One Room Challenge: Week 2 (operation bedroom)

Welcome to week 2 of the ORC!

If you’re not familiar, the (dare-I-say) infamous One Room Challenge is a design challenge that takes place twice a year. Featured designers and guest participants transform one room over the course of 6 weeks, documenting the progress every week up until the grand finale. Sound fun? Read on!

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If I’m comparing this week of the challenge to its predecessor from this spring, I would have to confess I am a LOT calmer this time around. Maybe the trick was just choosing a smaller space to makeover with less work to do? I haven’t made a lot of visible progress this week but I am in the thick of the non-glamorous part - The Great Bedroom Purge of 2018.

Most of Tuesday’s after-work hours were spent taking all of my clothes out of my dresser and closet and sorting them very thoroughly. Even though I am not a true minimalist, Brandon and I have made an effort to live more simply and, as I like to call it, “with more breathing room.” Clutter and excess stuff with no designated spot is something that irritates the both of us. I’m lucky, I suppose, that we share this! Imagine how annoying we both would be if our partner was a hoarder. People with moderate OCD, unite! All that to say: I didn’t think I was hoarding that many clothes. This made me nervous, as my plan for the room depends on paring down our clothing enough so that it all fits into one shared closet and dresser. My dresser drawers are always bursting at the seams, and if there’s not much to get rid of, is this really possible?

Spoiler alert: it’s possible. They key for me is to wait until I am in a very critical mood, or when I am really excited for the task. Or when I have a deadline that the internet is holding me accountable to. That makes sorting through things so much more enjoyable! I started Tuesday evening with the plan to pull everything out and only put back what

A) is appropriate for winter/fall (OK so it was almost 80* today but it is nearing the middle of October, so I have to act on faith that cooler weather will come or I might start to cry) and

B) I really loved.

That’s it. Simple criteria, right? Everything else would either be packed and stored away for the warmer months or taken to our local consignment or charity thrift shop. Storing off-season clothes is the reason we are able to fit two adults clothing in one dresser. Up until this week, both Brandon and I had been keeping all our clothing out and accessible all year round. When I was a kid, my mom used to rotate our clothing like this every fall and spring, but I haven’t done this since...well, since my mom took care of my clothes. I didn’t get 100% through all of my clothes because I stopped to watch the AMA’s, because, well pop culture is important. However I did make a big dent in this task, and now I know the whole one-dresser-for-two-people thing is totally possible!

But I’m not here to brag about a not-completed (yet) project. Let’s chat about the actual room design! This has been a bit of challenge for me, which is frustrating! Designing and decorating the room is literally the biggest and one of the only jobs to do here! So, to help with this designers block, I’ve reviewed the 3 mood boards I’ve made over the past year of living in this house. The feel and look I am going for in the bedroom is casual, masculine, simple, cozy, and neat. A lot of our current furniture is staying (dresser, nightstands, possibly the ceiling fan) which is why you see the same nightstands and dresser in all these pictures. Not an exact likeness, of course, but close enough for these purposes.

Option #1
The first picture you see below is a mood board I made several months ago. I keep coming back to it now because it seems so simple and clean. You guys have seen the way our bedroom looks now - simple and clean is very, very welcome! But while I like how this looks, in real life we will have lamps and books and coasters for my ever-present water cup. Am I still going to like this look, even with all the real life things added on? Or do I just like it because it’s not as busy as option #2?

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Option #2
Here’s an option I came up with last week. Definitely a different look, right? Brandon, my sweet wonderful husband who also has opinions about what our house looks like, is not sold on the idea of a metal bed frame like this. He says it looks like a hospital or prison bed, which, OK I see what you mean but come on! They don’t have to look like a creepy 1950’s hospital, right?

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Option #3
After considering an upholstered bed frame again (I had originally ruled this out because I thought they’d be too expensive), I came up with a mood board similar to what you see below. I am not positive, but I think this might be our winner winner chicken dinner.

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I already have a beautiful, antique gold mirror and painting that I cannot wait to hang above our dresser. Other than that, I am still wide open in the design field! Here’s a list of things I have to decide on or get in the next several weeks:

  • new rug (thinking jute or natural fiber, but oooohh some orientals are so pretty!)

  • bed frame (buy? I’ve actually seem some pretty affordable options. DIY? Is it really worth my time and money? Help!)

  • the perfect lamps

  • bamboo shades or Roman shades

And here’s a list of things I can’t obsessively search online but must get up off my toosh and DO:

  • finish sorting through my clothes

  • sort Brandon’s clothes

  • demo existing trim

  • paint door

  • paint closet doors or decide on curtain

  • install, patch, caulk, and paint new trim

Wish me all the luck!

ONE ROOM CHALLENGE: Week 1 (here we go again)

What’s up, blog! It has been a MINUTE. A minute full of family vacation and reunions and weddings and birthday parties and international travel, but a minute nonetheless. I’m so excited to be in a place where I feel like I can devote more time to my blog, and what better way to get back on the horse then a challenge with a 6-week deadline? That’s right, I am doing the One Room Challenge again! If you are not familiar, the ORC is an online whirlwind in which bloggers and instagrammers take one room to completely transform in six weeks, and of course document the whole thing. I first participated this past spring and you can see my final reveal post here.

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When I brought up the subject of doing the ORC again, Brandon gave me quite the look. As in, have you forgotten all the pain and stress we went though, night and day, just a few short months ago? Not being a mother, I am the least qualified person to make this comparison, but…I hear childbirth is similar. You either forget, or you love the finished product enough to do it again. Or so I’m told. But to be honest Brandon is a total sport and is more than willing to help me whip this room into shape.

