Thursday, May 05, 2016

The Interiorista: Where to Start?

Decorating your home is an exciting task. Choosing from paint colors, furniture arrangements to accessories can be so much fun, but all the options, all the decisions to make can leave us feeling overwhelmed. This is why I think it's so important to have a plan!

I'd like to suggest to you some steps to help you in your decision process.

1. Select what room of the house you would like to work on. The decision is up to you! You can choose the room of the house you spend more time in or the one you hardly use to have less distractions. Whatever room you decide, I'd like to encourage you to focus on that particular space and develop a detailed plan. Restrain from trying to decorate several rooms at the time. Narrowing your efforts to a specific room will allow you to get more focused, finish the room quicker, and obtain better results. I know! It's hard to be patient!

2. Develop a budget. Sit down with your spouse and discuss how much money you would like to put into enhancing the room. You don't need to spend a lot of money to improve a room. If your budget is limited, recycle your old stuff, use garage sales or discounted stores, and embrace DIY projects.

3. Define your decorating style. In the next posts, I'll expand on this subject but in the meantime, I'd like to ask you to start collecting decorated rooms that jump out at you in magazines or books (House Beautiful, Decor, Country Living, Better Homes, etc), creating Pinterest boards or folders in Houzz. This will help you define what you like.

4. Select your color palette. The colors you use in the room not only will pinpoint your decorating style but also will set a particular mood for the room. Start thinking about what colors you feel drawn to and what type of atmosphere you would like to create in the room. A relax and inviting mood, a vibrating and fun space, an elegant and sophisticated room or a casual and trendy one. I will elaborate more about this later.

5. Sketch out a floor plan. The way you place the furniture in the room will have a big impact in the overall feeling of the space. When furniture pieces are not well located, the room can feel cramped, confusing and even tiring. We will talk about different furniture layouts and the importance of measuring and respecting traffic lines.

6. Create a mood board. A decorating board is a tool that will allow you to visualize all the elements of your design together. Is is easy to fall in love with items at the store and the realize when you get home that they don't go with the room. Using mood boards will help you stay on target and maintain the harmony in your decorating plan.

7. Paint. Once your decorating plan is settled, you can start painting. You could do it yourself or hire a pro. I'd like to suggest that you paint first thing before you start purchasing furniture or accessories, so you have more room and your stuff doesn't get damaged.

8. Have fun shopping, recycling and making. In future posts I'll be sharing with you some tips to help you recycle your old furniture pieces and give them a new flare. Also where to buy decorating items for less and where to find tutorials for your DIY projects. I'm a fan of decorating on a budget but without losing quality. The items in your design should be durable and made of good materials, so you don't have to invest money again in a short period of time.

9. Add finishing touches. The last part of your design will be adding accessories. Pillows, throw blankets, baskets, lamps, pictures, etc. will make your room look put together, have personality and add visual interest. Don't underestimate the power in the little details!

10. Hire a professional. I believe in you! I think you can totally decorate your home, but if your life is crazy busy or if you are a 100% sure your creative juices are dried, I'd like to advise you to hire a professional. will point you to the designers and decorators in your area. You could also use websites like who offer online decorating services. I'm also happy to help! Designers and decorators will charge an average of $50 to 200 an hour depending of expertise, reputation and location.

I hope you find this post helpful. Release the decorator in you and have fun! I'd love to get your feedback!




A Mother's Love is Big Enough

By Wendi Kitsteiner
Isaac came first. He was forty-eight hours old when he left the hospital as our son. Our lives were instantly changed by this amazing little gift wrapped in the all-too-familiar hospital blankets and little hat.
Elijah came eight and a half months later. He was our son the moment he was born. We didn’t have to wait forty-eight hours for him to legally be our son.
Our lives were changed again.
Equally changed.
To read the rest of this post, please jump over to THE GLORIOUS TABLE. 

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

We Bought a Farm: Finding Solace

I must admit that when discussions first emerged about buying a farm, somewhere around year 1 of our married life, I had my misgivings.

Year 3. Year 7. Year 10. Year 16 of marriage. Discussions continued.

And each time, I had misgivings.

