Category Archives: Household

Tired of Your Washer & Dryer? Try This!

I’m here today with another DIY project for the home; specifically for your washer and dryer. If you’re anything like me you own these:

And not these:

Not because ^these^ aren’t stunningly beautiful and work wonderfully, but because I’m cheap and don’t want to pay $1500 per machine! I’ll take my $700 set thank you very much.


As much as I love to save money there is the unfortunate side effect of affordable products often being a bit blasé. Such is the case of my washer/dryer combo. They work wonderfully, we are happy with what we paid for them, their longevity has been great, but when I look at them…meh.

White.

Boring.

As we were going through our home renovation last August, I remembered I’d seen a photo on Pinterest (of course, where else?!) of someone putting vinyl decals on their washer and dryer. I jumped on the idea because as my laundry room was pulling together, we decided to put my sewing desk and craft supplies in there as well, so it was quickly becoming my little work haven. And if I’m going to be working in a space a lot, it better be pretty!


On one of my many trips to Hobby Lobby I found these decals on a 50% off sale. I snatched them up, ran home, and turned my blasé washer and dryer into something fun and colorful and girly. It almost makes me like doing laundry!

Almost. Let’s not get too carried away.


If you’re looking for a good slap-and-go option I’d go with the polka dots. The chevron pattern was a bit tricky to get level and to line everything up correctly. I did many a redo when I realized my line was off. The end result though was totally worth it and I love walking into my laundry room and having some brightness to greet me.

I hope you enjoyed this quick little DIY inspiration and I’ll see you again soon with my next post!

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Our $2000 Kitchen Renovation

Our $2000

I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but if you’re new to my blog (Welcome!) my husband and I purchased our little fixer upper home last August and renovated it from top to bottom. We poured our hearts and souls (and savings account) into the work and we have created our own cozy little home sweet home.

Today I wanted to share with you our kitchen renovation before and after pictures as well as the cost of the materials needed for the reno. For me, the kitchen is truly the heart of the home so I was so excited to create the kitchen of my dreams! We were on a tight budget so that “dream kitchen”, you know, the one that evokes Pinterest-worthy million dollar kitchen pictures, really came down to making it look like a million dollar space on a shoe-string budget. Unfortunately I’ve got a case of champagne taste on a beer budget, but my husband and I worked diligently together to find what we needed and, most importantly, to try and find it at a killer discount! I’ll share with you some of my budget savvy tips on how we renovated our kitchen for just $2000.

Before and After Shots

This is what we started with. It was a pretty typical early 1980’s kitchen, and no your eyes are not deceiving you, that is carpet…in the kitchen…

Here’s the view from the kitchen to the other side. The moment I saw that alcove on our house tour I envisioned a built-in bench with a tile accent wall which would incorporate an odd looking space into something functional and eye catching at the same time.

Here are the results:

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I am so in love with our kitchen! It took a lot of hard work, a lot of arguments over what to buy and things we had to return to stick to our budget, but all of it is truly worth it when I stand in here and look around and know that we did it!

Price Breakdown

  • Paint: $145.00 (estimated as we bought white and grey paint in bulk 5 gallon containers)
  • Counter tops: $479.00
  • Vent Hood: $175.00
  • Backsplash Tile: $257.69
  • Eating Nook Tile: $74.82
  • Flooring: $430.92
  • Hardware: $79.70
  • Faucet: $98.00
  • Lighting: $171.91

Total: $1912.04

The total is probably closer to $2000 with the odds and ends you constantly have to go purchase, like painting tools, plumbers putty, lightbulbs, etc., etc. You know, all the random crap you didn’t know to budget for!

Our biggest savings scores were found at Surplus Warehouse, and I cannot recommend shopping there enough if you are going through a renovation or need anything household related. They hands down beat Lowe’s and Home Depot on just about every product they have. We got our counter tops at a deep discount because they were returned items that were still in pristine condition. The $479.00 includes (3) 12′ sections, one 8′ bar top, and the end caps to finish off the look. (Part of the counters were used in the guest bathroom, so there’s some additional savings right there!)

