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 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  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, 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 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.



Handyman Wednesday: Installing a Screen Door

Hi everyone! Kevin’s here as a follow up to my last post on buying a screen door.  It is now installed in the Little House and it was a pretty painless process.  I had my awesome dad in town to help me, so that made life SO much easier (thanks Mom and Dad!)


I’m going to keep this pretty high level because every door is different.  Most importantly, read ALL the instructions before you start.  I put a couple of screws in the wrong place because I didn’t read everything first.  A couple other things to remember:

1. You can’t do this alone.  Don’t try.


2. You need plenty of space.  Like a yard to lay the door down in.

Door in Yard

3.  Assemble all tools before starting.

More Tools for hanging a door  Tools

4. Don’t try to hang the door when a storm is coming in (we may have made this mistake).


Here are the basic steps.  It’s quite easy if you have the tools and the people to help.

Step 1.  Determine if the door is right hung or left hung (see the last handyman Wednesday for this)

Step 2. Measure and cut the trim pieces for the door using a hacksaw.

Cut Trim PiecesStep 3. Hang the trim pieces using the included screws.

Hang Trim Pieces


Step 4. Hang door and hinges on trim pieces (there should be a diagram for this in your instructions).

Step 5. Drill holes for hardware.

Screen Door Hardware Template  Holes for screen door hardware  Drill holes for screen door hardware


Step 6. Install faceplates.



Step 7. Install hardware.  This was way easier than I thought.  Basically it came in two pieces and you just have to tighten one screw to make the whole thing stay together.

Install Door Hardware


Step 8. Install the slower-downer-bar-thing-that-makes-the-cool-noise (yes, that’s the official terminology…trust me).

IMG_9082  IMG_0376


That’s it.  Test out your new door!  I would say for your first door allow about 3 hours.  The directions will inevitably be confusing and you’ll have to refer to Mr. Google for some advice (or in my lucky case Mr. Dad).

Here’s a picture of the finished product (we need to paint the trim now!!!):




Let us know what you think!  We love this door because our cat and dogs can look outside without jumping on anything, and if we ever have smoke in the kitchen (cough, never happens, cough), we can lower the screen on this bad boy and air the house out.


If a bee is allergic to pollen would it get the hives?  Do the Alphabet song and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star have the same tune?  Why does a dog get mad at you when you blow in his face, but stick his head out the window when you take him for a car ride?


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?

Handyman Wednesday: We Bought a Door

Hi everyone!  Kevin is here for a 2-part Handyman Wednesday.  Today, we are going to discuss doors.

I know, you have them, they’re very useful for keeping people out of your house.  However, if you don’t have a storm door or screen door, you can’t let the breeze blow in without letting the pets blow out.  Therefore, a door with a screen is a must.  The Little House lacked these doors.  With my parents in town this weekend (love you guys!), I had the handyman of all handymen here to help me pick out and install a door.

My Dad said there are 5 things to consider in a new door.

1. Size.  Please measure your door-frame.  Our kitchen door-frame was 32″ wide and 80″ tall.  This is the standard door size.

Door Frame Size Guide2. Decide what kind of door you want.  There are storm doors that are all glass, doors that are glass and screen, and then all screen.  With us, we wanted the screen, but couldn’t do the full screen or the Fievel would sharpen his claws on it.

Storm Doors and Combo Doors

Combo Screen/Storm, and Full Storm Doors

Screen Door

Full Screen Door

3. Make sure you know if your door is right-hand or left-hand.  This is easy.  Look at you door from the outside.  If your hinges are on the right it is right-handed.  If your hinges are on your left it’s left handed.

Hinge Side

4. Decide your budget (Doors range from $90 – $300+).

5. Have at least 4 hands available.  I would NOT install a door by myself.

We had a budget of $150 for our door which severely limited our choices of prettiness to this:


Then we found a clearance sticker at Home Depot.  When I see a yellow sticker at Home Depot, I get more excited than Thor at a 2-for-1 sale on hammers.


Did I read that right?  Is it $103 off?

Did I read that right? Is it $103 off?

Here’s our pretty door.  Come back next week for the install tips!

This is our door, except replace nickel with Brass

This is our door, except replace nickel with Brass


Here’s a link to Home Depot of our door:

EMCO 400 Series Door



What do you do when you see an endangered animal that is eating an endangered plant?  If you put a chameleon in a room full of mirrors, what color would it turn?  Can an ambidextrous person make an offhand remark? 

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?



Ft. Worth Weekend

Our weekend was so good that I never got around to working on the blog, so please bear with us as things are still on the move around here!

In case I haven’t mentioned it, I’m blessed with (quite possibly) the best husband ever.  I know, I know.  You have an awesome husband, too (or maybe you ARE the awesome husband in question and kudos to you!), but hear me out.

On Friday, Kevin surprised me with a date weekend in Ft. Worth to see three of the performances of the Ft. Worth Opera. Everything started with shared plates and craft cocktails at one of my favorite restaurants in Ft. Worth, Bird Cafe. Their lavender gin Fitzgerald was incredible (I think I’m going to replicate it soon for a cocktail of the week)!

The Fitzgerald at the Bird Cafe Ft. Worth

Next up for the weekend was Bizet’s “The Pearl Fishers,” a beautiful opera about (who’d have guessed) a love triangle. The costumes were gorgeous and the music was perfect. Luckily they had an English translation projected above the scene (everything was in French!).


We ended Friday night with drinks on Sundance Square.  If you’ve never been to Ft. Worth, you really should go. It’s such a fun downtown!  Isn’t Kev dapper in his blazer?


We got out of our hotel pretty early on Saturday morning and headed to the Ft. Worth Zoo. It was early enough in the morning that all the animals were still up and moving about, so we got to see some of them playing and walking around (instead of sleeping in the warm sunshine like this guy).


After the zoo, we headed to Rahr and Sons Brewery for a tour and tasting of their local craft beers. We are, after all, beer nerds at heart.


A nice dinner later, we headed back to Bass Hall for a perfomrance of Mozart’s “Così Fan Tutte,” a comedy that I absolutely loved (along with it’s 1920s setting).  On Sunday we were home for a big event at our church, but then headed back to Ft. Worth for one last opera called “Silent Night,” a story of the Christmas cease fire during the WWI. It was incredibly beautiful and moving!

We ended our weekend by celebrating May the Fourth in our backyard by watching Star Wars on our new projector and blowup movie screen (just when we thought our backyard couldn’t get any better).


All in all it was an absolutely fantastic weekend and definitely proof that I have the best husband ever… or close to it, anyway.

How were your weekends? Was the weather in your neck of the woods as gorgeous as ours was in North Texas? What do you think of the new header? We’re open to (and hoping for) suggestions!

This entry was posted in Family.