Monthly Archives: November 2012

artists incognito :: emily

Emily is my DIY partner in crime.  We met shortly after moving here, both newbies to the state of Oklahoma, both lovers of design; we hit it off and have been partner yard salers and scheming party planners ever since.  She’s a fellow blogger and a dear, dear friend.  Meet my artist friend, Emily…

Hello friend! Thanks for joining our series.  Can you start off by giving us a little bit of your background?

My family moved around a bit when I was young, but we eventually landed in Minnesota where I spent most of my growing up years. I am the oldest of eight children, and I was home schooled K-12. I went to college in northern Wisconsin where I studied Bible/Voice Pedagogy and where I met my other half, Jeffrey. We have been married for nearly 3 1/2 years and are currently kid-free {wink}. Jeffrey is a regional student recruiter for the college we attended, and I’m a nanny for two, sweet little girls during the day, and I love it. 

What would you say defines your style when it comes to decorating and the pieces in your home? 

My style is certainly eclectic, but “shabby chic with a touch of modern and a pinch of rustic” comes pretty close to describing it. I love textures, patterns, and curves too much to be modern, but I do love some clean lines to help keep things easy on the eyes. 

When did you first start giving makeovers to furniture?

 When I was in high school, my parents bought me and my sister an unfinished dresser set. My dad taught me how to stain and poly the wood and I completed both the dressers myself! I didn’t start giving my own furniture makeovers though until we bought our first home about a year and a half ago. So, really not that long ago! 

 Where do you find your inspiration?

I find my inspiration from stores like Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, Ballard Designs, and from other bloggers. My first and favorite blogger to follow was Marian from Miss Mustard Seed.

What are your go-to tricks of the trade?

I have to say that my main “trick” is chalk paint. My husband calls me a “chalk paint fiend”…whatever that means. I first tried it about a year and half ago, and I loved it. It is quite pricey though ($30 a quart), so I decided to make my own. I experimented with several different recipes that I found online until I found one that I liked. To help you understand my love of chalk paint, let me list a few of the benefits: 

:: It adheres like nobody’s business – no sanding or priming is required {talk about a time and money saver!}

:: It goes farther than regular paint

:: It can easily be distressed to achieve a shabby chic look

Here’s a piece I just completed using chalk paint…

Here’s the “before” picture with a closeup of the hardware I rubbed with bronze…

Many people make the mistake of “overdoing” a piece of furniture once they get their hands on it.  How do you keep yourself from making that mistake?

I certainly still make mistakes when I am giving a piece a facelift, but I really try to keep things neutral and simple. The last thing I want to do is take the time {and money!} to paint a dresser or reupholster a chair and then a few months later get tired of the color or pattern. Trendy colors and patterns are fun, but in most cases not worth the extra work down the road – in my opinion.  

Here’s our kitchen table we built from old table legs and our headboard we upcycled and white washed…both traditional with some fun twists…

Can you help us out by listing your favorite products and brands you use time and time again? 

I am always trying new products, but I do have a few products and brands that I love.  

:: Krylon & Rust-Oleum are my go-to brands for spray paint. 

:: Minwax is the brand I use for wood stains, poly and waxes {wax is a great alternative to poly}. 

:: Purdy is of course the only way to go for brushes :). 

:: I use dollar store sponge brushes for applying stain and poly.  

:: All of the pieces in my house are painted with my home made chalk paint made from oops Walmart paint or Martha Stewart samplers

:: I’ve recently discovered Rub’n Buff. It’s a wax metallic finish in a little tube that you apply with your finger and “buff” it. I have used it to spiffy up dresser hardware and even an entire lamp! I love it! I believe I got it at Hobby Lobby.  {Dresser shown above.}

:: We own a Milwaukee circular hand sander and I don’t think I could live without it. 

What are your personal favorites in your collection? 

My favorite transformations are probably our sofa table, armoire, and little dresser. I enjoy the process of the transformation and seeing the “before” and “after” is always fun.  

 When you’re shopping, what features do you look for in a piece of furniture that says it’s a good candidate for a facelift?

