Check Out Betty's Kitchen!

Another kitchen makeover in the books! You can decide for yourself. Personally, I'm in love with Betty's new kitchen.

Here's where we started. 

 Nice cabinets but nothing too exciting!

Nice cabinets but nothing too exciting!

 Here's where we ended! Beautiful gray brings out the counters and make the whole room feel bigger and brighter!

Here's where we ended! Beautiful gray brings out the counters and make the whole room feel bigger and brighter!

 This built in buffet looks fantastic. 

This built in buffet looks fantastic. 

 You can see the finish up close. I wish I could show the amazing storage behind those drawers as well.

You can see the finish up close. I wish I could show the amazing storage behind those drawers as well.

 We repaired some old water damage on the floor and added new molding on this end panel. 

We repaired some old water damage on the floor and added new molding on this end panel. 

 Here's the kitchen as seen from the family room! Isn't it so happy now? 

Here's the kitchen as seen from the family room! Isn't it so happy now? 

Now on to the next kitchen! Will it be yours? Have questions? Ask away!  

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My Favorite Things

  I'm pretty sure my Grandma Liz wore this exact hat to my parents' wedding. I just love it!

I'm pretty sure my Grandma Liz wore this exact hat to my parents' wedding. I just love it!

I love when I get a chance to just roam randomly through a thrift store. Today was one of those days. Andy's crew team hosts our big regatta this coming weekend and that involves a LOT of work from all of the parents. I worked most of the day on regatta stuff including a stretch at the boat house.  One of my favorite thrift stores is nearby. When I was done at the boathouse, I stopped in to see what they had. 

I'm always on the look out for eye-catching things that will work for staging furniture and other pictures. Today, I found some weird stuff but I love each piece. Thought I'd share them with you today! 

  Who doesn't need a mercury glass finished squash? I don't know how I lived without this.

Who doesn't need a mercury glass finished squash? I don't know how I lived without this.

  Rock Lobstah! I'm now dying to paint something with a coastal kind of finish. This guy has a long, useful life ahead of him. Wonder if I can get a bumper sticker announcing that I'm the "mom" of&nbsp; a rescue lobster? I think I'll name him Butterman.

Rock Lobstah! I'm now dying to paint something with a coastal kind of finish. This guy has a long, useful life ahead of him. Wonder if I can get a bumper sticker announcing that I'm the "mom" of  a rescue lobster? I think I'll name him Butterman.

Welcome to March - I Need Your Help!

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I've wanted to do some video tutorials for a while. One - live video is scary. Two - it's hard to know what people will find of value. Three - live video is scary.

But, I'm going to do it and I could use a little guidance. I'm always happy to share how I come up with a certain finish. The thing is that when I'm working on an actual piece of furniture, I don't usually know how it's going to turn out or what "shiny thing" is going to make me change direction. 

Recently, I've picked up several adorable jewelry boxes and some just plain boxes. My plan is to show you how I do things on the small boxes AFTER an actual project is complete. 

What do you want to learn?  I currently have five pieces up for sale - all with different finishes.   If you can leave a comment on what interests you, I'll go with the vote. I'm doing this because nothing I do is a big secret. There is no reason in the world you cannot do it yourself. I'll show you how on a small piece and you can decide if you want to try it on a bigger piece. Here are the pieces. Let me know if you're interested in any of them!

Just pick 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 or 5! Or, if you're ambitious, leave a list in order of what you're interested in!

  #1 - learn about transferring images - especially those with text #2 - save something unsavable with brown paper and some creativity #3 glazing and decoupaing&nbsp; #4 stripping, staining and decoupaing #5 distressing and image transfers

#1 - learn about transferring images - especially those with text #2 - save something unsavable with brown paper and some creativity #3 glazing and decoupaing  #4 stripping, staining and decoupaing #5 distressing and image transfers

Tempis fugit.

 Available now! French-inspired secretary desk with tons of storage. Raise stencil detail adds texture and depth.&nbsp;

Available now! French-inspired secretary desk with tons of storage. Raise stencil detail adds texture and depth. 

Where did February go? As I continue to figure out this business of furniture and kitchens/baths, I am constantly working through new learning curves. It feels like a constant one step forward two steps back. And, yet, I AM learning and growing and figuring it out. 

January was a great month - I sold all but one thing in my inventory and produced a beautiful kitchen. February had me scrambling (still scrambling) to create new inventory, update listings and all of that and still juggle life in general. It doesn't help that Andy's spring rowing season (sniff! his last) is in full swing so most Fridays/Saturdays/Sundays are dedicated to that. The upside is that we're in new towns each weekend and there are always new places to find great furniture! 

