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My paternal grandpa was the king of little sayings and one-liners.  When he went on to Heaven, my Mom got his Bible and found a treasure trove of his sayings written in some of the empty pages.  Some are sayings he read somewhere, some are ones he wrote.  (You can check out my Dad’s blog Advancing Ministries for a post of more of his sayings.)

One of his sayings quickly became a favorite:

The peace of God within becomes the melody of life without.

It’s poetic, old-fashioned, rings true, and I love it.  My mom has been talking about doing a hoop art wall installation in her office, so I thought I’d combine the two for one of her Christmas gifts.


I’ve done a little embroidery here and there, but this is the first big thing I’ve actually completed.  It was so much fun!  Like any project, parts of it were harder than I expected and some parts were easier than I expected.

I wrote the quote out in my own handwriting and then used some transfer paper from Jo-Ann Fabrics to transfer it over.  It didn’t really work out the best and I ended up having to go over the lines in pencil on the fabric.  Do any of you have a better way to transfer patterns?  I used the stem stitch for the letters.  It’s not a usual stitch that people use for letters, but I love the rope-like texture it gives.


For the circle flowers, I just cut out some circles from flannel.  I didn’t measure them or anything, just freehanded them and trimmed them if they ended up looking weird.  Then I sewed them on with a french knot in the center.  I left the hoop itself plain because I don’t know what my mom has planned for the rest of the hoops on her wall.


Here’s the back if anyone’s curious.  I cut out a circle of flannel and lined the back of the embroidery with it.  I used a teensy bit of fabric glue to glue it on the sides of the hoops.  Then I cut the excess fabric so that there was about three inches all around the hoop.  I threaded a needle with matching thread and treated the fabric as if I were making a yoyo. I pulled it tight enough so it wasn’t saggy and called it a day.  I’m not sure if this is how you’re supposed to do it?  But I was trying to make it so there was enough fabric for my Mom to take the embroidery out in case she decides to do something with the exposed outer hoop, like cover it in fabric or yarn or something.


I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to jump on the hoop art train.  I’ve pinned and pinned hoop art ideas on Pinterest, but it took a Christmas present for me to actually do it.  I’m thinking this is going to be my motto for the year.  2014.  Do it.  Ha!


Everyone knows that the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear, of course.  But a close second is to spread Christmas cheer all over your house in the form of twinkly lights, paper snowflakes, pine tree sprigs, glitter, and GOLD.  This year I had so much fun decorating our house.  I told myself I wouldn’t spend too much time making new decorations – I would just use what I had.  That lasted all of two seconds.

IMG_1162Oh, and side note – NEW WINDOWS!  The trim is white and we have new blinds.  Goodbye wood trim and pleated peach curtains.  Now we just need curtains and to spackle all the holes from the three (yes three) curtain rods that hung over each window.  But moving on.  To Christmas.


IMG_1167For our newly built dining area, I tacked up some live greenery along the trim.  I wanted to put some green wreaths on this wall, but I couldn’t find what I wanted.  Next year.  For the center piece on the table, I picked up this adorable houndstooth runner from the best store ever (Target, obviously), and put fake snow and candles inside jars. I’ve been keeping all my glass jars for years and my Mom has been calling me a hoarder.  Well, there, Mom.  I used them.  Ha!

IMG_0967And it looks so pretty at night!  Alas, this night was the only night these candles have been lit.  I don’t have a candle lighter, so I used the whole light a dry spaghetti noodle trick from Pinterest.  It worked but took ten minutes to light these candles and the house smelled super weird for a bit.  Thanks, Pinterest.  I’m going out and buying a long candle lighter.

IMG_1193Aaaah, and chairs!  Christmas cheery chairs!  Timothy and I bought these chairs as our Christmas present to each other.  I mean, is our spark still alive or what?!  I’m pretty sure you know you’re an adult when you choose to get each other chairs for Christmas.  And you love it.  When I walk by them, I pat them and tell Timothy “merry Christmas.”  It’s the gift that keeps giving.


IMG_1183I decorated our Christmas tree twice this year.  Once with all our old decorations, and then I spent two days making new decorations and re-decorated it.  I made a felt garland from Elise’s tutorial, pipe cleaner himmeli ornaments from Rachel’s tutorial, and ruffled streamers from Dana’s tutorial.  I spent around three dollars, which I take an odd amount of pride in.  Ha!


Our old tree topper finally crossed the line from looking handmade to homemade, so I made a new one.  I was afraid Timothy wouldn’t want a big giant bow on the top of our tree, but our old topper was THAT BAD that he said go for it.  Good man.  It’s a big giant bow with sparkly gold chevron fabric lined with interfacing so it won’t be floppy.