I also got my vent hood, which took a little convincing* on my husbands part, at Surplus Warehouse at a hefty discount! Comparable models at Lowe’s and Home Depot run around $400-$450…Oh heck no!

*Ok, confession time, I just bought it because we kept arguing about it and couldn’t come to a consensus, but I just knew that it would be a beautiful focal point in the kitchen…Whew. I’m glad that’s off my chest. He truly did love it after we got it installed and said he was glad I purchased it, because it truly does open up that space. I just hated those dinky little cabinets above the stove that served hardly any purpose!

Here are links to all the products that were used in our renovation:

Keep reading on for some in-progress photos and some more tips on how I saved money on our project. I had so much fun looking through these photos! It’s amazing to look at the after photos and know that we did 100% of the work ourselves!

Here’s my father-in-law who was basically our spray paint gun guru for the entirety of the renovation. He sprayed all the trim in the house, which took 2-3 coats.

I got in on the spray action a bit painting the wood paneling. We didn’t have to worry too much about making a mess painting because we were painting the cabinets and replacing the flooring anyway. That really sped up our prep time, which is just about the worst part of any painting project.

I don’t know how many times I caught my mom cleaning off the counters when we were just going to rip them off anyways!

Here Tyler and Noel (his dad), were making way for the brand new range hood by ripping out the tiny useless cabinets up there.

My mom and I took turns between sanding the old hardware to prep it for a fresh coat of spray paint and spray painting the kitchen cabinets, which took about 4 coats to get a good even color.

Instead of buying new cabinet hardware, we sanded and spray painted the pieces to make them look like new. It only cost us in elbow grease and a little spray paint. Purchasing this new would have run around $290.00, not including screws!

We even spray painted the screws because my mom and I are so Type A that we couldn’t stand for the screws to be brassy gold. We finally figured out you could push each screw into the cardboard to hold it upright so we could spray paint it easier.

Another way we saved money throughout the house was saving the fans that were still in good working order and updated them. I disassembled the fan for the dining area and spray painted the blades, front and back. Then, I sanded the metal parts of the fan and spray painted them with Rustoleum Satin Nickel spray paint.

I replaced the outdated globes with some more modern square shaped ones. All of this really updated the look of the fan and saved us around $100 per fan!

After the cabinets were painted we finally got to get rid of that awful carpet.

Laying down the water barrier in preparation for the laminate flooring.

Dad was teaching me the ropes on installing laminate flooring.

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I decided to paint the interior of the upper cabinets in this blue I had leftover from painting the bathrooms. I thought it added a pretty pop of color and personality! Doesn’t the kitchen already look so much brighter?

Here’s our resident spray painter back in action on the cabinet doors. They were a real chore!

Lighting is installed now as well as cabinet doors and some of the hardware.


I think this was one of the most exciting parts for me! Removing the old counters to get ready for the new! I really wanted to get granite counters but it was just not nearly in our budget. I estimated the more inexpensive granite counters to be around $1500-$2000 for our kitchen. Yikes!

I was disappointed for awhile as I had always pictured granite counters in my dream kitchen, but it actually worked out for the better. It didn’t make sense from a realty point of view to put in granite counters in our neighborhood. We bought our home in a startup neighborhood, so we would have priced ourselves out of the average cost of the homes in our area once we get ready to sell.

The counter was already at a 45° mitered angle, so that was one less cut we had to make. We laid the counter on to get a good measurement.

Then Noel and Tyler cut it down to length using a Skilsaw.

After applying a layer of adhesive it was time to install the counters!

Tyler is using the jigsaw to do the sink cutout now.

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Remember that island in the middle of the kitchen before? We decided that having an island was too cumbersome for a kitchen that size, so we screwed some plywood to the bottom, added casters, and made it a bar!

This is the eating nook bench in progress. Tyler had to do the wiring for the sconces, because there was none there before. All my time of making fun of him for doing arduino projects bit me in the butt! It’s awesome that he knows the basics of electrical wiring!

