Ten Years

Today is the 10th anniversary of the day we closed on and got the keys to our house!


It is almost impossible for me to believe that it’s been that long…there are days when I walk downstairs, and I still catch a whiff of that “new house” smell. But 10 years it’s been, and a great 10 years at that!

So much has happened since we moved in here. Five of us moved in that day (although Ladybug was already a stowaway), and we had so much less stuff. The house seemed huge after living in cramped apartments. And my very own laundry room! I still stop and marvel over that occasionally.

Of course, things do change over the course of 10 years. There are now two more people living in this house than the day we moved in…and yet, I can’t really remember what it was like before Ladybug, and then Chickadee, joined our family. And we have so much more stuff. More furniture, more clothes, more shoes, more books…so many more books. Homeschooling wasn’t even on our radar back then, and yet today, an entire room of our home is dedicated to it!

There have been so many happy days…and a few sad ones, as well. So many holidays and birthdays celebrated here. So many guests we have welcomed into our home. So much music and laughter that has echoed off the walls. When we moved in, I told Ryan that he could bury me in the backyard someday, and I still feel that way. While I sometimes wish our house was a little bigger, had another bathroom, or was located a little more conveniently to this location or that, there is still no place I’d rather be after all these years!

Of course, I had the perfect skirt to wear for the occasion…one featuring houses! And I wore this very denim shrug the day we closed on the house…it’s probably the oldest piece in my wardrobe that’s still in regular use!

Since it’s our house’s “birthday,” we had to have a family feast. I don’t remember the very first meal I made here, but Turkey and I both remember one of the earliest dinners prepared in our kitchen…slow-cooked beef and mushrooms served over buttered egg noodles. I remember it because, as I was pregnant with Ladybug at the time, I didn’t get to enjoy it due to “morning” sickness, and instead went and laid down on an air mattress in our den, surrounded by boxes that still needed to be unpacked. I don’t know why Turkey remembers it, because he didn’t even like it much back then, but it’s a popular meal now, so we enjoyed having it for dinner today. Since I cooked the beef in Boulevard’s Funky Pumpkin beer, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to also try out Funkier Pumpkin, which was delicious with the meal. I also added the children’s two favorite vegetables, roast carrots and brussels sprouts, to the menu.


Of course, no Markel family  birthday celebration is complete without a cake, so I looked back and found the first dessert recipe I published on my blog (that didn’t include nuts), and made that. The children insisted we get some candles for the occasion, as well.

We’ve had a great decade in this house, and I look forward to many more…happy birthday, house!


Really After

I shared pictures of our new furniture when it was delivered, but the two rooms were still in chaos. Now everything has been arranged and moved to its proper place, and I’m really happy with how it all turned out!

The den looks great. I love the colors and patterns of the furniture and rug, and the exploding Tardis poster fits the room perfectly! We even talked about changing the name of the room to fit its new personality…we really only call it the den because that’s what the room was called on the house plan. Parlor, sitting room, and music room were all discussed, but in the end, I think 10 years of calling it the den will be too hard to overcome, so the den it will remain!


The living room also looks great. In addition to the new couch and love seat, I brought a rocking chair and quilt rack down from upstairs, and I think they work really well in the room. It has a nice, cozy feel, and is a fun place to hang out.


I won’t lie…I almost feel like I’m living in someone else’s house, because we’ve made so many changes in the last month. (Ryan’s office still isn’t complete, but I’m sure there will pictures to come, once it’s finished.) It’s kind of fun to see our house in a new way…and I really can’t wait to see how it all looks next Christmas!

The Cost of a Bookshelf

The weekend of January 8th, I had a modest goal…take down the Christmas tree. And I got it done on Friday, the 8th. I was very happy when I went to bed that Friday night, thinking I had met my one and only goal for the whole weekend, and I would have the rest of the weekend free and clear to relax after the hustle and bustle of the holidays.

You know the saying “Man plans, God laughs?”

