It's here!
Your 18th Birthday.

let's celebrate your life with some cheesecake, a present or two,
a song, and some balloons.
Let's celebrate all your days with joy and laughter!

Let's celebrate YOU, our sweet girl,
with a reminder of why you are here on this planet
and why your dad and I chose your name.

The image of you in the picture above is the first time we ever saw your face.
Six months before you were born!

In that instant of divine and intense joy,
your father and I were purposeful about what your name would be.
 And of course, you already know this,
your first name, Alyssa, means "Flower"
and your second name, Carol, means "Song".

Here's why.

As a flower in the garden stretching toward the light of the sun, 
so we expected that there would always be in you, 
a mysterious inclination toward the eternal light.

And there is.

When you were a smaller child, and we would teach you stories 
of the Savior and His love, 
you would never ask with strangeness and wonder,
“What or who is God? I have never seen Him,” 
but you would listen with your shining face
to the words as though they were soft loving sounds 
from the land of your first home. 

When you were fresh from God,
and we would teach you to fold your little hands in prayer,
you would gladly, because it was a natural connection
to the heaven you had just come from.
That world of which you still dreamt of
with longing and anticipation. 

As you grew, as all flowers should, with proper nurturing,
your face beamed with hope,
your eyes shone with purity,
and your heart beat with praise.

When the sun would shine on you,
you would twirl your skirt and dance to the rhythm of a melody that only you heard.
When the gentle breeze would blow through you,
You would hum chorus upon chorus of songs
that only you knew the lyrics to.
These psalms could only have been given to you by your Creator.

As you sang His song,
we knew you were delighting in the warmth of today,
the promise of new mercies tomorrow,
and the certainty of life forever.

Now that you are, according to the law, officially an adult,
your father and I pray that your roots will continually reach 
deep into the soil of the garden of God's truth.
We pray that your face will always turn towards the Son.
We pray that your voice will always be lifted in devotion towards heaven.
We pray that your heart will always be dependent on Christ's grace.

You are God's flower, always sing His song. 

Love, mum and dad



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New Uses for Old Armoires

I have an armoire sitting in my living room.
I received it (along with a dozen other furniture pieces) 
as payment in exchange for a home staging I completed.

It holds nothing. Yet.
I gathered some ideas for it and thought you might like to see them, too.
I've chosen one of these ideas below.
Can you guess which one?


Without the doors (if you have some pretty organizing items like
jars, baskets, and hooks) an armoire is whimsical and functional in a bathroom.


Lindy transformed this beautiful French piece so she could hide away the sewing mess 
because this is in her guest room (guest room pictures in the link under the picture, too!)


Pam designed and created this area for her daughter 
so she had an area to go glam and get girly.


Susan found this armoire for $25. 
She says, "Now when I work on a project, I won't have to go on a scavenger hunt
to find my supplies all over the house."


A free score from Craigslist and $11 in brackets and paint gave Karin this adorable
place to play in the dirt.


What a creative way to be hospitable!
This spot makes it easy to welcome your guest and family
with refreshments.
Tea, water, soda or other drinks welcome here, too!


Clever. Concealed. Contained.


Couldn't every home could use an extra linen closet?

source: unknown


If you've got the space for this in your kitchen, try it!!

source: unknown


Have you a collection of a set of serveware that you'd like to display?
Here's a way!

Photographer George Dzahristos


Jack (he's 5 years old) and Gracie (she's 1.5 years old) have their own
special spot for their play stuff. How FUN!


Handy yet hidden, this petite version is just the right size.

Do you have an unused or outdated armoire sitting somewhere gathering dust,
or worse, clutter?

Clean that thing out. Paint it. Make it useful again.
Or sell it to me.
I've found lots of ideas and places to use one!

What could you use an armoire for?


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Summer's Half-Over, Half-Done Projects

This is a reality post for me.
I just happen to be sharing it with you, too.

I'm letting you in and around our house to see the good, bad, and the ugly:
projects that I have started, made progress on, had to stop because of some reason or another,
then another project got started and I got distracted by another project
which got delayed because of some problem or another,
then another project got started.

All of which leaves me with many half-done (notice I didn't call them half-UNdone) projects
that I'd sure like to finish before the summer is over.
(This is so I can start a whole new collection of half-done projects for the Fall.)

Have you ever heard the Lewis Carroll quote:
"The hurrier I go, the behinder I get"?

That's me.

Wanna see?
(I have not altered these photos in any way. This is the raw truth, people.)

