Category Archives: Home Improvement

Living Room Update

Remember back in this post we showed you the couch we scored on the cheap? Well you haven’t seen her in all her glory in the living room yet because, well, the living room looks weird. It’s dark. Like, man-cave dark. We have dark hardwood floors and a dark fireplace and dark bookcases and a dark brown leather couch with dark brown and dark blue blankets on it. We have a gray entertainment center and a dark brown wicker ottoman. Things, while improving in quality, are looking very blah in our house.

But the couch is still awesome, very comfortable, and a huge hit with the kids.

Here’s the Living Room before with our inherited leather sofa and the disgusting covered-in-dog-hair love seat:


Both couches are tan and the area rug (it’s actually 2 small IKEA rugs laid side by side) breaks up the floor.



And here’s the new couch:




Ugh see how dark dark dark everything is? We do have a plan:

Living Room w- To Dos

I’m also not completely sold on the paint color in the living room, and Travis, bless his heart, is totally OK with changing it. Again. I love that man.


So that’s the wacky, yet very comfortable, living room situation. These pictures are also making me notice how gross the fireplace is- I’m thinking I need to clean/paint the inside area or something. It’s a little sooty, no?


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All Washed Up

In the interest of my family’s lungs and saving some dough, I’ve been sniffing around making my own cleaning supplies for the last few months. I’d pinned several different ideas and recipes on Pintrest and I also had an article from Craft Magazine starred in my google reader from 2009. I never had any real gumption around this project, until we ran out of kitchen cleaner a week ago. And all of a sudden we had nothing to wipe down the counters except Lysol wipes. And every time I used one I thought, “Wow, I wonder how much it just cost me to wipe down this counter?” (I’m totally a penny pincher in that regard). We had a leftover almost empty bottle of some kind of over-the-counter cleaner that we pulled out of the back of a cabinet to get us through until we could go to the store, but it smells awful every time it gets sprayed, and it actually aggravated my sinuses when I’d breathe. Not cool, kitchen cleaner. Not cool. Suddenly I had all the gumption I needed to work on making my own cleaners, so after some shopping research (which took me in total, about 1 week), here’s what I ended up with for the project:


For you fellow list makers out there, here are the ingredients and where I was able to find them (some were surprisingly unavailable in every day stores):

  • Distilled White Vinegar (Publix)
  • A glass container for powdered Laundry Detergent (Target)
  • A new set of measuring spoons (you might not need that, but I did) (Target)
  • Borax Washing Powder (Ace Hardware)
  • Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (Ace Hardware)
  • Hydrogen Peroxide (Target)
  • Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castille Soap, Lavender (Target)
  • Four spray bottles (Dollar Store)
  • Fels Naptha Bar Soap (Ace Hardware)
  • Essential Oil, Lemon Scent (GNC)
  • Dr. Bronner’s Bar Soap, Lavender (Target)

And for anyone else doing their research, here are the websites I frequented for recipes:

I used Jolly Mom’s recipes for my cleaning sprays, and the Yellowbrick recipe for the laundry detergent.

First, I labeled the bottles with some Vera Bradley file labels I had leftover from last Christmas. I’ve used these labels everywhere since T got them for me, and since they’re cute I felt good about using them on my little cleaning bottles. I wanted to label the bottles first so I wouldn’t get confused as I added ingredients (all of the bottles are exactly the same without a label).


Under the pretty labels, I added a plain white label that lists the recipe right on the bottle, so when I remake everything I can do it without my handy dandy laptop. I decided to make an All Purpose Cleaner, a Glass Cleaner, and a Disinfectant in my spray bottles.


The Disinfectant was the easiest recipe by far. I did 2 cups of Hydrogen Peroxide, 2 cups of water, and 15 drops of essential oil. Put it all in your spray bottle and shake it up, baby.


All Purpose Cleaner included 1/2 tsp washing soda, 1/2 tsp liquid Castille soap, 2 cups hot water, 10-15 drops essential oil. Same story, shake and bake.


