DIY Felt Letterboard
Y'all, I got inspired the other day! As per usual, scrolling through Instagram I came across the most beautiful spaces ever, but something that kept making an appearance over and over were letterboards. I've been wanting one ever since Magnolia Flour was opened and I saw the cute cupcake saying Joanna Gaines had put on their letterboard. It was the perfect size and, oh so simple, yet made such a statement! Like most things that I love, though, letterboards are ex.pen.sive. Not only do you have to purchase the letterboard itself, but you also have to purchase the letters for it, and while some may have $100 to drop on one of these -- I do not. So I thought to myself, Why can't you make your own!?! Thanks to Pinterest and a $3.99 white frame I found at Walmart before my daughter was born, my own DIY letterboard was born! I'm going to warn, y'all. This is a somewhat tedious process, so I would highly recommend having one of your favorite shows running while you're gluing. It took me close to a hour to glue all of the dowels down, and I still haven't gotten all of them put in. It's a work in progress, BUT oh, so worth it! I haven't quite decided where this will live, so for now I've got it propped up in the den. I think it needs a permanent home, maybe on the wall, though. I'll keep you updated on where it ends up and what it looks like completed. I mentioned total cost to order one of these was around $100 for the size that I wanted (20 x 26). This one cost me $20, mostly because of the dowels and the $4 felt that I purchased. I found the dowels at Home Depot (all the craft dowels were too short) and cut them down to size (you can do this with scissors if you don't have a saw) and the felt at Michaels. **Note, if you want to do a smaller size letterboard, Michaels has packages of dowels that are 12" long!** Here's what you'll need to complete this project:
  • Black felt (I used a yard)
  • 1/4" dowels
  • Letterboard letters (I ordered mine from Amazon -- be sure they are made for felt letterboards)
  • Hot glue
  • Frame
  This is probably the simplest DIY ever, you guys. Simply cut down your dowels to the width of the inside of your frame and cut down your felt into 1 1/2" to 2" strips. Wrap the dowels in the felt using hot glue and then glue each felt-wrapped dowel onto the frame, squeezing them as close together as possible. That's it. Literally. That's it. Here's a photo of what the back will look like. I don't even pretend to be the cleanest when it comes to hot glue. I burn my fingers basically the whole time, and always, always, always have glue strings. Thankfully, they pull right off, right? We left for vacation this morning, so I definitely didn't get to finish this project. I couldn't wait to share, though, because even having it only halfway done I love it SO much!!! Not bad for a $20 letterboard, in my opinion! Do y'all love this as much as I do!?! Gracious, it's perfect and gave me all the feels once I turned it over to see how it was looking. I can't wait to finish it up, but it's going to be a couple of weeks so y'all check back for the finished product. Happy weekend, friends!    
How to Style Your Shelves
I love built-ins. It's probably the one thing they take out on Fixer Upper that I sometimes cry over ... okay, not really cry, but I'm thinking to myself, Why? They were white and could be so cute! Of course, Joanna does something awesome with that space and then I go, Oh, THAT's why. Got it. Yep. I love that. Because, ya know ... Joanna Gaines. Our 1960s ranch had zero built-ins, though, so I was working with solid walls when we moved in. Still, I kept seeing all these old, charming homes with beautiful built-ins and floating shelves and finally had an a-ha moment one day and said, "Hey, I can build those." So I did. Ten years and one child into living in our home, I built some Shanty-2-Chic shelves for our dining room based on this bar that I saw on an episode of Fixer Upper, And. I. Love. Them. The thing about built-ins and shelves, though, you have to know how to style them. That took me about two years to figure out, SO here I am having tried a ridiculous number of things before finally finding the process that has worked every single time to style my shelves. If you missed my last post on the dining room update, head here to read all of the details on it. One major step in that was painting the room white so the shelves really do look built in as opposed to just these random freestanding (er--hanging) chunky blocks on the wall. Once that happened, the color scheme all came together, and I knew exactly what I did and did not want to put on these shelves. There are a few guidelines that have helped me process through styling shelves so they don't look messy and cluttered but also don't look too put together, if you get what I mean. I love that rustic farmhouse look, and I like my house to feel lived in (but neat). That's a fine line to walk, so here are my best tips and tricks to styling your shelves and built-ins. Before you do anything, you have to identify the space you're going to be decorating. Do you have a color scheme laid out? Any inspiration photos? How many shelves do you have to fill? These are all good things to put together for a mood board so you have a good idea going in of what you're going to be doing with the space, or at least the overall feel you want the shelves to have and add to the room. These were my shelves beforehand... I knew I wanted to do a white, black and green industrial farmhouse vibe going in, so I let that be my inspiration. Here are all the items I wanted to use on my shelves... Once you know the direction you're headed visually, here are four practical steps to styling your shelves.

Step 1. Place your artwork.

I only had one main piece that I wanted to hang (available here) on the wall for these shelves. Depending on your space, you may have more than one. Artwork is great stacked and layered, hanging on the wall and even leaning up against the wall, so don't feel limited by hanging one piece in the center. I love the look of two large pieces intersecting on the wall -- remember, the possibilities are endless.

