A Finished Project… And a Just Begun Project!

Since our youngest daughter Kate got married and moved out, we’ve been slowly but surely working on remodeling the upstairs. Plugging along, like Aesop’s Tortoise… and we know eventually we’ll get to the finish line. (And then we’ll move downstairs… but don’t mention that to my carpenter… he needs to see some light at the end of the tunnel!)

First, we worked on Kate and her sister Jordan‘s old room. And we moved in… How nice to have a bit of extra space to spread out! Then we began working on our old room. That went a bit faster because we had a deadline… Grandboys were coming to visit and needed a place to sleep! After Hubby ripped up the old carpet and sanded the pine floor, my Dad came over and helped me paint!

When we pulled the carpet up in the now-spare bedroom, we decided there was no time like the present to yank it off the steps as well. Our motto is, “If you’re gonna make a mess, you might as well make a big one.” So we did, and Hubby sanded the steps too. And we’ve been trudging up and down the bare construction steps since May. The California Kids went home mid-June, and then we had some wedding-related company, who may or may not have pondered taking up a collection for us, considering the state of our steps and the last remnant of original flooring in the upstairs bathroom. When it was back to just the two of us, I started the task of painting the steps.

Which, by the way, can be interesting. We went with an oil-based paint for durability, since the steps are a high-traffic area in our home. Each coat took quite a while to dry, and with each coat, I had to alternate steps so we could still get upstairs and downstairs. (Incidentally, if you go upstairs and downstairs by skipping steps for several days in a row, you will become well acquainted with muscles you didn’t know you had.) We also were careful to not paint on days when there was a possibility of little visitors or pregnant visitors due to the smelly-ness of the paint.

So. It took a while.

And then came the fun part! We’ve been trying to decide what to do to snazzy up those plain steps for quite a while. I had pinned a whole bunch of ideas on Pinterest the past few months. Maybe a carpet runner? A painted runner? Stenciling? Words? What words? One day toward the end of July, my friend Beth posted a photo of steps with the “In our home…” motif on my Facebook page. It was perfect! Almost. I thought I wanted a slightly more industrial feel to the lettering, so I went looking for it on Etsy, and found one I loved! And it was perfect! Almost. We had 14 steps instead of 13. And the shop graciously added another “step” for me in a custom listing!

I couldn’t wait to get started!
It took a bit of measuring…


And a bit of patience…


But it began to shape up nicely…


And I love the finished project…It’s good to get things done!


And if you look closely, you’ll notice a bit of dirt on the steps…


But that’s okay, because it means my carpenter has moved on
to the next project… A new bathroom floor!!!!!


I think I need to take this man out to dinner!


Do Fun Stuff with Old Friends.

Well, last week we ran away as just the two of us.
This past weekend, we ran away with Friends.

Old Friends. The Best kind.

We’ve been buddies with Randy & Beth since our girls
were toddlers… back to the time when you  had to wait
for film to be developed… long before anyone heard of a blog.

About twenty years. Two decades.


Both our families had a Favorite Place to Be.
But we hadn’t Been there together…

Our first glimpse was exciting…

We had to refrain ourselves from shouting “WhooHoo!”
and running wildly down the street. So instead we dined
at Chowning’s and stopped at Charleton’s Coffee House
and tested out their Chocolate.

Yum. We bought some to take home.

We took long walks…

…down paths that our forefathers may have taken…

We saw Grand Palaces…

and abodes for those of the Middling Sort.

The guys talked about everything…

and we even came up with a possible
cure for America’s current political problems…

No. Really. We wouldn’t do THAT.


But we definitely laughed a LOT.

Empty Nesters! The Freys and the Bakers heartily recommend
a weekend away with old and dear friends. You will have fun,
make new memories, and feel young again.

And you will really get a kick out of it
when your kids text to check on you!