My plan for March is to restart live video tutorials for a variety of fun diy things! If you are anxious to learn something specific, leave me a comment and I'll bump it up. Yes, I want to sell my stuff but, I love to help people who are brave enough to take the plunge into DIY projects. It's fun to make or update something on your own. And, worst case scenario? You hate it and have to redo it! It's just paint, people! You an always fix it or change it!

 

 This is the last piece of my old inventory available. It's a sweet, sweet end table made by Mersman. There is cabbage rose detail on the table top. It's one of those pieces you'll never regret buying and will keep forever.&nbsp;

This is the last piece of my old inventory available. It's a sweet, sweet end table made by Mersman. There is cabbage rose detail on the table top. It's one of those pieces you'll never regret buying and will keep forever. 

Meet Bing's New Kitchen!

One week and it's done.  My mom (aka Bing) and I had a lot of fun through the whole process. In all, I ended up painting the cabinets, installing new handles (aren't they cute?), stripping and refinishing the kitchen table, painting the kitchen chairs, giving the coffee table a much needed makeover and painting out the powder room vanity! Here's a look:

 

Kitchen Makeovers - Who Needs Help?

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Let the makeovers begin! As I get ready to launch the kitchen cabinet side of my business, I need to build my portfolio and get some practice with the details. My first guinea pig is Bing, my mom. Oh yeah, easy you say. Ummm . . . no. While my mom is my biggest cheerleader she also has borne witness to my most spectacular disasters. When I started talking to her about her kitchen it was not cause for excitement on her part. Just like when I was seven, I finally wore her down. (Wine may or may not have been involved.) 

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We started in earnest today. I'm so excited. My mom's house is beautiful and the kitchen is a great space. The original cabinets, however, were dating the space and starting to look tired. Yesterday, I helped my mom empty and clean cabinets, took the doors and hinges off and shopped for supplies.  Today, everything was cleaned thoroughly, sanded lightly and a coat of primer was applied. 

As you can see, even with just the primer, the space is looking and feeling bigger and lighter. I can't wait to get there tomorrow and do some more. Added bonus? I'm a night owl so I'm going to spend the night. My mom can go to bed when she wants and I can start messing with her kitchen tables and chairs. 

How do you fit into this? If you're in Orlando, I'd like to offer my services to two people in need of a kitchen makeover. There will be a fee but it will be substantially less than I will charge in the future. If you've been thinking about having your cabinets painted, this is a deal. If you're looking for a cheap kitchen fix, maybe not. (That doesn't mean I wouldn't be happy to answer questions and help you do it yourself!) We can talk about colors, finishes, styling, kitchen/dining furniture or islands and anything else you'd like. If you're interested, leave a comment or send me a message at overallsoverhauls@gmail.com. 

Merry 2018!

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It's a new year. Hope you are all doing well and off to a good start. We had a great Christmas here with all four boys at home. Loud and fun. Spent last weekend taking down Christmas. Why am I surprised every year by how much stuff I put up and how long it takes to take down? Oh well, I'll forget again by next year and put it all up again.

This year was our second year in this house.  I LOVE my Harry Potter tree. We have a really tall entry and when we first saw this house all I could think was how cool to put a giant Christmas tree in that space. It didn't seem affordable or realistic until I walked into a thrift store one day as they were putting out a 12.5' lighted tree for $40!  I set to work making Harry Potter themed ornaments. I imagine I'll spend forever "finishing" the tree but it does make me happy.  

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Now, Christmas is packed away. I've reclaimed my living room/work space. I feel organized and ready for the new year. Finished up a custom piece - just waiting on hardware. Starting a new big piece - you can see it in the picture. I'm kind of excited about this one. And, I'm on the verge of launching my kitchen cabinet painting service. If you're in Central Florida and are thinking about changing up your kitchen, let me know. I'm looking to boost my portfolio before I go full into it. I'll paint your cabinets for a seriously awesome price. 

What's on your agenda for this year? Here are my goals:

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  • Introduce cabinet and vanity painting services
  • Step up furniture business - concentrate on custom work
  • Start weekly videos - I'd love to hear what you'd like to learn or concentrate on - my plan is to aim videos at people who want to do things themselves and stick to a budget - I'm open to just about anything.  My idea list so far:  breaking down a pallet,  overcoming the fear of paint, creating a pallet wall in a bathroom, fast/easy/durable concrete counters for kitchen or bath, how to paint a piece of furniture - just paint, nothing fancy, choosing good used furniture, rearranging furniture for a fresh perspective, creating a "home notebook" to help you choose furniture, paint, updates, etc. 
  • I'm late to the party, but I saw a thing where people choose a word to represent what they want to focus on for the entire year. It took me quite a bit of time but, I've decided that the word I want this year is AUTHENTIC. I am aiming to be me - just me. Not the me I think other people might like. I've always been me. But, I have spent too much of my time trying to NOT be me if that makes sense.

