Sunday, November 30, 2014

DIY Deck Built in About 5 Days

The picture above is the BEFORE shot of back of our house, and as you can see, there's not much pretty there.  A huge concrete slab step and a cracked & ugly concrete pad. 

This is my father & my hubby (in red) building the deck.  My father is a building inspector for a county in Ohio, so he knows his stuff when it comes to construction & building houses, and doing renos & repairs. 

The above picture is the AFTER shot of my hubby standing on our large new wooden deck, complete with a canvas awning covering, and a glass outdoor table with four chairs.  We found those red outdoor chairs at Wal-mart for around $10 apiece!

So our yard went from a mostly unusable space covered by concrete, to a beautiful 3-season usable area!  And that's great because our house is small, so it's ALWAYS a good idea to have living space in the outdoors if possible!

So what do you think of the before & after changes?  Is there anything you would've done differently?


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

New Etsy Shop: "Stitch Happens Here"

Howdy everyone!  Gosh it's been busy around here lately, and one of the things I've been doing is creating a brand spankin' new Etsy shop called "Stitch Happens Here", and it'll be a place where I can list for sale any number of hand-made items, both sewing and knitting. 

My old shop name was "Cozy Cafe Knits" and I felt it was time to move on from that name, especially since it only has "knit" in the name and doesn't incorporate sewing items. 

But I bought a sewing machine a few months back, and I've been really enjoying learning how to use it and making lots of cool scarves.  I'm mildly obsessed with scarves (my husband would remove the word "mildly" from that statement) so I'm currently sewing tons of fashion scarves, but someday I'll advance to skirts, bags, aprons, blankets, and other things.  But first things first!

So here's the direct link to my shop "Stitch Happens Here".  Take a look, take a gander, take a peek, get a good eye full, and if anything strikes your fancy let me know.  And thanks in advance for helping to fund my creative endeavors!  You rock!

Here's a sneak peek of what you'll find in the shop: 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Planting our Flower Beds (and other house projects that have kept us busy)

**click on pics to make them bigger!**

This is me (Rachel) and my husband (Eric), and we've lived in our new house for almost 6 months now.  I cannot believe the time has gone by so fast!
The first couple of months after moving in were a complete blur; full of sorting through our belongings and taking donations to Goodwill (I think I've made 3 trips to Goodwill so far, and I need to make a 4th sometime soon), organizing, tackling small projects around the house, cleaning, unpacking, and realizing we needed to buy SO much stuff for the house.
The windows didn't even have curtain rods on them, so we quickly became VIP customers at Home Depot and Walmart because we had to buy everything from curtain rods & curtains, WD-40, carpet cleaner, spatulas, clothes rods to install in the closets, entryway rugs and a new garbage disposal unit for under our kitchen sink, because the old one was dead as a doornail.
But after the initial crazy rush to get our stuff into the house and organized enough so the house was actually livable, now we can tackle projects on our own time frame; there's no rush to get stuff done.

This is our most recently completed project: planting flowers in our front flower beds to increase the curb appeal of our house and just in general add some much-needed color and order to the area around the front of our house.  The old soil in the beds had been sitting unused for over 4 years (that's about how long neighbors say our house sat abandoned before we bought it), so we pulled weeds, added tons of compost, good soil, peat, and manure to the beds, and planted them with Hostas, Primroses, and Azaleas.  (You can see the other front flower bed in the top left corner of the picture).  I can't tell you how much beauty is added to the yard just by planting some plants & flowers!
And we really feel like this is just what our house had been lacking.  Now the house looks like it has owners who really care for it and love it; and we do!
The paint on the exterior of our house in a light green; it's the original paint from 14 years ago when it was built, and it's pretty drab and faded.  We are eventually going to paint the exterior of our house, but we need to save up money for that.  So in the meantime, rescuing and revamping the yard will have to suffice!  This is a picture of the front exterior of our house.  Can you see the faded greenish-grey? 

Eventually, we want to paint our house a darker green and want it to look more like this:

Of course, that second house is much bigger than ours and has lots more trim work and windows, but you get the idea.  We like the darker green with the natural wood-brown front door and the lighter colored trim. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Homeowner Once Again!

My husband Eric & I have (finally!) bought our first home in WA state, a cozy 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom house in Marysville, about 1 hour north of Seattle.  This little house is a tremendous blessing, and we are SO grateful!  We had financial help from family members for the down payment and some appliances (the house needed some appliances).

This picture is the low-slung exterior of our new home.  You can't tell from the picture, but the white trim needs a good scraping and re-painting, and the same is true of the front door. 

The wood gate to the right of the house leads to the our side yard which opens up into our back yard.  Our pup Levi LOVES having his own yard again! 

Here's the view from just inside the front door, looking into the rest of the house:

So yes, you can see almost the entire house from the front entryway, but it's a perfect size for just my hubby, me, our 53-pound pup, and our little ferret. 

We've been working on getting boxes unpacked, settling in, and doing some little projects on the weekends. 

