Category Archives: On a Personal Note…

Decor Therapy

I’m sorry for not having a post up this morning. Tensions at work are high as we try to do more with less and I’ve been left feeling exhausted and uninspired. My intention was to pound out a quick post this morning but by the time my feet hit the ground until this very moment I’ve been engaged in the business of social work. I’m looking forward to this weekend, when I’ll be able to escape the conflicting interests of state budgets and kids with problems by driving out to the country to chop down a Christmas tree. Nick and I will probably spend the better part of the weekend dragging boxes of Christmas decor out of storage, stopping only to watch our beloved Tigers play in the SEC Championship. Maybe I’ll even pick up some hot chocolate, just to really kick up the warm and fuzzy a notch or two. I feel like there’s no stress that a weekend spent decking the halls can’t fix.

How to Solve all Your Money Problems

Just kidding. I can’t solve all your problems. But I can tell you how we solved most of ours. Nick and I have very different spending habits. I like to spend, he likes to save. Each of us to a fault. If I were on my own I’d always be living paycheck to paycheck no matter how much I made and would likely also have more than a little bit of credit card debt. If Nick were on his own, he’d have hundreds of thousands squirreled away because he’d probably still be mooching off the free rent at his parents’ house and avoiding paying for anything whenever possible. Together, we’re able to meet somewhere in the middle. Here’s what we do:

1. Respect boundaries We realized pretty early on that we needed to keep some of our money separate from each other. I needed to be able to buy an $8 martini without him blowing a blood vessel and he needed to be able to hoard his money stash without me dreaming up ways to spend it all. So, we each have our own personal checking accounts. Mine is spent down to almost $0 every two weeks and his probably has $3,000 sitting in it. I’m just guessing, as I never look at his account. He looks at mine, though (see #4)

2. Keep bills separate Some things, however, are just joint expenses. Bills, home improvement, etc. So we have a joint account. We added up how much our joint expenses average, added a little fluff for comfort, and divided it by two-giving us the amount that we each contribute to our joint account each month. I have my half moved over automatically when I get paid so I never even see it. Nick, of course, is disciplined enough to move his half over at his convenience.

3. Limit discretionary spending We put limits on discretionary spending out of our joint account. The “home decor budget” is an institution in our household. There’s a set amount I’m allowed to spend out of our joint account each month on stuff for the house-this covers everything from weatherstripping to whatnots. If I want to blow the whole budget the first week of the month, I can (and I have). If I want to save half of it for three months to save up for something big, I can do that too (although I really struggle). Nick, of course, is the one who keeps up with how much I’ve spent and how much I’ve got left. We also pay for food out of this account, and Nick has a pretty iron grip on how much we spend at the grocery store each week. We’ve recently switched to paying for meals out together from our personal accounts. One of has to offer to treat the other or we don’t go out, so it encourages us to eat out less.

4. Play to your strengths I grew up in a house where mom was in charge of the money, so I always assumed that was the role I would take, as well. But after the first year or so of marriage I realized that was stupid for us. Nick is much better at managing money than I am, plus he actually enjoys it. I absolutely hate keeping up with how much money I have and which bills are due before the next paycheck, etc. etc. So I let Nick do it. At first I just let him be in charge of our joint account. He made sure the bills got paid on time and that we didn’t run out of money. But he’s so good at it that I let him look at my account, too. He warns me when I’m running out of money and will even go back and add up for me where it all went.

5. Save for the big stuff For the past few weeks I’ve had an extra $75 automatically moved over from my account to our savings each time I get paid. By the time Christmas rolls around, I’ll have saved up a couple hundred dollars. We do the same thing when we’re planning a vacation or any other big expense. We each give a little from our personal accounts over time and it really adds up. It’s pretty painless and we never have to choose between a mortgage payment and a trip to the beach (not that we would choose a vacay over the mortgage!).

The result of all these changes? We never run out of money in our joint account, our bills are always paid on time, and we have zero credit card debt. We live a modest life but still find ways to make our house pretty, take vacations, and eat great food. I think we’re both better off together than we would have been alone because we’ve found a way to meet in the middle. Even if you don’t have a partner who’s obsessed with counting pennies, figure out what your unique strengths and weaknesses are and adjust your strategy to accommodate them. Maybe you’re really good at planning and not so great at follow-through? Draft a budget and then hire a friend or virtual assistant to track it for you for $15/week. That’s less than I used to spend on credit card interest and overdraft charges. I’m telling you, I was really bad.

Things Don’t Always Go as Planned

I got food poisoning this weekend. Seriously. About eight hours after scarfing down a chicken salad sandwich at one of my favorite spots to eat I became violently ill. And while the worst of it was over by Sunday morning, I’m still feeling queasy a full day and a half after it started.