An added challenge this time around will definitely be our budget. Now that’s not to say we weren’t thrifty during the last round, but we returned from a totally magical and wonderful and expensive trip to Ireland just this week. So I am personally challenging myself to do this as cheaply as possible.

The room I’ve chosen to make over might seem like an easy choice - not a kitchen, bathroom, no walls coming down. To be honest it’s pretty much just a revamp. But with 6 weeks and a starving artist type of budget, I think I will have my hands full. Let’s see our how our bedroom looks currently. If you’ve read this post, you’ve already seen the first photo. This was taken around Christmas time last year, when the room was a bit tidier. I’m putting my best foot forward here.

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I put approximately 0% effort into this room since moving into our house almost a year ago (!) which is a total shame. Our bedroom should be a relaxing, calming, and pretty space for us to enjoy. Honestly we do all our relaxing in the finished living room because this room just isn’t that pleasant. In an effort to right this wrong, let’s get into all the changes I’m hoping to make:

  • CURTAINS. For the love of donuts, get rid of the bed sheet tacked into your window frames! I am so ashamed that the privacy bed sheet is still in place after throwing it up there the first night we spent in this house. I am still unsure if I want to get woven bamboo blinds, or try to make Roman shades for the windows. The afternoon light shines so prettily in here and I want to be able to take advantage of that. And hey, maybe even be able to keep a plant or two alive in there!

  • BEDDING. While I sort of like our current duvet, I do not love it. In addition, I have come to the conclusion that white sheets, while sworn by by many bloggers on the internets, might not be for us. Not to be gross or nothin’ but YA’LL. I need something with a little pattern to be a little more forgiving of dirt, yellowing, and brownie crumbs.

  • DRESSERS/FURNITURE. All of our bedroom furniture was purchased either right before or right after we got married three years ago. They weren’t impulse buys, but they were necessity buys. Meaning we needed something so we bought the first good option that came along. Now I don’t think we’re going to be spending the money to replace a lot of furniture, so I am going to try and see what changing the knobs does for the looks of the dressers and night stands. I also would like to get a new rug and lamps, so hopefully the people of Facebook Marketplace want to buy mine!

  • TRIM. As with every other room in our house, we’re replacing the current cheap-o trim. This isn’t a necessarily hard task, but its one I need help with and does take time.

  • CEILING FAN. I am team She Cute but I think most others who see our room would be team Take It Down. Maybe it’s just because I’ve gotten used to it or maybe it actually can be cute!

  • ORGANIZING/PURGING. All you have to do is look at the photo of the closet (woof!) to know what I mean. I’d love to get rid of the tall dresser and store our clothes in just the short wide one, but that will require some serious cleaning out.

  • GENERAL DECOR/EVERYTHING. Self explanatory (she says as she elaborates on this point) but as I said before, I put no effort into making this room nice. It is time for nice up in here. Art and frames on the wall, a vase, a nice throw pillow or two. You know, NICE.

Well that’s not even a proper to do list, but it’s a start! Even though I know how much hard work this challenge requires, I am so excited to get started. Part of the reason I chose our bedroom to use for this was because I truly, finally have a vision for this room. I have so many ideas, and finally an excuse to execute them. Wish me luck.

10x10 Recap

I am the sucker that falls for every challenge that comes along, but this is one I'm really glad I did! The #Summer10x10 is officially done! I shared more about it in this post, but my attraction to the 10x10 (created by Lee) is the idea of re-imagining what you already have. I am not looking for a whole new wardrobe, but rather to learn contentment and get new ideas for how to wear the clothes I already have. So, wanna see how I wore 10 articles of clothing over 10 days to make 10 different outfits? Just keep swimming. And I'm not even going to apologize for the awkwardness of these photos. At this point, I'm just glad I got pictures of each outfit. Thanks self timer!

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Day 1: Saturday
- Song of the day: "I Got A Car" - George Strait
- You've seen this outfit before here, but this was my first official 10x10 outfit. Loved wearing this, loved how I felt it this, and that's a great feeling to have. Also, can this be every Saturday night? Dinner and coffee in the city? Great!
 

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Day 2: Sunday
- Song of the day: "New Wine" - Hillsong
- Sunday was pretty busy for me. Church, then home for a little bit, then preparing some food to take to our 5-year class reunion at a park. The most cliche line of class reunions? "How can it be 5 years already?" But in all honesty, how can it? So glad and so blessed that my high school friends have turned into some of my best friends. Oh, and into my husband as well. That's a big one.
 

Day 3: Monday
- Song of the day: "Sky Full of Song" - Florence and the Machine. When you have an album on a continuous loop, you know it's a good one. I CANNOT say enough good things about Florence, and particularly the new album High As Hope. I think it's my soul music.
- Monday actually gives you two looks - a 10x10 bonus! The left side is my outfit as I wore it for most of the day at work. I was really pleased with this look, as I felt pulled-together but still cute. But it felt too dressy and too uncomfortable for Brandon's softball game that evening. I really wanted to change, but made myself at least stay within the 10 pieces of the challenge. I'm actually glad I stuck to it because I really like the casual outfit as well! All it took was un-tucking the shirt, changing into sneakers, and taking my hair down and braiding it. 

 

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Day 4: Tuesday
- Song of the day: "I Said Hi" - Amy Shark. In need of a good little bop? Look no further.
- Tuesday was pretty chill. This was almost my work outfit, as I switched out this skirt for another one that was a bit longer and more appropriate. We didn't have big plans in the evening, so in a way it's a wasted outfit. But at least I looked cute for cooking dinner! 
 

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Day 5: Thursday
- Song of the day: "Don't Let it Get You Down" - Johnnyswim. Everything about this song is perfect. 
- Yes, I took a break on Wednesday. I figured 10 total days are the goal, not 10 consecutive. But Thursday was just another day, another work outfit. This one felt cool and cute. Nothing special or interesting (aside from parting my hair differently, yes I have a license to walk on the wild side) but still a passing grade in my book. 