Half-Done Project #1:

Miss A's Bedroom

Since Hyojin, our exchange student from South Korea, who shared this room with Miss A
all last year, has now gone back to Korea, this room needs some rearranging and redesign,
to bring it back to a single-person occupied space.
Hyojin's used-to-be bed got sold on Craiglist. 

Miss A turns 18 in a few weeks and she'd like this space done for her Birthday.
I'll be working on this space, pronto!

The only piece of furniture in the pictures that will probably remain is the bed.
She is a dancer, and would like to have a mirrored wall so she can practice
and work on her Senior Project which will be a Flash Mob of Hip Hoppers.

She also needs a vanity/primp area.
She currently sits on the floor by the window (her primping stuff is in a basket)
because of the natural light there.

Half-Done Project #2:

Basement Guest Room

Khomchan, our Thai exchange student lived here last year in this now-vacant room
just off our basement cafe'. 
These pictures were taken just after he left, before I sadly put his leftover stuff in the donation bins.
He left his "welcome to our home" sign.
(His nickname is Poon.)
You can read all about our year with our exchange students HERE, if you like.

He also left a mega-sized red Christmas stocking on his bed.
I'd like to turn this side of the room into an office-y area using the IKEA Expedit shelving
and a table or desk I already have somewhere in the house that I haven't decided on yet.

Just so you know, (and you don't think me an inconsiderate Host Mom)
this room did have more decor, like pictures, sheets, blankets, pillows, and pillow cases.
I'd already taken them out before I thought to take these pictures.

This is the opposite side of the room.
Poon also managed to pull the bamboo blind down his last day here.
(I forgive you, Poon.)
See the chairs? Huge mirror behind the dresser? 
Stool that it's leaning on?
Hook thing laying on the floor under the window?
I have plans for all of them. Whew!

This poor room was an office-turned-girl's-bedroom-turned-boy's-bedroom in the course of 6 months.
So, it's had no real personality for a while.
I am now using my Pinterest Board called Guest Spaces for inspiration in this room.

This will be the sleeping side.
I got some nightstands (Half-done Project #3) on my Birthday at an auction!
The duvet-covered armchair? (Half-done Project #4) Is going to the living room.
The closet is a walk-in and used to be my eBay Selling closet.

Half-Done Project #3:

Pair of Auction Nightstands

Miss A is working giving these Art Deco (complete with bakelite handles)
nightstands a face lift. They were my $30 Birthday present back on June 15th.
Primer, Paint, and new handles should fix what ailed them.

Half-Done Project #4:

Laura Ashley turned Wild Thang Chair with Ottoman

I've been chronicling the slipcover progress on this chair on my FB page.

Half-Done Project #5:

Raised Garden Beds Outside Cafe'
(I am really embarrassed about this!)
But here goes...

Our extra-enthusiastic-lawn-care-service-guy-who-generously-seeded-our-yard-
left us with extra-enthusiastic, hardy grass to try and get out of the raised garden beds.
We had left the beds fallow this year.
But, the grass decided to make a home here instead.

using a spray bottle (or 3) of it, I attacked the grass on July 4th.
We wanted to be able to make a Fall garden, so we hope the soil will be fine by then.
Some of the grass is already dying.
Then we will pull it out, and add more soil, and wait.
I'll let you know if the grass killer works.

Half-Done Project #6:

TV Armoire To Computer Armoire

I got bored last week (waiting for all the half-dones to finish themselves)
and decided to make a few "quick" changes in the living room
because of some new lamps I found at Hobby Lobby for 80% off.
And because I'd sold the two red arm chairs that used to be here.
(The zebra slip-covered chair will replace them.)
Don't ask me why the 1/2 bath rug is in the middle of the room.

The Hobby Lobby lamps (only one is 1/2 pictured lower left above) started this big mess!
The lamps also caused a "What are you doing now?" look in my husband's eyes 
when he came home and found out that I wanted to take this jumbled computer mess I'd made:

and "simply" store it in this:

I found the drawer slides and baskets and cork board and fabric,
I just haven't had the time, which is why this made the half-done list.

And last, but not least, on my list is:

Half-Done Project #7:

Caca Green Velvet Chair to Charcoal Vanity Chair

I just couldn't pass up this sturdy, shapely, $5 chair at Goodwill.
She needs a bit o' seat stuffin', and a new coat of paint on her gams,
I'd like to turn her fabric a charcoal black.
And if it doesn't work?
I've not spent much, and I'm fine with that.

