…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.


…DIY love.

There is one thing that you cannot say about DH and I and that is that we are lazy. We pour sweat out on the weekends working on projects. We’ve always been a bit crazy like this.


We purchased our first home when we were newly married and spent every weekend renovating our house. We spent more time at Home Depot then anywhere else in those days. We tiled, painted, framed a basement, sanded floors, landscaped, built a deck, a shed, installed doors and windows, installed countertops, knocked down walls and built furniture.

This was our first home. We were 25 years old. DH convinced me to move into a fixer-upper with the hope that we would eventually tear it down and build. That would come after many, many of our own projects.


When we were not at the hardware store we were working or watching DIY shows. We lived it. This is one of my favorite pictures and favorite projects. Tearing out all the mint green & black tile from our first bathroom. And we were LUCKY to have the green and not the pink like other homes in our neighborhood!

Demolition 1





Even my first birthday present as a married woman was a pedastal sink! (Yes, I still give DH grief about that one!)


We are still living the DIY lifestyle and teaching our kids that it is worth the time, effort and money to put into the space that you LIVE in. Home is everything.

All that to say that this is the summer of updating here in the Bensten house. We decided to replace all our carpeting, which led to refinishing our wood flooring, adding wood flooring to the master bedroom, red carpet to our new movie room, a backyard fence, patio and landscaping. I then moved onto the details, like a change of paint for the master, an area rug, and new chandelier. This then inspired me to repaint some of the pieces on our mail level. Needless to say we have not stopped.

Here a look at the chaos.


I will be posting on paint colors, rug colors/brands and the projects we have going on this week. It’s what I’m living and breathing at the moment. But don’t worry about us, we are used to breathing in a bit of dust from our projects & lifestyle so it all feels normal.



…favorite things friday: raised garden

Before kids and a large dog, DH and I always had a garden. I loved it. We grew green beans, tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, etc. There is something so magical about eating a food that you’ve grown from a seed in your own yard. Then Kane came along and he thought snacking on raw zuccini was super entertaining. We haven’t had a garden since.

This summer we are working on our outdoor living spaces. A patio is in our future, landscaping, an entertaining area and a garden. It feels important to show my kids how to grow one. I became increasingly frustrated that we were not able to have one and so, like many things in my life, I found a way around our issue.

A raised garden.

Truth be told, I had looked at these many times, but it was not until I saw Martha Stewart on the Today show plant one that I ordered one for our deck.


It is basically a cedar box on legs that you can put anywhere. You need a ton of soil and we lined ours. I think purchased seedings at Home Depot and voila!



Greta made labels and my nerdy DH installed a drip line. What a keeper he is!



I purchased the Gronomics brand from Amazon and we have been very happy.



I also love the signs of life in our front yard this time of year.







Loving our koy pond too!