How to Paint a Triangle Wall Mural in 4 hours and $30

Who wants to know how I managed how to do this? Well I’ll tell ya…. 
PicMonkey Collage

So, we’ve lived here in Dowagiac for one week and things are starting to come together. There is a whisper of order in the midst of chaos, a hint of something more than tearing apart and putting back together. Continue reading

Body, Soul and Ice Cream

525,600 minutes…. 525,000 moments so dear… 525,000 journeys to plan… 
How do you measure a year in the life?

maybe I measure mine in Ice Cream and Wine…

photo courtesy of Flickr user fka sunny

photo courtesy of Flickr user fka sunny

Last week, after accepting an offer on our house (pending inspection…) we took the kids out for ice cream at Too Tall’s Tasty Treats to celebrate. This is the local ice cream shop down the road from our house.

I’ll admit that it’s a ridiculous name for an oddly located, roadside ice cream shop, but now it’s MY ice cream shop. It’s the place Kel’s been running for flurries to soothe the pain of a bad day as we binged on Netflix and cared for Clara, both in and out of utero.

As I finished my chocolate Reeses flurry on the sticky picnic table, I thought about our year on the Northeast side of Grand Rapids, the routines we fell into, the restaurants we frequented, the walks we took, the discoveries we made.

The ways in which we nestled into this neighborhood, spread out and called it our own.

How we always got takeout burgers from Charlies or Pasta from Fred’s on date night.
How we spent almost the entire year with paint in our fingernails and on our forearms.
How our kids rode their bikes back and forth in front of the house.
How we cursed the cottonwood tree for covering our lives in a second winter of obnoxious white fluff.

For a season this was ours. And now it isn’t anymore, pending a few weeks and a few hundred signatures on a few thousand pieces of paper it will be the locale for completely new life.

When I handed over our home in Oklahoma to a sweet newlywed couple I wrote this essay entitled “Letter to a new Homeowner.”  And I still hold it as one of my personal favorite pieces, seriously click the link… it is worth your time.

This home is a place for staying but it’s also a place to for going somewhere.  Every season will give way to a new one and lessons learned add up to progress and depth.  As you stay within these walls, you’ll move and change as a family in ways that you never imagined.  No home leaves you the same, who knows where this home may take you?” Continue reading

It is finished. A long overdue home tour.

I told you I would get back to blogging once the house madness died down. And the photographer just left, so true to my word, here I am.

Now it’s bring on the showings.

For those of you who don’t live in Grand Rapids or in the surrounding areas, our market is nuts right now. Things are flying off the market in days so we reasonably expect hope to be sold by this time next week.

The posting will be online tomorrow, and I am trying my hand at writing the description for it.

But for now and for those of you who don’t know our address, I wanted to share the before and after pics.

The before pictures are the ones that were posted online when we bought the house. Kel just went through with his iPhone and took an after shot from the same location.

So in case your wondering where I have been in the last year or so…

Take this baby


And then add the following home pictures….

Stir in a failed church plant and a husband who has been working out of town for months and it should all make sense.

Okay, I have been waiting forever to give you a home tour. Shall we?

Here’s our home before


And after

IMG_7728 Continue reading

Where are the Pennys Living? (with gifs!)

I owe you guys some words, an update of sorts. What the hizzle is going on with the Penny family?  And why does she still think it’s okay to say hizzle? 

I have had nearly a dozen people ask me over the past week where we are living right now. I feel this is something that I can correct with a blog post. 

Okay so here is what’s up with us. Kel was officially assigned to Dowagiac United Methodist Church over the last month.

giphy (2)

Where is Dowagiac? And how do you pronounce that?

It’s here.

Where is Dowagiac

We live in Grand Rapids now and will be moving to “Basically Indiana”

And you say it like this: də-WAH-jak
It’s Potawatomi for “fishing [near home] water” There’s some learning for ya.

You’re welcome Continue reading

Not where, but Who. (On homes and Story and HGTV Cynicism)

I have 20 minutes to write this before I need to paint cabinets and tackle a MOUNTAIN of laundry. I didn’t plan and I didn’t edit but I wrote, and I sang and it feels good.

We don’t have cable, which is sad, because I love HGTV. I remember fondly the days of folding laundry with toddlers underfoot and letting House Hunters play like an endless soundtrack in the background.

That was a few houses ago.

3. 3 houses and 4 years ago.

Did I tell you we are about to move into our 8th house in 8 years of marriage? Craziness I tell you, my life crazy.

Back when we were living in house number… 5? Let’s see here… carry the 1… there is no 1… Riverview, Broadhurst, Asbury, North High School… Yep CR 3590, House number 5.

