DIY Home Remodel – Before Photos


DIY Home Remodel. The first in a series of blog posts following our progress on our own Fixer Upper Style home remodel - starting with the Before Photos.

DIY Home Remodel Before Photos

The fall is such a time for Transition – even more so than the new year or the first day of summer vacation.  The kids have gone back to school, there is a touch of crispness in the air (love that!), and the pace is picking up from the less regimented days of summer.  And biggest transition of all –  we decided to buy an old house in our hometown and fix it up ourselves.

It’s no secret that we have been living in my parents’ basement for MUCH longer than we had planned (after our move back to Utah from North Carolina).  It’s a seller’s market in our hometown, with high prices and very few houses on the market.  So our goal was (and is) to build our own home on family land.  But that’s a huge process and things get stalled, and well… it’s taking forever.

So my brother (a realtor) found us this amazing deal on a 1960s brick house.  I took a walk through it with him and we knew we had to put an offer in on it before they put it on the market.  Not because I loved it (1960s brick house – boring!), but because it was a great deal and we are in a place where we need to see some progress on this home ownership stuff.  My husband teases me that while I went through the motions of taking him to see the house and getting his opinion, I had already made up my mind we were going to buy it.  (And maybe that’s partially true, but mostly just because I know him so well and knew he would agree with me 😉  )


Let’s face it – we’ve all watched a few episodes of Fixer Upper and wondered what it would be like to go through the process ourselves (and man – anyone else insanely jealous of those amazing house prices they are always finding in Waco?!).  In fact, I’ve watched more than my share of Fixer Upper since we decided to take on the project.  It’s great for inspiration and ideas, as well as keeping me motivated knowing that everyone hits snags and problems.

When Joanna Gaines asks “do you have the courage to take on a fixer upper?” my 10 year old has taken to responding “yes, yes we do!”

So to start us off, why don’t I show you what the house looked like when we bought it.

Before Photos:

DIY Home Remodel 1960s Brick House

No, wait – that was the photo I took the day we closed on the house.  We had them redo the shingles on the roof before we bought the house, so when we first saw the house it looked like this.  Yep, they missed that corner section there at the end of the porch.  Add it to the DIY home remodel To Do List.

DIY Fixer Upper Before Photos of 1960s Brick Ranch House

DIY Home Remodel Before Photo Living Room

Main Living Areas:

This is the view of the living room from the entry.  That big ‘ole fireplace it about 12’ wide and made up entirely of someone’s rock collection.  Really – someone took a long time collecting giant chunks of petrified wood, volcanic rock, crystals, and all kinds of interesting things I don’t know the names of.  Interesting, but it sure is ugly isn’t it?

DIY Fixer Upper Style Home Renovation Living Room

DIY Home Remodel Before Photo Kitchen

Past the living room is the kitchen/breakfast area.  Not a bad size, just completely outdated.  And have I mentioned the sloping floors yet?  We spent a “fun” 10 minutes letting a roll of duct tape make it’s way from the sliding door to the other wall, over and over again.  The sloping is the worst in the kitchen, but there are floor issues in most of the other rooms too.

DIY Fixer Upper style Home Renovation Kitchen

DIY Fixer Upper Style Home Renovation Girl Room


Down the hallway we find the bedrooms.  This one will be Kaitlyn’s.  Every room of the house has different (nasty) carpet, but the winner of the Ugly Carpet Award goes to this room.  Does anyone else see the resemblence to a sweater Bill Cosby used to wear?
And yes, that’s fake wood paneling on all the walls.  Both this room and the master were lucky enough to retain that on their walls.

DIY Home Remodel Before Photo Boy Room

Tyler’s room.  Built-in toy box in the closet and real wood paneling in here.  Jackpot.
Ok that was sarcasm.  The toy box takes up too much space and he’s too old for it, but we can pretend the wood paneling is just as good as shiplap, right?

DIY Home Remodel Before Photo Master Bedroom

The master bedroom is slightly larger than the other two.  Standard closet space, faux wood paneling, beeeee-utiful red carpet.  And its own tiny bathroom.

DIY Fixer Upper Style Home Renovation Master Bath

People, photos just don’t do it justice.  That toilet is even more squished into the corner than it looks.  We’ll see if my ideas for making the space feel more open actually work.

DIY Home Remodel Before Photos Master Bath

I’ll spare you the close up of the nastiness in all the rooms, but just so you have an idea this one is the sink in the master bath.  Obviously all fixtures, appliances, cabinets, etc, etc are being replaced.

DIY Home Remodel Before Photos Back yard

The Backyard:

The backyard has a mess all its own. Overgrown lawn, random junk, and our very own falling-down chicken coop.  The larger barn is in the pasture behind our property, along with a lot of other things that aren’t pleasant to look at.  I think we’ll be putting up a privacy fence when we get the chance.

DIY Fixer Upper Style Home Renovation Before Photos 1960s Brick House Back Yard

Sandbags that have probably been there since the river flooded years ago (and hasn’t happened since so I’m sure they fixed the problem), a smoker someone built out of old metal 50-gal drums, and cords from a couple of old satellite TV dishes running all over the place – those are the issues.  On the plus side, that’s a good-sized covered back porch and since it’s right off the kitchen I’m sure we’ll use it a lot.

DIY Home Remodel 1960s Brick House

To Sum it Up

The house is sturdy, has decently sized rooms and yard, and we couldn’t have done better on the price in this area.  We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us as we tackle this DIY Home Remodel.  Wish us luck!
And definitely stay tuned – we’ve had 3 months to work on the house since these photos were taken and I can’t wait to share some updates!


*For more in-the-minute photos, follow along on Instagram!  I’ve given this project the title #CaldwellsVStheSinkingHouse


*Want to see some of the DIY remodel projects we’ve tackled in the past?  Check out the Kitchen Remodel on a Budget (in my parents’ house) – Before photos and demolitiontexturing the wallsinstalling the tile, and installing the cabinetry.


