The No-Spend Era

Let’s roll back to several weeks ago…

We went on a vacation to Hot Springs.  We came home.  I walked into our house.  It looked bright and lovely, and so miraculously ours.  I’d cleaned the entire joint prior to leaving for our trip so that we’d walk into a nice, fresh home when we returned.  And it worked.   The house looked and smelled so clean… Which honestly, kind of surprised me.   With an older house I’d half expected to walk in to discover a stale or musty odor after days of vacancy.   But, it was perfect.  Refreshing, even.

I thought, “I really love this house”.  And I smiled widely.

Fast forward to thirty minutes later.   We decided to ditch the unpacking in favor of swimming in our pool for the first time since it was such a gorgeous day.  While I was back there, I decided to water my potted plants on the back patio, which is when SWARMS of mosquitoes rose from the base of our house and ascended upon me.

In panicked horror, I realized that mosquitoes are attracted to water.  Thus, there must be moisture around the wooden siding of our house.

Now, in case y’all hadn’t heard, Texas has been absolutely doused with water lately.  I’ve never in my entire life seen so much rain.   Three storms in particular were especially bad.   And I’ll never forget the very first of them…

Our friend happened to be visiting with his two adorable daughters.  The kids were inside playing when the skies opened up and began hammering us with a veritable waterfall of rain.   Joey, our friend, and I walked onto the back patio to watch.  Here’s the patio for any newbies out there.  Just to give you an idea of where we were…

At first, the storm was just entertaining.  “WOW!  LOOK AT ALL THE RAIN!”  and “THIS IS CRAZY!” and “I LOVE THAT WE CAN STAND BENEATH THE COVERED PORCH AND WATCH THIS!!”.

Then, our friend pointed to the ground and stated “Hey!  Look at that water!!”.

We watched in amazed terror as the water rose from the retaining wall towards the house at an alarming rate.   Within about 2-3 minutes, the water was up to the house and rising despite our feeble efforts to deflect the water with brooms (#sadplan).  Before too long (Maybe 5-7 minutes, if that??), we were shin deep in water by the retaining wall, and the water against the house was about 3 inches deep.  Fortunately, our doorways are risen up higher than than that, so the water still had a little ways to go before entering our house, but I knew… The bottom of the wood siding was NOT sealed at the foundation.  And being that the water was 3 inches deep against the siding, I feared that it was seeping into our walls that way.

We have a french drain and sump pump by the porch to help with drainage, and with normal rain, the porch remains dry…  but this rain… HOLY MOLY.  It was just SO.MUCH.WATER.  The sump pump simply couldn’t keep up.

Luckily, at this point, Joey remembered that we had an extra, back-up sump pump in the garage.  He grabbed it, removed this drainage basin grate on the opposite side of our porch…

… stuck the sump pump in there and began pumping water out of the porch.

The rain began to slow a bit, so between that, and the additional sump pump, we were able to pump the water out of the porch and away from the house.

What an adrenaline rush.  Sheesh!  It was safe to say that I definitely needed a beverage of the fun alcoholic variety afterwards.

And that was just the first of these events… It continued to rain, day after day after that.  And we experienced two more flash-flood caliber storms where water came up to our house.

Now, I have to say…  as much as this sucked for us, and as nerve-wracking as it was…  I do consider us very lucky.   We’ve had many friends who experienced flooding that actually went into their homes.   And there are Texas towns that have been absolutely devastated by the flooding… homes destroyed, fatalities, you name it.  So, this is not my attempt to complain and whine.  It’s simply the backstory to what I’m about to share with you.

I’ve mentioned before that our house was foreclosed on twice since it’s existence.  It was neglected.   Back when I was searching for the “REEEEAALLY before pics” of our home, I came across an old realty listing from 2012 when the owners prior to us purchased the home (the listing has since been removed or else I’d screen-shot it for you).   In the listing, it stated that a french drain with sump pump were newly installed.   I learned from the neighbors that it was the bank who installed them after the home was foreclosed on, not the previous owners.   My thoughts: If the bank felt the need to take on the expense of installing a french drain and sump pump, it must’ve been BAAAADDD back there.  Who knows how long water sat against the wood siding, right?

Which brings us back to that beautiful day that we returned from our vacation, and my battle with the mosquito swarm from Hades.  I basically ran from the house and grabbed Joey.  I explained what had happened and that I suspected that there was water behind the siding.   He removed the bottom piece of trim, seen here..

…and the trim literally crumbled in his hands.   Behind it, all that was left of the wood siding was the layer of paint that covered it.  The rest of it had transformed into a wet pulp that sat in an nasty pile on the ground.   We shop-vac’ed that mess up and much to our dismay discovered this…

The stud that attached our walls to the foundation was completely rotted.  Soft.  Like, I could push my finger through it if I’d tried.  Please note that the nail-head is likely where the wood used to come out to prior to rotting away…

And what concerned me most, was that this damage that you see is located right below our huge picture window.  And by huge, I mean really super large… This glorious piece of dual-paned glass measures 94″ x 70″  and gives us such pretty views of the patio like this…

It makes the porch feel like a cozy extension of the living room, and as a result, it’s one of my very favorite features of our home.   I’d be devastated if something happened to it.  Especially knowing that it’d likely cost an arm, a leg, and my first-only-born child to replace if it got damaged.

Upon the discovery of the rot, I immediately ran inside, looked behind the curtain next to the window and discovered this…

Cracked drywall.

Compressed and bowing drywall tape and framing.

Warped and bowed trim.

The photos don’t do it justice.  I blame my photography skills.  And it was dusk when I took these.

Anyways, I know for a fact that this damage was NOT there when we moved in.  Nor was it there months later when I hung the curtains.   This was recent, and likely due to the wet weather and flash-flooding.  My theory is that the wood was already rotted, but the recent moisture was the straw that broke the camels back and the wall began to sink (which in turn, caused the drywall damage).

