The Longest (& Worst) Project We’ve Ever Taken On…

**Warning: ย This is wordy and I didn’t believe in focusing photos, apparently. I also didn’t own a tripod…and it was Christmas. So, be ready for Christmas in August! Woo!**

OK…so, we’ve admittedly never taken on a big whole-room reno. It’s not something we’ve ever been in the position to do (financially or otherwise). We actually live in a rented house, but not in the typical “renter” sense. When I was in college, my parents bought a house for my roommates and me to live in knowing I had 3 years left in school. My junior year, I moved out with my two lovely friends, Katie and Meredith, and we lived together for our last two years of undergrad. Then, my friend Greta moved in during my Master’s and my friend, Lauren moved in during my first year of teaching. At the end of that year, I was married to my first husband, then lived here alone, and finally, with Chris (and Jess for two summers…and Michael) for almost 3 years now!

My mom still owns the house, but we pay the mortgage and take care of most home-related things as best we can. She lives 2 hours away, so we’re usually in touch with professionals (like when our AC broke- worst summer ever) and try to do cosmetic things ourselves. **Funny story, when I first drafted this I had no idea our AC was going to be undercharged and not work AGAIN this summer!** Last summer, we decided to embark on the biggest DIY project to date. Luckily, at the end we still liked each other and like our house WAY more.

Mom paid for us to get all. new. floors. There may have been some squealing/dancing/merriment that ensued (not just from me). We went to Lumber Liquidators where the manager, Mike, was super helpful. He answered our questions, measured our square footage, estimated padding, and took Mom’s credit card # over the phone. He even taught me how to tell a credit card type from the first digit of the card number. I’m a nerd.

Now, before I give you a million details, please note that our floors don’t get a *ton* of traffic. Three adults and two cats live here, we mainly use one room (the living room), and we don’t plan on being in this house forever. We ordered a very thin laminate floor because we are…frugal…and we don’t regret it. (Our flooring was called Black Forest Oak, but I can no longer find it on the website! Sorry!) ย However, this floor was slightly frustrating to install because it was SO thin that it didn’t “click” like they said it should. Also, it does chip super easily when you’re installing it. Now that it’s in, we’re not noticing any problems, but it was touch and go in a few places and I may or may not have used clear nail polish to make sure one corner stayed down. We weren’t sure if we would have enough flooring to use brand new pieces if we noticed defects so we tried to make do as best we could. **Update: we have TONS of this flooring left over, so overestimating is good…even though we still have extra boxes of flooring.**

Dear future buyers of this house, please don’t crawl around to inspect our floors. Please just buy this house as we’ve put very much love into it. K, thanks. Love, us.

OK, we started in Michael’s room because…he has the least amount of stuff in this house and it meant we had to finish it asap. Poor boy’s stuff was out on the back porch. We had torn out the carpet in Michael’s room before he ever moved in last June because…it had some cat pee on it and it was grossing me out. Michael lived on concrete floors for about two months before we started this little endeavor. I don’t have many pictures of this room because most of them are awful since we worked VERY late into the night with one tiny lamp. There are definitely spots where I would redo this room if we could/wanted to, but it wasn’t bad for our first room.

Some things that may be different from other floor-laying blogposts: we did NOT pull up baseboards. When we tore out carpets, there was TONS of space under the baseboards so we just floated the floor with some underlay in between the concrete and the flooring itself. This does use TONS of spacers. I mean, tons. It was crazy town how many spacers we were rotating around to do the whole room. **Tip: run your underlay opposite of your floor planks.**

This is maybe the best picture I got (during the entire 5 month process) that describe the color of our flooring. Yes, it took us 6 months. We couldn’t start until the end of July (by the time the floors came in and they acclimated) and then we went on 2 weeks of vacations and I started back to work the following week.

floor-michaels-room-color

Needless to say, I basically refused to live with no furniture for the first part of the school year. My saintly husband did many, many rooms by himself while I was at work. He’s a keeper.

**Helpful hint…don’t box yourself in with a 300 lb. piano.** Another helpful tip, never try to move said piano by yourself if you are a small girl.**

I did that once about 4 years ago and couldn’t walk for a few days. Whatever, I was still proud. I kept this awful photo just because it’s so funny that we shut ourselves into this room. You’ll note that the piano’s keyboard tray made a great dispenser of flooring.

100_1760

Aaaaaand, Michael’s room: check!

first-floor-bedroom-flooring

Nothing you can say will make me hate that wall color, as badly as I do want to repaint his room. It’s called Marmalade by Behr. And I love it. L-O-V-E-LOVE it.

We figured the next best place to do was our office/guest room because it’s a room we don’t need. This, however, meant that we had to start doing the upstairs and just keep on truckin’. Our entire upstairs has attached floors and we felt like putting transitions in every doorway would make the upstairs too broken up. Also, pulling carpet out of plywood=110x easier than out of concrete.

I don’t have a ton of photos of this process because it was pretty self-explanatory:

1. Pull up carpet/padding.

2. Pull up tack strip (the WORST).

3. Sweep everything up and clear the floor.

4. Start laying underlay in the opposite direction of planks and tape each strip together.

5. Start laying plans with spacers of about 1/4″ next to baseboards (check for level in case you have to shave a bit off).

6. Space them out so all of the joints aren’t RIGHT next to each other and get to layin’ floors!

7. Start cutting quarter round to your desired lengths, tack in with tiny nails, drive in enough to cover, go around every. thing.

8. Pass out on your floor. Amen.

So here is the guest room pre-floor:

guest-room-plywood guest-room-closet-subfloor

Then we did into our hallway and my sweet husband did my ENTIRE BEDROOM by himself while I was at work. What. A. Man.

So, we moved to downstairs: kitchen first, then living room (woof).

The kitchen/living room have the most photos because I was on Christmas break. Woo hoo! That was almost 8 months ago! *Worst Blogger Ever Award- Congrats to me!*

Again, Chris tore out all of the previous wood-looking laminate before while I was at work- no photos. However, you might wonder why we took thick laminate out instead of matching the rest of the house. Well, two reasons, one transition wasn’t properly installed and it would come up if you looked at it the wrong way. For two, it was improperly installed and had some water damage/bubbles in it. So yeah, later cherry-looking laminate!

