Monday, December 22, 2014

10 Minute Dress-Up Corner

I've noticed lately that Lizzie has been collecting a decent amount of dress up things and of course, I have no space for them. Luckily, I've just removed our ugly old mirror from our bathroom so I decided to put it to good use.

This couldn't be more simple! I simply used some mirror clips to attach the big old thing to the wall, and purchased one of those flexible shelving units to fit the other side. Luckily, santa told me that she will be getting some dress up clothes other than princess-themed things. I don't think we bought her any of the princess things, but somehow they seem to multiply! 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

DIY Wall-Mounted Book Displays

A few months ago, I was eagerly looking through my latest copy of HGTV Magazine. Seriously, I love it! Of course, they always have the section of the back where they feature outrageously gorgeous homes that are most definitely out of my budget. But they do give me ideas. One girl's room had some crazy book displays that I just fell in love with and felt inspired by.

I suppose I've also been seeing these Ikea-spice rack hacks too for a while, but they would be much too small to fit much of anything. We have a lot of books. In fact, the only things I couldn't find storage for after the move are our remaining six totes full of books. I have dreams about full-wall built-in bookcases and comfy leather seats in front of a fire. But not for this house.

The hunt was on. Target had something, but it wasn't long enough. Ikea had something, but for how many I had in mind, it would have been over $100. Here's my solution.

I went to Lowe's and bought several 1"x2"x6' pieces of wood. You need three pieces for each shelf you would like to make. By buying the cheapest grade wood, I only spent around $36 for all my panels, but given the choice to do it again I would maybe buy a slightly better grade just because the sanding portion isn't as nice with the white wood. 

Next, I painted all the pieces with Zinsser CoverStain Primer (Gold Label). Then sand down any parts which still look a little creepy. 

After sanding, I used the Paddle Bits to drill some holes for the screws before screwing all pieces together. After they were screwed together, I used wood putty to fill the holes then painted them in the same white that I've been using on my trim. 

I just drilled them right to the studs and I'm so happy how they turned out! 

Unfortunately, all these bookcases only hold about 25% of her books, you can see the rest in her closet, but it makes a great display! 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Repainting Our Baseboard Heaters

Every time we move, the first thing that I'm always a little OCD about is cleaning. (This is thanks in part to both an OCD clean mother and years spent as a maid.) This move, I knew I had my work cut out for me. No nice property management company to send the cleaners in before the next move in. The gentleman who lived here before didn't even get all his furniture out until ten minutes to closing. That doesn't leave a lot of time for washing windows. 

The fluorescent lighting does no favors, either.
But one of the biggest, grossest things I knew I would have to tackle was the bathroom. 20 year old accessories that were very securely held onto the walls by years of dust and bathroom icky-ness and these God-awful baseboard heaters were priority. 

No, I don't need to be reminded about how these particular baseboard heaters (right next to the toilets) got so rusted. *Double Shudder*

I didn't even want to pee or shower until these bad boys were taken care of. Much less let Lizzie anywhere near it. 

We know that we will eventually be tiling both bathrooms, and probably replacing both bathroom baseboard covers with something a little more attractive and rust-proof at that time.  So I wanted to see if I could save the pre-existing ones first. 

After reviewing a lot of different DIY options, here's what I eventually ended up doing. 

First, I taped off the area around the baseboard heater. Then, I had to do the prep work to get rid of much of the rust, and get a smooth finish.

Wearing rubber gloves of course, I used a combination of both sandpaper and wire brushing technique and went to work. Each heater took about an hour. The wire brush was best for the really thick chunks of rust, but sandpaper was best for the small bumps and the final smoothing of it. 

Once everything was smoothed out I applied this Zinsser Bulls Eye Primer, and then used this Rust-Oleum protective enamel. I applied two coats of each.

I plan on giving this same treatment to all the baseboard heaters in the house, though in the future I may skip the primer step. I think the Rust-Oleum would be sufficient. I love the results though! 

Here's one last before/after. As you can see, I also painted the bathroom, but I'll do a full bathroom before/after once we have everything replaced. For now, I'm just glad everything is CLEAN!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Toddler Christmas Pictures 2014

I've got to say, I'm on the ball this year with our family Christmas cards. And by family, I mean I only take pictures of Lizzie because trying to get all three of us together at one time and looking cute is really difficult. Not that trying to get a two and a half year old to stay still and smile is easy.

