Author Archives: Melissa

About Melissa

Hi! I'm Melissa. wife. momma. writer. dreamer. DIYer. Thanks for reading!

Why I Decided to Try Stitch Fix…Again

Hey friends, I’m back with a little update on my Stitch Fix experiment. For the first post I wrote on the mail styling service, click HERE.

As a refresher, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the service, Stitch Fix charges you a $20 styling fee and then sends five pieces in each box for you to review and choose your favorites. The $20 styling fee is credited to your account if you purchase any of the items from your box, so you aren’t “out” any money for the service itself…unless you don’t buy any of the items. Make sense?

stitch fix

However, right now, if you want to try Stitch Fix, you can get a $25 credit applied to your account if you order your first fix between now and February 21, which means you can try it FOR FREE! CLICK HERE. If you remember, that’s how I joined (and got $25 off my favorite pair of jeans….). So, hurry and get your free trial now!

I got a few other boxes after that first fix, but didn’t have as much luck with them. One had clothes that were all a little too dressy. Another had a pair of jeans I liked but that was too big…basically, it was fun, but if I wasn’t finding clothes I wanted, I decided to stop paying the $20 styling fee and didn’t order any fixes for awhile. Then, I got an email saying they’d waive my next styling fee if I tried again…so I did. And this is the fix I got.

I actually haven’t checked out yet so you all can help me out by giving some feedback.

Item 1: Yasmin V-Neck Blouse $48.00

stitch fix blouse

Spoilers, but this just isn’t for me. It’s boxy and big, but too short. (When I raise my arms, my stomach shows.) Plus, I don’t like the fabric. The pattern and color also weren’t my favorite. All in all, not very flattering.

Wyatt’s take: “Yea, it’s kinda weird and big.”

Status: I’ll be returning this.

Item 2: Chaplin Lined Hooded Anorak Jacket – $94

stitch fix coat

I liked this as soon as I saw it. And I liked it more when I tried it on. It feels great. I really like the sleeve length, the lining is so soft (and cute with those stripes), and the weight is perfect for spring or fall. Or this weird early/fake spring weather we’re having right now. Plus, it has a hood. A perk for rainy days.

I wish it was a TAD longer and a TAD slimmer, but other than that, no complaints on the style or fit really.

I had made up my mind to keep it if it was less than $60, and to seriously consider it if it was less than $80….but it’s $94, so I’m trying to decide. On the one hand, I think I could find something similar for less. On the other hand, I barely have time for grocery shopping these days, much less hunting down a specific jacket.

Wyatt take: I like it. Fits you well. I bet you’d wear it a lot.

Status…Maybe keeping

Item 3: Gisella Hammered Fan Necklace – $38.00


Item 4: Abrianna Longsleeve Knit Cardigan – $38.00

stitch fix cardigan and necklace

To be honest, I wrote the necklace off as soon as I saw it in the box. It was cute and fits my current gold obsession, but…$40 for a necklace I might wear a few times doesn’t work for our lifestyle. I would have had to really love this. And I didn’t. It was a nice length though.

The cardigan on the other hand, I think is actually nice. It fits well and I like the flowy front…but, I’m not sure on the color. It’s nice because it’s different from other things I have, but I’m still undecided.

Wyatt’s take: “It good if you like it.”

Status: I’ll be returning the necklace, still deciding on the sweater. Maybe.

Item 5: Kate Boyfriend Jean – $88.00

stitch fix jeans

I’d specifically asked for boyfriend jeans with no holes, so these do fit that requirement. My last fix had a similar pair I liked but that were too big, so this time, my stylist sized down…and these are still a bit too big in the waist, though the legs fit fine. They felt good and I do like them, but I’m trying to decide if they are EXACTLY the pair I want…and I’m just not sure yet. I need to put them on again and try walking around the house in them I think.

Wyatt’s take: They seem to fit okay. (I show him the gap at the top.) Oh, well, yea. I still think they’re okay. You can try on my jeans if you want real boyfriend jeans. (He’s so helpful.)

Status: Maybe keeping

So, thoughts on what I should keep or send back? Thoughts on Stitch Fix as a service? 

Want to try it for yourself? Use MY REFERRAL LINK to get $25 off your first fix (that covers your styling fee and goes towards a purchase!) if you order before February 21. Hurry! And don’t forget to leave time to fill our your style profile. I just went through and changed some of my answers as apparently my style has changed over the past few month.

Oh, and they also have men’s clothes now–and they are launching a plus size line this spring! Remember, you don’t have to sign up for recurring fixes (I order mine on demand) so I don’t have to worry about forgetting to cancel if I want to stop.


*this post includes my Stitch Fix affiliate link. So, if you plan to order a box, I’d love if you do so through my links above. Thanks!

Outlet Updates – Finally, Some Basement Progress!

Well, friends. We’re still battling the winter sickies over here. Whether it’s Wyatt and Will, I feel like my boys and I have been taking turns with colds and flu bugs since October. Plus, that means that our work productivity has been down and we’re behind on some big projects….and that means the home projects have been pushed to the back burner.

But, we’ve managed to get a few things done on the weekends and we’re now ready to paint!

So far, we have repaired the ceiling and removed the popcorn and repainted. Technically, we hired someone to do that, but it’s still done, so I’m counting it as progress.. You can read about what we learned through that process, HERE.

basement ceiling painted repaired

We also got all the trim painted (finally)! I started this process last year when we replaced the door, but still had two interior door frames to paint (inside and out) as well as touchups and final coats on the two windows and other two doors. But now the trim is all done.

Basement trim painted

We also removed the baseboard trim (we don’t have time or energy or patience to paint baseboard trim when there’s carpet involved) so we’ll be replacing that with new trim, like we did upstairs.

Also, perhaps the biggest update to talk about is adding a few more electrical outlets up so they’ll be accessible on top of the cabinets once they are installed. We’re putting built in base cabinets all along the north wall of the basement and it’s illegal to abandon junctions in walls (or behind cabinets I assume, since these will be permanent) so we either would have needed to cap them off, or cut holes in the cabinets so they will be accessible.

Basement cabinet order

We were going to cap them at first, but decided we might want to plug in some TV-related consoles and such, so we went ahead and left the lower outlets and we’ll cut holes in the cabinets to make them accessible.

Plus, we made sure to do some pre-planning about where the TV will go on the wall so the outlet would be in the perfect place to plug it in. That involved tracing the TV outline out on the wall, and even doing a little room arrangement plans to make sure that would work with furniture and room flow.

Basement Outlet Update done

We also had to move the outlet on the end out a few inches, because it would have been cut in half by the cabinets, which wouldn’t work at all. To do that, Wyatt had to cut a hole in the drywall to run the wires to the new location (the other side of the stud).

Basement Outlet Update Stud

The stud was actually turned sideways in the wall because of the concrete behind it, so he just added an extra piece of wood to screw in the drywall patch.

Basement Outlet Update Stud addition

Then, he screwed in the drywall.

Basement Outlet Update drywall

He also had to mud it, sand it, mud it again, and finally sand it smooth.

Basement Outlet Update mud

So, we’re officially ready to paint, assuming we can get a final paint color narrowed down. Did I mention we’re going with white? I want a bright, fresh look since it’s a basement that can be pretty dark and shadowy, even with pretty good natural light.

Basement Outlet Update

But, I’m a little nervous to choose a white paint and then get it on the walls only to discover it’s actually gray or beige, or yellow. Plus, I’m worried if I pick the wrong color, it will make the walls look stark or the carpets look like dirty beige (dirtier than they already look–they’re clean, I promise, we’ve had them shampooed.)

White paint swatches

Yea, Wyatt thinks I’m crazy, but these actually do have subtle differences. I’ve decided I think, though. Now to figure out how many gallons we’re going to need for this room and get it bought. Then finding time to paint it.

Oh, and Will is already super helpful during all of these projects, as you can imagine. He helps us find all the trash that is within a choke-able size and likes to play with dangerous tools! Ha!

Will during basement remodel

What is your thought on white paint? Boring? Crazy? Already played out? Have any color choice recommendations for us?

Basement Drywall Repair: What We Learned About Hiring a Contractor

So, I wanted to share a little update on the basement to keep you all up to speed about that project, and to share a little bit about what we learned with hiring out the drywall repair to a professional.

The short version of the story is that yes, we would consider hiring out portions of our remodeling projects again…but, I’m not sure we’d do it in the same way.

For starters, it was really great to get the project done in only about a week’s time. I mean, if we had scraped the popcorn ceilings, removed and replaced the water damaged drywall, patched, mudded, sanded, primed, and painted that whole ceiling, it might have taken us a month. Not a month of constant work, of course, but when you factor in our real jobs, our toddler, being sick, the holidays…it’s likely we would still be working on it, to be completely honest. And this way, it was done in a little over a week. (It was still months after the damage, but once the repairs started, it was fast.) Thank goodness.

basement ceiling painted repaired (2)

So, in that regard, we’re very glad we decided to pay someone to do it.

On the other hand, we’re not really sure the quality of the work turned out much better than we could have done ourselves. Maybe we’re perfectionists (I’m raising my hand there) or maybe we hired a sub-par company to do the work, but I wanted to share our thoughts with you all either way.

We called him and they came back and made some repairs which helped, but still, we’re a little disappointed we didn’t walk down there and gasp in awe of how great it looked.

For example, the guy’s company name had painting right in the title, so I would have expected neater corners. Of course, I can repaint, and we will be painting anyway, but it wasn’t what I expected.

messy basement ceiling paint

And, we had some issues with the corners on the duct work. It’s a tricky area, and technically, we only hired him to do the ceiling, but it seems like the corner of where the ceiling meets the bump outs on the ceiling would be a priority.

messy basement ceiling seams

Plus, while they did tape off the basement to avoid dust getting upstairs, at one point, it came loose and thus, a snow-like layer of dust settled all over the carpet on the stairs and the hardwood floors. That was fun to clean up with a toddler tracking it everywhere.


There were also some sanding imperfections near the lights. Which is easy to understand because I’m sure they had the can lights pulled down and there would have a been a shadow where they were working…but still. We’re DIYers and we have worked around those conditions and gotten better results. We just expected more from professionals.

messy basement ceiling sanding

Of course, this is our first time every hiring out home repair work, so maybe that’s normal. Or maybe we’re just better DIYers than we thought, but we expected it to look…perfect…at least for what we were paying. (We purposefully chose a more expensive bid because we thought he seemed the best…) But it definitely wasn’t perfect. So, we’ve officially given ourselves a promotion in how we think about the quality of our work I guess. Ha!

I do think I’d do it the same way again if I had to choose from the three businesses we met with, just based on a few factors such as the contract we had with this company. The others weren’t going to have us sign a contract, which made me nervous after watching Mike Holmes on HGTV repeat “get it in writing!” on every episode. Plus, this guy was very fast and available shortly after meeting with us, which was good because we were doing it right before Christmas.

And, he did treat the ceiling for mold, even though we weren’t sure that was necessary. We do have a baby, and Wyatt has a history of coughing issues we believe are tied to living in a moldy apartment in college. So, that seemed like a “better safe than sorry” option.

basement ceiling painted repaired

And it’s better than this!

flooded-basement-ceiling-dry-wall-water-damage-2 flooded-basement-ceiling-dry-wall-water-damage

That photo with the popcorn and the brown stained water damage makes me feel so gross just looking at it. Very thankful to have this taken care of, for sure!

The thing is, it’s DONE. And we probably won’t give it a second thought now that we won’t be inspecting it. I mean, who looks at the ceilings for imperfections every time you walk into a room? Not me. At least not when the rest of the room is finally finished, right?

basement ceiling painted

And thankfully, we do have a savings account for repairs like this. (Because we also learned home insurance claims are a really sucky process and honestly not worth it if you aren’t dealing with a HUGE claim amount.)

Still, it was a learning experience in hiring a contractor for sure.

Sort of like it was a learning experience for us to DIY the popcorn ceiling removal upstairs. For a recap on how to do that (and why we think it’s sometimes worth it to do it yourself, READ THIS POST.)

pocorn ceiling pin

So, now you tell us, what have you learned from hiring professionals to repair or remodel your home? What tips can you share with us for “next time.” Although I think we’re both hoping there is no next time, at least in terms of the water damaged ceilings!!

Home Goals for 2017

We’re a few weeks into 2017 and it’s time we (finally) share our goals for the year. After a fairly poor showing last year, I tried to be a bit more realistic, but I can’t help myself–I did include some big stuff, too. As well as a few things we didn’t get done from our previous list. Because we believe in second chances over here.

I mean, our kitchen took over a year, and look how worth it that was!

Finished White Kitchen Renovation

I’m a dreamer. A list maker. It’s important for me to write down things I want to accomplish, if only for the purpose of reminding myself I want to do them before I get carried away and set new goals before finishing the old ones.

I have a big goal to really rededicate some time to the blog this year. I miss sharing our adventures here. I miss adventuring. We’ve had a really rough fall and winter so far with sicknesses and work schedules and I’m thankful for your grace in sticking around while we try to get our bearings and get back on the DIY horse, so to speak.

I’d love to work back up to posting several times a week, if not every day, but I know we have a long ways to go before that feels normal again, so we appreciate all of our readers who hang with us and we’re so excited to start working on our goals and share our progress throughout the year.

Plus, we’d love to hear from you more, so feel free to leave us comments, send us emails (you can find that info on our contact page), and connect with us on Facebook and Instagram. Say hi. Tag photos to show us your progress and projects…let’s encourage each other to embrace DIY, go on adventures, and celebrate all things family and home. Let’s work on loving our homes, and loving well IN our homes, in 2017.

Will first birthday family picture at park

So, here we go!

1.Finish the basement family room.

No excuses. That means top to bottom, this room will be done. Possibly evolving in terms of furniture choices or decor, but finished enough to be fully functional.