Under that was…this:

kitchen-linoleum-floor

No, for real. What HAPPENED on those floors?! Gross. Tape remnants were everywhere, GIANT yellow spots (as you can see). What. The. Heck. So yeah, we weren’t sad to tear that up as well. We considered floating over it, but planned to do the new laminate in the living room as well and didn’t want to risk anything being “off” in terms of leveling.

Next step: Enlisting a teenager, a heat gun, a small spade, and a utility knife to tear up linoleum.

kitchen-concrete-heat-gun

Once all of the linoleum was up, we got back to work just like the other rooms. You might notice that we ran our floors completely under our appliances. We researched a million different ways (the previous floors only went partly under the appliances), but this floor moves easily so we wanted all surfaces to be secured. Not everyone will want that, but we made sure our appliances evenly distributed their weight and so far, so good! ๐Ÿ™‚

kitchen-underlaykitchen-stairs-flooringThis is where our floors “meet” so to speak. We weren’t ready to go whole hog in the living room without doing quarter round in the kitchen. This also shows a pretty good representation of the floor’s color. I love it. It’s a sickness.

Then we installed quarter round (just like upstairs) and- tada!- a completed kitchen! ๐Ÿ™‚

**Please don’t mind that the quarter round isn’t caulked to the baseboards and none of it has been repainted. We’re very good at not biting off more than we can chew at any one time and almost all rooms are being repainted anyway.**

quarter-round-kitchen quarter-round-fridge kitchen-flooring-table-wall kitchen-flooring-refrigerator-wall

See how messy the counter tops are? This is improvement. During the kitchen-floor-process, the living room looked like this:

living-room-floor-mess refrigerator-living-room-mess

This is keeping it real to the max. Our house was a flipping disaster. Thank goodness we could both stay home and work on it all day.

So, we FINALLY started the living room. For some perspective, our living room is about 12 feet wide at its widest point, but about 24 feet front to back. This room is ridiculous to style, decorate, orient, everything. Painting it the first time (the walls SUCKED in paint) took almost a week and a half because of the coats on the ceiling, walls, chair rail, crown molding, and baseboards. It was in.sane.

I’ll let these photos do the talking. Keep an eye out for our “sketchy surprise” from under the carpet, our “helper”, and the migration of our Christmas tree. I refused to take it down so we just moved it around. A lot.

carpet-living-room

ripping-up-carpet-living-room

razor-blade-living-roomchristmas-tree-concrete

living-room-underlay

closet-angle-flooring

duchess-living-room-floor

floor-living-room-christmas-tree

Is it just me or does anyone else LOVE how Christmas lights reflect on a hard floor as opposed to carpet? I sat and stared for a while. It’s the little things, right? No? Maybe that’s just me, then. OK.

floor-reflection-tree-living-room

Then, the BEST thing ever happened. Well, not *THEN* because it really happened on Black Friday…but RugsUSA had a HUGE sale. We got a rug that is normally $800 for about $200 bucks. I may have screamed/cried/squealed and even figured out my Christmas present when looking at the bank account to see if we could afford the rug. Sorry again, honey. But, it was worth it. We LOVE our rug. It is the Moroccan Trellis in Navy, though it doesn’t read quite as navy here as it does in real life. So, come over. We’ll put up a Christmas tree, lay on our cushy rug, and stare at the pretty Christmas light reflection in the floor. ๐Ÿ™‚

rug-living-room-floorliving-room-couch-rugliving-room-rug-floor-tree

Our TV has been taken down since then and no longer hangs over the fireplace, we have new arm chairs that caused a whole rearrange of the living room, hung floating shelves over the buffet, and we moved the piano in (it sits where the tree is in the last photo) as you saw in my last post…so…there are clearly more posts to be had on this ever-changing living room. Seriously though, come over any time just don’t be shocked that our house is a disaster zone. In the meantime, anyone done any laminate flooring? We HATED it while we were in the midst, but any time we even think of talking about moving, we get so sad about leaving our floors. Stupid, but true! We love them and would do them ALL over again (and likely be much better at it the next time)!

Thanks for bearing with me through all of the pictures and ALL of the words! What was YOUR worst house project?! ๐Ÿ™‚

Engagement-aversary: The day I screwed up all of my husband’s plans

OK so, after posting this morning about the gallery wall, I wasn’t going to post this. Then, I wrote a status about how I hi-jacked his proposal and people (including my sister- how have I not told this story to my whole family?!) asked for the story…and THEN, the episode of Friends was on where Phoebe and Mike get engaged and she botches it, like THREE TIMES. It was a sign from God, I think…so here it is. Our WHOLE story is really long and would take 1405938 posts (OK, I make up numbers like Claire from Modern Family…but still). Has anyone seen that one? I couldn’t get a link that worked…but Claire makes up numbers to confuse Cam, like…”Eleventy-four”. Oh man, it makes me laugh. Sorry if I’m the only one laughing.

Three years ago, August 8, 2010, my husband and I got engaged. He tried to propose in like, 3 different places. I screwed them all up. Welcome to our life. He’s romantic, I screw it up. We laugh about it later, much later in this case.

Chris and I had talked about engagement, but we’d only been together for about 7 months…so I didn’t really know what we were going to do. I also really wanted a fall wedding if/when I got married again…and it was already August. So it was like “dribble or shoot” time if we even hoped to get married that fall. We had like, weeks. We had talked a LOT about the fact that we had both been engaged before and, in his case, he proposed on a freezing cold, wet, January night and I was at the beach for my first proposal, but there was no get-on-one-knee-pop-the-question, it was written on a piece of paper. Both were very thoughtful, but neither was ideal. We were SURE *our* proposal would be idyllic. Hah. Hahahahahahaha. So dumb we were.

Chris actually met with my parents to talk about proposing and they planned to meet at a Panera in Richmond (where he lived). Funny thing, both he AND MY MOM called me and asked me for directions to Panera. What?! Seriously, guys, get it together! My stepdad thought it was really funny when I called them both out on it later.

