too many clothes.

When I read 7 last month (my review here), there were quite a few areas where I was convicted, but my clothes really weren’t one of them. I’m just not one of those girls that gets really excited about clothes. I like to look nice, but I don’t want to put a lot of effort into it (and the latter usually wins out). I have to be in just the right mood to enjoy shopping for clothes. Generally, I would sooner put time and money into decorating my house than decorating me.

So when Jen Hatmaker wrote about counting the number of clothes she owned, just to see what she was starting with, I had no plans to do the same. Here is what changed my mind:

  • I’ve been watching the weekly videos for an online book club that is studying 7, and was reminded that I can say I don’t care about clothes, but if I have an excessive number of them, something is off.
  • I’m tired of trying to cram everything into my closet and dressers. It’s just ridiculous.
  • Since maneuvering up and down the stairs with a laundry basket would have been difficult until very recently with this knee injury, my mom has offered to help me out with laundry. (And before you laugh because my mother is doing my laundry, let me just say that I really do think laundry is her love language. This is a woman who offers to do mine even when I’m not limping around). I’ve realized, I really do tend to wear a small percentage of my clothes, day after day.
  • Since I work from home, my day to day wardrobe is really casual. Sometimes I wear my pajamas all day and just wait to shower and get dressed until I’m ready to leave the house after work. Some days I get dressed earlier, but just to change into a clean pair of paint-stained sweatpants (especially if I know I’m going to be doing anything messy around the house). Buying new work clothes means yoga pants, and if I’m dressing up, jeans. I just don’t need to have a full business casual wardrobe any longer.

So, I counted my clothes. It took about 15 minutes to go through everything - the closet, the dresser, the nightstand, the laundry basket, the box in the closet of cold-weather sweaters. I grouped everything into categories, largely because I suspected there were a few specific areas that were out of control and I wanted to identify those. Here is what I discovered:

  • I have 299 items of clothing, including everything (underwear, socks, shoes, coats). A pair of shoes or a pair of socks count as one item.
  • I have 21 pairs of shoes, not including 5 pairs of flip flops. Ridiculous considering that I spent all summer wearing either sneakers or one of three pairs of flip-flops. Most of the others are items that have sat untouched in a box since I packed them away before I left for Africa, over a year ago.
  • I have 50 pairs of socks. 49! That means I could skip sock laundry for over a month and still have plenty to wear.
  • Sometime last year, I tried to cut down to 5 t-shirts. Now I have 17. I’m not entirely sure how that happened.
  • I have 30 tank tops or camis. A few are paint clothes. Several are just falling apart – so why are they still in my dresser?

Over the next few days and weeks, I’m going to work on paring down this excess. Some of it will probably be easy. Some will be more difficult, trying to balance out of season items and the occasional need for work clothes when I have to be in Virginia Beach. Still, it’s something that I’m determined to get under control – so here’s my public confession to make sure I do.

africa sand art.

This sand art was one of the few souvenirs I brought back from Africa for myself. I thought about displaying it in the dining room, with the other gallery items I’m slowly creating, but I decided instead I wanted to use it as a main focal piece in my bedroom. It’s a special reminder to me, so I wanted it in a place I would see it every day.

And because it’s special, I wanted to do something different than just frame it. So, I had the guys at Home Depot (thank goodness they cut wood for you!) cut a 2-foot by 2-foot project panel to be just a couple inches larger the canvas on each side. I stained it and attached it with hot glue. With the slightly fraying edges on display, it’s a little less polished – which kind of fits Africa and how I feel about it, too.

africa sand art

I hung it using velcro hanging strips, but it wasn’t long before it fell right off the wall. So for now, it’s propped against the wall, until I can figure out the best way to display it. I’m thinking, maybe something like this?

wooden doormat.

This is what the front of my house looked like at the inspection (from the house tour):

My brother-in-law Vince ripped the awnings down the same day I moved in, and they made a huge difference! The house looked a lot less dated, and the inside was so much lighter.

Both the front and back porch had red outdoor carpet – I ripped that off several months ago, along with the rest of the nasty carpet in the house. Outdoor carpet is a little weird to me anyway, but with two dogs that shed, it’s just not a good choice.

I haven’t done much else outside. I have some plans and ideas, but I’ve been focusing on the inside (and the first floor) first. Eventually, I’d like to pull out the existing bushes, add new landscaping, stain the concrete, repaint the rest of the porch, and replace or reconfigure the existing trellises. In the back I’d love to add a large patio and a raised garden bed or two.

