Where is the Reveal?

Expectations. They can be joy killers and stress givers. I’ve been living the world of expectation versus reality the last couple months.



1 her expectations were unrealistic: supposition, assumption, presumption, conjecture, surmise, calculation, prediction, hope. (Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus)

Notice, the example sentence… HER expectations were unrealistic. How did they know?

When we set ourselves up with unrealistic expectations based on hopeful calculations, the letdown can be draining. A handful of times this summer I’ve sat quietly in a secluded place with tears streaming down my cheeks experiencing remodel despair. Sitting in a room of unfinished projects and unpacked belongings, I have no clue when or how it’s all going to come together, and long for Jonathan and Drew, The Property Brothers, to show up and relieve my exasperation. Remodel Despair can be brought on by a number of things including unrealistic expectations, a quickly diminishing budget, and workers who don’t  show up.

Unrealistic Expectations

When we started this project, I anticipated 6-weeks of work and we’d move into an adorably cozy, semi-modern California ranch.  I envisioned a “Show us this house,” kind of welcome where we walk in to a completely new bright, California beach-style home with updated furniture, candles burning, and fresh flowers on the counter. I now realize that is not our reality. I obviously watch way too much HGTV and although I see what Hillary, Jonathan, and the rest go through, I thought we’d at least have a reveal. The blog post of our before and after will have to wait. Instead of an amazing, “See what we did,” we have a “See what we’re still in the middle of…”


A Quickly Diminishing Budget

Like many remodelers, we were on a tight, limited budget. If you have a $10,000 or a $100,000 it goes so quickly! I honestly feel like we were prudent and wise with our buying decisions, but even the best budgeters find the money disappears quickly. For example, consider kitchen cabinets. We originally priced lower quality cabinets at Home Depot, but found them to be a budget eater. IKEA was suggested, but I just couldn’t do it. IKEA is great for a bookshelf or a piece of furniture you know is transitional, but I hoped for wood cabinets. We have a  Direct Buy membership we’ve used on other projects and put it to work on this one too. I know the negatives of Direct Buy and hate pressure sales, but we’ve had this membership for about 20 years and it has saved us THOUSANDS! We were able to purchase quality maple cabinetry at a fraction of the Home Depot price. We also purchased our doors, windows, lighting, and furniture for two bedrooms through Direct Buy. We’re still waiting for the bathroom vanities and the boys’ furniture to arrive. Soon, I tell myself… soon.

I have a good friend who is an interior designer and before we started this project she told me, “You are not bringing that cherry furniture into your new California home.” Honestly, I loved my cherry furniture, but it was purchased for a larger home with a Pacific Northwest style. It is too big for our new space. There isn’t room for it and for us, so it had to go. I sold most on eBay and one piece on Craig’s List. I’m happy it went to collectors who will love it. Selling provided the funds to purchase new furniture that will fit our space better. In addition to the cherry furniture, I sold our dining room furniture, the boys’ bunk beds, dressers, nearly every piece of furniture we owned. If it is not nailed down… beware, I might sell it!

Sometimes you just have to get creative to add funds to your project and selling has provided a resource for us.

Where are the workers?

When we lived in Washington we had a handful of friends/contractors we trusted and relied on.  They were honest, hardworking men who knew their trade and practiced quality workmanship. Sadly, we’ve yet to find the same dependable contractors here.  I imagine they’re out there, we just haven’t found them. We’re still waiting to find someone to finish sheetrock repair and also waiting for the countertop/tile guy to finish a few items. I’ve called countless times, with no response. Consequently, my hub has become quite the contractor in the wake of workers not showing up. He has become our resident plumber hooking up the kitchen sink, dishwasher, refrigerator filter, and he connected a laundry sink in the main bath until the vanity arrives. He installed the light fixtures, windows, doors, trim, did all the painting, and will begin on the mantle when we return. Diligently plugging away at his projects, he’s getting the job done.