The Glass Cleaner called for 1 cup distilled white vinegar, 2 cups water, 1/2 tsp dish soap (I used what we had in the kitchen), and 10-15 drops essential oil.


Next came the powder laundry detergent (which I was the most excited about!). I used 1 cup of Borax, 1 cup of Washing Soda, and the whole bar of soap, grated into tiny pieces with a cheese grater.


When I mixed the powders I had a lot of lovely lady lumps, which I definitely didn’t want. I was hoping for a really well blended mixture so that I got consistent results in the laundry, so I dug into that drawer in the kitchen that has some weird stuff that I never use.


And I used this thing as my designated lump-breaker-upper.



That helped a lot with the lumps. Thanks weird tool thingy! Next I grated up the bar of Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Soap. I had the Fels Naptha bar soap (which most recipes recommend), but it has a warning right on the label that says it’s irritating to skin and eyes, and we have some sensitive skin in our family. After reading through some comments I saw that a lot of people were subbing the Fels Naptha soap for Dove or other less abrasive soaps. I chose the Dr. Bronner’s because it was listed as an alternative and I’ve read really great things about it, and it smells yummy. Once the whole bar was grated I hand mixed it in with the washing powder combo, and I was done.


Then I read back through my recipes are realized I had one spray bottle left and enough ingredients for one more spray that I would use often- it’s a Furniture Polish/Stainless Steel Cleaner.

You use 2 cups of oil (she says vegetable or olive is fine), 1 squeezed lemon, and 15 drops of essential oil (man that stuff came in handy for this experiment). So I mixed that up and added it to my fourth bottle.


Now that I had all my super cool DIY cleaners made, I had to organize my cleaning cart and get rid of a ton of crap we never use. I’m not sure exactly how we accumulated fifty thousand cleaners that ironically sit and collect dust, but we did. I went through the little cart and removed anything that a) we had never used, or b) I’d just made to replace the chemical version.


I was left with this:


Isn’t that insane? Look at all the room we’d been waisting! I kept a few products that I wasn’t sure if I’d need or not- no sense in throwing away perfectly good stuff that you may need down the line. But anything else that we hadn’t touched in 6 months or more got tossed.

Here’s a close up of how the powder detergent turned out. The recipe recommends 1 tablespoon per load, but I’m using 2 on larger loads (like towels, mostly).


We have High Efficiency machines (scored at Best Buy on a black Friday sale) so I was concerned about how this detergent would work. But every forum I read said that HE machines do better with “low suds” detergents, and happily, all DIY powder detergents are naturally low suds. I’ve got my 2nd load of towels in the washer now, and being the weirdo that I am I actually stopped the machine mid cycle to see what was going on in there. I couldn’t see any suds at all through the glass in the door, and I was kinda freaking out. But I’m happy to report that once I opened the door the laundry smelled like heaven, meaning the lavender soap was definitely doing it’s thang.

Ok so let’s see if I’m actually saving any money on this.

  • Borax $5.99
  • Washing Soda $4.99
  • Fels Naptha soap $1.49
  • Dr. Bronners Liquid Castille Soap $9.99
  • Dr. Bronners Bar Soap $4.49
  • Peroxide $0.69
  • White Vinegar $1.89
  • Essential Oil $5.00

Grand Total: $33.84

Since the Laundry Detergent recipe has 2 cups of powder plus the soap, and 1 cup = 16 tablespoons, it seems like I’ll get at least 32 loads per batch, which isn’t that impressive until you consider that I have enough of the powder stuff left over to do 4-5 more batches. In fact I have some of everything left over, plenty to do a whole other batch of the cleaners. For non-toxic cleaners that don’t hurt my lungs, I’ll take it any day!

This project was so super fun for me, I loved every part of it (especially smelling my first load of towels washed with my lavender laundry detergent-yum). I think this would be a cute gift if you could find pretty bottles and maybe print your labels online- maybe for a new mom who wants non-toxic cleaners? Or a grandparent who is sensitive to smelly sprays at home? Anyway I haven’t had a chance to try every cleaner, but I did use the All Purpose spray in the kitchen and I’m thrilled to report it easily handles tea stains on the counter and it smells magical. I’ll be truthful about the rest of the cleaners as I use them. Cross my heart.

