Sharpie Subway Tiles!

Well my little kitchen’s recent laundry reno still needs work and while working on finalizing it I wanted a quick feel-good update. That of course costs nothing 🙂

So I added subway tiles. How can that be free? Well you read the title – I sharpied them on. 🙂

I had some gold, bronze, and silver Sharpie pens leftover from a Christmas project I did last year, so I decided to use the silver to draw the grout of my tiles. I am not concerned about sharpie on the wall because I know rubbing alcohol removes Sharpie AND we own our home. We hope to actually tile over it before we sell it. So

Here’s my before kitchen – which really needed some work! Call me inspired by all the fabulous real bloggers who shared their real life homes on their blogs recently.

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Ok ok ok so that was honestly my kitchen before. then I cleaned it up and that was almost enough for a reveal in itself hehe.

I grabbed two Sharpies and a level.
Hmm I need to re-paint my nails.


Then I simply took the level to set straight, level and plumb lines, horizontally along the wall. I didn’t mind that I Sharpied the sides of my level as I worked. Soon, I had lines set. I just kept things simple and used the level as the spacer for the height of my tiles.


And yes, those are painted-over wall anchors from previous tenants. I am not sure what to do with them so I just left them and painted over them myself. They bother me in the picture but not in real life. 🙂

Once I had my lines, I just stood the level on its head to make “tiles” that were six inches wide, set off 3 inches from the row above.


Then I just worked across the wall. I decided to terminate the tiles where the upper cabinets ended above my stove. That makes it like a wall of tile over there. A Wall of Tile that Makes Me Smile. #poet #thatsterrible

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Yep, I still have lots to do in the kitchen. But as for the tiling – It’s subtle but it sure is nice. 🙂


And its a great backdrop for my chore-loving kiddos 🙂

What have you been up to? Any updates on your end that are affordable or free?



W & D: Together at last!

This is a love story about two lovers who never met, but knew, somewhere, out there, their soulmate was waiting for them… Alright, alright it’s really about a post of me moving my dryer into the kitchen. But may I say: the heavens aligned and I for one, am infatuated.

Here’s the lovely before:

And here’s the still-inn-progress, but oh-so-exciting after:

To the left of my washer is the hallway to the bedrooms. I measured once, twice, a million times and I knew that the little green-topped cabinet, if carefully removed, would fit between my fridge and that hallway – so we wouldn’t lose any of that storage. That’s important because my 1015 square foot house is not gifted with closets.

Before I show you how we did it and what it cost, let’s go over the thought process:

Plan A:Why didn’t you move the washer out of the kitchen and into the utility closet?
That was my original hope, so I talked to a contractor friend, who quickly squashed my dreams. It would really be so nice to have countertops that spread the entire span of those upper cabinets – whoo boy that would be some gorgeous prep space! He told me getting the plumbing done not only would cost mucho dinero but would require us to re-tile and re-drywall – or hireout to get those project done to the tune of… wellletsjustcallitalot.

I do not happen to have a lot as you remember, our number one goal is paying off all our debt! Putting the least amount into the house and trying to sell it in two or three years is going to help us do that. But if we get sidetracked with projects instead of extra payments – we’re just hurting our own future.

So it was too expensive to move the dryer to join the washer.

Plan B: Why didn’t you make a new laundry space in the dining room, off of the kitchen?
Now I really liked this idea: having a dedicated laundry space away from the kitchen but still inside – but again was going to require more money than we had. There was a 220 volt receiver for a dryer just to the right of the stove, so theoretically we could have paid for just the cost of moving the washer, and that wouldn’t have cost us as much in plumbing, since that’s much closer to our sink and we wouldn’t have had to re-tile, but still it was so, so much more expensive, for a few reasons: 1, we saw the dryer plug and though “Eureka! We can bring the dryer in and technically it won’t be “with” the washer but it will be close! And sooooooo much better than separate in the utility closet!” Well we tried that – it would have been THE CHEAPEST option (as in, cost us nothing!!!) although it would hae been crazy ugly I mean a little awkward. But it turns out, that wall plug was a dud! So we would have had to pay an electrician for new wiring anyway. Womp, womp.

Plan C: Why didn’t you leave the cabinet where it was, rip out half of the uppers, and install a stackable washer and dryer?
A. Confidence. We are just getting our feet wet with this whole homeowning thing and we do not have the confidence to remove only part of some upper cabinets. They seem like they’d need a saw and some extra arms and magic to get only half of them down. And perhaps more importantly, B, cost. We have a perfectly good washer and dryer set and it is just not a priority to upgrade to the stackable kind – even used.

