A Table for Two (Year Olds)

It might be all-bathroom-all-the-time around the Little House right now, but we don’t want to subject you guys to that!  We’ll have a few posts now and then that are completely unrelated to the crazy reno going on. We hope you enjoy them!

If there’s one piece of furniture I remember most growing up, it would be a little table and two chairs given to my sister and I by our paternal grandparents. I don’t remember getting the table; we just always had it.  It was brown wood and was home to more tea parties, Play-Doh creations, Easy Bake disasters, and pretend restaurants than you can shake a stick at (not sure why you’d want to shake a stick at my childhood memories, though…).

As we grew up, the table passed down to the scores of younger cousins (yes, scores) that were always visiting and playing in our forgotten playhouse in the basement.  The table was covered in doodles in marker and crayon, vestiges of artwork that couldn’t be contained on a single sheet of construction paper. The chairs were as coveted a seat as any first class recliner on a long-haul flight and squabbles to claim one resulted in many a time out being given.

Eventually, even the scores of cousins outgrew the little table and chairs and they were left to sit alone in our basement and wait for the next group of kids to come along.  Instead of kids, the next thing to come along was a flood.  After a torrential rain, our childhood home was left with several feet of water in the basement that didn’t recede for days.  When the water finally drained, the little table was a broken down wreck of itself and was tossed to the side to be taken to the dump.

That’s where my sister found it. That’s where she rescued it and took it to her grandfather-in-law to be saved. They replaced the parts that couldn’t be repaired and restored it to even more than it’s former glory.  A coat of white paint and a chalkboard top have given this little table a new lease on life with a new kid, our niece, Emma, to doodle and have tea parties and to run imaginary five-star restaurants.

Little House. Big Heart. | DIY Kids Chalkboard Table

My sister even wrote a sweet note to my niece on the bottom of the table explaining its history.

Little House. Big Heart. | DIY Kids Chalkboard Table

It’s a little hard to read, so here’s what it says:

Sweet Emma Sue,

This table was Mommy and Aunt Jessie’s (EDIT: that’s me!)back when we were just little girls; our Mamaw, your great-Mamaw, Virginia McKinley, gave it to us.  It was probably the single most used piece of furniture we had.  In 2008 there was a bad flood and Mamaw and Papaw’s basement filled with water and the table got wet and destroyed.  When you were 2 years old, mommy saw it in pieces at their house and saved it.  I took the pieces all to Daddy’s grandpa, your great-grandpa Ike Wasson, and he managed to restore and repair all the wood and put the table back together and even added the wood buttons.  We all hope you have so much fun with it, and may it always remind you of who you are and the one who have loved you along the way!

I love you more than words can say, Love, Mommy

PS. Mommy painted the top with chalkboard paint and the sides white after Grandpa restored it.

Seriously, I tear up every time I read that.  I think I need a moment.

What was your most memorable piece of furniture growing up? Have you passed any of your old things on to your kids/nieces/nephews?  Does anyone else want to play with Play-Doh now?

A Little Bathroom Reno: Demolition Derby

Hey! Sorry we fell off the face of the planet (again)… the bathroom reno has been consuming every free waking minute of our lives (there’s something about not having a toilet in your home that motivates you to work on remedying that situation instead of writing blog posts).  We’re back though and here to share the first stage in our big bathroom reno: demolition (aka. the fun part for me).  Did I mention this is our ONLY bathroom?

I love demo.  It’s definitely my favorite part of DIY.  It just makes me feel so powerful and strong and sore… very, very, can’t-get-out-of-bed-walking-like-an-old-lady sore.  And because I’m weird, I like that.

Just for grins, here’s what we started with:

Beals Bathroom Befores LHBH

Before we swung the first hammer, we prepped everything by taping brown paper down to protect the wood floors in our hall and plastic over the door to try and keep some of the dust contained (I will draw your attention to the expert taping job at the top of the door… expert, my friends, expert).