Tyler came up with the design on this bench on his own. I was just the catalyst for the basic idea.

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We installed piano hinges so that there was additional storage under the bench. Almost all the supplies used for the bench were salvaged from debris around the house.

It’s really getting there now. We used beadboard for the back of the bench.

Installing the backsplash.

Almost finished up on the backsplash. This is my old stove pictured above. Unfortunately, a gas stove was just not in the budget at this point. I was heartbroken because one of the big reasons we chose this place was that it already had gas hook ups. My parents ended up surprising me with my dream stove!

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A five burner gas top stove with a griddle!

 

I hope you enjoyed walking through my kitchen renovation journey along with me and I hope you got some useful tips too! We had an absolute blast renovating our home. Don’t get me wrong, it was grueling with many long nights, short tempers, and a huge financial obligation but it was all completely worth it. I would do it again in a heart beat! Have a great weekend y’all!

Organizational Hack: Over-The-Door Shoe Organizer Reimagined


I love finding multipurpose items that can fulfill a plethora of household duties. The common over-the-door shoe organizer is one such multipurpose wonder!


Please pardon my unfinished door frame painting job that you might have never noticed had I not felt compelled to point it out in my shame and embarrassment. I’ll finish it one day. (That’s what I keep telling myself) The shoe organizer is great for storing pretty much all of my household cleaners. I keep it in the laundry room where the littles don’t go as much and it is so much nicer to be able to grab and easily see what I need without having to dig around under the kitchen sink constantly.


It’s also great for storing wrapping paper! Here’s a little factual nugget for you: I’m a bit of a wrapping paper junkie. I don’t have much here because I used most of it for Christmas last year. Fortunately/Unfortunately (depending on who you’re asking) I will need to buy more for Christmas this year! Fortunately for me and unfortunately for my husband when I am trying to talk myself into buying 10 rolls for no apparent reason. I have no siblings and Tyler has one brother. I really can’t justify the amount of wrapping paper I usually purchase every year….But I need it. How’s that for twisted logic?!

I found so many other cool uses on Pinterest for the common shoe organizer. The sheer creativity of some people astounds me! I love to scroll on Pinterest and see what each person’s mind came up with for the exact same product. Type in “over the door shoe organizer” and you’ll find a whole score of cool ideas! My favorites were the stuffed animal storage, this pocket garden,  and storing office supplies.

I hope you find a fun and creative way to use a shoe organizer in your household. Have a wonderful weekend y’all!

DIY Dryer Sheets/Fabric Softener

Does anyone else feel like they’re throwing money into the dryer every time they use a dryer sheet? I used to use them several times until all the smell-good, anti-static goodness was all but wrung out of them. I just hate spending money on things like this, where it’s almost a one-and-done and then you throw them away. And I love fabric softener but the fact that I have to remember to put it in part way through a washing cycle…well…ain’t nobody got time for that! Actually, I’m just way too forgetful.

My mom actually discovered this recipe that is a replacement for dryer sheets and fabric softener! Let’s just take a moment and thank her… Now I will never again have to buy those silly dryer sheets or curse myself for forgetting, yet again, to add fabric softener to a load of clothes. And what’s better than a DIY that helps replace 2 household items all in one? This recipe is beyond simple and inexpensive and I will never go back to dryer sheets again!

Dryer Sheets/Fabric Softener Recipe

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup fabric softener
  • dish sponges
  • 32 oz container

Begin by cutting sponges in half lengthwise.

Pour water and fabric softener into container and stir together. I’m glad storing things in mason jars is so trendy right now. I have so many in my house from canning so they’re always my go-to storage vessel!

Add sponges to mixture.

Wring out a sponge slightly and add to dryer. Enjoy your static free and wonderfully soft clothes!