So that leaves us with the plan we did execute: hiring electricians to install the wiring needed to power the dryer, moving the cabinet, and altering the appliance to make it work. My birthday was last week and we each get $300 for our birthdays, so I spent mine on house stuff and the electricians! Huzzah! Didn’t even get in the way of paying off Sallie Mae this month. SHE GONE FOREVER. But that’s another post.

So here’s what I did while Handsome was at work: removed all the stuff, drawers and doors from the cabinet and set them aside.img_0993 fullsizerender

Then, kneeling to where I was mostly inside the cabinet, I used just a plain old screwdriver to unscrew the top, then I pried it off with a crowbar I borrowed from the neighbor (another money saving tip: try to borrow tools, otherwise your DIYs will get expensive, quick!) so thanks neighbor!

I moved the countertop out of the kitchen and went to work removing any visible nails and screws that I could see. Sometimes the nails were so flush with the board they were holding that my hammer couldn’t catch them. This is probably #ghettoDIY but I used my flathead screwdriver to punch down the wood around the nail, so that my hammer could snag it and wrench it out. After about an hour of that, I realized I’d have to knock the grout off of the bottom to get it loose enough to pull out. Then I had this:


Pulling that cabinet free without damaging it felt AMAZING. Almost as good as delivering a baby: an-I-can-do-anything-type amazing. There was one invisible nail that I finally got rid of and then shimmied the cabinet over next to the fridge, where -guess what – IT FITS!!! I’m going to have to move some baseboards to get it flush and I’ll have an update for ya when I do that.img_0996

The electricians came the next day and installed the wiring, so we were ready! I insisted we move the dryer in right away since we were having visitors come the next day and there was no way the tile and grout was going to be done by the time they arrived. We decided to just move the dryer, do minimal loads, and finish the floor this weekend. I’m not concerned about the ugly exposed wall because shortly it will be covered by a cabinet and tile – so I’m just going to Kilz it in the meantime.img_1013 img_1016
And see that! The light’s on!  It works! Buuuuuut that door was not the most ergonomic. Sweet Girl was excited to help decorate so here she was being Vannah White. Most large appliances that have a side to side door have some kind of way to let you re-attach the door and open it the other way – our dryer was no different.

We unscrewed the door and then started taking it apart, being careful to collect all the screws and hinges in a kid-spill-free cup. The door is actually two parts: the door with its locking mechanisms and the white shell that you view from the front. Four screws later and the shell and the door were separated and we could flip it around and re-attach it to get it to open and close to the right. The hinges on the other hand…. I almost lost it on the hinges. I put them on the wrong way the first time, I put half of them on wrong the second time, the third time I got it almost all the way on until I popped a screw out and had to start again and finally, FINALLY, the fourth time proved to be the charm.
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So now…. we have a washer and dryer together- long lost lovers reunited at last! And I tell you what, I have not been behind in laundry since. Take that, dirty socks.Oh look, there’s one on the floor now.


Hubba. Hubba.

Left to do in the kitchen in Phase One: Lay the tile, paint the back wall, install the L-hose for the hot air exhaust, punch out a hole in the wall (not sure how – it’s brick on the outside!) & install a critter guard, build out a cabinet (to hold tall skinny trash cans?), paint the wooden side of the moved cabinet, remove the baseboard and permanently install the cabinet, and re-do the counter tops (we already have the concrete- bought it on amazon with a giftcard from work!!!). It’s going to be fun. Let’s see how cheaply we can make it happen!

What have you been doing? Any kitchen updates in these last few days before fall?

Clothes Pin-up art

Guys I am LOVING the latest #fabandfree decor we installed. In January, Handsome Husband got me a National Parks Calendar beautifully created by the Anderson Design Group and I’ve been itching to hang the prints somewhere. The prints are large enough that in a grid, they make a real impression, so we picked the space above the couch which was REALLY needing something nice and weight-y above it. And they were hung with clothespins hence… clothespin up art. Hehe. 🙂


And the glorious after! IMG_0989

This project was free for us because we used “found” items we already had at home. And it was so simple:

  1. I made sure I had enough clothespins for the grid I wanted to create, plus a cute lil” assistant
  2. I drilled a hole with the 1/8th drill bit in each clothes pin at the second, inner-most line (I just eyeballed it)
  3. I used a level to space dots 7 inches apart – this would be where my clothespins would rest.
  4. I used the level to measure 17 inches above the first row so my clothes pins would be in exactly the same spot in each row
  5. I put a brad nail at each pencil mark
  6. I hung a clothespin on each nail
  7. And then I hung my prints from the clothes pins!

