First Scrap Wood and Still Life project: our faux brick wall

As mentioned on my new web page, Scrap Wood and Still Life, I’m making a more concerted effort to bring joy to folks with my DIY projects and painting. (Follow along on Instagram, @scrapwoodandstilllife.)

My first attempt at bringing readers DIY posts was a couple years ago through a blog series called Home Sweet Farmhouse Home that coincided with the release of my novel, Lead Me Home. It was so much fun that I’m starting it back up again.

Besides a unique way to be creative and love on our homes, I think folks are drawn to DIY and farmhouse themes because restoration touches on our innate longing to know that no matter how messy we are, can be renewed and restored by God’s grace (Psalm 51). Such themes also touch on the fact that we are made in the image of the Lord (Genesis 1:27). Since He is the ultimate Creator, no wonder many of us feel called to create!

On to the project: our faux brick wall

Recently we installed a faux brick wall in our basement stairwell. This was super fun and truly one of the easiest home improvement projects I have tackled to date.

Here’s the wall we started with. It’s mostly stripped bare of the gallery wall I had there before, but even then it was pretty blasé. For 12 years I’ve been wanting to do something creative with the space, because it is open and visible to anyone who comes in, and the little shelf-like area was just begging to be something useful.

After surfing Pinterest for hours and hours, I decided on a faux brick wall with my own version of a German Schmear treatment.

Here’s how I did it.*

Source list and tools (not an exhaustive list):

Liquid Nails makes this project a breeze. Make sure you get the Liquid Nails made for putting up paneling–there are a lot of different kinds. Some DIY sites recommend nailing as well, but if you use the Liquid Nails as directed, I’m pretty sure the paneling won’t go anywhere.

Once the panels were up and given a day or so to dry, I applied plenty of spackling paste to the seams of the paneling, and then randomly in other places. This is where my process differs from a lot of others you’ll see, which spackle all over the brick. I just applied it sporadically.

Then I simply painted over it all with the chalk paint. I left some spots bare and painted some more lightly than others. I just eyeballed it until I was happy with the coverage and look.

Some people want the whole wall to be white, which is a little cleaner looking. Others prefer to let more red hang out, for a more rustic or industrial look. The important thing is to use your imagination and have fun with it!

Finally, caulk all the edges.

I used a 2×6 cut to the length of the shelf, a 1×4 as the shelf back, and stained them with Minwax’s Jacobean, one of my favorite shades of their stains.

Here’s a couple of close-ups:

I added a couple of paintings I made, which were inspired by my cousins’ dairy farm, also the inspiration behind my novel, Lead Me Home:

The real life Red:

Let me know if you try this project!

And if this inspires you, have fun!

Be blessed and celebrate your creativeness, friends!

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*Please refer to the main Scrap Wood and Still Life page for an important disclaimer. 

On birth and hope and Memorial Day.

She was having trouble.

My cousin and his son worked quick to wrap the twine around the hooves protruding from the mother cow as she worked to push her calf from her womb. Then they used the weight of their bodies, in rhythm with the contractions of the cow, to try to pull the calf free.

In the end, a third man had to help them before the calf finally slipped out and onto the bed of hay.

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The dazed mother began to lick her calf, each stroke of her giant tongue massaging life into it lungs, stinging, I imagine, from the first shock of air. (Can you stand the preciousness of the onlooking calf in the next stall?)

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And within the hour, the calf was standing and eating from its mother.

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I’ve been hoping for years to see the birth of a calf, and it was every bit as beautiful and amazing as I expected.

What’s more, the events played out nearly exactly as they did in the second chapter of my novel, Lead Me Home, thanks to YouTube videos and the generous input from my cousins I used during the writing process.

Many of the things that inspire my writing I have never seen in real life.

Besides spending time at my cousins’ dairy farm yesterday, I had the privilege of attending three high school graduation parties. One of them gave attendees the chance to highlight a favorite Bible verse for the graduate, and I picked this one:

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. ~Hebrews 1:1

Which brings me to today, Memorial Day.

