AHeirloom | Giveaway!

For all you cooks of the world (or those that have a cook in your life) this giveaway is right up your alley! This week, a lucky reader can win a gorgeous, handmade cutting board that’s made in the shape of your home state from AHeirloom! So. Cool!

State Cutting Boards

Amy has all sorts of amazing stuff in her shop! Check it all out here!

Win: A Cutting Board from AHierloom 
When: Today, September 2nd – midnight on Tuesday, September 9th
Winner: Announced on this post, next Tuesday!

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Laboring Away | Blogosphere Roundup

Woot! Happy Labor Day – man it’s nice to have Jay home for a day and to be able to relax and put our feet up. Today’s post is part of a blog hop where y’all can see all sorts of fun Labor Day projects across the blogosphere!

Laboring Away

Added bonus, this little blog hop gave me a chance to take some time this weekend to tweak our side porch so that we actually have a place to sit down and relax. Ahhh, if only margaritas were still a reality for this momma to be, you better bet my behind would be parked out there this afternoon with an ice cold glass in hand. For now, I’ll have to settle for a lemonade, and a much improved view.

See our side porch, has been sorta embarrassing as of late.

Side Porch Before

Lots of junk, lots of boxes, lots of remnants of past weekend projects that never quite made it to the garage (another disaster zone).

Inspired by my little labor day blog hop, I decided that it was high time to spruce up our main house entry and make things look and feel a bit nicer out there, too.

Which is where a $5 craigslist find comes in for the win. See this guy? We scored him, along with (2) other chairs on the list for five bucks. For all 3.

Reupholstering Chair

The bamboo base and the lines of the chairs had me at hello (along with the PRICE, obvi!) ;) but the seat, that left something to be desired, no? Some fabulous 80′s action there.

Refinishing Chair

So while we were out and about this weekend, we stopped by JoAnn’s for a quick second and we came out with quite the gem from the clearance section.

Here’s a sneaky peak as we popped it on with our staple gun.

Recovering Chair

Nice, right? Ikat is always a good bet and in my mind, it was the perfect little touch to update our porch and make it a bit more summer chic.

And 5 minutes later, here’s a close up shot of how the first chair was looking after we were done!

Ikat Bamboo Chair

And after we added another, we had a nice little seating area nestled off to the side of the porch.

Outdoor Bamboo Chairs

It must be the midwestern girl in me, but as soon as I spotted mums outside Home Depot I had to grab a pair to decorate our porch, too. Kinda worried with how they’ll do with the 90 degree heat we have forecasted for this week here in Bull City, but I just. couldn’t. help. myself. :D Mums = fall = happiness. So I went with it. :)

Purple Mums On Porch

With the mums, the new fabric and the chairs, our total cost to spruce up this side porch came in just under $20. Can’t beat that, my friends, can’t beat that.

Want some more Labor Day fun? Check out 702 Park Project, Eat Sleep Decorate, and Brittany French to see all the sweet projects on hand!

Most Revered Hallway

This little hallway of ours has come a long way since day one in our NC abode. Let’s travel back, shall we?

Foyer Before

Blue and white and orangey floors all over. Whew, people. Am I the only one that feels a little dizzy taking all that gloriousness in?

Good news in our neck of the woods, we no longer have pink walls. They’re officially pewter walls!

Revere Pewter in Entry

Since this is the first room you see when you enter the house, I wanted something classic and understated. After using Revere Pewter in past houses, I knew it would fit the bill.

I’m seriously smitten. I especially love how it looks against the crisp, white wainscoting!

Revere Pewter In Hallway

Now that we have a few more rooms finished around here, you can see how the entry looks from the Living Room, looking out onto Rachel’s room.

We’ve got Edgecomb Gray in the Living Room, for reference.

Revere Pewter and Edgecomb Gray

I can tell you one thing – painting stairwells = a serious pain in the bondonka donk. Jay had to actually get our outside ladder to edge the top, and then use a go go gadget arm movement to get in on the rest of that action.