Week in the Life 2017 – Sunday’s Words and Photos

Week in the Life 2017 Photo documenting project AlaynasCreations

Week in the Life 2017 – Sunday’s Words and Photos

Week in the Life photo project – a little slice of life right now.   Normal.  Routine.  Real.

(Week in the Life – a concept introduced to me by Ali Edwards that has become one of my favorite over the last few years)

Today is the final excerpt from my week of documenting life’s little realities.  I spent the week of April 10th taking photos and jotting notes and this past week I’ve been pulling each day together into a blog post.  Today I’m sharing


Easter Sunday Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

(Easter Sunday as it happens)

Firing up the smoker for Easter Dinner Sundau Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

6:45 AM

Rolled out of bed to make sure the Easter Bunny had hidden all the eggs.  Sam fired up the smoker to start on the meat for dinner tonight.

Easter Baskets Sunday Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

7:15 AM

Tyler’s up and wakes up his sister, both happy to explore their Easter baskets from Sam and me.
Roller blades, flip flops, and Ipod case and headphones for Kaitlyn.  Scooter, swimsuit and goggles, and the Spy School book he has repeatedly requested for Tyler.  Both very pleased and excited.

New scooter for Easter Sunday Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

New scooter and rollerblades for the win Easter Sunday Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

Our Golden Retriever loves hugs Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

Bambi was wound up by all the excitement – and by the kids trying out their blades and scooter in the hallway.  She needed a long hug to calm down.

Easter Egg Hunt Sunday Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

7:45 AM

Outside to hunt for eggs.  Kaitlyn is still better at it than Tyler, though that only bothers him when she beats him to an egg he has spotted and was close to grabbing for himself.

Easter Egg hunt Sunday Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

Easter Egg Hunt Sunday Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

Easter Egg Hunt Sunday Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations


Dividing up the loot Easter Egg Hunt Sunday Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

8:00 AM

Exploring their loot.  Our system is to dump all the candy in a bowl and everyone grabs what they want throughout the day.  Some eggs also contained items specifically for the kids.  Tyler got a Lego set (Star Wars) and Kaitlyn, a crystal 3D puzzle.

Easter Breakfast of cinnamon and orange rolls Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

Cinnamon and orange rolls for breakfast.

Packing and Pinewood Derby prep Sunday Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

The rest of the day everyone filled in their own ways.  Sam started packing his equipment for his trip and he and Tyler finished off the Pinewood Derby car.  (Pinewood Derby is Tuesday night)  Kaitlyn tried out her new rollerblades, listened to music, etc.  I started and finished an entire book, My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella.  A light, easy read.

Easter Dinner with the family Sunday Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creaitons

5:00 PM

Dinner with the family, entirely homemade by Sam (who likes to spend large chunks of time cooking when nothing else is on the agenda).  Shredded pork, homemade rolls, grill fries.  Yum.


And that, my dears, concludes my Sunday and my Week in the Life photo project – at least the documenting part of it.  As always, it has been a learning experience.  Some days are easy to document, some are hard.  Some things in the day are happy, some are routine, and some are a struggle.

The photos I didn’t take:

-not a single shot of all 4 of us in the same photo.  I’ll fix that soon.  Well, as soon as the husband gets back from overseas.
-had fully intended to take a few portrait-type shots of each of the kids and include a list of things particular to them right now.  Truly plan to follow through with that as soon as I get a chance.
-self-timer shots were almost non-existent.  Not so much because I’m not wanting to be in the photos this time around, but more likely because they take more forethought and time to set up.  All of my photos were definitely “in the moment” and not planned out ahead of time.
-felt weird about asking others to be in photos with me/for me this week.  Too intrusive?  Sam and the kids are used to me taking photos at random times for random reasons, the other people in my life – not so much.  So I have photos of things at the gym but not one of myself and my workout buddy.  I have photos of my walk, but not any that include my friend.  And so on.  I’ll work on it.

I may wish I had taken more/others/been more creative but I won’t regret the photos I did take and can now enjoy over and over again.

I have ordered photo prints and can’t wait to get started on putting it all together in an album.  While I wait for those to arrive I’ll be back to working on blog updates for the Great Kitchen Remodel and thinking of more ideas for upcoming Teacher Appreciation (like THIS and THIS)  and Mother’s Day.  Always something to look forward to and plan for, right?

Until then, feel free to glance through the rest of my week.

2017 Week in the Life posts:

Monday’s Words and Photos
Tuesday’s Words and Photos
Wednesday’s Words and Photos
Thursday’s Words and Photos
Friday’s Words and Photos
Saturday’s Words and Photos

Week in the Life 2017 – Saturday’s Words and Photos

Week in the Life 2017 Photo documenting project AlaynasCreations

Week in the Life 2017 – Saturday’s Words and Photos

Getting close to the end of this year’s Week in the Life photo project, documenting the small or routine things in daily life.  Saturday happened to be one of the more eventful days of the week – in it’s own ordinary, familiar way.

(Interested in the Week in the Life concept?  You can find out more on Ali Edwards’ blog)

Family fun at the park Saturday Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

Our Saturday

With everyone home on weekends, we usually devote at least a portion of our days to family time.  My original plan was to do something new and hike to some hot springs I recently heard about.  But it was a restless night with Sam getting a migraine at 3AM.  Eventually he did fall asleep again and the migraine backed off but the thought of a hike no longer appealed to him.

Saturday morning starts out slowly Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creaitons

We usually allow ourselves and the kids a slow start on the weekends, letting them stay in bed until 8:30 if they’re still sleeping and taking our time with breakfast and getting dressed for the day.

Sam had errands he wanted to run in the city so I gave in (really was NOT feeling like dragging the kids all over that day) and we headed out.

Saturday lunch out Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

10:30 AM (ish)

First stop was Best Buy for a power adaptor then lunch at Zupa’s, one of the few restaurants where everyone in the family can find something they like.  Tyler had asked to try the chocoloate mousse cake and Sam told him we would think about it if he ate his lunch without reminders.  That isn’t always a motivator for him, but today our picky eater ate his entire grilled cheese without any problem so he got the cake.  And uncomplainingly shared it with his sister.

