Author Archives: laraonthesuedesofa

About laraonthesuedesofa

I'm a stay-at-home Mom and run my own business, LetterBlockShop.com. I am married to a wonderful and supportive man, who helps makes my dreams a reality. We live on a small farm and enjoy the simplicity of country life!

Homemade Christmas Potpourri

I know I shared this a couple of years ago, but I just had to share this again for anyone that may have missed it!  I LoVe this homemade potpourri!  It is super easy to make and will smell up your entire home for the holidays!  Try it out and let me know what you think!

3 Cinnamon Sticks

3 Bay Leaves

¼ C. Cloves

2 Lemon Wedges

1 Orange Peel

(Top 3 ingredients are found in the dry spice section of the grocery store.)

CoMbiNe all of these ingredients in a small crock-pot.  Add water to cover top of all ingredients.  Leave on low temperature.  As the smell fades, continue to add water and various ingredients to keep the mixture moist for a continuous yummy smell!  EnJoy!

*Be sure to unplug your crockpot at night because all the water will be gone by morning and the potpourri will be burnt!

*If you are ready to start a new batch, drain the water and set out the old potpourri to dry.  Even as dry potpourri it smells AWESOME!  Place the dry potpourri in a pretty bowl on a table as another way to smell up your home and extend the life of your potpourri!

Need a quick X-Mas Present idea?!  Throw the ingredients into a basket or mini-crockpot and give as a gift!  Include a printed version of the recipe by clicking here!

~Lara

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Okay for ME, but NOT for YOU…

I am hard on my kids.  Too hard, a lot of times, which always makes me regret it once I stop and think about how I’m treating them.  Instead of choosing my battles, I decide to take on every battle!  That is what SUPERMOM is all about, right?  Keeping a tight leash on your kids and setting the bar super high?  After some ReFleCtioN this week, maybe I should start looking for a new role model…

As Christians, we know how miserably we fail at numerous tasks and actions throughout our day, yet when we glance up at God we are reassured that He forgives and loves us no matter how much we are being a disappointment.  It is so comforting to know that when I make mistakes, at least someone still has my back…because HE knows we are human and are far from pErfeCt.

Yet WHY do I hold my kids to a different standard?  When they don’t do what I ask, or spill a cup FULL of pop on the floor, I repeatedly get on to them and ask why they didn’t listen or be more careful!!  Not only that, but I bring it up AGAIN when their Dad comes home and maybe even AGAIN before they go to sleep, in hopes that I am getting my point across!Scolding

When I make the same exact mistakes (just in adult form!), does God TrEaT me like that?  Never.  I always feel Him looking at me in a calm way, his eyes telling me that I need to pick myself up and go on.  I know I let Him down but I also know that once I acknowledge my weaknesses to Him, He moves on and doesn’t keep throwing it in my face. I really appreciate that about Him.

So why is it okay for me to fail God but not okay for others to fail me? As cHalleNgiNg as it will be, I am going to try to be as understanding and calm with my children as He is to me.  Sure, I’ll still get on to them and discipline when needed, but then I need to let it go and hope they make a better decision next time.  We know that kids won’t always do the right thing, but thankfully God doesn’t give up on us adults either!  With every year I get under my belt, I can see I’m going to need all the help and forgiveness I can get!

-Lara

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Filed under Faith, Getting Real, God, Life, Parenthood, Relationships

“Before” and “During” Pictures of our House

It has been a while since I updated you on our HOuSe!  As most of you know, last summer we had our house lifted and moved to our new farm.  It traveled over 100 miles!  Here is a picture of what it looked like shortly after it was moved and set back down on a new basement foundation:July 2012

Over the past 16 months we have added on a new “front” to the house.  In August I began painting the exterior–which still needs to get finished–but already has helped improve the overall look.  We have many “phases” of the house we need to complete before it becomes our “dReaM” home.  Since our current garage is used as my office/woodshop, our next plan is to extend the garage and have a porch which will connect the new garage and current front door area.  Not sure how soon this will happen, but in the meantime I am enjoying each new phase of seeing it come together.

Sept 2013

Sept 2013

Many of you wonder how our house has held up after traveling such a long distance.  There were only a few hairline cracks in the sheetrock above the interior doors but besides that, you’d never know it went through such a haul!  We continue to feel blessed about the entire process of the move and are glad we stuck with our CrAzY idea ;)  We couldn’t be happier in our new location and look forward to making more memories in the first house we ever purchased (just with a different landscape)!

To read about the MOVING journey, click below in the following order:

read Why Move A House? , Demo Work , Moving Day, Moving Our House and Did We Make the Right Decision?

