Marriage Secrets, Revealed

Have you ever wondered how Rick and I met, or if I ever committed a childhood no-no against him when we were kids, or any “behind-the-scenes” details that make a young marriage work?

Well, wonder no more.

Faith emailed me asking if I’d participate in her marriage series she put together to honor the 10th anniversary that she and her husband just celebrated, so of course I said yes. (Happy anniversary, Faith!) I am obviously not an expert, or even close to being an expert, and am being humbled every day as I learn how to be the best wife that I can be.


Marriage is one of those things, though, that you start learning “how to do” as soon as you say “I do.” So I have a bit over four years of experience on my résumé, and I also have parents whose 30-year marriage is an amazing testimony to the power of forgiveness and the Lord’s healing, and can confidently share a few things that I know for certain will make a marriage better.

And I also share the time I tattled on Rick when we were kids. Apparently that wasn’t enough to scare him off?

So go check it out here: Life with Mrs. G and the Artist. Thanks for inviting me, Faith!

And because I am curious, and if you want to appease my nosiness, all you married folks can tell me: how long have you been married? How did you meet your spouse? Let’s celebrate our happily ever afters. :)


That Time We Bought a (Gasp!) White Dishwasher

Remember those “growing up” moments when you get to put on your big-girl hat?

First time without a diaper. (Okay, I don’t actually remember that.)

First time without swimmies in the pool.

First time driving without an adult in the car.

First time picking out your own major appliance.

DSC_1021Gingerbread, washing her dishes.


Yes, I’m now officially all grown-up with my own house and my own husband and my own big girl job and my own new dishwasher that I picked out all by myself with the help of that husband. This is our first appliance purchase since we’ve been homeowners, because all the rest were left in the house. So this is what you might call a Big Deal. Somebody needs to treat me to ice cream. Ice cream that will not be eaten with this slimy, freshly washed fork.


Our former dishwasher was old when we bought the house a year and a half ago, and the inspector couldn’t tell us the make/model because the sticker was all worn away. It had been running less and less effectively over the past several months, a problem we like to call My Newly Washed Plates Are Covered In Something That Might Be Old Lasagna But I Can’t Be Entirely Certain Because We Haven’t Recently Eaten Lasagna. This was especially not okay because we were obviously pouring water and energy into getting that maybe-lasagna off in the first place, and might as well have just started feeding our dollars to the cats. Like this one, who thought the dishwasher box was her personal hotel.


So we did a little research on dishwashers and found that the best time of year to buy most large appliances (with the exception of refrigerators) is September/October because that is when new models come out, and stores need to clear out old models. (New refrigerators hit stores in May according to several websites.) However, we weren’t keen on waiting too much longer because of the crusty dish factor, so we decided to buy one in August. As it was, our dishwasher of choice (this Whirlpool Gold Built-In) was already on sale for 10% off ($549 original price), plus we used a 10% off Lowe’s coupon on top of that, and received an additional 5% in cash back by linking through Shop Discover. This brought the grand total of our new toy (before tax) to $422. Not the cheapest dishwasher ever, but not the most expensive, either.

white dishwasher

We were willing to pay a bit to get exactly what we wanted versus settle for something okay that we’d later want to get rid of (not the best plan with expensive appliances) so here were our non-negotiables, in order of importance:

1. A white, glossy, non-textured finish. What? White? But you know white is not trendy? Yes. And I don’t care. We found that white models were typically at least $50 less than the stainless steel version of the same dishwasher, but that really wasn’t why we opted white.Truth be told, I just don’t love stainless steel, no offense to anyone in the stainless steel fan club—it NEVER looks clean enough (with streaks, smudges, etc.) and this drives me batty. I don’t want to have to clean my appliances every few days. The end.

white dishwasher stainless steel handle

2. Great reviews from other buyers. At first, we were getting frustrated with not finding any reviews on the dishwashers we were looking at. But then a lightbulb went off, and I realized why there were none or very few: because everyone is buying and reviewing the stainless options. Because I am the only one in the world buying white. (Duh.) Sure enough, while there was just one 4/5 star review for our white version, there were 30 for the stainless with an average of 4.5/5 stars. Sold. There was actually one model we really liked until we read the reviews, which said multiple times that if you put bowls in the upper rack, your dishes don’t get clean and/or your kitchen floods. Um, what? Reviews=lifesavers.

