How I Design a Space: My Notebook

How I Design a Project @

Okay.  So I am going to give you the quick summary of my notebook.  It will give you a overview of what my process is when I am designing a space.

  • Cute cover page.  It’s a must for me. Preferably with a good quote.   Cute + Functional = Perfection.   Also I have notebooks for everything.  They are everywhere.  I’m weird like that.  So I need cover pages for them all or I’d never be able to tell them apart. A great cup of coffee never hurts anything either! 🙂
  • How I Design a Space at
  • Paint List. This doubles as a shopping list for paint as well as a list that I can refer to later if I, “want more of that bedroom paint… It was gray… What was that name again??!” I three-hole punch this one and don’t put it in a page protector because I want to be able to easily write on it.
  • How I Design a Space at
  • Paint Swatches.  I put this one in a page protector so I can throw all my actual paint swatches inside. It’s helpful to have them for matching finishes later!  All your colors in one spot!
  • Shopping List. This one is nice because you can have a running list of things you need to pick up at some point. It’s also nice because you can see what you need for a project but if you’ve got time, you can watch Menards or Home Depot ads for a couple weeks or even months and get what you need when it’s on sale.  We did this for our last house and we got the majority of what we needed on sale between the time we closed on the house the end of December and moved in the beginning of March.  I also just three-hole punch this one.
  • How I Design a Space at
  • To-Do List. Break the tasks down that need to be completed for each project. Some projects will take a lot of time, some not much at all. This is awesome because it takes away the need to think about what’s next all the time. And if someone wants to work on something for an hour, you can look at the list and give them a short task.  If someone wants to work on something for a weekend, you can give them a bigger task.  And you can do all this without thinking, “Oh boy, let me think… What needs to be done next.”  I also just three-hole punch this one or sometimes I just hang it where I can get to it easily!
  • Measurements. This is where you record room dimensions, window sizes, etc.  It’s handy to have all these measurements when you’re out and about. If you’re out at garage sales and you’re getting your thrifty on, you might   find some awesome curtains that you love.  “But what size was that kitchen window?”  Handy notebook to the rescue! I also just three-hole punch this one.
  • How I Design a Space at
  • Plans: Keep all your plans here in one place so when you are ready for a project, you know where to find all your info!  I’ll get into more on plans when I explain hot to do that later. I put this one in a page protector.  I also put all my finished plans in separate page protectors behind this page.  That way if I’m ready to work on a specific project, I can just pull out the plans for that one project and it’s resistant to water, grease, mud, children. 😉
  • How I Design a Space at
  • Graph Paper: Keep extra graph paper on hand for sketching out plans. You can buy graph paper or print some of your own.  Google “Graph  Paper” to print some or you can get some on Amazon here. I put this one in a page protector along with several sheets of graph paper so I can sketch whenever I’m inspired!

Here is a free printable of my notebook.  Just in case you have a project of your own coming up! 🙂

How I Design a Space: How I Began

How I Design a Project @


To start off with… I’ll explain a bit where I’m coming from.  Why I am who I am.

At 16, my dad and mom separated. It was a tough age. Soon I found out that if I had interest in home projects, I would need to do it myself.  I started with painting walls in our house.  Sometimes it was special.  My color choices were far from developed. I was sloppy and it was far from perfect.  What on earth my mom was thinking letting me go, I have no idea!  (That’s the kind of mom I want to be!)  From painting walls to painting furniture to whitewashing a brick fireplace to installing tile to planking a living room ceiling to installing and finishing hardwood floors to remodeling kitchens and whole houses.

Questionable design choices as I was developing my style...


People see where I’m at now, they are impressed. (Or something like that??) What they don’t see are all my failures.  All the things I tried that didn’t work out.  All the mistakes. I STILL make mistakes!!! Like EVERY project!!


So just don’t compare your chapter 1 with my chapter 20. I’ve done a LOT of projects since I was 16.  The more you do, the more comfortable you will be. The more aware of YOUR style you’ll be. The more confident you will be in your designs.  My best advice is just jump in and try it!!! What’s the worst that could happen?



