Holiday Decoration Traditions (with a little help from Wayfair)

Do you have any Holiday Decoration Traditions?  

Do you have any special traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation, or maybe some new ones you’ve started with your own family?

One of the holiday decorating traditions I remember as a kid was going as a family to pick out a real tree and then decorating it all together.  I’ve continued this tradition with my own family.  My husband, kids and I always go together to pick out a tree, then we go home, put on Christmas music and decorate it as a family.  It is a little different here in Florida then where I grew up in Massachusetts though.  We usually go in our shorts and t-shirts instead of all bundled up and freezing.  I much prefer the shorts and t-shirts route.

We had an artificial tree for a few years, which was passed down to us from my mother-in-law, but it was really dusty and old so after a few years of using it, we had to get rid of it.  Was it easier to put up and take down and less messy? Absolutely!  But for now, we really like having a real tree and the whole tradition of picking one out.  Yes the needles make a mess but we think it is worth it.  But, there are some amazing artificial trees out there and maybe we’ll invest in one some day.  If you’re looking to invest in one check these out from Wayfair!

New Christmas Decorating Traditions...

And now that we live in the House house in our current neighborhood, we decorate our house sort of Griswold style, and have started a few new traditions.  You see, our neighborhood is the most decorated in Naples.  People come from all over town to drive through here to see all the lights.  Each street has a theme (with the exception of our street which is the main street in the neighborhood).  By theme I mean that each mailbox has the same decoration.  Most of them are made of pvc pipes and they light up.  So when you drive down the street every mailbox is lit up the same and it looks amazing.  Each street is different.  For example, one street is Christmas Trees, one is Snowflakes, Angels, Candy Canes, etc., and one has blue arches that go across the entire street (see picture below).  I am not sure how or when this tradition started but it has been going on for many, many years.  When you buy a house here, it comes with the mailbox decor.  Although each street has a theme it is up to you to decorate your house however you choose, and many choose to light up their homes Griswold Style.  Most neighbors rent golf carts (for those that don't already own them) decorate them, and use them for the month to drive around to see all the lights.  Christmas Eve is especially crazy as it is other people's traditions to drive through here as a family to see the lights.  People decorate their cars, blast Christmas music, and everyone yells out "Merry Christmas" to anyone that can hear them.  Traffic gets really crazy so residents know that it is best to try to be home early, if possible.  Lots of people set up fire pits in their front yards and have parties.  It is SO MUCH FUN.

Christmas Village...

Another one of our traditions that we follow every year is setting up our Christmas village that has also been passed down from my mother-in-law.  She has hundreds of these villages and used to spend hours and hours setting them all up.  Now that both of her son's have families of their own, she has passed most of them down to us.  My kids love setting them up each year and they look so pretty all light up. (I searched thru years of my pictures to find a good photo of our village and don't have ONE.  Not one.  So this picture is not of our village, I got it from the internet, but you get the idea. I vow this year to get some good photos!)

Stringing up the Lights...

Last year was our first Christmas in this house so we had to spend lots of money buying lights and decor.  Most neighbors set up all their lights the weekend of Thanksgiving, but we were in Massachusetts this year for Thanksgiving so are busy putting them up this week.  We feel a little behind and a little bit of pressure to get them up ASAP but what we have up so far looks awesome.

Anyway, here are some great and unique lighting idea's from Wayfair at great prices.

DIY Christmas Decorations...

And here are a few Easy DIY Decor Christmas projects. Last year I made these Christmas Balls which are going up again in our front tree this week, and these fun DIY Christmas Wine Bottles (which are my most pinned item) and a few years ago I made these popsicle stick Christmas Trees.  I have a few things I'm planning to make this year too so stay tuned for that.

Check of these Great Deals for more of your Holiday Decorating Needs...

Here are some of my top picks from Wayfair for Holiday Decor.  I am ordering these pillows ASAP.

What are you Christmas Decor Traditions?  I'd love to hear.  Leave me a comment. I hope you all have a very Merry Holiday season.  I'll be sharing more pictures on Facebook and Instagram so make sure to follow me there.

American Ninja Warrior Themed Party (and last few days to enter my giveaway)

See the end of this post for details on the last few days of my giveaway.

Hey Party People…

I thought I’d post this in case any readers want to try out a party like this.  It was so much fun!

Does anyone else’s kid love the show American Ninja Warrior like mine does?  My youngest son and I watch this show together every week and we both love it.  So what could be better than an American Ninja Warrior themed birthday party for him?

If you’ve never seen the show, I have to say it is pretty awesome.  Men and women have to complete these pretty insane obstacles for time.  Every week they are in a different city with different obstacles.  Some of the obstacles look downright impossible.  Whoever goes the farthest and finishes the fastest then goes on to compete for a trip to the season finale (or Mount Midoriyama as they call it on the show) for a $1 million prize. There has only been one or two winners in the history of the show.  That is how hard it is to win!  We didn’t go that crazy but tried to recreate as many obstacles as we could, as kid friendly as we could.  The kids loved it.

Here is what we did…

We have a huge backyard which is perfect for an obstacle course.  There were 8 obstacles.  We borrowed a balance beam, and a gymnastic bars and mat from a friend.  These were obstacles 1 and 7.

