Yard Transformation- Part 2

After finishing Part One of our yard transformation, we couldn’t wait to start on Part Two- expanding our patio area with pavers. The existing patio that was put in was SO TINY. Basically, our grill fit and nothing else. Not very conducive to spending time outdoors in the hot Colorado summers with kiddos and a dog. We needed enough space for our grill, table and chairs, and whatever summer toys we had. 

Let’s just say the project was a little more labor intensive than the husband anticipated. The project was quickly started, but, once day-to-day life stepped in, our progress slowed down. Plus, we underestimated how many pavers we would need to complete the expansion! 

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Renovation on the Cheap #4- The Finale

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After a long few months (and a few ‘hiccups’ along the way), we are FINALLY done with our Renovation on the Cheap! Our house is now under contract and we are so excited to be continuing on this adventure! Now that the lower level is finished, our house feels completely different- in a good way!

The best part?

Our renovation stayed “on the cheap” and we came out at almost $7,500 even! Yep! Under $10k for an entire lower level finish. Granted, the larger the space, the more expensive it could get. Our lower level is about 500 sqft (smaller than our upper level) since it’s a tri-level, but, it feels so much bigger now!

I’ll admit, I had a really hard time visualizing the end result and I was so afraid that it wouldn’t turn out like we planned. Instead, it turned out better than I expected and it looks beautiful! 

Throughout the renovation, we definitely found some products and brands that we ended up loving! 

After the construction phase, the house was SO dusty and dirty, despite our best efforts to keep it cleaned. Keeping the air clean was one of my biggest concerns with our little one.

We went through furnace filters like crazy! The best one we tried was from an awesome service called FilterSnap*. This was perfect for us, because honestly, we are terrible about remembering to replace our furnace filters on time! FilterSnap is great for busy lives because they SEND you your replacement furnace filters! You can choose which size(s) you need, the quality you want (Basic, Standard, Ultimate), how often you receive replacements (every 1, 2, 3, 6, or 12 months), and then you just enter your shipping and payment information. Seriously the easiest thing ever and you don’t have to remember to change your filters because you’ll get them physically delivered to your door. This is also great for the winter months when most people are inside 95% of the time- you don’t want stale, allergen filled air blowing throughout your house AND who wants to venture out into the cold, snowy weather to get a furnace filter!?

We noticed a huge difference in the air quality coming through our vents! I think we will definitely utilize FilterSnap once we get into a new house. 

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L to R: Basic Filter, Standard Filter, Ultimate Filter

Along with the dusty and dirty air, we had just straight up DUST everywhere. Our counters were constantly filthy and so were the floors. We were going through paper towels like nobody’s business and it was getting expensive! We started using these awesome bamboo reusable paper towels from NatureZway*. The paper towels are super strong and don’t rip like regular paper towels. Also, they can be rinsed out and reused up to 100 times (more or less depending on what you’re using them for). We are able to use these towels on everything from kitchen counters, appliances, bathroom surfaces, floors, dirty toddler faces after dinner (obviously using a clean one!), and tons of other things! Before we could go through a roll of regular paper towels so fast, but, with the reusable ones from NatureZway, we use probably 75% less paper towels! They’re amazing! 

NatureZway also has some great, super absorbent floor wipes! You can use them on your existing sweepers like Swiffer! The wipes can be used dry or wet depending on your preference/situation and they’ll pick up all of those crumbs and dust bunnies! The products are sold online at Target and ReUseIt and in several retail stores.

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So, after all of this craziness, we are very ready to move into the next chapter of this adventure!

Check out all the photos below of the renovation from start to finished product! We tried to capture every single step along the way. We loved sharing it with you all!