Seeing as I spent most of my time off either in the bathroom or in bed, I didn’t get nearly as much done as I’d hoped. I did get a jump start on a craft project I’ve been thinking of for weeks, and around 5pm on Sunday I finally talked Nick into installing the new dishwasher.

Here we are about to get started. We looked up how to remove and install a new dishwasher on YouTube and brought the laptop into the kitchen so we could review it as we went. Pistachio followed her usual routine of plopping herself down exactly where we were about to start working. Step one, according to YouTube and my sister’s handyman boyfriend, is to remove the bottom panel and start disconnecting stuff. So onto hands and knees we went to check things out.

And this would be the second time this weekend that things didn’t go as planned! Our dishwasher doesn’t have a panel along the bottom, and it looks like the previous owners just covered up the entire length of cabinet + dishwasher + cabinet with baseboard. The obvious thing to do here would be to carefully remove the entire baseboard, then later either replace it intact or cut it to accommodate  the new dishwasher’s bottom panel and allow it to someday be removed or serviced without having to take the whole baseboard off again.

The sad news is that after a weekend of being sick I just didn’t have it in me to coach Nick through this (and Nick, being not at all confident in his handyman skills nor generally inclined to enjoy this sort of thing, would definitely have needed some serious coaching). So I told him we could hold off on installing the dishwasher if he promised promised promised that it would absolutely get done next weekend no matter what. He agreed. I was secretly relieved. Next weekend we’ll give it another shot.

Did you notice how I didn’t even wipe down my dishwasher or baseboards for that picture? Keepin’ it real, people. If I were to wipe down everything just before snapping a picture, you might start to think that my house is always spotless, even when I’m sick, and then you might start getting a complex about me, like maybe I’m perfect and my house is always clean. You might look around your own house and notice some dust or some iffy-looking kitchen surfaces and feel inadequate. And we just can’t have that. So here I am, proudly posting pictures of my not-so-perfect house on the internet for everyone to see.

The moral of the story: sometimes things don’t go as planned, and that’s okay.

In the Navy

Do you read a lot of house blogs? I do. Every now and then I pop over to visit Edie, who had a horrible house fire last winter. She just moved into her new house and it. is. gorgeous.


I’m so inspired by her use of navy. It makes me want to paint something, anything, a dark, inky blue. Then I would step back and feel so sophisticated, so worldly. Navy is a color for grownups, and I wanna be a grownup.





What do you think? Does navy blue still scream 1980′s shoulder pads to you? I think I’m ready to embrace it in small doses. Nothing too crazy lest my house start looking like it belongs to an actual grownup. Can’t let that happen. Gotta keep things light around here.

I’m looking forward to a weekend spent at home relaxing. Maybe I’ll even get a thing or two done. I can’t bear to think about some of the projects that have been sitting unfinished for weeks, but a fun little craft project or two wouldn’t kill me. And my kitchen sure could use a good scrubbing. I’ll let you know how it goes. Do you have anything fun planned for this weekend?

p.s. I just realized I made a pun about the military on Veterans’ Day. How timely of me!

I Got Nothin’

I didn’t get anything done this weekend. Not a single project, tweak, or purchase. Not because I was lazy (although that’s not completely outside the realm of possibility). Because I took a road trip all by my lonesome to visit my long time BFF Lauren in Atlanta for her birthday. I left straight from work on Friday. On Saturday, we went to breakfast, laid around the house (well I laid around while she cleaned), and had a bunch of people over to eat fried turkey and watch the LSU game. After the game amazing life-changing victory I went straight to bed and got up bright and early to drive back to Louisiana, stopping to visit my mom and sister in their respective towns on the way home. By the time I made it back to Baton Rouge it was Sunday night and I was pooped.

I think maybe this will be the last time I ever drive to Atlanta. I really hate to drive. It’s so boring and tedious. Sitting in the passenger seat while someone else drives is only a moderate improvement. What I’d really like is to be able to fly. I’ve flown to Atlanta and back a few times, and compared to driving it’s the bee’s knees. Especially when I fly out of Baton Rouge. The airport is only a few minutes away and I show up, oh, thirty minutes or so before my flight. I breeze through security and often go straight to boarding my plane. An hour and a half later I’ve traveled the distance that takes me eight hours by car. And I didn’t even have to pee at a gas station.

Speaking of gas stations, a man nearly twice my age at an Alabama gas station asked me how tall I am, then commented that I’m his “kind of woman.” I guess he is into the short ladies and not afraid to let the world know it. I wanted to tell him that I could have lived my life without hearing that particular compliment from a stranger, but I was so shocked I didn’t say a word. Uncharacteristically speechless, that’s what I was.