Step 2. Add large items and levels.

The last thing you want is for everything to be the same height. You also don't want everything to be the same thickness. Look through what you want to use on your shelves, and pick the thickest, tallest and chunkiest items to place first. Space them relatively evenly on your shelves to add some dimension. These will help to break up some of the smaller items we'll add later. Cake stands are a great way to do this. Stacking items is another great way. Antique scales are perfect, too, or stack some books! There are limitless ways to add levels to your styling. I used my cake stands and a tree slice as level pieces for these shelves. The lantern and trencher were both really chunky pieces that needed plenty of space so the shelves didn't feel crowded. I actually married Step 2 with Step 3 on the lantern.

Step 3. Add greenery.

Especially in a white room and especially during the summer (or spring or winter or fall) greenery makes a huge statement. This could be anything from a large magnolia wreath to a $2 Ikea plant (yep, that's what I used). I put fresh flowers in the lantern and added some faux succulents and a boxwood to my cake stands as toppers to bring a little color to the shelves. If you're using glass jars, fill them with some sort of greenery or even cotton stems. If you love succulents, line them along the shelves using varying sized containers (think candlesticks of differing heights). A little green goes a long way.

Step 4. Add your favorites.

This is my favorite part because it's where you get to take all those leftover items and spread them out on your shelves. Some of my favorites for these shelves were a little candle that smells like fresh herbs that I picked up at HomeGoods a lifetime ago, my Magnolia Journal magazines and my Rae Dunn bowls. Whatever those things are that you love and really want to add in, space them out or stack them in sets of three. After you've finished, step back and take a look. You may have to make some minor adjustments, but you'll have a really good sense of what you love and what you don't love about the shelves. I had a basket that's kind of our catch-all for stamps, charging cords and bills that I decided to add at the last minute to the top shelf, and it works! I just had to space out some of my levels and other large objects a little further. You may find that you have too much to go on the shelves, and that's fine. You don't have to put everything up there -- just what you love looking at! Here are my shelves completely styled, and I couldn't be happier. They finish off the dining room look perfectly, and display some of my favorite things (homemade and otherwise) while still being functional for extra seating in the dining room and holding some of those things that don't have a home elsewhere. If you try this out, I'd love to see how you end up using these tips to style your own spaces by tagging us in your photo or posting a comment below! Happy Friday, friends!    
Farmhouse Dining Room Reveal
If you saw my hallway reveal, you know I've suddenly been overcome with the urge to paint all the things white. Amanda put it well when she said we dream in black, white and greenery. Add a little natural wood in, and that's my happy place! Once I finished the hallway, I had this vision of giving the dining room a bit of a facelift. It had long since outlived its days of tan walls, so this week, I took the plunge and painted! I also got a new light fixture which was practically a steal at $20, so somehow this makeover came in under $40. Yes, please! If you follow us on Instagram, you've seen little sneaks of the dining room and the super-cute striped placemats I found at The Faded Farmhouse on our anniversary trip to Nashville. Don't get me wrong. I loved our dining room. It just needed a little update in the paint and light fixture department. Eventually, I plan to get covers from the chairs and more than likely build a bench to replace two of the currently upholstered chairs, but that's a job for another day, another time and a bigger budget. So here was the dining room before. I didn't take the time to dress up the table before I snapped that last photo -- real life, y'all! The gray chairs and the white table are probably my favorite things in this room and have been for some time. You can see the tan paint is really dated, though, and the light fixture just didn't fit that farmhouse style charm I was going for. So, after a few coats of paint, some decor rearranging and a new light fixture from Lowes (found here), here's the new dining room! Before I show you all the photos, let me just rave for a second about this vinyl decal that I ordered from Sound Sayings off Etsy. They had something similar available, but not exactly what I wanted or how wide I wanted it. I gave her the dimensions, an inspiration photo and a few tweaks on the actual wording, and she sent me a proof that was perfect! It came in the mail within the week, and is absolutely perfect on the wall! If you're ever looking for vinyl decals at an affordable price, be sure to check them out! I've already gone on and on about the light fixture, so I won't bore you with more details on it. It doesn't give off quite as much light as I'd like in the evening, but I have a very small, soft bulb in there now and I'm thinking a brighter one will help remedy that. Aside from that, which isn't all that bothersome, it's been exactly what I wanted. The window gives plenty of natural light throughout the day, and the lighting in the living room provides what the drum covers up. The way the white pops against the decor on my Shanty 2 Chic shelves is perfection for sure! Exactly what I was after with just the right mix of farmhouse and industrial. I found the stools at Target, and the sign is available for sale over at The Junq Drawer on Etsy. I have to thank The Faded Farmhouse again for the wood trencher and, of course, all the Rae Dunn happiness on the top shelf are from Marshalls, Home Goods or TJ Maxx. The last little details I needed were a centerpiece for the table and some greenery. I don't have a dog, so when I purchased this Rae Dunn Stay canister from Home Goods, I knew it was going to be filled with flowers. The greenery inside it is actually a $2 Ikea plant, and the black and white striped placemat is from The Faded Farmhouse. Finally, I put a couple of faux fig leaves inside a Target basket and set it on top of the DIY milk stool I made last month. That finished off the room perfectly! The best part, aside from the aesthetic, is having my coffee bar back. It took me about a week to get the whole room painted (and you can see I'm not quite finished with all of the trim). We stuck the Keurig in the kitchen for that week, but I was really missing my coffee bar in the morning. Now all is back to normal, and I'm so happy! Coffee has a way of doing that, I guess. I'd love to know what your favorite part of the new dining room is! Hope you guys have had a wonderful week! Happy Friday and Happy Weekend!!!
