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Flip House Tour: A Before and After House Tour

My family has been busy working on an important project over the past three months. The following post details what that project is and how it has impacted our family. If you’re a fan of shows about how to renovate a flip house (as I know many of my regular readers are) I think you’re going to enjoy this glimpse into our recent family project.

Flip House Tour

We drove up to the house and got out of the car. Unlocking the door and pushing it open revealed a house that had suffered obvious neglect. It needed some TLC, and that was exactly why we were there. We had a vision for this house, and we were ready to get started making that vision a reality. The vision we had for the house was a part of a larger dream we had for our family.

First, I’ll share a little background on our family. As the homeschooling mother of eight children, I have proudly poured myself into raising my children for the past 21 years.  It’s been a privilege and a joy. My husband Gilbert is a master craftsman. He has worked as a carpenter, general contractor and home builder, and for the past 30 years, has successfully owned and operated his own cabinetmaking business. In that role, he has designed and built exquisitely crafted cabinetry in high-end residential homes in Northern New England. A testament to the quality of the work he does is the fact that he has never, in over 30 years of business, had a need to advertise. All his customers come by referrals. Some of his work has been featured in Better Homes and Gardens and Maine magazine.

I’ve always enjoyed watching TV shows about “house flipping.” I’ve often thought “We could do that!” With my husband’s experience and expertise, I knew renovating an existing home in need of repairs would be possible. As for myself, I have long had an interest in interior design. Having 10 years experience in graphic design, I have an eye for color and detail which I knew would lend itself well to home design. Recently, I took an online course called Flip Chick Academy. Taking the course gave me the inside scoop on just how all those people on the house flipping shows make it happen. The detailed training and advice I received through the course was invaluable in giving me a framework for starting that kind of business. Together, my husband and I would make a great team. The Flip Chick course challenged me to think beyond what I was doing in my everyday life and see the bigger picture of some of the things our family could do in the future. We decided to start Beacon Homes LLC with the intent to purchase and renovate homes in our area.

But, I’m a busy mom of eight; how would I juggle my responsibilities at home with this new venture? The answer was to get the whole family involved. We brought our children to our first flip house shortly after we bought it. When they walked in, they all turned up their noses a bit. It was dirty and needed some work. All they could see was what it was right then. Gilbert and I knew we needed to help them see what it could be in the future. So we enlisted their help. We cleared brush and planted grass. We painted and sanded and swept. We tried to make it as fun as possible for them, and we included plenty of incentives to get the jobs done. We also enlisted the help of some very talented professionals in the area to help us bring this project to life. As a family, through all the work and the play, the vision started to become a reality. They began to see what Gilbert and I had pictured in our own minds. The result was a beautiful, like new house that would soon become someone’s dream home.

Our family learned to work together to create something beautiful out of something that was at one time not so pretty. What we created will be a home to someone someday soon. Our hope is that this home we spent our summer beautifying will be a place of comfort and joy to another family. We know that the people who choose to live in this home will be very happy and content surrounded by this serene, peaceful space as they create memories and live their lives here in this lovely home. As a bonus, they will have the chance to be part of a warm and generous neighborhood of people who will welcome the new owners of this home with open arms.

It has been a privilege and an honor to work on this home, preparing it with careful attention to every detail. The loving care we’ve given this 6 bedroom, 2.5 bath house has transformed it into one that looks brand new. In this house, we have made a home we would be proud to live in ourselves. Our vision for this ugly duckling of a house was to make it into a beautiful swan of a home. We have certainly succeeded.

Flip House Tour-Living


Flip House Tour-Kitchen


Flip House Tour-mudroom


Flip House Tour-Powder Room


Flip House Tour-Mbath


Flip House Tour-Living


Flip House Tour-Backyard


Flip House Tour-front view


Summer 2017 Lifestyle Favorites

Since starting this blog almost a year ago, each season I have shared a short list of all the things I’m especially loving lately. I really love sharing my lifestyle favorites each season. It’s a fun chance to look over the season and how I’ve passed my time and used my energy.

Since it’s coming to the end of the summer season and fall is just around the corner, it’s time for another lifestyle favorites post.

So, without further ado, here are my lifestyle favorites for summer 2017….