Right now, we’re working on painting trim and replacing outlets and light switches to make them all white. The next step will be choosing a paint color and painting the walls. Thankfully the ceiling repair is DONE and


2. Do at least one concrete project.

We have been talking about doing some concrete projects for awhile. This is the year we do it. I’m not sure what it will be yet, but maybe planters. Or some type of counter top or surface. Or anything else. Suggestions to share or things you’d like to see us try?

concrete projects

3. Finish organizing the garage.

Again, it’s okay if this is evolving, but we need to at least get a functioning recycling area set up and get rid of some stuff that we don’t use out there. Wyatt has already started this thanks to a cabinet we got from a friend so I’m hopeful we’ll get this done pretty soon.

Garage Organization Progress Woodworking Tools

4. Revamp the laundry room. 

This is one that got carried over from last year, but I still really want to make this happen. I need a new hamper and more storage. I mean, I’ve been using a cruddy ripped hamper for YEARS. Why?


laundry room before

5. Rebuild all or some of the garden beds. 

We used our old hollow core doors to make our beds, which was fine, but they are starting to fall apart. If we want to keep using them, they’ll need some repairs, or replacing.


6. Maintain no more than 10 magazines in our “to be read” stash. 

Right now there are like 30. Yikes. Our little box won’t even hold 30 so they are spilling out into other piles. Not good, friends. Not good. Also, we don’t pay for any of these magazines. We get them free from various sources. And yes, we recycle them when we’re done. And before you say, “just stop getting magazines!” I have to say that I adore magazines. It was my dream to work for a magazine back in the day. And I’m proud to have several in my current client list. I like the glossy pages and the high graphic spreads. I like that they are “happy mail” in the mailbox instead of bills. I’m in awe of the amount of content that gets created to fill magazines every month. But I can’t handle being that far behind. Plus, it makes unnecessary clutter. So, this year, I’m going to sit down and read magazines instead of scroll on my phone. That’s the goal, anyway.


7. Finish 24 books. 

I’m upping this one to two books a month. I’ve had a goal of 20 books a year for the past two years and made it, so it was time to stretch myself a bit more.

That’s a little scary, but thanks to audio books, I think I’ll get there! That being said, I want to tackle a few from the bookshelf that haven’t been read before buying a bunch of new ones…so, yea. I’ll work on it.

Toy storage in living room with built in bookshelves Will playing with cups

8. Finish decorating our master bedroom.

Again, this is carrying over from last year because we didn’t get it done. But I’m determined this year. The goal is to make it less cluttered, more restful and retreat like. But we’ll see where we end up. Things on the list are new bedding, new nightstands, new curtains and some art on the walls. Moving the bookshelf to the basement when we get that all furnished down there.

Bookshelves in Bedroom

9. Replace or paint the front door. 

I want to replace this one for one with a window I think. (Even though I’ll be sad to lose our peephole and our FRIENDS frame if we do that.) But, we might decide to just paint it. Either way, we need to do something because with the hot afternoon sun bearing down on the door, it smells so hot with the current paint on it. It’s awful, even though we used exterior paint. It’s time to get it fixed.

DIY Newsprint Wrapped Tulip Wreath for Front Door 5

10. Replace the garage door. 

The scratches and scuffs and terrible seal on this door are going to be replaced this year. It’s time. We just need to get it done. So, it’s getting added to the list. Plus, I want to paint it a nice, fun color I think.

Finished White Kitchen Renovation with DIY custom cabinetry nook 2

11. Get my office organized. 

Some of you may know that I am a rep for Usborne books. (You can find out more here.) That means I’m getting TONS of free books…and now I need to figure out how to store them all. They are taking over my office right now. Not to mention all the clutter that gets dumped in there when we need to clean up the living room. And, I need a new home for some of my plants…

Usborne Books in office

12. Take a family vacation. 

We did manage to cross this off the list last year, but barely. Preferably this year we’ll be able to take more than one family vacation…but we’ll see how the year goes. At least one family trip will happen, for sure.

And fingers crossed no one will get sick and cut the trip short like this December. Blaugh–flu bugs suck!


13. Take a couple vacation. 

We’re not sure where, or when, but Wyatt and I want to have a little trip this year. Maybe for our anniversary. Even if it’s just one night, it would be good for us. The last time we spent a night without Will was July 17, 2015….the night before he was born. The last trip we took just the two of us was also shortly before Will was born…and I was VERY pregnant.

I think this year will be the year we try it again. 🙂

White Water Baby belly

14. Conquer the toy clutter

We don’t even have that many toys and I’m already feeling like it’s too much. Will gets bored a lot faster when he has a lot of toys to choose from. When we only get out a few things, he’ll sit and play a lot longer. I’m thinking of doing a weekly system where we box up a lot of the toys and get out different ones throughout the week.

Or maybe play with the same ones for a week before switching it out? I’m not sure, but I’m excited to try some systems out until we get one that works. Anyone have a system that works for you? I’m sure there are a lot of ideas on Pinterest for this, too.

(Also, aw…look at my tiny boy who could’t reach the couch–he’s getting so big!)

Will trying to reach toys on couch

15. Finish and order more photo books. 

I am so glad I was able to order several books last year. (Shout out to my friends who send my codes and discounts!)

This year, I want to keep at it. Printed photos are so important in this digital age, I think, and these books are a great way to store memories. I started Will’s book for his first birthday but never got it ordered. I need to finish that one, and I’d love to do a few others, too.

He loves to read the family books we made him, and I’m glad to have my pregnancy one, too.

shutterfly baby books

Ok, so there’s our list for 2017! We’re off to a pretty good start with a few of these in progress already…so I’m hoping that’s a good sign.

Now, let us know your goals for the year. Let’s be a community of doers in 2017–join in and share!

2016 Goal Recap

Well, friends, it’s time to fess up about all we got done…and not done…in 2016. I already know this is going to be a bit of a disappointment to go through. At least personally. You probably don’t care quite as much as I do. Ha!

Still, in the spirit of being honest, here we go!

1. Add a garbage disposal back under the kitchen sink.

Done! Read about this project, here.

New garbage disposal in farmhouse sink 2

2. Revamp the laundry room.

Not done. Not even a little bit done. In fact, I’m still using the same, broken hamper I’ve hated for the past 3 years. I don’t know why. A new hamper is like $20 probably. Time to get on that, right? Wyatt did fix our washer three times after various, unrelated issues. And, we cleaned it out after the whole floor flooding issue…but I don’t think that counts.

This will get bumped to next year I guess. Boo.

laundry room before

3. Declutter and “babyproof. (Mostly done)

We have everything we use on a daily basis babyproofed, but my office isn’t totally safe, and neither is our bedroom or bathroom. Of course, Will is never in there without us…but we still need to finish up. I’m

  • Secure furniture to walls.
  • Get a baby gate for the stairs. Read about this project, here. 
  • Make sure all breakables and other adult-only items are put away/locked up (Mostly done)
  • “Cushion” the hard edges of the brick fireplace, TV stand, etc. 
  • Add door locks to applicable cabinets
  • Tie up all window blind cords. (In progress)
  • Get rid of the junk. (In progress)


4. Build a new strawberry planter. 

We got the strawberry planters done. You can read about that project, HERE. We may have to make some modifications to them next year though to keep them from drying out so fast.

Container Gardening Suburban Garden June 2016 Strawberries

5. Take Will on his first vacation.

We made it to Branson for Christmas. It wasn’t as long of a vacation as I would have liked, but it was still super fun to show him new things. And thanks to Netflix and downloaded Curious George videos, we made it (mostly) screaming free. He’s still not a fan of being in the car. Sheesh.

6. Conquer the basement storage rooms.

Well, the basement ceiling repair is done…but to do that, we had to move all the furniture and everything to the storage room…so…yea…not done. But at least we had a good excuse, right?


7. Read 20 books 

Some of these I’ve read before, and many of these have been audio books listened to on my runs with Will in the stroller. But I enjoy that so much, and I’m so glad to have the opportunity to “read” while I’m doing something else I love. In total so far, I’ve read 17:

  • The Cat Who Knew Shakespeare – Lilian Jackson Braun
  • The Private Life of the Cat Who – Lilian Jackson Braun
  • Grace Based Parenting – Tim Kimmel
  • Go Set a Watchman – Harper Lee
  • The Cat Who Talked Turkey – Lilian Jackson Braun
  • Who Was Walt Disney – Whitney Stewart
  • The Cat Who Sniffed Glue – Lilian Jackson Braun
  • The Cat Who Robbed a Bank – Lilian Jackson Braun
  • Loveable Liveable Home – John and Sherry Petersik
  • Beautiful Outlaw: Experiencing the Playful, Disruptive, Extravagant Personality of Jesus – John Eldredge
  • The Cat Who Went Up a Creek – Lilian Jackson Braun
  • Wild in the Hollow – Amber C. Haines
  • The Cat Who Saw Stars – Lilian Jackson Braun
  • The Cat Who Went Bananas – Lilian Jackson Braun
  • Life on the Mississippi – Mark Twain
  • The Cat Who Brought Down the House – Lilian Jackson Braun
  • The Cat Who Dropped a Bombshell – Lilian Jackson Braun
  • Present Over Perfect – Shauna Niequist
  • For the Love – Jen Hatmaker
  • This is Ridiculous. This is Amazing – Jason Good

In progress:

  • Wild and Free – Hayley Morgan, Jess Connolly
  • The Cat Who Came to Breakfast – Lilian Jackson Braun

8. Make some cool toys or games for Will. (Sort of done?)

I made him a couple books for his birthday. I also sort of count the homemade homemade maracas and drum I made him out of “trash” as homemade toys. I mean, I did make them…they just aren’t that cute. The busy board is half-finished and we’ll get to it soon!

Will smiling at custom family photo book from Shutterfly

9. Make some cool stuff to give to friends and family.

In addition to canned good, we made a few things to give friends and family this year. Here’s an example of one of those projects that turned out pretty cute.


10. Make some cool stuff to sell. (And sell it!)

We completed a couple of custom orders but I still need to add a page here on the site where readers like you can reach out about custom orders as well. Which reminds me that I really want one of these tree bookshelves noq

Custom Tree Bookshelf

11. Finish decorating our master bedroom.

I added a few baskets for clothes that had been worn but weren’t yet dirty, and we looked at nightstands, but didn’t buy any yet. Basically, no major progress…maybe next year.

Tufted Headboard in Master Bedroom 8

12. Paint the basement window and door trim in the main living space. (In Progress)

Well, I said I was determined to get this done this year, but because of the whole basement ceiling repair project that wasn’t completed until the week before Christmas, it just didn’t happen. It’s close to done, but I need to do a bit of touch-up on the window trim, and I have two door frames to paint still. Bummer.


13. Organize the kitchen cabinets.

I tried. I made progress. They got messy again. So…yea, I failed at this again. Boo.

14. Buy a new laptop. 

14. A. Buy a new laptop to replace new laptop.

This is done, twice. Long story short, the first one ended up having an issue so we had to return it and pick out a different one. It was a pretty awful process to deal with customer service through all of that…but it’s done and the new one is here and it’s wonderful. So far.

15. End the year with more houseplants than I’m starting it with. 

I totally made it through the year without killing all my plants! Some of them look a little puny, I’ll admit, but as a group, we are doing pretty well! Now just to get some more permanent homes for them instead of all being in my office.


 16. Replace the garage door, and the basement door. (Half done)

We didn’t get the garage door replaced, but we did do the one in the basement, which turned out awesome and I have no idea why we waited as long as we did.


All in all, not terrible…but also not our best showing. Nine officially crossed off and four others half done. And two that we hardly touched. I have to give ourselves some credit and say that we also dealt with a lot of other stuff that wasn’t on this list. Like the washing machine flood fixes (post coming about fixing the hardwood flooring soon!) which took up most of our fall dealing with insurance and finding a contractor. (Post about that process also on the list to write.)

Plus, we’re still adjusting to life with an ever-busier toddler around the house. We really only have naptimes and bedtimes to work on projects, and both Wyatt and I have been doing a lot of work for our real jobs late at night this year. I guess those are all excuses, but it helps to be honest with ourselves about the season of life we’re in as we look toward setting goals for next year, too.

What about you? How did you do on your list of goals for 2016? Have you made your goals for 2017 yet? We’re still finalizing our list, but we’ll be sharing them soon! (And you all have to promise to keep us motivated all year, okay?

And, which of our goals surprised you the most? I wonder if you over or under estimated our progress for the year?

For a look at our original goal list, click here. And for how we did with our 2015 home goals, see this post.

A Quick Look Back at Our Christmas

Hey friends, happy 2017!

I’m going to be honest and say that I’ve been a terrible blogger. More specifically, we’ve been terrible home bloggers. We haven’t had any real home updates for you all in awhile, and few other updates either. I’m hopeful for a fresh start and a renewed joy in checking in with you all this year though, after finally getting the basement ceiling repairs done and some exciting plans for the coming months.

So, I wanted to stop in tonight to share a few photos of our Christmas, from decorations around the house, to family photo attempts, and some other randomness thrown in there. Thanks for sticking with us through the rough fall season, and thanks for being a part our little community of people who find joy in DIY and seek to fill their homes with love.

Here is a little glimpse into our home this Christmas season:


christmas-hearth christmas-books-basket christmas-living-room-north-pole-crates christmas-hearth-with-will

christmas-fireplace-with-tree  christmas-kitchen-plate-wall


And, a few shots from our family photos:


will-playing-in-front-of-christmas-tree will-in-front-of-christmas-tree-2016 will-and-wyatt-christmas will-in-front-of-christmas-tree

Tell us how you really feel about family photos, Wyatt.



And… an outtake, in the spirit of keeping things real…


Lastly, we FINALLY took a little trip with Will to Branson. (one thing we get to cross off our list for the year!)

will-and-wyatt-at-dannas-branson will-and-wyatt-at-sdc-branson-christmas will-at-branson-condo melissa-and-will-at-sdc-branson-christmas melissa-and-will-at-sdc-lights-branson-christmas

There are a few more (better) photos of our Christmas trip on our personal Instagram pages. @WyattJudas and @MelissaShipman

Ok, that’s enough photos for one night, right? I feel like we at least got to catch up and share a bit about how our December went. (Minus the details on the stomach bugs, snotty noses, basement messes, drywall dust all over everything, work deadlines… but you get the idea.)

Anyway, now tell us a little about your December. We’re excited to start the new year with all of you!