 

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*The products mentioned were given to me free of charge in exchange for an honest and truthful review and personal opinion of the product. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way. Reviewed products have been marked with an asterisk within the post.*

Keeping Your Sanity in Chaos

Keeping Your

Being a parent is TOUGH. Go ahead, you can admit it. There are days when you let your kiddo eat puffs and grapes for every meal (I promise I won’t tell…my little one does it at least once a week). There are days when you AND the kids don’t make it out of pajamas (guilty again)! There are days when you realize you’ve been wearing the same yoga pants for 3 days (I’ll admit I lose track when I resort to dry shampoo and think my hair is cleaner than it really is). There are days when you have an enormous “to-do” list and you’re lucky if you can get 1/2 of one task accomplished. There are days when you have the entire house to clean and your little one decides you will be her slave and nurse all day, forcing you to be stationary on the couch ALL.DAY.

I get it, because, I know those days all too well. And to top it off, that’s just a REGULAR, NORMAL day. 

Lately, our house has been ranking in the upper levels of chaos with no mercy.

When we suddenly decided to think about putting our house up for sale, we realized we had a hefty “to-do” list before that would be possible. We’re not talking painting a few rooms and cleaning the carpets. Nope. We’re talking full-on construction and renovation project over weeks and weeks. On top of that, we decided to do most of the work ourselves, thanks to the amazing handyman skills of my Dad. 

We were pretty prepared for the timeline and work that would be ahead of us. 

BIG SURPRISE when I ended up breaking my ankle and having to be in a cast for 4+ weeks and being unable to bear any weight AT ALL. I’m finally in a walking boot, but, this was a major setback since my Mom and Gramma had to help with our daughter EVERY DAY while I was in my cast. Without that help, we would have been in a pretty bad place all around! So, instead of being done with our renovation project at the end of August, we’re now looking at being done at the end of September. 

Even better is the undeniable lack of routine in our household right now. Nap times? Ha! If we’re lucky.  Our good eater enjoying a plethora of nutrient-dense foods? Popcorn, tortilla chips, and grapes count, right? Bedtime routine? Now you’re really being hilarious! Kiddo going to sleep in her own bed at night before snuggling up with us later on? You have to be delusional! 

If I thought our day-to-day was hectic already, a renovation and broken ankle made me laugh at my previous daily mom “struggles”. Compared to lately, my days of having a fully functional ankle were a dream world! 

So, when your daily routine gets COMPLETELY thrown off a cliff by a broken bone, illness, or other major event, how do you deal?

Sh*! happens. REAL life happens. Bad days happen. Illness happens. Broken bones happen. Day-to-day life with a family is never ideal. Never flawless. Real life is how you handle those things when you really don’t want to or hadn’t planned to.

ADAPT AND OVERCOME, MAMAS. 

1.) Ask for help. 

When I broke my ankle (at a workout in the park- thanks for throwing me off track on my first day, ankle!), I was so freaked out about how I was going to care for my child and household. I expressed this fear to one of my fellow MOPS moms and she immediately asked if we could use some meals. This amazing mama (you’re seriously an angel, Ashleigh!) organized a meal train for the first 2 weeks. I am eternally grateful to all of the mamas who jumped in, regardless of their OWN daily demands and struggles, to help us adjust to our new “normal” for the next 6+ weeks. We not only had meals, we got fruit, cookies, and sides to go along! Huge help when our fridge was bare.

2.) Accept the help.

As moms, it’s hard to put your pride aside sometimes and admit that, yes- you, supermom, need some help. It’s okay, and believe me, no one will think less of you for it. I not only have my Mom and Gramma helping with my day-to-day stuff, they’re also helping with packing our belongings, scheduling appointments, cleaning our house, doing our laundry, cooking us meals, staging our house for moving, and the list goes on. I would have never been able to do even a fraction of that stuff with this broken ankle. Just graciously accept the help when someone offers, and when you’re feeling better, pay it forward!

3.) Try to get organized.

One of our biggest struggles with me being down right now is our household, well, EVERYTHING. I’m always the one in charge of our household binder including bills, checking account register, grocery lists, food prep/meal prep, cleaning (for the most part), and miscellaneous things here and there. With our routine being so out of whack, our household binder went downhill, FAST. We were forgetting due dates for bills because our routine was simply gone and my typical routine of seeing our calendar on the fridge with the bills written down (on a daily basis) was long gone. Grocery trips were done by my husband (with baby in tow) or by my mom. We were constantly forgetting things because I wasn’t able to make a quick notes throughout the week like usual. So, if something catastrophic happens to your day-to-day routine, carve out some time to get organized. Designate duties to your husband, kids, whoever. Make notes on how you usually do things so people can just take charge. Ask for help!

