August 2013


I will just go ahead and put it out there.  I got further into the DIY world than I had planned today.
My Dad had me cutting pipes in Ms. H’s bathroom so we could put in the new ones for the tub/shower faucet.

I learned about soldering pipes (something I never would have the guts to try on my own.  Luckily my Dad has done this before so I watched him and learned.

This pic below is a pipe cutter.  I’ve never used one before.  It has a circular blade like a can opener and it clamps onto the pipe, and each time you turn the whole thing around the pipe, you turn the knob, tightening the blade, and you keep that up, tightening and turning around until the pipe is cut through.

Then Dad cleaned it with a metal brush, inside and out.

 Next he asked me to brush some of this cream on the parts of the pipes that needed to be soldered.

 And then – the part that really freaked me out.   The blowtorch-thing that heated up the soldering metal and melted it at the spot where we needed them joined.  The soldering metal seeped into the teeny space between the pipes, then once it cooled, if all had been done right, the joint would not leak.

 And onto the next cut.

Dad made me cut the old pipes.  This went against everything in my body!  But cut I did.

Now, about that built-in dilemma?  If you missed it, you can read about the pipe in the wall that surprised us, here.

The bottom line is I wanted to put some recessed, built-in shelves in the wall above the toilet. But a vent pipe was right smack in the middle of the wall.

I’m sure for some amount of time and money we could move it.  But that’s not in the cards for us.  So, we have to work around it.

I sketched out what I’m thinking about.  I hope it translates here…Starting from left to right:
The mirror/medicine cabinet would be recessed. Then we would add a piece of drywall or wood trim, flush with the wall, about 4 inches wide.  Then a set of recessed shelves, about 10 inches wide.  Next another piece of drywall or wood flush with the wall, then the last set of recessed shelves.
The whole thing would be the same height and would be trimmed out together so it would look cohesive. You with me?

Basically, I added the first piece of trim, between the mirror/medicine cabinet so that when we put the piece of trim to cover up the pipe, the built-in as a whole would look symmetrical and not like there was a random piece of trim stuck in there.

Kind of like this but without the sconces, and another set of shelves to the right:

Traditional Bathroom by Norwich Architects & Designers Smith & Vansant Architects PC

Besides all that, the toilet got hauled out today.  And yes, they are laughing at me for constantly taking pictures.  :-)

So along with a lot of plumbing work, here’s how the day wrapped up.

Til tomorrow,

Read more


Bathroom Reno

Day One

There are at least five boxes of pink and beige tile on the curb outside Ms. H’s house tonight.  As well as a dismantled vanity, the old sink and faucet, medicine cabinet, and three boxes of ripped out drywall.

We got tons done today.  But as with pretty much any major reno, there were some hiccups.

First, we had planned on adding a new overhead light/vent combo.  Dad and I looked up in the attic, and upon further examination, realized that was going to be quite a bit more complex than we had planned. 

There is a large HVAC duct in the way, and the bathroom vent would need to be run outside.  The roof is quite low near the edge of the house, making the space we’d have to work in pretty small.  
We were bummed.  After deliberation, we reluctantly decided that was probably biting off more than we could chew.  
So on we went with demo.  Here’s one last look at it, it all its pink tiled glory. 

Demo went relatively quickly.  But there were only a few fixtures and screws that required me to use my awesome new Ryobi drill.   Don’t worry… I’ll find more excuses to use you, my little friend. :-)

I was feeling generous and even let my Dad borrow my new toy.

Ms. H got in on the action, too…buh bye wallpaper!

We also ran into a hiccup where we planned to put built-in shelves over the toilet.  

But once we removed the medicine cabinet, we could see behind the drywall, and found that there’s a plumbing vent running all the way up the wall right smack in the middle of where we were planning on having a nice big built-in.


It was about lunch time when we found this.  My brain was sorely under-caffeinated at that point.  Time to refuel and re-evaluate.
This is where it would be pretty easy to get frustrated.  But that’s par for the course on jobs like this.  You have to be able to adapt.
I have a plan to work around it, I think.  Can you guess what it is?

