Whitewashing a Fireplace

We have been working SO hard this weekend in our new house… painting cabinets, wacking shrubs back, erasing spiderwebs, and painting shutters.  It’s been amazing to see how much we’ve been able to accomplish in just a few days!

The first project I want to share is updating the fireplace.  We still need to paint the mantle and do some wood work from the mantle to the ceiling… but this was a huge face lift on its own!

I present the before photo:


The brass surround really made it look outdated.  I recruited my awesome baby sister to help with this part.  She did a fantastic job taping the windows and covering the brick so the spray paint wouldn’t go everywhere.  Once it was all taped, she spray painted it in about 2-3 coats but it dries really quickly so she was done in less than an hour.  We used a high heat Rustoleum in BBQ black- matte finish.  I really like the matted look versus going shiny.


Once it was dry, I took ALL the tape off and saw how awesome it looked. Next up was the brick.

The original brick kept things dark and I knew our room color was going lighter/brighter so I wanted the fireplace to keep up too.   I decided to whitewash it to lighten things up.  It was a bit nerve wracking to paint over brick.  Previously, I painted (think 7 coats) a large fireplace in our first home and I knew I didn’t want to be that extreme with this fireplace (nor work that hard).  Next came taping up the freshly painted black surround to keep it from becoming white.  After some Pinterest searches for some advice/inspiration, I finally just decided to go for it!

I used a 2-1 ration (2 parts water to one part paint- interior latex flat) and mixed it all in a plastic jug.  Then I went to work painting/mopping it on.  I kept a rag close by for spills.  I went a little too thick at the beginning (went over a brick more than once) but then realized it and went less heavy handed on the rest of the project.  I think it turned out really well.

The after photo:


learn, brooke

Closing Day

IMG_3673For me, a real estate closing day is a whirlwind of emotions. Excitement, nerves, fear, exhaustion, and adrenaline are just a few of the feelings.

The ending of one chapter and start of another is nothing to downplay. In the past, I’ve been so excited about what is to come that I’ve forgotten to reflect on what happened in the “old” home. When I slow down to do this, a flood of memories hits me. We’ve gotten married, adopted a dog, lost a dog, had a baby, lost friends, made friends, dealt with theft and been given so much while in our past homes. I think it’s important to recognize the love that made it a home while still being excited about what’s in store.

Thinking ahead to the new house stirs up a flutter of emotions too. What’s going to break that we aren’t expecting? How much will it cost? What updates make the most sense? Which contractor should we go with? Will JB make new friends on our street? Will he transition ok into a new house/room? Are we going to be able to sell it when we want to? Yes, there are lots of concerns but we are excited to see what God has in store!

We have about four weeks of projects to complete on the new home before we move in. I’m excited to share the process and the projects on this blog.   I’m nervous and hopeful about these next few weeks. However, I know it will feel great to move in after projects are completed instead of moving in now and completing once we close.

Thanks for your prayers and encouragement during this time! Oh, and JB starts preK in the middle of this and we are going to Texas for a family wedding. Fingers crossed for everything to go smoothly!

love, brooke

Prepping to Move- Part 2

This week, I have continued my packing prep work.  We are still 4 weeks away from our move, but I really want to pack as much as possible now.  That way, when we close on the new house, my attention can focus to projects there.

IMG_3455Pack Non-Essentials

I focused a good bit on closets this week.  My winter clothes and shoes are now packed up.  JB’s dress up clothes and hats are now packed.  Next up will be our coat closet.

Since my house is in such disarray, I have no plans to throw a dinner party any time soon.  Because of this, we went ahead and packed all of my “fine” (aka Martha Stewart Living) china, platters, champagne flutes, and wine glasses.

IMG_3380Continue Decluttering

With the help of my organizer, we got half of my kitchen packed in an hour on Tuesday.  We whittled down vases (I dropped off six at Goodwill today), kitchen appliances (sayonara salad shooter), and packed muffin pans.  Of course, that evening, I needed to bake cupcakes.  I got creative and used my bundt pan (which should have probably been packed in lieu of the muffin tins).  

We also pulled out all of our casserole dishes, Pyrex, etc and I was able to do an inventory of what all is here.  This helped me realize that I could donate a few items that I’ve never used and free up some valuable moving box space.  It was really helpful to see it all at the same time to really get a sense of what we have.

