Thursday, May 30, 2013

Client snippet

Oh my! This has been happening this week...
It's so, so gorgeous I can't stop thinking about it. I love it when big risks come to fruition and are totally worth it. Can't wait to share more pics when it's all done. My friend/client is one lucky girl!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

How we won the bidding war

In case you haven't read the past few posts, I'll give you a quick little catch up so you won't be completely clueless. Last week, we were divinely led to a house in Dallas that we quickly made an offer on. Unfortunately, 2 other buyers also put in offers. This market is insane, I tell ya!

We knew we had to pull out all the stops if this house was going to be in our future so here's what we did...the kids wrote letters. The only direction I gave them was to tell the owner how much they liked the house and why they'd like to live there. They ran with it!
"Matt" was showing us the house and at the time Reed began writing we didn't know his parents (the owners) names, hence "Dear Matt's parents." Cute, right? I'm so grateful that "everything changed" like  Reed wrote. It was almost instant upon seeing the house that he suddenly became ready and even excited to move. Remember how he was telling me daily that he didn't want to move? Whew, what a relief!

Bryn's my little writer and the second I told her this was to be persuasive letter, her eyes lit up and she dove right in. She asked me to edit it, but I didn't want to touch was perfect as is, misspellings and all.
I particularly love the part about her not enjoying "looking at houses 24/7 so this is our ticket out of looking."

I wrote a letter too, but I'll spare you because it completely lacks the cute factor of these two. So, friends, file this idea away for a future date in case you ever find yourself in a bidding war. Adding a personal touch and sharing thoughts from your heart just may give you a leg up on the competition too. That and a lot of prayer, of course.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Our miracle

I. AM. IN. AWE!!! God is so amazing that I can't even figure out how to write this post. I don't think I could even begin to adequately describe the last few days but gosh darn it, I feel like screaming it from the rooftops. Those of you who have been praying us through this will be glad to hear that God answered your prayers...the sellers chose our offer! We are officially under contract. Thank you, thank you, thank you for covering my family with your support and prayer.

How the miracle went down...
I woke up with extreme peace. The kind that can only come from God. Honestly, I have only been this peaceful a handful of times in my life. It's almost supernatural. Normally, when I'm waiting on a phone call it drives me crazy but this time was completely different. I was so good with either answer that the call almost seemed insignificant. 

Regardless, the call came. Our realtor told me one of the parties had withdrawn their offer. "Holy smokes, really?!" I thought, "Okay, God, that's the first sign." Then he precedes to tell me the sellers' agent is asking if this is our best and final offer. Our realtor was calling to see if we wanted to raise our offer. I called John and he immediately said, "I feel like we should. We have to be able to say we gave it our all." I called our lender and crunched all the numbers and it appeared to all make sense. For those of you who read my emotional breakdown post, you'll remember I was craving for John to take control and offer support. So, when he was so matter of fact with this decision, I knew it was the thing to do.

Our realtor resubmitted our offer but we still weren't offering over asking price so we knew it was a gamble. Once again, we were totally at peace. 

Five or six hours later, I got the second call. "Well, Dana, they decided to go with your offer. The house is yours!" He went on to say that the second offer is now considered as a back-up offer so the sellers' agent couldn't reveal what that number was. But, she told our agent that she "was kind of surprised they went with your offer but I feel those letters definitely had something to do with it." Our agent said as he read between the lines he sensed the other offer was definitely above asking price. Wow! Our entire family had something to do with this house becoming our home! I plan to share the kids' letters with you guys in another post...they are precious.

Now, I have a hard time calling this "our" house because I feel strongly this house isn't "ours" but rather it belongs to God and we're going to be blessed enough to live in it.

The madness begins today as inspections and appraisals are hurriedly being lined up since we're planning on closing on the exact day we need to be out of our house. How's that for perfect God's timing?

Please continue to pray for the remainder of this journey. It's not even close to being over...

I promise to post pictures as soon as I can get back up there with my camera. I will tell you, though, that there's a completely mirrored bathroom that left John feeling "violated" after using it. ;) See any projects in our future?!!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

We made an offer...

It's going to take a miracle, let me just start by prefacing that way. We made a marathon trip yesterday up to Dallas and back in one day. Somewhere in the middle of all that, we made an offer on this...
It's awesome. We love it. There are 3 offers sitting on the table and ours isn't at full asking. You do the math. Look promising? No, but John and I have decided to make a faith decision. This house has been tied up for 3 months under contract and literally just became available. I was picking our lease house when our agent called and told me to hold onto my socks because he was about to blow them off. And, boy did he.

