Round up your mortgage

When we purchased our home we decided to combine the property tax with our mortgage. We preferred it that way, so as to not have an unexpected thousands of dollars worth of property tax show up some time in the year.
It is also a common occurrence for your first payment to be more than a month out after closing. With interest accruing. tsk. tsk.
So our first step was making our first payment as soon as possible, which ended up working out to be a month in advance. Keep in mind if you do this then you can’t be set up on automatic payments. When I go in to manually pay, I always make sure I mark the box to pay the next months payment now.
The other and bigger thing I feel that we did, was to round-up our mortgage payment. So for the first year of home owner ship we were only adding an extra $15 to our mortgage. It seems so miniscule but between that and being a month ahead in our monthly payments, by the next year and a month early, our base payment amount had decreased. Granted our escrow account is also tied to that, we were still able to round-up to the same number but this time adding $28 to our mortgage principle, instead of $15. Make sure you are adding it to the principle and not to escrow.

If you’re a Dave Ramsey fan, I know he tells you to not do this. While we do have some debts still. The $15-30 in extra payments we were making were worth it for us, while we were still able to pay other items off.

I hope that what I have shared encourages you to reduce your mortgage debt.

What other ways have you thought of to pay your mortgage down?

Reversible Thanksgiving & Christmas Blocks


I had a friend who was in charge of our church women’s activity. She had ideas of doing string art or letter blocks. I suggested if we do the blocks, to make the blocks reversible.  Before I even looked at pinterest. I was on a pinterest hiatus at the time. But my mind was solely thinking that I wanted something multi-use if it was going to take up space in my limited storage.

When she posted to the board what we were doing and the ideas for each holiday, Thanksgiving and Christmas, I wasn’t sold on the generic Christmas phrase of, J I N G L E bells. So we brainstormed and came up with something more meaningful to us as a collective group of Christian women, C H R I S T Is Born.


I love it and bonus, I haven’t seen it anywhere else. Well the Give T H A N K S, yes but not the combination.

Super simple and easy. It was also great to bond with some women I hadn’t met yet in the 10 months we had been living there.

Since there are several ideas/ tutorials out there I’m not doing anything detailed since I made this prior to blogging days but here are the supplies and process.img_8340




Paint or stain

Mod Podge

Foam Brush

Newspaper (easy clean up)

Scrapbook paper

Cardstock or thicker (for letters)

Either a cricut or silhouette. (I don’t know which one she used but it had to be either of those. It was all prepped, we just assembled.)


Outer blocks: (2) 7″ length – 2″x4″ (actual: 3 3/8″x 1 1/2″)

Middle blocks: (2) 6″ length – (actual: 3 3/8″x 1 1/2″)

Inner blocks: (2)  5″ length – (actual: 3 3/8″x 1 1/2″)

Total length of 36″ probably more to accommodate for cut spaces.

Top/Bottom block: (1) 8 1/8″ width – 2″x2″ (actual: 1 3/8″ x 1 5/8″)


All edges were sanded. Only the surfaces that were going to have letters on them were painted white, but I’d either paint or stain all surfaces or leave natural (depending on the look you’re going for) since the front and back will be covered.

Scrapbook paper was used for the backgrounds with Mod Podge. Then the letters were applied.

Two years later and this is still my favorite holiday decoration.



Winds Breath Paint Dilemma


If you haven’t read my Kitchen & Dining Paint Upgrade yet you can read about it here. I was so excited to paint those rooms I didn’t do enough research. Although I thought I did with all the paint cards I was holding on to for months.

What I didn’t share in that post was the first time I got the paint cans. Ocean Air was spot on. Winds Breath, well…I got home and realized the store mixed a different color on the card. I went back the next day and with a little hesitation from the associate, he mixed the ‘correct’ color. Which is what is on the walls in that original post. Also, in the post I state that while it’s a nice griege color, it doesn’t work with Ocean Air very well.

I didn’t know what to do. So for 6 months it sat like that. I figured it was better than the bright yellow walls.

After talking to my husband about finances and us deciding to appraise the house to increase our 20% and decrease our MI owed. Hubby expressed his frustration with several spot in the house with paint samples on the walls. Lol.

I had decided to work on that wall again and those three colors weren’t doing it for me. I was getting beyond frustrated.

A soffit in our bedroom was accented and we both wanted it the same as the rest of the room. So I chipped some paint off our wall and went to the store for a custom match. While I was there I decided to take another look at the cards and hopefully find “the one”.

