My most valued possession is my family. Even if you are living in a box
somewhere, and you have the love and support of your family, you will always be
wealthy. Love really is all you need. From love, great things will emerge. From
your thoughts, you can create greatness.This is what I need to remind
myself of everyday to be the best person that I can be. Live your life with
gratitude. Be thankful for all that you have everyday, even if it is your eyes
to see or your ears to hear or your feet to walk or your hands to create.
Understand your place in this Universe; how infinitesimally small you are, but
how huge a contribution your Spirit is. Don't wear blinders to the world around
you, you're not the only one here. Be kind, considerate, don't be judgmental,
love others, and yourself. Know that you are perfect inside; that you are

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

confessions of a thinkaholic: A True Christmas Spirit...A Tribute To My Sister

Happy Christmas Eve, and Eight and final day of Hanukkah (ending at sundown...)!!
Today's post is in honor of a most special person in my life. She doesn't know it, but it's all about her kind spirit, generosity and big heart. It's also a great lesson in unselfish giving and getting another step closer to a kinder World.

Enjoy, and thank you for reading!

Happy Hollidays!

I love you, Sis...

confessions of a thinkaholic: A True Christmas Spirit...A Tribute To My Sister: We can exchange many wonderful things with each other: trinkets, clothes, jewelry, sweets...but I want to gift something to someone special ...

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Remodel: Days 5 through 8 or 9-ish...

Whew! My goodness...I've been so busy I haven't even had time to share! Sorry 'bout that. We've moved along pretty well in the last few days completing the vital parts of the reno. We did have to send the right and left side of the counter tops back to the store--they were too long. Now, I'm not going to fault anyone, but our measurements were pretty precise; I think it was just an oversight. It happens. At least they were too long and not too short. Easy fix (I hope). We just have to wait another week to get them back before we can put them together.

Anyway, here are the next few steps that we have accomplished so far and there are many more to come...


Here are a couple of pictures of each side of the floor where we thought there was the dreaded black mold. Thank God we were wrong--just stained sub floor...
We had removed the worst part of the flooring replacing it with a sheet of 3/4" plywood until the floor installers came back. They cut out and tore up the linoleum covered lauan and we worked on the dry rotted floor later that night to ready it for them to put in the nice new flooring the next day, but more about that in a bit.

In some of the above pictures you can see that there is plastic covering the wall. The hubby cut that back and we bought some green board drywall to cut and fill in the space.  

Looking better already, don't you think? Next, the hard work was about to commence. We had to rip out what should have been a 4x8 foot section of that terrible floor. We got out the pry-bars and hammers and got to work...

Some of it was rather easy to tear out because it was so dry-rotted, and some was really nailed down with 20 year old nails. And that floor underneath? It's 116 years old...

Looks pretty good for it's age. It held up where the "new" floor did not.

Then we had to fill in the newly made hole with 3/4" tongue and groove sub floor. Noah had used the circular saw to cut the sections of the floor that did not want to budge, and we ripped that out with the pry-bars, but we were not able to get it to a 4x8 size. So, he just cut the plywood to size: a perfect 4x6 foot piece. It fit like a glove, and he got high praise from the carpenters!

Noah: 1    Hideous floor: 0

Here's a candid shot of how we work. I was snapping pics of him working and I got this. He aimed the screw gun at me and made a "Thbbbffft" sound. Nice. At least we weren't fighting.

Here are the precise cuts the floor installer cut around the plumbing. Now, usually you really would not want to put your bottom cabinets on top of your flooring (I've been told), but we had not had the bottom cabinets in yet, so he didn't know where to run the floors up to (as in up to the edge of the bottom of the base cabinets), does that make sense? I asked him about this and he said it's really because they (Installers/product specialists) worry about the weight distribution sitting on the floors. But, he said my refrigerator was a monolith, and the cabinets are distributed evenly and the counters aren't heavy stone, so he was not worried. If he's not, then I'm not. Besides, the work is guaranteed and under warranty (not that I ever want to go through this ever again. Ever.) and I love the thought of everything sitting on an extra layer between the basement and my cabinet bottoms. After smelling the musty basement air rising up from above for all these years, I'm grateful.

Another angle of the cuts around the plumbing. That looks gross, but it's just glue...

All nice and clean. A big improvement from a few days earlier.

Here is a shot of our back room. It's the addition part of the house added in 1989. It holds our laundry room and bathroom (that remodel is for another day). It was the final room to have the floors installed. They used the same 3/4" tongue and groove sub floor to level the floors out to each height difference, and got to work.

Here is a shot of the kitchen from the back room...

And here is the finished product. Of all the boxes of flooring, that is all we have left. Always keep your leftovers for repairs, if ever you should have one. It will save a trip to the store later, plus, you never know when the manufacturer will discontinue that particular product.

Finished. And I love it. We have since moved into fixing the sink (even though the counters are not all together--we'll just settle it in for good when they do come in), picking our house colors (finally!), and painting the living room (at least). We will start to bring in our stuff from the storage pod this week and weekend, paint the foyer and back room and hopefully start on clearing out our bedroom and bathroom for the next phase of the "Remodel." Oh, and we want to visit Noah's grandma, too.

