chalkboard art, imitation, and husbands

Several months ago, my husband and I built a massive chalkboard for our kitchen. I believe this was the first time I revealed it to the world via social media.

The construction of it was quite an adventure. As was the transportation of the large piece of MDF via our car which was already filled with 2 adults + 3 children. It involved laughter, embarrassment, stress, and pain. Needless to say, I will not be writing a tutorial on how to construct your own chalkboard.

However, we did get it painted, built, and hung – much to our surprise, of course.

I wanted it to be low enough so that the kids could reach the bottom to doodle on – but also high enough so that I could try my hand at some chalk art without it getting erased/scribbled over by my little ones.

I began pinning lovely chalk art images like a crazy woman and had visions of something like this gracing our kitchen.


So I had to laugh when I came home one day and saw the chalkboard had been transformed to this:

my husbands addition

I mean…ex vs reality

I laughed incredibly hard at that for a good long time – not only because my husband’s art was – um…unusual – but because it just clearly illustrated our amazingly opposite personalities. Hilarious! I love him.

Anyway, 2 weeks ago while he was in Kentucky {for this}, I decided to change our board over from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

I was inspired by this lovely print via A Well-Feathered Nest.


Armed with the image above on my phone, a piece of white chalk, and a wet rag, I set to work.


I can’t whip things like this out of my head. I mean, I guess I could try. But I don’t think the result would be very pretty. Instead, I look for inspiration via pinterest. Imitation {or attempted imitation} is the sincerest form of flattery, right?

Go imitate something lovely!

Follow Christa {BrownSugarToast}’s board Lettering & Doodly Art on Pinterest.


After posting every day in October, I feel like I haven’t written at all here lately. And I’ve really missed it. But since writing isn’t something I have to do – like taking care of my sweet littles, cleaning toilets, and cooking is - well, I just don’t always take time for it.

Anyway, I just thought I’d share a little sneakity peek into my life. AKA braindump in blog format. I love reading these types of posts from other bloggers, so…here goes.

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I’ve mentioned here and there about my husband being in school. Like in this post. And in this instagram pic from ages ago:


Anyway, my husband was accepted into this PhD program and officially began in August. Wow. WOW. Okay, I’ll leave it at that.

But wait, why leave it there? This has been his first semester. And it’s been a big deal – in terms of time, commitment, finances, logistics, etc. But we’re still just doing as I said in the caption on my instagram picture – trusting God to clearly lead us. We’re taking this one day at a time. Quite literally. And it’s a good thing. We’re both learning a lot. He, of course, is learning a lot from his classes. But we’re both learning a lot about faith, God, and each other throughout this journey. I think that’s a good thing.

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Christmas. I realize it’s the Christmas season and I’m happy about it. We’ve put up a tree and I scattered tomtes from my lovely swedish grandma around the house. I shared this on facebook, but in case you didn’t see it – I loved this post about undecorating for Christmas. Nester has a way of breaking the rules of home decor blogging. In a very, very good way.

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On the heels of talking about Christmas, this is something we should all read/listen to. 8 minutes long. All about contentment. Ouch.

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I think this DIY necklace is gorgeous. This is the first big statement necklace I’ve seen that I’ve loved. I think it’s because there’s no glitz.

Chunky wood bead necklace diy

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Guys. For 2 1/2 years – ever since I read this post – I have been wanting a fiddle leaf fig tree. I have gone through much disappointment to come to this place in my life, but I can now say that I am the proud possessor of a ficus lyrata potted plant. AKA Figgy.


Be not deceived. The picture above is from Ikea’s site {which is where I happily obtained Figgy}, but he is not nearly as tall as the picture makes it out to be. Figgy is currently living in my master bedroom, but I’ve heard these plants can be a bit finicky, so I may need to move him if he needs more/less light. I have my black {as opposed to green} fingers crossed that I don’t kill him off.

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Today is a wonderful day. Because on this very day, at approximately 5:00 PM EST I will be reunited with my husband. He left last Thursday for a week of classes and my heart has been hurting ever since. I know. It’s 8 days. I realize that is nothing compared to what our wonderful military families go through so frequently. And believe me, being away from him has caused me to appreciate them and their sacrifice much more! But 8 days is the longest we’ve been apart since being married.