There were many.

But the chief misgiving was: Wont't I be lonely? 

I know I'm not alone in that worry because as I told people that we were planning on moving away from civilization they would echo my worry: Won't you be lonely?

(Side note: whenever you have a fear and someone else vocalizes that fear it makes the fear all the more real.)

As we began looking for farms, I reiterated to JB my requirements. They included:

  1. At least 30 minutes from a Target.
  2. Within 15 minutes of a grocery store.
I think that was it. There may have been something else, but those were the ones that I kept reiterating over and over again.

(And it wasn't so much about the actual store Target as it was about what the type of town that has a Target represents for me.)

But as we began looking for farms, it quickly became evident that, well, gosh darn it, you can't have everything you want. 

In other words something had to give. 

We couldn't have everything for the price we wanted to pay. We couldn't have the acreage and the house and a house for JB's parents and the distance from town unless we wanted to pay for it .... like really pay for it.

So we started looking.

And we found this farm.
  • 1 hour from a Target.
  • 30 minutes form a real grocery store. (There is technically something called Food Country 15 minutes from the house, but honestly, it just doesn't really count.)
And we loved this farm. 

And we bought this farm.

When we moved to this town our family of 8 increased the population by an entire percentage point! Yes, it's that small. And the nearest town of appropriate size is a half hour away. And even that town isn't really, quite, appropriate size. It doesn't have a mall. It doesn't have a Target. It doesn't have a Chik-fil-A. You get the idea.

So, my point.

Okay, here it is.

Last night I watched my kiddos trek through the pasture to find a huge guinea nest. I walked four wayward geess back to their enclosure. I took our new pups out for some playtime. And then I did a quick five minute once-over of our sheep. Three mamas still haven't delivered. 

And I stood there, I thought to myself, "I'm not lonely. Not even a little bit."

Yes we have a JB's parents here. And yes we have a lot of company. And yes we have WWOOFers here regularly. And yes I have found a great church and an amazing homeschool group. 

I see maybe three cars drive by my house all day. And they are almost always someone delivering something to our house.

Ducks quacking. Chickens clucking. Sheep baa'ing. Geese .... goos'ing? 

At night, when you walk out of the house it is pitch black

It is sweet, quiet, wonderful peace.

JB and I have had long discussions about this. I used to think I was an extrovert. I thought I got my energy from people. But while I am definitely outgoing, I have realized that I am, at least now, an outgoing introvert. I am getting my energy from .... nature. Stars. Animals. Peace. 

I love our farm.

I love living much more than 30 minutes from Target.

Okay, okay, I wish there was a closer Target.

But I have find solace.

I belong here!

And I'm happy.

We bought a farm!

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Hannah's Happenings

May 2, 2016

May 1, 2016

April 22, 2016

April 17, 2016
Randomly wearing her sister's church name tag on her forehead and spitting out two Connect Four pieces she had in her mouth.

April 2016
Hannah is off to work (this is a game she loves to play with me!)

April 2016
Hannah returns from work

April 12, 2016
Daddy was taking her out to run errands. Hard to believe but she put this ensemble together totally by herself. Ha!

April 12, 2016
Morning play time!

 April 11, 2016
Cake at the park. This was moments before she tried to put a piece in her mouth that had been in the grass and ended up with a mouthful of ... grass!

 April 5, 2016
Wearing her brothers shoes randomly.

February 20, 2016

February 9, 2016
Hannah has been VERY into reading ... and VERY into "Fancy Nancy." She always picks out girly books to read -- princesses and pink books (and sometimes Mickey Mouse)

February 8, 2016
Showing off her new rings (a present from Grama Di)

January 11, 2015
She created her own dance to the ABC Mouse intro tune. (Her brothers have been teaching her how to play!)

January 9, 2015
Those are mittens on her feet.

January 4, 2016
Don't ask.

January 3, 2016
Yes that is her having climbed up on the dryer to find her own bows for her hair. (Which she removes promptly after putting them in so I am not sure the point is.)

January 2, 2015
Unloading this dishwasher in her choice of attire.

December 25, 2015
With a bunch of her Christmas presents on at one time!