DIY Kraft Paper Wall Art
Hello, friends! Today, I have a quick DIY for you based on some lovely photos I've been seeing all over my Instagram feed. You may or may not know that I have a slight love affair with kraft paper. It's great for wrapping presents and covering tables and as packing paper for items I ship. One thing I never thought I'd do with it, though, was decorate with it. That all changed when I saw this photo from Nelly Friedel on Instagram. There are a few Etsy sellers who sell signs similar to this of course. Being me, though, I wanted to try my hand at making my own. Before we jump in to the tutorial, let me amend this post by saying that this is a simple DIY. It doesn't require any building -- just some hot glue and handwriting. Anyone can do this! I will say that I'd like to make one with a rolling bar so that I can rewrite on it anytime similar to this one that Joanna Gaines did for Fixer Upper. That's a DIY for another day, though, because it requires some hefty brackets and iron. So for now, here's the simple version! All you'll need for this project is a small roll of kraft paper (I used packing paper that's a little under two feet wide), hot glue, a dowel rod, some oil-rubbed bronze spray paint, some twine or rope and a sharpie. I actually had all of these things on hand, so this project was a complete freebie! To start, cut your dowel rod down to 2" wider than your kraft paper roll. Mine ended up being cut at 23". I wanted a small part of the rod to stick out on either side of the paper when it was hung. I used a miter saw to cut mine, but a hand saw will work just as well, or have the nice people at the hardware store do it for you. Once that's cut, spray paint it with the oil rubbed bronze spray paint. I used Rustoleum because it's my favorite for coverage and durability (no, we are not receiving any compensation from Rustoleum for this post. It's just our opinion). While that dried, I went inside to cut my kraft paper down to size. I measured out a 7 foot long piece of kraft paper for this project. Once it was cut, I found approximately the middle and wrote out the phrase I wanted on my sign. You can choose anything! Here's a hand-lettering tutorial we did about a year ago and another one from earlier this year that you can use as a guide. I cheated on this one and simply wrote it out in cursive and then went back with my sharpie and highlighted all of the downstrokes with a thicker line. It looks like calligraphy but took a fraction of the time. Once your phrase is written out, roll up the top and the bottom of the paper and glue it in place. Hint: glue a few long lines as you roll to keep the paper from unrolling instead of one line at the end. That's it for the scroll part. Now back to that dowel rod. You'll need the dowel rod, hot glue and the rope or twine you chose. I used this really thick rope that I had originally purchased for the hanging tables on our porch. Having hung the sign, I don't actually love that rope because the sign isn't heavy enough to weigh it down and straighten the sides of the rope, so I'd go with something a little thinner. If you still want white or lighter colored rope/twine, they have dyed versions at Walmart and Hobby Lobby stores that you can use. Of course, you can always go natural and use twine which they sell pretty much everywhere! Hot glue the rope to one side of your dowel rod wrapping the rope around the rod starting about an inch in and working toward the outside. Hold it until it has dried. Then thread the rod through the kraft paper roll and do the same thing on the other side of the dowel rod. I let that sit for a few minutes to make sure it was completely dry and then just hung it on a nail in our living room. That's it, friends. A really simple DIY, but it packs a punch! It's completely customizable, too, so make it larger or smaller depending on the space you're filling, and it's easy enough that you can slip on a new roll when you want to change out the phrase! We'd love to see yours if you make one! Tag us (@saltandlifeblog) on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest for a chance to be featured on one of our accounts. Hope you have a wonderful Monday, friends!!!
Entryway Makeover
Friends, as I write this post, I'm sitting in the airport delayed, yet again. This week, I'm headed to Florida (yay, vacation!!!), although at this point it feels like I might not get there.  By the time you read this tomorrow morning, though, hopefully I'll be enjoying the sand and the salt air and the sunshine with my little one! In the meantime, I have two fun things to share! The first is a freebie! The second is our new and improved entryway!!! If you follow us on Instagram, you've probably already seen our Flower Market sign. It's probably one of my favorite signs to date because it speaks to my plant lady heart (thank you, Magnolia!). The best part about this right now is we're doing a giveaway! Check out our Instagram post here for all the details. We'd love for you to win!!! The winner will be announced this Friday, so head over there now for your chance to win! Here's the story behind the entry. When we moved into our house 12 years ago, it still lived in the 70s from wallpaper in the closet to orange and yellow walls. That's what welcomed you into our cute little ranch on a basement. Le sigh. I didn't even take pictures of it when we moved in because it was such an eyesore. I had a friend tell me once that we must have had some sort of crazy vision for this house because she never would have bought it if she'd seen it in its original condition. That's a post for another day, though. In the meantime, I painted the hallway a tan color because it was THE color at the time, and left it at that.