It's going to be a very busy weekend...

Thanks for reading here, and have a great weekend, yourselves!


Monday, September 22, 2014

Day 4: The Remodel Continues

Hi there! 

Welcome to day 4 of "The Remodel." By day three I was definitely feeling like I was never EVER going to do anything like this again. Hanging cabinets, with just two people, most days, was not fun. Then came the worry about whether or not we were going to get the carpet in the living room up in time. After all, we didn't even have the room cleared out, let alone totally packed up, yet. So much to do in one day. I was losing my motivation...and my hope.

Que my wonderful sister. When she found out that we were changing our floors,she asked what we were going to do with all of our carpet. It was not old, at all, and we like to save as much 'moolah' as possible on these types of things. Plus, I abhor the thought of all that carpet and padding going to a landfill. So it was a win-win. She needed carpet for her daughters bedroom and other projects, and I need to be as environmentally conscious as I could. Speaking of being environmentally friendly, remember how I said in my first post that we were going to donate our cabinets and counters? Well, we still are, but amazingly, our neighbor stopped by with his dad from out of town who was visiting for our Harvest Fest, and wanted some of them. He took some to make a work station out of in his work shop. I had just put them on my "curb" like I said and, viola! Works every time. We will keep the three cabinets that fit above the stove, fridge and microwave for some other projects we want to do, and donate all the rest.

So, why was I having those feelings of regret about ever doing a remodel again? Ugh...yesterday, the day before and last night was exhausting. No joke. For a minute I was worried that all my lovey-dovey Facebook posts about how well Noah and I were getting along and how cordial and compatible we are was jinxing us. It seemed like a ridiculous amount of work was needing to happen...laying in wait. To destroy us and prove us wrong.

Well, it was tough, tiring, maddening at times, but we pulled it off. It smoothed out before we knew it. Luckily. Thankfully. And I am SO grateful. Follow along below for a pictorial play-by-play of the last couple of days...

These are our old cabinets. Custom made in 1989. I know this because when we were carrying one of them out it was stamped "Inspector 12 1989." Solid wood doors, heavy MDF shells. That is our sad attempt at lightening up the kitchen by painting the uppers. We never got around to painting the lowers because we knew that someday we would be replacing them. It just happened to take y-e-a-r-s.

Cabinets all down on the one side! Boy, were they heavy!

Our first cabinet is up! Whew! So far, we are getting along fabulously! Team Stein, all the way! And it wasn't really hard at all...

Second corner cabinet up, and it's partner. Not too bad. Except...why is it so hard to find the studs in these walls? A stud finder? Useless. While I was pretty confused and a little mad that they cut out the drywall behind the sink base before install (why...?) and replaced it with plastic instead of green drywall, I became totally ok with it when I was able to find the studs and measure over the 16" to find the next ones for the screws. Now, why didn't they do that when they put those up in '89? Because the didn't. Not all of the screws were in studs. A majority were in drywall. Then, they just screwed the cabinets together. Sometimes they put screws on top of screws. Noah had a real good time getting those out...

All during the daylight hours yesterday we hung most of the upper cabinets. MOST. (This pic is actually from today because last night I would have thrown the camera). It was nothing like the show "Renovation Realities", at all! Not snapping at me to "hold it straight!" or me yelling at him to "hurry up!" It was more like "I got it, Babe. You just do your tool man thing" and him asking "You got it, Love?" and "You alright, Love?" Then we had to run to the home improvement store because three cabinets were wrong. And we needed three right cabinets. And a fourth one that wasn't even there. Plus some green drywall, plywood, screws, shims, knee pads (for my date with the 500 staples in the living room) and I think that was it. Then it was back home to put the remaining cabinets up, pull staples and tack strip, rip up the damaged floor that we thought had black mold (it didn't!!!), fix said floor, put up drywall...oh yeah, and eat an egg salad sandwich because I hadn't eaten all day. It was 7:30...

Well, we got most of the cabinets up. We couldn't get the one next to the fridge or above the fridge up. We were literally so exhausted neither of us could keep it held up. By now it was 9:00. Noah had the plywood cut at the lumber department so all he had to do was cut out the section and screw in the wood. While he did that, I took to the staples. Fun. Do any of you have a dog? Our dog will be 11 in February. She doesn't know this. To her, she is 2. She acts like a two year old; puppy and human child. I couldn't get anything done without appeasing her first. I had to get her bed out, give her a rawhide bone to occupy her. Get her a 'baby'. She had to know what I was doing at ALL TIMES. I'm shocked she didn't get a staple in her foot. I swept as I went. I was exhausted just from her...

We did as much as we could and finally called it quits at 11:30, took our showers, and decided sleep was well deserved. We got to bed at 12:30 with the plan to get up at 6;30. The floor installers were coming in the morning and we had to finish getting all the tack strip up, staples out, tons of stuff out of the foyer, kitchen and living room...this is where the regret started to creep in. How were we ever going to get this done? Were we going to be scolded when they showed up? Did we do enough prep work? The guy who came to measure for materials said to have the bottom cabinets in. Oops.