Read more


In case you missed it, my Dad and I are getting ready to renovate a bathroom for a family friend.  Here’s the first post, if you want to get up to speed.  Bottom line is, she really needs a new bathroom on a small budget, and we’re going to do it for her!

This is Dad – waiting for her to meet us at the house.  #stepintoouroffice :-)

We all three went and hit the big box stores this week.

Mrs. H got her new sink faucet, and tub/shower faucet.  Moen Caldwell in Oil Rubbed Bronze (sink) and the shower one is here.

Very nice – it’ll be a huge upgrade!

She also picked out an overhead light/vent combo.
There is currently no overhead light or vent in her bathroom.  Again, big upgrade coming.
However, after reading the reviews of the model she bought, we may exchange it.

I think she’s also settled on a new vanity.  This one’s a combo, sold at Lowe’s and it comes with a granite top.

Again, I went and read the reviews and we’ll take a look at the piece we get once it’s out of the box.  I’m on the fence about it so far.
We did look at Home Depot but she wants a darker cabinet and we only have 27″ of width to play with.  I found it hard to get something in the size we needed.

We (ok, I talked my Dad and Ms. H into it) have decided we are going to try and do a built-in to the right of the new vanity mirror, to give Ms. H some badly needed storage.  This is the picture I found that is pretty much exactly her floor plan.  I love it!

There’s no closet or anything in this bathroom, and right now she’s got a freestanding bathroom shelving unit over her toilet.

It’s fine, but in a room this small, that takes up an awful lot of visual space.  I’d love to get that out of there, and recess some shelves for her.  Now, that said, neither Dad nor I have ever done a built-in like this before so it will be a learning process!

That’s where we are so far.  I have to admit, my fingers are absolutely itching to get in and start the demo of this room.
Could it be because I now have this (to quote my 8 year-old) WICKED set of new tools from the awesome peeps at Ryobi? (a prize for Tweeting my little brains out about the Ryobi gang who came to this year’s Haven Conference.)

Yeah, it could.  #ryobirockshaven

You’ll just have to wait til next week to see me learn how to use a reciprocating saw.  I know, I can’t wait, either.  Insert schoolgirl-like squeal of happiness here. :-)


Read more


My Dad and I are good pals these days.  He’s my go-to guy for many of the projects I do.  Anything that needs fixing, shoring up, or building gets put in Dad’s capable hands.

He’s been DIYing stuff, big and small, since way before DIYing anything was cool.  He’s retired now, so we have loads of fun together when we get to work on projects.  (Here’s the link to the post when we built this cool hall bench, for a good cause!)

The next thing we’re doing is a complete bathroom reno for a good family friend.

We’ll call her Ms. H here – and she’s been friends with my parents literally for decades (she’s with my little girl in the pic.)  She and my mom are both nurses and have spent their whole lives taking care of other people.

My mom’s on the left, and another very good friend is on the right.  Aren’t they adorable?

Ms. H has a small home that she shares with her furry companions.  Recently, the house caught fire.  The damage was extensive.  Thankfully, insurance took care of almost eveything.  Almost.  The home’s one and only bathroom was left untouched.

It’s in need of a top-top-bottom reno.  The “vintage” pink porcelain tile was probably swanky in its heyday but now it’s falling off.

The tub and toilet will stay.  Everything else – tile, fixtures, vanity, light, linoleum floor, medicine cabinet, and yes, the shiny wallpaper all must go.

Dad and I took Ms. H to Home Depot last week to look around and try and narrow down some choices and pick a direction for the room to go.  I’m very happy with where we ended up after only one day of work, and as soon as we gather our supplies it’s go time.
Ms. H will go stay with a friend while we’re doing this, so it will not be a do-it-in-our-spare-time sort of event.  We need to rock and roll!  I’m very excited and a little nervous.

Dad’s done bathrooms before – bigger than this one – by himself.  Tile, fixtures, all of it.  He’s very skilled.

I am his apprentice.  I’m eager.  And I have designed bathrooms from the studs up in two homes that my husband and I have owned.  They turned out fabulously, and stayed mostly on budget, if I do say so myself, so I feel good about at least being able to contribute that way.

