Dirty secrets of DIY bloggers

Last week, I had the privilege of attending another Atlanta-based Haven Conference for DIY bloggers.

There’s so much I love about this conference: rubbing elbows with famous DIYers and thought leaders; connecting with my favorite brands; gathering information from other bloggers to help me grow my business; and making new friends in the process of it all.


Chatting it up with HGTV star Kelly Edwards


Enjoying an inspiring keynote speech from Jon Acuff


Taking a break with LaZBoy (Yes. They’re wearing upholstery-fabric suits.)


Enjoying a balmy Altanta evening with fellow author (and Pa. gal) Darla DeMorrow

But there’s something way more special to me about Haven than all these amazing opportunities. And it wasn’t until this year’s conference that I actually realized what it was …

It’s the dirty-secret sharing.

Let me explain.

We DIY bloggers work very hard – as in blood, sweat and tears hard – to bring our readers the very best we have to offer.

We try to produce clear, concise and professional-looking tutorials like what you might expect to see on TV or in magazines. And we painstakingly stage our photographs the same way.

We do all this because we know you’re looking for attainable inspiration that you want to replicate in your own homes. Plus we know we’re in competition with a lot of other media for your attention. So we’ve got to bring our “A” game, all the time.

But the reality is that, even as hard as we try, the life of a DIYer is fraught with unpredictable insanity. And that’s why I love Haven so much … because I love other DIY bloggers so much! These folks embrace the crazy with me. 

They refresh me and reassure me that I’m not alone. They empathize with me when I’m in my backyard with gnats stuck to my sweaty face, crying as my vision of a spray-painted work of art turns into a dumpster-bound nightmare.

Not only do we DIY bloggers share similar stories of heartbreaking, tragic project fails, but we also find ourselves in synonymous, somewhat scary (yet later hilarious) situations while picking up Craigslist furniture or chasing down deals.

When these other bloggers share their crazy DIY moments with me, I feel connected to them. (Plus I enjoy the fact that they make me laugh so hard I almost pee my pants.)

So my big take away from Haven this year is that I want you to experience this connection, too. In short, I want you to read a post of mine and feel like you might pee your pants. 😉

Historically, in my rush to get a blog post out with its pretty pictures and meticulous how-to details, I’ve often left out the “good stuff.” I’ve been guilty of omitting the crazy moments that weren’t pretty – or may have even been interpreted as downright insane. Next time, I’m going to include those moments.

Why? Because I think it makes us feel good when we realize we’re not the only crazy people out there. 😉

This post is dedicated to my Haven roommate, Shanna, who’s got the juiciest Craiglist stories I’ve ever been told. 


From left to right, Shanna, Christy, me, Ashlynn (Christy’s daughter), and Debbie

How not to ‘let yourself go’ after marriage + 2 free movie tickets

My husband and I have been married 15 years. We got married in the year 2000, which was the best decision ever because we never forget which anniversary it is. 😉


He’s my lover, my best friend, my unfair advantage … all that mushy stuff. And I truly do love him more today than ever before. I have to admit, though, that keeping the passion alive after 15 years of marriage can be a challenge at times. With kids, work, volunteer activities, hobbies, etc., the last thing I’m thinking about is whether or not I’ve freshened my lipstick! But I also know that we both desire to have a partner who makes an effort to “fan the flames” and one who we’re proud to have standing next to us at parties.

So despite the fact that what I really want to put on every morning is paint-splattered yoga pants and a sweatshirt, I try to take the “me” time I need to look and feel good. I also encourage my man to do the same.

To give you a recent example, my husband was lamenting about how, after a few years, he was still using a raggedy, old grooming kit and getting a poor shave as a result. He said he didn’t understand why he still hadn’t taken the time to buy a razor that worked well for him.

When our time is consumed with the demands of work and family, taking care of ourselves often takes a back seat. And since I knew my amazing husband values teaching our daughter to ride a bike and our toddler son to count to 10 more highly than buying a new shaving kit, I bought the razor for him myself.


It was more than a razor purchase, though. It was an affirmation from me that he was worth taking care of himself.


