The Joy of Tidying and Painting

I like to organize. I know, I’m weird. I’m told that quite often by my family. I’m ok with it. I’m methodical in my organizing, and I need to have closure on a project or an area I’m organizing. No loose ends, if I can help it.

So, when my mom told me about the Marie Kondo book, I was excited! A method, a system for organizing your whole house!! Let me at it! I have been lost in the organizing vortex since quickly reading her book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, in early September and am still in the process of “getting my home in order”.

We have loaded up Gregg’s explorer 5 times and taken the items to the local Gospel Mission. And I currently have another load waiting in the garage to be donated! I have filled up many garbage bags of items that I’ve held onto for the wrong reasons and said goodbye, thank you for your service, and finally discarded them. We’ve sold items on Craigslist and Ebay that have been sitting neglected in the storage room or garage, allowing them to go and serve their purpose! Liberating! I love it!  My goal is to go through every item and area in my home and have it sorted, downsized and organized, keeping only those items that bring us joy or we actually use and need.

While in the middle of this organizing binge, I decided that the entryway/stairway needed to be painted and wainscoting added to the stairway wall.  I had been thinking and planning this change for about a year now, thinking I would wait until we could afford to pull the carpet up and replace with hardwood and white risers, but I decided I couldn’t stand the sloppy paint job by the previous owner any longer.  Carpet replacement could be done later.  I enjoy making these changes to our home, and love how paint and sometimes simple changes can transform a space.  As I usually do, I dive into a project excited and with a lot of energy and enthusiasm!

As you can see, Gregg was just as excited to spend the long weekend of the Thanksgiving holiday tackling this job with me!  (I tend to agree with his sentiment about halfway through a project, wondering what the heck I was thinking about taking on this job ourselves??  But I never admit my doubts to him!)


We added the white wainscoting with minimal cost, since we used the wall as the center instead of adding wood.  I love the paint color, which is Sherwin Williams Khaki Shade, part of their Urban Organic family of paint colors.  I forgot to take pictures before we added the wainscoting, but here are a few of before and after the painting was completed.

Eventually the carpet will be pulled up, looking forward to that happy day, and I will get to add the hardwood and white risers.  (Learning a lesson on patience and only buying when we have cash in hand to pay for the house upgrade!) I am very happy with how the wainscoting breaks up the large expanse of wall by the stairway.  Now I need to add photos and artwork, and I’ve already started  the planning process on what I plan to add.  Gregg is an amazing photographer, so I will choose some of our favorite images from the listings of his work on our freshly launched Etsy shop!  Updike Studios!   Take a gander….




Third Summer Solstice

We have slipped into our third summer in the Buttercup house, and as we wrapped up Spring and  moved into summer, I have enjoyed watching the gardens morph starting with tulips, daffodils, and irises and transition into the summer season with with daises, buttercups, lilies, and cone flowers.  I feel a sense of accomplishment, satisfaction, and joy.  We have worked hard on loving this house and yard back into a healthy state. And although I still have visions of expanding flower beds, of planting trees and shrubs, dancing in my head,  I am happy with where we are today, especially compared to when we moved in.

We bought the house on a short sale, and it sat empty for at least a year, maybe longer, so on move in day on July 9th, 2012, I knew this it was going to take a lot of sweat and sore muscles, and there were many days when I wasn’t quite sure I was up for the challenge! But here we are, and looking back, I’m surprised at the difference.

Front yard Spring 2012

Front yard Spring 2012

Front yard June 2015

Front yard June 2015


Front yard June 2015

Front yard June 2015

View of front porch with Spiraea bush in bloom

View of front porch with Spiraea bush

We didn’t think to take many photos in 2012, but we have a few, since Gregg was taking photos for me while he house hunted in Michigan and I was still living in Utah.  The grass still looks green in the picture he took above in 2012, but when we moved into the house in July, it was brown, since Michigan was experiencing one of the driest and hottest summers in recent years.  But today in 2015, we have nurtured the grass in the front yard back to an almost weed free existence and have cleaned up and added to the front yard landscaping.  Most of the changes took rolling up my sleeves, donning gardening gloves, and a lot of work!