Right now, Ms. H is agreeable to doing a white subway tile with some decorative white accents around the shower.  I love it.  Subway tile can do no wrong in my book.  It goes with everything.  I think it will be a perfect choice for this home’s one bath.

 For the floor, we’re thinking these 6″x6″ tiles will be perfect.  It’s a small room, so keeping these tiles proportional will be good, and rather than doing a 12″x12″ tile, these will give us more grout lines on the floor, which will help with traction.

Ms. H likes oil rubbed bronze fixtures (great taste, right?) so we’ll go with that.

Beyond that, no decisions have been made.  We’ve got our work cut out for us but we are ready!

And last week, I got in touch with the awesome people at National Builder Supply.  They heard about Ms. H’s story and have GENEROUSLY offered an item from their website to put in the bathroom!  A light fixture, maybe? A sink?  It’s so good of them.  And I know Ms. H will appreciate it.  I’ll let you know what gets chosen, and of course, I’ll have pics once we start demo-ing this baby!  My fingers are itching, I will confess.

I spotted this room on Houzz.  Same layout as Ms. H’s.  Nice right? (source below)

(source: Creative Eye Design + Build, via Houzz)

Pretty soon, I hope I’ll be able to share just a lovely an “after” photo with you here!


Read more

I love Craiglist.  It’s no secret.  I sometimes just scroll through and hunt for various things and star them because I wish I had more room in my house or a client who would LOVE them enough to ask me to pretty please pick it up for them and paint it some fabulous color.  Sigh.

So without further ado, here are my favorite CL finds from my area this week.  In no order whatsoever.

AND – If you or anyone else decides to buy these things, PLEASE use all the good safety precautions that are always a good idea when buying stuff from strangers.  If you aren’t sure – ask. 


1. Glass Cabinet Doors – Oh I would love to use these in a home reno.  They would add instant character to a room

2. Antique Desk – Pretty please someone ask me to pick this up for them and paint it a fabulous color.  Or two.  It would really look fantabulous in two.  With shabby finishing.  Thank you.  And PS – it’s $80!!

3. The glass.  The hardware.  The woodwork.  I am drooling on my keyboard.  Someone needs this hutch.

4. This poor lady just needs to be rescued.  Can you picture the After on this one?!  The challenge alone is worth $30!

That is all.  You may go about your regularly scheduled Friday-ness.


Read more


My family and I are living in our third house.

We’ve been here about a year and half now, and for me that’s about the perfect amount of time to have lived in a space so I really know what I like about it, what is working, and what is not.

So when I was recently sitting in a waiting room, with my laptop but no wi-fi, I took advantage of the time and pounded out a Master List for our home… what I want to add, what needs to be cleaned out, moved, painted, organized, or repaired.  It could be as small as patching a nail hole in the wall, or as big as possibly adding a built-in to a room.

It is a regular old list, in a word document, and it’s long.  In 12 point font, it’s 3 pages long.  And that does not include several spaces inside and outside our home because we are plotting a garage addition, so it’s very likely those spaces will be affected.  Here are the contents of my list as it stands now:

Home Project Master List
July 2013
Living Room:
Change out Rug
Remove mirror over fireplace
Add pattern to backs of bookshelves
Gallery wall:
  Aitkin map
  Kentucky state print
  b+w photos – old family photos, wedding photos, kids
  something chevron
  DIY my old Kentucky home sign
  Printer’s drawer
Need Clock
Add sconces
New coffee table?
Mantle décor
Baskets/Boxes for shelf storage
Radio/CD/mp3 player
Fix/refresh curtains
Furniture layout??
Columns/room dividers?
Figure out piano placement
Dining room:
Add built-in under windows?
Get rid of white freestanding cabinet – move to basement? Move to Guest room for desk/TV?
Refresh china hutch – paint?? just inside glass doors? Add lights inside?
Fix broken dining chair
Source more seating? 
Bigger table??