Well, now that I've made a huge long post about all the things I need/want
to finish in about 5 weeks,
I need a nap.

What's on YOUR Summer agenda?
Have you completed anything?
Or are your more of a projects half-done kinda gal, like me?


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Home Staging -- Does the Garage NEED to be Staged, too?

Hello, home makers!!

Let's remember the privilege we have of making our little spots in the world
sweeter, better, safer places to live in!
We are the inspiration in our homes.

Our hands fashion its beauty.
Our hearts make its love.

We are the nest-builders.
Let's make them soft, pretty, and comfortable!

When preparing a house to sell, the garage is usually the last room on people's minds.

It's not usually considered as important as creating curb appeal or updating the kitchen.
But, a neat, well-organized, and clean garage tells a buyer
that the home has been maintained,
since this is the space where the maintenance items are kept.

Typically, the garage and basement areas are the most important rooms to men.
If you've guessed that the kitchen and bathrooms are most essential to women,
you'd be correct!
(I do realize that roles are reversed sometimes: a man wants a chef's kitchen; 
the woman wants a place to use power tools.)

You must not and cannot simply ignore your garage when staging it,
or you'd be ignoring 1/2 the buyers that come through at your showings.

If the garage is as appealing to the men buyers as the kitchen is to women buyers,
you'll soon see a SOLD sign on the front lawn!

As a Home Stager, I often get asked by a seller during the pre-staging walk-through
if they can pack-as-they-go and simply store their moving boxes in the garage.
After all, they reason, the buyers KNOW they will be packing and moving out.

I tell them that the garage is not a storage unit.
It should be as attractive as any other room in the house.
It does no good to de-clutter the house, only to clutter the garage.
Who can imagine a working or parking in here?

If you have a double car garage, a portion of it could be set up as a work shop area.
It doesn't have to be elaborate or expensive.
Even a set of sawhorses with a piece of 3/4" plywood set on top 
would serve as a nice work space.
A pegboard (this is cheap and easy to install) comes in handy to store tools.
It keeps the area organized and tidy looking.

There is a potential selling point on the back wall, here, behind the debris.

There it is!

This area even makes ME want to create something!

Adequate lighting in the garage is an extra enticement for buyers.
A well-lit area invites the viewer to stay a while
and imagine himself tinkering in the room.
Hang three-pronged electrical light fixtures from chains
and plug it into the ceiling receptacle socket,
if your garage is in need of more illumination.

The floor of the garage should be clean.
I don't mean "cleared off", I mean clean. As in: swept, washed, and better yet, painted.
You know you park your car in here, but a buyer shouldn't be reminded of that
by seen oil stains and debris associated with it.

This is how one seller's garage looked before it got cleared, cleaned, and coated with new paint. 


 (This house was being sold unoccupied, so everything was moved to the sellers' new home.)

Another before view.

And after. 

A car can fit in here, now!
Or a workbench!

The leftover interior paint stayed on the shelves for the new buyer.
How I store my leftover and touch-up paint HERE.
And if you look closely, you can see that they left plenty of pegboard so the buyers can design
a work area of their own.
This home with this pretty garage sold in a week, with several offers, by the way.

Does the garage NEED to be staged, too?

If you are planning on listing your home, start by staging it, and put the garage on your to do list.
Here's what you can do to make your garage as welcoming as any other room in the house:

  • Purge things you don't use or need. Purge again. How to purge without guilt HERE.
  • Gather and separate all your tools into categories and store neatly in bins on shelves, if possible.
  • Put painting supplies in another larger bin.
  • Neatly store necessary current-season yard tools and equipment in one area.
  • Remove all bikes, stored toys, boxes, and athletic equipment.
  • Pack up the leftovers and store them off-site. 
  • Sweep, remove grease from the floor, cobwebs and bug droppings. Garage cleaning article by Lowe's HERE.
  • Paint the floor with concrete paint. Gray is an excellent color.
  • Wipe down the appliances: washer/dryer, water heater, furnace, air conditioner.
  • Replace your garage door opener if it isn't working well.
  • Inspect the springs and latches to ensure they are in good condition. Oil anything that squeaks.
  • Replace garage door, if necessary.
  • Keep your cars out of the garage during showings.
  • Remove pets, their food, their litter boxes, bed, and pens.

At the end of THIS POST,
you can see my garage and how I organize some of our storage boxes.


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