Bad Days and Deadlines

What to do on a bad daySome days are better than others. Some days turn into weeks, and I’m going to be real with you – some weeks suck. This week is one of those weeks for me. I knew within an hour of waking up on Monday that everything was turning south quickly. By the time I made it to my office, I was ready to drop kick everyone that crossed my path. Lunch with Matthew wasn’t pleasant because my bad mood took hold of the room like a permeating stench, and nothing he could say or do was turning that negativity around. For the record, I did apologize for being in such a foul mood and just asked for some grace until I could get ahold of myself.

So what do you do on days or weeks like this?? Tuesday didn’t seem to start off any better and the rest of the week wasn’t looking so hot either. I’ve wrote before on what to do when you’re having a crappy day, and realistically, I needed to go into hiding and avoid everyone until this dark cloud of a mood could pass. However, what do you do when you have made a commitment with a deadline and you can’t simply withdraw from society for a bit? Unfortunately, when I needed to employ my usual tactics the most, I simply couldn’t.

Here’s what I did. I avoided as many people as possible. There was simply no need in infecting the masses with my mood. Because don’t forget, a bad mood and a bad attitude is just as contagious as a good mood and a positive attitude. If you’re not careful, you’ll have instilled the funk in everyone around you and that’s just not fair. Then, I put my head down and PUSHED through my tasks. I had a specific goal to reach and I buckled down and pushed hard for it so that I could get the hell out of there…for everyone’s sake, not just my own. And then I bought myself prizes

Thankfully, the commitment I made before knowing my mood was going to fail me had a specific deadline. Since I couldn’t set it to the side until I felt more positive and productive, I simply powered through. It’s like seeing the finish line at the end of a long race. You can see the end point and you can push yourself to reach it, even though you’d like to collapse on the ground. (I’m assuming. I don’t run races.) Either way, I can see the endpoint. I seriously buckled down and pushed hard for the goal, knowing that very soon, I’d be able to stop and retreat. As soon as I completed these last few (22 to be exact) tasks, I could give myself a break and do something to help pull myself from the funk.

Not all bad days are accompanied by pressing deadlines. If not, try to employ any of the tactics I mentioned in this post. If you simply do not have the ability to run away at that time, like my situation this week, my next suggestion is to buckle down and get your job done ASAP. Then retreat. Treat it like that last day of work before vacation. We accomplish more on that final day before leaving than we do all year! Don’t drag it out. Just get it done and then move on to something that will hopefully make you feel better. Dragging out your responsibilities will only make it worse, and at a minimum, it sure as hell won’t make it better.

In conclusion, understand that you’re going to have those days and sometimes those weeks. It’s ok. (If you find that you have more of these days than positive ones though, reevaluate your surroundings and make changes to remove the negative stimulus. Or speak to your health care professional.) I’ve been known to beat myself up when I have these bad days, because usually they make me pretty unproductive. And if you saw Monday’s post, you know that productivity and achievement are my vices, which I’m actively working on.

For now, if you’re having the sort of week that I am, get your work done and then go get you a cupcake. Do your best to feel better and if it’s just not happening right now, know that this too shall pass and it’s ok to have a crappy day every now and then.    

An Addiction to Achievement

White Brick FireplaceThey say the first step is admitting you have a problem. And there could be all sorts of problems – addiction, greed, poor eating habits – you name it. Yet those aren’t what I have to share today.

Instead of your most frequently diagnosed “problems,” my problem is with achievement. And I’m willing to admit that it, too, is an addiction. Since I can remember, I’ve been an over-achiever. Type A. Perfectionist. A real go-getter. Work horse. You can call it whatever you’d like. The fact of the matter is, I’ve used hard work to mask my own insecurities and as a marker of my value. I’ve placed my self-worth on how hard I work and what various accomplishments I reach.

Don’t be confused. I am a firm believer in a strong work ethic and setting challenging goals. I love goals. Have all the goals. It’s important to make note of the line in the sand though. Work ethic and goals are one thing, positive things even. Using those things to justify your worth, however, is not.

I’ve talked briefly about the glorification of “busy” before, and since then I’ve focused on removing that word from my vocabulary. I don’t want to be busy. I don’t want to compete for the trophy of being the most tired, ragged, and worn out. Being “busy” isn’t cool anymore. Early on in Present over Perfect, the writer talks about a group of friends who help each other take a simpler approach and focus on self-care. She says, “Instead of competing for who’s busier or who’s more tired, who’s keeping more balls in the air, we’re constantly looking for ways to help each other’s lives get lighter, easier to carry, closer to the heart of what we love, less clogged with expectations and unnecessary tasks.” I want these friends. Honestly, I need these friends. I’m not sure that I know where to start on my own.

I’ve been struggling with the realization that my worth is tied to my work lately, and quite frankly, I’ve been trying to ignore it. No one, not even me as a personal growth junkie wants to dig that deep and challenge their very core. Repress, repress has been the name of my game here. Don’t pay any attention to that little voice telling you to reevaluate things and it won’t become real. As I began to read the first few pages of Present over Perfect, I could not focus over the sound of my own mind screaming, “That’s me! That’s me!” The author talks about feeling exhausted and her dreams involving nights alone in complete silence with nothing to do. And sleep. Ah, the thought of a good night’s sleep and feeling rested…preach it, sister!

