Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Staircase Reveal

    I'm so excited to finally show off our new staircase! This probably would have happened a lot sooner but we are in an almost 6 week stretch of having company. Lots of friends and family have come to see us this summer and we have been having a blast with everyone! But that also means projects get moved to the side so it really is a miracle the stairs are finished!

Before you scroll down to see the pretty before and after photos theres something you gotta know. This staircase was almost the death of us. You know those shows where everyone is like, so we pulled up the carpet and this beautiful wood was shining through just begging to be refinished, like OMGGG GO US. That was not the case here. Not even a little bit. So this is not the fairy tale story where the carpet was ripped up and this was waiting underneath. Nope. We had to work at it. Big time. And P.S. I don't care who you are and how many people on Pinterest may claim it can be done, you cannot make construction treads on an older home show stairs. You just cant do it. But I'll save that rant for the tutorial.

The staircase was probably harder than anything we have had to do in this house so far. I would rather re-scrape the popcorn off the ceilings, take the chipper back to the kitchen tile and get carpal tunnel, remove baseboards and cut myself with an old nail, buy three cans of paint and get home to discover I don't love the color and buy three more, yep I would rather do all of those things than work on a stair project ever again. It was hard. And I threw a fit. And Justin threw a fit. And Justin doesn't even throw fits. And we yelled. At each other. And at the stairs. And probably at the dog. Basically, this project sucked. But we survived and our staircase is looking reeealll good. Like I just want to sit on it and pet the railings and whisper sweet nothings into the new pretty treads. But don't take my word for it, tell me what you think! Here are the before and after photos:



     Did you notice that we got rid of that terrible boob light upstairs? It feels so much better! I'm thinking of adding a gallery wall going up the stairs, but I'm not doing anything too quick. I want to get things right in this house, so I'm taking my time with every little decision. A lot of people questioned whether or not the stairs were safe because they would be slippery without carpet, but we haven't had any problems. My father in law who happens to have Parkinson's Disease went up and down them with no problem and my crazy dog flies down them everyday when we get home and he does just fine, too. I think it just depends on each individual family and lifestyle you have. 

Just for the heck of it, here's a side by side:

What do you guys think of the staircase? Such a huge transformation right?? I just love it. We are having a blast with this house and I really feel like I'm learning so much. The most rewarding part definitely has to be looking back through the before and after photos. They get me excited to move on to the next room. I hope you guys have a great Wednesday!! 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Financial Goals 2015-Checkin and New Goals

     In January I shared my family's financial goals and today I wanted to check in and talk about how things were going.

This is kind of a loaded post. You see, I meant to be good this year. I really did. But then we bought a house. And it all kind of went downhill from there. :p

I mean I guess I should give myself more credit than this. I really have done a pretty decent job saying no to things I didn't need. But I could still do better. We definitely suffered some sticker shock when we bought our house and it was hard writing a check as big as the one we had to write. New England is a pricey area, but we were 100% ready to make certain sacrifices in order to get out of our apartment. As soon as we moved in we immediately started renovating and anyone who knows about fixer upers knows how much money, time and effort can go into them. It could be really easy to go crazy in this house, but we are limiting ourself to a very specific budget and that really helps keep things under control. On a side note, we have kind of come to a pause because we have been having so much company this summer. I think our next plan of attack is on the kitchen. Originally I was planning to paint the cabinets white, but we are jumping off the deep end and taking another route all together, stay tuned!! I honestly had a hard time seeing things come together and I got really discouraged in the beginning. But I seriously fall more in love with this house every single day. I am so proud of our cute neighborhood and this house is the epitome of a cozy New England home. I am super content right now. I just can't wait to get back to working on more projects!

Back to $$$$. Basically to sum up the first 6 months, we would be doing a lot better on our goals if we didn't buy a house, lets just say that. ha! But we are still attempting to make conscious efforts to work on our budget. Another thing that kind of makes things tricky for us in my school. We both agreed when I started that we would pay out of pocket for school to avoid loans. Well, when I went to a community college it was pretty doable since it was only about $1,000 a semester. Now I attend a university and each semester is closer to $4000. This can make things a little tight at times, but I honestly think this is just the best way. I do not want to get out of school with any weight hanging over my head. I jokingly tell Justin that on my cap for my graduation in May its going to say "I owe my husband $20,000" haha!