So, just a warning, watch out for some fireworks to go off if you’re around North Carolina this afternoon/evening.
Because this has been in my head ever since he left:


Happy weekend!

thankfulness :: why Jesus changes the rules

thankfulnessHave you ever made a thankful list?

Usually we do things like that around Thanksgiving – listing out blessings from the year, perhaps recounting specific situations where God provided like I did recently.

Over the last few days, I’ve been thinking through my “thankful list” for 2014.  The usual suspects appeared –  salvation, family, health, friendships, shelter, food.

And then I thought about God. Not the fact that I’m thankful for Him. But that fact that having a personal relationship with Him drastically changes the rules for thanksgiving.

You see, if I believe in an all-powerful God, that means there is nothing outside the limits of His control. To make it personal, that means that everything that has happened in 2014 has been placed there by God.

“All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?””
Daniel 4:35

And if I believe in a good God – one who is perfect and does everything perfectly, then to make it personal,
everything that has happened in 2014 has been perfectly placed there by God for my good.

You are good and do good; teach me your statutes.
Psalm 119:68

How does believing in an all powerful, good God drastically change the rules for Thanksgiving?

It means that I can give thanks for everything.

Not because everything is good. But because there is a good God behind it, in it and through it – desiring to work it all together for His glory.

So I can put everything that happened this year on my thankful list. The broken relationships, financial struggles, physical difficulties, etc. And you know the great thing about God? He already knows everything. And so He knows that when I’m having a hard time saying ‘thank you’ it’s because deep down inside I’m really not thankful. So I usually go ahead and tell Him that too. That I want to be thankful because He tells me to be. But that I’m really not – and I really don’t see how I can have a grateful spirit.

There have been instances where I look back and see how God gave me a thankful heart when I didn’t even think it was possible. And there are still some areas in my life that I take to Him and say, “God, thank you for this struggle – even though I don’t understand. Help me to be truly thankful for it because it comes from your good and wise hand.”

You know what the great thing is about giving thanks to God for everything? It just keeps me running back to God.
So whether it’s something I immediately recognize as a blessing – or something I instinctively view as a trial – I can take them both back to the God Who gave them to me.

And I can be thankful.

a new tradition

I’m a big fan of meaningful traditions. But sometimes it’s hard to just ‘come up with’ a great tradition to start, right?

Last year, we started using a new advent with our kids. We did it in the evenings before bed and everyone loved it. We’re definitely going to use it again.

But I’m also going to try out a new {to me} advent resource called Truth in the Tinsel. Last year, I kept seeing it around the web and I was about to buy it. And then – lo and behold – I realized I had already bought it! A couple years ago, I bought an e-book bundle and Truth in the Tinsel was one of the books inside! I love it when you discover happy things like that, don’t you?


Every day, there are Scripture passages to meditate on, talking points for the kiddos, and an ornament craft. The whole thing is designed to last 30 minutes or less. I’m planning to do this with my kids in the mornings after breakfast. Anna Grace is totally into creating things, so I know she’ll be all over this.

This resource is designed for kids in preschool to early elementary. If your kids fit into that age category, definitely check out this resource for your family!

Let’s have a quick giveaway for this Truth in the Tinsel e-book, okay?

We’ll make this really simple! Just leave a comment – any comment – and I’ll pick 1 winner at random.
{If you’re reading via email, click here to leave a comment.}

This giveaway is only open until Saturday, November 29 at 12 PM EST. That way the winner will have a day to download the e-book and prepare to do it with their family. May the best random candidate win!


Affiliate links are used in this post. That means, at no extra cost to you, Brown Sugar Toast may get a small commission from your purchase. Thanks for your support in this way!

I’m In a Book. NBD.

I’m in a published book.

So yeah.

Wait, what?

Ah yes. All the rumors you’ve heard about my increasing rise to popularity, fame, and great wealth are true. Don’t feel left out if you haven’t heard them yet. Sometimes things take a while to circulate.

ANYWAY. Last week, I received a package in the mail with the aforementioned book enclosed.
And now – I present to you my reaction. In picture form.

my reaction to being in a book...

