, readers, for your continued support!

The Bathroom

I have been waiting to post updates because we haven’t exactly finished one room completely yet. We’ve continued to make progress, of course, but we’re still looking for window coverings, a topcoat, some more paint, etc.

Unfortunately, all of this waiting for the big reveal has turned me into a total troll. To remedy this, I’ve decided that it’s time to share some of our work and hopefully you guys can spur me into a more positive direction again!

I’m starting with the bathroom because it has been the most fought over space between the two of us, from a vision standpoint, and is now becoming the most prized remodel of the house. (No, we haven’t touched the kitchen yet.)

As you recall, we tore out the carpet (yuck!) and then busted up the tile below. We tore off the sheet Formica counter top and removed our blue sink. We ditched the blue potty and re-glazed the blue tub. We took down the wallpaper. We primed the whole bathroom (we haven’t actually started painting yet). We (read Fred) put down new flooring, added a new sink and toilet (also Fred), and refinished the vanity (read Meg). Then we (Fred) added the back-splash and that brings us up to the present!

Not completed but there is a transformation in the works that I hope is worth sharing. Enjoy!

And the (for now) Before & After:


Ta Da!

If you love it, please tell us what you think! If you don’t, well, remember what your mother told you: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all! And bear in mind, she’s STILL a work in progress.

Phase Two: Wallpaper Be Damned!

As you may have guessed by this post’s title, phase one is complete! We are very proud to announce that there is no remaining carpet in the upstairs of our house. In fact, we not only championed the carpet, Freddy also broke up all of the linoleum in the kitchen and one of the living spaces. He did it all while I was at work and even remembered to snap some pictures. He is AMAZING!


Sadly, we spent about three seconds celebrating our victory over the carpet before diving into the next evil: Wallpaper.

The wallpaper wasn’t as bad as the carpet goes as far as quantity but all of us who have experienced wallpaper know that that doesn’t mean anything… and yes, that last picture is indeed ceiling paper…

Until Chateau Shier, I’d never taken down wallpaper. I have heard horror story upon horror story and made sure to peruse every DIY blog about the best wallpaper removal solutions, but wallpaper is just one of those things that you don’t really know until you know.

After all of my research, I decided to give an at-home remedy a shot before looking to rent a steamer. I ended up with a spray bottle, hot tap water, and Extra-Strength Dawn. I was lucky enough to have a wallpaper-seasoned girlfriend join me during the process and I will say that without her, I probably would’ve scraped off all of the kitchen drywall on the first go. It came in off in full sheets! We started with a corner and pulled until it ripped off by the ceiling. A miracle! (We don’t need to talk about the mudding that is taking place now to cover up all of the bare spots that we left behind…that’s another post).

Here are some things I learned with wallpaper removal: Patience is a virtue (and you need to make it your virtue if you’re going to take down wallpaper). Score the wallpaper; laziness is not rewarded. Keep the water hot at all times. Spray and wait. And spray again.

We got quite a bit of the wallpaper down this week and my initial scoffing at wallpaper complaints was soon-after silenced. It got harder and harder as we progressed and we ultimately ended up at a would-be dead-end. “Would-be” because today my parents arrived with an SUV full of tools, supplies, and a STEAMER! My godparents have a knack for providing me with exactly what I need at just the right time and they certainly pulled through on this one; they sent my parents over with their steamer as a much welcomed surprise. My girlfriend and I were joined by my mom and the three of us steamed through the cloth-like paper, went back over to steam the glue, and eventually got it all down… in the kitchen and half bath.

Full bath and ceiling paper to go! But the weekend is young. And we are determined!

Books and Revelations and Such…

I finally finished reading The Me I Want to Be by John Ortberg. It was a wonderfully written book about following God’s calling for us as individuals and learning what that can look like for each person. It also took me incredibly too long to finish. Unfortunately, I am one of those obsessive readers who gets through the first 50% of a book without sleeping and then loses the ability to read more than a chapter a week (if I’m lucky) until I finish.

(I don’t know why I am the way I am with books, but I’ve fallen into this pattern multiple times now – regardless of my interest in the subject or love of writing style. I digress…)

John Ortberg ends the book with the sentence “Ask for a mountain” (p. 254).

Leading up this, he gives several examples of how “life is not about comfort” (p. 251). He teaches the reader that “…facing challenges in community gives life and isolation destroys it” (p. 251). “The pursuit of comfort,” he says, “[…] is terminal” (p. 250). Pretty heavy thing to read at 7pm after a hard day of walking the dog, taking a nap, researching recipes, and reading a book, waiting for my husband to get home.

