Month: August 2010

  • Dining Room ~ Before & After


    Or perhaps I should name this,  ”Dining Room Before. And After: Prepared for a Dinner Party”. That’s too long for a title anyway. But that’s the gist of these pictures. I was going to do before & after pictures of this room anyway, and then during preparation for my husband 30th party I snapped these pictures. And no, my dining room is not set up for a dinner party every day! :)

    It has been SO FUN to decorate this home on a budget. Other than blinds/shades for the windows, and light fixtures, I tried not to really buy much at all to decorate with in this house. Unless I made it myself, then I allowed myself to buy items to make it with. Or found it at Goodwill, or a cheap antique shop, or something. You know, where I could justify it. :)

    I was thinking the other day, and wondering what this house would look like if I would have had unlimited resources to work with. But then I thought some more, and said to myself that I think it would not look much different. I might have shopped at high-quality, high-dollar antique stores, maybe. But I think the basic look would be the same. But then that’s today. It seems like “my style” [whatever that is] is always emerging, developing, changing… :)

    Because, I like uniqueness. Originality. I like it that I didn’t just walk into a store to buy my stuff, and that a lot of things here are unique to me, and to this house. I like to make a lot of things, because that makes it more unique. More one-of-a-kind. That’s just what makes me tick. :)

    So, not sure why I said all that before a dining room, because there’s only so much a girl can make for a room like that!

    But here, it is.

    Welcome to Room #2 of the house tour.


    Walls everywhere. These were the first to go. The rooms are quite small even without the walls now, but it makes everything *feel* so much bigger. If you can trick your mind like that your comfort level is much higher. :)

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    Behind that wall in the first picture – in the tearing out process.

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    Fireplace #2 of 5 in the house. Blue paint is not original to the house, so I didn’t ruin historic value in this century-old house by painting it!

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    Lovely *cough* blue trim. And I didn’t get a picture of the ceiling, but it was a light sky blue too.  Someone really liked blue, is all I can say!

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    And AFTER!

    [if you remember from the living room post, this is opening from one side of that room]

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    I’m looking at that high chair against the back wall and thinking I should have moved it for the picture. But it’s a very realistic part of life right now, so it stays. :)

    I found the bike/bakery shop/flower pictures before we got married at Michaels or A.C. Moore. My grandmother framed it in an inexpensive frame, then had a friend glaze it to make it look like an oil painting, but it’s really a cheap poster.

    We painted the fireplace mantel and brick under it a pure white. Love the look that it gave!

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    A few antique-joint finds on Saturday…

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    These paper balls were hung especially for the dinner party. My theme in decorating was “Garden Party Indoors” and because I looooove outdoor parties, it’s just not possible here most of the year. 100 degrees and 100% humidity for an outdoor party just isn’t very enjoyable. I tried it one year, and dripping sweat and buzzing mosquitoes just wasn’t very pleasant. Trust me on that one.

    This was a little challenge for me to know how to pull off my theme without it being too girly for my husband 30th party! Afterward I kept asking him, “This wasn’t too froufrou for you, was it? It wasn’t too girly?” And he kept assuring me that no, it was good. :) Although when I mentioned keeping those paper balls up there permanently he got a little scared and said he might have to find another place to stay. :)

    I hate to say it, but Martha Stewart gets the credit for the instructions on how to make these balls. I had read tutorials online, but was thoroughly confused. Martha Stewart to the rescue. In three easy steps I had made these balls and was so delighted! I would have made hundreds of them by now if I would have known how easy they are!

    This girl has made something similar, only in flower shape, that are so beautiful. She was a main inspiration for me wanting to make these in the first place!

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    These window panels were inspired by Pottery Barn Teen. A few friends and I were looking at a catalogue one day and said, “We have got to make these!” I found fabric on clearance for $1.50 a yard, so spent about $20 for fabric and thread. I made these with a different twist than the ones Pottery Barn sells, but got my idea from them.

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    The Pottery Barn price was $68 PER PANEL. Unbelievable!

    The wide trim was present in the house when we bought it. LOVE it.

    I cut bamboo rods for curtain rods for these panels, like the ones in the living room. Saved me about $50 doing that, because these were free from our old backyard. I did have to buy the brackets to hold the bamboo rods, which ended up being about $10 at Home Depot.

    The bamboo Roman Shades come from Kmart. I love this purchase. I think it really dresses up the room, adds a touch of color.

    This old door was in the house as a laundry room door when we bought it, but in too poor a condition to actually use. I couldn’t  bear to throw it away, and one day had the inspiration to put it in here. The chalkboard dresses it up a bit, and is a fun place to write notes, menus, or inspiring quotes.

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    [yikes, should have pulled the dead leaves off my "friendship plant!"]

    This chandelier was a bargain I found on craigslist. It’s the Pottery Barn ‘Celeste’ which was selling for FAR less than store/catalogue price. I was one happy girl to pick this baby up! Trying not to appear over-eager as I handed her the money and drove off, totally beaming!!! This was one deal I couldn’t BELIEVE I actually found on craigslist. I have become a huge craigslist fan through all this house remodel!