A couple of weeks ago, though, I got an inkling to change it up. Granted, I'd been oohing and aahing over all of these gorgeous entryways I found on Pinterest. (Check out some of my entry inspiration photos here plus a whole lot of other ideas!) I finally decided it was time to break out my first can of white paint and hit the walls. Up until this point, I've been strictly a greige kind of girl -- mostly because white walls always seemed really clinical to me and sterile. Embracing the minimalist walls, though, lets me use high contrast items like black hardware to really define a space and then add my favorite vintage pieces and greenery to bring it all to life. It's like a blank slate. So I jumped in. Everything is white, you guys. The walls, the ceiling, the doors, the trim -- all of it. The hardware is black (except for the hinges -- I forgot to buy those, but those are coming), and my favorite part is the mudroom-style board and hooks that I added to look like a built in. It's amazing what a coat of paint will do. [caption id="attachment_3364" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Color before with patching. Apparently I really couldn't make up my mind where to hang things when we first moved in. Look at all those nail holes!!![/caption]   [caption id="attachment_3365" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Color after. I hadn't added the entry board yet, but even with a fresh coat of paint it looks brighter and more modern![/caption] Here's a breakdown of what I changed. A few months ago, I posted about this gorgeous light fixture I found at HomeGoods for $60. That was the first inspiration piece for all of the hardware. Then I redid our bathroom and framed in the mirror with a piece of pre-primed pine board (check out the details of that here). That board was the perfect width for an entry board, so I cut an 8' piece down to 7' and hung it in the entry. That cost $11. To hang it, all I did was find the studs and put 2-1/2" screws through the board into the studs. I buried them into the pine a bit (its soft, so it's not hard to do) then put wood filler over the holes to hide the screws. Then I painted the entire thing white to match the walls and hung the black hardware (found here) with the screws provided. Voila! Add a plant that loves low light and a DIY bench (tutorial here), some artwork (tutorial here) and that's it! It's simple, but beautiful and oh, so bright!!! The total cost to renovate the front hallway was under $100 including the light fixture. Here's the breakdown:
  • HomeGoods lantern - $60
  • Pine Board - $11
  • Hooks - $24
  • White Paint - had on hand
  I feel like it completely changes the feel of the entry, and love all of the pieces I've gotten to add. I kept my bench and added a pillow that my aunt gave me from Kirklands. I also found this cute low light plant at Lowes. It's quick growing, too, and only needs water once a week or so. The jute basket it's in I found at Hobby Lobby. Along the opposite wall, I hung a mail sorter basket that was a Marshall's find. I filled it with old books that I recovered with white wrapping paper and tied with twine. Of course, I had to use my apothecary cabinet from Gabriel Brothers (it was a steal, y'all, at $50), filled with some of my Rae Dunn collection and topped with a mirror I distressed using this technique. The boxwood wreath is dried. It's the same one from Christmas that I purchased from Trader Joe's for $10. They have these every Christmas, so be on the lookout! I added a few old books and an olive bucket and cotton stems from Hobby Lobby and called it a day. Friends, I'm in love! It's so bright and happy in this entry and it really sets the tone for the entire house because all the walls are going white in the front half of the house! What do you think about the white paint? Love it or leave it?It's okay. White's not for everyone on the walls, but I'm certainly a believer now! I'll be posting about my progress through the house, so stay tuned.  
Bathroom Update | DIY Vinyl Flooring
The last step in our journey to finishing the major upgrades in our hall bathroom was flooring. Flooring that I'd had for, oh, a month at least but hadn't found the time to put down. We were seriously living with the subfloor exposed for all of that time, just covering it with bath mats when people came over. Sigh. We're past all that now, though, because **cue angels singing** I finally finished the bathroom flooring!!! I talked with you guys in an earlier post about maybe getting brave and doing a herringbone pattern in the tile. However, I chose the easy route and just stuck with square vinyl tiles knowing that we won't be in this house much longer {we're not moving yet, but a lot of our upgrades are to sell}. If I'm going to go crazy and do a herringbone floor, I'm going to do it somewhere I'm going to live for a while because, let's face it, it's going to take some time. The square tile route, though... not so much. I had the entire thing down in a little over an hour. This is the third room in our house that I've tiled, and two of those rooms I've done more than once already because I learned the hard way what my style was, so I've learned a few tricks along the way. In case you're tackling this sort of project on your own, I thought I'd share some of those things with y'all, and of course I really want to share how it turned out! Before we jump in, let me start with saying I've done self-stick tile in our kitchen and both bathrooms. I had not grouted any of those rooms, though, so that was a new experience {but an easy one}. Despite my love of power tools, I'm nervous to use a wet saw on real tile because the curves around the toilet make me nervous. I watched a YouTube video of a guy doing it, and you basically have to chip pieces off using straight cuts until you work your way all the way around the toilet -- it sounds like a ton of work and like I would screw it up a lot. So I opted for vinyl peel-and-stick instead. Here's the tile I used from Lowes. [caption id="attachment_3343" align="alignleft" width="900"] Just a little reminder of the bathroom and flooring from before.[/caption] All right, friends. Here's everything you'll need to tile and grout your bathroom:
  • Vinyl peel and stick tile
  • Floor primer {this is similar to what I used}
  • Paint roller and pad for rough surfaces
  • Xacto knife or scissors
  • Pen
  • Ruler/straight edge
  • Measuring tape
  • Spacers
  • Grout
  • Sponge
  • 2 buckets (one for mixing the grout and one for water)
  • Trowel
  Step one is to prep the floor. Sweep up the subfloor and vacuum it if there's any extra dust. Then using your roller, apply a thin layer of the floor primer over the entire floor. Let it dry {mine was dry within an hour or so}. Laying down the flooring is pretty self-explanatory, but there are some tips to getting the most out of your tile.