Podcast—What Should I Read Next?

I’ve recently discovered the delightful world of podcasts. If you’re not listening to podcasts, you should be. There are several I enjoy enough to subscribe to. My favorite of all the podcasts I listen to regularly is “What Should I Read Next?” with Anne Bogel. Anne has a blog and started the podcast as a spinoff of that. If you like book recommendations from a fellow bibliophile as much as I do, you’ll love this podcast. (Just search for “What Should I Read Next” on iTunes.)


the happiness project book

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

I’ve just finished reading this book, and I found it insightful and encouraging. If you’ve ever felt like your life was great but you just weren’t enjoying it as much as you could or should, this book is for you. The basic premise is that the author went on a year long journey to find out what made her happy. What she discovers about herself, and about happiness in general, is fascinating.

Beauty/Personal Care

tree hut sugar scrub

Tree Hut Sugar Scrub

I’ve been using the Tree Hut Sugar Scrubs for a while, but I don’t believe I’ve ever mentioned them in one of my favorites list before, so I thought I would now. I love these scrubs. They are perfect for using in the shower. They smell great and really do the job of exfoliating. And the ingredients list isn’t too scary, either, which is always a plus. My current favorite scent is the coconut lime, though the honey almond is lovely, too.


Michael Stars Ruana

This scarf/poncho/sarong came in my Fab Fit Fun Summer box. I like the monochromatic gray color scheme—it goes well with a lot of my wardrobe. It’s light and flowy and makes a nice accessory to dress up a simple outfit. I like to wear mine with a plain knit dress or t-shirt and pencil skirt.


the republic of tea earl greyer tea

Earl Greyer Tea from The Republic of Tea

I am a huge Republic of Tea fan. I do not get any compensation for talking about them all the time—I just really love their teas. The variety of flavors is impressive and the quality is amazing. Recently, I tried their version of the classic Earl Grey and I loved it. It’s smooth and flavorful with just the right hint of bergamot and orange. It’s especially delicious with a splash of cream and a sprinkle of sugar or stevia.


canvas factory print

Canvas Factory 16”X20” Photo Print Canvas

Last but not least, to wrap up this favorites list, I want to share my recent Canvas Factory print. I love using Canvas Factory to print some of my favorite photos. Their quality is excellent and their customer service is great. The process of designing the canvas is easy and fun. It’s also convenient and the prints always ship quickly. I’ve had a great experience every time I’ve used Canvas Factory.

I just received another photo canvas from them, and I’m so pleased with how it turned out, I just had to add it to my favorites list! This photo canvas is going to look amazing over the sofa in my den. The photo itself has special meaning to me—it is of one of my favorite spots on the Maine coast, a place we love to visit as a family. The room I plan to hang it in has a slightly rustic feel, so it will go perfectly with the design.

It’s giveaway time!

canvas factory giveaway

Recently, the folks at Canvas Factory reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in offering a giveaway to my blog readers (that’s you!). Of course, I said “Yes, please”! You may remember a similar giveaway I hosted a while back. I’m exited to offer one again!

To enter the giveaway to receive your own 16” x 20” canvas print (of a photo of your choice), use the Rafflecopter widget below. This giveaway will run for one week. It is open to those in the U.S. and Canada only.

What have you been loving lately? Leave a comment and let me know what your current favorites are.

Please note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means I may earn a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you purchase something using one of my links.  Be assured that  I only recommend products I believe in. Your support is appreciated!

Living With Child Loss

living with child loss


**Note to the reader**This blog post is of a much more personal nature than I generally share here. I felt compelled to open up and share with you an experience that has been central in shaping my life over the last six years. My hope is that those reading it will find comfort, encouragement, and the knowledge that if you are walking a similar path to the one I have trod, you are not alone. There have been moments over the past six years that I have needed blog posts like this one. If you, like me, have come upon this post at time when your heart is broken and crying out for hope and peace, my heart goes out to yours.



Tomorrow is a day which will forever mark the “Before” and the “After” of my life. My life is divided into two sections: Before September 2, 2011 and After September 2, 2011. Six years ago—on that date—I was separated from a piece of my heart, and I have been forever changed by that.