So, at the time, Chris worked in Richmond so I would go to church with him every Sunday and we would drive back on Sunday afternoons to squeeze in a little more hanging out time before I started my work week. This particular Sunday, we drove back and went to Moe’s to eat with our friend/former roommate, Jess and her awesome sister, Steph. After Moe’s, Chris asked if I wanted to go to a new ice cream place that we’d seen all summer and thought about visiting. Unfortunately, sometimes Moe’s jacks up my stomach (and Jess is lactose-intolerant) so I was like, “No, let’s not get ice cream. Let’s come back out later and go take a Sunday NAP!” [Botch #1]

We took a nap (it was AWESOME) and then Chris asked if I wanted to go to one of our favorite places in Newport News, the Mariner’s Museum Park & Lion’s Bridge. [He actually wanted to go to “our place” at the Newport News Park and realized we didn’t have time because I overslept.- Botch #2] Lion’s Bridge has an AWESOME sunset and we used to go on walks there. We were all ready to leave when the phone rang. It was my best friend in Seattle, Chau (pronounced Cho). Well, we talked for…hours. Literally, probably 2 hours. By that time, sundown had occurred. Chris started acting squirrelly. [Botch #3]

Finally, we were sitting on the couch watching TV around 8? or 9? and he was being really awkward and I got super annoyed. He jumped up off the couch, walked into the kitchen, and got some water. I was *super* annoyed. Like, what on EARTH was he doing being SO weird?! He walked in and he got REALLY serious. Anyone who has met Chris knows that he doesn’t really *get* serious. He sat down next to me, muted (or turned off?) the TV, turned to me, and went off on a whole shpiel (shpeal? shpeel?) about how much he loved me. I don’t handle compliments well, so I got really awkward. REALLY awkward. He opened his hand, said some more mushy stuff about how much he loves me and wants to spend the rest of his life with me, and then asked me to marry him! It was precious, but I *REALLY* screwed it up. I mean, two proposals and never a knee?! Sheesh. I did botch our proposal EVEN further though. We had joked since I forced him to watch we watched Love, Actually about how I would answer like Aurelia, the Portuguese girl who learns English for Colin Firth (would someone NOT learn English for Colin Firth?!) who says, “Yes is being my answer”. Isn’t that the cutest?

Well, I got flustered listening to his compliments, realized that he was actually trying to propose 3 (THREE?!) different times that day, felt like an arse (to quote the British- get at me, Colin Firth?!), and hugged him. I backed up, went to pick up the ring he held in his palm, and he said, “Uhhh, you didn’t actually answer me…” WHAT?! Sheesh. I’m the WORST.

Knees, pretty locations, “planned” answers…all of those were great in our planning stage…but we have a pretty funny story and it REALLY suits our (way too long for today) story of mishaps that eventually led us together. Thank God this man has the patience of a saint and he stuck with me through an awful day. I might’ve been superstitious, thought it was a sign, and panicked. Thank God for him. Three years later, I’ve never regretted a single day, only wished for more. I love you, baby! ๐Ÿ™‚

Engagement PhotoProbably my favorite engagement photo, courtesy of the lovely Rachel May. Can you believe my sweet husband has lost like, 40-50 lbs since these photos?!

Engagement

aaaaand, last but not least…

Engagement Records

Thanks for reading our story! ๐Ÿ™‚

stuff from my grandparents’ garage & wedding photos: finally making our gallery wall

So, most of my readers know me in real life and know that I have a tendency to “collect” things, a.k.a. hoard junk until it’s coming out of my ears. It just so happens that this has started working to my benefit. My grandparents are the original generation of DIY-ers. I’ve probably mentioned them before, maybe back when I was collecting items for my ladder or my floating shelves? I’m not sure. Either way, most of the things I have to display, like my insulators and jars, come from trips with Memaw and Pa or trips TO Memaw and Pa’s. Memaw and Pa comb Pennsylvania with us every spring looking through antique shops and shows. They have repainted all of the rooms in their house multiple times, including layers of wall paper, and they do all of their own (beautiful) landscaping. If my external hard drive hadn’t eaten all of my old pictures (I still can’t talk about it without getting emotional), I would show you how beautiful their house is. It is truly my favorite place in the whole wide world. Anyway, due to my subscription to Country Living and the magazine Flea Market Style, I’ve been getting a LOT of ideas. My grandfather listens intently when we look through magazines (although he sometimes acts like he doesn’t hear me when I make requests) and usually when I go back to their house, he’s found some old tool I “might want” for a project.

A while back, I don’t know how long, he sent me home with the head of a pitchfork, an old mirror, and some shears. I had no idea what I would use them for, but KNEW that I would use them. Months passed…as per usual. My “collecting” also coincided with us getting a roommate. Our friend moved into our downstairs bedroom, which only *really* housed junk and our piano. We made him live with the piano for too many months to mention (sorry, Michael) and FINALLY moved it out this spring! I wanted it to be a feature in the living room…and I also wanted to be able to play it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty sure Michael would LOVE to wake up to me sitting on a piano bench in his room. That’s not creepy. At. All. So, we moved the piano out and I had a randomly hanging picture on the wall from a previous furniture arrangement. Are you ready to see how ridiculous this looks?!

before-over piano

So sorry that this makes my living room look like the darkest pits of you-know-where. Also, you can see my not-so-secret stash of CRAP that we “hide” behind the couch, making it clearly visible to anyone who steps foot in our door. I go back to work in less than 2 weeks, I should maybe get on that.

But you get the idea, the picture placement was NOT going to work anymore. So, one night, while watching The Facts of Life on TheHub at about midnight, I decided to pull down all of the things I thought would add to a gallery wall and start laying them on the carpet. This post is super short on photos (you’re welcome, obviously my photog skills are inCREDible), but it was really dark, really late, and I was working by myself until the installation.

The pile of junk in my floor included: the pitchfork, the shears, mirror, our wedding-photo-“guest book” frame, the hand-holding engagement photo, a new hanging light for free from the youth room at church (nobody wanted it, we asked), and one of our post-wedding photos from upstairs that we took down when our ceiling had a leak. So, after getting a few copies of the photos (almost 3 years ago) and buying a few frames (also almost 3 years ago), we basically spent nothing on this project. My favorite kind. Cheap.

We took everything off the walls, leaving us with this (I promise our walls aren’t gray/yellow/green, we just truly have zero. light. and I couldn’t wait for daylight):

blank-wall-over-piano

(Seriously, the more I look at the awful white balance and how crap-tacular this picture is, the more I want to throw up. The cat on the couch is its saving grace.)

I moved things around in the floor (over and over and over again) until I had an arrangement that I liked and then…I just started hanging things. I’m not good at rhyme or reason. I don’t do well mapping it all out with perfect 2″ intervals between frames. I do really well with throwing it on a wall and moving it (to hide the previous nail hole).