IMG_1191Our stockings were hung above the piano with care.  Along with some old colorful Reader’s Digest books from my Bibi, some dollar spot ornaments in a vase, lighted fake branches, and my crochet chain garland.  The runner is a scarf that my mom brought me back from Ireland.  It is warmer than the sun, and I love it.

IMG_1208I made some gigantic paper snowflakes for our chalkboard wall.  They were surprisingly easy!  You can find a billion tutorials for these on Pinterest.  This was supposed to be a picture of some beautiful chalk art saying or drawing, but it is art done by the boys I baby-sit and I kind of love it.


IMG_1099For our kitchen window I used some of my jars (look, Mom!  Ha!) filled with fake snow and some pine tree sprigs.  Easy and happy.

IMG_1162Usually I would leave my decorations up until nearly February, but this year I am hosting a bridal shower at my house in mid-January.  So they must come down.  Hmmm … do you think I can make stockings an accepted year-round wall decoration?  Easter stockings anyone?



You know those triangle quilts that you see every 5 seconds on Pinterest?  I love those.  And they maybe sorta kinda saved Christmas.

See, Timothy and I don’t have stockings.  It’s our fourth Christmas together and we STILL don’t have stockings because I’m a weirdo and plan each year to knit these gorgeous complicated fair-isle stockings but I never get to them.  This year we hosted our annual Christmas party for the young adults and I decided that party was my stocking deadline.  So I grabbed some cheery yarn, scoped out some fair isle charts and decreed that I would be a miracle worker and churn out two stockings in under a week.  About twenty rows into the first stocking I realized my plan wasn’t going to work.  Enter: those triangle quilts and their plethora of inspiration.

Operation quilted triangle stockings was officially underway.

BECOMING-WHITNEY-triangle-stockings-diy-4I knew that if I was going to get it done, I couldn’t be a perfectionist about the whole thing.  Normally I spend hours planning projects and looking up tutorials and practicing.  Not this time.  Nope.  I decided to wing it.  I wung it.  Wang it?  Winged? Anyway.

I grabbed the only stocking we had in the house – my very first stocking I had as a baby.  Sweet and a little grody. Ha!  I used that as a template.

BECOMING-WHITNEY-triangle-stockings-diy-3Christmas colors are always hard for me.  I change my tastes every year.  So this year I went with this gold glitter chevron that I want to upholster my house in and some colors that seemed cheery to me but didn’t scream REINDEER!

BECOMING-WHITNEY-triangle-stockings-diy-7Then came all the triangle cutting and arranging.  I kept telling myself that perfection wasn’t necessary and I only allowed myself a few minutes to arrange the triangles.  I could have spent forever trying to get a pleasing distribution of colors.  Random is so hard!


If this were a quilt, I would have ironed all the seams open to give a cleaner look from the front.  But being a stocking, I just quickly ironed them to alternating sides.

BECOMING-WHITNEY-triangle-stockings-diy-6Then came the best part – QUILTING!  Quilting, I love you.  If you look closely you can definitely see some spots where my triangles don’t line up.  The quilting I chose to do kind of emphasized those errors, but I still went with it.  I have a newfound appreciation for the makers of those triangle quilts.  How do you get your points to line up?  Are you magic??

BECOMING-WHITNEY-triangle-stockings-diy-9The backside of the quilting was so lovely.  You can see on the bottom left where my points didn’t line up on the front of the quilt.  Let’s just say that adds to the Christmas cheer.

BECOMING-WHITNEY-triangle-stockings-diy-2There were parts of the process where the fabric took on a life of its own and I realized life would just be easier if I could simply go out and buy new stockings from Target.  But that’s not me.  As much as I wish it were.  Ha!

To personalize our stockings, I free-motion quilted/embroidered our names and sewed them on the cuffs of the stockings.  One of the past designers on Project Runway used that same technique on a dress and I’ve been wanting to try it out.

BECOMING-WHITNEY-triangle-stockings-diyTimothy’s name came out a little crooked, but it was the second time I tried to do his name.  And I decided, again, that it just added Christmas cheer.  I’m pretty sure that’s going to be my new motto.  Oh?  The sink is full of dirty dishes?  Wow, that adds so much Christmas cheer!  Oh?  The bookshelf has dust an inch thick?  Look at all that Christmas cheer.  Genius.

BECOMING-WHITNEY-triangle-stockings-diy-1So now the Gothras are no longer stockings-less.  Christmas is saved!  I’m still going to knit those fair-isle stockings someday, but until then we’ll enjoy our triangle ones.  Now to fill mine up with chocolate! (hint hint Timothy!)


Oh my word, several days of building, sanding, staining, poly-ing, nailing, sawing, spackling, painting, and caulking – oh the caulking! – later, we have a finished table and banquette!  Wanna see?  Wanna see?!