Has God been holding this house for us? I'm not sure. Our offer was placed at our highest point of comfort. We entertained changing it to full asking price until 11:45pm last night. That would have meant countering our own offer. Who does that?! We decided to stay with our original offer and let God do the rest. If this house really is the one he's been holding for us, then he's also fully capable of making the other people's offers less attractive than ours. If it's not the one he has reserved for us, then we'll be sad but totally willing to accept that path.

Our kids are in love with this property. They even wrote letters to the sellers asking them to accept our offer. They are priceless. If we end up moving in, I guarantee you they will be framed and proudly displayed.

I'm at peace and I am calm. I know God's got our backs on this one and we will find out today if that includes this house or not. But, like I said, it will take a miracle!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

My emotional breakdown

Today's post is going to be a little different than normal. It's actually more for me than the blogosphere. If I don't write this stuff down then it's not going to stay in my brain like I need it to. The truth of the matter is, I have a horrible memory.

So many amazing "events/epiphanies" have been happening recently that I feel the need the document them so that one day when we're on the other side of this world of unknown my family is currently living in, I'll be able to remember the details (even the small things) and share our testimony. Because, that's what life is about. If we don't share our wisdom from our battles then we're not doing God's work.

It's not always pretty. I'm not in the pretty right now. I could put on an air and tell you only the good things but honestly, life has been so insanely frustrating recently that I found myself sitting alone in a parking lot Sunday afternoon sobbing uncontrollably and not even knowing what my next move should be. I unexpectedly needed to stay in Dallas one more night but wanted nothing more than to be back in Austin with my family. I had promised Reed I'd be back the next day and I was about to break my promise just to see one more house and visit one more school. I ache when I'm away from my family. I felt like a complete failure as I'm trying to find the best place for us to land in Dallas and I'm hitting road block after road block. I was/am feeling paralyzed with indecision. I want nothing more than to find the place God's leading us and my timing certainly is not His timing right now. Each time I think I've got it all figured out, something happens to rip the rug out from under us.

I've found myself starting to be frustrated with John. Satan knows we're on a God mission and he also knows the best/quickest way to get in the middle of things is to mess with our marriage. It's an easy target. He's working in Dallas 3 to 4 days a week and I'm running around thinking I'm Wonder Woman and can do all of this without him. Resentment starts to build up and suddenly I find myself not even wanting to discuss things with him because he's not providing me with the answers/direction I'm craving. So, those much needed conversations start to decrease. It's much easier to talk about the day to day stuff that doesn't really matter. Well, guess where that landed me? Sitting in a parking lot crying my eyes out.

I called him and was ticked when he agreed I needed to stay in Dallas. I was so angry and frustrated that I couldn't finish the conversation and honestly, I couldn't get off the phone fast enough either. I texted him and asked him to book me a hotel room. There were plenty of people I could have stayed with but I only wanted to be alone. I needed to cry until I could cry no more. I didn't want to rehash everything and have someone trying to "make it all better." I simply needed to be raw. I was hitting rock bottom. My strong facade was crumbling and I was feeling 100% paralyzed.

We spoke on the phone that night once I made it to the hotel. It wasn't pretty. I wasn't nice. His best characteristic, the "laid back golden retriever that will be happy where ever he lands", had quickly turned into the characteristic I was resenting the most. It was making me feel impossible to please. How can he be so calm about this whole thing? Doesn't he realize in less than 3 weeks we won't have a place to lay our heads? Does he not realize how potentially horrible our summer is going to be with 2 kids living in a place they're dreading and I don't have a single thing planned for them to do since I don't even know what part of the Dallas/Ft. Worth area we're going to live? I knew in my heart these concerns were on his heart too, but why wasn't he offering any help?

Well, John woke up at a ridiculous hour the next morning to travel up and be in Dallas early so we could have coffee before he went to work. I didn't know he was on his way and I woke up wondering how in the world I was going to make it through my visits with the principals that were scheduled for the day since I couldn't utter a sentence without bursting into tears and my eyes looked like I had just faced Mike Tyson in the boxing ring.