Monthly Menu and Food Shopathon: July

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Oh boy. There’s nothing quite like shopping for groceries in the dead of Texas summer. It wasn’t 100 degrees though…just 97 degrees…I guess that’s better? The girls and I managed to make it through the day without having a heat stroke and zero meltdowns surprisingly!

We also got to make it over to the Silos and get a few cupcakes from the Magnolia Bakery, which was so fun!

Izzy was very excited to get cupcakes, while Lailah was passed out on my shoulder sweatin’ like a little pig. Sad news though…I yet again didn’t get to meet Chip and Jo…I know. It’s the worst!

I was able to do a lot of “shopping” at home with food I’ve had accumulating in the freezer and pantry, so I anticipated the grocery bill being a bit lighter this month. Is it just me or does the heat make you not want to cook as much either? I kept staring at my notepad thinking of recipes to cook and tried to see how little I could get away with for this month. Here is what I came up with for the month of July:

Chicken

Beef

  • Meatloaf
  • Sweet and Spicy Edamame Beef Stir Fry*

Pork

  • Zatarain’s Jambalaya
  • Pork Chops with Roasted Vegetables*
  • Grilled Sausage
  • Crock Pot Pork Carnitas

Fish

I spent $131.80 at Aldi’s and $59.81 at Wal-Mart for a total of $191.61.

So far so good on the budget. I am constantly having to go get more bananas and strawberries which sometimes leads to gummy worms if I’m not too careful, but we’ll see how it goes! Have an amazing week!

 

 

 

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State of the Grocery Budget: June

Here’s how last month’s menu and grocery budget went down:

  • June Grocery Budget: $350
  • Amount Spent on First Trip: $283.85
  • End of Month Total: $368.16
  • Overage: $18.16

Here’s my rating of the meals overall:

Outstanding

Really Good

  • Honey Chile Chicken
  • Chipotle Salmon Patties (Aldi’s pre made)
  • Homemade Hamburger Helper
  • Grilled Pork Chops

Didn’t Make It

  • Panda Express Copycat Black Pepper Chicken
  • Cajun Chicken and Rice
  • Chicken Gyro Bowls (one of the ingredients proved too hard to find)
  • Glazed Beef Skewers (one of the ingredients proved too hard to find)
  • Hamburgers
  • Blackened Salmon
  • Easy Lemon and Garlic Tilapia Bake
  • Buffalo Quinoa Burgers

We ended up eating out a lot last month due to a lot of traveling and just general busyness. I couldn’t believe the month of June was already over! I feel like I haven’t slowed down in weeks! A few of these meals didn’t get cooked because the BBQ Pork ended up feeding us for nearly two weeks until I got sick of it and threw it in the freezer. It’s so dang good! If you only try one of these recipes try that one! I usually can’t eat the same leftovers more than 2 days in a row, but I gobbled this stuff down every day!

I hope y’all are having an amazing week! I will talk to you soon!

Teaching Responsibility: Chores For My 2 Yr Old & 4 Yr Old


I grew up in my family business; a marina with a hotel, RV park, bait shop, and short order grill. My parents opened it when I was 2 1/2 and owned and operated it for over 20 years. I grew up in a unique situation where I was with my parents almost 24/7 until I went to school. In the middle of my eighth grade year we began homeschooling, so I quite literally was home 24/7.

When I was 11 my mom had me go with her to the hotel and help clean rooms. She didn’t have me do too much, mainly fetching towels, taking out trash and dusting. They also started teaching me to take orders at the store and run the register, among other little tasks. At this time they opened a checking and savings account for me and began to pay me a salary to work at the store and the hotel. When I was 13 and homeschooled full time, they put me in charge of the hotel on the weekends. By the way, I wanted to be homeschooled. This wasn’t some child labor scheme my parents dreamed up one night! 

I was working at the store on Fridays while also doing my school work for the day, and then I worked between the hotel and the store on Saturday and Sunday. Sometimes if we couldn’t hire another worker, it was just me and 15 rooms to clean all by myself. It was a lot of responsibility for a teenager, and sometimes I loathed the very ground that the business was built upon, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I was tasked with responsibility and earning my own money at a very young age and these expectations and responsibilities really shaped who I became as an adult. My parents taught me to work hard and taught me to be fiscally responsible.