This is the floor before Noah ripped up the bad lauan and linoleum. We were terrified we would find black mold under there. But it was just dry rotted plywood. Easily fixed. And fix they did. We will take out the worst section of the floor and replace it with the 3/4 inch sheets they delivered, but the installer and his son got rid of the rest of the floor in a heart beat today. My absolute new BFF's.

Here's the living room floor, staples and all. Now, a very important story needs to be told here. Remember how I told you my sister was taking my carpet? Well, she brought my niece and nephew, their boyfriend and girlfriend, three male buddies and an extra girl over to pull up that carpet and pad. But, first, they cleared out my front room of the remaining furniture, boxes, this-and-that's, and even loaded some of our furniture into my brother-in-law's truck that we were borrowing to take to a climate controlled storage unit until we put the house back together. I have several precious antiques I will not part with, and they must stay safe! I am forever grateful to those kids! Wow... 

We did get up at 6:30/7:00 and dove right in to those staples and tack strip. Noah beat me, of course. When the installers showed up, there was no scolding. He was very laid back and said we hadn't needed to put in the lower cabinets, after all. The day went smooth, and they've done a great job, so far. They'll be back again tomorrow to finish up. 

My new art form I am discovering. I call it "construction is a dirty job."

Oh ma goodness. I have waited 10 years for this moment. These floors are the most beautiful thing. Laminate gets a bad rap sometimes. It used to look, and sound, cheap and hollow with really fake looking wood grain. But, as picky as I am, I totally approve of this. The handscraped look is just what I wanted, and the grain is beautiful. I didn't want to use hardwood, unless it was bamboo, and we just could not justify the expense. These are 10mm thick, the thickest you can get, I think. And they are wonderful. 

And Sophers loves them, too!

All-in-all, this had been a good experience. No bickering between the Hubs and I; we make a great team. Tyer, too. He's really been pitching in. We are all either getting over colds (me), fighting a lingering one (Noah) or just starting one (Tyler). I think we are doing a bang up job. I've waited so long for this, I can't believe it's actually happening!

Ok...gotta go! There's a lot of work to do...We still have to replace a bigger piece of the kitchen floor, put in the drywall for behind the sink, and who knows what else.

Oh! Before I forget...I bought a dishwasher today! Our first one! I am SO excited!!!

Thanks for sharing in this with me. Your comments and questions are always welcome, I'd LOVE to hear from you!

Until next time


Friday, September 19, 2014

The Remodel: Day One

Hi friends,

Well, today the floors, cabinets and counters are getting delivered. I'm (not-so-secretly) hoping to get a little sleep in this morning before they do. I worked last night and I am still recovering from the "cold-that-won't-quit." As the day to getting into the nitty gritty of it all in this kitchen grows ever nearer, so does our anxiety. Noah has taken out one cabinet.


Now, I'm not criticizing him. All the cabinets are detached from the counter, just the sink is left to detach, and we do need to wait until the last moment to haul all of the cabinets and counters out or else we wouldn't have anything to set the beloved Krueg on, or fix anything to eat or drink, and we'll be without that convenience soon enough. My point is: he has only removed one cabinet, a base cabinet farthest from the sink, along the wall adjoining the back room. It has no water source anywhere near it. At all. And, yet, what he found back there behind the baseboard scares me to death. Que mystery track here...

Black mold.

Not a lot, and it was superficial enough for him to clean up himself with bleach and fans. We were told by a contractor that if it is not a large area we could test it with bleach by wiping it away and air drying it with fans (wearing a mask and gloves, of course). If the drywall stays "clear" and does not re-stain, then you are ok to proceed. If it does stain or appear to come back-call in a professional-STAT!

*Please note: we are not professionals. We are not giving you advice on removal of mold or any other hazardous material. Call your health department or local HAZMAT office if you have one. This is merely our experience, and we are not trying to "cut corners" to save money. Being safe should always come first. We got the advice of a professional, whether that advice was sound or not for us is our experience and I am just sharing that experience with you here. You, however, should always seek professional advice.

So, we have no idea where it came from. The 116 year old basement, maybe? If so, we are looking at a professional basement drying and waterproofing team along with mold removal. Can't wait to see how much that might run...First, we will move the stove and the other cabinets, one at a time and take a look behind the baseboards. It could have come from under the sink. There had been a leak under there when we bough the house. We had it inspected and nothing came back on the report, but the linoleum was tinged a slightly darker hue in front of the sink. Then a few years later we had another leak that we fixed, but could never afford to rip out all of the cabinets and floor and repair or replace any of that, as it would require a whole new floor, bottom cabinets and counter tops. Or, at least we never thought we could.

