Spray Your Own Ceiling White and Save Two Thousand Smackers

Oh Hey.

How are you people doing?

I’ve been all Introverting hardcore this past week, reading and snuggling Mark and hanging out with Jesus and Liam and nature and such, which turned out to be a great gift, because sometimes your grown kids have escapades that cause so much stress that your poor teeth literally hurt from not being able to bite something.

The grown kid.

That’s who your teeth want to bite.


Clearly today is a great day to talk about painting your own personal ceilings white and saving a $2,000 upgrade charge from your dorky, cheap, lazy builder who advertises “We paint with low VOC Sherwin Williams products” and you think, “Oh cool. Maybe that could work out,” but really there are only two color choices for walls and ceilings – flat beige, or a thousand dollar upcharge for flat greige – and when your husband finally presses the builder’s realtor, they say, “Well, we Could paint the ceiling white for a couple thousand dollars,” and you are like, “You suck eggs. We will do it ourselves.” (I originally wrote “peepee” there, but scratched it for those of you with delicate sensibilities. You are welcome.)

beige master august 2016

I think I’ve mentioned before that even though we found our little House 7 when it was still in framing, we decided to forego builder upgrades because A) They were both limited and homely B) They were ridiculously expensive. Like goofy silly.

This is the Master Bedroom sporting its cheap, flat beige paint on walls and ceilings, pinky beige color on doors and trim, and cheap beige carpet,


and this is the Master after getting just a little bit of love.

Not even that much.

For Real Though.

What rational human says, “Yes. A million times YES. If I could just have a large beige box for a home, and if you could make sure it has zero character or personality, and add an extra side of beige if you wouldn’t mind, I will pay you $140 dollars a square for such a privilege, and it will forever and always be my dream,”?

No one.

That’s who.

spray ceiling aug 2016

We had scraped 2,300 sq feet of popcorn ceiling at the cabin, and then primed and painted with a roller room by room, and that was not actually super fun, so this go round we decided to paint the ceilings white before we moved anything in, and just try the sprayer we’d used on the cabin roof already.


It’s a Graco sprayer, and Mark put a narrow stay width nozzle on, and we hoped that would be enough to save us a hideous clean up what with paint dust going everywhere, and that was a nice hope.

Because Sherwin William’s paint is Awesome but Pricey, we decided to use Glidden instead, and that was our first (and really only) mistake/what we would do differently next time.

Here you will notice Spark all clothed and such, and wearing my big mask, but it was too unwieldy in the end, so he stripped-ish and used his shirt as a mask.


His cute naked chested self would spray a couple wide swaths and I would follow with a roller to even out any lines that may have been birthed and multiplied in the process.


I was happy that it was white.


I was happy that Mark was awesome.


I was happy that we had enough tarps and cloths and stuff to cover floors and cabinets.


I was happy that Liam was a great kid, helped where he could, then played army guys all day without being fussy about hanging out in an empty house with no toys, refrigerator, and a postage stamp sized yard that made his dreams of having enough brothers to have their own football so they could play together all the time.


The tiny yard, and my inability at 41 to birth enough brothers to fulfill his team quota were the things that stood in the way of that dream being realized.


I was not happy that it took us 5 coats to get to a true white without a hideously lined finish.

(Some of said lines were probably due to the fact that we did not grab a sprayer designed for this kind of project, but we like to use what we have when we can, and I think in the end this was worth it, it simply made for a pisser of a long day.)


We did not use the sprayer on the walls. I rolled them using the last of that Glidden paint, and after 6 coats (one of which was Kilz primer) I made the very good and right decision to part ways with Glidden forever, because if I had just paid for SW paint from the beginning, it would have saved us a million hours, and would not have cost any more #becauseonecoatcoverage.

And no, they do not pay me to love them. I simply cannot contain my deep heart for their amazing product and how it saves my arm and my time and my sanity by not forcing me to paint the same room six flocking times.


The other thing that did not make me happy was clean up.

Even with tarps and drop cloths everywhere, we had a good bit of overspray, and the floors got plenty of sticky paint dust.


After prep work was finished (removing some light fixtures, taping over others, taking down vents, covering floors, etc) Mark started spraying around 9am and was finished before 4pm. He cleaned the sprayer and all tarps, and took Liam back to our apartment while I stayed til 7pm cleaning the floors.

I think we spent 250 bucks on paint and while messy, spraying was wayyyyyyy faster than rolling 2,250 sq ft of ceiling, nor was there any paint I could not get off the floor, so one 12 hour day to save $1,750 and a million hours was a good trade for us.


We let everything dry for 48 hours, then came back and Spark put up these pretty chandeliers to replace the boob lighting and chrome ceiling fan in our living and dining spaces,


and that was a way happier project.


In closing, here is a little side by side of our final walk through in August vs being all paint and lighting settled in December, and that is pretty much everything I have to say about painting ceilings.

the end


House 7 Winter Tour

So today I could totally do a post on the Top 10 Reasons I Am A Terrible Blogger, the first being that I do not update with any semblance of regularity, and the second that I hugely fail at keeping up in real time, leaving me in this awkward limbo of, “Wait. We did that project 5 months ago, but I haven’t shared it, and now we are doing other, more funner things, but the photos in this project already show that one completed, and is it even relevant to share any more or is this yet another example of me being a big, giant, non-real-time-blogging weirdy?”

(Liam and I went and saw “Moana” today, and I Loved him because the way he talks to himself via his tattoos was totally my real life! #minusthetattoos)

Anyhow, I thought to myself, “Self, how about we just do a whole tour of the new house and maybe that will be a good launching point for the catching up of the projects?” And since the rest of us did not have better or opposing ideas, we are going with it.

Without further ado, welcome to the House 7 Winter Tour. (On Instagram it carries the moniker of “Monarch Cottage” because when you go on and delete an IG account, you cannot come back with your same name, and I did not know who I wanted to be yet when starting new, but I figured the house might know and I could go with that, and I felt like Transformation was going to happen here in me as much as in the home, and butterflies kept popping up everywhere – Yes, I understand why some of you are going to be all like, “lt. Was. Summer. Not much of a miracle there, lady,” but it was totally meaningful at the time and maybe you guys should work on being butterflies yourself and refrain from mocking the wallflower at the dance – so even though it’s a little bit dorky, I’m not name changing again. #forawhileatleast

exterior garage jan 2017

While a front facing garage is not my favorite, I am so thankful to have a garage after parking my cute little car out in the elements for 2 years when we were at the Cabin.

house 7 exterior jan 2017


The neighbor kids all thought the “snow” was so fun on the back “hill.”

Oh Southerners.

You are cute.


Here is what’s gone down in the foyer since August when it was a little spec house – Farrow and Ball’s Wimborne White on the ceilings and trim, Sherwin Williams Anew Gray at 50% on the walls, new door knobs and hinges, bamboo blind, and chandy.

Helpful Hint for Builders – Boob Lights are both homely and scandalous always (which is honestly an affront to  boobies everywhere) but in foyers and dining rooms, they are just embarrassing. No need to be both cheap and lazy. #getittogetherguys

foyer 2017

Not great lighting, but lets do it for the memories, okay?


Aren’t the arches just happy, though? I heart them.

(So is the blue tape because it means trim is getting painted. Again. The motto in this house #thirdtimesacharm.)


Clearly this is August 30, 2016, because the calendar says so and everyone knows calendars don’t lie.

Liam’s room was mostly done before we moved in.

We painted walls, ceilings, trim and doors Wimborne White, turned the silver living room fan into this guy with black spray paint and these cages, swapped out the door knobs and hinges, put up the curtain rods and blinds, then

liam room

we added these little white curtains and called it good for now.

Mark is really excited about my plans for him to build a window seat with toy storage for this space. Every time I add something new to the project list he is all like, “YES! BRING IT, BABY!” #sarcasm #helovesme

hall bath jan 2017

The hall bath is small and hard to photograph, but thus far its walls, ceilings, trim and doors have gone Wimborne White to cover flat Builder Beige and Pinky White Trim, Mark swapped out door knobs, hinges, and faucets from silver to oil rubbed bronze, and I sprayed the vanity lighting black so he could add the cages like Liam’s ceiling fan.