I was going to wait to post pictures until we figured out the chair situation.  And we had it all staged and decorated perfectly.  But this is real life.  And Christmas time.  Throw pillows and place settings can wait.  Ha!  Introducing: our new dining area that I couldn’t love more even if it was a human child:

BECOMING-WHITNEY-banquette-and-table-diyBead board, glossy white trim work, a bench ready to be storage for awesome things, upholstery, and THAT TABLE.

BECOMING-WHITNEY-banquette-diy-6I am so pleased with how everything turned out.  The banquette really is a statement in our dining area.  I mean, you can’t miss it.  The bench alone is six feet long.


You know when I was all, the hard part is done!  Now just some quick painting, spackling, and caulking!?  Um, no.  Not quick.  It was laborious.  And caulking?  Caulking, you are not my friend.  And those beadboard panels soaked up the paint like they had lived their whole lives in  a dessert.

BECOMING-WHITNEY-banquette-diy-4But two coats of primer and three coats of paint later, I couldn’t be happier.  All the work was worth it!  Even if this project turned into one of those “if you give a mouse a cookie” moments.  With this white trim gloriousness, all the unhappy wood trim in our house started calling out to me.  And I may or may not have tackled a couple windows’ worth of trim in our living room.  I mean, if you’re already caulking, you might as well caulk your heart out.

BECOMING-WHITNEY-banquette-diy-5We still need to pick up some white outlets and outlet covers.  The previous outlet covers were mirrored.  Classy.


BECOMING-WHITNEY-banquette-diy-1I’m so happy with the fabric we went with.  Up close it has a lot of pattern going on, but from farther back it reads as a neutral.  It’s just begging us to load it up with colorful pillows.  It was my very first upholstery project.  I would definitely not recommend upholstering a six foot bench on your first try!  There are some wrinkles and sags, but a few pillows will cover that right up.

BECOMING-WHITNEY-banquette-diyIgnore the floppy fabric just hanging out on the inside.  The plan is to put some trim around it so it looks finished.  And paint the inside of the bench.  But no one has time for that.  Ha!  My dad being the genius he is, rigged the lid up so we only have to unscrew the seat from those two long boards near the hinge.  Those two boards are connected to the piano hinge.  So we don’t have to unscrew fifty billion hinge screws every time we want to recover the bench. See?  He’s a genius.

BECOMING-WHITNEY-banquette-and-table-DIY-3Then we get to the table.  Which is the real star of the show.  In my humble opinion of course.  I’m just so proud of it and can’t believe we built it!

BECOMING-WHITNEY-banquette-and-table-DIY-6I used an espresso stain and then five coats of polyurethane.  I was afraid that the poly would make the table feel too glossy and would take away from the whole rustic feel, but it worked out really well.  I used a semi-gloss water-based poly and put on several light coats.  The table is smooth to the touch, but not glossy.  Hoo to the ray!

BECOMING-WHITNEY-banquette-and-table-DIY-5I chose not to use wood conditioner before staining because I wanted to make sure all the imperfections of the wood came through.  Oh, and a teeny tiny paint brush (like the kind you used when painting as a kid) was super helpful to get in between the planks of the table.


BECOMING-WHITNEY-banquette-and-table-diy-2The legs of the table were my dad’s idea.  Again with the genius.  The inspiration for our table had two large solid legs at each end.  My dad changed it up by using 2×6 pieces of wood and staggering them.  Randomly.  For the first leg he had me arrange the boards to look random.  My “random” took like 10 minutes.  So he took it over from there.  He just randomly stuck all the boards together for the rest of the legs.  Random is harder than it looks.

We also added a center support beam for the table to keep it from being wobbly.

BECOMING-WHITNEY-banquette-and-table-DIY-4It was hard to get great pictures of the entire table in our dining room.  I would have taken pictures of the finished table outside, but we had to take it apart to get through our door.  So yeah, this table is going nowhere anytime soon.

BECOMING-WHITNEY-banquette-and-table-DIY-And I just had to include a detail shot of one of my favorite parts of the table.  See those little cream spots?  I didn’t even notice them before I started staining, but the stain made them just pop.  Apparently they’re sap spots?  Prettiest sap spots I ever did see.  (Insert the emoji with the hearts flying out of her eyes here. And the heart with the arrow.  Ha!)

BECOMING-WHITNEY-banquette-and-table-diySo this is where we are today.  (Actually, we’re a bit further along – our chairs should arrive today!  Eeeeek!)  The mouse with the cookie is already going wild, ready to update the rest of the area.  In this space we would still like to move the sad chandelier centered over nothing.  The plan is to move the chandelier into our room and then hang two pendant lights over the table.  Then we need to paint the rest of the trim white, replace the cream outlets and switches with white ones, paint the grungy ceiling, paint the front door, and get rid of that divider thing by the front door.  I have tried to make my peace with it, but alas, there is no peace to be had.  It’s gotta go.  Then of course, is accessorizing.  We need lots of throw pillows, a table runner, chairs, some sort of art or garland on the banquette wall, and a rug.  And while I’m listing all this, we might as well include hardwood floors.  Oh, dreams they abound.