We have no idea how extensive the damage is at this point.  We’ve had one contractor check it out so far and he flatly stated that our degree of damage was beyond his skill-set and that he wouldn’t touch it for fear of damaging our window.   We have two more contractors set to visit this week to evaluate and give estimates.  I’m praying that the damage is only that one beam and that it can be fixed quickly, while still keeping our window intact (fingers crossed, knock on wood). But we wont really know until the remaining siding is removed.  So, keep your fingers crossed for us.

In the meantime, this shall be known as “The No-Spend Era” as we wait to find out the cost of the wall repair.  I’ll be focusing on low/no cost fixes around the house and completing projects that I’ve been meaning to get done for a while (and already have the stuff for).   Sadly, my breakfast nook chairs will have to wait until the repairs are finished.  I do have a plan to make our current chairs more neutral using materials that I have on hand, though.  So, that’ll be good.

Anyways, that’s what we’ve been dealing with as of late.  I’m going to choose to think positively until told to do otherwise.  So, has anybody had this happen before?? What was your experience?

No apologies

…for year-round Christmas decor.

Never.  No way.  No how.

It’s my favorite time of year, so why limit it to just one month??

That’s what I say.

Well, that’s the conclusion that I eventually came to, anyways.

Now don’t get me wrong…. I’ll never resort to leaving inflatable Santa sleighs in my yard.   Or utilizing overly bedazzled wreaths of joy during summertime.  Or even scattering brightly colored tinsel about.  Well, maybe the tinsel.  I’m not completely made of steel. ;)

Heehee!  I kid, I kid….   What I’m actually referring to is this …..


This print that I originally spoke about in this post about free Christmas printables.   If you’ll remember, I used it in the gallery wall in our old house’s living room….


And then never took it down.

Time after time, I apologized for having a Christmas print hung beyond the holiday season to visitors who gazed upon my gallery wall.  I’d laugh and joke about my “forgetfulness”.   About how “lazy” I was for having left it..   But really, deep down in the chasm of my brain, I knew that I’d left it up because I secretly loved it.   I loved the simplicity of it.   The subtle nod toward my favorite holiday.  That little red dot after “Rudolph”.   Just looking at it made me happy.  Plus, I LOVED the contrast it added to the gallery wall.   I felt like it really completed the composition of it.

And I knew….. Unless I found a replacement that I loved just as much as the reindeer print, it would continue to take up residence on our wall.   No matter how long it took.

In all fairness, I did search for a non-holiday replacement.   I checked out Pinterest, Etsy, and completed many a google search…. It went on for several months (well, over a year, actually).   But, I never found anything that fit the bill.   Nothing that I felt compelled to pull the trigger on.   See, when it comes to art, I have to have a visceral response to it.   I know immediately whether I’m drawn to it.   If I don’t have that response, I don’t waste my time or money.   Which is why it’s taking me so long to adorn the walls of our new house.   I wanna do it right.  Thus, at this point, after six months into living here, I consider very few walls in our home final or complete.

So anyways, my search for a reindeer replacement continued until we sold our house last September.

Then, we moved and I stopped searching in favor of dealing with more pressing issues having to do with our new/old 1975 house.

Which brings us to a few weeks ago.   Remember where we left off with our pool bath??

I’d painted the room, built a pipe shelf, rustic towel hook and hung a neat New York print that I loved, but the room still didn’t feel right.   More specifically, the blank space next to the New York print bothered me.

It doesn’t seem as profound in photos as it was in person since this microscopic room is kind of hard to photograph.   But trust me, the wall felt… unfinished…  for lack of a better word.   I’ve known since hanging the NY print that I needed to hang something next to it.  And every time I thought about it, my mind automatically drifted to the reindeer print.   It was the right size, color, and composition.  It would look mighty fine up in there in my opinion.   But then, each and every time, convention would kick in and I’d find myself at war with myself…

“But, the reindeer print would be perfect there!”

“No, Christina, you will NOT be the crazy lady with Christmas decor up year round.” (Subconscious smacks wooden ruler against palm in consternation)

“But the typography!  The colors!!  The light, brightness of the piece!!!”

“NO.  No,no,no.   (Gasp!) …You can’t…. You mustn’t!”  (Consternation becomes distress as subconscious dons bonnet and channels every Jane Austen character)

“But, I love it!”

“NEVER!!  You will be shunned!  Banished!” (Jane Austen behavior morphs into overly dramatic Shakespeare with back of hand to forehead)

“But… I… LOVE… IT.”

(Subconscious finally grasps this as a solid point and quietly stares with no response)

Because really, shouldn’t your home be a reflection of you and what you love… even if it defies modern convention??  Do we not learn from all the movies and books that love conquers all??

Answer: Yes.  Sure we do.

So, I decided to take a page from the book of Nike and Just Do It.

Once I was at peace with this decision, I sprinted casually sauntered like a really cool person to my beloved print and hung it up on the wall.

Which left this….



Now, this very teeny room boasts nods to two of my very favorite things.  New York (where I grew up) and Christmas.


Which when it comes down to it, only seems right… I mean a big factor in us choosing this house to begin with was that there were multiple places to put the Christmas tree.  Well, maybe that was more of a concern of mine than Joey’s. ;)

So, anyways, now you know the long and arduous tale of a tiny project that made a big impact on a tiny room (and my very dramatic psyche). You may not agree with my decision to hang a Christmas print, but it makes me smile.  And it’s quirky.  And anyone who knows me can attest that “quirky” is definitely a mainstay of my personality (and those of my family as well) and I think that it’s only appropriate that our home reflects that.

So, what do y’all think? Christmas decor year round? Do what you love?