Flooring Tips:

  1. Start in the center of the room. It just looks more natural this way. For the bathroom, I started on the center square halfway between the wall and vanity.
  2. Use the paper on the back of each tile as a template for the next. The paper is super thin and very malleable, so it makes a great material to trace curves and lines -- not to mention it's the exact same size as your tiles.
  3. Use spacers if you're grouting. These are lifesavers and make the whole project look really organized and professional. These babies are cheap and oh, so worth it!
  4. Score your straight cuts. It takes some serious arm work and time to cut through these tiles with an Xacto, so my best tip is to score it on the back (draw your line on the paper side then run the blade over the line twice), then bend the tile. It will break where you scored it. Follow up with scissors to cut through the very top layer. This will give you the smoothest cut without all the arm work.
  Once your tile is down, it's time to grout! This is the easiest thing ever, y'all! I got a giant bag of grout, so I only mixed up about a third of it. Pour however much you want to use in one of your buckets. Fill the other bucket with water about halfway. Dip your sponge in the water then wring it out over the bucket with the dry grout. Mix it up with your trowel. If it's still too dry, do it again. You want it to be the consistency of peanut butter. That's the best way to put it. When you turn your trowel over, it shouldn't fall off immediately and it definitely shouldn't drip. I figured out about halfway through grouting our wall tile that the easiest way to grout consistently was to slop a bunch on in a diagonal pattern then use the edge to scoop up the excess and do it again. I didn't think to get a video of me doing this, though -- sorry, y'all -- but YouTube is full of examples. The basic premise, though, is you'll want it to be perfect so you'll go slow at first. However, doing that actually pulls up the grout. Instead, be really liberal with it because you'll go back with a sponge and wipe up any extra that's on the tiles. Don't be afraid of coating them completely if that's what it takes. I worked in one foot or so sections, starting closest to the tub and working my way to the hallway. Spread the grout, then wring out your sponge so it's almost dry. At a diagonal, wipe the sponge over the grout one time, raising up at the end. Dip the sponge in the water, wring it out so it's almost dry and do it again. This is the process for each section. That's it. The grout I used was sanded because I used such a thick grout line, so it took 24 hours to fully dry. I have not sealed mine yet. I intend to, but just haven't gotten around to it. That's an optional step, though, and you guys, I'm honestly just kind of freaking out because it's so bright in that bathroom now!!!!!!!!! I got a huge response on Instagram to the post including these metal wall hangers, so let me just share really quickly. Apparently, Magnolia sells them as well, but I found these at The Faded Farmhouse during a recent trip to Tennessee. I already had the cotton, so it was a simple matter of hanging them and adding the cotton stems to each. They added just a hint of rustic to an otherwise pretty modern bathroom. I'm still struggling with the shelving over the toilet. I know I need to keep it bright in there, but I can't decide between bracket or floating shelves or even a medicine cabinet of sorts. So for now, there are no shelves. That's coming, though, so stay tuned!!! I just love how this bathroom is shaping up, you guys! What do you think of the transformation so far? Hope you guys have a great weekend!
A Very Important Question
My last couple of days - make that weeks - ok possibly YEARS, have been a little bit frustrating. Don't get me wrong, I've had some amazing days, weeks, etc. but the frustration has been tough to tackle. Why am I not closer to where I want to be in life? Why do I disappoint myself over and over in the areas of fitness (tryna lose that baby weight, y' my youngest is almost 2. Let's get 'er done!!), my relationship with God, my business, my blogging, my personal habits, the cleanliness of my home, my discipline with my children, the list goes on. That's not to say that there hasn't been any growth - there has. But I could be and probably should be so much further along than I am. I thought it was an issue of self worth and insecurity. I thought I was just comparing my worst to everyone else's best. That's what this post was supposed to be about: not letting comparison steal your joy and zest for life. But I got real honest with myself and the Lord spoke to me. He asked me a question, which he usually does to get me thinking. He asked me this very important question:

Are you giving your best, every. single. day?

I absolutely knew the answer to that question. Without a doubt, my answer is no. No way I'm giving my all every single day. I may be tired or stressed or worn out, but the truth is, if I were to stop and think about it, giving my best would alleviate a lot of those feelings, or at least make them a bit more worthwhile. Let me explain.