These are the goals I have for the rest of 2015:

  • Pay off our car by Christmas 
  • Eat out less (HELP)
  • Resist urge to buy every single thing for the new house
  • Sell Florida home (wait what?! I totally snuck this one in there)

Ok ok so I forgot to mention one little thing. We are selling our Florida house! It should hit the market within the next two weeks. I'm hoping it is a quick and painless process. We have had lovely renters for the past two and a half years but the more we talked about it the more we decided we didnt need to hold onto it anymore. We are not planning to move back to Florida but even if we ever did, we would probably build anyway. The realtor told us the price he wanted to list it at and we were pleasantly surprised so we decided to go for it. Our ultimate goal as a couple has always been to save save save as much as we can for our "dream home". The house we will raise our kids in. The house we will be able to call home. We are trying to go Dave Ramsey's route and have a 40% down payment with a 15 year mortgage on the next place so until then we are just saving away. Since we have always lived on one income, when I start working in my career next year we are going to use almost all of that money to put into savings and continue to live off of one income. We have done it for almost 4 years, there's no need to change things now. I think this will definitely help us achieve that goal quicker. We have this cute little goal phrase "Debt Free in '23". In 2023 we hope to be living in the "dream home" with a paid off mortgage and I know if we stick to these goals it is definitely doable!

My brother is coming to visit next week and I am throwing the budget out the window! (Sorry Dave!) We are going to see a Red Sox game, whale watching, eat way too much seafood, and just play catch up. I always love our time together and since I only see him a couple of times out of the year, we have a lot of fun to cram into a week! How are you guys doing on your resolutions and goals??

Thursday, June 11, 2015

$450 Half Bath Makeover

     You guys. I'm freaking out because we have ourselves the cutest little half bath in the world. I am so excited about this transformation!! When we first moved into this house there was a very strong urine smell that kind of snuck through a good portion of the downstairs. This bathroom just needed some TLC. And that's exactly what this little cutie got! Although this house of ours needs a lot of updating, it has great bones and it really is coming along nicely. We did this entire bathroom for right around $450. That includes a new toilet, fixtures, etc. You can find the entire source list at the bottom of this post. Here are the photos of the bathroom before:

And here are the afters:

I mean is it even the same bathroom?!? It sure doesn't feel like it! 

Could you just die? So stinking cute right? This is exactly the style we want to stick with throughout the rest of the house. I love that its got a little bit of country farmhouse feel with tiny bits of an industrial thrown in the mix, too. I have spent years trying to find "my style" and this bathroom is such a great example of finally figuring that out. My favorite part was picking out all of the fixtures and accessories. We talked about replacing the vanity, but its amazing what a little bit of paint and new hardware can do! I do think we will eventually replace the faucet and sink, but it isn't a priority to me right now. We have a couple of small other things that need to be done in this room (like adding a baseboard behind the toilet, ehem) but for the most part it is finished and we can move on to bigger projects. Yay!

Here is the entire source list for our bathroom makeover-

Light Fixture- Allen & Roth Lowe's $120
Mirror- Homegoods $80
Toilet- Kohler (on sale) Home Depot $170
Flooring-Scraped Apple Cinnamon from Home Depot (I want to note that I normally wouldn't put hardwoods in a bathroom, but we really did not want to disrupt the flow of the rest of the downstairs so we just stuck the hardwood in. No transition strip, no problem! ;)
Paint for the Cabinet- Behr Oil Based Cabinet Paint $40
Wall color- Sherwin Williams Sea Salt $40
Shelf-DIY $15

So there you have it! Our cute little bathroom makeover makes me so happy. I just want to hang out in this room all day. Probably because it is currently the nicest room in our house. Ha! We really need to get a move on! What do you guys think about our new half bath? What is your favorite change? Happy Thursday friends!


Friday, May 15, 2015

how to save thousands of dollars by scraping your own popcorn ceilings

I like popcorn. Especially Garett Popcorn. Have you ever had Garrett's in Chicago? You can smell the fresh popcorn a block away. Mmmmm Garretts. Carmel covered popcorn, cheese covered popcorn, chocolate covered popcorn. I love it all. Now I want to make another trip to Chicago.

So now that we've established that I love popcorn, lets talk about having it on your ceiling. Nope, not loving that so much. When we went to the open house for our new home we immediately noticed the popcorn ceilings. It was just staring at us, silently mocking our every step. I swear I heard it whisper, "Don't even think about scraping us off little girl". Well 5 days into the renovation of our new house and those ceilings are completely SCRAPED OFF. Hello 90's, you can have your ceiling back!!!!

