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Monthly Cleaning Fun!

monthly cleaning

A year ago I wrote a post entitled “Cleaning Up and Cleaning Out”. It was about starting a deep cleaning/full house clean out system of focusing on one room each month. I said I was going to follow-up each month, and I didn’t. BUT, I did make it the entire year which felt AMAZING. And now since it’s August, the year starts over! I envision this year being a lot easier since things are already pretty cleaned out and I have a list and know what works and what doesn’t.

This is the plan I followed for last year, and will follow again this year. I chose certain rooms/areas based on how busy a certain month would be and the weather. Obviously, we have a small house and many of you have more rooms, or different rooms, but to give you an idea, here’s the plan I follow:

  • August: Office/Craft room
  • September: Living Room
  • October: Guest Room
  • November: Entry, Guest Bath (November is a busy month for us with our anniversary and Thanksgiving, so I chose small rooms!)
  • December: Laundry Room (Again, busy month!)
  • January: Master Bedroom
  • February: Master Bathroom
  • March: Garage, Cars (The weather is nice for these!)
  • April: Patio, Landscape, House Exterior (Nice weather and plants/landscaping stuff for sale!)
  • May: Kitchen
  • June: Emergency Preparedness

This system worked SO WELL. At this point I am unemployed and have no kids, so I know my life isn’t as crazy as most and I know that as things change it may become more difficult to accomplish. But I think it’s such a great goal and makes you feel really good at the end of each month, and year!

So, for August the room is the Office/Craft Room (also where Oliver hangs out all day). I’ve made a PDF of the Office Checklist I use, but again, we all have different furniture, etc. so it may not all apply to you, but it’s a start to get you thinking about what your needs are! (Feel free to ask about any of the items that you’re unclear on!) Last year we rented a carpet steamer and did all the carpeted areas at once for the year. Again, the goal is to deep clean AND clean out/organize. I’m trying to set a goal for myself to get rid of at least 10 things per room, we’ll see how that goes!….

Let me know if you get on board with this system and how it works for you! I’ll update in September with the checklist for the living room.

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Gallery Wall

Back on April 15th I posted about my DIY coffee table tray, and promised that next week would be a post about our newly revised gallery wall. Well, here we are about two months later and I’m finally making that post. I blame it on the lack of natural light in our home. I couldn’t figure out how to get a good picture. But I finally just took some pictures and hoped for the best. So, as usual, please forgive the bad pictures!

A few months after moving in to our house in 2012, we worked on painting and decorating the living room. We had an empty wall, one with no furniture or anything, so I wanted to do a gallery wall. Pinterest has sure set the bar high to make those perfect. After looking at many pins, I finally laid out the frames and had my husband hang them. I have a touch of OCD and things have to be symmetrical. Hence, our perfectly symmetrical and organized original gallery wall:

old for realSo that was all well and good. It was nice. But we kept running into those sconces and I got tired of the predictable look. I wanted something a little more “fun” with some elements other than pictures. So I went to Hobby Lobby and bought some new frames, found some other elements, and let go of my need for symmetry.

photo 4

photo 2

My favorite element is a printable created by my friend Jennifer, the owner of Prettiest Print Shop. At our wedding, we had a worship time with the song “How Great Thou Art”. I wanted that song displayed in our home and she created the perfect wall hanging with the lyrics. Though, now it gets stuck in my head every day!

photo 3

If only you couldn’t see my reflection….

I purchased a pattern from Etsy and cross stitched the “M” with gray chevron.

photo 2 (2)

I am so, so happy with how it all came together. I have to give credit to my hubby for hanging everything so perfectly! It really helped to brighten up our living room and add some life to it. Now I need to figure out how to have pictures that aren’t just of us!

 

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Backyard Makeover

A year ago we were deep in the midst of a backyard makeover. Our yard needed a lot of updating and fixing and the results were amazing! It took a couple months of a lot of hard work, but we are so proud. At the time we finished it last year, I didn’t have a blog. Once I started the blog I wanted to post, but decided to wait until the spring to make it more seasonally applicable. Most of what we did has stayed the same throughout this year, but we did have some plants die in the Texas heat last summer and plan to replace those in the next few weeks.