Stuck In a Rut: What Do I Do All Day?

Do I work hard? Absolutely. But what if there were a way to work just as hard as I usually do, but get more accomplished, feel better about myself and my life, and actually see some hard earned progress take place? I believe there is a way. As a stay at home mom, my average day consists of trying to squeeze as much sleep out of the morning as I can. Then taking nearly two hours to fully wake up, all while stumbling around, crankily, making coffee, breakfast, checking my phone for all the various notifications it contains. At that point it may be 9 or 10 o'clock. Then I make a choice between getting the kids outside for the morning or cleaning up the disaster of an apartment that typically is the state of our home. Then there's lunch, followed by nap. During nap, I have a ton of options for what I could accomplish. But I usually choose the "kick back & relax" route. Because I deserve it, right? I've been incessantly interrupted all morning by little people, tending to their every need, I woke up before I wanted to and I need a break! That's usually my reasoning. Not all wrong, but there's more. After nap, it's another slow start to get moving. I have the same choice before me to either pick up some more or take the kids back outside to play. Sometimes I let them play out back while I fold laundry. Then it's time to make dinner, bathe the kids, and put them to bed. By the end of all that it could be 8:30 or 9 pm. Do you think I want to take care of anything that I didn't get done while the kids were awake?? Heck, no! So I usually don't. That's my typical day. Now, there are some days when I do more, or try to accomplish a project. But I'd say this is the pattern and routine I've settled into. Does it look anything like your day? If you work a job during the day, does it look like your evenings and weekends? I'm making myself pretty vulnerable here and I'm sure there are some of you type-A people who are thinking, "this girl is laaaaaazy." Haha! And while I'd like to disagree, there are times when I know I am being lazy. I know I was created for more. That I'm totally capable of doing more. So why don't I? Why don't you?

Change is Uncomfortable.

It's been suggested to me by various people to create a schedule for my day, make lists of what I want to accomplish, prioritize my day. Do the thing you least want to do first thing so you can get it over with! These are all fantastic suggestions. And I might do them once in a while. But it's not fun. It's uncomfortable. I like spontaneity and being able to do what I want to do, when I want to do it. I feel smothered by a schedule and have found it oppressive. I get extreme guilt when I don't get everything on the list done - or when I try to do too much and feel I've ignored my children all day to do it. So what then? Is that it? I guess we have to decide (you and me) whether we prefer to stay where we are because it's comfortable, or stretch ourselves until the uncomfortable becomes comfortable. At which point we will most likely need to stretch ourselves again.

Change the Way You Think

The thoughts we have about life and about ourselves literally chart our course in life. If I think I can't do something, I'm right. But if I think I can, I'm also right. Does any one else find that concept as incredible as I do?? I mean. The mind is such a powerful thing! What we think precedes what we speak. When we speak something, our mind hears it and it reiterates itself. So the more we say things like, "I just can't work off of a schedule" or "I don't have time to do everything" or "I'm too tired and stressed" the more our mind believes those things to be true, even if they aren't actually true. So how do we change the way we think about ourselves and our situations? Do we just try really hard? Let's be honest, how well has that worked out so far? Right. So that's a no. The only way I know how to change the way I think, is to change the way I speak. I can be proactive about speaking the right words. If that means writing the right words on my bathroom mirror where I see them everyday or going so far as to draft up some index cards, that's what I need to do. What are the "right" words? Whatever words will speak positive change into the area you want to be different. You can choose scripture to help get your mind and body on the right track. For example, Phil 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." The words I plan to use are also responses to the incorrect ways I've been thinking. Instead of saying, "I don't have time to do all the things I need to do. I'm so overwhelmed!" I can write and then speak the words, "I am productive. I prioritize my time and I focus. I will accomplish what I can today." Simply reading the words to yourself is not enough. It takes hearing them out loud to truly change the way you think. You might feel silly saying these things at first, especially if you don't really believe them yet. But give it time. I'm right there with ya!

How to Have a Great Day Every Day

So how do we make sure we give our best everyday, and end up with the best life God has for us? That may look different for each person. As far as I'm concerned, I need to learn to work from a schedule. When I have too much unstructured time, I'm unproductive. Understanding that about myself is an important start to improving that aspect of my life. Here is my super ambitious daily schedule for you as an example. I haven't implemented it yet, so it may need tweaking. But one of the most important things for me (and possibly for you too!) is to just start somewhere. It doesn't have to be perfect at the start. But if we wait for perfection, we'll forever stay exactly where we are. Amanda's Daily Schedule 5:30 am Wake up & go for a run 6:00 Quiet time with God 6:30 Shower 7:00 Make Breakfast 8:00 Play with kids 9:00 Do Chores 10:30 Spend time with kids outside, playing, reading, teaching (prek) 12:30 Lunch 1:00 pm Nap, Work on Business 2:00 Blogging 3:00 Play with kids/outside 4:00 Quick house pick up/Start dinner 5:00 Cook Dinner 5:30/6 Dinner 6:30 Bathe kids/Clean up Dinner 7:00 Get kids ready for bed, read books 7:30 Kids in Bed 8:00 Time with Spouse 10:00 Read 10:30 Get ready for bed 11:00 Lights out, phone down Print your own schedule template here: Daily Schedule Printable At the end of each day, I want to be able to ask myself the question, "Did I give my very best today?" and answer with a resounding and satisfying, yes!! I have struggled with feelings of inferiority and insecurity. I have wondered where those feelings came from. I think they come from knowing that I'm not being the best version of myself and knowing that I am capable of so much more. When we are striving to be our best each day, our feelings of self worth and inner pride (the good kind!) can't help but increase. Say goodbye to guilt and minimal effort. Let's make each day a great one, give ourselves grace when we mess up and start each day fresh. Love you, friends! You can live a great life!     Follow
Have Faith