4.) Let it go.

Whatever it is that has forced its way into your normal daily life, accept it. It’s happened, and as frustrating as it can be, it can’t be changed (in most cases at least). We all have our way of doing things and it’s hard to forfeit that and let others take control of our usual daily tasks. I like to fold laundry completely different than my mom does, but, she’s doing me a GINORMOUS favor by doing MY laundry so I deal with it, thank her, and just tell her where things belong! The alternative is me trying to hobble down a flight of stairs to our construction zone of a lower level while trying to figure out how to get the laundry baskets down there on crutches…not a good idea and a recipe for more broken bones. Don’t dwell on the fact that some things may not be done the way you’d normally do them. Just let it go and know that eventually, you’ll be back to doing those things YOUR way!

5.) ENJOY IT.

Yep. I said it. And no, I’m not being delusional or facetious! This will obviously not apply to all derailed routines, but, you can try it regardless.
As I’ve been stuck on the couch for the last 4+ weeks with minimal movement besides the necessities, I’ve come to realize that this happened for a reason. I know, I know- overly cliche, right? Bare with me.
As a mama who has struggled (and still is struggling) with PPD and postpartum induced anxiety, this broken ankle has allowed me to take a break. It has allowed me to open up to some of the closest people to me and allow them to see my daily struggles as a mom. It’s allowed me to focus on my blog, freelance work, networking, and in some ways, myself. I was so stressed out by so many things, and then, I break my ankle. Am I glad it happened? Not one bit. It added to my stress at that moment. However, it happened and I know it happened for a reason. As much as I don’t want to admit it, it was nice to not have to clean the house, cook meals, and change diapers. I was essentially good for boobs to nurse my daughter, and, arms to snuggle her. It wasn’t an ideal “vacation”, but, it was a little break and I know things will return to normal, eventually. You’re not less of a mom for wanting a break once in a while.

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Your kids will survive a not-so-perfect bedtime routine. Your spouse will manage to figure out your side of this parenting thing. Your family will realize how insane your kids can be on a daily basis when they’re seeing them for more than an hour or two at a time. Your spouse and kids will realize how much you do for them and see that they’d be screwed without you :) Your family will understand why you’re exhausted half the time when they see you. Your kids will realize that they can’t and don’t want to survive on popcorn for the rest of their lives.

We forget how specific our routines are and how they impact our daily life. We stress out at the first sign of change and think about all the negatives. We overwhelm ourselves with schedules and routines. We rarely stop and think about the positives in our daily life and why the craziness makes it worth it.

We all want a break, and when we get it, we want our craziness back. We must be INSANE, right!? Yes. Yes we are. And that, is what makes us moms. 

“Renovation on the Cheap” Series- Post #3

We have been BUSY BEES, everyone. Some days, it seems we are TOO busy. Ha, typical right? I don’t think we ever have enough time in the day to do everything we want and need to do!

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My husband ran into some car trouble and was without his car for a little over a week and a half. He was taking my car to work so I was home and getting stir crazy with our little one! Tonight, he FINALLY got the problem fixed and we are back to having two running cars- WOO HOO!

The car was definitely interfering with our renovation progress. However, we are truckin’ along on the downstairs and making some great progress! This week, my dad and husband picked up the drywall and insulation and unloaded it. My dad finished up some wiring, plumbing work, and insulation on Saturday while my husband battled his car all morning and afternoon. Today, my husband took a break and the drywall hanging started this morning! The guys made some great progress while my mama played maid and cleaned up drywall dust after them :) If you don’t have a shop vac for your home reno projects, GET ONE. Rent one. Borrow one. Buy one. You won’t regret it.