I watched. And took pictures. And cheered him on. :D

Painting Tall Stairwell

Now that it’s done though, I feel pretty good temporarily checking the foyer off the to-do list.

A few things still drive me bonkers – like our mismatched floors…

Provincial Floor Stain

And our vintage chic light fixtures…

Antique Hall Light Fixture

But ya know, what the hey – it doesn’t look like this and I’m going to come out and say it – that’s progress amigos.

Removing Wallpaper on Steps

Oh and a bit fat THANK YOU – for all the kind words on our exciting announcement yesterday. A nursery post or two will definitely be in the works over the next few months :)

It’s a Beautiful Ride

Last Thursday was a pretty big day for us. It was a surreal, nerve racking, is this really our life kind of day and in all honesty I’m still in a digestive state about it. Last Thursday we went to the doctor’s and heard a noise that pretty much changed things for us in an indescribable and forever kind of way. I can still hear it in my head actually, every time I close my eyes, I can still hear the noise just reverberating through my head. We heard a little baby’s heartbeat. A little baby that’s growing in my belly.

Even as I write this, it’s difficult to really take in the reality of the mack truck that’s currently hitting us. I can’t believe there’s a human growing inside me (isn’t that crazy), I can’t believe we’re going to be parents.

It all happened pretty fast, within a few weeks of starting this whole – let’s try to have a baby thing, low and behold we had a baby. Well almost. Baby’s on the way, hanging with the stork these days. The appointment, too – so routine and normal for the nurses. Heartbeat, check! Baby, check! All systems go, here’s your paperwork – do you have any questions. Yes, yes I do, but my brain can’t really formulate those questions right now, so I’m just going to smile and nod at everything you say.

Pregnancy_Announcement

So, we’re taking it in and doing what we can to get basecamp ready for another human. We’re excited, nervous, overjoyed, humbled, in awe, tired already, uncertain, ready, completely not ready, but totally in love with the concept of being a steward for another soul in this beautiful and fleeting life we have the privilege of walking through. What a gift – what a beautiful, wonderful gift. I’m so thankful for it!

One thing’s for sure – hearing that noise. Listening to that heartbeat, hearing that amazing sound, I was sure of one thing. That’s my baby, and I’m your mama. I can’t believe your inside of there (of me!), we really can’t wait to meet you!

Keep that heart beating, baby Sell! We’ll see you in April!!

And now for a few photo outtakes with our first baby!

Cat_Included_In_Baby_Announcement

Cat_In_Baby_Announcement

Only_Child_Expiring

Laundry Living | Guest Post

Y’all know how crazy I am about Zillow (ahem, house hunting addict) so when Jennifer approached me about putting together a guest post for you guys, I was down! This isn’t a sponsored post, I just thought it would be fun for y’all to get some tips and tricks from the masters of real estate themselves. Here she is!

The laundry room isn’t exactly a favorite space among homeowners, and it sometimes lacks the interior style reflected in other areas of the home. Perhaps the laundry room goes ignored because it’s less frequented by guests. Or, owners might be hesitant to incorporate fixtures and accessories vulnerable to spills. Luckily, practical equipment and designs exist to create efficient, fashionable laundry spaces.

To create useful and beautiful laundry rooms, consider the following five tips.

1. Add Workspace

Laundry Counter
Source: Stephen Alexander Homes

Sorting clothes, pretreating stains and folding clean laundry is difficult without proper counter space. Small laundry rooms benefit from freestanding tables and carts that easily move out of the way, while larger laundry rooms can incorporate built-in cabinets with accompanying counter space. Add freestanding countertops above front loading washer/dryer sets as a budget-friendly solution.

2. Create Storage

Laundry Storage
Source: Zillow

Most homeowners use the laundry room for more than just washing and drying clothes. Laundry rooms are home to batteries, tools and linens, depending on available square footage and storage. Designate different baskets or containers for extra towels and sheets, home improvement accessories and household products. Make sure to label each bin for easy access. Laundry rooms appear brighter and more inviting when organized, and homeowners won’t have to struggle searching for what they need.