We will finish

This project will be completed, but living in the home slows the work down a bit. It’s much easier to work in a vacant dwelling, but those days are gone. We’ve done this before and it will come together. The new estimated completion time is probably November. Thanksgiving. I will give thanks in November for a home completed…. I hope.

Our Home Remodel: The Bathroom, Before

For weeks, my girlie and I have researched small bathrooms. There must be a way to make a 5′ x 5′ space delightful. We created a Pinterest board and have been pinning away.

Here is our canvas. We will take out everything, except the tub and begin again. Although I love yellow, the tub will be resurfaced. I have a sense some will be heartbroken to see the blast-from-the-past disappear, but it needs to happen. We’re doing our best to re-use what we can, so at least it will stay. The tub surround is a plastic liner, and it’s my guess we’ll find some moisture behind it. The sliding doors are outdated. The vanity, mirror, toilet and floor will go too. Hopefully we won’t find any surprises and this will be a fairly easy fix-up.

We’re thinking white subway tile for a clean, easy-to-maintain look. This is the kids’/main bath so they want a little say in what goes in. We may throw in some color accents here and there. I find there are so many options and ideas, it’s hard to narrow it down!



For great ideas for Small Bathrooms, click here.

We’ve been drawn to white and gray as seen in the photos below. The goal for this remodel is to create a simple, bright, beach-style home we will love! We’ll see how our bathroom shapes up. Stay tuned!

gray bath2

Gray Bath

Oatmeal Cinnamon Rolls


In a world where cinnamon rolls could be somewhat {healthy}, they’d be called OATMEAL Cinnamon Rolls. This recipe includes healthy ingredients like oatmeal, whole wheat flour, wheat germ, nutritional yeast, applesauce. and nonfat instant milk.  That all sounds healthy, right? If you make this recipe just as stated, you’ll whip up dreamy Oatmeal Dinner Rolls to take to Thanksgiving dinner. They’ll look like this…


Or, you can take the dough one step further and make Oatmeal Cinnamon Rolls. I taught this recipe at our teen cooking class. The girls did GREAT! I never realized how much sensory input could be involved in making cinnamon rolls, but ask someone to take half a stick of softened butter and spread it over rolled dough and see what response you get. For the girls, we inundated their sense of touch allowing them to play in flour, smother butter, sprinkle butter, and knead dough. This proves to be not just a cooking class but a class on sensory experiences.


This recipe makes for a CROWD! If you have a 6-Quart Kitchen Aid Mixer, you’ll be able to mix most if it in the mixer using the bread hook. If you don’t have a Kitchen Aid, this is a GREAT arm workout! Honestly, it’s not too bad. Invite a friend over and take turns kneading.


Click here to print

Cinnamon Rolls


2 cups rolled or quick oats

4 cups boiling water

Pour boiling water over oats and let sit for about 20 minutes, cooling slightly.


1 cup brown sugar or 2/3 cup honey

1/4 cup oil

1 cup applesauce

1/2 cup instant non-fat milk (We used Bob’s Red Mill)



1 cup warm water (cozy like bath water)

2 tablespoons yeast, Red Star Active Dry Yeast (2 lb.  package available at Costco for $4.69)

1 teaspoon sugar or honey

Let sit until yeast starts to bubble.

When oat mixture is cool enough, add yeast mixture to oat mixture. Stir.



5 cups whole wheat flour

4 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup wheat germ (optional)

1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional)


Slowly ADD: 

5 cups unbleached white flour. Work in enough white flour to form a nice ball of dough.

Knead well, until dough is no longer sticky. Approximately 10 minutes.

To knead, fold dough toward you, turn one-quarter turn, then press away from you with the heel of your hand. Repeat until dough becomes smooth and elastic.

Grease bowl for rising. Add dough and turn over in bowl to entire surface is lightly greased. Cover with a towel and place in warm, draft-free area for one hour or until doubled in size.

Punch down dough and divide into manageable balls (2-4). Roll into rectangle. Spread with melted butter, brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon and raisins if desired. Cut into sections with sharp knife or dental floss.