Door Plastic

We also gathered up all the supplies we though we’d need to properly demo:

Tools: hammers, mini sledge, crow bars (in three sizes), screwdrivers
Clean Up: Flat shovel, broom, heavy-duty contractor bags (don’t skimp… go with the expensive heavy ones)
Personal Protection: Respirators, goggles, gloves

I can’t stress enough how important the respirator and goggles were.  They were hot, uncomfortable, and a royal pain in the derriere, but it was way worse in there without them.  Besides, they made a great fashion statement paired with an old sorority tee shirt, don’t you think?

PPE Fashion

And now for an action shot to further showcase my fabulous demolition fashion sense and my impressive muscles…

Just joking about the muscle part. This is where we discovered that we had a really progressive builder in 1940 who used drywall instead of plaster on our walls (hence the “There’s nothing there!” comment from me in the video).  We were fully prepared to deal with plaster in the entire bathroom, so finding out that half of it would be easy drywall demo was like finding a $20 in an old pair of jeans. Seriously.  There were high-fives and a little victory dance.

We got almost all the drywall removed in the first night.

Drywall on the Floor

Day One Demo

The next day we said bye to our toilet (We miss you!) and started demo on the tile portion of the walls.  The tile was laid in thick thin set (oxymoron, much?) over expanded metal mesh.  We were expecting it to be really difficult to remove, but Kevin was able to get it out in fairly intact chunks, leaving us with only the floor to demo.

Wall Demo Complete

For that, we brought in the big guns… in the form of a 20-lb. demolition hammer rented from Home Depot.  Don’t worry, Kev put on his respirator and goggles before we actually got to work.  If you ever use a demo hammer/jackhammer, you’ll also want to use ear plugs (otherwise you’ll be yelling “Huh?!” at each other for the rest of the day… we know from previous experience).

Kevin Demo Hammer

The demo hammer made short work of the floor.  Kevin used it to break up large chunks of tile and I came behind with a crowbar and hammer to pry them up where they were stuck to the subfloor (on a fun side note, I saved a bunch of the little white hex tiles from the floor and plan to make something for the new bathroom with them… I’m just not sure what yet.  Any ideas?).

Bathroom Floor DemolitionIt took much longer to clean up the floor than it did to actually demo it.  We used a flat shovel to scoop the smaller pieces into a contractor bag and carried the larger pieces out to our driveway. We weren’t able to get a dumpster (long story about an even longer phone call), so everything is just hanging out waiting on disposal.  We did put up some yellow caution tape in hopes of covering our behinds should anyone be dumb enough to try and go through the piles (I’m sure our neighbors just love us).

Demo Pile

It took the two of us about three days to completely demo the bathroom (if only real life were like HGTV and it took that long to put it back together again).  We were left with a blank (if somewhat holey) slate.

Demolition Completed

We’ll be back later this week with a guest post from my sister and maybe a little more on the bathroom progress, so stay tuned!

Safe & Secure

I’m not a city girl.  I grew up on an Indiana farm in the middle of trees and cornfields so far off the county road you couldn’t even see it.  Growing up, we never locked our front door – there was no need.  I always felt safe and secure tucked back far from “town” (town being a bustling metropolis of less than 1,500 people).

Now that I live in a metro area of almost 7 million people, I feel a little less safe.  Okay, maybe that’s an understatement.  I feel a lot less safe.  We live in a great neighborhood, but even so, we’ve had our cars broken into and bikes stolen out of our garage.  That’s why we opted to get a security system last year.  It was a DIY system (of course) that we installed and set up ourselves, then is monitored by a company we subscribe to (Kevin’s planning on a Handyman Wednesday on it soon).  It works great and has a handy key pad for arming and disarming the system that we keep by the front door.  When we installed it, we set it on our bench with intentions of hanging it above our mail slot the next day.  Fast forward to last weekend.

