Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer and mom of two little ones. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
I believe you can love your home just the way it is, AND have the power to design and make big changes to make it better.
I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!


My #1 tip for making hard parenting days easier

I’ve been balancing gratitude and just exhaustion lately. Our kids are so wonderful but take so much out of me these days. Wanted to share something that has been hugely helpful for me in the past year having Lucy, and since Jason started working (first part of this year). I work from home, he works late, blah blah blah… I don’t feel like I have a lot of time to myself and most of my time is while I’m supposed to be watching the kids, or on the weekends when we’re supposed to be enjoying family time. I’ve been doing this one tip I got from a friend a long time ago and I've realized what a game changer it is!

Me with the kids on my birthday

The #1 tip for making days of watching kids easier

This one of my friends has several little ones and her husband travels a lot for work. One of her tips for handling those times when he was gone was, get up before your kids. Yes. An alarm. Early. When you’re low on sleep this is the last thing you want to do, and most kids get up pretty early themselves, but if you can manage it, it makes such a difference. I get up at 6:30 every day have time to myself to just get dressed, feed the cat, eat a little breakfast, check my email… alone. All by myself. It is sometimes the only time in the day (except right before bed when I should be getting off my phone and going to sleep!) that I have to do that. I get Lucy up at 7:00 so it’s not a lot of time, but it sets up my whole day not feeling frazzled and spread too thin.

Now, Jason does not do this. He waits until the last minute when Otto comes to get him or when he has to get up for work, and he never has that quiet time to himself to drink his coffee before he starts a day of parenting and working! It’s really hard for him. Sometimes you feel like that extra 30 minutes of sleep is more important… But as long as you’re not majorly/chronically sleep deprived, for me anyway, 30 minutes of alone time really feels like something. 30 minutes less sleep in the morning? It sucks, but sometimes that sleep isn’t that great anyway (when I can hear kids stirring or the cat meowing or whatever). I do want more sleep, but I know I just need to go to bed earlier!

So anyway. If you are struggling with feeling like you don’t have any time to yourself… It’s worth trying!
Art update from this post
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How to print and frame free museum download art prints (the fastest and cheapest way)

I am a big fan of museum art downloads for unique art in my home, but it can be tricky to navigate getting them from the screen to the frame. I’ve tried several different methods and while my favorite is definitely custom framing (I use Art to Frames), if you’re trying to fill a cool vintage or thrifted frame or want to do it really low-budget, you can definitely print yourself, too. I recently made over several thrifted frames for some very pretty vintage art from open sources, and really updated some spaces in my home!

How to print and frame free art downloads - quickly and affordably

I'd love to share how I do this to make it easy for you! First you'll need the art--I have a couple of round-ups and I always link to the pieces I've used; check out my art downloads posts. But I also highly recommend the free print shop by fellow blogger A Home Is Announced. She's put together a bunch of collections (portraits, botanicals, etc.) of art and linked them all back to the original museum sources. 

Once you've picked out a few pieces you like, some things to consider:

  • One challenge with older art prints is they are not usually standard sizes. Sometimes you can get creative and either crop the edges of the art without losing any of the star of the piece (like I did with the horses print in my breakfast nook), or use a mat that hides some of it and trim some of the outer part of the print. But unless you go custom, you'll have to stick with pretty standard sizes when you’re ordering prints. See my tip below about resizing.
  • My favorite place to order these prints made is Mpix because you can do the giclée print which has an option for super matte. If you order a matte photo or poster from Walgreens, even the matte option looks like a photograph, not a sketch or watercolor. However the quickest option, which works pretty well, is ordering heavyweight prints from FedEx. You can pick up same-day and they have an 80 pound cardstock option that makes a pretty high-quality print. It’s still a little bit shiny and I would prefer super matte giclée, but these are like $2 each and really fast.
  • If you're printing oil paintings, you can remove the glass to get a more authentic look. In that case I definitely recommend ordering on matte giclée with matboard backing (an option at Mpix). That's what I did for this piece and the two oil painting downloads for this project. You can even add brush strokes with Mod Podge to get the oil painting texture!, though I haven't tried that yet.

So here are my steps for printing and framing museum downloads, the cheap way (that is, not the custom route).