We used the tree stumps we saved from Hurricane Irma (and plan to use as stools around the tiki bar we are going to build), and my husband borrowed some football equipment from the school he works at.  These were obstacles 2, 3 and 5.  They had to run across all the logs aka The Quintuple Steps, to get to the other side.  Then there was the Blue Wall, that the kids had to jump over.  The last picture was the Blue Logs that they had to run across (similar to a balance beam).

I bought a bunch of pool noodles for $1 each to make a tunnel for obstacle 5.

For the biggest and hardest event (obstacle 4) my husband and his friend built this contraption using 2 of these swing set bases, a steeple climber and a rope swing all from Home Depot.  They attached a ladder from our garage across the top for the monkey bars.  The kids had to climb the steeple climber, then go across the ‘monkey bars’, then slide down the rope swing.  It was hard!

Obstacle 8 was in the pool.  The Hamster Wheel.  The kids had to get from one side to the other in this pool floaty, which is harder then it looks. At first we had them using it just like a hamster wheel but it was very hard, so then they started using their hands and feet in the water to get across.

The kids ran around the backyard testing out all the obstacles.  After we had pizza and Ninja Juice (water and juice boxes) and the adults had Adult Ninja Juice (beer) we had them line up and we timed them.  Everyone got a medal after they finished the course.  Some kids ran the course MANY times.  You could decide to give out prizes or trophies for the winners if you wanted too.

I printed out these templates from this web site and made the invitations and signs with them.  I found stickers and ninja favors at both Amazon and the dollar store and used the stickers for the goodie bags. Since there were so many extra stickers I put them on some cups too.  The straws are from Target.  I used the templates to label all of the obstacles with numbers too.

Overall this was pretty easy and you can make the obstacles as easy or as hard as you’d like using stuff in your own garage (or friends garages!).  We did spend some money but you could certainly do this for very little money and all the kids had a good time.

Last Days of my Photo Canvas Giveaway…

Don’t forget to like me on Facebook or Instagram or sign up for my email list to be entered!  You could win a 16×20 Photo Canvas courtesy of the Canvas Factory. Contest ends November 8, 2017

A Photo Canvas Giveaway

I am very excited to announce a photo canvas giveaway on my blog!  Keep it for yourself or it would make a great Christmas gift too.  Details on how to win are at the bottom of this post.

Photo Canvases…

I don’t know about you but I love taking pictures and I love photography in general.  I’ve got thousands of photos on my laptop and on my iphone.  I take pictures ALL THE TIME.  And, if you are anything like me, most of these photos live on your computer.  So when the folks over at contacted me about doing a giveaway, I jumped at the chance to get at least one my photos off of my phone and onto my wall.  Plus, I have ordered from Canvas Factory before and have been more than happy with the products, and the service.

Canvas Factory provides high quality canvas prints at an affordable price.  And they are having huge sales on there web site right now.  BUT, you can win a Free one here.  You can’t beat free.

I’ve been searching for the right artwork for my newly re-done Master Bedroom. Something that had some nice greens to go with my tropical theme.  After looking through my millions of photos, I settled on this picture I took of a pineapple that I actually grew myself in a pot by my pool. Isn’t it pretty?

Giveaway for a Free Photo Canvas

And here is how it looks in my Master Bedroom.  I think it looks really good in here!  (Don’t mind my little furry model in the photos.  I was interrupting her nap while taking pictures.)  Read the details below on how to enter the contest.

Here are the details…

*To enter the contest for a FREE 16×20 canvas (with your own photo), simply add your name to my email list and/or like my Facebook or Instagram page.  Contest runs from October 25 to November 8, 2017.

*Offer good for US Residents only.  

DIY Artwork for $23

I posted this image of my DIY Artwork on social media last night, and had a nice response. Thank you all so much for the kind words.  Since you all seemed to like it, I thought I’d share how I made this DIY Artwork.

Simply put, I followed this tutorial that I found on Pinterest from some one who is much more artistic than myself.  I loved the colors in this piece and thought they’d look perfect in my house, so was dying to try it.  However, I was nervous as I have NEVER tried to paint anything like this, so I thought for sure I’d mess it up.  Sometimes I try things that I see on Pinterest and they are HUGE fails, but this one was actually really easy and I was very happy with the result.  And it only cost me $23!

Here are the supplies I used…

1. I bought a 2 pack of 18×24 inch canvas’ at Hobby Lobby on sale for $12.99.  I was afraid to go any bigger in case I screwed them up, but now I wished I had bought the 24×36 (although that size cost a lot more money and they weren’t on sale).

2. Craft paint.  I purchased the following colors (but there are hundreds to choose from, so you could pick whatever colors float your boat, I think a bunch of oranges, reds, and yellows would be pretty too).  I didn’t want to screw this up so I basically bought the exact colors based on the suggestions from this blog.  Each of these cost $1.37 (one brand was $1.87)!  This is not high quality paint, but it worked just fine for my purposes, and the price was right.