I did complete one small project for outside, though. I’ve had this wooden doormat on my “things to make” list for a long time now.

wooden doormat

Please excuse the poor picture – it was difficult to get a clear one between the sun and the trellis. To make this, I used inexpensive pine 1x2s (4 at $4.13 each). The tutorial called for 2x2s, but that seemed a bit thick to me. Each piece was cut to around 22 inches long (I picked a length that looked right, then cut the other pieces to match). I used a small can of semi-transparent exterior stain ($3.68) to stain each piece, then knotted the slats together using 1/4-inch sisal rope ($5.58). The entire thing cost just over $25, with some supplies left over for other projects.

It’s was a simple project, but I’m glad to finally be getting something homemade out here. If only the rest of the porch didn’t look quite so ugly…someday!

etsy art love.

The biggest pain in having a dislocated kneecap, besides the limping around, is that I actually have all this motivation to get projects around the house, just not the balance to actually do them. It’s so frustrating not to be able to work on the things I want to! I actually made a list called “Things To Do While I’m An Invalid.”

So while I work, very slowly, on a few small things I can get done without buying more supplies or carrying anything that requires two hands, I thought I would share a few things on Etsy that have caught my attention lately. Some of these are items I might actually buy, and some have a steep enough price tag that I’ll just enjoy them from the laptop screen.

This one is actually my favorite of the bunch, both because I seem to have a thing for maps lately, and because I love the sentiment. I would love to have this hanging somewhere in my home!

As a kid, one of my favorite carnival rides was always the swings. I loved feeling like I was soaring and seeing the aerial view of the whole park.

This one – well, I don’t know if I can even explain why I like it. I just do. And sometimes cards are a great way to get smaller versions of really fun prints.

I lived in the Chicago suburbs for two years just after college, and have lots of fond memories of the city – working in the city, my first real apartment, being on my own for the first time. Chicago is such fun city.

This one is out of my budget, but I still think it’s beautiful! We grew up spending nearly our entire summer in the pool, especially after my parents installed one the summer my brother was born. This painting reminds me of that.

I’m hoping to build an art gallery over time on the upper walls of my dining room – not necessarily expensive art, but things that have personal meaning for me. Any of these would be great addition.

What do you think? Found any fun (and inexpensive) art lately?

bedroom paneled wall.

So work on my bedroom has kind of stalled, thanks to a dislocated kneecap during kickball practice last week. Thankfully, I had finished this project earlier that same day (and thanks to my brother, who pulled off the rest of the painters tape for me!). So while I (not so) patiently recuperate and try to think of projects I can complete that don’t require going downstairs or a lot of mobility, I’ll enjoy the freshly painted room and fun paneled wall I created.

Keep in mind that even though the main painting, there is still quite a bit of work to do. At the moment, I still have furniture floating in the room, all of the trim needs to be painted, and the light switch and outlet covers haven’t even been replaced. Good thing I’m comfortable with living in the midst of projects!


To make this wall, I basically followed tutorials from Take the Side Street and Miss Mustard Seed. Like them, I used 1/8-inch thick 4x8 sheets of hardboard from Home Depot. The store cut the boards into 6-inch strips for me, small enough that I could (mostly) cut them with my miter saw. I needed 3 sheets, and each one costs less than $10, so the entire wall cost less than $30, plus the cost of primer and paint (both of which I already had). I did need to use a jig saw and circular saw for a few of the pieces, but all in all, it went up pretty quickly.

I painted a first coat around the whole room, primed the boards, installed everything, then painted a final coat around the entire room. I’m so happy with the character it adds to this basic room!


sovereign over us.

This is the song that’s been playing on repeat around here lately.

Your plans are still to prosper
You have not forgotten us
You’re with us in the fire and the flood
You’re faithful forever, perfect in love
You are sovereign over us

Even what the enemy means for evil
You turn it for our good
You turn it for our good, and for your glory
Even in the valley you are faithful
You’re working for our good
You’re working for our good, and for your glory

art doors.

This was one of those ideas that I knew I was going to copy the second I saw it.

I’ve got this great Expedit bookcase that I’ve moved into three different houses. It’s great for storage and display and holds a lot. I use baskets along the bottom row of cubbies for newspapers, old journals, electronic cords and chargers, and stuff for the dogs. What I still needed, though, was a place to store laptops. It sounds funny, but I have several, including my personal laptop and two work laptops, and I need a home for them when they’re not in use. The bookcase is a great place, but I want to keep them out of sight. Also, a laptop doesn’t take up much room, and I wanted to use the space well.

So, I added a couple of shelves to two of the cubbies to increase the storage space. I just used a small sheet of MDF, cut partly to size by Home Depot and partly by my jig saw. I primed and painted them (oil-rubbed bronze spray paint is actually a pretty close match for the existing color).


Then (and this is the really fun part), I added cup hooks to the bookcase and the bubble art canvases Jacob made, and made little doors for my new shelves.