I LOVE being surrounded by beauty.  But I also NEED function.  So if something is simply beautiful, but it makes my life more difficult, I won’t do it.   When something is well organized, pretty, AND super functional – That is when it is “life giving” to me.  Fill your home with things that YOU love… Not things someone else tells you to love.  Make your home life giving – Not life sucking.


Questionable design choices as I was developing my style...

Next I’ll be talking about my house notebook… Yes another notebook.  Yes I have a notebook for everything.  Notebooks are my love language.  😉



Questionable design choices as I was developing my style...

Back when I was rocking a flip phone clipped onto my mom jeans! (I was 18. And not a mom.)

The Return:

Ahh yes.  September.  Last year.  The last time I posted.


I feel like the first 12 months of my baby’s lives is filled with being overwhelmed.  I mean I keep them fed… I play outside… I even keep the house relatively together – most of the time.  But I just don’t get a whole lot more than that done.  Blogging fits in that category.


So to kick off my return… In the next couple weeks I’m planning on doing a series on…


How I Design a Project @ I Design a Space- 


So stay tuned!  I’ve got all sorts of good stuff coming up!

My Friday:


Just had a toilet overflow out the bathroom door, all the way down the hallway and back into our room before I noticed it… I raced into the living room and put the almost asleep baby I was holding down on the floor which made him scream bloody murder because he didn’t want to be on the floor at all.

Then I used up all the newly washed and folded towels to sop up the mess. I had just finished mopping up the floor (with extra concentrated thieves cleaner because… Toilet! EW!) when the naked two year old in the tub started clamoring that she wanted out. And since all the clean towels were no longer clean, I grabbed a little dishtowel and wrapped it around her waist. I slung that girl over my arm like a sack of potatoes and tiptoed across the wet newly mopped hallway floor and safely into her room where I could get her dressed. At which point she ran shrieking from the room stark naked (like two-year olds tend to do) down the wet hallway floor and… whooooosh-thump. I heard her head hit the floor.

So Emma is blood curdling screaming sprawled out on the floor.

Wesley is still blood curdling screaming in the living room.

Finally now, Emma is playing in the living room fully dressed. Wesley is happily nursing. And all is well with the world. 😉

#anyoneelsereadyfortheweekend #aintnobodygotenoughcoffeeforthat #mommasaidtherewouldbedayslikethis #justbeingreal

Moving Ideas!

So it’s only been… what… almost 6 months since we moved??  Better late than never, right?!?!?  I really wanted to pass on some of the tips and tricks I picked up while moving.  Granted, we were moving 10 minutes away not cross-country, so we weren’t forced to be suuuuuuuuper organized. But I do love how everything turned out!  It really did go super well!
Moving ideas at
I based much of my moving plans on these two inspirations on Pinterest.
Moving inspirations from Pinterest
Moving inspirations from Pinterest
Also… Let’s be honest… a few months before we moved, my favorite Emily moved.  I totally watched her and ripped everything off.  It’s the story of my life!
I had everything in a 3 ring binder notebook that I carried around with me as I was packing to record what was in which box.  A couple page protector sleeves in it was nice for storing the labels.  Makes them easier to find the room you’re packing in.  I got 3 colors… One color for upstairs, one for downstairs, and one for the garage.  So I had 3 page protectors and kept each colored labels in each one.
Moving ideas at
 I *LOVED* how easy this routine made it for everyone helping us move !  (I was 8.5 months pregnant at the time, so all the friends who helped us move were absolute lifesavers!!)  Everyone automatically knew which level/area each box went at a glance by simply looking at the color of the label.
I started packing non-essentials and stuff I didn’t use much asap.  The sooner you start so you’re not packing EVERYTHING all at once the better!
Moving ideas at
The labels I ordered were from Amazon… They make life SO much easier to have preprinted.  I printed the sheets off then packed away.  So simple!!!!
I have found that they don’t necessarily stay on the best all on their own… So just to make sure they stay on the box a small piece of packing tape is a good fix.  Unless you have an Emma in your house who likes peel off any labels.  Then 2 large pieces of tape covering the whole label is in order.  Ha!  It kinda defeats the whole purpose if your kiddo rips all the labels off all the boxes.
Moving ideas at
 I hate moving (I want to live and die in this house!) but having a game plan helps i.m.m.e.n.s.e.l.y!!!  It made me feel like I was approaching a challenge that I could conquer!
Moving ideas at
And bonus!  Here are free printables for my moving notebook and my labels… If you can use them, AWESOME!!!!
 If you found this post, you’re probably moving… So good luck with that!  Hope it goes super well for you!!!