We’ll be working on the drywall the rest of the week and we’re hoping to be done with that step by this weekend. Then comes taping, plastering, texturing, and painting! Ahhh…painting, the funnest thing of all…*enter sarcasm*. :)

We’ve also got a lot of painting to do in the rest of the house (touch-ups, painting another layer in the bathroom upstairs, etc.). We’re enlisting the expert painting skills of my Gram during that phase! Thanks, Gram!

If you want to check out the photos so far, see the slideshow below! I’ve been trying REALLY hard to keep up with the photo taking, but, some days our insanely busy toddler distracts me from my photo taking duties.

Keep checking back for more updates and photos! We’re so excited that you’re following our journey!

 

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“Renovation on the Cheap” Series- Post #2

Welcome to Post #2 in our “Renovation on the Cheap!” Series!

This week, we’ll be telling you about how we’re staying frugal during these seemingly expensive projects!


If you missed our first posts, you can check them out below!

Household Renovation on the Cheap!

Renovation on the Cheap- Post #1


When you think of home renovations and upgrades, you typically associate it with tons of expenses that will leave your wallet with a big, fat hole in it. It doesn’t have to be that way though!

If you enter into a project with a solid plan, you can save tons of money, still have an amazing outcome that LOOKS like you dropped a few thousands on it, and you won’t have a gaping hole in your wallet!

Sure, it takes a little more hard work to stay on a frugal budget, but, it is SO worth it. Trust me.

So, in our first post, we detailed our project list. Our biggest and most important project is finishing our lower level in our tri-level home. We’re going to be adding:

2nd bathroom
Large 3rd bedroom
Walk-in closet
Office/den space
Small closet
Enclosed laundry room
Storage closet
Plus, the givens such as painting, adding flooring, fixtures, etc.

Just looking at that list, my brain jumps to $$$$$$$. But, since we are putting in a little extra work, it’s really only a couple dollar signs! Whew!


Here’s how we are saving a ton of money:

My dad is doing the majority of the work along with my husband- electrical, plumbing, framing, you name it. My mom, gramma, and I will be doing the painting and other things here and there
Cost: Free 
How you can do it: Ask around your community (your church, etc) and find people who are willing and able to help you out at minimal or no cost. Just make sure they actually KNOW what they’re doing so you don’t end up with a disaster on your hands when Jim So-and-So claims he can wire your addition with no problem, and, instead, starts an electrical fire. Yikes. Have a painting party- enlist a bunch of friends to help you paint. They provide free labor and you provide the pizza and beer! 

Salvaging lumber to do all the framing.
Cost: Free
How you can do it: Check out local dumps for tossed lumber that is still in good shape. Scout out construction dumpsters for perfectly good lumber (just make sure the dumpster isn’t on private property- you don’t want to be paying any fines, or worse, be arrested for trespassing!). Visit local “re-stores” and see if they have any lumber that people donated. Browse your local online resources like Craigslist- you’d be surprised what people give away for free or for a minimal cost!

Finding free materials on Craigslist.
We found a nearly brand new Kohler toilet for free and just had to haul it home ourselves.
Cost: Free (except the minimal gas to and from pickup- don’t waste your time if you’re going to have to drive an hour away to get something. Stay local so it’s cost effective)
How you can do it: Again, scout the Free page on Craigslist. You have to be quick because the good stuff goes fast (sometimes within minutes of someone posting it!), but, you can find some amazing things for nothing at all. Also, post in the Wanted section on Craigslist or your local online “garage sale” sites. Check these sites DAILY and I can guarantee you’ll snag some great things.

Reusing fixtures.
When my parents and gramma built their homes, they ended up swapping out a few fixtures that they didn’t like. Instead of tossing or donating them, they saved them for a situation just like this! Now, we have BRAND NEW fixtures at no cost to us.
Cost: Free
How you can do it: Check out those “re-stores” and thrift stores again to find fixtures at crazy low prices. Look on Craigslist to see what people are giving away. You may need to spend a little time cleaning pieces up, but, it will be worth it when you aren’t spending hundreds of dollars on new fixtures. Don’t bother buying broken items with the intention of fixing them- you’ll never do it because you’ll have tons of other projects. Buy items that are in good condition that just need a little elbow grease to get them clean again.