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Day 6: Friday
- Song of the day: "Silhouettes" - Colony House
- This outfit was one I've been wanting to try, the whole dress-as-as-shirt thing. I really like this gray t-shirt dress, but I haven't worn it as often as I thought I would. I think this is due to the dress not fitting quite right on me. Since it's a little big in places, I don't feel pulled together when I wear it but rather messy. So tucking it into my skirt gave it a better shape. This outfit felt good and actually flattering!
 

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Day 7: Saturday
- Song of the day: "Pretty Shining People" - George Ezra. Although if we're being honest, the song of the day should be "The Night Circus" book by Erin Morgenstern. I started this audio book on Saturday and listened to it all day long! I still haven't finished it yet, but I can't wait to road trip this weekend and get back into it. 
- This outfit was only worn for a few hours, as most of the day was spent painting and working on house projects. But Brandon and I went out to eat with his parents that evening, and this look was perfect. Or, it would have been perfect if my skirt had been a size larger. Pad Thai and sushi, oh my. You can get in my belly anytime darlings. 
 

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Day 8: Sunday
- Song of the day: "Till I Found You" - Phil Wickham
- Sunday was church, lunch with friends, and an family evening at my parent's house. A busy day, but I'm glad I got to finally fit this shirt into the 10x10. It actually is a flattering shirt to wear, and made me wonder why don't I wear it more often? Oh, and just in case anyone is wondering if I actually wore my jacket or just carried it around...I definitely carried it around. The air conditioning was broken at church so needless to say I wanted nothing to do with an extra layer. My heat tolerance is at about a 0 out of 10, so I'm just thankful we all survived. Count your blessings, kids.

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Day 9: Tuesday (my iced coffee is full of secrets and my kitten wants to be in every photo)
- Song of the day: "Waking Up Slow" - Gabrielle Aplin (the piano version...ugh, so good.)
- Yes, took another skip day on Monday. But on Tuesday I knew I was almost done, and got energized all over again! I knew I'd like this because of how much I loved my first 10x10 outfit which was just a variation of this. This felt cute enough for work or going out and reminded me how good a plain old ponytail can feel. 

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Day 10: Wednesday
Song of the day: "Follow Your Fire" - Kodaline
Aaaaand, we're done! Happy last day outfit. This honestly was not my favorite look, but they can't all be winners, right? 

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My goal for this #Summer10x10 was to find a new appreciation for my clothes. Sure, I'm always tempted to buy new things, try a new style, and that's all well and good. But lately, one thing I have been reminding myself of is, "sure, but this won't make you happy." 
I was having a rough morning this week, and told myself I could stop at Starbucks on the way to work. But immediately after the thought came to me: yeah, you can stop at Starbucks. Great. But a coffee won't make you happy and a coffee won't change your attitude. So simple, right? But it rings true and was so powerful for me. And if it's true for coffee, it's true for clothes, true for boyfriends, and true for anything, really. I want my attitude and my joy to be grounded and secure; not based on insignificant things like the newest shoes. I really do think this somewhat silly clothing challenge helped drive this point home for me. And for that reason alone, I'm glad I did it. But hey, I also learned that a dress can be a shirt and you can wear black sandals with literally anything! Cheers, ladies!

I'm Doing the 10x10 Challenge!

While I'm no strict minimalist by any means, I do love the mindsets of less is more and quality over quantity. You can blame it on moving, or just on growing up, but either way it's appealing. Combine my growing interest in paring down with my love of a good challenge (I'm looking at you, One Room Challenge and Whole30) and you've got yourself a perfect candidate for the #Summer10x10 Challenge! The general gist is pretty simple - using 10 pieces of clothing, create 10 different outfits, over a 10-day period. 

You can click through to Lee's (the OG creator of the 10x10!) or Caroline's (if you've heard of "capsule wardrobe" it's probably because of her) blog for more details and the heart behind the challenge. I am drawn to this precisely because it's so simple. Surely I can make 10 different outfits, right? 

Another reason I want to join in is because contentment is something I want to cultivate more of in my heart and in my life. It seems like a shallow place to start, but I trust that learning to be content in my wardrobe will be a stepping stone to being content in other areas. That's not to say I'm not buying any new clothes, in fact I have my eye on a certain black t-shirt dress right now, but I don't want to be controlled by my closet. Or by what fancy ladies on Instagram are wearing. You do you, and I will do me. Even if "doing me" is wearing years-old clothes.

I'll try to post daily on Instagram, and at the end of the 10 days I will write a big blog post with all my outfits and how I liked it! Oh, and another fun thing - every day gets an outfit and a Song of the Day. So with that, let's get into the goods! I tried to pick a variety of clothes, because even though my personal style is more casual, I wanted to have options to wear to work and to church. Although, I am allowing myself to make swaps as needed to make the outfits more work-friendly. Here are my clothing picks:

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Two pairs of shoes: white Converse sneaker. Old black sandals.
Three skirts: black pencil. Denim 90's style. Olive green button up.
One jacket: my beloved denim jacket from Gap.
One dress: Swing gray t-shirt dress
Three shirts: White cropped shirt with gold details and buttons. Black and white striped boxy shirt. Cream and gray speckled long shirt. 

I recently bought both the speckled shirt and the denim skirt, and while I am IN LOVE with the skirt, I haven't decided if I will keep or return the shirt. I love the look but I'm not sure I love how it fits me. If I do decide to return it, I will just swap that piece for another black and white striped shirt. Other than those two items, most of these clothes have been in my closet for over a year. 

