Our DIY Fireplace Facelift

Life update: We bought a house and moved in at the end of January! It was easier said than done, as our closing date got moved last minute and blah blah,typical house buying drama. But the important part is that it all worked out in the end and we became home owners. :)

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There are so many things we love about it! It makes more financial sense to own rather than rent – our mortgage is cheaper than our rent was and it’s double the space! Plus, we get a yard! We love the freedom of being able to do what we want to make this our home. The problem? There’s so much we want to do and not enough money to make it happen! It’s okay though – we can take it slow because it’s just things we want to do to make it our own.

So, with that being said, one of our first projects made a big impact but it didn’t cost too much money. In our family room/lower level, there is a brick fireplace and mantle that takes up the entire wall. When we moved in, we knew it had a lot of potential but it needed a little work. Here’s the before photo:

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We decided to white wash the brick first. White washing is a lot easier than it sounds. You just mix 1 part water and 1 part white paint and slap it on the brick! Use a cheap paintbrush because it will be rough on your brush. We did two coats, but you can do as many as you want depending on how much brick you want showing through the paint. Make sure to get paint into all the little crevices as well.

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Next, we sanded and stained the mantle.

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The firebox still needs a little work (a little brick and mortar work and a paint job), but that will come. For now, it works.

Finally, it was time to decorate!! It took a little bit of rearranging to finally get it how we both liked it. It’s subject to change at any time, of course. ;) One of my favorite decorations is this old wooden ladder that I painted and am using it for a succulent display.

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Ah, who am I kidding?! I love every decoration from the plants to the globe to the vintage cameras. A lot of them our Moms helped us collect, which is awesome!

And last but not least….We added some string globe lights onto the mantle that we had left over from our wedding. Ryan hammered tiny staples into the mantle (very tedious work) and secured every light onto a staple (using clips that were already on the string of lights). Then he just cut the extra length off at the end. Of course, now I have to do something with that extra length he cut off – marquee light project coming soon!

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Anyway, day or night, it looks awesome if I do say so myself. ;) Now we just need some extra money for some furniture and paint in this room. The white washed brick will look even better against a wall with color.

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2012 in Review

I know I’ve neglected this blog of mine and vowed to start blogging regularly several times, but it just hasn’t happened! Nonetheless, I am writing my highlights of 2012 because I love to look back on these! Here’s 2010 and 2011 in review.

  • 2012 was all around an awesome and memorable year! Let’s just start with the best part… we got married!!! :) 8-25-12
  • I officially moved out of my childhood home and to Indianapolis in January
  • We rescued another kitty, Pearl, after our friends found her in the cold!
  • Visited to North Carolina for the first time for Lisa & Jordan’s wedding (and went through West Virginia and Virginia for the first time!)
  • I became a sub in the spring at a local school district. That’s always an adventure! :)
  • Started drinking black coffee because of the Chemex!
  • Started juicing and became a vegetarian! Watched A LOT of documentaries. ;)
  • Went to Florida for my cousin’s wedding, the first wedding I’ve been to/photographed on the beach! First time at the beach with my Mom!
  • Mine & Ryan’s first time at Disney World ever!
  • Shot 9.5 weddings!
  • Travelled with our cats many many times to Missouri. Cat lady?
  • Went to a Lavender farm for the first time (I love Lavender oil!)
  • Wedding planned, wedding planned, wedding planned! The theme of the first 8 months!
  • Got engagement photos and had a makeup artist do my makeup for the first time!
  • Became an ambassador for Sole Hope
  • Met the Duggar family! Well the line was too long to meet them all, but I did meet three of their youngest sons and saw all of them perform/speak.
  • Threw Ryan a surprise birthday party for his 25th!
  • Officially became a nut.
  • Actually became a fan of beer! (I sound like a man… black coffee, nuts, beer…oh my)
  • Donated my hair for the second time! Goodbye 12 inches!
  • House hunted A LOT… finally bought a house!!!!! Sneak peek…
  • Went to an Apple Orchard for the first time
  • Went to the Nutcracker/the ballet for the first time
  • Our first Christmas tree together! Yay!

Now that 2013 is here, I’m looking forward to a great year ahead! We’re closing on our house soon (YAY!), we already have 7 weddings booked, we’re going to become an Aunt & Uncle for the first time (Ryan’s brother & sister-in-law are having a baby girl!), we’re finally going on our honeymoon this year, ha, and who knows what else 2013 has in store!