But she was as cooperative as a two year old can be. 
Luckily, I have a good camera with a fast shutter speed.

She gave me about five minutes where she would sit and smile.

And that was it. So I embraced the toddler running around thing and just started snapping. 

I love how these "action" shots turned out! In fact, they are by far my favorite and also the ones I ordered for the holiday card from Shutterfly this year.

Check out my previous years' cards too.

2012-DIY Baby Christmas Cards

2013-Christmas Picture

Thursday, November 13, 2014

YouTube For the Win!

We've officially been homeowners for a few months now and I have to say I love it so far! Mainly, I really love having a fixer-upper. It keeps me busy, and I'm learning so much. Andrew, not so much. Mainly because when he's actually in the same city he's working. Navy life. And also because I'm OCD/a slight control freak. 

But he just left for deployment. Which, for a submarine means that maybe, if I'm lucky, I'm going to get an email once a week from him. No phones, no Skype. Maybe one email. So it goes.

This means that I'm especially bored. I've still had no luck with the whole job hunt, so that means a lot of time at home. With two leaky sinks. 

I had originally planned on just calling a plumber to switch out the faucets/fix the leaks. Then I got sick. While my husband was deployed.

Let me preface this by first mentioning that I don't get sick. Really. But, in the spirit of togetherness I decided to get the flu mist with Lizzie. Being of an incredibly good constitution, I had never had the flu shot/mist before. So of course I got sick that same night.

Let me tell you, puking on the toilet while your two year old whacks you on the head (in what I'm sure she though was a very soothing way) is not pleasant. Nor is it pleasant when she demands that you move away from the toilet because it is HER turn for the potty. Or when you realize that if you want to brush your teeth, you'll have to crawl all the way to the kitchen because the faucet in your bathroom leaks when you try to use the cold water. 

That's when I decided to fix them myself.

The first leaky sink was in our unused master bathroom. It remains unused because the toilet, while functional, shakes the house with its power flush and runs water constantly. I am determined to replace that myself. Next month. We also haven't gotten around to using the master bath because our house lacks exhaust fans in both bathrooms which means that in that tiny room, even with the window open, we would be lost forever in the fog if we tried to use the shower. That's another next month project.

Old Crusty
So I tried to tackle old crusty, the faucet on our tiny sink, as well as the leak underneath. After watching a few YouTube videos on how to replace a faucet, I discovered that the plumbing under your sink is really not that scary at all. Even replacing a faucet and installing a new one is pretty straightforward once you understand the basic system.

Check out that sexy countertop.
Armed with this YouTube knowledge, I fought the battle against leaky, crusty faucets in both bathrooms. The hardest part was removing the old ones. We have a wall-mounted sink in the master bath, so after half an hour of trying to pry the faucet loose from the bottom, I just took the sink off the wall and went at it from a different angle. In the main bath, I gleefully just took a hammer and smashed the porcelain to get the old faucet out after spending an hour trying unsuccessfully to remove the drop-in sink portion. 

The best part though, was the deal I found on the new countertop for the main bathroom at our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. I spent just $16 on a new solid surface countertop. Score!

Sure it looked gross in the beginning....

Things like this just need love. And elbow grease, lots of elbow grease. 

Basically, I just used a vinegar/water mix and a utility knife to scrape off all the gunk. 

The end results are so worth it! And no leaks!


Overall cost for both updates on both sinks was minimal, and I had supplies such as caulk on hand.
  • Basin Wrench. $16
  • Master Bathroom Faucet. $54
  • Delta Lorain Faucet, Lowes $89
  • Replacement Vanity Countertop, ReStore $16 
  • Plumber's Putty, $5
  • Replacement Seals, $1
Total Project Cost: $181

Not too bad for my first major DIY project!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

We're Home!

We finally did it! Andrew and I are homeowners! It's been a very busy few months getting settled, but we are so happy we decided to buy a home instead of living on base again. While I didn't hate living on base, it's nice to know that for the next four years at least, our money will be going toward our future, and not lining the pockets of Balfor Beatty.  