Family fun at the park Saturday Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

Park Time

I had spotted running shoes at good prices while out shopping earlier in the week so our next stop was taking Kaitlyn to try some on (for the upcoming 10K she is running with Sam).  She didn’t love anything at either place so it was on to the Verizon store.  The kids and I wandered down to Home Goods while Sam went into Verizon (where he didn’t really have any luck getting questions answered).

Wanting to keep Tyler happy and figuring it was a good break from the errands, we took the kids to one of the newer parks Sam had run across while out and about for work.  Great park, with plenty of things to handle the bigger crowd on a warm spring Saturday.  Tyler had a lot of fun running around.

My girl Saturday Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

Kaitlyn is getting too old for that kind of thing.  She tried out that spinning thing with her dad and she and I did some swinging on the hammock thing, but most of the time she just hung out with me and visited.

Weekend errands at Costco Saturday Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

Shopping and Errands

We decided an hour was long enough at the park and headed off to Costco.  I always try to avoid shopping on Saturdays and Costco is one of the worst places for Saturday crowds.  But Sam wanted to stock up on protein bars and drinks for his long plane ride (flying military cargo or whatever so they if they want to eat they have to pack it).

About half-way through Costco, while stopped at a sample stand, I spotted a rash on Tyler’s arm.  We were surprised and disturbed to see it covering both of his lower arms.  Seeing that it stopped abruptly where his sleeves started, I made the assumption that it was some kind of allergic reaction from something he touched, probably at the park.  I left Sam and Kaitlyn to check out and Tyler and I headed into the bathroom to wash his arms repeatedly.  Thank goodness for family bathrooms so I could help him with that.

Costco churros for the win Saturday Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

We found Kaitlyn and Sam waiting for us, churros in hand.  Nice surprise.
I had Benadryl in the car.  It’s not the first time I’ve been happy to have my little Just in Case kit in the car.  Though getting a giant bottle of Benadryl wouldn’t have been hard to do at Costco.

The drive home Saturday errands Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

At that point we figured it was time to head up the canyon, taking a pic of the road sign we had been seeing often on the freeway all day.  For some reason we all found the message “Some bunny loves you drive focused” amusing or at least interesting.

We stopped at Park City for another stab at finding running shoes.  Options found but Kate was not in love with any of them at Famous Footwear.  After trying on many pairs we found a winner at New Balance.  Tyler had quickly found a pair he liked, which worked out nicely for the Buy One Get One 50% off deal.  (Can’t resist those right?)

At some point during the drive we had figured out the rest of our plan for the weekend and Easter so our final stop before heading home was the grocery store.

Tyler finally gave in to the Benadryl and fell asleep on the way home.

Dying Easter Eggs Saturday Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations


Once home everyone helped unload the car and put everything away.  Tyler fell back to sleep on the couch downstairs, promising to wake up for dinner in half an hour.
Sam, Kaitlyn and I prepped DIY pizzas.  Pepperoni and cheese for Kaitlyn.  Pesto chicken with gouda for Sam and myself.  Just cheese for Tyler.

I had a very hard time getting Tyler to wake up and come upstairs, but I didn’t want him falling asleep so early and not sleeping through the night.  Eventually he did get up, but wouldn’t eat.

It wasn’t until dinner was put away and we had the eggs and dye all set up that he perked up enough to participate.

Easter egg decorating Saturday Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

Easter Egg Decorating

Tyler and Kate both took their time doing something different to each egg and experimenting with various methods and techniques.  This might be the first year I wasn’t stressed about one spilling something or needing extra help and could just sit back and take photos.  (One of the few times I pulled out the big camera during Week in the Life.)

Easter egg decorating Saturday Weke in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

The rash had faded some but was far from going away.  *sigh*  Thank goodness it didn’t itch or bother him – just looked nasty.

Decorating Easter Eggs Saturday Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

Lots of photos of the egg decorating (ruthlessly editing them here – be glad!) then I set aside the camera for the rest of the night.  Long day.  Everyone is tired, mostly in a good way (poor Ty).


Thoughts from today

Saturday, more than the rest of the days this week, has me introspective as I look back at it.  Lots of lessons there.

-We did a good job of making the Have Tos fun.
-Gracefully changing plans last minute (something I’m not always good at).
-Dealing with whatever comes our way as best we can.  It’s what we have to do.
-Kids value traditions, even when I think they may be getting too old for them.

Kaitlyn was surprised when I mentioned that I really had not wanted to spend the day shopping.  She thought the whole day had been fun.  And it had.  I love this little family of mine and being together is good no matter what we’re doing.

I think I am personally, however, struggling with a need to change how we do things a bit.  Maybe to free up some of the roles I’ve been filling exclusively as the mom.  Especially in regards to responsibilies for making plans and coming up with ideas for entertainment.  My desire to play “cruise director” is at low ebb right now.



One more day in the books!  And one more day to finish documenting for this year’s Week in the Life project.  Check back tomorrow!

Week in the Life 2017
Monday’s Words and Photos
Tuesday’s Words and Photos
Wednesday’s Words and Photos
Thursday’s Words and Photos
Friday’s Words and Photos

Week in the Life 2017 – Friday’s Words and Photos

Week in the Life 2017 Photo documenting project AlaynasCreations

Week in the Life 2017 – Friday’s Words and Photos

Fri-day! Fri-day!  Fri-day!

One of my favorite days of the week, even when we have no plans for the weekend and I know that entertaining everyone may be more work than I usually do on a weekday.  There’s just something about Fridays that make me happy.

So without further ado…

Friday’s Words and Photos

(for Week in the Life, which I spent last week documenting and am spending this week pulling it together here on the blog.  Photos in today’s post were taken Friday, April 14, 2017)


Friday Week in the Life 2017 the pup is ready for a walk Alaynas Creations

7:45 AM

“You put on workout clothes. Are we going for a walk?!!” Actually I’m surprised she sat still long enough for a photo. She can hardly contain her excitement if I come out of my room wearing yoga pants or gym shoes. Most of the time I’m simply headed to the gym but today she is right. We are headed out for a walk as soon as the boy gets on the bus.