So, here’s where we are today (well, at night time)…

gallery-wall-over-piano

And this is daytime…not much better, but at least you can tell our walls are gray…ish. Also, why the heck is there a can of WD-40 on my piano bench? And why is it STILL THERE?! These photos were probably taken in like, April. I just can’t seem to clear out my giant junk pile long enough to take better photos. That’ll happen next-to-never when I do a house tour. I’m all for keeping it real, but sometimes I’m a little too “real” for you all to have to handle.

piano-gallery-wall-daytime

I love having tools from my grandfather’s garage displayed. I love that we FINALLY have some wedding photos up (but we have a canvas I can’t wait to hang!) and I love that it happened after midnight on a Saturday. That’s like the witching hour for me. I get all crazy and start doing projects. Chris LOVES it. Also, he figured out how to hang 99.9% of this stuff and just drove nails where I asked, so he is a rockstar, even at 1 a.m.

p.s, Ikea, why are are ALL of your mattes NOT AT ALL WHITE, even in WHITE FRAMES?! top photo doesn’t look as pee-yellow in person, but it sure does make me crazy in the head here. Crazy in the head isn’t a far cry from my “normal”, but still. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Bloggers in the Dirty South: My First Haven Conference

Whoa. I mean. WHOA. About 13 months ago, I started seeing some of my FAVORITE bloggers post about a conference they had attended called Haven. I’m not gonna lie, I’m a terrible blogger. I think we all know this. Consistency? No. Incredible befores/afters? To me? Yes. To you? You’re very loving and supportive. I thank you for that. ๐Ÿ™‚ Huge following? No, but loyal and wonderful, you are. Anyway, I thought to myself last June/July, “How cool would it be to go to this big ol’ conference and meet these big ol’ bloggers and just revel in their glory?!”

Enter January when I heard tickets were going on sale. Nervous doesn’t being to describe how I felt. Anyone who knows us knows that we budget. like. crazy. Buying a huge conference ticket and figuring up hotel expenses didn’t even begin to fall into my “normal” budgeting month. Somehow, my super supportive husband helped me figure it out and the purchase was made! In the beginning, I found a roommate through Sarah at Ugly Duckling House and I was all set to go. Sadly, my wonderful roomie (also from VA- check her out: Caroline thediynurse!) was unable to go to Haven, but I found a new roomie…who I hadn’t met…who isn’t from VA…who might not like my ridiculous sense of humor…who might have to share a king-sized bed. I’m happy to say that God definitely sent me Melody from My Passion for Decor and I couldn’t have been luckier. We did end up sharing a king-size bed and it was no stress whatsoever! And this girl’s furniture makeovers? Beautiful.

So, we set out Wednesday morning for the bajillion and ten hour drive to ATL. We love road trips. That may or may not have been tested. Seriously though, we had a good time, played a million rounds of Heads-Up…anyone played this? It’s in the app store and it’s the celebrity/movie/song game that Ellen Degeneres plays with guests on her show? We play it at Friday Night Hangout (at our house, every Friday, you’re welcome to attend) and, needless to say, we have some GREAT car trip videos to send to Ellen. ๐Ÿ™‚ As the drive got long, I did a mani/pedi in the car. The color is Bikini So Teeny by Essie. And I love it.

bikini so teeny mani (1)We also passed the Gaffney, SC peach and got stuck in ATL traffic. Pretty standard road trip fare, if you ask me. At this point, Chris was asking me every few hours if I was excited. I kept saying no. I kinda wanted to throw up thinking about ALL of the blogging madness that was going to happen the next day at Haven. I just…I couldn’t even describe how unprepared I felt.

Gaffney Peach toward ATLย ATL traffic

Luckily, that night we had tickets to see a Braves game. I was over the moon excited about seeing my boys again and it was their NINTH win in a row! What a good night. We had stadium food with my sister and bro-in-law and we got to watch them win. In fact, we got there during the 3rd inning, in which they scored SEVEN runs. Booyah. Take that, Rockies!

Turner Field vs. Rockies 7.31.13GGG at Braves 7.31.13

We were tired after a long trip, but still in high spirits! Now, on to the conference!

I will not lie. I was terrified to go to this conference. The whole way into ATL from my sister’s I was quiet and nauseous. Poor Chris was being so supportive, telling me that my “funny” would translate and I would have friends (pathetic, right?!), but I could not get it together. We checked in to the room…which was awesome…although there was a man’s sock in the corner from the day before. I had a good laugh about that. And, wouldn’t you know it? My name was on the TV. WHAT?! It was like, “Whether you belong here or not, you’re here and they have your name ON RECORD.” I have to say, I kinda liked having my name on the TV. Exciting.ย Haven Conf TVI felt really small-town being overwhelmed by the fancy TV, but that’s not super surprising. My lovely husband stayed around in the hotel for me so I could calm my nerves/freak out while I waited for Melody. Luckily, the Haven Team had organized some twitter chats pre-conference and I got in touch with Heather from Real {Cheap} Housewives of Texas who texted me from the lobby bar telling me to get my butt out of my hotel room and come hang out. One last selfie with Chris and I was out the door. Terrified. Haha, anyone else sensing an emotional theme? Also…isn’t my husband just. THE. CUTEST?! He gets cuter, just wait.

GGG Haven Day 1

Seriously, I couldn’t have made it through the afternoon without Heather, Tara, and Melody. They literally kept me sane (ish?) while we waited for the first night’s opening cocktail party, hosted by Homes.Com. Now, this is when the party (literally and figuratively) started! I met a bajillion trillion people at this party and got to meet (in real life!) some bloggers who I had briefly met online. There are a bajillion pictures, so I’m going to try to let them do the talking. The first two pictures are me with Stacy at Not Just A Housewife and Amber of ForRent.Com and Homes.Com. Stacy and I had connected via instagram when I creepily told her that I asked for bangs just like hers when I went for a haircut. Amber and I also connected via twitter chats and we are like long-lost BFFs. We had similar nail polish, similar outfits, and then she said, “Oh, I live at the beach…like, Virginia Beach…in Virginia,” as I stared blankly and then exclaimed, “I LIVE IN VIRGINIA!” Then, there was much planning of girls’ nights, squealing, and hugging. BFFs.