          Main Hallway:

Close up old wires sticking out
Add built-in cabinet/shelves/hall bench or hooks?
finish drywall
add shelving, hooks, etc.
wallpaper/stencil back?
Close up old light fixture
Inside of door – chalkboard paint? Cork?
Build in a bench?
Stair runner
Hallway gallery
Upstairs Hallway:
Remove desk?? Build in linen closet instead?
Add wall décor
Clean carpet
Upstairs Bath:
Find freestanding cabinet for storage or build one in.
Paint vanity?
Remove grout? Regrout? Retile?
Glass in a shower?
Wall décor
Remove shower water pik
Remove towel rack that’s falling off the wall
Guest Room
Blinds/curtains to block light
Add TV
Add seating/bench/chair
Change out headboard
Paint nightstands
Paint lamps/Get new shades
Wall décor
Add shelving in closet
Add vent in closet?
R’s room:
Board and batten?
Repaint dresser
Repaint mirror?
Find vintage hutch/cabinet to put in doorway
Add trim to curtains
Finish wall décor
New bed? Trundle?
repaint ceiling?
Stencil one wall
Add vent to playroom?
Finish drywall in playroom
Add shelving to playroom
Playroom lighting
B’s Room:
Add shelving in closet
Fix roof leak in closet
Add vent in closet?
Under-bed storage
My office:
Finish wall décor
Hang shelving in closet
Repaint closet
Hang bulletin board
Paint closet door?
Finish red table
Reupholster antique chair

Now, if you are thinking that this sounds overwhelming and that it is JUST TOO MUCH to even think about, I say, keep reading.  Because there are some very good reasons why a Master List is worth your time to do and may save you time, money, energy, and sanity in the long run.

1. It’s the ultimate place to dump your brain and release some frustration about the things in your home that bother you.

We all have things in our house that are loose ends.  They need to be done.  You want them done.  But hello – we have a life! We have 8 million things that need to be done this week, and it is just not possible for everything to make it onto our to-do list for the day.  But those un-done things, those items that never get checked off of your mental inventory are taking up brain space!  They make you wince, or roll your eyes, or grumble under your breath every time you walk into the room and your eye catches  sight of them.  Not sure what I’m talking about?  Think about the last time a new person came to your home and you gave them the tour.  These are the things you either  A. Cover up  B. Make excuses for C. Are just plain embarrassed or feel less than proud of.

Here’s one of mine:

There are exposed wires sticking out of the wall underneath our thermostat.  Seriously?  These need to be stuck back in the wall, patched, and painted!  It’s not rocket science.  But a year and a half after moving in, there they sit.  Sigh.  I grumble every time I go adjust the thing.  So on the list it went.  I don’t feel a ton better about it because I know they are still unattended to…BUT  at least now, I know they are on the list.  I WILL get to them.  So I do not need to constantly be mentally reminding myself or silently cursing myself for being unable to get to them yet.  It’s not fixed.  But it’s a step in the right direction.  And I can free up that brain space for something that needs attending to now and not subconsciously worry that they’ll be forever forgotten.

2. Focus, people!

There have been – and probably will always be – spaces in each of our homes that frustrate me…I couldn’t find a layout that really worked.  Or I felt that there was another way we should be using a space.  Or worst of all, I just couldn’t put my finger on what wasn’t working about a room. Something’s just off.
Use a master list to help tease out what isn’t working, what can be improved, and to try and focus your energy on concrete ways to improve what you have rather than just being frustrated and – for lack of a better term – start throwing things against the wall to see what sticks.

This can be a little bit like journaling.  If you aren’t someone who’s used a journal before you may not quite relate to this, but I have used journals for many years in my past.  It’s a very stream-of-consciousness experience and can be very insightful if you do it honestly and without reservation because often, you may not REALLY know what you think until you start WRITING IT DOWN.
It’s true.  If you just let your hands go, and type, or write, without internally editing, you will probably be surprised at what stares back at you from the page when you’re finished.

Pick a room or space or part of your home that is not working for you.

