Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals. I'm a recovering former vegan and vegetarian, now healing with a nutrient-dense mostly Paleo diet, and love at-home CrossFit and yoga workouts. I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!

New mom to baby Otto born April 2018!


#Stanley90sreno week 7: Almost to the detail stage, plus lighting and cabinets! Fireplace advice?

We are getting to the bottom of our constant to-do list for Phase 1 of our reno! (Not including installing the floors, kitchen counters, or kitchen tile and shelving, which we don't have yet.) I had some extra time this week and weekend with the Thanksgiving holiday, and while I wanted to get lots of work done around here, I almost ran out of little tasks I could do by myself!

Starting to look almost homey in here...

Our to-do list this past week and weekend included (finished items crossed off):
  • Rake leaves in back yard
  • Install kitchen sink
  • Install dishwasher
  • Install bamboo blinds (they are from Steve's Blinds and Wallpaper and custom from our windows. They look awesome! We don't have the kitchen one up yet.)
  • Measure rug and curtain sizes
  • Set up office
  • Install beam
  • Finish painting trim (almost!)
  • Finish hanging doors & installing handles (almost!)
  • Finish painting cabinets
  • Paint inside of sink cabinet
  • Install cabinet doors
  • Fix washing machine connections
  • Hook up fridge water/ice maker
  • Build & install ceiling fan
  • Install outlet covers
  • Tidy garage for gym
  • Fix dishwasher leak

My biggest goal last week was to finish painting the cabinets and re-install the doors and drawer fronts. I was totally intimidated, though, and worried about getting them on straight and centered!! It turns out there isn't really a trick to this, just a matter of measuring, leveling, holding, and marking very carefully.

My very handy brother-in-law helped.


I hope to get to installing the hardware this week!

While really not critical, I was really excited to install this ceiling fan we just got. I was surprised to find a simple, stylish fan for under $100!! I got overwhelmed about installing it at first and put the blades on before we mounted it to the ceiling, which you're not supposed to do, but other than that it was easy. Well, and we broke the mounting box in the ceiling and had to install a new one. But that we couldn't have anticipated!

It's still a construction zone in here (2x4s on the floor in the corner, and paint in the other corner that you can't see, and of course no flooring or vent covers) but it's coming together!

Hey, and that fireplace... I would love to paint it white like the trendy all-white living rooms I pin, but husband wants to go for a more "cozy" look in here and keep it natural. I am thinking of removing the brassy cover, though. I don't need to replace it with anything, do I? Maybe I should spray paint it black with high heat paint? Will it be too drafty without it? Does your fireplace have a cover? Have you seen any pretty rooms with natural, not-painted brick fireplaces?

Moving on... this week we hope to get our countertops and maybe even install them! Oh, and the cabinet hardware! Plus little touch-ups here and there. Stay tuned on my Instagram stories for live updates, and I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

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My top 6 Cyber Monday sales!

I have been totally converted to online shopping for Black Friday weekend and Cyber Week after a few great experiences online shopping and a terrible experience at the one store I tried to go to in person. Never again!!

And there are more great sales going on today, so I rounded up just a few (with top picks) I know I don't want to miss!
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Grain-free, Paleo pumpkin bread with collagen protein (dessert or breakfast!)

First, I will keep the Black Friday stuff REAL short today and tell you my top three sales this weekend, where I have been doing some shopping from the comfort of my couch!!

  1. World Market (I ordered cute gifts, jewelry, these adorable Santa mugs, and some decor stuff all 40-50% off--TODAY ONLY)
  2. Express (everything 50% off including my favorite jeans of all time! plus free shipping with no minimum)
  3. LOFT (everything 50% off, shopping for elegant sweaters and accessories as I multi-task writing this post!)
  4. One more... the Instant Pot is on Black Friday sale on Amazon for the best price I've seen it. If you've been wanting one, go check it out now!

