The Truth About Crafts (and Dogs)

This was my latest makeover project: upholstered metal folding chairs.


Pretty nice upgrade, wouldn’t you say? But what is even more interesting, I think, is the behind-the-scenes footage of this saga. Because the reality is, behind every pretty picture of a craft I’ve completed is a slew of headaches and frustrations that are lost to the public eye as soon as I post a polished “after” photo.

This is the truth of crafting that Pinterest will not tell you.

Every tutorial I had encountered proclaimed how easy this project was, and you know, after the first chair, the rest really were simple. But that first chair . . . I can’t look at that pink chair without a slight grimace. Here is what I had to learn the hard way:

  • You need short staples (1/4″) to attach your new fabric, otherwise your staples will go through the top panel.
  • A thick home decorating fabric is best, which will save you the trouble of having to remove the chair’s original fabric if the print shows through.
  • Use a heavy duty staple gun. Don’t go for the prettier, lighter one advertised to be easier on your hands (EVEN if the packaging has on it a picture of a man stapling together a wooden birdhouse). Otherwise, you will end up with two staple guns and have spent $23 instead of $9, when the prettier, easy-on-the-hands one refuses to puncture anything. What worked was the Arrow JT27.
Use a heavy duty staple gun, like the one on the right.
Use a heavy duty staple gun, like the one on the right.
  • When purchasing anything, double check that you have the right items and that they are in working order, like, say, that your spray adhesive is not missing a nozzle. Otherwise, you will make the untimely discovery the next time you craft (i.e. when the baby is napping), and therefore you will be home-bound, unable to move on with your project, and left with nothing else to do but twiddle your thumbs. Talk about a momentum-buster.
  • Speaking of spray adhesive, don’t use it indoors at your dining table. This seems like common sense, and apparently, I don’t have any. If you, too, lack common sense, you will get spray adhesive all over your table, computer, phone, and anything else that’s lying within a 2-foot radius of your target.
  • The bottom panel that you sit on may not be a uniform square. Lay your fabric on to check if it lines up correctly BEFORE you staple . . . otherwise, you may encounter this:
  • If you have chairs with these plastic push-in rivets on the bottom, as opposed to metal screws, curse the chair-making powers that be, but DON’T try to cut them off with scissors. It is an ineffective method that will eat up your time and your hands.

Okay, now that I’ve sufficiently aired my frustrations and scared you from attempting this project, let me assure you that it really is fairly simple.  😉  Though, if you’re anything like me, you, too, must learn the hard way. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?  Yes, I believe that can be applied to crafting.

How to Reupholster Your Folding Chair


Additional materials you may need:

1. Unscrew the top and bottom panels. Or, if you are unfortunate like me, your chair panels are attached by plastic push-in rivets. Use a hammer to pound them out. If the rivets are not too shredded, you can simply reinsert the panel at the end. If, though, they are not reusable, or if you want a sturdier attachment, you can replace the rivets with screws.

step 1

2. Hopefully, your new fabric is thick and not see-through, so you can simply lay it on top of the original fabric. Otherwise, remove the original fabric by using a screwdriver to lift the staples. (Do this also if you want to replace rivets with screws.)



3.  If you are replacing the plastic rivets with screws, pull the cushion apart from the backing and remove rivets and reinsert screws. Use masking tape to keep screws in place before flipping the board back over so that the screws are pointed outwards.


4.  Laying the panels on top of your new (and ironed) fabric, cut out pieces with about 1-1/2 to 2 inches extra on each side. Be aware of which sides are the front and back of your panel, and align your fabric accordingly. Use spray adhesive (outside!) to secure fabric, and then start stapling, alternating sides and pulling taut the fabric as you go.



5.  When you get to the corners, pleat the fabric before stapling, working around each curve.




6. Cut away excess fabric.  Realign your panels to the chair, and screw back into place, attaching bolts where necessary. If you kept the old push-in rivets, simply snap the seat panel back in position. You can also use the E6000 glue, which is an easy, but permanent, solution.


And that’s it!  Enjoy your chair!


Easy, right? I guess you’ll have to find out.

As for Lucy, she’s pretty happy-go-lucky, even when her chairs don’t turn out. No sweat. Maybe I should take a page from her book.


Posted in Art, DIY, Home, Decor, Organize | 2 Comments

Don’t Borrow Tomorrow’s Troubles



“Don’t borrow trouble from tomorrow.” That’s what my grandma used to say. She passed it on to my dad. And now I’m saying it, at least to myself.

I’m a planner. I like my daily life to be predictable, which tends to keep my stress confined to unforeseen events. And sometimes that means I try to plan tomorrow and the next day and so on, and the troubles of those days seep into my today like an undetectable poison. Suddenly I find myself on the verge of a panic attack and I can’t figure out why. Go figure.

Maybe you’re not a planner. Maybe you like to live in the moment—see what happens. I have friends like that. They find joy in the spontaneous. Humor in the unexpected. I’m glad people like these exist to balance me out. But there are worry-warts among you folks as well.

The reality is, as responsible adults, we have valid problems to solve. We have issues that can bring concern. But the danger comes when we start letting our minds spin down the eddies of “what if?” questions (of the negative sort).