Get a blank piece of paper and start somewhere in the room – a corner, an entrance, the flooring, the lighting, the wall color, and if you don’t LOVE it, if it doesn’t make you smile to think about it or look at it, JUST WRITE IT DOWN.  Do not think.  Do not worry about how much the addition or change or replacement will cost.  Just write.  Don’t hold back.  If the room is dark, write down, “Add lighting.” If the carpet is worn, write down, “Replace flooring.”  If it is cluttered, write down, “Purge” or “Organize” or “Add storage” or ALL of them.  If you have storage that isn’t working in the room, think about why it’s not working.  Are your kids not able/willing to maintain it?  Write down, “Need kid-friendly storage.”

Close your eyes and picture the room in a state that would make you smile.  What do you see?  What is gone?  What is still there?  What is moved?

The less you filter your thoughts during this process, the more insight you will gain as to what isn’t working in the space, and what would truly make you and your family happier and able to use the space much better.

I suggest making this list by yourself, and I’ll tell you why.  Your thought process is going to be different from your spouse’s, if you have one.  It will be different from your children’s, if you have them.  I do think the other people using the space need to have a say in what goes in and what comes out.  But before you talk to them, make your own list.  Allow your spouse – if he wants – to do his own thinking and then when you are both done, compare notes.  Will you get everything the way you want it?  Maybe… I guess it depends on your house, your marriage, and your own personal circumstances.  More likely, you’ll end up making some compromises if you live in a house with other people.  That’s OK.  In fact, I think it’s healthy!  If everyone has a say in the home they live in, they are less likely to complain about it, more likely to understand why you want things the way you want them – and vice versa, and I think there may be less conflict in the long run.  That’s just my two cents – take it for what it’s worth.

Be honest.  Write down your thoughts.  Then you can go about acting on them – that’s next!

3. Spend your resources wisely!

Maybe you have a set amount every month that you can spend on your home – not necessarily maintenance, like furnace filters and clogged gutters – although if those things need attention, they should be ON THE LIST!  I’m talking about the money you put into adding to your home, making it yours.

Almost no one has unlimited time, money, and energy.  If you have a Master List of the things you want and need to change about your home, the next time you have some money, or a Saturday, to spare, you won’t have to spend 45 minutes wandering around, trying to decide what to do with your time, or what to go shopping for.  You can take a look at your list, talk it over with your spouse if you need to, and get to work.  You KNOW you need a new lamp for the living room, and you can focus on  taking care of it, and crossing it off!

Once you have the list made, take some time and prioritize.  Which rooms need to be addressed first?  Do you have company coming?  A graduation party to throw?  A baby on the way?  Obviously, life may dictate what needs to be done first.  That’s fine.  Pick the room that needs attention first, and focus on that.  Only on that.  Here’s where I really need help.

I am a very spur-of-the-moment person.  If I feel like painting a room badly enough, I’ll run it past my husband (who is a very good sport and who, after 11 years of marriage, is totally fine with me picking out paint colors on my own), grab a gallon of paint and just DO it.  I strike when the iron is hot.  I know that’s my personality.  I have already in this house, done a couple of things in one room, gotten bored, not finished that room, and moved on to other things.  It’s not my finest trait.

Having this master list is a way to help keep me focused.  Yes, I may still need to back off a room for a while in the midst of a re-do, and think, or just take a break from something if it’s overwhelming me.  I  try very hard to finish one room before starting another… but I’m not perfect. If I do stray, I don’t beat myself up about it too much.  I just give myself a little mental space, and then dive back in to the room that needs completing.

Right now, there is paint drying in the closet of my office/studio.  (Here’s what it looked like before I emptied it today.)

I did the bulk of the work in that room over the last few months.  But I was tired when I finished the main part of the room, and I knew I needed a break before tackling the closet.  Today, the iron was hot again.  I had already, on my master list, written down that I needed shelving for that closet.  I measured, and several weeks ago we went to the store and bought what we needed.  It’s been sitting in the basement just waiting.

Today my husband put the brackets on the walls, and with any luck, the second coat of paint will be on the closet tonight and I’ll be able to put that space back together this week.  I’ll only have a few more projects in there to finish up, and that room will be done!  (Reveal coming…)

Besides keeping your time focused, let the Master Plan help keep your spending focused, too.
Believe you me, I love a good trip to Target or HomeGoods, and sometimes – but increasingly rarely – I’ll indulge myself with a little unplanned retail therapy.  But here’s the thing.  That $50 cover charge you pay every time you go to Target (“Where did it all go??”) is slowly but surely undermining your ability to create the home you want because you are spending money on other things that yes, may be a great deal, and yes, may make you happy, and yes, you may really want.