The front porch continues to evolve as I add and subtract various elements each season.  The first summer, I painted the front porch and back deck, which you can read about here. This year I added the lanterns, moved the rustic bench that sat in front of the window to the back deck, and added more flower pots planted with petunias & impatiens.

Front porch looking North in 2012

Front porch looking North in 2012

Front porch looking North 2015

Front porch looking North 2015



I love the contemporary look and the linear quality of the lanterns.

During our second spring/summer at Buttercup house, I started putting together the side porch, beginning with painting and adding the salvaged metal chairs.  It has become a space for reading, bible study, meditation and prayer, and although I still want to make a few changes, I am enjoying where it is at the moment.


Side porch in 2012

Side porch in 2012


Side Porch today in 2015

Side Porch today in 2015

Side Porch from Front Yard

Side Porch from Front Yard

The South Side of the house also has seen a transformation as I pulled overgrown Mint and many weeds and added a variety of plants that add color, texture, and height, which changes throughout the growing season.

South Side Flower Bed in 2012

South Side Flower Bed in 2012

South Side Garden 2015

South Side Garden 2015

Yarrow & Trellis with Clematis Vine

Yarrow & Trellis with Clematis Vine

Gardening and landscape design is challenging and allows for so much creativity.  I enjoy how all the elements and principles of design can can be utilized when considering which plants to use together while thinking about the needs of the individual plants.  Sometimes, what I try is a total failure, but I love how it is a constant changing canvas.  I marvel at the creativity of God and the variety in this physical world He made for us.  Even we as painters, architects, writers, sculptors try to create in a more permanent way the fleeting and amazing beauty of nature, its rhythm, structure, variety, vibrancy, and array of colors.

Looking forward to the summertime, where the living’s easy….


Hannah’s room: BoHo style

Hannah and I have been picking away at her room over the last couple of months….. It’s been nice having something the two of us can discuss, share ideas, and get excited about.  She has developed her own personal sense of style in the clothes she chooses and now this is beginning to spill over to the items she wants to surround herself with in her room.  For a long time, she didn’t care in the least, and I could barely find the floor and furniture under the mountains of discarded clothing.  The fact that she is interested in expressing herself in the style of her room is welcome and she claims she will even keep it picked up.  This may mean clothes at the bottom of the closet instead of the middle of room or stuffed into the dresser instead of thrown on top, but I will take it!

Hannah & Me

Here is her room, just after we had rolled up our sleeves and got to work.  (I completely forgot to take pictures before we started deconstructing her room.)

We have repainted the walls, repainted the ceiling, touched up the trim and baseboard paint, painted the iron bed the aqua color that was once on the walls, and touched up the pink paint on the small side table and added elephant knob (from World Market).

Hannah choose the small blue tea light lanterns, and I added the seashell chandelier, which my older daughter kept from my some of my grandmother’s things.  I added a lamp cord from Ikea.

Seashell Chandelier

I also took an old table I bought at an auction, and painted it a soft blue/green for her bedside table.

Some of the accessories that Hannah has hand picked for her room include, a buddha incense holder, and succulent plants that we recently potted.

Table accessories

She also picked up this wooden elephant at an estate sale.  The estate sale was from my grandpa’s brother’s home, Uncle Dick, so not only is it very hip and very Hannah, but it is from family.  We already had the pink ceramic elephant that my mom had picked up for Hannah at a thrift shop, and the jewelry box was a World Market find which I gave to Hannah for Christmas.

Table accessories

Hannah also picked out these sun and moon motif vertical mirrors while out antique shopping last summer and the hooked rug with the star, above the door, was made by my talented sister while the switch plate was hand-painted by yours truly.