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Today, Saturday, is my first official day of the challenge. My first outfit is the one I envisioned right away when I saw these clothes together - black boxy shirt, tucked into my new favorite skirt. I added the Converse sneakers because they felt a little more effortless-cool-girl than the sandals. I actually didn't wear this outfit much today (besides trying it on in the morning and snapping the picture you see below) because my Saturday was spent running, cleaning, and working on house projects. However, once all our work was done, Brandon and I decided to treat ourselves for being responsible homeowners by going out for supper in the city. We had mediocre food at an amazing location - Tellus360, which is the hippest rooftop spot I've ever been to. Also the only rooftop spot, but no matter. Anyway, I felt fun and confident in this outfit, which is such a good feeling. When I saw myself in the mirror, I reminded myself of a teenager who's very into the whole 90's trend. But because I loved each article of clothing on my body, I didn't feel like I was trying too hard. I just felt like myself. 

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Outfit rating: 10/10! Felt good and would wear again
Song of the day: "I Got A Car" by George Strait. Not even a favorite song or anything, just one my husband had on repeat all day as we worked around the house. So now it has happy memories attached to it.

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And here is my first outfit, out in the wild with a frozen coffee and a happy girl. See you all in 10 days! Wish me luck!
 

Introducing Josephine Sparkles Schlabach

As I started typing this post, the snarky side of me said, are you really going to do an entire blog post about a kitty? Once you go cat-lady there’s no going back!  But then the other, softer part of me gently picked up Side A, scratched her chin and stroked her soft little ears until she started purring. And that kind of made the decision for me. 

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Meet Josephine Sparkles Schlabach! Also known as Josie, Jose, Ki'y Cat, and Girlie-Girl. 

I have been an animal-lover my whole life, with a special fondness (OK obsession, whatevs) for horses. After I got married, I knew a horse wasn’t the most practical first pet so that dream is on the shelf for now. 
But don’t worry, I take it off and dust it every now and then. Someday we’ll have our little ranch with horses.
We always had a cat growing up, and I wanted one of my own so badly. This was only bolstered by my amazing brothers in law. Both of my sister's husbands got a kitten for their wives as a gift during their early years of marriage. I don’t like to say this too much, but I CAN’T EVEN WITH THAT CUTENESS.  

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I’ve been trying to convince Brandon we needed a kitten but he wasn’t too keen on the idea. He’s a dog guy through and through and he just “didn’t see the point” with a cat. Unfortunately for my campaign, our first house was rental with a no-pet policy. So when we moved last year I told Brandon IT’S ON! Then a few weeks ago, in a sure sign of God’s favor, my good friend group-chatted Brandon and I with a picture of the sweetest stripey kitten face you’ve ever seen. "I think you guys should have him!" OK, Krista, good call. I think so too!

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Our little kitten was one from her parent’s cat’s litter (say that ten times fast) and he was actually a she. We picked up our Josie-Cat almost two weeks ago, and it's safe to say she’s settling in just fine. She was curious, but not friendly when we first brought her home, but now she is as tame as can be and so naughty! My curtains have countless small snags, and the poor fern has been assaulted since day 1. I totally get the pet-parent thing now! I feel like I melt at the cuteness and could pull my hair out in frustration all at the same time.

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Even with little pieces of shredded fern everywhere (not to mention that the litter box is my responsibility and mine alone) I couldn’t be happier to be a cat lady. Welcome to the fam, Josephine and welcome to the blog, girlfriend!

Before House Tour

Last month I posted about finishing our living and dining room for the One Room Challenge. It would have made more sense to write this post before all that, but sometimes things happen and you want to start a blog a realize the ORC starts the next day and you stay up until midnight to launch this blog and so on and so far. But ANYWAY, here I am with the “before” house tour photos! I get really excited looking at these because it makes me feel like we’re actually making progress with this house. Not that she wasn’t great in these before pictures...but I knew she could be better. I hope everyone's OK with me talking about my house with the female pronoun. If not, sorry mates.

Below, I'll share both the listing photos and the photos I took before we moved in. We settled on the house in October and moved in on the last day of November. In those few weeks, we did a LOT of work. I call it the Preliminary Reno or Phase 1 or The Beginning of the End or something unnecessarily dramatic like that. Since moving in, the progress has been at a much slower pace than the frantic, all-hands-on-deck attitude we had after settlement. It’s much more manageable now, though. I feel like a person who owns a home, instead of a person who is consumed with a home.

So let's start first with the layout of our house. It's a basic builder-grade rancher and I'm sure there are thousands like it, but I always love seeing how rooms flow together. It makes more sense, at least in my mind, to see how rooms relate to each other when I see the finished product.

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Here is the first room you see when you walk into the house - the combined living and dining room. You can see how it looks now here, but here is how she looked when we first toured the house:

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And here's how she looked after we officially got the keys. Can you believe all that furniture used to fit in here?

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And finally, here's how she looked right before we moved in. SO FRESH SO CLEAN. 

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The three main projects we tackled before moving in were redoing most of the flooring, painting almost EVERYTHING, and removing a half wall that divided the kitchen and dining room. In the picture below you can see the cabinets and half wall. It made the opening to the kitchen just a little bigger than a doorway! I am no Joanna Gaines (HA as if) and I don't always think no walls = better walls, but in this case I think it was for the best. I can only imagine how tight it would feel had we not taken this out.

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This picture isn't from the same angle, but you get the general drift.

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As you can see, there was carpet in this room, and this continued down the hallway and into one of the bedrooms. We pulled up the carpet in the bedroom and were pleased to see hardwood, but to our (unpleasant) surprise, there was none underneath the hallway and living room carpet. Since the carpet was in pretty rough shape, our two options were to either A) replace the carpet or B) rip out the carpet, lay new hardwood where it lacked, and sand and re-stain the two bedrooms to match the new floors. It felt like a big decision, but we decided to go with what we really wanted - hardwoods forever! Brandon hired his friend to do the job and even though it was a whopper of a process, we are so glad we did this. Zero regrets.

