Adventures in DIY tiling

DIY kitchen floor tile

There’s not much I won’t DIY, and I’m usually pretty spot on in my assessment of how difficult a project will be but this kitchen floor has turned into a huge pain. And to be fair, I’m not feeling the pain of how annoying the install process is— Dan is the one doing the mortar and laying the tiles. But what we planned on being a weekend project has now entered the second week of having no functional kitchen, and I’ll tell you what: not having a range is a lot harder than I thought. I finally broke down and bought a microwave yesterday so we could at least have some home cooked food.

We’re probably about halfway done with the kitchen and the same tile will continue into the bathroom and in the laundry closet, so I’m thinking we probably have at least another week of doing tile, though we thankfully have laid the tile where the range goes, which means it will be able to return to it’s home and functional status in the next day or two.

Next up, I’ll be grouting the tile, which is perfect because it’s a great project for me to do while Jack naps. Even though I hate working with it, I decided to go with the Fusion Pro grout again, just because I don’t have to seal it or anything. And I think it’ll be less annoying to work with this time simply because I’m not doing a contrasting grout (last time I did black grout with white hex tiles). Since I wanted a concrete floor, I’m doing the grout in as close to the same color as the tile to give it more of a seamless look. But you know I couldn’t make things easy, so we’re doing a herringbone pattern. It’ll be more subtle since the grout won’t be contrasting, but I still think it’ll add interest.

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Ooooh, and peep that new light fixture too! In the meantime, you know I couldn’t wait any longer to paint something chartreuse in this house. This color is Lemongrass by Behr and It feels so happy! Even with no trim.

Chartreuse door

Life Lately | June is crazy

Liz Morrow Studios

June, guys… whew! This month has been crazy town. I can’t even believe this has been one month, it’s felt like ages. We haven’t even lived in the flip house for a whole month yet! I can’t believe we moved in on June 1st, so weird. I guess if you didn’t get the news, we moved out of our other house, turned that one into an Airbnb and are now living in our not-yet-finished flip house. I’ve been given a crash course in managing and turning over an Airbnb because we had guests every single night during the month of June except ONE night. Holy moly. July is looking to be just as busy and while it’s a lot of work to clean and do the laundry on a nearly daily basis, I’m super thankful for two things. One: we are making enough on that house’s Airbnb income that it pays for itself plus some! and Two: I get to work and have my kid hanging out with me the whole time!

One thing that ‘s been hard for me after having Jack was the fact that I wasn’t financially contributing to the family. I know that what I’m doing as a mom is arguably far more important than bringing in money, but as someone who has always contributed to our income, I’ve just felt like a drain on our finances, so being able to do something that brings in an income while also getting to spend time with Jack during the time we go clean the house between guests has been really nice.

While it’s been nice to be bringing in a more steady income (I was doing the odd blog/instagram sponsored post before, and some photography gigs here and there, so not nothing, but also not steady), it’s also been pretty hard adjusting to living in a house that is basically still partially unfinished. The master bath is down to the studs and we just taped up plastic over the doorway to it. The kitchen floor has been plywood for 3 weeks and now, as we’re starting to prep for tiling, we don’t have any of our appliances in the kitchen because they all have to be out so we can tile under them. So our living room is full of appliances and the kitchen island and we’ve been eating take out for almost every meal which sounds great in theory, but really I’d just love to be able to cook a meal again. And have a living room that doesn’t have an oven, refrigerator, and island in the middle of it.

And in totally unrelated news, I finally bleached my very grown out roots and re-dyed my hair! I finally got the color I was originally wanting! It ended up more neon green the first time around, and this time I got the more mustard-y chartreuse yellow I was looking for. If any of you are crazy like me, it’s Arctic Fox Cosmic Sunshine and I added a little Iris Green into it.

Blogging as it was

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When I started this blog in 2008 it was both an online journal and a way to share myself with others and, in turn, be inspired by other bloggers. It was on a really random internet rabbit hole adventure that I found fashion bloggers and having recently gotten more into personal style I just decided on the spot to start one as well.

None of us had any idea that blogging would become a huge industry. No one knew what we were even talking about when we said we were “bloggers.” Back in those days, sharing our daily lives and inspirations wasn’t about getting clicks, affiliate link income, and landing sponsorships. It was just connecting with others and enjoying the creative outlet of writing and photographing our days. Poorly lit photos and all.

I’ve been wondering lately about infusing some of that back into this space. Adding anything into my life these days is a process of vetting it for worthiness of taking up my very limited time. Is writing little diary posts up here even something I want to spend the energy doing? I’m not sure. But what I know is, we don’t need any more perfect blogs or perfect instagrams filled with professional photos of perfectly posed “candid” shots, and kitchen renovations done in a magical month. So I guess, I just want to share more of what is really happening, in my life, on the regular. Like, hi guys! I’m a person! I do lots of stuff (too much?) and have way too many thoughts about all the things.

So I’m gonna take things back a little bit here. Back to blogging as it was. We’ll see how it goes.

2019: the year of credit repair

Thank you Lexington Law Firm for sponsoring this post. A high service partner and consumer advocate that will help you fight for the credit you deserve!

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2017 and 2018 were pretty hard years for our family financially. Between moving, loss of income, and relying too heavily on credit cards, we incurred a lot of debt and also hurt our credit score in the process. For a long time I just couldn’t face the reality of our financial situation, and I also was paralyzed by feeling lost in the whole process of just starting to tackle our debt and credit, and so I just kept putting it off. Come January 2019 I decided to finally give our finances and credit the attention they deserved, and have started making strides to repair our situation.

