Why I Don’t Want a New Start in 2015

The blink of an eye, and another year is gone. In the cliché “time flies” spirit, to think 2014 passed in insignificance would be almost natural. What of importance could really have happened during a year that seemed so short?

I actually found myself entertaining that thought for a split second on New Year’s Eve. Of course, it didn’t take me long to correct myself. And I began surveying the big things of a year that wasn’t so small after all.

1. We sold a house, built a house, and moved twice in the process.

At this time last year I was eating/sleeping/breathing “declutter and clean” as we staged our first home to look spacious and neutral. It sold in a week, and by early March, we were handing over the keys and moving out. We spent the next seven months living in a cozy townhome while our hearts resided at the construction site of our new, custom home. The project was completed in October, and with much emotion and humble gratitude, we officially scored our #SquiresHomeRun.

Why I Don't Want a New Start in 2015

Closing Day: We’re home!

2. We embarked on a fitness journey led by my husband.

With the sale of our house and our first move behind us, Travis and I both were ready for a different focus. We’d spent the last three months getting our house into shape—now it was time to get our bodies into shape. We joined the YMCA, and Travis joined Farrell’s. Ten weeks, 18 1/2 pounds, and 13 1/2 inches later, Travis’s body-transforming work paid off as he became Farrell’s $1000 10-Week Challenge winner. But he didn’t stop there. He continued (and still continues) his fit and healthy lifestyle, losing a total of 30 pounds and 17 inches to date and training for and completing his first half marathon plus two other races, covering a total of 509 miles on the year.

Why I Don't Want a New Start in 2015

3. I started a new business with Younique.

In October I was introduced to a mascara product that really grabbed my attention. With natural-based ingredients and results like none other, this mascara made me want to do more than just wear it—I wanted to sell it. Never before had I considered starting a home-based business, but I knew that Younique’s 3D mascara was something I could stand behind with excitement. And with training and sales all done online, I saw that Younique’s business model would actually work for my family. I could learn at my pace, work according to my schedule, and I wouldn’t have to leave home for any of it.

So here I am, 11 weeks into my business venture and loving it! I’m learning, I’m making money, and I’m having so much fun connecting with people, both online and off. I intended from the beginning that this business would be an investment in my home, with profits going towards décor, furnishings, and whatever else would bless my family. What I didn’t foresee is that it would also be an investment in myself. It’s nice to have a reason to wear makeup and feel feminine, but more than that, it’s good for me to stretch and grow as a person—to recognize that I can do crazy things and set goals and achieve them. I can have a passion and act on it and bring blessing to myself and others in the process.

Why I Don't Want a New Start in 2015

LOVE my Younique 3D Mascara! Looks like I’m wearing falsies, but it’s just mascara!


Indeed, 2014 was not a year of insignificance. It was a year made up of meaningful moments, consequential conversations, deliberate decisions, and beautiful beginnings.

I don’t want a new start for the new year. No, I want to continue in cooperation with the things God has already begun.

My 2014 was a year of starting. May 2015 be a year of staying.

How would you characterize your year?

#SquiresHomeRun: And the Granite Selection Is…

Our granite has been ordered, and last I heard, it should be arriving in Des Moines TODAY!

I know several of my friends and readers have been waiting to hear what we chose, and I’m finally ready to announce our decision.

The last time I posted a #SquiresHomeRun update, I asked you to weigh in on our two granite finalists. When I count up the votes from the blog post and the Facebook conversations on my personal and fan pages, I’m pretty sure I come up with

  • 19 votes for Coral Gold and
  • 19 votes for Piracema White.

A tie! But I do think Piracema White received the loudest votes. :-)

Granite, Coral Gold, Piracema White, #SquiresHomeRun

So, what did we choose? Well… neither.

I was ready to settle on the Piracema White even though I’d only seen a small sample of it in person. It was a little less expensive, and a lighter granite is really what I’ve thought I wanted all along. But when an opportunity arose to visit the distributor in Omaha, where our granite will be coming from, I jumped at the chance to see what I could see in person before ordering.

The Piracema White was supposed to be landing there sometime that week; unfortunately, it hadn’t yet arrived as of the day I was stopping through. I walked the rows of granite slabs to see if there was anything I liked better, and only one really caught me eye — one very similar to Piracema White (but prettier, in my opinion).

Granite, Silver Cloud

I inquired about the Silver Cloud slabs and found out they were available and that they should be similar in price to the Piracema White. I was also told that Silver Cloud is very similar in color in Piracema White, “but without the cream.”

Cream? I hadn’t seen any cream in my Piracema White sample (probably because it was so small), but apparently, the background of it is a mingling of white and cream. To help me understand that, they showed me another granite which has a similar background color.

Granite, White, Cream

See how the cream in there makes the granite clash with my white cabinets? Not good.

Silver Cloud, on the other hand, has a true white background — no cream. And it looks fabulous with both my white cabinets and my darker island finish.

Granite, Silver Cloud, Cabinets, White Kitchen, Dark Island

So, I am happy to say that our granite selection is Silver Cloud! I love it. The movement, the color, the price… everything about it is perfect for my taste.

Our house will require three slabs, and of those three, I got to choose which one will be used for the kitchen island. I chose this one for both the interest of its design and the purity of its color.

Granite, Silver Cloud

I’ve also requested to see how the cuts are diagrammed before they are made (in case I have any major objections), but I’ve been warned that my weighing in could create waste and therefore the need for an additional slab — which I want to avoid because of cost. Still, I think it will be good for me to not have any big surprises with the layout.

