Renovating Update

Finally getting somewhere.

Still too many started projects that I am too exhausted to finish.

Need new windows, stucco updated and a new furnace. (Must win lottery or have them donated.) Single mom seeking benefactor. Haha.

Can finally shower in the master bathroom. And finally have a door on the bathroom.IMG_2583

My mom is getting all new cabinets so we are going to replace mine with her old ones (going to be much better).08 27 15_2086

Need like 4 tons of gravel to finish off front and back yards. Add to above list for benefactor.

I had a tree fall down in a wind storm and it messed up some of the fence. The neighbors are fiercely private and I think I am going to have to jump the fence to fix it. (They have a huge fence around their back porch so they never go into the rest of their backyard.)Photo Aug 13, 6 23 47 PM

I have decided I do not like the paint color in this house. (I loved it in my other house but it got more natural light and didn’t seem so dark.) I am fine with it in the den, just not the other rooms. img_1408




Easy Dollar Tree Easter Door Decor

When it comes to making my own holiday decorations, I usually am so late in doing it, they don’t get much time spent on display. Until next year that is. I see things I want to make all the time and don’t get around to it until really late. I used to be better. Unless I am making it for someone else. Haha.

This year, thanks to Dollar Tree, I am several steps ahead for Easter. Disclaimer: I was compensated for this post. This post also contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

I remembered seeing before where someone had used the pizza pans to make a snowman “wreath”. So I headed to a Dollar Tree I don’t usually go to and picked up my supplies.

supplies needed

I started by taking the pizza pan outside and spraying it with a white primer. This covered well enough that I just did 2 coats of this. (If I did it again, I would have sprayed a coat of clear sealant over the white to make sure it couldn’t get nicked up.)

While the paint was drying, I then needed to make some ears. I started out by taking the packing apart on these other items I picked up.

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The packaging was the perfect shape, just needed to be smaller. I cut the packing down to the size I wanted. Then I grabbed a piece of white card stock and cut around the cardboard to make pieces that matched the cardboard. I glued those pieces together and then very, very carefully glued the pink mesh around in the middle of the white ears. I started by gluing an oval around the inside of the ear and then adding glue I wound the mesh around the inside. You have to carefully push it down to stick to the glue while you are wounding it into the oval. Once finished, I set these aside and got to work on the face of the bunny.

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I cut apart the floral bundles and set those aside (I didn’t need the bunches to be tall). I attempted to make blush circles for “cheeks” with the mesh tubing but as I kept burning myself, I gave up and just made a nose out of the tubing. I then glued this down with stems from the floral bundles as whiskers.

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For now I think it looks better without eyes, but if I come across something in my stash that will make big enough eyes, I will try it out.

I then glued down some of the floral bundles and a carrot to make it more wreath like.

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Sharing with Fantastic Friday

Reading Historical Fiction


It’s interesting. I choose books to fulfill a category in the challenges I am following. I don’t choose them because they are about World War II. But I have ended up reading several of those. They have also taught me a lot about the war that they don’t teach you in school and even though I know they are historical fiction, I can feel their pain in every one of them.

My favorite book last year, The Nightingale, was centered around Germany occupied France and two sisters that had different experiences with the war.

The Book Thief takes place in Germany and what it was like to harbor a Jew and live under different conditions than normal. Even though it was their war, Germans were still greatly affected.

I also read Letter from Skye, At the Water’s Edge, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet,  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and Code Name Verity. I started to read The Zookeepers Wife but it got moved to the back of the pile for this year’s prompts. I also had The Women in the Castle on last year’s list, but never could find the book.

For this years prompts, again not choosing them because of WWII, I have Lilac Girls, All the Light we Cannot See and The Alice Network, and just found some others I might have to add to my To Read list for later.

30267929I did just finish reading We Were the Lucky Ones. And WOW. My favorite book this year so far (I’ve read 12). It is about a family of Jews in Poland. That survive. There are 5 siblings in the family and the book is written by the granddaughter of one of the siblings, in the view point of the family members themselves. I just can’t even fathom what the world did to the Jewish people during (and after) WWII.

Why I Read

A cheaper form of entertainment.

Sure. If you are getting the books for free.

I have to keep reminding myself to go to the library.

I have always loved to read. I read Forever by Judy Blume when I was either in junior high or early high school. I picked it up because it was Judy Blume. Come on, we all loved Superfudge. I remember thinking it was a good thing my mom didn’t know what the book was about. But I couldn’t stop reading it.