Folk Art brand #2499 Skyline and #407 Kelly Green,

Ceramcoat brand #04021 Seafoam

Americana brand – #DA02 White Wash and #DA042 Baby Blue

3. I used one of my kids paint brushes (1/2 inch size) but wished I had bought a nicer, newer one. The one I used was a little beat up, but it did the trick

4. Paper plate.

The Painting Process (the Fun part)…

Once I was all set up, I just went for it.  I started on the bottom with the Kelly Green, then worked my way up trying to blend the colors the best I could using a lot of white.  The good news is you really can’t mess it up.  If you don’t like the way something turns out, just paint over it.  Here was my first one, in progress.

DIY Artwork, in progress
DIY Artwork, in progress

Originally, I was only going to paint one of my two canvas’, but it only took me about a half an hour to complete the first one, so I decided to paint the other one too.  When I thought I was done and happy with how they both looked, I took a picture of them and walked away for a bit.  When I came back a while later, I thought there was way to much green on the bottom so I got to work blending the colors until I was happy.  You really could go overboard and just keep painting and painting all day long, but by now my kids were home from school so I called them DONE.  Even now, looking at these pictures, I see some areas I would like to fix, but I think I’ll leave them alone…..for now.

Side note – I feel like the colors in real life are much prettier than these pictures below.

My husband and kids were both surprised that I painted these and although they are not the best things you’ve ever seen in your life, I really like how they came out.

Here is where I hung them in the living room, for now.  There were already nails here from other pictures, so I hung them here just to see how they looked.  I’m thinking they need some frames.  What do you think?

DIY Artwork
DIY Artwork

So, there ya have it!   

Trust me, if I can do something like this, so can you.

Did you see my post last week about my bedroom makeover on a budget?  Check it out.

Master Bedroom Makeover on a Budget

The Before…

Now that hurricane Irma is over and life is getting back to normal, it was time to finish up what I started a while back and get our master bedroom makeover done.

You might be asking, ‘a master bedroom makeover? Already’?  Didn’t you just move into the House house like a year ago?  Well, yes we did.  However, I never liked how the master bedroom looked, specifically the paint color.  The tone of the blue was just ‘off’ somehow.  I usually LOVE blue and our dining room, living room and office are blue, but there was just something about this blue that wasn’t doing it for me.  So, I never really finished the room in the first place.

I told my husband I wanted to paint it, and he said, ‘Go for it, but you’re on your own’.  He hates to paint.  Then I told him I was thinking of painting it white and he said ‘White is not a color’.  HA!  But, he let me paint it white anyway and we both like the way it turned out.

We’ve had this Tommy Bahama bedroom set for about 7 years.  It’s okay.  My husband and I both like it.  I probably wouldn’t pick something like it out today, but I figured my husband wasn’t gonna let me buy a whole new bedroom set so I better find a way to decorate around it.  The rest of my house has a coastal/beachy look but this bedroom set makes me think more carribean/tropical.  It is Tommy Bahama after all. 😉 I was thinking white with green accents would look much better.  And to top it all off I was trying to do all this on a small budget.

Master Bedroom Makeover….During…

So, I painted all by myself.  Well, the kids kinda helped, but I did most of the work.  And guess what?  Painting kinda sucks.  Especially when you don’t have a ton of time to do it, in between kids after school activities, homework, running everyday errands, trying to go to the gym, and blah blah blah.  It took longer than I thought it would take.  And then when it came time to paint the wall behind the bed, well, that was no fun.  This bed is heavy.  We weren’t able to lift it up out of the way, or even slide it.  Instead, we had to take the whole dang thing apart.  Let’s just say there may have been some swearing going on from both me and my husband, and maybe I questioned myself with “why did I start this damn project???”.

Anyway, the painting all got done eventually.  It took about a week.

Master Bedroom Makeover…After…

Here is how it turned out. Still not 100% done, but looks a whole lot different.

I ordered the duvet cover from Wayfair for only $36.99.  Have you ever ordered anything from Wayfair?  They have the best stuff, free shipping and easy returns not to mention great prices too. Anyway, this duvet is super soft, nice quality for the price, and the perfect color.

The euro shams came from Wayfair too.  I wanted plain white and these were the cheapest ones I could find at $17.99 a piece.  The euro shams are the large square pillows and the covers can be EXPENSIVE!

I downloaded these prints below for FREE, and you can too, from this web site.  I bought the 11×14 sized frames at Michael’s when they were buy one/get one free.

The below prints I got on  I recently discovered that you can download all sorts of amazing photography and artwork on etsy for really cheap!  Did you guys know this?  Am I the only one who didn’t know this?  I found these on the shop called GoodVibesMotel and they cost around $7 each.  Once they are downloaded to your computer, you then have to upload them to one of the many websites that can handle printing.  After shopping around a bit I found out that Walgreens prints poster sized prints. Many places don’t.  I found a coupon online for 40% off and ordered both 2’x3′ prints right from my computer and was able to pick them up the same day!  They came out to a little less than $20 a piece.  Then I bought these frames at Michael’s for 50% off.  Aren’t they cute?

I found the curtains on Wayfair too and think they tie everything together nicely.  They are a little more ‘crinkly’ in person than I expected but I like the color and the print so I kept them.

New master bedroom curtains
New master bedroom curtains

Lastly, I found the little green bench that you see at the foot of the bed at Tuesday Morning for $99.

