…favorite things friday: concrete, wood & the safe nest

So much crazy is happening at my house and DH and I have reached the conclusion that we bit off a lot this summer. At this moment in time, there is concrete being poured and wood delivered. I love progress, but living in a mess it a bit hard for me for long periods of time.


This morning I had some quiet time while DH took the kids to camp and was able to write a post on The Safe Nest. For those of you that have come with me on the journey of The Safe Nest ,I love you for it. I am trying to build a community of people who are open and honest about their struggle to be happy in a broken world. If you want to post your own story, you can do so anonymously. If you want to just read my struggles or others then I welcome you.

Below is a post that I wrote today. If you want to connect or just read. Join me here. It is a safe place to land. Promise.

Have a blessed weekend, Dear Readers! xoxo

You Are Not Pizza.

By Christen Bensten


I heart this sign so much. It is a blunt & funny reminder to all of us when we get stuck in that place of doubting ourselves.

We all have self doubt in common. Even super pretty, rich celebrities struggle with questioning themselves. We just don’t see it unless Us Weekly happens to catch them at a bad time in their lives and exposes it with an unflattering image. We love seeing the raw pictures and gossiping about the stories, but I think secretly we are all relieved that it’s not just us that is struggling.

When I became a mom I had moments of panic about if any other moms would like me. I was the first of my friends to be married and have a baby so I was starting from ground zero in the mommy-friend department. I knew no other moms my age with their first babies. If you too have been in this situation, you know it a very vulnerable and scary situation. Who can I relate to? Who can I sign up for a Music Together class with? A JW Tumbles session? Stroller Strides? Who would meet me at the mall to push our screaming babies through Nordstrom and be our moral support when we tried to breast feed in the lounge room without our Hooder-Hider that we had left in the other baby bag? What friend would meet me and my new baby for dinner at 4:00pm? I needed mom friends.

With the help of a mom organization in my area, I formed a First Baby Mom’s Group – MammaMia (named by my mommy friend Laurain). But, it still felt like dating. Who was I going to talk to when we met every Tuesday at 10:30am in a room with crying babies? Who was I going to relate to and would we have anything in common besides diaper rash solutions and exhaustion? Once the new baby smoke started to clear, relationships also developed. Playdates were being arranged and dinners outside the group. Playdates. DATES! I was dating again and this time it was with moms that I wanted to be my friends and I wanted my baby to marry their baby and we would all live as neighbors happily ever after. It was a lot of pressure to find the perfect match.

Sometimes we would all get together and all I had done with my time was bounce my inconsolable, sensitive baby. Then the yogurt comment happened.

“You feed your baby baby-yogurt?! Do you know how much sugar is in those?”

Yogurt? Baby yogurt? Yogurt for babies?! No, I have no idea how much sugar is in baby-yogurt. I left that morning with my tail between my legs thinking I was the worst mom ever for giving my baby what I thought was a good solution to dairy. It took me week to finally get mad. This other mom, who I thought was in the trenches with me, just surviving, shamed me! Pulled the rug out from under me and insinuated that I was doing something I ought not to. That I was bad. I reflected on our time together and realized that this was not the only moment when I felt like, well, she just didn’t like me. I was not carrying my baby in a rainbow wrap twisted in all sorts of directions until it wound my baby to my chest. I was not letting my baby co-sleep and I was pretty sure I was not going to nurse my child until she was four.

Yes, eventually preschool started and my circle expanded. I met more moms that were traveling the same stream as me, the same direction I was headed. I started developing relationships outside of baby sleep solutions and potty training. Instead, I started attending birthday parties for adults, going to chick flicks and talking about The Bachelor episode from the night before. I was making friends of my own.

I starting feeling more confident as a mom and friend at this stage of my life. Not just confident, but grateful that I had made really good friends. Like, life-time friends. And I am almost 40! I never thought I would make friends that I could put in my will at age 40.

It makes me think more about people like rainbow, baby-wrap, breast-feeding, baby-yogurt-hating-girl that I occasionally seen out and about. She still gives me a half smile when I beam at her and say, “Hello, remember me, I’m Christen.” I look at my perfect, eldest child with her healthy yogurt-loving, strong bones.

