February 17, 2019

Trash to Treasure: How I've Been Utilizing Facebook Marketplace to Makeover Our Home

This winter has just been flying by. It's kind of crazy to me that we started working on our DIY home makeover back in August, and it is now mid-February. I honestly thought we'd be done by October or November! But one thing leads to another and another, and the list just keeps growing.

I am dying to take some "after" photos of the whole renovation, but the main thing we have left to do is the baseboards on the floor. (We also want to do a backsplash, but I'm not concerned with that right now). I've been dreading and procrastinating the baseboards because of all the miter cuts we'll have to make, but my brother has the tools we need to do the cuts and the trim nailer, so I'm hoping to get it done this week.

Most of the things we've bought for our home makeover have been preowned or repurposed in some way. I've used LOTS of paint to update things--the guys at Sherwin Williams are very familiar with my face by now--and I've utilized Facebook Marketplace to get furniture or decorative items that I just don't want to buy new.

Check out these bar stools I bought for $60 (for the pair)!

They are very nice quality and look brand new. They are black with gray cushions, which match perfectly in the dining room. I had been searching for a few months for the right stools, and I even went to a couple of stores looking for them. I just couldn't justify spending $150 per stool at the store, however! Especially for ones that I didn't love. These ones are perfect.

As I mentioned already, I bought my living room furniture from Facebook Marketplace. There was the crazy coincidence of finding my orange mid-century modern sofa and chair ($300 and $100 respectively, and completely worth it considering the quality of the pieces). 

And then the other sofa that I managed to get for $50, not even realizing until I brought it home that it's a Sherrill brand! Again, a top quality piece that is super comfy (I'm sitting on it now). (How does Estelle wind up in so many of my photos?! hahaha)

One of my favorite finds was a console/bench from Pottery Barn. First, I had NO idea just how expensive Pottery Barn is until I looked this up ($600). I had been looking for a bench for our shoes/hats/gloves by the front door. I paid $60 for it. 

Well, when I got this home, I just realized I couldn't possibly "waste" it by using it for that purpose! It was too nice. Instead, we included it in the living room, where it fits right under the window. We keep our "ugly" stuff in there--the cable modem and router, remote controls, etc. 

This isn't the greatest quality picture, but it's nice--trust me!

Speaking of Pottery Barn, I also bought an amazing PB orange wool rug for $50. The original receipt was included and it was $329.

I bought a very nice floor lamp to replace our cheap-looking Walmart one that we've had probably 10 years. This one is very heavy and solid. I love it! I don't have a photo of this handy.

I've also been selling items on Facebook Marketplace, and I really wish I'd thought to do it a long time ago. I love that I get to call the shots--"here is the price, and you can pick it up at this location at this time". I always meet in a public spot, but the people I've "met", even for the short interactions, have been wonderful. It's even helping me to become less shy, which is a shocker. 

Yesterday, I listed Eli's Pokemon cards for $50 (not having any clue what they were worth) and immediately I got several messages with people who want them. I was shocked! So he is pretty excited to get that money. The cards had been sitting in his closet for a few years.

I've made several hundred dollars from selling a coffee table, ottoman, a couple of clocks and paintings, a Keurig, an Instant Pot, a cat tree, and probably some more things I'm forgetting. It's nice to get the money from selling stuff and then use it for things we need or want for the home makeover.

I had been looking for a chandelier and some lighting fixtures for months, and I was checking Lowe's for clearance ones. I just couldn't find any. Even on Facebook Marketplace. FINALLY, I was at Lowe's last week and saw that they were clearancing out several floor models that had already been marked down (one chandelier was regularly $189, then on clearance for $90-ish--then the floor model was marked down to $38! I bought it and three other fixtures that matched--all three for less than $80.

Unfortunately, when we hung the chandelier, I really didn't like it. It just wasn't my style. So, I returned those and bought some simple fixtures that I absolutely love. I had $90 worth of store credit at Menards, so they didn't cost anything out of pocket. It's funny, my kids kept exclaiming how much they love them.

Speaking of my kids, I was organizing my closet the other day and I came across this list that Noah wrote a long time ago. I searched my blog to see if I had written about it, and I did! Here is the post where I explained it. But if you don't want to click over--Noah was on an HGTV kick when he was eight years old, and he was always telling us the things that were "dated" in our house. So, he wrote a list of what we needed to do:

Hahaha! I doubt that the slightly eclectic look I'm choosing now is what he had in mind, but six years later, he got every single wish on his list! ;) 

February 11, 2019

Crispy Potato Halves (Recipe)

Crispy Potato Halves (recipe)

My husband and I are OBSESSED with these potatoes! They take a long time to bake, but the prep time is minimal and when you have the time, they are more than worth it. The perfect side dish!

Here is a printer-friendly version!

Crispy Potato Halves

For each serving:

1 (5 oz) potato
1 tsp. olive oil
dash salt
dash pepper
dash garlic powder
dash onion powder
dash chili powder

Preheat oven to 350.  Slice potato in half length-wise.  Stab the flat side of the potato a few times with a knife. Spread 1/2 tsp oil on the flat side of each half, and sprinkle with the spices. Turn the halves face down onto a baking sheet.  Bake at 350 for about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Serve with ketchup or sour cream and chives.