Hannah also picked out the vibrant tapestry, which I found on  Other items that we have on our to do list in order to complete her room are:

1.  New bedding-the plan is all white with a colorful throw at the foot of the bed.

2.  New shade for the window and some sort of curtain or valance.

3.  Colorful footstool or chair for the corner.

4.  Artwork/photos.

5.  New flooring (long term plan is to pull up the carpet and do hardwood, but short term solution in the interim is to purchase a rug, looking on Etsy for this).

The cute little dog can stay.

Hannah's room 2



Spring Firepit Project (or the Pure Michigan method of Christmas Tree disposal)

I’ve had this landscaping idea saved in an Ideabook on for a few years now, and it was my intention to create a similar space in our back yard this spring.

When the Menards sale flyer landed in our mailbox, and I found the fire ring kit that I had my eye on last year, on sale for only $87.00,  I excitedly shoved the flyer in front of Gregg and made the announcement, “We are going to Menards this weekend!”  He agreed, “whatever you want, sweetie,” but I’m not sure he even looked at it.  We didn’t discuss our up coming project again until the morning of the planned pick up, because that is how we roll! No sense in planning ahead too much!  Saturday, before Donovan’s hockey game, we discussed how we were going to approach the project.  Cell phones were hot from googling how-to articles, and after reading the instructions on how to lay a flagstone patio, I was already exhausted!

I wanted to create it in phases, starting with the firepit and adding the surrounding flagstone later, but Gregg pointed out that the entire area  would need to be leveled first, then crushed rock, which would need to be tamped down and then sand added and tamped down, and then the firepit and the flagstone could be installed!  Way more than I wanted to attempt, but Gregg seemed confident he could get it done.  So we went and bought the firepit kit, drove home, and went out to the yard with stakes, string and a measuring tape.

We had a septic field to avoid, and a sloping yard, and after much discussion, we both realized that digging a space big enough for the flagstone patio, was way beyond our capabilities and endurance.   I was ready to lay down and take a nap just thinking about the process!  So I simplified my plan:  install a fire pit and surround it with Adirondack chairs.  The project was successfully completed in a matter of a few hours.  My kind of do it yourself project!

Best part was finally being able to get rid of the Christmas Tree!  Because in Michigan, when Christmas and New year’s is over, you take your Tree outside, tree stand and all, and shove it under your back yard deck, letting the snow drift and (hopefully) cover it.  And in the spring, when you finally pull it out in order to clean up and prepare the flower beds, you remove the tree stand, and drag it to the firepit for the spectacular snap, crackle and pop of a quick but magnificent blaze!  Because as my sister says, “Nothing says spring like a burning Christmas tree!”

Happy Spring!

Media Room- almost complete

I’ve been holding off on posting our new media/hang out room in the recently finished basement until all the details of the room have been checked off my list, but I’ve come to the realization that might be many months, if not years, down the road, especially at the snail pace Gregg and I seem to move.  It is mostly finished, and furniture placement was something of a challenge, since we recycled furniture, rather than going out and buying new, mainly because getting new furniture isn’t in our budget at this time. This left our living space off the kitchen somewhat barren looking, but I plan to repaint and hopefully redo this room anyway down the road.  Gregg and Donovan moved the furniture around several times for me and were really good sports about it.  Even Louie got involved!

I really love the family space in the basement.  It feels cozy.  The shelving was an add on after the drywall was up, since there was a radon pipe in the corner that couldn’t be completely concealed behind the walls and the fact that Gregg had a large album collection still in boxes, so we decided to have our contractor add that in.  I’m very happy with it, and so is Gregg.  He generally listens to an album or two almost nightly now.  But there is still some arranging that needs to be done on the shelves.  Basically, we just moved what we had in boxes on the shelves for now, and for the moment it works.



Here are the items that still need to be completed:

1.  Blinds for the windows

2.  An ottoman (I’m thinking something round, perhaps with storage, and a tray can sit on top to hold drinks/snacks when needed.