As I flipped through the first few pages, I knew I wasn’t hiding from this notion of self-care any longer. It was finally time to take stock and identify a better, more compassionate (to myself) way of living. There is an immediate problem though – even though I penciled in “self-care” as a goal for October, I don’t truly understand the concept. I’ve never practiced this approach and the very ideal makes me feel anxious. My approach with myself has been more like that of a pissed off drill sergeant. “Work harder! Do more! You can’t stop yet! Toughen up!” are the types of things I’d say to myself quietly and sometimes even aloud. “Get your shit together,” has often been my motto.

To begin to think seriously about how I talk to and treat myself scares me. Thinking seriously about self-care feels overwhelming. The concept is so foreign and I hardly know where to begin. I’m tempted to smack myself around a bit and give myself a stern talking to, just for “wasting time” on these thoughts. Nonetheless, my rational mind tells me that I’m deflecting and avoiding emotion and that I need to explore this more. What am I hiding from? What emotions and insecurities or fears am I masking by always working harder? Why when I’m not working do I feel like I should be doing something for someone else? Why do I feel undeserving of rest and personal care? I’m not sure what the answers to these questions are yet, and I know it won’t be an easy process to discover them.

“Richard Rohr says the skills that take you through the first half of your life are entirely unhelpful for the second half. To press the point a little bit: those skills I developed that supposedly served me well for the first half, as I inspect them a little more closely, didn’t actually serve me at all. They made me responsible and capable and really, really tired. They made me productive and practical, and inch by inch, year by year, they moved me further and further from the warm, whimsical person I used to be….and I missed her.” – Shauna Niequist, Present over Perfect

I would never classify myself as “whimsical,” and truthfully not particularly “warm” either. However, I can say with certainty that I can relate to this statement. The skills I’ve mastered thus far have been skills that helped me excel in academics and in my career, and much like the author mentions, they’ve also prevented me from resting and taking care of myself both mentally and physically. While I hope I’m not at the midpoint of my life as she references, I can easily see how the skills I’ve developed thus far are not serving me well either. Coming to this realization before my midlife point doesn’t really surprise me – I’ve always been “mature for my age,” another example of my tendency toward over-achievement. Is it possible to take stock of your life and methods at the young age of 30? I think so. Actually, I know so, because as these words leap from her pages, slapping me in the face with reality, I know that I must begin identifying what skills will serve me going forward and do away with many of the ones I’ve mastered so far.

To (hopefully) be continued….

Trump vs Hillary

Election Year FlagIf you haven’t had your nose rubbed in this enough yet, it’s election year here in America. Every election that I can remember has been a tough one. Our country is always divided. A large portion of the population is afraid. Many become downright mean and disrespectful, and for as long as I can remember, I’ve hated the back and forth banter. This year seems to be all of the above on steroids. This year seems to be the most crude and divisive election thus far in my lifetime. Before we continue, if you think I’m going to take some sort of political stance with this post, I am not. If you think I’m going to condemn or condone a particular candidate, I am not. Instead, I simply want to talk about the manner in which these conversations are had.

As with any other topic in life, we will often disagree. I may firmly see a situation from one end of the spectrum and you could see it from the other end. What I’ve found to be true in most scenarios is that the “truth” actually lies somewhere in the middle of our perceptions. There are seldom black and white solutions and there’s almost always an exception to the rule. Just as an example, you might be “pro-life” and yet support a mother terminating a pregnancy if she’s told that she’ll certainly die if she carries that baby to term. You might want to “close our borders” and yet would not turn away a scared, abused child that needed refuge from a tyrannical country. You might even draw a hard and fast line in the sand on the issues above. However, the majority of the time, I believe rational people will see a variation in what’s true when they’re presented with other side of a story.  A less political example could be a disagreement at home. Harry could have come home early and worked on a project in the backyard. Since he came home early, Sally could have expected him to do the dishes. When Harry didn’t do the dishes, Sally drew the conclusion that Harry doesn’t want to help around the house and that he expects her to do everything. When seeing how frustrated Sally is, Harry then demands that she only complains and that he can’t do anything to please her. Ever. A neutral third party could easily what actually went down and understand that both are a little right and a little wrong. By communicating their individual perspectives, Harry and Sally could come to realize that neither were inherently wrong and the reality of the situation lied somewhere in the middle of their two perspectives.

This post, however, is less about the actual topics at bay in this election and more about how we treat one another. I’ve been rather fired up during this election, and I’ve chosen to stay calm and to keep most of my opinions/frustrations to myself. Well, Matthew has heard them. Repetitively. Other than that, I’ve mostly kept my lips sealed. If I had the chance, though, to stand on the world stage and offer any insight to influence our country it would be the following things:

  1. We should ALWAYS have respect for another’s opinion, even if it’s vastly different than our own. You can be pro-life or pro-choice and still have a RESPECTFUL conversation with someone on the other side of an important issue. As a matter of fact, you could possibly understand the other side a little better or at a minimum have some new information to consider if you truly listened to the other side without judgment. We’ve all heard the saying that a person’s true character is shown in how they treat someone who can’t do anything for them. I think character shows up in how we treat someone that we disagree with. Or in what we post angrily on facebook.
  2. It’s very, very easy to exclaim what’s “right” or what’s “wrong” and how things should be done from our own living rooms. We should keep in mind though, that the information provided to us in our living rooms, is limited. We have a very limited view of the situation as a whole. And as with anything, it’s easy to call the shots and say what you would do, when you’re not actually faced with a situation. For example, I often hear people say that a victim of domestic violence should “just leave.” That’s very easy for someone to say who doesn’t feel that their life is in danger, who doesn’t have children with an abuser to consider, who doesn’t have to determine how they’ll support themselves if they leave, and who isn’t being controlled both physically AND mentally. It’s easy to offer up what you would have said AFTER the fact, and even easier when you weren’t the one faced with a stressful situation to begin with. And with so much abuse being discussed in this election, I think it’s downright disrespectful and appalling to decide from our couches if someone was or wasn’t abused or what they should have done. That’s not our place and we have much too limited information to ever make a judgement of the sort. Furthermore, keep in mind that your comments and discussion on the topic of abuse can be very damaging. Statistically, someone in your circle of friends or your facebook feed has been a victim of abuse. Belittling these situations is a major insult to those people.
  3. In addition to all of the hot-topic issues this election year, I feel as if we should also be considering the moral character of the person we choose to lead our country, keeping in mind that what you deem to be morally correct can be very different than what your neighbor thinks. We can talk about Planned Parenthood, border control, the Second Amendment, and taxes (Although, why aren’t we talking more about education and healthcare??) until we’re blue in the face. However, most of these items aren’t even directly controlled by the President. The President definitely has influence, yet many decisions are actually made by Congress, not the President themselves. Therefore, we should be a little more selective when choosing our Congressmen rather than saving all of our passion and decision-making abilities for the Presidential race. We can talk about “issues” all day long and yet one of the things that I feel to be most important, especially in this election, is the moral character of the candidate that can, and likely will, set the tone for future decisions and justice in our country. Think of it this way – if you had to chose a candidate that was an immediate influence on the character of your own son or daughter, who would it be? Please don’t answer this question aloud. Just ponder it. If you were raising a child who would reflect the morals, the attitudes, and behaviors of one of our Presidential candidates, who would you want to raise up and present to the world? Who’s behavior would you endorse and be proud of?
  4. There are more than two candidates in this race. I’ve heard soooo many times that we’re choosing the “lesser of two evils” in this election. First of all, you voting (or not voting) in the primaries is what brought these candidates to the national stage. Secondly, there are other candidates available! We do not have to vote simply Republican or Democrat. Do your research and see if there’s another candidate that might align more with your values. There could be another candidate on the ballot that’s a better fit to lead our country. I saw someone say recently that if every person who used the “lesser of two evils” speech voted third party, there’s a high change that the third party would be the majority winner. Don’t simply vote Trump or Hillary because they’re the two you see on TV most. At least do your due diligence and research all candidates before using your little thumb to choose the leader of our country. You owe it both to yourself and your country to be informed.
  5. Do NOT take everything you read or see on the news as truth, especially if you’re getting your information from biased parties! Do your own research! Check the facts. Step out of your echo chamber and learn for yourself what the truth is. Even the facts thrown around by the candidates themselves aren’t 100% true! (And sometimes they’re completely false.) I firmly believe that if you’re not going to do your own research, look for what’s true, and consider ALL of the information at hand, you should not vote. Making a decision on the leader and representative of our country based on bogus articles shared on facebook or information from biased news sources, is irresponsible. Be informed before making this or any other large decision. Please!

Again, this post is not condemning or condoning any particular candidate. Furthermore, I’m not looking to incite opinions on who’s right and who’s wrong. I am especially not inviting anyone to voice their opinions without respecting the opinions of others. Instead, I’m simply suggesting that we not set our human decency to the side, just because it’s an election year and we have different opinions on the subject matter than our peers. We’ve seen enough of this behavior lately. Whose lives matter most, for example? I’ve seen more insults and inconsiderate comments made on this sensitive subject than I’d care to admit. Common decency insists that we respect others, even when we disagree. Now, when we have tiny computers with us at all times, we sometimes feel the need to vomit our opinions for the entire world to see BEFORE we consider the consequences, before we consider the whole story, or before we consider our audience.

I am a huge proponent of free speech and the ability to make our own choices. However, I cannot stand for “free speech” as an excuse to say things at the expense of others. “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say nothing at all,” said Thumper on Bambi. He was right. We thankfully have the ability to say whatever we chose to be correct. That doesn’t mean that we have the right to insult others, to not consider all of the facts before speaking, or to be disrespectful. It is alright to be passionate. I’m probably one of the most passionate people I know when it comes to something I believe in. However, passion is not an excuse to be reckless. Your words live on in the minds of others forever. By not choosing them carefully, you could be doing more harm than good.

This election year, I encourage everyone to be informed and to be considerate. We can disagree or see different sides of any particular issue without insulting one another. If you don’t feel like you can, consider keeping your hurtful and accusatory comments out of the global conversation. If we truly want to contribute something to the conversation, we can be more effective by doing so with grace and understanding. The “other side” likely isn’t comprised of a bunch of outlandish monsters. Instead, it’s made up of your neighbors and likely a lot of your friends. Before you rip them to shreds or position them as the “devil, the anti-Christ, ridiculous, dumb, and stupid as hell” (all words I’ve seen posted by people that I actually know on social media), consider first what you look like by being so aggressive and inconsiderate. I maintain that our first duty to society is to be respectful and considerate of others. If you’re not able to do that when choosing your words, consider remaining silent until you can. Everyone will appreciate your restraint.

Beautiful photo by: Ashlee Matthews

Firecracker – The Store

Firecracker - The Store logohandmade candleholders at Firecracker - The StoreI spent last night in the arms of a girl in Louisiana. Not really. Once I started that line, I just couldn’t stop. (See Garth Brooks’ Callin’ Baton Rouge, if you don’t get that one.) In reality, I spent last night setting up a booth of curated finds in the wonderful Southern Style Antiques. Matthew, Ashlee, and I worked hard and late and it reminded me of some of my fondest memories from the old Salt & Pepper.