 It has to be solid wood. There’s no getting around that. I also look at lines. If it screams 70′s, then it will probably still scream 70′s even through a gorgeous new coat of paint {Trust me – I have made that mistake!}. Scratches, small dings, ugly paint jobs, and wobbly legs are pretty easy to fix…so that doesn’t scare me away from a solid piece. If I can, I try to find pieces that have good hardware too. Hardware is fairly easy to switch out, but it’s not cheap. Hardware can be spray painted, so don’t toss it because it’s tarnished or dingy!  Consider building something from scratch too.  We built an inexpensive shelf for our entryway that works perfectly for the space…

What piece of dream furniture do you have your eye on for the future?

 It’s difficult for me to narrow it down {I have a whole Pinterest board devoted to my love of furniture!}, but I have been on the lookout for a display case like THIS  for my dining room. It is simple and elegant…and it would put a smile on my face.

Thanks for joining our series, Emily!  You have me inspired to get out some paint and brushes and get started on some of my projects.  Happy DIYing to us all!

Our San Antonio Week. In Photographs.

Do you ever get that rare moment in life, where the world becomes still, you have a moment to catch your breath, and you realize something?  You are dead tired.

I packed for this trip for my brother’s air force graduation at 4:30 in the morning and we left at 6:30am, after a quick turnaround to get my forgotten phone.  When we were sufficiently on our way, and after many mental checklists, I breathed a sigh of relief.  We’d made it.  We survived 2 moves in 2 months; we survived my growing photography business; we survived sickness and surgery; we survived Steven’s work obligations; we survived our refrigerator fiasco and the juggling of our food all over Tulsa; we survived…our life.  And we were still in one piece.  Tired, yes.  But one piece.

Most people don’t understand why I love the drive.  The in between part of the trip.  The moment where I realize, “I’m dead tired.”  But I do.   I cherished every minute of that 9+ hr drive to San Antonio.  The peace, the scenery, the expectation, the being together.  Very together {when you have 3 car seats lined up in a row}.  I’ve said it before, I’m a gypsy at heart and I love traveling.  Just love it…

The resort my mom had booked was gorgeous and in the heart of the city.  Steven and I dig the city and if we had our druthers, we’ll end up in one one day.

The weather was fantastic and the girls swam every day in the pool on the roof of the hotel.  I’ve decided rooftop swimming is the way to celebrate Thanksgiving!  The girls pretended they were orca whales and penguins and dolphins.  Shiloh took turns between the “cold pool” and the hot tub and when they had had enough, the girls would come and spend lots of snuggle time in between with me and “Grandmom” {my mom}.

Keller ran around like a wild man and ran straight into the pool once, fully clothed.  I threw my phone, rescued him and loved on him for a full 30 minutes till he was satisfied that life was indeed ok.   He was a good bit more sedated after that.  And sedated means easier.

My mom took the girls to the San Antonio Children’s museum and they picked out stuffed animals.  They are their best friends now and scream when Keller tries to steal them.  And steal he does.

 Just the coolest view…

Matt was able to spend a good deal of time off base with us and a couple of his flight pals.  It was such a treat to laugh and carry on like old times.  I have missed him and his antics.

He makes me feel old.  And proud.  And sentimental.  And wishing time would stand still.

We took many a walk around downtown and gave Shiloh bug some one-on-one time…the kind she so desperately needs, even more so than the other kids.  She was in pure heaven…

I crossed off “See the Alamo.” from my life list…

Graduation was…how do you describe it?


Full of pride.


A defining moment in history.

We got an insider’s look at the airmen’s quarters.  Matt unfolds his packet of all the letters he’d received and for some reason that memory has stuck with me vividly…

The rest of our time was spent relaxing and enjoying our freedom and the liberty to just be.  Freedom is so underestimated.  I think.

We got in one last photo with Matt before we had to go and headed towards our Oklahoma home.   Stopped at IKEA {for 2 hours!}  and I could’ve practically taken the whole store home with me if I could have found a solution for the space and money issue.  We did stuff our car with Christmas presents for the kids and some practical things like shelving and outdoor rugs for the house.  It was so worth the stop!  If anyone is headed to Dallas in the near future, can I hitch a ride with you and be your personal shopping assistant?  Pretty please?