Wahoo! Simple, a bit time consuming, and I love it.

The best part… SO DOES HANDSOME HUSBAND. Typically he dislikes my design choices with an extreme displeasure. So to hear him say “Guess which ones are my favorite” and then to go back and forth enjoying each print – that was awesome. Decoration unicorn!

New front doorski + the power of friendship

Just listened to the Young House Love Has a Podcast episode where Sherry raps. It’s fabulous!!!!

Now on to the post: My home has so much more light than my previous apartment with a window in the kitchen, a window in the dining space, a sliding glass door and a large window in the living room.

But it was still  bit dark as soon as the sun is on the other side of the house in the afternoons and I was hoping to find a door for cheap that had some kind of window in it to just let a teensy bit more light in in the late afternoons since all our windows are east or south facing.

Enter my friend Jennifer, who just commissioned a fancy new door for her home and had a front door she no longer needed. Well guess what. She was glad to bring the door over! So after her boyfriend and my hubby fought the hinges and 1/2 too long a door size, they installed it and I love it. It needs a fresh coat of paint – I’m thinking a limey, yellow-y green, and maybe a different doorknob. The one on their doesn’t really go with the rest of the house, it’s ornate or country where my house is simple – but it’s great. And here it is!



Now this post looks like its about a door, but it’s not. It’s about the power of love between true friends. Jennifer and I used to work together and one day over lunch she described her house as being messy “to the point where you could see the dog hairs piling up by the baseboards.” Well, as anyone knows, clean, tidy, organized and cute is a badge of honor and super hard for me. I am always looking for the Next Thing To Start! And I’m a terrible finisher. I get very bored with cleaning stuff very quickly, and normally I’d like to think I’m more mature than this, but FULL CONFESSION: I am almost mentally unable to actually finish the dishes. I get to the last dish or two, certainly a few spoons – and boom. I’m in the bathroom. Hanging art. Or Googling how to sharpie art-up my shower curtain.

So this immature behavior coupled with that thing called life means my home is rarely clean. And when Jennifer was honest with me on that level – the uncleanliness of her home at that point (normally it’s definitely a Better Homes and Gardens magazine type home, so beautiful!) I felt like we were instantly kindred spirits. Turns out we were.

So not only does she get me, but I’m not afraid to confess my shortcomings as a mom and homemaker. I am definitely neither of those things naturally, thank you 9-5 job that gives me an out when my husband asks “are the dishes STILL not clean?!”

So that honesty in our lives has led to honesty with our finances, an she knows our goals and our burden of debt. So, with my in-laws coming in seven days for the first time, she gets that I don’t have a big budget to spend on sprucing up the place and she gets that I have a lot to spruce up in a little time. So not only did she give me the door, she is coming over this weekend for a cleaning pow-wow. You can’t ask just anybody for help like that, but I guess I don’t have just any friends.

I have the best friends.

Free and fabulous RUG

So this happened:
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That’s right! The orange geometric rug is G-O-N-E hallelujah. Rugs just make a place feel complete and put together. They ground a space and of course are functional: make it soft underfoot for little ones (and we big ones.)

The only teeny tiny smidge of a problem was the previous rug was orange. Burnt orange. And it brought out the burnt orange tones in the couch (which is loathe-worthy to me. But I digress because I need to choose gratitude over my attitude.)


Overall it just made the space feel bleh. So, I was driving in a snazzy neighborhood, because sometimes snazzy people decide they’ve tired of their perfectly snazzy things and they decide to set them free on the side of the road.

And wouldn’t you know what I came upon – a rug!

Now I know what you’re thinking: bad idea. But I have been there, done that, and I gave the thing a small test. When it passed the smell test, I decided that since it was such a huge rug, and judging by the high quality accessories the people in these high end neighborhoods invest in, this was probably a few hundred dollar rug to begin with. If I get it cleaned for $100 I’ve probably saved at least $100 – maybe way more. So I’m getting quotes and if it’s not insane and I can do it with my blow money savings – we’ll see!