I realize these are very unique circumstances and that not everyone owns their own business and can have their kids work there with them, but it was invaluable for me. When I had my own children, I began to wonder how I could nurture them the way my parents had me, because with the career path my husband is on, I don’t know if we’ll have our own business when my kids are teenagers. I still want to instill a great work ethic in them and teach them to have responsibilities and I want to push them to do their best at whatever they do and to take pride in their work the way I did in mine when I began working.

I realized that I would have to be creative being at home and not working and I didn’t want to wait until they were older. It all started quite accidentally because one day I got frustrated by my tiny 3 year old dictator yelling at me asking for juice and expecting me to go to her and get her cup. I told her (Izzy) to bring her cup to me. Or as in the words of my parents: “Your legs ain’t broke. Bring me your cup!” It all comes full circle y’all. I laugh when I realize I’ve said something to my kids that my parents did to me.

I started having Izzy bring me her cup, and then I began having her put her dishes in the sink after she was done eating. Next, I got tired of picking up their gummy wrappers all over the place, so I began to have Izzy throw away her garbage when she was done with it. Of course the toy room becomes disastrously dirty in a hot minute, so when it became so unbearably bad that I couldn’t stand to look at it, I had Izzy and Lailah start helping me put things up. Lailah turned 2 in April, but she understands a lot more than I realized at first. I had her helping me put toys back into bins one at a time, which she still thinks is a fun game. I have to work on her not tipping everything immediately back out so we can “clean” again.

Pretty much new chores are born from my frustrations over housework and dictatorial demands of tiny toddlers. Here are some of the things I have Izzy (4 years) do:

  • Clean up toys
  • Put dirty dishes in the sink
  • Flush the toilet (yes, she has to be reminded constantly)
  • Make her bed
  • Put books back on the bookshelf
  • Throw trash away
  • Take off her pull up in the morning and put on a pair of panties
  • Put dirty clothes in the hamper


Here are some of the things I have Lailah (2 years) help with:

  • Throw trash away
  • Put books back on the bookshelf
  • Clean up toys
  • Put dirty clothes in the hamper


It’s not a whole lot, but it really does help with my everyday housework. Lailah still has to be guided and reminded to do a lot of these, but that’s pretty expected since she is 2.


Izzy has become very good at remembering to do most of these things on her own without my having to remind her constantly. These aren’t things that I get mad at them or frustrated if they forget. They are young children and their first order of business is to play and have fun. I get that. At the same time though I want to start creating expectations of them and I always praise them lavishly when they help Mommy out by doing any of the things I listed above. This is my way of creating responsibility in my youngsters and I will keep finding new ways to do so as they grow older.

I hope you found this helpful! Have a wonderful day!

 

Before and After: Living Room Renovation

Renovations. It’s a simple word that can have volatile effects on people. There are those of us who relish a good renovation project (Fixer Upper fans??? Anybody?) and then there are those who want to scream and crawl under a rock rather than face a renovation. I’m in the former category, and that was what my husband and I were searching for as we looked for a home to purchase. We had saved up a decent chunk of change and decided to find a home with good bones that needed some new life breathed into it.

We are major do-it-yourselfers and love the challenge of learning something new! Let me tell you, buying a fixer upper home is a great crash course for the avid DIYer like us. We left no room untouched and no wall unpainted. Mysteriously Tyler was always busy with some all important project when the painting had to be done…Interesting.

I’m here today to walk you through a little tour of our living room renovation. The living room is so important to me, because it is the first thing people see when they walk into your home. I really sought to create a warm, inviting, and clean environment that made people feel comfortable, not like they were in a sterile environment where you might get shot if you dropped a single crumb on the rug. I’ve got two kids so I can’t be too fussed with worrying about stains and spills. It comes with the territory y’all. Here are some of the before shots:

Living Room: Before

Living Room: Before

Living Room: Before

This house was built in 1982 and was a single owner home that hadn’t been touched since it was constructed, as you can see from the carpet patterns. Need I say more? I loved how much natural light the large window let in, so I could see the potential in here.