Breakfast and dishes Friday Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

7:15 AM

Dishes and straightening up the kitchen while the little guy eats breakfast and packs lunch.  More to clean up than usual since I didn’t take the time for dishes yesterday and the other adults in the house don’t often do so.

Ready for a walk Friday Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

8:15 AM

Doesn’t she look happy?  Off to pick up my friend for our walk.

Sandhill cranes and horses the view from our walk Friday Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

8:45 AM

Sandhill cranes, horses, cows, and lots of clouds on our walk this morning. Love that I can get out with a friend once in a while and enjoy being outside while also making the dog amazingly happy.

My helper prepping Easter Baskets Friday Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

10:00 AM

Biggest thing on the list today was Easter prep. As you can see, I had plenty of help.

Friday Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

Eventually she did relax and let me finish the Easter baskets and start working on teacher appreciation.

Home from school and work Friday Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

2:00 PM

Friday is early out day, including Sam this time around.  Bambi has to greet everyone and get some attention before the rest of us can sit down and talk to each other about our days.

Decisions decisions Friday Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

4:00 PM

I’m all out of dinner ideas (and supplies) for the week.  Surprisingly, Tyler had a dinner suggestion that didn’t involve pizza (he requests pizza at least twice a week) so I took him with me to the grocery store.  We picked up tortellini and garlic bread then I let him help select some ice cream for dessert.
Red Button is the BEST ice cream.  Tyler chose Cookies and Cream and I grabbed Raspberry Ripple Chocolate Chip (since they were on 2 for ___).

Dinner Prep Friday Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

4:30 PM

Dinner prep and time to unload the dishwasher.  Yes, we typically do eat early, usually around 5:00.

Ice cream Friday Week in the Life 2017 Akaynas Creations

7:00 PM (ish)

Ice cream and TV time.  And how great that the sun is setting later in the day.

Screen time Friday Week in the life 2017 Alaynas Creations


Ah, Week in the Life.

I’ve been enjoying the time spent over the last few days pulling all the photos and journaling together.  I’ve even managed to order photo prints so I can start putting the album together soon.

Every year is a learning experience.  I see the kids growing and changing.  I see routines that feel like they have been the same forever actually evolve and change.  I see mannerisms and habits that seem so familiar right now that will only be memories in a few years.

Every year I don’t capture everything I could, but I do get plenty of little glimpses.


Want more details on the project?  Check out Ali Edward’s blog and the WITL community.

2017 Week in the Life posts:

Monday’s Words and Photos
Tuesday’s Words and Photos
Wednesday’s Words and Photos
Thursday’s Words and Photos
Saturday’s Words and Photos

Two more days to document!  Please check back tomorrow!

Week in the Life 2017 – Thursday’s Words and Photos

Week in the Life 2017 Photo documenting project AlaynasCreations

Week in the Life 2017 – Thursday’s Words and Photos

Halfway through documenting Week in the Life at this point – taking photos of all kinds of things I don’t spend much time documenting in daily life.  I’ve done this project a few times before and usually at this point I’m starting to lose a little enthusiasm and taking fewer photos.  This year has been the opposite.  It took me a few days to really warm up to the project and the second half of the week I was more prolific with the photos – even while out running errands, which is how I spent a good part of my day Thursday.

*I spent last week taking the photos so this week is dedicated to pulling them together in a series of blog posts.  These photos were taken Thursday, April 13 – before Easter, in case you were wondering 😉

(Want more info or to join in the project?  Check out Ali Edwards’ blog and the Week in the Life Community)

Thursday’s Words and Photos:

Thursday Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

6:30 AM

Surprised to find Tyler was up and dressed already.  Instant Breakfast is his breakfast of choice lately.  Sam skips breakfast but it looks like he did make a cup of coffee to take on the drive to work.

First Day in the new uniform Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

Guess who got promoted! First day with the new stripes (ok 2nd, as he wouldn’t stop for a photo yesterday) since he has to be at the base a few days this week. Pretty sure he is enjoying the break from his regular job.

Breakfast Thursday Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

Sometimes I skip the oatmeal and go for the kids’ cereal.

Shopping Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

Everyone off to school/work and I FINALLY have a clear morning where all I have to worry about it my own agenda so I’m off to the city to do my Easter shopping.  Usually I’m ready for holidays much further ahead than this and I wasn’t exactly happy about that.  I’m feeling pretty upbeat today and I think knowing I can check this off my list has a lot to do with my mood.

Errands are part of everyday life Thursday Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

On the list:

Easter candy, random items for baskets, a scooter for Tyler, rollerblades for Kaitlyn.  Ordering online probably would have been the better option for the larger items but I didn’t decide on them far enough ahead of time.  So I had to do a little extra running around.
Target first (of course!) where I didn’t purchase much but enjoyed looking around.  Shopko, then Big 5 where I stopped to call Sam for help making the final decision on scooters.  Opted to buy rollerblades for Kate there (in a size that fits me!  She’s growing up way too fast) then back-trackted to Target to get the scooter I had spotted earlier.

Lunch at Chipotle and the fiew on the drive up the canyon Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

I grabbed lunch from Chipolte and ate it in the car while listening to the 5 Love Languages before heading back up the canyon.
I completed the rest of my errands in Park City with a trip to Michael’s (where I only purchased weights for the Tyler’s Pinewood Derby car – can you believe that?!) and TJ Maxx.

Groceries and slushies Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

The last stop was Smith’s for dishwasher soap – and I walked out with all that!

It had been a beautiful day, warmer than any we’ve had so far this spring.  Thus the slushie impulse buy.

Spring Flowers Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations


I do Marathons on Netflix custom water bottle

1:50 PM

Made it home, unloaded the car, and had just enough time to add a fun vinyl saying to the water bottle I picked up for the friend I’ve been meeting at the gym.  She never remembers to bring her water bottle and they had only ONE left in one of my favorite styles at TJ Maxx.  I also gave her a bag of her favorite Easter candy that she mentioned a few days ago that she hadn’t been able to find.  She was pretty happy.

