A year in review

I was looking back at my goals this year and I’ve been super happy with my progress.

-I’ve donated 790 items and I’m close to my goal of 800

-I’ve had 131 workouts with my trainer out of my goal of 130

-I’ve read 60 books out of my goal of 52

-I published my print book

Since it’s not fun to look at the items I’ve donated or workout selfies, I wanted to take a look back at the books I read. Instead of grouping them by month, I sorted the books into general categories.

Category 1 : Autobiographical (comedy) 

10 books in this category and these were mostly fantastic, strong women with a few (British) men included.

Favorite Pick: Scrappy Little Nobody & It’s Not Me It’s You

Category 2 : Alphabet Series Mysteries

25 in this category which makes up nearly half of my annual goal. I read A to X from Sue Grafton plus Kinsey and Me. Great series and really got me back in my reading groove.

Category 3 : Vonnegut

Years ago someone suggested reading one or two Vonnegut books a year so you’ll always have a new novel and I tend to follow that advice. Also, I can’t read too many in a row or I go a little crazy. 2 in this category this year.

Category 4 : Graphic Novels

3 books in this category and these came recommended from MSNBC host Rachel Maddow. I can’t recommend them highly enough. Should be required reading for all Americans.

Category 5 : Food

Total of 3 in this category in 2017. I started the Whole30 in May and read these books over the second half of the year.

Category 6 : General Fiction

4 in this category and the Handmaid’s Tale was my clear favorite.

Category 7 : Non-Fiction

Five this year and it’s so hard to pick a favorite. I was so impressed  with Gloria Vanderbilt – her life stories and intelligence into her 90s was inspiring. Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air was so beautiful I cried. The Psychopath Test was really interesting as a subject and while I loved the content of Braving the Wilderness, the font and type was so poor that I struggled to understand the message.

Category 8 : Mystery / Drama

Just 4 this year, but I made the Sue Grafton books separate for a reason. If you haven’t read Murder on the Orient Express it’s a great read, reminds me of Sherlock Holmes. Otherwise John Grisham’s Rogue Lawyer was a favorite. Steve Berry is very similar to Dan Brown only… better.

Category 9 : Real Life

These were more real life non-fiction and both were enjoyable. I recommend the Women in Science book for anyone with younger children. The illustrations are beautiful and I’d like to pick up Women in Sport next year

Category 10 : Fantasy

While this is not typically a favorite category of mine, the Sarah Maas series came highly recommended and I read the first 2 books on vacation this summer.

Total Read: 60

I do have quite a few books that I’ve started and not yet finished. I purchased a half dozen more for Christmas but I also want to finish up the ones I started earlier this year. Here are the 4 I have in progress:



2016 Master House Plan

I’ve been thinking about creating a list like this for awhile and the new year seems like a good opportunity. It’ll include my house and yard plans as well as some future planning as I think about turning the house into a rental.

Let’s start in the kitchen, aka the room that’s most under used. With the dishwasher finally working well and a new fridge there’s not much I need in here.

  • Fix the faucet or replace it with one that has more clearance
  • Get the counter tops re-sealed
  • Add trim around the cabinet base
  • Fix the curtain hangers so they don’t fall off the wire

Dream goal:

  • Replace the stove/oven


The dining room is probably going to experience the most changes, if I get my way (I always do).

  • frame out the door to the garage and paint
  • reconfigure the garage light switch
  • Install new outlet and move existing outlet
  • Install built in dinette and bookshelf
    • build a built in bench 6′ long
    • create a countertop along the back
    • build a bookshelf 8′ tall across 6′
    • add lighting
    • trim and paint the entire contraption
  • Reinstall baseboards
  • Paint base of bench and add cross supports

In the living room I can’t think of much that needs to be done but I would very much like to replace the two green arm chairs with a big leather stuffed chair. It’ll be low on the priority list but I still want to think about the seating situation.