There’s Certainly a Santa – Sponsored Post + GIVEAWAY

**This post is sponsored by Certainly Santa and we received a book for review, but the words and opinions are all our own.**

I’m so excited to share another super fun Christmas giveaway with you all this week! This one is so sweet, a Christmas book all about telling your kids the truth about Santa. It’s called “There’s Certainly a Santa,” and I think you certainly will be charmed by this one. I saw the book on instagram last week and reached out to the company because I just had to share it with you all.


Wyatt and I are still deciding exactly how we’ll handle the Santa discussions when Will is older. Next year is our deadline for that I think as this year, he’s still too young to understand. But, I love that this book provides a smart, sweet option for including your kids on the spirit behind Santa–the spirit of giving.


Basically, it’s a way to let your kids in on the secret of Santa in a gentle, tender, teachable way.

A way that will make a good memory and not a sad one.

I won’t give away any the specifics, but here’s my favorite spread from the book:


There are so many sweet ways to use this book as a teaching moment for your kids. I could imagine setting up a little milk and cookie snack for them after school or after a nap, or even first thing in the morning. They’ll be surprised to see it for them as it’s usually for Santa (foreshadowing!) and it will be a great opportunity to sit and read the book together and then talk about it together while sharing Santa’s favorite snack.


The book retails for $19.95 and you can snag one here, on their website. They have a sweet discount if you buy 3 books as a bundle, to keep and give as gifts, or one for each of your kids if you have multiples! (They have an interactive contract page at the end, so one per kid is perfect!)

I’m also excited because we get to give away a book to one of you! To enter, use the rafflecopter below to record your entries. Giveaway ends Thursday at midnight (only 2 days so ENTER NOW!!) and prize will be shipped directly from the company.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

**This post is sponsored by Certainly Santa and we received a book for review, but the words and opinions are all our own.**

What’s Up Downstairs?

Well, since we’ve been spending the majority of the free time we have to work on home projects dealing with basement stuff, I figured it was worth a quick update for you all.

Here’s the post with all the details on what happened. And a quick reminder photo of what part of the ceiling looked like down there.


First of all, it’s been so frustrating. As in, I’ve been dealing with four different insurance people and we’ve had three different drywall guys here to look at it. We finally choose someone to do it and got the insurance stuff all sorted out though, so that’s good I guess.

And, we got the main room cleaned out for him to get started…but then got postponed because of the insurance stuff. And now that we’re ready for him to start, he had something else he was doing. Good grief. He did finally start today, though. Goodness gracious.

In other news, the storage rooms are more of a mess than ever. And the guest room looks like this:




(As a side note, Wyatt thinks I have a throw pillow problem. I think he has a throw pillow problem, in that he doesn’t like throw pillows enough!)

You can image it will be SO EASY to get to all our Christmas decorations and wrapping paper since we have to walk outside and go around to the basement door.

However, when all this is said and done, things will be better. The ceiling will be repaired, scraped, and repainted. I’m bummed we won’t get the rest of the space finished this year, but I’m excited to tackle it in January. It should be a fun project once all this big, hard, grown-up stuff is done.

Until then, we’ll keep using the wide open room as an indoor playground for Will, after the repair work is done, that is. For now, we’ll just enjoy the plastic covering on the stairs as an extra festive holiday touch.


So, that’s what’s “up” with our downstairs family room remodel. Nothing like a little, or a big, bump in the road, right?

Anything new in your neck of the woods?

A Little Living Room Lift – Or, Why I <3 Curtain Rings

It’s been a busy few months around here, with very little progress or projects. But, I did made a little change in the living room a couple weeks ago by adding curtain rings to the window treatments in there.

Let me just first explain that I realize this is NOT an earth-shattering post. You may even already have curtain rings on all your curtains. But I hadn’t used them until the past year or so, so consider this both a confession and a public service announcement: you can get curtain rings anywhere and they are relatively inexpensive. But, they are such a great way to add a tiny bit of length to curtains that are slightly too short, and they just tend to look better in my opinion, they flow and fold a little bit nicer because they are only attached to the rod in a few places rather than bunched all the way across.

The ones I grabbed this time were from Ikea, but I’ve also bought them from Target, or wherever else you shop I’m sure has them, too.


In our case, I wanted to lengthen the curtains just a tad so they pool ever so slightly instead of brushing the floor because we lost a little height when we took the carpet out and added hardwood.

Not only does it add a little length, but they also slide a lot smoother. That is good and bad, really. Bad, because they move easier when Will pulls on them, but good for the same reason. Before, they barely slid on the curtain rod, but they moved enough for Will to realize they moved, which made him yank harder on them. Now, they slide easier, so he finds it fun rather than challenging. It’s unlikely he’d be able to pull them off the wall, but better safe than sorry.

Of course, we don’t encourage playing with the curtains. In fact, I don’t really allow it, but sometimes, the toddler is a little quicker than I am, and sometimes the curtains are too tempting to not explore a little bit.


Other than that, I just like how the rings look. And for only a few bucks a package from Ikea, and 2 minutes to install them, it was a little update that no one besides me probably cares about or would even notice. But I like it, and that’s what matters.

And honestly, even a little project like that felt significant in a month where we were crazy busy, and crazy sick, so pretty much nothing else got done. It felt like, “Well, at least I did SOMETHING.”

Speaking of doing something, I got a comment the other day about how our house always looks clean in photos, and lest you think I’m living in a fairy world over here, here’s a shot of the curtain rings installed…and how my living room looks right this second.


Ever have projects like that? That feel insignificant and significant at the same time? Or is that much self-reflection about DIY projects only something that happens in my own head?

Star From Afar: A Christ-Centered Christmas Tradition – Sponsored Post + GIVEAWAY

**This post is sponsored by Star From Afar and we received a set for review, but the words and opinions are all our own.**

Last year was Will’s first Christmas, but this will be his first one where he’s old enough to really participate. So, I’ve been on the hunt for some new traditions to start as a family. Elf on the Shelf is one really popular one, but it didn’t feel right for our family. I also love the idea of advent calendars but we didn’t grow up with those and I don’t love the idea of 25 small gifts to manage each year, even if it’s just candy.

So, when I saw the Star From Afar game, I was super interested to try it out.


The purpose of the game is to celebrate the TRUE meaning of Christmas and help kids reconnect with that meaning. The set comes with a book to explain the concept. Basically, you hide the star and your kids look for it each morning. Then, the three wise men move to the star’s location until the next day.

It’s fun to follow the star every day as it gets closer to Christmas day. Of course, in our case, Will is too young to really understand the meaning behind all of this, but I love that we’ll be setting him up for a deeper understanding with this fun tradition. And, you could keep the fun going to Three Kings Day in January if you wanted.


And, I mean, you all played #FindTheBunny with us back at Easter time. #FollowTheStar will be our new game for December. Wyatt and I can hide it in plain site for Will to find, and then we may get a little more creative and challenge each other, too. Because why not?


Plus, I have been struggling with a place to put our Willow Creek Nativity set that will be safe from toddler breakage…and this solves the problem completely. The wooden pieces are MEANT to be played with. Perfect for a kiddo that wants to play with everything.


Also, yes, I did set up the wise men…in the east. Sort of.


The book is a sweet but simple telling of the Christmas story and it introduces the star to kids. It also comes with a reading plan to add scripture to your daily “star-finding” activities as you count down the days to Christmas. I love that it helps families focus on Christ in a busy season of life, without making it seem boring to kids.


I’m also super excited because I get to give away one of these sets to a reader to try with your own family this year, too! To enter, use the rafflecopter below to record your entries. Giveaway ends Thursday (only 3 days so ENTER NOW!!) and prize will be shipped directly from the company.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


The Star From Afar website is so you can grab of of these sets for yourself or a kiddo in your life. And, even if you don’t win, from now through December 25, you can get yours for 10% off with the code FOLLOWTHESTAR.

**This post is sponsored by Star From Afar and we received a set for review, but the words and opinions are all our own.**

Holiday Gift Ideas for the Whole Family

~ This post contains affiliate links, which means we will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on our direct link. Don’t worry, it doesn’t cost you anything extra. And, we won’t recommend anything we’re not personally a fan of! Please reach out if you have any questions about sponsorship or ads on our blog. We’re happy to help explain how this works, and as always, thank you for reading and supporting LovingHere! ~

How many of you are done with your holiday shopping? Um…we’re not! Actually, we’re getting a late start because I’m super slow to the black Friday deals. Oops. Today I’m sharing some fun gift ideas that you can buy from your couch–and this weekend is a great time to do that! So sip some wine, or coffee, and do some shopping!

I’ve tried to note deals and discounts, but please keep in mind those will end and this blog post will still be live and I won’t be able to help you find a bargain once the sale is over, so shop fast to save the most money!

For the home…


  1. Rugs and doormats are great gifts (although they are hard to wrap!) and this Home Sweet Home doormat is great for the entire year.
  2. But I also like the turquoise hello script mat option for spring or summer. Both are under $8!
  3. Candles are a great gift, too. This small hammered metal container candle and pine scent is great for winter and will look great in any room.
  4. It’s great paired with this marble container candle, which I can totally see classing up any bathroom, or living room. Or bedroom.
  5. Storage is always needed, and when it’s this pretty, no one will consider it a boring gift. These would be great for corralling toys, books, mail, keys, phones, or more! They come in two sizes and two colors. Here’s the larger Geometric Floor Storage Bin.
  6. Here’s the smaller Storage Bin, too. Both are 20% off this weekend, so get shopping!
  7. These Gold Elephant Trunk wall hooks are sold by Land of Nod, and are on sale right now for only $10.36! They may be marketed to kids’ rooms, but I would put them in the entryway for coats, the master bedroom closet, the kitchen—anywhere is a great place for a gold elephant!
  8. This gray floor pouf is perfect for adding some texture and soft, movable seating or foot-propping options to a family or play room. And it’s on sale for 50% off right now, so I can actually afford to buy 2–which is the perfect number since a pair is twice as nice, right?
  9. You all know my pineapple obsession by now, so it’s no surprise I added this gold pineapple lamp to the list for our favorite picks for the home. It’s 15% off right now, so go grab it now!

For her…


  1. Most ladies (moms or not!) can always use a new bag. I like this one from Target because it comes with two bags! Perfect for stashing mom’s stuff in the smaller bag and babies stuff in the outer bag, so you can quickly switch between the two for errands with or without the kiddos. It’s on sale for 30% off for the rest of the day–so get it now!
  2. This Don’t Stop Beleafing flower pot, also from Etsy is also awesome. I can’t resist a good plant pun. I bet the plant lovers in your life would also appreciate it!
  3. For the gardeners, I found this super fun little indoor flower pot. I am always looking for new flower pots for all my plant babies and this I Will Survive flowerpot option is cheeky and fun.
  4. I also have to add a book to the list, but since not everyone is a big reader, I chose one with gorgeous illustrations. This unabridged Wizard of Oz would be a great winter read, and looks great on the bookshelf!
  5. The Young House Love new home-inspired coloring book is a great idea for the coloring fans or home decor enthusiasts in your life. It’s unique and will be super fun to create with.
  6. A nice pad of watercolor paper, or sketch paper, whatever would be most appreciated by the creatives on your list. This Watercolor Pad by Strathmore is affordable, but always appreciate and thoughtful gifts.
  7. Add in this Watercolor Pan Set and you’ve got a great gift for someone who wants to spend more time being creative in the new year.
  8. And for the bubbly lovers, or just Parks and Rec fans, these Treat Yo Self glasses are so fun.
  9. I’ve had a vinyl machine on my wishlist for awhile and this Explore One by Cricut would be a huge hit with any DIYers you’re shopping for. And, this roll of Gold Vinyl to use with the new machine would fill a stocking with joy, I’m sure!

For the kids…


  1. For little ones, I’m a big fan of toys that are fun to play with but that don’t look so messy and cluttered. This Zebra Rocker is so fun and would be a super present for Santa to bring!
  2. Babies also need books! This Count to 100 book is so great for little learners! The illustrations are so charming and it’s great for hours of looking and snuggling on the couch.
  3. Fingerprint Activities is another favorite for wintertime fun, and it works for younger kids with supervision, or older kids who need some quiet, creative time by themselves.
  4. Kids will also love this Busy Train book—it includes a toy train and tracks built into each page for it ride along as you read. It’s so fun!
  5. Babies need stylish art, too! I think this super cute Play All Day, Sleep All Night Nursery Custom Art Print would be great for babies or toddlers, maybe it would even encourage more restful sleep? Ha!
  6. I also love the Where’s Will look and find book. Think Where’s Waldo…but with William Skakespeare.
  7. I’ve been looking at a teepee for Will, and they are so popular right now with kids and adults so I’m sure it would be a hit under the tree this year for anyone! This Pillowfort teepee is one of the cutest and most affordable options I’ve found. It’s on sale this weekend—right now it’s 50% off so order before the sale ends.

For him…


  1. Wyatt has had a Compound Sliding Miter Saw on his list for awhile. This one is on sale this weekend for Black Friday, so it’s a great buy if you’re also looking for one of these for someone on your wish list!
  2. Shirts are always appreciated, at least by the men in our family, who don’t want to take the time to shop for their own clothes. This one is classic and great when you’re not exactly sure what someone would like.
  3. For the grill guy, Wyatt says a new grate is always a great idea. This Weber Plated-Steel Hinged Cooking Grate is actually on his list for the year.
  4. There’s no better time than winter to grab some new grill accessories, too, like this Pizza Stone Insert with Carry Rack is awesome for guys, or gals, who want to up their homemade pizza game. And even if it’s cold outside, I bet it will still get some use this winter.
  5. A digital thermometer is also great for the chefs in your family. It can be used inside or outside on the patio, and this Weber Instant-Read Thermometer is a great buy.
  6. I know several guys who would like this United Roads Art Print. It’s masculine, and maybe even educational, but not too man cave-ish, and it looks super classy in the frames offered through Minted.
  7. A new men’s travel case for toiletries or other items (chargers, valuables, etc.) is also a great stocking stuffer option. This one is affordable and stylish, plus it’s 30% off through tonight so hurry before it’s gone!
  8. Another great tool buy is this 20-Volt Max Lithium-Ion Matrix Drill and Impact Combo Kit. It’s nice because you get both tools in one, without needing two more tools to store since the head switches out. Safe saving and money saving is a good deal in our book.