Old friends, after all of these years,
Old friends, through the laughter and tears,
Old friends, What a priceless treasure!
~Bill & Gloria Gaither~

A Date with my Sweetie, Part Two…

I took way too many pictures last week on our little day trip to fit into one post… so here’s the what we did AFTER we left the museum! We headed  to Longwood Gardens! We usually make a “Girl Trip” to Longwood around Christmas. Over the years, it’s included Mom, Robin, Jo, Kate, Nana Anne, and Me. I don’t think Chris has gone there at Christmas since the girls were pretty young, so it was all new to him! Every year, Longwood decorates with different flowers and has a different theme… this year was mostly red and white, and the theme was Gingerbread. Here’s what it looked like when you walked into the Conservatory…

And as you walked toward the back…

The photos really do not do it justice…

Hubby loved the Poinsettia Topiaries…

And I loved the Moravian Stars in the Rose Room…

There were trees made of Real Gingerbread,
and a Gingerbread Train…
THAT room smelled heavenly.

And a Gingerbread and Sugar-Glass Conservatory…

… And a Gingerbread Peirce duPont House!

But the best of all is the Indoor Children’s Garden!
We probably looked silly exploring in there since
we had no children with us!

All throughout the Children’s Garden, water drips, pours,
and spurts. It’s pretty amazing. The kids are so fun to watch as
they try to catch it or figure out where it’s going to come from next!

And I’m definitely not into scary Gargoyles…

But SOMEONE was a genius when they thought of this…

There were paint brushes available for the children
to “paint” with! The light changes color,
so they think they’re really doing something!

And I even came away with a new idea for an art project!

The ornaments on this tree were made by local elementary
school children… If you look closely, the designs were
taken from antique Butter Molds! What a neat idea to
combine art with early American history!

Hubby and I really did enjoy our “just us” day. We topped it off with a great Mexican dinner, and got home WAY past our bedtime! Being self-employed and usually having a mile-long “To Do” list, we often feel guilty taking a day off, but it’s a good thing to do every now and again.

Day 31 – Not quite the end…

Well. We have made it to the end of October, and reached the finish line of the 31 Day Project! Only there are still a few loose threads hanging on this project… namely the half-finished new master bedroom! We’ll keep working on it, and show pictures of the progress, I promise! Just maybe not daily.

A little over a month ago, just a day or two after our youngest daughter got married, I heard about The Nester’s 31 Days of Change blogging project, and thought it sounded like fun! And it has been… it’s kept my mind busy for that first quiet month with no chicks in the nest, and kept my hands busy with typing, demolition, and painting. And most of all, it provided a very interesting community of like-minded and inspiring ladies… all blogging about different subjects! I actually couldn’t wait until November arrived, mostly so I could spend a bit of time exploring all those other great blogs! They would make great mini-challenges to follow throughout the next year. Nester, I hope you do it again!!!

I’ve put up a page that lists all the posts for this month, and will work on switching the links of all those “Mama Bird” pictures so they go there. Please be patient… it might take a while! Also, all the 31 Days posts can be found by clicking the “31 Days” or “Empty Nest” categories down on the right sidebar. (And I really need to clean up those categories… way too many options! Future Organization Project #132.)

And now I’d like to share a few
of my favorite 31 Days blogs…
…just in case you’d like to visit!

31 Days to Make a House a Home

31 Days of Photography Fun 

31 Days of Art 

31 Days of Photo Tips

31 Days from Blog to Biz 

31 Days for the Struggling Mama 

…And a whole bunch more!

Something I've been avoiding...

Day 30 – ReFeathering with Patience and Courage

When we go to shows, the most frequent comment heard from customers seeing papercuttings for the first time is, “You must have the patience of a saint!”

If they only knew.

Confession. I am NOT the most patient person in the world.

Matter of fact, I think I actually took up this craft because I could finish a papercutting much faster than the two or three months it took to finish a counted cross-stitch piece. It is possible to think of a design, sketch it out, and, depending on the size and intricacy, have it cut by the end of the day. Papercutting is a great medium for impatient artists! However, I pretty much always respond that “Doing papercuttings has helped me LEARN patience.” There are a lot of little details, and many leaves, vines, and occasionally, heads and legs have been accidentally removed in the process of papercutting. And if that’s not enough, if I’m going to mess things up, it’s usually when I sign my name to it. Sometimes, when I’m on a tight deadline, I will actually think to make two of something… just in case of sudden disaster. Sometimes. When I don’t, sometimes my lack of patience shows up in not-so-pretty and rather grumpy ways.

