Jeff's top three workshop tools

Marian Parsonswoodworking107 Comments


Jeff, my other half who is famous for his photobombing, has been working on the blog behind the scenes for a long time…shipping things, fixing things, building things, hanging things, carrying things…


but now he’s stepping front and center. He has written a post sharing his top three indispensable workshop tools.  Enjoy…


Everybody has their favorite tools. I have mine and you have yours. And the tools we depend on most are obviously determined by the kind of work we do. Marian, for example, would probably have an orbital sander in her top three because she uses it for just about every furniture makeover she does. For me, the sander may have an outside chance at cracking the top ten.

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Allow me to list a couple of ground rules. First, drills don’t count. Yes, I am aware that a drill is a tool. And yes, I use a drill all the time. But that’s the point—we all use drills all the time. I figured it would be best to assume this and list the top three tools other than a drill. Second, they have to be actual tools. So glue, for example, wouldn’t count.

I’ll begin by describing the kind of work I’m normally doing in our workshop.

I enjoy making upgrades to the workshop. I am blessed to have a nice open space (28’x35’) that functions almost solely as a workshop. Sometimes, like the 3-4 weeks leading up to the Lucketts Fair, it functions as a storage space as well. I have built some nice lumber storage, work tables, an easy and affordable workbench (which I will do a tutorial on sometime), a whole wall of heavy-duty shelves, and a massive out-feed table for my table saw. Some of these upgrades are costly and time consuming, but worth it in the end.

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I also do a lot of the necessary repairs to Marian’s furniture-finds. You might say I’m the one who resuscitates the pig before Marian puts lipstick on it. Say she brings home a filthy and beat up old dresser that she bought from some guy for thirty bucks. Believe me, only Marian would see potential in this dresser.


The top has some nasty water damage. Some drawers stick and others go in way too far. At least one of the drawers needs a new bottom. Another drawer shrieks like the screaming banshee from Hades when you open and close it. I try to hide my skepticism while she eyes it with pride. Then I do what any adoring husband would do: I say something that is in no way indicative of what I’m actually thinking at that moment such as, “Nice find, hon. You practically stole this from that guy.”

Then I get busy fixing it.

I also use the workshop to do a good bit of home improvement building. I did most of the wood-related finish work in our bathroom, including the built-in shelving, the baseboard heater covers and the bead board panel on the front of the tub.

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I also did the built-ins in our home office. And I know how much Marian loves the butcher block countertops in the kitchen, but after many hours in the workshop cutting, fitting, sanding and edging them all, as well as spending—no lie—three hours just thinking about how I would tackle cutting the hole for the sink (she just had to have an under-mount sink) and another three hours actually cutting it, I concluded that should I ever be forced to choose between doing butcher-block countertops again or, say, going down a barbed wire waterslide into a pool of rubbing alcohol, I would need some time alone to ponder which would be the less desirable of the two.

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In addition to furniture repair and home improvement stuff, I generally do whatever Marian needs me to do. And trust me, that can be anything. You never know what’s going to show up at our house: a huge metal letter M which takes two people to carry, boxes upon boxes of lavender which, in addition to smelling nice, causes postnasal drip within seconds, or a “gorgeous” rusty old metal cow head.

Anyways, that’s mostly what I do in the workshop. So what three tools do I rely on most heavily to accomplish these tasks? What are my three most indispensable tools? I’ll list them in no particular order.


The first tool is the compound miter saw. Mine is a 10” Bosch sliding saw that Marian got me for Christmas a few years ago. I use that saw on almost every project where wood has to be cut. It is so versatile that I won’t even bother trying to list all of its uses in this post. Most of you probably have a compound miter saw, so you know what I’m talking about.

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The second thing I can’t do without in the workshop is a good set of clamps. Clamps are like having two or four or eight extra hands. If you are repairing furniture, clamps are a must. I use clamps to hold drawers together while I’m fixing them. I glue up old dovetails or drawer bottoms, leaving them in clamps as I walk away. When I need to cut out a jigsaw pattern on a piece of wood or use my router to put a nice edge on a dresser top, I use clamps to secure the wood to my workbench allowing me work efficiently and safely. It would be difficult to do what I do without clamps. So buy yourself an old beat up desk, get some wood glue (I recommend Titebond II, but to each his own), some clamps, and get to work!