So . . . we're on our way to new adventures! 

Even when it's not funny at the time . . .

I saw a recipe on Facebook that reminded me of something that happened on Christmas Eve 11 years ago.  I haven't thought of it since then. I kept a blog back then mostly about life with four boys and homeschooling and just life. Here is a copy of what I wrote that night.  I hope it makes you smile. And, if you have younger kids at home, remind yourself that holiday disasters DO get funnier with time! 

"Merry Christmas!!!"

DECEMBER 26, 2006 AMY JOLEAVE A COMMENT

We spent a wonderful evening at my parents’ house. We had Mom’s ‘traditional’ vegetable soup, mmmmm. We exchanged gifts among the grown-ups. The boys got to open new pj’s and a book. That’s where Andy cried. Poor little guy. Wait until you see what my brother got for all of us!!!!! There are lots of really great books floating around our family right now. Sadly, I left my gifts at my mom’s and I can’t fall asleep browsing through my new books tonight. :::sigh::::

 


We got home around 10:30. Mike did some mandatory assembling and headed to bed. The boys were wired – for the next 2-3 hours. As I was dragging out the presents, I realized I forgot to buy candy for the stockings. Aha! I thought. To myself. I’ll make the Saltine Toffee I’ve been reading about on the Well Trained Mind boards. Supposedly, it’s idiot-proof and delicious. I get the oven heated, lay out my saltines and discover I have NO butter. We never have NO butter. EVER. I was a bit crazed – my poor deprived kids MUST have candy in their stockings or Christmas will be ruined. (Yes, I am an idiot.) And, two of the older boys were still stalking the house, so I had time to kill while I threatened them with no Christmas. (Yeah, Mom, like that’s going to happen.)

 

Anyway, I opted to substitute Crisco Butter-flavored shortening. Ummm … those of you who actually cook and bake well are already cracking up, I’m sure. Butter-flavored does not butter make. I’m doing this and it’s approaching 1 am. But, I persist. I cover the crackers with my sugar/butter-flavored goo and stick the tray into the 400 degree oven. Wasn’t long until the smoke detector starts giving me warning sounds. I grab a chair and unplug the detector.

While I”m doing this, the house is filling with smoke (that’s one way to get them to sleep, huh?) … I open the garage door, the front door, and all the windows. It starts clearing out and no one wakes up. Whew (and, yes, I did go check that everyone was breathing). I turn my attention to the pans I’ve been using. It was then I noticed that I’d melted the plastic spoon I was using to stir the sugar and butter-flavor. I’d melted more than 1/2 of the spoon and was now baking it in the oven. (And, yes, you read right – I didn’t notice the spoon getting shorter.) “Gee, thanks Santa. May we have another toxin?” “Sure, son. Have some of this Red Dye #2 soaked in transfat and then fried inside a Twinkie.”

I pull the cookie sheet out and try to scrape the stuff off into the garbage can. It’s not coming off – damn those stinky polymers. Finally, I tossed the whole cookie sheet. And promptly melted the garbage bag, which was about 3/4 full of gooey turkey bits (Mike is cooking a turkey tomorrow.) ::::shudder::::::. 1:30 now and I still have presents to wrap and Santa gifts to go under the tree. But WHY do that, when you can repack your day’s garbage? Ho, ho, ho.

Everything is finally under the tree. The dishes are done. Actually, they were done too well. I had to re-dirty Santa’s cookie plate and milk glass. Poor Andy. I really used to be so much better at this. And it’s only 3:09. Yay me! for not burning down the house. I believe in setting my goals high!

I can’t wait for tomorrow morning, I only wish it were a few more hours away than it actually is. It’s nights like this that make me love writing this blog. I’ve been cracking myself up for the past three hours and no one else is around to share my insanity. Now, I’ve shared. Trust me, this is WAY better than my Christmas newsletter.

Stay tuned for an update on Clark’s …err make that Mike’s… adventure at Victoria’s Secret. Honestly, you’d think by now that we’d have figured out that he cooks/bakes and I shop. It’s just so much better that way.

Merry Christmas to all and to all (finally!) good night.

Posted on Monday, Dec 25, 2006, 02:50 AM (UTC -5)

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A DIYer's Christmas Wish List

I apologize for the long gaps between posts! Things have been crazy busy - in a good way - here. It's December and Christmas is coming! I feel like I just cleaned up after Thanksgiving. Anyway, I was thinking about stuff I'd love to get this year and thought I'd share with you all.  