Have you ever had moments where you're not sure if it's the Lord's voice or your own internal monologue that you're listening to? This was my struggle -- not hearing him in the big things, but hearing him in the stillness.

I left work on a Thursday just like any other day...

Except instead of going the way I normally would, I took a "wrong turn." I put that in quotes because as soon as I turned I knew I needed to. You know? That hunch or nudging that the Holy Spirit gives you when you need to do something that you don't actually know you need to do yet? So I kept going... a way I never, ever would have gone because it took me twice as long to get home, and I'll be honest. After driving down the road a bit, I was starting to go, "Okay. Was this a mistake? Why am I going this way?" The Lord said, "There's going to be a man on the side of the road," to which I staunchly replied, "You don't actually expect me to pick up some dude when I'm by myself in this car, do you? Especially someone I don't know who's on the side of the road?" And He said, "I don't want you to give him a ride or even talk to him. I want you to pray for him." A few minutes later, I'm ashamed to admit I was starting to think I was nuts and letting my sometimes overactive brain get the best of me, which of course the Lord knew but I still felt compelled to voice to him. "I don't see anyone," I said. "He's right up here," He said. I still didn't see him... until I did. I might have missed him if I hadn't been looking. This completely normal looking guy, walking like he was on a mission down the walkway on the side of an overpass. I don't know if you've experienced this or not, but every time the Lord guides me like this and fulfills what He's saying, it floors me. I was immediately in tears and somewhat ashamed of my doubting nature. But here's the thing, y'all. I'm human, and while, yes, I prayed for this guy I'd never met and probably never will, there was a small part of me that was still thinking, "Okay, but You know his circumstances. I don't. Why am I praying for him to You about something You've already got under control." You know what He said? He said, "It's not about him. It's about you. It's about you obeying Me when I ask something of you, and it's about you having enough faith to follow through when you don't know why I'm asking what I'm asking." Friends, I don't know if He is preparing me for something or just teaching me a lesson, but I am plain and simple, flat out blown away by the closeness of His presence. I think it's easy for us to sometimes feel that God is looking down on us when, in reality, he's walking beside us. He finds me in moments like this where I simply cannot deny the power of His presence or of His spirit. There is no possible way I could have known that man would be walking on the overpass just ahead of me -- but He did.

So have faith.

