Installing a Pull Up Bar

Hey All,

Today is the first day of our Spring Break.  Yahoo!  We are headed to Key Largo for a few days with some friends.  I can’t wait to relax on the beach and go on some adventures too.

I feel like we haven’t been doing any projects inside our house lately.  They’ve all been outside.  This is the latest addition to our yard, a pull up bar, and here is how we did it.

Materials Needed…

We used this bar from Amazon

2 – 10 ft pressure treated 4×4 beams

1 – 4′ x 12″ concrete tube



Dig two, 3 ft deep holes approximately 4 ft apart, or the length of the pull up bar.

Cut the concrete tube in half so you have two, 2 foot tubes.

Place the tubes into the holes you dug and then level the tubes.

Installing a pull up bar
Installing a pull up bar

Mount the pull up bar to the 4×4’s.  We placed ours approximately 6 inches from the top.  It came with hardware for mounting.

Mix up the concrete.

You will need 2 people for the next step.  Place each beam into the tubes.  Someone will need to hold this up while the other puts the concrete into the holes.  We made a line on the beams approximately 2 1/2 ft from the bottom of each beam to indicate how high we needed to put the concrete. We also made sure to center the beams in the holes as best as we could.

We kept making sure that the tubes didn’t shift as we were putting the concrete into the holes, using the level.

We used approximately 200 lb heavy set concrete for each hole.

We took turns filling the holes with concrete, alternating them, while the other held up the beams, until they were full.  Once the holes were full and started to dry we felt it was safe enough to let the beams go.  They weren’t going anywhere.

We allowed the concrete to dry for a full 24 hours before we used it.

That is pretty much all there is to it.  This only took us a couple of hours to complete and was not hard at all!

Our next big outdoor project will be a Tiki Bar. Stay tuned for that.

Ping Pong Anyone?

Upcycling our old outdoor dining table into a Ping Pong table…

We’ve been wanting either an outdoor pool table or a ping pong table for our lanai since we moved into the House house.  We recently purchased a new outdoor dining table, so my husband decided it was the perfect opportunity to make (or upcycle) a ping pong table out of our old one!  He’s so smart!  Would it have been easier to just get rid of this old table and buy a ping pong table? Um, hell ya.  But what fun is that? Not to mention the nice outdoor ping pong tables can get pricey and we were able to make this fairly inexpensively.

Here is a picture of our old table.

Our Old Outdoor Dining Table
Our Old Outdoor Dining Table

Here is how he made our ping pong table…

This project was so easy and probably doesn’t need much explanation but, here goes.

He ordered this EastPoint Sports Foldable Table Tennis Conversion Top from amazon for $62.00.

Ping Pong Conversion Table
Ping Pong Conversion Table

We thought all we’d have to do is set it up on top of the old table, however it was too big and hung WAY over the sides of the table.  If you put your hand down to rest it on the edge of the table it would have definitely toppled over.  Not good!

After brianstorming for a bit he decided to put some legs on the edges.  He went to Home Depot and bought 4 plain table legs (painted them white), and some brackets to attach the legs to the bottom on the conversion top.

And this is how it turned out.

I forgot how much fun Ping Pong is.  We’ve been playing every night and I’ve yet to beat my husband.  Damn him!!!  Anyway, looks pretty good, am I right?


So far I’ve kept a promise to myself in the new year, to organize one thing every 2 weeks. Last week was my kitchen junk drawer and the week before was my desk.  The junk drawer didn’t even take me long at all.  I don’t know why I’d been putting that off for so long.  Anyone still with me on trying to get organized or have you given up?

Getting Organized

Happy New Year!

Getting Organized, One Room at a Time…

I don’t know about you, but at the beginning of every new year I feel the need to get organized. The holidays are always so hectic and the house gets to be a mess, and then Christmas brings even MORE stuff into the house. Not to mention both my son’s have birthdays near the Holidays. One is in November, and the other is one week before Christmas. The playroom and their bedrooms are messes and overflowing with stuff, and it is time to start getting organized and CLEAN IT ALL UP!  We will be doing that soon.  Hopefully they will be willing to donate a lot of old toys.  Other places that I need to tackle include my closet, our kitchen junk drawer, the guest bedroom closet, and the laundry room to name a few.  I’m going to try to tackle one thing every 2 weeks.  Who’s with me?