Left on the project list for this space is Paint The Cabinets, and that’s pretty much it. With all the wainscoting in the foyer and hall, a wall treatment seems like too much, so for now it will not be a Statement Bathroom. (I don’t know what kind of statements other bathrooms are trying to make, but this one clearly says, “Please pee in me,” and most people obey. Every once in a while a guest misses their cue and uses the shower instead, but usually we’re good.)


 For anybody who’s all like, “Ummmmm, how do I know this is really any different than when you started? What if you are sketchier than you look now that you have black hair to match your soul?” Here is a little collage of the day we closed on House 7 back in August 2016.

You were smart to ask.

I am totally sketch.

Thanks for keeping me honest.


So besides hosting house guests and really liking it, this room now has Wimborne White ceilings, bamboo blinds, new door knobs and hinges, a ceiling fan to replace the homely boob light, Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter on the walls, bedding by Ballard Designs, and drapes made by yours truly when I was taking a break from bon bon eating.

guest night stand jan 2017


There is a nice little Laundry Post to share with you guys all the fun stuff that’s happened here like me taking the door knob off while painting, forgetting I had done so, and bringing on a full fledged panic attack where I was ready to karate kick the door in #becauseclaustrophobia and literally all I had in the room with me was one drill, one paint brush, and one cup of paint (Helpful Hint for People Taking Off Door Knobs – Do not do stupid stuff and if you do, always Keep Your Phone On Hand so that you can call your husband to save you if you trap yourself in a weensy room where you think you might die from fright.)


Oh look. It’s the Sunroom. Spark and I love having coffee here together in the mornings. This pic was actually in November before we put our tree up, I think, but I have since moved my keyboard in and have not yet taken a klassy with a capital K photo to disguise it’s less than lovely self. So yeah.

back deck jan 2017

Back Deck and Kitty Prints (Our view out the sunroom windows.)

dining jan 2017

I don’t think I’ve done a legit Dining Room post yet, but I did rattle on about making both sets of these drapes on the cheap with designer fabric, so that’s fun.

gallery wall dining jan 2017

In this space we’ve painted the ceilings and trim Wimborne White, added the picture molding waincsoting, painted the wall Anew Gray at 50%, replaced the boob light with this pretty chandy, and put up curtain rods and drapes.


I think I told all about the kitchen cabinet upgrade here, and that’s mostly the exciting thing that took place there. I am happy eating Paleo Food and all, but it is not what I’d call Exciting. Now if we moved on the bedroom……


Or we could just do a little more kitchen instead.

We still need to swap that silver faucet out for a new one, plus crown molding and a backsplash but those are more projects that Mark cheers about in his sleep, so it’s all good.



I am tired of writing about all the stuff we’ve done. It is boring me now, so I will finish up.


This is the living room where we changed lots of stuff.


More Living Room


Okay, lets finish with the master bedroom. We’ll ignore the bonus room and master bath today because we are all ready to do something different now.


Observant people will realize this is the same bed as in the guest bed but bigger.

We will chat about that another day.


In closing, more winter stuff.


The End.

When Laundry Rooms Attack


Oh look, it’s my tiny Builder Spec laundry room from when we moved in last August.

Hi there Lil’ Laundry.


Are you guys fans of fluorescent lights paired with wire shelving, flat beige walls and ceilings, pinky white trim with silver door knobs and hinges in the mix?

I was not, so I started tackling that nonsense before we even moved in.


Sherwin Williams Rainwashed seemed right and cute for a tiny laundry, so that part worked out.


Then one day I was all alone in the house minding my own business and painting the kitchen when I heard this gimanous crash (yes, gimanous) and grabbed a knife while I went to investigate (in case an axe murderer had smashed through a window) but it was actually just that homely old plastic fluorescent light cage.

It had fallen to the tile floor and smashed into a million pieces, and I put my knife down and cleaned all that jazz up, but did not call our dumb builder because Mark is way better at doing the things I like. #allthethings

You will notice in the photo above how it is just a bare bulb hanging out on my partially painted ceiling while my boys put up a shelf for me.

You will also notice that it is rough, unfinished wood left over from another project they were working on.

And since they were choring away for me in 100 degree weather doing various things while I sat on my throne eating bon bons, I very sweetly  waited 5 months to mention to Spark that I want some sort of cute-ish trim piece to cover the rough shelf face.

And possibly a second shelf.

And under eye surgery.

And maybe new boobs.

He has not yet mocked me to scorn, so perhaps there is hope.


That shelf hanging day, however, Mark had opened the front door to do something or other and hollered, “Hey Jake! Come check this out,” whereby Jake moseyed on over to the front door his Dad was holding open, and a Snake Slithered Right Into My Brand New House.

Like super fast slithered while releasing this hideous stink, all while refusing to be caught.

Gag and Vomit.

Then when Jake finally achieved success in capturing Snakey, he latched on to my boy’s knuckle and sank his nasty little fangs in, and right then I knew.

I knew some unexpected thing with fangs was going to startle my middle, and I started praying, praying, praying and did not fuss about laundry shelving.

(The boys Googled old Snakeypants, and he was not poisonous, so we did not have to stop Project Day for a trip to the ER, however)

the next day Jake’s little girlfriend of 4 years broke up with him without warning, which sent him on a painful spiral that took a few months to get back on track from, and I know some of you have prayed for my sweet sketchy, and while it’s been so hard to watch as a Momma, Jesus has been faithful to do what He promised.

A few years back when my heart was breaking over my boy, and I had already heard the Holy Spirit whisper, “I am coming for him, but it will get worse before it gets better,” and every time we ran in to a thing I would ask, “It this it? Is this the worst??”) and that day I was pouring my heart out like water to the Lord and He whispered, “Believe I Am Who I Say I Am Over Him.”

I cried like a baby, and immediately changed my prayer trajectory to more declaration as opposed to petition, and it has been beautiful to see God’s faithfulness to me and this grown one who carried a piece of my heart with him wherever he goes.

  Jake is most assuredly learning and growing and changing all while staying away from substances and weaponry and choosing different friends and……..and watching the things I’ve heard Jesus whisper over the years come to fruition is far more valuable than having my laundry turn out just right.

Except I do want it to, though, so I ask Spark to make that happen.


We bought new door knobs, and sprayed all hinges and screws in oil rubbed bronze (which was a pisser project for sure, but way cheaper than buying ready made guys) and we also grabbed a new washer and dryer from Lowes while we were at it, and then yesterday while Mark was at the gym then heading to Lowes for more laundry project supplies, this happened.


(here is the full text)

“So I seriously just spent 5 minutes LOCKED IN THE LAUNDRY ROOM because I had taken the handle off the door to paint and didn’t even realize I had closed it til I was trapped like a rat, and for real I almost battered that door down with  my bare hands #becauseclaustrophobia and I didn’t even have my phone with me to call Mark to save me because it was by the speaker where I had a podcast playing and I freaked out for a little while on the tile floor, and the I tried to THINK (which is hard to do when you are all panicked and your heart is racing and your ears are ringing and you can’t get a real breath) and I realized I Did have the drill with me, so I finagled it as an opener mechanism thing and finally escaped. I immediately told Mark the story and how he almost had to buy a new door and he re-sent this pic I had sent him earlier with the words, ‘Emphasis on numbers 5 and 6.’ Sigh. I would never make it in prison.”

It took me a good 2 hours to recover.

For real and true.

It’s possible I drank the 4 oz of leftover wine from the previous night’s dinner before I ate my lunch because my nerves would not settle.


When Spark finally got home and I was walking through the whole thing with him I was like, “Okay. If I had made it past the panic and into clear thinking, what were my options Besides karate kicking the door in?” And he just stared at me like I had peas for brains and replied, “You would have waited for me to get home. You knew I was coming back.”

“Yeah, Mark. (hard R, hard K) That was at 10:40. You got home at 12:30. What was I supposed to do all claustrophobically locked in the laundry room with a drill, a paintbrush and nothing else for Almost Two Flipping Hours????”

Except I didn’t say Flipping.

“What was the worst thing that was going to happen to you in there, baby? Think it through logically. You would have been bored. That’s it.”