February 09, 2019

Sobriety Musings: My History With Alcohol and What I've Learned in 39 Days Sober

My history with alcohol and what I've learned in the last 39 days without.

Holy smokes, have I been a lazy blogger! I didn't realize until just now that it's been over a week since my last post. I had no idea what to really write about, so I thought I'd give an update on my "Dry 2019" personal challenge (no alcohol for the entire year).

It feels kind of odd to call this "sobriety", because when I hear that word, I immediate think of an alcoholic who is in recovery. However, when I looked up the meaning of sobriety, it read: "The act of being sober". Haha! So, I looked up sober, and it's simply: "Not affected by alcohol; not drunk".

So, by definition, I am in sobriety. Sober.

When I started this personal challenge, I didn't think of myself as an alcoholic; when I picture an alcoholic, Frank Gallagher is the first thing that pops into my mind, haha. Of course, he is on the extreme end of the alcoholic spectrum. Since I was nothing at all like that, the term alcoholic didn't seem to apply to me.

Is there a spectrum? I've come to believe there is. Stone cold sober is at one end, and Frank Gallagher is at the other (Frank is a character on the show Shameless, if you've not seen it). For the first week of sobriety, I wondered exactly where I fell on that spectrum.

And honestly, I still don't know. I was never physically dependent on alcohol (and I'm grateful for that!). However, I've been thinking... for me to want to have thought of this challenge, alcohol had to have played a pretty important (negative) roll in my life. Otherwise, I wouldn't be doing it!

Today, I am 39 days sober and counting. Being sober for this long has given me some "Aha!" moments about my use of alcohol. I'll try and sum up some of it here. First, some background:

I had always been what most people refer to as a "social drinker"--having a few drinks at parties, basically. My first drink was when I was 17--apple pucker schnapps (ohhhh, how gross when I think of it now!)--and I didn't drink again until college. I lived in a dorm, and like most freshmen, we had parties fairly frequently.

I got married a couple of years later, in 2003, and then pregnant a couple of months after that, which meant no drinking for a long time. Nine months after having Noah, I was pregnant with Eli. So, I had gone pretty much two years without drinking at all.

Once I was done having kids and parties were few and far between, I didn't drink much. In 2009, my friend Renee and I started a wine club for our girlfriends, where we would meet once a month to sample several different types of wine. I was NOT a fan of wine at the time, but I liked the idea of trying different kinds to see if there was one I liked.

Eventually, I really started to like it--the "acquired taste" that drinkers tell non-drinkers will happen if they continue to try it. Once I started to enjoy it, I began to include it in my diet regimen. I would save my Weight Watchers points for a 5-6 oz glass and a piece of chocolate nearly every day. It was never a problem.

Then, in 2014, my anxiety got REALLY bad. I was getting several not-so-nice comments on my blog, and just the thought of writing a blog post made me feel sick. I wrote a whole post about it: Freeing Myself of the Anxiety from Social Media. That post explains it in detail.

Anyway, I got in the habit of pouring a glass of wine when I sat down to write a blog post. It wasn't unusual to finish the bottle of wine by the time I was done writing (believe it or not, writing a blog post, even a very simple one, takes me several hours--I have been working on this one for three days now, hahaha). The wine quieted the anxiety that was sure to skyrocket when I clicked "Publish" on my post.

Since then, I've gone back and forth from drinking a lot to not drinking much at all. For most of 2017, I hardly drank anything--I was very happy after my bipolar diagnosis and starting the proper bipolar medication, and I had no desire to drink at all. (I do want to mention here that bipolar and addiction go hand-in-hand; it's rare to find someone with bipolar who doesn't have an addiction of some sort--alcohol, food, drugs, shopping, gambling, sex, etc.)

Toward the end of the year, however, I had a lot of emotional stuff going on (mainly from worrying about Jerry and some other family stuff) and I used alcohol to relieve the stress. I found that when I drank, I could numb the uncomfortable feelings for a while. I didn't think of it as a problem, because I wasn't dependent on it, I wasn't day drinking, and I wasn't getting "drunk". It just made me feel happier for a few hours.

Sometime in 2018, I started drinking more out of habit than anything else. When working on the house for days on end, I'd have a few beers while sanding, painting, sawing, etc. Or I'd pour a glass of wine when I sat down at the end of a long day.

And even though I wasn't getting drunk, I would wake up in the mornings feeling crappy. I'm clearly not 21 years old anymore, and the older I get, the side effects of drinking get worse (I've listed the details in this post). I decided that I should probably quit before it became a "real" problem.

Even though I wasn't physically addicted, I found it so hard to quit! I hadn't realized it, but somewhere along the way, it became a significant part of my life.

So, in November of 2018, I started thinking about going for a full year without drinking in order to see if I felt better. I was hoping for less mood shifts, better sleep, less anxiety, no depression, and several other things. I could have chosen 30 days, or 90 days, or some other number, but I didn't think that was enough time to truly see what sort of role alcohol played in my life.