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The Proverbial Gold Mine

Friends, Neighbors, Countrymen- lend me your ears.

Get some awesome furniture and feed some hungry people at Children’s Care Outreach Furniture Warehouse.


Children’s Care Outreach gets furniture from big name stores like Ashley and Haverty’s, and they sell it for 25% on the retail price. This furniture is usually perfect. If someone orders a piece shipped to the store to pick up later and they never show up for their furniture, this furniture warehouse buys it at a discount rate and sells it for next to NOTHING. And they have everything.


Leather Living Room Sets.


Dining Room Tables (usually they have chairs to match)

Check out this granite kitchen island:


It has two drawers and a wine rack built in and it’s going for $300.00 here people!

They have chairs, and beds, and mattresses:



See this area full of leather couches? They are lined up all the way to the back wall. They have a recliner on each end.


Those leather couches are brand new, undamaged, and selling for $275 each.

And sectionals galore….remember how I hinted about another major purchase in this post?

Now I’m just typing words to make you scroll.





more words.

and empty spaces in between more words.



That sassy chocolate brown sectional came home with us last week (pics to come, we’re still figuring her out)! It’s a 7 piece leather sectional (5 couch pieces and 2 ottomans). Each piece is finished on all sides, so they can be arranged in any combination, perfect for holidays, parties, and family movie nights. This baby retails for $3300.00, and we took her home for 25% of that. Can you do the math?

Yes folks, we paid $825.00 for 7 pieces of leather. That’s just under $120 per piece if you’re a numbers nerd like me. And the best part is the money is going to feed local families.


The guy in the picture above is Tony, and he’s the brains behind this operation, and he’s also one of the nicest people I’ve met in a long time. If you have a certain something in mind that you’re looking for, like a pub table for example, Tony will take down your name, number, and that you’re looking for a pub table and he’ll give you a call when it comes in. So basically if you’re patient you can find exactly what you’re looking for at 1/4 of the cost. Tony doesn’t get to order customs though, his inventory is always a surprise to even him as he gets whatever the stores are selling. Currently they’re feeding around 1,500 families a month with proceeds from the warehouse.

Here’s another picture of the entrance, because it’s in a difficult location (almost impossible to tell someone where it is).


Children’s Care Outreach Furniture Warehouse
Winter Haven, Florida – On Spirit Lake Road (across from Sweet’s Paint- the warehouse is situated behind the 7-11 on Recker Hwy)
Hours (according to signage) Wednesday 9 AM- 3PM, Saturday 9AM-3PM

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Let’s Dish, Part II

Our dishwasher has rinsed it’s last, and we had to grab a new one. We found our dream model on clearance so we grabbed her and brought her home (see more in Let’s Dish, Part I). Now we’re ripping out our old dishwasher and installing the new one ourselves.

Google “how to replace a dishwasher” and you’ll get tons of videos, step by step directions, and a list of tools you’ll possibly need. Travis and I each watched some videos independently of each other, so when we converged to install the new dishwasher we were like a super fountain of knowledge (’cause if you see it on the internet, it’s true, right?).

According to everyone in the world, it’s not difficult at all.

Let me outline the steps for you here:

1. Turn off electricity and shut the water line.
2. Disconnect electricity, drain hose, and hot water line from old unit.
3. Unscrew old unit from under the counter lip (ours was already hanging there precariously).
4. Yank the old unit out.
5. Reconnect all of the above stuff on the new unit.
6. Shove the new unit in.
7. Revel in your handyman-ship and wash some dishes.

Here are some tools you might need:

1. Levels
2. A screw driver (flat and phillips)
3. Lots of towels and paper towels
4. Wrenches (an auto fit wrench would be your best bet- I don’t know the technical term for those)
5. Pliers
6. Some plastic bowls to catch drips
7. Flashlights
8. A full tank of gas for Lowes trips (we had 4 total for this project)

If you’ve never had the pleasure of seeing the dark underbelly of your dishwasher, brace yourself. It is a sexy, sexy place.