Jessica-Gourley-Stacy-Risenmay-bangs Jessica Gourley Amber Heckler cocktail party

Then, I met Mandi from Vintage Revivals. I haven’t been following her for forever, but it’s been quite a few months and from post 1, I was hooked. I genuinely love her blog, her style, her house. Everything. When she saw me, she said, “Hey, didn’t I just start following you on instagram?!” I almost died. Of course, I knew (see photo below- hah) but I didn’t expect her to remember. Sometimes it’s really easy to build up these bloggers with huge blogs/followings as rock stars and Mandi is definitely a rock star. When she realized it and even remembered our correspondence via facebook a few months ago, I was so flattered. I’m pretty sure the words, “Are we the same person?!” came up some time during our exchange and later we even realized we were in adjoining rooms. Ahhhh, yes. Fate. Haha. Seriously, though. It was a blessing to get to meet these fabulous ladies in person and to form connections. I’m so lucky to have been in their company.

vintage revival following

My favorite things about the Homes.Com party were:

1. Sarah from Ugly Duckling House recognizing me and us FINALLY talking in real life. She said the other day it felt like we’d known each other forever. Ain’t that the truth. So glad to meet this awesome girl in person.

2. Re-meeting Sherry from Young House Love and not making a totally creepy reference although we did tell funny jokes about how kids say inappropriate things. Maybe we’re destined for awkwardness. I’m OK with that.

3. Meeting Katie from Bower Power in person since I feel like I’ve known her and been in her home millions of times.

4. Seeing SO MANY people I had connected with through instagram. Many of them said, “Don’t I know you?” and I’d say, “Instagram?” and the wave of recognition would wash over, haha. I had such an extensive conversation about my insta-habits and how *shocking* it was that I hadn’t instagrammed much during the party that a few of us went ahead and instagrammed the flowers at the tables. That’s how addicted I am. I admit it. I have a problem.

Haven Conf centerpiece HomesDotCom[Other floral instagrammers can be found at Southern Color, Deranchification, Designed by BH, and Tossed Salad Life!]

After the party, Julia from Southern Color got us all a table at Cantina, right outside of our hotel and we had a DELICIOUS Mexican dinner with a big ol’ group. Wouldn’t you know I left my business cards in the hotel room (when quesadillas call, you don’t hold for business cards) but these ladies were gracious enough to let me track them down again the next day to trade. And to think, I wasn’t going to bring business cards until my husband convinced me I needed them! What a good man.

Haven-2013-dinner-Cantina

Bloggers L to R: Melody from My Passion for Decor, Julia from ย Southern Color, Anneke (and hubby, Michael!) from This, That, and Life, Lindsay from Life of Splendor, Kristin from Bliss At Home, Angie from Angie’s Roost, Trisha from Black and White Obsession, Elizabeth from ย Southern Color, Jesse from Scout and Nimble, and Brooke fromย Designed by BH!

Our waiter was British and some of us may or may not have pulled a Love, Actually and made him repeat words. We did NOT invite him to share a bed like the girls at the end of the clip. Also, I might be watching this movie tonight. Christmas in August. You’re welcome.

I got back to my room and JUST as Melody and I were getting ready for sleep, I saw a bunch of instagram notifications from a photo I had NOT posted. I got all nervous because my twitter was hacked while I was on vacation this summer and I was afraid someone got into my instagram. I clicked on the photo, and this popped up. Hacked? Yes. By the CUTEST husband in all the world. I told ya he got cuter!

instagram-husband-hack

All in all, it was a kind of amazing first day. I was SO scared and everyone was SO gracious. So, on to day two! ๐Ÿ™‚

This was the day I realized that I needed to start taking photos with people that I was obsessed with wanted to meet.

We had an amazing keynote speech by Ana White. I mean, amazing. I feel so stupid that I didn’t bring my book to have it signed! Dumb. ย I did tell her that my husband loved her…in front of her husband…and then followed up with, “because he likes that you have plans for the crazy things I want him to build and he doesn’t have to come up with them.” Good save. Classy. She and her husband were super gracious and laughed it off. Clearly I’m not the only crazy wife who says, “Let’s do _________!” and overwhelms her husband. (Don’t take that dirty. I didn’t mean it. For real this time.) I have a million “Ana-isms” that I wrote down that were so helpful to remember, one of which was “Be the goats in the trees.” Sometimes, I can’t explain the crazy.

I was able to attend some AWESOME sessions like Photographing Rooms & Projects with Kristen Duke. Have you read her love story posts? Check them out. In the afternoon, I went to Getting Personal On Your Blog with Sherry and Katie and got some good photos and we got the exciting news that KB is pregnant! Woo, Bower babies! Then, I was in Profitable Advertising with Myra from My Blessed Life, Beth from Home Stories A to Z, and Sarah from Thrifty Decor Chick. Can I just say that Sarah has a HOT voice?! I mean, girl could work in radio. Yes, that was my opener when I met her, “I just wanted to tell you that you have a great voice.” Creepers anonymous, here I come. I got some photos with some of my fave bloggers on Friday before going to the awesome #ryobirockshaven party thrown by Ryobi Power Tools. It. Was. Amazing.ย Jessica-Gourley-Mandi-Gubler

Me and Mandi from Vintage Revivals. This is the photo that prompted my best friend to text me, “WHY ARE BLOGGERS SO BEAUTIFUL?!” My only response, “RIGHT?!”

I met Geralin from Hoarders, say whaaaaat?! I was SO excited and she was THE sweetest lady. This is a big deal. I watch Hoarders marathons every Friday night. Every. Friday. Night.

Jessica-Gourley-Geralin

Jessica-Gourley-Katie-Bower-Baby-Bower

Above: Katie Bower and her itty bitty baby!

Below: Sherry and I reppin’ V-A.

Jessica-Gourley-Sherry-Petersik-VA

These are REALLY quality photos of Dusty from All Things G&D proposing to Christina from Homemade Ocean [who is NOT a unicorn, nor is she a ghost?!] and me and my dates for the night, Christina and Sarah!

Christina-Dusty-Proposal-Haven-2013Christina-Jenkins-Sarah-Fogle-Jessica-Gourley

Ryobi-Party-Wobble

Above: Ladies on the dance floor doing the Wobble.

Below: Ryobi guys coming out to “It’s Raining Men!” Hahaha- so. funny.