Justin wanted to hire someone to do it. I humored him. I got the quotes. It was going to be between $1-1.80 a square foot depending on the severity to have someone do it for us. On an almost 1900 square foot house...I'll let you do the math. Actually I really want to type this out for extra pat myself on the back purposes. On the low end, I saved us $1800 and on the high end I saved us $3240. Oh that's right. That's a LOT of $$$. I did not feel comfortable having someone else come in and do something I could tackle myself with a little bit of research and patience. So now Justin can just pay me the $3240 he was planning to shell out to some random dude and I can go buy a new wardrobe. Oh who am I kidding, that will go right to my summer tuition. #adultprobs

I am happy to say we (ok mainly me) scraped every single ceiling clean of that ugly popcorn and I did it without any marital issues or fits. (ok maybe like one or two) Here's how we did it!

1. Always always ALWAYS (can not stress this enough) be sure that your ceiling texture is free from asbestos.  Asbestos is a dangerous mineral that was commonly found in popcorn ceilings all the way up until 1978 when it was officially banned. No amount of money saved is worth the medical heartache this could bring up if you try to tackle something like this on your own. If you have a home older than 1978 just tap out and call a professional. 

2. Get the proper equipment. You will need a sprayer, a scraper and I recommend also using a handy 6-in-1 painters tool for the stubborn spots. You can find all three items at your local Home Depot for under $20. If you need to do prep work make sure you gather those materials. In our case, our house is basically gutted so we didn't mind the mess. And there will be a mess, so make sure you're wearing your "play clothes" as my mother would always say. 

3. Spray the heck out of the ceilings. Other tutorials may scare you when it comes to this part. They will tell you to be careful because you could damage your drywall, etc etc. I promise you, it is a lot harder to soak drywall than you think. The popcorn texture has to be soaked in order to really come off the easy way. Your drywall will be fine. Trust me. I did all 1800 square feet of our house and it is so much better to overspray than underspray. That popcorn is so thick, you really can't mess this up. (Ok I guess if you stood in one spot for five full minutes spraying water on your ceilings you may have an issue-so don't do that:p )

Spray baby, SPRAY!!!

Do you see how the popcorn is coming off in sheets? That is exactly what you want. When you go to scrape it off, it will literally just fall off your ceiling and you will scream in delight. BYE BYE UGLY POPCORN DONT YOU COME BACK NO MO!!!

4. Do a good job (take your time). Although I did most of the work, I got so sick of it by the end I did a lazy job and my husband had to do some sanding. I'm a sorry excuse. He was ready to murder me, I think. So if you just take your time and do it right the first time, you will save yourself soooo much time and headache. Learn from my mistakes!

5. Jump up and down and scream when popcorn is finally removed. You did it! I knew you could. When I told people we were removing the popcorn ceilings ourselves, I got ZERO positive responses. People could not believe we were crazy enough to do that, or that we would follow through. I cannot stress this enough, you can do this yourself. It took me hours, but I did it and I do NOT think it is worth paying someone to do when I saw how easy it was. I am not exaggerating with the word easy. I promise. You got this! 

Whether you are renovating a house like we are, or just want to give your current place a little facelift, getting rid of popcorn ceilings is an easy, affordable way to change the whole look of a house. It even feels brighter for some reason. You can decide to do what you want with the ceilings at this point. I've heard some people just painted theirs, but Justin hated that idea so we got a quote for someone to come in and texture/paint for us. Weellll, that was a $3000 quote that we were not ok with, so my handyman hubby went to home depot, bought himself a texture-pro hopper gun and did it himself! ha! We are seriously being so frugal with our updates, I love it! 

Ok here's the fun part!

Total cost-


Sprayer- $9.97
Scraper- $4.37
6-in-1 painters tool- $4.97
*Hopper(for texturing)- $65
3 5 gallon buckets of Pre Mixed All Purpose Joint Compound-$45
*Paint Sprayer rental- $140
*Ceiling Paint- $280
Mountain Dew for sanity-PRICELESS


"Inexpensive Handy Man Estimate"
Popcorn removal for whole house- $1800-3000
Texturing/Painting Ceilings- $3000


Total saved- OVER $4000!!!! WHAT! I'm telling you people, when you can do it yourself, DO IT YOURSELF! You know what I'm spending that $4000 on? Yeah yeah, you guessed it, summer tuition. ;) 

Good luck with your ceilings and feel free to contact me with your updates. Happy Weekend! 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Less competing, more complimenting

I used to have this friend who made me feel like I wasn't good enough. I would meet her for lunch and she would ask, "why did you do your hair like that?" My husband and I planned a vacation and she would say, "you should go here instead".  I got engaged and she looked at my ring and said, "thats it?" It hurt me so deeply. I loved her, but the more time passed the more I realized our friendship was on the toxic side. Her constant remarks were making me question things in my life and I found myself always wanting more. What I had wasn't good enough. I wanted bigger and better things. I wanted to be the person my friend said I should be.

