New Home …. New Inspiration


Stepping back to last year, I shared my motivation for a new beginning and the bare bones of the house that I just purchased for me and the kids.

Talk about vanilla.  The walls were an off-white, with matching off-white doors, and matching off-white ceilings and lest we forget, the off-white molding and carpet.  (Except the kitchen which is this gold tone paint, which I do not like at all.)   On one hand, it was a clean palate to work with and no serious decorating issues to overcome…… yet,  I felt like I was apartment living again.


Vanilla with Vanilla Frosting

The previous owner left me some brown sheers in the living room/dining room windows and they matched well with my dining and office furniture, so I kept those and decided that espresso was going to be a key accent color in those rooms, but that is the only decision I made for months.

Living Room/Dining Room with Sheer Expresso Window Treatment

Living Room/Dining Room with Sheer Espresso Window Treatment

I guess you can say I was looking for inspiration.  My previous home was entirely painted with Sienna Sand from Monarch Paint, which I had the builder do before we moved in.  It gave the house an immediate warm feeling and helped the high ceilings not look so cavernous.

My old house with Sienna Sand paint

My old house with Sienna Sand paint

I did not want to replicate that look again.  Especially since this house is much smaller and the ceilings are fairly normal in height.  Maybe a cooler look on the walls was in order, warmed up with wood floors and darker accents, like this……

Consideration - A cool wall color with warm wood floors and dark accents from my Pinterest board "Favorite Places & Spaces"

Consideration – A cool wall color with warm wood floors and dark accents from my Pinterest board “Favorite Places & Spaces”

After many months of watching dirty handprints accumulate on the chalky off-white walls, I found this picture on Pinterest and was immediately in love with this look.

it was love at first site....

it was love at first site….

Owner of this internet picture was kind enough to post the color of the wall paint (Martha Stewart’s Coir) and so it began.  (I’ll share the paint color details and the adventures in getting this paint in my next blog.)

Important details

Important details

I loved the wall color, the black doors, and the bright white molding.  It was classic and low key at the same time.  I thought it would be a good fit for my new smaller home.

Here is another pic I found with similar features…

Coffee colored walls with black doors

Coffee colored walls with black doors

I picked a wall in my home that had a door and some molding and I decided it would be my ‘test’ wall.

Test Wall

Test Wall

First, I painted the door with Black Semi Gloss.  I started with sanding the door to etch the existing paint and wiped it down with a damp cloth.  The first coat was not pretty.


I sanded between coats, wiped it down with a wet cloth and let dry after sanding.  I completed 3 coats and let each side dry for 24 hrs before handling.

Since I was also changing out the hinges, I removed the door from the frame and just painted them in the living room on top of saw horse and  plastic sheeting underneath.

Door painted and ready...

Door painted and ready…

The original hinges where painted off-white and were a brass color underneath (there was no saving them for this project).  The door knobs are brushed nickel, which I love love love, so I bought matching hinges.



Next I painted the wall with the Coir and then the baseboards with a bright white latex semi-gloss (I don’t do oil-based paints if I can help it).

And bam! Here is my test wall!




So you don’t have scroll up, here is the BEFORE picture again.

Test Wall


Now, I’m inspired.


Stay Calm and Thrive!


Appliances and the Single Mom

Appliances and the Single Mom

In checking on my laundry yesterday, I saw my clothes sitting in the laziest of manners in the tub of the wash machine soaking in dirty water.  I had to stop and think, “when did I put these clothes in?”  and “are they just in a soak cycle?”.   After playing with the dials and knobs for a while in a knowing manner to see if I could initiate a drain and spin sequence, I came to the frightening conclusion that that dang machine was broke.  Or just being lazy.  Or just broke.

There’s nothing scarier in the world for a single mom than having an appliance stop working.  First of all, most appliances in the home are used and used again on a daily basis and their loss cannot just be brushed off  like a bad date with an “Oh well!” and a flip and of the hair and the hand.   Replacing them is usually a rather large expense, usually of the unexpected variety.

In the past 6 months, I have been faced with a few failing appliances and before taking that machine out back to be kicked, shot and mourned, I decided to see if I could fix it myself.  Yes, that’s right.  In this day of YouTube and internet, it isn’t all that improbable that an easy fix could be a few key strokes away.