Ryobi-Raining-Men

On Saturday, I went to three more sessions. I have to say, I have never taken so many notes in my life. The first one was from Brooke at All Things Thrifty and Court Tuttle of theblogbuilders.com. When I tell you that these 2 know things about building a blog, I mean, it’s insane. There are things I have never thought of. Things I could never possibly imagine. It was insane. And amazing. And inspiring. And they were super duper ridiculously nice. Then, I went to New Kids on the Block with KariAnne of Thistlewood Farms, Tauni of Snap!, and Heather from At the Picket Fence. These ladies knew SO much about building blogs and are even offering to help US out?! Gah. I cannot even handle it.

I got some photos with some of these lovelies, including KariAnne who pronounced us BFFs at the first cocktail party. I was so honored. And she thought I was funny? Whaaaat?! I blushed. A lot.

Jessica Gourley KariAnne Thistlewood Farms

I followed that session up with Hands-On Design Advice with Emily A. Clark, Sarah of Yellow Cape Cod, and Kristin from The Hunted Interior. I won’t lie. Kristin’s photos on her blog are like house porn for me. I just love what she does so I was excited to take in all of their knowledge and expertise for styling/arranging.

By Saturday’s end, I was running around like a crazy person taking pictures with everyone I’d missed and trying to get the last little bit of time talking to vendors and collecting my free swag (holla!) so I was freaking exhausted, but it was the best kind of tired. Ever.

Jessica Gourley Amber Heckler

Above: Me and Amber again! Love!

Below: My absolute motivation/sanity/helper/friend, Heather from RCHOTX!

Jessica Gourley Heather Warren Jessica Gourley Melody Smith

Above: Me and Melody- roomie pic! So blessed to have met her!

Below: Collecting vendor swag and entering to win a shower! What?! Yes, please! #moenshowertime

Jessica Gourley Moen Shower Jessica Gourley Sarah Fogle

Above: The smartest, funniest, most laid-back blogger and blog designer I have ever met. Seriously, Sarah is a gem and her advice was SO timely and well-said. I have much to learn from her!

Below: My new Lucy’s Inspired bracelet from the Southern Accents Architectural Antiques booth (my fave)!

lucy's inspired bracelet

I honestly couldn’t be happier that I decided to go blogger-stalk learn more at this conference. I met so many blogging idols (promise I won’t be quite so creepy next time, guys!) and learned SO much about the potential there is in this blogging world. The support was unprecedented and the relationships I formed were SO helpful to the next phase of me and my itty bitty baby blog. The Haven team planned a phenomenal conference- I can’t wait until next year! And special thanks to ALL of my new blogger-friends. I love you ladies and can’t WAIT to see you again. Lastly, thanks to my sweet husband for affirming me, encouraging me, and convincing me that I should go to this and that I would be fine. He was right. Ugh, I hate it when that happens. ๐Ÿ™‚

**As much as it seems I can only post in months beginning with “A”, I promise I’ll be back with another post again soon! Thanks! **

Saving H2O…and Money :)

I have a freakish gift. Yes, it’s weird. No, I’m not proud of it. Many other people may say they have it, but I find that I’ve honed it to an unusual and unnatural skill level. See, growing up we had well water. To this day, I prefer well water over paying for my water and I still forget that I can shower when the power’s out. Dumb, but true. I have however, learned that I love showering in the dark. Strange, but true.

I remember my college roommate coming to stay for a few days over our first college break. Yes, we were that in love. A month apart made us crazy. That being said, we annoyed each other endlessly the next semester for about 2 months. No worries, we made up and are still in love today…and also happily married to wonderful men. We were sleeping in the basement of my split-foyer house on the sofa bed, but the main bathroom was upstairs. Our basement bathroom always ended up being storage- haha. We were passed out in the way that only college students can be, when I suddenly bolted up in the bed. Katie turned over and said, “What the heck is wrong?! Did something happen?” I asked her, “Have you been up already?” and she said, “Yeah, I woke up a while ago and went to the bathroom.” I jumped out of the bed and yelled, “The water’s running!” She didn’t really understand my freak-out, but I later explained the well water situation to her. That year we were also in water advisory for a drought, so I was on especially high alert.

I can still hear the water running at any time and from anywhere in any house I happen to be in. It’s a sickness. A few months back, I heard our water running in our bathroom toilet and asked Chris if he’d heard it. He said he had heard it a few times, but didn’t realize it was happening as often as I had noticed. Eventually, the flapper would leak so much that the water would full on run into the toilet bowl. The trickling made me in.sane.

This past weekend I decided to do something about it. This may be the first (and only) time we use personal spending money on toilet parts. Chris ran out to Ace Hardware Saturday evening and bought this handy-dandy Dual-Flush Converter: the HydroRight.

DSC_3762

I had seen it recommended on Young House Love a few years ago, but didn’t have a good excuse to replace my toilet parts until my flapper started trickling.ย How many times in life can you say that your flapper is trickling?ย Too few, I say.

So. We started with the toilet looking like this…

DSC_3758

Just a regular old tank, fully equipped with an empty flower pot because I killed a succulent. Yes, an un-killable plant.

DSC_3759

Then, Chris took the tank lid off and sat down to look inside. This happened. I laughed out loud and he couldn’t get up fast enough to stop me from taking his picture. Did I mention I can’t wait to repaint this bathroom based on my new moodboard from the diy nurse?! Because I can. not. wait.

DSC_3767

So, he sat backwards on the toilet and I read the directions to him. It’s pretty easy, almost as easy as replacing a regular old flapper. We had to make a few adjustments to the float that monitors the water level because its “default” height was the same as our tank’s water level and we took a few test flushes to adjust it and make sure we had enough water for the #1 flush. After 10 minutes of playing around with the water level, we had a dual-flush toilet! Yes, friends, that’s right. One flush for #1 and another for #2. I am so stoked about the possibility of water savings, I’m about to install one in the roommate’s bathroom.

DSC_3768

And honestly, the little button is really cute. I was scared the tank’s lid would sit differently because the button seemed higher than the lever, but voila! It works! This is so dumb, but I am really so excited about this joker. Being able to say that my flapper was trickling was just an added bonus. ๐Ÿ™‚

DSC_3770

Any water- or money-saving tricks up your sleeve this spring? We would love ALL the money-saving tricks we can get!

Which came first, the chicken…or the egg basket?

Every year, we make a lovely pilgrimage to Pennsylvania with my grandparents. I first went on this trip in middle or high school and I was obsessed with vintage handkerchiefs. Yes, I have a bazillion. No, they’re not doing anything cool. Yes, I should really get on making something cool with them.