IMG_3384Don’t forget to declutter under sinks.  If you are like me, you throw random things in sink cabinets to get it out of the way quickly.  I used this early packing time to organize cleaning supplies, toiletries, toss junk, and pack up anything that we won’t need soon.

Packing Tip: When a kitchen cabinet is empty, put blue painter’s tape on the knob.  This will prevent you from going crazy checking cabinets 23 times each to be sure they are empty.

Pack wall artwork

This part was a bittersweet portion of moving prep this week.  I love our artwork and I feel like it makes our house a home.  But, I decided to go ahead and pack it up to save precious last minute packing time for essentials.  

Packing Tip:  I’m sort of obsessed with the 3M velcro strips that adhere to the wall and frame- which make for easy removal.  Then, when it’s time to re-hang, you just need one new strip to adhere to the current strip and press onto the wall.  As you remember, we are moving to our 4th home in 27 months, so easy artwork displaying and removal is key.

Command Picture Hanging Strips Value Pack, Medium, White, 12-Pairs (17204-12ES) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LW1APOC/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_HxwCzb56D95XA

Good luck with your move!

learn, brooke

Two Weeks of Pinteresting

I’ve been anti-Pinterest for awhile. I think I’m pretty creative and did not want to see others’ ideas and stifle my creativity.  

From what I’ve gathered, it seems Pinterest has helped put lots of pressure on having the “perfect party”. In my opinion, the perfect party is good food, good friends and a good time. A million homemade DIY projects doesn’t factor into this equation.

But, as we are about to embark on a new house… I decided to join in hopes of easily accessing decorating ideas. Our new house needs paint: EVERYWHERE. I’m talking cabinets, moldings, walls, ceilings, etc. I’ve been learning that there are numerous paint companies with their own paint colors. And you can buy paint from several different locations. That’s like exponential math; it’s overwhelming. Did you also know there are dozens and dozens of grey/biege combos?! I joined Pinterest to help with this.
So this is how I have been Pinteresting…

Yes, those are screen shots. My friend P tells me that this is not how one should Pinterest… something about projects and pins.  But so far, it works for me.  Oh, and apparently I should get the app.  

I’ve successfully narrowed wall paint choices down to four. It only took two hours. I feel accomplished. Then, today, JB tells me that he wants a yellow room. YELLOW?!? I guess that means a few more hours on the Pinterest. 

So, that’s my review of two weeks on Pinterest. I give myself a C-.  Definitely room for improvement.
laugh, brooke

Prepping to Move- Part 1

If all goes as planned, we will be homeowners {again} in just a few weeks!  I am excited about this next chapter in our lives and want to share much of it with you. We are buying a home that needs some love- think paint, pressure washing, and some updates.  I hope to share those projects with you but for now, I want to share my moving prep plan.

This will be our THIRD move in TWENTY-SEVEN MONTHS!  Yes, you read that correctly.  I (unfortunately) feel like I am turning into a pro at moving.  I want to share my process in hopes of helping others who haven’t been as lucky (not) as me to move so frequently.  Today’s post focuses on things you can do a six weeks to a month before a move.

The key to my moving prep is to do it slowly and steadily.  Rome was not built in a day and I assure you, this 2700 square foot townhouse won’t be packed in a day either.  Even though we are a month out from the move, I am still trying to focus on areas that I can accomplish now versus waiting to do later.  Handling them now will take stress off of me later when more necessary packing is needed… aka the opposite of procrastination.

Your first plan of action is get boxes.  Collecting Amazon boxes, raiding your neighbors recycling bins, and hitting up your local liquor store (for boxes) are all great ways to accomplish this plan.  Whenever you get into packing, the last thing you want to happen is not having enough boxes.  So, start collecting and don’t stop until the last box is packed!

As I prep for the move, I try really hard to remember when we last used each item.  If it is still in a box from our last move, do we need to move it again?  I think cleaning out/donating unused items is important BEFORE you move.  It will save you money on moving costs- less for movers to move, less boxes/tape to buy, and less to unpack in your new home.

The majority of a move is on me.  I have to handle packing, organizing, and logistics.  This is not a complaint- just an honest statement.  In the effort of full disclosure, I have hired someone to help me organize/pack for a couple of hours each week.  It’s not that I need this person’s expertise to help me complete the process, but more like I need her to be around to help motivate me.  Maybe your spouse is this person or your friend, or maybe you are a self motivated packer.  I work best having a helper and have no shame in admitting that.