Alright, moving on. I am really excited about this pumpkin bread recipe because A) it's seasonal, and we all love pumpkin everything, B) my idea of adding collagen protein powder worked really well and didn't mess up the texture or anything, and C) it's grain-free, gluten-free, and naturally sweetened, so you can feel good about eating it instead of all of the holiday crap you're probably surrounded by this time of year.

In previous years at Thanksgiving I've made a grain-free pumpkin pie to bring to the family dinner, but I don't really love pumpkin pie all that much and husband will eat the gluten-containing stuff every once in a while so it was really just for me, anyway. I'd been wanting to make a Paleo pumpkin bread this season so I made this instead of the pie--double duty!

I was definitely inspired by the banana bread recipe on Civilized Caveman Cooking, I think his most popular recipe ever, because it uses a little almond butter instead of expensive, harder-to-find almond flour and a little coconut flour (too much makes desserts dry). I made some changes to use pumpkin instead of banana, and I don't use baking soda since I hate the taste, so I've figured out a modification.

Paleo pumpkin bread with collagen protein


  • 1 c. canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 c. maple syrup OR 2/3 c. coconut palm sugar
  • 4 eggs 
  • 1/3 c. almond butter (or sunflower butter for nut-free)
  • 4 tbsp butter or coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla 
  • 1/3 c. coconut flour 
  • 1/3 c. unflavored gelatin/collagen protein (small or big
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice (try my recipe here!)
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder 
  • Sprinkle sea salt
  • Optional: 1/4 c. chopped walnuts, pecans, or other topping of choice


    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
    2. Combine wet ingredients (pumpkin through vanilla) in stand mixer or bowl and mix well.
    3. Combine dry ingredients (except optional topping) in a separate bowl and combine; then add to wet mixture.
    4. Grease a loaf pan with butter or coconut oil. Add batter and bake for 1 hour or until a fork comes out clean.

    How easy was that?!! This is my kind of baking!

    Serve with grassfed butter if you like, but hot out of the oven, this was so spicy and delicious we ate it plain. Then at dinner we ate it with whipped cream like my mother-in-law always makes for the pumpkin pie! What a treat!

    Shop the ingredients here!

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    Preparing for black friday and cyber week (for the home)!

    For most of the past year and a half we've been in maybe-we'll-be-moving-soon mode and I haven't bough much of anything for the house. Aside from changing out throw pillows and bedding seasonally, our townhouse looked pretty much the same for most of 2015-2016, but my style has changed! Since we found out we were buying our 90's fixer upper, I've been online window-shopping nonstop for rugs, lighting, and even some fun accessories, trying to put together the look I'm imagining for our new home!

    With Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales coming up, I think now is the time for us to make some important home purchases. Maybe for you, too!? I remember a few of my favorite stores last year had great deals and I wasn't able to take advantage of all of them since I didn't need much new stuff! But this year is different!
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    #Stanley90sreno week 6 update: tackling the kitchen! And blinds

    This was a big week!! We made huge progress on the kitchen update but there's still lots to do so hopefully this coming week will be a big one, too!

    We set a goal of having all our dishes unpacked and new sink hooked up by Thanksgiving so we could cook our dishes to contribute to the family meal. An ambitious goal, but... we do well with deadlines. ;)

    We set this schedule for our cabinet-painting, sink and countertop-replacing phase of the project. We'll do the painting of the walls, new backsplash, vent hood, and other improvements as soon as we can but really want to get our dishes put away in the new cabinets as soon as possible. I had only unpacked a few things, so getting everything out of the kitchen was easiest at this point!

     Here was our schedule, and we pretty much stuck to it!

