Look Ma, No cords!

We committed a design crime around here recently and I love it!  We mounted a 60 inch black hole over the fireplace …all the interior designers shook their heads in their hands and all the husbands said “amen”!



It’s something we have wanted to do for a long time but we have plaster walls so there really wasn’t going to be a pretty way to hide all the cables… womp womp! but we did have one outlet on the mantle which gets used once a year when I plug in my Christmas garland.  It just so happened the all the cable Gods and plaster wall Gods got together at a conference this year and decided they wanted the Howards to be able to move it on up! So DirectTV brought us the new wireless cable boxes.  One TV in the house has to be the “master” and that one does have to be wired into a physical cable, but y’allI, it had our living room TV with hands in the air singing “my chains are gone, I’ve been set free”.  We ordered this mount from Amazon (yay for cheap!) and then the only other stuff we needed were some zip ties and a power strip.  Of course you’ve got to make sure you get the mounting bracket hung in your studs but hanging the TV only took about 15 minutes.

Hanging the TV allowed us to have twice as many options for furniture placement in the living room and also got it up away from the toddler who, for some reason, is in a constant state of sticky hands (HOW does this happen??)  An FYI for those people whose TV looks like it’s constantly being censored across the bottom 3 inches due to hand print smudges, water and vinegar will gently clean it right off–no need to buy those special wipes.


From the side it’s very discrete what all is happening behind the screen.



Anyone else thinking about hanging a tv? It’s something that ended up being a lot easier than we thought it would be and we’re so pleased with the change!! Just in time to curl up with my babies and watch Christmas movies!

Making way…for the air hockey table

Saturday night. 7PM. Blake and I are going to Wal-Mart to buy magic erasers. Part of our conversation on the way there was how and when exactly shopping for cleaning supplies on a Saturday night became part of our lives.

We walk in and immediately see a pool table for $140. “wow, that’s a really good deal!” we each said… 5 feet behind the pool table are air hockey tables for $100. “WOW…that’s a really good deal.”…Blake said. A few minutes pass of just standing there staring at it. He is in love….I am wondering how I missed that apparently an air hockey table has been numero uno on the husbands want list?!??

We walked around the store getting what we came for but discussing nothing other than the logistics of where said air hockey table was going to live. You pretty much have to dedicate a room to the thing. Blake suggested that it can always live in the basement…I was not really about that because our basement is nearly full and it’s also where things go to never been played with again. The only other reasonable option was to put it in the man cave and move the couch to the living room (which currently never gets used). When we decided to move the couch we decided we should also move the tv. While we loved having it in the man cave…it was pointless to have in there if there was nowhere to sit. It also was too small of a room to have a lot of people over to watch a game. Moving it into the living room actually made a lot of sense to us.

So, we went home without the air hockey table because we wanted to measure some things/brainstorm. Saturday nights are real ragers for us yall 🙂 Magic erasers to rearranging furniture.

We inherited a radiator cover from Blake’s family and it’s been in our dining room since just waiting for it’s perfect introduction to the world. I somehow convinced Blake that we could shove all of the tv components and cables into the radiator cover and put the tv on top for a nice clean look.

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We cut a hole in the back and wrapped the edges in weather stripping to make sure no sharp edges were exposed. We bought felt pads for the legs to sit on and it was good to go!

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We are loving being out here so far!

Install Microsoft Mouse and Keyboard Center.lnk

…and the guys are loving the air hockey table


the “Be Free” Challenge is over!

I can’t believe it’s been thirty days! To celebrate my challenge I decided to group together a few pictures of our accomplishments. We didn’t do 30 projects but we did twenty something and I feel really good about that! We are twenty something projects closer to our dream home and our pockets didn’t take a hit for it. At the beginning of the challenge I made a list of everything I could think of that we could do using materials we had already purchased or inherited. I crossed the items off as we went feeling so good about taking care of those “we really ought to do something about that but I will walk past it 1000 times and pretend it’s not there” items.

(this gallery is something new for me so I’m still figuring it out myself…if you click on an image it opens a slideshow type of deal where the pictures are bigger. I haven’t figured out how to link the picture to the post yet but …baby steps..)

There were some little things we took care of that didn’t make the blog either a) because they were so boring or b) I ran out of time.