3.  Art for the walls.  I’m working on some paintings and ideas now.

4.  Storage for all of Gregg’s CD’s that are piled on the shelves willy nilly.  Gregg has plans drawn up, and he is working with my dad, the master carpenter, on a storage system that will fit into the shelving, but will also be aesthetically pleasing.

5.  Arranging/decorating/fine tuning the objects on the shelves.

In the meantime, as I wait to find the time and money to complete the checklist, I’m enjoying the music, the movies, and the family time spent in our new space.


Merry Christmas!

Christmas Snowman

Christmas again!  Why is it that time seems to accelerate the older you get?  It can feel like that scene from Interstellar, when Matthew M and Anne H arrive back from what was for them a 24 hour excursion, but for the rest of the crew on the space station, 21 years had passed!   That is how time can feel at times, in a what seems like a blink, 21 years can pass!

In the past 21 years, my choices and attitude about Christmas and preparing for Christmas have changed, evolved.  I have always loved Christmas, and when I was younger, I was in hurry to get the tree up, decorated, outside lights up, and all my decorations up as quickly as possible.  And then as soon as Christmas day was over, the day after Christmas, I ripped it all down.  Chip! Chop! Christmas is over.  But I’ve mellowed over time, now when the season creeps up, sometimes I’m unsure if I’m even going to put up a tree, and did skip the whole decorating process one year.

I’ve decided with Christmas decorating, and with gardening or with home improvement projects or with drawing or painting, or with anything that is optional, that I won’t do it because I feel obligated, but because I enjoy the task.  I allow myself to slow down, enjoy the process.  These activities aren’t just about the end result, but the meandering path that I take to get there.  So my Christmas decorating happened somewhat on a whim.  when I felt like it, and if it didn’t get done, that was okay too.

Gregg was out of town on business, so Donovan and I decided after hockey practice to stop at Lowe’s and pick up a tree.  We put it on the tree stand together and ended up with crooked tree, which is just fine with me.  I started decorating with some help, but my family quickly loses interest. so I pulled out a couple of boxes of decorations, and after putting on the lights the first night, I put on decorations a little bit each night until I decided it was enough.

For a while, I had decided I wasn’t going to put up any outside lights or even a wreath on the door, but when driving home after dropping Donovan off at school following his orthodontist appointment, I saw Gull Lake Landscaping was open, they make beautiful wreaths, and other Christmas decor, so I pulled in and came home with a garland and greenery.  As time permitted or if an idea came to me, over the next few days I added lights, and other items.

Here is what we ended up with this year:

Front Porch

Sled with Window

These are all my carefully cropped pictures, where I cleaned up prior to taking the pictures, but in reality, my house looked like this most of the past week or so, as I wrapped presents, baked and prepared.


And I will leave everything up at least until after the New Year or until I decide that I feel like undecorating.

Merry Christmas!  Wishing you many Blessings in the New Year!

Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. 15 Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.

  We also know that the Son did not come to help angels; he came to help the descendants of Abraham. 17 Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. 18 Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.

Hebrews 2:14–18

Operation Hardwood Flooring

Once again Gregg and I way underestimated the time and effort required for a DIY home improvement project.  Installing hardwood floors in our living room.  The room is only about 15′ x 14′ feet, so piece of cake, right?  Gregg took a Monday off work and we figured a good 8 hours devoted to the task would be enough.  We had prepped over the weekend.  Repainted the ceiling (a warmer white, which surprisingly made a big difference in the room), repainted the trim, and ripped up the old carpet.  (And I got to tell you that felt wonderful!  Good bye pet dander!  Good bye 10 years of accumulated dirt and dust.  Good bye puppy pee stains!)  And we had installed the underlayment.  We researched the job on google, went to Lumber Liquidators, asked all the questions, rented the necessary nail gun from Home Depot, bought the appropriate nails.  After breakfast Monday morning, we were sure we would have a new beautiful hardwood floor completed by dinnertime. 