My dedicated little swimmer Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

2:30 PM

I had warned Kaitlyn that I would be taking a few “better” photos during the first part of practice but when I actually showed up to do so I think she was a little embarrassed.  I ended up rushing through it and not getting the great shots I had hoped for.

Oh well.  She’s at the pool all the time.  I’ll try it again another time.

Swim team butterfly Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations


Work out.  Home.  Homework check for Tyler.  Dinner.  Sunset.  Call it good for the day.

Sunset on the Farm Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

And that’s it for Thursday.  Tune in tomorrow for Friday’s Words and Photos for Week in the Life 2017.

Until then, feel free to check out some of my previous Week in the Life Posts

2017 Week in the Life posts:

Monday’s Words and Photos
Tuesday’s Words and Photos
Wednesday’s Words and Photos
Friday’s Words and Photos
Saturday’s Words and Photos

Or take a look at some of my other projects like the Great Kitchen Remodel (half-way through the updates there, I’ll have a new blog post up on that next week), my Spring Tulip Wreath, or Ideas for upcoming Teacher Appreciation (ideas HERE, HERE, and HERE).

Week in the Life 2017 – Wednesday’s Words and Photos

Week in the Life 2017 Photo documenting project AlaynasCreations

Week in the Life 2017 – Wednesday’s Words and Photos

This week I’ve been sharing my experience with Ali Edwards’ Week in the Life photo project for this year.  I spent last week keeping the camera (or more often the camera phone) nearby and trying to document the small moments that are often overlooked in regular life.

Kinda fun, right?

Today I’m sharing the Words and Photos from Wednesday

Week in the Life 2017 Wednesday's Words and Photos AlaynasCreations

Restless night meant I was more than ready to get up and be productive so I baked muffins for the kids at 6:15AM. (First Instagram post of the day)

Breakfast Wednesday Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

Sam headed off to the base instead of his regular job in order to get ready to head overseas next week.  First day in uniform with his new promotion but in too much of a hurry to stop for a photo or wait for muffins.

Kaitlyn, however, was more than happy to have something home made for breakfast.

Easy Pumpkin Muffins Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

One of my favorite ways to make muffins uses cake mix (today’s was yellow cake mix) and a can of pumpkin.  Just two ingredients so it’s super easy and the pumpkin makes it healthier than most.  Tyler prefers it with chocolate cake mix and ate only one muffin but Kaitlyn said she likes it better this way.

Headed to school Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

7AM means she’s out the door (and not exactly pleased that I told her to pause for a photo).

Military dress up day Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

This boy has such a great teacher. In order to solidify a concept she asked them to wear something at least vaguely military today. Good thing we have no problem pulling that together at the last minute. Tyler was excited to wear his dad’s hat (or, er, his “cover”).

Today was a day for just going with the flow.  Original plan had been volunteering in Ty’s class then heading to the city to get my Easter shopping done.  However, last night I agreed to go into work in the afternoon as Cha Cha was excited to start some of the organizing we had discussed earlier that day.

Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

Typically on Wednesdays I spend my time after Tyler leaves getting myself ready and off to the school for my standing date volunteering in Tyler’s classroom.  This morning though I got a text saying they had a few extras added to their day at school and I wouldn’t be needed today.  So I decided to take a bit more time with the morning routine and read in the tub for a while.

A quick snack Week in the LIfe 2017 Alaynas Creations

Work was then bumped from 1:00 until 2:00 so it’s a very good thing Sam had already planned to pick Kaitlyn up from swim team practice on his way home from work so I was able to stay a bit longer.  We worked on organizing computer files the entire time.

Command Center Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

As you can see it was another day with fewer photos than I would normally take during a Week in the Life project.  I guess that’s just how it goes sometimes.  Life feels a bit TOO ordinary or I forget or I’m too tired.  So I wrapped it up for Wednesday with a view of what I am beginning to think of as my “command center.”  This end table between the couch and the chair I typically use when on the computer or watching TV is always covered with a random collection of notebooks, calendars and books and whatever needs my attention at the time, like the spelling bee word list for Tyler and the clipboard I’m using to take notes for Week in the Life.

At this point I did go on a search for more inspiration for Week in the Life and as you will see tomorrow, my enthusiasm (and photo count) did go up a few notches for the rest of the week.

I’ll be back tomorrow!  Feel free to share your Week in the Life experiences or take a look at some of my other photos for the week.

2017 Week in the Life posts:

Monday’s Words and Photos
Tuesday’s Words and Photos
Thursday’s Words and Photos
Friday’s Words and Photos
Saturday’s Words and Photos

Week in the Life 2017 – Tuesday’s Words and Photos

Week in the Life 2017 Photo documenting project AlaynasCreations

Week in the Life 2017 – Tuesday’s Words and Photos

Week in the Life – a week long photo project intended to document a typical week and appreciate it for what it is.  I have made the point of participating along with Ali Edwards and the Week in the Life Community for a few years and really enjoy the process.

A lot of the community started documenting their photos yesterday so you still have plenty of time to jump in!  I chose to start last week as that was a more routine week than this week will be.  So this week I get to pull it all together in a series of blog posts.

Today I’m sharing Tuesday’s Words and Photos

Tuesday morning routine Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

Pretty sure this was the day I took the least number of photos.  Possibly because it’s a little harder to get the motivation and creativity flowing without the enthusiasm of doing the project with everyone else?  Possibly because I spent a good part of the day at work and was concentrating on that instead of pulling out the camera.  Possibly I was just tired.

Breakfast was protein oatmeal while checking email Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

First photo of the day was that picture of the alarm clock.  Instagram caption read:  Good morning Tuesday. First photo of the day for Week in the Life. At this point I had been awake more than an hour – typical. I try to tell myself to go back to sleep but it doesn’t work. Instead I end up laying there trying to enjoy the comfy bed, the quiet, and the time with the husband before he goes to work. Once he heads out then I pick up a book or the computer until Kaitlyn finishes showering.