In order to make sure that I would stick with it, I announced here on my blog as well as on my personal Facebook page. I thought announcing it to my friends on Facebook would be the easiest way to explain why I wouldn't be drinking if we go out or have a get together or whatever. And I have to say, if I hadn't been so public, I certainly would have quit within the first week!

The first few days weren't bad, simply because I was excited about doing something new. However, the next few weeks were very tough! Here is what I learned:


  The main reason I would drink (other than in social situations) was to relieve stress and/or anxiety. In sobriety, I am still having a very hard time finding other ways to relieve stress and relax. Maybe one day, I can be one of those people who exercises, takes a hot bath, or drinks tea for stress relief, but I'm not there yet.

  I found myself substituting food for alcohol. I may not be consuming calories from alcohol, but I definitely made up for that with food. (I'm doing better with that now, for the past week or so--eating a planned snack and sticking to small portions).

  I find myself feeling like something is missing. I'm sure this will go away with time, but because drinking while in particular circumstances had become such an ingrained habit, it's going to take a while to feel fulfilled while sober. It's no longer an option for quick stress relief. And God help me when I get on a plane to travel in a couple of months! 

  When friends post photos of them drinking, I feel like I'm missing out. Like I said before, though, I think I'm just romanticizing the idea of it rather than the act itself.


  My quality of sleep has improved drastically. I don't wake up during the night anymore, and I can't explain how huge this is for me. I used to wake up multiple times a night, tossing and turning. Now, I sleep for about six hours and even though that isn't the "ideal" eight hours we are told to aim for, my body is well rested because of the quality of sleep.

  I have a lot more energy in the mornings. Instead of waking up to my alarm and then dreading getting out of bed to start the day, I usually wake up between 5:00 and 6:00 (my alarm is set for 6:00 on school days) and I have no problem getting out of bed right away.

  I've been more active in the evenings. I find myself feeling antsy after dinner and the anxiety starts to build, so I have been working on any sort of project I can think of to keep my mind and body occupied. I have been organizing several areas of my house, and I really like how "neat" everything is when I am done.

I even made a pretty fun wall clock (it's a chalkboard!) and I'm working on a cat "hotel"--Hotel Catifornia (Jerry's name for it, haha). It's not as big of a deal as it sounds--it's literally just an old book shelf that I painted and cut windows in. Basically a slightly-glorified triple story cat bed. I will post pictures when I'm done with it.

Here is the wall clock I made, though. It's about six feet in diameter!

huge chalkboard wall clock

  Sex. (Mom, if you're reading, skip this part). Wine was always my go-to for feeling sexy and getting in the mood. I've never had much of a libido, and I was so sure that quitting drinking would make it non-existent and sex would be boring. However, I found the opposite to be true. For some real TMI, I will just state that orgasms are much better and last longer. 🙈

  I've mentioned before that I used to get super bloated sometimes for reasons unknown (and that is why I experimented with intermittent fasting). Since I stopped drinking, I haven't gotten that uncomfortable bloated feeling even once! This is the most significant change for me. Alcohol didn't always make me feel bloated, which is why I never put two and two together. But now that I haven't had any issues with severe bloating, I don't really think it's a coincidence.

  Finally, and this may just be a coincidence also, but my appetite has decreased (as of a couple of weeks ago). I eat breakfast (toast with cinnamon raisin peanut butter) and then I don't eat again until dinner at four or five o'clock. I don't have any cravings--how weird is that?! Even when I'm physically hungry, it's hard to choose something to eat because I just don't have a big appetite.

Unfortunately, I haven't made progress with my weight, but I think that's because I was substituting food for the alcohol for the first few weeks. Now that I'm no longer doing that, I hope to start seeing some of the 35 pounds I gained last year come off.

  I'm really happy about the example I'm setting for the kids. I'm not anti-drinking (in moderation), but I want them to see that it's okay NOT to drink, too.

So, it's been 39 days and this is how it's going so far. Per the suggestion from about a dozen readers, I got the book This Naked Mind. I'm about 3/4 of the way through it, and I really like it!

After a couple of chapters, I even got out a highlighter--something I never do--and highlighted things that stuck out to me. Maybe I will write a review when I'm done with it. I do find it to be very repetitive, however, so I'm having a hard time finishing the last little bit of it. Even after this year is over, I don't think I'll ever see alcohol the same way again, thanks to the book.

I realize that the musings of 39 days of sobriety isn't exactly super insightful, but as part of this experiment, I wanted to document any changes I notice in sobriety along the way. I certainly don't feel like one of those people who is clearly "high on life" and is practically bursting at the seams with a sober, happy existence, sans alcohol--maybe that will come in time, who knows?--but I have definitely noticed some very positive changes. Hopefully there is more to come! :)

(Several people have asked if I will drink again when this experiment is over. It's way too early for me to say! Right now, I'm just committed to a year.)

I'm going to try to post a few times this week. I really don't want to get in the habit of only posting once a week or so. I'm very nervous about posting this, because it's such a personal thing to share, but I'm sure there are people who probably have a lot of the same things going on. It's always nice not to feel alone!

Have a great weekend, Friends!

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