The room below is the first and smallest of the bedrooms off the hallway. We are using it as an office now, but here is how it was...

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Everything changed in this room. Drop ceiling, flourescent light, wall paneling & vinyl baseboards, and those very Reese's-style cabinets. Don't worry, we saved the cabinets. This very grainy photo below shows how the room looked with freshly patched and painted walls refinished floors. Since then, we've swapped out the light for a cute circular flush mount and add some of our old furniture. It's due for a little attention but all in good time!

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The middle and biggest room is what we call out master bedroom, but is it a master if there's no attached bathroom? Either way, it's somewhat cozy but not super cute. I want to start this room next! Can you imagine how nice it would be to have a bedroom you love and feel relaxed in?? I can and it's pretty amazing in my head.

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Here's from a slightly different angle. Instead of standing in the doorway looking in, in this picture I'm standing in the room looking to the doorway.

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And here she is before moving in. Like in the office (and every other room, actually) the trim still needs replaced. But the floors are finished and the walls are painted!

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Bonus picture: here is what the bedroom looks like now, or very close to it. This picture was taken around Christmas time, and not much has changed since then. Except there might be more clothes piled on the floor. Face-palm.

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The third and final bedroom will eventually be a guest room or maybe a nursery! Depending what comes first - overnight guests or a baby. Even chances if you ask me. 

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YUP. It really was that green! Believe it or not, we painted it green again. But this time it's a nice light gray-green. This picture shows how it looks on move-in day and how it still looks today. Again, blinds and trim and maybe replacing the ceiling fan are still on the ol' to do list.

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The end of the hallway brings us to the bathroom. Now, let me just say it feels really weird for me to put pictures of my bathroom on the internet. Let's move quickly, shall we?

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We have a LOT going on here. Sea foam green sink, toilet, and tub, giant medicine cabinet, and tiled counter top. So far we have replaced the toilet and painted the baby blue walls. This is a room we would love to gut and re-do completely, but we're not sure when or how much reno we will do here. For now, it's decent.

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This picture isn't up to date, as the toilet is still lil' greeny, but you can use your imagination for that one.

And finally, the last stop on our house tour train ride is the kitchen. This space is a little tricky for me. We really haven’t done that much to it, but simply removing the top cabinet and moving the bottom cabinet made quite a difference! I now use this bottom cabinet pushed into the corner as an island, which is much welcomed for the storage and counter space. When we first viewed the house, we immediately started talking about our dreams of re-doing the kitchen entirely. I would love to replace the oven and cook top with one range unit, replace the counter tops, and upgrade the fridge, just to name a few. Because of that, we didn’t do anything to the kitchen before moving it, not even paint! We thought it would make sense to hold off on eveyrhing until we had a plan for renovation. Now that we’ve lived here for 6 months or so though, it is clear to us just how big of a project this might be! Eventually we will have to do someting here, whether it’s a small update (paint, adding shelves, painting cabinets?) or a total renovation. Time (and cash monies) will tell.

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The kitchen looks very similar today, if maybe a bit more organized. Go me. 

The final picture I will leave you with is one we took the night of settlement. Two slightly nervous (or in my case, terrified) 22 year old homeowners. We were so excited going to settlement, but after it was all over and we walked around an empty house - our empty house - we slowly felt more and more mellow and subdued. We were realizing just how much work we had to do, and what a ride we were in for. I remember feeling scared! What did we just do?

But now, not a day goes by that I don't thank God for the blessing that our home is. It is not perfect, it's not even 20% finished! But it is ours, and it is a place to relax, refresh, and a place to open to others. That's the bottom line, ya'll. We just wanna fix up our home, and have people over for dinner. What a good, good life. 

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Marathon Recap & My Running Story

A little over two years ago, I was the girl who didn't run. I considered a good workout to be one of those "under 30 minutes to tone your ____ insert body part here" YouTube videos, maybe done 2-3 times a week, on a good week. I didn't really enjoy working out and I certainly never went on a run. Fast forward to one month ago today, and I have completed my first marathon. (!!!) I'm so proud to say that I am now a runner, for better or for worse. 

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So how does a lazy girl run a marathon? With a sister, how else?!

In early 2016 my older sister Michelle and her husband Lance had been in the international adoption process for several months. When she told me she was running the local Garden Spot Village Marathon and Half Marathon as a way to raise funds, I think I cried. Shocking, I know. I know this is just what mothers do, but there is just something so beautiful about a mother who will sweat and bleed and sacrifice for her still-unknown child. No shade to GoFundMe's, but running a marathon is the most special fundraiser I've ever heard of. 

So that is when I started running. I committed to running the half marathon with her, and started training the next day. At this point it was February, and the race was begining of April. Not impossible to get into running shape in about 6 weeks, but very close to it. I remember my very first training run SO clearly. My brother was staying with us for a week over this time, and I begged him to come along with me. I bundled up and we ran/walked 1.63 miles that afternoon. I was huffing like the Big Bad Wolf by the end but I was SO proud.  Over the next few weeks, My BFF Jess (who actually liked running, bless her) ran with me often. We would run together Saturday mornings, every week going about 2 miles farther than the week before. 

