One Room At a Time-The Living Room

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Almost immediately after my husband and I bought our first house, we started dreaming about our next one. It was not a matter of discontentment, we loved our house, but we are dreamers and started putting together our ideal forever home. In hindsight, having this list was the motivation we needed to look at our now current (and hopefully forever) home.

One of the items on the top of my list was a living room and a family room. I wanted a space without a TV when you walked in the house. We are not huge TV watchers anyways, in fact, we have been in our current house almost 6 months and the TV has yet to be hung on a wall. So creating a space where the focus would be on relationships and fellowship, not staring at a giant screen was really important to me.

The house we now own fit my requirement perfectly. You walk in the front door to a living room, kitchen, and dining area. Off the back of the house is a large, rectangular family room mostly secluded from the front of the house. I instantly fell in love and starting dreaming about this space.  Perhaps because it needed the least amount of work, the living room was one of the rooms we have tackled early on in the process of turning our foreclosed farmhouse into our dream home.

Designing and decorating this room taught me a few lessons about turning a space into a home.

  1. Perhaps the biggest thing I have learned along the way is you have to make the space your own. I had an entire Pinterest board full of stark white rooms with muted grays and blacks. After we had almost the entire downstairs painted basically white, I realized stark white and clean lines just really aren’t our style. We want to live in our house, not take pictures of it for Pinterest.  This meant toning down the white walls, white trim, and white ceilings with bold mustard yellow chairs and a wall full of various knick knacks we have collected.
  2. Read the reviews.  I spent weeks searching for two  small chairs to put in the living room. I wanted them to be chairs you would sit in to chat and have a cup of tea, not chairs you would lounge in to watch a movie. Even still, I didn’t want my guests to have a backache from sitting in my living room. I probably read 100’s of reviews of chairs online. I would find some I loved (and which fit in our budget) only to find they had terrible reviews.  After weeks of searching, I finally found the perfect chair with great reviews and they were budget friendly. I love them. My two-year also loves to try to jump off the back of them, but alas, he is two and this goes with the territory.
  3. Use what you have.   The portrait wall I included in the pictures below came almost entirely from items I had hung in various locations in our old house. Sometimes things just don’t fit in one space, but look amazing in another. I also never realized how much I gravitated towards yellows and blues until I laid it all out and saw almost everything matched. You don’t need an interior designer or a large budget to redo a room, it may just take moving a picture from one spot to the next.

This room is so far my favorite in the house. I love sitting on the little couch in the evenings and reading to H or having a conversation with J. I am looking forward to the weather cooling off and curling up with a blanket and a cup of tea.  And perhaps most of all, it was momentum to keep going as we work to turn this house into our home.

Original Room




Wall Paint- Sherwin Williams Snowfall
Chairs- Joss and Main
Table- Honeysuckle Finds (my favorite local shop!)
Everything else came from our old house:)


Folks, We Have A Pantry

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My Farmhouse Friday updates have been basically nonexistent because there has been nothing to report. I joked the other day I feel like the house is going backwards not forwards because on top of the mile long to-do list of projects, we have 3 messy humans living in it, one of which is zero help in cleaning it up. He certainly knows how to make a mess though and has started a lovely habit of throwing his food everywhere when he is done eating. But I digress.

This update is to say there is indeed an update. After a month, we have a pantry. I know this is a small victory, but when my pantry has been our dining room table since we moved in and I have spent the last month trying to keep toddler hands from grabbing all the crackers and spilling all the bread crumbs everywhere, having a pantry with doors that close is glorious. I also feel like our house got instantly cleaner because there is now an entire space empty! I unpacked a few more boxes of random non-perishables and decided I must have gone through a phase in which I planned to make a ton of meals with diced tomatoes because I have about 8 cans of them.

This house has taught me a very important lesson. Progress takes time. And while the time is tough, it causes growth and makes the final product so much more worthwhile. I can assure you I would not be as excited about a pantry if it had come with the house. But because it took time and energy and the thoughtfulness of my sweet husband, I love it. We are also getting closer to actually being able to have company over which makes me oh so excited!!

I included two pictures for you-one, the Pinterest pin that inspired us and two, the actual pantry J created. He did a pretty good job turning my idea into reality especially given the weird shape of the closet we used (it’s under the stairs).  Eventually we may rip up the nasty carpet and do something different with the floor, but for now I am just thankful my canned goods have a home other than the middle of my dining room table.