December 21, 2015

December 18, 2015
In preparation for Star Wars, she is wearing her Princess Leia headband from Ms. Patty!

December 16, 2015

December 15, 2016

December 14, 2016
Taking a break after all that getting dressed nonsense!

December 12, 2015
What you do with your stickers from Trader Joe's!

December 11, 2015
Decorating Christmas tree in safari hat and flowery tutu

December 10, 2015
Out of the bath tub clothes including skirt under her dress and two different shoes

December 9, 2015
For some reason she likes to show her belly lately whenever I try to take her picture

October, 2015
Hannah wearing my socks -- which she put on all by herself.

I have decided, as best I can, to include a photo of what Hannah is wearing on any given day. I can't possibly take a picture of everything since she changes clothes dozens of times a day, but I want to remember these pieces she puts together. (Why she lifts her shirt every time I ask her to take a photo is still confusing me.) These may also just include silly predicaments I find her in.

We Bought a Farm; Guinea Egg Nest

Guineas lay nests in crazy places. It is basically an Easter Egg hunt if you want to find a nest. Once you find a nest, if you remove the eggs, they might lay there 1 or 2 more days before they move and find a new nest! We have found a few nests before with 2-3 dozen eggs in it. But today, our current WWOOFer Jordan discovered a nest with well over 100 eggs! It was enough to fill up HALF of a 5-gallon bucket:

After a lot of discussion, we decided that on the whole, we didn't really want nor could we eat this many eggs. We have so many chicken and duck eggs right now, and we were a little fearful that some of the eggs might be bed (or fertilizing) so we decided that after Jordan kept some for himself, we would instead boil them and feed them to our pigs. Here are the kiddos (and Jordan -- who is sooo good with the kids) preparing for the boiling to begin.

And here is a funny picture of them all "gawking" at the load of eggs!

We ar SO enjoying our WWOOFer's here on the farm. Jordan really wants to experience American culture and what our lives are like so he has joined us for church, participated in cooking, and even cooked a fantastic meal himself tonight. He says he doesn't speak good English, but I tell you what. I if an American went to France speaking half as much French as he speaks English, we'd be pretty proud of ourselves. 

Each WWOOFer brings different things to a farm. Truly the experience is about sharing from both sides. Jordan is fantastic with kids, and has been sharing a lot of his Canadian and French culture with us. (He lived in France until age 14 and then has been in Quebec since then.) 

We know that chances are, we will get a bad WWOOFer at some point, but so far, the three individuals we have had through this program have been outstanding!

Review: The Pencil Grip, Inc.

Oh boy did we have fun with this product! My kids loved the Kwik Stix 12 pk from The Pencil Grip, Inc.  

Let me set the scene in my house. Many small children wanting to do many fun things at the same time. Child asks mother if she can play with play dough. Mother says yes. Mother sets up play dough. Play dough play lasts about 19 seconds. Mother cleans up play dough. While play dough is still being cleaned up, another child expresses interest in painting. Painting? Did she say painting? The thought of yet another set up and clean up ... egads! Mother simply says, "No. No painting. Not today. Maybe tomorrow."

(And then tomorrow comes and the same scene is repeated in various formats.)

Don't even try to tell me you haven't done this in your home. I try to be a good sport. I try to say YES many more times than I say NO, but I just can't help it sometimes. Set up and clean up ... it can break one down.

To explain this product to you very shortly and very sweetly, I will tell you that these are basically painting sticks! They are solid tempera paint sticks that you just uncap, twist, and paint! They dry in 90 seconds, but the painting dries looking like paint. You don't add water. You don't need paint brushes. You just uncap and color!

For a mom with four kiddos, this is nothing short of a painting miracle!
Kwik Stix The Pencil Grip, Inc. Review

We did a ton of fun activities with the Kwik Stix 12 pk! Honestly if there was something we could think of to paint, we painted it. Sidge, of course, wanted to paint a bald eagle. What else would my little animal-obsessed-and-especially-eagle-assessed-child paint?