Paint peg board
Add chalkboard to peg board area
Add chicken wire fencing
Paint those glass jugs
Repair or cover up hole around breaker box
Repair area around fire place
Painting chandelier
Hang chandelier (And rearrange the whole living room)
Hang foyer light from last house
Hang half door—use hinges from closet doors?
Get that dang wheel barrow off the porch
Pull up the weeds in my mulch bed
Get dead Christmas lights out of terrarium thing
Make something with my corks
Get rid of the Christmas candy by the front door
Rechannel dryer vent
Clean out radiator bench and find home?
Press and fold all of our fabric napkins and make a home for them
Paint pantry doors & use hardware I bought 10 years ago
Paint outlet covers in mancave
Cut back branches hanging over drive
Transplant some ivy
Cleaning out freezer
Reroute things in mancave so tv area looks cleaner

We still have a list that long we didn’t even get to.

I’m really proud of us for taking care of the details. Like I talked about in this post, projects are icing on the cake to jobs worked during the day and chores we have to take care of. So while you may only see 20 something projects (tiny to pretty big) know that each one has a layer of laundry, cutting the grass, dishes, accounting, dog parenting, traveling, and cleaning on top of it. It shall be called the life layer.

I’m so excited to share what the future holds. Here is a hint. It involves this:


And this:


There are certain things in life that make me feel like I’m living in the lap of luxury… Bath and Body Works foam handsoaps, my husband, and a china cabinet for shoes. 🙂

“Be Free” Challenge Days 11-14

guess what? ….it’s STILL raining.


Last night I asked Blake if we should build an ark to be on the safe side. I would hate to end up like the unicorns…


So, let me introduce you to our fireplace before. Whoever tiled this before really didn’t do a bad job they just quit prematurely and then I think they must have taken apart some of the trim and never really put it back together.


See the gap between the tile and the floor? It was an uneven gap on both sides.




See the trim? Shotty.



Blake and I have had this on our to fix list since we moved in. well…if I am honest I’ve not been hurried about fixing it because I had something more “me” in mind. I envisioned our living room looking like this:


Fig tree and all. See, the thing about a staged living room for a magazine is that I’m convinced they only happen in some swanky magazine editor’s apartment where they are never actually home. There isn’t ever going to be a time when I just go out and buy every single thing for a whole room at one time. Therefore, one will never dream up this look over a span of 10 year furniture collection. I can think of one time that would happen and that would be if your house burned down and that would be horrific and unimaginable and I wouldn’t go buy this I would try and fashion the things I missed out of my tears. So. Here we are.

We decided to grout in some of the gap, lay trim around the tile and caulk with caulk the color of the grout. We also decided to firm up the trim with our best friend liquid nails and caulk and paint.




That grout may look a little bright but we decided after the dogs spends 5 minutes laying there it will “dirty” up to the same color as the other grout 🙂 doggie diy. This probably took, collectively (because of drying time), 1 hour. I had that “why didn’t I just do this sooner” feeling. I love the fireplace now and I’m not going to touch it again for at least 10 years. Unless I win the lottery (which is pretty much impossible because we don’t even try)…then maybe we’ll get all fancy pants up in here and marble the thing out.

Next we did a little streamlining in the man cave by figuring out this mess. When we moved in we were just so desparate for TV that we didn’t care how things looked. Yeah I thought I would have that cleaned up in a week….oops. We’ve been living with this medusa inspired look for 8 months. Cute, I know.


Blake drilled a hole over into the shelves next to the mantle and ran everything through there.

Look how pretty!


Lastly, we hung a new light. It’s an old light really. It was the only thing from our first house that I said I couldn’t live without. In the other “section” of the kitchen we just had this plastic fluorescent situation…it was fine…if you like a flickering nightmare every time you turn on the light and unflattering light while you fold the laundry….



When we took the old light down we also discovered that this ceiling color was previously orange…oh my word… anyways, here is the light we hung.



Charming isn’t she?

Look at how the light plays on the walls and ceilings! It’s rather magical in person. While Blake was hanging that I rearranged some of the counter top shenanigans in the kitchen and made myself a little “command center”. I love it.



So there you have it. Use what you have. Love what you have. Love on those who give you what you have.

“Be Free” Challenge Day 8

We hung the chandelier I bought here and painted here!