I know I’m not the only one who’s done this. “What if’s” can vary from the absurd and inconsequential to the really heavy anxieties of the heart. And they can keep us from doing things we should do. They can keep us from having peace.

What if our guests don’t like my cooking and then they never come back again? (ME. Yikes!)

What if I say one word that screws up my kid’s entire life and I don’t even know it?

What if I hate my classes half way through graduate school and I’m already $50K deep in loans?

What if I decide to buy that house and then I lose my job?

What if I don’t like the kid I decide to adopt?

What if I have a miscarriage?

I’m not suggesting we don’t think about potential consequences to our actions. That is obviously smart. But it’s choosing to worry about potential outcomes we have no control over that gets dangerous. This is what I’m talking about when I say “tomorrow’s troubles”. They’re fiction. They are in the future. They don’t exist yet. Or possibly ever. And allowing them to be invited into our here-and-now is a tactic from the enemy. It taints our present and weighs us down with a load comprised of fear.

That is not of God.

Perfect love casts out all fear, and our God is perfect love. We are to cast our cares on him. If we are His, He will not let us walk alone. The Holy Spirit will counsel you. Comfort you. Convict you. If he has led you or given you the mind to walk into the graduate degree, buy that house, contact that adoption agency, pursue pregnancy, etc., He will see you through whatever ride that path takes you on.

The bottom line is in a choice of trust. Trust God with our choices and life, or trust the fear usurping His throne in our lives. When we allow fear to guide our plans, diving into the “what if’s” and choosing imaginary troubles, we make the plan the idol and the replacement for our trust in God.

God is one hundred percent faithful. In all situations. In all times. Ask Him to help you make wise choices and trust Him with tomorrow. He’s the only one who knows what lies in it anyway.

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A Friend For All Seasons

Steph B

Friendship has never really been my strong suit. At least not the idealized version of friendship from my favorite books and shows while growing up.

Tom Sawyer & Huck Finn

Frog & Toad

DJ Tanner & Kimmy Gibbler

Theo Huxtible & Cockroach

Buffy & Willow

Harry, Ron, & Hermione

Regardless of what decade or city or even culture we grow up in, the models of friendship we grow up with shape our expectations. They might not be realistic expectations, but that becomes clear in time and with some measure of disappointment.

I was a pastor’s kid until I was sixteen. This made friendship especially vague and weird for several reasons:

1. Whenever we came to a new church, the community was already ready and waiting for us. We instantly had “friends” in the sense that people cared about us and were interested in our lives. We were usually sought out quickly, and on nearly every invitation list for gatherings.

2. There was no identifiable distinction between ministry relationships and social ones. We seemed to befriend whoever made themselves available. To my parents’ credit, I never really sensed a difference between those people whose company they genuinely enjoyed and those who they were choosing to love and serve.

3. I never really sought out a friend based on my observations of her character and interests, and made the conscious decision that I would like to get to know her. That we might be a good match. That she might get to know the real me and like me anyway.

As a girl, I think I just believed that while I was surrounded by people, some of which I genuinely liked, I hadn’t found “the one” yet. The one that would be like my other half. We would be inseparable from the get go, and we would braid each other’s hair and keep each other’s secrets and go on our first double date together and marry twins and buy houses on the same street.

And while I think I experienced moments of this phenomenon, they were never long term. They ran their course. We grew, changed, moved on. Life was definitely not imitating art. At least not my life.

Today, at the age of thirty-nine, I can report that I still have not found my soul mate sister from another mister. But before you start to feel sorry for me, let me clarify. I am not looking for her. Somewhere along the way, I made peace with the fact that the proverbial BFF might not be part of God’s plan for my life. And that if she wasn’t, that meant I didn’t really need her, and I would be okay without her. And while there was a certain amount of sadness letting go of the long-held fantasy expectation, it was not crippling.

I know there are many people out there who have experienced, or currently are experiencing a true, everything you ever wanted in one person best friend relationship. I don’t doubt it. Count it as a blessing. But from my experience thus far, each friendship has been as unique as the individual I am having the relationship with. They vary in depth, ebb and flow with seasons of life and family, and are not all necessarily based on common interests.

I have friends who I see frequently and know the ins and outs of their daily lives. I have others who I see only once every few months and with whom I feel just as much connectedness as the ones I see every week.

I have friends who I love to share a meal or see a movie with, and others who I process creatively with. Some I call on for help or prayer. Others I call on for a kick in the pants. I have friends who are older than me, younger than me, smarter than me,  more productive than me, and kinder than me. Some connect very naturally with my family, and others I like to meet alone for a quiet chat. Some I have a lot of shared experiences with, others I am watching live an altogether different life. In some friendships I give more, others I receive more, and some are clearly divinely appointed for a season. (Those of you who know me in real life, stop trying to figure out which one of these you are. Dorks.)

At the end of the day, I value and appreciate and want them ALL. I think about all the amazing people I would be missing out on if I reserved myself to spend the majority of my time with just one. How many others would have been excluded? Ones that I have truly cared for. Ones that have loved me and mine. I have ceased looking at friendship as one particular “thing”. It is wide and varied and wonderful and full of fresh air. It lifts me out of my bubble and challenge me to keep my eyes outward.