Anyway, as I grew up, I became obsessed with other things (formica top tables, anyone?) and started going on this trip as an adult with my own little envelope just for these goodies. Since then I have bought a bazillion insulators, some old bottles, blue Mason jars, old cameras, and other things we use and love around the house.

As nervous as I am to admit this, I think this year was our best haul yet. I’m sure I’ll be blogging about many of our finds over the next few months because I just want to make them all functional and display them right. stinking. now.

Last year, I came back with a b-e-autiful yellow egg basket. Yellow is my favoritefavoritefavorite color and it’s in nearly perfect condition. My blue Mason jars look beautiful in it, but I really wanted to make something out of it. I really wanted a light.

This year, my hunt was forย another egg basket that I could finally transform into a lovely little light fixture. I really love the yellow one and want to keep it with my blue jars. Well, apparently we aren’t the only ones because not only did we find baskets, we found them for prices WAY higher than last year’s. We finally found a really nice white one in SUPER great condition. I was afraid for it to be too rusty because some of the wires in the egg baskets that were umm…more well-loved(?) was kinda sketch and eaten all the way through and I wanted this to be a kitchen fixture. The white we found also happened to be the cheapest we were seeing advertised ($37, but I think we talked them down a few bucks). Either way, I knew I wanted to leave with one and it was perfection.

Now, I don’t know anyone with an egg basket light, but I figure pinterest might. I knew that I could make it into one, I just wasn’t 100% sure on the mechanics of the whole thing.

Enter 2 Little Superheroesย and her DIY Egg Basket Tutorial. Feel free to read hers if you want more detail, as mine will be brief since hers was so bomb-dot-com.

We started with this ginormous (but lovely) fan that SUPER doesn’t work with our aesthetic.

DSC_3720

Also, have I mentioned that we have very limited counter space and EVERYTHING seems to end up on this lovely little table? And yes, that is a dress hanging from our floating shelf. Long story. Doesn’t it look like something Mary fromย The Secret Garden would wear? #humorme

DSC_3722

And here is my lovely little egg basket. Isn’t she cute? I love her.

DSC_3728

This is post-taking wires out of fixture plate and threading them through the egg basket hole. Then, we just threaded them back through the fixture plate once it was hung on the ceiling and attached to the box. No worries, we turned off the electricity…although that did take some serious luck because the previous owners jacked up our fuse box labeling. Annoying.ย **For anyone who’s wondering. We used the same pendant light as in Danielle’s tutorial, but in silver. It’s here, if you’re interested! I forgot to take a photo of the box and my husband is a rabid recycler- haha.**

DSC_3729

Aaaaaaaaaand here she is! I really considered tying up the handle with some fishing wire (so it wouldn’t look “ghetto”, as my husband called it) or with some cute twine to look more rustic…but then both the hubs & the roommate leaned over and got coffee without bumping their heads on it- so it stays! You will notice that the cord had to be swagged from the fixture box to a hook. Our fixture box is a) not centered, and b) super far out of the “nook” due to the way the HVAC ducts run from the vent. It’s annoying, but I really needed the basket to be centered and it’s less noticeable than I would’ve assumed. I mean, Country Living and HGTV aren’t coming to photograph my house anytime soon…and we’re looking into moving the fixture box sometime soon. Gotta get up in the attic and see what we’re working with. ๐Ÿ™‚ย DSC_3734

DSC_3736

Oooh, you can also see that we took Danielle’s advice and got the Edison bulb. It’s a LOT less bright than our fan’s light fixture, but I l-o-v-e love it. So I don’t care. Also, that second picture makes it look super crooked, but it really isn’t. I just couldn’t get directly in front of it with the camera. Yes, our kitchen is THAT narrow. …and don’t judge me for the Strawberry Daiquiri ice-pop kit in our window. We accumulate super weird (and hopefully delicious) things.

Anybody else making weird things into light fixtures? Weren’t these egg baskets absolutely made to be lights in a future life?! Well, baskets, that life is NOW!

pssssst! We were featured on 6 AWESOME blogs for their Monday Funday series! We are SO honored- it made our night/weekend/week/month! ๐Ÿ™‚ Check these amazing ladies and their awesome blogs out! And…thank you SO much to Jamie for choosing our project! ๐Ÿ™‚ย 

C.R.A.F.T., Uncommon Designs, Lines Across, That’s What Che Said…, Creatively Living, An Extraordinary Day, and Really Awesome Costumes

2013: Upstairs Closets

Last year, we made (and I never blogged about) a cloffice (closet office). It’s one of my favorite things in our house. One day I will explain the creation/inspiration for said cloffice, but today…I am writing about closets, in general. Toni, from A Bowl Full of Lemons set an organization challenge this week of closets, so I’m here blogging about our three very different closets: our cloffice, our master closet, and our linen closet. Would I say that any of these three are *completely* finished? No. Are they all FAR more functional and actually pretty enjoyable? Yes. 

#1- The Cloffice


It’s pretty simple in that…I love it. There are a few wire shelves to the left (that came with the closet) as this room is relatively small. This is also a terribly bright picture, but the wall is super navy and I super love it. I super hate the chair. We’re saving up for a nicer one…maybe acrylic? I want it to stop stealing the show from my navy wall. This stores all of my gift wrap, old magazines, tissue paper, random small crafty things, and, obviously, our files. I also copied Toni’s original filing system[I couldn’t find the link but it’s all over pinterest] and it made my heart so happy over spring break (last year) that I probably could’ve cried. That’s serious. 

I should write more on how amazing this is, but for now, the pictures are on my hard drive and it’s not hooked up…so I’m moving on to…

#2- The Master Closet

Truthfully, our “master” isn’t billed as the master. The boxier room downstairs has an attached bath. It also has a smaller closet…with the water heater in it. This one has a double closet and it has been my room since my mom purchased our house when I was a sophomore in college. It has been different colors (on its way to a new one) and had many different sets of furniture and arrangements, but I love this room best. We redid our closet system in April 2011…after my husband’s side fell. down. It has worked pretty well. It’s still not huge, but that’s the nature of the beast. Our upstairs bedroom closets like this one and the cloffice have slanted ceilings because they begin the transition under the eaves of our house. It’s kinda weird to explain…maybe one day it will make sense and I’ll have a picture of our oddly-shaped home. ๐Ÿ™‚

Basically, this closet kinda stopped functioning so our room looked INSANE. Seriously.
Exhibit A:


 This was the point where I took everything on the floor (ie: should go in the closet) and threw it all on the bed. That has ALWAYS been how I clean my room. I make it so that the room “looks” clean-ish and then I go through the stuff on the bed. Typically, it works (as I’d like to get in bed at night). However, in college I slept on a pile of laundry for a few days because I just didn’t. feel. like. folding. 