We’re safely back and I don’t feel dead tired anymore.  I feel rested and relaxed and now I’m playing catch up.  Editing photo shoots, unpacking boxes, nursing sick schooners, organizing closets, laundry, you name it.  I’m probably behind in it.

But it was so worth it.

Love you, Matt!

And for the record, I am the proudest big sister ever.  Take a back seat, Mandy, Abby, Becky, Sarah, Anne, Chloe, Rachel. :)



our weekend.

1./ morning. friday was moving day. again.  you readers probably don’t believe me anymore and i don’t blame you.  but it’s true.  we are staying for a year and half or more at our new “permanent house”, as we like to call it and we couldn’t be more happy about that.  shiloh and i started the day bright and early at reasor’s…our grocery store here.  is it just me, or is she not the cutest thing since shirley temple?

2./ wisdom teeth.  the wisdom teeth saga continues.  i’ve been having extreme pain on one side of my mouth and they wanted me to come in – on moving day.  at first they thought i might have to lose another tooth, but in the end, he told me my life was too stressful and the recovery process was going to take longer.  thanks, doc.  :)

3./ community.  we were wrapped in the arms of Jesus with this move.  it was hard packing up everything again…for the second time in 2 months.  but we had so many people pitch in and help and we felt so loved by that.  thank you, shannon for watching our kids and giving them the best night!  and thank you everyone else for helping us move houses…you all are the best!

4./ first breakfast.  i videoed the kids and took photos of them eating a failed batch of pumpkin cream cheese muffins on our first morning in our permanent house.  nothing like romance.  they are such troopers, each and every one.  going with the flow and staying flexible throughout the past uncertain year that we’ve had.  and i’m really thankful they make life just a little less stressful in that way for this mama who has a recovering mouth that doesn’t want to recover.

5./ trip.  just another run between houses this past weekend.  the kids would find little things we’d left behind and we would pack it into our jeep.  you don’t want to see my car right now.  there are loads of clean laundry bursting at the seams in the back.  in fact, i took the kids to church on sunday morning and when i needed a blankie for keller {the mama’s boy}, i opened our hatch and rooted through a laundry basket right there in the church parking lot.  sure enough!  a green striped blankie for the the little man came right up!

6./ massive. we bought a refrigerator off of craigslist and it was the joke of the weekend.  it sat in the middle of our kitchen for 24 hrs because it could not be coaxed into our space in the kitchen.  too tall and too wide.  we turned around and sold it for double what we bought it for…on craigslist.  we just might be going into the refrigerator flipping business.  :)  kacey came to the rescue and is holding hostage our frozen and refrigerated items.  thank you, friend!

7./ photo shoots. i got to steal away from the craziness and shoot some family photos for the gentry family.  just a beautiful family and a pleasure to work with.  we went up to my old stomping grounds and to the field where i first learned my camera.  it was a little sentimental actually.  i used to drive the kids up to that field and play around with my settings.  good, sweet, beginner memories.

8./ art.  i’ve been staying after my photo shoots for a little while and catching landscape shots.  i’m always eager to stretch myself, try new things, and file memories away.  lately i’ve found solace in God’s creation, the intricacies, the stillness, and the beauty He so carefully designed it with.  maybe i’m finally learning to slow down and see things like my children.  or maybe it was my oral surgeon’s diagnosis.

9./ sisters.  another sweet photo shoot with my dear friend sarah and her family.  we picked a place i’ve been wanting to try for a long time and it was so lovely.  the weather. the people. the matilda jane.  it was right up this alley of mine.


we leave for san antonio tomorrow and i’m maybe a little more than excited to stop at IKEA and the alamo…in that order.  this is a crazy life.  we’re not leaving with suitcases perfectly packed and out trip planned to a T.  i may not even have time to get the laundry out of the jeep, much less get it vacuumed before we go.  i’m not sure where half of our things are or if i can find my favorite shoes.  but i’m going with the people i love and i’m going to experience parts of the midwest i’ve never seen before…

…and isn’t that really more important than laundry in a jeep?


and just for good measure, here’s a favorite song lately….