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how to use a paint sprayer

For our beach house reno, our first task was to paint all the walls. Nothing had been painted for at least 30 years — when you removed any framed picture that was hanging on the wall, the square behind the picture was several shades lighter than the rest of the wall! Plus, the former owners had smoked inside, and the smell was ghastly. We thought some new paint might help with the odor. First, we removed everything from inside the house. We donated what we could, but most of the furniture was very dated, broken, or mildewed. We kept a…

beach house renovation for Airbnb

After we sold our rural cabin, we put the proceeds into a cute-but-tired beach house on the Delaware shore. We found an adorable house in a Key West style (elevated on pilings) and took the plunge! But the house was in terrible shape. It smelled awful, the furniture was unpleasant, and the flowery couch was always mildewy and slightly damp. Yuck!! Here are some of the photos we took on our walk-through. Did you notice that the mirror in the living room is framed using the same material as the couches? Wow. We took possession of the…

new year lists of fun

Do you make resolutions? For years, I tried . . . I’d come up with a long list of things like losing weight, eating healthier foods, working out more . . . and it never, ever stuck. Then, a couple of years ago, I heard Gretchen Rubin talking about how she makes lists for the new year. She focuses on fun things, activities that will bring her joy, plus maybe a few tasks that need to be done in order to make her life easier. I started using her technique in January 2021, and I’ve really enjoyed the process. This year I…

gift ideas for preteen girls

Are you shopping for preteen girls this year? It sure is a hard age to please! One minute, they’re playing with dolls, and the next minute they’re putting on mascara. Here are some things my girls (ages 11 and 12) are loving, as well as a few surprises I’m planning to get for them. And if you’re cheap like me, you might love shopping at Lululemon like new. It’s an official Lululemon site with used clothes, but they clothes are in great shape (and they smell lovely). Don’t…

last-minute Halloween ideas

I can hardly believe that Halloween is tomorrow! My costume is barely coming together, and Maggie’s is still en route. Are you dressing up this year? Handing out candy? If you’re hosting a celebration at your house or bringing a tray of food to someone else’s house, I have some quick and easy ideas for you. Inspired by Two Peas and their Pod, I made a Halloween snack tray yesterday using mostly items we had on hand. I made witches’ brooms using half a cheese stick, a pretzel stick, and a chive to…

celebrating everything: the final baby tooth

Our oldest daughter lost her last baby tooth last week! The actual moment was kind of uneventful — we were in a diner when the tooth came out, and I wrapped it in a paper napkin . . . and then left it on the table. I was so frustrated with myself — I really would’ve liked to keep her very last baby tooth! Lately, as I feel time slipping by, I’ve resolved to celebrate everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. So a few months ago when the dentist told me she had one baby tooth left, I planned a…

visiting New Orleans

One of our favorite places in the world is the Big Easy! I love the music, the heat, the food . . . the city seems to pulse with energy and joy. John visited New Orleans many times before we met (he had a good friend who lived there), and he’s introduced me to some fabulous places that are off the beaten track. I loved experiencing the real New Orleans–so much better than Bourbon Street!–and today I’m sharing some of his best recommendations with you. Listen to live music outside the French Quarter From the…

mother’s day tea

As you may know, Mother’s Day is this coming Sunday, May 8. (Isn’t it amazing that it’s already May?) We had an early and impromptu celebration for my beautiful mom last week while my parents were visiting. Our menu was incredibly simple, but the table was pretty and I think she felt very loved. We used the same tablecloth as in our Easter pictures (it’s an extra-long tablecloth from Amazon, so it fits our very long tables). I pulled out our mismatched, chipped tea sets and some beautiful linen napkins we…

adding a DIY stair runner

We’re back! After spring break, an unfortunate run-in with COVID, and a visit from the grandparents, we’re back with a fantastic DIY project. Installing your own stair runner is a way to instantly elevate the look of your house without spending much money or time. Plus, it makes the stairs safer! Both John and I slipped on the stairs before the runners were installed, and we find that the runners offer much more traction than the bare wood stairs. Take a look at the photos below to see how much personality and coziness the runners…

Last-minute Easter table

Easter is one of my favorite holidays, full of lots of family traditions. It’s a low-stress holiday for us (unlike Christmas!), plus the birds are singing and the flowers are blooming. We go to church in the morning and then come home for a leisurely, relaxed Sunday dinner. We pop some champagne, sit outside, and enjoy deviled eggs, pimento cheese, and cornichon pickles. I usually put out sandwich fixings, John makes gin and tonics, and we always have some kind of silly dessert. A few years ago I tried my hand at this famous Betty Crocker cake…