We followed the steps to remove the old dishwasher and it wasn’t that painful. The most difficult part was figuring out what size wrench to use on the hot water line (henceforth referred to as the copper piping), and which valve under the sink actually turned off the line that went to the dishwasher (we have something like 5 water lines going different directions under there).


Once the correct water valve was off (righty tighty, lefty loosey), we disconnected the pipe under the dishwasher. See how it connects to that little 90 degree elbow piece?


FYI, you’ll want to check your new dishwasher to see if it comes standard with that 90 degree piece. Ours did not.

Anyway, we unscrewed the copper pipe (the hot water line) from that 90 degree elbow piece with a towel underneath to catch the water that was still in the line. Again, make sure the power for the dishwasher is flipped off in your breaker box, since water and electricity don’t mix very well.


You can see in the bottom right of the pic above the electrical wires that are disconnected. That’s not difficult to do, but I am not an expert so if you’re intimidated, do what we do: call your dad.

Next we disconnected the drain hose (you have to do this on both ends, one is under the sink and the other is under the dishwasher). We had a plastic pitcher under the sink ready to catch the water from inside the drain hose.


Now the dishwasher was ready to be “yanked out” (the technical term), and we had the perfect helper on hand:


Who wouldn’t want Coleman the Wonder Dog to help with dishwasher demo? He is a great pal, ready to steal the food off of your plate give you the fur off his back.

Here’s my precious the new dishwasher getting ready to go in.


For anyone else who’s OCD like I am, let me just show you the biggest stress of the entire event, the State of the Kitchen.


It was a disaster the whole time, with tools and dirty dishes everywhere. At one point I was going to wash all the dirty ones by hand and get them out of the way, but we had all of the water valves shut off under the sink because we are dumb we weren’t sure which was which and I just gave up.

I don’t have any pictures of us shoving the new washing machine in the hole– that required all four of our hands at once. I will tell you this: leveling the feet of the dishwasher is very important, but you have to time that part just right because first you have to get it partially under the counter. In other words, if you unscrew the feet to make it level before you install it, it will be too tall to maneuver in the space. We got the dishwasher into the hole, then Trav lifted up while I unscrewed the feet to level it out.

Ok here’s where it got nasty. Once we got the washer in place we saw that it didn’t have the 90 degree elbow piece, and we couldn’t get the old one off of the old dishwasher to use, so, we took our first trip to Lowes to grab one. We came home and Travis attached it to the new dishwasher, then we reattached the copper pipe to the elbow, and guess what? It leaked. But not the part where you screw it on, it was leaking on the pipe. Yikers.

We played around with this for a while doing lots of tests (which included Travis getting soaked) and we just couldn’t get the leak to quit. It was a slow leak, but we had no intention of leaving it there. We were concerned we would have to replace the copper piping, but then we called our friend Luke (mentioned here) and he told us about this braided metal piping stuff. He said we could get a small piece to connect the copper pipe to the elbow and it would take some of the tension off of both, and our leak situation would probably be fixed.

So we took trip 2 to Lowes and grabbed one. Here it is installed.


Success. We are done! All that’s left to do is reconnect the drain hose under the sink, and wire the sucker. I had visions of clean plates dancing in my head.

Travis got all of the electrical wired in and we leveled everything. It was looking good. Then, we noticed something. Something awful.

The copper pipe, the thing we just fixed the leak on…it was leaking again, but on the other end. The end under the sink.

Imagine the swearing.

But, we do our best work under pressure. As we considered calling in a professional to re-install the copper plumbing, Travis had a brainstorm. That little braided metal rope, it was working perfectly. Why couldn’t we just buy 8 of them and stick them all together? Or do they make one long piece? We had no idea, but this little ray of hope excited us enough to make us hop back in the car for Lowes trip number 3 at 7 pm, a mere 8 hours after this project had started.