But if you have an honest Master List, then more than likely you have other things you could – and should – be spending your money on. That will allow you to start transforming your spaces to align with the way you want to live in them and before you know it, your home that you envisioned in your mind will start to take shape before your very eyes.

The Master List is an iceberg.  You have to chip away at it a little at a time, if you’re like most people.  Keep your eyes on the prize!  You’ll probably feel better about the money and time you spend, if you do.

4. You own the list.  Make sure the list doesn’t own you.

I hesitated to write this post because I can easily see someone looking at my Master List, getting completely overwhelmed with the amount of stuff to do, and saying, “Heck no.  I’m outta here!”

Resist that urge.  The truth is, every home has projects.  Every homeowner has things in his or her mind that they want done. Or that NEED to be done.  Not making a list doesn’t mean those things go away.  It just means you are not acknowledging them in an organized way, perhaps.  Don’t let the list be something that hangs over your head, so that every time you think about all the things still to do, you feel guilty, or too overwhelmed to even start.  This is not that kind of list.  You are the owner of your house – and you are the owner of the list.  It is there to serve YOU.  It is there because you care about your home and the people who live in it.  It is there because you made it.  It is your reference point.  Your plan.  Do not feel intimidated by it, no matter how long it is!!

A football coach would never step foot on the field without game plans.  He may not be sure in which order the plays will be called, but he has thought about it ahead of time and written them down.  He has them at the ready.  He does not feel guilty if he doesn’t use all of them in one game.  He has plans so he can use them to his advantage, so he can call a play when his team is ready, so he can win the game.

Look at your Master List the same way – and I bet you will start winning battles against chaos, frustration, indecision, and wasted time.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this – or if you have another way that you organize yourself and your family to improve your homes.

Thanks for reading!


Read more


Hey y’all!
I’ve got my Southern twang on now since spending three wonderful days in Hotlanta for the 2nd annual Haven Conference!

Let me just get this out of the way for all my fellow bloggers – I WILL be moving myself over to WordPress…and figuring out the hosting thing…and probably consolidating my blog name with the name I’ve chosen for my furniture/decor business…so there is no shortage of housekeeping work to do BUT I couldn’t wait til all that was done to post about Haven!

As a fairly newbie blogger, I wasn’t sure at all what to expect from the experience. Lemme tell you… it was better than I ever could have imagined!

400 (give or take) other women and 4 (give or take) husbands who all love home/DIY projects and love blogging all about it!  These women were friendly, outgoing, and talented.  It was like being in a room full of unicorns.  These people don’t exist in normal life – at least not in mine.  It was fantastic.

I attended sessions with some super well-known, gifted women, and got to meet and greet some of my favorite bloggers!

Here’s me with the incomparable Mandi of Vintage Revivals.  We laughed. We cried. It was REAL. And I’ll be forever grateful for her openness and her sense of humor.

I also found the sweet Jen of IHeartOrganizing!  She has inspired me to make my own home a more tidy, well-laid out, adorable place and I was already a big fan.  She is just as nice in person!

I got to meet Ashley of The Handmade Home (on the far right – whose home tour is NOT to be missed.  She’s lucky I don’t live in Alabama or else I might move in.) and Lindsay of Makely School for Girls (on the far left – who is hilarious and also a MEAN dancer.  Just take my word for it.)
I didn’t get the name of the other lady in the pic…

The enormously talented and very insightful Ana White gave the opening Keynote and we were all hanging on her every word.
(My pic of Ana didn’t come out very well.)
I remember finding Ana’s blog once upon a time…and just trying to pick my jaw up off the floor.  Here was this tiny woman, with babies on her hip, in ALASKA, building her own house and then building everything else in sight.  And sharing it all with the world.  Yeah, she’s all that.  And a bag of chips.