That's why I'm mostly writing about this remodel, now. If we had had the confidence to know that we could achieve whatever we put our minds to, we would have fixed some of the things that needed fixed and replaced years ago, before it got too far gone, costing us potentially more in the long run. If we had had the confidence in ourselves that we could manage a remodel like this, a little at a time, instead of becoming overwhelmed at the thought and instead  managing ourselves toward that goal, we could already be halfway there instead of living for nearly 10 years with the dream of a reno instead of the reality of one. I'm not saying we lived in shambles for 10 years. We put in new carpet, painted the whole inside of the house including changing out all of the trim to white, and cosmetically changed the bathroom a few years back, but that has all since become outdated to us. Now that we actually do have the money to do all the things we've dreamed, we are going to, especially if it helps us sell for top dollar later.

I am really hoping that this is not a major mold issue, because if it is, we must have a professional come in to contain it, and we would need to repair studs, joists and whatever else is affected by it. That is a cost I really do not want to have to cover.

Boy, I can't wait to dig into the bathroom...

Oh! The floors are here...gotta go!


Hey, keep checking back for more, there will be a ton (I hope...IF I'm not run asunder by the weight of  "The Remodel" that is...Dun...Dun...Dun...)

Ok, well, I've got some work to do. Until tomorrow...

As always, thanks for stopping by!


*Note: I received no endorsements from Lowes for anything said in this post

Monday, September 8, 2014

The "Long Awaited Remodel" : The Saga Begins....

Hello, everyone!

I know I have been away for a while again, but there is always so much going on in our lives, isn't there? I had so many things planned to get done before our 'whole house' remodel, but it sort of crept up on me and I didn't quite accomplish anything extra. 

But, we have been able to finally begin "THE REMODEL". We have waited almost ten years to really dig in to this house and get everything done that we want. I guess we were always waiting for the right moment. We really didn't want to go further into debt by taking out home equity loans, so we left much of the work that needed done to our own pocketbooks, or it just didn't get done at all. And that just didn't get us very far...

We had tons of excuses plans, though: 

"Let's wait for the tax return this year..." 
            "If we start budgeting now (January of 'whenever') we will have 'X' amount of money for this project or that upgrade."
        "THIS will be the year that we finally get it all done!"

But something else would inevitably come up, rear it's ugly head, and destroy all our home improvement dreams. Something unexpected would befall us, and...there goes the tax return from this year. Or a new necessity or bill suddenly arises, and there goes the budget. Time and time again this was our story. 

That, and the ever present doubt that it could ever "happen" for us. When you grow up with so little, watching your parents struggle your whole life, it plays a big part on whether or not you feel that you could be worthy, deserving, or even capable of receiving something so grand as a dream coming true; whatever that dream may be for you. Know what I'm talking about? 

Thought so...;)

So, when it finally came we were a little hesitant to really dig in. We sometimes get so afraid that if we want something too much, it will be taken away from us. That's how we used to live, anyway. Now we understand that things don't really work that way. You don't have to be afraid to dream. The only thing standing in your way is you. You can accomplish all you want if you really put your mind to it. I know you're probably tired of hearing stuff like this, especially when it's you who's 'down and out' and the speech is coming from someone who seems like they have no idea what you have been through, and like they've got it all together and they look like they haven't had a hardship a day in their how can they ever give you advice?!

I have felt this way a lot in my life. I never realized until I really started blogging that it is all just smoke and mirrors. I've read a few great bloggers out there who have shared this wonderfully vulnerable secret with the blogosphere. We're not all perfect. We don't have everything together. We clean and design around a mess to take pictures, and we're not swimming backstrokes in a large kidney shaped pool of money. 

Well, most of us aren't.

But a lot can be said for overcoming all of that and learning to deserve instead of fear; to feel worthy instead of worthless and hopeful instead of hopeless. It took a lot of time for me, but I did it. I deserve nice things. I deserve a serene space to live. But, I want it to inspire me to do good things. I always want to remember those who are less fortunate and work hard towards helping to work towards a solution to make the world a little nicer for everyone. It's important that we all feel gratitude for the blessings we are given and pay that forward any way we can. Because everyone else in this world deserves just as much as I do; just as much as you do.

Whew! That's an awful lot of talk just about a house remodel, huh? But it's not just that. It's about anything you have been longing for and too afraid to dream about coming true. For us, it was remodeling our house. We thought it would never get to happen. We still wonder at the process of it all. We still sort of drag our feet, just in case it "falls through" so we avoid getting disappointed. Well, that's not good enough anymore. I want this, I've planned for this and I've worked hard for this. I will have this, no one is going to take that away from us and we are ready to accept the challenge.

That being said, we're diving right in. 

Feet first...