I once bought this book at duty free in the Shannon Airport in Ireland because I had already read the one book I had taken. This book was full of mystery, sex, maybe vampires, a count, a castle. It was weird and not what I usually read. Definitely not chic lit. But it was a great book. Probably the first book by a non American author I had ever picked up that wasn’t on a reading list in college. I loaned it to someone and never got it back. I can’t remember what it was called.

I was sent to Japan via San Fransisco from Chicago. I only took with me Where the Heart Is to read on this entire trip. I thought I wouldn’t need anything else. I could not fall asleep in that cramped space. I watched all 4 movies and read the entire book before ever landing in Japan. I never made that mistake again.

For the longest time, Nicholas Sparks was my favorite author. I read all of his books as soon as they came out. And did not watch the movies. I haven’t read the last few. They kind of all have the same theme. Which was all right for awhile.

I am a huge fan of chic lit. Mary Kay Andrews was a favorite. I can always read those beach read kind of books.

I didn’t read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe until college. I also tried to read the entire collection years later, but did not like the first book at all. The movies are great.

Some of my favorite books have been the Harry Potter series. But never thought I would have liked fantasy books. I have never watched the movies. I also think she could have left out The Cursed Child. It wasn’t the best. She also continues her knack to entertain as Robert Galbraith with the Cormoran Strike series starting with The Cuckoo’s Calling. What happened to Lethal White last year? And now it doesn’t even show that it is scheduled for this year at all.

I also highly enjoyed the Hunger Games series and loved the movies too. Again, I never thought I would like that dystopian future category but also liked the Divergent series.

But what I have learned by following along with the Popsugar reading challenge, is that I read books now all over different genres. And have read some really great books I might never have heard of otherwise (as I keep saying). At first I did not like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. But then I couldn’t stop reading and had it read within 2 days. I loved that he painted the picture so well, I couldn’t imagine being there even though I have never seen pictures of Sweden at all.

I now have this dream of having my own used bookstore. Anyone want to be a silent partner or come run that with me? I don’t think that books will ever truly be dead. I still prefer them over the tablet and just use that when I can get a good deal on a book.

100 Book You Should Read in a Lifetime?

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There are for sure some books in here I will never read. But anytime I am out of lists, I can turn to this one for a book to pick up. I just don’t see how some of these books made this list, and how other books didn’t make the list. I am also sure there are books I haven’t crossed out that I have read, I just don’t remember for sure.

Goodreads 100 Books You Should Read in a Lifetime

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  3. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  4. 1984 by George Orwell
  5. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  6. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  7. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  8. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  9. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  10. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  11. Fahrenheit 451: A Novel by Ray Bradbury
  12. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  13. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  14. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  15. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  16. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  17. The Help by Kathryn Stockett (I tried it but couldn’t finish it)
  18. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  19. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  20. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  21. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  22. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  23. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  24. Night by Elie Wiesel
  25. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  26. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  27. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle
  28. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  29. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  30. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  31. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  32. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
  33. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  34. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  35. The Little Prince by Antoine Saint-Exupery
  36. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
  37. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  38. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  39. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
  40. Macbeth by William Shakespeare
  41. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  42. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
  43. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  44. The Holy Bible: New King James Version by Thomas Nelson
  45. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  46. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas pere
  47. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  48. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  49. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  50. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  51. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  52. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  53. The Stand by Stephen King
  54. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
  55. Watership Down by Richard Adams
  56. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  57. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  58. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  59. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  60. Memoirs of a Geisha: A Novel by Arthur Golden
  61. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
  62. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
  63. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  64. Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire Book 1) by George R.R. Martin
  65. The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure by William Goldman
  66. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  67. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  68. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  69. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
  70. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  71. Dracula by Bram Stoker (I tried it but couldn’t get into it)
  72. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
  73. Catching Fire (The Hunger Games Book 2) by Suzanne Collins
  74. Water for Elephants: A Novel by Sara Gruen
  75. The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe
  76. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
  77. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
  78. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  79. The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel by Barbara Kingslover
  80. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
  81. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  82. The Odyssey by Homer
  83. Celebrating Silence: Excerpts From Five Years of Weekly Knowledge 1995-2000 by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
  84. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
  85. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
  86. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  87. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
  88. The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls
  89. Mockingjay (The Final Book of the Hunger Games) by Suzanne Collins
  90. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
  91. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  92. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
  93. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  94. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
  95. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  96. Helen Keller: The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
  97. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
  98. From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
  99. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  100. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Top Posts for 2017

I don’t get a lot of traffic. I don’t post enough. Screen Shot 2017-12-30 at 9.35.18 AM

Interesting that my home page was hit 211 times. In fact, on that list, very few are actual posts from 2017 or even posts at all. But here were my top 5 posts of 2017.