3. An Energy Star rating. The one we picked out will only cost $27 a year to run, if we were to run it 4 times a week, which we don’t.

4. Hidden controls. You’ll pay more for this, but it looks a lot nicer. And I am highly attracted to good-looking major appliances. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration/weird statement. Erase it from your memory.

white dishwasher with hidden controls

5. A chrome or silver handle. Okay, that was just something I was looking for. Rick doesn’t care. It looks nicer than regular plastic. Refer to #4. It’s the little things…

Everything else was negotiable. Like the individual slots for silverware and the fact that the upper rack can be lowered to fit larger items up there.


white dishwa

As for the old dishwasher, it’s currently taking up space in our enclosed porch. We’re debating putting it on Craigslist for really cheap or free if someone wanted it for parts or repair, or if someone doesn’t like to cook and would appreciate the maybe-old-lasagna that is generated upon washing dishes. This is a definite selling point.

Are you a white or stainless steel appliance person? Do you want our old dishwasher for leftovers?


How Rub-n-Buff Changed My Life, or At Least Some Hinges

As you know from this post, I recently embarked on the Great Hutch Makeover. Here is what you should know about our hutch at this point in time:

1. It is built-in, but if it was an original part of the house when it was built in 1897, it has been changed since then. We know this because we are top-notch sleuths who trained with the Boxcar Children. And we once toured a boxcar. And the drawers were made of junky plastic and particle board and people were smarter than that in 1897.

2. It did not have any doors on it when we bought the house, just ghosts of nail holes past. If I had completed Year 2 of training with the Boxcar Children, I would be able to figure out where those doors disappeared to. As it stands, I only hold my Associates degree in Solving Crimes By Mooching Evidence Off Other People Who Did All of the Work. (That’s what those kids always did. But I digress.)


The short version of the ensuing story (the long version will come in a later post when the hutch is done) is that to correct both of these details, we went to Lowe’s and bought new wood to make for the drawer fronts and doors. This was fine, except when you are making 8 doors, you need 16 hinges. And 16 hinges cost money. And I haven’t been getting paid all summer. So naturally, I procrastinated on the project until I serendipitously stopped at a yard sale and saw this treasure bag staring at me in a box labeled FREE. I wasted no time beating down the other shoppers and snatching up the goods for my very own.*


*There were no other shoppers. But in my mind, my kung-fu was brilliant. 

The obvious problem is that none of the 38 (!) were the finish that I had in mind, but my motto is “Snatch free stuff first; figure out what to do with it later.” Later=buying some Rub-n-Buff from Michael’s in antique gold (yes, I’m crossing over to the dark side of gold and brassy in the dining room)…

rub-n-buff antique gold

…and transforming the coppery finish on the hinges (but only the part that will show…) to a subtle gold.

use rub-n-buff on hinges

It was easy, fast, and cheap. I used a 40% off coupon on the tube, making it cost only a few dollars, and I barely put a dent in it. So for mere pennies, we have new hinges. Let’s celebrate by making a lot of punny puns about how the progress of our hutch hinged on having hinges and how I would have looked quite unhinged if I had actually shoved other yard sale shoppers out of the way to get my hinges.

Because that would be hilarious.

Or lame.

Or a clear clue that it’s time to end this post. (See, clues. I told you I am an honorary Boxcar Child.)

What did you get done this weekend? Who wants to come yard-saling with me? Who wants me to teach them my Boxcar Children secrets?


Etsy Under $20: Back to School for All Ages

*I accidentally posted this yesterday for about 38 seconds. It’s here for real now.*

In exactly 11 days, I will be meeting my new 7th and 9th graders. I am being serious when I say that I am genuinely excited, and I can’t wait to get started. What am I looking forward to the most about my new job? Being 10 minutes away from my school. Smaller class sizes. Getting more involved in the district. Already knowing several of my colleagues. Having younger students. I fully anticipate many hilarious, yogurt-spewing sentences like these. (The 10th graders this past year had just gotten too smart. Their writing was disappointingly coherent. Nobody was writing “virgin” instead of “version.” Sad.)