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I knew what the first two tools were going to be, but selecting this third one was difficult. Not because I couldn’t think of another tool that I heavily rely on—that’s the problem. I can think of many other tools I heavily rely on. I was tempted to say the brad nailer. I also thought that the Kreg Pocket Hole System, which revolutionized the way I join pieces of wood together, would fit the bill nicely. But for my third most indispensable tool, I have to go with my table saw. The table saw is the centerpiece of the wood shop. I use mine to make new drawer bottoms, replace dresser tops, rip cabinet face-frames to size, make just about all of my cabinetry cuts, and to trim just a hair off of a sticking drawer to make it slide smoothly. The table saw is one of my go-to tools for reliable straight cuts and perfect 90 degree panels. It’s a must-have!

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Well, those are the three MVP’s of my workshop. I’d love to hear yours!


So, do you like hearing the behind-the-scenes from Jeff?  He really does a lot and I’m glad he took the step to write a post. (Sometimes I forget how scary writing that first post is!)

Oh, and I can’t sign off without wishing him a Happy Father’s Day!  He’s not only handy in the home, but he’s a really great dad.

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Jeff's top three workshop tools

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107 Comments on “Jeff's top three workshop tools”

  1. I loved this post!! How lucky are you Miriam, to not only have a very handsome husband, but one that supports & helps you build your brand! He is very talented with the work he has done, does not complain with what you bring home & the best part for me was his sense of humor!! I spit out my coffee with the barbed wire slide comment!! Please have him continue to write blogs, I am looking forward to them!!

  2. He originally compared the sink project with eating a urinal cake, but I wasn’t sure this was the right audience for that one! 🙂

    1. Lol!! My son has used the urinal cake reference before & I always laugh at it! He can come up with some good ones, because like you, I have him do things that he probably would debate the better option like your husband!!! I love the barbed wire/rubbing alcohol comment & will chuckle all day thinking about it! Please tell him that he did a amazing first blog & I am sure many others will love it as well!

  3. I loved the post as well. Such great advice and guidance. Thanks for taking the plunge into blog writing Jeff!

  4. Marian, you are so inspirational and even though I know you have many talents I am so happy you gave your husband a chance to show his. I also have a booth selling furniture, etc and it is my husband who does all the repairs as well as teach me how to do them myself. I try very hard to learn all the woodworking know hows but find it isn’t easy. He taught woodworking and I am also so thankful to have him.

  5. Totally cracking up! That Jeff is a funny guy! He sounds a lot like my husband. Those are all the top 3 tools my husband relies on too. I’ll have to check out that glue!

  6. Having a good work space is so key. I’m envious! Plus someone to operate the tools? How blessed are you!

    Clamps are my best friend sometimes and I agree with the miter saw – now I just need lessons on how to operate one.

    Great post.

  7. Great post! He has a great sense of humor like my best friend, my hubby. (29-1/2 years and counting).

  8. Loved this post. Jeff did a great job on his first post and I hope and look forward to more post and info from him!

  9. Good Stuff!!! Working on building my arsenal of tools- first I need a “real” workshop. I only have a few more months before I’ll have to move out of the garage so we can put the car in it.

  10. Love, love, love the post! Please do a tutorial on how to replace a drawer bottom!!

  11. No one is prouder of you at this moment that your Ole Dad. You always have had a real gift for writing and communicating and this first of what I hope are many blog posts is a great example of that. I can tell the audience here that Jeff is a true craftsman, a rare breed nowadays. He will study a piece of work, analyze all the options, sleep on it, and do it again until he knows how he will tackle the job.

    Great job, son and keep ’em coming. You’re also a great dad to my grandkids. Looking forward to seeing you guys next month and you buying my breakfast. Ha!

    The Captain

  12. Marion and Jeff – Y’all are made for each other! I loved reading Jeff’s first post – he’s not only a talented Pig resuscitator and photo bomber, but a very articulate and funny writer as well! Keep it coming! Now, I’m going to have to google urinal cake – I’ve never heard that one!

  13. I LOVE hearing from Jeff – such a great sense of humor and conversational writing style. I have visions of the barbed wire slide and alcohol forever in my mind now, though, lol! What a great team you two make.