“Really? Really that’s it? I would have been bored?



What’s the worst thing that will happen to you tonight while you are sleeping and I am awake? Think about it logically…….”


Then we kissed and he put the little can light in for me and put the patch kit where the fluorescent light used to be, and I finished painting my trim, and the rough wood shelf, and then the ceiling went all bright white as well (Benjamin Moore’s White Dove in Semi Gloss on everything. Yes, including the ceiling, because I am not spending a million dollars on a separate can of Sherwin William’s Duration Paint just for a less glossy finish on that weensy laundry ceiling, that’s why)


and then it was all finished, and even though it’s a million percent nothing Pinterest People would drool over, it makes me way happier than the Builder Basic version did and


if we decide to stick around for longer than 2 years, I might ask for some sort of wainscoting and that second shelf and some crown molding and those boobs, but for today I’m really just glad the whole business is over with and nobody died from snakes bites or self-induced harm or panic attacks or electrical wiring gone wrong, or whatever.

For those of you wondering, do I really keep “Toys” stored on my Laundry Shelf, come over for a visit, and we shall see what pops out at you.

It will be a good adventure.

Like my Jacob’s life, or my self induced freak out via not paying attention to door handles, or what not.

Okay, that’s it for me.

Off to watch the Lego Movie for the millionth time with Liam.

Happy Thursday Night, You Great Girls.



On 6 Months of Being an Official Paleo Person – Part 1 (My Lifelong Battle with Obesity Remix)

Because when I think Cave Man + Official it totally equals Me.

Okay, you guys remember the post, “On My Lifelong Battle With Obesity and How I Have Overcome It?”

It was the most read on this site, getting almost 2,000 views one day because Matt  Stone posted it on his social media, and anyhow, remember how I said that in an effort to do blog tidying I had deleted a slew of photos in the “unattached” folder before Christmas? Except in reality, many of them were Not unattached?

All the photos from that entry bit the dust, and so I tossed the whole thing in the trash and deleted it because the words seemed to lose credibility without the photos, but now I am sorry because even if I couldn’t have recovered All of them, surely I could have found Some, and while you guys read it a lot, I didn’t and I only remember the general gist of how it went so I cannot even do a recreation of the original.


We live all Absolute Wherever We Are but are also absolutely Changeable In A Moment, and then Absolute There as well.

And yes.

I am a “we.”

  I guess that is just how it goes when you are me. #sayseyore

Okay, so before I update you on what it’s been like to transition to Paleo eating and why that’s been a good choice for me, I’m going to attempt a quick recap on my relationship with food using a few of the deleted Obesity pix I found in my albums so you will be able to see why I am so thankful for non-rabid Paleo life.

Basically that story went like this.

“Once upon a time there was a Little Stephanie who was a cute enough kid (except for some knobby knees and chubby cheeks) and she lived in a trailer in the woods with her Mother, Father, and 4 younger siblings. Working hard and being self-reliant was a family value, leaning on nature and not the government was the norm, and no one knew that there were people in the world who could be particular about food simply because they were not a fan of the current dinner choices.


Although she was a nature lover, and did not mind a bit of dirt, Little Stephanie was in reality a particular child #because INFJ, and oftentimes preferred not eating rather than delving into the venison chili (because she had groped the raw flesh, feeding it through the hand grinder onto the newspaper covered kitchen table and it gagged her) or the fish her Daddy had caught (because the bones gagged her) or saltine crackers and milk as cereal, or mayonnaise sandwiches, or liver and onions (because all the gagging) and one night she sat at the table for hours rather than eat said liver and onions til’ her Dad came and either shoveled the food into or mouth or let her be excused. At this point she cannot remember. She has effectively blocked all liver traumas. (As much as Little Stephanie adored Laura Ingalls and her farm/prarie/woods stories, she probably would have starved to death as a frontier wife. Or perhaps learned to stop being high maintenance with all the gagging and just sucked it up already. One or the other.)

She did however, love chocolate and Diet Coke, so Nutty Bars with soda became lunch at school. Or a Little Debbie with Diet Coke. Or a bag of Doritos and Diet Coke. Occassionally Oreos with Diet Coke. #junksnacksanddietcokeforever

By the time she was 10, not only did Little Stephanie have a poor relationship with food, she began shedding her very first unnecessary placenta, thereby ushering her into a long family line of women with uteruses who were all like, “We Win The Early Procreation Ability Wars!!”

This was a club she was not excited to join for a plethora of reasons.

So began her poor relationship with her own body, and she would spend the next 22 years waging war against food and the fat that caused feminine curvature, and was therefore responsible for so much of her unhappiness.


Later she would hear the story about her 10 year old maternal grandmother sitting at her families’ formal dining table while the maid served dinner announcing to her parents and siblings that she was sorry to say she was dying by way of bleeding to death. Upon hearing young Betty Jane’s sad farewell, her Mother excused them both from said table, took her to the bathroom for feminine hygiene supplies and shared with her all the joys of Overachieving Uteruses.

Grown Stephanie would consider the thought that perhaps her genetic wiring supported the “German Beerwench In A Corset” style of female (or at least German Fraulein) as opposed to the “Danish Beach Volleyball Athlete” form she was in pursuit of, but then she disregarded that as nonsense #becausedetermination #dedication #perseverance #pluscrazybrain and continued with unwavering vision her plan to fight obesity.

A few pregnancies at 17, 19 and 21 threw Obesity Wars for a loop which was incredibly challenging both mentally and emotionally, but by the time she was 22, she had committed to 1,000 calories a day via Slimfast and Lean Cuisine (plus all the Diet Coke) and though she had to quit breastfeeding her baby Girl at 5 months because of milk supply issues, at least she had a good battle plan that made her feel safer.



Sometimes she felt safer.

Other times she laid on the couch and cried because she needed to go the grocery store, but she knew everyone would take one look at her and think, “Seriously?? Why did that fat lady even leave her house??” and it would require great courage to push through that kind of opposition and commandeer the food her family needed.


Because of her struggles with food and obesity, Stephanie began to grow more creative in her plots, trying a few years of veganism, juice fasting,


water fasting, colonics, a heavy duty vitamin regime, and then the faith diet where you only eat if your stomach literally growls, plus running an hour a day and lifting weights. She recognized that perhaps it wasn’t quite healthy to be so focused on her body’s ability to regulate fat, and at a deeper level realized hating oneself did not serve the principles of her faith, so she added spiritual warfare type prayer to deal with the things that whispered so much accusation and said she should just starve and die, and while that did provide some healing for her spirit, it did nothing to help her body cooperate more fully with a fat free life.

One of the most painful things about Stephanie’s weight struggle was being terrified always, being certain that the day was coming when her husband would leave her for another woman.

A better woman.

One who had more self control, did not have problems with food and size, and who was pretty enough to be with him. She even had regular dreams about this other, better woman, and can still see her clearly to this day.

While faithfulness in marriage was never actually an issue, and her Love seemed to be all in, she did not relax her guard and remained prepared just in case.

Stephanie developed ulcers in the colon, female issues, shin splints so painful she could not walk up the stairs to put her kids to bed, daily migraines, and upon discovering she was literally unable to run any longer, she dropped her calorie intake to 500 a day so that Obesity would not continue to grow.

She also dyed her hair black to match her soul.


Then one day into her 22 Year War, a girlfriend who was also a health professor asked, ‘Stephanie, what if your problem is not in reality obesity, but anorexia?’ and Stephanie was like, “Oh please. Do I look near death to you? I am incredibly round. I could eat all this fat on my keister for a good 6 months and be healthy.”

But the Professor Friend persisted and said, “Just start keeping track. Eat 1,200 calories a day, then move to 1,500. When you are ready add an apple and 2 Tablespoons of peanut butter, and that will get you to 1,800. Then stay there. 1,800 – 2,000 calories daily are what an adult female’s body needs to function and be healthy. You can do this.’

So our girl cried and ate 1,200 calories. Cried and ate 1,500 calories. Cried and could not eat 1,800 calories.