This was a complete and total if you give a mouse a cookie scenario except for the “if you give a Katie a chandelier”. I love a good chandelier y’all. This one was just a little tough because it was smack in the center of this room so it felt off center from what we had been considering the “sitting area”. I went into panic mode and thought that bringing nearly every chair we own into the living room would somehow help. WRONG.


Chaos ensued. I played musical chairs for a while and realized having 18 chairs around our coffee table looked ridiculous. While Blake was at crossfit I did some crossfit of my own and took our sectional apart. I moved the chaise lounge out into the living room as my anchor piece. Once I had this (that was no easy feat!) the rest just seemed to fall into place.


I pulled from all over the house but made sure not to rob Peter to pay Paul. It’s counter productive to make one room look finished when you leave another room looking wrecked.


I’m very pleased with the living room now. It looks complete and on purpose.

I like the way the chandelier looks in the big mirror too…see the shadow cast on the other wall? Sweet.


And in case you are wondering why we only put in 4 lightbulbs….it requires 8 but sunglasses are almost needed at 4 so we want to hook the switch up on a dimmer before full bulbage.

In case you are wondering about the man cave it looks better too! I just moved the other half of the couch against the wall and moved the chair and a half in there. The room looks much bigger now! I’ll share that some other time.

It’s crazy to look back at before anything was moved in!


Water it on Sundays

I was in Lowes last weekend and spent a good 45 minutes in the “tropical” plant section pulling out the giant trees plants and looking all of them over. I googled about the life expectancies of each one and what kind of care they need. I feel like people probably thought I was nuts. I really think I pulled out every plant and then stepped back from it just trying to picture it in our house. A plant audition if you will…

I’m not sure what brought on my wanting an actual live plant in my house but here we are:


I was really nervous all the way up to the cash register and then the lady behind me said “that thing will live for at least 10 years”. (hahaha I thought she doesn’t know me) but really, she said “don’t water it too much…I only watered mine on Sundays right after church”. That was the sweetest plant advice I’d ever heard. She told me to clean the leaves when I got home, put it in the sun, and water it on Sundays. This I could handle.



It’s a white bird of paradise plant and I’m pretty smitten. Now I walk through the living room on purpose just to see her.

fake it til you make it!

So I’m back today with a little update to our spring mantle and the story of my fake terrarium. My mom helped me redo our mantle for spring here and we had another little tweak to make that involved thrift store Christmas and a free paint sample.

I was gifted these tall skinny-mini candlesticks for Christmas this year and they have actually been residing in our fireplace ever since.

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(Side note about thrift Christmas: you are allowed to redo, resell, regift, do whatever you want with your gift no questions asked or feelings hurt) so, we were “springing up” the mantle and I remembered these dainty little candlesticks and thought they would be perfect with our theme!

Then even better I remembered I had bought two paint samples and one of them worked perfectly with our Easter themed garland!

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Aren’t they cute! And I love that I can really paint them whatever color I want to just keep fitting in with the décor!



Okay, onto the second part of this story. I’ve always loved succulent terrariums but I’ve always admired from afar because let’s face it…I have a black thumb. When we moved I found this fishbowl from who knows when….(I have a black thumb when it comes to fish too….) Anyways, it’s been in the back of my mind that I want to make use of that bowl and give a terrarium a try I have just been afraid to buy the plants because it actually feels like lighting money on fire. While my mom and I were running around Hobby Lobby I saw that the plastic succulents were 50% off. Umm…yes, please! (Y’all I am just not above using fake flowers. You know the saying “fake it til you make it”? I live it)


I picked up some sand from World Market and just shoved it all down in the bowl together.




It’s growing on me. I know it needs help. Maybe some rocks or something?….or one of the plants maybe needs to go? Either way, I’m quite pleased with myself that I can finally stop coveting succulent terrariums in pictures and look at mine knowing I can never kill it.

Speaking of fake flowers my Mom told me if it’s Spring I need to have forsythia somewhere in the house. So we bought a fake branch of that to stick on the desk.


It really does add a little magic to the room! See that giant branch leaning there? That’s a wine rack that Blake and I made out of a branch we found in the park! This has reminded me that I’ll have to post about that—it really was pretty easy to make and has been a great conversation piece (we haven’t hung it yet in the new house because it weighs a lot and we have plaster and well you know….we would hate to make a wall crumble over it…)

Hope everyone has had a great week! Anyone else springing up their home lately? We would love to hear some cool ideas!