So in honor of all those heading back to school, including me, I thought I’d fill August’s “Etsy Under $20” round-up with “back to school” products for all ages!

1. These fun pencils from Earmark. You can choose from over 20 color and saying combinations to make a personalized set of 12. Pretty cool, write? (Bahaha. Ha.)

fun pencils

2. This handmade zippered pencil pouch by Silky Smooth. I need one of these for my man-eating purse.

handmade pencil case

3. This cute journal from Happy Dappy Bits. Bonus: the cover and pages are made of 100% recycled cardstock and paper!

handmade journal

4. This set of 3 embossed mini-notebooks from Paper Jayne. You get to choose your colors and designs. I love the little owl and the typewriter.

mini emobssed notebooks

5. This handmade canvas and screen-printed backpack from Catbird Creatures. The poppy red color is so cheerful.

handmade backpack

6. This insulated lunch bag from Carried Away Bags. It’s actually just a bit over $20 but for the size and cuteness factor I thought I’d include it as a bonus #6. There are a ton more fabric options, too!

insulated lunch bag

***If you pin any of these, please pin from the original source!***

What’s your favorite item? Do you know anyone going back to school soon? Who wants to help me figure out why students don’t notice when they’ve replaced “version” with “virgin” in their writing?


Evolution of a Bed: Headboard & Pillows

Meet our bed.

bedroom makeover2

Meet our bed one month ago. And while you’re meeting it, don’t pretend you aren’t wondering when we moved into a college dorm room.


Seriously, all that’s missing is a shower basket and the lingering scent of the dining hall and a poster of a kitten in a teacup.

college dorm room

In true college-budget fashion, we built the headboard for under $50. The velvet fabric was $8 for two yards on clearance at Joann’s, the wood is really crappy 3/4” plywood that was around $18 a sheet, the batting was on sale, $8 for a giant roll at Joann’s, and the faux nailhead trim was also from Joann’s: 5 yards regularly for $19.99, but only $12 with a 40% off coupon.

velvet nailhead trim headboard8

What’s that? You want a close-up of that sleeping kitten? Okay.


We didn’t follow a specific tutorial, but Kelly has a good one if you’re looking for a step-by-step upholstered headboard process. Overall, it was one of our easiest projects yet. Rick is somehow a professional at curved upholstery and so he upholstered the whole thing single-handedly in about the time it took me to get ready for church a couple of Sundays ago. Seriously, I went into the bathroom seeing plywood and came out seeing velvet. And the addition of the faux nailhead trim took us maybe 30 minutes max. It was seriously so easy to use.

easy and inexpensive nailhead trim

Enlisting a cat is not necessary.

how to upholster a headboard2

I measured one inch from the edge of the headboard, Rick held the trim in place, I held the nail in place with pliers, and Rick hammered it in. It would have been significantly more difficult if we hadn’t been helping each other and I had been, say, taking photos of cats while Rick was hard at work.


You can tell it isn’t the real deal from up close, but that’s okay with me.

velvet nailhead trim headboard5

The fabric for the accent pillow is Jaclyn Smith Clarinet Heritage, also from my BFF Joann. It is regularly $44.99 a yard, which is a bit steep for me, but the colors were perfect so who am I to say no? I got it for 60% off and only needed half a yard, so that plus the batting to stuff inside of it made the whole pillow cost about $20.

jaclyn smith clarinet heritage

And if you thought the college bed “before” was pretty darn ugg (just getting my vocabulary ready for the teenagers I will be reacquainted with in less than 2 weeks…) remember what that half of the room looked like when we bought the house?

bedroom makeover

If you have a few hours with nothing better to do, you can read about the whole de-closeting, de-birding, de-carpeting, de-texturing process here.

Have you used faux nailhead trim? What did you decorate your college dorm room with? Who wants to crack “You might be a cat lady if…” jokes at my expense? Go ahead. I can take it.