Six years ago, on a day when the sun shone brightly upon the world, people all over went about their day-to-day lives without a thought to how someone else’s world might be turning upside down. On that day, my husband and I sat in a hospital room, surrounded by our children, holding the lifeless body of our daughter.

I, like so many others who have lived the unthinkable, am the face of child loss.

Each year, I mark September 2 as one more year gone by without my sweet little girl.

One more year of what ifs and might-have-beens.

One more year of counting the milestones that will never take place.

My daughter would officially be starting school this year. I can’t help but wonder, would she struggle to learn to read, or would it come easily for her? What would her favorite color be? Would she draw me pictures of flowers, or would it be horses?

I also wonder what sort of person I would be if I had not lost one of the things most precious in the world to me. Would I still be as naive as I once was? Would I have the same kind of gut-wrenching empathy I have now? Scars, even ugly, heartrending ones, can be beautiful when allowed to be healed by the loving touch of a compassionate God, a Father who Himself knows all too well the pain of child loss.

Statics say the exact kind of loss I have experienced is 1 out of 100. Does that make the loss any easier? In the case of my daughter’s life, her loss was 1 out of 1.

Being a statistic is never an easy fate. This calling God has placed on my life to walk this road of loss and grief is hard one—a “severe mercy” as C.S. Lewis once said.

Even six years later, though the raw emotions have settled into a quiet acceptance and the grief has given way to joy, there is still an empty spot at our dinner table. When I count my children, I always feel as thought I am missing someone…because I am.

The saying goes “time heals all wounds,” which I suppose is true in most cases. There are many trials in life that, when they have passed, you move on from and are stronger because of, and healing comes and you know you are better for having gone through them. While child loss is similar in some of those ways—you do experience a kind of healing and it can make you a stronger person—it is one trial that you never, ever “get over.”

Walking the road of a bereaved parent is a life long journey. A part of who you are is closely tied to what you have lost.

Our living children are a little piece of our hearts walking around in this world. When a parent has lost a child, a piece of our hearts is missing from this world. And no matter how old that child was at the time of loss, all bereaved parents know exactly how old our child would be now.

There is hope in child loss. There is healing and rebuilding of a life beyond the loss. But nothing is ever the same, nor would we want it to be. We can move on and continue to live, knowing we are honoring our child’s life by fully embracing our own and living it to it’s fullest.

Yet, always in the depths of our heart, we will have an empty place only our child could fill. Always in the back our our minds, we will wonder what life might have been like if they were still here.

I trust a sovereign, righteous, and loving God. I know without a doubt that He does what He deems best for His children. There is great peace in knowing that even though I wish my little girl were still alive, He has a perfect plan I can’t see or understand yet.

There is also great hope in knowing there is a place of beauty and perfection where my daughter waits for me and her daddy. She’s gone on ahead of us, but we’ll catch up soon enough.

Irrevocably, I have become the person I am because of what I have lost.

That is a part of His plan as well, and I am grateful.

Summer Garden Tour

Gardening has been a passion of mine for many years. There’s nothing quite like getting down, hands in the soil, nurturing and bringing forth green and growing things. It is indescribably rewarding.

Gardening is a useful skill. Growing a vegetable garden can provide fresh, nutrient rich food for the family. Yes, it’s a lot of work to grow your own vegetables, but the quality of the food and the feeling of satisfaction that comes from it is worth the effort.

My favorite type of gardening, however, isn’t the practical kind at all. It’s planting and tending my flower gardens and landscaping beds. I love flowers, and my favorite way to enjoy them is when they are growing right in my own backyard.

I’ve spent several years working to develop and cultivate my flower gardens. It’s something I dreamed about for years before we built and moved into our house. I envisioned the profusion of flowers that would spill forth from my garden beds. I could see in my mind all the varieties of plants I would choose, and many of those are the very plants I have now.

Bringing beauty and creativity into the world is an extremely rewarding pastime, whether you are growing flowers or painting a picture or cooking a delicious meal for your family. Never underestimate the value of creating beautiful things. As humans, we are made in the image and He is an inherently creative being. This means that we should also be creative. One of our missions in life should be to find the ways in which we are gifted toward creativity and pursue those ways to beautify and enhance the world around us.