It must have been fate because I walked right over and pulled a card out. Lo and behold it said, Winds Breath, by Behr. I double take and realize that is the color on my wall. That I’m loathing. And it has a green undertone. No wonder it didn’t look right with the Ocean Air blue I had going on, on the adjacent wall.

The funny thing is, is that the paint can has the Benjamin Moore code for Winds Breath, but inside the can is Behr’s Winds Breath. I wanted to cry with relief because I couldn’t ever find anything I loved as much as BM Winds Breath and I was starting to lose it.










I hiked up my big girl pants and headed off to a BM paint supplier and got the correct color. It is amazing and everything I hoped for.

If you made it this long, I applaud you.

Basically, if you are planning on color matching across brands, double check to see if there are other brands out there with the same name so you can resolve the problem quickly, instead of waiting 6 months. Oops.


I’m not sure on your screen quality but while it’s ever so slightly different. I can tell a difference in person in the overall feel and cohesiveness with the other wall. The blue doesn’t present accurately but you can see how the BM product on top looks WAY better than the Behr color of the same name on the bottom.

I hope I shared something new with you today.




Quick & Easy Glitter Ornament Fix

blog-pinterest-picsEdit: I searched high and low for my original tutorial photos. Between my phone dying without backing up my photos and getting a new computer in the last year, I lost all of them. So this is the closest I’m getting to my original representation.

I love glitter and sparkly things. Hey, I’m female! Isn’t it some unwritten rule that the majority of females love shiny objects?

Enter my dilemma. Like ALL glittered items, the glitter gets everywhere! Even after the initial clean up, you can still find glitter for weeks if not months later AND you also find it in places it really shouldn’t be. I digress.

A few years ago we scored an after Christmas deal of a boxed set of 50 ornaments in red and 50 in gold. Twenty ornaments in each set were saturated in glitter.  That’s 40 ornaments!  Every year I hated getting those ornaments out and not being able to use any of the glittered ones. I had done some searching, mainly pinterest, and saw nothing to solve my dilemma. What I usually saw was how to make this, instead of fixing already glittered ornaments. I can’t remember if it was that post specifically but in that search the light bulb flipped on.

Mod Podge!!


Problem solved!

So with out further ado, here is my quick and easy tutorial on fixing glitter ornaments.



Mod Podge:  I chose matte because I didn’t want the gloss to distract from the glitter. I wanted to let it look like it should’ve in the first place minus all the glitter everywhere. ($3)

    (I was able to purchase 3-2 fl oz bottles from the dollar section at Target. Thanks Target!)

Foam brushes:  pack of 1″ foam brushes from Home Depot. (~$2)

Paper towels/Newspaper: for easier clean up

And of course, Glittered Ornaments


I did 1-2 layers of mod podge and then hung the ornaments.  Wait a couple of hours for them to dry. If you don’t know, Mod Podge goes on white, which is nice, so you know you got it all, and it dries clear.


Besides, paper towels, glittered ornaments, mod podge, and foam brushes. Make sure you have space to hang the ornaments to dry. You may need to be more creative than I was. I lucked out and while I still don’t love the knob hardware in my kitchen, it came in super handy for this project.

So for an extra $5 I was finally able to display my glittered ornaments with out the mess.


Kitchen and Dining Paint Upgrade


This is what our kitchen / dining room looked like before we moved in and well for the first year we lived in our first home. I promised myself it would be the first thing I did and some how that year went fast. My parents helped us move in and when they came to visit again the following year, I made sure I had a list of things my dad could help me with. Painting this loud kitchen was one of them.  I guess it wasn’t too bad but yellow is my very least favorite color, at least while I’m wearing it. I think it looks fine as an accent but this was just too much.

before-kitchen before-kitchen-1

There were two things preventing me from painting. The big one was that the wall had some heavy venetian plaster technique on it that made awesome spots for collecting dirt and dust.

img_6149You can see that here on the right and the result of using the rasp to smooth the ridges down. img_6150 My helper using the wet/dry vac to clean up the dust. He had a blast. img_6167The final results of all the hard work smoothing it down. My mother and I did wipe the walls down with a wet rag, so the paint would adhere without issues.

The second was debating on color. While I know the technique of buying samples, I didn’t bring myself to do that here. What I did do was take sample cards and placed them around the outlet that’s hanging out half way up the dining room wall. I also leaned some above the countertop against the wall.