***Linking up to Thrifty Décor Chick, Serenity Now, The Shabby Creek Cottage and Embracing Change!***


Long-Lost Scissor Reunions (and a Quick Fix for Over-Eating Desk Drawers)

This isn’t one of those cute fixes that is featured in Real Simple or Martha Stewart’s Living. This is one of those ugly but totally useful fixes that will be featured nowhere except this blog and the annals of Function Over Form.*

*No such publication exists.

The problem: a crazed desk drawer that has existed since, well, the beginning of time. You all know the kind. The kind that devours pens and paper clips and reeks of belched rubber bands. The kind that greedily slurps up your scissors, forcing you to cut out coupons with fingernail clippers. The kind that you open and then hastily close because you can’t find anything in there anyway so what’s the point, and besides, it may spontaneously combust at any moment and you aren’t wearing sunscreen.


But since I’ve had the summer off and have mainly just made movie posters of my cats, I decided that it was time to stop avoiding the binging junk drawer and tackle it head on, Jillian Michaels style. So I flexed my muscles and glared it at and told it it was a loser, and then got down to business. And as I was getting down to business, I found a pair of scissors.


Rejoice! I embraced it tearfully.

And then I wiped my eyes and continued digging, and found Scissor’s brother.


And then Scissor’s entire extended family including Great-Uncle Hector who suffers from scoliosis.


And it turns out that either scissors are capable of reproduction or I have unwittingly been banishing the Scissor Family to this sad excuse of a drawer and it is my own fault that they can never be found.

So I did what any responsible scissor owner would do: I showed them Intimacy: The Movie I got a cereal box and fruit snacks box out of the recycling bin, cut off the fronts, taped up the sides, and made perfectly sized, drawer-friendly homes for the Scissors and their delinquent friends Tape and Pens and Pencils.



And they all lived happily ever after.

The end.

See, I told you Real Simple wouldn’t go for it. Even though this fix was real simple.

Bahaha. Ha. Ha.

Does your house eat scissors? Have you found any uses for cereal boxes?

***Linking this up to Honey We’re Home!***


Fret No Longer: September’s Challenge Item is HERE

Put on your thinking caps made of toothbrushes, people, because it’s time to announce September’s challenge item! Drumroll please…

blog craft challenge

Game pieces!

Think outside the box. (No pun intended. Ha.) Head to a thrift store or some yard sales and peruse the games. Look at the individual pieces. What inspires you?

What’s on the “Not Allowed; Been There, Done That” list: Anything with Scrabble tiles, and hanging a game or game box on the wall. You must DO something with those game pieces! Cards, pawns, rule books, boards…what can you come up with? If you think of something and know it’s because you’ve seen it before, push yourself and think of something else. Avoid searching the glittery interwebs for ideas. Remember this post for questions you can ask yourself if you’re feeling stuck. And also remember that an attempt at originality is the only real rule!

Link party date: Wednesday, September 26th. Party opens at 7am EST and will close on Thursday, September 27th at 12pm EST. Non-bloggers, we’d love to have you participate: simply share a photo and description of your project on an account you have elsewhere (Facebook, Photobucket, Pinterest, etc.) and then link to that for the party!

Please share your project post no earlier than: Monday, September 24th.

Cheerleader: Karah from The Space Between—she will be selecting her favorite projects and sharing them on her blog on Monday, October 1st.

Husband Judge: Nate, the other half of Michelle at Décor and the Dog. He will be choosing some projects that get the “Husband Stamp of Approval,” and these will be featured on Michelle’s blog on Monday, October 1st.