  14. What a catch! Jeff, while I don’t need my husband to do what you do I know he can and so could his father before he went to heaven. Once I mentioned this to his mom , she had since remarried a man who couldn’t make toast… she answered and said …yea it’s good to have a handy guy around!

    Good Job Jeff!

  15. My hubby does wonders with most of our saws, but I like to play around with the jigsaw. MY other two would be my palm sander, and positively my clamps:) Thanks for sharing your top three!

  16. Really a great post, Marian! I loved hearing from the “behind the scenes” genius of your business. Great stuff! Keep on him to write one now and then. He’s obviously a blessing to you, your family, your business and your blog! And his Dad seemed pretty fond of him, too! 🙂

  17. What a great post! You’re other half is as funny as he is talented! I hope to read many more posts from Jeff!

  18. What a cutie!…talented, funny, can spell and not bad on the eyes!! The Captain’s post was the seal of approval too!!…your husband is a keeper!

  19. Marian, I think you have a keeper here! You two make a wonderful pair and I look forward to reading more from both of you 🙂

  20. Look out Miss Marion – you could have some competition!

    Great post, asked my husband to read it and he agreed with Jeff 100% , loved the barbed wire reference!

    We are so blessed to have these gentlemen in our lives, I always tell my Mr. that he makes my dreams a reality and for that I will be ever grateful.

    Can’t wait for the next post from the man cave!

  21. Loved every word…. I’m going to be thinking about the waterslide analogy for a long, long time….

  22. Ha! I laughed out loud at his commentary on the butcher block countertops. It’s so fun and funny to hear it all from his perspective. Ya’ll are a perfect pair. You drag in the stuff, and imagine how great it can be, and puts it all back into one piece so you can! And good lord, he is handsome too. Dang Marian!


  23. I loved this post! What a great sense of humor, and I really found the topic helpful. I want to learn more about wood working (because although my husband is wonderful he has no interest in helping me to resurrect old furniture). On a small budget I was pondering what type of saw to purchase. I also once had to rebuild a footstool without clamps, and that was a nightmare. Now I have confirmation of what the most important tools to purchase first are. Thanks and keep the posts coming!

  24. Jeff and Marian that was a wonderful post, so well written , such an interesting read, look forward to more!

  25. Great first post, Jeff! Looking forward to hearing more about Mr. Mustard Seed’s work in the future.
    By the way, I wish my husband was half as handy with tools as you are!

  26. Great post! Your hubby writes like he has been blogging for years! Looking forward to the tutorial on the workbench.

  27. I love this post! Please, please write more, Jeff.
    I loved your dad’s comment too… perhaps he can guest post one day, too! 🙂

  28. GREAT blog, Jeff!! You and Marion compliment each other’s talents! You both do beautiful work and have a wonderful sense of humor!!

  29. Thanks Jeff!! It was not only entertaining but informative. Appreciate you naming the tools that ALMOST made the 3, as some of them were ones I was wondering about i.e. Kreg jig. Us wanna be fixers need to know the low down and a man’s perspective just in case our spouses are in on our fix it’s also.

  30. So lucky to have a husband that can do all these projects. I am the project girl in our house, but lack the tools and the know how to do these extensive projects. Way to go Jeff!!

  31. Jeff, my best tool is my husband just like Miriam. Loved this post and told my husband to go to my bloglist and click on MMM and read it.

  32. This was an excellent post!! Very well written and also very informative! Bravo and congratulations on embarking on a whole new and wonderful experience of sharing your giftedness on line!! Both of you! As your readers, we are all already the richer for it!! This is just one more reason to love this blog! You are always growing and evolving – so much fun here!

  33. Jeff, what a great post! The first is the hardest. Nice to see behind the scene. Thank you and Happy Father’s Day!

  34. Jeff can add language to the list of tools he’s adept with. I thoroughly enjoyed the behind the scenes look at the Mustard Seed process from another viewpoint. The best part of post for me was the humor–barbed wire slide into a pool of alcohol! Priceless!

  35. A great post! Wish my hubby was handy, I would have a long honey do list. Sadly, I have to learn how to use the power tools. I would much rather deligate this task. LOL. This post was really great to read.

