Closing the chapter on Left-behind Ranch’

Hello friends! I hope you’re enjoying this gorgeous summer. We have been knocking projects out left and right, which feels very good … and is a great reminder that I need to update y’all with some pictures and information.

Let’s start with ‘Left-behind Ranch.’ If you recall, this was our flip house turned rental house turned back into flip house. It has been one of our most lucrative investment properties to date, which was unexpected, but certainly appreciated.

We sold it in late March after our “best tenant ever” moved out.

So let’s go way back to the beginning, shall we? I purchased this home from an online foreclosure auction site (yes, it was terrifying) for $51,000 back in summer 2017.

We put about $10,000 in it in renovations – mostly cosmetic, which took about four weeks. We rented it out to some fantastic tenants for about a year and half. Then we sold it for $99,000 this past March. Of course there were various maintenance issues that came up along the way, but overall it was a great project for us.

Here’s what it looked like when we bought it:

And here it is now:

It turned out so cute it was tough to sell lol. The paint colors throughout the home are as follows:

  • Living Room – SW Anew Gray
  • Kitchen/hallway – SW Accessible Beige (one of my favs), with an accent wall color in SW Warm Stone
  • Hall bathroom – SW Warm Stone
  • Master bedroom – SW Comfort Gray
  • Bedroom 2 – SW Accessible Beige
  • Bedroom 3 – SW Heron Plume
  • Master bath – We just left this primed white

So now it is on to the next project! We close this Friday on a 4-unit multiplex apartment building, which has three residential apartments and one commercial unit. We are excited about that and will be sure to keep you informed of the updates there.

In the meantime, we have so many cool projects we’ve done at our house that I need to share with you. We finished the staircase, finished an update on the master bedroom, and are in the process of updating the front of our home. Details coming soon with “After” photos.

What do you think of the ‘Left-behind Ranch?’

Thrifty stair railing redo

Hello friends!

Today I wanted to share with you a little project going on around our place. We’re redoing our stair railing!

The newel post, banister, spindles and railing leading upstairs in our home felt a little dated. Since this stair railing is one of the first things you see when you come through the front door of our home, we decided it would be a good idea to update it.

But we knew it was going to be a tricky project … and that has turned out to be true.

This is what the stair rail looked like originally. Meh.

About a year or so ago, I got this brilliant idea to paint it white, which turned out hideous and started to wear off where the handrail gets the most contact. I don’t have any pics of that disaster, so you’ll have to take my word for it.

After that, we really didn’t have much of a choice but to start over, so I scoured Pinterest for ideas that would work for our particular architecture and knee wall situation. I really like this one …


The next move was to figure out how to get it done inexpensively.

I purchased the wrought iron spindles online from Stair Supplies. They have a great selection.

I bought the newel post unfinished off the shelf at Lowe’s for about $100. I had an unfinished banister on hand from a pile of trim I bought at an auction for $2. So that was a huge score!

I stained all the unfinished pieces in a color called Moorish Teak. I also primed and painted the knee wall trim white to match our DIY wainscoting and other trim.

Of course, we had to demo the old railing.

Then big man and little man installed the new newel post.

Here’s where we are right now.

Our plan is to get this thing totally done by Thanksgiving, since the whole fam will be here. Wish us luck!

Have you started any projects in preparation for Thanksgiving?

Top 3 tips for saving money on kids’ Christmas gifts

Warning: This post is not suitable for Santa believers. ūüėȬ†

Hello friends! Christmas is right around the corner (as if you didn’t know). If you’re anything like me, I’ll bet you’re already thinking about the three Ws: Wallet, Waistline and Watching Hallmark movies …

Today I wanted to give you my top three tips on how to save BIG money on Christmas gifts for the kids.

I know our family tends to overspend in this area, even if we go into the season with the best intentions to stick to a budget. We blow it every.single.year.

But not this year! We are committed to being smart with our money and making good gift-buying decisions, so we can start the new year off right, in a healthy financial place.

Are you ready? Lets do this!

1. Don’t have the kids make a list of what they want.

Say whaaaaa? No list? What will we do? How will we survive without THE LIST?

Well, you will, I promise, because THE LIST creates a couple problems:

  • It guilts us into getting every.single.thing (or close to it) on THE LIST, and invokes a sense of loss in our kids when they don’t get a particular thing on it.
  • It prompts our kids to think materialistically and brainstorm more stuff that they don’t need, just to create THE LIST. Is that really a value we’re trying to promote? “Hmmmm. Let me think of some more stuff I would really like … well, I have a lot of stuff already, but this is my chance, so I’d better come up with something or I’ll be left with coal in my stocking … what does little Johnny down the street have that I should have, too?”¬†
  • It does not factor in a spending limit. Kids just rattle off what they want without particular thought to price, quantity, space in the house, etc. What’s a loving parent supposed to do with that? Cave in and go over budget, right? Or get something completely impractical because it is the only thing left on THE LIST that is reasonably priced. This may not be the best formula for Christmas-buying success.

2. Set a spending limit.

Yes. I know. This is probably an obvious one. The hard part is sticking to it! Consider setting a spending limit (or gift limit) for each child as well as an overall limit for family and friends in general.

This allows us to exercise our creative muscles. It can actually be fun to brainstorm ideas for gifts that don’t cost a lot, but are meaningful.¬†These thoughtful, lower-cost/handmade gifts can often become the most cherished ones by extended family members and friends.

3. Don’t start buying gifts too early.

If I didn’t tick you off by killing THE LIST, I’m probably going to do it with this one …

There have been years when I worked really hard to get out ahead of the Christmas firestorm by buying a lot of gifts ahead of time … like way ahead of time.

The problem with getting gifts early is that, by Black Friday, I’ve lost the memory of the spending I’ve already done. I’m cranked up and! … even though I don’t have much left that I need to buy.

So what’s a girl to do in that situation? BUY MORE!

I have this sneaking suspicion that early-bird shopping causes us to spend more overall. Check out this article with the statistics.

Regardless of what Christmas gift-buying strategy we choose, I hope this holiday season, we all remember to cherish what’s important … to cling to our faith and our family, and to help elevate all that’s good in the world.

Let me leave you with a link to this hilarious video of kids getting some unexpected gifts at Christmastime and their unlikely reactions …

Thankful kids react to ridiculous gifts

Have a blessed holiday season!