Mix & Match? – House Hunting Update

2012-11-14-14.25.18-HDRI guess you see how well I’m doing with trying to blog regularly. I posted two days of thankfulness and it’s November 19th. That doesn’t mean I’m not thankful though! I just can’t seem to make blogging a habit. :(

We’ve been really busy house-hunting. Our apartment lease is up at the end of December so we or may not make that deadline.

The house I mentioned in my first post about house hunting (see here), didn’t work out. :( We made an offer right before Ryan left for South Africa, and supposedly they accepted our offer after a few counter offers. So I sent the earnest money, signed the papers, and was trying to fit in an inspection when Ryan got home.

However, they didn’t sign the papers (they being the relocation company + owners of the house). And supposedly another offer came in during that time so we had to re-submit ours. The other offer was accepted. It wasn’t fair, but there’s nothing we can do about it.

So the search continued on… we’ve looked at a lot of houses lately. It’s been quite the experience. We opened up our search to basically any area in Indy, instead of staying in a certain geographical area to qualify for the USDA loan. We just couldn’t find anything else in that area. So I thought we’d have lots of options with no restrictions on the area with a different loan… however, there’s just not many choices out there in our price range. There’s so many bank owned homes and they just need too much TLC.

There’s one potential house, which is in a good location, has a nice big yard, and the inside just needs a little work to make it almost perfect. However, we are still waiting to hear about the age of the roof, AC unit, etc to see if it would be a good investment or not.

If only we could mix & match… a house, a yard, and a location. Then, we would be set!!! Some of the neatest, historical homes aren’t in the best areas, nor do they have a big yard. But they have so much charm! Agh… we may just give up on Indianapolis. ;) Just kidding, kinda.


Thankful for… Two Are Better (Day 2)

I wasn’t sure how well it would go to try to blog everyday this month… and so far, not so good!  I will catch up though! ;)

(See Day 1 of thankfulness.)

Day 2-

I am thankful for my job, Two Are Better, which really means I am thankful for all those people who trust in us to take their photos and video!

It’s funny because I have a biology degree and a certification to teach… but I’m business owner/photographer/videographer! Honestly, I’m not really sure how all this evolved, but I know it is God’s doing. I have to remind myself of that when I start to think, “I’m not qualified enough!” or “There’s too much competition!” Right now, I can’t imagine having a 9-5 job, or especially a stressful teaching job. I can’t tell you what I’ll be doing 5 or 10 years from now, but right now I love what I do and am thankful for it.

I get to work from home with Ryan, witness beautiful weddings, capture memories (cheesy, but true), be creative and challenge myself, and help pay the bills!  Granted, I don’t make much money (SO many expenses), but it helps. I am also able to work flexible hours, and in turn, do the housework/pay the bills/run errands, etc. when Ryan usually doesn’t have time (bless his heart, he has a full time and part time job).

We’ve already booked 5 weddings for next year – so exciting!

Thankful for…. Woo (Day 1)

Believe it or not, I’m going to celebrate this month of thankfulness before I move on to Christmas!  Apparently the Christmas season now starts the day after Halloween instead of the day after Thanksgiving. I love love Christmas time, but I’m not going to rush it. Let’s take it one holiday/month at a time! Anyway, just a HUGE pet peeve of mine!

Moving along…


Today I am thankful for WooThemes, Ryan’s incredible employer. With so many people unable to find jobs (even with a college degree), we are so blessed that Ryan got hired fresh out of college by such a great company. He was the 10th employee of WooThemes, and now in a 1.5 years, they’ve grown to 27!  They’re taking over the WordPress World.  ;)

Ryan kicks butt at being the Community Manager of WooThemes. Although the headquarters is in Cape Town (South Africa) they are an internet-based company and have employees from all over the world. That means Ryan gets to work from home, which comes with its challenges, but for the most part it is awesome. I also work from home so that means we get to spend a ton of time together in our PJs, even if we are working. It also gives us a flexible schedule so we are able to travel or shoot weddings together on the weekends.  He works hard, but it’s so worth it.

They have a meet up every year to spend some quality time together and go on adventures in an awesome location. A little work and a lot of play, just like a bunch of old friends hanging out. Right now Ryan is in South Africa having a blast with his co-workers. His first WooTrip was to London last year. Seriously, what an awesome experience!!!! I’m a little jealous.

I love that he works for a small (but growing!) company. They care about him and treat him well. He’s not just “another employee,” they know him personally. He’s part of a team. Thank you WooThemes (Adii, Mark, Magnus) for trusting in Ryan and providing him with this career!  :)

P.S. – They’re hiring! ;)