He walked into the hotel room and instead of telling him how grateful I was that he had come up early, all I could do was continue to displace my anger. This time it revealed itself through one word answers and the silent treatment. He was talking about his meeting and what time he was meeting our realtor to see the houses we had previewed the day before and that's when I finally told him, "I need you to cancel your meeting and come with me to the schools. I need to be more important than work right now. I need your help. I NEED YOU."

Poor John, he was in a no-win situation. He thought he was doing exactly what I needed him to be me my space to figure it all out. To his defense, he didn't even know these feelings going on in my heart because I hadn't taken the time to verbalize them. I was Wonder Woman. I could do this without burdening him. He's trying to learn a new position at work and this was supposed to be my area to take care of. I felt like I had let him down and I also felt like I was about to let down our kids since I officially don't have a place for us to live.

He canceled his meeting and we headed to the schools. After our tours and viewing a few houses, we FINALLY started to talk. The kind of talk we've needed to have all along. The one where I'm direct and tell him exactly what I need from him and he offers me solutions instead of just being a listening ear. He reached for my hand and it dawned on me that I was also needing his physical touch. It's hard to touch someone when you're harboring feelings of anger and resentment, so sadly, it'd been too long since I had even taken the time to hold his hand.

I was blown away in that moment of how perfectly God created us for one another. As evidenced by my complete melt down and sobbing fit, I cannot operate to my fullest potential without him. We cannot move forward as individuals. God created us to be one and that's how we have to operate if we're walking in His ways. While I did not enjoy even one single moment of the last few days in Dallas, I'm very grateful it happened the way it did. I'm thankful that we'll be able to move forward from this with peace and know that we're in it together and we're going to figure out the next step together. He doesn't expect me to be Wonder Woman and I need to take off my cape and stop pretending.

I drove back from Dallas in a hurry because a dear friend had arranged a Farewell Dinner for me with many of my friends from church. Again, I'll be real honest...I almost canceled. I was so emotionally and physically drained that the thought of being the center of attention and having to face the good-byes was a bit overwhelming. It also meant another evening away from my kids and Reed's hug upon my return was one of "don't ever walk out that door again." His sad little eyes when he watched me get ready for the evening was enough to break my heart. Thankfully, the promise of dinner out with GjGj and donuts for dessert was enough to win him over.

I was fearful that I'd once again, cry my way through the evening, but boy was I wrong. I had such an amazing night. Surrounding myself with the women who have spiritually impacted my life over the last 14 years was exactly what my soul needed and God knew it! It was an evening of celebration and counting blessings. I am so fortunate to have these ladies in my life. My tank was on empty and as they spoke their overly kind words that made me blush and extremely uncomfortable, I quickly began to feel renewed.

I was among my prayer warriors and it was God's way of letting me know I'm not alone and I have no doubt each of these women will continue to pray our family through this transition. The only tears shed last night were ones from laughter. My cheeks hurt from smiling so much, such a dramatic difference from just hours before! Instead of feeling sad about leaving these wonderful ladies behind, my heart was filled with joy as the eldest in the group wisely suggested we sing, When We All Get To Heaven. It was the perfect reminder that there truly are no good-byes to be said because before long we'll all be together again, but this time we'll be living in true perfection!

Well, friends, thank you for allowing me be self-indulgent with this post. We don't have an "ending" to our story yet but I know it will come in His perfect timing. If nothing else, I hope what you'll take away from my experience thus far is the importance/vital necessity of open communication within a marriage and the importance/vital necessity of surrounding yourself with friends of faith who are ready and willing to fill your tank with your running on empty.

I'd love to be that person for you. If you need someone to pray you through a hard time, please don't hesitate to reach out and let's start talking (

Monday, May 20, 2013

Oh my!

Seriously considering this today...

Wondering if I'm insane? Wondering if my bank account could support the amount of TLC this house requires? Did I mention, wondering if I've lost my marbles? There'd be no shortage of blogging material, that's for sure. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Client texts and helpful tips

Texting is a complete assest when it comes to interior design and working with clients. I love it when I hear the little "ding, ding" and a beautiful picture appears of a client's space and a long awaited purchase sitting in its new home.

This week's exciting "ding, ding" had something to do with this...

And here it is in real life...
Now, take a peek at both chairs and let your brain wrap around the fact that they're shown in exactly the same fabric. So, YES, it IS important to order the fabric swatches and look at them in person. You can never fully trust colors via a computer screen. 