Gregg worked non stop all day and when I finished up work for the day, I jumped in, and we both worked until 11:30 pm, well past dinnertime.   At one point, I laid down on the freshly installed floor side of the room to give my back a break from bending over all night fitting the wood puzzle pieces together, a bit later Gregg took his turn.  And we still went to bed with the floor three quarters done!

It did finally get finished and, of course, I’m doing my usual stop and admire several times a day.

A few days later, I was ready to move to the next item on my home improvement list, but I made a promise to Gregg on that long Monday that once he finished this project, we would take December and January off!  A whole 2 months!  I’m so generous, just ask Gregg. 

I was tempted to move on, work on a project on my list that I didn’t need Gregg’s help with, but I talked myself out of it.  I need to slow down, focus on Christmas, and enjoy what we have accomplished this past year.  At times, I get so wrapped up on what I want to do, I forget to enjoy what I have.  Time to enjoy and have a grateful heart.

Slightly compulsive….

For the past two weeks, every time I go downstairs to enjoy the freshly finished living space that was once a cold concrete floor and cement walls, I have to stop and lean against the entrance of the bathroom, and turn on the light and look at the finished room for several minutes.  Sometimes, I turned on the ceiling light only, other times, I turn on the task bar too and then the recessed light in the stand up shower stall.  I can spend several minutes looking at how the room looks in the various lighting scenarios!  I feel compelled to stop and look!

Many times in the past when I have something novel and new to me, no matter how mundane, I have to inspect or look at over and over again until the newness wears off.  I did this when I purchased my first washer and dryer.  I was in my 20’s and my oldest son, Alex, was maybe around 2 or 3, and I had been going to laundry mat with him or over to my mom and dad’s to do our laundry, so when we bought our very own washer and dryer, I was enamored.  I would opened up the closet doors that they hid behind in our little townhouse apartment, and just looked at their shiny newness, until the fascination wore off.

So, I find myself doing this with our new bathroom.  This new bathroom represents many hours of my life, from agonizing over its design, and then shopping for the various components that made it all come together.  And let’s not forget the very labor intensive project of laying the tile!  I stop.  I critique the room.  I see our tiling mistakes.  I see where next time, I would do something a little different, but mostly I see a beautiful space that I’m happy to walk into and feel a sense of happiness to have finished. 

Then my mind moves to the realization that I have another bathroom to clean…….

Old Door = Big Smile

I don’t want to be all braggy, but I’ve been patting myself on the back quite a bit lately for the creative inspiration and follow through, on a project for Evan’s new room in the freshly finished basement.

We haven’t been able to park in the garage since spring, partly because I brought home what Gregg calls “junk” and what I like to refer to as “creative projects” and partly due to our contractor keeping his finish trim in there while he was working on the basement.

Now the weather is dipping down, sometimes into freezing levels, and the contractor has finished the trim and removed whatever was left over, so we have decided it is time to get our garage organized and make room for our cars again.  Which means, I need to put my money where my mouth is, and put some of my ideas into action in order to clear out the garage.  And that is what exactly what I did last weekend.  I had salvaged an old door from my first house, which was built in 1909, and my dad, who was tired of having it stored in his garage, brought it over to my garage this summer.  I didn’t know what I was going to do with it, but I couldn’t let it just get thrown out.

After googling and looking at what others did with old doors, such as, headboards, wall art, tables, and all the different ideas that many inventive people came up with, I came up with this one.  An accessory/jewelry organizer!!  Pretty clever, eh?  Evan is a fashionista, so she has a lot of bags, scarves, jewelry, belts, etc. so with some paint & decorative knobs and hooks that I picked up from a bin at World Market, I created this for her bedroom!!

I’m feeling like a creative genius this week!

Whoop! Whoop! Move in time!

Finally!  Walls are painted!  Carpet installed!  Finish Plumbing done!  Finish Electrical (almost) done!

Time to start moving in…