on my mind: feb. 2019

home, literature, money, outdoors, thoughts

financial goals – I’ve reached a student debt balance where the interest accumulated each month is a negligible number, which means, once again, I’m waffling between cutting back my snowball or continuing on with it. On the one hand, I’d like to continue this intensity because I’d like to cut back my hours at my second job in the near future – or, at least, request some time off. On the other hand, I want to build my savings and open an IRA. I probably shouldn’t even bother to worry about this because I joined an investment app recently and have been throwing a little bit at it here and there. So, in reality, I’ve already negotiated a middle-ground with myself. 

screen time – I unintentionally cut back on my Netflix binges. I think I went almost a whole month without it, and I remembered why I don’t have regular cable or even a TV. I wouldn’t use it enough, and I get so much other stuff done when I’m not watching every new release and every new show. You know that conundrum where you sit down and don’t know what to choose out of the plethora of options? Last night, I watched a movie that has been in my list for close to a year. It was nice to put something on that I had been skipping over for a long time. I think the fact that I had cut back on my screen time helped me pick a movie more easily, and I ended up really liking it (Tallulah – if you care to know). 

health – Being at a desk all day has really messed with my health goals. I went from being active most of the day to being inactive until 5pm. I have had to cut my calories so much just to maintain weight. I have been making sure Charlie and I are walking regularly because after my knee surgery last year, Charlie gained a lot of weight too. The vet recommended he lose 10 pounds by his next yearly vaccination.  Basically, we are both pretty hangry most days, but he’s lost 6.8 lbs and looks so much better.  At least the creature I am in charge of is healthier even if I’m not. Unplugging from Netflix has helped me get more active in the evenings though. I realized I needed to make the most of our walks because I don’t have the time for each of us to get a long workout. I added walking lunges and sumo squats into our walks. Then I do a quick workout with either body weight or dumbbells and barbells. I recently bought a set of kettle-bells too and they have been a good addition to my at-home gym. 

creative juices -In addition to getting more exercise, cutting down my screen time has given me more time for personal projects like my blog, house projects, or painting.  I think I’m finally getting used to my perspective being read by people on the internet. For a long time, I didn’t want anyone to know about my blog. It wasn’t anonymous, I just didn’t share it. I’m finally growing into my voice – if that makes sense. When people give me feedback, I’m no longer embarrassed by it. Writing has become a big part of my life as of late and being able to unleash my worries and fears into words – plus share the other things I work on or make- has multiplied the motivation I have to do more. The act of summarizing the books I read or the projects I do inspires me to keep going. All of this, makes a creative like me happier in the grand scheme of things. The act of creating is the reward for me, not the comments or the amount of likes I get. 


before/after: ewash bath


I think my sister and I developed a taste for cool, toned down colors in reaction to Mom’s tastes (although my tastes are a lot more eclectic than my sister). Our mom loved bold, warm colors like red and brown and purple. My sister likes everything in neutral/soft palettes. Houzz calls it Transitional. It’s not quite contemporary and definitely not modern – which sort of evolved into a modern farmhouse vibe (thank you Joanna Gaines). I think the house she owns lends itself to that style.

E.Wash is what I call my sister’s house. Like me, my sister owns a home that had never truly been updated. For most of the homes in my area, an update means you paint the wood paneling. In 2017, when I was living with my sister, she decided to rip out the bathroom and refinish it. I forgot to take photos before we started demolition. I apologize, but as you can gather even from the demo photos, this bathroom was very hopeless. The tiles were plastic and glued on. The tub was super small and shallow. The walls were a combination of paneling and wallpaper. It’s a good sized bathroom, but it was not a welcoming place.

ewash bath before

We assume that people in these small houses (over the course of a hundred years), rather than investing in quality products, did what they could with the money they had. A lot of the time this meant doing things yourself and doing what was cost efficient, ie. drop ceilings, wood paneling, roll out linoleum, etc. Instead of taking things out and replacing them, a lot of the time everything is layered on top of each other. In this case, there were three layers of linoleum floor that we had to peel away.

There are always layers upon layers.

ewash bath before - 2

I was in the tile industry for almost three and a half years. In that time, I learned so much about tile standards and ceramics in general. Glazed tile and brick are truly pieces of art. From mixing the materials to laying the tile, a lot of care and attention goes into making the tile and making it work. I’ve seen badly made tile and photographic evidence of under-qualified tile setters, and neither are very pretty.

A big part of my job was making sample boards for showroom displays. I built hundreds of mini-installs. I played with color combinations, sizes, and patterns to give dealers something with which to sell our tile. Tile is amazing. If you’ve ever done a tile project, you know the satisfaction of wiping away that last bit of grout haze.