The day of the race was cold and, if you can believe it, snowing. In April. In Pennsylvania. THANKS LORD YEP I NEEDED A LITTLE MORE RESISTANCE. To be honest, it didn't faze me that much. I was so ready to do this thing. Jess even came to see us off, and we away we went! The first half was SO FUN. Even in the snow, spectators would cheer and make me smile every time. Highlights of the first half include an encouraging sign that said "If Trump can run than so can you!" Michelle and I ran for the first half of the half marathon, i.e. the first 7 miles or so. Then the courses split, and she informed me she was gonna pick up the pace now. Thanks, lady. The second half of the race was the true test for me. I turned on the music, put my head down, and got to work. Even though I had to run up the biggest hill in Lancaster county, and stopped for a few walking breaks, those last 6 miles were probably the most empowering miles of my life. I was doing this! Just me, myself, my soggy shoes, and the Good Lord. I've never felt a high quite like this running high, and that day was my first taste. I can't tell you how good it felt to slowly slog in the final stretch. My oldest sister Tonya was crying, Brandon was videoing, my besties Jess and Vcitoria (and Vic's husband Cam) were all there cheering. You guys! It doesn't get much better than that! Except the hot oatmeal in the runner's tent. And gettting my medal. And wathcing my sister cross the finish line a little while later. 

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I recently listened to a podcast all about succeeding by not giving yourself a way out, and I struck me that that is exactly what I did here. The hosts called this mentality "burning your boats" -- if you want to take the island, you have to burn the boats, and make that your only option. Because when you're only option is to succeed or to die, most people are gonna find a way to succeed. And you guys, I did that! For maybe the first time in my life, I committed to something without giving myself the option of backing out. I don't like to say I was a quitter, but it's true. I didn't like hard things. I didn't like to push myself. I think that is part of the reason why I was (and still am) so indecisive, but that's a soul issue for another time. Looking back, those weeks of training changed me in so many ways. God used something as ordinary as putting one foot in front of the other to mold me and change me. And it didn't stop there.

Remember BFF Jess? Well she finally decided that if she was going to run the long training runs with me, she may as well get a medal out of it. Atta girl! We signed up for another local run that fall. I thought it would be better weather in September, but oh I was wrong again! The Bird-in-Hand Half Marathon was 90* and humid and it felt like the hottest day of my life. But we did it together! I tell ya what, if you ever want to be better friends with someone, just run 13.1 miles with them. We finished and we were so proud. 

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As a Christmas gift that year, one of my friends gifted me Shauna Niequist's book "Present Over Perfect" and I dove into it. I told Victoria later that this book is super casually just changing my life. It is filled with truth so raw that when you read it, you say, oh yes, there you've been. That's exactly right. I guess a good book will do that to you. The rest of the book aside, in one chapter Shauna writes about how she signed up for and ran a full marathon, after being a non-runner like me. It challenged me and inspired me at the same time, and I started researching cool marathons in the area. It was early spring of 2017 when I first learned about the Coastal Delaware Running Festival, and I was sold. Running on the boardwalk? A course that takes you through the beach town I've been going to my whole life? Free pizza?! Where do I sign! Unfortunately it was too late to sign up in 2017, so I kept this little dream in my heart for a while and signed up for 2018. I had been talking to Sister Michelle about this the whole time and convinced her to sign up too. Sisters who run together, stay together. I started training in earnest around Christmas time. Honestly, because of running, the first part of this year feels like a blur. Let's just say that working full time and logging miles every week and small group and making supper and moving and renovating a house all serve to make one a busy girl. I made it, though. Thank God and thanks, Brandon, for picking up my slack! Somehow, winter was over and April was almost here.

Two weeks before the marathon (the weekend after my birthday!) I got sick and was knocked out the whole weekend. I was planning to do my longest training run, 21 miles, that Saturday. When I woke up Saturday morning I knew there was no way I could do that. I was so discouraged and I let this set back really mess with me. I panicked and Googled how far do you have to run before running a marathon and the results were actually not terrifying! One site said that the distance of your run doesn't matter so much, as long as you are consistently training, and that the actual time on your feet is what benefits you during those longest runs. At that point I already had a few 3+ hours runs under my belt, so I tried to make the best of it. Those last two weeks before the marathon were a real turning point for me. Since I never got in my confidence-boosting 20-miler, I started concentrating and training my mind with as much attention as I had given my body. The Boston marathon was a week before mine, and this year the conditions were absolutely horrible! I'm talking monsoon weather the entire day. I stalked runner's instagrams and cried reading their lengthy captions. One account in particular (MotherRunnerMel) shared her positive attitude in a really inspiring way, saying stuff like you can't control the weather but you can control your attitude. I decided that this was my one and only 1st marathon, and I was going to enjoy this thing. 

The morning of the marathon was an early one. It was cool but the forecast was calling for sun and 60 degree temps. My dad and Brandon drove Michelle and I to the boardwalk, we waited in a rediculously long bathroom line, and then it was show time. 

The first miles were FUN. We started in the back of the corrals, so it felt pretty good to be able to start out passing a bunch of people. There were a ton of spectators lining the boardwalk, lots of homemade signs and the energy was so HIGH! I was smiling as we started and I don't think I stopped smiling the whole time. We ran through the streets of Rehoboth Beach to Cape Henlopen State Park. We ran on trails and paved paths until we got to the park's campground. We ran right past the campsite we camped at the year before! We were in the middle of the campground when Mile 9 happened. Up until this point, we both felt great. I was having so much fun and we were making good time (for me, this was around 10 minute miles) when Michelle's knee threw a fit. During the weeks leading up to the race, she had been having a lot of trouble with it twinging and giving her pain. She tried a new brace a week or two prior and we hoped this would be the ticket. And it was, until Mile 9. We walked it out for a while, and a sweet angel who was running in front of us gave Michelle some Advil. We started running again, with a revised goal: let's just finish. 