First Up, My Desk…

In the meantime I got to organizing my desk over Christmas break. It truly was a site to see with papers and crap piled up everywhere.  Pretty embarrassing, actually.  I’d been meaning to clean it up for months and just never got around to it and now that it’s done, it feels awesome. Bonus, I found 2 gift cards I’d been missing (and promptly spent one of them).  How or why did I ever let it get that bad?  Lazy?  Busy?  Probably a little of both.

Anyway, I can’t believe I didn’t take a before picture!  I meant too, but I just started cleaning and forgot. Try to picture papers all over the place, a huge old monitor on top that I never used, and just stuff everywhere, mostly papers.  My laptop was really the only thing visible.  Below are the After pics!  Still needs some tweaking but looks a helluva lot better.  It felt so good to let go of so much stuff and now my desk feels so much bigger!  It is a pretty big desk but you wouldn’t have known it with all the stuff piled up on it.  Now that it is all cleaned up, maybe I’ll write more blog posts? 🙂 We’ll see!  One of my many New Years Resolutions is to keep this clean and try to be more organized.

PS – we’ve had these big ole desks for years. My husband has a matching one and it is located on the other side of the window.  His is much neater than mine.  We bought them when everything dark brown was in.  I’ve thought about painting them, like I did this table, and these barstools, and lots of my other stuff but its gonna stay brown, for now.

Next Up???

I’ll be tackling another organizing project soon and will keep you posted.  Not sure which one yet but I’m thinking the kitchen junk drawer needs some serious attention.  Do you have a junk drawer?  In our house it is where everything ends up that we don’t know what to do with (take out menus, pencils, pens, papers, etc), or when you’re trying to clean the kitchen quick and just shove everything in that one drawer thinking you’ll figure it out later.  Tell me I’m not the only one who has a drawer like this.

Do you LOVE or HATE the getting organized process?  I love it.  It just sometimes takes me awhile to get started and I have to be in the right mood, but there is such a sense of relief and accomplishment when you’re done.  Am I right? I think setting a time line will really help me.

If you have any tips or tricks to getting organized, please leave me a comment.

Desk Storage…

If YOU are looking for some beautiful desk storage so you can get organized, check out these finds…

Getting Organized
Stefani Desktop Organizer – $59.99
Getting Organized
Virgillio Desktop Organizer – $37.99
Getting Organized
Kenneth Desktop Organizer – $50.99
Getting Organized
Ethan Desk Organizer – $37.99
Getting Organized
3 Tier Bar Cart – $85.99


DIY Christmas Sign Post

Hi!  Since you guys seemed to like this project, I thought I’d post a quick tutorial on how we made this DIY Christmas Sign Post to hide all our ugly wires.  It’s pretty self explanatory and easy, but I’ll tell ya how we did it anyway.

My husband came up with this idea.  Isn’t it cute?

Here is the Step by Step…

First he bought a 10ft pvc pipe at Home Depot and some red duct tape.  I stuck the duct tape all around the pipe to make it look like a candy cane.

Then we used a scrap piece of wood from the garage to make the signs.  He cut the wood in half (I will use the other half for another project) and then I painted it white.  Then we cut the wood to look like arrows.

Next, I used my red Paint Marker to paint the words onto the signs.  Paint Markers are so cool and are sold at all craft stores.  I went through my fonts on my computer and looked for anything that I thought looked Christmasy, and even downloaded a few new fonts, then used those as a guide.  I hand drew these but you could use a stencil or transfer paper to make an outline then fill in with the paint markers.  They are not perfect but I think that adds to the charm.

To attach these to the pole we nailed in some u-hooks and using a stick we stuck them thru the holes on the pvc pipe to hold them in place.

And that is it.  Easy!

And here it is my DIY Christmas Sign Post.  Looks a lot better than just a plain white pvc pipe.


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.