Little House Big Heart Security System Update

The control panel was still sitting exactly where it had been since we hooked it up.  Since we were trying to finish some smaller projects before starting the bathroom, we got out the drill and some anchors to hang that baby up over our mail slot (Rosie was trying to get her leash out of the box where we keep them).

Little House Big Heart Security System Update 1

We used simple anchors to hang the control panel. You simply drill a pilot hole with the provided drill bit, pinch the anchor, push it into the hole, then put in your screw.  We used these same anchors (in a heavier size) to hang our floating bar shelves and love them.

Little House Big Heart Security System Update 2

I’ve still got to tack the cord in alongside the mail slot, but the control panel is doing great in it’s new home.  An added benefit is that Fievel can’t step on the unit in the middle of the night and set off the alarm (it’s happened).

Little House Big Heart Security System Update After

This little corner isn’t quite finished.  We still want to build a cubby hook shelf thing similar to this one from Target – it’ll just have to wait until after the bathroom.

Target Entryway Cubbie Shelf

Have you tackled any simple projects lately? Any you’ve been putting off (for years, like us)? Don’t you think we should paint the back of our front door navy? Me too!

This entry was posted in DIY.

Belly Up to the Bar Rail

Little House. Big Heart. | How to Add a Bar Rail to your Deck for less than $60

We finally, finally finished the bar rail (and it only took us a year and a half to get to it)!  We’ve already had a party with it (for my birthday) and it was awesome to have a second seating/conversation area.

The whole schebang took us less than two hours total to build and cost less than $60!  Honestly. It was so easy… if you can sand, stain, and use a drill, you can build one of these.

We started out with two 16′ pressure treated deck boards. I sanded the ends  of the boards out in our alley (no judging my painted pink Soffe shorts from high school), then we stained them with some of our leftover fence stain. This took about an hour, tops, then we left the boards to dry in the warm Texas sun (seriously, it’s not even hot yet!).

Little House Big Heart Deck Bar How To 4

While the boards were drying, we turned our attention to attaching the brackets that were to hold up the bar.  We went with four smaller metal brackets on each of the four posts on the section of deck were the bar was to go, screwed in with coated decking screws to prevent rusting.  In order to get the right spacing between the top of the bracket and the railing, we used a scrap piece of decking leftover from the big deck project.

Little House Big Heart Deck Bar How To 5

When the boards were dry (we gave them a full day to get that way), it was time to attach them to our brackets.  We used short (1/2″) galvanized screws with head big enough they wouldn’t slip through the holes on the bracket (learned that one the hard way).

Little House Big Heart Deck Bar How To 3

Did I mention I can’t believe we put this project off for so long? It was so fast and so cheap and so good looking I don’t know why it didn’t happen sooner.  I mean, look at it.

Little House Big Heart Deck Bar How To 2

It’s gorgeous, isn’t it?

Little House Big Heart Deck Bar How To 1

Here’s the cost breakdown (from Home Depot):

(2) 16′ Pressure Treated Deck Boards = $27.14
(4) 12in x 8 in Metal Shelf Brackets = $27.44
Stain (Leftovers) = $0.00
Screws (Leftovers) = $0.00
Grand Total = $54.58!

Have you finished any projects you’ve been putting off lately?

Let’s Talk Tile!

This is it, guys. The week we start the bathroom.

Probably.  If I can ever get over the debilitating fear of not being able to put it back together.

Luckily, we’ve sourced everything but the shower fixtures, so there’s no turning back now.  Which means… we have tile (and we saved over $300 buying it)!

For the walls, we decided (after a ridiculous amount of agonizing on which white was the right white) to go with White Daltile from Home Depot.  In the end, it matched our new sink better than any of the other (five) samples we tried.  We also picked up matching trim to go along the top.  They don’t look like they match in the photos below, but they do in real life (and let’s face it… real life is what matters).

Daltile Rittenhouse White Subway Tile Home Depot 1

Daltile Rittenhouse White Victorian Trim Home Depot

As usual, we used giftcardzen.com to buy Home Depot gift cards at 9.5% off and a 10% Lowes coupon (which HD matches) to save about $100 on the wall tile!