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    Dinner Party Details:

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    The centerpiece was three simple green arrangements. This was just an elephant ear leaf in a milk glass vase. I love milk glass. My Aunt Grace has collected them for years, and the past three years I’ve picked up pieces as well when I find them cheaply.

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    This potted arrangement was given to me after a dear friend’s wedding. Isn’t it beautiful?!

    The vase in the background is filled with magnolia leaves and an old magnolia flower pod.  Also in milk glass.

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    More paper balls:

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    Place settings:

    Silver chargers were found at garage sales and discount stores, for around $1-2 each.

    White place settings: Pottery Barn outlet, on sale. They’re called “Suppertime.” I purchased a set of 10 dinner and salad plates with a gift card given by husband a year and a half ago. LOVE these. They feel special for everyday, but for a more formal dinner they look the part as well.

    Goblets: you can find these for $1 each at Dollar General. Walmart, Pottery Barn, and other places sell them as well, for a bit more money.

    White cloth napkins: found at garage sales, goodwills, re-use-it shops.

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    Mix-matched chairs. The table set was a wedding gift given by my parents, but for a larger party I have to pull out every chair I have around the house!

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    And can you believe that I forgot to take any pictures of the actual party?! No food or people pictures. Sad sad sad. I was feeling very scatterbrained at the last minute. That’s my excuse. :)

    Here’s the final before:

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    and after:

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    Hope you enjoyed the tour!

    Wishing you all a lovely day, wherever you may find yourselves… Feeling a bit somber this week, thinking of my sweet friend who suddenly lost her father a week ago. Tragedies like that always remind me to hug a little tighter, tell people that I love them more often, and just put life in perspective so much. I ache for my friend, who has to find a new normal, and learn to live without someone who has always been part of her life.

    And while I hurt for her, I’m reminded, for myself, to treasure today. Even if my kids are cranky. If they spill pink nail polish all over the floor. If they cry over every little thing. If they won’t take long naps. If they put flour in the sugar container and sugar in the flour box. If it feels like I just can’t sweet my floor enough, it’s always dirty from kids’ crumbs.

    Because those all just inaminate things. Just things. And these years of raising children are such a small part of the the time span of my life. So love them well, Mrs. Yoder. Kiss them, and hug them, and laugh instead of getting upset, and take time to read that same book for the hundredth time. You don’t know how long you will be able to hold them, and cuddle and kiss them. You don’t know, so treasure today…



  • Only in the South…


    I may have lived in the South for four years, but let me say, I am still in open-mouthed awe at the trucks these people like down here. Or maybe “awe” isn’t the right word. Perhaps “amazement” is a better word.

    We were driving in a small southern town within several hours of where we live, when we drove past this truck. “TURN AROUND!” I said, in  shocked tone of voice, not believing what I thought my eyes had seen. Dear, obliging husband turned around. And we both stared, open-mouthed, and then I remembered my camera and whipped it out.

    “Oh nooooo!” Groaned husband. “You’re going to put this picture on xanga, and everyone is going to think that southerners are soooo redneck!”

    Yes I will put this on xanga, but I will make a disclaimer and say that not *all* southerners drive a truck *quite* this big. Only half a big. :)

    Need I even say that we live in Redneck Country?!



    That’s all I can say.




  • Celebrating 5.


    Wow, it’s been a good past couple of weeks.

    -Celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary (this was more like 2 months ago!).

     - A 10-day trip back home (I still think of Pennsylvania as “home,” even though Georgia is “home” to me too. But Pennsylvania is “back home.”). Just so great. I came back feeling so blessed and overwhelmed by the family and friendships God has given me. It’s not a matter of if I have family and friends to see when I go back, but rather how much time I have to see people – which is never enough, and there are always people I wish I could have seen that I wasn’t able to, and the people I did see I wished to have seen more of.

    - Celebrating my husband’s 30th birthday! This is what really made my weeks fly by, because I felt like I was planning his birthday for months! Maybe more on this at a later date.

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    - Olivia is walking! It took her a while to discover she really could do this, but now she is toddling all over the house. I love the word “toddle.” It sums up wobbly baby legs, balance challenges, and baby grins all in one. And lots of bumps and bruises. Don’t forget those.


    It’s been a busy but happy time. This morning I thought to myself, “I am just so happy to be alive today.”

    Part of that had to do with the fact that my girls slept in until  9:30 (!!!!), and I was able to have a few HOURS (hours, not minutes) alone before they awoke. That definitely is a reason to be happy. :) [And I wish I knew what I did right, so that they could sleep in again like that!]

    And then, because I had some time alone with my God, I felt ready to greet them. Happily greet them, as I heard little feet pattering on the hardwood floor. Ready to greet them with long hugs and snuggles, and say, “I’m so happy to see you!” and really mean it, rather than thinking, “Oh, why did you get up so early today??!” :)

    And now, at 2pm, they are just recently gone to bed because of sleeping in so late. And I have a bit of quiet once again… I love quiet.