Homemade Playdough Fun!

Okay… So this summer we’ve done a lot of the usual summer fun activities…

Homemade Playdough using Essential Oils at www.

But when a friend came and stayed a few days, we decided to make play-dough.  Because let’s be honest… It takes a lot of muscles to make play-dough! Ha!  Between the two of us, we stirred up the play-dough completely painless!


Homemade Playdough using Essential Oils at www. DIYinReallife.comSince Emma’s finally to the age where I don’t think she’ll EAT the play-dough, we went for it!





Homemade Playdough using Essential Oils at www.


*4 c. flour

*1 c. salt

*4 c. water

*4 Tbsp. coconut oil  (I just want to note how good this smells!)

*4 Tbsp. cream of tartar

*Essential oils of choice

*Food coloring


Homemade Playdough using Essential Oils at www.

First we threw all the ingredients in a saucepan other than the essential oils and food coloring.  We put the heat on low and stirred the entire time.


Homemade Playdough using Essential Oils at www. Don’t try to multi-task here, momma.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of multi-tasking.  Just not when making play-dough.  Keep stirring.  Don’t stop.  Even when your arm feels like it’s going to fall off.  Many thanks to Sylvia here for taking the brunt of the stirring!! 🙂


Homemade Playdough using Essential Oils at www.

Once it looks like… Well… Playdough? Yeah… When it looks like playdough, you’re done stirring!

Homemade Playdough using Essential Oils at www.

I divided it into 3 sections and rolled them into balls.  Then I used my thumb to make a large dent in each one.  That’s where I dropped food coloring and my Young Living essential oils.

Green = Peppermint

Yellow = Lemon

Blue = Thieves

(I would have used red for Thieves but I didn’t have any red food coloring.  Oh well. 🙂 )

Homemade Playdough using Essential Oils at www.

Then we kneaded and kneaded the play-dough adding more coloring and scent until we were happy with how it looked and smelled.

Homemade Playdough using Essential Oils at www.

I loved how the essential oils made it smell and Thieves for instance is good for supporting the immune system.  So it can’t hurt having it in there to keep her healthy immune system strong!  This recipe can easily be made without essential oils if you don’t have any, of course! 🙂

Homemade Playdough using Essential Oils at www. DIYinReallife.comEmma has been having a complete blast with this stuff!  FUN!


Coffee Bar….

Yes.  This looks familiar.

Coffee Bar @



I just loved it so much in My Favorite Emily’s house…


that I made it in our old house…

DIY in Real Life: Coffee Bar Before & After

then made it again in the new house!

So is it a lack of creativity or just a matter of I know what I like??! Ha!

Coffee Bar @

Actually the buffet fits here even better than the old house! Yay for that!!

Fun fact: This buffet belonged to Handsome Man’s great grandpa and grandma!  I love love love this piece! I was unable to refinish the sides due to the veneer being too thin too sand and not being in the best shape. So I opted to paint the sides
gray and refinished the wood top. Love!

Coffee Bar @

This is a super functional area that I use every. single. day!  (I mean COFFEE, right??)

The extra open storage for dishes is nice since we don’t have a whole lot of cupboards. (We do have the pantry and that’s a ton of storage too!)

Coffee Bar @

And the cups all hanging where I can get em super easy makes me happy.

It’s no wonder this is the second thing I’m featuring in my posts of the things in my kitchen that make me happy.happy.happy!

