Procrastinating my way through DIY projects, my faith journey and clean eating!

Basement Progress… yes there IS progress! July 30, 2012

Filed under: DIY,La Casa — Kara F. @ 9:55 pm
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My super husband – who had no drywall experience prior to tackling this project – has done an amazing job with our in progress basement transformation, which we’ve been in various stages of planning/starting for FIVE YEARS!

The good news… is we’re done drywalling, taping and mudding! Thanks to his hard work, figure-it-out-idness (yep that’s a word) and helpful friends/family, we can finish up sanding and be ready to prime and paint.

This (disclaimer: taken a week before finishing mudding – I promise its done!)  is looking into the future family room and the doorway in the back will be to our storage room. Both helpers are included with the room – thank God, they have a lot of work to do!

I’m hoping for a built in bookcase/secret passage door. Like this:


But for now, there are a bunch of random things in the middle of the room blocking any good photos of the doorway.

Of course there is SO much more to do… however, I’m grateful that we have ANY progress to report.

I’m so excited about my future “cloffice” – no that’s not me making up words again, it’s a “thing” where you put your office in a closet.

Like this:


or this:


I’m happy to  at least have up rough drywall!

This will be in the future guest room (giving us flexibility to make it a room if we need to).

Here… imagine a barn wood or salvage wood accent wall.

Like this:


I’ve been doing a lot of pinning and Sherwin Williams Chip It-ing! to find the best color combinations. But if feels like we have a lot more to do before we get to that point.

For now, I’ve got some drywall dust to clean up. And sawdust.



Sweet visit, Alabama: My 25 things July 29, 2012

Filed under: DIY,La Casa,My Eclection — Kara F. @ 10:06 pm
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I took a leap. And I’m glad I did.

After several attempts at painting furniture in my house by the tried and true “trial and error” approach, I took the first step of recovery: admitting I had a problem. This was quickly followed by step 2: I needed help.

When one of my design blogging heroes Shaunna West from Perfectly Imperfect announced she was a stockist for Annie Sloan’s chalk paint. I was intrigued. When she announced she was hosting workshops in her HOME, I signed up almost immediately.

So in borrowing from the woman I will clearly borrow a lot from in the future (in an inspiration perspective, not like a creepy, misdemeanor way!), here are my 25 things about my trip Alabama for Shaunna’s painting workshop:

1. It’s truly surreal to meet someone in person who you have been reading online.

Here we are – eek! So cool!

Not only do we dress alike (best-ies!), we’re also hand talkers. In this picture, I’m not trying to eat her head with my giant mouth, I’m just really loud and extreme in all things, especially hand gestures and throwing my head back in laughter.

Just like when my favorite cookbook author responded to my email (AND commented on my blog – eek!), I was star struck. When Shaunna’s name showed up in my in box after I registered: I couldn’t stop smiling. When she opened the door to her house and welcomed me: I started sweating and not from the Alabama heat.

2. Southern hospitality isn’t just a phrase, it’s for real, ya’ll.

It was incredibly appropriate that Shaunna conducted the workshop in her dining room in front of this sign.

She invited 12 strangers into her home and did so with grace and humility. She didn’t even mind all of us super fans walked around and took photos. We were like the blogger-stalk-a-razzi. But I asked first Mom, in case you’re reading and wondering if I have any manners!

3. Yes I took a photo of her bathroom.  (I have those West Elm towels too!)

She says its a work in progress, but the mirror. SWOON….

4. I have an incredibly random memory.

I have to take iPhone photos of the parking garage numbers to remember where I parked my car and frequently forget why I stand up from my desk at work to do something on the way to doing that thing… But as I walked around Shaunna’s house I remembered the exact blog post where she wrote about the particular item I was looking at.

I wasn’t alone. Thankfully many of the other delightful ladies did the same.

“Oh look, the hutch in French Linen…”

5. I pledge allegiance to Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, for painting in my life.

I’d read about this paint before – mostly from Shaunna – in how easy it is to work with. It’s made for painting furniture. And it’s from England, so obviously cool.