But after a surprise pregnancy, where the baby died in the womb and was birthed by way of a D & C, she grieved deeply about how her body had been unable to support life, and felt responsible for the death of her child, and she started to eat more food, not because she wanted to or because her eyes saw a non-obese person in the mirror, but because she trusted that her Professor Friend, and her other friends, and her husband could see something she could not, and because she was angry that no amount of hard work and dedication and perseverance would give her the fat free body she had tried to attain without harming the tiny person living inside her frame, and if she couldn’t have what she wanted most, why even try?


She ate 1,800 calories a day in Mexican food and Margaritas, or spicy french fries, dark chocolate and red wine, and she had ice cream for dinner if it sounded good because she still did not actually like food, and sometimes she would take her baby boy for a walk in his stroller, and that was her only exercise, and you know what happened?

What Stephanie had always feared to be true all her days, was indeed true.

If you Eat The Food, you Get Fat.

Over the next 3 years she gained 35 pounds, and found that while her body did fill right out, 3 years of eating did not magically correct the health problems gained from a lifetime of under-eating, overexercising, and loathing oneself.


She vividly remembers this night, and how grotesquely huge her face felt and how hard it was to live in her own round skin and focus on the people in her house, but Jesus had told her her pursuit of fat free life was idolatry, and she didn’t want to mess with Him, so she kept doing the right thing. It was hard, though.

Every day was hard.

Then at the end of an incredibly stressful season where her kidneys were not functioning correctly, and there were all sorts of Lady Woes from an Overachieving Uterus while her Thyroid was being an Underachiever, her hair didn’t grow and her nails didn’t grow, and her health provider told her she was dealing with premature aging and her skin was thin like an old woman’s, and she itched all the time even into her ears, she stumbled upon Matt Stone’s book, ‘Eat for Heat: The Metabolic Approach to Food and Drink,’ and it was basically all about, ‘You people who have spent years on all sorts of diets depriving your body of nutrients while asking it to perform grueling workouts on no energy have tanked your metabolism, and these are the sort of issues you have (and he listed every one of Stephanie’s woes) and your body can absolutely heal, but most of you who put your body through that kind of crap are overachieving perfectionists in all arenas of your lives, therefore my recommendation is 6 months of  3,000 calories a day, and sitting on your ass. Just Rest. Eat and Rest and let your body recover. You’re going to gain weight. Most people gain 20 – 40 pounds in that 6 months. It will be hard. You will want to freak out. But your body will fill up the nutritional stores you depleted from years of chronic underfeeding. Your mind and spirit will heal from all the years you were a harsh taskmaster and pushed yourself to crazy lengths. And the weight will readjust itself once your body is certain you are no longer starving, and that you are well enough where a fully functioning metabolism will not harm you. You can recover and you can be well.’

And it resonated.

Stephanie and her husband were just ending a ministry season where they were leaving feeling injured and devastated and burned out, and a total life rhythm shift just seemed Right.

She was very, very, very scared about the ‘You Will Be A Pork Chop,’ part of the plan, as well as how the heck does one force 3,000 calories a day down the gullet anyhow? (Answer – Heavy Whipping Cream and Pecans #notevenkidding) and she talked to her lover about this, making sure he understood Super German Beerwench would be his new wife, and was he okay with that? And he was all like, “Stephanie. I love You. I want You. I am attracted to You. At every weight, level of fitness and hair color, you are my person. You are my standard of beauty. If round is what you need to do to be well, then I like round.’ (Because he is a fantastic human being, that is why. She is a lucky girl and knows this.)


This was what she looked like when they had that conversation.


This is what she looked like 6 months and 35 pounds later.

All her friends would say, ‘Oh Hey Brunhelga, wanna come serve drinks at my bar tonight?’ and she was all like, ‘Only if you provide me with a sturdy corset top and let me work for tips.’

Actually, one time she and the friend in the photo above were out having a Girling Day, and they got some whistles and cat calls from classy men who like to do that sort of thing, and Stephanie’s Plaid Friend said, “I swear I get more looks from men when I’m with you than I ever do alone. It must be the boobs.’ And Stephanie laughed out loud and was like, “I’m sorry, was that a compliment or an insult??? Freak.’

She had finally attained that which she had ever been afraid of – Real Live Full Figured Lady Status – and something new happened as she looked in the mirror.

Stephanie saw the actual person who was there.



Not bigger than reality.

Not smaller than reality.

Just the Stephanie Who Took Up That Amount of Space.

While seeing what a size 12 or 14 looked like on her own body, all those years where she had seen a sized 12 or 14 girl in the mirror suddenly showed themselves for the lies they were, and she knew her own fallen brain had played tricks on her (with help from nasty emissaries brought here by Lucifer’s Fall. She’s telling you, those words are Loud. They are clear. They are violent. They mock. They taunt. They assault. They want death. And today they are gone.)

Stephanie realized for the first time in her life that she’d never had an Obesity Problem. It really and truly was an Anorexia problem, and just because she was never under 100 pounds, or hospitalized while in need of a feeding tube (even though she’d always been somewhat bitter that her efforts did not produce that kind of dramatic fruit because she had worked so damm hard and faithfully, and how many people make it through a 2 week water fast? and it really wasn’t fair at all that she hadn’t ended up tinier, but probably it was Grace and Good and she should not fuss about it) didn’t mean that Anorexia was not the biggest, fattest, most hateful liar she had ever known in all her life with a concrete agenda to destroy her body, mind and soul.

That’s what resting for 6 months while eating 3,000 calories a day and growing into a legitimate full figured lady did for her.

It also showed her in real time that her husband really and truly did love her and like her and want her and was attracted to her for herself, whatever size that self might be, and all of the fear that had stalked the heels of their marriage disintegrated in one fell swoop.

Like POOF – Gone, and she knew without a shadow of a doubt that she was loved.

He is so thankful for that because today it is not uncommon for his bride to shriek, “DON’T CLUCK WITH ME, MARK. I AM THE BEST THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED TO YOU, AND YOU ARE LUCKY TO HAVE ME. NOBODY FEELS SORRY FOR YOU THAT I AM OCCASIONALLY HIGH MAINTENANCE. YOU GET ALL THE PRIZES AND TREASURES THAT ARE ME, AND CAN HANDLE IF SOMETHING IS NOT YOUR FAVORITE. HONESTLY,” and he is all, “Oh My Love. It is so good to see the way you have grown and are assured of my affection for you. I am so glad you are not a fearful little bird any more, but rather a she dragon who can flay me with one swoop of her tail. I am proud of you,’ and then they kiss.

While Stephanie’s brain remains inordinately full, that pressure to be perfect, that drive to keep working til’ she Becomes Right, that refusal to accept an ordinary, good enough self, has been truly, fully replaced and covered with Grace.

Grace and Love.

From Jesus and from Her Man and from Herself, which is such a weird thing to say, because it is so not her favorite Moral of the Story when the moral of the story is, ‘Learn to love and accept yourself flaws and all, because it is Jesus alone who makes you righteous, and nothing you will ever do can achieve all the perfect that you long for, and Yes it is coming one day, but that day is not today, therefore it is enough to be humble and receive love as a flawed human, and give love as a flawed human, and trust that you do not have to perfect to earn anyone’s affection, including your own.’

It gags her just a little bit to say that, but nowhere near as much as liver and venison or mushy crackers and milk do.

She had totally intended to share how a non-rabid approach to the Paleo lifestyle is helping to heal all those years of poor, irregular, unstable relationship with food, and also how it has assisted in settling that Overachieving Uterus, and other endocrine issues, and blood sugar woes, and how she is not so round anymore, though she does not own a scale, but you know how Stephanie is.

She is often surprised by where the words take her, just like you are, and clearly did indeed go on and do a retelling of her Lifetime Battle With Obesity story, so she will have to catch you up on all things Paleo tomorrow. You are so excited.’

The End.

All About Me Plus More

*Okay Girls, I wrote a new “About” page today and deleted the old, because clearly we are not at the Cabin any longer, and I didn’t want to be all sitting on a throne of lies, and it’s Almost 1,000 words, and I thought, “Surely it won’t be cheating if I just go on and share it as a Post tonight!” and so I am. I am doing that right now. Happy Day After Christmas! I hope you all had so much joy. xo*

Friends, Family, Countrymen, Worldtrymen, and All The Other Men Who Visit Here Pretending They Are Their Wives,

Welcome to my Renovating Life!