I am so happy with the way it turned out! They add a fun personalized touch and storage to the bookcase. They’re really easy to slip on or off as I need to, and it’s a great way to store some of the extra computer equipment I’ve got laying around here (and the wires from the stereo on top the bookcase).

new recipes, part 4.

[Sources: 1 – Our Best Bites, 2 – Our Best Bites, 3 – Oh She Glows, 4 – Urban Nester]
White Chicken Chili – This was really, really good, and I’ll definitely be making it again. I used pre-cooked chicken, which made the whole thing come together really quickly.

Berry Vinaigrette – I don’t think I’ve ever tried a recipe from Our Best Bites that I haven’t really liked, and this was no exception. It’s quite different from the type of dressing that I normally use. It makes quite a bit, so I wouldn’t make it just for myself. I used raspberries and left out the poppy seeds (just because I thought I had them on hand but didn’t).

Stuffed Patty Pan Squash – I’ve gotten several large patty pan squash from my CSA and wanted to try stuffing them. I used this recipe to understand how to prepare the squash for stuffing, but used my own recipe for what I put inside (ground turkey, red onion, garlic, zucchini, brown rice, tomatoes). The filling was good (it usually is), but there was something about the squash. I like yellow squash (usually with other flavors) and I love zucchini, but I just wasn’t a fan of the patty pan squash.

Baked Oatmeal with Strawberries, Bananas, and Chocolate Chips – I have a basic baked oatmeal recipe that I like, but I thought it might be fun to try a version with fruit and chocolate chips. In this case I used strawberries and left out the walnuts. I also used a larger pan (who has a 10 1/2 x 7-inch pan?) and didn’t really measure out the chocolate chips. Next time I’ll use less chocolate chips and more strawberries, because although it was good, it was definitely more of a dessert than a breakfast.

Eggplant Parmesan – I was a little nervous about this one, because the only time I’ve tried to cook with eggplant before, I didn’t really enjoy it. I was never quite sure if it was the eggplant or just the recipe. But I had a huge eggplant that I had to either use or let go bad, and I figured that when you fry something, it’s usually good. I liked it. Next time I think I might try a baked-but-breaded version.

Homemade Applesauce – My mom has been making homemade applesauce for as long as I can remember. In fact, I’m so spoiled by it that I really don’t eat store-bought applesauce at all. She makes a ton of it in the summer, then freezes it and we eat it the rest of the year. This year I got to help her. The process itself is pretty simple, if time-consuming. I’ll definitely make it again, though I think a big part of the enjoyment was doing it with my mother.

bubble art.

Jake and I planned another craft day today.

This bubble art idea topped Jacob’s list of things to try, so we gave it a shot. I bought a large bottle of bubbles and some food coloring (which was surprisingly hard to find), and we mixed up individual cups of different colors – red, green, yellow, blue, purple, and orange. Jake made some smaller 12x12 canvases (I’ll post later on what I did with them), and K made a larger one for her room.



If you’re interested in trying something similar, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • You need to get the mix of bubbles to food coloring right. Too much food coloring and it’s difficult to blow bubbles. Not enough and the colors don’t show up well.
  • This is an extremely messy project – there’s a lot of splatter. Expect to get food coloring on your skin and clothes, and definitely do it outside.
  • On the other hand, wind obviously makes this a bit more complicated.

it’s all broken.

A couple of weeks ago, I was talking to a new foster mom. She told me that she knew the kids placed in her care would come from tough places, that it might be tough to work with them and with their biological parents. She expected that, but what she didn’t expect is that it would sometimes be tough to work with others, like the social workers.

I expected something similar, I think, when I started volunteering as a CASA. Even though I had heard the stories, even though I thought I understood the reality, I was still a little surprised. I shouldn’t have been. There are lots of wonderful social workers, yes, but there are also plenty who are burned out or just incompetent. Even the good ones can be easily overworked and overwhelmed by a system that has to care for far too many children.

Like the foster mom I spoke to, this is often the most frustrating part of it for me. But after doing this for a little while now, there is one conclusion I’ve come to, that kind of helps it all make sense: it’s all broken.

It’s not just the kids that are broken, or their drug-addicted parents. It’s not even just the foster care system. It’s all of it, and all of us, because we were born into a broken world.

Sometimes my sense of justice, even my understanding of logic, wants to scream out, “This is not the way it’s supposed to be!” And this is true. But it isn’t because in a perfect world, a social worker would always return phone calls and never make ill-advised decisions. It’s because in a perfect world, there would be no need for social workers, for CASAs, or for foster parents. In a perfect world, parents would love and be able to meet the needs of their children. They wouldn’t be fighting substance abuse and poverty and their own neglected upbringing.

I absolutely believe in God’s redemption. I know, and have seen, how He truly gives beauty for ashes and gladness for mourning. But somehow, it also helped when I realized that very little in this work makes sense because it was plan B to start with.