Category Archives: Marriage

Tim’s $250 Office Makeover

What do you do when you’ve organized every closet in your own home, cleaning it inch-by-inch inside and out? You head to your husband’s office and get to work! More than seven years ago my husband moved to the US from Ireland, sat down at an empty desk and started working as the COO of publishing company Ambassador International. He didn’t change anything in the office. He didn’t even open most of his desk drawers to see what was inside. The book border, the fake plants– it was horrible! Take a look:

Here’s a tour of the transformation:

Tim's Office MakeoverFor starters we got rid of the book wallpaper border. Yay! Tim painted one accent wall black and the others dark gray.

Tim's Office Makeover

Tim’s desk ended up being our favorite feature in the makeover. He really liked the size of it and we didn’t have room in the budget for a new one so we painted the sides off-white using paint we found in our basement at home and stained the top in a very dark stain. The total cost of the project was $10. The chairs were pulled from another room in his office and I think they go so well with the new space!

Tim's Office MakeoverThis is the view if you are sitting at Tim’s desk. We finished the ugly filing cabinet in the exact same way as the desk. The verse is Romans 12:12 and we used paint we already had, a 40% off canvas from Michael’s and a tube of blue paint we got for $1.

Tim's Office MakeoverHere’s a closer shot of the filing cabinet. Tim literally had never opened some of these drawers in the seven years he’s had the job! The two lamps came from Ikea, $20 a pop. The little silhouette is our dog Milo done by a local artist.

Tim's Office MakeoverWe also hung some white floating shelves, another Ikea find, and styled them with old books and framed photos of New York City from an old calendar. We also painted some bookends he had with that same $1 blue paint.

Tim's Office MakeoverWe left his ugly bookshelves pretty much the same. We did put black and white contact paper on the back of them in a chevron pattern. Then we styled them with accessories like these cool West Elm plates we got on clearance for $2.97 each. These shelves hold every book ever published by Ambassador International over the last 30+ years.

Tim's Office MakeoverThis was our biggest “splurge” for the room. I found this cute little cream couch on Craigslist. She was asking $75 but we talked her down to $50. It fit perfectly in the back of our car! I made the pillows using leftover fabric from Sam’s nursery. The rug was only $20 at Ikea and covers a big stain on the carpet very well!

Tim's Office MakeoverOn either side of the window we hung two of these “book” shelves. We got the idea from the Charlotte West Elm store and since we have no problem getting our hands on free books this project only cost as much as the brackets which were a couple of bucks at Home Depot. The little letter plates were also on clearance at West Elm for $2.97 each.

Tim's Office MakeoverTim absolutely loves his new office. And sometimes I even work from there too, sitting on the couch. In all we spent about $250 which included paint, the couch, a rug, three vases, two lamps, two floating shelves, a pencil cup, about a dozen fun plates, a canvas, wall brackets and renting a carpet cleaner. We had a blast doing it and I feel great knowing my husband has an inviting, stylish setting to spend his work hours.



Filed under Family, life, Marriage, Money, Shopping

A Look Back at 32

Tim and I in LiberiaTomorrow is my birthday and I plan to celebrate with some shopping, relaxing and a milkshake. Tim’s birthday was last month and we spent it at the Powerscourt Ritz Carleton outside of Dublin enjoying a five star meal at Gordan Ramsey but for my birthday Tim’s taking me to Cook-Out Burgers. Don’t worry– I’m not mad. It was my idea after I saw a sign on the side of their building that says they offer 40 milkshakes. I’m already a little nervous about having to choose just one flavor!

Anyway, when my birthday comes around I always like to take some time to reflect on the past 365 days. (Here’s last year’s for instance.) Here are some of the highlights of 32:

  • I enjoyed seeing my byline in more magazines than ever before including about half a dozen times in REDBOOK.
  • I opened the Wall Street Journal on June 15, 2011 to see huge color photos of my friends and I along with a write-up about our Traveling Journal.
  • In early July I spent several days in Atlanta promoting authors at the International Christian Retail Show. I also got to visit CNN and see fellow Iowa State alum Jacqui Jeras.
  • On July 18 I found myself sitting on the set of The Today Show with my best friends talking about the Traveling Journal.
  • I spent the first two weeks of August in Liberia, Africa helping to drill wells in remote villages and share Christ with Muslims.
  • I spent the last two weeks of August enjoying time with visiting relatives from Northern Ireland. We had a fun trip to Atlanta where we bumped into Whitney Eve Port from The City.
  • My sister came to visit and we had an amazing time which included a trip to the Old Edward’s Spa– amazing!
  • I helped plan and organize the Reality Check event, benefiting Water of Life. We raised a couple of thousand dollars to help drill wells in Third World countries.
  • We spent Thanksgiving in Florida with Tim’s parents and got to see some of my friends.
  • For Christmas we headed to Seattle for an extended visit. Tim and I went skiing, shopping and site seeing.
  • In January we found out we were expecting!
  • Tim and I did several weekend getaways for a magazine including a resort in the Georgia mountains, The Grove Park Inn in Asheville, and the Opryland in Nashville. All of them were so fun and full of special memories. We also got a behind-the-scenes tour of Dave Ramsey’s headquarters which was a highlight.
  • In April we went to Northern Ireland for a 10 day trip that included amazing sites and some of the best food we’ve ever had. Plus we got to spend time with our family.
  • We found out that our baby is a boy and we named him Sam!

When I see it all written out like that it’s hard to believe that I will ever have a year quite as unique and memorable,

group with KL and Hoda

With Kathie Lee and Hoda on The Today Show

but then again, I am about to have my first child so that will be full of its own adventures and memories.

The older I get the more I realize that every year is special in its own way. There really doesn’t have to be a time designated as “the best years of your life” because each year has the potential to hold something remarkable. You just have to be willing to welcome new opportunities and often that means spending a lot of time outside your comfort zone. So here’s to 33– I’ll be toasting it with a milkshake!

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Filed under Family, Friends, Funny, Getaways, Holidays, life, Marriage, Uncategorized

Four Months Ago We Started…

Training. Waking. Yawning. Snoozing. Shuffling. Dressing. Lacing. Stretching. Stumbling. Jogging. Sweating. Complaining. Encouraging. Crying. Whining. Motivating. Hurting. Praying. Praying. Praying. Helping. Continuing. Strengthening. Moving. Breathing. Gasping. Puffing. Struggling. Walking. Starving. Supporting. Talking. Laughing. Dreaming. Focusing. Thirsting. Cheering. Persisting. Aching. Ignoring. Contemplating. Hoping. Pushing.

And tomorrow we’ll be racing. Running. Enduring. Crossing. Finishing. Celebrating. Loving.

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Filed under life, Marriage

The Master Bathroom Revealed

Finally. After nine months we’re excited to announce our new arrival– the master bathroom. Let me remind you what the place looked like once upon a time.

Looking into the Bathroom

It was a rough spot. It smelled and there was evidence of squirrel inhabitants. This is a shot from standing inside the bathroom looking at the spot where the toilet would one day be installed.

We Ended up Removing that Pony Wall

I got a big dose of inspiration from some photos I found online. I’ll show you those next so you can see how that impacted our final design. We loved the idea of infusing a pop of yellow and installing a barn door mechanism instead of standard door frame.

This Inspiration Photo is from Southern Living Magazine

And here is how our bathroom turned out!

Looking into Our Master Bathroom

We actually found that door in the attic rafters. After picking off spider eggs and scrubbing away what I’m sure was a few decades of dirt we painted it bright yellow and attached a new handle from Ikea. We decided to leave the holes from the old door hardware just to keep the old feel of it.

The Door Adds a Great Splash of Color

Let me show you our next inspiration photo. It comes from Rachel in North Carolina. I am a reader of her blog Southern Exposure and when I first saw photos of her guest bathroom I was in love! I emailed Rachel to find out if she had any plans for that vanity that she had custom built, but she didn’t so my husband used this photo to create a knock-off.

What an Inspiration! I Just Loved Rachel's Guest Bathroom

Now here’s a look at our vanity. Keep in mind that my husband built this himself from scratch, and that when I met him a few years ago he didn’t know how to use a drill. I’m so proud of him! I helped by sanding it, staining it, caulking it and covering it with a few coats of polyurethane.

Our Eight Foot Long Vanity with Double Sinks

Another thing we loved was Rachel’s idea for taking normal 12×12 marble tiles from Home Depot and cutting them in half to create a much more luxurious looking layout. We hand-picked every tile (150 of them!) from the shelves of Home Depot to make sure we got the best ones. Then we cut them all in half which was not fun. We hired a pro to install them for us, but we’ve cleaned, sealed and polished each one by hand.