Who else are you shopping for this year? Maybe you’re a gift card giver? Or a homemade gift giver? We’ll probably do some of that, too! But I’m sure I’ll be crossing several items off our online list. We do have a toddler to drag around from store to store this year…and that means we deserve an extra present, right? Or just a glass of wine?

Happy shopping!

~ This post contains affiliate links, which means we will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on our direct link. Don’t worry, it doesn’t cost you anything extra. And, we won’t recommend anything we’re not personally a fan of! Please reach out if you have any questions about sponsorship or ads on our blog. We’re happy to help explain how this works, and as always, thank you for reading and supporting LovingHere! ~

November Garden Update

So, I’m not sure what the weather has been like where you live, but here, it’s been pretty crazy. Crazy as in we have been wearing short sleeve shirts and sandals in November.

And, that means our garden was still chugging along.


We’d lost a few things, though. The peas bit the bullet a month or so ago. And the acorn squash gave up the fight in September.


The zucchini put in a good effort to survive, but we’d only had a few zucchini from them. I’m not sure if the blooms weren’t getting pollinated because all the bees were gone for the year, or if they were just putting all their energy into living with nothing left for producing fruit. Either way, it’s been an interesting experiment to plant them so late in the season. Squash borers weren’t an issue, but we didn’t get much fruit. I just can’t win I guess.

Most things still looked pretty good, though.


The okra was going along okay, but we weren’t getting too many okra, and I really only planted it for the blooms anyway, and I can never catch them open, darn it.


Though we lost a few plants, we gained a few others. Honestly, I think I planted these carrots in August. And they sprouted in October. Ha. So, there’s probably no chance they’ll be big enough to really do much with when we have to harvest then. But, since we’ve had such a warm fall, they’ve had at least a small chance.


We actually cleaned everything out this weekend though because it was warm and we had time…and because it wasn’t doing THAT well anyway. I mean, it is the middle of November, after all, and things had certainly seen better days.


The peppers probably would have kept going for another week or so. There were so many little ones out there when we pulled them out.

november-garden-update-pepper november-garden-update-habaneros

Which reminds me. I have several batches of pepper jelly to make again. Like, several double batches. And probably another batch of tomato juice. And a few more batches of pasta sauce and salsa. Sheesh. Have I mentioned I’m super busy these days?

Still, I’m very thankful for the bounty our garden gave us this year. This is what we picked over the last few weeks. Crazy.


And I’m trying to ripen some of the green tomatoes we ended up with.


So, for now, it’s pretty empty out there. Ready for snow I guess.


This is also your friendly reminder to wash your tomato cages with bleach water in the fall to get rid of any fungus or mildew that might be on them after a long growing season. You’ll thank me later.


However, one bad thing about having such a warm fall is that there are still tons of bugs. We have flies in our house and oak mites in our yard. Poor Wyatt got so many bites last week while raking leaves, and I was covered after planting my tulips, too. I was sort of holding out for the warm weather to continue for our garden’s sake, but now that it’s cleaned up, I’m ready for a good hard frost.

Of course, I’ll be sad to have to start bundling up for jogs with Will in the stroller, but at least I won’t come home with five new bites each time. Good grief.

Anyway, that’s a little garden update for you for November. I’m ready to take a break from that project for awhile, but I am already excited about Will being old enough to help next year. “Help” by getting muddy and playing in the dirt, probably. But, he’ll also love picking ripe produce. He liked picking berries and tomatoes this year, but we had a hard time convincing him to only pick the red ones.


So, now that it’s almost Thanksgiving and we’re still enjoying sunshine and sandals, are you on team warm or team winter? 

An Overdue Update on Our Goals

Well, we only have like 7 weeks left to tackled these, figure it’s time to check in and see how we’re doing. (Spoiler–not great.)

1. Add a garbage disposal back under the kitchen sink.

Done! Read about this project, here.

New garbage disposal in farmhouse sink 2

2. Revamp the laundry room.

Well, with the whole washer flood issue, and the resulting repair job that followed, I’m afraid this one will get bumped until next year. There’s still hope, though, so I may go down with ship on this one.

laundry room before

3. Declutter and “babyproof.

We have most of this done, but did just buy a couple latches for the kitchen cabinets so we need to get those installed.

  • Secure furniture to walls (In progress)
  • Get a baby gate for the stairs. Read about this project, here. 
  • Make sure all breakables and other adult-only items are put away/locked up (In progress)
  • “Cushion” the hard edges of the brick fireplace, TV stand, etc. (In progress)
  • Add door locks to applicable cabinets (In progress)
  • Tie up all window blind cords. (In progress)
  • Get rid of the junk. (In progress)


4. Build a new strawberry planter. 

We got the strawberry planters done. You can read about that project, HERE. Also, sidenote that our garden is STILL producing and it’s the middle of November. Sheesh.

I’m thankful and all, but I am wishing for a freeze to end the endless oak mites we have going on around here.

Container Gardening Suburban Garden June 2016 Strawberries

5. Take Will on his first vacation.

Well, we had a trip planned this fall, but I got sick so we had to cancel. So, we rescheduled. Then, Will was sick so we had to cancel. It was all part of our month of October, which was crazy and full of flu. So, now we’re planning a December trip. Better late than never, right?

6. Conquer the basement storage rooms.

It’s worse than maybe ever before after the whole flooded ceiling incident. We have some new cabinets going in, though, and a lot of it will get reorganized into those.


7. Read 20 books (In progress)

Some of these I’ve read before, and many of these have been audio books listened to on my runs with Will in the stroller. But I enjoy that so much, and I’m so glad to have the opportunity to “read” while I’m doing something else I love. In total so far, I’ve read 17:

  • The Cat Who Knew Shakespeare – Lilian Jackson Braun
  • The Private Life of the Cat Who – Lilian Jackson Braun
  • Grace Based Parenting – Tim Kimmel
  • Go Set a Watchman – Harper Lee
  • The Cat Who Talked Turkey – Lilian Jackson Braun
  • Who Was Walt Disney – Whitney Stewart
  • The Cat Who Sniffed Glue – Lilian Jackson Braun
  • The Cat Who Robbed a Bank – Lilian Jackson Braun
  • Loveable Liveable Home – John and Sherry Petersik
  • Beautiful Outlaw: Experiencing the Playful, Disruptive, Extravagant Personality of Jesus – John Eldredge
  • The Cat Who Went Up a Creek – Lilian Jackson Braun
  • Wild in the Hollow – Amber C. Haines
  • The Cat Who Saw Stars – Lilian Jackson Braun
  • The Cat Who Went Bananas – Lilian Jackson Braun
  • Life on the Mississippi – Mark Twain
  • The Cat Who Brought Down the House – Lilian Jackson Braun
  • The Cat Who Dropped a Bombshell – Lilian Jackson Braun

In progress:

  • Simply Tuesday – Emily P. Freeman
  • Present Over Perfect – Shauna Niequist
  • The Cat Who Came to Breakfast – Lilian Jackson Braun

8. Make some cool toys or games for Will. (Sort of done?)

I made him a couple books for his birthday, and we’ve got a few ideas for toys, but the main plan right now is to make a busy board I think. I need to get it sketched out and start shopping for all the fun elements. I also sort of count the homemade homemade maracas and drum I made him out of “trash” as homemade toys. I mean, I did make them…they just aren’t that cute.

9. Make some cool stuff to give to friends and family.

‘Tis the season to get busy on these! We’ve done a lot of canning, though, and some of that was for gifts, holiday and otherwise. So, at least that’s something.

10. Make some cool stuff to sell. (And sell it!)

We completed two custom orders and I still want to add a page here on the sure where readers like you can reach out about custom orders as well. Fun stuff!

Custom Tree Bookshelf

11. Finish decorating our master bedroom.

No progress here. I’d still like to get it done, but with the added expense of repairing the ceiling in the basement, I doubt this will stay a priority.

Tufted Headboard in Master Bedroom 8

12. Paint the basement window and door trim in the main living space. (In Progress)

I need to do a bit of touch-up on the window trim, and I have two door frames to paint still. But, this will get crossed off the list year. I’m determined. The big push for this was the door installation down there. And yes, the floor trim is also on my wishlist.


13. Organize the kitchen cabinets.

Not done. Ugh. Is it ever done?

14. Buy a new laptop. 

This is done, but I’m still dealing with fixing the one we bought as it has pretty much been a disaster. So much for doing our research and buying the best one. Please send me all the best customer service vibes, please.

15. End the year with more houseplants than I’m starting it with. (In Progress)

This is going pretty well, and thanks to an Ikea trashcan hack, they have nicer homes, too.


 16. Replace the garage door, and the basement door. (Half done)

Like I said, above, the basement door is done. So, that’s great!

But…we do have a LOT left to do if we’re going to make all these off.

What about you? Any goals for the end of the year?

For a look at our original goal list, click here. And for how we did with our 2015 home goals, see this post.

Where have we been?

You guys, I’m sorry. I have been slacking so much over here when it comes to posting on the blog. The truth is, life has been crazy. For one thing, just when we get caught up, something like this happens:


Yep, that’s my #DIwYatt fixing our washing machine. For the second time in only two months. I hate to sound like an old grumpy granny, but they just don’t make them like they used to.

Also, we all caught some sort of cold at the start of October and then about three weeks ago, I spent the weekend throwing up with a bad flu bug. A week later, Wyatt took his turn…and a week after that, Will got sick. At least we share well, right? It super-sucked because we had to cancel two weekend getaways because of sickness. We missed a family event. Any, Wyatt missed Will’s first time trick or treating. We are all FINALLY feeling mostly well again I think. Fingers crossed. Knock on wood. And any other good luck things I missed doing so I don’t jinx it.

And yes, we’re eating oranges every day. Sheesh.

In case you’re wondering, this is what a kitchen counter looks like when you’re in the middle of a million projects and have been taking care of sick kids and husbands and yes, even myself, for the past month. Um…this is my embarrassed face. I’m tackling this tomorrow. I promise.


Wyatt and I are super busy with work stuff right now if that isn’t always obvious. I feel like I could work from 12 hour days and still barely get caught up. And he tallied his budgeted work hours up and came up about two weeks short compared to the hours left in the year. Yikes.

Oh, and, we’re trying to keep canning stuff from our garden that just will not quit. I mean, seriously, it’s November 9 and we’re still picking tomatoes. And peppers. The peppers! We have made SO MANY batches of pepper jelly. I hope all you friends and family out there like that stuff because you’re all getting it for Christmas gifts!

Pepper Jelly 2015

I have missed you, though, and I can’t wait to get back to regular posting. So, I’ll be sharing some recap posts in the coming days, about Halloween, about our goals for the year, about the basement…you know, the works.

In the meantime, here is an adorable, although slightly blurry, photo of Will being cute to hold you over and make you like me again after ignoring you for so long. Who can stay mad when there’s a kid this cute around here to follow? Especially when I have Halloween photos to share soon… am I bribing you to stick around and read our blog by exploiting my kid’s cuteness? Maybe.


And also in the meantime,leave a comment and tell me what’s up with you!

A Simple Halloween Mantle

You might not know it, but I really am becoming more of a minimalist at heart. Stylistically anyway. Not when it comes to books and magazines…and my inability to keep my office clean and uncluttered.

But, because our house is usually messy with clutter, I find that I don’t want a lot of cluttered decor sitting around. A few pieces make a bigger statement and feel cleaner and less stressful.

But, I also do like things to feel festive for the holidays, so I added a few fall touches to our living room for Halloween. Nothing like sharing them at the last minute for you all, right?


The main change was the mantle. And for that, I did a little Halloween DIY.


The first step was to find a set of those cheap plastic pumpkins. I found these in the dollar section at Target. Then, they got a coat of primer, and then a couple coats of rose gold spray paint. That’s right, rose gold. Because we’re fancy pants over here.


Then, I gabbed a cheap $5 bouquet of sunflowers from Wal-Mart and added a few blooms. Ta-da!


I think it’s sort of a grown up Halloween look? Playful, but sophisticated? Charming and cute but modern and stylish?

Am I reading too much into it?


I also added my glitter pumpkins, because why not add a little glitter to your Halloween, right?


Anyway, I also switched out the quilt on the hearth to the Halloween Wyatt’s mom made me. It’s so cute, you all. You can see it in more detail, HERE.


And, I added a pumpkin and an extra little rose gold flower pot pumpkin to the side table next to the couch. Easy-peasy pumpkin pleasy.


I tried to keep things super simple this year. For a comparison, here’s an old Halloween mantle of mine compared to this year’s look.

Fall Living Room Decor

The year after that was VERY halloween-y.

(But also more whitewashed. Thank goodness for that project. All hail the whitewashing!)

Halloween Decor Living Room

Not bad, just busier. Here’s last year’s look. It’s fun to look back and see how my style has evolved.

Simple Fall Mantle 2015

I’m satisfied that our home feels a little festive, all without overwhelming my soul with more clutter. Less clutter leaves room for more mess. And our life is pretty messy these days.


How do you decorate for Halloween? Are you a less-is-more kinda person or do you go all out?

An Ikea Hack for Houseplants

One of my projects this weekend was to replant several of my houseplants that were overgrown and in need of some fresh root space. And, I got to create a fun Ikea hack while I was at it.


Flower pots are always one of the worst things for me to pick out at the store. For one thing, they are all expensive. Or ugly. Or both. Or maybe not ugly, but just overly decorative. I had been looking for something simple, white, and affordable.

So, when I saw these super cheap Ikea trash cans on our most-recent trip to Ikea, I grabbed three of them (should have gotten more!) with the intention of turning them into flower pots.


Since these were trashcans, I needed to drill some holes in the bottom of them. We drilled like 11-12 tiny holes in the bottom of each one to allow for drainage without a ton of water spillage if I over water.

On Sunday, I was able to take advantage of the warm weather and even do the repotting outside on the deck instead of inside. I’ve learned from experience that indoor gardening is a bit messy. I’ve talked about repotting plants, HERE.