I’m VERY generous with butter, and sugars! There’s a reason why everyone wants to eat the center of the cinnamon roll and not the exterior. The edges are often forgotten. Don’t forget the edges. Generously slather with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugars. (Don’t overdo the cinnamon though. Too much cinnamon is not a good thing).


Tightly roll and then pinch to seal. The pinched portion doesn’t have to be beautiful. It will all rise and won’t be noticeable after baking.


I taught the girls the dental floss trick. It’s like Magic! If you don’t have a VERY sharp knife, the cinnamon rolls will get squished when you cut them. Instead, take a piece of dental floss, slide it under the rolled end and then cross the ends of dental floss cutting through the dough.

Place cinnamon rolls in greased baking dish. Glass is best. Flatten so they’re the same height and allow to rise about 30-40 minutes.



Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.


Our Home Remodel: The Kitchen, Before


Walking into our new home and gazing upon the original kitchen cabinetry took me back to my early years spending so much time at my Grandparent’s house. The wood not only looked the same, it smelled the same. Part of me didn’t want to disturb the history of the home, but the other part of me wanted a fresh start for our home in a space that could entertain countless friends.


The wall with the desk on it will be opened up to the living room. Bye, bye desk.

Hanging over the peninsula is a hulk of a cabinet. We’ll take it down and open the space up. The cooktop, an ancient gas contraption, was housed in the peninsula. We were warned, if the sliding window was open, a breeze may extinguish the pilot light on the stove and gas would just seep into the room. Since I’m safety girl, this little piece of information pretty much freaked me out!


We were also told the oven didn’t really work, so the thought of setting it out curbside for the metal recyclers didn’t break my heart.


We bought the refrigerator from the previous owner to use as back-up in the garage. I can ALWAYS use back-up space!


I have a designer friend who REALLY wanted us to enlarge this kitchen window, but it probably won’t happen in this remodel.


If you look in the back of the photo above, there’s a door. Our plan is to frame this door in, close it off, and make room for more cabinets. There is a sliding glass door to the backyard just a few feet away. We felt like the extra door was a bit redundant. Providing more storage with more cabinets the goal in this project.

There’s a part of me that is a little sad to tear up someone’s kitchen. I wonder what memories were made here? I feel like we’re preparing to demolish a part of history. Thankfully, the neighbor’s close by have kindly reassured me. They continue to say, “It really needs it,” and “It’s been needed for a long time.” When they say this, I feel like we’re breathing new life into this house and that is freeing.

Little house, you will have a new life. A bright new, beautiful life!

It’s Been 5 Years

5 years ago today, we set out on an adventure and left our home state of WA. We thought we’d be gone 18 months then return to life as planned. 18 months, turned into 3 years, turned into an unexpected move to Chicagoland and now back to SoCal. This ride is amazing!


I think letting go of MY plan has taught us so much. I remember walking our beautiful property in WA, looking at the amazing house we built as our forever home. I strolled over what had been our soccer field talking {or arguing} with God. As I continued to the garden, I looked over the beauty of the plants, flowers, trees and vegetables growing. I knew I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to watch it all continue to mature. I wanted to reap the rewards of our hard work. I wanted to spend my days in the dirt growing something beautiful. I clearly sensed God saying, “Do you love this property and your gardens more than what I have in store for you?”


Then I gazed at the mountains and thought about how much I loved seeing the sun rise over Mt. Baker and how we waited for the first fallen snow accumulate on the hills and mountains in the fall months. I let him know how much I loved it. Then clearly I heard, “Do you love this view more than what I have in store for you?”


Then I turned and looked at our house. We had poured so much effort, energy and inspiration into designing and building that house. I pleaded, “But… the house. I love the house.” Again, I sensed, “Do you love the house more than the plans I have for you?”


Five years later I still tear up when thinking about this conversation. It was a turning point of trust for me. Do I trust God ENOUGH to let go of everything and let Him do what He does. Do I trust Him with my life, where we live, what we own? As you know, we’re still letting go, letting go of anything that hinders growing closer to Him.


