Taking time pays off

The landscape rock came in and it looks great. My husband has been complaining about the front landscaping for almost a year. We took time to decide what material we would use to line the beds. Actually my husband had suggested from the beginning to continue the beds with the same material the builder used for the walkway. And knowing my husband, he would ask the builder for the landscaper’s contact info and pay them to do the work. That can be expensive recalling a few landscaping jobs we’ve had done in the past.

Since it’s Spring here, now is a good time to complete this project. We matched the existing material to Oklahoma chopped rock and had it installed by a local nursery that has a large supply of rock options and offered installation. We separated the material cost from the labor and it seemed like a fair deal. The installer first used a thin shovel to dig out a channel around the beds, then cut a thick cloth material and layed the cloth into the channel and covered that with crushed granite before setting the rock on top. No rocks were split, so they found pieces that would work together to line the corners of the bed. He also used a rope as a guide to line up the rocks. The installer, Benicio, was here 2 days for 3 hours each day. He had a helper. I did the measuring for the materials and we had a couple of rocks left over. We used exactly 1/2 a pallet and I gave them measurements of 108 linear feet. Labor is about 1/2 the cost so the total job was $1000. I added thirty bags of mulch which is $120! According to what I have read online, 13.5 bags is a yard. I don’t believe this to be true. I have had mulch delivered before and a yard was way more. Plus it makes a mess on the driveway that you have to pressure wash off. With delivery I have probably spent about the same on the bags as buying a yard. And installing it myself, I’ve probably saved $100.

The drapes came in from Loft Curtains. Loft Curtains makes custom curtains for purchase online and it takes 3-4 weeks for delivery. At the 128 inch length, I wasn’t able to find premade panels. We ordered one panel to make sure it would look ok and then ordered the rest. Tristan at Loft was extremely easy to work with and even sent me an additional panel at no extra charge because I needed it to be two inches shorter. The result is decorative non functional curtains that make the space look more finished. I added some mirrors behind the lamps on the night stands which adds height and the reflected light makes the lamps stand out. With so many mirrors to choose from I found these online which was less expensive than others and was surprised at how the mirrors were heavy and well made. The bedroom is finally looking less bare. It’s been almost a year!

Taking time pays off

End of year projects

Between Christmas and New Years I love to work on a good project.  Surprisingly there  doesn’t seem like much time to work on one.    We have been searching for accent chairs to create a reading space in our bedroom online and I’m glad we found ones at a good price in the store instead.  Shopping online is amazing, however, it’s hard to see color and quality even though reviews are essential for that.  With online decor stores like Wayfair, Joss and Main and Houzz, there are many great options and deals.  I have had luck online with a couple pieces of furniture, but some things you just can’t.  The At Home store had a chair similar to the one I liked online, however my husband didn’t like it and it had a defect.  Only one chair fits in the car and when I went back to get the second, there were none without a loose leg.  I picked an alternative that he actually likes and it is nicer.    The color choice was a difficult decision.  My husband doesn’t like that the furniture is all beige.  I got the ottoman online and went with a pattern.  Another designer told me it’s good to go neutral on the furniture and add pops of color with pillows and accessories.  Our bedroom furniture is traditional and I am tired of that look.  It has been a challenge to find accents that update the room without looking too out of place.  The mercury ball floor lamp I found at Target and I got two mercury lamps for the night stands which replaced the french looking lamps that I am happy to see go.  The pillow really made the space in my opinion.  I have been looking, there are so many choices, but what color, design?  My husband is picky with colors and designs and we didn’t have a color in mind to go for.    I found this gold one with a pattern that doesn’t compete with the ottoman and had to order the other one because they were out of it.

reading nook two

Drapes are next!  Already I think I want to do silk or polyester in taupe and put them on french pipe rods with rings.