Basically, you need to loosen the dirt from the sides of the pot, then gently invert and catch the plant and as much dirt as you can in one hand while lifting off the pot. Then the whole thing gets placed in its new home.

As a reminder, this is what the snake plant looked like 9 months ago.


I also grabbed a pack of these simple cork trivets from Ikea to use to absorb any water that happened to drip or seep out. They were $3.99 for a three-pack, which is also very affordable.


Then, from the basement, I grabbed two tiered drink stands I picked up on clearance at Target like 2 years ago (and have used as drink stands about three times since then) and used them as stools to I’d have some height variance. Now, my plants are looking a lot more dressed up.

I had a little trouble deciding on an arrangement. I will probably switch it up in there as I get the final furniture layout figured out.

replanted-houseplants-ikea-hack-flower-pots replanted-houseplants-ikea-hack-flower-pots-2

Oh, and I added a fun rose-gold giraffe to the party. Because… yes.


I’ll be back to talk more about those soon.

The white Ikea hack trashcan to flower pot project turned out super well, though. I like the simple look compared to what I had before.

plants in office

Even when I add in the rolling cart with all my little cactus babies, it’s less cluttered looking.


I actually think they are better individually, so I’d like to spread them out around the house. They do make me happy in my office, and it’s convenient for watering, though. I’m just not really going for the jungle look in there, if you know what I mean.


So, there is my office plant update…which reminds me that I own you all an update on our goals for the year. But let’s just say I’m doing okay on the goal to end the year with more plants than I started with…assuming they don’t all die between now and Christmas!

Now, you tell me what arrangement of pots you like best, or maybe suggestions of other rooms I can put these in where they’ll be safe from Will knocking them over and spreading dirt everywhere?

And, you can see how tiny these guys were when I brought them home, HERE.

Updating my Office – A (Small) Home Office Makeover

I’ve been working on a small home office makeover for awhile. Really, I’ve been cleaning, but I’m going to pretend it was a full revamp, okay?It’s looked like this for WAY too long this year.


But since I also added some furniture, I’m going to pretend it was more than just cleaning. It was also organizing. Organizing is a task all on its own, right?

One of the biggest reasons my office was always messy is because I just didn’t have any storage in there. Other than my desk (which has three fairly small drawers), and the little printer cart, there wasn’t anywhere to stash papers, notebooks, extra supplies, and even the bills and checks that needed to be cashed. Basically, I always had piles of clutter on my desk and on the floor.

So, to add storage, we picked up two of these small gray shelving units from Ikea the last time we were there. It’s called the Draget and only $29.99. It’s metal but pretty light duty, just for your reference. Two of them fit perfectly on either side of my desk.


(Sidenote, the more I look at these photos, the more I really dislike the color of our carpet. If we were rich, it would have been one of the first things to go. But since we’re not, I’ve tried to choose elements that sort of match…like the chair. But I’m so over the dirty brown color. Even when it’s freshly vacuumed, like it is above, it just seems dirty.)

Wyatt put them together for me and once I figured out where I wanted them, he secured them to the wall so Will couldn’t pull them over on himself if he’s ever in there with me. He had some spacers on hand which helped keep it perfectly level since it was set out from the wall at the base because of our trim.


I was drawn to these shelves because of the size and shape, but also because of the little copper details.


Then, I filled them up with stuff. It’s not the final arrangement of things, yet, but it’s better than having all this stuff on my desk and on the floor. And, I even got some things out of my crammed drawers. And I got to display a few pretty pictures and things, too. It is my office, after all, and I want to feel like it’s a space just for me.


The printer sits on the bottom shelf of one since we got rid of the little cart is was sitting on (more on that later) and I’m thinking I’d like to get a small little trashcan for one shelf so I can get rid of the one of the floor.

I also keep the camera on one shelf, but not while I was taking these photos, of course. I don’t do a good job of keeping it in the bag and it’s usually stashed around the house randomly, and too often in the reach of Will’s grabby little hands. Now, hopefully it will stay safer and out of reach. A place for everything, right?


Now the question is…do I paint the desk gray to match? What about white? Or some other color? Or leave it yellow? I like it yellow, but the paint has rubbed off on the front edge where my arms touch it all the time. So, for now, I covered it with some fun washi tape to stop the peeling. But that’s a temporary solution.


I like the yellow…but I also feel like a change would be fun. What do you think? It probably won’t happen for awhile (we’re trying to work on the basement, although the washing machine flood did slow us down on progress down there.

I also want to freshen up some other things in here, like the curtains and maybe some of the wall art or other decor items. And, I’m always trying to declutter. So, I’ll check back in when I’ve made some final progress toward making this room feel more finished.


So, thoughts on the color of the desk? Thoughts on ways to blend/hide the color of the carpet? Thoughts on how to keep the shelves organized and uncluttered? I’m open to all your office ideas!

When it Rains, it Floods…right?

So, technically, our flood wasn’t caused by the rain, it was caused by the washing machine drain hose coming unhooked. But, there was still a flood in our kitchen and laundry room, which leaked down to our basement and caused a whole bunch of issues. Yikes.

So, now instead of just ignoring the basement ceiling during that renovation project (we had decided to not scrape the popcorn off), we’ll probably be replacing the drywall entirely. Not to mention replacing a couple of boards in our brand new wood floors upstairs that got ruined.

This is how I’m feeling right now:

Or maybe this: 

But let me back up a bit and tell the whole story. Also, please accent my apologies in advance for the terrible cell photos throughout this post, I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to grab the camera and take “good” photos of the disaster as it was happening.

Monday is laundry day around here, and I was about halfway through the day’s loads at 2:50 in the afternoon. I was sitting in the living room and Will was playing while I trying to work on my laptop. I started to hear a dripping sound, like running water, and I jumped up to investigate since I suspected it had something to do with the washing machine. As soon as I took two steps toward the kitchen, I saw the water. The entire kitchen was flooded! Like half an inch of water all over the floor and creeping out more and more.

Of course, Will, was right on my heels, so I quickly scooped him up and deposited him into the hallway where he’s barricaded by a couple of baby gates. He immediately started wailing because of his banishment from all the excitement and I grabbed all the towels from our bedroom and started laying them out to mop up the water as fast as possible. I also dialed Wyatt on my phone and frantically explained the situation and told him I needed him to come home and help me as soon as possible. He asked if I was sure I needed him. I’m not sure what uncomplimentary thing I muttered, but he said he’d leave right away. It was now 2:52 pm.

By 3:06 pm, I had shut off the washer (it was done draining anyway) and used all the towels from our bathroom and the guest bathroom, beach towels included, and they were already full of water on the kitchen floor. I also put a towel down in the basement to mop up water that was running through the AC vent and into the carpet. Then, I called Wyatt back and got a few more instructions from him, such as setting up a fan and opening the doors to help blow out the moisture from the wood floors–our brand new wood floors! I hung up from him, with Will still wailing in the hallway, and ran down to the basement to stick a bucket under the still dripping water from the ceiling there.

I propped my phone up on the outside of the baby gate and put on Sesame Street in an attempt to entertain Will and get him to stop crying, and I ran back into the kitchen to start ringing out water from the towels. I rung them out and draped them over the deck railing to dry so I could reuse them, but realized that was sort of a lost cause, so I grabbed all the hand towels I could find and started mopping up the remaining water with those.

I went out to the garage to open it for airflow and saw water had also run under the door and soaked the carpet on the stairs and was puddling on the concrete out there, slowly making its way to the drain in the floor. Sheesh. I grabbed the box fan and took it inside. Will is still crying, but in between Sesame Street songs, so I’m feeling a little less stressed, until I look down at the floor and see this:


Yep, a giant buckle in our new flooring. At this point, I almost start crying but keep trying to get the box fan set up. It won’t turn on. I try another outlet and nothing. I think the GFI outlets may have tripped because of moisture so I check the mixer in the same outlet. It works. The stupid fan is broken. (We just got this fan as a Christmas gift from Wyatt’s family last year, so it’s not like it’s old and broken down, plus, I had just used it last week. What the heck?) It’s 3:13 pm and I steal the phone from Will and call Wyatt back and ask for help.

He is on the way home, stopping at the store to buy new fans and a dehumidifier, and has no idea why the fan won’t work. I hang up with him, Will wailing even harder in the background, and reset the phone up for him to watch Elmo, then I go back to mopping up water. By this point, most of it is finally gone, with the towels all rung out and on the deck to dry.


As a side note, Monday afternoon is the stinkiest trash time around here because it gets picked up on Tuesday mornings, so having the garage door open and the wind blowing in is funneling the sourest garbage smell into the house, as if the musty, dirty laundry water smell wasn’t bad enough.

I shove paper towels under the appliances that I can’t move and hope to soak up any remaining water that way, and start rubbing down the cracks of the floor boards with another towel to help get every last bit of water I can. Finally, I give up and go take care of Will, and Wyatt arrives shortly after and gets the fans and dehumidifier all set up, pulls out the appliances, fixes the washer issue, and we start working on the basement, using the Shop Vac to get water out of the carpet and wiping down the dripping air vent and ceiling. Sheesh. The ceiling is already covered in a giant red, rusty water spot from the wet AC duct.


At this point, the mad rush of clean up is over and we both take a deep breath and stop to feed Will some dinner and make a plan for the rest of the night. I mopped the kitchen floor three times to get all the dirty water residue off, and Wyatt spent a little time playing with Will before bedtime.


Wyatt also worked on the washing machine to find and repair a squeaking that had developed. He says it wasn’t related to the drain hose, but figured, while we were in the mess, right? I’m quite thankful he can just “fix” things. Seriously, there’s nothing that man can’t learn how to do.


After several hours of clean up, we’d done pretty much all we can do for now. It’s just a waiting game while we run the dehumidifier and figure out how to repair the basement ceiling. Thank goodness we hadn’t already done that project, but now there is certainly a rush on the job as you can’t live with wet, musty drywall very long.


I also had to wash all our towels, as every single full-size towel had been sacrificed in the cleanup.


Leaving Wyatt to use one of Will’s hooded towels for his shower. Oops.


All in all, we went to bed last night quite tired and quite frustrated. Yes, we’re DIYers, and yes, we’ll be able to fix this, but that doesn’t make it any easier to take. We still would rather spend our time and money on fun updates and not have to drop $200 in a hurried frenzy of desperately needing a dehumidifier on a random Monday afternoon.


Now, it’s you turn to make me feel better. Tell me about a home disaster you’ve dealt with and how it ended up making your home 1000x better once it was all over. Right? It will be better when it’s over…?

Awesome Ottomans – A Little Living Room Update

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A couple weeks ago, I made a trip to Target for an excuse to get out of the house with Will and I happened upon two green storage ottomans that were on clearance.


The ones we were using before were pretty old and worn down. One of them was from my college dorm room. The other one I think I grabbed at Wal-Mart for about $15 right after Wyatt and I got married. To say we had gotten our money’s worth out them was an understatement. And they were fine, but we were ready for something a little nicer.

Living Room Rug 5

Dare I say more sophisticated? If green storage ottomans can be sophisticated, I guess. I think the more structured cushions and the legs on these new ones make them look fancy. More like real furniture instead of just dorm room hand-me-downs.


Anyway, these still hold toys and prop up our feet, they just look prettier while doing it.


Is it a big update? No, but it’s one that touches our lives every day, which makes it exciting enough for this momma. Ideally, I’d have a nice round coffee table of some sort, but I haven’t found the perfect one for our space, and honestly, it’s so nice to have these two smaller ones to use to move around and barricade the corner of the living room away from Will’s curious little danger-seeking fingers. And, he loves taking the lids on and off to get his toys and books out. Plus, they are soft if he happens to fall on them.


If you’re looking for a similar little update for yourself, the ones we bought no longer seems to be in stock, but here’s a nice option in tan. Or this one, which is gray and looks really nice.


I almost like those better than the ones we found, although they quite a bit more expensive than the clearance ones I found. Plus, the green is one of Wyatt’s favorite colors. Plus, our current couches are sort of beigey-gray, so it’s hard to find a matching color of gray.


What do you think? Do new storage ottomans count as being sophisticated? 

A Switch in Time – A New Living Room Clock

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Let me tell you a little story about our living room and procrastination. More specifically, about our new wall clock, but I’ll get to that in a bit.

(My LAST POST was also about procrastination. Maybe there’s a theme or something going on here?)

So, we bought this clock from Target in March 2014. How do I know that? Because there’s a post about it. (You can read it, HERE, if you want a trip down memory lane.)

Living Room Clock

It lived over on the wall by the stairs for awhile, but when I added the clipboard gallery wall to that side of the room, the clock got booted.

Spring Clipboard Wall

That was in January 2015. (There’s a post about that, too. See how handy having a blog to document your life is? It’s like having a google search for your memories!)

So, for a over a year and a half, we couldn’t really agree on a new location for the clock. So, we just had the clock propped on the TV stand, which wasn’t a great plan. At one point, it got knocked over and the glass broke, leaving the hands just exposed and begging to be played with by little fingers.

Toy storage in living room in bins

So, we moved it up and propped it up on the honeycomb shelves we made. HERE’S THE TUTORIAL for those, if you’re interested.

But, the clock was too big and too dark to match the shelves.


It was a temporary solution only, but we were lazy about figuring out a better solution because we couldn’t find any cool clocks.

Finally, though, on a random Friday afternoon trip to Target, I grabbed a plain white clock, THIS ONE, to be exact, and brought it home to Wyatt. It was less than $4, so the investment wasn’t significant in case we didn’t end up keeping it very long. On Saturday, we got it hung up.


He wasn’t thrilled, and to be honest, neither was I, but after 18 months, the simple white clocked looks pretty good to me considering it’s actually hanging in it’s place and I can cross something off the hypothetical to-do list in the back of my brain. And, I don’t have to worry about it tipped over and falling on Will if he gets especially rambunctious with his bubble mower or something.

old-living-room-wall-clock-2 new-living-room-wall-clock-2

A small change, but nice to look up and see a clock that’s actually hanging on the wall rather than propped haphazardly against the wall.

What do you think? Worth it? 


Metal Rolling Cart Makeover

Ever have intentions for a project and then forget about it…for a year or more? How about for almost three years? Because this little metal rolling cart makeover has been in the works since March 2014.