  36. This was a great post thank you for sharing Jeff. I don’t have a table saw yet (I have to use my circular saw, chop saw or table scroll saw to cut my wood so you can imagine how difficult it is to get perfectly straight or 90 degree cuts) but am planning on buying one as soon as I save up my pennies. Can you please tell us what things to look for in a good table saw?

  37. Well written post Jeff! Thanks for the chuckle and the not so pleasant barb wire water slide visual. Only a real cool Dad would sit around a fabric stuffed campfire with his son and get right into the make believe warmth coming off of it – love it! Oh, and a How To Build Lumber Storage and Easy To Build Workbench post would be awesome *hint* *hint*.

  38. Oh man! Jeff’s a natural! He needs one day a week for his own post. We would also like to see how he set up the workshop. Diagrams please. How are you coming with looking for a new space? Replacing 28 by 35 ft could be hard.

  39. Marion, Jeff did a fabulous job on his first post. I think you have some serious competition in the blogging arena!

  40. Wat a great blog. Plus, I liked Jeff’s father’s comments, too. You are so luck to have a hubby that will do whatever you want him to do – especially that butcher block counter! You both sound like a great team. I’m so happy that I’ll be moving to the same “next of the woods” as you two. Hopefully, I can inspire my husband to do some of the stuff that your husband has done for you.

  41. Nice post!!!! My three top picks are the miter saw, the orbital sander, and my set of precision work pliers.

  42. That was awesome! I laughed out loud! Now I’m off to buy some clamps and to try and find the wood glue.

  43. I loved this post! So many things I have done in the past would not have happened without my husband having my back! We sold our table saw during a move and many jobs are difficult without it. Agree that a compound miter saw is the best…but come on Jeff..a clamp is in a similar class as glue. I demand a recount for number two…more power!

  44. Oh Jeff no! Don’t say anything about that dresser! *I had to stop reading to post this). I have that exact same dresser and I love it!!! My b-i-l brought it home for me when I was moving from my parents home, he found it at the dump. It was all covered with white, green and blue paint. I stripped it and it is one of my favorite pieces.

    OK, now I can go back and read the rest of the post. 😉

  45. Jeff, enjoyed reading your post. I agree with your selection of the top three must haves! My dad was a cabinet maker and taught me many things in his workshop! The smell of saw dust always brings him back to me with fond memories. Marion is very blessed to have you and so are your boys. Happy Fathers Day!

  46. I enjoyed reading Jeff’s perspective on the butcher block counter tops… and had to laugh! I remember Marian saying that it wasn’t that difficult, but then Jeff has to ponder whether to go down a barbed wire slide or do butcher block again! Too funny… and reminds me of what my husband’s perspective would be on some of my projects. What a hoot!!

    I look forward to more posts, Jeff! Bahahaha!!

  47. Jeff, you and Marian have the same sense of humor I think! That’s so important in a marriage. You make a great team, and I thought your first post was great. “Resuscitate the pig before Marian puts lipstick on it”…good one!

  48. Ha! I just told my husband he has to buy a table saw to go with the first two items he has. His response was like “You’re giving me the ok to buy tools?” Quite a devilish plan so thanks for the idea Jeff! Loved the article!

  49. I don’t comment often, but just had to say “Bravo Jeff!” on such a well written post. I loved the humor as well as the subject of the post. Keep them coming!

  50. I need a Jeff! I am single so all work is done by me. Sometimes I have to ask a girlfriend to help. I have to pass on a lot of pieces because I can’t do the repairs. Glad you have 1 but with my history w/men I’ll just keep passing on some pieces & the men! lol

  51. Did you have to wait until the day after I bought my Ikea butcher block counters to post this??! I love the edge on your counters and was wondering which router bit to use for it?? yes… I’m a glutton for punishment – and I love it!

    Thanks for a great post, my #1 tool is a circular saw and #2 is my compound miter saw and I couldn’t live without my drills.

    1. LOL….I think it was just the undermount sink that caused the headache. You would be all set with a drop-in or farm house sink. 🙂

  52. So, Marin, I’m guessing Jeff wasn’t a huge fan of working with those butcher block countertops? LOL! They turned out beautifully, so his exasperation was worth it!

    Great first post, Jeff! Love your sense of humor – “barbed wire waterslide into a pool of alcohol” – LOL! I’ll be stealing that from you and using it to describe things I’d rather avoid in future! Looking forward to more “posts by Jeff.”