  • Add 2 new feet to the couch (in the middle) stained to match the others
  • Re-finish the dresser (possibly paint)
  • Replace green arm chairs

Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 7.13.32 PM

The guest bath is looking better after replacing the sink and cabinet but I have more work to do here than in any other room except the dining area. Here’s the dream list:

  • Skim coat the walls
  • Paint the walls blue
  • Install a can light in the shower
  • Trim out the door
  • Sand and re-paint the tall cabinet
  • finish replacing floor tiles
  • remove the baseboards
  • install new baseboards, bead board & chair rail



Dream goal:

  • take down the shower surround and re-tile it with subway tile
  • upgrade the faucet in the bathtub

In the office I’ve been working the last few weeks of December to arrange things better and get a handle on paperwork but it’s a never ending struggle. At the very least I want things to be really organized.

  • finish trimming out the door and paint the frame
  • trim out the window with a new frame and sill
  • replace the window
  • organize all of the papers, boxes and binders

The guest room has actually had a lot of changes recently as well with furniture moving around and some organization but there’s always more to do.

  • finish trimming out the door
  • find a runner/small rug for the guest room
  • recover the desk bench with a new fabric
  • create a pad and cover for the window bench
  • add feet to the window bench to raise it up
  • work on fabric projects to use up material

My master bedroom is looking good but there are a few small changes to make around the bed. While I like the new frame I built last summer, it’s a bit too low to the ground. While good for the dogs to jump up, it’s been harder on my ankles since the fall.

  • finish the trim on the door (hallway side) and paint
  • find a solution for the bed frame to raise it up 12-24″ higher
  • make a headboard

Dream goal:

  • replace the sliding glass door with a single french door to the backyard

Thankfully the master bathroom is one space that needs very little after I finished it earlier in 2015. Right now there’s just the dream goal:

  • re-do the shower
    • take out the shower surround
    • replace the floor pan
    • tile the walls with subway tile
  • recycle the door and install a shower curtain

The backyard has some goals for the new year to make it more useful:

  • take out the corner patio and save the bricks
  • take out the raised garden bed under the guest room window
  • take out the back door patio and walkway to the side yard
  • build a new patio outside the back door with access to the side yard
  • install a water barrel on the gutter downspout
  • take out 2 dead rose bushes
  • make minor fence repairs
  • reseed the lawn

I’ll do a separate list from the back yard for the side yard because it’s growing like crazy!

  • build a trellis around the bougainvillea to support it growing up and over the raised garden beds
  • keep the lantana from taking over
  • make space for the lawn mower and garden tools (protect from the elements

Now, the front yard… with the tree out I still have a lot of work to do:

  • haul away the rest of the wood from the maple tree
  • grind down the 2 tree stumps and take out prominent roots
  • remove the palm tree (attempt to re-root in the front yard)
  • take out 2 orange rose bushes
  • get rid of the bricks around the old tree and level that flower bed
    • replant the lily growing in that box
  • build a fence out to the front of the property
    • add a gate to the end of the fence
  • fix the walkway up to the house
  • take down the patio cover over the front door
  • replace the gutters along the side and front of the house
  • install new downspouts to divert water
    • add water barrels
  • plant a tree in the front yard

Finally, the garage, another space that has had some improvements lately but is not quite done

  • install new can lights throughout the garage
  • paint the floor when the temps are within range
  • finish trimming the window, caulk and paint it
  • reconfigure the wood cabinets
  • move the food pantry
  • get the holiday storage bins up on the walls
  • build a new box for the water heater

Dream goal:

  • add a water softener for the house

Then I have a couple of whole house changes:

  • Add quarter round to all baseboards, re-caulk and paint all trim
  • Install and secure floor transitions for laminate flooring
  • Choose color and paint the exterior of the house

Dream goal:

  • install crown molding in every room
  • replace ALL windows with new, more efficient models and trim them out

Should be easy, right? I’ll keep telling myself that.

January Goals

It’s January 2nd and I’m already looking forward to February.

This month is going to be an incredibly busy one for me, mostly because I have several big projects to accomplish which means less downtime and relaxation and more work to finish. The pressure is definitely on with a photoshoot, book to edit, launch to finish and workshop to teach plus my brother is getting married, I have 4 new small groups starting next week and 2 websites to finish.