When you hear a voice nudging you to love on someone or pray for them or reach out? Don't ignore it. Be still. Listen. Pray. Act. Our God is faithful.
DIY $15 Milk Stool
It's no secret that I love vintage and thrift store shopping. One of my favorite things to do is repurpose items that were used years and years ago. They possess charm and character that you simply can't buy new. A few months ago, I was with my aunt shopping at Coach Light Antiques and a few other favorite local shops, and I stumbled on this white antiqued stepping stool. It was a three-legged one that was rough around the edges and stood about a foot off the ground. When I was a kid, I used to step up on a handpainted stool that my parents had, and I just love the idea of having something sweet like that for my daughter to use. Also, I'm relatively height challenged, so I'm generally in need of assistance for those higher cabinets in our house. Not even kidding. Of course, the stool I found at the antique shop cost a pretty penny, and me being me thought, "Oh, I can make that," and then months later still hadn't gotten around to it. I saw a pale green one at HomeGoods not too long ago, but even it was close to $40 which is far outside my I'm-willing-to-pay-that-much range. Plus, I would have had to paint that one. Well, friends, I've finally gotten around to making my own! And. I. Love. It. An old fashioned milk stool is what originally inspired me, and for mine, I really wanted some chunky, decorative legs and a white finish. So I set off to Home Depot. They have these legs available for a little over $3 each and these round pressed boards for around $5.50. That and some enamel paint is all I needed to make this project. We're talking less than $15 total!!! The smallest round appearance board I could find was 17", which was far too wide a diameter for this stool considering I used 6" legs, so I broke out my trusty jigsaw and cut a 12" diameter circle out of the appearance board. Then I sanded down the outside rim and rounded the edges a bit before painting. I know you're shocked, but I actually didn't distress this stool. I thought about it, believe me, and I still might go back and add some "scuff marks" (aka black dry brush paint), but for now I kind of like the solid white look, especially against the chalkboard in our kitchen. Before I talk about attaching the legs, let me walk you through my thought process on them. I originally wanted them to angle out. Unfortunately, the bolts that are built into these legs didn't allow enough threading to do that. So I put them in straight, which is way easier but probably not as sturdy as I had originally intended. Against my husband's advice, I only used three legs instead of four (we'll see how this turns out in the long run). I will say that I can stand on this baby and she doesn't move unless I get too close to the edge. So there's that. All you need is a 5/16" drill bit since the bolt screws are already built into the legs. I measured out equidistant points, drilled and screwed in the legs. That simple! Once everything was attached and solid, I clear coated the entire thing with a semi-gloss clear coat spray. That took a couple of hours to fully cure, and then it was ready to use! Y'all, this stool is super cute and my new favorite addition to our kitchen -- not to mention it's going to make a really cute photo prop! Now I feel like I need to make another one for our half bath... what do you think? I hope today is treating you all well! Thanks for stopping by! xoxo
$12 Large Framed Chalkboard
Pastels. Eggs. Candy. Sunday best. Worship. Easter was yesterday and was filled with all of these beautiful, fun things. I love Easter because it celebrates a fresh start. A clean slate. Spring is evident everywhere, in new blooms, in beautiful colors, a perfect picture of redemption. The Easter story is powerful, and we've been seeing "He is risen" photos popping up all over our Instagram feed making us even more thankful to be a part of such a beautiful community of creatives celebrating the gifts and beauty of our Creator. Most of the last couple of weeks has been full of rehearsals in preparation for our Easter services at work, which makes for a busy and [wonder]full schedule. Somehow, though, Amanda and I found ourselves with a chunk of time Saturday morning to get together for donuts and coffee. Friends, the sun was shining, the shop was gorgeous and the blog planning was productive! We did a quick live video that you can check out here to see what all we were up to, and here are a couple of photos from our adventure. Because schedules have been so busy lately, I've been all about the quick and easy projects and upgrades. I still haven't finished the floor in our hall bathroom or the shelves, but we're getting there! Despite that, there wasa little extra time to work on small projects that needed my attention but I hadn't had time for in the past, like the chalkboard over my coffee bar. I have always been pretty much in love with the idea of a coffee bar and have seen a few inspirational ones which led to my coffee cabinet upgrade which you can read about here. Almost all of my idea board photos have chalkboards in them, though, so I was bound and determined to figure out how to work an oversized chalkboard into my coffee bar. Before I had time to build a chalkboard, I was walking through Hobby Lobby on a completely unrelated shopping trip and stumbled on their aisle of chalkboards. To be perfectly honest, I always thought it would just be completely cost-ineffective to buy a framed chalkboard the size I wanted {we're talking 3' wide} when I could build one for around $20. Well, I was wrong! Sometimes making them from scratch isn't the way to go! I found this unfinished framed chalkboard at Hobby Lobby originally for $14.99, except that day it was 50% off. So it cost $7.50. Say what!?! Way cheaper for an already framed chalkboard than if I had bought a sheet of blackboard at the hardware store and bought wood to frame it and ... oh, yeah. Then there's the time it would have taken to cut down the boards, build the frame, attach it ... you get the picture. Even after all of that, it would have cost $20 to build one on my own including stain... so I bought it! Patience is not one of my virtues, friends, so I brought it home and hung it up immediately as it was. I had a magnolia wreath, hung it on the chalkboard with a 3M hook and called it a day. It was cute, don't get me wrong, but looked unfinished {because it was} and it was also missing something. When a DIY-er, upgrade! I headed down to the garage and pulled out my favorite stain of all time, Minwax Early American, covered my dining room table with a plastic dropcloth, found an old sock with holes in it and stained the frame on that chalkboard. Instant. Upgrade. If you don't have stain on hand, stores like Home Depot and Lowes and even Walmart sell small cans of stain for around $4. [caption id="attachment_3265" align="alignnone" width="300"] Before...[/caption] [caption id="attachment_3269" align="alignnone" width="300"] After![/caption] A couple of staining tips. I never brush stain on. Ever. It goes on so much smoother with something soft like a cloth, an old rag, an old tee shirt, or a sock. Believe it or not, we have a sock stash in the garage for staining. True story. I also don't do the whole brush on, wipe off thing. Probably because I use Early American which is not a super dark stain to start with. At any rate, I wipe a coat on thinly so there's nothing to wipe off, let that dry and then if it's not dark enough, I'll do another coat. It's easier and less wasteful, in my opinion. Finally, wipe with the grain, not against it. You'll have weird lines if you try to go against the grain so just roll with it. I did not clear coat this sign. You can, and it's absolutely helpful, but it's really not exposed to any elements so I didn't take the time to. I also mentioned it was missing something with just the wreath. It's not a coffee bar without a sign, right? I made this sign a while ago using the same technique for the words as our wood gather sign and the same distressing technique as our planter boxes. Because 3M hooks are awesome, I hung it on the chalkboard the same way and ta-da! It feels like that niche is finished and is full of materials I love: greenery, chippy white paint, chunky farmhouse furniture, chalkboard, wood elements and, of course, coffee. Now that that's done, I need to get back to that bathroom flooring so we can check that one off the project list. But first, coffee. Happy Monday, friends!