This is what the bed looked like from the other side. WHY DO I HAVE SO MUCH CRAP?!?!?!?!?! Seriously, almost none of this is my husband’s. In fact, none of it is his. 


 This beautiful clear space on my side of the bed was my motivation. It still looks this way days later, thankyouverymuch.

 True confession? This part still looks slightly similar. The stuff closest to me & the camera needs to be donated/consigned and I just haven’t been home during daylight hours to go through it the rest of the way. #comeonsnowdays2013!


See? I told ya we’d sleep here that night. How we sleep without moving the frames/canvas to adjust to center (to align with our mirror), I will never know.


This is the bag of donations. You’ll notice they’re mostly my husband’s. Someone keeps losing weight. The only weight I’m losing is the half-ounce of nail polish that has clearly disappeared from my toes.


Then, I look into this beautiful closet and I don’t care that my toes are chipped or that I won’t be able to work out until April (#lifeofanOdysseyoftheMindcoach) because my closet is SO PRETTY. Things are organized my sleeve-length, and then rainbow order. I do keep all jackets to the right and dresses to the left. Also, in the right side there are probably…7-10″ of space. I hung some 3M hooks with my 4 big purses, which house all of the little ones. It’s splendid.

 Please don’t judge the crazy curtain situation. I hung one of two panels on his side of the closet to see if I liked the no-door, curtained look. I do. I just haven’t gotten around to hemming all 4 or hanging the other 3 panels. Soon. And very soon (that’s an inside joke for you, Mom…and anyone else super familiar with the Baptist hymnal).


This is my husband’s side. See all of those empty hangers? They were full FIVE MONTHS AGO. I tell ya, Insanity works. My man is looking mighty fine and diminishing by the day. He’s so healthy I can’t stand it. If he has to give away any more shirts he’s going to be so naked nobody else can stand it.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………

And on to my newest addition to the 2013 Cleaner Closet Campaign, the Linen Closet! Hooray!

So, I went to Target at 10:20 p.m. on a Monday. I just…I had to have some baskets. I got the lovely y-weave and (apparently) I got the fall/winter ones that they are phasing out because 5 of them were on clearance- SCORE! I bought 5 of their large size and 2 of their mediums in white. Sidenote: The spring ones are also teal, but they were slightly lighter by comparison in person. Also, we used red ones for our laundry room and the ones now are a tad more…fluorescent? It’s hard to describe, but noticeable since I already owned some. 

I also bought one of the little tiny Sterilite drawer sets for things I wanted to corral. I hit up the dollar bins because WHY NOT and found one other little box I didn’t even know I’d use. 

This closet performs many duties: sheets, towels, medicine cabinet, paint supplies, extra throw pillows, beach bag [not pictured=not organized- sorry, beach bag]. I just needed to corral items in a way that would make sense. Here’s where we started:


There are few more bed pillows that get stacked on top, but they were used this past weekend by some guests, so I haven’t gotten them put away yet. Otherwise, this is pretty much what it looked like. OH, it did have a basket with ALL of the “medicine cabinet” related items. They were all thrown in with extra soaps, travel stuff, random lotions (kids give the best and worst teacher gifts), aloe-type stuff, back scratchers, etc. That was in my living room floor but came from the shelf that has the…smoke detector on it. You’ll see the basket filled with trash later.


Yes, the lighting is terrible. No, it really is that ugly. Brassy knob. Builder white? beige? paint. I have not painted, but now that it’s organized, it will be much easier to get everything out of here and paint it up one weekend. 

 You can see that I tried REALLY hard to utilize baskets, but I had random ones and some didn’t really fit or you had to pull them both out to get to one…
now I have THIS:


Top Shelf: 
-still pillows (and the zip-up picnic blanket/pillow thingy)
Second Shelf: 
-basket on left: hand towels/wash cloths
-drawers: medical tape, ointments/creams, floss/oral ointments, bandaids, Breathe Right strips, sinus/allergy meds, thermometer
-divided organizer on top of drawers: small hair rubberbands (the plastic-y ones I use for special teacher-spirited hairdos), extra contact cases
-basket on right: “medicine cabinet”, travel-sized stuff, extra glasses/cases, a few bars of soap & body butter, a box of unopened Prilosec, gauze/Ace bandages, handheld back massager, and that little thing from Avon that gets the pills off sweaters- what’s that called? Sweater shaver?


You can probably guess that the third shelf is towels. We have 2 that go on the left (in the wash) and guest towels are in that basket in the middle.
Below that, the left basket is extra sheets. When we travel and bring sheets we have a set for a double bed and a set for a king. We use them more than I would’ve anticipated. The set in the middle has never been opened, but one of our current sets is wearing thin. The basket on the right has our current sheets that are in rotation.
Bottom shelf left basket has cleaning supplies for the upstairs, a make-up bag I can use for bottles & things during travel, and the right basket is where we keep random electrical things (extra smoke detector, pop-up lights & bulbs, my husband’s knee brace, heating pads).

One last look! Top!

 …and bottom!


 The beach bag will fit perfectly in the middle of the floor between those paint cans! Booyah!

The basket below WAS my “medicine cabinet” basket. That is now trash/recycling, minus the peroxide which is going downstairs to make laundry (armpit) pre-treater.


This make-up bag is a little less effective for me, but I’m going to see if I can’t change my travel habits with packing that kind of stuff and keep it in my closet with the matching garment bag. I hate splitting up a set but I do know some really good consignment places.


And this will ALLLL be going to Freecycle. Freecyclers love beauty products because they’re often expensive. If someone has extras of something you use, might as well get it for free!



I’m feeling MUCH better about my life in our closets. It took less than a day to construct our cloffice and less than 2 hours to organize the other two. Definitely a do-able night or weekend thing! I think our life will run MUCH more smoothly with our closet stuff organized…and I can’t wait to get some bookplates/labels for those linen closet baskets! 

Our space-filling project for under our shelves is coming later this week! ๐Ÿ™‚
A Bowl Full of Lemons