  1. Select options that look like roughly the right size and proportion for your frame. If you have an 8 x 10 frame, you can pick from a lot of different museum pieces that may have originally been 10 x 14 or something else not standard, but not too far off. Don’t pick something that was a tiny hand sketch and blow it up, and it probably won’t look very authentic to choose some thing like a huge detailed impressionist portrait or still life and shrink a really small. Also, if you want to do something really tall and skinny like this tree download I did, I really recommend going custom. You can just upload the image to Art to Frames, pick your height or width, crop if you want, and pick the frame and mat to the exact right size.
  2. Download the highest quality version of the image and use simple software to resize it. You could probably even do this in Microsoft Word or PowerPoint, but I used Bluebeam PDF tool and I’ve also used my free photo editor, Google Picasa. Obviously something like Photoshop is probably better if you know how to use it. But anything where you can change the page size to the standard page sizes at FedEx will let you see how your print will fit. But note: if you have an 11" opening, you probably won’t be able to fill it with an 11" wide piece of paper and will need to do it sideways on an 11 x 14, because the outer 1/4" or so gets cut off in printing.
  3. Clean and refresh frames and mats. They are often beyond dusty. Take everything apart and clean both sides of the glass with rubbing alcohol or window cleaner. On several of these I've done, I've spray painted dated colored mats with matte white spray paint. It actually looks really good. I did that on all four of the ones in these photos! 

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Tiling our fireplace surround: 2-day project, huge living room update!

I’ve been working on little changes to our living room for the past three years, trying to get it to a place we really love. Living rooms are tricky because there are so many options both in style and function, and you have to play around with both. We’ve moved furniture around, added furniture, moved and mounted the TV, changed art, changed window coverings, changed the massive rug… And I have done some small updates to the original brick fireplace with 1980s brass screen.

Well, I finally gave the fireplace the update it really needed: I added some really beautiful handmade tile. I am in love with it!

Thanks to Pratt + Larson for working with me on this project.
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Major updates for the Your Home Story podcast

You haven't seen any podcast episodes lately, because we took most of July and August off! Our first break after 3.5 years of publishing the Your Home Story Podcast. Now we're back, with a big update. Plus plenty of updates on what we've been working on around our homes and personal goals. We've both been plenty busy this summer.

Me, where I've been recording!

I in particular have a big update... in keeping with my stress reduction goals I've made the big decision to step way back from the podcast. I have a lot of thoughts about it for sure. Listen in for the whole story. THANK YOU all for your support and reading and listening as I've been on this podcast journey!

Links to some things we chatted about today:

  1. Ashley's faux front porch plants
  2. Ashley's FB Marketplace orange chairs
  3. My kitchen cabinet cost comparison
  4. My One Room Challenge Historic Home Office Makeover
  5. Madeline Moves workout program that Ashley is doing

You can find us on our blogs or connect with each of us on Instagram:

And you can join our Facebook group here to connect with other listeners and ask questions!

Listen here or in your favorite podcast app: iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, GooglePlay, or Overcast!

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Outdoor dining area back patio reveal! And our new grill/smoker!

Our backyard has gone through a lot of changes in the 3 years we've lived here. When we moved in it was overgrown and had several old wood structures, a large deck, old garden beds, and a big circle of sand in the middle from where a pool had been. We were totally overwhelmed. 

We started removing landscaping and debris and slowly it took shape so we could picture it as a functional backyard for us. We did a ton of improvements last summer (fence, gazebo, garden, wood chips, more landscape removal...) and it was really great! But there was one area we hadn't tackled: the patio by the house.

This patio was cracked, so the previous owners put a deck over it, but we removed it so we could have it all one level. It wasn't really usable for much other than a project area until we got rid of the hot tub in June! Then... it was ready for dining furniture, a grill, string lights... a great backyard dining space! 

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Which is harder: going from 0 to 1 or 1 to 2 kids?

Since I’ve been a mom of two for more than a year now, I thought I should out down some thoughts about the popular question: is it harder to go from 0 to 1 or 1 to 2 kids?

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Lucy's first birthday party

Lucy is one! We had a fun birthday celebration for Lucy this past weekend! 

I keep things really simple for kids birthdays but it feels like I've just got to do a little bit more than just a cake and some colorful gift bags for the big first birthday. For Otto's birthday I did another simple but very cute party, and for Lucy we celebrated in the same dining room and living room, with some different colors and a bit of slightly girly decor. I’m not planning on winning any party planning awards with this one, but it was cute and I’d love to share how you can get a very pretty, festive look with just a few simple things!

Simple, pretty first birthday party for baby girl

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10th wedding anniversary trip!

On Friday we celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. Wow, right! I've been blogging for almost 12 years and our wedding was a huge project so I documented it all way back then (see all posts about it here), and I don't post about every anniversary but thought 10 years deserved a post. Plus, we did something really special!

For a long time I thought we'd do something big, like a week in Hawaii or new engagement ring set, but we haven't had the capacity to do any extra things very well lately (see also: vegetable garden needing to be harvested, not vacuuming frequently enough, etc.) and it crept up on us. Plus with two little kids and Jason only 6 months into working for real, now is not a great time for a trip (COVID, too). But I thought it would be really special and sentimental to go back to our wedding venue and maybe even stay there overnight, without the kids. 