That Saturday, I decided to put together a bookshelf that we had waiting in a box in the den. It had been waiting for the aforementioned tree to be put away, because I knew there would be some mild furniture rearranging involved. So I got to work. And as I worked, Ryan and I began talking. Talking about that room…the front room in our house, which we call the den, but has functioned primarily as his office since he began working from home over six years ago. We threw around a lot of ideas about how to position things in the room, but we kept coming back to one point…his work equipment was the part of the room that didn’t fit.

Refinishing our basement is just not an option right now. So, we turned to the upstairs. What if we took our guest room/library, and turned that into his office? What if we put a sofa bed in the den, and let that function as our guest room when we had guests? And what if we moved all the bookshelves into our school room? So, off to Ashley Furniture I went (with Turkey), to see if we could even find furniture we could afford that would suit our purposes. Oh, and while I was there, why didn’t I just look for new furniture for our living room, too, since the couch we’d taken to referring to as the “green monster” wasn’t really working for us anymore, and our recliners, while still comfortable, were in kind of sad shape?

It didn’t take long in the store to find the perfect sleeper sofa (and a matching chair!), plus a full-length reclining sofa for the living room, and a matching reclining sofa with a center console. The next day, after church, the whole family went back to the store, and it was decided…that was the furniture for us! And then the furniture rearranging and other work began in earnest.

What was the final count, all the result of one bookshelf?

  • A sleeper sofa
  • Matching chair
  • Reclining sofa
  • Reclining sofa with center console
  • Poster frame (for the Doctor Who print we had purchased a year ago for the den)
  • One area rug (to go with the new furniture in the den)
  • One accent rug (to go by the front door)
  • Light fixture (for Ryan’s new office)
  • Paint and primer (for Ryan’s new office, and the children’s bathroom, while we were at it)
  • Electrical work (also for the office)
  • Drywall work (to fix up the remnants of the electrical work)
  • Large item trash pick-up (which was long overdue, even before the “green monster” went out)
  • New curtains for Ryan’s office (and a curtain rod)
  • Other incidentals
  • Hours of labor moving furniture up and down stairs and within rooms (the still comfortable recliners found a new home in our master bedroom, the queen-size guest bed became Turkey’s, and his old bed went to Chickadee…oh, and the old den sofa went up to Ryan’s new office)

If I had known how much work one bookshelf would have involved, I never would have gotten started. I am very glad that other than the “green monster” and an old rickety desk, we didn’t throw away any furniture we had been currently using…we just found new homes for it. We’re still not quite finished, but I have to admit, everything is looking good, and it’s definitely nice to have the first room guests to our home walk into look a little more open and inviting, and a little less like an office! It will be a long time before I agree to do any more home improvements, though!

Bathroom Makeover

I have clearly lost my mind. You would think the furniture rearranging (which touched every room of the house except the kitchen), furniture buying, basement and garage cleaning for the large item trash pickup, and the impending electrical work and painting in Ryan’s new office would have been enough in the way of home improvements, right? Apparently not.

The children and I have been talking about me paining their bathroom for years, but I never got around to it. Yesterday, however, I was in there cleaning, and thinking that if we were going to paint Ryan’s new office, the children really deserved to have their bathroom painted, too. So, off we went to Home Depot to find the exact paint color we wanted (we had already decided on some shade of coral), and to purchase the paint, which was a first for me…I had to ask a lot of questions!

When we got home, I got to work.

It really didn’t take too long, although it seemed like an eternity at the time. This morning I put the room back together (I didn’t buy any new bathroom accessories, but what  we already had looks great with the new color), and I love how it turned out! It’s definitely an intense color, and when the lights are on, the whole room glows. The children love it, and I was treated like a hero for getting it done, so it was a pretty fun project in the end!


We had our new den and living room furniture delivered today. I don’t have a before picture because somebody (ok, me) forgot to take pictures before we moved everything around. And this isn’t a total after, because the den, especially, isn’t quite done, but it still shows how nice our new furniture looks in its new spaces!



Learning to Love St. Louis

It’s no secret than when Ryan and I were first married, and moved to St. Louis, I didn’t love it. I didn’t even like it. I didn’t want to live here. The weather was different…too hot in the summer, not enough snow in the winter. The grocery stores were different. The news broadcasts were different. Even the way the traffic lights operated was different. And I was counting down the days until we could leave (just over two years, in case you were wondering).