If we’ve not met, I’m Stephanie, and this is my most favorite person, Mark.

#hessohandsome  #stoplookingyoufreaks

Processed with VSCOcam with m6 preset

You’re seeing this photo because I want you to know the truth about me and this blog right from the start. There will be no glossy, polished, “Girl Tells You All The Ways She’s Got Her Stuff/DIY Projects Together And How You Can Learn To Do Awesome Stuff By Following Her Instructions” type posts going on here.

Right now I’m trying to henpeck this updated page for you on my new Christmas Laptop, and while it is Super Fancy and Awesomely Amazing and I Love It, that damm shift key is so far away from where my pinky is used to that I keep hitting page up, and touching that mouse square thing with the fat pad of my hand, and I’ve no clue what I’m even doing that suddenly changes my font size to giant. Or sometimes minuscule. In addition, like 30 times now, the word I’m trying to spell jumps and letters land in another rando sentence elsewhere, and I have this nonsense mashup of ridiculousness. Sigh.


The point being, you should know there will be far more misadventures than step by step tutorials on this blog. Please feel free to learn from my errors, though.

I know I try to.

You’ll for sure find stories about our Cabin Renovation Project (which we finished and sold in May 2016) the Spec House we’ re currently making home, and ramblings on God’s Renovating Work In Me and Ways I Would Like To Be Smarter. I’ve often gotten things bass-akwards, but Jesus is a good, strong, smart Carpenter, who is kind and safe, and He’s teaching me a lot about how life works, how I work, and the good works I’m made to do, as opposed to the ones I’ve fried myself doing.

You guys remember where the Apostle Paul writes that letter to the Ephesians and says, For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them…..?”

Even though he stresses me out a little bit because of his aggressive communication style and harsh bossiness, I am still glad Paul wrote those good words down. I mean, he and I would never be friends #becausetemperamentclash, but who says you can only respect/learn stuff from your friends?

Speaking of temperament theory, I hereby confess that I love it, and swing all Meyers Briggs INFJ (married to an ESTJ) and Enneagram 4w5, which makes for a Word Loving, People Loving, Jesus Loving, Nature Communing, Deep Thinking, Deep Feeling, HSP, Long Haired Hippie, Recovering Perfectionist Type Person who is often processing her stuff right before your eyeballs, and generally you will either like me or you will not. I am okay with both, and whichever way you land, I promise not to bite you.


Anyhow, as we’ve lived out 24 years of always wedded and often bliss, Mark and I have discovered we love houses, and projects, and buying, and selling, and therefore,

We Move Often.

We’re fixers.


We use dorky collages with ungreat photos of photos to show we are not huge, giant liars about these statements.


If everything is always moving toward decay #dammthatlawofentropy, our sweet spot is working to bring repair, beauty, peace, and joy to both places and people.


We were 18 and 20 when we bought this 1,100 sq ft cutie in Western Michigan back in 1994. Ben was 18 months old, and Jake was on the way. My sweet love machine worked so hard #andwassuchapennypincher that we saved the $7K for down payment and closing costs on his Minimum Wage But Lots Of Overtime factory job in just 18 months. 5 sweet years were spent here with our 3 littles, then we moved down South to the Nashville area in June 2000.


Including apartments, we’ve got 13 moves under our belt in 24 years. My gypsy heart loves the adventure of it all.


This is my kids’ favorite house, and the only one where we lost money. (Parents will do crazy things during a market crash to get their teenager into a different school system, hoping to save them from the possibly perilous path their sweet but sketchy friends are on. #wewerefoiled #stillagoodhousethough)


This is the home that kicked our tails, broke Mark’s elbow in a roof fall, my ACL in a ladder fall,

cabin mstr

but was also the one where we made bank in just 2 years. #sowinningishmaybe


Oh look. Some of the people who’ve lived in our 7 houses.

4 children have come to us via natural loverly means, and then we’ve added some grafted in kids that we’re keeping forever. I am glad for them all.

Now that we’re acquainted, feel free to putter around and laugh with me #oratme, see a few good before and afters, and know my hope is that grace, smiles, and connection go with you as you leave these pages.

Thanks for stopping by.

I like you already.



A Song

So it looks like I am going to be a huge embarrassing failure after all, and not complete my 30 consecutive days of writing here.

It’s Christmas, for Pete’s sake.

Who decides on that kind of project mid-December?

Who gets all inspired and says, “Oh That Sounds Fun” but does not consider the fact that it means committing a couple hours daily to taking cute pictures, then making them even cuter with some sort of app, then uploading them, plus collecting thoughts, communicating said thoughts somewhat cohesively, and then editing afterward #becauseramblingstiltskinismyname?

I do.

I do that thing.

Instead of pushing through (which I Could do, but if I am my own Boss, why be a harsh task master at the most wonderful time of the year?) I’ve decided to be fully present for birthday celebration with the fam tomorrow, and then Christmas Eve celebration, and clearly Christmas Day celebration, and shall pick things back up on the 26th.

All of you who will weep great, sorrowful tears for missing me, I am so sorry.

Please accept this giant hug.

Also, here is a Christmas song I wrote, and am sharing with you in my pipsqueak non-singing voice because I know you love me and are not my friends because I remind you of a more awesome version of Mariah Carey who will get you free backstage passes to her show and will give you Oprah caliber gift bags, rather you simply like me.

King Forever

Sweet King Jesus born in a stable, humbly leaving His throne above

Light from heaven breaks through the darkness of night

Messiah comes

Son of David, Wisdom of Ages, Lord of Mercy, the Prince of Peace

Cradled in the arms of a beautiful girl

All the angels sing

Hear the angels sing


Hallelujah King Forever

Hallelujah King  Forever

Hallelujah King Forever

Hallelujah You are King Forever

Lowly birthplace, humble beginnings prepare the world for this servant King

One true shepherd worshipped by those of His kind

Hearts full of praise they bring

Eastern wise men study the prophets long awaiting this Savior King

Weary travelers led by the light of star

Priceless gifts they bring to worship the King of Kings


Now today we’re telling His story as we worship the newborn king

A babe no longer He’s risen and ruling on high

We join with every age the song of ceaseless praise

Hallelujah King Forever

Hallelujah King Forever

Hallelujah King Forever

Hallelujah Jesus

You are King Forever


 That’s it over here.

So Much Happy Merry Wonderful Joyous Grace Filled Christmas From Me to You.

Hearts and Hugs and Fancy Rugs


A Mother’s Lament at Christmas

Hi you guys.

I am quiet today.

Quiet and most likely sad.

It was a rather strange commitment for this introvert to decide to publicly communicate for 30 days. While it seemed like a good idea at the time – a way to ensure I followed through with a project I would definitely quit otherwise – and while I always have thoughts and feelings and words for content, they aren’t always palatable.

I like to offer quirky chit chat that might bring a smile to someone’s face. Sad words from a deep well do not make your friends smile unless they are psychopaths, and I generally make sure to avoid friends who might murder me in my sleep and never feel bad about it.

Probably I will not hit publish on this guy because #whythough but I will go on and write my thousand words.

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.

Prayer and cry and hope and lament given voice in one word.

All hurts and loss and longing, all rejections and lack of closure and inability to understand wrapped round one name.

I’m trying.

God, you know I’m trying so hard to say the right thing, to feel the right thing, to believe the right thing. To not refuse the manna You give for today because I want so much more.

To remember who You are, and all You’ve done, and how faithful Your love over me is.

But I’m tired of walking this Parent of Prodigal Child life. It’s been 8 years. And I don’t want to do it anymore.

I don’t want to choose faith and perseverance and open hearted love that lets me be lacerated over and over and over again. I don’t want to always be on alert for the call that says someone  is in the hospital, or that I should just head on over to the morgue already.

Today I am a toddler having a full on tantrum face down in the dirt. Fists beat the ground, tears stream down the chubby face, and my voice rails against all these things that are not what I want.