After Kaitlyn heads upstairs I usually get up and get breakfast (most of the time that’s oatmeal with cranberries and almonds) and spend more time on the computer until it’s time to wake up Tyler.

At the office Week in the Life 2017 AlaynasCreations

9:00 AM

found me at the office.  This is still kind of new for me, having somewhere to go to “work” even if it’s only for a few hours a week.  Lots and lots of time on the computer, part of which was spent putting together and sending out their first ever email newsletter.
Almost daily afternoon drive Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

2:15 PM

Didn’t leave the office until 1:40 so it was a very quick, very late lunch and a quick change before heading to the gym (while Kaitlyn is at the pool, of course).  This is my almost-daily view of the drive to the rec center.  My car could probably get there all on its own at this point.

Braces at 36 Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

5:30 PM

found everyone home, homework done, dinner finished.  Grabbed a quick photo of Sam and the braces since I realized I hadn’t taken one and he had another orthodontist appointment the next day.  Braces at 36.  Better late than never, right?

What I'm reading Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

“Ing” prompts for today

Barely over half a dozen photos of the day today has me worried that I didn’t do “enough.”

Silly isn’t it?  It’s my album, I shouldn’t worry.

Then I came up with the idea of adding in a few more journaling/word prompts for this day to fill it in.  I want to add in a list of prompts using “_____ing.”  Things like:  reading, watching, listening to, eating, loving…

Tuesday Week in the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

7:30 PM

nightly down time with the kids.  Typically this involves a couple of episodes of Star Wars (Next Generation – yes, Sam has gotten Kaitlyn hooked on that).  Tyler and I usually have the tablet/laptop out as the show doesn’t hold our attention quite as well as it does for Kaitlyn and Sam.  Added bonus tonight was a box of Smores Girl Scout cookies.  Bambi obviously thinks she should have been given some too.

And that’s it for the day.  I’ll be back again tomorrow with Wednesday’s Words and Photos.

2017 Week in the Life posts:

Monday’s Words and Photos
Wednesday’s Words and Photos
Thursday’s Words and Photos
Friday’s Words and Photos
Saturday’s Words and Photos



Week in the Life 2017 – Monday’s Words and Photos

Week in the Life 2017 Photo documenting project AlaynasCreations

Monday morning of Week in the Life 2017

Every so often I feel the need to take a closer look at my life.  To look at the routines and everyday items in a different light.  Maybe to appreciate them more.  To change my perspecitive a bit.

Luckily, I am reminded to take the time to do so every year when Ali Edwards initiates her Week in the Life photo project.  I have participated along with this project for a number of years now (some more successfully than others).

The main point of the project is to document the everyday.  Ali and most of the Week in the Life community have planned to start documenting their Week in the Life today.  However, this year the husband is headed out of town for a good chunk of this week and the rest of April, so I decided to start documenting my Week in the Life last week.  I took photos and kept notes and tried to post more than usual on Instagram.  Now this week I want to pull all my thoughts together in a series of blog posts (Words and Photos) and order photo prints so that I can put everything together in my physical album sooner rather than later.  (Which will be a first for me, for sure!)

Monday’s Words and Photos

Typical Monday Morning for the boy Week In the Life 2017 Alaynas Creations

“Tyler, your alarm went off. Time to get up.”
Ty: “I know. I wasn’t ready. I need more sleep!”
The Monday after Spring Break. Oh boy.  (from Instagram post)

I bribed him to get out of bed with the promise of Gosner’s flavored milk for his lunchbox today.

Monday means laundry all day long Week in the Life 2017 AlaynasCreations

Monday means laundry.  All.  Day.  Long.

Monday Morning Routine Before School Week in the Life 2017 AlaynasCreations

Morning routine includes saying goodbye to Kaitlyn first (who refused to pause for a photo) then making sure Tyler is on the ball with breakfast and packing his lunch.  This week he has to pack lunch in a paper bag instead of his usual lunchbox as he has been “tossing his lunchbox into the air on on top of the lockers” at school lately and his teacher doesn’t want to deal with it anymore.  *sigh*

Despite the slow start, Tyler did manage to complete all his morning routine with enough time to spare to (unwillingly) study for the spelling bee this week.

Monday Morning routine includes dishes of course Week in the Life 2017 alaynasCreations

I spend my mornings keeping Ty on track while cleaning up the kitchen.  Usually I have much more than this to deal with – phew.

Week in the Life 2017 Golden Retriever enjoying the spring sunshine

We had some snow over the weekend but that didn’t keep Bambi from wanting to enjoy the sunshine.  She found a dry spot and refused to come inside for a good chunck of the day.

Laundry Day Week in the Life 2017 AlaynasCreations

Most of the morning and early afternoon was laundry.  Some computer stuff for work.  Laundry.  To Do List and phone calls/texts.  Laundry.  Lunch.  Laundry.


My view of seim team practice from the upstairs workout room Week in the Life 2017 AlaynasCreations

My usual afternoon view. I try to work out while Kaitlyn has swim team practice. She is still a very determined girl. Can’t wait to see her progress in the upcoming swim meets.
I’ve been happy to have been able to run into an old friend from high school a few weeks ago and we have since developed a habit of working out together during most of Kaitlyn’s swim practices.  I love that I have someone to keep me company and I think Kaitlyn loves that I’m not getting sick of being there so easily and prodding her out of the pool before she’s ready to leave.

This is where my photo taking fizzled for the day.  When we got home from the rec center I was happy to see that Tyler was almost finished with his homework.  The rest of the evening is pretty standard.  Laundry.  Dinner.  Finish folding laundry and get everyone to put it away.  Relax in front of screens or books until bedtime.

I’ll be back tomorrow with Tuesday’s Words and Photos.  If you’re participating in Week in the Life, I’d love to hear about it!