I highly recommend the website,  Any amazing website that helps troubleshoot issues, has video on how to take apart your machine, test parts if possible and an online chat to ask questions.  Once you identify the issue and if you need a part, then you can order it directly from them.  Then you can watch a video on how to install the part and if it turns out that it wasn’t the problem after all, you can return for a full refund of your money.   It is totally a win-win situation with low risk.  After all, you were probably going to trash that disloyal piece of metal anyway and get yourself a shiny new bells-and-whistles something-or-other.  So, what have you got to lose to try it yourself and maybe gain a new sense of achievement and empowerment.  You know, it’s not like you have to tell anyone …. just  say the “dang thing” exploded when the kids come home from school and find the machine dismantled in the kitchen.


Took my dryer apart…. and was surprised how simple it was

Back Story

Several months ago my dryer was making a horrible screech, which started even more months prior as a cute little mouse-like squeak and then slowly escalated to a mind-scrambling, metal-on-metal, leave-the-house-when-drying-the-clothes noise.  I was definitely not in a position to buy a new dryer and frankly, why would I want to?  I’m definitely a “gadget girl”, but clothes dryers do not excite me.  And having a new one is nothing I would brag about.

I did some basic internet queries and saw comments about the drive belt.   I was positive that’s what it was, after all, don’t cars make that awful noise when their belts are going bad or slipping?  So I went to the auto parts store and got me some belt lubricant and gave that a go.  Moral:  Not every chat room is going to give you good advice or a money back offer.

Not one to give up an opportunity to bust through another gender paradigm …… I found and once I located and typed in my dryer brand and model number (easy find inside the door), I was able to utilize videos that help me identify the noise and another video that help me to take the dryer apart to confirm the diagnosis.  In my case, there were sliders that help the drum spin smoothly that had worn to nothing.  I had four that needed to be replaced and the bracket that holds them.  For about $35, I was able to repair my dryer and get it back into quiet working order within a few days (parts need to be shipped).   All it took was some time, effort, a bit of knowledge and a screw driver to take the dryer apart and put it back together.   The parts just snapped into place.  Suddenly, I felt like I was standing on a mountain top, hands on hips, with a red cape flapping in the wind.  I had done it!  Que music from Rocky followed by a very funky Happy Dance.   Un-hu, I am bad… I know it!

Present Day

So, now I am looking into the tub of my machine wondering how long those clothes are going sit in that water before they start to decay, cuz I’m thinking I won’t be bailing out that water if I don’t have to.   I started looking through their troubleshooting guide and read the following under Repair Help:

Washer Stop in mid-cycle

Yes, that’s exactly what happened, so I click on that it brings up the parts that could be responsible and, assuming that my timer must be the issue, I look under the Timer part it said:


If the washer stops mid cycle the timer might be defective. This part is often misdiagnosed, check other components before replacing this timer.

So I looked around for another option…..

Lid Switch Assembly

If the washer stops mid cycle the lid switch assembly might be defective. This is a very common problem. The lid switch assembly can fail either mechanically or electrically. Test any electrical switches with an Ohm meter for continuity. The switches should have continuity according to their design.

Ah, this must be it.  By the way, I skipped the testing with the Ohm meter (although I do have one of the those as it would have required disassemble and draining of the washer) and went straight to the pinky-in-the-lid-switch-slot test and lo and behold, the washer started working.  So, definitely the Lid Switch Assembly is failing and I promptly ordered it for $36 + shipping ($42).  And since I can’t stand there with my pinky in the Lid Switch slot all day, I did my Lady McGuyver and came up with a temporary solution.


Temporary Solution with a half a clothes pin. It works!

My part should be here next week and my laundry room will be back in a socially and aesthetically acceptable condition.

I’ll let you know how the installation goes….. in the meantime, check out that website and remember that you have options when large metal mechanical things begin failing around you.  If nothing else, you will be able to talk to the repair person with all the symptoms and proper jargon and maybe they will think twice about overcharging the knowledgeable and powerful mom with the red cape!

Keep Calm and Thrive On……..


A New Beginning

A New Beginning

I always like to start at the beginning.  I think I am kinda of OCD in that way.  I know I could always just jump in right where I am, but I would rather start a story from the start.  Which I can imagine makes me a great party guest who has to spend endless moments setting the stage before getting to the point.  Kind of like I am doing now.

With no further ado…… the point is…. I bought a house.


The New Abode

My first house.  My first house without anybody else’s name on the title or the paperwork.  All mine.  Is it weird to admit that it had always been a personal goal to be able to say that I, ME, MYSELF, bought a house?