Thanks to all who contributed to the granite conversation and to all who’ve been sharing in the joy of the journey with us! It’s fun to have you following along!

Now that we have our granite selection finalized, our next big decision is interior paint colors. What’s your dream color palette?

#SquiresHomeRun: Our Top 2 Granite Candidates

No matter how much time we have to make selections for our custom home build, we seem to use every bit of it deliberating between options before coming to a confident decision. The good thing about that is that we feel really good about everything we’ve chosen so far: cabinets, stone, exterior paint, lights. The bad thing is that it’s a little nerve-wracking having deadlines come down on us.

That’s where we’re at again, this time around with granite. We’ve got about a week left before we have to place our order, but we need to decide sooner so we can move forward with flooring choices (which are due by month end).

We have our options narrowed down to two, both of which we really like. The thing is, they are pretty dissimilar, and that makes them hard to compare.

#SquiresHomeRun: Our Top 2 Granite Candidates

Both granites should look good with our cabinets and flooring options.

But which will look great? Which is the one I want to see every day? Which will be more timeless? And more us?

Ultimately, the decision is ours – it is our custom build, after all. But we thought it would be fun (and helpful) to hear what you think. Which granite would you choose?

One is a little more expensive than the other, but I won’t share which one lest I sway your opinion. :-)

Option #1: Coral Gold

#SquiresHomeRun: Our Top 2 Granite Candidates

We had the opportunity to see the slabs that would be ours should we choose Coral Gold, and let me tell you, they are stunning. I never would have noticed the beauty of this granite by looking at a small sample. Seeing the slab in its entirety really brought it to life for me.

Here’s a picture of Travis holding our (so-tiny-they’re-almost-not-helpful) cabinet samples up to the slab.

#SquiresHomeRun: Our Top 2 Granite Candidates

Maybe it’s better to look at it like this:

#SquiresHomeRun: Our Top 2 Granite Candidates

The kitchen island cabinets will be the darker finish shown on the left, and all other cabinetry will be painted white, similar to what’s shown on the right.

Can you envision it? What do you think?

Option #2: Piracema White

#SquiresHomeRun: Our Top 2 Granite Candidates

This granite slab is aboard a ship on its way to the distributor. Though we aren’t lucky enough to be able to see it in person before placing our order, we are fortunate that its arrival date will work with our timeline – should we choose it. I love the neutral color of this granite as well as its movement.

Here is a collage showing our cabinet colors next to a Piracema White sample.

#SquiresHomeRun: Our Top 2 Granite Candidates

So, which one do you like better? Leave a comment here or join the discussion on Facebook. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

***UPDATE 8/15/2014: Click here to find out which granite we selected!

#SquiresHomeRun: Reflections of My Heart

#SquiresHomeRun: Reflections of My Heart

Today we are just 11 weeks out from the target closing date on our new house. It’s surreal. With each design decision that we see materialize before our eyes, I stand in awe that this could possibly be our home, knowing how very undeserving I am of such comfortable shelter.

I hear many people who’ve built a custom house say they’d never do it again. I can’t say I share that sentiment, though we don’t “plan” to build again. This home we are creating from the ground up has become to me the fondest of projects. Each decision and selection we’ve made has been with much thought and care, and the final product will be the grand culmination of a vision achieved.

Front porch reflections

Front porch reflections

I’m sure we’ll find things we’ll wish we’d done differently. No home is perfect in every way—and so it ought to be, I guess. For this house is not meant to be our final destination. It will pale in comparison to the one that awaits—the one being prepared by the Master Builder.

“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2, NASB)

Until then, this house will be to me a place of blessing and a place of peace. A place of rest and a place of life. In some ways, it already is. Though we don’t inhabit it yet, my heart is already there. It’s in the layout and the light placement and the exterior design. It’s in the cabinets we’ve ordered and the granite we’re choosing. Every piece of this house reflects a piece of us, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

House exterior before stone and garage doors

House exterior before stone, garage doors, and front porch columns

I've always wanted a white house.

I’ve always wanted a white house.

Would you ever build a custom home? What pieces of your heart would your design reflect?

Homemade Tuna Tetrazzini Recipe

Homemade Tuna Tetrazzini

I haven’t been spending much time in the kitchen these days. With the general busyness of summer plus all the extra running around that goes with building a custom home, I’m finding that the quicker the meal, the better.

Today the kids and I came home from some house selection meetings right at lunch time with no leftovers on hand and no plan in mind. We weren’t going to eat out. I needed to come up with something fast.

I’m not normally too creative in the kitchen, but this time a bit of inspiration struck and the result was just the taste I was going for: a copy of Tuna Helper’s Tuna Tetrazzini. (I always loved that handy little box mix, but in favor of eating healthier by making things from scratch, I haven’t bought any in several years.)

Here’s what I came up.

Homemade Tuna Tetrazzini

Homemade Tuna Tetrazzini

1 package linguini noodles
1 package Simply Organic Alfredo Sauce Mix
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1 carrot, shredded
1/2 green bell pepper, finely diced
2 – 7-oz cans tuna, drained

Bring water to a boil. Add noodles and diced vegetables and cook according to noodle package directions. Meanwhile, prepare sauce mix according to package directions. Add tuna to sauce and heat through. Pour sauce over cooked noodles and veggies. Stir to mix well. Add a little milk to moisten if desired.

Homemade Tuna Tetrazzini

What quick meals do you make from scratch?

1 2 3 4 85