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That One Warm Day In February

There always seems to be one day in February that's surprisingly warm, a day when everyone happily loses their minds because a sliver of sunshine appears as a promise of spring after a long winter haul. Today, my friends, was such a day.

 

I spotted my neighbor wearing shorts. I literally could hear snow melting. I went outside to spray paint since we surpassed the critical 50 degrees temperature threshold. People smiled. I think I even saw someone frolic.
 
I know winter will fight back and we're not entirely through yet, but I'm thankful. A warm day in February always gives hope.
 
 

Mirror Mirror (Finally Hung) On the Wall

I write with good news: I've reached the stage in the pandemic where I'm tackling house projects like a boss. This wasn't the case last March when the world initially shut down and we pivoted to remote teaching and school. Those months were remarkably messy and unproductive. I mostly block them from my memory.

Although I completed a few projects last summer, like painting my front door and my daughter's room, I never fully caught my DIY stride. But now I'm riding a wave of motivation, eking out these early weeks of the spring semester (still fully remote) when my grading workload is lighter. Over the past month, in fact, I've painted the entire main level of my house, removing years of hand prints, smudges, and miscellaneous scuffs from our walls.


One project I'm especially proud of -- and what I'd like to share with you today -- is task that took me only 35 months to complete. You see, a small lifetime ago, back in March 2018 when we were naive puppies who never had heard of Coronavirus or wore masks, I discovered an old farmhouse six-pane window at a Habitat Resale store. It was a simple beauty, and I knew I could create something special.


I lightly sanded the frame, then freshened it with a coat of crisp white paint. As a finishing touch, I bought an inexpensive replacement mirror at Lowes that a helpful employee cut into six identical rectangles so I could secure each individual mirror onto each of the glass panes.



Now the old window was something really special! But sadly, this was the point when the project reached a standstill. I loved my new farmhouse mirror, but I didn't know where to hang it. Eventually, I moved it into our basement storage closet and there it sat, largely forgotten, for nearly three years.

 

Fast forward to several weeks ago as I'm folding laundry and listlessly gazing at the empty wall in my laundry room. The pieces slid into place like a puzzle: my basement held an awesome mirror that I previously believed had no place to be hung, and my laundry room had an empty wall that was the perfect size for that mirror. 

 

It took me 35 months, but people, I hung that mirror.

 

 

Since I was on a roll, I also refinished a three-compartment organizer that I found at Goodwill for under a buck. At first glance, it wasn't much to look at, but the potential was evident.


 

After a fresh coat of gray paint and new hardware, it's the perfect place to store laundry room odds-and-ends, like loose change found in pockets or clothespins.

 

As an added bonus, I added a small tray, which was another DIY project, to corral a faux plant that brings a touch of greenery and a pretty white canister that holds my Oxyclean detergent. (True story: I found the canister on the side of the road during our town's bulk trash week. While I question why someone would throw it away, I was happy to be the recipient!) 



I'm not sure how these past few months have treated you, but I hope you've found joy in simple things, like I have with my recent influx of projects. In several ways, they feel symbolic of better times ahead. As I've completed each project, I've experienced a swell of purpose and accomplishment -- feelings that were relatively dormant this past year. 

 

Matters that have been stuck or tucked away finally seem to be getting unstuck and brought back to life, right down to the farmhouse mirror now perfectly hung on my laundry room wall.

And... It's a Wrap. Goodbye 2020.


As we head into the new year, I'd like to go on record saying that it would be okay if I never hear the words "unprecedented" or "asynchronous" again.

That declaration aside, it's safe to say that even if your struggles in 2020 didn't register as tragic or severe as other people's trials, this year has been hard on us all. Struggle and suffering never should be a contest of degree -- it all hurts. Personally, I hit some lows that stung terribly, and yet I'm still standing, tired, yet stronger for the scars.

I'm reminded of the account of Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego who, when cast into the fiery furnace, saw a fourth figure in the blaze alongside them. When they exited the fire, they weren't singed. They didn't even smell like smoke. There are parallels we can draw. As circumstances burned around us this year, God has been present in the midst of the blaze. Even more, even if it doesn't feel likely right now, we eventually can move ahead without traces of singe and smoke still clinging to us.

As we pivot into 2021, I don't believe that life magically will get easier. But thank God that his mercies are still new every morning, that his nature is peace, and that He is enough, even when we're weak, confused, listless, bored, angry, hurting, or quarantined. If we're in a fire, He's alongside us. Perhaps the greatest gift of 2020 was teaching me this firsthand.

Here's to 2021, dear friends! May it be more normal than 2020. And most importantly, may it be well with your souls.

Oh, breaking news: I recently got a free yellow door for a DIY project because, people, a girl's gotta have a project on hand during these unprecedented times. (Sorry. Had to go there.) The door is awesome and entirely impractical, given that I have no place in my house for a spare door, but it's full of potential and the possibilities of "what could be" cheer me greatly. This is a hallmark of any good DIY project, but also a valuable life reminder. There are possibilities and potential ahead, friends.

Happy New Year!

Easy and Delicious Pretzel, M&M, and Hershey Kiss Melts


If you're an "I like something salty, and then I like something sweet, and then I like something salty, and then I like something sweet" snacker, then this is a treat for you! As a bonus, it's wildly simply and you can make a pattern with your M&M colors, giving yourself the illusion of order in your life. Win win!

1) Heat oven to 200. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

2) Place square (snaps) pretzels in rows.

3) Put a Hershey Kiss on the center of each pretzel.

4) Bake at 200 degrees for 5 minutes. Kisses will be soft and shiny-looking, not melted.

5) Set an M&M on each warm Hershey's Kiss, gently pressing the M&M until the Kiss flattens.

6) Let cool and enjoy. Or eat them warm and enjoy. Or hide them from your family, eat them while sitting in your closet, and enjoy. (There's really no wrong way to do this step.)

Carry on!

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