After making hundreds of tile boards, I was eager to install tiles in a home. My Dad found ceramic floor planks with the wood grain finish at auction which we installed in the kitchen and bathroom. The subway tile was rejected development tile that was cut improperly and glazed at different weights. You can see the variation in color that turned out so beautifully when blended together.

ewash bathroom before after

“Hannah, you tiled a bathroom in a house you don’t even live in?”

Yes. Let’s not talk about it. Home renovation runs in my family. I like doing house projects, and I cannot wait to redo my kitchen and bathroom – if I get the chance. Not to toot my own horn, but the tile work in E.wash is fantastic.

ewash bath after

I sometimes joke that I wish I was there the first time someone grouted their tiles and realized what they had just done. Could they perceive the endless capabilities and scope of what they just created? It was an ancient civilization, so some ruler probably said, “Hey this is beautiful. Now cover the entire building in it.”

Tiling is back-breaking work and really an art. Measurements seem to be constantly changing as you go and keeping lines straight is so important to the overall finished quality. I learned that tiling vertically is entirely different from tiling on a flat surface. Also, a tile cracker is an excellent investment if you are cutting subway tiles. The cracker made it so easy to salvage cut pieces and use them elsewhere. Not running outside to the wet saw was nice too.

I think we did a good job. What do you think?

Bonus: Niece in the tub.


before/after: living room

A low budget DIY flip of the living area in my house.

In April, I was still waking up to an empty living area every day. I had painted before I moved into my house because I knew covering the paneling would be a big step toward making the space feel more like mine. After paint, I tore up the carpet to find WOOD underneath. I’ve already written about that whole process. The non-decor part of the project ended up costing me the primer, paint, the rental of two machines, a BUNCH of sandpaper, and then two cans of satin polyurethane.

living room after 01.jpg

I’m beyond thrilled to put these images together. I’ve been waiting to put together the actual evidence of the transformation I achieved with my own creative energy and vision.

living room before 03

living room after 03.jpg

Can you spot the pieces from the before photos that I fit into the new layout? Almost all of the furniture in both parts of this room were either in the house when I bought it or were given to me. Even the “desk” I’m using for my computer was given to me. It’s actually more of a console or sofa table, but it’s doing a great job at being a desk.

It’s truly amazing how supportive my friends and family are. They all had so much to offer me. They kept an eye out for things I might need. Eventually, I had to tell them I had too much furniture to know what to do with it all.

I still accept plants though.

living room before after 02.jpg

The only pieces I purchased were the sofa, one plant, some photo prints, the curtains  and the two pillows. Plus, the sofa was from a thrift store so the curtains and pillows were the biggest splurge as far as decor/furniture goes!

living room after 04.jpg

My grandmother found the floor lamps at estate sales and gave me the rug. The hanging plant has been with me for three years now. The painting on the wall is one of mine. The little ovals with vignettes on them were in the house. The clock and the fish tank and a plant were given to me by my cousin who recently downsized. All the wood furniture in the main section picture above and below were in the house, including the China cabinet.

living room after 05.jpg

The two snake plants were split from a large plant in my office at work that needed to be re-potted. The white chairs pictured above were picked up by my aunt when a friend of her’s moved away. The books were mine, but the bookshelves were salvaged from someone who no longer wanted them. The art on the wall next to the window was in the house when I bought it. I just put it in a magnetic frame I already had.

I think the total cost of the the whole transformation was under $900. Not everything is placed in the best spot. Not everything makes sense. There’s a lot here that a designer could come in and completely undo.

BUT I am so proud of the fact that so much of this room is re-purposed. I LOVE OLD STUFF. My sisters say the living room is a combination of both my grandmothers’ aesthetics. Which is so interesting because I wasn’t thinking of either of them when I started putting it together. I just liked what I was doing.

Most importantly, I love coming home to it.

how did i end up here?

home, thoughts
A friend of the family said to me recently, “One of the greatest misdirections in life, is that being an adult will be easier.”

I hosted friends at my house for the first time since I actually finished the living room floor. When a friend of my friend unexpectedly needed a place to spend the night, she stopped at my house to hang out before going home to bed. Let’s call her, B. B is around my age and she is struggling at life.  She’s got good friends, a place to live, and a good heart, but otherwise she is lost. She was a little tipsy after a wedding and was very talkative.

First she wanted to look around my house – which was one hundred percent fine. I think it’s wrong if you don’t want to do that. Then, she started asking questions. She asked if my cousin and I were roommates. She asked about my rent. She asked how I decided to get a dog. She was basically asking how I adult.


I responded, of course, that no my cousin does not live with me.  Charlie is my roommate.  Just me and him. In the house that I own. She could not process how I was living by myself with my dog in a house that I own. I sat there contemplating how much I should share with a stranger. I decided to tell her the truth without going into the intimate details, and I have been thinking about my answers ever since.

How did I end up here?