I got to take a painting class with the super down to earth and incredibly talented ladies, Shaunna from Perfectly Imperfect, and the one and only Miss Mustard Seed.

I would probably still be there painting if the hotel people would let me.  Alas, I had to leave.  But not before soaking up their energy and wisdom and hoping to meet them again!  This was one of the highlights of my trip!!!  Still smiling. :-)

My new friend, car ride partner, and roomie, Jessica of Mom4Real, and I laughed in the car for 6 hours on our way down to Haven.  Instant friendship.  I am so so glad to have met her! (This was on the way home…and I was re-enacting part of the Haven Shuffle. Yeah.  We had our own dance at this conference. We’re just cool like that.  Thanks Traci of Beneath my Heart!)

I can’t even begin to count all the other new friends I made, from all over the country (adorable pinboard from the sweet gals at Online Fabric Store)!

Let me just say that if these women ever decide to stop blogging and DIYing, and decide to take over the world, you had better watch out.  Because it is ON.

I had the pleasure of attending an awesome cocktail party with the peeps from Ryobi and believe you me – these people are friggin fantastic!!

Not only do they make great tools, and love to share them with bloggers, they are super friendly people, who truly GET what bloggers like us are trying to do, and when they gave us a real, honest to goodness shout-out for the work being done in the DIY blogosphere, I almost teared up.

 (RYOBI gals in the house!!! And my new BFF, Darla of HeartWork Organizing is in the back – another mystery attendee on the right – sorry! Darla decided we may have been separated at birth, only she got all the tall and slender genes. I decided to like her anyway.)

The RYOBI folks all just ROCK. And I’m not just saying that because they throw such a wild party*!

*Understand that if the people from Ryobi invite you to a party, you’ll want to nap first. Consider yourselves warned. And yes, it was “Raining Men” on the dance floor. You can’t make this stuff up. :-)

I knew only one person before stepping foot into this conference.

I left feeling like I was part of a family.  Everyone was so excited to be there, so geeked out about all the awesome speakers, so ready to party and learn and share and grow.  The energy was phenomenal.

And these women are not just in it for fame and fortune (although no one’s turning that down, of course!) A group of them had connected with the people at GMC and spent three days hunting down treasures at the World’s Longest Yard Sale, so they could pretty up and furnish a home for a Habitat for Humanity family in Alabama.  Talk about teary-eyed!  What we home/DIY bloggers do may appear superficial (burlap! chevron! mason jars!) but I assure you, what is happening in these bloggers hearts and homes and families and their communities AND the blogosphere is much deeper than that. (Mandi, I’m going to start crying again…)

They are creating spaces and places that are inspired.  They are making their houses true homes.  They are doing for others.  And they are inspiring change and improvement and letting people know that they are WORTH having beautiful surroundings, no matter who they are, where they live, or how much money is in their bank account.  These women have bright minds and fantastic, creative ideas to share with the world, for sure.  But they also have good hearts.  And it doesn’t take long once you start spending time on their blogs to realize that in the end, we are all BETTER for it. They want you all to know that YOU can do it, too.  Whatever “it” might be for you – painting a room, making furniture, trying something you’ve never done before and that scares the bejeezus out of you – power tools for me… They want you to get out there, get your hands dirty, and DO something.  And they want to hold your hand and laugh and cry with you along the way.

I hope to go back to Haven next year.  It was a kick-ass dance party. It was a good laugh.  It was pages of notes that I need to process.  It was bags and bags of awesome swag – this is not all mine, btw. It was my roomie’s too!

But above all, it was salve for my soul.

After years of moving and working and not working and having babies and raising babies, and loving my family but honestly giving away little pieces of myself to all those worthy endeavors, I needed this.  I needed my bucket filled.  And now, it’s overflowing, people.  So batten down the blog hatches.  Readers everywhere, prepare to be flooded with good stuff.  Several hundred of my closest friends just got a recharge of their batteries.  I don’t know what will come of all this goodness, but it is going to be epic.

Peace, Love, and DIYing,


Find a bunch of the awesome ladies I met – I’m following as many as humanly possible on Twitter and Instagram.

Read more