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Soon enough we were out of the woods (literally, the course finally left the campground) and we ran again. The miles from 13-15 were fun ones. We stopped every so often to stretch out Michelle's knee, but we made it to the turn around point, and to the best water stop. The volunteers called us each by name (thanks to our bibs) and that felt so amazing. Also this water stop had M&M's and I didn't know I needed those until I had them! Mile 17 brought us to the beautiful and charming town of Lewes, and if I had to pinpoint a place where things got tough, this would be it. This was around the time I asked Michelle to tell me her birth story of giving birth to Luca just to give my mind another pain to concentrate on. We kept pushing though, and made it to mile 20. I smiled big at Michelle and said, this is it! This is officially the farthest I've ever run! Soon after, we ran through the most beautiful neighborhood I have ever seen. I'm not sure if it was the mileage taking it's toll or the incredible houses, but we ran slow and admired. Right after that, we ran through the last bit of trails before the end! Running down the main street of Rehoboth was amazing. Fellow runners, people driving & honking, even police men standing by the route, I loved them all. We took a few more stretching and walking breaks, but we were determined to finish strong. We came up on the boardwalk and I felt like I couldn't breath. I was crying, but that didn't last long because have you tried to run and cry at the same time? It's hard! Our whole family was lined up on the boardwalk, cheering and waving and waiting for us. I can remember that feeling so clearly, and honestly I don't know how you can be happier than that right now. We crossed the finish line together, two sisters, in 5 hours 21 minutes. Michelle's longest marathon yet but a PR for me! Also an OR (only record). 

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When I started running two years ago for that fundraiser race, I never expected to keep at it. I certainly never expected to enjoy it and one day run a marathon. But life is funny and God has a sense of humor, this I firmly believe. Running has turned into medicine and dessert, all in one. I am so thankful to have this - hobby? passion? relief? in my life. Maybe one day that will evolve and change into something else, but for now, it's here. And I'm runnning. 

One Room Challenge: Week 6 The Big Reveal!

I can't believe I'm saying this, but you guys, I MADE IT! Happy ORC reveal day, one and all! The past six weeks have been a blur as the hundreds of guest participants and myself all worked like crazy to finish one room of their choosing, from start to finish. The featured designers revealed their rooms yesterday and, WOW. Clicking through all the before and afters made me even more excited to share my own. So, I will let the photos take it away and chat more down below!

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Before

After

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Oh dining room. I think I love you now! We had my late grandmother's table and the curtain rod when we started, but so much has happened since then! We added all the trim and window casings, replaced the chandelier, hemmed the curtains, painted the chairs, and then added a little bling. I'm a simple, sentimental girl, and no where is that more true than in my decorating. The antique gold mirror is something I bought for our wedding reception and I love it just as much today as I did almost three years ago! The wilting tulips are from sweet Anna from church, who had a trunk full of flowers and told me to help myself. Will do, Anna, will do. <3 The fern in the corner is something I bought a few weeks ago for some much-needed life and greenery. My mother has the MOST amazing green thumb, and she still has a fern that someone gave her for a wedding present...OVER THIRTY YEARS AGO. Goals, mom. Please stay with me even an 1/16th of that time, little fern. 

Now, onto the living room! This combined space is not large, so the living and dining room really run together. Just for reference - the front door opens up right into the living room. The wall with the long couch is on your right and the wall the divides the kitchen is right in front of you. If you walk in and make your self at home, you go between the new TV stand and the love seat to get to the dining room, which in turn is open to the kitchen. Make sense? Here, take a look.

Before

After

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In here, phew, what didn't we do? First up is trim - duh. I really cannot believe how much of a difference it makes. We hung a curtain rod and curatins, got rid of the old wrap around curtains, made and hung art, and calmed down with all the all the throw pillows on the couch! Trust me, it was excessive. One of the biggest accomplishments was getting a real piece of furniture to hold our TV instead of two dining room chairs. College frat house, no more!

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So far our little set up has been working great! The round basket on the top shelf holds allll the remotes. Seriously, why does one TV require 4 remotes? The bottom shelf holds the books we read and use everyday like my bible, and my current novel from the library. The bottom baskets are actually mostly empty right now! That doesn't bother me a bit, though. I'm sure we'll fill them up soon enough, with either DVDs or toys for the nieces and nephews or more blankets or maybe snacks or... you see. :)

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Woof. I am tired but also so, so happy with our space! It was not without it's hiccups, and to be honest I am still grappling with the thought is it worth it when thinking of the canceled plans and late night bickering. But it truly feels AMAZING to be able to cross a huge thing off our list with one big, 6-week stroke! So, that's my one room challenge. It's not the most dramatic transformation - not the worst before, not the best after. But it's ours and I feel so happy and peaceful here at home. And THAT is definitely worth it.

OH! And here's the deets if you are interested:

Wall color - Bruton White by Benjamin Moore
Curtains - IKEA VIVAN
TV Stand - IKEA BESTÅ
Rug - Rugs USA
C
handelier - Lowe's
Print in floating frame - Etsy

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One Room Challenge: Week 5 & feelin' alive

Unsolicited pro tip: if you want time to go even faster than it already does, sign yourself up for a 6-week challenge. If this is the shortest update post ever, know it is because I gots things to do!

The One Room Challenge is a blogging challenge hosted twice a year in which the participants make over one room entirely in 6 weeks. Next week is the big reveal, which I’m so excited about! But also, send all the prayers.

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We got so much done this week which feels amazing! But for some reason my to-do list is growing instead of shrinking. Let’s recap the progress so I feel better about myself, ‘kay?

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Curtains:

Hemmed and (mostly) hung! Check. A big thank you to my mom for measuring and hemming and ironing the curtains. She came over to deliver the dining room curtains and they look beautiful. She just texted me yesterday to say the living room curtains are finished, so now we can do what I've been dying to do since we moved in - take down that yucky green curtain on a track. 