My other project was to create a spice drawer.  In our old house we had a spice rack mounted on the pantry door, plus a small round rack for the counter all within reach when cooking.  In the new house that setup doesn’t work.  I threw all of the spices in a basket and kept them in the pantry until I got the idea to do a spice drawer.  My drawer wasn’t the size of the inserts you can buy online so I followed the directions of a DIY’er and made one myself.  It wasn’t easy.  I went to Home Depot and purchased some wood strips and constructed the insert.  It’s definitely not perfect, I split the wood slightly with a nail, I switched to screws which work, however,  they are visible.  The glue was a mess and wouldn’t stick without the screw.  However, the end result is just what I needed.  All of my spices are organized and conveniently in reach for the crazy amount of cooking I do.

spice drawer

I’m still on the hunt for some different bowls, pasta bowls single serve au gratin dishes  and a rectangular plate just to change up the way we serve food.  My husband got an air fryer for Christmas and already I have made the most amazing bacon and fried chicken tenders!  I also got a Mandoline and sliced some zucchini into thin chips and crisped them in the oven at 250 degrees for a little over an hour (dehydrate) , even the boys loved them!!!






End of year projects

Small spaces

When we moved into the apartment it was definitely a downsize.  The two bedrooms have a desk in them and my husband and son use them.  I’ve never liked the idea of having a desk or office in a bedroom.  Same thing with the TV, it’s distracting in a room that is about rest.

I work from home and my office has been on an end table with an ottoman as a chair in the living room.  After 3 months, I’m done…no more!  The space is too cramped, using an ottoman for a chair and an end table for a desk isn’t the right height and it’s all together uninspiring to do work.


How do you fit a workspace in a small  space?  Again Pinterest never disappoints!  Someone posted a picture of a Crate and Barrel ladder desk that was decorated really nice and I loved it!  Crate and Barrel doesn’t have the desk available for purchase at the store for pickup.  There are plenty of choices online so I found one that I liked by “Coaster” through Amazon and it arrived from China in 2 weeks.  The box contained a bunch of wood planks with some fasteners and instructions.  Do you love a challenging project?  If so, taking on building the desk is a good one.  The desk was hard to put together, I made mistakes and was able to fix them.  It took hours.  (with lots of distractions…like a 10 week old puppy).  For less than $100 bucks I have a really cool desk.  The chair actually cost more, $120 and I got it from Josh and Main online.  I am really into the mid-century modern style right now.

Now to decorate, I’ve never taken any design classes and decorating is sort of a bitter sweet pleasure?  It’s a painful process, but in the end I’m usually happy with the outcome.  I selected things that are meaningful to me.  First, the orchid plant and then the picture I really liked from the hotel on the San Francisco trip.  I printed the picture of the 50’s swimmer diving into angry water from my phone.  I dug out an old frame to frame the picture and found some stored art.  I love Mexican recycled metal art…the pig.  Who doesn’t love the show Fixer Upper?  I tried to use one of their metal wall art, a word they sell, but it was too long.  I even called the shop they use to create their signs JDH Iron designs, they were not able to produce a smaller version.  Google was able to find an alternative.  I found another metal design company Metal Unlimited that charged $29 for an 8×10 metal script with the word create.  It will come in 3 weeks…hopefully not from China.

The only draw back is what to do with my monster monitor.  I’d like to do without it, however some of the work I do requires a larger screen.  Not sure what to do about that.  Lastly, the desk in the current area needs a little more light.  The picture on Pinterest shows it with a small lamp, but I think it would be cool to have under lighting so a battery operated light will be the final touch.  The result, a small office that is now prominently displayed in a room where most of the time spent in it is for this purpose.



Small spaces

Ready for the Holidays

Here is a reason to stop fighting the Christmas creep.  By decorating early it helps with motivation to get into the season especially when you have plans celebrating with friends and family! I have been a big procrastinator.  Not this year.  I am embracing what I see every week on the Pilates wall…


is doing what

needs to be done

even when you don’t

feel like doing it

I usually do a Christmas photo and letter to family we don’t see often and managed to actually get it done.  Maybe it is slighly easier when the kids are older.  The boardwalk has an enormous tree and it seemed like the perfect place to take our family photo.

towne lake tree

And this year we don’t have storage for our artificial tree so it is the first time we got a real one.  The grocery store sells Christmas trees and we walked over to the grocery store “Christmas tree forest”, selected and walked home with our tree through the parking lot.  This is truly a suburban version of selecting a tree from a tree farm, a traditional all day event that took maybe 15 minutes.  It may not have been the highlight event for the entire family, but it was an event that I think was fun.