Our marble was delivered on Friday.  Two things about marble. One, it’s heavy. Really, stupidly heavy. Two, it’s beautiful. I probably spent a good half an hour “Oohing” and “Aahing” and holding up the trim here and there in the bathroom admiring it. It’s mesmerizingly gorgeous.

We bought our marble from an online retailer called marbleonline.com.  I’m not going to lie, they seemed a little sketch to me at first. But Kevin had done his homework and it turned out to be a really highly rated company with great reviews. We ordered 44 square feet of 3″ Carrara Hexagon Mosaic tile and enough marble pencil trim to do a subtle accent around the entire room (and in the shower).

Marble Online 3 Inca Carrara Hex

Marble Online Carrara Pencil Liner

When we ordered our marble from MarbleOnline.com, they sent us an email with pictures of their current stock so we could choose the tones we were liked in our marble, then they sent us only marble with the color variations we were wanting.  Their shipping was free and they were great to work with (we don’t have any affiliation with them – we’re just passing on the info on a great company)!

Not only were they great to work with, but their marble prices were anywhere from $2-$5 cheaper than the other places we got samples from.  All in all, we spent $483 on our marble hex tile with MarbleOnline.com. If we had purchased from BuilderDepot, it would have been $626 after shipping or $762 from The Tile Shop after Texas sales tax. If you average those together, we saved about $210 by shopping around for our marble!

If you add the ~$100 we saved on our wall tile and the $210 we saved on our marble to the $299 we’d already saved on buying our sink, console, and medicine cabinet, we’ve saved a total of $610 on our renovation so far just buy using coupons, sales, and shopping around! $610!!

What have you saved on lately? Have you ever spent half an hour staring into the complexities of a piece of marble (no? I figured it was just me)?  Can you believe we’ve saved $610 on our bathroom before we even started it?

Friends with Benefits

10 Reasons to be Friends with Benefits in Your Marriage | Little House. Big Heart.

Three years ago today I walked down the aisle to marry my best friend in the world. Our friendship is at the very heart of our marriage. Really, for us, our friendship is our marriage. We like to think of ourselves as friends with benefits.

I know, I know. That term has a bad rap, but there are so many reasons to be friends with benefits in your marriage. Here are 10 of my favorites:

1.  No waiting to text or call to tell my best friend about the crazy dream I had last night… he’s right there beside me (snoring away).

2.  My best friend gets me. I mean, gets me gets me. He sees me at my best… and at my crazy lady worst (and believe me, that ain’t pretty).

3.  I never have to choose between hanging out with my best friend and hanging my with my husband (it makes date nights AWESOME).

4.  There’s nothing to hide. If I do something stupid with my best friend on a night out (like yelling about french fries at 2am on a street in Belgium) my husband can’t get mad (he was the one there teaching me how to yell french fries in French).

5.  I can hit on my best friend and not get in trouble with my husband. Actually, he encourages it.

6.   I get to have adventures traveling with my husband and my best friend on vacation and only have to buy one plane ticket.

7.  My best friend can remedy the bad days with pizza, nerdy TV, and cuddling on the couch without my husband getting jealous.

8.  I can have… benefits… with my best friend any time I want. My husband enthusiastically encourages this. 😉

9. I get to share life’s biggest moments with both my husband and my best friend without worrying I’m leaving someone out of something big.

10. My best friend will never move away, never find a better friend, or lose touch.  He will be beside me though everything this life may throw at us.


More than almost anything else, our friendship it is what keeps us looking forward to spending the next day together.  When you’re blessed enough to get to spend every single day of your life with your best friend, that life can’t help but be awesome.

Happy Anniversary, KB! Today we’re not just celebrating the day we got married, but our whole marriage!  Here’s to many more nights of frites, just one more episode of Doctor Who, and afternoons spent laying in the grass with the sprinkler on our feet. I love you!

Easter 2014 Little House. Big Heart.