Yep, total project procrastination fail, right? I mean, goodness, we stored a rusty, gross-looking cart in our basement for a REALLY long time, guys. Yikes.


But, it’s done now and I’m going to stop embarrassing myself and just tell you about it. Here’s a little sneak peek to hold you over until the end of the post if you are the sort of person who actual reads posts and doesn’t just scan really fast and look at the pictures.


The first step was to get it cleaned up. There was rust everywhere.



We started by taking it all apart. There were four bolts holding each shelf in place. They were pretty rusted, so Wyatt had to help (use his brute strength) and spray them down with some WD-40.

Then, we used a grinder to remove the rust and chipped paint from the shelves and the frame.


That was a loud, sweaty process–both things I’m not a fan of! There isn’t a photo of me doing this, but I did, I promise. Wyatt switched to using the bench grinder for the frame and I used the angle grinder for the shelves.


Then, we cleaned it off with a rag and some all-purpose dusting spray to ensure it was ready for paint.


I also cleaned the wheels and sprayed them with some more WD-40. And, then we taped them off so they wouldn’t get paint on them. That was a funny process that involved a bit of an accidental personality test for Wyatt and I and a race to see whose technique was faster.


As a sidenote, Wyatt also built a pretty cool little spray paint booth out of our old hollow core doors for us to use in the garage. This was totally worth the time to set it up. It helped so much and really contained the mess.


Originally, I wanted to go with a turquoise or something bright. I actually bought this off Craigslist for maybe $10–(I can’t even remember, it’s been so long!) after seeing THIS PIN. But when we finally got ready to paint, I was leaning more toward light and bright. Go figure, right? That’s the entire motivation for most of my home design decisions these days.

So, I decided to go with white shelves and gold frame, because why not? (I’m all about the gold lately, if you recall, HERE and HERE.)


We gave each shelf and the frame several thin coats. We always use the Rust-Oleum 2x coverage brand, but the metallic gold paint, in particular, is thin and it takes a bit to get good coverage. Be patient. It’s not worth the drips to try and hurry it along. Trust me. Oh, and don’t forget to paint the bolts! It will be pretty disappointing in your final project to have old, rusty bolts.


When we were all done painting, we put it all back together and stepped back to breathe a sigh of relief at finally saying this metal rolling cart makeover was complete.


I’ll admit that this little cart doesn’t really have a home yet. In fact, that’s probably one of the reasons we waited so long to tackle the DIY makeover. We just didn’t have a specific use for it. I originally wanted to use it in the kitchen as a little coffee bar or something, and that’s still technically an option, although not the best use of space. Still, it’s cute.


Or, it could be a surface for outdoor drinks and such for parties.


However, we tend to have pretty casual backyard parties with paper plates and plastic cups and giant containers of kid-friendly lemonade.


Not that we couldn’t host a fancier shindig with actual glasses, but most of our friends just aren’t fancy people. And to be honest, we probably aren’t either. Still, the cart would be be really cute out there.


This little guy seemed to like it. He landed there and stayed through the entire process of styling and taking photos. I even had to shoo him away to bring the cart back inside.


I’d also like to mention that Will ate a dead bug he found in the frame of the sliding door leading out to our deck while I was taking these photos. He got a fresh batch of toddler curiosity yesterday I think.


Anyway, so while both of those ideas are nice, right now, this little rolling cart is currently living in the living room, in the “dead space,” as I like to call it, and it’s pretty darn cute (even if these photos are a little blurry. Oops.)


Over the past four years of being in this house, we’ve had a few furniture pieces in that space, including the big bookshelf our brother-in-law Jeremy made us as a wedding gift. That shelf is currently in our bedroom.

Bookshelves Decor 9

We’ve also had a cradle full of baby stuff, some mismatched chairs, and most recently, a console table we used as extra space for summer parties. As another sidenote, how amazing would this white and gold cart looked with Will’s gold birthday party decor? Missed opportunity there, dangit.

Simple blue and gold first birthday party decoration guest book

I actually just sold that console table (a free find on Craigslist that I painted) at our garage sale last weekend, so the space was empty and needing something. Enter, our metal rolling cart makeover project…finally!

So far, Will likes playing with the wheels and banging on the shelf like a drum, but I like having one more place to stash toys that are easy for him to reach.


And, it gives me a place to put a plant. Every room needs a little life in it, right?


The cart will probably eventually make its way into my office (currently getting a mini makeover) or the basement (currently getting a big makeover) or even our bedroom (in need of a mini makeover). But, for now, it’s hanging out here and I’m admiring a project that is FINALLY done.


Three cheers!

Now, tell me what project you’ve taken the longest to complete? I can’t be the only one who procrastinates, right?

A Few (Small) Fixes

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A couple weekends ago, we were able to tackle a few small projects that have been in the back on my mind for quite some time now.

First up, some paint fixes.

Over a year ago, I grabbed a paint brush and our living room paint and went to work touching up some scuffs, which was fine until I got carried away and ended up making more work for myself. You see, our living room and hallway are the same gray color, but the entryway is actually slightly lighter. It’s a long story, but basically, we bought one color too light on the paint sample card and ended up with two very similar shades of gray. Since our entryway is pretty dark (there’s no window if the door is closed), I decided to go ahead and use the lighter shade in there.  Not only did it keep us from wasting the paint, but it also helped brighten that space just a little bit. The result of lighter paint in a darker area is that the entryway looks to be an identical color to the living room, which is exactly what I was going for. However, I forgot that little detail as I was happily touching up paint scuffs in my pregnant haze and ended up cursing myself as I realized my mistake and tried frantically to wipe off as much of the wet paint as I could. Honestly, it turned out to be not that noticeable…but, I still noticed.


Fast forward to this weekend, and I finally, more than a year later, got it fixed. Better late than never?

I also touched up a few places where the paint had chipped off above the doorways from me taping up various banners and decorations. Oops.


And then, I went to work in the hallway where we tend to scuff things while carrying big items, or when Will throws toys into them.

I also touched up the white trim in a few places (but not enough as I just saw more places where it was needed today—it’s never done!) and a couple spots on our white painted doors and even in the kitchen. It’s amazing how fast walls get smeared, scuffed, dented, and scratched around here.

The second update reminds me of my grandma’s house, and we won’t win any design awards for this, but thought it was worth admitting in case it helps anyone else.

The vents in our house are almost all located right in front of windows…which means when we close the curtains in our bedroom at night, the air billows out the curtains and gets lost going right up the wall behind them instead of going out into the room. We have been propping the curtains back against the wall with a notebook or a shoe, or whatever we can find, but that wasn’t a very good solution, admittedly.


So, we finally grabbed two of those cheap plastic air vent diverter things from Home Depot to direct the air out and away from the wall and out into the room. It made a huge difference right away, but we started to notice the floor being really cold in there. Since hot air rises, and cold air sinks, there wasn’t as much circulation as there should have been.

So, Wyatt also switched the rotation of our ceiling fan in there to draw air up rather than push it down. So now, the vents push cold air out along the floor, and the fan sucks it up and distributes it around the room. Ah, modern conveniences, right? And plastic vent covers that I could have stolen from my grandma’s house. Who would have thought?


Here’s a link so you can get your own E/O Heat and Air Deflector. It’s a cheap fix, but it made our nights a lot more comfortable, especially considering Will’s room is cooler than ours anyway since it’s first on the HVAC run. So, we have to turn the air up (to make it warmer) for his sake, while we’re sweating. Not anymore!

Also, I wanted to share a little update that not many people would probably need but that helped us a lot and made us feel really clever.


Yep, that’s a pool noodle, and it solved the issue of our freezer being just barely too tall to fit under the shelf above it when we open the door. We used some scraps of fabric to wrap around it at first, but that wasn’t very effective. The pool noodle, grabbed for $1 at a discount store, cut through to the hole in the middle and trimmed to fit the space we needed, has been perfect. Easy, cheap solution that might help spark someone else’s creative problem solving.


So, there are a few simple fixes we’ve managed lately. Maybe one of them will help one of you!

Now, if anyone wants to offer a solution to the problem of not having enough hours in the day for work, not having the motivation to do the dishes, or not having anything to eat for dinner because I forgot to thaw meat again, I’m all ears!



A Small Bathroom Shelf – Ikea Spice Rack Hack

We finally had some time over the long weekend to tackle some projects! Of course, I’m so excited to share them with you, but this week is going to be crazy. So, I figured I’d at least get a small one up on the blog to share with you first. Today, I’m sharing a rare glimpse into what goes on in our bathroom. Scared? Well, you might be right to be worried, as this little fix was long overdue. But it’s nothing too bad, just an Ikea spice rack hack to solve the problem of not having enough storage for everyday toiletries.

See, I needed a shelf or cabinet of some kind to stash all the bottles and jars that were cluttering up the counter. Actually, cluttered is a pretty tame word for how things were looking. It was actually pretty darn awful. I’m embarrassed to show this, but we need some sort of before picture and this one does a good job of showing the bathroom on one of its worst days.

Bathroom Counter Mess


You can see why we needed to do something. Hair, makeup, deodorant, soaps, lotions—it all multiplies on the counters.. Plus, with all that stuff sitting out, it was harder to keep the counters clean. And icky bathroom sink counter tops are one of my least favorite things ever.

So, I grabbed an Ikea spice rack when we were there on Monday. (More on that later!) It’s called BECVAM if you want to grab one for yourself. It’s made from unfinished pine and cost me a whopping $3.99. It only took me a few minutes to put together. Then, Wyatt put a couple anchors in the wall so it wouldn’t rip out when I loaded it up with a bunch of products.

(Sorry about the photos. It’s a dark room at night, with a giant mirror, and I only had my phone–I did the best I could!)

Hanging Bathroom Ikea Spice Rack Hack

Then, we added screws (which don’t come with it, I might add, so you’ll need to be prepared).

Hanging Bathroom Ikea Spice Rack Hack Wall Anchor  Hanging Bathroom Ikea Spice Rack Hack Wall Anchor 2

I also added a strip of peel and stick vinyl shelf liner to protect the surface from getting gross with oil from the coconut oil bottle or other product residue

Hanging Bathroom Ikea Spice Rack Hack Vinyl

The counters look a lot better.

Bathroom Counter Clean

There are still things on the counters, of course, like the hair straightener and my makeup bag. And everything on Wyatt’s side. He is already brainstorming ways to add a second one for the rest of all my stuff, though, so stay tuned. Ha!

Hanging Bathroom Ikea Spice Rack Hack Toiletries Shelf

And to be honest, these photos were pretty strategically taken so as not to show too much else in the bathroom. It’s the one room we haven’t done anything to. Not even paint the trim or replace the light fixture. We haven’t added storage or updated it at all. Needless to say, it’s one of my least favorite rooms in the house. But, it’s also a room we use multiple times everyday. So, this little fix to solve the cluttered, messy, icky counter problem, was well worth the time and (small) investment in the little shelf/Ikea spice rack hack.

Hanging Bathroom Ikea Spice Rack Hack Toiletries Shelf 2

And even though this bathroom isn’t my favorite, it’s not a bad little bathroom and we’re thankful to have it. And now, I’m thankful for my new little shelf and the added storage and organization it offers.

Hanging Bathroom Ikea Spice Rack Hack Toiletries Shelf 3

Anyway, here’s to finally getting a project done that’s been on my list forever. And for finally getting a blog post up after I’ve been slacking way too much lately. If anyone wants to come volunteer to clean my house and cook my meals, I bet I could get a couple more posts up. Any takers?

No? Well, at least cleaning the bathroom will be faster and easier now.

What have you been up? Anyone tackle any home repairs or projects over Labor Day weekend? 


Freebie FriYAY – September Sun Free Fall Printable

It’s been too long since I’ve shared a free printable with you all for #FreebieFriYAY so I spent a few minutes designing this fun free fall printable for you in honor of the beautiful September day we had today.

I’m going to add it to our clipboard gallery wall (which you can read about, HERE), but I haven’t chosen any other prints to go with it yet, so for now it’s just hanging out in the kitchen courtesy a little washi tape.

September sun free fall printable taped on kitchen frame

As a side note, that’s an interesting way to change out your art without doing much work. Just tape a new print to the outside of the glass in a frame. If this catches on as a new design trend, you’ll know you saw it here first, friends.

September sun free fall printable taped on kitchen frame2

It was so nice that Will and I had to get out and enjoy it. We went for a job this morning. (We do that every morning.) Then, this afternoon, we went to Target and spent some money. And Will decided he was a starving child that had never eaten in his life while we were there so I had to buy a package of blueberries and let him eat those as I finished shopping after he depleted my emergency Cheerios stash. So, yes, I was that mom with the screaming kid strapped into her cart who’s eating something they have yet to purchase. But we did purchase the blueberries, so I don’t feel badly about it. Desperate times call for desperate measures, right?

September Sun Free Fall Printable

Anyway, to download and print these is to right click on the image above and “save as” to save it to your computer and then print it out however you normally print stuff. Or post it online (with a link back here).

**As always, these designs are only available for personal use. That means you aren’t allowed to sell them or tell other people you created it. If you share them, please provide credit and a link back here. Prints may be available in bulk or commercially without watermark for a fee. Email melissa (at) for more information.**

Oh, and be sure to check out my Printable Pinterest board to find your own favorites. And, you can find all my free prints to download, here. (There’s a bunch–go check them out!)

Follow Loving Here Blog’s board Pretty Prints on Pinterest.

Our Suburban Garden – A Last-Minute August Update

Stopping in late tonight to share a quick garden update for the month of August. First, remember how I thought our tomatoes had gotten out of control last month? (Check out our July update, HERE.)

Well, I was wrong. They were just unruly. Now, they are out of control.

Suburban Garden August Crazy Tomatoes

Seriously, going in there to harvest the ripe ones feel a little like entering the wilderness for battle or something. It’s frightening.

Suburban Garden August Crazy Tomatoes 2

But, that being said, we have the most tomatoes we’ve ever had, and I’ve really enjoyed being able to use them in various dishes. I’ve made several batches of marinara sauce, salsa, and we even canned a batch of tomato juice with out own tomatoes! I’ve made juice before, but we had to get the tomatoes from someone else’s larger garden. Three cheers for our little garden doing it’s thing and producing enough for us to preserve.