It’s time to tell some secrets. For over a year now, I’ve been cooking up ideas for an online store. A part of me deeply misses the hunt for beautiful things and I needed an outlet for that. This love-child online store of mine was to be called Firecracker – The Store and would offer curated goodness (both new and old) that I sourced from all over the world. We’ve worked on this idea and nurtured it for over a year and planned to launch late last year, then early spring, then possibly in this fall. Needless to say, life happened and that sweet little idea kept getting pushed to the side.

vintage belts at Firecracker - The StoreThen, a booth came available in one of my favorite antique stores on The Alley and I knew this was the right way to launch this idea for the time being. It’d be tough to pull a booth together with my schedule at the time but I needed to do this. So, on a Friday night, April 29, my dream team and I ordered Johnny’s pizza and worked our fingers to the bone getting what we had ready.

The truth is, I’d been collecting pieces for almost a year, a good bit of which was ruined in the flood. Of course that’s when a booth would become available – after the great flood of 2016! We searched high and low and fast to pull together enough fun stuff to open and prepped to be ready by the Spring Open House. Let me be clear though – if you make a visit right now, I want you to be warned that it’s not my best work. If you’re familiar with my previous retail escapades, you won’t see displays of that same grandeur. Yet. This is what we’re calling a “soft open.” A time where we “make it work” for just a bit until things level out some. It’s a period of getting back into the grove and buying myself some time until I can replace all that was lost recently. Nonetheless, I am THRILLED to be back in the game.

antique mirrors at Firecracker - The StoreIf you’d like to go by and check on Phase One of the Firecracker story, feel free to. The booth is located in Southern Style Antiques at 215 Trenton Street, West Monroe, La. You can also follow @firecrackerthestore on Instagram. There is one thing I know for certain, even as we’re just dipping our toes into the water, it feels like home. Having this project to think about and dream about gives me an outlet for my creative energy and a break from what has been my crazy reality. It feels like we’ve awakened a sleeping bear…and I’m back!

Why I Avoided Pinterest During our Remodel

Black House ExteriorLet’s face the facts. We all love Pinterest. And if you don’t, I basically don’t understand you at all. So. Many. Cool. Ideas.

I’m a firm believer in taking time to get inspired and Pinterest is pretty much the best place to find inspiration, whether it be for your home, wardrobe, hobbies, or work. The ideas are endless and you’re bound to come across something lovely and fascinating. Many projects and ideas of my own have been sparked by something I saw on Pinterest.

That being said, I pretty much stayed off Pinterest entirely during this last remodel. One would think that this would have been the perfect time to be glued to the mesmerizing service, and yet I stayed far, far away from it. Why? Because it was too much.

I am known for becoming overwhelmed by too many options and during a time when I had to make decisions FAST, I simply wouldn’t have been able to process all of the options. I did look through things I’d already pinned to remember ideas I’d had in the past. However, I firmly limited my exposure to new information and options.

Furthermore, I wanted to make decisions considering what was best for our particular home and how we intend to use it. I didn’t want to be persuaded in different directions because of a gorgeous photo I saw online. Instead, I wanted to stand in the remains of our home and determine what felt right. How have we always imagined this place looking? What would make it more usable to us and be conducive to our everyday routines? I knew that if I saturated my mind with all of the ideas and options, I would not only be overwhelmed, I might also make decisions that weren’t best for us here in this home.

I once stumbled upon an article about why someone doesn’t watch Fixxer Upper and my initial thought was – how lame! I thought this person must be a jealous, unimaginative person if they couldn’t separate their reality from that of the show. How could you not still be comfortable with what you had just because you watched a design show?? How could you not use those ideas as little doses of inspiration for your own home? I just didn’t get it. And while our situations are very different, I suddenly felt the need to limit my own exposure to the beautiful homes of the world.

Rather than scrolling endlessly and trying to employ every single cute idea on the internet, I used Pinterest as a tool for accomplish specific tasks. When I decided I wanted blue cabinets, I searched specifically for blue cabinets in hopes that I’d stumble upon a color I loved. (No such luck, by the way.) As I mentioned above, I did look through my previous pins and I had a pretty legit bathroom board going. I pulled my favorites from there and we rolled with it. When I struggling with how to fancy up the fireplace, I searched specifically for flat fireplace walls and pulled only the items that made sense in my home. I used Pinterest for the amazing tool that it is and yet still limited my exposure because I had to.

As a result of my Pinterest strategy, I avoided some of the overwhelm. (Let’s get real. Doing all that we did in the time that we did it was still overwhelming.) However, I know with certainty that I would have blown my own mind if I’d have allowed myself down that rabbit hole. As things come together here, I allow myself back into the wild a little more each day. And I go use Pinterest for its intended purpose – to see pretty things and save ideas for later.

If you’d like to see my inspiration board for the remodel, go right ahead! I just made it public and there’s some pretty awesome stuff in there. Go ahead. Go spend an hour with Pinterest. Just kidding. We all know you’ll be there longer than an hour if you open that app. Happy pinning, friends! Feel free to follow me if you see things you like there.