    Wednesday: 7-9pm

    • Put all dishes in dining room 
    • Remove hinges from doors 
    • Clean mold/water damage 
    • Clean all cabinet doors 

    Thursday: 7-9pm

    • Remove faucet 
    • Remove sink 
    • Remove countertops 
    • Wood filler in any holes/seams 
    • Sand all cabinet surfaces/doors to be painted 
    • Clean/wipe all cabinets/doors down 
    • Prime all cabinets/doors 

    Saturday: Full day

    • Investigate behind cabinets 
    • Paint cabinets/door backs first coat
    • Paint cabinets/door backs second coat  
    • Prep sink installation
    • Prep garbage disposal, dishwasher installation
    Thankfully there was no black mold on the wall behind the sink, but we did have some funky damaged drywall and almost-rotting cabinet pieces. My dad helped with sink install prep and advised Jason on building a frame for our sink.

    I picked out the paint color (appreciate your thoughts on my IG post!!)!!!!! and painted the cabinet backs. I'm going to do a whole post about how we're painting our oak cabinets and how it's a bit of a surprise to me to be going with black on the bottom ones, after my years of yearning for a white kitchen!! But I'm really happy with it so far!

    Sunday: Full day

    • Sand cabinets/door backs with fine grit 
    • Install countertops 
    • Install sink 
    • Install faucet 
    • Paint door fronts first coat
    • Paint door fronts second coat

    Jason got familiar with the plumbing for the new sink and after several hardware store trips and lots of messing with things... we had all the right parts, but realized we needed a new garbage disposal becasue the plastic liner of the old one was curling up and stuff was caught under it (disgusting and not functional). I have learned a lot about garbage disposals this weekend!

    SO grateful he has been learning about plumbing and doens't hate it.

    We also don't have the countertops yet, so we didn't even try to get that part done. The sink and dishwasher are the most critical items at this point! Ooh, and I just realized, now that the cabinet frames are painted I can unload the dishes into them so the dining table will be partially cleared and I can use it for food prep! Hooray.

    Monday: 7-9pm

    • Install new hardware/doors

    That's the goal. We will not be installing the new handles yet since I'm still choosing them. I loooove these traditional-looking ones (especially the 6" or 8" long one, which they were out of) but they don't look right on the flat-front cabinets, and the cool modern one sticks out too much. I think I have my eye on another one that will work!

    Also this weekend... I also installed this perfect bamboo blind in our living room! It's from Steve's Blinds and Wallpaper (best prices I've found, custom blinds!) and I got them for the dining room, kitchen, and family room as well. The living room window was the priority since it's huge and faces the street, and now that we're living here we're self-conscious about the perfect view it gives into the house. We had a big piece of paint-covered cardboard covering most of it for several weeks, real classy. SO excited to get this up!

    I shared what it looks like in an IG story, I'll take better photos in the daylight!

    We have a few more things to get done in the kitchen this week, plus a few more doors to install, and of course some more exciting things like installing the new blinds and a ceiling fan we just bought. (Plenty to do while we wait for the flooring to arrive hopefully later this month!)

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    Transforming dated doors with paint and hardware (step-by-step and video)

    It's door reveal day!! I am so excited that this post is finally ready for you all because that means the project is mostly done and I've been wanting it for literally months now! This project has probably made the most difference in our home so far, even more than choosing the wall color or pulling up the carpets. :P The good news is, updating doors and trim is easy and requires minimal tools and investment, and ANYONE can do it. I'm really stoked to share my experience with you.

    I have run away from honey oak doors and trim while house-hunting both times now. There was a turning point in the early 2000s, I think, when homes started having white trim instead of oak (or the earlier darker wood), and every house we looked at where that was the case was a huge relief for me.

    But our current home was built in 1992, and everything is oak. (Including the cabinets in all the bathrooms and the kitchen--just you wait till we get to take care of those!!) Since this home needed so much work and we were going to be redoing everything, I didn't shy away from the dated doors this time around.

    I did, however, feel a little overwhelmed by all the work involved in redoing an entire house's trim. We pulled up the baseboards when we removed the carpet and most of them were so damaged they weren't worth saving, so we will replace those with new white ones, but the door and window trim is staying.  I was worried about covering the oak grain, hiding brush strokes, and just covering all that area with paint! I worked with Orchard Supply Hardware on this post--they covered the cost of the materials--and I got some great advice from Dave in the paint department at our local OSH store on the products to buy and how to do it! He described the steps so simply and I figured, we can totally do that, and soon, so we took down the doors and hardware a few weeks ago and are putting them back up now! And look what a difference it makes!