For years I have been talking about changing the decorations.  For whatever reason my husband only likes white lights on the tree, so white lights it is to keep the peace.  And I did a silver, gold and white theme.  The tree is topped with sparkly winter branches inclusive of a Harry Potter snowy owl.  My inspiration came from, Pinterest of course!  To duplicate the beads I saw on the Pinterest tree I found these glittery balls that I guess you put in a bowl, but I thought, why not string them like popcorn.  It was a little time consuming, but the outcome was what I was going for and it did bring back memories of strung popcorn we did at my aunt and uncle’s house.

christmas tree

Now for blending shopping, baking and get togethers with friends.  The good stuff.  The first of a few Christmas parties was last night.  It’s fun to see how people theme their parties.  The party last night was one of a friend of mine.  It was also her husband’s work Christmas party.  They did a chili competition and provided sides.  You could either participate in the chili competition or bring a desert or bottle of wine for the chili winner’s gift basket.  The winning chili was a korean chili (go figure in Texas!!!).  What a cool idea!

Ready for the Holidays

Christmas spirit mood

Finally we are getting some cooler weather.  And the days are definitely darker.  This is exactly the type of inspiration to get into the holiday spirit.  Little by little the decorations are coming out.  I struggle with liking the same decorations every year, but once they are up I love the atmosphere.  Especially at night or in the early morning when you look at the soft glow.  It’s cold outside and raining.  We’ve enjoyed a fire in the fireplace twice this season.  With it usually so warm in south Texas, when it gets into the 40s, it’s cold inside. I have fought not to put on the heat and so far haven’t had too.


Another big mood setter is Christmas baking, every year I bake something to give away.  This year I wanted to try making Christmas tree brownies.  I always give myself an opportunity to try in case it doesn’t work out, that way adjustments can be made before the final product is gifted.  So this recipe called for an 8×8 pan, when I made the brownies they came out way too thick.  So I cut them in half and will use half the batter next time.  I guess I could use a bigger pan, but the brownies at 1/2 the size are perfect! My nana always made brownies, blondies, toll house cookies and rum balls for Christmas ! I really loved that ! Miss her ! I aspire to be like her , active, friendly , helpful, fun ! She was a beautiful person !


I made chili too.  Texas is FAMOUS for chili.  Tonight couldn’t be a better night for it.  I have adjusted my recipe over the years and this is the one my family really likes.  The most important ingredient is the meat.  The grocery stores will provide chili meat which is usually chuck 80% lean and it looks like 1/4 inch thick tubes.  Here is our recipe for 4 people:

1 lb of chili meat

1/4 green pepper (diced)

1/4 onion (diced)

1 clove garlic

1/2 can of 14 oz pinto beans

1/2 can of 14 oz kidney beans

1/2 can of 28 oz crushed tomatoes

seasoning (1 tablespoon of cumin, 1-2 tablespoons Gebhardt chili powder)

Directions: Brown beef and add to a crock pot.  Then add diced peppers and onions, garlic, drain beans and add crushed tomatoes to the pot and put it on low to warm for 1-2 hours.  It may seem wasteful to leave the rest of the can.  If we liked leftovers, we would add more meat and use all of the contents of the cans.  Otherwise, we can just use the beans and tomatoes for something else.  We top it with shredded cheese and serve it with frito corn chips (just the regular kind) I guess I would name it low key chili.   It’s not really spicy and it doesn’t give anyone indigestion.

The rest of this evening needs to be spent next to a roaring fire with a Christmas movie. Just need the football game to finish 😉

Christmas spirit mood