I haven't spent a night away from at least one kid since April 2018 when Otto was born! It is a big deal to be able to go to sleep without wondering if you'll be woken up in the middle of the night or early morning. Plus, just all those hours of independence... wow!

We headed out after the kids' naps Friday and walked around Edgefield, had dinner, went to the soaking pools, had a big breakfast, sat on the porch, took a few pumping breaks of course (they brought us the tiniest minifridge for the room), and visited some memorable spots from our wedding photos. So I'll mix in a few of those with the current ones (you'll be able to tell the difference!). Wedding photos are by Studio 623 Photography.

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My Operation: Reduce Stress, and how it's going

I am a pretty high stress, busy, ambitious person. I pack a lot into my time and I feel guilty, or like I’m just missing out on opportunities, when I relax. Some of this is just my nature and I will always want to be achieving new things, but my tendency is definitely to overdo it and get too busy so my progress/goals no longer feel positive. People ask me how I do it all--day job, blog and Instagram, podcast, parenting two kids--and the answer is I am just a ball of stress almost all the time.

Always Busy

A little over a month ago after finishing our home office renovation (lots of DIY projects on a short timeline), I just reached a tipping point. I have been working on the chair slipcover and touching up paint every night after the kids went to bed and every spare moment on the weekends for several weeks, not making enough time for my family or myself. On top of all the other stuff I usually have to do. I was so unhappy. I regretted taking on this project, which was a great thing for our house, but the way I did it was just miserable.
The lovely finished room that a lot of stress built

I decided I had to make a big change. It’s easy to do a 360 when something becomes too much, so I initially thought, just no more house projects! Ever! Although that’s not realistic. But I decided I really need to scale it way, way back and just focus on the essential things I need to do, and leave the remainder of the time for rest or buffer.

Doing Less and Being Excited About It

I know that stress comes from both having a long to do list and the way I feel about it. Let me say that again: I’m stressed not only because I have a lot of things to do, but also because of my attitude. So I need to shift both. 

It’s very hard for me, but I know that getting three blog posts a week up or staying 100% on top of the laundry are optional tasks, and nothing bad will happen if I don’t do them all the time. But, reframing everything as part of my larger, ongoing resolution to be less stressed has made it motivating! Like, I am a little bit excited to leave those things for later because then I will... win points? on my operation to be less stressed! I guess I am a driven person and I needed that points to be awarded somewhere. 

It feels really good, too! I’ve been trying to find time each weekend to lay in the hammock, even for only a few minutes. I’m definitely still working on that, but after having all of our weekends this spring busy with things like the office, I am really enjoying and trying to preserve our summer weekends for family time. We recently joined a gym and have been going swimming with the kids on the weekends, which really gets my day started as a weekend day, not just any other day at home. (The days can blend together when you work from home and watch the kids alone one or two days a week so this helps.)

Self Care (So Hard)

I’m also adding things back in, for myself. I recently hung out with a friend and her two little kids who are a little older than Otto. She has been a stay-at-home mom with them and joined a gym that has good childcare. She goes five days a week! She takes an hour class then showers and does whatever because the kids can stay in childcare for two hours. An hour long workout class and a shower? Every day? That sounded so luxurious to me!! Now, I can’t do that exactly because I work four days a week, but my afternoons and evenings with the kids are really tough and Jason doesn’t get home until they’re in bed. I thought maybe I could fit in some gym and childcare time after work! Jason got excited about joining a gym too. 

We joined a small one near us. They're still ramping up their childcare options but Jason and I have been taking turns going to the gym and just that hour or so of time to myself in the weight room feels so, so good.

I've had a few slip-ups the past week or so, which is part of why I wanted to write this post. I'm trying to remember that getting less done is a good thing (in my case). I'm trying to put less on my calendar every day--not fill every evening after work with blog emails and little house projects. Give myself time to shower and get in bed in time. It's hard.

Three Ways to Reduce Stress

I also recently listened to this podcast episode on ways to reduce stress. It's an enjoyable listen (start at 20 mins, 20 seconds in to skip to the stress part) and I really like Miranda's attitude and experience in this topic. (She's a fellow longtime DIY blogger, but she now does so much more than that.) The short of it is the three ways are: lower your expectations, learn to be present, practice gratitude. But I learned from her sharing her experience as another high-energy, high achieving person who used to think stress is an inevitable constant--and is now on the other side.

Well, I have a lot to learn, but I'm making a conscious choice to do less. I also know this isn't the first time I've had a goal like this. It's hard! But I hope to make a big change over the next few months that lasts a long time. 
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