A Look into the Shower

You’ve probably noticed the brick. It’s the chimney bust from the main floor fireplace. From the very beginning we loved the idea of keeping this brick exposed to add a unique feature that felt more loft-like. What we didn’t realize was that the chimney was not perfectly straight which really became a pain in the butt down the road. I still think it adds a great design element, but it created its own set of issues.

The Sinks and Faucets are from

We actually bought the toilet two years ago for our downstairs bathroom, but the modern design didn’t work with our existing plumbing. Our handyman had never seen a toilet with two buttons and sweetly explained to me that the small button was the “pee button!”

Our New Eco-Friendly Toilet

I picked up the pictures in London a few years ago and I think they work great in the space. We still have a few little things to finalize like a curtain and storage boxes to hide some of our bathroom supplies, but I’m so happy with that way it turned out.

So Happy It's Done!

I’ll be sharing the master bedroom with you soon, but for now we need a little break. After months and months of hard work I think we’re all a little tired.

Milo is Pooped!


Filed under Home, life, Marriage

Happy Happy Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to my better half. My constant comedian. My happy food critic. My hunky gardener. My style consultant. My free counselor. My husband. LOVE YOU!

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Filed under Family, Holidays, life, Marriage

Married for Two Years, Two Months and Two Days

Why do we only celebrate anniversaries to the day? Why not celebrate being married two years, two months and two days? So that’s what I’m doing. In honor of our two-year-two-month-two-day-iversary here are 22 things I love about my husband (in no particular order):

1. His Irish accent, which by the way was voted the sexiest accent in the world.

2. How excited he gets about the silly things that make me excited like finding a good deal on toothpaste.

3. His love of travel and trying new things.

4. His six-pack. Hello!

5. His inspiring endurance that allows him to run a half marathon without training.

6. His neat-freak tendencies that mean our house is pretty much always clean.

7. The afternoon “I love u” texts.

8. That he gets annoyed by the same things and entertained by the same things as me.

9. His work ethic.

10. That he passed on his love of Nutella and Indian food to me.

11. His dislike of watching football on TV.

12.His daily commitment to reading God’s word and prayer.

13.His nightly foot rubs. (Please don’t hate me ladies!)

14.His sense of style both in fashion and home design.

15. That he hates 95% of chain restaurants just like I do.

16. His never-failing support of my dreams.

17.The fact that he has the same satisfied reaction to a meal I whipped up in the crock pot and a dinner at a five-star restaurant.

18. His sideburns.

19. His super thick eyeglasses.

20. How he always wakes up in a fabulous mood.

21. How appreciative he is of even the smallest gifts.

22. His overflowing love.


Filed under Family, life, Marriage, Observations

Two Lovely Years of Marriage

Celebrating Year Two!

Celebrating Year Two!

It’s been a couple of weeks now, but it’s an important milestone that deserves recognition. On September 2nd my husband and I celebrated two lovely years of marriage. The following weekend we drove to Charleston for a little adventure, a little romance and a little relaxation. We stayed in a beautiful, white-washed studio apartment above an art gallery in the heart of historic Charleston. The place came with two beach cruiser bicycles that carried us all over town. We hit the beach, drank lots of coffee and ate wonderful food. And we reminisced on the highlights of this fabulous year:

Melly and Al’s Iowa Wedding

Working on Our First House

Stephanie’s Visit From Seattle

Picking Apples in the Mountains

Ross and Rebecca’s Wedding

Alanna and JJ’s Wedding in Charleston

Thanksgiving in Vegas & Celebrating My Dad’s 60th, Going to Beatles Love

Christmas in Florida

Seeing Garrison Keillor at the Peace Center

Tim’s Birthday in Florida & Going to Universal Studios, Trace Adkins Concert

Sodding Our Yard Ourselves

Surprising Tim with a Trip to Ireland

Not Getting Seats on Our Flight to Ireland

Going to Ireland the Following Week

A Double Surprise Birthday Party

Visiting Washington DC

Spending Almost a Week in NYC, Pretending We Lived on the Upper West Side

Going to Cirque du Soleil

Throwing Jenna’s Baby Shower

Driving to Denver for ICRS

Driving to Iowa for Tonya & Ryan’s Wedding, Enjoying the Lake

Tubing in North Carolina

Cheering on George Hincapie at the Cycling Pro Championships

Celebrating our Anniversary in Charleston!

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