 

  First up is a real, functioning time turner like Hermione has in Harry Potter. Who doesn't want a way to manipulate time?&nbsp;    

First up is a real, functioning time turner like Hermione has in Harry Potter. Who doesn't want a way to manipulate time? 

 

  Second on the list? This lovely paint sprayer - the HomeRight Super Finish Max Extra C800971 Paint Sprayer Power Painter!!! It's like the Red Ryder BB Gun for people who love to paint.&nbsp;

Second on the list? This lovely paint sprayer - the HomeRight Super Finish Max Extra C800971 Paint Sprayer Power Painter!!! It's like the Red Ryder BB Gun for people who love to paint. 

  This picture is representative - I know nothing about these particular brushes. That said, you can never have too many good paintbrushes.&nbsp;&nbsp;

This picture is representative - I know nothing about these particular brushes. That said, you can never have too many good paintbrushes.  

  I want all the paint! And all of the colors! There are a lot of brands of paint that I love and there are still at least 75 brands I'd love to try. I am serious. All of it.

I want all the paint! And all of the colors! There are a lot of brands of paint that I love and there are still at least 75 brands I'd love to try. I am serious. All of it.

  Finally, would it be too much to ask for this adorable little workshop? (Yes, it would. But, it's so sweet!)

Finally, would it be too much to ask for this adorable little workshop? (Yes, it would. But, it's so sweet!)

That's my short list! What's on your list this year? 

Checking In

Happy Almost Thanksgiving! What are your plans? We're having a lot of people here this year - 22-26 - still not sure. I'm realizing how much my furniture business has taken over the house. We have been trying to find locations for all of the finished pieces and stacking unfinished pieces in the garage. If the kids coming were younger, I could just send them to the garage and tell them it's a maze. FUN!  Oh well - they're old enough to know what hoarder means. I lose. 

Spent yesterday staging and photographing furniture for holiday pictures. It's my substitute for making the kids wear matching clothes and hauling them to the Sears for holiday pictures. Got to drag all the Christmas stuff out of the Harry Potter closet under the stairs. So fun. I'm excited for Christmas this year - all four boys will be here!!! It's been awhile since that's happened. I may have to buy them matching pajamas. 

In the meantime, I'm redoing a few things. I'm really excited about one project - I'll share as I go along once I get started - hopefully tomorrow. It's going to be really cool - I hope! 

Hope all is well in your world. Leave a comment about how you're spending Thanksgiving. If you aren't doing anything, come on over!

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Happy Halloween!

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What are your Halloween plans? We had none until yesterday. I'm so excited a group of families that I've "known" forever through a homeschool website (we're talking 15 years!) are in town to see the theme parks. They are all coming for dinner and trick-or-treating (for the younger kids at least) tomorrow night! Yes . . . a normal person would be cleaning their bathrooms or something. Here I sit.  I cannot even wait for tomorrow and a chance for real life face-to-face time with them after all of these years. 

It's been insanely busy here with Andy back to full time school and rowing - thus no blog posts lately. I hope you'll check out the "For Sale" page -  I've been working like crazy and am adding new stuff as fast as I can. Remember, I can always refurbish a piece of furniture you already own or find a piece for you! Just send me a note. I have so much to do and that I want to work on . . . I keep trying to remember that I'm one person and there are only so many hours in a day. Not enough hours! 

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Andy is rowing in Chattanooga this weekend at the Head of the Hooch. (He is in the very bottom right of this picture - the one that looks like he's in a lot of pain LOL) I'm so bummed we're going to miss it this year. Chattanooga is a fun town. Andy's been working so hard - cross your fingers for him. He's racing in the Varsity 1 boat and a 4 man boat. 

Instead, Mike and I are headed to Alabama to visit his parents. AND to pick up some awesome furniture. I can't wait for you to see it all! 

Please stick with me. Share with your friends and family! You can find me on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest and *soon* Etsy - just search overallsoverhauls. 

Opinions, opinions, opinions

"That's is a beautiful chest. However by refurbishing it... It's lost its value as an antique and stripped of the stories it held. Whomever did this, did do a great job. But, myself personally and most people I know want things like that in original form. We want that rustic country look"

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We've all got opinions. My own are pretty strong. So are those of most of the people I know. It's what keeps life interesting. I'm always curious to see the reactions of others to my pieces. This man, browsing a farmhouse-style furniture site, left this comment under my beloved Harry Potter chest.  It's not a mean comment - just a comment. But, it got me thinking. 

One, if your true love is rustic, primitive furniture, why torture yourself on a site where nearly everything is going to have been painted or otherwise altered? Two, value is relative. The trunk I started with was at least 100 years old, probably older. For the age and lack of upkeep, it was in good shape. But, left as it was, it was of no use to anyone. Rusty nails, splintering wood, and chipping (lead based) paint were not only unattractive, they were down right dangerous. 