And when we moved away, even though it was just for a year, I was relieved. We were out of St. Louis!

But, sometime, in that year we were gone, I realized I was missing St. Louis.

And so we moved back, after that year, as was the plan. And it was still only supposed to be temporary. Just one more year. But I was glad to be home. Back to my grocery stores. The familiar faces on the news. The mild winters (even though I still wasn’t sold on the heat of the summers!). The Cardinals. We were home.

And then we stayed.

We weren’t supposed to, but we stayed. Permanently.

And I figured, I better really make myself at home. So we found festivals and events that we looked forward to every year. Favorite restaurants, favorite places to visit. A church that we actually became members of.

Eventually, we bought a home. And we really got to know that area. A new church, new festivals, more places to enjoy visiting.

St. Louis is home. It’s a home I never wanted, one that I never thought would last. And now I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

It’s funny how life works out, isn’t it? As always, I’m glad that God’s plans are so much better than ours!

The House-iversary


Today marks the eighth anniversary of the day we closed on our house. We’ve lived here long enough that I guess it’s silly that I still celebrate it, but we moved around so much early in our marriage that I’m still extremely grateful (and occasionally still surprised!), that we actually live here!

I was thinking about my earliest memories of living in this house, other than unpacking boxes, and breaking down boxes, and trying to figure out how we were going to dispose of all of the boxes. Three things immediately came to mind.

  • When we moved in, I was in the first trimester of my pregnancy with Ladybug. I remember making dinner one night, and immediately after serving it, going and laying down on the air mattress that was still set up in our den, surrounded by, you guessed it, unpacked boxes. My morning sickness, which for some reason I always got in the evening, was so bad that day that I actually thought I was going to pass out, and had to put my head between my knees for a bit. I laid there for a good long while before I dared get up, staring at the ceiling, listening to the happy voices of my then three very small, very young children talking to each other and Ryan, and thinking about all of the work I had to do.
  • We moved into our house in October 2006, and Cardinals fans know what that means…World Series time. I remember Ryan and a friend working frantically to get the antenna in the attic set up correctly (we didn’t have cable…it wasn’t even an option then because the neighborhood was so new!) so we could watch the final game of the Fall Classic. And I remember celebrating the Cardinals win, and feeling for the first time that we were truly home.
  • Less than a month after we moved in, Moose celebrated his first birthday. This was the first of many celebrations in our home, and it was special baking a cake and opening presents for the very first time in our very own home. I remember giving him a bath right there in our new, shiny kitchen sink after he dove into his cake, and marveling that the faucet could actually pull out and be used as a sprayer.

These were just the first of many memories that we’ve made here over the years. There have been so many birthdays and holidays celebrated here, so many gatherings (of all sizes) hosted, so many guests we’ve enjoyed entertaining, so many triumphs we’ve rejoiced over, and of course, even some tears shed. But those memories made in the first few weeks of our house set the tone for what our beautiful, loving home would become!


Happy Birthday, House!

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Today is our house’s seventh birthday. I say birthday, instead of anniversary, because we were the first people to live in this house. The day we turned the key for the first time, therefore, must be the day the house was “born,” right?

We have made so many happy memories, and built such special traditions here. We’ve added two children to our family since we moved in (although one of those two was already with us the day we unloaded the truck!). We’ve added even more “stuff”–furniture, school supplies (who would have thought when we moved in that the most-used room of our house would be a school room?!?), and toys appropriate for children who are much older than the ones who moved in with us.

I love looking back and remembering the (Markel)parties we’ve had, and the friends who have visited. We have said many prayers and read many Bibles stories in the various rooms of this house. There have been so many special meals and desserts prepared here. So many holidays and birthdays celebrated. There has been music, and laughter, and games, and general silliness. There have been a few rough times, too, and sadness that looked impossible to overcome. The good times, however, have always outweighed the bad, and the sorrow has been, looking back, only fleeting.

This is the place I always wanted to live, even though I didn’t quite know it when we moved in. I can’t imagine living anywhere else, and I never want to leave. This house has truly become a home over the last seven years!