Next up, the boys had made birdhouses at our homeschool co-op and had missed the day that they painted the houses. They decided to paint their birdhouses using the Kwik Stix 12 pk. Here's Isaac giving the finishing touches:

We also brought the Kwik Stix 12 pk outside for a more somber activity. As we got ready to say good bye to our pup who was very sick, we brought the markers out and painted some rocks that we would put on his grave. 

Isaac used black and white to represent our favorite dalmatian.

Abigail got rally into painting with the Kwik Stix 12 pk. Picture after picture after picture, this chick just kept on painting:

We had a blast with these sticks. Let's be real moms! We all want to do tons of crafts with our kiddos. We want to do all these awesome things with our kiddos. But the set-up and clean-up hangs over us. With four young children, the idea of taking the time to set up for painting only to have to clean up for painting, isn't something I can pretend doesn't exist.

Kwik Stix 12 pk from The Pencil Grip, Inc. removes all need for that. Just take off the cap, roll out the paint, and then start painting. Just awesome!

P.S. The Pencil Grip, Inc.  also sent me a pencil grip as well. We tried this with Isaac who seems to have the most trouble with his grip. He seemed to really like using it. I tried it too. It was very comfortable!  They have many different styles. This grip is pictured below:

Kwik Stix The Pencil Grip, Inc. Review

Crew Disclaimer

Monday, May 02, 2016

Because of Isaac Fundraiser

Like Pampered Chef? Please take a moment to check out our current fundraiser for Because of Isaac by clicking here. 

Puppy VLOG

I have decided that I will be taking a ton of videos of our doggies playing. And I'm just going to put them all into one place. Here, you'll be able to follow the growth and playfulness of our two little blessings: Ritter and Arabelle.

May 2, 2016
Crazy pups playing with crazy kids.

April 27, 2016
Both pups have learned "sit." Ritter is the better student.

April 25, 2016
Showing off their morning excitement.

Day 3: April 17, 2016
Our current routine is to play with the pups about every 2.5 hours. We put them in their play yard, let them rest, then bombard them with love for about 30 minutes. They will then spend the next 2 hours completely zonked from all the kid love. Today we also took Arabelle on her first trip to meet the chickens. (She didn't seem phased by them at all.)

Day 1: April 15, 2016
Kids meet Ritter ("Knight" in German) and Arabelle ("Beautiful Eagle" in German); guest appearance by our current volunteer Daniel.

What I just read

I just finished a three book series by Sarah Sundin that I would be remiss not to recommend on my Blog. These books are historical fiction with beautiful love stories intertwined through the rigors of war. I found them at my public library. Sundin is a fantastic Christian writer, and I thoroughly enjoyed these books!

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Why You Should Not Adopt

I really liked this article: Why You Should Not Adopt. 

What I specifically liked was this statement:

Find your job and do it well. Learn how to interpret your own musical score. Don’t play the part written for another. If you play your notes and I play mine, together we will make beautiful music.
I must admit that it feels a little like being punched in the gut when someone says, "Why are you helping couples adopt newborns in the USA when there are so many children in foster care?"
Honestly, it feels like the equivalent of saying to someone, "Why are you heading overseas to be a missionary when there are unsaved people in the USA?"
Listen, I think there are a ton of great and worthy causes -- specifically when it comes to the plight of women and children. 
Do I think people should adopt from foster care. YES! 
Do I think people should adopt from overseas? YES! 
For me, my heart is with the infertile woman. These are women who have never given birth to biological children. They are women who yearn to hold a newborn in their arms. 
My heart is with these women because I was this woman.
I have often said that the Lord has called us all to the orphans and the widows. I believe this. But what I may have never clearly explained with my words is that I do not think every person is called to adopt. 
Say again?
I do not think every person is called to adopt. 
Instead I think we are called by God to help orphans and widows in some way because he commands us to do it. Maybe it means you help fund a couple who is adopting at your church. Maybe it means supporting one of our couples at Because of Isaac.  Maybe you are helping to spread the word or sponsoring children through worthy causes like World Vision. 
Listen to the calling on your life. Heed God's calling in your life. Respond to what He is calling you to do. Quit wasting time questioning the calling of others. Spend that time answering the call yourself.
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27