Here is what our yard and patio looked like upon moving in.

2013-02-16 (8) before painting houseYuck. There wasn’t room for the table and grill and people. We tried eating out there a few times, but it didn’t work!

2013-02-16 (9) before painting house

2013-02-16 (10) before painting house

Something had to be done! Once we moved in, we systematically (because that’s the only way I do things…) went through each room and re-did it. It was a year before we finally finished inside and moved to the outside! We were so excited to get started and totally change things back here.

We started by painting the exterior of the house. It was in MAJOR need of a new coat of paint, and a new color. We spent all of February working on that and went from this gross, gray blue to a fresh beige. Look at the difference paint made on our front door area!! Love it. Can’t get over it.

front doors

But, I sure hope I never have to paint a house exterior again. That was HARD work.

So after the paint, we had our patio extended and had a cover built over it. These were the only things that we paid someone else to do. It was just quicker, easier, and better that way.

Patio being extended

Patio being extended

Michael was home the day they poured the concrete and wrote our initials and the date!

Michael was home the day they poured the concrete and wrote our initials and the date, and put Oliver’s paw print in it.

The new patio provided so much more space! I don’t have any pictures of them putting the cover on. But we chose to not have it extend all the way- we left an open area on the end for the grill and fire pit.

In mid-April we began tearing down our old fence on two sides, and replacing it. So much cheaper to do it ourselves (well, for my hubby and neighbor to do it…).  This was a pretty extensive project.

2013-04-19 (2) new patio, now to start on the fenceThat random sheet of metal is one of the main reasons I wanted a new fence. What the heck were the previous owners thinking??

Beginning to tear the old fence down

Beginning to tear the old fence down

Found a snake in the fence!

Found a snake in the fence!

New fence going up!

New fence going up!

With all that done, at the beginning of May we started the landscaping. That involved creating flower beds, picking flowers/plants, and planting!

2013-04-27 starting the landscaping

Michael working on planting shrubs

It took a couple of months to get all the elements I wanted. We had pondered paying a landscape company to come in (and part of me regrets that we didn’t), but we chose to do it ourselves and I think it turned out pretty good! Once everything was done, it is a HUGE change from what we had before. We LOVE it.

2013-07-05 (3) backyard makeover complete!

2013-07-05 (2) backyard makeover complete!

2013-07-05 (4) backyard makeover complete!

2013-07-05 (10) backyard makeover complete!

This was inspired by a pin on Pinterest. The hubs built it and I painted it. I love the fun splash of color it adds!

This was inspired by a pin on Pinterest. The hubs built it and I painted it. I love the fun splash of color it adds!

Coasters I made from Shiner bottle caps

Coasters I made from Shiner bottle caps

My friend Janie made this sign for me. Go check out her Etsy shop- More than Frills.

My friend Janie made this sign for me. Go check out her Etsy shop- More than Frills.

2013-07-05 (8) backyard makeover complete!

2013-07-05 (7) backyard makeover complete!Love our stepping stones 🙂  (Though, it’s been a year and the tiles/stones are coming out of them… sad day)

So, thanks for coming on this (a year late) tour of our backyard!! We LOVE it and it shows that it’s possible to do a really great backyard makeover on a little budget!

 

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DIY Tray

Recently I made two somewhat small changes in our living room, but that I think made a big difference in how the room feels. One was that I re-did our gallery wall. I’ll be blogging about that next week because it’s not quite done. Today I wanted to write about a tray I made for the coffee table and how I re-organized the table.

I was pretty neutral about our table and living room space, until I ran across this pin on Pinterest:

fccc3bd1af51261f4c556cc7fad6b790I LOVE everything about this living area. So cozy, comforting, and welcoming. I don’t think ours will ever look like this, simply because of color scheme differences and because I HATE  the un-functionality and cluttered look of throw pillows. But, I used it as a template for changing the look of my coffee table.