Disclaimer: Don't try this at home. I don't recommend it. I didn't recommend it here, in my own home. (smh)

This picture (above) is my wonderful and agile husband of 12 years (17 all together). And I'd like many more of those years with him. Which is why I was appalled (and a little entertained) by his approach to removing these huge solid wood shelves in our kitchen.  They were there when we bought the house in 2005, and were probably put up in the late 80's/early 90's when they remodeled the house and put on the addition. They were screwed into the studs and one screw did NOT want to come lose. It's head was stripped, and it wasn't budging. I looked up and that man was grunting and mumbling under his breath (I won't tell you what he was saying). Don't worry, I admonished him, as I was capturing this moment. (I had to have something to show the ER Doc if we needed to explain any broken bones.) 
He survived and we ended up pulling the shelf off the wall, snapping the screw head clean off. Paint was also the culprit, but that one screw was holding the whole thing up there. As it came down, towards my head, I saw my whole life flash before my eyes. 
Also not recommended: standing under said shelf and pulling down towards you with a lot of help from gravity. Thank goodness we're strong, and I have the reflexes of a Puma! No harm no foul, but rest assured...lesson learned!

The Beginning: Without having anywhere to go with all of our "stuff" we had to start where we could. Eager to get goin', Noah wanted to see what was lurking behind the wainscot in the breakfast nook of the kitchen. As we have lived and loved in this house, improving where we could over the years, we have found so many things that were going to be harder to fix than we thought, which has been a major contributor to our delay in getting anything done. We were just too afraid of what we would be getting ourselves into. I don't have a picture, but an example is this wainscot alone. Because the walls in the kitchen (the wall in the pic above was added in the addition) are not 'square', they could not bring the chair molding and bead board all the way to the door frame. On one side. The opposite side is square.
Of course it's square, it's the original back of the main house built 116 years ago. Furthermore, they cut the chair molding to fit over and around the window frame instead of under it properly.

(Hoo-Wee! Look at that lovely linoleum!)

Thank goodness, there was only a couple of 2x4's that they nailed the beaded board to. All easily removable and easy to patch and paint. We would have loved to salvage this obviously reclaimed bead board, and it is definitely one good thing they did when remodeling the first time, but it was quite damaged; not from the removal, but it was really used. So, off to the ReStore it went. We want to salvage, sell and donate as much as possible during this reno. I can't stand watching DIY shows where they tear into a perfectly decent kitchen and just sledge hammer and smash their way through the cabinets that could be removed carefully and donated to the local ReStore or Habitat for Humanity. Sell it even, or, in the case of our little town, list it in the free paper or just set it on your curb. Someone will come and get it for you! Keep these materials OUT of landfills. :)

Ok, now for the fun stuff. Here are the choices I've narrowed it down to for some of my finishes. For certain, for absolute sure, we are using the floors and the counters. The flooring is a hand scraped look laminate in roasted chestnut. The counters are Formica in the Ouro-Romano and will have the Ogee edges, (both found at Lowes). We are making this a very affordable remodel that will ensure that we will make our money back when we sell in 5-10 years.

So, the decision is for the back splash tile. There isn't a lot of wall space to cover so we will be able to splurge here. The real question is the color/texture. The white Moroccan tile above goes very well with everything. It really makes the counters pop. We definitely want to paint the bottom cabinets (uppers and lowers are coming unfinished) one of the two grey colors on the paint strip above. The problem is that I want our uppers to be a crisp white. We have a soffit above all of the uppers and that will get painted out and covered in a wainscot and crown to blend well with the cabinets.

The problem: Our trim is a little off white/creamy white called Fleecy. If we go with the White tile, it would be half as expensive, a little cleaner and more crisp, but we would have to re-paint out all of the trim. Throughout the whole house.

If we go with the marble chevron tile (which I ADORE), we can leave all of the trim alone, and just paint the upper cabinets and soffit trim Fleecy.

The problem: not much of one. Not even cost, really, even though this tile is twice as expensive as the first. We can stick to the exact same grey wall color and cabinet color, and this tile still goes with the counters, as it has just a hint of all the same shades of grey and browns in it. it too "busy" for the counters? Is the chevron pattern and all the coloring in it too much?

I think we will get the walls painted, the floors in, the counters in, the bottom cabinets in and then hold up the tile to the counter and decide then. :/
(FYI: Appliances are all stainless, so that should not be a problem with the bright white issue)

What do you think? For my FB friends, I know I have already quizzed you tirelessly on this, and I had great feedback, but what about those of you out there in blogland? What do you think?

Some of you may be wondering "Why are you going so cheap?!" Or maybe you're not, because you would be doing the same things...

This is our reasoning behind our "little" major remodel:

Hardwood floors and granite or marble counters, though it is really very nice and would be lovely, are just too expensive and we really want to recoup our money when we sell. And we will sell. Eventually. If we were in our "forever home", we might very well get all the bells and whistles. Though, being who I am, I have a hard time with throwing away money on the material when I could be using it for something spiritual. And that is not an admonishing statement for anyone else; if you work hard you have the right to do whatever you want with your earnings. This just happens to be me: no better than anyone else, no worse. Also, we are doing the entire house. Bathroom, bedroom, craft room, laundry room, den. Furnishings, too, in most cases. Plus, many outdoor projects like a deck, patio, new goes on. We want to make our budget stretch. Like I said, we've waited a really long time...