When we left WA, I was directed to this verse. I still cling to it when doubt creeps in.


Hebrews 12:1 (NIV) ~ Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

Who knows where we’ll be in the next five years? We’ll continue to run this race with thankful hearts knowing His plans are better than anything we can dream of!

Our Home Remodel: The Living Room, Before

We bought this adorable house in Orange County last month. She was owned by one family her entire life until last month. She boasted of original cabinetry, original trim, original popcorn ceilings and under the carpet, original linoleum. She’s a charmer, but needed a little update.


This is how we found her.


Come on in….


On the right of the photo above is the inside view of the front door. Behind the front door is a coat closet.


This is the living room (above). It has a wall that separates the living room from the kitchen. Those who know me know I cook a lot, and I want to be part of what is happening in the living room. I despise being hidden in the kitchen away from the action, so a portion of this wall in the bottom photo will come down. The carpet will also come out and we’ll lay some form of wood flooring.

Here is our fireplace (below). Between the brick, if you look closely, you’ll notice the same popcorn that is on all the ceilings. ALL popcorn will be removed. We will design a new exterior for the fireplace. The ideas are still in the works. The plan is to have bookcases on each side of the fireplace for storage. The bookcases will mimic the cabinetry we’ve chosen for the kitchen.


This is a dream project for us! We haven’t had the opportunity to use our creativity for a hand’s on project in years! It feels good!

We Bought a House!

We never thought we’d be blessed to move back to Southern California after we left in August of 2012. It was such a longshot, but God sorted out all the details and here we are, back in the land we love.

The last time we lived here, we knew it was only temporary, so we became long time renters. Renting is fine if you know your stay will be short, but this time around we’re hoping to put down roots for our kids.

Let me tell you, buying in Southern California proved to be a difficult task. One issue is price. Prices are INSANE! Last summer between June and July, the average price in Orange County went up about 25% +/-. We jumped in the real estate search in January of this year and prices were continuing to climb. We saw list prices blown away by offers that were 40K to 100K OVER list price! That is not even humorous, but there comes a time when you have to laugh or you’d cry!

In the town we desired, there’s also an issue with supply. Too many people looking, and not enough inventory. Just about every time we went to look at a house we were joined by a crowd of fellow lookers. It’s pretty intimidating! Knowing your fellow looker may have a huge pocketful of cash to throw around is discouraging.

Another issue is Flips. If you’ve watched any of the home channels, you know what I’m talking about. People, mainly Realtors and investors, buy houses cheap, and then cheaply remodel and jack the price up 100K-150K! We looked at a number of these. I would hear, “The kitchen has been remodeled.” Yeah, remodeled grossly! We’d have to tear it up and redo to suit our desires. Did I mention it was discouraging?

So we prayed. And made offers. And prayed. And made offers… about 6 offers before we finally found a home.

All the while we were making offers, I had a Facebook friend messaging me to look in her neighborhood. Honestly, I didn’t look there because it didn’t have the zip code we wanted. I know that sounds shallow, but we had our hearts set on a town we love! This neighborhood was 1 mile OUT of our town. Stubbornly, I didn’t WANT to look there! I wanted what I wanted and wasn’t going to budge. That is, until we lost out on the 5th or 6th house. I caved. I called our Realtor and told her I was just going to drive around.

She met us and we started seriously considering this neighborhood. It was Charming.  The houses were quaint, but well-built. Surprisingly, the yards were spacious and well-maintained. We found a little house to look at. It was about 100K less than what we were looking at a mile away. It hadn’t been remodeled. It was a blank canvas awaiting our creativity. It had ONE owner! My Papa used to tell me to make sure a house has GOOD BONES before buying and this one had GOOD BONES!

Dan House

We made an offer and it was quickly accepted.

The owner grew up in this house. She was darling and so kind!

Everything was falling into place.

The backyard boasts of mature fruit trees. We will enjoy homegrown oranges, lemons, nectarines, peaches and avocados.

Dan House3

We closed on the house in May.  Demolition and remodeling began soon thereafter.