#1 Industrial Towel Bar

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This was a post from early 2016, but thanks to Rustoleum sharing it on Pinterest, I got 127 visits this year.

#2 Day 31: The Final Frontier and a Ninja Cake

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This post was from 2014, but some how got 35 views this year. It was the most yummiest chocolate cake I have ever had (made).

#3 Renovating 407: 2 Years Later


Why couldn’t I moved the rake out of the way? Silly me. And you should have seen the cosmos in that flower bed a few weeks later. They were gorgeous. Next year I am going to plant them in the backyard where there is more room for them.

#4 31 Days of DIYing

It's a DIY life with upcycling, recycling, reclaiming, redoing...

This was my opening post for Write31Days. I was terrible. I did not complete the month this year.

#5 Renovating 407: The Laundry Closet


It wasn’t as productive year as 2016, but things got done all the same. Here are a few other posts from this year that are some of my favorites.

Renovating 407: The Creative

Renovating 407: The Kitchen Island

Renovating 407: A Pantry was Born

Upcycling Old Shutters

Now that I have recapped 2017, here’s to 2018. Hope everyone is safe tonight and has great plans for 2018.

Forthcoming in 2018

What are your goals for 2018? Do you pick a word of the year to live by? I have picked a word for years, but I don’t end up remembering to follow that word the whole year. HAHA.


I could have expanded on what I wanted to succeed at, but finding a job where I can make a little more income and not hurt so much when I leave work is at the top of my list. I am so bad at finding jobs though. I don’t have enough faith in myself. I have been terminated from 2 jobs in this town because they had a man to replace me with but gave me lame excuses in the process. I was a manager in both situations and in neither place had I ever been written up or given reason to think it was coming. In fact, I have never been given a bad evaluation in any job because I work hard and go over and beyond (except that one university job when I was pregnant). But those terminations left me reevaluating my 2 degrees and what a waste of time and money those times at college were. It’s tough being a single mom and not having a career path that included having a child with no other parent around. I had a student loan from the Master’s degree and just could not figure out how to change my career path without incurring more debt. Of course, I still have that student loan as well. This is supposed to be an upbeat post, and I have surely brought myself down. So onward and upward.

My word for 2018 might have you wondering how that can be a word to live by. Reconsider: think about again. Synonyms: amend, consider again, correct, polish, reevaluate, think over. I really need to learn to budget and stay on budget. I need to finish my house projects so that if I wanted to sell my house tomorrow and move away for the great job, I can. If I find a great job out of town I need to consider that is the option I need to take. The year will consist of many right, left choices and that is where RECONSIDER fits in.

I am the person that doesn’t shop at Dillard’s even. I go to Kohl’s, TJMaxx, and Marshall’s. Even back when I was a lower manager, I always shopped at outlet stores. I can’t fathom paying $35 for jeans, paying more would give me a heart attack. When I was a server, I would save my tips in envelopes labeled Mortgage, car insurance, ect. Groceries would come out of the hourly pay I got in checks. But no other money was spent until I had those envelopes full each month. That might have been the year that I started my life of a hermit. LOL. No, I look back and I had fun that year. It was the next year that I slowed down. Grew up. Had a baby. Finished the grad school semester with a 4.0 after having said baby.

I was a Flight Attendant for 2 years before I went to grad school. Living in Chicago. That was a life experience I will never give back. All the places I got to see. The people that I got to meet. I really wish I had written down my stories. Kept a journal or something. Oh, the book I could have written.

After I lost the restaurant manager job, I had interviewed for a particular position that I never would have applied for if it hadn’t been for an old family friend telling me to apply for it. It was the only job with a decent income that I had yet to be interviewed for. I was trying to stay away from the hospitality world. Her husband was doing the interview. He did not give me any special treatment. In fact it was his question that floored me. He said I had had a lot of jobs, they were looking for someone that stayed put for years kind of thing. How did I really have experience for the job? I think I was only interviewed because they needed to interview 3 people. My dad worked for the federal government, for the same branch, his entire career. What they don’t realize is that I wasn’t moving jobs because I wanted to. I moved jobs because I had to. But in each one I learned something new. And I never flip flopped from job to job like in #Girlboss. Maybe all interviewers should read that book first.