Though our neighborhood is great, we are all in moderately sized to quite large houses with a variety of historical homes of all different price points and want to ensure our best profit when we move on. Will hardwoods sell a house? Sure. Will Granite attract buyers? Absolutely. Will we be able to list our house at a price that reflects high end finishes? Not likely. And I'm just fine with these finishes, and putting the rest of my money elsewhere.

We have been waiting nearly ten years to start this and make our house a real home. Don't take that the wrong and material things are not what makes a house a home. Family, love and great times has that job. But, I believe your environment should truly be your sanctuary and instill in you all the feelings you long for and need to live a serene and relaxed life--giving you refuge and rehabilitation from the outside world. A nice interior to your home, where you can surround yourself with the things that matter to you, will inspire you to live your best life. If you have inspiration all around you, in each of your spaces, imagine what you can accomplish.

That is our ultimate goal. We've waited so long for it. It isn't necessary to spend a bundle to accomplish this, either. No need to "Keep up with the Joneses". Comparisons will always get the best of you. Do what is right for you, your family and your pocketbook.'re building a sanctuary, not regrets.

Thanks so much for reading, and please keep checking back for updates. The storage Pod gets delivered Monday (what a great Birthday gift for Noah!) and the majority of the work will start Sept 20th.

We can't wait!!

Thanks for reading and have a great week!


Monday, August 18, 2014

confessions of a thinkaholic: Ferguson, Missouri: Right Around The Corner To Hom...

Here are a few words about Ferguson, Mo. I urge you to read if you have heard of and formed opinions about the crisis happening here.

confessions of a thinkaholic: Ferguson, Missouri: Right Around The Corner To Hom...: What can I say? This is right around the corner to home. I work in North County, St. Louis. Many of my Facebook (and now, true) friends wo...

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Back from a much needed vacation...

Hello Everyone!

I have been away for a while...10 days in Florida! Did you miss me? I missed you, and blogging. I will be posting my adventures very soon, so just bear with me. Our house is getting under way for a major remodel, and my suitcase isn't even unpacked yet! It's super busy around here, and it's about to get busier, but I'm glad to be back home. Our weather here in Illinois has been fabulous; we have all the windows thrown open and can fall asleep listening to the Midwestern bugs outside in our yard. I LOVED Florida, don't get me wrong, it was a dream vacation, but I can't live without my husband, son and little fur girls. See, I went on vacay with my sister and niece. A "girls getaway", if you will. My sister and I have had this planned as a "relief tour" after all the disorder and heartbreak we have gone through these last two years; sort of a closure to our mothers death.

I thought about my mom a lot. Every moment I had, she was with me. She would have loved this vacation. We did things that would have thrilled her, like it did me. I can't wait to share it all with you. 10 days worth...don't worry, it won't be like the 70's when people used to drag the movie projector out and make their friends watch all their boring vacation movies and photos after!

So, I'll get on that...I'm going to break it up as an 'each day' kinda thing. That way, it's easier on the both of us ;)

I also will have remodeling tips and, I'm sure, trials and errors to share along the way, as well.

Until next time!


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Side Table beautification using, you guessed it, Annie Sloan Chalk Paint®

Hello again!

I have one more Annie Sloan® project to share with you before I delve into the chairs I want to work on. There's so much going on in this house, I don't know when I'm going to be able to get around to them. Besides, I need the practice, so I'm starting small...

I also need to upload the photos from our Fourth and share where we enjoyed the fireworks this year. 

But, first, this table. Here is the only *before* photo I had, but you get the idea, right? This table actually came from my mom's house; I brought it home after she passed. It's just a cheap little table that I think she and my dad put together from a kit then stained and poly'd (quite heavily), but I couldn't part with it. It was still in great shape and it held sentimental value. 

I hadn't attempted to paint it in the two years I've had it, it just seemed like too much work. Now I know was meant for Annie Sloan Chalk Paint®! I just had to wait until I discovered it and how easy it is to use.

So, here is the before:

And, here is the *After*:

And here is all the {in-between} 

Unfortunately, I don't have any progress photos. I sort of explain why that is at the end of this post...

To get the grasp on how to prep (surprise! There is none!) and paint this piece, you can check out my very first project using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® paint.   

This time, though, I went ahead and purchased the medium sized Annie Sloan Paint Brush. All of the tutorials I have watched really praised the dynamics of this brush. I wanted to see for myself. I tried the flat brush I used in my last project, and the round ASCP brush. Lo and behold, the AS brush won out. It really did cover the best and the brush strokes were more random, unlike the "too uniform" flat brush. Does that make any sense? ASCP is meant to have texture, brush strokes, and look shabby chic. The beauty is, you get to choose just how shabby, or chic, you want your finished project. And, if you don't like it, you can just slap on another coat, and start all over again! (Which is what I actually had to do this time).

Take a look at the post linked for you above. Go ahead, I'll wait...

        You back? 
                Okay, so, after I put two coats on, with a very short drying time in between, I went ahead and sanded using my 220 sanding block. Now, you can wax it first for a less distressed look, or just go for it before waxing. I just advise to go slowly until you reach your desired effect. However, you can always go back over your project with a little more paint and start again from scratch.