We have very sophisticated list systems. For example, we needed some wood screws so we could screw the dishwasher into the bottom of the countertop (they all come with brackets for this), but our screws were too long, so I laid the screw on our list and drew a line so we’d know what size to get.

dishwasher 1

Then in the plumbing section, the heavens opened up and the angels sang.

dishwasher 3

An 8 foot dishwasher connector would work perfectly. And, notice anything? It COMES WITH the 90 degree elbow that we went to grab on our first trip to Lowes. If only we hadn’t been so naive. If only we’d had some guidance. If only I could find some Taco Bell.

So we left Lowes feeling pretty confident and slightly delirious. Travis saw a magazine and grabbed it after a headline caught his eye about dishwasher reviews, and wouldn’t you know our very model was in the top 10 (number 8, in fact). I felt pretty darn good that we’d snagged a top 10 review for such a deal. This was just the morale boost we needed.

dishwasher 2

And it was great that we had a morale boost, because this project was not over yet. We were now going to use the 8 foot braided hose to bypass the copper altogether, but we didn’t know if there was a hole big enough in the counter to allow us to run the metal hose under the dishwasher. The new washer was already leveled, the electricity and drain hose were both hooked up, and Travis reeeaalllly didn’t want to have to unhook all of those things and pull the dishwasher out to drill a hole in the counter to run the new hose. Are you with me? We needed a lucky break. And we got one.


The existing hole for the copper pipe was almost big enough to run the metal hose through too, but not quite, so Travis used a kitchen knife (aren’t we classy) to widen the hole a bit without damaging the brand new perfect dishwasher just on the other side of the wall. Once he got it through, I used my super long skinny arms (go go gadget arms!) to reach under to the very back of the dishwasher and pull the hose forward. And after a few tense moments, I finally got it out. And oh the joy, people. We could see the light at the end of the dishwashing tunnel.

From this point we simply attached both ends of the metal hose, one end to the water valve and the other end to the dishwasher. We crossed our fingers, turned the water on, and guess what?


(victory dance)

We used the patented “paper towel test” while we ran a cycle of dishes, just to make sure we weren’t missing anything. We didn’t install the kick plate at the bottom of the dishwasher until the next day, because I checked under the dish washer obsessively every 10 minutes during the first load, watching for leaks. I’m ecstatic to report there were no leaks, and we didn’t have to replace any copper pipes since we’d bypassed them completely. The icing on the cake was that the 8′ metal supply hose was only $16.98, and I can only imagine how much it would’ve been to replace the copper pipe. What a relief.


So that’s how we installed our new dishwasher and conquered the world. It was a sweet, sweet, victory my friends. And now you can come eat at our house without fear of leftover food stuck to your fork.

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Let’s Dish


For the past few weeks, I’ve been noticing some things about our dishwasher. A plate here or there will come out covered in a white powder. Glasses will have to be run through twice. Forks are still covered in bits of food. You know the little “door” that you open to put your dishwasher detergent in? Ours fell off. We just kept on truckin’, hoping to not see any effects from losing that little “trap door.” Then I ran a load of dishes and noticed that the dishwasher wasn’t even cleaning itself. The entire door was still showing splashes of coffee or tea that happen when you put an almost empty glass into the machine. I knew this dishwasher had bitten the dust.

I told T what I was seeing and we grudgingly started researching dishwashers. We are always about bang for our buck in this house, and we wanted something that would last for the long haul but was also quiet (a huge selling point for us) and performed well.

We did the easiest thing: we typed in “best dishwasher reviews” and we got a ton of hits. We used this site as our guide, although I was already leaning toward Bosch. My parents got one years ago and the story goes like this:

The walked into a Lowes and looked around at the dishwashers, and landed on a Bosch. My parents were standing next to the Bosch talking to the appliance associate and my dad remarked, “I’d like to but the machine, but I really want you to plug it in so I can see how loud it is before we go any further.” The associate said, “Sir, it’s on.” They were sold.

So living at home the last few years I’ve loaded and unloaded, seen results, and heard nothing– the perfect win-win-win scenario (well maybe the loading/unloading wasn’t a win specifically, but it certainly helped someone I’m sure).