2017 Week in the Life posts:

Tuesday’s Words and Photos
Wednesday’s Words and Photos
Thursday’s Words and Photos
Friday’s Words and Photos
Saturday’s Words and Photos

Feel free to check out my posts from previous years:

2016 Sunday’s Words and Photos  (looks like the rest of the week may not have survived the switch to the new website  🙁  I might have to work upsoon to show of the completed album for 2016) a blog post
2016 Saturday’s Words and Photos
2015 Sunday’s Words and Photos
2015 Saturday’s Words and Photos
2015 Friday’s Words and Photos
2015 Thursday’s Words and Photos
2015 Wednesday’s Words and Photos
2015 Tuesday’s Words and Photos
2015 Monday’s Words and Photos


Life’s Little Celebrations

Life's Little Celebrations Give yourself something to look forward to

Life’s Little Celebrations – Give yourself (and your loved ones) Something to Look Forward To

Isn’t Spring fantastic?  With all the snow melting, the grass starting to get green, flowers popping up, birds singing, and a new baby calf added to the herd every few days…

Well, it’s hard not to feel a little happy boost that Spring has officially begun, isn’t it?

Sure, there is mud to deal with. I made the husband bring home a few bags of mulch last week and we spread them in the rain because I couldn’t stand to clean up mud every time the dog went outside.   (I was really wishing my Spot Bot hadn’t died and I had a new Shop Amazon – Presenting the Bissell Symphony)  And my body is definitely not swimming suit ready.  But, that is vastly outweighed by the overwhelming urge to spend as much time as possible outside enjoying the weather.

Enjoy the small things.

Last weekend, my daughter suggested we roll out the fire pit and roast hot dogs and marshmallows for dinner.  That’s one of our favorite things to do as a family during warmer weather.  The kids happily rode their bikes and played wall ball with each other while the husband and I enjoyed sitting by the fire for a couple of hours.

As I sat there staring into the fire, I couldn’t help thinking how glad I was that Kaitlyn has suggested something so simple yet thoroughly enjoyable.  Then I started thinking about all of the many other small things in life we had celebrated the past week or so.  (It had been kind of a crazy one actually)

Making it through my daughter’s back to back swim meet and band concert.  Celebrated that one by letting her pick out ice cream on the way home.  My little guy’s final Utah Citizenship performance (part of months of work and many projects and tests for them) celebrated again by letting him pick out ice cream on the way home.  That one happened to fall on the same day we went before the county for approvals on our building lot (got it!  Just a few more hoops to jump through before it’s official).  In among there, I hosted our monthly Bunco group and that always feels like a party.

And you know what?  Life is so much more enjoyable when you take a minute to appreciate the small things when they happen.  Everything seems better when you purposely give yourself and your loved ones small things to look forward to.  When once in a while we make the everyday special.

So I came up with my own list of Life’s Little Celebrations:

-a warm sunny day
-school or sporting event (ice cream!)
-one of those random “National ____ Day”  Find a long list of holidays by date HERE. (I can’t believe I didn’t do anything for pie/pi day last!  It falls on March 14.  3/14 – get it?)
-accomplishments – a promotion, finishing a big project, the baby took her first step, the 4th grader memorized his multiplication tables
-because it’s been a while since you had a dinner party or lunch out
-because the kids have other plans and you and the husband have some free time to spend together
-because it’s the weekend
-because it’s Monday
-because we’re all tired and need to relax and indulge
-the first ____ of the year  (snowstorm, flower, hot dog/marshmallow roast)
-because it’s Girl Scout Cookie season
-minor holidays (St Pat’s, April Fool’s, Labor Day, etc.)
-change of seasons
-local events (strawberry picking season, hot air balloon festival, etc)
-because you missed someone’s birthday/anniversary
-the divorce is final
-your favorite author just released a new book
-that movie you’ve been dying to see finally hits the theaters

Life's Little Celebrations Take a moment to recognize and enjoy the small events in life

Ways to Celebrate the Little Things

-get outside (walk, hike, ride bikes, roast marshmallows, fly kites, blow bubbles, fire up the grill Shop Amazon – Grilling and Outdoor Cooking Products)
-take a picture
-go out to eat
-try a new restaurant
-ice cream
-wash the car (what? Are you telling me having a nice shiny car after months of snow and salt-covered roads doesn’t count as a celebration?!  Have you SEEN the line at the car wash at the first sunny day in a while?)
-plant flowers (Shop Amazon – Gardening Products)
-rent a movie (or find one on Amazon Prime Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial or Netflix)
-cook something seasonal or extra-yummy
-document it – journal it, scrapbook it, post it on Instagram
-surprise someone (treat, card, gift)
-invite people over
-family game night
-food, food, and more food (funny how so many things revolve around food, isn’t it?)

Well that’s my list.  I hope to keep adding to it, so please feel free to share your own Life’s Little Celebrations, and how you recognize the small moments.

Give yourself something to look forward to AlaynasCreations

Give yourself something to look forward to.


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Linking to:  Made By You Monday,

DIY Kitchen Remodel on a Budget – Installing Kitchen Cabinetry

DIY Kitchen Remodel on a Budget Before and After Photos

DIY Kitchen Remodel on a Budget – Installing Kitchen Cabinetry

Well Hello Spring!  I’m guessing everyone was as excited as me with the official First Day of Spring this week, right?  Luckily, it really feels like spring too with almost all of the snow melted, sunny skies, birds singing, flower bulbs starting to push their way through the ground (starting to sound like  Disney movie, right?).

And this morning’s spring rainstorm.  Which means I can take a minute for blogging before heading out for my weekly volunteer session in my son’s classroom and an afternoon of crafting with a friend – yay!  (If you want to see what we’re working on be sure to check my Instagram feed.)

DIY KItchen Remodel Kitchen Cabinetry Installation

Ready for an update on our DIY Kitchen Remodel?  Last time I posted, we had just finished installing the new tile in my parent’s kitchen.