So waiting to see what this new season will bring
is exciting and challenging and scary
and will involve patience,
which I don’t have much of,
and courage,
which I probably have even less of.

Where to get it?

I will lift mine eyes to the hills
from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the Lord,
which made heaven and earth.
~Psalm 121: 1-2 ~

Early this morning, I happened on a devotion by Elisabeth Elliott, which led me to some verses on waiting to see what the Lord had in store for the future… whether it’s tomorrow, next week, or next year. I’d really like to know what’s coming up next, or at least find a how-to book entitled “The Path to Success as an Empty Nester in Five Easy Steps.” But I think it’s going to be another lesson in patience, and it will most likely take courage. Plus, knowing the future would be like knowing what you’re getting for Christmas. It would spoil the surprise.

Wait on the Lord: Be of good courage,
and He shall strengthen your heart:
Wait, I say, on the Lord.
~Psalm 27:14~ 

Day 29 – ReFeathering with Love

Can you tell I’m stalling a bit?

Not much has been done in the new bedroom in the
past few days… hoping to make some more progress
next week, but for now Hubby and I are in a
self-induced frame-making  frenzy!


When we were first married, I discovered counted cross-stitch. I cross-stitched up a storm, collected oodles of patterns, wound hundreds of hanks of embroidery on little cardboard spools, and organized them ever-so-neatly in plastic bins. I still have those bins. I think they may be a symbol of the last time my life was in order. Not too long ago, I went through my old cross-stitch patterns, and donated just about every single one to the thrift shop.The majority of the patterns bespoke “1980-something,”  and I figured I wouldn’t be cross-stitching too many cute little bears or geese with bows on their necks on anything any time in the near future. Today, as I was looking for a picture to go along with the idea of “Love,” I found one of the patterns I used to own…

Most of the Bible verses in our home in those early years were little fragments and snippets that we had heard, accompanied by a cute little picture of some sort. I’m SURE that somewhere we had a little bear hugging a heart that said “Love Bears All Things.” After all, that scripture was in our wedding, and we knew it was important.

Eventually, after a few years, a couple of kids, and most likely more than a few disagreements, we came to realize that love is much more than warm and fuzzy. It’s hard work sometimes, especially when two people are involved. Now that we’re a bit older and wiser, we both REALLY know how important that chapter in I Corinthians is…

Love is patient and kind.

Love is not…
jealous, boastful, prideful, or rude. 

Love doesn’t demand its own way.

Love isn’t easily angered.

Love doesn’t keep a record of being wronged.

Love does not rejoice about injustice,
but rejoices in truth.

Love bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, and endures all things.

Love never ends.
Three things will last forever…
Faith, Hope, and Love…

And the greatest of these is Love.

It really helps me when I  take some time to go back over something familiar, like that chapter, and see it with fresh eyes. After many years of focusing on the needs of our family, it’s been interesting to focus on what holds “us” together, and to spend some time brushing up on the real meaning of Love. If anyone is interested, there are some good resources out there! Here’s a good one for couples, or individuals…

The Love Dare
(From the movie FireProof

and for the ladies…

30-Day Husband Encouragement Challenge 

Day 28 – A New Purpose

Empty Nesters have basically worked their way out of a job. And into a new one. I was sad when we finished homeschooling, but the goal was for the girls to graduate, and we got there, and it was a good thing. It’s the same with Mommy-ing… we miss the “baby” years, but we’re so glad when they can tie their own shoelaces. And run an errand for us. And manage their own home. Our goal as “Mom” is to raise adults. And then we’re done.

Or are we?