So every Bosch I found online was way out of our price range, but they all had magical reviews. So we thought we’d go check the bent-n-dent sections and see what we could find before trolling Craigslist. Travis wanted to go to a store that I was unfamiliar with, Famous Tate, since he’d bought all of his previous appliances from their bent-n-dent section. I reluctantly agreed (I wanted to go to Lowes first). As we drove over we had a conversation we have often:

Emily, “Ok Travis, what’s you’re magic number on a new dishwasher?”
Travis, “I don’t want to spend more than $800.00. How does that sound to you?”
Emily, “Um, I don’t want to spend more than $500.00.”


So we decide to see what we can see when we get there. That’s the beauty of bent-n-dents, you never know what you’re going to get so you have to have a super open mind, and I definitely had no idea what to expect since I’d never been.

I guess that’s probably enough suspense for one post. I should tell you that in a weird twist of fate, Famous Tate had a closeout Bosch model (from 2010) that was on sale for $455.87, and it wasn’t bented or dented one little bit. It was a floor model. And the original price? $799.00. Yes folks, the Great Pumpkin must’ve heard our prayers, because we got our $800 (Trav’s number) dishwasher out the door for $483 with taxes included (under my number!).

Bosch w Pricetag

Can you believe that? What luck we have. We grabbed her up and took her home that very day.

The next day we had a little at home course on dishwasher installation, but honestly we are still recovering from the 11 hours it took us to install this bad boy. So, I’ll leave you with my favorite quotes from today:

(Trav, when asked if he needs some more flux tape) “There’s enough on here to choke a horse.” Might just be me, but I’d never heard that before and I giggled about it for a long long time.

(Trav, deliriously spewing words on the kitchen floor) “When I was a child I used to spend hours doodling plumbing schematics in my room.”

Install coverage comes in Part II of this little saga, but as of now the dishwasher is running it’s first load and we can’t wait to see the results, so far there’s no water leaking under/around the dishwasher so we’re PSYCHED already. That wasn’t the case at several points in our day.

So that’s the dish on one of our latest major purchases…yes, there’s been more than one and here’s a hint: I’m sitting on the second one now.

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Six Tons of Garbage That Wasn’t Ours

We knew there was a bit of miscellaneous garbage on our property, and we knew we needed to get it out of the way to do some major pruning on the perimeter of our yard.

At a first glance into the “woods” that line our property, there were cinder blocks (tons of them), some cylindrical concrete thingies, some giant slabs of some other concrete whatchamahoozits, lots and lots of vines, toys from another era, and spiders. Lots of spiders. But we also knew that the previous owners owned rental properties, which means there were probably more than a few “handyman specials” laying around, so this was going to be an adventure.

So we grabbed a trailer and started loading ‘er up.


The goal is to get the yard cleaned up enough to plant some trees along the property line, and clear out debris for the wedding. We also needed to get some of the debris away from the back of the house so we could paint. The stuff next to the house wasn’t concrete or garbage that wasn’t ours…there were a lot of garbage cans full of kid-room-clean-outs. When we purge something from their rooms, we keep it for a while to see if they ask for it. If they don’t, we throw it away like the heartless parents we are, so that we don’t end up on that nice TLC show.



That’s the concrete slab under the oak tree where we’d like to say I Do, and behind it is a little gazebo overlooking a pond. That’s right, folks. There’s a pond back there, and you’d never even know it until you were about to step into it, that’s how crazy our jungle is.

We threw on our boots and some work gloves and started slinging concrete around like it was our job.


Trailer Load 1 is above. Here’s what we can recall: lots of metal pipes, 55 gallon drums (2, and one is still buried in the yard), and miscellaneous concrete pieces. We found a broken wheelbarrow and some rusted chain link fencing material, a toilet, a bathroom sink, a swing set, a stainless steel kitchen sink, several flower pots, and various poles.


Round two brought lots of concrete pieces that were so monstrous I couldn’t pick them up alone, and it took T and I both to hoist them in some cases. This stuff was buried in the dirt, and we would dig up a giant puzzle piece of concrete and find (literally) 5 more underneath.