Credit can feel like a mysterious and arbitrary number, based on a bunch of stuff that doesn’t seem all that clear. I know I made a bunch of mistakes even in the couple months of starting to fix our credit (pro tip: don’t cancel your 10 year old credit card even if you’re trying to get rid of credit cards. The age of your credit matters to your credit score! I cancelled mine just wanting to get rid of unnecessary credit cards that I’d paid off and now my credit age is only a couple years. boo!).

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Having someone who knows what the heck they’re doing to help you make a plan (and avoid mistakes like mine), can be incredibly helpful and take the stress out of a process that can be really anxiety ridden. While a late payment or a bad mark from a creditor might not seem important, it can have long-term effects on your credit, and can stay on your report for years! What’s nice is that, since fixing your credit is such an important goal for many people, a whole industry has sprung up to help those of us navigate the murky waters of credit repair. Tons of fact vs. fiction information is now available to help educate those of us about the credit errors that can be fixed!

Lexington Law Firm is one of those companies, using the power of the legal experience and technology to help folks like you and me fix our credit. I don’t know about you, but having a team of lawyers helping me fight bad credit with legal experience sounds pretty dang awesome. Or at least waaaay better than me stumbling around trying to google my way to fixing my credit.

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Since Lexington Law Firm has long-standing relationships with Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, they’ve got the relationships, and experience in knowing exactly how getting credit errors removed works. So what seems a little like a murky mystery to me is plain as day to them. Look, I’m as hardcore DIY as you can get, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to realize that it’s just going to be worth the money to outsource the stuff that I’m not great at (even if I know I can figure it out eventually). Knowing that there are options out there like Lexington Law Firm to outsource the confusing part of repairing bad credit is super helpful. So if you’re like me and making 2019 the year to tackle credit and finances ( *wince *) check ‘em out and see if you could use some outsourcing to help you get on track to great credit so you can buy that house you’ve been stalking on Zillow. Oh wait, is that just me? whoops.

Airbnb tips from... you!

Tacoma's best airbnb tips

Before we put #thebravehouse on Airbnb I wanted to get some feedback from my followers on Instagram as to what amenities they thought were necessary, and also what little details made their Airbnb stays feel really wonderful. There were a lot of duplicate suggestions but I wanted to make a list of them, both to use myself, and to share in case any other Airbnb host wanted some ideas!

  • Local Guide Book- I’m working on this one! I’ve got a bare bones one in my house manual, but I’m working on a more comprehensive Best of Tacoma guide! I love this city so I definitely want to share it with my guests!

  • Bottle of wine + snacks- Depending on the guest I may get a bottle of wine or champagne (we have a couple guests staying before/after their wedding), but snacks are definitely a must have!

  • coffee with a good creamer- Coffee is definitely a must! We have grounds, a coffee maker, locally sourced half and half, creamer, and sugar and sugar substitutes. I almost forgot all the extra stuff for coffee because I just drink mine black, so this suggestion was a good reminder!

  • good towels- I’ve got two bath towels for each bedroom, a small washcloth, and a black washcloth for makeup removal!

Airbnb amenity ideas from guests
  • a microwave- Another good reminder for me! We haven’t had a microwave for like 9 years, so I grabbed a little one to put in the Airbnb!

  • local goodies/beer- Working on this one, I’d definitely love to make sure the coffee I offer guests is at least locally roasted at one of the amazing roasters in town.

  • granola bars/fruit- I’ve got a basket of granola bars, fruit, and instant oatmeal for people to grab for breakfast!

  • phone chargers- This is a great idea and one that I’d like to eventually implement.

  • coffee maker- duh!

  • toiletries: q-tips, cottonballs, shampoo/conditioner- Done, done, and done! Plus: body wash and extra travel sized toothbrushes, lotion, and toothpaste in case a guest forgot theirs!

  • Feminine hygiene products- I LOVED this suggestion. Definitely wanted to have these available for guests who may have forgotten their products or had their cycle surprise them! I’ve got tampons, pads, and pantyliners on hand in the bathroom!

  • tea- I need to get some breakfast tea, as most of the tea I have at the house was for sleep aid, haha, but a good earl grey or english breakfast tea is great for those morning tea drinkers!

  • throw blankets- I need to get a couple more, but thankfully it’s summer so this one probably isn’t as important as it will be come October.

  • brochures for the area- I’m thinking of going around town and getting brochures, but I also want to just have all those activities/businesses in one place in my local guide.

  • fresh flowers- I feel like flowers make a house just feel very welcoming. I’ve got some fresh blooms on the dining room table and sprinkled around the house in mini vases

  • good wifi- duh.

  • salt/pepper/condiments- definitely!

  • chocolate- kinda want to do little tiny chocolate bars on the towels I leave on each bed. I remember having tiny mint chocolates at hotels when I was a kid and it was so special!

  • dog friendly destinations/activities - Since our Airbnb is dog-friendly, I’ve included some info about local dog parks and such in my guidebook

  • pack and play- we’ve got one!

  • board games/cards- We put a bunch of games in our living room credenza for guests to use, plus I left some of Jack’s toys to play with for the younger kids.

  • first aid kit- This was a great suggestion, and one I wouldn’t have thought of without the suggestion! We’ve got one in our house now!

  • deals with local businesses - This is one I’d love to implement but haven’t had time to orchestrate yet. Having some discount cards to locally owned businesses that I love would be a really awesome to add value for my guests and support businesses in Tacoma!

  • instructions for house quirks- I tried to do this with my house manual, but I’d still like to go around the house and put up a few notes for some of the things about the house that might not be super straightforward.

Airbnb tips and tricks