Cheers,

Lara

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How I am avoiding a stressful Christmas this year…

I know…it is only September…but I already have half of my Christmas shopping DONE!  The motive for starting so early?  I’m tired of stressing out during the holidays!

christmas countdown makie

SOURCE

The reason I’m starting so early has to do with money.  If I began now, I could spread the cost of gifts over the course of several months, instead of spending a large sum of cash in November and December.  Since we do a monthly budget, I didn’t want to go WAY over in December (and throw the budget out the window), all because of Christmas.  I figure if I SpReAd OuT my spending, I could easily pay $50-$150 in Christmas gifts and it wouldn’t make much of an impact each month.

The last couple of weeks I started searching for a few gifts.  To my surprise, I was able to purchase several of my items half-off, just by shopping on eBay and Amazon!  If I would have purchased those same items in a couple months from now, I’d be bidding against NuMeRouS (stressed) Christmas shoppers, which would make the bidding prices go uP Up UP!!!  I have already saved significant cash on gifts, which allowed me to start working on the items I was planning to purchase next month.  Can’t beat that!

The other obvious advantage is avoiding to shop (and panic) at the last minute.  I feel less rushed doing it this way and can also make sure I get what I really want (since items are IN STOCK in September!  ha!)

Christmas can be the last thing on your mind since we haven’t even hit Halloween, but if your past experiences left you in financial ruins and stress, it might be worth considering!

Happy Shopping!

Lara

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How I Got My Kids To Stop Sucking Their Thumbs

Hi friends!  I missed you all this summer, more than you’ll ever know.  I underestimated how much writing YOU is such good therapy for ME! :)

At the beginning of the summer I decided to work on accomplishing one GoAL with the kids by the end of the summer: to stop their thumb sucking!!  It has been a habit for both of our kiddos ever since birth.

We purchased some (pricey) thumb guards from tguard.com which was recommended by a friend.  This worked well with Leanne, our oldest daughter who is 6.  thumbguardGarrett, our 3 year-old, didn’t respond as well to them.  No matter what I did, he seemed to find a way to get the guards off.  I even bought the next size down, thinking they were too big, but he still found a way.  Truly, I think he got them off because he was willing to put himself through a considerable amount of pain…that’s a BOY for ya!  But my daughter didn’t really fight it, and even if she tried, she wasn’t able to get hers off.  Regardless, I would still highly recommend tguards to anyone wanting to break this habit.  I think they are one of the best options on the market.

The next thing we tried was our ChEApEst and most successful attempt so far.  I took their winter mittens and cut out all the fingers except the thumbs!  Both kids responded well to these because they were more comfortable to wear and much easier to put on.  The issue with mittens: they are SUPER easy to take off, which meant we had to UP the incentives to keep them on.  So…if they took the mittens off during the night, they didn’t get chocolate milk for breakfast and had to choke down regular milk (ha!).  Also, they got points toward a favorite toy which they finally got to cash in at the end of the summer.  The chocolate milk was a good incentive because it is the first thing they look forward to when they wake up, which we always reminded them when putting them to bed.  Sometimes they would come into the kitchen with a frown on their face and mitten-free hands, knowing regular milk would be on the menu:(

DSC_0556It took about a month for Garrett to break the habit of taking his mittens off at night.  And even though I feel they have broken their habit, they still request the mittens at night, just to make sure they don’t suck their thumbs without realizing it while sleeping.  I am so proud of them!

As I re-read this post, the process still sounds so much easier than it really was.  I don’t want to lie and make it sound like it was easy, because it wasn’t.  It was a FigHt, especially with our 3-year-old.  We exhausted all incentives and thumb guard options out there, and by the second half of the summer the mittens seemed to be what was most effective (even though it still took a good month before I felt like they really had it mastered).  It was a roller coaster of a summer, but worth all the hard work!  If your kiddos are dealing with the same struggle, I hope our experience and the mittens/tguards can be new options for you! Don’t lose hope! Hang in there momma!

Good Luck!

Lara

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Filed under Kid Stuff, Parenthood, RANDO•RAMA, Relationships, Uncategorized

Declutter Your Life

In the last month or so I have made a lot of ChaNgeS in my life.  First off, I recently had another garage sale which proved to be just as successful as the one in the fall.  I finally have a clutter free home.  I made a point to go through EVERYTHING, and if I didn’t LOVE IT, I sold it.  There were things that were hard to get rid of, mainly due to habit and feeling like I “had” to keep it around the house “just in case”.  Let me tell ya, it was worth it because everything is organized and I can keep better tabs on what we need and what we don’t. declutter-wordle1

Once I was able to declutter my home, it was only natural to want to DecLutteR other areas of my life.  Several weeks ago, Robyn wrote a post called iPhone Mommy.  It struck a chord with me.  For months I had been feeling like the internet and social media were a huge distraction and temptation.  I wish I was like those of you that are disciplined when it comes to social media, but I am not.  I kept making excuses that I HAD to check my facebook several times a day to make sure I wasn’t missing personal messages or notifications from groups I am involved in.  Robyn’s post motivated me to make some cHaNgeS once and for all.  I tied up lose ends with my personal FB messages and notified leaders to any of my groups.  I told these people that I wouldn’t be checking facebook as often and to contact me via email or phone if they needed something right away.  Everyone has been very understanding and I guess I figured if someone needed me bad enough, they could find a way.  It was really that simple!  Now, I only check facebook once every couple of weeks, which allows me to catch up on information or messages I may have missed!