This table came with a lot of detail that was perfect for sanding to show wear and tear. I just sanded all the edges, went over the screws, and along the grain on the table top and flat bottom piece. 

I went all around the table edge, lightly at first, then adding more distressing where I wanted it. 

I then waxed the whole thing. I used a soft wash cloth and the small stenciling brush shown in my last post.  I will be getting a waxing brush very soon, but for this project, I did ok with the smaller brush, as my surfaces were smaller, but for any bigger projects, I will need the ease of use that the waxing brush gives. I've seen a few on Amazon, or you can visit your local Annie Sloan stockist. Don't know who sells ASCP and supplies in your area? Just do a quick Google search!

As I brushed on the wax, I buffed it in and wiped off the excess with an old wash cloth. I let it set up over night before I set anything on it. You want to be sure to let it 'dry' all the way before you set anything atop your furniture, as the wax will still be soft and you probably don't want little *divots* in your surfaces. 

After it was dry, it was good to go. Or so I thought. I had these beautiful orange lilies (no pictures, sorry) that I separated from a larger bouquet that I placed in a vase on this table. Now, with this paint and waxing technique, you are supposed to be able to live with it as normal as a "dipped" piece of furniture. Practically indestructible. 

IF you wax it correctly. 

Which I apparently did not. 

I think I must have put too much wax on, or didn't buff it enough. It was a tiny bit 'sticky' when I was done, but it dried up really well. Maybe I just shouldn't have put one of the most pollen dropping flower I have ever had in my house on this table. Then again, maybe it's just the flower, and not my table. Apparently, you aren't supposed to rub or wipe the pollen off of the surface. (Learn how to remove your own pollen stains here).

Anyway, I did just that. And smeared it. A lot. Then I tried to wash it off with warm water and a cloth, a magic eraser, paper towels, all of which made it much, much worse. I even tried to lightly sand it out. When that didn't work, I just rolled up my sleeves and started sanding away. I just sanded the areas with the dark orange smears as much as I could. I knew I didn't have to go overboard, because, with the miracle that is Annie Sloan Chalk Paint®, you can just paint right over any mistake...wax or not. 

So, I did. I just opened my can, dipped my brush in a little, and swiped a little coat of paint right over the pollen stains. I set it in front of the window to dry, and rechecked it to be sure no stain was seeping through. It didn't, so I moved on to waxing. 

I just put a light coat on with the cloth and buffed it in really good. Let it dry, and it is perfect. No stains, no stickiness. And I'm able to set anything on it.

Well, I think I'll pass on the lilies....

I'm sorry I don't have more pics showing the process, but I didn't know how it was going to turn out. I wasn't even sure I was going to share it. But, I am happy with it, and I now have the practice, and confidence, to jump into those big projects that are waiting for me.

I can't wait to get the chairs done. We have a ton of other projects we need to get under way, including a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom...

But, I'll continue to share as we move along. I hope this encourages you to try this painting technique for yourself. It's so much fun, aside from being easy and quick. There's nothing like instant gratification!

Thanks for reading today and have a great weekend!


*The opinions in this post are entirely my own. I have not received any compensation from Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® or any other company mentions in this post.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Is That Chicken...?! (No, I don't eat meat and why it's totally not a big deal...)

Hi Everyone!

I hope you all had a wonderful Fourth! I will be posting a little about ours here later in the week, but until then, here is a little recipe that has been sitting in my queue and I wanted to share it with you real quick.

Now, I am a vegetarian. I have been for a little while. Why? (Everyone wants to know why.) I know it's mostly curiosity, especially because I come from a place where almost no one ( if anyone) is vegetarian. 

               Cow town...
A place where people love their biscuits and gravy, bacon and fried chicken (and pork chops and corn bread and ham and beans, etc. etc...) 

Anyway, I was raised on meat. I've been a vegetarian before. But this time, it's for different reasons altogether. 

Don't worry, I won't preach. I won't try to gross you out with all the Peta enhanced documentation of animal cruelty cases and big corporate no-no's of what you are all doing wrong (because I don't think you are wrong...). I care, but I just don't have the stomach for it. (For now...*big cheesy grin*) But, it is the reason for my conversion. The cruelty in which manufacturers pump out the production of their "product" is just so wrong, and all for money. That goes for product testing, too. Who can stop it? Who can restore the balance between necessity and gluttony? Only us, the consumers. That's all. Opening our eyes to the possibility of a kinder way of doing things. *Big happy grin* heart heart rainbow rainbow butterfly butterfly kiss kiss 

Now I'm done. Soapbox put away....

Ok, so...that's why I am a vegetarian. It's simple. I can no longer eat animals. That's it. If you know me really well, you know that I love animals, have rescued all of ours, feed the birds outside, compost, save worms and turtles, and even feed the slugs outside. I do. Am I weird? Maybe to you. But to me it has always been a normal way of life. Is it so weird to love that much? I'm still working on the human to human love. It's a bit harder, sometimes. Animals are innocent, most humans are not. But, I'm learning and growing and realizing everyone has pain and reasons for being the way that they are. Love and patience; it is a very good start to a wonderful recipe for life, I think.  