  53. Love the analogy of the butcher block counters and the barbed wire water slide. Lol! Good catch Miriam…he’s a keeper!

  54. Love the post! Jeff is very witty.

    And I love that you both work together hand-in-hand to make beautiful things!

  55. I’ve never commented before, but have to say that it was a delightful post. You are both an inspiration. Thanks for sharing your wit and wisdom.

  56. I loved your post! You have a great sense of humor and quite a knack for writing. I read it out loud to my husband (he’s my contractor). You made him laugh out loud. Great job!

  57. Well done Jeff!!! That was a great post and I really enjoyed reading it and laughing at the things you “said”. Hope we hear more from you.

  58. I have a husband that can do anything also–more valuable than gold……take good care of him….

  59. Very nicely written post! I am in only my third month of being a dealer with a booth but have been dragging home weird things for years so my partner can relate. Sometimes he resists my never-ending demands but whenever I walk around our home and property I see so many things that he has fixed, installed, jimmy-rigged, and yes, rolled his eyes about. It truly takes a village! Look forward to more posts! Good chuckle over the lavender. All I ever noticed in the photos was the pretty purple lol.

  60. Terrific post Jeff! And thanks for the peek at one of my ALL TIME FAV pics of your tub surround. Perfection.
    I can see why you and Marian are such great partners based on your unifying qualities of perseverance and humor. It reminds me of a quote my husband and I love. It was prompted by a reporter asking Joanne Woodward what it is like to be married to a sex symbol:

    Sexiness wears thin after a while and beauty fades, but to be married to a man who makes you laugh every day, ah, now that’s a real treat.

    And if he knows his way around a table saw he’s a def keeper!

  61. Great analogies Jeff and awesome sense of humor but of course you have that as your wife is Miss Mustard Seed! Lol Looking forward to more posts from Jeff as he and my husband have a lot of humorous things to say about their wife’s “bargains” and “ideas”. It is good.

  62. I don’t often comment…even though I do love your way. I did have to say well done to your husband though! You two are an amazing team.

  63. Great to hear from you Jeff. I agree with others, we all could use a ‘Jeff’. My husband is wonderful, but handyman he is not. He is a great cheerleader for my projects though. Love your wonderful family.

  64. Jeff,
    Great post. My list is tablesaw, nailer, and miter saw. The other tools are supporting players.

    The thing I wondered is does your wife wonder why your projects don’t get done sooner. Mine doesn’t understand the 3 hours of contemplation to work out details.

    Enjoyed this article and looking forward to more.


    1. Ha, I do the contemplation thing, too…I’d say if she doesn’t get it, ask her to build something herself. Maybe it’ll click for her then.

    2. Rick, we do need our contemplation time, don’t we? I didn’t tell her about the three hour think session until after it had happened. So she just laughed at me. Fortunately, my plan worked and it turned out just fine. I think what may be hard for them to understand is that it’s not simply a coat of paint that you can remove and re-do. It’s a massive slab of thick counter top and if I don’t get it right the first time, that’s money down the drain (no pun intended).


  65. Oh, Jeff definitely needs to contribute more posts – he’s obviously super skilled, not to mention hilarious! Loved reading the behind-the-scenes descriptions, and I know my husband would identify with pretty much all of it.

  66. I do exactly the same thing with spending 3 hours THINKING about it before the 3 hours to actually do it! My husband says it’s probably good, probably saves the time and frustration of making mistakes later on. I think he’s being kind.

    And I totally agree on 1 and 2…but I didn’t get my table saw until the tail end of my most recent project, and while it’s very very useful for the narrow rips, I was getting pretty darn square and accurate cuts with my trusty circular saw. I’ve built a good bit with that little darling including one lower and 3 upper kitchen cabinets (and the inset frame and panel doors to go with them) – [dusts off shoulders]. So I’d have to say the Kreg takes tops in my book over the table saw. If you don’t count the circular saw. Which, I don’t know, should I?

    Anyway, props to Jeff on a great post! I like the nuts and bolts side of things and would love to hear more!