Did you See what a good Mom I was? How growing my kids in to lovely human beings whose mark on the world would be positive has been my life’s mission? How from the moment of their birth they were loved, accepted, embraced, not controlled or shamed or punished, but rather grace based discipline through the lens of the Cross shaped them? How I researched and read and studied and grew so that I could offer them more than I knew and give them a bigger view of the world? How Mark and I intentionally built a stable, loving marriage even though we didn’t know jack sh*t so they would always feel safe and secure?  How I saw them and called their deepest selves out and didn’t say they had to be like me and was available always and invested in their very souls and shared sacrificial gospel love and pointed them to You without forcing them and……and my prize is back to back Wanderers? They’re free to be anything and this is what they choose?

Isn’t it supposed to be you reap what you sow? Isn’t that the rhythm You built into the world?

And I am glad one is coming around. I am. You know I am.

The process is still hard to watch. Incredibly painful to see the physical scars he will carry all his life, and know that there are emotional, spiritual and psychological places that will bear scars as well though I know healing will come.

You see how I grieve for the one who is not yet coming around. How the sense of injustice is so strong and wraps itself round the sad and confused and unfamiliar and rejected and they are all ugly friends together.

And it’s Christmas.

I don’t want it to be like this at Christmas.

Do You Hear Me?

I don’t want it to be like this.

Give me my family back.

Give them back.

Give. Them. Back.

(Tantrum ceases, Quiet comes)

You are really so good to me.

You never ‘should’ me. You boss me for sure. You give clear instruction. But never from Should. And in a world where, “Cover Up Your Ugly,” reigns, I am glad I do not have to hide from You.

That there is no need for fig leaves.

That You can handle seeing me bleed, and do not reprimand, “You are already covered by blood. Your salvation is secure. You should be happy through it all.”

A baby King wrapped in flesh. Immanuel. God with us.

God with me.

A Man of Sorrows, familiar with grief.

The only perfect parent who gave His children all the freedom, all the gifts, all the tools, all the stability in the universe, who withheld not one good thing so that they could Become, and watched them reject Life and run into Death’s mocking arms.

You know.

You know.

You know.

On a planet that is often harsh and cruel and evil, I have been willing to offer all I am to build a safe haven. For Mark. For the children we would bring into the world. For myself.  For anyone else who would be sheltered under our roof. A place where Wretched was not allowed to intrude, where peace and acceptance and usually happy kissed every day, and where grace always won.


But it isn’t enough.

All the good, safe, unconditional Mother’s Love in the world cannot overcome the fact that my children are Adam’s children, that their hearts are irrevocably fractured simply by being born this side of Eden, and that there is no safe haven from the dark they carry inside of them.

I could not save me from myself, and I cannot save my children.

That makes me so sad.

I really just wanted to.

To help them grow from sweet, fragile seedlings into giant oaks nurtured by sun and rain and seasons and years, but always free from disease and parasites and tornadoes and fire and anything  that would potentially destroy them.

Faith is hard.

Letting go is hard.

Waiting is hard.

Simply accepting them, accepting Now, and believing You Are Who You Say You Are is far more challenging than keeping them safe and loved and happy under my roof ever was.

I’m better at tantrums.

Probably then this is good work for me to do.


Leaky Tears.

And so much gratitude that You came.

For me.

For them.

The story isn’t over yet.

What You are writing is good.

I think You will keep making me brave enough to live it.

Airstone Fireplace Makeover

Airstone 1

Behold! Our builder grade fireplace in our builder grade living room with our builder grade finishes!

I actually wrote a nice Instagram note entitled, “Dear All the Builders, Please stop making homes with corner fireplaces. Nobody likes them, nobody thinks they’re cute, and they have exactly zero friends. CPs make spaces awkward, difficult, and just plain unfun to work with. How would you like being homely, unliked, awkward and friendless at Christmas? Do the right thing. Start thinking of others, okay? Signed, Stephanie Who Just Singlehandedly Tore Her Living Room Apart Trying to Make Said Corner Fireplace Less Obnoxious and Probably Tore A Groin Muscle in the Process,” so we are now all up to speed about how I feel about this situation.

Airstone 2

Taking walls and ceilings from pinky beige to Wimborne White was the first step to non-boring, followed by lighting swaps, and furniture and rugs and curtains, and then

Airstone 3

The plot to doll up Mr Plain Jane here!


We took the crown molding down,


built an MDF box, put the crown back up, painted it white,


sorted all the Airstone pieces,


chipped, pried, hammered, bashed and smashed out  the floor tile,


swept, mopped, and boxed up all the debris,


then started placing stones over the tile.

Compared to yesterday’s “Update Your Original Windows While Keeping All Your Ligaments,” tutorial, today’s DIY is cake.


Airstone comes in two different colors with a couple different edging varieties. We used the natural edge around the firebox, and the straight edge above the mantel.

A putty knife, Airstone’s icing like adhesive, a few nickels for spacing, and levels were the only tools needed.


I suppose every once in a while Mark did use the hacksaw to take a stone down to size, but in general they fit without any cutting.


I know some people do not like hardwood around their fireplace because it can feel hazardous or what not.

Since I am not one of those people, Mark laid these boards for me, and we called the update done.


In blog life I’m always like, “Oh here is a picture of Mark working!” Or “Notice Mark’s biceps as he is working in this photo. ” And then, “Kindly direct your gaze to this great shot of Mark working,” therefore thought it would be nice for the blogger to include ME since in reality I do not just stare at his cuteness while eating bonbons and stalking him with a camera while he makes all my dreams come true. (Though he totally does that.)

We are project partners, but strangely enough he is not always capturing the moments when I’m choring away. It’s like he thinks we should apply our attention toward Focusing and Accomplishing and Not Taking Breaks and stuff.


Anyhow, this is us after the work day was over, and look how we are all happy to have made our fireplace less Mr Plain Jane and more Mr Acceptable for under 300 bucks.

Also notice that big crease under my eyeball.


It hardcore makes me feel almost 41.

Last night we were out on a date, and were loosely mapping out 2017, and I said, ” Okay, but for real though, if I decide to have blepharoplasty and get these under eye bags filled in after all, and I happen to go blind as some unheard of but possible side effect, please know it is your job to ensure my eyes still get their make up on,” and Mark thought for a minute and replied, “Baby, you’ll be all stitched up. I don’t think you’re going to want make up on your eyes that week. Maybe you could go without. Besides, can’t you just feel around to do it?” (Mimics applying eye liner across the booth from me)

Then I was like, “Not Temporary Blindness, Mark. (Hard r, hard k.) FOREVER BLINDNESS. As in I Can Never See Anything Ever Again. And no. I can’t just feel around to do it. We’re not talking about loverly skillz. What, you want me to deal with traumatic blindness While Looking Like A Clown? That is so mean. You would have to learn to apply it, Mark.  And you have to keep my hair colored, too. Okay?

No, WAIT. I KNOW. Just take me in to have Permanent Liner tattooed on. I think they do that for lips as well!! It’s perfect. Will you do that for me, lover?”

Mark sighs all big and deep and says, “Yes dear. If you have blepharoplasty, and go blind in some unheard of but possible complication, I will make sure you do not have to handle your lack of sight while looking like a clown.”

So I was glad we got all that worked out. We also nailed down vacation ideas (ish) and house projects (ish) so it wasn’t a totally vapid evening spent discussing my fading youth.


This is what today looks like, and while it’s no gorgeous stacked stone, the Airstone does add a little bit of interest and dimension.

In addition, one of my non-surgical 2017 plots is to learn macrame. I think a big, lovely indigo piece would be super fun over the mantle. (Mark says, “I like that idea. Why would you make a big piece though? It would cover up all the stone……Wait. Are you serious?? You Don’t Like The Brown, and You’re Trying To Cover It Up?”

“Shhh, honey. Don’t stress out. It will be cute. You get so worked up sometimes. Also, I will probably need you to watch the YouTube video I like and teach me the knots because I learn best all up close and personal, and I do not really understand what that girl is doing. But it will be fun. We will bond.”

So that’s what I’ve got for today.