We ladies still go on being Moms. We still worry when they’re sick. And stay up late to see their headlights come in the drive. And help them out when they need it. And give advice when it’s wanted. And bite our tongues when it’s not. (Sometimes.) We still have a “Mom” purpose, though the official job description has changed somewhat…

Older women are to live in a way that honors God,
They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers.
Instead, they should teach what is good.
Then they can train the younger women
to love their husbands and children,
to be self-controlled and pure,
working at home, kind and good,
obedient to their husbands,
so that the word of God is not reviled.
~Titus 2: 3-5~
(Several translations combined)

This new job is going to take a LOT of…

Day 27 – ReFeathering with Purpose

This morning I’ve been thinking about time.

And Seasons.

And Purpose.

In each Season of Life, there are certain things
that are the Big Things.

And the bazillions of little things that can fill our days
and keep us busy and frazzled and in constant motion.

Time has to be guarded so that
we choose the Best Things
over the good things.

You know that old saying that goes something like “If you think you’re indispensable, stick your finger in a bowl of water, and then take it out and look for the hole it left”? I think TIME might be like that. When we suddenly have more free time, it can quickly fill up with lots of activities. I’ve heard so many retired folks say they’re busier now than when they worked. It’s probably a good idea to think about time as a brand new Empty Nester… where it is best spent. How to use it for the best purposes. How to find the best balance between work-play-worship-family-friends-others-ourselves. I’m thinking this is probably not the best time to rush out on my own and go sign myself up for new things, but to wait and see what the Lord has in store.

For I know the plans I have for you,
declares the Lord,
plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you a hope and a future.
~Jeremiah 29:11~

 P.S. Something else that went through my mind
before I had my second cup of coffee…

…I always thought 45 was “middle age”
but that means I have to live to be 90. 



Day 26 – Curtains and more…

This morning I marked the curtains for hemming.

We originally had “café curtains” upstairs, but the girls wanted full length curtains last time the room was re-done, so we went with Country Curtains’ Plain & Simple white panels. However, over the years, with windows being left open during rainstorms, the bottoms of the curtains have gotten stained. So, off with the bottoms, and soon we’ll have fresh curtains blowing in the breeze! I marked them so they wouldn’t drag on the windowsill…

… and maybe we’ll add some lace to the bottom?

Not sure.

It’s funny, because I’ve never been a “curtain” person. I like open windows for the most part, so I can see outside. Café curtains are my favorite style for bedrooms and bathrooms, since you can still see out, but the bottom half of the window is covered. We’ll probably part the two panels just a tiny bit so we can put candles in the windows again. The light switches are wired so that one switch turns on the window candles… very popular symbol of hospitality here in Slower Delaware!

Now I just need to unearth the sewing machine!

THAT could be interesting.

I’ve still been looking for ideas for pictures and such for the bedroom. On the internet, on Etsy, in magazines, and in books. I thought it might be a good idea to look through the prints we’ve collected over the years that have never gotten framed. You know the ones… you’re going through a craft or art show, come upon an incredible artist, and buy one of his prints. And come home and never frame it. Most of the ones we have bought are patriotic or soldier-oriented. Somehow I don’t see them working in the new bedroom. But I came across this print by Andy Smith. Love, love, LOVE his work. It has a darker shade of the blue, plus just a “pop” of red. Just might work…

Whatcha think?

P.S. ALL the trim has ONE COAT!


Day 25 – Blue & White!

Gave the walls the second coat of paint!

I’m glad I went ahead and got another gallon…
with the morning light in the room, the “skips” really showed up.

It took exactly two hours to do the walls…
then after lunch, I started on the trim.

Before painting, the curtain rod and shade hardware
had to be removed, and the holes had to be filled and sanded.

Then the painting could commence.

It doesn’t look too impressive yet…
but it’s just the first coat.

The trim is going to take a while, but I can do a little at a time.

Things I’ve learned about painting…

I do NOT like painting ceilings.

Blue paint really stands out in black hair.

I do like painting walls and trim.

I get almost as much paint on me
as I do on the ceiling and walls and trim.


I think a cup of tea is in order.