I am in search of the perfect picture or some type of artwork for above the bed and also have my eye on these lamps for the nightstands.

Overall, I did not spend very much money on this room.  I really tried to find as many bargains as I could.

Here is one last Master Bedroom Makeover Before/After.  Looks a little different don’t ya think?

Our Hurricane Irma Story

It’s been 2 weeks since hurricane Irma hit Florida and things are starting to get back to ‘normal’ around here.  Everyone has their own hurricane story to share, so I thought I’d share ours.

Growing up in Massachusetts I went through many blizzards, nor’ easters and even a few hurricanes, Gloria and Andrew. Both were Category 1 or 2 I think, at least where I was living at the time.  Nothing like Irma.  The fear of the unknown was frightening for us.

we have lived in Naples for 8 years now and have been through numerous hurricane ‘threats’.  Sandy was one that was supposed to hit us and then veered off and went up the east coast instead, devastating New York and New Jersey.  And there were others too.  It is always scary and you have to keep a close eye on them.  So when Irma started getting close and was such a huge storm we were glued to the TV.  We repeatedly heard the words, Cone of Concern, Spaghetti Models, Eye Wall, Category 5, Wind Speeds, National Hurricane Center Updates, Storm Surge, and a few more I can’t remember.  We were tracking every minute of this thing and watched as sadly, some Caribbean islands got crushed.

People started leaving town Tuesday and Wednesday before the storm.  School was cancelled Thursday and Friday so that families could prepare.  My husband was scheduled to fly to Boston Thursday night and return early Friday morning.  I thought, ok, fine, we’ll just try to jump on his flight too and spend some time in our old home town.  But, nope! ALL flights were booked up! And what about our 2 cats (we weren’t about to leave them behind)?  And my mom too? I started looking at flights out of Tampa and Orlando, and there wasn’t one to be found.  Then the news was saying to head inland so we started looking at hotels in Ocala and again there was NOT ONE to be found. (And as it turned out Ocala got hit by the storm too).  We gave up looking for a while, thinking, lets just wait.  But, boy, it was a hard waiting game.  Some of those Spaghetti Models had the storm going in the other direction, more toward Miami, and then some were even way off shore. But the Cone of Concern basically spanned the entire state of Florida.  No where seemed safe. Miami Beach quickly ordered a mandatory evacuation, as did the Florida Keys.

Friends from all over were texting and calling. Many were saying, “will you evacuate”?  “Why won’t you just evacuate”?  Well, it’s not that easy.  Like I said above, flights and hotels were sold out.  Many friends headed to Atlanta or Orlando to hotels but were uncertain if the storm would hit those areas too!  The gas shortage and traffic were horrendous. 6 hour trips were taking 16.  The thought of just getting in our car and heading somewhere, but not sure where, and maybe running out of gas in the process was very scary.  Also the nightmare of having to do that all over again when returning was something to think about.

The storm started shifting towards Naples. Governor Scott, who I have to say was tremendous through all this, started ordering mandatory evacuations in parts of Naples.  Especially homes along the coast.

My husband began calling some of our contractors and/or friends we know that are contractor’s asking them, “do you think our house will be safe”?  We have a brand new roof, hurricane impact windows, concrete block construction, We are up on ALL the latest and greatest hurricane codes that Florida has.  They all agreed that we should be okay in this house.  We made the decision to stay, although we kept waffling back and forth with ‘should we stay’, ‘are we making a mistake by not leaving’.  It was extremely stressful and we lost sleep over it.  We were both nervous, me especially. I lost 4 pounds in 3 days because I couldn’t eat, and my husband lost 5.

On top of all the high winds that were inevitably coming I was worried about the potential Storm Surge that they kept talking about.  We were NOT in a mandatory evacuation zone.  We are approximatley 4 miles from the beach, maybe a bit less, but they were saying that ‘worst case scenario’, our neighborhood could potentially get 1-3 ft of storm surge water on top of any rain from the storm.  This was freaking me out.  We do have a second floor, I thought, so at least we could escape the water, should it come, by going upstairs.  But it’s so easy to think of all the potential worst case scenarios.  Yes we can head upstairs if water starts coming into the house, but what if we have no roof?  It’s maddening!

Anyway, we made the decision to stay and many of our neighbors planned to stay too.  Everyone began helping each other out.  We invited our neighbors, Bob and Kelly, and their 2 kids, Brady and Elexa, who live across the street to ride out the storm with us.  My mom was here too. It felt good to know people would be here with us.  Power in numbers, right?  It also felt good to have many friends/neighbors still in town that were just a text away.

We stocked up on water, ice (which were quickly selling out all over town), non perishable food, batteries, flashlights (and we have tons of them!!), wine (can’t forget the wine!!!) and we even scored a generator and gas at the last minute thanks to a friend who did lots of calling around town.  And thank goodness for that generator.  We even prepared several ‘safe zones’ in our house in case we needed them.


The day Irma hit….

We woke up from a pretty much sleepless night to already strong winds.  We were prepared. Nervous as hell, but prepared. No turning back now.