The garden has been good to us this summer! 🍅🍆🌶

A photo posted by Loving Here Blog (@lovinghereblog) on

I have enough tomatoes in the fridge now for another batch of marinara sauce, another batch of salsa, and probably something else…I need to decide what I’d prefer to make! Suggestions?

Anyway, back to the garden. The peppers are also doing well. We have lots of pepper jelly to make (maybe tomorrow night?) and plenty for our next batch of fresh salsa.

Suburban Garden August Peppers and Cucumbers

Suburban Garden August Peppers

At least some of the beds look like we know what we’re doing.

Suburban Garden August Eggplant and Zucchini

We have plenty of eggplant and I’m all ears if anyone has eggplant recipe ideas for me, too. I’ve made eggplant/veggie lasagna that was a household hit, and of course, it’s yummy fried…but I’m short of suggestions for these, too.

Suburban Garden August Eggplant

I replanted peas a few weeks ago and am hopeful that I’ll get another batch of sugar snaps before fall.

Suburban Garden August Beans

I also replanted zucchini and hopefully will miss the worst of the pests so I can get a few more of those, too. So far they look healthy and there are tiny zucchini out there…if they’ll only grow!

Suburban Garden August New Zucchini

I managed to save our original zucchini plants enough to get a few this year, but going out with a knife to manually search for and remove the squash borers is just too time consuming to keep up all summer and eventually, the stems get too damaged to survive anyway. One of them looks to be hanging on still, but mostly, I’m considering these done for the year. I should probably rip them out and plant lettuce in this bed or something.

Suburban Garden August Dead Zucchini

Suburban Garden August Zucchini

Speaking of lettuce, I’ve planted it twice so far for a fall harvest with no luck. I think it was too hot for the seeds to germinate since I kept neglecting to go out and water like I do in the spring. Oops. Maybe I’ll try again. Maybe not.

We got a lot of lettuce in the early summer, though, which is good. So, maybe I’ll get motivated.

Garden Lettuce Harvest

The cucumbers are looking pretty rough, but we still get a few nice ones each week. We’ve made a few batches of cucumber dip (a summer favorite here!) and need to at least make a few fridge pickles before the harvest is completely over.

Suburban Garden August Cucumbers

The acorn squash has been great. I’ll plant it again for sure. Not only does Will really like it, but it has survived the squash borers much better than the zucchini. I did have to slice open the stem and remove a few borers, but it recovered well and though it’s looking a little rough now, I’m pleased with this, for sure.

Suburban Garden August Okra and Acorn Squash

The okra also look good. Anyone know how to make them bloom, though? So far, nothing but leaves out there.

The strawberries are putting out shoots and I’m hopeful they will take root in some of the vacant holes we have in our towers. But again, I’m not watering like I should, so it’s been a little rough. However, the 4+ inches of rain over the past week or so should help a bit at least.

Suburban Garden August Strawberries

Overall, our garden is doing really well.

Suburban Whole Garden August

We really only tend it 1-2 times a week, so it’s fairly self sufficient considering how much it’s producing. I do wish we had a bit more time to devote to it, but between the busy schedules and the mosquitoes, I’m pleased with the time we are out there, even if our asparagus beds do look like this:

Suburban Garden August Asparagus Grass

The other day, I was out there with pants, rubber boots, a long sleeve shirt, hat, and bug spray, and I still got six bites. Five that were THROUGH my pants—what are these super mosquitoes??, and one ON MY FACE.

I give up. I’m destined to be bug bait forever.

So, give me all your recipe/canning suggestions, and you best bug-battling tips for the end of the summer! Or share your garden progress. I know we have some gardeners, here!


My Messy Desk Dilemma: A Revamped DIY Desk Organizer

~ This post contains affiliate links, which means we will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on our direct link. Don’t worry, it doesn’t cost you anything extra. And, we won’t recommend anything we’re not personally a fan of! Please reach out if you have any questions about sponsorship or ads on our blog. We’re happy to help explain how this works, and as always, thank you for reading and supporting LovingHere! ~

Today, I’m sharing a DIY desk organizer that I revamped to use on my desk.

Thrifted Turquoise and Gold Stacked DIY Desk Organizer ReMake After 5

Awhile back, I posted this photo on Instagram:

You guys. Remember that lovely photo of my kitchen I posted last night? And how I was all, “I try to clean every day…” Well, lest you think I’m anything but a hot mess housekeeper, today, I’m sharing my office with you. Can you even see my fun yellow desk under all that awfulness? 🙈 Making a commitment now to work through this mess so I can actually use this room again without feeling anxious and overwhelmed. And saying a prayer of gratitude that I’m blessed with Amazing Grace in life, and homemaking. 💙 Sharing this shot of my #diy desk and striped wall for #thecraftedhomethursday hosted by #thecraftedhomegals @rustic_peonies @upyonderdesigns @aryannsplace @6lilacplace @sassafrashome and Also joining in for #decordailydose and #thriftedvintagethursday.

A photo posted by Loving Here Blog (@lovinghereblog) on


So, you could say I have a bit of a mess problem in my office. Recently, I’ve started trying to tackle this issue head on. I’ve made piles, I’ve thrown things away. I’ve moved piles around and made new piles in their place…but the mess just kept coming back.

One of the main issues is that whenever I’m doing my daily pick-up of the rest of the house, I tend to have few items that I’m not sure what to do with or where to stash…so they get dumped in my office. Usually on my desk so I “remember” to come back and deal with them later. Which translates to a growing pile of junk and miscellaneous items. I knew I needed to break this habit, and I needed a system in place that worked for me to have the things accessible that I need, while providing the stress and clutter-free desk I needed to actually get anything done in this room.

So, when I saw this cool old wooden stacked desk organizer at our favorite local thrift store, I grabbed it and quickly made time to remake it into something a little fresher and more fun (gold–duh!) in hopes it would help me solve my desk dilemma.

Thrifted Wooden Stacked DIY Desk Organizer ReMake Before

The price was right…

Thrifted Turquoise and Gold Stacked DIY Desk Organizer ReMake Before Price

The process was fairly simply. Step one was to remove the gross furry felt from the bottom on each tray.

Thrifted Turquoise and Gold Stacked DIY Desk Organizer ReMake Removing Felt

I had to use a scraper to get all the residue off. Ew.

Thrifted Turquoise and Gold Stacked DIY Desk Organizer ReMake Scraping Felt 2

I also used the scraper (really, it’s a chisel, but it worked) to remove some sticky, gunky residue from the top, sides, and bottom of each tray.

Thrifted Turquoise and Gold Stacked DIY Desk Organizer ReMake Scraping Felt

Step two was to remove the screws and disassemble it. Then, the metal got a coat of my favorite gold spray paint. And the wooden boxes got a fresh coat of a very light aqua color. I considered leaving them the natural wood tone, but the wood isn’t very good quality and there were were a lot of scuffs and some sticky gunk I had to scrape off so it ended up having to be painted.

Thrifted Turquoise and Gold Stacked DIY Desk Organizer ReMake Ready to Paint

After everything dried for several days, I screwed it back together and then added it to my desk.

Thrifted Wooden Stacked DIY Desk Organizer ReMake After

So, the top has become my “inbox” of sorts, a dumping spot for things I’m not sure what to do with or don’t have time to deal with at the moment. But, the rule is that when my inbox gets full, (or sooner if I’m lucky!), I will take the time to clean it out instead of letting it spill out all over the rest of my work surface.

Thrifted Turquoise and Gold Stacked DIY Desk Organizer ReMake After 3

The bottom is for my papers and notebooks that I use on a daily basis. This gives me a place to tuck them away so my overall desk surface can stay a little neater. And the gold details are just really fun. They happen to match a notebook Wyatt’s mom recently gave me.

Thrifted Turquoise and Gold Stacked DIY Desk Organizer ReMake After

Of course, this box does take up some room on my desk…but I think the real estate isn’t being wasted. After all, the stuff that was burying my desk before was taking up way more space than this, and if I can keep this system going, I’ll be way more productive when sitting at my desk. Heck, I was more productive sitting at my desk to write this post than I have been in weeks!

However, ideally, I would have another couple of surfaces in my office for things. Right now I only have the little printer cart (which is currently covered in a few decorative items and a few functional items (bill organizer, stamp box) as well as a few random things that are just stashed there for now (a couple cards and gifts I am getting ready to send to friends and family members). Other than that, the only other surface in here right now is the cart I’m currently using to hold baby plants. I think I’d do well to add another cabinet of some sort. But, overall, just cleaning off my desk and adding a small organizer made a big difference.

Thrifted Turquoise and Gold Stacked DIY Desk Organizer ReMake Home Office

Also, I’m super proud that I managed to get this room cleaned out enough to even take these photos. It has been a disaster area for the entire summer so far and honestly, has caused me a little bit of anxiety. Simply cleaning out the clutter on my desk and removing a bunch of other piles of of junk (store returns, paperwork from the hospital stay when I had Will, random toys and baby gear, etc.) has lowered my blood pressure several points I think.

And, if you don’t have any thrifted paper trays to fix up, try this pretty one from Target. At only $9.99 each, you can buy two or three, and then stack them to make your own organizational center.


Or, this cool hanging file organizer by Nake Berkus.  It’s only $12.99 and will give a really similar look and function without any DIY needed, although you know we like a good makeover project here. Still, these Nate Berkus office supplies tempt me every time I walk through the store. Wyatt has to almost physically restrain me!


Anyway, there’s your home office organizational motivation for today. If I can clean my desk, so can you!

Thrifted Turquoise and Gold Stacked DIY Desk Organizer ReMake After 4

What are some of your best office organizational tips? I’d like to grab a cabinet and really finish pushing through this office organization project while I have some momentum going. Share your secrets for success! 

How to Survive a Kitchen Renovation

Now that we’ve been finished with our kitchen renovation for awhile, we’ve had some time to reflect on the process and some of the things that helped us and that might help you survive a kitchen renovation, or any major renovation project.

Not that we didn’t have issues with the mess and the chaos and the unending about of dishes that were washed in our hall bathroom. After all, it did take us many, many months and we were pretty crazy by the end. Yikes. But, it could have been worse. And there were a few things I think are worth keeping in mind for future projects.

Want to go back and see the kitchen recap post for a rundown of this entire project? CLICK HERE. Or, to see our budget breakdown, CLICK HERE

  1. Make a storage plan before you start.

One of the worst parts of the renovation was having our food and dishes feel like they were all over the place and covered in sawdust and drywall dust all the time. When we first started, we just filled boxes with the stuff from our pantry and piled them up in a corner of the kitchen. That meant we had to reorganize and move that stuff several times. Finally, we set up a table and even ordered a little stackable shelf for an area in our living room that we devoted to a makeshift pantry, which did help. I mean, you can only live like this for so long:

Messy Kitchen Makeshift Pantry

2. Find some sort of food routine.

Eating take out is a great way to survive any crazy times in life (new baby?) but when your renovation takes over a year, you have to cook, occasionally. at least. We set up a makeshift “kitchen sink” in our bathroom and it was nice to at least have a place that felt “normal” when we needed to wash a pot or a pan. We also managed to come up with several stand-by recipes that were quick and easy to prepare. We ate a lot of frozen pizzas and a lot of soup and a lot of sandwiches and a lot of hot dogs. But it worked and we survived.

Dishes in bathroom sink

3. Keep things as clean as possible.

We swept our floors at the end of pretty much every single work day. Even on days that we didn’t tackle messy stuff, there was always a lot of mess on the floor. It was amazing how dirty everything always was, and I can only imagine how much worse it would have been without all the sweeping. Plus, I mopped multiple times after every time we worked with drywall dust. It took a few extra minutes at the end of long days when we were already tired, but I think it was worth it to not track dust even farther into the house.

Sweeping Dirty Kitchen Floor During Messy Remodel

4. Take your time packing things up.

Some of our stuff was in storage for over a year, which is a long time for things to have the opportunity to break. It’s worth it to take your time packing things that could break. One of my best tips is to use old grocery sacks since we always have them in abundance and they are nice and cushy when you wad them up and use them between breakables in boxes. Newspaper also works well, and we always have plenty of both in our garage because we never remember to take our recycling to the center. Oops. Reusing is just as good, right?

We didn’t break a single thing using this method, so I swear by it. In fact, it’s also how I pack up breakable Christmas decorations and other decor items.

Packing Away Breakable Kitchen Dishes

5. Be reasonable with your timeline. 

I know, I know, I’m the worst at this ever considering how many times I complained about how long the renovation was taking us. Black kettle moment, anyone?

Anyway, as much as you can, try not to budget doing too much at one time, especially if you have kids, and full time jobs, and friends you want to see occasionally, and a general understanding the projects always take way, way longer than you think they should. I guess what I’m saying is that it’s pretty unreasonable to expect a renovation that you’re doing by yourself to be completed in a few months. I mean, some people might be able to do it in that time (but not us!), just make sure to think about how much time you’re really going to commit to projects each week before tackling one.

6. Ask for help, but know when to say no. 

Don’t say no when family or friends offer to come pitch in, within reason. For example, when Wyatt’s parents came up to help us demo the old kitchen out? That was a big “yes, please!”

Demo Upper Kitchen Cabinets

Same when my dad and brother-in-law helped Wyatt with our crazy electrical work. But, I also know I’m sort of picky about some things, and that’s why I didn’t accept every offhand comment from a friend or family member who was willing to come help us paint or move in, or even pack things up. I may not be a fast worker, but I know my limits and know when I just need to take my time and do a job myself in order to be satisfied at the end of it. I often don’t even want Wyatt to help with certain jobs because he tends to rush me along and make me frustrated. Just know it’s okay to say yes, and to say no.

7. Get out of the house occasionally.

Go on a family vacation. Take a date night break. Sometimes, you need some time to reset and come back to a project energized. For example, we worked really hard to get the drywall all done and painted before going on a quick weekend getaway, and it felt so good to walk back in feeling excited and refreshed for the next step in the process, rather than worn down and weary.  Plus, we had a chance to do some talking and planning about the project in a neutral location. It can be hard or make decisions when you’re blinded by the mess and ideas you thought you wanted. Sometimes taking a step back helps clear the air for a better idea.