    But now, here’s to celebrating 5 years of being married!

    The Man.

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    The Lady.

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    This post is looking back over the past 8 years. Remembering when the love first began between Ben and me. This is going to be a nutshell version of a very veeeeery long story. :)

    I was 19 when I first met him. He was hardly 22.

    I was independent, loved being single, and wanted to be single until I was 30 because I loved where I was at so much. Marriage was NO WHERE in my near future.

    However, I was fascinated by his crystal-blue eyes, easy-going personality, and slow southern drawl. He first noticed my curly hair and long eyelashes. :)

    We had never met before, but were thrown together in a group of about 60 Bible School students for 7 weeks. We interacted, became friends, but he was seeing another girl at the time and I thought that was that.

    Meanwhile, I was mapping out my next five years,which included mission trips to Africa, Colorado, Asia, as well as furthering my education. And was I ever excited. However, God started speaking to my heart and softly telling me not to view marriage so adamently. Asking me to surrender my dreams for the future, and to trust His plans, even if they were different from my own. This was such a difficult thing for me, because I really did not want to get married soon at all. But my answer to God, through much wrestling and struggle, was, “Yes, Jesus, I will do what you want me to do, whatever that is.”



    Several months later, Ben asked my dad if he could date me, and after a few months of dad com municating with Ben, Ben and I had som contact through phone calls and emails. This is a really reeeeeaaaallly long story, one that I’m not going to go into detail now, but after some months my answer to Ben was “no.” Interestingly though, my heart was opening to the idea of romance , and even of marriage sometime in the future! Even though I did not think this would include Ben.

    We parted ways, heartbreaking to both of us because of our friendship, but my heart was not ready for him. Over the next year, I dated another man, thinking Ben was a person of the past, and excited about where God was taking me.

    But for unknown reasons, God did not give me rest with staying in that relationship. It was mysterious to me, and had nothing to do with the man himself but only the way God was leading me.

    Heartbreak again. I wanted to make a vow of celebacy for the next two years just so I wouldn’t have to even think about love again! My parents refrained me, much to my (then) chagrin. They did allow me to make a 6-month commitment. Looking back, I think they really wanted me to get married! Ha!

     Shortly after that, I spent two months in Central America with my sister, Jana, and two friends. Antigua, Guatemala, was where we studied Spanish, and central point from which traveled all over the country! Great times!

    During those months in Central America, my heart was strangely drawn to Ben again. Wondering why, wondering how, but my heart was restful that if God had something for us in the future He would bring it to pass.

    Ben asked again, brave man. And this time, almost two years after we first met, we began dating. This time my heart was ready for him, and delighted to be entering a journey alongside him!

    I was 21, he was 23.

    We dated long-distance of 800 miles, seeing each other about once a month for a weekend. He shocked me when proposing after only 8 months of dating, but my answer was “Yes!” Our engagement was 5 months long, two months of which I was away from home living with my widowed grandmother in Florida and then on a mission trip to Africa.

    [In Africa on a mission trip, 3 months before our wedding. So neat that we were both able to go!]


    Funny FUNNY looking back at these pictures! Makes me laugh, like, did we really both change so much?!

    [He joined my extended family campout while we were dating.]


    I was 22 when we wedded, he was 24. Such a happy happy day…


    [working on our first house, tearing wallpaper off...]


    And now, it’s five years later.  A lot has happened in those five years. We lived in Pennsylvania, we moved to Georgia, Ben and I taught school, we had a baby girl, Ben taught another year of school, I had another baby girl… 

    And before we were married, people would talk about the work that it takes to have a good marriage. I would listen and politely nod, but think to myself, “They must not have the kind of relationship that WE have!” Five years later, I can honestly say that a good marriage DOES take work – hard work, and lots of it. 

    It’s been a wonderful, crazy, mysterious, fun, scary, beautiful, frustrating, amazing journey together! There are challenges we’ve faced that I never would have imagined, yet glad that I didn’t know about beforehand. This journey together is one that I wouldn’t trade for the world, and yet one that makes me need God more than anything in the world. This is a sacred journey, one of commiting my life to one man, until death do us part.

    Because it’s in that covenant that God is revealed. We don’t bail out when it’s tough. We’re in it together, thick or thin. Easy days, fun days, hard days. We’re in this for life, and we’re going to give it our best shot. We’re going to love each other, forever…

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    Really cool/funny thing about this photo shoot a few weeks ago: It was taken very impromptu after a day at the beach, and my sister Claudia Barkman took the pictures. She overheard an older couple talking as they walked by. “Wedding?” asked the man [did he not see the BROWN dress?]. “No, engagement,” said the woman. We had a laugh about that later. And thought, “Awwww, we still look like we’re engaged!” while wondering what the couple thought about the two babies playing in the foreground…! :)

    I’m the lucky woman who gets to be with this man!

    How Lucky I Am





    And, somehow, two people make more people… :)

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    Daddy & Olivia

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    It’s a forever kind of love…

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    … even with the sometimes long days of childen who are[n't] getting along well…

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    Forever, Baby!