All in all, this whole banquette and table situation cost around $300.  You can’t even buy a smaller table for that, let alone one that seats 8!  And a wall of trim work and a bench!  I’ve already had a few questions about the details of how we built the table, so if you have any questions be sure and put them in the comments.  I will answer them will ask my dad to answer them in a coming post.  And let me just mention again – how awesome is my dad?  This wouldn’t have been possible without him.  He made my dreams come true.


*UPDATE* Our chairs came in and we are loving them!  You can check out this post to see them.

Or, table and banquette progress.  Or table and bench and wall treatment progress.  Or the most exciting thing I’ve ever done progress.  Ha!

First things first – the star of the show.  The table.  I feel like my whole life has been a journey toward the perfect table.  In our first home, we didn’t have a table for about a year.  We borrowed my Grandma’s card table.  It was a good look:


If that’s not enough feasting for the eyes, just know that the table was padded.  So drinks wobbled and our plates squished.  It was fun.

Then for Christmas our second year of marriage, my parents bought us a table.  I was stoked, as you can tell.

P1120642It was the very thing we needed for our first home, but didn’t really fit the space in our new one.  (Check out this post for more info on that!)

I was dreaming of a long farmhouse table.  Well, less farmy and more sleek.  But still worn and imperfect looking.  So when the boys I babysit Timothy breaks things and scratches the table, it will be all good.

I made a Pinterest board and pinned 3876.4 tables.  I made it a secret board so I wouldn’t look like a weirdo.  I pinned plans from Ana White’s blog, tables from World Market, tables from Anthro (dreamer much?), and any table-related thing that caught my eye.  Then my Dad came over and analyzed the pictures to help me pick out exactly what I wanted.

You may be asking, where is Timothy in all this?  Well, he told me I could do whatever I wanted.  Design it however I wanted. Have whatever I wanted.  (Within reason – side eye Anthropologie table.)  Yeah, best husband of the year award goes to that boy.

So, we quickly narrowed it down to these tables:

Outdoor Table-13_thumb[2]This amazing, gigantic outdoor table by Decor and the Dog.  I loved the modern lines and the legs!

X-leg-porch-bench-This is a bench by Sawdust Girl, and I really liked these legs.  I thought they would be great adapted into table legs.

table6-500x333This table by Shanty 2 Chic made my jaw drop.  It’s inspired by a table I even pinned from Restoration Hardware!


And finally, I really liked the top of this table by Ana White.

The banquette seating and wall treatment was a little harder to find inspiration pictures for.  Most of the ideas I saw online featured the banquette seating in a corner.  So I started looking at restaurants to see if I could get any ideas.  One cute little coffee shop in our area kind of had what I was going for:

beadboardI liked the beadboard and that it continued up the wall.  And styling with pillows?  THAT would be fun.  I wanted some more texture and detail in the wall treatment, however.

beadboard_trimThis is more like it!  Sadly, the pin is no good and leads no where.  But I adore the trim work on the banquette wall.

So much goodness, right?  I spent forever thinking about these tables and what I wanted in our space.  I thought that the fancy table from Shanty 2 Chic was what I would end up going with, but the more I looked at it, it just didn’t feel like our home.  It was a little too complicated and busy looking.  And while Timothy may think I’m complicated sometimes (hello, emotions!), I don’t want our house to feel complicated.  The first table by Decor and the Dog seemed more our style.  But I wanted to change the top of the table to look like the one by Ana White.  And then my Dad had a genius idea for the table legs to jazz them up a bit.  So with big plans, we got started.

Of course we would start on the day that it was 18 degrees outside.  Literally.  I came to my Dad’s garage all bundled up, but he said I was missing something.


A trip inside for one of his old belts, some new holes cut, and a snap on tool thing later, I had my own tool belt.  He’s a good dad, isn’t he?!


So, looking awesome and official, we got to work.  I had to wear my warmest clothes that could get ruined, so that’s my excuse for my appearance.  And the day I wore these fake Ugg boots I saw that horrible clip that’s going around Facebook about how sheep are brutally killed to make these things.  Have you guys seen that?  My eyes!! I felt like a horrible human being in my ugly shoes all day long.  But moving on … believe it or not, I actually helped!  My Dad was the brains of the operation and I was the sander.  And the clamper.  And the holder.  And the brusher of the sawdust away-er.




A few days later, we had a table and a banquette!!!  Want to see a little peek?





Oh mylanta, I’m in love.  I’m currently spackling and painting and caulking, but hopefully soon I’ll be able to share the finished product!  Eeeeeeeeek!!!!