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Doors:

Painted and (mostly) hung! The door to the garage was finished on Saturday and looks so nice with the new trim. *heart eyes* The closet doors are finished and one is still drying in the basement. Last night Brandon hung the finished and dried door, so our view doesn't look exactly like this anymore!

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Trim:

Almost completely installed! Saturday was a glorious day of work here, and most of Brandon’s family came over to help! Along with his dad and brother in law, Brandon was able to install almost all of the baseboard and most of the door casings. Brandon’s sister, mom and I spent some of the day painting the trim. Like I mentioned last week, we bought primed trim and are painting before we install. As of last night, we just need to install trim along the wall that divides the kitchen and living room. And of course, patch and caulk and paint. I am praying this doesn’t take too long!

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Chairs:

I finally got up the courage to paint our dining room chairs! So far I have one completely finished. Only 4 to go! Yes, we only have a set of 5 chairs. I guess that's what happens when you buy them at a yard sale. But oh well, without the extender leaves in our table, it only seats 4 comfortably anyway. We'll probably keep the 5th chair in the office for now, and pull it out for extra seating as needed.

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This week, I also started getting together our accessories and finishing touches. I practiced styling the shelf, make a Home Goods run, and finally brought our pretty antique mirror up from the basement. I can’t wait to see it all together! A quick side note, though: I am no longer in love with this shelf idea. I am proud of Brandon and I for whipping this up, but I don’t think the stained wood fit in with my slightly traditional, slightly modern, slightly clean and minimal vision. Would a plain white shelf be better? Should I go back to a big picture frame? Ugh.

Besides stewing about that little conundrum, here’s what we need to finish for next Thursday, deep breaths, deep breaths everyone:

- get and assemble TV stand (Brandon and I have a date to IKEA tomorrow night!)
- install final peice of trim
- patch, caulk, paint trim
- hang 2nd closet door
- get prints for frames
- decide on shelf vs. picture??
- get rug for entry
- style and photograph
- finish library book (you absolutely CANNOT renew that one more time!)

So, there’s the scoop. See you next week and wish me luck!

One Room Challenge: Week 4. Wait, already?!

I don’t want to jinx myself here, but I feel like we might, maybe, just be hitting our stride with the One Room Challenge! And good thing too. At week 4, we only have one more week of progress and then it’s reveal week!
Yay!
And that’s not a sarcastic yay, by the way. I really think we’re gonna make it and that feels good!

Just for a refresher - the One Room Challenge is a blogging challenge where 20 featured designers make over a room in 6 weeks. Guest participants are invited, too! That’s me!

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I can’t believe it’s time again for another update. What with being out of town this weekend, and plans in the evenings, this week has flown by. Let’s get into to the progress we’ve made this week, and what I hope to accomplish in the next couple of days. Oh - and here's my formal apology for the quality of pictures in this post! Sometimes you don't have your camera and your iPhone just doesn't cut it. #liveandlearn

Curtains

As I mentioned last week, my angel of a mother hemmed our dining room curtains for me! Thanks, Ma. <3
Brandon hung our living room curtain rod last night, so tonight I am hoping to pin up these curtains and then drop them off for the same treatment. You guys, if you can learn anything from me, learn this: we need our moms.

 Painting

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The Door - This door that leads to the garage had been sanded and painted months ago, before we moved in. I always knew it would need at least one more coat of paint, and that finally happened Tuesday night! I painted one coat then, but unfortunately it got too late and too dark to do a additional coat. I’m planning to finish this on Saturday.

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The Trim - Since the trim we purchased was primed, we opted to paint all our trim before making any cuts or installing. This way there will be minimal patching and touch up work after it's installed. Or that is the plan, anyway. I don’t know if this is the “normal” or suggested way to do things, but it makes sense on paper.  Fingers crossed doing it this way actually saves us time down the road! Brandon’s sister (another angel, btw) came over yesterday when we were at work and painted it all for us. WE HAVE THE BEST FAM, FAM!

GAME PLAN

This Saturday will be the first Saturday since starting the ORC that I will be home and free to work till my heart’s content!
(OK to be honest, I was home the first weekend in April. But I was sick and lying on the couch for almost three days straight. Needless to say no work was done that day - not even dishes!)
I have fun breakfast plans with my mom and sisters to celebrate my sister’s and my birthdays, but after that I’m all yours, house. Here’s what I hope to accomplish:

  • Final sanding/coat of paint on door to garage

  • Assemble/install shelf

  • Start installing trim!

  • Assemble TV stand (if we pick it up by then)

  • Start on painting closet doors

Closet doors, you may ask? Closet doors, I say. I haven't mentioned them, because they are not actually on the closet but rather sitting in our basement, waiting to be painted.
The main coat closet in our house is right inside the front door. When sitting on the couch, you get a pretty great view into the inside of the closet. Which, for the past 4 months, has looked something like this:

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NOT. GREAT. I didn’t officially include the closet doors as part of our ORC to do list because, quite honestly, I wasn’t sure if it feasible to get that done in addition to all our other work. But now that we’re finally checking some things off I think it’s time to make it happen. Here is the master list of everything left to do in this One Room Challenge:

  • Install/patch/touch up trim

  • Hang dining room curtains

  • Hem and hang living room curtains

  • Buy/assemble TV stand

  • Paint chairs

  • Buy small entry rug

  • Paint closet doors

  • Hang shelf

  • Style, decorate and photograph

I enjoy making lists and it’s much easier to stay motivated when I have my goals staring back at me. I’m not gonna lie though, this list makes me nervous! But I have high hopes for a good day of work on Saturday and I’m itching to get started. Plus! My marathon is over and I am taking rest week very seriously. Let’s put this old treadmill time to good use!

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