I decided to do a DIY tray. I went to Hobby Lobby without a firm idea and came out with supplies to stain some planks and make a hardwood floor looking tray bottom.

IMG_5600I bought an unfinished tray, several packages of small planks, stain, paint, and a varnish. I am in love with this paint color and this stain and have used them on some other projects.

IMG_5603Americana Sea Glass acrylic paint and Americana Walnut gel stain. A-mazing.

I sanded and painted the tray, then it was time to do the planks. I placed them in the tray to see how they would fit and I ended up having to cut some down to size. Then I stained them.

Some of the planks before staining

Some of the planks before staining

I did two coats of stain to make them darker.

After one coat, waiting to dry so the second coat can be applied.

Drying after one coat, waiting to dry so the second coat can be applied.

Once the planks were stained and dried I put a coat of varnish on them and then glued them onto the tray using wood glue. The next day I varnished the entire tray and called it done! I am so happy with how it turned out.

2014-03-31 (18) coffee table redo

2014-03-31 (7) coffee table redo

So, since I had a new tray, I needed to add other new things to my coffee table! This is how our coffee table has looked for two years:

2014-03-31 (1) coffee table redo

Definitely not bad, but not exciting. Years ago I bought that spinning remote holder and painted it. It has served us well, but it has a college-y feel. It’s time for it to go. It was also time for the tractor magazines to not be front and center.

I chose four things to put on the tray:

  • The teal candle shown above. I was given it a couple years ago and I love it so much! I’ve only burned it a few times because I can’t bear to see it go away.
  • Coasters
  • The remote control
  • I purchased a mason jar and a burlap flower to put it in

The table felt very empty with just the tray, so I searched on Etsy and found a fabulous runner that coordinates so well with my gallery wall (you’ll see it next week!). I purchased it from The Littlest Bean Boutique. She was wonderful and custom made a length for me.

2014-03-31 (15) coffee table redo

2014-03-31 (17) coffee table redoI love the feel it gives the room and it makes me smile so much. Just so different than what we had before. Much cleaner and not as clutter-y. (And no worries. all those tractor magazines are still there, just not on the top of the table anymore).

Tray

 

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Bathroom Closet Redo

In our master bathroom we have a large linen closet. I’m very grateful for it because it holds a lot, things that we wouldn’t have any other place for. (Though, sometimes I wish we had a shower stall instead of the closet, but I guess a closet is better…. I think). The only problem with this massive closet is that the original shelves were very deep. Things got lost in the back. There was a lot of shelf space, but because of the design it felt like there wasn’t.

(*Disclaimer* It’s VERY difficult to get good pics of this closet.  The lighting is always bad and there’s not a lot of room to get a good angle. So… excuse the bad pics!)

Before...

Before…

So much randomness lost in the deep shelves

So much randomness lost in the deep shelves

My husband was actually the one who first thought about taking out the existing shelves and building some new ones. It’s times like this that I’m very thankful that he knows how to do carpentry stuff and can get cheap lumber from his job at a lumber yard!

The first step was to take everything out of the closet and find other places for it! That was the hardest part (for me at least!). Then we measured and decided on the width and design of the new shelves. He built the shelves and painted them (I helped on that part!). He took out the existing shelves and braces, then painted the closet. Then finally it was time to install the new shelves! (I’m sure there was a lot more to the process, but I tried to stay out of it. Apparently nagging isn’t very helpful….)

Working hard!

Working hard!

I am SO happy with how they turned out. It’s really the same amount of shelf space, but the different design makes it so much easier to organize things better.

2014-03-06 (1) bathroom closet done

Then came the fun part- organizing everything! We already had some baskets so I continued to use those for medicines, then I used our Christmas card boxes for other storage (yes, we had saved them hoping they would come in handy for something like this!). I love how it came together. Everything is much more accessible. And we have extra space!DSC02370

 

 

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Christmastime is here!