Coffee Bar @

I love taking all my ugly store-bought containers and dumping the contents into clear glass  containers and slapping chalkboard labels onto them! 🙂

Coffee Bar @

And this lady insisted on getting her picture taken.  And with that cheesy smile, how do you resist??

Coffee Bar @

My Favorite Stud Wall

Me: “Well we want to build a stud wall.”

Contractor: “A what?”

Me: “A stud wall.  You know… A wall that looks like it has exposed studs but they’re really not.”

Contractor: {Blank stare}

Me: “It has shiplap behind with 2×4’s in varying withs and heights in front of it and all painted white.”

Contractor: {Blank stare AND awkward pause}

Me: “Here… I’ll show you an inspiration picture.”

Stud wall inspiration from The Lettered Cottage -


Inspiration via The Lettered Cottage

Contractor: {Skeptical look}

Me: {Awkward silence}



So yeah…  That’s pretty much how it went with the construction guy that helped us with the beam.  And the electrical guy.  And the plumber.  Even funnier was when Handsome Man tried to explain it.  Haha!!!!


But as I start blogging again I’m going to take you through the things in my kitchen/dining room/ living room area that make me happy and are just plain life giving throughout my day.  The things that every time I see or use, give me just a wee bit of extra happy.


First thing being my stud wall.

Stud Wall @

There’s actually a 4X12 beam in the upper part of the wall which is holding up one side of the 8X12 beam that replaced the wall we removed.  That’s why it doesn’t go all the way to the ceiling.

Stud Wall @

So because of the beam above, we needed to build the wall out anyway.  So the choice was build it out and drywall over it like a regular wall, or……   🙂

So yeah!  Hello stud wall!  One of the first things I see every day when I go out to the kitchen on one of the things I totally love!!

(Complete with sewing machine still out.  Finally hemming some curtains!  Yay!)

Stud Wall @

Love these happy red poppies! Such a fun splash of color on my simple white wall! Also it makes me happy that I got a very similar metal “basket” that you can also get at Magnolia Market. (My total current crush.)  Both the poppies and the basket came from my mom’s shop – Master’s Hand in Tekamah NE


Stud Wall @

Love this housewarming gift from “my favorite Emily.”

So good. Love the message.

She pretty much rocks at chalkboard art.  Seriously.



Stud Wall @

I tried to think of different ways to hang stuff without just nailing it to the wall.  And I wanted to secure everything as opposed to just leaning things up on the studs. Since we would be around it I didn’t want to worry about things falling.  I’m very much into worry-free surroundings!  (Hence my love for wood floors.)

I kinda love hanging them from hooks like this.  It also gives some dimension to it since it’s hung away from the back of the wall.


Stud Wall @

I also love the antiqued mirror look on this window.

It’s nice that it’s a slightly reflective surface without being a super clear mirror.  I think a mirror would be weird here.  But this is perfect!

On a sidenote, this window was from the house on Randolph and the sentimental side of me is super happy about that! 🙂

Inspiration tutorial I used for antiquing glass mirror


This is the tutorial I used for the window mirror.

Super easy!!!

So that’s the first thing in my kitchen that I love love love!

More to follow!

Quick Kitchen Update!

So I did a quick video so you could see my kitchen!!! I’m planning on resuming posting now that life has settled a bit and I’ll catch you up on all the details that I LOVE in our new house!


In the meantime… Enjoy this spontaneous video. What’s a remodel progress video without a fussy baby, a near-two-year-old-still-in-her-pj’s and dishes on the counter?   We’ve got it all, folks!!!



And a few haphazard cel phone pictures to top it all off! 😉



Kitchen Remodel at Kitchen Remodel at Kitchen Remodel at Kitchen Remodel at

He’s here!

Exactly 7 days after we whirlwind-moved and a whole 9 days early

(He was SUPPOSED to come late!)


our dear little man is here!



New little Man is here!!!

He’s adorable and we love him dearly!

…Even if he DID come early and change all our plans! Ha!!


I’ll fill y’all in on the state of the new house and moving and all that when I restabilize!! 🙂