Living Room: In progress

The first thing we did once we purchased our home was scrape the popcorn ceilings. We left the carpet down for this and painting, so we could just roll up the mess and toss it out once we were finished. My shoulders were killing me from all the scraping. Every single room people! That’s a lot of popcorn, and not the buttery good kind. Then we went in and painted the ceilings; another good shoulder workout. You can see how dingy the “white” on the walls is compared to the fresh paint on the ceiling.

Note: Just in case anyone was worried about it we kept the kiddos out of the house while we were scraping the ceilings, just for safety over what they could have breathed in.

Lailah was almost 18 months here. Nostalgia is really hitting me looking at how tiny she is in these pictures! During the renovation, we sequestered the girls into their soon-to-be bedroom with various toys and the ever important babysitter for when you’ve got serious business to attend to: TV. It’s free and endlessly entertaining. I thought Lailah was going to go blind though from standing so close to it. We couldn’t get her to stop! We also had a baby gate up so they couldn’t run out and get into trouble.

Of course no renovation is complete without a wee tiny tot to help out! My mother-in-law gave her a paint brush and a cup of water so Izzy could help us “paint”. It was a brilliant move because Izzy was and still is at that stage where nothing would please her more than to know she’s helping.

Lailah didn’t always have her face glued to the TV screen. She would venture out to see what we were doing sometimes as long as we deemed it safe for her to do so. Their Wyna, what they call their grandma, volunteered so much and was so abundantly helpful while we were working on the house. I am still so grateful for how much she helped out! She took them to the park when they got bored and went on walks, and just kept them entertained while we worked hard to finish up the renovations so we could move in quickly.

Living Room: In progress

 

I made the east wall of the living room, which is the one you see upon entering the house, a focal point by painting stripes on it. Once we had selected a paint color I purchased the same color of gray in a flat finish, and alternated between flat and semi-gloss to create a two-toned stripe effect. The hardest part of this was measuring and getting my lines exactly straight up and down and making sure the tape was just as straight. Most of our work really consisted of prep work, which is the worst but it is the most important step to achieving good results.

After we finished painting, we stripped up the carpet and discarded it. The amount of dirt under that 33 year old carpet absolutely disgusted and appalled me! It was unreal! At this point my parents had come down to help us for four days. In the pictures above my dad was pulling up the carpet tack strips and Izzy was helping shop vac up some of the dust. Our allergies were going crazy from all the dust flying around!

Here my dad is taping down the water barrier in preparation for the laminate flooring we were going to put in.

This is the only picture I had of the flooring being installed in the hall and living room. I had to run errands the rest of the day and once I got back, Tyler and my dad had the hall and the whole living room done! They were bookin’ it! We thought we were working hard before my parents got there, but they had us working from about 7 a.m. to 7 or 8 at night. We pushed them out the door after they were ready to go home because we were so tired! My dad still jokes about us being glad to see them go after their work sojourn with us.

We would not have been able to move so quickly without them there to help us though! Their expertise was invaluable as my dad has built several homes himself, and now that they sold their marina, my mom works with him. They are tireless folks! I can’t keep up with them sometimes! I really need to get my butt in gear.


The hallway looking to the living room.

Now it’s ready for decorations! This was my second rug choice. I had to ship the first one back, because I wasn’t happy with the texture of it. I am so glad I went with this rug. I love the shape of it. I got it at overstock.com here on a really killer sale.

Here are pictures of our finished, lived-in product:

I love the pride that comes from having your hands on almost every aspect of a project. It is so satisfying looking around and knowing that we did this and poured our hearts out in making this house into a home for ourselves.

I will periodically share more pictures and stories of different rooms in our home and our journey from taking it from drab and out-dated to our own specially design inspiration.

Enjoy!