But this paint is special. Even the messy can is cute.

You don’t need to prime or sand (unless you want to!). It’s low VOC. And the colors are amazing.

I’m pretty sure I said several times how I wanted to make out with the French Linen (like the hutch – love!).

6. The technique is incredibly easy.

Shaunna patiently answered our many questions, but her biggest tip was to just go for it. You can’t screw it up! If you do mess up, it’s so easy to fix!

7. The paint can be used for a wide variety of finishes.

I would describe my home decor style as contemporary and eclectic, so I don’t always gravitate toward “shabby” or French finishes. But I’m starting to and this paint will be a really easy way to get both finishes with just varying my technique.

Look at Shaunna’s sample board for two different crackle finishes. BOTH were so easy!

8. Home designers and DIY experts are a unique community that I want to be a part of.

I was bummed I wasn’t able to go to the Haven Conference for DIY and home bloggers last month. I need something more. I need to learn hands on from experts who document their own journeys for me to Pin and leave. I need to be with a group of women who had shared interests. I’m glad I’m not the only one with a hoarder’s pile of furniture to tackle!

It finally clicked for me this community is truly that (a community) when Shaunna started sharing her own story and I felt compelled to comment rather than just Pin and leave.

I want to contribute my own journey (including failures) on this blog as a creative outlet. Even when my day job has nothing to do with choosing clear or dark wax…

9. Shaunna is not only knowledgeable about the paint and an amazing designer/photographer, but she’s also goofy and real.

Oops, I hope I didn’t break any implied confidentiality from the workshop, but her personality is infectious and fun. Just like she says her house is real, “allegedly” unfinished bathroom and all. That’s all part of her Perfectly Imperfect brand.

It was courageous of her to open her home to strangers and try this Annie Sloan thing as a part of her business. But, I got to meet her dog (and her husband and her intern Natalie) and that’s cool.

10. I did that!

Because it’s part of my own brand not to finish things or procrastinate them… I guess my 25 things is only 10. But there’s no better way to finish this than with what I did…

And this.

So there are many more things I learned and took away from this workshop. Mostly: I CAN do this! I can make beautiful things – or at least take the things I don’t love and make them lovely.

Sincerest thanks to Shaunna, Matt and Natalie for a wonderful workshop. Now, let’s get to that garage full of furniture and cleaning out those old buckets of latex (ew!) paint!


Cake Pop Wreck July 27, 2012

Filed under: Clean eatin',Kidbits,My Eclection — Kara F. @ 10:05 pm
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I have really enjoyed the other Pinterest-loving/execution-failing manifestos (The Inspired Room, The Power of Moms and many others) about how this new form of “sure I can do that, and will spend all my time doing it” perfection is debilitating.

The reality is – as a friend said recently – my Pinterest house, life, clothes, child-centric activities and abs are way more interesting than my real life.

So when my good friend J asked me to make cookies for her daughter’s graduation party, I offered to make these fancy cake pops… and NOT take the advice of another friend and just use my cake pop MAKER and a boxed mix.

While my friend practiced her recipes before the party, I hastily stayed out too late the night before (for the first time in a very long time!) and made them quickly the morning of the party.

I have great ideas, but fail in execution!

Here’s what I did (after the previous steps of being too tired from trying to stay out late with my Crossfit friends). No this is not a recipe, it’s a step-by-step look at my trainwreck-ed, over-stretch of my skills and time. Delicious train wreck…

Step 1: Print out recipe

Step 2: Bake cake, mash up cake into crumbs, mix with frosting, try not to eat all frosting, mix into small balls

Step 3: Melt white candy coating, dip cake pops into coating, drop and destroy pops, cry, eat cake pop shrapnel, leave dirty dishes in sink

Step 4: Roll in sprinkles based on the colors of the graduate’s school, drop cake pop off stick, cry, eat more

Step 5: Realize only purchasing 1 package of candy coating was a bad idea, try to use ready-to-mix icing as “cover” and fail


Didn’t work. Also not such great taste.