My original plan when I put my old house on the market was to actually move into my parents house.  The market was great for selling a house (inventories were low) and I felt that looking for a new house at the same time as selling a house and the logistics of timing the closings and the move where going to be nightmarish.  I didn’t want to be put into a position to buy a house I didn’t truly love just because the opportunity to sell my house had presented itself.

I wasn’t actually planning to move back home, so to speak.  (Another personal goal was to never ever move back in with my parents).   I have 2 kids and 4 dogs and my parents have a 3 bedroom house.  I was thinking since they weren’t actually using the house (they RV pretty much full time), it would be a place to settle for a while and launch a serious house search.   And since it was right down the street from my current home, it would mean minimal changes for my kids.  Same bus schedule, same friends in the neighborhood, etc.

But it didn’t exactly work out that way and I found a house before I knew I was even looking for one.   Funny how that works.

I did have a list of must have’s for my next house.

  • It HAD to be one story – no more upstairs and no more split bedroom living
  • It needed to have 4 bedrooms – a guest room is imperative since my dad visits often for long periods
  • I wanted a neighborhood with a community pool for the kids so I didn’t have to have one
  • Front entry drive
  • A smaller yard for easier maintenance
  • A smaller footprint for utlities, taxes and upkeep
  • Same school district/schools for the kids

A friend of mine stumbled across a house that just been put on the market, For Sale By Owner, in the neighborhood I was considering.   Since house inventories where low, there weren’t many one-storied houses for sale.  I rushed over and did a walk through with the owner and was smitten.   I scheduled a second viewing on the spot to show my kids.

Here are the pictures from the second walk through……  which are in random order because I haven’t figured out how to move stuff around here..


All the bedrooms have walk-in closets


The Master Bath


Looking at the front entrance from the Family Room. My daughter is looking down the hall to the 3 bedrooms.


The backdoor and a bank of windows in the Family Room


The Kitchen with dark cabinets, light tile and granite counter tops


A gas fireplace in the Family Room with a nook to the left and a door to the right leading to the Master Bedroom


The breakfast nook with a chandelier. The left door is a pantry and the right door is the laundry room


The Rear-Entry Garage


The covered back patio


Another view of the Living Room nook to the right and the hallway to the bedrooms to the left, which is off the front entry


A view down the bedroom hall to the Living Room/Dining Room combo


The Dining Room with a black chandelier and the Living Room great room

So many great features which includes a huge walk-in closet in the Master Bedroom, two community pools, my son’s middle school in walking distance and both kids already had friends in the neighborhood.  The house was less than 5 years old and with the exception of the rear-entry garage, this was a total score and I jumped on it.  I put in my offer that same night and with a few back and forth texts with the owner, we came to an agreement.

And that is how I came to own a new home.

Tea Parties, Blue Bonnets and Baby Showers ….


Spring arrived early here in North Texas, following a very mild winter, and the world has come alive with color, fresh breezes, songs of birds and the drone of lawn maintenance equipment.  I begin to feel the siren call of my beloved camera(s) and oh, the adventures we have together; the beautiful moments we capture.

While my furniture building projects have taken a back seat to the draw of being outside, tiding up my gardens,  admiring the artistry of our creator and basking in the warmth of the beautiful sunshine, my camera and I have been at the beck and call of family and friends to document their Rites of Spring.

The First Pool Party of the Season, March 31st

Sweet 13th Birthday Party

What a great party it was…. and included our favorite middle-schooler,  DJFlashh and the Swag Team Vets (a local dance team that has been featured on MTV).  The place jammed for hours (or at least until 10pm when the city ordinance forces us to tamper down the fun) .  I would not have otherwise been allowed to attend(by my own 13 year old) had I not been asked to provide some candid photography of the event.  With a camera in hand, I am the cool mom, not the helicopter mom.  🙂

An Afternoon with the Blue Bonnets

Single Mom Raising Boys

I can’t imagine a more challenging job than to be a Single Mom raising boys.  Except trying to photograph said boys.  They don’t exactly enjoy preening for the camera.  They would rather be running and jumping and rolling around in the blue bonnets.

Tea Parties

and Baby Showers

My step-daughter’s baby shower was held at a cute little Tea Room in Waxahaxie that had a beautiful garden area in the back.  My 13 year old daughter is a wonderful model when Mom gets an itchy shutter button finger.   It helps that she’s beautiful and has been posing me for since she was barely a single-breath old.  The gardens were filled with lovely fountains, archways and brick walkways that would be simply lovely for a wedding or reception.   I even managed to get some wonderful shots of my step-daughter and her little family, including my grand daughter, Aria.