PS Airstone did not pay me for this post. Sadly, they do not even know I exist. I’ll bet if my under eyes were all stuffed with whatever plastic surgeons stuff in there, Airstone would love me. But by then it would be too late because they had their chance to love me, and they passed, and I would not take their money for all the tea in China.

The End.

How Not To Tear Your ACL – A Tutorial

Last night Mark and I were watching poor Tampa Bay lose to Dallas, and out of nowhere I hollered, “DECEMBER 18!!! It’s exactly one year since my ACL Surgery!”

So I thought I would tell you guys everything I know about having a dead person live on in my knee.

That part actually creeped me out super bad at first, and I wanted to use my own tissue. But my Ex Marine Surgeon Who Had Done Millions of ACL Repairs said that if I was 25 or under, my own tissue would make for a stronger knee in the long run, but because I was 40 and ancient the only thing I was going to get was more pain and a longer recovery which he did not recommend, but would do it if that’s what I wanted.

Being grateful for the organ donor who gave of himself for me seemed like a better plan.

And I am grateful.

Windows 2

Without further ado, here is how not to tear your ACL during home renovations.

When we bought the Cabin, my Intuition bossed me around by loudly proclaiming that $30,000 was our budget for the remodel, so I made a spreadsheet full of all plots and plans, had our contractor come out to give us a bid for things we weren’t planning to do on our own, kept every receipt, and decided that $7,500 for new windows did not make good sense. (Because of our small budget, the only things we ended up hiring out were the log repair and the new plumbing for the Master Bath. And while I was sad granite counters and a garage did not make the cut, our profit after the sale showed it was the right call. #morepenniesforme)


After 9 years as a rental to multiple groups of College Metal Band Boys – the home owner was a music professor and rented to his students who were super talented and super gross. We know this because they never left and kept playing when we came through with our Realtor and we cleaned up their trash and mattresses and full cat litter and liquor bottles and used condoms – many storm windows were broken or fully missing glass. Also, they were just homely.

Windows 3

After running numbers, the cost to replace them via DIY skills was still more than we wanted to spend, so we decided there was enough info on Google and YouTube to help us repair and update the originals.

Windows 4

The interior was fairly simple.

We used log caulk around the frames to seal all gaps, sanded the wood, primed with Kilz, and painted in Benjamin Moore’s White Dove.

A little bit tedious and detailed, but super cheap.

Processed with VSCOcam

For the exterior, I got up on my ladder to paint the trim, then grabbed my drill and took the actual window panes down.

They were heavier than they looked, and it was awkward holding a power tool in my right hand and the window in my left while maintaining balance on the steps, but I only sent the drill through the glass once, so it felt like winning.


While I washed them on all sides then used exterior metal paint to make the frames pretty again, Mark put new glass in the empty, lonely guys.

He is totally cute all shirtless, but I did spare your eyeballs from full frontal nipple #becauseweird.

Windows 5

Lowes will cut glass to your measurements, which was perfect for our project. After we carefully drove it home in its brown paper packaging, Mark used his dremel to clear the line, followed by Dap Window Glazing applied with a putty knife to seal it on both sides. There is a bit of a learning curve with that stuff, but nothing that won’t come together with some trial and error.

So far, so good, and pretty darn cheap. Paint, a few sheets of glass, and elbow grease.


Here’s an up close and personal of a pane showing its 30 years, dirt, and missing window glaze.

Sometimes I forgot to open the window after painting, but a sharp blade on an exacto knife would free the seam, and all would function well.


Go Us.


Unfortunately I was not at all nervous about ladder duties having painted all 4 peaks of the Cabin on this tall ladder. How would I know the puny ladder would bring about my doom?



Right here with your own eyes gaze upon the scene of the accident.

It was 2 o clock, and 15 minutes before I needed to leave for Liam’s Kindergarten pick up line. I was tired from up and downing on those steps while holding paint and a brush, and awkwardly unscrewing with the right hand while balancing the window with the left hand, and painting and rescrewing while ensuring I didn’t break glass, and anyhow the window over the HVAC unit was almost finished. I had 2 screws left to put in.

The ladder was weirdly positioned because of landscape timbers and rocks and said HVAC unit, and I must have leaned too far to the left while applying extra pressure to the screw that was sassing me, and poof.

The ladder was gone.

Just gone.

That was startling.

I landed flat on my knees and right away knew something was wrong.

Hurt like a Mother Clucker.

And I couldn’t use my right leg.

I army crawled to the AC where my phone was resting, hauled myself up all GI Jane like, called Mark who was working out of town, called Brooke who had just gotten to work to come get Liam from school and please take me to the walk in clinic.

Which was hilarious because I couldn’t walk.

I am not a cryer.

(You guys are totally laughing me to scorn right now saying, “You cry when you’re happy, you cry when you’re sad, you cry when you’re angry, you cry when you’re moved, You Cry About Dog Commericals On Television. You are the very definition of a crier.)

Fine. I am the very definition of a cryer, but Not About Physical Pain.

And I sat in a wheelchair in that stupid clinic all in my ridiculous paint clothes wearing sunglasses because tears wouldn’t stop leaking from my eyes.

A few X-rays and one MRI later showed a partial MCL tear, full on ACL tear, and a screeching halt to renovation life.

To all my life, really.

Who knew how vitality important the ligament that holds your tibia and femur was to mobility? Not me, but I sure learned fast.

Your quadricep is the first thing to go, so 6 weeks of physical therapy prepared me for surgery with old Arrogant but Excellent Ex Marine Surgeon. We were never friends because I was not good at letting him be the boss of my body. Like, yes thank you for all your information, but you are not my only source of information, and I inhabit this body, not you, and I am more than a knee, and if that second $750 out of pocket post surgery brace is not universally accepted as necessary and makes mobility even more challenging, and it’s not going to save me if I fall, which you said is what it will take for me to break my surgery, then I will focus on PT and ridiculous care to ensure my wellness, not the brace that you upcharge a million dollars for, but thanks.

So yeah. ACL pre-surgery life is a pisser, and post-surgery life is even less fun.

The first 5 days were all drug hazy, and I swear my uterus was just being mean when it starting discarding that month’s unneeded placenta on surgery day.


Sleeping was hard. Being stuck on the couch was harder. I’m not a good sitter and I could feel the sugar all sluggish in my body turning my prediabetes into full fledged diabetes as I watched myself get pudgier by the minute. Physical therapy with bald, strong enough to handle me, unmoved by all my feist Alex McCurry was a life saver.

Having someone who would shoot straight and honest with me was…..everything.

“Stephanie. Your expectations are too high. Stop Googling ACL recovery. Those guys that are ‘back to normal’ 12 weeks after surgery just lie to inflate their egos or they’re athlete pumped full of steroids. Your leg thinks it was broken because of the hole drilled in it, your quad has been traumatized by being disconnected and then jabbed in surgery, your knee has been sliced open, and your body is trying to accept new tissue. You’re looking at a year, and you’ll get 80 to 90% of your knee’s function back. Do your therapy and be patient. Doc says tell you to wear your brace. I know you won’t, so just be smart. Be careful. Do the right thing, get stronger, and wait.”

It was hard being separate from Mark.

In renovation life. In regular life. In our regular physicality (and I don’t just mean loverliness, though I did freak out to some girlfriends about how now that I was a gimpy wife wrapped in ACE bandages, and a huge brace, and an ice machine connected to me always, and unable to shower while shedding a placenta, not even sex addicts from porn hub would be attracted to me and probably my marriage was over #drugsarebad) where we are playful, wrestle, and then snuggle, and then are playful some more.

I remember coming home from the clinic that first day after falling, every crutch hop sending jolting pain throughout my body, deciding the bathroom was too far away and sitting right down on the back porch deck boards to pee.

After surgery, “Did you seriously just hit my foot?!!! Why would you do that? Don’t you know you have to be careful with me, Mark!”

“Baby. I didn’t touch you. I’m sorry. I’ll try to keep my breathing from vibrating the bed.”

Or the first time I tried to shower without Mark and literally could not find anyway to get that dead right leg over the ledge of the tub so I just stood there on one crutch with the water running, stuck my head under the spray, washed it (ish) upside down, sort of soaped the rest of me (ish) and had Liam mop up the floor while I collapsed on to the bed afterward.