In fact it didn’t work so badly I can’t even upload the photo. WordPress won’t let it show my shame, though you can see it below. I couldn’t even technically frost them just make weird little polka dots and then gave up after 3. Typical.

All in all, the cake pops tasted amazing (mixing frosting with cake and covered in candy coating is a good recipe for awesomeness) and the party people saw past the “cover” of the book and judged only the delicious pages… or cake or… whatever, I’m bad with analogies.

And I think J is still my friend and I will keep my day job.  Yay!

I just hope no one submits these photos to the real Cake Wreck site!


Could I live on $1.25 per day? July 6, 2012

Filed under: Faith,Kidbits — Kara F. @ 4:30 pm
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Today I took my kids to the dentist office for their 6-month check ups, with x-rays and fluoride: $100 (paid via insurance).

I went to the chiropractor to get adjusted and heal some of the back pain/headaches I’ve been having: $45.

I drank coffee, brushed my teeth, took a shower, ran the dishwasher: basically free.

I drove the 30 miles in my reliable and thankfully paid for car to my job which pays me the money to live the “American way:” $10.

I bought a healthy lunch and iced tea: $7.50.

I refilled my trendy, environmentally friendly water bottle ($11) 3 times: free.

Having already paid approximately $162.50 today (not counting my mortgage or utilities) to live half a day,  I sat in an air-conditioned office and decided during my lunch break to click a “game” I was made aware of my Compassion International as a new member of Compassion Bloggers: Survive 125. This was developed by 58: a group of organizations working to end poverty in our lifetime.

I’m Divya:

During this game, I had to make choices like:

Send my son to school with a new uniform or pull him out since I can’t afford one.

Send my daughter to school or to a job, which will help put food on our table but where there are rumors of sex trafficking.

Drink dirty water or pull my son out of school to go get clean water from a well three hours away.

When I made the choices most first world parents would make (pay for a uniform, avoid the sketchy job, choose school for their future), I got sick and ran out of money in 17 days.

These are the daily decisions nearly 1.3 billion people living in extreme poverty face every day.

Their struggle isn’t mine, but it’s all of ours.

I won’t ever forget the faces of those kids I met in Guatemala, living on dirt floors, happy to be playing with the scrap wood from our building site. I won’t forget the girls I met in Detroit, whose chances for schooling beyond even a little bit of high school were slim.

I don’t pretend to have it all figured out. We try to live within our means. But, I may make poor choices and lose focus. Raising awareness for even a moment is a step in the right direction.

Won’t you take a minute and “play” the ultimate Game of Life?


I’m an extremist and I know it… I workout… July 4, 2012

Filed under: Clean eatin',Crossfit Adventures,Faith,My Eclection — Kara F. @ 12:33 pm

For some reason, having the day off in the middle of the week – Happy Birthday America! – and having a time to relax, causes me to be introspective. What have I figured out? It’s too hard to put into my own words, so I’ll rip off a TV show from the 90s:

In my senior high school yearbook, I was nearly nominated for “Class Moodiest.” In elementary school my sister wrote a story about how my moods were like a tornado.

I think now I am less on the moody side and more on the inconsistent side. I’m rarely anything for too long. In fact, I might even be a flip flipper.

I’m either completely lazy on the verge of couch-induced bed sores… or I’m extremely multi-task-ey/get’er done.

I’m either really tired, or really hyper. Rarely in the middle.

I give up easily, but sometimes I’m incredibly disciplined.

I hold a lot of unpopular view points compared to mainstream society, but I hate being singled out.

I love.

I encourage.

I work hard not to gossip, but then I gossip.

I avoid conflict. I pick fights.

I am who I am.

I push myself at Crossfit harder when the trainer is near me and other times I push myself hard because I know I can.

I don’t eat bread, dairy or sugar. I sometimes eat bread, dairy and sugar. It’s my choice and I’m okay with that and the consequences. I do it not because I’m addicted, but because I want to.