IMG_3270Start decluttering.

This far out from a move, it is best to start with places that you don’t use frequently in your home.  Linen closets, bedroom closets, and under bathroom sinks are a good place to start.  Use this time to take on one space at a time.  Maybe try to conquer one or two a day.  During this conquering, pull every item out.  I think physically touching each thing is important as it helps you weed through things.  Have three piles- keep, donate, and trash.  If you are moving (as I am), you may want a 4th box for packing.  Some things I know I want to keep, but I know I won’t need it before I move, so why not go ahead and pack?  These items can be seasonal (JB does not need snow boots nor his Easter basket before we move next month) so they are already packed.  I don’t think I am going to need my extra winter blankets or extra towels in the next month, so I went ahead a boxed those up.  Label these boxes and in a few weeks, they will start to pile up and you will feel very accomplished…. and less stressed.

Decluttering Areas:  closets, book shelves, picture frames, kitchen pantry

IMG_3251Start Organizing.

Areas that always overwhelm me: kitchen pantry, JB’s toys, and the junk/mail table.  I pretty much hate these areas.  The pantry is always full of stuff and I can’t find what I need when I need it.  The mail table just gets stacked and stacked until it falls over.  JB’s toys are in perpetual movement throughout our three story townhouse.  Reuniting them is a bit overwhelming.

Well, I am happy to say that I worked on these three spots this week.  The mail junk is still there but MUCH lower.  JB’s toys have been sorted through into donate pile, trash, pack now, and pack later.  It was nice to see everything get put together; legos are all together, the match cars, big cars, etc.  And three boxes of toys are all packed to move to the new house.

Organizing Areas: office desk/paperwork, children’s toys, kitchen pantry

FullSizeRender (18)Pack unnecessary items.

We have a perfect ledge to display picture frames in our current home.  It’s nice to see the pics every day, but my life is going to be ok for the next month with them already being packed.  We have a great selection of board games, but I doubt we will play them in the next month, so they are packed.  I do not need my winter clothes for a few more months, so they are packed.  I can do without my “formal” dining set so that will be packed next.

Packing Areas: fine china, books, picture frames, garage tools

I hope some of these tips will help make your upcoming move less stressful!

learn, brooke

Ode to Claire

Claire’s love for texting and my never ending texting skills became an instant match.  I’d estimate that we text 100 times back and forth each day.  My husband would say that is a low estimate.  

I officially met her while she was six months pregnant with her second son and working the check out at our church consignment sale.  She and Scott had visited our Sunday school class before but if not yet had a conversation with them.  Fast forward to the Sunday before Christmas, and I saw them at the 8:30am service.  After the service, I asked if they were coming to Sunday School and was informed that Claire wasn’t feeling well and didn’t think she could sit through the class.  I later learned that she was in labor and Cabell was born two days later.

It took me 4 months to finally take Claire a meal after having Cabell.  I was so embarrassed it took me that long.  Claire was so appreciative because Scott was traveling and she didn’t have to cook while solo parenting.  That’s when I realized that she was also a stay at home mom.  We started hanging out more through church and play dates and slowly became good friends.  

claire4Claire and I have so much in common.  We are both the oldest of three girls and raised outdoors- fishing, playing in the woods, and working in the garden.  Both of our fathers are outdoorsmen who were lucky enough to end up with three daughters.  They taught us to fish, get dirty, and love being outside.  We both love cold beer, good food, Jesus, the ocean, and spending time with our family and friends.  

claire2Claire’s house was being remodeled for a tv show in July 2015 and she had to move her family out for two weeks.  I invited her and the boys to join JB and I at my family’s C shack on the GA coast.  I thought I knew her pretty well, but vacationing with someone makes you get to know them really well.  Thankfully, in this case, that was a good thing.  I had expected Claire to be like most of my friends; to have never seen a crab trap before, tossed a cast net nor know much about fishing.  Instead, she could identify many more fish than me and can throw an 8 foot cast net (I can only throw a 5 footer).  I learned that many of her childhood vacations were to south Florida for fishing and crabbing.  Her love of crabs became apparent that week with her help in not only catching them but also in cleaning them (aka the dirty work).  The night we ate the crabs, we both sat at the table for an hour drinking beer and raving about how good the crabs were.  Our boys were running all around us like crazy but we could not lose focus until all the crabs were eaten.  That would have been a total sin.  