Tonight I’ve been tackling the office by going through a ton of papers and sorting them into the appropriate place. I can’t wait to sit down with the scanner and get all my 2015 bills scanned so they can be shredded. The box for shredding is nearly full so it’s just about time to power up the shredder and give it a workout.

Also today I dropped off a donation at Goodwill – 46 items out the door. I am working on letting go of all the paper and stickers from scrapbooking (that I don’t do anymore), some of the journals I’ve collected over the years and clothes, always clothes to donate. There’s also more vases in the garage that I don’t need, a lot of baskets and bins and such and office supplies to use up or get rid of quickly.

The biggest goal this month is turning the first draft of my book over to the editor. It’s incredibly nerve wracking because of all the things I’ve written over the years, I have never let others read the finished product. Tomorrow I have half my day blocked off to edit this manuscript and I’m really looking forward to having it published and available for sale – nerves be damned.

Away we go

Even though I wanted to take a break for a couple weeks it turns out that in order to finish the hallway section with laminate, I need to take it all the way through the living room.

Floors 1

Floors 2

Which means my “break” was cancelled and I started tearing out the carpet in the living room this weekend.

While I would really love to have some time to rest, I guess it’s best that I keep going while I’m on a roll. So I’ve moved the furniture around in the living room and am prepping the subfloor. I always knew that working on the floors in the living room was going to be the hardest to do, especially now that the Caddy is taking up all the spare space in the garage! Last year when I scraped the ceiling and then painted the walls I had most of the furniture stored in the garage for the duration and that’s not exactly an option now.

Getting the guest room cleaned out before working in there was a great decision as I am now able to use some of that room for storage. Still, it looks like the new couch might be residing in the kitchen for a couple days.

Anywho, I started to write my June Goals:

1. Purchase the rest of the laminate + underlayment for the house – I’ll need approx 6 more boxes if I’ve measured correctly – DONE! I remeasured and it appears I only needed 1 more box so I picked up 2 and am ready to go!

2. Get the Caddy running smoothly – there’s an issue with the battery and/or electrical but I want it running again DONE! Got the work done on the electrical system and gear shifter then new tires and brakes!

3. Build a bench – need to decide between a potting bench and workbench for the garage DONE! I build a potting bench for practice building the workbench

Ideally I’d like to have the rest of the house finished with the laminate BUT I will need to do the kitchen so all of that depends on my ability to move the fridge/freezer out. and DONE! I was able to buy a new fridge/freezer and finish the laminate in the hallway, living room and kitchen. Whew!

After sleeping on it overnight I probably will build a potting bench for the front yard (to go near the front door) because I can easily move it out for wood working projects and the miter saw is light enough to haul around. Right now many of my detail cuts are happing with the jigsaw, balanced on an outdoor side table in the front yard.

“Getting Organized” is boring

Let’s face it, the process of getting organized is kinda boring. Paper cuts and shredding and making decisions is just blahhhh.

Which is why reading about organizing is so much more fun. You don’t have to get your hands dirty. Or make any effort whatsoever.

So I have a love/hate relationship with organizing posts because yes, they’re inspiring but also the crazy side of my brain takes over and I think that I need to read a whole book, the entire series, the finished space before I can begin myself. My brain thinks I need to figure out where they got everything, create a new board on Pinterest, and it just spirals.

Maybe you can relate.

So instead of sharing my own step by step organizing process (which I don’t actually have) I’m just going to work on my own space.

Along the way I might share some posts but only to hold myself accountable.

This year I’ve set the goal to declutter, donate or consign 1,000 items. After letting go of 1270 items last year, I’m lowering my goal a little in consideration of what I’ve already done.

I could probably accomplish that goal in 2 days if I counted individual papers or emails but instead I count a full paper bag of shredded papers as one item.

Here’s what I’m working on this month:

  • picture frames
  • filing in the office
  • gardening pots and containers
  • flower vases
  • owners and operation manuals

Finding Your Motivation

There are a lot of times I get asked about the work I’ve done around the house – and how to stay motivated over long periods of time with so much going on.