Getting unused paint from friends/family.
My gramma bought a 5 gallon bucket of paint for her home and only used a couple gallons of it. It’s the same color we already have in our house, so, now we have 3 gallons of free paint to get us started.
Cost: Free for the first 3 gallons + the cost of however many gallons more we need
How you can do it: Ask around your local Home Depot, Lowes, or local paint store for gallons of paint that was either returned, never picked up, or was the wrong mix for someone. Some places will offer HUGE discounts on custom paints because they can’t just stock it back on the floor with everything else. Just make sure you don’t settle on an obnoxious color because it’s the only thing they have. Keep looking and if a family member or friend is doing some painting with a color you like, let them know you’d love to take any extra off their hands when they’re done.

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Buying discounted items from our local Habitat for Humanity Re-Store
My mom and gramma found a great, brand new granite vanity counter-top with an under-mounted Kohler sink with hardware for a couple hundred bucks. It was a custom order from Lowe’s and the person ended up just donating instead of using it since they couldn’t return it. They also found a great mirror for under $40!
Cost: Under $300 for everything
How you can do it: Get familiar with your local re-stores and thrift stores. Ask about discounts too. I think some people feel weird asking for discounts because they think it will make them seem cheap. Well guess what!? If it saves you money, it’s worth it and who cares what anyone else thinks! They’re paying full price while you’re getting a percentage off ;) Our local re-store has a discount day where you spin a wheel and whatever it lands on, that’s the percentage you get to take off your entire purchase (my mom ended up getting 20% off!)

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Choosing good quality, yet, inexpensive flooring options
Cost: Dependent on your local options
How you can do it: Flooring is something that is a little harder to find used and in good condition. This will probably be something that you’ll have to purchase new. Your best bet is checking out local flooring stores and finding out what’s on sale or what you can get a discount for. You can still pick out a nice quality option without breaking the bank. In all honesty, if you are preparing to sell your home, choose a flooring that looks great and will attract a buyer, but, don’t feel like it needs to be the highest quality. If they want the highest quality option out there, let them spend the money after they purchase the home. Don’t make it your expense. 

Price match and search for the best prices
Cost: Dependent on the item you’re looking for and your local stores
How you can do it: For basic construction materials, most places are going to be pretty similar, if not exactly the same on prices. If you are military, you can get 10% off at Home Depot and Lowes so make sure you ask for the discount when checking out (you’ll need to show your ID). Keep an eye out for coupons too. For other items like fixtures, etc., check out the prices at all of your local stores. If one store is significantly cheaper, but, you want to purchase the item elsewhere along with some other supplies, see if the store of your choice will price match. Even though it takes a little more time and effort to check prices at multiple stores, it could save you a chunk of money in the long run. Just remember, make sure it’s cost effective- if the monetary difference is only a couple cents or a couple dollars, it probably isn’t worth it. 

Since we haven’t started our renovation yet, I can’t give you the exact dollar amount that we’re spending, because I have no idea what it will be! We’re aiming to stay under $5,000 which is a pretty conservative budget, but, I think we can do it! As we continue through the series and acquire more of our materials, I’ll be updating the cost.

One last tip…

Financing your renovation. If you take any tips away from this series, take this one- don’t sign up for the credit cards at the home improvement stores.

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Why you ask? The interest rates are ASTRONOMICAL and you will end up paying 3x+ the amount you wanted to for your renovation. If you must use a credit card, choose one with the lowest interest rate. If you must to take out a loan, find one with the lowest interest rate. Ideally, avoiding credit cards and loans is the best route, but, sometimes you need to go that route- just be as smart as you can about it. If you have a family member or friend who is willing to front you the money, take them up on it and set up a payment plan if needed. If you have a super flexible time frame to complete your project, slowly acquire your materials by putting aside extra cash each month so you can avoid credit, loans, or other debt. Instead of using that $4.00 a day for a latte, put it in a jar or a separate account and use it for materials. My husband and I were not fond of taking the money from my parents to do the downstairs, but, we both felt better about it since we know we will be able to pay them back in a couple months when our home sells.

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