3. Replace Machines

Energy-efficient appliances are more common in homes on the market today than in the past. For current homeowners, replacing old washers and dryers is a great way to save money on energy and water costs. For sellers, new appliances always attract potential homebuyers looking for modernized abodes. More advanced models even have steam-cleaning options and other features to best care for delicate clothing items. Stackable sets work better for small closets since they free up floor space for storage units. Front-load machines are preferable as tops provide folding and sorting spaces, and owners don’t have to move garments aside when opening or closing appliances. Plan laundry layouts based on personal routine and available square footage. For instance, stacked machines are best for tight spaces and second-story laundry rooms are ideal when most bedrooms are upstairs. Choose the best-fitting models and styles accordingly.

4. Upgrade Flooring

Laundry Floor

Source: Sue Adler Team

Laundry floors must be highly durable, water and stain resistant and easy to maintain. Further, homeowners should steer away from floors with slippery finishes, especially since laundry areas tend to get wet and accidents might occur. At the same time, opt for a stylish finish that matches the rest of the home’s décor. Vinyl is an inexpensive option for homeowners on tight budgets, and ceramic tile is known to be an extremely appropriate option for laundry spaces due to its ability to resist harsh chemicals and water damage. Sealed brick is a rustic option sure to withstand everyday damage. Although aesthetically pleasing, genuine hardwood floors are susceptible to water stains and permanent warping. Limit hardwood floors to living spaces and bedrooms without plumbing access.

5. Repaint and Decorate

Laundry Decor

Source: Zillow Digs

A fresh coat of paint can illuminate even the darkest spaces. Consider bright, clean colors for the laundry room walls, such as pastels or neutrals. Don’t be afraid to go bold with eclectic, modern or contemporary design. Hang artwork or window treatments to complete the space. Although primarily utilitarian, the laundry room is a part of the home and should be a reflection of personal taste. With a pleasant room to work in, homeowners might even be inclined to wash clothing more frequently!

We all have to do the laundry, so why not make it a more pleasant experience? Remember to do ample research before completing any large home improvement project, and talk to professionals about plumbing and electrical connections to avoid do-it-yourself damage.

   

Adoring Anek | Giveaway!

Happy Tuesday, readers! I’ve got a pretty great giveaway lined up today with the amazing Ana from Anek. She’s offering a $90 gift card to her etsy shop!

Here is a small sample of her beautiful work:

Giveaway

Here are the details:

Win:  A $90 Gift Card to Anek
When: Today, August 26th – midnight on Tuesday, September 2nd
Winner: Announced on this post, next Tuesday!
Where: This giveaway ships worldwide!

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When in Rome

You know when you find something that fits the bill in the most perfect way, and it’s, like, a steal of a deal to boot. Is there anything better? Folks, I’ve gotta share that JCP, as in JCPenney has the best roman shades known to man. And they’re cheap, y’all. So, so cheap.

Truth be told, we’ve been buying blinds from penneys since our first house, and although I was impressed with the price on our first set from them, the quality didn’t bowl me over. I mean – it was absolutely fine – just not custom quality or anything like that. And for the twenty bucks a pop we spent – you can’t really lay much blame there, right? Here are some of the bamboo shades we had in house numero uno.

Lenda Curtains

Our second house actually had custom blinds installed in all the windows on move-in day, and even though the style wasn’t my favorite, the quality was solid, so we didn’t even think about replacing them.

Enter our current house, with – not a single functional window treatment on a single window – and let’s just say we were back in the business of window shade shopping. ;)

For the vast majority of the house, we’ve settled on these guys.

JCPenny Roman Shade Classy, understated, super easy to use and starting at $30 a pop, I couldn’t resist! Plus, I can tell you that after comparing these to our custom shades in the last house – that the quality is nearly identical. Sa-weetness.

