Archive for Hidden Art Fridays

Hidden Art Friday

I was listening to a podcast on the way home from taking my husband to the airport at 4 am, and when they started discussing Edith Schaeffer, I knew I needed to dust off the old HAF tradition and recommend it to you, dear readers!  Plus it’s been a while since I’ve shared recommendations and links.

First of all, I am loving the What Have You podcast, featuring Rachel Jankovic and Bekah Merkle, both of whose writings inspire and encourage me.  The hosting is funky, and I haven’t been able to download them with my BeyondPod app, but you can download them directly from the site.  I love how these sisters share the domestic details of their lives (strategies for washing socks, finding the perfect piemaking cookbook, reglazing windows) as well as practical parenting strategies, and, in the most recent podcast, a great discussion of why homemaking and college education are not at all incompatible.

On my own domestic front, I had a couple epiphanies about my struggle to keep house yesterday.  My amazing in-laws are in town for the week, and yesterday, they and my husband took the kids on a hike in the afternoon while I stayed home and puttered around.  I was able to put things away, tidy up the entire main floor of our house, reshelve dozens of books, sweep, run the roomba, start dinner prep, start a load of towels, call one of my best friends who I haven’t talked to in weeks and get an update on her (difficult) pregnancy, put away a few things from our last moving box (which is very slowly being unpacked, finally, up in our bedroom), and then sit down, relaxed, in a clean room that had stayed clean for over an hour!  I realized what a great help it is to have family around.  I think those of us who struggle with keeping houses and children together while living out-of-state from family should cut ourselves some slack.  It might not seem like much, but having local family who could take my kids for a couple hours, not just when I have appointments or need to run errands, but just because, would drastically change my life.  If you do have local (helpful) family, be thankful!  Also, having all of my kids gone for the afternoon gave me this little picture of what my life as a SAHM would be like if I weren’t homeschooling.  I definitely feel the call to homeschool and would be heartbroken if my kids weren’t home with me, but my house would definitely be a lot cleaner and I would be a lot more put together if I didn’t have my crew around, undoing my housework, 24/7.  If you’re a homeschooling mom like me, please remember this when you compare yourself to friends whose kids are out of the house seven hours a day.  Maybe the rest of you all don’t struggle with my insecurities when it comes to judging your housekeeping skills, but I need to remind myself constantly not to compare apples and oranges.

And while we’re talking about housekeeping, I want to share a cookbook recommendation with you!  Some friends just gave me Better Baking, a new cookbook by a friend of theirs.  If you’re the kind of baker who likes sneaking in more whole wheat flour or cutting down on refined sugars but finds those “healthy” dessert recipes you pinned on pinterest underwhelming or downright gross (my husband still complains about the chocolate chip cookies I ruined with chickpeas), this is the cookbook for you.  There are a lot of recipes that call for specialty flours or ingredients, but she has actually explained WHY she uses those ingredients and what properties they add to a baked good.  Don’t get me wrong, these foods are not guilt-free (though our family joked that since I used whole wheat flour and fresh squeezed orange juice in J’s birthday carrot cake out of this cookbook this week, it was “health food”), but I personally have found the recipes I’ve tried to strike a good balance between positive nutritional content and having a dessert that actually still tastes yummy.  Bonus: if you have dietary restrictions, she has plenty of gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, and vegan options.  Anyway, stick it on your list, and maybe someone will buy it for you for Mother’s Day!

On to recommended links to read!  This one on what research (and common sense) tell us about raising children (hint: letting them get out and play, a lot!) confirms to me why I’m homeschooling my kids, particularly my son, right now.  Best line: “Most of us spend hours each day sitting at work. Science says it’s killing us, and we have developed all kinds of fads to combat it–from standing desks to smartphone alerts to get us up and moving.  Armed with that knowledge, however, what do we force our kids to do each day at school? Sit still, for six or eight hours.”

And along the same lines, I loved this Circe blog post about how not all good and valuable things can be measured by a standardized test!

Did you catch this beautiful piece on embracing the sacrifice of motherhood?

And I need to read and reread this post on Motherhood as a Craft: Cultivating Wonder.

Okay, my kids are up and want to snuggle before breakfast!  Have a beautiful Friday and a wonderful weekend!

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Hidden Art Friday: The Door

When we bought our house, it was listed as having one less bedroom than it actually has. The reason is that the final bedroom is set up to be used as an office, which is how we will be using it (my husband finally gets his own office!), but because of that, they had removed the door. We had asked the previous owners if they had the door, and they said no.

Fortunately for us, they were wrong. It was in the basement, covered in 60s paint and a good layer of mold.


We tried chemical stripper first. What a smelly mess.


Then, our neighbor who renovates houses for a living and a hobby loaned us his heat gun. I’m in love. I’ll never use the chemical glop again.