Put Down the Expectations

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My word for the year was authenticity. And right now, being authentic means admitting to myself (and ya’ll) my expectations set me up for a dark dive into struggle.  See, buying your dream farmhouse with dreams to fix it up is very different from living in said dream farmhouse in need of fixing up. Pinterest boards full of Farmhouse decor are exciting, but ants covering your counters and bathrooms not working are not. I have spent hours aimlessly wandering or doing nothing because I am so overwhelmed by it all. Perhaps though the aimless wandering gave me ample time for much needed soul-searching. I realized in all this expectations can set you up for massive disappointment. Reality is often different from what we picture or what we see on other’s newsfeeds and Pinterest boards. And when your expectations and reality clash, it can all come crashing down.

As I have sorted through these feelings and tried to get to the core of it all, I realized so much of it comes from wanting the finished product without the hard work. It’s wanting to post a perfect picture of your pristine kitchen when the reality is three days of dirty dishes, unpacked boxes, and ants. It’s feeling like you need to fit into society’s version of acceptable instead of giving yourself grace because you just moved, have a toddler, and between you and your husband work outside your house 100+ hours a week. It’s carrying it all on your own when we were never called to those burdens. So here are three things I am working on as I reset my priorities and put my soul-searching into action.


  1. Accept help. Seriously, unpacking is the worst. But when your mother-in-law offers to help you unpack the rest of your kitchen, take her up on the offer. No one is going to take away your super mom status because you couldn’t do it all by yourself.  This has been really hard for me because I tend to be pretty independent, but I have had to admit I can’t do it all. I am still working on asking for help from others, but baby steps.
  2. Unplug from Pinterest. And any other social media site making you more overwhelmed. I gave up pinning farmhouse decor and stopped scrolling through my app aimlessly.  Someday my house may look like one of those pictures, but for now, it looks like a tornado came through and left a wake of empty boxes, random clothes, and nonperishable food which happens to be all over my kitchen.  There is no magic wand I can wave to make my house perfect and right now I have to be okay with the “character” of the house.  I have to settle in and live there and not feel like because the walls aren’t painted or the house isn’t perfect, I am somehow less than those around me. This is tough. Comparing our reality to other people’s highlight reels is oh so easy.
  3. Give Grace. As I mentioned, I have spent a lot of time soul searching as I have dealt with an onslaught of emotions surrounding our move. I am Type A to the max and grace is hard for me. It’s hard for me to accept and it’s been hard for me to give. I honestly think so much of my struggle comes back to beating myself up for not meeting some impossible standard I set for myself. But we bought a house in need of a lot of work and the work has humbled me. It has caused me to cry and to laugh. It has caused me to get on my knees and to realize the life Jesus is calling me to is so different from the life I have been living. Jesus doesn’t ask us to get our house in order first. He asks us to come to Him and rest. To accept His grace. His stamp on us says we are bought, we are covered, and we are redeemed. He says His burden is light. I preach this message a lot, but for some reason letting it sink into my own heart has been harder. The burden I have been carrying around felt like a ton of bricks. It felt like expectation and perfection and pressure and the need for my life to appear put together. The more honest reality is both my house and my soul are a disaster. They are both in desperate need of grace. One for physically being left empty for years and now housing 2 working adults and 1 messy toddler and one for spiritually being starved for years. Neither will get to their full capacity on their own. Both will require work and grace and patience and acceptance.

Friend, Jesus invites us to come to Him with all our burdens and weariness and He will give us rest. Are in a season in desperate need of rest? Do you struggle to give yourself grace in our picture-perfect world? Let’s trade our heavy burdens and Instagram filters for the burden of a Savior who is light and life and unconditional love. Seems like a better deal to me.



Farmhouse Friday Update #1

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One of my favorite grammatical tools is alliterations. Hence the title of my blog-Amanda’s Annotations and now my Farmhouse Friday Updates.

Currently I have very few super fun and exciting updates, but I did include a few more pictures of the farmhouse and property for your perusing.

The past two weeks have been full of a lot of troubleshooting, fixing problems, and spending money. This has been tough on us because J is a saver and I like to spend money on currently frivolous things like new curtains and paint.  Alas, I have practiced great self-control as I pay for things like fixing the furnaces, mold remediation, appliances, and pumping out the septic.

