Oh, Thank Haven [Recap 2014]

You know you had a good weekend when it’s Tuesday morning and you’re still sleepy and wondering where the heck the weekend went… and that’s pretty much where I’m at right now.  I spent this weekend at the Haven Conference in Atlanta brushing up on my blogging skills and meeting some amazing women.  I wish I’d taken more photos, but with all the sessions, swag, drinks, and dancing, I was just too busy to take any!

Everything kicked off with a fantastic keynote speech by Chip Wade (who I found out is a fellow mechanical engineer!). Seriously, any time he wants to come and make some Elbow Room in the Little House he is more than welcome.  I’m just kidding.  But seriously. Come convert our attic, Mr. Chip Wade.  We’ll give you carte blanche.


I attended some fantastic sessions that boosted my blogging confidence and helped me realize where I want LHBH to go.  The Blogging Trade Secrets session with Laura, Jen, Erin, and Dusty was AMAZING. I mean, mind-boggling good.


I also really loved the Working with Brands session with Brittany, Diane, and the awesomely funny Mandi.  Not only did I really enjoy this session, but one of the best moments of my weekend was Mandi dancing on me (and I mean on me) to get me on the dance floor Friday night.  Her fearless spirit is so infectious I was out on the dance floor in no time (hence the lack of sleep)!


Next year, I’d love a few classes on web design/Wordpress wrangling, the business side of blogging, and maybe a couple on how to grow your blog.

Another highlight of the weekend was meeting (and rooming with) one my long time blog besties, Ashley from Attempts at Domestication.  This girls is seriously so much fun! If it weren’t for her I might have spent the whole weekend hiding in my room.



I was also lucky enough to meet Kim from Newly Woodwards and Michelle from Decor and the Dog.  It was so fun to finally get to put names (and voices!) with faces!

Haven Picture

(photo from Ashley)

I met a TON of amazing women this weekend, including (but not limited to) Rachel (and her sweet little one), Amanda, Anna, and Kelly.  They (and their blogs) are amazing and definitely worth adding to your Bloglovin’ feed (and your Instagram and Twitter and whatever other social media you can follow them on).  We had some really great conversations and even started our own club, Oversharers [not] Anonymous.  Okay, not really. But we could have.


(photo by Amanda)


Moen Kitchen

(photo from Ashley)

I did get my hands dirty at the Ryobi power tool workshop.  For the most part though, I stuck to the blogging sessions – this girl is no stranger to power tools!

Ryobi Tool Workshop

I learned so much at Haven that I can’t wait to implement here on the blog!  Kevin and I are so excited about the changes we’re noodling on (yes, noodling is the technical term) and we can’t wait to share them with you.

What did you do this weekend? Have you ever met any of your internet friends? Are you a stranger to power tools?



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!

Nice Rack

Hey, what else could I call a post about a firewood rack? “How to DIY a Cheap, Easy, and Fast Firewood Rack?”  Nah. Too boring.

Some of you remember “Treemageddon” last spring here, here, and here.  It left us with a surprisingly large amount of free firewood which we burned last winter.

Lots of firewood...no rack

Lots of firewood…no rack

We noticed, however, that the bug population where we kept the wood exploded. This is not comforting when you have a lot of wood siding 4 feet away.  In order to stop the bugs, you only need to get the wood off of the ground.  Hence, the need for a Firewood Rack.  This was surprisingly easy.  Since most wood racks on the market are $100-$300, this is an easy way to save some cash while looking like you know what you’re doing!


(2) Cinder Blocks = $2.76

(2) Landscape Timbers = $7.94

(4) Mini Fence Posts = $12.68

TOTAL = $23.38

Supplies for the Wood Rack

Supplies for the Wood Rack

Step 1:

Determine where you want your rack.  Make sure you don’t have the wood touching anything except the rack or there is a greater risk of bugs eating the wood (or your siding!).  Also make sure it’s not sitting in standing water or that will defeat the purpose of building the rack in the first place!

Step 2:

Place cinder block where you want the rack and slide one end of the landscape timber into the hole of the cinder block.

Landscape Timber in Cinder Block

Landscape Timber in Cinder Block

Step 3:

Do the same thing with the other landscape timber.

Both Landscape Timbers in Cinder Block

Both Landscape Timbers in Cinder Block

Step 4:

Place the other ends of the landscape timbers in the other cinder block (did I mention this was ridiculously easy?).  It helps to have one person making sure you don’t slide the wood out the other end!

Base of the DIY Wood Rack

Base of the DIY Wood Rack

Step 5:

Hammer in a green fence post so it blocks the hole of the cinder block using a 3 lb sledgehammer if you have one…a regular hammer works but it’ll take a while.  This prevents the landscape timbers from ever sliding out and gives you something to stack your firewood against.

A 3 lb Sledge Hammer makes quick work of the fence post

A 3 lb Sledge Hammer makes quick work of the fence post

Step 6:

Repeat 3 more times on the outside of every cinder block hole.

Notice how the landscape timbers can't slide out

Notice how the landscape timbers can’t slide out

Step 7:

Stack the wood on it.  That’s it. You’re done.  It should look somewhat like this:

Cheap DIY Wood Rack

Cheap DIY Wood Rack


Affordable DIY Wood Rack with wood on it

Affordable DIY Wood Rack with wood on it


Is it pretty? No. Does it work really well? Yep. The whole thing took about 15 minutes and saved us about $100.  Can’t beat that!  Time to go find some firewood!

What do you think?  What happens when you put a lightsaber in water?  When sign makers go on strike, is anything written on their signs? Why are there interstate highways in Hawaii? If a bee is allergic to pollen would it get the hives?

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.

Kevin the Tree Killer

Last year in the Winter Wonderland post,  we showed you how beautiful the Little House is with a 1/2″ of ice.  What we didn’t show was later that day when part of the tree by the front porch decided it didn’t like the ice as much as we enjoyed the day off work.  Unfortunately, it left a gap in the front where greenery should have been.  That tree next to the front porch looks a little off, doesn’t it?  Trust us, in real life, it looks pretty bad.

In the Beginning

In the Beginning

So, we decided the tree had to go.  Plus, we recently got a chainsaw that we’ve never used before and were excited to give it a go.  The tree had three tall remaining sprouts that had to be cut off.  The entire project took about an hour and was super easy…but we haven’t dug up the stump yet!

After Branch #1

After Branch #1

After Branch #2

After Branch #2

After Branch #3

After Branch #3

I cut the third branch down by hand to feel manly (as if using a chainsaw wasn’t enough).  This is my serious tree murdering face (#selfie):

Kevin's Serious Face

Kevin’s Serious Face

Fortunately, in Dallas the city comes around once a month and hauls off branches and bulk trash for free!  Well,  I guess we pay it in our property taxes, but it feels free.  Here was the pile:

Standing on our porch

Standing on our porch

Looking at the Little House

Looking at the Little House


This opened up the Little House to so much more light!  We were planning on planting another tree, but now we may just put in a couple hydrangeas and call it a day.  Here are the before and after photos to compare:

In the Beginning





Would you plant another tree in its place?  Do you think grass will grow by where the tree was now that it’s gone?  Did you know it is NOT wise to run a chainsaw without oil (I knew I forgot something my Dad told me!)?  Alternatively, we could have used a woodchuck/beaver-like animal for this.  If you have a pet that eats wood, can we borrow it for the stump?

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.