We were glued to the local news channel and can’t believe we didn’t lose our power or our satellite tv until the ‘eye wall’ went right over our house.  We have DIRECTV and are constantly losing the signal during small rain storms.  It did flicker on and off a few times, as did our power, but came right back on.  It was truly amazing. I was also in contact with many friends throughout the storm who lost power WAY before we did.

The winds continued to get worse as the day went on.  It was AMAZING how quiet it was inside this house.  A cousin of mine, who lived in Florida when Hurricane Wilma hit, told me to make sure the kids had headphones on because it would sound like a freight train going over our house. Thankfully it didn’t, and the kids were happy and were having a good old time watching cartoons and playing all day. Our neighbors 2 year old was even able to take a pretty long nap in our guest bedroom!

We were able to watch the storm from our windows.  They were rock solid.  No storm shutters needed.

We watched on the news as the Keys got hammered, and then it weakened a bit to a Category 3 when it hit Marco Island. Then it was our turn.

The local weatherman was saying directly into the camera, “Naples, the eye wall is coming your way now.  This may be one of the scariest things you will ever witness.  Please, get in your safe zone now.  The winds are going to be very strong and trees will get knocked down, houses may be destroyed….etc. etc. etc….”  Talk about scary!  Then we finally lost power.

We got the kids into the safe zone (a downstairs hallway) but honestly it wasn’t necessary and after sitting there for a while we felt it was safe enough for them to walk around the house.  The house wasn’t going anywhere and it was still so quiet considering there were 140 mile per hour winds blowing right outside.

We continued to watch the storm from the front and back windows and it was absolutely amazing and terrifying watching the force and rage of Mother Nature.  Our neighbors huge tree that borders our front yard, was dangerously swaying and all it limbs were falling down.  Thankfully none of them hit our house.  The tree in our front yard lost most of its limbs too but thankfully stayed standing.  The Eye Wall lasted well over an hour.  It felt like it would never end, and then it finally did.  It was time for the eye of the storm. My husband, and our neighbor Bob, walked outside to take videos.  We were amazed how calm it got.  Our street was completely flooded and the water came half way up our driveway.  Our next door neighbors tree had completely uprooted taking the sidewalk with it.  The other tree, the one we were worried about, lost most of its limbs (video below).  We lost most of our soffits from the under part of our roof.  I actually watched as one flew right off.  Scary!


Video-3  (this is a video out our back sliders.  Sorry about the quality.  The windows were fogged over. But you can hear that it was so quiet in the house.)

Bob waded across the street to check on his house, and their cat. The water came up well over his knees. Thankfully all was ok inside. Their backyard was another story.  Most of the trees were down and their 2 year olds little playhouse that Bob worked so hard on, and was featured on this blog, was demolished.

Bob and Kelly’s backyard.

The second half of the eye wall was not as bad as the first and by now it was dark and we couldn’t really see what was going on so we started drinking wine and cranking up music.  Relief!  We made it.

The Aftermath…

The winds and rain continued all night (and were much louder upstairs), although not as strong, obviously, but I kept worrying about the storm surge.  Would it come during the night?  We were sleeping upstairs but our friends were downstairs. Would they get flooded?  Needless to say I didn’t sleep much again. We had no wifi and no tv so weren’t sure what was going on.  Our radio wasn’t coming in well.

I was amazed the next morning that the water had subsided on our street.  No more flooding (at least in our part of the neighborhood, the front part was still flooded for a few days) and NO STORM SURGE.  Amazing.

However, walking around the neighborhood the next day was devastating.  Trees were uprooted everywhere!  The water in our lake was up to the pier.  The neighborhood playground and pool were a mess.  Trees had fallen on both the playground and the swing set.  The community pool was filled with leaves and debris.  Peoples pool cages were crumbled or screens were ripped out.  Everything was a mess.  We discovered our next door neighbors tree that completely uprooted fell right on their house! We found out later that there was no damage inside, but how scary!  We were amazed that we had minimal damage to our house.  Our pool cage stood standing and our pool wasn’t even really dirty.  Besides some missing soffits, lot of tree limbs down in our yard, lots of leaves and debris and some flooding in our backyard, we were just fine.  We feel SO LUCKY!

Most of Collier County was without power.  Wifi was spotty.  No power meant no cable televison to watch the news and to see all the devastation, although all we had to do was look around our own neighborhood to see it.  A 9pm curfew was put in place.

I drove my mother to her condo the next day and all was fine there, thankfully.  However, there were trees down everywhere in her community.

We were so thankful for our generator to keep our fridges going and for a fan and other small appliances (like the all important coffee maker!).  We ran it in 4 hours increments then turned it off at night.  Gas was scarce that first week so we were trying to conserve what we had, and running a generator all day takes a lot of gas.  My husband had to wait in line at the gas station for over an hour just to get 10 gallons, which was the max you were allowed to buy.  The line was insane though, going for probably a mile down the rode.  It got HOT in our house.  Opening windows didn’t really help as the air outside was no relief.  Sleeping was hard and sweaty.  We don’t get fall weather temperatures in Naples.  Not yet anyway.  It is still 92 degrees here and not much cooler at night.  And very humid.  AC is your best friend.  Thankfully our pool wasn’t too dirty, so the kids were in it all week.  I am not sure how safe the water was for swimming, but we were desperate to escape from the heat.