Giveaway: Linking to the party will automatically enter you in the monthly Etsy giveaway. We’ve chosen shops that specifically feature upcycled and repurposed merchandise, so September’s giveaway will be a $25 credit to Crazy Fox Studio. Linda, the owner of the shop, makes unique jewelry out of vintage keys, tins, compasses, and more!

crazy fox studio etsyTop row, left to right: Vintage Tin Earrings-Marigold Memories; Shoe Clip & Skeleton Key Necklace; Feather Necklace in Gypsy Rose; Bottom row, left to right: Skeleton Key Vintage Button Earrings; Repurposed Button Cuff Bracelet; Vintage Tin Bracelet-Nightingale


In the event of a fail: To encourage you to link up even if your project isn’t as fabulous as you’d like, I’ve made a “What the $*%#@ is That?!” ribbon that you can award yourself. Thanks, Megan of The McBaileys, for the idea! :)

Random Acts Fail Ribbon


And a new and exciting detail: After the final link party in March, I will host one more link party, the theme of which will be “My Favorite Challenge Project.” The creative Sarah of Thrifty Décor Chick has agreed to be the guest judge for that party, and she will be selecting 8-10 of HER favorite projects from that “best of” party! Those 8-10 will then be voted on by YOU, and the top project overall will win our final prize package, which contains exciting stuff from Krylon and gift certificates to Fabric.com and Cutting Edge Stencils! Woo hoo!

Are you in? If so, and you want to make yourself known, participate in “roll call” by leaving a comment below with the name of a board game! Please note: this doesn’t mean you have committed yourself to using that particular game. Just look at it as your “I’m in” declaration and an opportunity to get others thinking about the games that are out there! Try to name one that hasn’t already been said! :)

P.S. For other details about the challenge and how it will work, see these FAQs or this post. I will continue to update that post with new details so that it contains all necessary and current information.


My Plan to Hire an Olympic Athlete, and the Recent Evolution of Our Dining Room

Have you ever read a blog where the writers seem to bang out project after grueling project in a superhuman way? Where they flip whole houses in a matter of minutes? Where demolition is child’s play?

I have discovered their secret.

It involves Olympic athletes.

See, some of these Olympians have biceps that are approximately the same size as my torso…if my torso were the size of, say, the eastern half of the United States. And I have a feeling that one of those guys—or gals—could single-handedly (bicepedly?) redo our dining room in the time it would take me to locate the dust mask needed so I could begin sanding the trim on my own.

din rmSource-ish

So the next time I need our trim sanded with 60 grit and then 100 grit and then given two coats of paint…

trim painting

And the next time I need to begin a hutch makeover…

benjamin moore fairview taupe

And the next time I need to spray paint the jank-tastic radiator covers…

spray paint radiator covers

And the next time I need to reupholster 8 even more jank-tastic chair seats…

Dwell Studio Bella Porte Watercress

And the next next time I need to paint the dining room walls…

benjamin moore ashwood 3

…and the next time I want all that done in 6 minutes or less, I know who to call.

benjamin moore ashwood 2Source-ish

And while they’re working, I will be bench pressing in a nearby room.

Or eating a large brownie.

Or bench pressing a large brownie.

Want to join me?


My Childhood, Boxed…and the First Pillow I Ever Made

When daughters become homeowners, moms clean out their attics. When moms clean out their attics, daughters become the owners of their childhood things.


When daughters become the owners of their childhood things, they take a stroll down memory lane, smiling at the thought of these books…


…and these books…


…and these books…


…and daughters begin to wonder if they did anything except read in their childhood (the answer is basically no) until they find these paper dolls…


…and this Precious Moments doll named Amy…


…and this pillow. Um, what?


We probably need to see that from another angle. Because it is just that awesome.


Yes, folks, it is a washcloth pillow, handcrafted by me circa 4th grade, I think in Girl Scouts. Don’t even pretend you don’t want one. Just think of the multi-purpose nature it brings to the table. Rest your head, wash your armpit. There has got to be a market for these. Especially for ratty old dingy ones that, from the looks of things, may have been used to wash a cow’s rear end right after the cow trampled it.

Needless to say, all of the above but a certain washcloth pillow now live in my attic. The washcloth pillow clearly lives on my bed. Except for when it lives in the garbage can, which is always.

RIP washcloth pillow. It’s been real. Or phat. Or dope. Or whatever words may have been used in the 90s to describe your presence. Only not by me, because I was too busy reading much more sophisticated words in The Babysitters Club #110: Abby the Bad Sport.

What were you most likely to be found doing when you were little? Were any of those books favorites of yours? Who thinks a washcloth pillow is the exact accessory that has been missing from their life?

Want to read more?

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