I’m sick of making up my lunch or breakfast at work and watching groups of employees gorging themselves on bagels make comments about how “I can’t believe you’re STILL eating so healthy Kara. I just can’t get enough of these carbs.”

Blech. I got a clue I hope they do too!

I’m judgemental and opinionated, but I keep it in a lot to not offend anyone.

Sometimes it comes out in hurtful ways.

I’m strong, I’m guilty.

I’m me. Even if I can’t find a pithy few words to say it.


On life changing tumors, vanity and volleyball June 27, 2012

Filed under: Clean eatin',Crossfit Adventures,My Eclection — Kara F. @ 9:25 am

No this isn’t a touching, heartwarming, overcoming illness story. I’m too blessed and cynical to be sharing that. So I either baited you with a potentially touching headline or you wonder if this could possibly be a post about my butt.

If you chose Door #2 … WINNER!

In the tradition of my beloved oversharing endearing personality trait, this is a story about my benign fatty tumor on the very bottom part of my where my left butt cheek meets my thigh. I will spare you the visual (but click on this useful Wikipedia page if you want to see photos of these tumors – only if you have a strong stomach).

Let’s just say that since I’ve had kids (two boys 15 months apart, woot woot!), Victoria’s Secret hasn’t been calling me to do any runway shows or print ads.

I’ve had this “growth” (that’s a disgusting word, let’s just call it Carl) since at least I was pregnant with my oldest or at least that’s when I noticed it as that’s not a place I generally look at!

I found creative ways to hide Carl during bathing suit season, purchasing cute “boy” shorts which either made me look like I was ready for a sand volleyball game at any time…

…or like I was trying to bring back old-fashioned bathing suits:

So out of vanity I suppose, I went to my dermatologist and pleaded for help to get it removed. One look at it and she said Carl’s dimensions were beyond a simple in-office procedure and referred me to a surgeon.


Oh yeah and because of its location, I’d have to sit on some sort of post-op inflatable cushion to avoid messing up the incision.


What’s a girl to do?

Based on my (lack of) medical degree, I decided losing weight was the only way to help (and of course every other issue I had). Even though I wasn’t even sure there was a connection between a gross tumor and the number I saw on the scale.

After nearly a year of Crossfit and 5 months on Paleo, when I put on my non-boy short bathing suit for a quick swim with my boys at the beach, it was HIDDEN by my REGULAR bathing suit bottoms. I’m no longer a freak!

So – again by my extensive medical investigation skills – it’s obvious either:

  1. I lost enough weight to make it smaller
  2. All those front squats, power cleans and lunges at the gym made my butt taller (is that a thing? higher?)
  3. The cellulite all got together one day to kick out that weird stickey-outey thing and force it to be concave like God intended thighs/butts to be covered in

Or all of the above.

But at least now I have the option to play sand volleyball like this.

Minus the tan, nice hair and abs.

Enough oversharing… back to work, on my overhead squats and toes to bar of course.

Photo via.


Throwing myself into it and other things that freak me out June 5, 2012

Filed under: Crossfit Adventures,My Eclection — Kara F. @ 1:25 pm
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There is this blogger who I would very much like to be real life friends with…

In “Crossfit Lisbeth“Lisbeth Darsh writes about Crossfit in a way only Crossfitters would understand (says the self-righteous “elite athlete” excited to finally be part of the cool crowd). But today’s lesson is one which applies to everyone and of course like all life growth, freaks me right out.

She writes about how in some areas (money, time) it’s okay to “save it for later” but not when it comes to giving your full heart in a workout:

Do you hold yourself back, just a little, in the workout because you worry you won’t have enough energy at the end? Do you pick that weight on the bar because it’s right for you … or because you’re scared of what you really could do?

Stop it. Most of the time, you’re probably doing yourself no favors.

Most of the time, you’re going to do better by going a little harder, giving a little more, being a little bit more of yourself. Not all the time, but most. The stuff you’re “saving for later” might actually be weighing you down.

This life is short.