We started cleaning up tree limbs and tons of leaves right away.  There are just piles and piles of debris that line every street.  They are working on taking it away but it hasn’t happened yet.


There was a boil water notice and a sewage issue as the lift stations lost power too.  Sewage was backing up and seeping out of the manholes in many neighborhoods, including ours. Gross!  We were told not to flush, take very short showers or none at all, not to use our washers, or dishwashers which we couldn’t do anyway since we had no power.  But even after power was restored we were asked not to use them.

I have to say our kids did really well through all this.  We kept them busy doing puzzles, reading, playing with friends, swimming.  They didn’t really complain.

We had friends who’s power was restored rather early, and we were invited to stay there. After no power for 5 days we quickly said yes, and then, OURS CAME BACK ON.  There was a collective Wahoo in our neighborhood and then just as quickly as it came on, it went off again.  What?  Noooooooo.  But then a few hours later it came back on again for good.  Many people had to wait a lot longer than 5 days though, including my mother who waited 9 days, and some STILL don’t have power.

Many homes and trailers were completely destroyed.  Just flattened.  Many homes in other towns were completely flooded.  It is devastating and so sad. People have lost everything. The below pictures are from the internet and are just a very small example of how things look for lots of people.

There has been such an outpouring of support here.  Power companies sent trucks from all over the country to help out.  The Red Cross, FEMA, the National Guard and many other organizations are here. These fine people are sleeping in ‘tent cities’ on cots and working 12+ hour shifts. We can’t thank them enough for all they’ve done.  People are organizing donation drives to help the people who need it most. Our church is taking donations so the kids and I brought a car load of stuff the other day.  I plan to do more and yet it still won’t seem like enough.

2 weeks have gone by and most power has been restored now.  Most businesses are back open. Tree debris cleanup continues and there is a constant buzz of chainsaws in the air.  The kids finally went back to school today.  All 54 collier country schools are back up and running.  Many were used as shelters in the storm.

Support is still needed to bring our community back to its original beauty and we hope people will continue to come help and to come visit.

I’ve you made it this far, thanks for reading! I know this has been a long post.  And thanks for your support!  It meant a lot to hear from so many of you.  Your concern and love is quite humbling. Thank you all.

Much love from the House house.

Our Trip to Wine Country…

I can’t believe that yesterday was my boys first day back to school!  3rd and 5th grade?  WHAT?  Craaazzzeeee! How did summer fly by so damn fast?   I also can’t believe I haven’t posted anything since June 1st (which was my boys last day of school). Oops!   🙁

Things just get busy when they are around all day and we traveled quite a bit this summer, and we didn’t get much stuff done around the house!  So since I dont have any rooms or projects to write about I thought I’d tell you about the trip that we took at the beginning of June to wine country.

A good friend was turning 40 and she is a big wine drinker.  I mean, she loves the stuff (and so do I) as you can see from this wine cork project and this wine bottle one too. So what better place to celebrate a big birthday then California wine country?

I had been to Napa before, twice.  Once when I was 14 years old and couldn’t truly appreciate it.  And once when I was in my early 20’s (but it was only a quick day trip).  Needless to say I was very excited to go again.

4 couples went.  We rented a house in Glen Ellen which was fantastic. The property was amazing.  The house had a pool and hot tub, a beautiful piece of land, bocce ball, corn hole, other games, a well stocked kitchen, was adorably decorated, was in a great location and had a winery right next door. We spent a lot of time at the house when we weren’t out at the wineries.

Day one…

We had a limo pick us up and take us to Napa for a jam packed day of visiting wineries.  Smart move since we knew we’d be drinking wine all day.  We got picked up at 9am.  Our first stop was Domaine Carneros for a champagne tasting.  In Napa it’s okay to have champagne for breakfast. 😉 It was a perfect way to start our day. The property was gorgeous and the tour/tasting was really fun.

Next up was Honig, a smaller vineyard but equally pretty. We did a private tasting there as well.  (Side note, I was at the dentists office recently reading O magazine and saw this winery featured.) Anyway, it was amazing and the wine was great and we got to sit outside and enjoy the nice weather. Coming from Naples where it is 92 degrees everyday and 100% humidity and going to Napa where it was 50’s in the morning then warmed up to 70’s was a welcome change.

After our tasting, we ate a quick lunch, and then we headed to Peju Winery for another private tasting.  What a gorgeous property!  Our tour guide was a little over the top, but the wine was delicious and we did have a lot of laughs.

Then we headed to Rutherford. Again, wow, beautiful property. No private tasting there but we did grab a bottle of red and one white and just sat in the beautiful courtyard for a bit.  It was getting late though and we wanted to try to hit one more winery, Sterling, and I am so glad we did.  One of the couples we were with had been before and convinced us we needed to check it out.  So we grabbed our unfinished bottles from Rutherford for the limo ride and headed there. And guess what? Sterling was probably my favorite winery of the day!  You have to take a gondola to the top and once you get up there it’s like….WOW, holy crap this is amazing.  The views are unreal and the wine is tasty too. It is one of my favorites.  It was a great place to end a completely awesome and fun day!