In gardening, I like I am cooperating with God in encouraging the growth and expression of the beauty of His creation. There is an aspect of flowers and plants that brings glory to God in His amazing creativity.

It thought it would be fun to give you a bit of a tour of my gardens and tell you a bit about how they have developed over the years. What do you think? Would you like a peek at my gardens and all the pretty flowers I get to see out my windows every day?

Well, then, here we go….

We’ll start in the front yard. Our home is a large traditional federal style house. We built it ourselves (my husband used to build houses for a living) about 15 years ago. About 12 years ago, we added some hardscape (stone surrounded beds) to the front and one side of the house to enclose the foundation plantings. In the front of the house, these stone wrapped beds hold a profusion of hydrangea bushes.


Hydrangeas have long been one of my favorite flowers. I love their big showiness, yet there is an element of simplicity in them I really enjoy. These front flower plantings are one of the things I clearly envisioned long before our house was built. I had a picture in my mind of exactly what this area of the garden would look like, and that’s exactly what it looks like today.

One of the things I love most about having these hydrangeas planted in the front of my house is the beautiful, dramatic bouquets I have on my kitchen counters at this time of year. There’s nothing quite like a vase full of hydrangea blooms to brighten a room.

Toward the front corner of the house, there is a spirea bush I bought years ago at a local plant sale held by our town’s garden club. (Several of the plants in my garden came from this annual sale which is a fundraiser for the garden club.) What started out as a small sprig I paid $1 for has grown into a large bush which is overflowing from the space where it is planted.


Next to the spirea grows our large lilac bush. At this point, it is more of a tree. It could use a good pruning one of these years. I love the sent of lilacs wafting through the living room windows on a lovely spring day. Another flower I love to bring inside, lilacs make beautiful cut flowers. Lilacs also happen to be my husband’s favorite flower.


Moving on to the side of the house, I have couple of flower beds that I designed to have the feel of an English country garden. There is a profusion of flowers blooming throughout the season, from spring through fall. Daylilies, pink mallow, peonies, candytuft, irises, salvia, creeping phlox, and climbing roses all take their turns in the spotlight during the summer months.


Our house is set into a hill, so our side garden is laid out in a terraced design. In the lower terrace, I have more bright bloomers overflowing from the bed.


Heading away from the house and into the backyard area, there is a small and simple garden consisting of hostas and daylillies surrounding the base of a willow tree. There are also some fragrant asiatic lilies that were given to us in honor of our daughter who passed away. There are a beautiful pure white color and smell heavenly, reminding us of our little girl’s beautiful purity and the hope that she is waiting for us in our heavenly home. This garden has special meaning to me not only because of these lilies, but also because I planted the garden the summer I was expecting her. For me, this has created a tender connection to her life.


Beyond this flower bed, we have a small orchard and a few berry bushes. To the side, we have an arbor with grapevines and we have a small fire pit area set up as well. The fire pit was thrown together by our sons one afternoon last summer and we’ve enjoyed and used it often since then.




Along the perimeter of our back deck I have planted hostas. Hostas are wonderful plants for landscaping. They are easy care plants that give you a lot of bang for your buck. They blend with many different styles of landscaping and gardens.


One last area of gardening in my yard (at least for now!) is my little herb garden, which is planted beside my vegetable garden plot. In it, I have two kinds of mint, lavender, oregano, purple coneflower, lamb’s ear, and chives.

There you have it—my summer garden tour! I hope you enjoyed getting this peek into one of my favorite places to spend a quiet summer afternoon. Gardening has been a rewarding and enjoyable hobby for me for many years, and I hope it will continue to be for many more to come.

How about you? Do you enjoy gardening, or is it a hobby you hope to develop for yourself one day? I’d love to hear your thoughts–please leave a comment!

Spring 2017 Lifestyle Favorites

Spring flew by and we are officially in the summer months. How is it possible that the year is half over already?!

I thought I would share a few of things I’ve been loving and using lately. Hope you enjoy and find some inspiration to try something new, too!