Low and behold, since our house was built in 1939, and has not a single standard window size (that should be fun when we got to replace them), we had to get creative after our new window treatments arrived.

Remember this guy, that we used for our little door detail demo?

Using a Dremmel

Our $20 tool came in for the win again, this time to notch out a small piece of the window frame so that we could get our abnormally shaped windows some shades.

Installing Roman Shades

Once we took a small section out of the window, we were able to slide those babies right on in. After a few screws, we had some fine looking window covers.
White Sheets on Bed

The roman shades have the nicest folds in them when they’re open, and they’re blackout shades, so when they’re down the room is quite dark.

JCPenney Roman Shade

Now, if you look closely at our windows you’d notice that they’re not quite there yet. This room was a creamy dream when we moved in (aka not white trim), and I guess the pictures tell the story on how far we’ve gotten on that front ;)

Cordless Roman Shade

One of these weekends, it’s going to happen!

Since these shades are cordless, they’ve also got a handy little handle/cover that you place over the fabric, to keep them from getting soiled by dirty paws as you grab them to bring the shade down at night.

Roman Shades from JCP

To keep our costs more manageable, we’re doing one room at a time. For under $100 though, I’m pretty pumped to have some chic window shades in our bedroom. Heck, I’m pretty happy to have any window treatments in our room!

Money Honey

It’s no secret that home ownership has a pesky habit of taking all your moolah and making you wonder where you put it. This house, well, let’s just say it’s been all that and more, on steroids.

It started with the basement, see ya later $3,500!

Fixing Basement Wall with Ramjack

Then we moved on to a furnace. In July. In North Carolina. Just where you want to be spending your dollar bills in the middle of summer. Farewell, $5k – nice knowing ya!

Converting from Oil to Gas

And now we’ve got our kitchen, which after appliances, new cabinets and counters, will be setting us back north of TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS. I may or may not be weeping as I type this.

Cortina Counter Top

The good news is, we’ve gotten a lot of big ticket, necessary items out of the way on the front end of this house, which gives us 1) more time to enjoy said improvements and 2) less concern that a big old expense is looming around the corner.

Ok, scratch #2. There are always expenses looming. ;)

The bad news is that in the last 3-months, it’s been feeling like we’re hemorrhaging green backs faster than we can replace them. And I’m not talking the George Washington variety, I’m talking the Benny Franklin crowd.

The last two months, we’ve had credit card bills over $10,000. Y’all, I made less than that two months of spending my entire YEAR of working the first year out of college. That’s a lot of money, it’s too much money and it was starting to freak me out. Like whoa.

Now most of this spending was planned. We sold our Ann Arbor house at a profit and we were able to use that money for a solid down payment on this house, along with a bit of extra cash to help with these known expenses we’d have walking into this fixer upper of ours, but still. It wasn’t something I felt comfortable with and I told Jay that starting in August a new sheriff was in town. :)

Downpayment on House

When we did sell our house, we took about 85% of the profits to pay a downpayment on our new home, and squirreled the rest away to pay for pending projects. Overall, I’m super glad we kept some cash on hand to help with some of the more unexpected extra costs that hit us (ahem, washer 2.0), etc.

Jay and I have always been really big savers, so luckily we’ve been able to pay for all these expenses from our savings, but truth be told, watching our savings account whittle down these last few months has been a bit frustrating. I know that they’re all temporary expenses and I know they’ll all improve the value of our property, but still – spending that much money is just hard for me to stomach, yo!

In general, our monthly breakdown of where the dollars go, looks like this.

Budget Breakdown

That little pie above has been our general budget since we’ve both been employed, and it works out great for us. We treat our savings account as a house slush fund, too, so it’s general $$ that we throw into our savings account each month to use for unanticipated + planned house/life/other expenses. We always keep a set minimum in there though, as an emergency fund.