I remember sketching ideas for our entryway nook area at my parents’ house one afternoon after being stuck in a rut of indecision for several weeks of staring at that corner. It took us a long time to settle on the plan that was perfect for us, but I’m so glad we took the time to get some fresh perspectives.

Kitchen Cabinet Sketches

Those last two tips are probably mostly related to your personal sanity and your family or marriage’s well-being. Renovations are tough on relationships. Remember that show Renovation Realities? There’s a reason the couples were always fighting!

Also…so cheesy. Someone tell me if we had a show about our renovation it wouldn’t be so ridiculous. Call us, HGTV, we’ll be your next breakout stars.


Anyway, I think my best relationship-specific advice is to just remember you’re on the same team with things get tough. Wyatt and I say that to each other a lot when we’re feeling stressed, but it helps. When projects aren’t going well, it’s us against the drywall, or the garbage disposal, so-to-speak—not us against each other.

Wyatt Covered In Drywall Sanding Dust 2

We certainly could have benefited from following a few of these tips a little better (time management, anyone?) but the ones we did get right helped a lot. It will probably be awhile before we tackle a project as big as the kitchen again…but I’m confident we could do it if we really put our minds to it. Being determined to accomplish a goal is certainly the first step to success.

And, remember, the end result is worth it. As my mom would quote Dory, “just keep swimming” and you’ll get to the end eventually.” And the end is so beautiful.

Finished White Kitchen Renovation 2

To go back and see the kitchen recap post for a rundown of this entire project, including the crazy before and afters, CLICK HERE. Plus, check out our budget breakdown, CLICK HERE.

What are some of your best tips for how to survive a kitchen renovation, or any major renovation project? Leave a comment with your suggestions and lessons, below!

How We Celebrated Will’s First Birthday

It’s hard to believe it’s been a month since Will’s first birthday. I know the timeliness of this recap is a bit late, but I wanted to go ahead and share his first birthday celebration anyway since it’s the start of a tradition I think we’ll keep for many years, and because this blog serves as a sort of time capsule to many of the milestones in our lives and it only feels right to document how we marked this occasion. Plus, the photos are cute and I wanted an excuse to post them.

For starters, let me just say that birthdays are a big deal to me. I like to celebrate. I like to give presents (who doesn’t!?) and I like to eat cake. Again, duh.

So, I knew I wanted to make Will’s first birthday feel special even though he’s too young to remember it. It fell on a Monday and Wyatt and I both had to work, at least part of the day anyway. Still, I think birthdays are meant for doing whatever the birthday boy or girl wants to, so we decided to do all of Will’s favorite things, including lots of time playing with his cups. The kid loves cups, and I was happy to oblige him all morning.

Will first birthday playing with cups

The real fun started that evening when Wyatt got home from work, though, since we pretty much play with cups every day anyway. First, we headed to the park near our house to swing. Yes, we have a swing in our backyard but going to swing at the park felt a little more special. And, he had lots of fun.

Will swinging at park first birthday

Will and Melissa at park swinging first birthday

Plus, he got to go down the slide for the first time which he thought was pretty great.

Will first birthday first slide with Wyatt at park

Will first birthday first slide at park

Will first birthday family picture at park

After playing for awhile, we headed to Chick-fil-a to eat chicken, which is another of Will’s favorite things to do. We didn’t get any good photos of this because, let’s face it, the kid is all business when it comes to eating chicken.

Will first birthday chick fil a

He was having a good time, though. I promise.

Will first birthday chick fil a 2

And then, we went to the mall to pick up my Mother’s Day ring that had been resized, and even though Will doesn’t care for much for shopping, he got to hunt some Pokemon with dad while they waited, and he thought that was pretty entertaining.

When it was time to head home, he got to eat some birthday “cake.” I posted all about his actual birthday party, including his healthier smash cake recipe, HERE.

Will first birthday blueberry smash cake

He was slightly more enthusiastic this time around with the cake, and after eating all the blueberries on top, he had fun playing with the cake more than eating it, but then again, he was full from all the chicken he had scarfed down. Before he got too crazy, it was time for bath and bed.

Will first birthday blueberry smash cake messy

All, in all, a really sweet way to mark our sweet boy’s entrance into the world. It was good to reminisce about the year before and some of our favorite moments and hardest moments. And, we had fun to compare what we were doing this year with what we were doing last year at that exact moment when I was in labor. (For Will’s birth story, CLICK HERE.)

Thanks for letting me share some memories of Will’s first birthday celebration with you all. As he gets older, I hope to continue to let him choose to celebrate his birthday with his favorite things. Wyatt isn’t a huge fan of birthdays, but I think even he had a nice time celebrating Will. Ha!

How do you celebrate birthdays? Any other favorite birthday traditions to share?

A Fun (Shutterfly) Family Book for Babies

One of the things on our goal list for this year included making some toys and games for Will. Even though I didn’t specifically include books in that goal, I wanted to share a fun book project I recently completed that has become one of Will’s very favorite books. Basically, it’s a DIY Shutterfly family book and I think you should add it to your list of projects or gift ideas right away because it was easy and awesome and I’m confident little ones (and big ones!) of all ages will love it!

Will smiling at custom family photo book from Shutterfly

Also, if you sign up for a new account with Shutterfly and USE THIS LINK, you and I will both get a free photo book! That means you can make your photo book FOR FREE and then just have to pay shipping to get it sent directly to your house. Totally affordable for a custom book that I think your kids will really, really enjoy.

But, I got ahead of myself a little bit. Here are the details of this sweet DIY family book. I know most of you are probably familiar with Shutterfly and have likely even made memory books for graduations, Christmas presents, weddings, or even yearly photo albums, but this was a slightly different take on it that I think is really sweet.

family photo book 1

I started with a template that comes preloaded on Shutterfly. The template was called Little Love if you want the same one I used, and it’s actually sort of “girly” but I just customized it to only use the gender neutral features. I used their customize page option to add text boxes and change the photo sizes and locations. Then, I added some of their pre-loaded free banners, backgrounds and stickers to add some flair and make it bright and fun for a kid to read. my books are usually more classic (black and white) but since this was for Will, I knew I wanted it to be fun and colorful.

The book opens with a photo of all of us, to help Will learn what the word “family” means.

family photo book

I made a page at the beginning for Will, then a page for myself and for Wyatt.

family photo book 2

We included little details about ourselves for him to read and learn as he grows older. For now, we basically just talk about our “names” (momma and daddy) and point to our faces and to Will’s face to encourage him to say those words. He’s not a big talker but this is helping him associate words with faces.

family photo book 3

I made similar pages for his grandparents and aunts and uncles, as well as his great-grandparents.

family photo book 4

Here’s a video tutorial from Shutterfly if you feel lost.

Again, I think this project was one of the most fun to create and has already been one of the most enjoyable things to share with Will. He can’t talk yet but his eyes light up when he sees himself and others he recognizes as we look through the pages. And, it helps him remember family members we don’t see as often. We read it at least once a day, if not more.

family photo book 5

I’ve used Shutterfly to create several books over the years so I’m happy to answer any questions you have as you’re designing. Or, if you would prefer I do all the hard work for you, feel free to email me at melissa (at) lovinghere (dot) com and we can talk about a custom order where I’d design the whole thing for you start to finish!

Or, if you want to go another really easy route, just choose a template they have and don’t customize it at all. Simply upload your photos and drag them to the pages in the order you want them, add your text and order. Easy-peasy.

Really, I think this is one project even the most non-DIYers can tackle and end up with an adorable book your little one will treasure for years. I can just imagine Will reading it to us as he gets older. He’s already so proud and giddy to see himself on the pages. Seriously, it’s adorable. Just go make a book and see for yourself.

family photo book 6

**This post contains my direct referral link for Shutterfly and we’ll both be gifted a free photobook if you sign up for a new account and redeem your free book offer! Thanks, and happy designing!**

Family-Friendly Design – Toddler Toy Storage Tips

It’s hard to believe, but yes, we really do have a near-toddler on our hands. As Will gets more mobile and does more playing on his own, I’ve found that toy storage has become more and more important.

Will in toybox toy mess in living room

I like the idea of having a playroom dedicated to toys, but right now, that isn’t practical for us. For starters, Will plays near us because he’s still little enough he needs to be pretty closely supervised. That means he spends most of his time playing on the living room rug, the kitchen floor, or in the hallway outside our bedroom or my office.

In the living room, we have a bin of toys–no earth shattering idea there, but hey, it works and it’s cheap. In fact, none of these ideas are really earth-shattering, but it has helped us find a balance between toys being accessible and toys being out of sight…which is really the goal.  And honestly, I think the biggest takeaway from this was that we really don’t need that many toys. Anything that Will has outgrown got sorted out and things he doesn’t like were put away or gotten rid of. I know he’s young and will continue to get more toys and games as he grows, but the goal is to keep things as minimalist as possible.

Toy storage in living room in bins

Whatever fits in the bin gets to stay out and I don’t mind at all, but as the toys have increased, I needed somewhere for the rest of them. I realized that the two ottomans we use as a makeshift coffee table/foot rests/extra seating were mostly empty. And what they did have in them…was junk.

storage ottomans before

So, I cleaned those out and they got filled with the remaining toys. It isn’t a long term solution probably, because I eventually want to get an actual coffee table, I think, if I can ever find one that works in our space, but man, this is way better than just wasting that precious storage space. I mean, they are storage ottomans, after all, right?

Toy storage in living room ottoman

In the kitchen, Will only has a few toys, and those magnet to the dishwasher. There are a bunch of little magnets that go along with those but since Will can’t really grasp the concept of matching animal fronts and backs together, we only keep a few out at once and the rest stay stashed in the cabinet nearby. These probably aren’t something we would have purchased ourselves as first time parents who didn’t know what sort of toys we’d need or want, but they were given to us secondhand by a friend and I’m really thankful because it helps so much when I’m trying to cook or clean in there and need Will to be occupied.

Toy storage in kitchen with magnetic toys

He also plays with cups and a few other random kitchen items while I’m making dinner or working at the table. Those typically get stacked on the pew, or tucked in a cabinet if I’m feeling especially tidy that day.

Will playing with DIY toys makeshift kitchen toys

We’ve also found a few ways to incorporate toys into the decor, sort of.

For instance, the bookshelves in the living room are really tempting for Will to play with and if I let him, he’d remove them all into a giant pile on the floor.

I switched out a few breakable items for things he can play with now that he can reach them, and it’s been a lot better for both of us because he’s drawn to those items first and then usually forgets about the tempting books. Usually.

Toy storage in living room built in bookshelves

So, the second biggest tip that I have is to try to choose toys that look okay just sitting out. Wooden puzzles and toys are classics and even things like balls or stacking cups actually look sort of sculptural on shelves. Functional art, right? Ha! It’s not perfect, but it works for us, and that’s what family-friendly homes are all about anyway.

Toy storage in living room with built in bookshelves Will playing with cups

Thankfully, he’s pretty independent most of the time and can play for awhile on his own, but that means the toys get spread all over and he gets a whole bunch of them out at once and dragged around.

For example, when I work in my office, I keep all the other hallway doors closed and put the baby gate across the office entrance so I can still see and interact with him from my desk. I usually start out with one or two things for him to explore, then hand him more options as he gets bored with the first set, and so on and so on. And before I know it, the hallway looks like this.


And that’s okay, but we needed to pick things up several times a day so we didn’t trip on them, or stub our toes on them—I’m looking at you, Mr. Turtle.

So, we needed a place to stash toys in the hallway without just making a giant pile. That’s what we did for several weeks and it helped, but didn’t really scream “relax” as we headed to bed for the night and had to walk around the stack of haphazardly stashed books and animals. Adding a bin was a super simple fix and even though it still looks like a kid area, it feels tidier to me.

Toy Storage in Hallway 2

In Will’s room, we’re still fairly limited since when he’s in there, he’s usually sleeping or reading. But, we do have a few bins under his bookshelves that we tuck a few things into each evening as we pick up for the day.

Toy storage and book storage in nursery with DIY book ledges 2

The books are a whole topic in themselves because, you guys, we have a lot of books. I mean, a lot. Will might have more books that I do. And that’s saying something. But they are so pretty and I love the time we spend reading in there together. (CLICK HERE for a recap on how we DIYed them.)

New modern gray nursery glider from target for gender neutral nursery theme 3

We have most of his books on the upper shelves (where he can’t pull them down) and honestly, there are too many up there to really be effective so I think adding more book storage is going to be on our list of goals for next year. (Want to see how we’re doing on this year’s list? CLICK HERE.)

There are also several stashed in his closet that we’re saving until he’s a little older.

Extra Toy storage and book storage in nursery in closet

And there is a bin in the living room with some of his current favorites that we read during the day. It can be tucked under the TV stand with the bin of toys, but usually, they both sit on the hearth for easy access.

Toy storage in living room in bins under TV stand with Will looking out window

The rest are usually stacked in a pile in his room on the ottoman, side table, or even in the hall toy basket. But as our collection grows, I know we’re going to need a better system for organizing. I also will need to downsize some. It’s just hard because I like them all and Will enjoys reading so much so I feel like it’s a special bond we share.

In general, I think we’re doing okay with the toys and baby-related clutter, but this is certainly an area where I feel we have a lot of growing to do.

Toy storage in living room

I mean, Will is only a year old, so I know there are many, many more messes in our future. Plus, he got a bunch of “bigger toys” like a ride-on train and a bubble mower for his birthday that I’m still figuring out how to store and use efficiently, not to mention this pop up play area. I mean, this thing is huge. It folds up nice and neat, but still…it takes up a lot of space when he’s actually playing with it.

Basement Room Picked Up with Pop Up Play Tent

We are planning a pretty big basement storage project and really trying to think about toy storage with that. I’d love to hear your best toy storage tips for making a space truly family friendly—not just kid-friendly, but a place adults can relax and enjoy, too.

Share your thoughts by leaving us a comment below–we love to hear from you all!