There were multiple ways I could have approached the trunk. All would have involved repairs and other actions that would have changed the "history" of the piece. I opted to go the Harry Potter route. I love Harry Potter and think it's a fun idea. Additionally, with my given skill set there was a very real chance I could have completely destroyed the trunk trying to replace hardware and leather straps. And, honestly, the wood was not good enough to attempt restoration. 

I have two more trunks out in the garage. I have not inspected them closely yet. How they end up being refurbished will depend on their starting condition, what I see selling in the world of trunks and probably my mood when I start. It's the same with every piece I do. My goal is to make pretty, functional furniture from vintage rejects. I am not scouring estate sales on a quest to destroy beauty and history. Cross my heart! 

 

Meet the Merchandise!

I'm excited to introduce you to my latest piece! The "Magical Steamer Trunk." 

 

 I started with something similar to this - not as much metal, though.&nbsp; I am trying to remember to take more before and during pictures.

I started with something similar to this - not as much metal, though.  I am trying to remember to take more before and during pictures.

  This is the finished product. Replaced the old really rusty built-in wheels with these casters.&nbsp; Refinished bits of wood, hardware and metal and adding a faux leather finish. I think it's adorable! Good for a coffee table - store games inside, end table, night stand or at the foot of a bed.&nbsp;

This is the finished product. Replaced the old really rusty built-in wheels with these casters.  Refinished bits of wood, hardware and metal and adding a faux leather finish. I think it's adorable! Good for a coffee table - store games inside, end table, night stand or at the foot of a bed. 

  The inside is the fun part! Distressed red lid with the Hogwart's crest. The lift out drawer that sits right inside the trunk is covered with portions of the Marauder's map.&nbsp;

The inside is the fun part! Distressed red lid with the Hogwart's crest. The lift out drawer that sits right inside the trunk is covered with portions of the Marauder's map. 

  close up.

close up.

  Here is a side view. The handles have been replaced and are decorative only.&nbsp;

Here is a side view. The handles have been replaced and are decorative only. 

  A better view of the lift-out drawer. There is a ton of storage here!

A better view of the lift-out drawer. There is a ton of storage here!

  Here is where my weak photography skills don't do justice. The inside of the trunk is lined with distressed pages of the 7th book. It's smooth inside - believe it or not.

Here is where my weak photography skills don't do justice. The inside of the trunk is lined with distressed pages of the 7th book. It's smooth inside - believe it or not.

And, there you have it! If you have questions or want to see something up close -leave a comment! 

The Thing About Paint

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Most people I know HATE to paint. They hate the thought of it. They hate choosing a color. And, usually, when they do paint, they are painting vast areas of their homes. I understand and, yet, at the same time, I don't get it. Paint is amazing!

A gallon of paint can transform a room faster and better than buying all new furniture. And, it's paint! If you hate it, paint over it! Of course, I am assuming that you are painting the room yourself. If you're paying someone to paint it, that's pricier and way more stressful.

Before you (or someone else) paints – do some samples. Any of the box stores will cut a piece of drywall into squares (if you're painting on drywall). Use a primer to cover your squares first. Then try the paint you like straight on the drywall. Put it in the room you're painting and see how it changes in the light. Move it around the room.

Consider glaze. A glaze over a paint color can be just the transformation you're looking for. You can get glaze at any box store. It will add depth and some contour to the color you've chosen. If someone is painting for you – ask them for a glazed sample.

Other thoughts:

  • If you're painting a small room, consider a dark color in a matte or satin finish. You'll be amazed at how big the room looks. If you're really brave, do an accent wall in a bold matching wallpaper. Who knew a powder room could look so amazing?

  • If you like the idea of painting your entire house in one color, consider mixing variants of the shades on the paint card or even in another color you like but don't want to dominate your house. Each room will be the same color with a slight variation. This works especially well with grays/blues/whites and beige/whites/andalmostanycolor!

Really, it's just paint. But, the right paint can change your attitude and your whole home. Stop thinking about it and just do it.

An Informal Poll

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I'd like to say I've hit a dry spell but the fact of the matter is I've hit a no-sell-spell. That's fine. I'm new at this and still learning. I've scheduled my listings to come down on Friday for restaging/photographs and relisting on Monday. I know that all of my pieces are solid furniture and the work I've done is professional.  

But . . . since I'm pulling everything down anyway, I thought I'd ask your opinions. I'm putting up five pictures. Is there something you would do differently to make any of them more appealing? (You can see detailed pics here or on my Facebook page.) Are any of the items appealing to you but in a different color or finish? I can do that! If you like things just as they are, I'd like to hear that too.  Thanks for your help! 