  67. LOVED that Jeff wrote a post, Marian! I really liked hearing his perspective and he has a great sense of humor. It would be great to see him post sometimes about furniture repairs. I’m just getting started on my dream business (loved your e-course, Building a Creatively Made Business!) and my husband is very handy like yours and I hope he will be a big part of it (although he doesn’t know that yet!). 🙂

  68. I really enjoyed this post from Mr Mustard Seed 😉 and hope that he does many more. He has so much to offer from a different perspective. I look forward to his next post. Your beautiful family gives you so much help and encouragement and they are truly a treasure.

  69. Great post. Good job stepping up and sharing with us. I really love the way you both work together. I didn’t realize that so much before. You are doing great and fun stuff. I am looking
    forward to more posts.

  70. What a great post, Jeff! Like everyone else who posted, I love your wit & humor. It’s wonderful (& so helpful) to read about your role in this partnership: so loving, talent galore, & a terrific sense of humor so important in marriages. I’m very jealous of your workshop; I’ve been wanting my own for years, but we just don’t have the space. I do my refinishing work either outdoors, in my small studio, or in the kitchen. Waiting for the weather to cooperate so I can use my portable table saw, circular saw, sander, etc. got old really fast. Having to drape drop cloths in the kitchen isn’t much fun, nor is trying to keep the dogs from stepping in dripped paint or removing dog hair from freshly painted/stained surfaces. Saving up so I can build my dream workshop on the property (ugh, permits) without the use of an architect (can’t afford, wishing I could). In the meantime, I’m doing my research so the small building will be safe, well-built, up to code, etc. Hey, wanna come build it for me in all your spare time????
    Keep it coming, Jeff. There’s much to learn from you & you’re a great writer. Can’t wait for your next post!
    Oh, favorite tools of what I have (not nearly as much as I need/want): portable table saw, jig saw, & a very old, beautiful, extremely well-made hand planer I found at a yard sale for a couple of bucks (they just don’t make ’em like they used to; old tools are my weakness).

  71. Love that your husband wrote his own post, Marian. WTG, Jeff! I hope you become a regular contributor. I’d love to hear more about the behind-the-scenes. My husband does all the cleaning/carrying/hauling/repairing for my stuff, too. I’ll have to ask him what his favorite tools are. My favorite is my measuring tape – maybe it doesn’t count as a “tool,” but I love it (I have multiples and I still misplace them!).

  72. I love this post! I always think it’s funny to hear what the “other half” thinks of these projects. I would LOVE to see a picture of the out feed for his table saw. I could see some of it in a picture above, but I would like to see a more wide-scale pic of it. Maybe on instagram???

  73. Nice to have Jeff’s prospective on MMS and hear of his contributions, talents and thoughts. I really enjoyed the post. What a great team you make!

  74. I don’t do the bulk of the work, but I am my Prince Charming’s right hand (wo)man, and I am his ONLY help for our projects. At home or with anything. We bought a trac-saw about 3 years ago. OMGoodness! this thing is the bees-knees buddy! It takes a circular saw to a new level. And no following a chalk line or pencil line & forget about blowing the sawdust off in front of the circular saw to see the line. This jobbie is clamped on your wood, on your mark, and then you just slap the saw oninto the tracks & let her rip! Literally. It could even be used by one person while cutting a whole sheet of plywood (if set up properly). Well worth the investment. We bought a DeWalt & I think it was around $1400 – includes the saw. I cut every single peice of plywood that went up on a roof. Him on the roof, me on the gound. I can’t muscle a whole sheet up a ladder – so we clamped some vice grips to the plywood & after i cut it to size, he hoisted it up the ladder by the rope threaded thru the vice grips. I highly recommend a trac-saw. I love it nearly as much as the cordless impact drill.

    Sam in Middle TN

  75. What a great post! How wonderful for you two to enjoy working together, having such great senses of humor, work ethic, vision for your business, parenting skills & Christian values! Blessings to you and your family in all you do! Your blog is my favorite!

  76. Great FIRST post, Keep them coming! I am a lucky gal with a husband who can do almost anything. But, now that we are approaching retirement, I have to seriously curb the impulse to rescue any more furniture!

  77. I had to read this one out loud to my hubby! What a hoot about the wooden counter top. I want one so bad, mostly because I abuse kitchen surfaces because I use them as work places for just about everything I have to get done in the home, never mind the normal uses, and I just think that, if I mess up a wooden counter top, I can just sand it out, repoly, etc. My husband thinks I need a cement counter top!

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