We had the limo from 9-6pm and we used up every second.  I think we got back to the house at 5:58.  That night we cooked dinner at the house and hung out in the hot tub drinking more wine and having tons of laughs.  It was fabulous.

Day 2…

We had a private tasting scheduled at Kunde in Sonoma and it was AMAZING.  We started in a private room, then toured the inside of the mountain (where they store their barrels), then headed up the mountain on a tour bus.  We stopped a few times along the way as our guide explained about the grapes, the winery, the wine, etc. and made our way to the top where there was an outdoor bar area for us to try more wines.  It was chilly and windy up there so they gave us blankets, but oh my goodness the views were breathtaking and the wine was so damn good.

After this tour we found a local place for lunch, then headed back to our house.  Later, we walked next door to the small vineyard called Loxton Cellars.  This place was super small but really cool and it was awesome to be able to walk to it.  We had a quick tasting bought a few bottles and sat outside and drank them.  Then we headed back to the house again to just hang out.

Day 3…

Our last day.  🙁

We started out at Matanzas Creek Winery.  The property here is so gorgeous and is known for it’s fields of lavendar, which weren’t in full bloom but gorgeous nonetheless.  We did a quick tasting here then walked around the property for a while.

We then headed to lunch and walked around Sonoma for a little bit.  Then to another tasting scheduled at Chateau St Jean.  Another stunning place.  Wow.  We sat outside for our tasting and then the clouds rolled in and it started pouring and we even saw hail!

After this we went home packed up our stuff and headed to dinner in downtown Glen Ellen.  My husband and I were heading to the airport straight from dinner, taking the red eye out of San Fran while the others all had flights in the morning.  Coming back from California is always a drag. You either fly all day or all night.  Anyway after a delicious dinner at the Glen Ellen Starr we headed to the airport. We weren’t sure how much traffic we’d hit but it was fine and we got there with plenty of time to spare.

Overall, we had THE BEST time and I am so glad we were able to go.  My husband was apprehensive to leave the kids for 4 days, but they did just fine with my mother and we had such a great time!  I want to go back again soon since there is SO MUCH to see.  I would love to make this an annual event!

Have you ever been to this area?  What was your favorite winery?

A Guide to Surviving Summer…

June 1, 2017….I can’t believe today is the last day of school for my boys.  Onto 3rd and 5th grade!  WHAT?  How did that happen?  This year sure flew by.

Last day of school means a neighborhood party with bouncy water slides, pizza, swimming, and the kids running wild.  And later the annual last day of school beach party that we’ve been going to since my oldest was in kindergarten.  How lucky are we???

It seems like June 1st is awfully early to be getting out of school, but we start in mid-August.  When I was growing up in Massachusetts school didn’t start until the day after Labor Day, and then usually didn’t get out until mid to late June, depending on how many snow days we had.  Things are different here in Florida.

Summer, summer, summer time…

Anyway, now that they will be home everyday we have to find things to do.  We have several vacations planned for July, and the boys are signed up for a few different camps but, they will be home a lot too.  I thought I’d put together a list of items to help us all get through the summer.

Pool Time…

We are lucky enough to have a pool and since it is so hot here in Florida we use it a lot.

Check out these fun pool slides from Home Depot. These are only sold online.  Our pool does not have a slide so I plan to order one of these.

Aqua Launch Slide

Cosmic Pool Water Slide

And who wouldn’t want to float around on this fun Lobster?

Luxe Lie-On Lobster Float, Red

from: One Kings Lane

Outdoor Fun…

Get the kids outside away from their iPads or PlayStations!  These are some of our favorite outdoor games.

Wildon Home Select 6 Player Croquet Set

from: Wayfair

Corn Hole Bean Bag Toss Game Set

from: Wayfair

48 Piece Giant Block Tower Game Set Size: 24″ H x 7.5″ W x 7.5″ D

from: Wayfair

5 Piece Kan Jam Game Set

from: Wayfair

LED Light Up Flying Ultimate Disc

from: Wayfair

Outdoor Relaxing…

After all this swimming and playing, its time for some relaxing.

Ava Canvas Hammock with Stand Color: Green/Blue/Teal

from: Wayfair

Pumpkin Swing Chair with Stand Color: Bark Brown

from: Wayfair

Teacher Gifts…

If your kids are still in school and you are looking for a unique teacher gift.  Check out this site.  I wish I had found it earlier.

Refresh Glass - Wine Bottles into Glasses and More!

I hope these items help you get through these long summer days!  Enjoy!!


Console Table Redo…

Are you guys getting sick of all my DIY painted furniture projects?  I hope not cause here is another one.  I would like to present my console table redo. 😉

Changing up this old table…

This console table is pretty old.  It used to have a TV on top of it for years, until we moved into the House house and started using it as an actual console table.  Except, it didn’t match anything once I painted all our other old dark wood furniture.  So, guess what I did?  Yup, I painted it.  But I added a map to the top to make it a little different.  Here is how I did my console table redo.

console table before
console table before

Step 1, the map…

I’ve been wanting to add a map to a piece of furniture after seeing a few projects on Pinterest that I liked, and thought what better place than my console table redo.  I started searching for one and was having trouble finding a map that fit.  This table is 42″ long and they don’t really make maps that big, at least none that I could find.  I did however find this stuff called a ‘project roll’ at Joann’s (see pic below).  It is almost like wrapping paper, except a little thicker. Bonus, it was on sale for $2.99! It still wasn’t long enough though so I had to cut it to size.  I mean, it was plenty long, as you can see below, only the map kept repeating itself and everytime it repeated there was a border. After brainstorming a bit, I decided to cut off the top and bottom border and then the middle border too. I had to overlap where I cut off the border, by matching up the exact location on the map.  Sounds complicated but it wasn’t.