Photo Source: Sarah Sherman Samuel

#mapfirsthouse – After

Shiplap Fireplace Living RoomShiplap Fireplace Living RoomNavy Kitchen CabinetsAntique Pie SafeLast Sunday we opened up our “new” home for those who’ve watched the flood recovery process to come and see the finished product. We worked insanely hard to tie up what felt like a thousand loose ends to be ready to have people over. For example, when I announced the get together, we didn’t even have a hall bathroom sink. Or master bathroom door. Among a handful of larger items, there were 1,000 small things that still needed to be done. Hence the reason we decided to have the party in two weeks…a hard deadline makes things happen magically fast. We pushed hard to get a lot done in a short amount of time and now we can rest for a bit. There’s still a few larger and smaller things that we want to complete, and those can wait for a bit.Navy Brick HouseNavy Kitchen CabinetsNavy Kitchen CabinetsMid Century Modern Dining RoomGold Fixtures & Barn DoorsI’ll go through all of the changes in each room with you eventually, and here’s a few snapshots of the finished product to hold you over for now. If you want to take your own before and after tour, you can look back on the before photos and a tour from one year after we moved in.Emerald Green Hall BathSinger Sewing Machine Table as a VanityWalk-In Closet RoomWalk-In Closet RoomI can’t wait to break down all the before and after details because this house has come SO. FAR. And as with most things, I feel like the beauty is in the details. We worked very, very hard to add as much of our personality to this home as possible and just thinking back on what it once was…at all of the different stages…is quite mind-blowing for me. Navy Master BedroomMarble Master BathroomThere are a ton of things that I LOVE about the new remodel. I’m thrilled to come home every day and I want to host all the parties. I made a few bold moves with remodel decisions and after seeing the finished product, I’m so glad that I did. What do you think so far??

Easy Goals for October

purple-mums-for-fallIt’s October! And thankfully it feels a little like October here in Louisiana. With each passing day, we settle back into routines and life feels a bit more settled and normal. For us, September was about trying to get to a stable place and now, I want October to be about getting comfortable, settling in, and resting a bit from the chaos of the last several months. If I had to set an intention for this month, I’d say – I intend for this month to be about fun, friends/family, and celebrating where we are today. I intend to take the month off from hard work on the house.

So far, I’m drinking all the pumpkin spice things, wearing socks with boots, and squeezing in a bit of flannel any time I can. Here’s a few other things I hope to do this month:

  • Make a business move for Firecracker – The Store. Get excited!!
  • Spend ample time with friends and family as opportunities arise.
  • Maybe host a Halloween party?
  • Make self-care a part of my routine….at least 4 focused, intentional efforts a week.
  • Make my homemade chili!

Clearly, I’m stacking the cards a little lightly for the month of October. And that’s fantastic. Remember, setting goals doesn’t always have to mean conquering new heights or accomplishing all the things. It’s perfectly acceptable to set goals that are simple, easy, and even fun! That’s what I’m doing this month, and you should never feel like all goals must be hard or monumental.

Since last month was my first time setting monthly goals in a bit, here’s a look back at how I did.

  • Blog 2x per week. – I met this goal except for the LAST POST OF THE MONTH. So frustrating, yet when you look at the big picture, I made 8 of the 9 intended posts after not blogging regularly for 6+ months. I’m giving myself some grace on this one.
  • Finish the hall bath. – DONE! (A quick tour is coming up on Thursday.)
  • Host a party! – DONE!
  • Launch the social media for Firecracker – The Store. – DONE! Now, to just get a schedule and process in place.
  • Paint one painting. – I did not get this done. I did prop a canvas up where I want it to go…that count??

There you have it. I got some things done and didn’t quite get to others. And that’s ok! Life feels good right now…slower and less stressful that where we’ve been. The weather is cooling off and I’m feeling more like myself again. Cheers to all of the above!

What are your plans for October??



When to Buy Expensive & When to Go Cheap

Updated Navy KitchenThis post is basically when to be fancy and when to be basic. Keep in mind, these are my thoughts and what I use for myself, so you definitely don’t have to agree or even care about my rules. That being said, this post is my tell-all handbook for how I remodeled our home on a budget.

First, a little backstory. Our home flooded and left us with about ¼ of the items we owned and a completely demoed house. We saved the top ½ of the sheetrock, the studs, and the roof – actually, we ended up replacing the roof too. That’s pretty much it. After the initial shock, we were forced to start making all the decisions about rebuilding – basically our lives where a whirlwind of who, what, where, when, and how. (You can read about how that was a nightmare for me here.) Now that construction is finished, I thought I’d share a bit about how I made what decisions and where I chose to splurge versus not.

For this project, we had a budget. We basically had XX number of dollars to rebuild the entire house, do any upgrades we’d been dreaming about, AND replaced all of the personal items we lost. There was simply that number of dollars. We weren’t taking out a second mortgage or selling a car to pay for things. We had to make tough decisions CONSTANTLY about where to splurge and where to save.

An old adage to note here is, “you get what you pay for.” Most of us have heard that since the beginning of time and unfortunately for our pocketbooks, it’s true. We simply don’t get high quality items for pennies. This, of course, doesn’t count the occasional sale or lucky find. And, that being said, you can usually easily tell the difference in how the quality version of something performs compared to the lower quality one. I noticed this immediately with my car. It simply drives and feels different than any other vehicle I’ve ever had. This was a fact that I didn’t understand until I drove one myself, which was the day I drove it off the lot. Have I mentioned that I love that car?? I digress.

Back to the house. One of the first examples of quality difference that I noticed in the “new” house was the faucets. We chose to put Delta faucets and Kohler sinks throughout the entire house. (Please make a note of this if you’re considering buying my house in the future and you’re doing your research on the property. Upgrades throughout! A lovely place to call home! *wink wink*) Back to the faucets. When I first used the new kitchen faucet, I nearly swung it off the countertop because it swiveled so easily! The last faucet we had was much harder to rotate, and to be honest, I often thought I was going to break it. I was also super impressed with the new pull down sprayer. When I released it from spraying out the sink, it just popped right back into place and looked as beautiful as ever! After the first use on the last faucet, I felt like it never fit back together properly and you always had to force it back into place. It was better that what we had previously, though this Delta faucet makes the old one feel like an ugly stepchild. (No offense, ugly step children.) Expensive definitely doesn’t always equal quality. However, in most cases, the “pay for what you get” rule does apply.