Speaking of fabric, here's a helpful little tip. My clients had an existing ottoman that we felt looked great with this chair. We toyed with the idea of finding a coordinating fabric but luckily the lightbulb went off and I decided to reach out to the manufacturer of the chair and ask if we could purchase an additional few yards of fabric they'd use to make the chair. 
It took a handful of phone calls to reach the right person but finally I found someone willing to approve the purchase, seeing as how they don't typically sell the fabric. It never hurts to ask!

I can't wait to see it in person and help put the final touches on this amazing house.

Monday, May 13, 2013

So close we could taste it

Are you sick of house hunting posts? I am! Glad you're hanging in there with me because when we actually find a house there's bound to be fun posts to follow, but right now thanks for being kind enough to let me drag you through the mud.

So, here's the house that almost had us signing papers...
Looks nice and quiet, right? That's one of the problems. After talking to the neighbor I found out there aren't many kids in the neighborhood and "everyone keeps to themselves."
John and I walked through this house super late one evening then drove back with the kids this weekend to see it in the daylight. BIG TIP for house hunters: Make sure you see the house at different times of the day.
That wood beam was a major selling point in my book.
I could see a cozy little seating area in front of the fireplace and some open shelving on the brick wall. I had plans people...
I had to wonder if a blogger lived in this house. Everything was very on trend and the finishes were definitely of the DIY type (some good, some not so good).
There were 3 fireplaces. Too bad it's only cold enough for fires in Texas about 3 nights out of the year.
Nice neutral finishes. Looked great the first time we walked through, but the second time the seller failed to clean...big mistake. HOUSE SELLING TIP: Clean you house before all showings. Potential buyers don't like seeing hair on the bathroom floor (or the bathtub for that matter). Yuck! 
Two of the rooms had cute little window seats that open up for storage.
Brick floors again. Love those.
So, are you wondering why we didn't pull the trigger?

I prayed for clarity before we drove back to make our decision. Both kids didn't like this house. I was shocked because they've seen others they've liked better and this one was 10 times better than those. Seeing it in daylight revealed that the pool had major problems and would have to have a complete overhaul. We also noticed several potential structural issues with the house, roofing issues and a slanted floor that may have indicated foundation issues. And the biggest question mark was the beginnings of a road expansion project that looked like it'd end up placing this house with a busy street in its side yard. No one wants to buy a house on a busy to think resale value.

You may be thinking that many of these issues would give us serious negotiating power and you're right, but it's at the top of our budget. We'd have to get them down lower than they originally paid for the house to make this thing happen. Also, don't forget from my previous post that this house is an hour away from John's office. Too many factors to make it work. :(

In four weeks and one day, we'll officially be living in a hotel. Can you hear the butterflies fluttering in my stomach?!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Surprising words...

Have you ever had one of those moments when you think your child is wiser than you? I had one of those last night when I was sharing with Bryn the last couple days of house hunting events. She quietly listened to me tell her how frustrating things have been then said, "Mom, Don't give up because God gives his hardest battles to his strongest soldiers."

It was a surreal moment as I paused in the moment and realized my 10 year old was offering me support that was far beyond her years. I told her how much I appreciated that thought and asked where she had heard the quote. She told me she saved it as one of her itouch wallpapers. Ummm, maybe those things are good for something. ;)

To make things even better, as I sat down to write this post this morning I searched my pinterest boards for a quote to share and the image above was staring me in the face. Coincidence? Nah, that's just how God works. He's cool like that!

So, to fill you in on our house hunting adventures I'll give you the short and skinny. Closed doors. That's exactly what I faced time after time. From houses that "just didn't feel right" to visiting 2 schools who informed me they wouldn't have room for my kids next year and would have to bus them to different locations. I was a bit taken back when I ran into this roadblock. These are public schools I'm visiting, not private! I didn't even know it was possible to be turned away from a public school.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. I even found myself knocking on a complete stranger's door and asking if he had any plans on moving soon! You hear fun stories like that all the time, but sadly my story didn't have one of those crazy, cool endings where he says, "Well, as a matter of fact..." Instead, he said, "No, not anytime soon. Maybe in a year or so."

Okay, so what's Plan B? Your guess is as good as mine. Did I mention we're closing on our house in 2 days? Tick, tick, tick...