So how, with all the daily pressures of life, do we not “let ourselves go” after marriage? Today I thought I’d share my top three strategies for keeping a marriage sizzling hot!

  1. Make grooming a priority. I realize a regular shave may seem like a small thing in this department – that is, until you’ve got a few kids hanging around your ankles. Then it may become the biggest feat you hope to accomplish in a day. Yes, there are times when sweatpants and crazy hair are acceptable. But I’m not talking about those moments. I’m talking about the regular, everyday you. Somehow we manage to show up at the office or church looking civilized. Why do so many of us give ourselves permission to no longer care how we present ourselves to our life partners? Shouldn’t we go the extra mile for that most important person?

To help motivate us, Schick® has a “Make It Epic” campaign going on right now to encourage us to make taking care of ourselves and spending time together with our partner a priority. Here’s how it works:

  • Buy. Purchase two participating Men’s Schick® or Edge® products in a single transaction from now until July 10, 2015. Retain your receipt.


  • Snap. Draw a star (*) next to the qualifying items on your original, dated receipt. Take a clear photo of the entire receipt and text it to 811811 with the word SCHICK by July 10 for validation. (Text message terms apply.)
  • Redeem. If validated, you will receive a text back with a code valid for a movie certificate for two admissions (up to $20 total value) to see any movie! Click here for more information about this promotion and for idea starters.
  1. Watch your mouth. Yelling … disrespectful words … just plain crazy talk … I’ve been guilty of them all. The problem is that it makes me look like, well, a crazy person. Think about it this way: Just as we wouldn’t show up at the office in paint-splattered sweatpants, we probably also wouldn’t go running around the place yelling at the top of our lungs, “Can’t any of you animals throw your lunch trash in the garbage where it belongs? This place sucks!” In other words, we should make an effort to speak in a manner that would prevent us from being embarrassed if a visitor was standing outside our front doors listening. Think more classy, less crazy.
  2. Honor reasonable requests from your partner. Wearing the perfume or hairstyle your spouse finds attractive is about showing you love and care for him. Making an effort to dress nicely when you go to dinner and picking up after yourself around the house will show the same. Small gestures that cost you a little time and effort can have big payoffs with regard to how your partner feels about you and the relationship.

Just like a garden, a marriage requires regular care and feeding to produce beautiful results. What can you do today to help #makeitepic?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Schick® Men’s Shave. The opinions and text are all mine.

Father’s Day gift: New paint and hardware at the cabin

My parents have been seriously considering selling their current home and moving to the family cabin full-time, now that they’re empty nesters. The problem? The cabin needs a lot of TLC before it is move-in ready.

So this Father’s Day, I wanted to give my dad – from whom I’ve gotten most of my DIY savvy – the gift of new door hardware (and some sweat equity) for their soon-to-be retirement pad.

I ordered door hardware for all the camp’s exterior doors from Unhinge Hardware. This online store has one of the biggest selections I’ve seen of door and bath hardware at super low prices. Unhinge offers discounted prices, free shipping, next-day delivery and a meet-or-beat-any-price guarantee.


I chose EZ-Set levers and deadbolts in the Tuscan Bronze finish to enhance the cabin’s rustic vibe.

Dad and I spent Monday working together painting the exterior doors and window trim, installing the new door hardware, and sprucing up the front porch. This is what the front of the camp looked like when we started:


I painted the French doors first, while dad installed hardware on the back doors.


Dad has lots of great tricks of the trade he’s learned after a lifetime of working in the construction industry. I love to soak up his DIY knowledge every chance I get.


For example, one tip he shared yesterday: Use a screwdriver with a rubberized coating when attaching door hardware to avoid scratching the finish.

He also requested that all the locks be keyed alike, to avoid fumbling around with a bunch of different keys for the same home – a small, but important detail to remember when ordering.



After a day of painting, attaching hardware, and cleaning up the place, the camp is now starting to look a little more like a home.




It’s amazing what a difference some paint, hardware and a good scrubbing can make. What do you think of the transformation?


Special thanks to Unhinge Hardware for providing the hardware that made this Father’s Day gift possible.