John uses the word “terminal” in his writing not as some ominous-but-harmless literary threat… He actually cites research on rats which documents shorter life spans for isolated rats that have been fed cheese than those in groups forced to seek out their meals together in mazes or obstacle courses.

There’s literally death in comfort!

I’m in trouble…

After closing the cover on this 254 page book, I started to reflect on the way I have been living my life, the people I count as my community, and my unwillingness to seek out new mountains. I have been the epitome of a comfort-seeker lately. You can see it in my workday, my evening routine, my ever-tightening wardrobe, and my reluctance to tackle new recipes in the kitchen – just to name a few.

Today is actually a perfect example: On top of my nap and hours spent looking up recipes, my evening culminated in a feast of tortilla chips while hanging around the house in my gouchos (Remember those?! I should be more ashamed. Hey, at least I took the dog for another walk (although admittedly, I was still wearing those free-flowing, ridiculous half-pants. Help me!)).

This all has got me thinking about my next mountain – my next communal project of discomfort for growth. Yes, discomfort. As much as my laziness tells me that I enjoy comfort or “security,” my heart tells me that it’s bored and yearning for more. It’s almost audibly yelling, “God, give me the mountain!” (p. 254).

And then it dawned on me: A fixer-upper could be my next mountain.

Now of course there are still some obstacles to work out in the typical buyer-seller negotiations, and of course I am prepared to walk away from the house if needed (or highly encouraged by my partner in life-and-love depending on how negotiations go), but let’s just say for purpose of argument that we get the house. This, my friends, would be the most awesome and thrilling and intimidating mountain that I have come up against in easily over a year. (Yes, I’m aware that a year doesn’t sound that long – but remember that each day is this life lived…that’s over 365 days of death-hastening comfort. I better get climbing!).

The mere prospect of a fixer-upper has already gotten me well into the foothills. Freddy and I have pushed and pulled and argued and hugged over the thought of putting a good amount of our cash safety net into projects around the house. That’s the community part. Freddy is 100% my partner. And I think that’s why climbing mountains with a companion is so important – you both grow from it and you’re able to encourage one another as the incline increases and muscles fatigue.

I’m going to take a bit of a tangent here:

Procreation aside – I think this is why God speaks about marriage the way that He does. You don’t need to be married to have companionship, but I think it makes it an easier day-to-day occurrence. It can also force you out of your comfort zone with greater frequency. I have really started to appreciate this about marriage. Some days, I force myself to trudge up the mountain of laundry ahead of me not because I want to tackle a mountain but because I know that Freddy will feel blessed if I move it out of his way. And sometimes, when my own comfort wins, Freddy gets behind me and pushes me up the mountain so I can get some exercise ;). It’s a beautiful thing.

Back to the house: 

The house as my mountain is an important revelation to me. Freddy and I really have pushed and pulled about a move-in-ready home vs. a fixer-upper. Freddy has the experience to know that we have years of work ahead of us with this house, which is why he needed to know where I was at in my willingness to keep climbing the rocky terrain. But I am certain that my heart is pulled to this potential-project like a calling from God (and I’m starting to believe that’s exactly what it is). As I said before, I realize that we might have to walk away from the house if we can’t get some needed updates first, but I also know that I am prepared to get my hands dirty if the time comes. I know that my partner will be by me throughout this Everest-attempt and that he will take turns with me leading, pushing, following, and dragging at different times and on different days.

Bottom line: I fully intend to come out of this with a home and life improvement. Bring me the mountain!

6 Months and Counting

This coming Sunday, Freddy and I will be marking our 6th month of marriage by teaching small group at our church, catching our Sunday service after, and meeting up with friends at a Whitecaps baseball game. Freddy thinks celebrating “month-marker anniversaries” is foolish, so I’ve arranged the game as the perfect “unassuming” way to make the day a little special for us.

Truth is? 6 months is a big deal to me. It is not a big deal in the sense that I didn’t think we would make it this long or I can’t believe how quickly time has gone. A) We’ve made a life commitment that we intent to keep until death do us part and B) we are painfully aware of how much faster life becomes the older we get. That being said, 6 months is significant to me because… (don’t judge here)… I think it’s taken us this long to find our groove.

When Freddy first added his words to this blog, I felt a little slighted. Although he did take the time to explain that he didn’t really feel like he was floating belly up during the first 6 weeks of our marriage, he implied that married life was comparatively as jolting as the Meijer fish plunged into new and frigid waters. Ouch!