To take things one step further, I changed the settings on my phone so I no longer get an email “ring” for new emails AND I deleted the facebook icon so I’m not tempted to check it.  This has made a huge difference when I am around my kids.  My phone isn’t dinging all the time and we spend more quality time together in random places.  When we use to wait in the car I would sit there and read the internet while they were in the backseat.  Now we try to play games or talk about fun stuff!  In addition, if we are playing and the phone rings, I don’t answer when I feel like the kids are really engaged in what we are doing.  Several times they’ve asked, “Mom, aren’t you going to get the phone?” and I say, “No, I want to play with you right now.”  The look and smile on their faces when I say that….PRICELESS :)

Last but not least, I am writing to say that Robynn, Robyn (Jersey Girl) and I are going to take the summer off in regards to blog posting.  We don’t want to give it up for good because we really enjoy writing and sHaRinG things with you.  But, like we talk about so often, if it doesn’t bring you PEACE then you need to make some changes.  Now that the kids are going to be home all summer we feel that not being tied to anything (a.k.a the blog) will bring us the most peace.  We know you understand, and we thank you for that.  The plan is to pick up in September once kiddos are back in the grind of school.  I didn’t even put a dent in my “Home Makeover Series” so I hope to share more of that with you, along with the normal LIFE posts that I share.

I hope that this lengthy (sorry! *wink*) post has encouraged you to declutter areas in your own life.  I cannot tell you how much jOy and fReedoM it has brought to mine.

Have a wonderful and memorable summer and we look forward to writing in the fall!

Cheers,

Lara

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Filed under Getting Real, Inspiration, Inspire, Junk Drawer, Life, RANDO•RAMA

Kitchen Makeover: Backsplash, Shelving and More Painting!

Now for the pictures that you have been WaiTinG for!  As I worked on painting the cabinets, I also added open shelving.  Check it out!DSC_0399

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DSC_0397

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I bought the corbels at Home Depot and used MDF board for the shelves.  Next, I added a wainscoting backsplash, which I don’t have ANY pictures of that process (sorry!).  But, I do have pictures of the nearly finished kitchen at Christmas!

Just for dramatic effect, let’s see where’ we’ve come from the beginning…

BEFORE

BEFORE

Here is an “after” picture (as of December 2012)!

After 2

We added a new light fixture above the sink and painted the trim around the window.  The trim, shelves, corbels and backsplash are all the same color.  I used white trim paint from Sherwin-Williams.

After 1

Here is a “before” from the right side of the room.  Remember how I said I was going to build a cabinet to hide the range hood pipe?  (where the greenery is in the picture below)

DSC_0255

Well here it is!

After 3

I took a cabinet door from a “lazy susan” cabinet that I bought on Craigslist.  I cut the cabinet door down to size, and hung it.  It opens from the bottom (the hinges are on the inside top) but I LOvE that it gives us extra storage space!  The other big changes on this side of the room is a new fridge and range hood!  I also added wainscoting to the back of the open cabinets (the one with the microwave and the cabinet above it).  This really prettied them up :)  What do ya think?!

After 4

These pictures pretty much bring you up-to-date on how my kitchen looks today.  We recently replaced the light in the kitchen ceiling and put in recessed lighting.  We also finished taking off the popcorn ceiling and now have a “knockdown” texture on the ceiling.  It looks so much BeTTeR!  All I have left to do is paint the ceiling (white) and add crown moulding to the top of the cabinets.  We eventually need to switch out our kitchen sink and replace the countertops (since those are the ones I painted 5 years ago!) but I am so indecisive on what I want…so it could be a while :)

My kiddos are officially on sUmMer bReaK, so who knows when I will finish up the kitchen!  We are so close though, and I am thrilled with the results!  It has really opened up the space and feels like we doubled our cabinet space since we added the open shelving. Gotta love that!

Let me know what you thought of the kitchen makeover!

Cheers,

Lara

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Are You Prayin’ About It?