 

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Now What?

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Like most people, I felt like there would always be kids. Kids with their joys and with the aggravation that comes from living with them. “Suddenly” I find myself with a high school senior and three adult “kids” living as adults.

I didn't raise a stupid fourth child. He knows what sets me off and he knows not to go there. I appreciate it but, I'm confused. I'm not constantly collecting laundry or picking up dishes. I pretty much know where everyone is. What the heck? I've lost my purpose?

Sure, I have a lovely husband. But, these past few months have made it abundantly clear that we need to get to know each other (as people without kids) again. Oh, we had date nights and tried to keep our original connection. But, if you have kids, you know, that's difficult.

And, now here I am. Twenty-four years out of the work force. Learning the ins and outs of social media and selling furniture. Go figure. This was not in my 22-year-old brain when I was making plans. Crazy how things work.

I know a lot of you who read here are in the same boat. What's your plan for when the last kiddo flies?

Changing Rooms

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One of the early HGTV shows, Changing Rooms, used to be must-see tv for me. It was the show where neighbors got to go into each others houses and totally redecorate one room.I found a book based on the show on my bookcase this evening. Ummmm . . . WOW! The show I most remember was one where the neighbors came into a room with a sunken living room and decided that their friends liked the beach and what could be better than to fill the sunken part of the living room with sand! It was a perfect train wreck.

Anyway I started thinking about my most “Changing Rooms” bad decision. I also started thinking about what I would want someone from that show to do to my house.

  1. One of my worst decisions ever was to wallpaper the boys bathroom when they were around 2-3 years old. Yep. Wallpaper and potty training little boys are never good together. Scraping said wallpaper is fitting punishment for this crime.

  1. I would want someone to replace all the flooring in this house and make it all the same. I hate going from tile to wood to carpet – especially the carpet. In reality, I shudder to think what any of our neighbors would do. It would probably be kind of weird. With Mike's beer-making and my constant painting I could see us ending up with a giant workshop instead of a living room. Which would be weird. But, I don't know if I'd totally hate it either.

What was your worst Changing Room-ish mistake? Would you go on the show? What would you want them to do?

Homeschool With Style

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There have been books written about the misconceptions about homeschooling. One neglected point I've found during the 18 years I have been homeschooling is the fact that homeschool does not have to dictate the style of your house. While there are plenty of homeschooling families who are fine with having homeschool stuff all over the house with no rhyme or reason, there are plenty who manage to maintain a house that is welcoming to guests without a lot of effort.

Whether you're new to homeschooling or a veteran, the tips below can help you not only maintain order but to do it with some style!

  • STORAGE! In real estate it's all about location, location, location. If you're homeschooling it doesn't seem to matter if it's one child or seven or if you live in 5000 sq. ft. or 1000 sq. ft. Storage is what you are looking for! It really is as simple as everything having a place! Even very young children can learn to put things back if there's an actual place to put it!

  • Bookshelves – if you are homeschooling, there is no such thing as too many bookshelves. Ever. The key is to make your shelves coordinate even if they're mismatched. The easiest way to do this is paint. Yes, laminate can be painted. Ask me in the comments. If you're lucky enough to have a budget for bookshelves, built-ins look fantastic and are a great feature when you go to resell your house. Go ahead and spend an afternoon playing librarian once or twice a year. Group non-fiction by subject and fiction by age, then author. Intersperse books with things like your globe, a pretty basket full of math manipulatives, framed kid art and sculptures. Cover shoe boxes with pretty wrapping paper and label them for things like: glue, scissors, pencils, etc. work them onto your shelves for some color and to keep you organized.

  • Dressers – Nothing beats a great dresser if you're homeschooling. If you have a dining room, consider getting a super large dresser and using it for school supplies rather than fine china. If not, get creative with smaller versions. A tall skinny dresser can look cute under stairs or in an entry. Use small 2-3 drawer dressers as end tables so they're doing double duty.

  • Lockers – This option requires ample space but for homeschool kids, it's almost as cool as getting to ride the school bus. (Sort of joking LOL) Keep your eyes peeled on sites like Craigslist, Facebook Market and other online selling groups for sets of used lockers. They are perfect in a mudroom and are easily painted to suit your tastes. Voila! Storage for coats, boots, books and notebooks.

  • Make Your Own – Create a school table similar to the one in the picture. If you have a dedicated homeschool room, perfect. If your kitchen or dining room is doing double duty, decide if you can live with this as a replacement for your family table.

 

  • ROUTINE! No matter how you do it, homeschooling does take over your life to a certain degree. Having a regular routine can be key to keeping the clutter from getting overwhelming.