Needless to say, we aren't friends anymore. 

If you spend any more than 5 minutes on social media, its easy to see how women treat other women. Sometimes we can be kind and sweet, but other times we are downright catty, bratty, and hurtful. I saw a woman post a photo of her baby drinking a formula filled bottle and under the comments someone had said something along the lines of "You aren't breastfeeding? You know breast is best right?" 



There is no need for this unspoken competition. We are all on the same team. You know the kind of women who stand out the most? The women who are confident enough in themselves to compliment other women instead of comparing. 

A woman in the grocery store has a cute outfit on? Compliment her.

A childhood friend is unable to breastfeed her baby for various reasons? Uplift her.

An old college roommate just got married and is trying to get the hang of making a house a home? Encourage her.

A mom friend posts an exciting status about her 3 year old finally getting potty trained? Rejoice with her. 

There is no need to tear another woman down to build yourself up. We are all strong and courageous and beautiful. There is not one right way in this life. Let's each find our own individual path and celebrate one another as we do. 

Friday, May 1, 2015

Meet Our New House-Before Photos

I've been dying to introduce you guys to our new house. Like, dying from excitement, but also kind of dying from nervousness because it's kind of ugly. I tried so hard when we were walking through the house for the first time to contain myself from all of the not so nice comments I wanted to make about the previous homeowners choices in paint colors, fixtures, etc etc. But now that the place is mine I can say what I want about it and what I want to say is, WHHHYYY???!

If I were ever to come face to face with the previous home owners I feel like thats all I would be able to get out. Why? Just why?! I mean there isn't one single wall we don't have to paint because all of the colors are hideous. The outlets are all brass. (FANCY) The fireplace mantel is red. The master bedroom is the ugliest purple you have ever seen in your life (not to mention purple is already my least favorite color of all time so that doesn't help) while the bathroom connected to it is green. I mean. I just don't understand what they were thinking. I say this in the nicest way possible. I am truly just lost. Oh and who adds crown molding as an "upgrade" but doesn't bother removing popcorn ceilings?? Ugh. You guys. We have a LOT of work to do. 

Our lease is up in our apartment June 2nd, so right now we are just working on the new house, not exactly living in it. Unless you count sleepovers on the air mattress and eating pizza while sitting on the floor living. Because we're getting really good at that. Right now its hard to see the pretty. It's hard to picture it being home. Because its just so ugly. But I am trying to be patient and enjoy this process. Justin and I make a great team and we are having a blast fixing this place up the way we want it. With only a little ok a lot of attitude on my part. I'm just bitter about all the extra work these people are giving us by choosing ugly everything. For example, we want to change out the outlet plates to white, but the outlets themselves are cream. So now we have to change the outlets and outlet plates. I mean the list could go on for days. But this is what I wanted so NO COMPLAINING! Ok maybe a little. A girl's gotta vent. 

Ok time for the before pics. If you actually read everything up to this point, you get an extra brownie points for being so dedicated to my nonsense. The rest of you guys probably skipped right to the pictures. (It's ok, I do it too.) Meet the house on Bradshaw Lane!!!
WHYYYYY??? The door AND the trim is painted this color. 

 Soooo..looks like we have our work cut out for us huh?! I know it's not terrible. It's really not. Its got great bones and it just needs a little love. I will say this, for Massachusetts subdivisions are hard to come by. Like REALLY hard. And last fall we happened to drive through this subdivision and I heard angels start to sing and I looked at Justin and I said "we have to live here". I called our realtor and told her I didn't care what time it was-if something popped up in that neighborhood, CALL US. She warned us that it didn't happen very often and if it did they sold in only a day. So just two weeks after we got our pre-approval this little cutie popped up on the market and we made an offer the same day. I am still kind of in shock. I don't love the house, but I love the neighborhood. And since we are only planning to stick around for 5 years or less, it is perfect for us. And in the end we got it for $10,000 less than the asking price, Fist bump to the big guy upstairs for that. We are feeling thankful and excited to fix this place up! Now who wants to plan a visit?!