And so my son doesn’t feel left out of Mommy’s Post, here one of him being awarded his blue belt during his Tae Kwon Do ceremony.  You can see I have a lot to be proud of…. If only I got a picture of that mid-field kick to goal at his soccer game that morning.   Still marveling and bragging over that one.

I hope you have a huge monitor, because I loaded these pictures up full size so you can enjoy them larger-than-life, too.

Emergency Planning for the Single Mom


National Severe Weather Preparedness Week is April 22 to April 28

Tornado Season has officially begun in Texas with the touchdown of more than 15 tornadoes in Dallas in the early part of this month.   It was the worst day ever,  having the kids at school when the sirens went off and false reports of touchdowns nearby.    We survived that awful day, but soon enough, North Texas will transition into Wild Fire Season and Flash Flood Season.   Are you prepared for a disaster?

Imagine worst case where you have to leave your home immediately or take cover in a closet or basement.  Do you know what information you would need to have on hand after you emerge into the aftermath?  Who will you call?  Does your insurance over this?  Does your child need a tetanus shot?

Whenever there is impending doom, I grab my “Important Information” binder, my  Portable Safe and my Portable Hard-Drive …. along with the kids, the car keys, the dogs and their leashes.   The first three items contain the workings of my life and if I lost every other material thing, then I have the tools to pick up the pieces for me and my kids.

STEP 1: Important Information Binder

This binder pulls together key information needed to make contact and be answer questions about your family, your insurance, your health.  This binder can contain:

  • A list of Emergency Contacts which include the closest members of your family and their home and cellphone numbers.  It should also contain the numbers for your doctors, dentist, eye doctor, plumber, lawn service, utilities companies and alarm service.  (What if you lose your cellphone?!?)
  • Current Car Insurance policy
  • Current Home Owners insurance policy
  • Kids current shot records
  • Dogs Rabies Certifications
  • Life Insurance Policies

My binder is full of sheet protectors that I can just drop things into it as I think of stuff I may want to have with me.

It isn’t unusual for me to reference that binder in just doing day-to-day stuff and my mom knows where it is in case I become seriously ill or when I occasionally travel.  So, I also include:

  • Authorization for her to treat my kids
  • Health Insurance Cards
  • Current Pictures of my kids and pets (in case they go missing)
  • Care and Feeding instructions for my Pet Sitter
  • The Kids Routines and Schedules for when I have to travel without them.

STEP 2: Personal Safe or Safe Deposit Box

  • Birth Certificates
  • Vehicle and Home Titles
  • SS Cards
  • Your Will
  • A copy of your identification card/driver license
  • Passports
  • A copy of your Credit Cards front and back
  • A Password/Combination Log of your email, online, website accounts
  • A book of checks/or emergency cash

STEP 3: Portable Hard Drive/Remote Backup

Personally, I like to keep all my digital photos, and I have a zillion of them,  on a 1 terabit portable hard drive which I grab when I need to take cover.  If I lose every photo album in a fire, flood or storm, then I still have these valuable keepsakes.

I also keep an online remote backup of my PC Hard Drive with a service called Carbonite.  For $69 a year, my home computer is constantly backed up and I can retrieve my documents from any internet-connected PC or from an App on my iPhone.  This also gives me protection should my hard drive crash from a hacker, a virus or a power surge.  Or sometimes, it’s been known to just crash randomly.  This gives me incredible peace of mind that my data won’t disappear in a flash.

Check out this link that compares remote backup services.

But Wait……

This is just a small portion of what you will need in the aftermath of an emergency.   There are many, many website that can provide further information on how to prepare for an emergency, such as preparing food rations, evacuation plans, and disaster kits.   All these are very important to a well-rounded Disaster Preparedness Plan.

Check out these websites for more information:

If your area is prone to hurricanes and/or earthquakes, there are specific websites for preparedness for your situation:

Some of these lists can be incredibly thorough, so review them and take away what you need and can easily manage.

Peace of Mind

A plan and having information at your fingertips can give you peace of mind.  Sharing this plan with your kids and extended family can give you all confidence that “in case of emergency”, you will know what to do, where to go, and how to kick start your life again.

Now, get started and here’s hoping you never have to use your plan!