In truth, it never was a job interview to fill the position of my sidekick–although it has taken me many years to figure that out. If it’s a job interview at all, than I am the one submitting the application. I need to know if I qualify to be trusted in whatever role God has called me to play in your life. It may be big or small, mainly giving or receiving, brief or longterm. Who knows? Much of that is beyond my control. But I believe I will give account for how I’ve practically loved in my lifetime, and when I am in my right mind, that is what friendship is to me.


Image via


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nerdwax: A Kickstarter Success Story


nerdwax: it keeps your glasses up!

Don Hejny, inventor of nerdwax, was working on a music tour one summer when he was inspired with the idea of nerwax. The musician he was working with couldn’t seem to keep her glasses up while performing at an outdoor venue during the hot summer months. Don started to experiment with an all natural recipe and asked his friends to try it out with him. They loved it! He continued to tweak the recipe until it was perfect! Finally it was time for Don & his friends to share the nerdwax love with others who could really use it!

Alongside his wife (past OTW contributor!) Lydia, they launched their startup using the Kickstarter tool to fund their project! It only took 12 hours for the nerdwax Kickstarter campaign to be fully funded at $5,000! In less than 48 hours, the campaign raised $10k! The campaign quickly gained a lot of attention on popular sites such as Mashable, blogs like Global Innovations and even a popular French blog called MaxiGadget!

With less than 36 hours to go, the campaign is nearing $58,000!! Back this project while you can… and when you see nerdwax — the original glasses wax — in every boutique and eventually every major retail store… you can say that you were a backer of nerdwax from the beginning!

Watch the kickstarter video to see how nerdwax might be a good fit for you… Visit the kickstarter page here!

Posted in Art, Culture & Media, Current Events, DIY | 3 Comments

Quality Girl Time


I was recently invited to be the speaker for a Mother/Daughter retreat in the Redwoods outside of Santa Cruz, CA. This was a little bit intimidating for a couple of reasons.

#1. I had never spoken to kids before, and I had no idea if I was any good at it.

#2. I don’t like retreats. They are an introvert’s nightmare.

But I love what I do, I love having daughters, and my hero Papa always told me that if the Lord opens the door, be brave and walk through it. So, I did!

Now, when you are speaking to a mixed group, you have to aim at the youngest. I coach, teach, and speak to moms and dads all the time, but this meant my four messages had to engage 7-11 year old girls. Uhhhhhhh. I can neither confirm nor deny if I Googled “tips for speaking to children.”

Finally, I decided to stop freaking out. I have two daughters. I communicate with and teach them all the time. They have both been 7-11. This should just come naturally. So I used what worked, and still works, with them. And when in doubt, use dogs and cats. Kittens, if you can get ’em. You literally can’t go wrong.

Compiled by Stephanie Brubaker

All that to say, it was a fantastic weekend. Not only did I get to minister and speak and do what I love, but I got to incorporate my daughters into what I do. They helped with skits and visual aids, they ran my book table, and they helped me set up and tear down. We also did archery, s’mores, line dancing, the zip line, the flying squirrel, a limbo contest (which I was surprisingly decent at for a tall person) and just made lots of general merriment.

One of my goals for the weekend was to help moms and daughters learn how to connect and bond, and we did that, but the bonus was that I got to have my own bonding experience with my own girls. We have so many wonderful memories from that weekend. I also realized that I still know most of the lyrics on the 2007 Hannah Montana CD that they blasted on the trip down, and that I can still sing them with my mouth crammed with Dots candy. All good to know.

So what did I take from this experience that might be the least bit interesting to you? Maybe nothing. But I want you to know, these girls were glowing. Yes, partly from the ice cream, but mostly from the undivided attention from their moms And let me be specific–it’s not just the quantity of time, it’s the quality of the time.

I find that most parents can’t really define what quality time is when it comes to their children. If you are giving instructions, correcting, rebuking, or otherwise controlling your child beyond basic safety, its not really quality time. At least not from their end. We want the kind of time that our kids can deposit into their love bank. The kind that feels good to them. That’s the kind that they can withdraw on when things are not so fun in your relationship, the times you have to say NO, the times you have to set a limit that they don’t like, the times you have to be the one to hold them accountable for their actions.

The moms at the retreat who were able to step out of their traditional “training” role for those forty-eight hours were the ones who made the biggest deposits into their daughters’ banks. They decided to ignore the chewing with your mouth open, and focus on making silly faces in the photo booth. They temporarily swapped the authority figure hat for the #1 Fan hat. They played games, had dessert after every meal, and talked about the secret crossovers between Frozen and the other Disney princess movies.

Of course, back at home in the real world, we can’t do this all the time. But we can do for ten to fifteen minutes on most days. We can swap that hat out and purpose to give our child a few minutes of true quality time. And we don’t have to go on a Mother/Daughter retreat to do it. Although, if you get the chance, you should totally do it.

  steph teaching


Posted in Family, Parenting, Relationships, Uncategorized | Leave a comment