Some small projects we've tackled: 

1.  New kitchen cabinet hardware
2.  Fixing & re-attaching kitchen drawer front
3.  Installing sturdy coat hanger in entry hall closet for winter coats & gear
4.  Hanging pictures
5.  Placing vases, books, and decorations on high ceiling shelf (shown in picture above near the ceiling)
6.  Hanging new bathroom mirror as seen below: 

So that's what we've been up to recently!  We're so thrilled to have our own space again, and to be homeowners again!  We're no longer "debt free" because we have a mortgage now, but this was debt that we gladly took on! 

I'm always looking for cheap, DIY house renovation tips, so if you've got any to share, feel free!  Thanks for reading! 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Restocking my Etsy Shop with Knit Items!

It's been too long since I've posted here.  Life has been so busy:  my husband has been working full-time for several months now and we finally bought our first house in WA state!  It took almost 6 months for us to secure a loan while being crushed under a mountain of ridiculous paperwork and red tape.  Then we searched for affordable houses for another several months, so overall it took around 1 year to secure a loan & find an affordable, appropriate house for us. 

We're giddy with happiness and feeling incredibly blessed by God. 

We're still settling into our small, 660 square foot house, and it feels amazing to finally have a place of our own. 

I've also been knitting like crazy, re-stocking my Etsy shop with made-with-love knit items like coffee cozies, scarves, baby blankets, & baby hats.

Please check out my Etsy shop here and keep in mind my knit items make great stocking stuffers, Christmas presents, and party favors!  And they're very affordable  :) 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

God Expects WHAT of me???

A pervasive thought has been gnawing away in my mind for the last week or so, so I thought I'd share it here with you. 

The idea is this:  when I'm going through the worst days of my life and enduring more than I ever thought I could bear, this is the time where the Lord wants to see the most growth out of me; it's exactly the time when He wants me to spend the most quality time with Him, and He desperately wants to help me persevere through this time of trial.  Did you get that?  God does not want me to simply survive or just barely make it through this time of tribulations "by the skin of my teeth" or something like that.  Oh no.  The Good Lord wants me to thrive; to experience continuous growth and have overflowing joy at all times, never succumbing to my mind-numbing circumstances, but rising above them, victorious

Honestly, this sounds ridiculous most of the time, like God is asking too much of me.  Sometimes I feel like it's all I can do simply to survive the day, dreading the new dawn, full of the same old troubles.

But dear friends, there is something better out there for me, and for you.  It's true that this whole 'thriving through trials' thing sounds too far-fetched to be doable, but it is doable with God's help.  You are capable of ending each day with a sense of valid accomplishment.  Maybe not a sense of "I did everything perfect today", but at least a sense of "I did my best today and allowed God to really fill me and it was a successful day because I spent it in constant communion with Him" sort of day.  And that's a successful, productive day; a day you can be proud of.  No matter what else you get accomplished (or don't), a day spent with the Lord is never a wasted day.

Here's one of my favorite verses, and it speaks to the heart of this issue:  "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (James 1:2-4)

Did you catch all that?  Is this verse speaking of just surviving a period of trial and pain in your life like you're a shipwreck survivor clinging to a floating piece of the ship's hull as you're being brutally tossed about by merciless waves?  Far from it!  This wonderful verse says it's possible to have real and lasting JOY as we face various troubles!  And it doesn't leave us hanging as to the reason why we can have joy.  It goes on to explain how it's possible to experience joy in the midst of horrible times:  because these terrible trials are testing us, yes, but they're also doing something amazing.  These tumultuous times are doing something inside us:  they're forming us into newer, stronger people of faith.  Times of trial, when we have to have blind faith in God and press on ahead without knowing the outcome, those times are supposed to be teaching us that God is very good and that He truly has our best interests in mind, all the time, even if we ask Him for something we really want and His answer is "No."  

That process of learning to trust God completely, all the time, is what growing your faith is.  And not allowing your circumstances to control your emotions?  That's called perseverance.  Don't allow your circumstances to cause you to doubt that God's still in control, He loves you desperately, and He's forming a Master Plan concerning you, that will help you grow into a more mature and complete Christian and person, a person who looks like Jesus Christ.  

Sounds good, right?  Because what this world desperately needs is more people who act and love like Jesus.  And when your faith is unshakable, you'll have the peace of Christ covering your mind, and you'll have the joy of the Lord shining from your heart.  You'll be complete, as the verse above says.  And that's the "abundant life" that Jesus says He came here to give you.   

And don't it sound fabulous?   

Friday, July 26, 2013

Christ Has Forgiven the Inexcusable in Me

Image from

Boy, this quote from C.S. Lewis sure strikes a chord with me, considering all that I've been feeling lately.  This concept is something that I definitely believe, but that I certainly need to work on living my daily life like I believe this.  It's easy to forget, and hard to put into practice.  

Because if I truly believed that Christ has truly forgiven the utterly inexcusable in me, it would completely alter my life and how I interact with, think about, and pray for those around me.  I would see them as Christ sees them; blemished children whom He longs to bring into His embrace and bathe them clean in His love.  And it would be natural and appropriate to forgive them.  

Check out a great article from Jen Wilkin about forgiveness here--