Be smart. Be courageous. Be bold. Throw everything you got on the line and watch life reply.
Since I’m the queen of not pushing myself too hard in a workout (and in general in life I suppose), these words are stinging a little bit too close to home today. But I need it.
Could I jump higher in a burpee EVEN when no one is watching or taking my photo? Yep.
Could I use more weight in a ball slam when I KNOW I can EVEN when there are high reps? Yep.
Could I post even LESS flattering photos of myself on this blog. Nope.
But I need to do it. The “end” is an amazing feeling (even when I make a “sweat angel” on the ground). I need to be reminded how far I’ve come (you’re next unassisted pull ups!) and how far I can go.
Photos via.

My post about the word I hate hearing on House Hunters: Storage June 4, 2012

Filed under: DIY,La Casa — Kara F. @ 8:22 am

We are lucky enough to own a house my step-dad built.

During the building process, we had absolutely NO intention of buying it as we already owned a house very close to our jobs in a town just outside of Detroit. This one was not only in the town I grew up in (who wants to be a “townie?”), but also closer to where he and my mom lived.

But as I grew more pregnant with our first son the idea of living closer to my MOMMY (and being a townie) seemed very appealing.

Our house is new, modern and in an amazing neighborhood with a beautiful lake. It is however incredibly efficient in terms of space… good for our heating and cooling bills, but not great for storage or lack thereof (don’t YOU hate it when people on House Hunters say random nouns with artificial enthusiasm as they walk around the house… “oooohhhh wood floors” or “Look…storage!”).

**Note: here would be where I’d link to a cute YouTube video clip montage of people on House Hunters saying “storage” to illustrate my point, but no such thing exists. So get on it already YouTube generation!

Our kitchen lacks [gasp… the HORROR!] a pantry

As I said before, I know, first world problems!

So my solution was first to track down the cabinet manufacturer and buy additional cabinets.

That sounded like a terribly long process. So during a Craigslist search I found an amazing cabinet with a lot of potential.

After months of sitting in my garage, I got to work this past weekend.

I first had to buy my supplies including a paint sprayer, which we hope to also use on the basement ceiling. I was grateful to read a lot of great online reviews including Katie from BowerPower (love her!) who recommended the Graco TrueCoat Plus.

But, safety first.

And fill the many nail holes using a great tool (my finger) and wood filler.

Next… sanding. The style is super primitive so it needed some significant cleaning up.

It also must have been reinforced with the wood from some sort of shipping crate:

And a bit of water damage.

In true “procrastinate it yourself” fashion, I didn’t do the smart thing and remove this wood and replace it with better, more sturdy wood. No I gave my 5-year-old a long screwdriver and let him demo out the bottom part. He was happy as evidenced by this self portrait.

I used my well-loved can of Zinsser B-I-N primer based also on several great online reviews.

When I first opened it up last fall it was terribly runny and thin and I of course got immediately upset with the store who obviously sold me old primer.

After fixing that attitude and some Googling (thank you Glenn Haege! And to my dad for making me listen to the Master Handyman for so many years!), I found indeed it is a bit liquid-ey, but it sticks to anything without sanding, including laminate which I tested last fall on a cheap shelf.

Because of the thin consistency of the primer I used the spray nozzle for stains and other thinner materials for the spray gun. It worked great with some clogging, which I expect will go away when I use regular latex paint on our basement project.

After one coat of primer and two rolled on coats of paint (Sherwin Williams Porpoise) I was able to salvage and paint the hardware with my favorite spray paint Rust-Oleum Oil Rubbed Bronze (great for updating all sorts of old metal and recommended by my DIY heroes John and Sherry at Young House Love).

After waiting ONLY a week in the garage (vs. my typical period of months)… my strong husband helped me bring it in the house yesterday and alas I have storage!

Let’s look at the transformation from hastily painted silver and dirt to something I would hope any House Hunter would respond to with a nicely scripted “oooohhhh… storage:”

There’s nothing like the impending visit of my sister and her beautiful family to convince me to finish up the many not-yet-finished-but-I-really-want-to-so-I-will-stay-up-late-and-not-procrastinate projects!