It was two tons of no fun.

That’s what I think about ACL surgery and recovery.

The first 12 weeks were the most limiting. I would not drive during that season even though I had “permission” from Dr We Don’t Like Each Other because I had zero faith in my leg’s ability to brake quickly if a dog (or a God forbid a child) ran out in to the road and just like that I became guilty of involuntary petslaughter. The geriatric people lapped me at the grocery store while I scowled holes in the back of their spry heads. I’m not even kidding.

When we moved from the Cabin in May and into a second story apartment 5  months out of surgery, every one of those exterior concrete steps was like a mini mountain. Going up was hard, down felt impossible.

2 months later when I could finally manage those while carrying groceries like a normal person, that was when I felt like I was on my way to recovery. That I would make it back to enough mobility that my life didn’t feel stupid. #nobodyhaseveraccusedmeoflackofdrama

Just like all hurts, time works wonders, and right now at my one year Surgeryiversary, I can walk 2 or 3 miles through our neighborhood streets, jog a little bit here and there, handle a 5 mile hike on a rocky, root covered mountain trail, and climb back up on a ladder for projects in the new house when I so choose.

Having leg bones that are attached to each other letting me live my regular life again make me crazy happy, and I wanted to share with you guys how an average wife and mother avoids tearing her ACL.

She channels her inner Dwight Schrute and says, “Whenever I’m about to do something, I think ‘Would an idiot do that?’ And if they would I Do Not Do That Thing.”

Here is your tutorial in full:


Do not climb up on a ladder alone when no one else is home. Do not work past tired when you know you’re not at your best anymore. Do not take on projects that are too much for you. Work on being smarter than you look.

I keep checking in with my brain to see if there are more ways to protect yourselves, but that’s all I’ve got.


And the money we saved from DIY-ing the window project?


We spent it on my knee.


Had I remained in full possession of all my ligaments however, spending $250 on a DIY update instead of $7,500 would have been crazy worth it.

The moral of today’s story is this:

Don’t Be Like Me. Be Like Dwight.

Go on and learn from my mistakes.







Sometimes I Don’t Shave My Legs and Other Hidden Weirdness that Seems Normal

So this morning I got a direct message from my childhood bestie about the Instagram Story I posted from last night’s Cookie Palooza Party saying, “Is Jake Really smoking at your dining room table? While decorating Christmas Cookies??!”

And I replied, “Oh Please. We were actually all smoking Mary J Wanna. It was so fun. Sorry you couldn’t make it…..”

“No, he’s not smoking! That whole crew vapes. As in uses a little tank and mouthpiece where the cloud of “smoke” is vapor. Like steam from cooking. Nobody would ever use cigarettes in my house. Freak.”

But it did make me stop for a minute and think, “Wait. Am I the freak? Is that weird and I don’t actually know it? Are we exposing Liam to unhelpful things as he does life in a house full of adults because it’s the normal we’ve grown used to? I don’t mind being weird about most stuff, but I don’t want to be weird about Weird Stuff…..”

When Mark was growing up it was normal in his family not to heat the upstairs of their farmhouse. During Michigan Winters. He and his brother wore footie pjs til they were 12, watched their icy breath freeze as they fell to sleep, and the year electric blankets were under the tree was the most joyous Christmas ever. For real.

His Dad was a local missionary making $12,000 a year, $4,000 of which went to the kids’ Wesleyan private school. Hardcore penny pinching, shopping the missionary barrel at church, and having bags of groceries show up on their doorstep when there was no food left in the house were all part of their natural family rhythm. He never knew they were poor as church mice.

My family was not wealthy either, though both my parents were good, hard workers, and Dad’s second job was that of county sexton. I grew up spending nights and weekends at the two cemeteries under our keeping.

While Dad and his shovel single handedly managed all grave digging, caring for the grounds was a family project. We push mowed the lawn, weaving in and out of  grave markers, hand clipped overgrown grass round every tombstone, raked leaves in the fall, trimmed shrubs and hedges in the Spring, and tended to anything else to beautify the final resting place of those who had passed, making a quiet haven for those who would come to grieve.

I remember riding my bike the 5 miles to New Cemetery, picnicking with a friend, and saying hello to all my favorite people while brushing debris off their headstones. It was a normal rhythm in our family to be at peace with, respectful of, and uncreeped out by spending regular time with the dead.

I still appreciate cemeteries today.

For my kids, having Mom at home, moving every 2 to 4 years, always doing renovation projects together, living 600 miles from extended family therefore being a small, tight unit, having Bible studies and groups meet in their house, and seeing Dad regularly (but not creepily) grope Mom right before their eyes built the normal.

I am most aware of the ways everyone has different Normals when we temporarily live in a house with other people. Like going on a week’s long vacation with friends and sharing a beachfront home. Or making the trip up North to stay with family. Or down South to move in with that sassy childhood bestie. Or when someone comes to make our guest room home, and we bicker about the Right Way to make grilled cheese, or why your peeing in the shower gags me, or how loud it is when you hock your toothpaste spit (like, just use a tongue scraper if you’re that worried about residuals, okay? Honestly!)

Sometimes our normals are simply the regular cadence of living life as unique people with unique skills, desires, preferences, and habits. Other times our normals are disagreeable, unhealthy, or potentially destructive, and those are the things I’m wanting to avoid.

Maybe alcoholism is present. Anger and control are valued and power wins. Perhaps breakfast consists of a bag of potato chips, lunch is brownies and dinner is fast food. Secrets are kept. Maybe sexuality is not safe and protected. Or fear, depression, anxiety have full reign to do whatever they want. There are endless possibilities for unhelpful patterns, just like there are endless possibilities for good ones.

I’m built from my family’s normal. You’re built from your family’s normal. My kids are built from the normal Mark and I offered them. Sometimes there is Moral in that, and sometimes there is just Different.

I feel incredibly grateful to do life with an eclectic mix of people who all have varying life rhythms, who see my life rhythm in its entirety, and who are free to speak in to what they observe.

The more I am insulated and isolated from others, the more I am scared to let people in to my reality because it is broken, then the less I see that there are other ways to Do, other ways to Be, and that there is support and compassion for the ways my normal needs help.

I am glad for people who are not the same as me.


So I looked at the photos from last night’s Cookie Palooza Party, saw the beer and wine bottles on the counter, took note of the cell phones and vapes at the table along with icing and red hots and the remains of dinner. I replayed the various conversations in my head scanning for potentially poor normals that my 1st Grader is being built from, and the truth is, Liam’s growing up years are, and will continue to be, very different than those of my Bigs.


He is an only child whose life apart from school and Cub Scouts is spent with adults, and his normal is to be incorporated into a grown up world where we often sit at a table and talk and pray and play cards and eat and drink and laugh and enjoy.

He knows that everybody will play Apples to Apples with him on game night, that he can tell his favorite stories from the Christmas play he was in, that if he challenges Ben Ono to a round of Mario Kart, Ben will for sure wrestle him, then most likely say yes. He knows the girls likes their wine, the boys drink a beer, and that Jake and the friends use their vapes. He knows that Dad and brother Ben can smoke a pipe on the back deck because they are older than 18. He knows that Mom will never smoke any thing of any kind because her Daddy died from lung cancer, and it is a value to stay away from a cigarette habit because of what he calls “The Black Lung.” #amen

When Liam grows up, he wants piercings like Marc has, to work where Jake and Ben Ono do, and to love a wife and kids like Dad does.


More Bohemian than my Bigs’ childhood for sure.

But after doing this think check, I believe it is still a happy, healthy, safe, not weird in the Wrong Way, growth environment where he is loved and he is accepted and he will flourish, and you know what else I think?

Liam has more good, strong, faithful men round him than I ever could have hoped, and they each model a different kind of masculinity, and for this feisty “Strong Willed Warrior, Valiant and Courageous” it is probably just what he needs.

So thanks Childhood Bestie for a good reality check. And I’m sorry I called you a Freak. And I hope to come to your house in February where we can merge our two families’ Weirds into one great big unique beautiful conglomerate of Normal for a few perfect days. Also, I love you.