So that’s what I did this weekend, and my excuse for not having anything more interesting to share today. I did pick up something for the house on my way home Sunday and hope to be able to share it with you sometime this week, so stay tuned. I’ll give you a hint: it requires installation.

Pinterest Challenge: Lace and Burlap Luminaries

If you read Young House Love or Bower Power, you know where this is going. Sherry and Katie have teamed up to inspire the rest of us little bloggers to stop pinning and start doing, then all post our projects on the same day. I missed the boat the last time around back in July, but no way was I letting it slide again.

If you’re not familiar with Pinterest, you’ve been living under a rock let me explain: you know how when you see something cool on the internet, and it inspires you or makes you happy or you think you might try to copy it someday, you might save a picture of it on your computer and then never be able to remember where it came from? Or you might add it to your bookmarks, but not be able to come back and find it later on because your bookmarks don’t have pictures? Well, with Pinterest, you can “pin” it, like sticking it up on a giant virtual pinboard, and then you’ll have all your pretty pictures (and where they came from) in one place. Add in the fact that you can share your pins with your friends and see what other people are pinning and, oh my, it’s amazing.

It’s easy to pin all kinds of ambitious ideas and never get around to executing a single one. The sheer volume of inspiration can be paralyzing. I’m pretty good about churning one out every once in a while, though, like this, this, this, and this. But when the two coolest house bloggers on the block tell you to make something this weekend, you do it. So here goes it. My inspiration:


Jars wrapped in lace and twine and used as luminaries. So pretty. I decided to make mine using the smaller mason jars and 1) lace from my wedding dress, and 2) burlap.

I’m super short (five foot nothin’), so quite a bit of fabric had to be hemmed from my wedding dress. I saved the lace overlay and this is the second time it’s come in handy (I have a piece in a shadow frame above our staircase with our save the date). I started by cutting a piece of paper to size, then used it as a template for cutting the fabric.

I ran a line of plain ‘ol craft glue down the back of the jar.

Then, I just wrapped one side up, applied some more glue, and wrapped the other side up. Easy as pie.

I thought about just leaving it like this, but I wasn’t really down with the rough edges of the lace. I decided to glue them under the bottom of the jar and inside the top lip.

So pretteh.

Next up was the burlap. Pretty much the same rodeo, except I got kind of crazy and left the top edge unglued.

And here they both are with another mason jar candle I already had. Side note: I never posted about that candle! I made it myself after my neighbor Caitlyn gifted me a candle-making kit. It’s lavender-scented and I love it!

My only wish is that the lace would be closer in color to the scented candle and the burlap. Even though my dress was definitely ivory, it reads as a pretty cool white next to these all-natural ladies. It’s a nice way to have a little memory of the dress I’ll never fit into again, though! Here I am wearing it a little over two years ago:

Ah, memories.

Happy Halloween!

I think our house is haunted.

It started not that long ago, when Nick was in West Virginia for the LSU game. I was home alone, sitting on the couch, and kept hearing footsteps upstairs. At first I thought maybe it was the cats playing (they really throw each other around sometimes), but then it happened when I knew they were both downstairs with me. I dismissed it and didn’t have a second thought before going to bed upstairs by myself that night.

I didn’t mention it to Nick at first. But over the next several weeks, I kept hearing it! So I told him. He thinks I’m crazy. Our house and our neighbors’ are really close together and both houses are raised off the ground, so his logic is that I’m hearing the neighbors’ footsteps. Who knows. Either way, I ain’t skeered (that’s my Louisiana coming out).

My friend Cassie thinks my downstairs bathroom is haunted. I’m pretty sure she avoids peeing at my house. She says the light and shadows in there are weird and it freaks her out.

The room is really long and narrow, so I can see how it would be a little disconcerting to do your business in the middle of a fifteen foot long room. What do you think? Would you be scared to pee at my house? Or spend the night upstairs? I’m sure our little bungalow has had plenty of residents in its 90 or so years, and maybe even a death or two. Maybe someone decided to stick around. Do you believe in ghosts?

I hope you all have a wonderful Halloween! I was lucky to marry a man who despises dressing in costume as much as I do so we plan to spend the evening handing out candy to trick or treaters.

It Doesn’t Have to be Perfect

Pinterest / Bits of Truth Blog

“Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful.” I need to remember that. Since starting this blog more than six months ago, this is the very first time I’ve gone an entire week without working on a single project around the house. I’ll admit, it made for a rather boring week of posts, but I’m feeling refreshed in a way that I haven’t in some time. And although the unfinished wing chairs continue to haunt me and I’m still trying to save up money for a new sofa, I’ve got a bunch of ideas for projects to work on this weekend that I’m super excited about.