All of our animals have lived to ripe old ages, except my little tadpole Grow-a-Frogs. Something was up with those. So I won't have anymore. The one I had years ago when Tyler was about 10 years old would have probably lived to 25, but my cat, Thor, climbed up on top of the huge entertainment center, knocked his habitat down, and ate him. I was very mad. And I looked for that frog all day, in hopes of finding him. I didn't  :'( 

But, I digress. Since my spiritual shift in 2008, and then my total transformation after our mothers passed, it's been a change in the making. But I was never a big meat eater. I loved bacon, and I was a cheeseburger connoisseur. I really, really loved both of those things. But, over time, it just left me. How can I feed the slugs outside bits of banana and turn around and use leather, or animal tested products and eat meat?! 

I can't. So, the natural progression for me was to stop. And I did. Just like that. No missing it. No problem finding something to eat. In my house there is no meat, except the turkey meat breakfast sandwiched Noah buys for himself and Tyler. And I buy cruelty free dairy ( Organic Valley milk-NOT Horizon organic milk because it is not cruelty free.) And Cruelty free eggs. Preferably from that small town I live in. (We are allowed to have chickens in our yards right in town. Cool. And these people LOVE their yard birds. They are pets, not really 'eating' chickens).

So, how do I get around this? No meat? What about protein?! What about NUTRITION?! Oh the horror!!! 
My sister insists that I will starve to death and be protein deficient. *SMH* Human beings really need about 46 grams a day (for your daily needs, and a little info on protein, click here, if you like).

So, I get more than enough. Most food has a bit of protein, and I eat soy protein on top of that, so I'm loaded. I'm good, really. I eat enough, believe me!

Now, for a typical dinner to show you I am not starving my family or myself, I'm not a "fad" lover, and not falling in the "trend" category of what's popular at the moment. How many of you even knew I was vegetarian? My own best friend didn't know. Our closest family friend didn't know, I bet none of my family knows. It's a private choice that does not need to be broadcast. So, why am I broadcasting it now? Because I have awesome recipes to share if you dare, and I wanted to clear up any questions and get it out of the way. And to shed some light on the not-so-weird personal choice of being a vegetarian or vegan. Some people just have allergies and have to be vegan. As I've gotten older, I've started having funny break-outs and it could be a dairy thing, who knows. And, yes, some people latch on to whatever is trendy at the moment, maybe for attention, maybe because they are just not satisfied with whatever, but who are we to judge, right?

There, out of the way. 

We can begin. 

 "Chicken" and Quinoa with Mushrooms, Broccoli and Brown Butter Balsamic Asparagus

Yum. Seriously. 

Now, what does that look like to you...?

Smells like it, too...

This is the magic maker...

Looks like chicken, doesn't it? Tastes like it, too. Smells like it. Feels like it. Grills up like it. It's a miracle. Here's the breakdown of protein on this ONE plate. All of our plates were the same. Yep...Noah and Tyler ate this, too. UNFORCED. 

And they loved it.

Soy protein "chicken": 20g
1 Cup Quinoa: 24g
1/2 C Broccoli: 1.3g
1/2 C Asparagus: 1.5g
1/2 cup Baby Bella mushrooms: 2g

Our ONE meal had just under 50 grams of protein in it. More than my daily need. That's strong. That's pure muscle building healthy protein. And it was SO gooood!

I love this balsamic brown butter asparagus. Here's how to make this up for your family. Go ahead and use chicken if you want. I used to eat chicken, but when I did, I always bought antibiotic free, steroid free, cruelty free chicken. Hard to find? Not really. Our little "mom-and-pop" grocery store in town carried it, so did the local Wal-Mart and Shop 'N Save. If you live near a Dierbergs, Schnucks, or Whole Foods, they will definitely have it.

Here is my asparagus recipe from Allrecipes. I just washed and cut up the broccoli and roasted it in there with the asparagus and covered it in the same sauce. Oh, so delish!

I followed the directions on the bag for the Chick'n and grilled that up and then, I sauteed the mushrooms in a little butter and salt and pepper in the pan right after the Chick'n. I bought a box of quinoa and cooked that right up according to the directions on its box, and viola! Done. Time to eat. They loved it. It was delicious, filling and good for you. You can even have dessert.

Interested? Let me know if you try it and how you like it. You know, I've read for years in magazines (Woman's Day, Family Circle, All You...) to cut down your grocery costs and try to have at least one or two non-meat meals per week to be healthier and save your hard earned dollars....

Give it a try!

Have a fab week!



*All opinions are my own. I received no compensation and am not affiliated with from Deirbergs, Walmart, Schnucks, Shop'nSave, Gardein, Grow-a-frog, Allrecipes, Woman's Day, All You, Family Circle or Peta at the time of this post.