Even when we have really bad months, where I’m slamming my head against the wall, I’m so thankful for a few things Jay and I put in place early in our marriage that have really be crucial to being pretty financially independent at 27 years old.

Steps to Financial Freedom

1) Live Off 1-Income: Ever since we’ve been married, we’ve always treated my income as our “non-essentials”. Jay’s income pays for necessities, mine pays for all savings. We started using this strategy early on in our marriage to pay off $30,000 in student loans, and just kept bank rolling it forward to pay for house down payments, car loans, etc.

2) Save Early, Save Often: Our first influx of money as a couple was from wedding gifts. Instead of going out and buying big ticket items – we put the money in the bank. We’ve followed suite since.

3) Pay off debt! I felt overwhelmed by the amount of debt Jay had coming out of college (nearly $30,000) – but by prioritizing our expenses and consistently placing needs over wants, we did it. In less than 2-years. Did I mention I made less than $20k my first job out of school?! We were not in fancy well off jobs – very normal – very moderate pay! Any tiny bit you can do, helps! We started payments at $50 a month (before legit jobs) and then started using my income to pay it off quicker once employed.

4) Simple Living: If I could give any new couple, or seasoned couple, one bit of financial advice it would be to live as simply as possible with a lifestyle where only one income is needed. In our 5 short years of marriage, it’s made such a difference for us. If you can’t pay for it in cash – don’t buy it! (mortgages withstanding…) ;)

5) Identify End Goal: Now – not everyone wants/needs to be Bill Gates, right? Jay and I know we’ll always be looking to live a modest lifestyle, so although saving is the name of our game, we’re not looking to buy a yacht, ya know? If that’s your goal – that’s awesome! But keeping your financial goals in perspective can help to keep you motivated and going strong.

Creative Ways to Add To Income

 

One last thing I’ve found to be helpful with financial security – ya got to learn to hustle, y’all! Get creative! Figure out something special you can offer to generate extra income. Sell stuff on craigslist, babysit or do lawn work for neighbors, open an etsy shop.

Along that vein, last month was a really big month for me with my design business. As of the end of August, I’m going to be bringing in almost as much as I was making when I was working full-time. Whoa. Crazy, right?! It’s exciting, and it’s also been a bit overwhelming to learn how to balance the demand that I’m getting for my interior design service. I’m totally humbled, and definitely up to the challenge, but it’s been a pretty crazy ride this month – that’s for sure! Although it’s never easy to start a business, it is very rewarding to see what some hard work and dedication can do over 6+ months.

This is our first full month of being back on track, and I’m happy to report that our financial situation is finally back where it needs to be to keep us in the black. No more kitchen renos or furnace replacements for a while, that’s fo shizzle.

How do you guys keep your finances on track? Any tips and tricks to get into good financial shape?

Tiny Home

Maybe it’s my pragmatic ways or my frugal nature, but the movement in the real estate world toward simple, functional spaces completely speaks to me. I’ve always vastly preferred a 1,200 square foot bungalow on a tree lined street to a 3,500 square foot subdivision abode. In fact, our current house (at just under 1,700 square feet) is actually the largest we’ve owned to date!

Have y’all heard of the Tiny Homes popping up around the country? Their cottages, all below 1,000 square feet, are as big as their homes get! What they don’t have in square footage, they definitely make up for in function and character.

I mean, tell me, what’s not to love?!

Tumbleweed Tiny Home

This home is an absolute treat – all 557 square feet of it! Like this perfect little entry. You’ve got to optimize every square foot!

Tiny Home Entry

After you enter, you come into a big open space that houses the kitchen, dining room and living space.

See the loft space above, as well?

Open Room

That kitchen pretty much left me speechless. The details on this house are perfection!

Tiny Home Kitchen

Right off the kitchen, there is a great dining space that has bench seating (with storage underneath – smart!).

Little House Dining Room

And then a stones throw away from the kitchen/dining space, you have a cozy little living room.