After months of indecision and changing my mind of the route I wanted to go. I finally chose Benjamin Moore 2123-50 Ocean Air   and I am SO in love with this color. I am so glad I didn’t go with anything too bold again. I’m liking the subtle and muted for the majority of the house.

ocean-airOcean Air

img_6169Look at that difference. Oh and the other thing I forgot to mention, if you can’t tell here, is that the yellow was a flat sheen. Like what was going on, flat in the kitchen, dining, living AND hallways.

img_80701The color on the window wall is Benjamin Moore OC-24 Winds Breath. Its a great greige color but right in the corner where the two colors meet, it looks off, too gray. I like my warm tones and I’m experimenting with gray but its too much on the cool side for me. Maybe its too warm for the blue.  The point was to take that color into the living room but I’m not convinced so it’s staying as is until I can make up my mind again.

windsbreathWinds Breath

img_6173 Pardon the mess. Reality.img_6172

This is just to show we painted the little entry into the pantry/laundry room.

Needless to say, I am SO excited that this is done. I have felt so much more calm and at peace, not as irritated and on edge as I felt before. I mean it happens but it’s amazing to see and feel the difference that a little paint can do for your home and your sanity.

What kind of differences and changes have you noticed in your life because of a little paint?


Fresh Start

This has been on my mind for quite a while, starting a blog of more than just my family and personal life.  We bought our first home a little over a year ago.  Since we got married 7 plus years ago I had been looking forward to having our own place, that we weren’t renting, so we could actually make it our own. I always had visions of things and my pinterest boards are full of them.  But I’ve felt stunted in making any actual progress. When we first moved in a made a list of things that needed to be done and things I wanted to do to the new place. And it has been slow moving. Being a one income family is a big part of that but our main priority has been tackling our debts.  And we’ve been successful.

I think the most recent discovery I’ve personally made in regards to updating and personalizing our home is that it really can happen, a little bit at a time. I get so excited and motivated by other blogs and photos that I forget that they did the same thing. I don’t have to spend hundreds immediately to get the results I want now, even.  Besides when major projects get tackled it can get very overwhelming, very quickly.

img_8007The most recent dilemma I have in my home is this large vaulted wall. We put the large wedding photo up the week we moved in because we didn’t know where to put it AND there were still lots of nails and screws hanging out and that particular one was a sore sight, along with the thermostat. (I mean, really, in the middle of the wall??)  So my father put it up and it’s been the main focus since we’ve been here.  I love it but my wall needs help and I know it’s the perfect wall for a gallery.

So follow along as I share our journey in transforming our house into a home and improve our lifestyle as we strive to Enjoy Living Simply.

~ Nikki


You may wonder: Why another diy/décor/budgeting blog?

I feel that this has been a slow process for me. One point in time that I’m thinking of is 7 years ago, just before I got married. My sister had gotten married the year prior and her husband couldn’t figure out why she had so much stuff. At that time it was 2-3 keepsake boxes, from my parents house, living in their townhome attic. It was clutter. Yes, memories, but it could be condensed even more.

This got me thinking as I was moving my belongings and my boxes of keepsake into my now husband’s  place. Between work, school and other responsibilities I was going through and condensing. Priorities. Then with kids things slowly get out of control.

When we moved to Texas, it was super hard but very liberating to get rid of and not have to pack things around. We went from 3200 sq ft, although we lived upstairs (1500 sq ft) we took full advantage of roaming space and storage as well,  to 1200 sq ft. It’s only 300 sq ft difference but the layout was very different and very cramped. We had big closets for storage and massive bedrooms that were a little excessive because we had zero actual living space. We later moved to another apartment about 1100 sq ft, larger living space but zero closet (read: storage) space.

Living in Texas has opened my eyes immensely. The majority of homes have no basements aka ZERO storage. (It makes me cry almost daily.) So you either have to be very clever with the space you have or declutter like crazy and still be creative with your storage.

While living in that last apartment I made the decision to declutter everything I could set my eyes on. I wanted to do it then, so we would move less when we found a home, but reality set in and I knew I’d have piles of donations sitting around and we’d still end up moving it. So I waited.

It was that moment, my “Aha!” moment a year and a half ago that I knew I needed a more simple life. I was overwhelmed with clothes and just overall things. Even now, when my counters get cluttered with papers, I almost can’t even function because of how chaotic I feel that things are around me.

Join me as I continue to find and apply ways to simplify my life. And hopefully provide some new insight to you to do the same.