Last night I was lying in bed thinking about a couple of things.  This was sMaLL stuff–you know–like how I was going to get everything done this week, if I had enough activities planned for the kids this summer, and if I was going to get the stain out of those tan pants :-/

All of a sudden, “Are you praying about it?” popped in my head.  For a second I pushed the thought away because I thought it was silly to pray about such minor things.  But then I remembered how Jesus wants us to talk to Him, no matter how great or small the worry may be.

praying hands

Are you worried about something?  Fretting over, what to most people, may seem like a silly little thing?  If it is a worry in your heart, then Jesus isn’t laughing.  Talk to Him.  Share your concerns and allow Him to CaRRy your load.  I am sure even He wouldn’t mind carrying a small load every once in a while :)

May Peace Be With You,

Lara

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Kitchen Makeover: Painting!

Now for the fun stuff!!  I painted the lower cabinets “Mourning Dove” by Martha Stewart.  I had it mixed at Sherwin Williams, and since it is a discontinued color, just ask them and they can find the formula and mix it up for you!

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I decided to add some FuN to the room by adding chalkboard paint on the back wall.  I love it!  And so do the kids!!

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Remember this cabinet?  This is the first cabinet I removed when I started the kitchen makeover!

7a

And here it is painted!

7

To this day, I am still debating if I like the distressed look (see the left cabinet door below) or if I want the cabinets to be solid white (see right cabinet door below).  What do you think?

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The upper cabinets were painted Alabaster by Sherwin Williams.  6

5

I never shared with you the picture of the ceiling after I ripped out the soffit.  Here it is!  The ceiling also shows were I started taking off the popcorn ceiling.  Yep…I opened that can of worms and will share that process with you later.  I can assure you, all the mess and work was well worth it ;)

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So just to see where we’ve come, here is a “before” of the left side:

BEFORE

And here is a “during” of the left side:

Picture4

Here is a “before” picture of the right side of the kitchen:

DSC_0168And here is “during” the painting process of the right side!

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Stay tuned!  Next week I am going to share pictures of the backsplash, open shelving, and the rest of the painted cabinets!!

Cheers!

Lara

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Kitchen Makeover: Tearing Out MORE Soffit

Last week I shared with you how I tore out the soffit and raised the cabinets on one side of the kitchen.  Was Doug surprised when he came home?!  To be honest, he wasn’t as ShOcKeD as I anticipated.  In his defense, it is a “norm” for me to take on projects, and for some reason I get itchin’ to do it when he is gone.  Serves as good motivation to surprise him I guess ;)  The AWESOME thing is that he is extremely supportive of my love for this type of work, but under one condition….that I don’t drag him into helping me all the time ;)

…But every now and then I give him that puppy dog face that he can’t resist, and he becomes my partner in crime!  Which is why I want to share with you how much easier and faster it was to raise the cabinets on the other side of the kitchen!

I obviously was so tickled when Doug agreed to help me that I didn’t take NEAR as many pictures of the pRoCeSs!  In fact, due to having a helper this time around we were able to demo the soffit, raise cabinets and finish the left side of the kitchen (below) in 2 hours!  That’s right…2 hours!  To get started, here is a before picture:

shoup house 3

Same process, just much faster with two people!  (for more details instructions, visit Kitchen Makeover: Raising Cabinets)

2 Score Sheetrock

3 Tear off Sheetrock

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As you can see below, we threw plastic over the stove and counters for easy cleanup.  I learned my lesson after doing the demo without it last time ;)

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We raised the cabinet on the end first (as the white rectangle BELOW shows where the cabinet use to be).  This made raising the cabinets a breeze because all we had to do is go straight up.  Didn’t have to worry about keeping them level because they stayed flush to the cabinet next to it!  We just worked our way across the kitchen, unscrewing and raising one cabinet at a time.  We also didn’t mess with taking the food out of all the cabinets at the same time.  With each cabinet we moved, we took out the food, raised it, and then put everything back.  Super easy!

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Notice the cabinet above the stove in the picture below.  We didn’t raise this cabinet to avoid messing with the range hood and exhaust vent.  I decided I would eventually make a new cabinet and door which would maximize our storage space and hide the pipe!  You’ll get to see how that turned out in a future post!

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To recap, here is a BEFORE picture of the left side of the kitchen (that I took a few years ago!)

shoup house 3

And here it is AFTER!  10

The cabinet above the stove is the only one that stayed where it was originally.  And in the meantime I tried to make the exhaust pipe “pretty” by throwing a plant up there Ü

One more thing, notice the 2 small cabinet doors above the microwave…

shoup house 3

…and then how I removed them in this “after” picture.  I think I am digging the idea of open shelving ;)  And speaking of shelving, see all that extra wall space we created by raising the cabinets?  Stay tuned for pictures on how it looked once we added open shelving under all of the raised cabinets!

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We did It! (**I couldn’t help but do the Dora song and dance**) What a great project for a Saturday morning.  Tackled it right after breakfast and we were done by lunch!  I wish all projects were that quick.

Next week I hope to share the different changes I made in the kitchen by PAINTING!  Here is a sneak peek…2Have a good weekend!

~Lara

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