Often I don’t really think I’m accomplishing that much. This blog is a hobby that I don’t make a dime from so naturally my attention is usually focused on my business. And although it’s been nearly 6 years of living here I’ve never done a major remodel. The kitchen is mostly the same, the only new floors have been in the bathroom and we’ve never done a major gut job – the closest was the master bath sink to replace an older cabinet.

2014-02-08 Master Bath 05

That shelf is actually a good example of my first strategy. Typically, I like to let ideas marinate because I’ve learned that snap decisions are usually bad ones. So while I’m watching a movie or working on the computer or avoiding doing the dishes at night I’m also thinking about what I need to tackle.

Then I research. A lot. After weeks or months of searching for materials, pricing out the project and mentally planning how it’s going to work I will finally make a move.

By this time I’m ready to see the final version so I try to make sure there’s nothing in the way of getting it done. So although I might build something very quickly the planning stage in my head takes ages.

The new lights, like the one below in the dining room, are another good example. I searched and searched before purchasing my new lights and then got the electrician to come out and install them all in just a few hours.


Another tactic I use is to determine an arbitrary order to my projects so the least fun tasks get done before the enjoyable stuff. A great example of this is my bedroom gallery wall. When I was putting together these prints I was super excited to get it installed.

Instead of immediately hanging pictures I decided to paint the walls first. After painting the guest room smurf blue then doing the ceiling I learned that scraping the ceiling needs to come first. Otherwise, ceiling dust covers the paint is never truly comes out. That thought process enabled me to first complete the ceiling, in the summer of 2012, then paint the ceiling and walls, and then I could install the gallery. Here it was at just the beginning with one print up:


The other motivating factor for finishing projects is sharing them with friends by inviting people over. And while it’s tempting to delay until “later” I’m finally, finally hosting an Open House aka a very belated House Warming party in a week!

So now alllll those little projects are going to get completed.


2,014 things

Inspired by a friend of mine I’ve decided to make one of my 2014 Goals be to permanently remove 2,014 things from my home by the end of the year. There are many reasons, most boring, so I won’t go over those. In 2013 I probably donated or consigned close to 500 items so I just need to continue that progress!

Here are my rules:

1. Expired food doesn’t count, donated food does.

2. Regular trash doesn’t count (junk mail, plastic containers).

3. Items going to consignment will count but may not be brought back in.

4. Items can be thrown away, sent to consignment, given to others or donated. For this I’ll utilize Freecycle, Craigslist, eBay and Amazon.

5. Items in a collection may either be counted as 1 or individually. Probably depending on how close I am to the goal at any point in time.

Right now I’m starting with kitchenware, any decorating items that I’m not using and clothing. By the time I move on to my books again, crafts, linens and the garage I know it’ll be easy to hit the goal.

By focusing on filling up boxes each week and going to consignment or Goodwill once a week I’ll continue to track. It’s already January 2nd and I’ve dropped off 52 items at consignment.

Other Projects

Looking around the house there are just a few projects I have still awaiting me. Here they are in loose order of priority for completion:

  • Build shelving units for the master bath
  • Install and paint baseboards in the hall closet
  • Install and paint baseboards in the guest closet
  • Sand and paint my footchest
  • Sand and re-stain kitchen table
  • Repair my outdoor wood box planter
  • Sand and paint 2 outdoor wood side tables
  • Make my outdoor wood shelf sturdier and re-stain
  • Install new lights outdoors
  • Build a new planter box for the front yard
  • Install new baseboard, beadboard and chair rail in the master bath
  • Install new lights in the living room, bathrooms and hallway (possibly hire an electrician)

On my “would be a total dream” list is installing crown molding in the bedrooms, replacing the HVAC and replacing 3 ceiling fans. We’ll see. Maybe I should start playing the lottery.

As of now the wood for the bathroom shelves is stained and ready to be assembled. Let’s see if I can create this:

inspirationpinin the next few days.