Do you have any other reasons why being friends with benefits in your marriage is the best idea ever?

Photo credits to Bowersock Photography and Deven Miller.

This entry was posted in Family.

A Little On The Side (Yard)

Lately Kevin and I have been project finishing machines. We’re so anxious to start the bathroom that we’re tying up all the loose ends we have laying around as quickly as we can.

One of the biggest projects on our list was our side utility yard where our air conditioning unit and firewood live. It was starting to get overgrown and muddy, and the gate that closed it off was off its hinges.

Utility Yard Makeover



Utility Side Yard Makeover Crushed Granite 3

We started by clipping all of the shrubs down to their root and digging them up so they wouldn’t grow back again.  The worse was the holly tree (by the AC) that persists on growing back no matter how many time we attempt to dig it up. If you weren’t aware, holly is evil. It’s thorny, prickly, and just plain mean.

Utility Side Yard Makeover Crushed Granite 1

In the spirit of using what we have on hand, we decided to use the leftover crushed granite from our patio project to rock the utility area. We’d inadvertantly bought too much last spring and hadn’t found a use for it yet, so using it solved both our mud issues (much to the dismay of our puppies) and the giant pile of granite in our driveway (making room for our bathroom dumpster!).

Kevin loaded and wheeled the granite over to the side yard while I shoveled and raked it into place.  On a side note, if you’re in the south and have had a pile of crushed granite in your driveway for over a year, beware of fire ants making it into a giant nest.  We didn’t expect it – and we paid for it. I’m still scratching bites on my ankles.  Fireants might just be worse than holly, although it’s a close one.

Utility Side Yard Makeover Crushed Granite 2

It didn’t take much to completely rock the entire utility area and fix the gate to keep the puppies (and any future kiddos) out of the area.  We even built a handy (and cheap!) firewood rack to keep everything dry and off the ground (Kevin will be back for a Handyman Wednesday on how to build it).

Utility Side Yard Makeover Crushed Granite 5We’ve got a few more projects to cross off the list before we can start swinging the ol’ sledgehammer (I’m looking at you, deck bar), but hopefully we can tackle them this week and be ready to start on the bathroom this weekend.



Saleing… Yards, That Is

You’ve probably heard me complain about the city of Dallas’ absurd rule requiring homeowners to have a permit for their yard sales… and an expensive permit at that.  The point, so I’m told, is to keep people from having habitual yard sales every Saturday and bringing down the neighborhood (or some such nonsense).  To me, it just seemed to be a way for the city to get an extra $50 from homeowners and it made me mad. Fightin’ mad. So mad, I vowed never to have a yard sale in the city of Dallas. Ever.

And I still haven’t… but as it turns out, the rules have changed. Your first yard sale in a calendar year is free and the second is just $25 for the permit.  So… I’m eating my words.  We’re having a yard sale at the Little House… eventually.  We haven’t decided if we want to squeeze it in before or after the bathroom remodel, but it’s happening. We’ve already started a yard sale pile in the garage and began doing a little market research (aka. yard saleing on a Saturday morning).

Armed with coffee and breakfast tacos, we spent three hours scouring yard sales in the Lakewood and M-Streets neighborhoods in Dallas Saturday morning.  We took $20 and spent every penny of it (along with $2 in quarters I found in the floorboard of my car).

Yardsale Finds

We brought home a genuine Talavera planter for $5 (it says “Hecho en Mexico” on the bottom, so it has to be genuine, right?) to go with all our other Talavera on out back patio. Talavea’s not exactly cheap, but this is the second piece we’ve found at yard sales for $5 or less.  The planter has a chip on its lip, but I think once there’s flowers in it you won’t be able to see it.

Chipped Talevera Pot

We found three coffee table books about London, French chateaux, and French villages, all places we’ve visited on our travels. The jackets were a little worn, but the cloth covers on the inside are great colors. I can’t wait to find a place to use them.  We got all three for $10.