The men and women who gave their lives for our country were convicted enough about the importance of freedom to give their lives for it. Hope kept them slogging across the beaches of Normandy and the jungles and rice paddies of Vietnam, trudging through the frigid mountains of Korea, and fighting along the Western Front.

Freedom, indeed life, is worth the fight.

As we kick back and enjoy a day off, may we keep the memory of these men and women in the forefront of our hearts and mind.

May we never forget, and may each of us be as convincted of hope as the men and women we honor today.

Here are some pictures from a trip our family took to Washington D.C. last spring.

Have a beautiful, blessed Memorial Day, friends.

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What’s milk got to do with it? Farm tour and contest

A lot of folks are curious about where an author gets book ideas.

You don’t have to look far to figure out where inspiration came from for my third novel, Lead Me Home.

My cousins have a dairy farm about five miles from where we live. It’s been a place of intrigue and beauty, respite and fascination of mine for decades, and they were gracious enough to indulge my curiosity during the times I needed to do research for this book. 

This week, in celebration of the novel AND the fact that it is  National Dairy Month, I thought I’d share some of my inspiration AND A BOOK GIVEAWAY with you, dear readers.

***To enter the giveaway, leave a comment AND share this post on Twitter or Facebook, making sure to include the hashtag, #LeadMeHomeNovel. A winner will be chosen at random from those who post and share on Friday evening, June 17.****

While you’re at it, be sure to read the gracious review of LEAD ME HOME just published in FarmShine Magazine, the weekly dairy publication serving dairy farm families in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and beyond.

Then enjoy the rest of this post!

Hi y’all! That’s me at the Dairy  Barn at the Indiana State Fair last fall.

And here come the girls, moseying in as they do each morning and evening like clockwork for their twice-a-day milkings. They don’t have to be called in, they know the routine so well.

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Occasionally they stop and stare at the obvious city girl taking pictures.

City girls can be quite annoying.

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“Mooooove along now, city girl,” she says.

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Linger too long and they’ll try and kiss ya.

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Mmmmm.

Cow kisses.

Once they get to the barn, they mosey right up to the stanchions and wait to be milked, happy to have their burgeoning udders emptied and to have a bit of hay for a milking snack.

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They really are happy to be milked.

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Really.

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The milk goes into the cooling tank in the next room, where it is stored until the milk tanker truck comes and takes it to the plant for processing into cheese and ice cream and YUM.

Did someone say ICE CREAM???

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Once they’re done with the milking, each girl gets her teats cleaned (if you’re a real farmer you don’t giggle at this phrase). Then she eases herself out of the stanchions and finds her way back out of the barn to where a hearty grain dinner awaits.

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Bellies full, the girls then take the worn path back to the pasture.

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And find a patch of shade.

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Meanwhile back at the barn, there’s much work to be done.

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The pre-teen and teen girls need tending.

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Hey girls.

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And the babies need to be fed their share of milk.

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I mean seriously.

Can you STAND the cuteness???

Why don’t my eyelashes naturally look like that?

Isn’t this somethin’??!

The work never ends on the dairy farm.

I’ve not even shown you the plowing and planting and cutting and baling, the sick cows and droughts and floods. I’m not even showing you the way the barn looks at 0400 and 1630 every. single. day. 24/7/365. And all the minutes in between when the cleaning and prepping and hauling and dirty, stinky, nasty parts of the job that happen every. single. day. too.

No, the work never ends on the dairy farm.

But along the way there sure are a lot of blessings.

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A harvest of hope and blessings, indeed.

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“Meanwhile, friends, wait patiently for the Master’s Arrival. You see farmers do this all the time, waiting for their valuable crops to mature, patiently letting the rain do its slow but sure work.”

James 5:7 (MSG)

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What part of the dairy farm intrigues you the most?

What’s your favorite picture?

Can you see how there are so many parallels between a life of farming and a life of faith?

Thanks so much for joining me on this little farm tour.

Don’t forget to leave your comment here, and to post this on your Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #LeadMeHomeNovel to enter for your chance to win a LEAD ME HOME prize package! 


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