Did you catch the title of the book? Craft Fail. I got published in a book entitled Craft FAIL. I am such a winner.

Some bloggers get in Better Homes. Others in HGTV. And still others have their words plastered on HuffPost.

I like to think that this book has increased my humility status.

In full disclosure, I was the first one to label this project a fail. I wrote about it {and why sometimes you should not DIY} right here. So it’s not as heartless as it might originally sound. I even gave the link to Heather Mann, the compiler of this new book.

In honor of my DEcreasing fame, popularity, and fortune, I would like to propose a giveaway of this book to 2 of you lovely people.
You know, in case you want to be able to share the failure with your friends.

We all fail sometimes. Thankfully, all our failures don’t get published in books. That only happens to a few especially lucky people.
Like myself. Naturally.

Failers unite!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jehovah Jireh :: My God Provides

jehovah jireh

2 weeks ago, I packed the 3 kids up and we headed to Salvation Army to look for tops for Anna Grace. I was specifically searching for hooded sweaters. However, since it’s kind of a hit-or-miss store, I didn’t find any I loved. We walked out with some super cute stuff {like the sweater she’s wearing here for…wait for it…$1.99!} – just not exactly what I was hoping to find.

On Wednesday, I was talking with Anna Grace about some of the names of God. I explained the name Jehovah Jireh to her:

“It means ‘God provides.’ God provides things for us – like our home, food, and clothes.
But He also gives other things like love, adoption, and forgiveness.”

Thursday morning, I was going through a bag of clothes a friend had outgrown and passed on to us. Can you guess what was inside?
Along with some other cold weather essentials like hats and gloves…3 lovely sweaters that fit Anna Grace perfectly.

Jehovah Jireh. My God provides.

The timing wasn’t an accident. It was God’s planning.

Incidentally, on Wednesday I was working on some ‘financial loveliness’ related to my husband’s doctoral degree. There were some details I had forgotten to factor in during our budget planning. The timing of the sweaters was just a reminder to me that God provides for everything.
He provides for sweaters and school bills, right?

I love that the story of Jehovah Jireh comes right at this moment of faith. And always right at the moments that require faith in my life too.

He knows. There aren’t any details that He’s forgotten.
He cares. There is nothing that’s too small for Him.
He provides. Jehovah Jireh.

what’s your filter?

The internet is a loud place.

If I ever doubt the validity of that statement, all I have to do is think through how many times I’ve used it in the past 24 hours:

  • got my dinner recipe
  • read blogs
  • sent messages via facebook
  • tracked spending with Mint
  • uploaded a pic to instagram
  • shared a notebook with my husband via Evernote
  • listened to Pandora
  • tracked a run with Nike
  • browsed Craigslist for a chair
  • listened to a sermon

The point is: in all these things, I’m opening up my mind and dumping information inside. Sometimes I even use the internet to dump info inside of other people’s minds. Like now, for example.

What is your mind’s filter when you use the internet?
When you read blogs? Or check social media? How do you process the information?

If I’m not careful, sometimes I just start reacting based on what I read.

If I disagree with a post, I get angry.
If I want that outfit, I become jealous.
If my house doesn’t look like that, my kids don’t act that way, or my marriage, body, schedule, cooking, _______ doesn’t measure up, I feel discouraged.

So what’s the solution?

The solution is not to abandon the internet. Because even if we stay at home surrounded by nothing and nobody, our hearts are loud enough to cause anger, jealousy, and discouragement all by themselves. Happy thoughts, right?

The solution is to filter everything through the grid of God’s Word.

Every blog post. Every instagram pic. Every status update, tweet, and news article. Yeah, even the songs on Pandora.

It’s a lot easier said than done.

It’s a whole lot easier to just use my feelings as my filter. If that makes me happy or loved, I’ll believe it. If it makes me feel sad, depressed, or angry, I’ll stop thinking about it.

The thing is – my feelings are always changing. And so is everything else.

In everything that is read, the foremost thought in a Christian’s mind must be:
“Does this line up with God’s Word?”

“The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.”
Isaiah 40:8

God’s Word is constant and unchangeable. Use it as your filter.