Anyway the way I see it I’m rescuing it from certain death in a landfill and it can have a second life with me and my family.



I didn’t want my heavy stump table to crush the fibers or stain it so I turned it into a  little sidetable/ extra seating. Win win. That’s another free way to win with decor: move the stuff you’ve already got around.

And the orange geometric rug has found a new life in our bedroom. One step closer to looking like we live here and own the place and we’re not just squatters!

Anyone else fearless enough to take on a trash to treasure find? Have you snagged anything great lately? I’d love to know!

Affordable updates!

Well folks, I have come to learn the secret, and the secret is this:


Paint makes a huge, huge impact. For so little cashola!

I ran to the paint section at Lowe’s to hunt in the reject bin. Handsome Husband and I each get spending money (Money to just blow wherever we want – guilt free! That’s how you make a budget work for you. 🙂 ) and invariably I spend mine on home DIY stuff. 5% of the time, it’s shoes or clothes – the rest of the time it’s home decor.

In the Lowe’s cheapo treasure trove I found:

Pink test paint – 1$

Seafoam blue green, satin (quart) – 9$

Peacock blue chalkboard paint (quart) – $3.50

They were cheap because… they were in the reject section! I loaded those suckers up along with a gallon of white paint for the bathroom – $30 (I think it was satin, or maybe semi-gloss – either are good for bathrooms) and ended up spending around $50.00 – all of my spending money for a month plus a chunk that we carved out of the budget for updates. (we’re trying to keep paying off debt our #1 gazelle-intense goal so this kind of stuff rarely ever happens.)

But what did happen was FANTASTIC.

I used only half of the seafoamy green and painted the ceiling of our bathroom, inspired by the Petersik’s showhome office (remember – $3.00! or since I used only half the container, $1.50!)

Painted a wall in my kitchen for my kiddos who love it already just for the color and don’t yet know they can go to town chalkin’ it up ($9.50)

Painted both my grey/purple bathrooms CRISP BEAUTIFUL WHITE and now that pink tile can sing its song and not make me go insane.
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Plus I had enough paint leftover to paint two walls of my boring muddy blue grey kitchen white! It is not done yet but the part that has two coats looks awesome.

Then I came across another amazing idea via the Young House Love archives and I… painted our address in huge numbers on our painted brick. In my humble opinion, it’s splendiferous.

So that’s the secret. Paint- especially from the reject section. $50 for updates for days. Mama likey.

So what else would you do? We have tools, some scrap wood, some more random paint here and there – I’m thinking of sharpie-ing some walls for a faux wallpaper look, but I’m basically obsessed with finally making this place feel like ours. Plus I have that tiny bit of pink paint my daughter made a beeline for… not sure where it’s going yet. But between our seafoam ceiling, peacock blue kitchen chalk wall and pink something-or-other: Bold paint choices for us it is.

Oh and by the way, why is having a clean home after it exploded such a huge satisfaction?!?! Not sure but it was up there with a room reveal. And again- it’s free!!! What’s up in your world? Paint updates? Sharpie walls? Decorating with your scarves as you save your pennies and pay down that debt? Hey… my scarves would make great decor… gotta go try that! Let me know!

Paid off one more debt! (almost. ugh.)


At the beginning of this FIVE PAYCHECK MONTH (hallelujah) I realized we were going to be able to pay off one more debt. This was a $1300 Sallie Mae disbursement-turned-Navient that I am eager to rid ourselves of – it’s one of those loans the hubby co-signed with the in-laws. Oh, to have freedom from family in our finances! Or, to have freedom from financing in our family?! Either way, I’m GLAD TO SEE THIS SUCKER GO.

Until hubby said he needed:

New shoes.
To neuter the dog.
A new gun. (It’s a patrol shotgun for work – he’s a deputy.)
A gun safe.
And this and that and this and that and this and that and before you know it…

We’re $850 bucks into other non-debt paying off land. So nope. Only $913 went to  debt. Unggggg.

Out of frustration, I started feeling sorry for myself.

I may or may not have put all my spending money and some grocery money to Le Tote, a clothing rental service. (I LOVED skirt #1.)

But I feel guilty.

I probably won’t continue after this month (unless of course they credit me $25 bringing my after blow-money-budget to only $19 – then I’ll keep it around for one more month 🙂 🙂 :-))

DANG. That 5 paycheck month is GAWN.

Three new business ideas coming + one hopefully fortuitous meeting this month…???