    • Try using a big family calendar located in a central location. If you have a large family, pick one color for each member and use that consistently on the calendar.

    • Frame a dry erase board for daily schedules for young kids. With older kids a daily email or print out is usually enough. Keep it up to date.

      • On the daily schedule, include a morning clean up right before lunch and an afternoon clean once the last task is complete. DO NOT do this for your kids! It's slow in the beginning but worth it to teach your kids how to do it. It will become second nature. (Mostly!)

  • USE YOUR WALLS! The key to having a life and homeschooling is not to try to hide the fact that you homeschool. Rather, use your space in interesting attractive ways. 

    • Maps – Invest in some large, nice looking maps of the world, the US and whatever else you might need. You can attach them to foam board and frame them with molding from Home Depot. They look awesome, they're easy to use and you will be astounded at the crazy conversations you end up having next time you have guests! People love maps!

    • Timelines – Depending on how you homeschool, you might use timelines. I found buying a roll of butcher paper and lining a hallway -one strip of paper for each kid, separated by molding – to be a great, space-saving way to maintain a timeline. It's fun to see the timeline change throughout the year. It rolls up nicely and is easy to save.

    • Chalkboard Paint – NOT chalk paint but actual chalkboard paint can be a lifesaver if you have a fidgety kid. I painted the door leading to our garage with black chalkboard paint. First, no dirt shows – it was awesome. Second, fidgety kid can dance around AND do math drills. No sweat, no tears.

  • WATCH A COUPLE EPISODES OF HOARDERS. I'm serious. Come back and read when you're done. . . Ready? You do not want to be on this show! Yes, every bit of work your child does is precious. But, if you save every scrap, you will have boxes and boxes and boxes of paper that you don't remember why you saved by the time your child graduates. (Ask how I know.) Keep what you need according to your state's laws. Beyond that? Each kid gets a clean, empty pizza box for each year. If it can't fit in the box, and you MUST save it, save it digitally. I'll expect a thank you and an invitation to your child's high school graduation.

  • ACCEPT HOMESCHOOLING AS PART OF YOUR STYLE. It doesn't matter what you like, homeschooling has now become part of your style. There will be times when it gets away from you and that's okay. You'll be able to reign it in if you give your early decisions some thought. I'll leave you with a couple of examples – you can come back to them when you need a boost!

    • A party that involved my parents and some of their friends along with our friends. The house looked great. The mason jars filled with teeth in assorted liquid with various degrees of rotten-ness that were sitting on the kitchen window sill? Gross but what are you going to do?

    • Dinner eaten around a giant salt map of Australia -complete with kangaroos, boomerangs and aborigines? There are worse things.

    • Eating out because we nearly set the house on fire during a chemistry experiment? It happens.

If you decide to homeschool, for one or or all the years, congratulations. You won't forget or regret it.

Art as Inspiration

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I'm writing this in my newly electrified house post Hurricane Irma. Two days without internet and I can say without a doubt that I was WAY past due for a break. I cannot even tell you how many times I went to look something up or ask someone a question via my laptop or phone. And, guess what? No one is there!!!!!! I miss my “imaginary friends” but I am also amazed at how dependent I have become on the internet.

Tonight I'm a little restless. We did clean up all morning and early afternoon. I wimped out after two big blisters ripped open. Then I took a LONG nap. Now I'm awake – writing blog posts. It's crazy! I have a huge stack of books in front of me and I'm having to make notes about which pics to insert when we get our internet back. Definitely feeling 1990-ish here.

I'm planning to work on the trunks I have out in the garage in a bit. I was torn on what to do with them. However, after an afternoon of browsing through old art and quilt books, I think I have a plan. I'm excited. It's not a Pinterest plan. It's not a plan that I had a chance to ask a lot of other people about. But, I have a couple of great pictures here to help me with color and texture and finish. I hope my instincts are right.

When was your last extended internet break? Did anything interesting come of it?

Bookmark This for The Next Big Storm

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As I type, Hurricane Irma is barreling through Atlanta scaring millions and causing damage like she's been doing for the past 3-4 days. We got the worst of Irma here in Orlando last night. Like all hurricanes, Irma didn't care what the prediction models said – she had her own plans. So, after been told for 24 hours that we would experience only mild tropical storm winds, suddenly we were directly in line for the eye. That was not part of the plan. As much as you can have a plan.

Hurricanes suck. They especially suck if you live near the coast. We're inland so generally don't have to worry about the huge surges of water. I've been through more than several hurricanes since coming to Florida. Irma was by far the worst for us though we've been through storms that caused more damage. But, now that we have power and water and its on my mind, I thought I'd write down a basic plan for anyone facing a storm – hurricane, snow, whatever. It might help you and it gives me something to look at the next time we're facing a storm.