Maybe all these things things that make other people not “like” us have nothing to do with us. Maybe it has more to do with how the other person relates to people in the world. What are THEY insecure about? What are THEY worried about? What defenses do THEY have up. What experiences have they had that make them not be open? Hmmmm. Maybe they don’t like pizza, but maybe they don’t even like something as sweet and delicious as ice cream. Too bad for them.


…patio love.

In the same way that it is a luxury to pay someone to refinish our hardwood floors, it is also a blessing to have a patio put in by professionals. We have had people working on our backyard for about a week now and every time I look out the window I’m slightly confused. Usually if there is a project it is Brent digging, cement mixing, drilling, hammering with me a few feet away assisting in anything & everything.


DH and I walked the yard yesterday to check out the work and could not stop giggling with relief. Dear Husband, we’ve come a long way, Baby!


Here is the progress we’ve made in a week on the backyard. When we moved in we did not touch it because we just had no budget. Landscaping is pricey!












I heart how my kids are completely unaffected by a bobcat in the backyard.


…how to refinish wood flooring

Hire someone!

I promised you – PROMISE – you do not want to attempt to refinish your own floors. If you listen to anything I say about home design it is this. Trust me, DH and I have done it and there are two problems:




Okay, that is three reasons.

DH convinced me that we could refinish our wood floors when we moved into our first home. Let me remind you it was a 1950s rambler that we purchased with torn linoleum in the kitchen and awful wood flooring. We did not have the money to hire anyone to refinish them so of course we did it ourselves. I still remember testing out stain colors in what became my daughter’s first nursery.


DH rented one of those huge sanders, telling me to stay close in case it stalled and cut a crater into the floor. Stain. Poly. Fumes. It’s all a nightmare. I have obviously tried to put it out of my mind because I have no pictures to show you.

God has been good to our family and we’ve come a very long way. We decided to pay PROFESSIONALS to refinish our wood flooring. Let me be clear, this is not easy either as we had furniture and a family to move around. It started with getting these delivered.


Pods give me anxiety just looking at them. But, there is only one way to refinish flooring and that is to move whatever is on the floor. It must be done. DH tried to convince me that he could move the contents of our home by himeself, but I am older and wiser. We hired the movers I had used for Blue Egg Brown Nest for the past six years.

So, here is what it looks like at the moment. Kinda makes me what to hire a band and invite friends over!




It’s a good thing cats are flexible and adapt to change well. HA! Right.



And there was definitely dancing to be had!



…picking paint sucks

Picking white paint sucks even more.

Do you know how many shades of white are out there? Like a ba-zillion. I have lived with a bedroom that was a Ben Moore color – Barely Beige. I picked out the color. I matched the color to the hallways and closets. It was meant to be subtle. However, my master bedroom gets so much wonderful, natural light that the Barely Beige read SUPER, ANNOYING, BIG TIME Beige. I hated it.

Small Room Design

I really wanted something softer and lighter. I wanted something more white. So, I returned to my beloved Color Wheel paint shop to find some more tile samples. Turns out they don’t sell those any longer, so I poured over the little, itty-bitty samples.




I narrowed my choice down to about four when one of the owners (3rd generation!) came to rescue me. She knew her whites. Thanks, Renate!

I brought home three samples to try in my room – White Dove, Marscapone and China Grey. I bought the pints, one of these sample boards and a little roller. Having a large board helps tremendously! Yes, a bit of hassle, but better to get the right color and view it on a large scale than to start your project and hate the color…again.


Here is the sample board that I did of my three colors. I use the word color loosely!


Painting walls require tape for most of us. Some people can paint a straight line, but if you can’t or are not sure if you can, then tape your trim. DH happens to be very good at this. He’s actually very good at painting walls too so I took the kids to church and he got down to business. He taped, then moved everything from the walls…


I ended up choosing WHITE DOVE and I am so pleased. It is a great white color with just a hint of….aged white. It is slightly warm, but without color to distract me. I will be posting images once, well, we are done with the room.

What started all this paint talk was because we are putting wood flooring in our master. After 6 years of kids and pets it was dingy and well, I can’t stand those buckles. Yes, we could have gotten those straightened out, but I have my heart set on wood. Here are the terrible buckles…


Of course, I then decided I needed a new chandelier, area rug and to paint a few things like my pedestal table, but I think I better post this now before moving onto more projects. The lesson today is that WHITE DOVE is a perfect white if you are on the hunt for one.


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