The photo above is what the kitchen looked like at the beginning of Day 9 of the remodel.  This is after:
Stage One:  Demolition
Stage Two: Texturing the Walls and Painting
Stage Three:  Installing Wood-look Tile Floors

Now we get to the part where we really start to see some progress…

Installing the Kitchen Cabinetry!

DIY Kitchen Update Reusing Kitchen Cabinets

One of the main reasons we tackled this kitchen remodel for my parents (in addition to reason #1 – they needed it!) was because they already had new-to-them cabinets so we wouldn’t have to spend a lot of the budget on the cabinetry.

The “new” cabinets came from a friend’s house.  She had moved into a new house and had the kitchen cabinets refinished only to decide soon after they were refinished that they wanted to reconfigure the entire main floor of the house.  So my mom purchased the newly refinished cabinets from her friend.  And they have been sitting in my parents’ garage ever since.

We’re talking years here people.  Like more than 5.  Possibly 10?  Multiple years storing cabinets in the garage with no real idea when they would get the chance to install them.

It was about time, right?

Pros and Cons of Using Second Hand Kitchen Cabinetry

Pro:  reusing cabinetry costs a lot less than new cabinetry.  And let’s face it, if you’re a DIY kind of person, budget is definitely a consideration.
Con:  Finding used cabinetry that will exactly fit your space is hard.  Probably into the impossible range of hard.  So you have to make concessions, plan carefully, and figure a few extra things out as you go.  And everything works just a little bit differently in real life than it does on paper.
Kitchen update moving the plumbing to make room for the new dishwasher

Like this.  We started experimenting with the placement of the lower kitchen cabinets and quickly realized that the best fit would require moving the drain for the sink 4″ to the left.  In order to do this we had to cut a hole in the wallboard in order to access the plumbing behind it.  Then we cut the drain pipe, turned the section in the wall sideways and ran it through the stud before bringing it back out of the wall again on the other side.

That brings me to the story of the mouse.  I hate mice.  They freak me out.  And in this house we’d been dealing with more than our share of those creepy little invadors – but that’s another story.

See, we cut the pipe, which not only drains the water from the sink but also has a section that runs up to a vent in the roof.  And when we cut the pipe there was a pile of what I thought was dirt or lint there in the pipe.  So I reached in (wearing my trusty work gloves, thank goodness!) to pull it out only to have the thing MOVE right before I touched it.

Of course I let out a yelp and back-pedalled fast.

The husband – a quicker thinker than myself at the time – grabbed the shop vac and sucked the (poor little?) mouse out of the pipe.  So life could go on.

He later told me that when he emptied the vacuum he found not only the dead mouse (shop vacs kill mice, didja know?  Came in handy later.) but the mouse’s half-petrified buddy which my husband had sawn in half when he cut the pipe.  And that had been the thing I was reaching to remove.

Ew, ew, EW!

Kitchen Remodel on a budget Repurposing cabinets meant we had to move the plumbing


So we moved the drain pipe.  Ta-da!

At this point we also patched the wall (I got really really good at that!) and added an outlet for the microwave in the corner.

More Pros and Cons of Repurposing Kitchen Cabinetry

Pro:  No lead time waiting for cabinets to be built or delivered.  You buy it, you take it home, and it’s ready to install.  No waiting
Con: You are likely to see some wear and tear on the cabinetry even before it’s installed.  In our case, we had to add an extra brace or two to the cabinet for the sink as they hadn’t been careful when removing it from the other kitchen.  There were also some holes in random places. In more extreme cases you may have to refinish the cabinetry yourself.

Every project has its own puzzles and frustrations.  One of the biggest ones for installing the repurposed kitchen cabinetry was the fact that the original kitchen had been L-shaped with an island.  My parents’ kitchen is U-shaped and my my mom likes open space (not islands).

DIY Kitchen Remodel included building our own corner cabinet

We knew before we began the project that we would have to customize something for the second corner of the kitchen.

My orginal idea had been to put the microwave above the stove.  It had previously been in residence on the countertop in the corner and I wanted to free up as much counter space as possible.  However, I just couldn’t come up with an open shelf design that would look right for it.  And my mom is only 5′ tall so there was concern about her being able to reach it.

Eventually, I landed on the solution of building a space for the microwave into the lower cabinetry in the corner.  Perfect solution.

My handy husband had no problem building an open shelving unit for the corner, taking care to match the toe kick on the existing cabinetry.  He also lined the wall in the corner with 1/4″ plywood which I later stained to match the rest of the cabinetry.

DIY Kitchen Remodel on a Budget the Pros and Cons of second hand cabinetry

The final result – at least to this point.

All in all, installing the kitchen cabinetry took a total of two full days.  In that time we:

-laid out the final plan for the cabinetry installation
-installed the lower cabinetry
-moved some plumbing
-added outlets
-fed the water tubing for the dishwasher and refrigerator through the cabinetry between the appliances and the plumbing under the sink.  The dishwasher had orignally been located over on the wall to the left.  That was a later addition to the original kitchen.
-built a brand new shelving unit for the corner.
-added a temporary countertop
-came up with a final plan for the upper cabinetry.  The actual installation of the upper cabinetry took place the morning of Day 12.  More on what we did with those empty spaces next week – stay tuned!
-installed the dishwasher.  Well, technically the husband did this on (what are we up to now?) Day 11 while also taking care of our sick little guy.  My mom and I went to the city to select the countertops.

DIY Kitchen Remodel How to Install Kitchen Cabinets

Phew!  At almost 2 weeks without a functional kitchen we were very glad to hit this point.  With the temporary countertops in, we were able to put the stove and fridge back in place and partially use the space for meal prep while waiting for the countertops to arrive.

Next up – the big reveal on how we filled those blank spaces between the upper cabinets.  And be sure to check out the earlier stages of the remodel – demolition, wall treatments, and floors.


Linking to:  Home Matters Party, Creativity Unleashed Party,  Remodelaholics Anonymous, BFF Open House, Snickerdoodle Create Bake Make, Pretty Pintastic Party, Saturday Sharefest, DIY Party, Made By You Monday,