John and I realized it was time to reassess our priorities. There's an area of town that we've been avoiding for multiple reasons, but there were 2 houses I had run across that stuck in my brain. This area is not even remotely close to John's work and it comes with quite the reputation for wealth and excess. I even found myself passing some of those superficial judgements until I took the time to actually drive through the town and see things first hand.

We visited the 2 houses and I was shocked when I walked into the second one and the words, "I like it. I like it a lot." came out of my mouth. Could it be?...

We're praying about it. Did you catch the part about it not being close to John's work? Yeah, something to the tune of an hour commute. That's hefty.

So, friends, you may not be facing a house hunting saga like my own, but if you find yourself in troubled times where you wonder what the heck God has planned for you, remember the wise words of my 10 year old... "Don't give up, because God gives his hardest battles to his strongest soldiers."

Monday, May 6, 2013

This week in Dallas...

It's a big week in the Frieling house...we'll official be homeless on Friday. We're scheduled to close on our Austin house. With this crazy deadline looming over our head, I decided I should probably make another trip up to Dallas. 

I literally drove up this morning before the sun was even thinking about shining and now I'm sitting in a coffee shop writing a post. Think I have my priorities straight? ha! To my defense, I'm also searching and trying to make a game plan. My realtor is setting up a few appointments but honestly, there's not much to see. 

This is the only one I'm looking forward to, but it faces a busy street. Not sure if that'll put it out of the running or not just yet.

Fun floors, right?! Most of the houses have brick floors in the areas we're looking. 
The rest of the house is a bit dated, but the bones look good.
Bryn had window seats on her house wish list. These should do the trick!
Okay, so this is the part where you all start praying that the busy street isn't an issue!!!

We're leasing our house back from the buyer so we have 5 weeks to make the magic happen. I'm not so confident so I'll also be checking out apartments and houses to lease during this trip too.

Friday, May 3, 2013

When I'm stressed I...

Eat.  Bake. Okay, who am I kidding, I do both.

Chocolate is my go to stress reliever. Not the healthiest of options, but you do what ya gotta do to get ya through.

Just last week these two yum-o-licious recipes debuted in the Frieling household. Yes, I made two batches of cookies in one week and we won't discuss who ate most of them. If you ask me I'll be sure to blame it on the kids! 

This first recipe is named appropriately...Brownie Crackles. I'm going to rename them Brownie Crack because that pretty much sums it up. With very few ingredients, not to mention items I typically always have on hand, they're dangerous, I tell ya.

Brownie Crackles



  • In a large bowl, beat the brownie mix, flour, egg, water and oil until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips.
  • Place confectioners' sugar in a shallow dish. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls into sugar; roll to coat. Place 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes or until set. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool. Yield: 4-1/2 dozen.

With brownie crackles attaching themselves to my hips settling in our tummies, it was time to search for the next stress reliever sweet tooth fix. Turtle cookies...yeah, that should do the trick.
Turtle Cookies
Hop on over to The Kitchen is My Playground for this delicious recipe. 

This time I had a teensy tiny bit of self-restraint and I managed to take a handful up the street to my dieting friend, Katie, before I devoured the entire batch. You see, Katie doesn't need to be on a diet at all, so I was actually doing her a favor.

These cookies turned out exactly like the picture! They'd make a great addition to your Christmas cookie/baking plans. It's never too early to start thinking about that, right?

And just so you know, I'm NOT endorsing eating like a pig as a way to manage your stress. Prayer and exercise are MUCH more effective!

What do you do when you're stressed? Will you be trying my Brownie Crack or Tasty Turtles? ;)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Too good not to share

Well, it's no secret that we're on the hunt for a house in Dallas. I've spared you from most of the process because it's sad and depressing. Low inventory, already pending...blah, blah, blah. Well, John drove around a bit this morning and honed in on a neighborhood he really likes. He said it's a great mix of price points and has a great overall feel. We contacted our agent and asked him to send of a list of everything available in this area.

There were some decent ones and then there was this...

What? No turquoise?

So, you're probably thinking, "That's not too bad. Just needs a coat of paint, new floors, updated EVERYTHING." You're right, good bones are what's important, right?

Go ahead and guess how much a beauty like this will cost ya. Here are the specifics: 4,356 square feet, 3 car garage, 4 bedroom/5 bath (who wants to clean that many bathrooms, anyway?)

Drumroll please...$1.3 million!!! Whhhhaaaat?

Needless to say, John won't be walking through this one. Hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into turquoise heaven. 
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