Gold Delta FaucetSo, how does one know where to upgrade and where to not? I’m glad you asked. I feel like sort of an expert on this topic because I’ve always applied these principles in most areas of my life and used them daily lately. My wardrobe, for example, is a compilation of quality where necessary and inexpensive where people won’t notice. When it comes to the house, we splurged on some items like the faucets and I won’t splurge on other things like door mats or paper towel holders. I’ll wait until I find adorable options at a discount store like TJ Maxx or Ross. (So, stay out of those stores until I find all of the cute, cheap items that I need. Then you can return to your normal shopping pleasure.) Here are a few rules I applied to splurging on our house renovation that I’ve used over and over again in other areas too:

  1. Splurge on items that you use often. An example here would be the faucets. They’re touched and turned on and off every single day. Delta faucets even come with a lifetime warranty so if something goes wrong, you just call them. You don’t get that with cheaper brands. I also applied this principle to our bed which I’ll never, ever regret. We could have gotten a cheaper mattress. However, you spend almost half of your life in bed. That should definitely be an area to splurge. (If you need a suggestion for someone to talk to here locally, let me know!) A third example here is the washer and dryer. Even for just the two of us, I do a LOT of laundry. And I’m very, very particular about my clothes. (Ask my friends. “Yes, you may borrow this. Don’t mess it up and bring it back to me dirty so that I can wash it myself” is basically how those conversations always went.) By investing in a nice, larger washer/dryer, I have more options for caring for our clothes AND I’ve cut my laundry time in half by being able to do larger loads.
  2. Splurge on items that will otherwise deteriorate quickly. The first example that comes to mind here is towels. Sure, you can buy cheap towels at the dollar store. However, it’s important to think about how long they’ll last. Towels certainly fall into the first category too, because ideally (hopefully) you use them every day. While I’m not ordering imported, fancy towels from wherever you import fancy towels from, I certainly won’t buy the cheapest version. This way, the bath experience feels a tad more luxurious and the product will last longer. If you have to repeatedly replace the cheaper version of something, you’re likely spending more money and having more headaches than if you’d have just upgraded a bit in the first place.
  3. Splurge on items that you LOVE. Clearly, we can’t splurge on everything we love. If so, I’d basically own Anthropolgie. However, sometimes you come across something that speaks to you, even though it might cost a little more than a similar version. Most of the time when this happens, it’s probably something you’ll use repeatedly for years to come. For example, Matthew and I found a rug that we both liked and it was neutral enough and high enough quality that we knew we’d use it for years to come, even if it was in a different room later. We decided to spend a little extra there because based on the years we’d use it, the cost was completely justified. Get this though – when he got to the checkout counter, it was 50% off!! We didn’t even know it was on sale when we made the decision to purchase. *Insert 1,000 dancing emojis.*
  4. Splurge when the process of trying NOT to splurge is more trouble than it’s worth. This is a big one for me. If you’re not naturally anxious like me, you can probably skip this one. To be honest, this rule has only become part of my splurge versus not conversation since I married my super chill husband. One day when complaining about how I just couldn’t find an affordable version of *insert random object here,* he asked if I’d wasted enough time already looking for a deal that I could have just bought the original version. It was a light bulb moment for me. Time is definitely worth something and I might be sacrificing way too much of my time to save just $5, $10, or $20. Now, I try to ask myself – could the time I spend looking for a “deal” actually be costing me time. Could the time I’m using be used in a more productive or profitable way? If I realize that the answer is yes – it’d be better to spend $10 extra dollars here than driving across town, spending time and gas, then I “splurge.”

Gold Delta FaucetNow, where should you not splurge? These “rules” will vary greatly depending on what’s important to you. If you’re passionate about soap dishes or kitchen sponges, then so be it. I’m just not, so these tips are based on my personal preferences. In a nutshell, I feel like you should generally avoid splurging on the less noticeable things. However, here are some more specifics:

  1. Do not splurge on trendy items. We’ve all seen it. One day everyone is raving about mesh wreaths and the next it’s wall weavings. Trends ebb and flow constantly. My general rule of thumb is to never, ever splurge on something too trendy. If it happens to fall into #3 above, then maaaybe. However, if you go all out on something too trendy and the trends change, your home is going to look dated instantly. You need to be able to practice “out with the old and in with the new” in regards to trends and if you’ve mortgaged the house on that item, it’s going to be a lot harder to do. Actually, while we’re at it, I generally try to avoid anything that’s gone mass trendy anyway. If everyone you know is using it/wearing it/has it, it’s probably going to be lame in a matter of minutes. If you struggle with picking what’s classic and cool (and not overly trendy), watch your artsy friends. They’ll be doing trends before they’re cool and then likely abandon them once they’re widespread. The moral of this story is to not splurge on trends. And to avoid gangbuster trends altogether (if you wanna be supa fly, that is).
  2. Do not splurge on the small stuff. I’ll use the paper towel holder as an example again. There is most likely a marble or handmade stone paper towel holder out there that is breathtakingly beautiful. And most likely, I’d love to have it. However, I’ve never hosted a party and had guest ooh and ahh over my paper towel holder. Or the rags that I clean with. Or the front door mat. Or the light switch covers. There are definitely high quality, expensive versions of these things out there and again, if they fall into #3 above, go for it. Chances are though, most people don’t even notice the small stuff. AND most of the time you can find nice, less expensive version of these items either at a discount store or on sale somewhere. I have never paid more than $10 for a door mat and I’m quite proud of that fact. Usually by waiting, you can come across cute versions of these smaller items for less money. It’s how I create balance.
  3. Do not splurge simply for the sake of splurging. I know some people who simply spend money for what seems like no reason. They buy the expensive versions of everything because they equate dollar signs with value and worth. I do believe that quality comes with higher prices the majority of the time. However, the quality of my light switch covers is just not important to me. If you find yourself splurging on every single thing or spending money just to spend it, you should probably speak to your therapist. And cut up those credit cards.
  4. Do not splurge on a temporary solution. If you desperately need a dresser to hold your unmentionables and you really, really want that vintage chifferobe that will take you a bit to find, don’t splurge on the temporary solution. Buy something that works alright for now so that you can replace it without hurt feelings and a hurt pocketbook when you find the thing you really want. Similarly, I wouldn’t suggest spending a ton on something that will only work in this one spot in this one house. If you won’t be able to reuse that item, then it probably shouldn’t be a splurge item. My most recent example is our master bedding. I think that it’s important to get your bedroom set up and comfortable ASAP after a move, or remodel in our case. I haven’t chosen my permanent bedding yet, and rather than spending a lot on something temporary, we purchased an Ikea duvet to use in the interim. The room will be “fixed” and functional for now, and when I find my permanent bedding, I won’t have wasted a ton of money on the temporary.

As I said above, these guidelines are just how I personally approach spending money on my home. These tips were fresh on my mind since I’ve been employing them every single day lately, so I thought I’d share with the class. There will sometimes be exceptions (but pay close attention to #3 on what NOT to do) and there will always be differences in budgets and opportunities. You might want to be jealous of my Delta faucets (cause they’re  awesome). However, I’ll kindly remind you that I had to go through one of the most traumatic experiences of my life thus far to get those faucets. If I had to spell out the biggest thing for you to take away from this post, it would be this – never spend more money than you have and never, ever compare yourself and your situation to someone else’s. Save where you can and treat yo self sometimes. If you’d like some inspiration on building a lovely home on a budget, this book and her blog is a great resource.

If you have any guidelines that you follow when deciding when to splurge and when not to, I’d love to hear them. Most of us don’t have the luxury (or are responsible enough to not to use it) to simply buy whatever we want, whenever we want it. I’d imagine that we all have strategies that we use, maybe without even noticing it, when making purchasing decision. I’d love to hear your tactics!

Fun & Simple Halloween Projects

Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays, so it’s no surprise that I’ve been pinning different fall and Halloween goodies for a while now. Since it’s officially fall (!!) and October is right around the corner, I thought I’d share a few of my latest favorites with you. It’s time to start making those fall and Halloween crafts, my friends!diy-crayon-pumpkin-tutorialdiy-crayon-pumpkin-tutorialI’ve never been too much of a fan of the crayon art projects. These pumpkins though… *heart eyes*. That black/purple/blue one is GORGEOUS!

Sources: Oh Gee Lindsey & Dream A Little Bigger

wood-porch-pumpkinsI also love a good, simple wood project. When we end up with scraps of wood from a project, I’m always wanting Matthew to save it. (I get it from my Mama..) And this is why! This project (and this wooden candy corn DIY without a source) would be so easy to make with scrap pieces from around the house. If you don’t have any scraps and aren’t super handy with the power tools, you can buy wood from Lowes and they’ll cut it to size for you there.

Sources: Hazel & Ruby & If that candy corn is your crafty work, please let me know!

diy-tin-can-halloween-artHere’s another project you can make out of scraps around the house. She turned them into a bowling game and I think they’d be cute as just decorations too! You could use them for candy, decorative twigs, flowers…you name it!

Source: Party Delights

diy-pumpkin-treat-bagsI’m always looking for creative ways to give little gifts, so it’s not surprising that this one caught my eye. I wouldn’t recommend this approach for your 1,000 trick or treaters, though it’d make a great little prize for folks around the office, teachers, etc. I will most likely be handing these out to someone this year…

Source: One Little Project

diy-halloween-yarn-garlandThis is possibly one of my favorite projects because I love yarn. I love garland. And I love tassels! The tutorial shows you how to make each item, so it seems pretty simple!

Source: Growing Up Gabel

burning-spellbook-sculptureAnd finally, for those more crafty in nature and serious about their Halloween décor… (I’m looking at you, Meghan.) This burning spell book is simply stunning! Apparently the original source hasn’t been traced. It’s thought to have been a part of a college sculpture class. If this beauty is yours, let me know because you deserve some credit!

These few items should get you started on your fall crafting adventures. If you want more inspiration, go ahead and follow my Fall & Halloween board, or follow me on Pinterest altogether! (Right now, you’ll see lots of pumpkins, Christmas décor, and flannel. If those are your things, hop on over!)

Also, check the Halloween tag for a few more ideas. Have you seen any other cool ways of decorating lately?? I can’t wait to get started!

Hitting Refresh on Your Marriage

Four Year AnniversaryThis year for our four year anniversary, we went to the ever-so popular Dubach, La. If you’re not from around here, you won’t understand that and if you are, you’ll say whyyyy just like everyone else. Dubach is a pretty small town just 50+ miles from Monroe and is unlikely be a place where someone would choose to celebrate their anniversary. However, there’s a good reason we did and we’re happy about it.