Now, onto the basement


How NOT to do it yourself May 31, 2012

Filed under: DIY,La Casa — Kara F. @ 2:21 pm
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1. Get over-inspired by Pinterest.

2. Think you have more talents than you really have.

3. Find an old uncomfortable, ugly chair from the child-era furniture set from your stepbrothers.

4. Ignore broken leg of chair and paint over it hoping it will still work.

5. Give up on painting and say something along the lines of “eh” good enough.

6. Improperly seal it on a windy day outside.

7. Wait several months.

8. Move chair around garage several times.

9. Buy cute fabric in the form of a napkin without actually measuring to ensure it fits the chair.

10. Wait several months.

11. Buy foam cushion for chair’s seat.

12. Be proud of yourself for not waiting several months for the next step.

13. On the hottest day of the year sit in your garage in between other overally ambitious three-day weekend projects and start a-stapling (yes that’s a word)!

14. Realize after several hundred staples the fabric is too short.

15. Put aside all dreams of giving up the corporate world to create amazing salvaged furniture with your hands and decide it’s good enough for your comfortable/non-showplace house.

16. Make a creative “envelope” with the one extra napkin you bought for the helpful storage of small items for people using the chair. Decide you’re brilliant after all.

17. Sit. Be done. Be happy it was basically free.

Yay progress and a new invention – BEHOLD the ENVELOPE CHAIR!


What would it mean to take a step back? May 29, 2012

Filed under: Faith,Kidbits,My Eclection — Kara F. @ 4:00 pm
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I just found Shaun Groves’ blog thanks to The Nester’s recent trip to Tanzania and it got me so moved here I am a month after procrastinating a post, excited to get going again.

Here’s why:

a. It’s stunning from the design to the amazing photography. I enjoy good blog eye candy!

b. His writing style is clear and easy to understand. I spend my days typing out corporate-speak so I can appreciate someone who’s words speak to me so powerfully.

c. He’s a singer with a scruffy beard, which basically defines my musical tastes, so that’s good.

d. This post has me wrecked.

He writes about “Downward Mobility” and how people may be called to something different from corporate ladder climbing or dual income houses or striving for international fame. Some people are called to serve, to be a servant and to become a sacrifice.

Philippians 2:7-8: Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.

My pastor recently shared a message about powerful, audacious faith (a la Steven Furtick) and he talked about how we should be CONTENT and NOT COMFORTABLE.

But it’s when you obey God in the small things, when you’ll be able to obey him in the big things. That’s audacious faith and that’s when he’ll be able to work through you. 

He then challenged us to think about where we live in the fear of the visible or in the invisible faith?


Once I picked myself up off the floor of that one… I was able to find some closure on a situation I had recently.

I was offered a job.  But this job would have meant a big life style change for my family to the tune of a significant decrease in our income.

I was so excited about it. My time in Guatemala with Pray America building houses and loving on kids in 2010 changed something inside me in terms of my desire to help people in need like I never had before.

The fact that I ever considered it is evidence of a HUGE change and growth for me. I spent a lot of years focused on nothing but my career and getting that next promotion or opportunity.

I don’t share this on the Inter-web lightly. This is some big accountability. I’m also not sharing it to pat myself on the back. In fact I’m sharing it because circumstances were that we just weren’t ready to take a big step like this. We had fear and ultimately a lack of faith about the big step we were going to take would be TOO big.

“Downward Mobility” is what I crave, but I have to do some “house cleaning” to be able to make that work. I had to turn it down.

Saying “no” led to a terrible time period of self pity (“oh poor me, I can’t make less money”), anger (“if only my procrastination didn’t cause me to put off things we should have taken care of sooner”) and sadness.

Talk about first world problems!

But I know what I have to do to be ready for the next opportunity…no matter what it is. I have some things to figure out, simplify and get right no matter what my career and calling (which for right now feels like two separate things!). I need to be thankful for what I have: a good job, an amazing family, my health, my home and the amazing people around me.

A good friend once told me to take advantage of the season I was in before I wished for the next one.

Sounds like good advice for me now.