Europe Coffee Table BooksWe also snagged a brand new fondue pot (everyone needs a fondue pot) for $5 and a shabby Scrabble game for $2. I plan to cannibalizing it for some craft project or other in the near future.  All in all, we thought it was a pretty successful day (none of what we bought will likely end up on our own yard sale) and we gained some good insight into what brought people in (signs on the right roads, music, free coffee!).

What did you do this weekend?

Partially Ensconced

We’re at T minus not-very-long until we start the bathroom (or at least that’s what we keep telling ourselves).  Recent life events have pushed out the start date, reeled it back in, and left it basically in limbo.  Honestly, it has me a little frustrated that it’s so indefinite… I’m ready for a little sledgehammer therapy session.  Instead, I have to be patient and content myself with sourcing our materials (which, to be honest, has to be done first… I just really need that sledgehammer therapy).

Lately I’ve been pondering sconces for our bathroom.  Right now we have one of those $20 cheapie unibrow sconces the previous owner installed. It’s not centered over the sink (seriously, none of the lighting is centered in the Little House) and the more I look at it, the more I’m pretty sure I want to do something different next time around.

Beals Bathroom Before 1

I’m leaning towards two single sconces flanking our new medicine cabinet, like the photo below.  I’m all about symmetry and that part of me likes how balanced it looks with a single sconce on either side.  Also, I might be able to convince the hubs since it’s one light bulb less than our current arrangement… less light bulbs means less electricity used, right?

Pottery Barn Recessed Hotel Medicine Cabinet

I’m loving these sconces from Shades of Light. They’re vintage, but not too much so. And at $62 each, more affordable than I expected.


I also really like this one from Destination Lighting. It’s a little cheaper at $50 and I think I might like the shape more than other. I’m just a little worried about the scale though… it seems to be a lot bigger (and we can’t do bigger in this bathroom… we have to do tiny and compact).


Hopefully we’ll get the ball rolling soon and start swinging the sledgehammer, but in the meantime we still have to decide on tile, purchase it, get sconces, and a ton of other things.  We’ll keep you posted on all the riveting developments.


Stooling on Some Changes

Sometimes things don’t work out like you planned (especially if your plans never really get off the ground in the first place).

When Kevin and I remodeled our backyard we had plans of installing a drink ledge along our longest deck railing, as shown in our very high quality plan below.  It was going to make use of some unused space on the deck and give us another conversation area with more seating.

The New Backyard Plan

We even went so far as to buy the stools for the bar and to put them along the railing where the bar would be (in hopes, I think, of motivating ourselves to push through and finish the deck).  That was a year ago.

Metal Stools Overstock

That picture’s not from a year ago. It’s from yesterday. As you can see, the stools are still in place, waiting on the drink ledge that (still) hasn’t appeared.  For what’s it worth though, it’s on the list of projects that MUST be finished before we start the bathroom and we have the materials bought for it. So there’s that.

The stools haven’t taken their one year stint outside very well.  The clear coat on the top has started to break down and rubs off in a white powder that’s hard to get out of clothes.  The color on the top has faded, too, leaving them looking not so hot.  We don’t want to get rid of them since they weren’t exactly cheap and structurally are still in really good shape (there’s no rust, thankfully).


Metal Stool Top Problems

I was really excited then, when I saw these stools at Target the other day.  It was a serious lightbulb moment. I grabbed the stool and ran halfway across the store with it to find Kevin and show him.  He wasn’t quite as excited as me.

Target Threshold Metal Stool Wood TopAdding wood tops to our stools would hide the faded tops, while making them even more awesome than they already are. Win! I mocked it up on one of our stools at home with some cedar we had laying around in the garage last night. I really like the effect.

Wood Top Metal Stool Preview

It’s probably an after the bathroom project, but one we’re definitely adding to our list… so stay tuned.

Have any of your purchases not worked out lately? Have you procrastinated on finishing a project before (maybe not for a year like us)? Do you also get ridiculously excited over Target finds?