These are just weird things I do/keep that I've found to be helpful. It is by no means a comprehensive list.

  1. Don't put off home repairs! Obviously budget is a consideration when looking at big home repairs but, try to stay on top of big things. You usually know at least a year ahead of time if you're due for a new roof. Make it a priority! A compromised roof is likely to fall apart in a storm and cause even more damage to the inside of your house while also putting you and your family in danger.

    1. Windows – If your windows are cracked or ancient look into replacing them – even if you have to do it 1-2 at a time. If you have shutters outside – make sure they are well-attached.

    2. Garage Door – We discovered this during Irma. Our garage door is old but seemed okay. However, at 3:00 am when we were being pounded by 80+ mph winds the door was bending and creaking. We are incredibly lucky it didn't split.

    3. Entry Doors – Are the seals good? Are the windows good? Is it hurricane rated if you live in hurricane country? A storm is not the time to mess with a door that doesn't not shut properly.

    4. Landscaping – keep dead things out of your yard! If you know a tree is dead or dying – have it cut down by a professional. It's expensive but not as expensive as having it land on your roof. Dead branches, loose pots, etc. will fly during a storm. Keep them picked up and/or contained.

 

  1. Do the steps! This reminder is especially for me because I did not do it this year. If you know there is a chance that you will be in a storm that will cause you to be trapped in your home for several days or that you might have to evacuate get ready at the BEGINNING of storm season. Have a list of things you know you'll want on hand and pick things up gradually. It is EXPENSIVE to prepare for a storm all at once. Trust me. ;) I have a small chest of drawers in the garage where I keep my storm stuff. We probably don't need so much storage now that most of the boys are grown but it's a cute dresser. Some of the things I keep include:

    1. LOTS of batteries – all sizes; flashlights; head lights for each kid; a camping lantern; candes; matches; a pack of lighters

    2. Ziploc Bags – all sizes. Get the freezer grade. They can keep things dry. They can be used for coffee you make and freeze ahead of the storm. They filled with water and used as ice packs. Very handy.

    3. Flip Flops – I keep a new pair of flip flops for everyone in the family. They're great when everything is wet. And, if you have kids, you know you can never find all the flip flops.

    4. First Aid Kit – Yes, you'll be in your house but nothing is more frustrating that trying to find the right cartoon bandaid in the dark. Make sure the kit includes: Benadryl (stings, allergies), a couple of quick ice packs, an ace bandage, activated charcoal and any other regular medicines anyone in your family takes. I usually keep this in a tool box on top of my supply dresser. Inside the lid of the toolbox, I taped a piece of paper with all the doctors, dentists, emergency rooms, and poison control numbers. When my boys were little, I kept it locked with a padlock.

    5. Chargers – know the best way to charge your phone. I keep several portable chargers charged during storms. We can also use our cars to charge phone batteries. Have at least two ways to charge your phone in the event you can't get to one or the other.

    6. Basics – diapers, feminine products, pee pads for pets. I just found it easiest to keep a separate supply of this stuff just for storms.

    7. Fun – Waiting for and enduring the aftermath of a storm can feel like time has come to a stand still. It's worse if you have kids. Throughout the year, I pick up card games, board games, comic books, paperbacks, puzzles and keep them hidden in the drawers. (If you, like me, happen to have all boys, hide all of this stuff under the feminine products and they'll never be spotted!) I break things out one at a time as we need them. I also keep paper, crayons, markers, etc. One year it was just me and the four boys stuck in no a/c in the dark for nearly 10 days. .We discovered it was fun to make shadow puppets with the lantern. Later, we started taping paper to the wall and tracing the shadow puppets and then the boys could color them in. Great time killer. If we didn't get a storm that year, I would usually use the stuff in the dresser at Christmas time.

    8. Extras – After the long storm mentioned in #7, I added a 6-pack of underwear for every family member as well as a pack of plain white t-shirts for each size. If you're without power, laundry builds up and at some point, everyone will smell bad. Again, if I didn't use these for a storm, they became stocking stuffers – nothing says Christmas like new underpants!

    9. Fun Food – I don't do this so much now but when the boys were younger, I kept a stash of snacks that we didn't normally have in the house. Fun sized candy bars, bags of chips, twinkies, etc. Again, break this stuff out periodically to break up long days and nights.

    10. Audiobooks – Back-in-the-day, I keep books on cd's in the dresser. Now, I keep them on my phone. If I know a storm is coming, I download a couple from Audibe so they are available even if I don't have internet. I found these to be a great way to get kids to settle down and fall asleep. Our family favorite is the Harry Potter series.

I hope you never need my list or any list. But, if you do, I hope this helps you get through your storm!