The positive is we now have a warm, mold-free house with 3 working toilets, a fridge, and washer and dryer.  This is a huge improvement over the text I sent some girlfriends two weeks ago which said “we bought a house today without heat or flushing toilets and full of spiders and mice.” We also spent some time picking through the barn and found an amazing piece of furniture I plan to use as a vanity in one of our bathrooms. Other interesting things in the barn-half a treadmill, the insides of more than a few VHS tapes, a decent set of weights, about 5 Christmas wreaths, and a groundhog. I also found a picture that looks eerily like my dad and I. I seriously had to look at it twice to not be totally freaked out.

Earlier in the week, J and I were sitting on our new porch eating lunch and the beauty of it all hit me. It was peaceful and quiet, so different from my normal mode of operation. I realized not only did we purchase a new house, but perhaps we subconsciously accepted a new way of life. Slower, more thoughtful, full of neighbor boys who invite you over for s’mores after a five-minute conversation, and projects J and I can work on together. This is what we have been longing for and this is a huge reason why we fell in love with this house. Little H has changed our lives in many ways and we adore him dearly. He is bright sunshine on rainy days and sometimes we laugh so hard at him tears spring from our eyes. But H has also required a lot of both of us. In the middle of it all, J and I had to make choices to give up certain things. Don’t get me wrong, neither of us regret those choices, but we both wanted something we could make ours. This dear old farmhouse is ours. Each decision, each paint color, each project is something J and I get to do together.  We sit in the evenings and dream of ways to use this home and our lives to serve the community around us. I cannot wait to see where this adventure leads us and I hope you will enjoy the ride alongside us.

Perhaps today something in your life needs to change. I don’t necessarily recommend buying an old farmhouse, but maybe you need to say no to a commitment or say yes to new adventure. Maybe you need to listen to the nudging to invite someone over or tackle a project you feel unqualified to finish. Whatever it is, know I will be here cheering you on!!



The Story of a City Mouse and a Country Mouse

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Aseop’s Fables were some of my favorites as a child and the story of the city mouse and the country mouse ranked near the top. While I didn’t grow up in a huge city, I am through and through a city mouse. My dream for the longest time was to move to a big city, sell my car, and live in a cute little studio apartment overlooking the busy streets. And then this city loving girl fell in love with a country loving boy.

This turned out to be handy when I moved into a downtown apartment and had mice. One night I perched myself on top of my couch, not on it, but literally on top of it, until my knight in shining armor, or boy from the country, came to rescue me from the tiny mice in my cabinet. Looking back, I am sure it was a comical scene and I feel very thankful he didn’t leave me after this incident.

Fast forward 5 years and the country boy is now married to the city girl and recently bought her a farmhouse in the country. A farmhouse she fell in love with before she quite realized what moving to the country really entailed. Things like wells and septic systems and no internet and spiders and mice. However, I have always been one to love adventure so with full gusto I am embracing this adventure. Our beloved farmhouse needs a lot of TLC and I plan to blog about the transformation of both the farmhouse and of the city girl turned country girl.  Along the way, I hope to share with you the fun (and frustrations) of the giant Do-It-Yourself project house we took on as well as the lessons learned and mistakes made.

Subscribe to stay updated on all the excitement and stay turned for the first update!


It Starts with Sacrifice

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In September of last year, my dear husband and I looked at a house. It was a big white farmhouse on three acres and we immediately fell in love. And I mean in love. We started talking and dreaming and pinning ideas on a secret Pinterest board. The house was a foreclosure so in our budget and although we were not looking for a house, this house was perfect. It had almost every detail we wanted in a house.


It also had a lot of details we didn’t want like mold and mice.  But nevertheless, we moved forward.  Did you catch above we looked at it in September? Of last year.  It has taken 6 months to get to this week. Yesterday we signed all the papers to make that white farmhouse our house. It has been a long road. And it really hasn’t even started.  While on paper we own the house, to make it our home is going to take a lot of time and effort.

Life is like this. We may all wish we could wake up tomorrow with beautiful hair, perfect skin, and a beach-ready body. We want our homes to look like magazines and our children to look and act like models. We strive and strive for some societal version of happy and realize at some point, we are exhausted, our house is a mess, and the Instagram filter just isn’t cutting it anymore.  Because the good things in life take work. A lot of work. It takes work no one will ever see. And requires sacrifices no one will ever notice.