We think those pretty pieces of concrete were part of a kit to build a BBQ pit (left by the previous owners), but they were gross and we were pretty desperate to get rid of all of the junk, so we didn’t try to use them or sell them. In hindsight I wish we had saved them to bust apart and make a walkway.


Here are those cylindrical things we found. Our neighbor ended up wanting them, and he is super wonderful so we gladly hauled them over to his yard (and out of ours, the ultimate goal).

Around this part of the day things started to get fuzzy. In our yard debris adventure, we ended up taking six trips to the dump. One trip was purely tires (we think we had 9 total) from the property. All in all we took over 6 tons of garbage to the dump. We had no idea we even had that much garbage around us, but dump scales doesn’t lie (neither do my hips), and each time we weighed on the way out and got a new receipt, we were stumped. SIX TONS, PEOPLE. Over 12,000 pounds of garbage that we slung with our own two (and sometimes 3- thanks neighbor!) hands. And all of it was just lying in the woods in the yard, and some of it behind the shed.

We also came across a pile of rebar in the woods. What I mean by that is we found a piece at a time while clearing out some vines, and then suddenly struck gold while digging in the dirt. Most of the giant pieces of metal were underground. We had right at 85 pieces of 21′ rebar just lying in our yard. Our neighbor wanted a few pieces and we were happy to oblige since he let us borrow his tractor to rip the vines out. We also used the tractor and chains to pull the rebar out of the ground. We were left with just over 50 pieces in our backyard, and so I called our friend Luke who’s a contractor to see what the going rate was for rebar, and also to see if he wanted any. I had no idea if we could sell it. Luke wasn’t sure what it was going for at the moment, so I checked out the Lowes website and it was selling for $6-7 per piece. I figured it couldn’t hurt to put it on Craigslist, just to see what kind of interest we’d get, so I posted an ad:

rebar ad

Within 2 days I had a guy coming to pick up the rebar, and we ended up making $240.00 on it. Which is pretty exciting considering each trip to the dump cost us a minimum of $10, but sometimes we paid upwards of $100 (for the tires). We ended up almost breaking even, thanks to our little craigslist sell.

So that’s the story of how we moved 6 tons of garbage over a fairly small period of time (4 days as we recall).

But now the house can be prepped for paint, the yard can be prepped for trees, and we can start pulling out some extraneous growth and maybe even clean out the pond.

It doesn’t look much better yet, but we definitely made some major progress- or so say our dump receipts.

PS-This is the 2nd Tropical Storm named after me that I can remember! Go Team Emily!


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Pintrest Challenge- Chalkboard Wall

This video showed up in my Reader, and well, how can you say no to $herdog and KB? (ok, ok, let’s not forget Emily and Lana)

T and I have been talking about having a chalkboard wall somewhere for fun, for us and the kids, and we have a tiny baby wall next to the fridge that’s perfect, so…I’m painting it with, you guessed it! Chalkboard paint. We plan on using it for grocery lists and messages to each other, as well as a creative space for the kiddos. The wall is not seen from anywhere in the house unless you’re in the laundry room or getting something from the fridge, so there wasn’t any worry about it clashing with the rest of the house. We also haven’t done much to spruce up the kitchen as far as paint goes (we’re saving up for one big remodel), so we figured that we can have fun and experiment before we commit to something cohesive.

In case you’re wondering, here’s my kitchen inspiration photo for the big remodel:


Can’t remember where I found this, but yowza, that’s a beaut, right? It’s so clean and cottage-y, fun and funky, it’s adult but still kid friendly, which is what I’m going for. I want our kids to be able to run around and feel right at home, since this is a home, but at the same time I love living in a space that beautiful and interesting.

Anyway, enough mushy stuff, let’s get to the Pintrest challenge.

Here’s my “Pinsperation”:

We had chosen our wall (the baby wall, next to the fridge), and I already had the paint and supplies on hand from another project I’d tried to rev up to do (wine bottles w/ chalkboard labels), but after some research I decided to write on the bottles w/ a marker instead.

But first, I had to prep the wall. We had an IKEA bar hanging there with some hooks to hang hand towels, spatulas, etc., but it ended up never really being used (small, awkward walkway), so it was not a life changing decision to take it down to use somewhere else in the house.