House number 5 was brand new and sparkly, it had a huge soaker tub and two whole bathrooms with showers! It was small, but it was easy and as I sat in my small, easy, brand new house, the musings of the buyers and renovators on cable’s most popular home channel seemed plausible, logical, a little demanding at times, but I felt for them.

No Longer.

As I prepare house number 7 for sale and another friggin exodus I watch HGTV with a healthy dose of cynicism.


Get ready for the Snark.

The other day while Noelle and I snuggled for a House Hunters Binge we heard a lady say the following:

“I’m just not sure I can live with that color of granite counter tops, we’d have to replace them before we moved in. I expected better taste when shopping in the 800k price range.”

What? Live? Like survive and not die? You’re not sure you can LIVE with THAT COLOR of HIGH END GRANITE countertops?

Ahem… Continue reading

New Home Tour

Last week Wednesday we closed on a home on the NorthEast side of Grand Rapids. As I hinted at in earlier posts, it’s a little dated but overall a great fit for our growing family.

Right now we are in the midst of packing up our current rental and painting and prepping the new home for our Thursday move-in, that being said I’ve found little time for blogging or social media. So let’s make this quick, shall we?

Stress levels are high-ish as we are busy working on one thing or another from the moment we get up to the minute we crash. It’s not a sustainable level but it’s been our reality for over a week now. Hoping that we can find some peace in the chaos and laugh about the mess.

I know we can, what I mean is that i pray that we will….

So all that being said, let’s have a tour of our new home via photos from my rapidly dying iphone.

photoWelcome to the new home, a classic white two story home. I have tried to figure out what architectural style this actually is and I can’t decide, not georgian because no columns. If anyone knows, help a sister out.

Right now we have no landscaping, none. I think they tore it all out because it seems unlikely they wouldn’t have planted any in the past 50 years.


Let’s start in the kitchen, eh? Here we are in the kitchen / dining area looking in from the living room. It’s a lot deeper than it looks in any photo I’ve managed to take but still a great space. The downfalls currently are not only the linoleum and wallpaper, but the small oven and fact that there is no dishwasher currently.


This is one space that we will have to save up to renovate and I will likely spend some time and money in here soon as a patch to get it looking cute, and functional. I may even get a small external dishwasher… Any thoughts or advice here?

IMG_2442Here’s another view from the kitchen sink area.

IMG_2463Now onto the living room, here’s the gorgeous fireplace with wood paneled walls, which we actually intend on keeping to get in a more cottage feel. And don’t fret those carpets, there’s a nice surprise under there. HARDWOOD FLOORS!

IMG_2437View from the front family room.

IMG_2441Front Family room, currently a mess of dated carpet and window treatments, but no worries, we have plans. The carpet will be gone soon, down to the hardwood and the wall color will change drastically.


See? Here’s a tester I did… for fun. It’s called Teal Zeal by Olympic, which I picked up at Lowes. This will be one of our more dramatic walls in a home that will lean a little more neutral.

IMG_2445 View from the front entrance. A pretty blank slate once you get rid of the carpet and drapes.

IMG_2443Oh, right! And here is the little half bath off of the kitchen area. I don’t love the placement but with a little love it will be nice for guests and us. Better than running upstairs I suppose, even if it is currently a wall away from our oven.

IMG_2448Let’s head upstairs, shall we? Speaking of the stairs, we will eventually go to hardwood under here as well and repaint the walls a lighter gray. Also I would like to go to a wooden handrail, over painted.

There are three bedrooms and a full bath upstairs here.

And here’s the bathroom. IMG_2452I didn’t take too many pictures in here, not hard to see why. There was originally pink carpeting on the floor but we are now down the the white linoleum, flecked with sparkles.

I want to change everything in here immediately, but time and money and oh… also energy dictate otherwise.

So instead let’s move on to the master bedroom. IMG_2457

The carpet is awful, but the bones are great, check out those his and hers closets and remember that there are gorgeous hardwood floors under there as well. God bless the hardwood floors and the owners for keeping them pristinely covered by all that carpet.IMG_2455They are deeper and more generous than they look in the picture.

So let’s move on to what will be the kid’s room.

IMG_2458This room is aqua right down the to trim and air vents. And the walls are in rough shape from years of posters and adhesive taking their toll. Also, these floors have been exposed for the past while and are in the worst shape. So they will have to be refinished before I can get the kids in here. Sigh…

So for now the kids will be in the nursery next door which I completely forgot to take a picture of. Shoot. Maybe I will add it in later?

Let’s go back downstairs and outside, this is our covered porch which will actually need to be torn down over the summer for safety reasons. It’s molding and when it was built they were skimpy with the support beams. So when it’s gone it will be a concrete patio for a while, maybe we will paint it and add landscaping?