claire6Claire is a runner.  And she is fast.  We “trained” together for my second half marathon.  She’d run pushing a stroller (I didn’t have one) and was still kind enough to slow down and allow me to keep up.  We’ve done numerous races “together”.  Claire is always standing at the finish line waiting on me and cheering me on.  It always feels good to have someone at the finish but Claire makes you feel like you were the best runner there- even if 15,000 people have already finished before you (this is true for my races).

Claire is a cheerleader.  Literally, she was a high school cheerleader, but figuratively, she is now a cheerleader of life.  She is an original encourager of my blog.  Recently, she read a book and said, “Brooke- you could write this better than the author did.”  This is very kind of her since I have never written a book.  She was one of the first Luma testers and immediately wrote a 5 star review.  If you tell Claire that you want to do something, she will help you do it.  She encouraged me to go to Alaska to visit my sister and then watched JB two afternoons while I was gone so Peck wouldn’t miss work.  Everyone needs a friend like Claire.

claire10Claire is an encourager.  As we all know, life has its ups and downs.  Claire always sees the glass as half full.  When you are feeling down, she helps lift you up.  When you want to talk or vent, she is always ready and able to listen.  The year or so around Luma starting was very difficult for me.  Lots of transitions and loneliness with my husband needing to work so much.  Claire provided so much encouragement during this time and wisdom.  She has been a big part of helping me through the start-up widow life.

claire7Claire loves my son like another child.  She gives him so much encouragement, love and direction.  He loves play dates at her house and she always has the best snacks.  Since JB was gluten free most of his life, she always made sure he had a special sweet treat at her boys’ birthday parties or other events.  Making sure he didn’t feel left out was always so sweet of Claire.  

Claire is a lover.  She loves her family mightily and her friends too.  She is constantly checking on others and providing support when she can.  When I lost my grandmother, Claire was the first one to bring us a meal.  When someone in our family is sick, she is the first to drop off groceries or cupcakes.  She takes a meal to every family she knows as soon as they have a baby.  Even people she doesn’t even know.  Anything she can do to help or show love to others, she is happy to do.

Claire is a prayer warrior.  It doesn’t matter the size or concern- she is happy to lift it up in prayer.  She prays for you even when you don’t ask or know it.  I challenged her to do a prayer journal during Lent.  She did it everyday and has continued to.  I wish her consistency and diligence will rub off on me!

claire3Claire is a busy bee.  She goes hard from the (early) moment she wakes up until the end.  She is her own housekeeper and has a well executed plan of cleaning the same part of her house on the same day each week to keep up with things.  She will push a double stroller with two boys in it on a 4 mile trek to drop one off at preschool.  At 37.5 weeks pregnant with twins, Claire was out walking the 4th of July neighborhood parade.  Later, she went home to “rest” but still ended up making a homemade flag cookie cake.  That pretty much sums it up.

IMG_2658Claire is so humble.  She does what she is called to do without wanting any attention.  She was a VBS co-director this year and didn’t want any public attention for her hard work.  If you give her a compliment, she is a bit hesitant to accept it and likely to respond with “you are sweet.”  If I had to guess, she is probably a bit embarrassed to be reading this post about herself.

claire5Claire is the most amazing mom.  She always has some fun outing planned for her boys and makes fun out of the most mundane tasks- like grocery shopping.  Her patience (especially as a mom of two little guys) runs deep and she rebounds quickly.  I envy her resilience and out pouring of love in situations where I’d probably just give up and walk away.  On another family vacation, my husband admired her patience.  It’s this amount of love and grace that made God know she’d be the perfect mom to not only two boys but twin girls too.  Of all my friends, I truly believe that Claire has the positivity and strength to not only “get by” as a mom of four children aged 5 and under- but to also thrive.  

Claire, we are all raising our glasses to you and Scott in the coming months. We are here to help any way you will let us.  So proud of you and thankful to have you as my BFFL.  Can’t wait to meet your beautiful girls.  Scott is in big trouble if they are as pretty, smart and sweet as you and your sisters!

love, brooke