Here are some of the BEFORE photos:

Dan House2

The house has what looks like a storage shed that is actually an outdoor room. We’re going to work on it and make it a great hang out for the kids.

Dan House4

Since closing, we’ve met the neighbors who have been so welcoming and friendly! One next door neighbor has been there 42 years and the other 25+. Guess they like it! We’ve never had so many offers for help. We’re really feeling like God set this location aside for us.

We’re feeling so blessed to have this opportunity!

A Quilt Designed for an Athlete

Have you ever seen a GREAT idea and wanted to replicate it? Today’s post is something I want to do for my boys!


This morning I saw a phenomenal graduation gift for an athlete. A Sports Quilt. This quilt is made up of t-shirts and jerseys from this athlete’s sports career covering 5th grade to senior year.

I absolutely love it!

When I was pregnant with my first child, I decided to take a quilting class. I thought ALL moms should know how to quilt. So since I was becoming a mom, I was going to become a quilter.  I made my oldest son a crib quilt and I made my grandma a small quilt to cover her when she was catching a cat-nap on the sofa. After that, I started miscellaneous quilts, but never finished them and eventually donated all my unfinished projects to a quilting group who made quilts for the homeless. Somewhere around our former hometown, there are some nicely made Log Cabin quilts finished by these dedicated women.

Maybe, with a little help and determination, I can make one of these sports quilts. I sure hope we kept the t-shirts and jerseys despite all our moves and consistent downsizing. I will search for them as we settle into our new-to-us house next month. I have two years to make this dream a reality!


How Big is The Brain?

Our kids studied anatomy this year with Classical Conversations, Challenge A and Apologia Science Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology. I’ve found it’s one thing to read a book and another to actually have hands’ on experience.


To discover about how big the brain is and how it feels we did a little science experiment we found in Genesis For Kids.

To do this project you will need:

1 1/2 cups instant potatoes

2 1/2 cups hot water

2 cups sand

A bread bag (make sure there are no holes)

A wooden spoon

A twist tie


Pour the ingredients into the bread bag. Stir thoroughly with the wooden spoon. Tie the top of the bag with a twist tie, releasing any air from the bag before closing it. Mold the bag into the shape of a brain.

brain study

brain 2


How does it feel? This model weighs what a real brain does (3 pounds or 1.35 kg). Get creative. Make the brain’s fissures.


OR, put it on your brain and walk around for awhile!


2014 Spartan Race Giveaway

In 1998, just 6 months after our first son was born, I added a life challenge to my personal bucket list: Complete a 26.2 mile marathon.

Training was tough and challenging. Through it all I experienced the victory of accomplishing something I NEVER thought possible despite numerous setbacks attempting to defeat me. Despite the setbacks, in June of 1999 in Anchorage, Alaska, I crossed the finish line completing 26.2 miles. I can honestly say the muscles that hurt the most were in my face from smiling SO HARD! What a VICTORY!

Conquering one of your greatest challenges in an endurance race shows you what your made of! If I can do a marathon, anyone can! In that race, I ran for a purpose supporting a kid battling leukemia. Through the six months of training, I fought this battle proving I had a fighting spirit, just like the little kid I ran in honor of.

Since then, I’ve run many road races including the obstacle races similar to the REEBOK SPARTAN RACE.

These races are for EVERYONE! If you want a challenge and desire to LIVE LIFE the way it was meant to be lived, full of adventure and accomplishment, set the goal. Put it on your bucket list! Do not let anyone tell discourage you! YOU CAN DO THIS!

“When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe then you’ll be successful.”

I’ve seen so many people accomplish what they thought was impossible! Life is good when you challenge yourself.

I have a giveaway for you today! It is for a FREE RACE in any 2014 Spartan Race in the continental United States! Please leave a comment below and I will draw the winner on Monday, May 19th. Please share this link with friends. 

I’m looking forward to sharing this with you and hearing about how you conquer the challenge!

For more information visit:

2014 Spartan Race Events 

Reebok Spartan Race

2014 Spartan Race Hawaii Trifecta