The first thing we have to do in our house is remediate the mold so it is safe. This is an expensive process no one will ever notice. No one will walk into our house and say, wow, the mold remediation looks amazing.  But it is necessary.

Sometimes I hate necessary. I want the fun and frilly and pretty. I want the finished product before the initial step. But this is not the life we are called to live. We are called to patience, to sacrifice, to quiet, to love, and to running the race with endurance. To run with endurance means you have to train. It means you can’t just wake up and run 26.2 miles because you think it sounds fun. You may have to start with one mile. or 5 minutes. It means you have to put in the necessary training to reach the goal. Jesus promised us He would be with us each step. He promised His burden was light. But He promised us if we lived like Him, it would be tough. It would take hard work and sacrifice. It would take lots of mold remediation before you get to new paint colors.

But when you do the hard work, the end result is so much better. Sure, we could ignore the mold, slap some paint on the walls, and call it a day. But in a few months, we would all be sick and have a much bigger mess on our hands.  God isn’t asking us to paint over the tough stuff, He is asking us to dig in and work hard to get rid of it. He is asking for the hard work and sacrifice. And He has promised in the end it will be worth it. In the end, we will see Him and we will be complete.

My house here may never be perfect, but I know at some point, I will look around and all the hard work and sacrifice will be worth it. At some point, we will be able to put new paint on the walls and know we aren’t covering up the problems, but we are highlighting the beauty.

Friend, what do you need to remove from your life to get to the beautiful? What sacrifice or costly decision do you need to make to take a step closer to Jesus? It won’t be easy, but I promise you, it will be worth it.


New Clothes Every Two Weeks?!

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This summer I am taking an ethics class and was assigned, as in all my graduate classes, a research paper.  For this class, I chose to deviate from my normal topic range and tackle the idea of sweatshops and cheap labor.  (ok, the topic isn’t that far from the normal range of issues I am passionate about) I have to admit, I would be the first to say I do not agree with sweatshops and I am semi-careful about where I shop, but I still love to shop and love a bargain. In my research for the paper, I came across a book- Overdressed: The High Cost of Cheap FashionSince I have to write 20 pages on the topic, I figured I would read it and grabbed a handful of other books on sweatshops, globalization, and cheap goods.

Sadly, the research paints a very bleak picture.  I closed Overdressed and was ready to give up. It seems that no one is producing high-quality goods made with fair labor practices. At least no one anywhere close to my budget.  The economic downturn put a crunch on our wallets and the demand for cheap goods continued to rise. So much so over the past ten years, major corporations have completely changed their production models. Gone are the days of seasonal shopping. Today the biggest companies race to put new clothing on the racks every 2-3 weeks.  When you are talking about clothing that is made in any number of countries around the world and shipped to the US, you are talking about a massive undertaking. Worker’s rights are the farthest thing from anyone’s mind when you have tight deadlines and demands for cheap products.  After all, when you buy a shirt for under $20, the company still wants to make a profit. 

And as corporations have shifted, so has culture. No longer do we purchase items intending on keeping them for years, but rather to wear to a specific event or occasion. We can be content to buy a dress to wear once as long as the price is right.  Not only do we do it with clothes, but we are always upgrading to the latest, greatest electronic device despite the fact the ones we have work just fine.  It is an easy road to take from a throwaway phone or shirt to a throwaway child or garment maker.  Cheap clothes depend on cheap labor.  Cheap labor depends on factories willing to cut corners and deny workers’ rights.

The problem is.. EVERYONE is doing it.  And we are feeding it by our shopping habits and desires to consume more and more.  The sad reality is, unless consumers start to demand higher quality goods and show they are willing to pay a little more for classic, well-made pieces, there is little hope for change.  Regardless, a ripple starts with one drop so I am committed to changing my habits. I have a closet-full of clothes and more than enough to last me a long time.  My research has inspired me to attempt to learn how to sew and save my money to purchase classic, well-made pieces.  I cannot complain about a system I am helping to perpetuate. Instead, I am going to adjust my personal habits and get involved as much as I can. And next time, I may pick a slightly less convicting research paper topic. 🙂

Photo:Simplified Building Concepts