That is the only picture of me you will see for a while, ’cause after T took these pics he was basically done with this project. My big helper.

Here’s the wall once the storage bar and the light switch plate were off. The door to the right is the pantry, and to the left is the laundry room.


That little baby wall is exactly 2 feet wide, for perspective.


I used some spackling to fill in the holes from the IKEA bar and a few other holes from things that had been mounted before we inherited the place. Once that dried (about 30 minutes later), I used a little sanding block to smooth the hole edges and the spackle down.

I was concerned about using the chalkboard paint on a textured wall (our walls are orange peel), but I figured it can’t hurt to try. So once it was sanded and I wiped off the sanding dust with a paper towel (or whatever was easiest, like my hands), I slapped on the first coat.


And it wasn’t that impressive. Actually, I have read on several paint tutorials that doing thin coats is the way to go, and I was super worried about durability with this stuff, so I went light and streaky (just like college!) and figured I’d do 3-4 coats. It’s such a small area that I wasn’t worried about the time it would take to do repeat coats. The first coat only took me about 30 minutes total.


While we’re waiting for that first coat to dry, I’d like to take a moment and let you all know that the kitchen is still on the “projects to tackle” list for us. That floor, the 80’s-tastic cabinets–

Oh hang on a second, Five wants me to measure his arm. Eighteen and a half inches.

We also had a spirited discussion about swapping the sink and the stove placement (when it comes times for the big remodel), but it seems like we’re going to need a pro for that one. The stove is gas and well, we aren’t professionals, and while I am confident about a lot of my abilities, running gas lines is a bit out of my league. There’s also a drop-ceiling in there which is so bananas to me, but we can’t wait to rip it out and learn about ceiling replacement. We also plan to add a pocket door to the laundry room if it’s possible. All in good time people, right now we’re focussing on the baby wall.

About sixteen hours later, I got antsy. The kids were coming over at 3, and I really really wanted the wall to be ready for testing after dinner, so I had to get a move on. So I forged ahead, although the paint can clearly suggests waiting 24 hours between coats.

Take 2.



I took a close up as I was painting the second coat, because I was sooo happy with how it was covering this time around. See how streak-tastic it is at the top of the light switches? Underneath, where my second coat was happening, the coverage is nice and solid, so I was feeling good that maybe 2 coats would get ‘er done.


Here’s baby wall with the second coat drying. It’s gorgeous, inky, and the coverage is super thorough.


Here’s our disaster of a refrigerator. That’s not really true, I mean, I know I’m supposed to say that it looks like we live here and it’s charmingly messy, but the reality is I kind of really want to rip everything off of it and have a clean slate. Just for a day. Just for 5 minutes. The 2 foot wall is directly across from the fridge. I took this picture so you can see how this wall is completely unnoticeable unless you’re coming in the laundry room, and actually my mother-in-law walked right by it and didn’t notice it. Twice.

Well, I guess I shouldn’t leave you in suspense much longer. After dinner we decided the wall was dry and we were over the waiting thing, so…


Today’s Special: Love & Tacos. That pretty much sums up our house, I’d say. Notice the light switch cover wasn’t back on yet, that’s how big of a hurry we were in :)


Me, Eleven, and Five are tripping over each other to get to this wall.




We had some AWESOME chalk to use- I think it was supposed to be sidewalk chalk, but we busted it out for this little project. SO fun.

Then we all traced our hands.


See the japanese writing in pink? Eleven is teaching herself Japanese, and that’s her name. I am often without words when I try to describe her. She is really something.


Here’s the whole family: Five is the top left, T is underneath him in yellow, I’m top right in green, and Eleven is in pink.

I am so in love with how this turned out, and I’m even more stoked about the kids being so into it. They are both asking for “chalkboards” in their rooms now, so this is quickly spiraling out of control. :)

If you like this post, check out my DIY Laundry Detergent and Cleaning Supply extravaganza


Filed under Artsy Fartsy, Before & After, DIY Decor, Home Improvement