As I mentioned in a post last week, I am absolutely loving wearing my new paisley patterned maxi dress from Florence Adams. It’s classy and elegant and comfortable and it makes me happy when I wear it!



it cosmetics vitality lip stain

My new favorite lip product is the It Cosmetics Vitality Lip Flush 4-in-1 Reviver Lipstick Stain. Vitality Lip Flush takes the place of four products–your lipstick, conditioning lip balm, hydrating lip gloss, and lip stain, all in one! It’s comfortable to wear and long lasting—I put it on in the morning and the color lasts all day long!



what women fear

I recently read What Women Fear by Angie Smith, and it was excellent. This book challenged me and encouraged me. I identified with so much of what Angie shared. She wrote in a candid, vulnerable way that resonated with my own experience in so many ways. I highly recommend this book. It has the potential to be life-changing.


Personal Care

Everyone Lavender Lotion

Lately, I’ve been using EO Products Lavender and Aloe Everyone Lotion. It’s smells wonderful, with it’s fresh lavender scent from real essential oil. It is made with natural, healthy ingredients that are nourishing for the skin, and it’s versatile enough to use on face, hands, and body. I especially love to apply it at nighttime; the smell is perfect for helping bring a sense of relaxation in preparation for sleep.



republic of tea good hope vanilla

My favorite tea right now is Good Hope Vanilla Rooibos from The Republic of Tea. It has a nice smooth vanilla flavor. It’s perfect with a drop of cream and a sprinkle of sugar or stevia. So yummy!




Recently, I decided to update the throw pillows on my bed. I chose an easy care square pillow with a beige background and pretty script lettering, along with a soft pink minky one. They both give the perfect accent to my vintage style floral bedding.

So there you have it—all my favorite things from this spring!

What are some things you’ve been loving lately?

Please note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means I may earn a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you purchase something using one of my links.  Be assured that  I only recommend products I believe in. Your support is appreciated!

A Glimpse Into My Life: An Idyllic Weekend at the Maine Coast

This recent Memorial Day weekend was a fun and relaxing one for our family. My husband, who owns his own business, took Friday off. Since it was Memorial Day weekend, that meant he had four days’ break from work. Friday was spent doing projects around the house and running some errands. We spent Saturday as a family in one of our favorite places to take a day trip, the Maine coast.

Maine coastline

There is something I find indescribably comforting about being near the ocean. Perhaps it is because I was born on an island. Maybe it’s because so many of my happiest memories happened on a beach. Or maybe it’s the power of the water and the air and the rocks that reminds me of the power of the Creator of it all. Whatever it is, the sea calls to me and brings me to a place of calm.

Maine coast with lighthouse in background

My children love to explore the rocks along our favorite stretch of coastline in Boothbay Harbor. There is a glimpse of a lighthouse out in the distance. The islands which can be spotted from the beach are like so many others that dot the shoreline along this stretch of the Atlantic, yet each is unique as well.

Boothbay Harbor, Maine

We were blessed with a radiantly sunny day with brilliant blue skies. The water had it’s cheerful spring colors on and the breeze was slightly chilly. It was perfect weather.

children on outdoor steps

We also strolled along a coastal flea market for a couple of hours, discovering treasures we didn’t know we needed. It was a truly delightful day.

Maine coastal town

Sunday morning was dedicated to attending church. In the afternoon, my husband took the children fishing while I relaxed and visited with my mother. Monday, we attended a backyard barbecue. The children and young people enjoyed games of croquet and ultimate frisbee while the adults relaxed and engaged in rousing discussions of everything from theology to food allergies to dog bites.

kayaks in harbor

It was one of those weekends that exceeds expectations—a delightfully idyllic few days that I will cherish for a very long time. Our schedules have been so busy lately, this lovely break came at a time when I really needed the refreshment it brought.

boat in Boothbay Harbor, Maine

I am so grateful for the enjoyable time we spent together as a family. As our family grows and each of the children matures, the opportunities for days like these will slip past, especially with our oldest children. In the not-too-distant-future, my little chicks will begin to leave the nest, and life will never quite be the same again. If you are a mom with little ones, savor every moment you have right now. These days are precious and gone all too soon. You will blink, and one day they will be grown up and ready to head out on their own. And you will wonder how it happened so fast. Take my word for it.

family on rocks near ocean

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