When planning for our anniversary, we considered going several fun places near and far. We talked about returning to some of our favorites like Nashville or Kansas City. If you remember, we were in the throes of trying to get back into our home in July, so an “adventure” was really the last thing we needed. The last several months had been some of the most stressful times we’d experienced together and we were both mentally and physically exhausted. As a matter of fact, we’d had zero quality time together in months because all of our spare time had been spent talking about insurance or paint colors. Remember, this wasn’t us building our dream home that we’d planned for years for. This was us trying to get our home back after unexpected tragedy. We’d experienced loss, anger, frustration, confusion, helplessness, and a host of other emotions that one doesn’t welcome into their life willingly. It goes without saying that our marriage and relationship had been pushed to new limits and tested in new ways.

As our anniversary approached, we discussed what we needed most. First, we needed to celebrate that we’d made it this far…mainly through the last four months. Secondly, and most importantly, we needed to take a time out, reconnect, spend some quality time together, and remember WHY we chose to take this journey together. Without a doubt, we needed a break from our current reality and to spend some time nurturing our marriage.Cabin in the WoodsHitting Refresh on Your MarriageLuckily, I remembered stumbling across this wonderful little cabin in the woods of Dubach and knew it was where we needed to go. We didn’t need to travel for miles and miles and add new experiences to our passport. We needed to go somewhere simple where we basically did nothing. And to make this cabin even more of a done-deal, it had NO cell service and NO internet service. Sign. me. up.

We arrived at our little cabin on Thursday and took a look around. It was raining and the owner called to let us know that the creek running in front of the cabin sometimes rises into the yard. We’d also seen a “high water” sign on the drive in, less than a mile from cabin. I almost aborted the mission! High water was what we were trying to escape!! We stuck it out and I trusted that we would be just fine tucked away in our little cabin. Talk about irony though…Hitting Refresh on Your MarriageHitting Refresh on Your MarriageHitting Refresh on Your MarriageWhen we first walked in, I fell in love immediately. The living and kitchen areas were decorated with an eclectic charm that made my heart sing. You knew that every piece in this cabin had some message accompanying it or some story to tell. It was quaint and cozy and just the place you’d want to be curled up at on a rainy day. Did I mention that I found my favorite dishes ever there?? So beautiful.Hitting Refresh on Your MarriageHitting Refresh on Your MarriageHitting Refresh on Your MarriageRight off the kitchen was the owner’s art studio. It was basically the room of my dreams and solidified the fact that I wanted to create a creative space of my own at home. The host invites you to bring your own supplies and use the room, though I could have just sat in there for hours dreaming of the beautiful things that had come and left that room.Hitting Refresh on Your MarriageThe front portion of the cabin was definitely my favorite, though those flowing white curtains, overlooking the woods (rainy woods in our case) in the bedroom were incredibly relaxing. I’ll admit it, naps were taken. In addition to the design and collection of fascinating things, the cabin offered a serene environment that was both inspiring and relaxing, a feat that can sometimes be difficult to accomplish.Hitting Refresh on Your MarriageThe night of our anniversary, we drive into Ruston for dinner at Beau Vines, one of our favorite restaurants. The hostess so kindly took our picture because I have a photo from the night of every anniversary so far and I intend to keep that up. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend the steak medallions and the TKO if your a spirits drinkers. Although, everything there is delicious.

For the remainder of the trip, we stayed in our pajamas and I wore lots of flannel. We cozied up, read books, played board games, listened to CDs on the old CD player, ate junk food, and talked. We had conversation after conversation, like we hadn’t done in months or maybe even years. The day we left, I felt like this trip might have truly been a turning point in our marriage. We reconnected. We identified some bad habits we’d established (cell phones) and made some plans for doing better. We discussed what we wanted our lives and relationship to look like and made plans for realizing those goals. I personally felt so much more at peace and happy after unplugging and getting back to the basics for just a few days.

If you’re struggling with your marriage or relationship in some way, I highly recommend a trip of the sort. Unplug from technology altogether and actually talk for days on end. Talk about what you enjoy doing together and make plans to do more of it. Talk about your goals and dreams. And if need be, hash out some of those lingering struggles that seem to constantly resurface. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day and not nurture your relationships. People always say “marriage takes work” and a retreat of this sort can be part of that work. When you strip away the daily routines, and more importantly technology, you are forced to put some effort and energy into your relationship. You both probably need to rejuvenate and learning to do that together can be very powerful. If you’re not used to this sort of time together, it will undoubtedly feel odd at first. You might not know what to say or do. Just give it some time and let the awkwardness pass. That silent time
is usually when one or both of us would grab our phones and browse something meaningless. Without that crutch, we talked more and did more for our marriage than we had all year. Now, we’re considering doing something like this every year on our anniversary instead of adventure seeking. If you need the boost, I highly encourage a few days locked away somewhere quiet and most definitely without phones/technology.Hitting Refresh on Your MarriageHitting Refresh on Your MarriageHitting Refresh on Your MarriageWhile in Lincoln Parish, we also visited Mitcham’s Peach Orchard. We got soft-serve peach ice cream and stocked up on loads of peach this and that. It was a great little stop before settling in to the cabin.

I think back on these few days at the cabin with such fondness. It was incredibly relaxing and I was so grateful to get quality, uninterrupted time with my husband, especially after what we’d just been through. I think back on that little cabin often and would highly recommend a stay there to anyone. It’s a great place for a work retreat, to focus on creative work or reach some sort of deadline, or for just getting away for a bit. You can book a stay through AirBnb and if you do, be sure to tell her the Petruses sent you!

Anyone know where we should go next year??

© 2015 Theme by NUDGE MEDIA DESIGN.