Yet despite my best efforts to be as honest as I can be about the ups and downs of newlywed life, my husband was the one to cut right to the punchline while I found myself dancing around it. The first six weeks were hard. And when the first six weeks turned into the first three months and then the first five months, I kept thinking to myself: “This is amazing, but when does it stop being so hard?”

Please keep this in mind: Living together is a challenge. It’s a brilliant, exciting challenge but it’s a challenge all the same.

I had a friend tell me that when she and her man moved in together, it took them 5 months to stop the petty arguments and find a peace with their new living situation. When 5 months came and went, I cried. I nearly sobbed. I broke down in a grandiose and childish way, citing everything that wasn’t going according to my perfect plan for my marriage to my bewildered and frustrated husband. He wasn’t thrilled about our current state either but you wouldn’t find him crying about it.

You see, we couldn’t have guessed that transitioning in work would put such a strain on this perfect image we were trying to create. We couldn’t have guessed that the very image we deemed perfect was actually flawed from the start because it required a plan, our plan, and the world’s willingness to play by our rules. (Okay, so we probably could have figured out that last one, but there was a lot going on to distract us and aren’t we entitled to that? Ha. So much to learn…)

In the many conversations that followed my dramatic fallout, we talked about things like: expectations for us as individuals and expectations for us as a couple, scheduling time for each other – the necessity of intimate time, the benefits of “sharing space” together while working on our individual tasks, and the need for alone time. We talked about career goals, work demands, and healthy hours to spend at our jobs. We admitted to one another that some days we needed to fake it until we made it (ex. when bringing the stresses of our days home with us and suddenly being asked to give each other our best, we needed to slap on that smile and deliver). We talked about the malleability of husband/wife roles with regard to different periods of life. We covered A LOT of ground.

Here is a cliff notes version of one those discussion that led to my biggest “light bulb” moments:

Work demands started taking up more and more of our schedules on both sides, making me desperate for Freddy’s attention every minute that I had him in front of me. I not only wanted him to be focused when I had my time with him but I wanted every free minute of his time. Yipes! Okay, I can see how that looks when I write it out now, but I promise you that when you are in the midst of feeling disconnected and alone, you think that it’s the only solution!

During one of our conversations, I offered up that I knew he needed more personal time and more friend time. In that same breath, I was also explaining that I felt I couldn’t afford giving it to him. I felt hurt if he asked to go golfing on our one free day and I thought that it was my job to fight for our time together.

Are you ready? Queue the light bulb:

My role as Freddy’s partner might involve putting my own needs on the back burner – essentially volunteering for last place when things get hectic.

I agreed to step back. And I asked for a lot of help and consideration from him when I got needy. Time passed and Freddy started to find more time outside of work. He started having more time with friends. And I started feeling less neglected. In fact, the more I let go – the closer I felt to my husband. And the more time we actually had with each other. Or maybe it was just more quality time of the time we had. Whatever. The point is, I had to change the way I was looking at it all. I cited “our relationship” as the reason for my neediness but what I was really saying was “Me! Me! Me!.”

When I started to view our time apart as a way to honor my husband, it became so much easier! And now we’re a week away from our 6 month-marker and we have this new level of peace, understanding, and tolerance. We also have a new level of intimacy. And instead of focusing my thoughts on “Does this get easier?,” I’m enjoying my time with Freddy. He’s fun. And funny. And incredibly sexy. And caring and attentive. I just needed to stop pulling him so close to me so I could see the bigger picture for our marriage.

Happy 6 months! 🙂

The Grill

Word of advice, newlyweds: 8:45pm is not the perfect time to “go look at grills.”

Wives, beware! You will not go away from your trip empty-handed. You might even think that you’re prepared because you expect a grill purchase at the end of the day, but you’ve probably forgotten about the grill cover, the spatula, the brush, the propane tank. Oh, yes. Your husband is not merely buying a grill tonight. He’s grilling!

Husbands, your wives might tell you that you need to include them in the purchasing process, but let me translate this for you. Your wife is actually saying: “I want to see where our money is going.” She is not proclaiming that she wants to go pick up the summer sizzler with you so she can load the bad boy into the Jeep and make a Meijer run for those steaks she’s got on the brain.

Men have “man-time” for a reason. And while you should include your wife in the grill-choosing process, you should not count on her to haul a grill up 1.5 flights of stairs to your apartment with you. Not at 8pm. After she’s had weeks of chiropractic visits to fix a back problem.

You see where I’m going with this… Another learning experience for this newlywed (can I still call us that?) couple!

And by the way, the store closes at 9pm. You’re about to be “THAT couple.” 😉