    This is the door to the closet under our stairs (our "Harry Potter closet," as the tape label says in the "before"). Like, wow, amiright? (And it will look even better when we have our flooring and baseboards installed!!)

    OSH recommended Benjamin Moore Advance paint for the trim and doors, a very cool, advanced paint that is oil-based so it dries slowly, but only needs soap and water cleanup. The slow drying time gives it time to flatten out so brush strokes don't show. It's kind of like magic when it dries, so smooth almost like an enamel!

    Updating the hardware was also important to us. The shiny 90's brass was just not our style. ;) We debated a lot between modern black levers and black knobs and ended up with the knobs because they're a little more universal/less dedicated to one modern style--and my dad warned us about levers taking more strain on the screws since there's more force pulling them down. (I'm not sure how much of an issue that would be in this kind of residential use, but it did make us wonder.) We counted all the knobs we needed by type and bought all the bathroom/bedroom ("privacy") knobs, closet ("passage") knobs, and bi-fold door knobs, plus the keyed one for the garage.

    We also bought hinges, which come in sets of three, and rounded or right angle corners--we chose rounded to match what was already there. The screw holes pretty much lined up with the original ones and we had a relatively easy time lining up most of the doors when we reinstalled them.

    This is what we started with when we first bought the house! Bi-fold pantry door off its hinges, lots of holes and damage in some of the doors, no handle on the closet door (just this deadbolt), and of course, honey oak doors and matching pine trim.

    (You can see the full "before" tour and video here!)

    Now, after a few weeks of uninstalling, cleaning, sanding, priming, and painting, we have beautiful, clean, modern, fresh doors! You can totally do it, too, if your house is challenged in the crisp, updated trim department. Check out the detailed instructions below and let me know if you have questions in the comments!

    Transform dated doors and trim with paint and hardware!

    You will need:

    • 180 grit sandpaper
    • Tack cloth or damp cloth
    • 1.5" angled brush
    • 3/8" nap roller
    • Zinsser 1-2-3 primer
    • Benjamin Moore Advance paint (we used White (OC 151) in Semi-Gloss)
    • Wood filler
    • Knobs
    • Hinges
    • Door bumpers and/or hinge pins (we used both depending on the location and angle of the door)


    1. Remove hinges and knobs from doors and trim. (If reusing, put aside and clean/replace stripped screws as needed.) Label doors with masking tape labels.

    2. Wash the trim and doors, particularly around handle-height to remove any oils (so you don't sand them into the wood).

    3. Fill any dents and holes with wood filler.

    4. Once dry, lightly sand the trim and doors with fine (180 grit) sandpaper. Just a couple seconds per area is fine. (My friend helped!)

    5. Dust the sanded areas off with tack cloth or damp cloth.

    6. Prime trim using the brush and prime doors using the roller. Let dry several hours.

    7. Flip doors to other side and prime, let dry. (We used empty paint buckets and various other objects as sawhorses since we had so many doors to do at once.) (I think dry time took about 8 hours but I left them for 24 most times.)

    8. Paint trim using the brush and paint doors using the roller. Let dry.

    9. Lightly sand doors to catch any high points; also sand any dried paint drips on trim and doors. Dust or wipe off dust. (I was really not excited about this step but particularly on the oak doors, the second sanding really helped smooth things out! Worth the time.)

    10. Flip doors to other side and paint, let dry. Put second coat on trim.

    11. Install hinges, stop pins or bumpers, and knobs. (I had never installed a doorknob before helping with my parents' rental earlier this year and wow, it's so easy! They come ready for standard doors so you mostly just pop them in and screw. It's kind of fun!)

    Stand back and cheer!!! What a difference!