I think what we can learn from all these sexual harassment stories that are floating around out there, is that it still isn’t a better world for women to work. Women are still not on the same ladder rung as men. And yes, women can also be on that same ladder rung and be one of the worst human beings in the world (The Devil Wears Prada). Sam’s Club went through one of the biggest class action lawsuits started by an ex-associate in Santa Fe, NM, and still I see that men are revered more than women and the sexual harassment still hasn’t gone away (in the club where I work at least). And in our club, only 1 of the 5 managers is a woman and the only female team-leaders are over the cashiers. You might wonder why I still work there. 7 years already. 5 as the personal shopper person. But that interview I mentioned really got to me and I tried to put down roots. But I am 43 years old and go home hurting every day and don’t make enough money to even go to the doctor to have my feet checked. So it is time to move on. (I better remember not to share this post on Facebook, or co-workers will see all this. Eek.)

I need to RECONSIDER my possibilities. What I can do for the rest of my life? Where I can make money to start saving it again? To be able to take a real vacation. I haven’t left this state in years. I haven’t spent the night somewhere other than family’s since I took my son to Legoland when he was 4. In fact our trip to California, 10 years ago, would be the only vacation he and I have ever taken.

I need to RECONSIDER how I spend my time not at work. Less TV. More reading. Following 2 reading challenges helps with that. More time crafting and sharing those crafts. Spending less money, even on discounted supplies. In fact, I need to do a no spend month every month for awhile. I need to be better about sharing all that crafting and finished projects on the blog. Really look into turning my blog into a money maker. Which means I would have to blog more regularly.

I need to RECONSIDER how I am going to get my master shower finished. I think I am going to just have to figure out how to get as much of it done as I can. Forget getting any help (except with the ceiling part). And only hiring out a plumber who can do the drain and floor pan. My parents said they would pay for the work but we can’t find anyone that wants to even come give us an estimate. The one guy that did come out never even sent her numbers (he would have been too expensive anyway). I am amazed at all I have accomplished in this house, so I just need to have more faith in myself in what I can do alone. Maybe not installing backerboard alone. It might not end up very straight.


What I Read in 2017

If you like to read, I highly recommend you start using Goodreads to track what you read and want to read. It gives recommendations and there are so many book giveaways also. I also recommend checking out the Popsugar reading challenge to give yourself a more vast variety of books to read. So many of these titles I never would have picked up if it weren’t for the challenge. I have 3 prompts left to finish in a week but I didn’t start until March so I am pretty proud of myself. I even had other books I started and just couldn’t get into (probably enough to count as a whole book, lol). I didn’t even really like all the books here, but they were for a prompt.

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith  The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith  Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith   My favorite series and I can’t wait for the 4th one to come out (she must be running behind)
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes  After You by Jojo Moyes  The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes  My favorite author of the year, I also have her down for 2 books next year

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty  The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah  My favorite book of the year
At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen  Most surprised it turned out good because I read it for the “mythical creature” prompt.
The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas    I listened to this on Audiobooks, and I loved the storytellingness of Kristin Bell. She does every character in a different voice and keeps it the same for each. She did an amazing job.
All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda  If I had known this was written in a backwards timeline I would have saved it for a 2018 prompt but it had the most surprising ending
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer  The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet  Red Velvet Cupcake Murder by Joanne Fluke  The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls  Though the book itself was good, I found the stories she told to be a little far fetched, like how did they really survive all of that.

Happy Birthday

In celebration of my birthday, I thought I would re-share what I did for my 40th.

For the month of November 2014, my son and I did 40 Random Acts of Kindness around town, and marked off one of my life list items.

We did things like taking our Halloween candy to the place that then donates it to the troops overseas. We left a Lego toy on the counter at one orthodontist office and stuck another Lego in a toy at another office where we also took canned food for their food drive (I hope more ended up in that box). You hear about people all the time doing a pay-it-forward at Starbucks but the time we did it at Chic-fil-A and Target, the cashier was a little stunned (to say the least).

We left these things of quarters in various places, on top of machines that took quarters. When a co-worker wasn’t feeling well, I left a surprise on his desk. One of my favorites, was leaving coloring books with crayons in the waiting room at the hospital.

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I made up a few Blessing Bags for the homeless and gave one to a man on a corner asking for money.


random actsI also gave myself a photography goal and made a list of 40 pictures to take for my 40th.

40th bday challenge

And I finished the challenge. You can see the pictures full size on my

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