IMG_2462So that’s it for now guys, hope you enjoyed the tour and remember that there are lots of fun after pictures on their way. We are already hard at work, for better or for worse!

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The Book that is Keeping Me Sane for Move Number 7 (review of The Nesting Place)

What am I up to over the next week?

Oh not much, just two birthday parties (both Noelle) two graduations (Noelle from preschool, Kel from Seminary) and closing on a house.

This is on top of the church plant, the pregnancy and the normal details of our life.

So honestly, I’m feeling overwhelmed with details. All these beautiful, gorgeous, fun details that I want to give intentional thought to, but lack the time… or energy.

I’m feeling strapped, by both cash and time.

I want to invest a bit of both in our new home but if you review the details above it’s pretty obvious that I am limited across the board. Andplusalso did I mention I’m still in the final stages of my first trimester with baby 3?

Normally I would feel stressed to the point of tear-filled anxiety over all of this, but I’m trying a new approach, some of which comes from this book and its gorgeous tagline:

“It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.”

If you’ve spent much time over at The Nester‘s Blog this phrase isn’t new.

But when it’s implemented? When the seeds of it take root in your thought life? It’s revolutionary, at least it has been to this Idealist.

Kel and I have been married for eight years and this will be our seventh move. Seventh guys. Seriously, I want to feel settled.

We started in an apartment complex here in Grand Rapids, which I painted some of the worst colors imaginable.

Then we moved to a cinder block apartment in a partially condemned building at Seminary.


drinking completely contraband wine in seminary. SUCH a bad girl.

That was depressing my soul so we moved half a block a sweet little yellow duplex, my favorite place that we lived before kids.


Second anniversary, who needs shoes?

Six months later Kel was offered a job in Oklahoma so we loaded a truck and moved across the country where we moved into a rental that had a few bugs (literally)  oh AND a pull out stovetop.

I was newly pregnant and need to nest so we purchased new construction home and finished it ourselves, meaning we told the builders how we wanted it finished. We loved it, brought both our babies through those doors and left with bittersweet feelings to move back home.


Back in Michigan we moved into a rental ranch in a fantastic neighborhood that has been an absolute gift to our family, but where we never really settled in.

One year later we are moving to a lovely two story in North East Grand Rapids which we affectionally refer to as “Our Grandma House” because it’s still decorated with floral wallpaper and pink carpeting.


gorgeous new house preview!

More on this house later, I think I’m going to take a foray into home decor blogging now and again. It’s going to be fun, but like I said there is much to do, to think about and to be overwhelmed by.

So, with all this going on, I bought this book, on a whim at Barnes and Noble with $20 (It’s MUCH cheaper on Amazon) I really should have saved for paint or curtains or milk.

photo copy

My well loved, already slightly dogged eared in two weeks copy.

And I am here to tell you, it is the best purchase I have made in months. I couldn’t put it down or help myself from bringing it on play dates to show all my friends. 

The Nesting Place by “The Nester” IE Myquillin Smith, has infused grace and patience in my thought life as I approach this new home.

As she told her story of their thirteen moves and that all too familiar feeling of “The next house is the one I will really love and work on” I found myself amen-ing, tearing up and reading paragraphs out lous to Kel.

This book spoke to my soul.

If I pick out the wrong paint colors (uh, been there!) it will be okay. Why?
Because “Sometimes you have to make something imperfect before you can make it beautiful.” ~ The Nesting Place

My throw pillows are as flat as pancakes and this should make me glad. Why? Because it’s a sign that people have found comfort there, time and time again.

There is so much lovely imperfection that we find ourselves embarrassed by or apologizing for when in reality our homes are places of love that should be a refuge for those who live there and those who stop by.

I haven’t always been great at this, I get easily discouraged by our home budget, frustrated by the stray legos in the corner and crabby at my husband for always sitting on the couch in such a way that makes the cushions look weird and smooshy.

In reality, this is the place where the bulk of our life will play out and if I want a life infused with grace and peace, it starts with me. It starts at home.

This book is speaking to our my soul about our move
This book is teaching me to be a more understanding mom and a more gracious wife.
This book was a gift, a total splurge that panned out and was worth more than I spent.

It has a story that many will resonate with, grace that everyone needs and practical tips will prove  invaluable as we nest into our new home.

You’ll love it, I’d loan it to you but, I need it, I refer to it, I love it.

And I don’t want to give away the ending, but she shares a lesson about a celebrity death that struck her deeply and taught her a life lesson. This is uncanny because the same thing happened to me, same celebrity, very similar lesson.

This and basically every third sentence in the book caused me to adore Myqullin, her style and her grace-filled perspective on life, faith and home. I will be a regular visitor to her blog and a regular purchaser of this book for weddings, showers and housewarming gifts.

What is the one thing that is holding you back from nesting in your current place? 

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