It looked like this, see below.  You can see that the continents repeat but you can’t really see where I cut the border off and glued it back together.  I wanted North America to be in the middle, but as you can see there are 2 Asia’s, Europe’s, Africa’s, etc., one on either side.

First I used an exacto knife to cut it down, then I used the actual console table as a template and some scissors to make sure it fit perfectly.

Step Two, Painting…

Since I still had some leftover, I used this same blue that I used to paint this bar area shown below, and these bar stools.  It is also the same color as our dining room.


I brought the table outside to my “workshop”, aka the covered lanai, and started painting it.  I gave the top one coat and the rest three.  I wanted the top to be blue underneath the map since I cut the map so there is a slight border, maybe 1/8″ all the way around.

Step 3, Adding the Map…

To add the map to the table, I used Mod Podge to glue it in place.  I started at one end and slowly kept appling glue to the table top and then slowly sticking the map to the table.  Once it was all glued I tried to smooth out any bubbles.

Once dry, I applied 2 more coats of Mod Podge on top of the map to seal it, then 3 coats of Sealer. I used Minwax, Water Based Polycrylic Clear Finish.  I have to admit that all the bubbles on the top were freaking me out!  I kept smoothing them down with a rolling pin and my fingers, and the edge of a spatula, but some of them were stubborn.  I even popped a few with a pin.  I kept thinking, OMG what did I do, this looks terrible.  Anyway, after it sat and dried overnight all the bubbles magically disappeared! Whew!!!

And,that is pretty much it!  Overall, I really like how it came out.  Using left over paint and other materials in our garage, it only took me a couple of hours and a couple of dollars to do!  The only thing I had to buy was the map, and that only cost $2.99!

Here are some more before/after shots.  I styled it using the same stuff as before; a collection of shells, white vases and a shadow box that my bridesmaids made me the year I got married of all our wedding memorabilia.

What do you guys think?  Do you have any projects to share with me?

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Our Year in Review…

A recap of our first year in the House house…

To all my mamma readers out there, I truly hope you had great Mother’s Days!  Mine was great. I got some nice gifts from my husband and kids, including a coupon book from my 10 year old for free hugs and other cute things, and my husband made breakfast (which hardly EVER happens).  My mother lives close by and my mother-in-law was visiting, so we took an all day boat ride with the kids.  It was a great day.

Anyway, speaking of Mother’s Day, I can’t believe that this Mother’s Day marked our one year anniversary of moving into the House house.  One year!  What?  That sure flew by. I thought I’d write up a year in review post to recap all the things we’ve done this year.  So much has happened inside and outside of the house, and there is still more to do.  Being a home owner is a never ending process.  Constantly decorating, rearranging, maintaining, stuff like that. Right?

So far in the past year, I’ve revealed; the kitchen, living room, dining room, guest bedroom, laundry room, and guest bathroom.  There are many more rooms that still need ‘revealing’ that I’ll get to eventually. Some are still not reveal-worthy in my opinion.  😉


Also, in the past year I’ve been busy becoming a furniture refinisher/painter/updater/DIYer and have painted and refinished lots of our old furniture.  For example this dining table, these bar stools, this bar area, and our kitchen bar area too (what, doesn’t every house have 2 bar area’s??), my husband built this pallet fence, and also a few other items I never even posted anything about.  AND, I’ve got a few more pieces that I plan to tackle too.

Other stuff…

We got through out first Halloween here and handed out 14 JUMBO bags of candy.  It was crazy.  We live on the main road so had lots and lots and LOTS of trick or treaters.

We also survived our First Christmas here and I even wrote a whole post about these amazing balls (hehehe balls) that I made, and these easy wine bottles.  People warned us about living here during Christmas time.  You need to decorate your house to the nines and the traffic can get out of control.  People come from all over the place to drive through here to see the lights for pretty much the whole month of December, including tour buses and golf carts from all over not only from our neighborhood, but neighboring ones too.  Christmas Eve was crazy.  There is so much traffic that the cars go about 2 miles per hour through here.  If you see a friend in their car passing your house, you can literally have a full conversation with them as they are driving by. Many nights we had beers/wine/drinks with a fire pit and some friends in the front yard and we loved every minute of it.  Yes it is a HUGE pain in the ass putting up, and especially taking down, all the decorations, but it was all worth it.

Other random stuff…

We added an aquarium and have had many fish funerals since.  Oops! But most of the fish are surviving and many are going strong and getting huge.  Its been a bit of a learning curve figuring out which fish get along and won’t eat each other.

My husband and I went to the Super Bowl and had quite the experience.

Overall we’ve had a great year here.  It is so nice being in a neighborhood with so many kids and so many great parents too.  We look forward to many more years in the House house.