Little House Living Space

This house has two tiny little bedrooms. One of which is used as a flex office space for the home owner.

Again, this home owner optimized space by using clever storage solutions under the bed. Genius.

Tiny Home Bedroom

And this little back porch. I think the chickens seal the deal ;)

Tiny Home Yard

What do you think? Would you ever do the tiny house thing? Jay and I talk about buying some property in the mountains, and I’d love to build something like this for a vacation spot and then perhaps have it for retirement in the future. I’m personally completely smitten!

Want to read more? Here is the Tumbleweed website, and here is the blog for this homeowner!

Water Boy

Things that make me feel fancy these days include, but are not limited to: dishwashers (that wash your dishes!), counter tops, and running water – coming out of your fridge. I know, it’s like sci-fi out of this world, right? To me, I pretty much feel like I’ve been updated to Kardashian status, not going to lie. Growing up, we never had a water dispensing, ice making machine – and since Jay and I have been married, we’ve been in that same boat. Which, ya know, was actually totally good! We got along just fine without it! But folks, I’m thinking it’s like the day my great great grandma got her indoor plumbing. Once ya got it, there’s no turning back. ;)

Ice Ice baby.

So first things first, we had to move our hunka chunka fridge out, which was actually pretty simple since it’s got wheels up on the front of it.

Moving Fridge

My favorite part of this whole boon doogle was that it only set us back ten bucks for some ice cold, freshly filtered water. I call that a win.

Other than 10 feet of PEX (pictured later) this is what we needed for our little water install.

How to Install Water Line

Oh and this guy. We most definitely needed him as well. Here he is with his gear all ready to go into the crawlspace (fun!) to connect the lines. Snicker.

Installing Water Line in Crawlspace

But before we could get to that, we had to do some fancy footwork upstairs as well. Namely, we had to connect all our pieces together so that we could feed our PEX into the basement and have a finished line to feed the water into once we turned it on.

One upgrade we made with this install, was purchasing a shut-off valve for right at the fridge. For $5 extra, we both liked that it provide some peace of mind in the event of a water emergency. The last thing we wanted around all our brand new cabinets was a bunch of water leaking!

Shut of Valve on Water Line

Before we fed the PEX down into the crawlspace, we had to add a small hole behind the fridge so that we could access it.

Making Hole for Crawl Space

For this job, Jay used his favorite drill bit, which has a sharp screw on the tip, for extra biting power. :D Looks like a torture device, right?!

Drill Bit for Wood Floors

After that, we just had a few small connections to make and we were game on.

We had the PEX, which went down into the crawl space, the braided water line, which connected directly to the fridge, and the shut off valve, which sat at the floor as the final piece before the crawlspace.

Shut off Valve for Water Line

Here is a close up shot of Jay making the final connection, with the metal connector piece to attach the fridge line, to the braided line that will eventually sit right behind the fridge. We used a shark bite piece for this – super easy!

Connecting Water Line to Fridge

And then … the moment of truth was upon us. Jay fed the PEX line (the blue line) down into the basement and the cat and I waited on baited breath.

Installing Water Line

Malcolm was ha-larious. He heard Jay talking and scuffling down in the crawlspace and was well, pretty perplexed by the whole thing :D

I think he thought the floors had eaten his daddy-o. ;)

Cat Being Cute

For how incredibly simple the upstairs component of this little DIY was, the downstairs component was considerably less pleasant. Jay can barely fit in our crawlspace, so seeing him awkwardly shimmy down there (amongst who knows what) made us both wince a bit. He told me he definitely can’t gain any weight if he’s going to have to pop back under there again!

Needless to say – this is as close as I got for Jay’s action shot. ;) See that light shining way there in the back? That would be my husband. Thrilled as can possibly be.

Installing Water Line in Crawl Space

But the good news, y’all? Mission SUCCESS!!

We now have water coming out of our fridge – whatttt?!!!

Water Line for Fridge