• How to Easily Update an Oak Mantel

    by Polly on July 22, 2014

    update oak mantel

    Another victory against the oak monster infesting our home has been won. I found an easy way to update our living room mantel and couldn’t be happier with the results.

    If you’ve been following along for a while you know that my husband and I have been taking on projects left and right in order to update our new home. (Here are some before and after pictures if you’re interested). It’s been a fun learning curve for sure but I am loving the new look of things. One thing that particularly aged our home was the amount of light oak everywhere. Kitchen cabinets, bathroom vanities, hand rails and of course our mantel.

    Oak oak oak.

    Once upon a time oak was all the rage. Now it’s the source of rage for interior decorators or DIY updaters like myself. Oak is hard to update because like we learned when updating our kitchen cabinets, it takes a ton of work to cover up.

    My solution: PolyShade stain.

    Polyshade stain

    I like PolyShade stain for a lot of reasons.

    • It doesn’t take much prep to use it (hardly any sanding!)
    • You can see the results quickly
    • It is stain and polyurethane in one
    • You can adjust the depth of color depending on how many coats you use
    • It has “Polly” it the name

    All jokes aside, this is what I used to update our oak mantel and I would recommend it to other DIY updaters.

    Here is how to update your oak mantel using PolyShade stain:

    Give your mantel a LIGHT sanding

    Not much sanding is required for this stain. It serves more as a top coat. I made the mistake of sanding too much when using this for my daughter’s bed frame and learned my lesson. Give it just a light sand to give the stain a little something to grip to. I used a 120 grit sand paper and it worked fine.  Wipe the dust off and tape up your edges.

    updating mantel

    Apply Stain

    The key with PolyShade stain is to paint it on in very thin coats. Keep the edge of your high quality brush wet but don’t glob on the stain. Brush it on very lightly, spread it around until your brush doesn’t have any more stain to move around. Make sure to wipe up any drips or heavy spots. They tend to gather in grooves or cracks so keep an eye on those.

    Let Stain Dry and Apply Second Coat

    Every time I have used this stuff I have found that it needs at least two coats to achieve the color I want. The directions say to give it 6 hours to dry but I have found that it needs a little more time. The directions also say to give it a light sand between coats but I didn’t do that and it turned out fine.

    polyshade oak mantel makeover

    That’s it! Just make sure to keep eager little hands away from it for a while and you should have an updated mantel in no time!

    Bathroom vanities are next on my list. Watch out, oak. I’m on a mission.


    Got an oak infestation in your home as well? You might like to see how we painted our kitchen cabinets.

    how to paint oak cabinets

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    How to Freeze and Save Garden Zucchini

    by Polly on July 21, 2014

    how to freeze zucchini

    I have NEVER had such a great zucchini harvest. It seems like every time I go down to my garden, there are huge zucchinis waiting for me. I have zucchinis in all shapes and sizes and hardly know what to do with them. Here is a snapshot from Thriving Home’s Instagram of me and this MONGO zucchini I just picked. [click to continue…]

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    Homemade Pesto Recipe

    by Polly on July 17, 2014

    homemade pesto recipe

    This was the first year I have grown my own herbs. Not sure why it took me so long. I tend to avoid things that are unfamiliar so growing my own herbs was an unknown to me. That was until my dad showed up to my house with a cilantro, oregano, parsley, dill, and of course basil.

    No easing my way into herb growing huh? Here is my consensus on each herb so far: [click to continue…]

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    Women of the Word: A Book Review

    by Polly on July 16, 2014

    I’m a pastor’s wife who struggles to read my Bible.

    It’s hard for me admit that but it’s true.

    Like many disciplines in the Christian life, my interest and passion for the Word has waxed and waned but overall, it’s always been an area that has felt more like a discipline than a joy. It was (and still is) hard for me to understand how people have such a great passion for studying the Word. I just felt like I was missing something or doing something wrong.

    book review of women of the wordWhen Crossway shipped me a copy of Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin, I was intrigued. I KNEW I needed to read it. While understanding the Bible in a deeper way was not necessarily a felt need in my life, I knew deep down I was missing something in my Bible reading methods and wanted to dig in and figure out why.

    I wish I would have read and started applying this book 10 years ago.

    With a warm and winsome writing style, Jen Wilkin gives the reader a blueprint for Biblical literacy. While the basic methods of studying the Bible with purpose, perspective, patience, process, and prayer were not entirely new to me, Wilkin articulated and taught these methods in a way that was refreshing and easy to understand.

    I wasn’t overwhelmed with abstract ideas and left to my own devices on how to apply the concepts. She gives tangible, easy steps to take and begin to really gain Biblical literacy–what God wants us to understand about HIM through his Word.

    Wilkin also effectively reminds the reader that the Bible is not a self-help book about us. It is not a manual on how to live.

    “We must turn around our habit of asking “Who am I?” We must first ask, “What does this passage teach me about God?” before we ask it to teach us anything about ourselves. We must acknowledge that the Bible is a book about God.”

    In fact, a portion of her book was devoted to fleshing out the WRONG ways we read the Bible–many of which I am guilty of.

    “We may have an earnest desire to build Bible literacy, but left untrained, we may develop habits of engaging the text that at best do nothing to increase literacy and at worst actually work against it.”

    While it would be easy to despair in all the ways I have incorrectly approached the Bible, I was refreshed by Jen Wilkin’s honesty about her own struggle with studying the Word and honestly relieved to hear that true Biblical understanding does not come naturally or intuitively for anyone.

    As someone who works with young women and equipping leaders in ministry, I cannot wait to get Women of the Word into their hands. If you can train and equip a believer in true Biblical literacy, then you are training and equipping them for a lasting faith that has limitless potential. This book is a great starting point in doing just that.

    “There are many good reasons to invest in learning God’s Word, but there is none better than this: that with every purposeful effort, with every perspective-laced reading, with every patient step forward, with each process-ordered attempt, with every prayer infused interlude in the pages of Scripture, we move closer to his countenance, we come more directly in line with the radiance of his face.”

    541760: Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our MindsBy Jen Wilkin
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    Field of Dreams: A Family Business Venture

    by Rachel on July 15, 2014

    Pumpkin Patch Dreams

    My mom (i.e. the real pioneer woman) has a dream. It’s a pretty cool dream.

    It might help to see this picture of my mom, me, and my little sister from my childhood first. See, my mom has always had a thing for pumpkins. And she won first prize at our fair long ago for her giant ones. (What do you think about all our mullets? Awe. some.)

    pumpkin dreams

    My mom’s dream this summer is [click to continue…]


    50+ Delicious Recipes for Summer Produce

    by Rachel on July 14, 2014

    50+ Delicious Recipes for Summer ProduceThe garden harvest is in full swing in these parts. I bet many of you are already lining your counters with your produce.

    Like me, though, do you sometimes let summer veggies and fruits go to waste because you don’t know what to do with it all? Well, I have 50+ delicious and healthy answers for you. You might be surprised at the variety of recipes–from breakfast to snacks to dinner dishes–that you can use your zucchini, tomatoes, herbs, onions, and seasonal fruits in!

    Save money today and use up every last bit of the summer harvest with these 50+ healthy and delicious recipes. Many of them are freezable meals, too, so be sure to double those recipes and save for later.

    Garden Vegetable and Lentil Soup RecipeEnjoy the fruits of your labor!

    [click to continue…]

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