Buying a home in a completely different and unfamiliar part of the country was stressful, but not as horrible as it could have been. We worked with NFCU and they actually had a program called Realty Plus. They got us a great realtor, and we ended up getting about $1000 from them just for using their program! 

Plus, we were extremely fortunate to find this property on our very short house hunting trip, and were fortunate that there were no hiccups with closing.

The house was built in 1997 and is solid...but in desperate need of updating. We wanted a fixer upper, and we definitely got it! I'll be sure to post more pictures as we get to it. 

Check out this carpet! It's definitely dated... 

and these hideous hardware we pulled out of the kitchen first thing! 

Friday, June 27, 2014

My Kick-Ass Resume Design

After two years of being a stay-at-home mom, I've finally decided to head back to work full-time.  While I've loved the great bonding I've been able to have these last two years with Lizzie, I'm ready and excited to get back to work. Not only are we not planning on having kids for a few more years, but Andrew will start to deploy soon. Which means I will be all alone in a new town, a twenty hour drive from most friends and family. I need something for me to keep me sane, and to give me a sense of accomplishment. I'm not big on being bored and wasting money anyway. 

So that means it's time to update my resume! 

At my previous job I was required to work with Adobe Creative Suite, so I became pretty good at Photoshop. Knowing that I had almost two years off, I know I need to stand out at whatever job I apply for so I designed what I hope is an eye-catching resume.  Here's an blog-edited version: 

I may still play around with the font and colors, but I really like how it turned out. What do you think? Will it get someone's attention?

Monday, June 16, 2014

House Hunting

Pinterest and the internet are bad things when house hunting. Everything is so beautiful and expensive. 

Luckily, the internet is also a great and wonderful place for DIYers. So if you can't buy it you can make it, right? RIGHT?

Time will tell whether or not my obsession with HGTV,  View Along the Way, Young House Love, and It's Great To Be Home are a good thing or not. I think my "tear-down-these-walls" attitude has infected Andrew too, but that's okay. We found a house. And it's a "tear-down-these-walls and rip-up-these-walls" kind of house.

These walls are going bye-bye. And so is all that carpet. ALL of it.

We still have many steps in the process left before we officially have the keys, but I'm all ready channeling my inner Leslie Knope and have created a fancy project binder. And it's all ready about 50 pages long. Yes, I'm getting ahead of myself. 

Fingers crossed! 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Demon Doll

Much to the disappointment of both my mother and mother-in-law, I have a strict ban on dolls across house Rowe. This ban has been in effect since before Lizzie was born, and since then, Andrew and I have only broken this ban once, while on vacation to buy this nice little wolf doll we call Luna.

The reason the ban exists is simple. Two weeks before Lizzie was born, I took a look around her nursery and saw nothing but dolls. It was as if as soon we had mentioned that the child I was carrying had a vagina, dolls came flooding in from everywhere. Literally all the designated toy space we possessed was all ready taken up by dolls. Ugly dolls, run-of-the-mill teddies, and strange animal dolls. Not to mention the fact that both Andrew and I grew up in the 90s and so have been dutifully hauling our collection of Beanie Babies around for the past fifteen years--you know, because they will be worth money someday. It was an overwhelming amount of dolls for a human being who hadn't even been born yet.

The ban has done its work, and while both grandmas hate it, they generally respect the policy. Until last week, when Grandma G. finally found the loophole.

We were out shopping in some of the cute little shops of Downtown Summerville and came across one shop where every thing in the store was exclusively made by the shopkeeper, or her family. 

Lizzie was running around, and as toddlers do, started grabbing everything. Unfortunately one of the things she grabbed was a doll. My mother pounced.

Grandma G: "Oh, look at that sweet dollie, look how much she loves it Ashlee."

Me: Blank stare.

Grandma G: "I bet she would love it for her second birthday, don't you think? Don't you like it Lizzie?"

Me: Blank stare.

Lizzie: (Egged on by Grandma) "Dollie, dollie!"

Grandma G: "Sigh. I don't know if mommy says it's okay to get it."

Me: Blank stare. 

The Shopkeeper looks up from her latest project. All eyes on me expectantly.