(To be fair, this is after heat gun and power sander and hand sanding the corners. This is a job for somebody with lots of free time.) YouTube has tons of helpful and unhelpful videos about how to do this, if you’re truly curious. But if you run across a guy telling you to get chemical stripper out of detail work using kitty litter, DON’T DO IT.

After trying linseed oil on one of the edges, we decided to stain the door a little darker than the wood is naturally. We have no idea what kind of wood it is. We’ve heard that chestnut was used for a lot of these old doors in this area of the country, but ours is some kind of hardwood core with a veneer of something else. No clue.


We bought new hinges and new doorknobs, and my husband installed it.


Ta Da!!


I love it. So much. Which is good, because I think I put about 40 hours into it. The next one should go faster. Really.


I love it so much that I took the next door off the linen closet to try to get it done this fall while the kids play outside. Let’s see…if I do 2 doors a year and there are 20 doors (not including the beautiful front doors, which have been painted maroon)…

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Hidden Art Friday: Paint

We have spent the last six weeks painting every single inch of this house. I’m kicking myself, because I really didn’t take too many good before pictures. All the befores here are ones that I took during the final inspection, so still have all the old homeowner’s furniture in them. While we’ve painted every single room, I’m not including them all here–I’ll save some of the more extensive projects for a future post 🙂

The rooms in this house were either really warm, to the point that I felt like I was suffocating, or florescent. I’ve had many people tell me the yellow was really not too bad, but I just couldn’t stand it. It was upstairs and down, in hallways and the living room. Just too much. I’ve loved the new grays that have become popular lately, so I couldn’t wait to try some in all these yellow rooms.


If you look at the back of this picture, you can see my samples on the walls:


We settled on Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter for hallways and living room. (It’s also in the master, after we tried no less than 4 different colors in there and hated them, and then decided that since I had extra of the Revere Pewter, that was the winner. Pictures of that one later.)


The stairwell still needs some work, probably involving some unsafe painting practices and borrowing a friend’s extendo ladder:


My baby bedroom was neon green.


My daughter was so excited to get to help paint it. IMG_2376IMG_2578(Another good garage sale find: blackout lined curtains from Calico Corners.)

If you look in the top left corner of this picture, you can see the old color in the dining room. The change here was not dramatic, but since I was doing so much gray in the hallways, I wanted the dining room to be a beautiful saturated brown. This is BM’s Maryville Brown.



(Also, note my craig’s list score of the year: really cool hutch!)

You can’t see much of the den color here–but it was a faux sponge finish in a very warm orange. Ugh.


With all the beautiful white trim in this room, I opted for a deep blue. BM’s Phillipsburg Blue.



Most of our bathrooms are still a huge work in progress, but the kid’s main bath is pink. Pink tub, pint toilet, pink vanity, pink tile. Because the layout works for the kids, we won’t be redoing it anytime soon, and I knew that I had to cover up the pink paint (really? why?) with something to cut the color of the fixtures. Sorry for no before.

IMG_2580 IMG_2581

My son’s room was the color of the closet door behind the three boys. IMG_2379

When we were done, I let them put their handprints on the inside of the closet door. These are my son’s best friends, who flew out to help us move and paint and work. Having their imprint on the door is a fun way to start a new era in his new room.IMG_2382

There are many more rooms that I painted–guest room from florescent green to white (that took forever!), master, kitchen, big girls’ room, but I’ll save those projects for another day.

Have a wonderful weekend!

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Hidden Art Friday: Trim

As part of our floor re-do, we are having to fix a lot of the baseboards. There are multiple layers of paint on the woodwork, several of them only after the carpet went on. So when the carpet came up, the bottom inch of every baseboard in the house got a lot uglier.

IMG_2571 IMG_2473 IMG_2471 .The stairs are the worst, since carpet was covering the risers.



Because the layers of paint above the carpet are so thick, it’s not just a matter of repainting the baseboards. First, they have to be scraped and sanded so that it’s an even surface to repaint. This makes a dusty mess.


After cleaning up the dust with wet rags and letting that dry, I can finally paint the trim. But it takes forever, since I have to be super careful to not get any on our brand new refinished floors!


On the left is before, and on the right, after. In some of the rooms, the gap between the baseboards and the floor is up to a half-inch. To fix this, we will need to add quarter round and paint that, but for right now, that project has been put on the multi-year list.

The most startling difference is on the stairs:

Stairs Stairs

Right after the floors were finished, I had started on some of the stairs and upstairs in the attic. Unfortunately, since then we’ve had multiple projects come up that needed our immediate attention, so this project has been shelved until probably the winter. My goal this winter will be just to spend a few minutes on it every day, slowly working my way down from the attic to the main floor. It is amazing how much the baseboards make a difference in how finished your house feels!

Coming up over the next months: paint colors, refinishing old doors, and a fireplace restoration!

Posted in Hidden Art Fridays | 1 Comment
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