Unfortunately, this little blog of mine is not my full time job (in fact it doesn’t pay at all), and the pace I’ve been keeping of work + projects + blog posts is just not sustainable without taking some time to slow down every now and then. It makes for an imperfect blog, one that may go (gasp) a whole week without any how-to’s or DIY’s, but made more wonderful by the fact that the girl behind it remains sane enough to keep on truckin’. Friends of mine have suggested posting less. I like posting every weekday. I think, though, that maybe I can have more “filler” posts. It’s kind of hard to knock out three to five projects every weekend and I start to feel like I’m going through the motions just to have something to post about.

So, here’s what you can expect from me (until I change my mind again). I’m always tweaking my life to find the best balance so this is totally subject to change.

A post each weekday morning, including:

  • One to three how-to / DIY posts each week
  • Two to four less thrilling, but still at least mildly interesting posts about my life, what’s inspiring me lately, things I’ve bought, etc.

And if you’ve got ideas for what I should post about, throw ‘em out there! I’m always open to suggestions. Thanks for sticking with me this week. Y’all are the best!

My Bedroom Situation

Nick and I switched sides of the bed.

These are the things that must be settled in the early years of marriage. We both prefer the left side, but I let him have it for the last few years. Now it’s mine and I love it. Maybe we’ll just take turns with our favorite side for the rest of our lives.

The downside to this is that I was stuck with his nightstand, and it was kinda lame. I’d had my old side of the bed tricked out so that everything I needed for sleeping comfort was within easy reach. Not so over here.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, I was feeling a little down on my thrifting luck after the whole estate sale chair fiasco. That is, until I snagged this lovely little side table for only $35 from craigslist. Hello, new nightstand.

Isn’t she delightful? Such feminine curves! And even though she’s scratched up a bit I can’t imagine painting over such pretty wood. I’ll just chalk the scratches up to character. Plus it’s always nice to be able to take a chill pill when Pistachio starts giving my furniture her special claw massage.

So what’s all that up top, you might ask?

Mostly pretty and completely not functional things that make me happy. But inside the box it’s a function festival:

My cell charger (you like how I cut a notch in the back and ran an extension cord into it?), chalk for my message board, some linen spray, a thermometer, a random piece of a lamp, and my sleep mask. I know you’re wondering about the sleep mask. There’s a streetlight in the alley behind our house and it was driving me absolutely bonkers, so I ordered this baby from Amazon a few weeks ago. It’s a life changer, I tell you. I’m sleeping like a baby every night. And I look kind of adorable in it. The outside is zebra, but I thought that made it look a little too much like a sex toy so I flipped it over for the picture. Under the bed I’ve got a basket with some books, lip balm, etc., but I forgot to photograph it.

Do you find yourself wishing at this moment that I had stepped back to take a wider shot of my new nightstand in the context of the rest of my bedroom? I haven’t made my bed in two weeks and there are dirty clothes everywhere, so maybe if I had you’d be wishing I hadn’t. I’m all about keeping it real but I’m oddly private about my laundry.

How to Prepare for Houseguests

We have houseguests almost every fall thanks to the fact that our house is super close to LSU, home of the #1 college football team in the nation. How close? From Tiger Stadium to our front door is 2.6 miles. It’s pretty awesome. We usually drive, but if our enjoyment of gameday festivities should make that unwise we can (and have) walk home in a pinch. This past weekend  was one of the biggest home games of the season and we had four extra people sleeping at our house on Saturday night. Here’s what I do to try to make them feel welcome:

  • Plenty of linens. I make sure there are fresh sheets on the guest bed, fresh towels in the closet, and extra blankets clean just in case. It’s not unusual for surprise houseguests to pop up and this time we had two extra guys sleeping on couches. Those extra blankets and towels sure came in handy.
  • Stock the medicine cabinet. Any travel or sample size toiletries we have are stashed in the downstairs bathroom medicine cabinet. Extra toothbrushes, contact lens cases, face wash, hair spray, etc. Plus the usual hangover cures easily accessible for any morning after regrets.

  • Take them to eat. Baton Rouge is full of great food. Our guests this weekend are former BR residents and major food people, so they’re really the ones taking us to all the great spots, but it’s delightful nonetheless. Chimes, Parrain’s, and the original Cane’s are all required stops for the out of town visitor. One of our favorite ways to cap off any weekend is with Sunday brunch at Parrain’s, a fantastic seafood restaurant just up the road from us.
The downside to having such fun people with us all weekend is that I get absolutely nothing done. I have zero projects to share this week. Total bummer for the blog. It was nice to get a weekend off, though, and maybe I’ll be even more energized to get some really great things accomplished next weekend!