I cannot believe Christmas is in three days! I usually really don’t like when people say that. I mean, it’s been coming all year, it didn’t just appear. But this year has felt different, maybe because Thanksgiving was later, or because stores seem to be putting up Christmas stuff earlier. And now here at the last minute we’re all distracted by Duck Dynasty rather than the beautiful season of Christ’s birth.

I really love Christmas. The best part of Christmas is what it’s really all about- the birth of Jesus and Him coming into the world in love to save us. But I also enjoy the lights, decorations, shopping, music, and baking! All make it such an exciting time of the year.

One of my favorite parts of the Christmas season is decorating the house, inside and out. I don’t really have a theme to my decorations as some people do, I just find things I like and hope it all works together. If I had to come up with a theme name, it would be “Hobby Lobby” because almost every decoration is from there. LOVE me some Hob Lob.

So come along on a tour of our house decorated for the Christmas season!

IMG_4392We bought our tree back in 2010, our first married Christmas. We bought most of the ornaments then too, but have collected more along the way. Some of the ornaments are from decorations used at our wedding, and some were decorations at my in-law’s 40th anniversary party last year. There are lots of penguins (I love penguins!) and lots of tractors  (my hubby loves tractors!). We even have some tractor lights.

IMG_4223I love the garland on the mantle. It works so perfectly with the tree and fireplace. It all comes together like such a perfect Christmas picture.

IMG_4330Most of my life I have hoped to someday have a full Christmas village. We don’t have a great place for it, but one day this season I was at Walmart and came across the village pieces and just decided to buy some and hope I would find a good place! So my village is small, but hopefully will grow each year! So far there is a Bakery, Tree Farm, Horse & Carriage, carolers, people making s’mores, a dog house, and a few trees. I love it so much!!!

IMG_4319I want Jesus and our Nativity to be the focal point of our Christmas decor, so I decided to put it on our entryway table. I bought that table runner at Hobby Lobby just to add a little, and that is a red snowflake Scentsy with Festival of Trees scent in it- my favorite at Christmas!

IMG_4356My mom gave me this chalkboard a while back, and while she was at my house over Thanksgiving she wrote this. It’s so perfect! It makes me happy each time I see it and adds some festiveness to our kitchen.

IMG_4318 DSC02245We have red and white lights outside- not LED. I haven’t felt like making that upgrade yet… I just don’t like the look of the LEDs. I love my little tree by the front door. Seeing my house lit up at night makes me happy each evening. I’ve noticed not many people put up Christmas lights this year. So sad! But we have us a few others on our street so that’s nice.

Thanks for coming along and checking out our decor!

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M&M Chocolate Oat Bars

I saw this dessert on Pinterest and was so excited to make it. It’s basically oatmeal cookies with fudge in between, topped with M&Ms. It seemed sort of like a fall dessert, though as the recipe points out, you can just change the M&M’s out to make it themed for any holiday and time of the year!

IMG_3889

M&M Chocolate Oat BarsLil’ Luna

  • 1 1/2 cups oats
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 bag milk chocolate chips
  • 2 TBSP butter, softened
  • 1 cup M&Ms (For the fall version, I bought a “large” size bag and picked out the red, yellow, orange, and brown. Then you get to eat the rest!)
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a large bowl, mix oats, flour, brown sugar, salt and 1 cup softened butter with a spoon. Remove 1 cup and set aside.
  3. Press remaining mixture into the bottom of a greased 9×13 pan.
  4. In a small pot, melt condensed milk, chocolate chips and 2 tablespoons of butter over low-medium heat. Stir constantly until chips are melted and all is mixed well.
  5. Pour chocolate chip mixture over the bottom layer and spread evenly. Sprinkle leftover cup of oat mixture over the chocolate.
  6. Top with M&Ms and bake for 20-25 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting, if you can! (I couldn’t wait!)

IMG_3888

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