Me: (Woodenly) "Sure. If Lizzie likes it."

This conversation would have gone a little differently had the shopkeeper A: Not made everything in the Goddamned store and B: Not been actively listening and present. The reason for this is not because I am so unreasonable that I can't be a little flexible on the ban, but because the doll in question is creepy. And not the intentional Tim Burton type of creepy. That's okay. This doll has the soulless porcelain doll type of creepy from yesteryear. In fact, it's staring at me right now from where Lizzie last left it.

Almost as if it is reaching at me. Ugh. The main problem with the doll is really the face-or should I say lack of face replaced by two gray, soulless button eyes. Though the Little House On the Prairie look doesn't help. 

Unfortunately Lizzie likes it. And the demon doll was expensive. So it's sticking around for now. Unless I end up finding it with a knife in its hand or something. Then it's getting burned. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014


I know, I know. Two months without posting is very bad and I'm sorry. But a lot has happened! Andrew's official orders have come in and we are very suddenly moving in July (instead of October). So we have been very busy starting our first-ever-can-you-believe-it house hunting process. And busy enjoying this fantastic warm weather. And our first company in almost six months. Yay!

Also, my baby girl turns TWO this month. TWO! Is that an excuse to head to Kiawah Island? Do we really need an excuse to head to the beach? 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Running Away the Midwinter Funk

My running partner never gets tired. Ever.
Things have been pretty boring around here lately, and even the nice SC weather hasn't been very friendly. And by lately, I'm really referring to anything post-Thanksgiving. We've had no visitors, no vacations, and not much to do here for the past three months. It's mind-numbing. 

It was a couple days after Thanksgiving that I realized I really needed to start working out again or I'd have to switch back to my fat jeans. So I very grudgingly put in that first Jillian Michaels DVD when Elizabeth was taking her nap. And almost cried the next morning when I tried getting out of bed. 

Then I thought I'd try taking up running again. I've never been much of a runner. In middle school and high school I discovered that I was abysmally, embarrassingly, getting-lapped-multiple-times-during-our-mandatory-mile-runs slow, and that generally turned me off to the sport. 

Used to try and wear the border collie out on
the treadmill. Didn't work.
In college I realized that when running, breathing generally helps, and that running really wasn't all that bad when you weren't being timed, or lapped by the cross-country kids. So I ran a couple times a week, never more than a few miles at a time, until I got pregnant.

So when I picked it up at the start of December, I didn't really expect much. I hoped it would give me just enough sense of accomplishment that would keep me from sinking into a pit of winter despair. So I was pleasantly surprised at just how much enjoyment I found from my runs.

After the first week of getting back into the swing of it, I actually began looking forward to my runs. In addition to the physical my-jeans-fit-better-all-ready benefits, running gives me a chance to recharge my batteries. It gives me a much needed mommy-break, and helps me maintain my patience with both Lizzie and Andrew. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm still slower than a herd of turtles, but I'm discovering that I can go longer distances at my slower pace without getting tired. I'm not competing with anyone except myself, so there's no pressure to beat the cross-country kids. And it feels good. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

We Have Orders! (Maybe)

Ahh…the long wait is finally over. For planners like me, waiting to find out where you'll be spending the next four years of your life is excruciating. Hearing stories from other military spouses about the horrible bases they've been to, the terrors of moving across the country, and the bad conditions they've lived in doesn't help.  I consider myself a reasonable person. My personality is well-equipped for being a military spouse; I love going new places, exploring, and I'm not from a family that needs to be involved in every aspect of my life. It takes a lot to make me feel lonely, and thankfully most members of the military community are so friendly and inviting it doesn't take long to make new friends. But really, months and months of waiting on a big life decision can stretch the patience of almost anyone.

After this long wait, and with the knowledge that we would really probably have very little say in the matter, I had narrowed down my personal 'dream sheet' to two places: Groton, CT or Seattle, WA. Sure if we hadn't gotten one of those two places, I would have been fine. After I threw a big fit. Luckily, it looks like we are headed for Groton, CT! So no fit. 

We have months and months before the move, and big decisions to make before then, but at least we have time and a destination. Now to finish up my Charleston area wish list….only had four years to do it!