    I also made this video with some behind-the-scenes on what the paint looks like at different phases. It's fun and short, check it out!

    The Benjamin Moore Advance paint is really fantastic stuff and looks so crisp and smooth! We will never hide the oak grain 100% but the little that's left doesn't bother me at all now. I LOVE our new doors!

    We also had a great experience getting project tips and shopping at Orchard Supply Hardware for the paint and hardware. I had to go back several times for more primer and paint, and they were always friendly and helpful. After some bad experiences at the bigger hardware stores during our fixer upper projects so far, I am really glad to have an Orchard Supply Hardware nearby where I know I can get customer service from someone who knows what they're doing and who will take the time to walk me to the aisle rather than giving me vague instructions or not acting concerned about my question. We're buddies with Dave and David (both in paint) and Craig at our local store and will definitely be back throughout our projects! Plus, OSH has Benjamin Moore paint, which I now know is the greatest.

    Thanks to Orchard Supply Hardware for supplying the materials for this post!

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    #Stanley90sreno week 5 update: MOVING IN! Plus more trim painting, and exploring the crawlspace

    The biggest news of the week is that we moved into the fixer upper this weekend. We didn't intend to spend 4 weeks living at my parents' place but it was just so comfortable there compared to our construction zone with no heating, half-painted doors everywhere, and no furniture... but we got some projects wrapped up last week and are so happy to be moved into our home, half-done and all!

    The to-do list for this last weekend was (finished items crossed off):

    • Paint trim
    • Put up doors (1/2)
    • Put up curtains
    • Wash windows  
    • Install outlet switch plates (1/2)
    • Remove/replace kitchen fluorescent light
    • Hook up washer and dryer
    • Clean kitchen cabinets
    • Unpack pantry
    • Move in entertainment center stuff
    • Organize garage
    • Rake leaves, clean backyard trash (1/2)
    • Break down empty moving boxes

    We also took our first grocery shopping trip Sunday morning which was pretty exciting. Now we have food! And I unpacked some kitchen boxes so we have more than one pan and whatever was clean in the dishwasher when we packed a month ago (and thus didn't make it into the main kitchen boxes). We are holding off unpacking everything in the kitchen till we redo the cabinets (this coming week!!) but we are feeling much more comfortable with what we have out now!

    But, the big things...

    Over the week I painted trim which took freaking forever. I timed myself a couple times--one door was about 20 minutes. Windows might be longer since some of them have tiny pieces that are really hard to paint. We did one coat of primer and two coats of paint (so they look fantastic) but boooooy is that a lot of work. Thankfully my mom and brother-in-law did coats on some of them!

    I will be sharing a post about our trim and door transformations this week!

    On Saturday morning husband and my dad tackled installing the dryer. We had looked into it before and couldn't tell exactly where the dryer was venting, and felt disgusting gobs of lint glued to the sides of the vent pipe. So we decided to replace it rather than try to clean it, however long it was, and Jason crawled under the house twice on Saturday to remove it and then replace it.

    Apparently it's pretty gross down there.

    But what's really gross? THIS is what the dryer was venting through. You could barely see light through the other end! Serious fire hazard, right!?!? We replaced it for only $22 in materials and a couple hours of work!

    We also unpacked a little more which felt sooo good. Check out my IG stories for behind-the-scenes and what the house is looking like! We don't have our flooring in yet but put enough furniture down that we can be comfortable and get a feel for what the house will be like! (And putting up curtains really helped, even though they are all funny lengths and some are way too narrow for the windows they're on! But they provide privacy and make it feel homier in here.)

    Sunday we did some garage organizing and raked leaves. Pretty exciting to rake our first leaves as homeowners, actually. Our townhouse had no yard maintenance which was a blessing at the time but now we are so glad to have the space!

    Now to our first week of living here! As I said we will be working on the KITCHEN! Follow along on Instagram for my behind-the-scenes stories, and check back this week for more on the amazing door/trim transformation!

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