DIY Tips Learned the Hard Way 2

When you set a toilet in place, if it has a bit of a rock to it, no amount of tightening the bolts will stabilize it.

First, make sure it really is in place and you’ve mashed down the wax ring so that the toilet is fully on the floor. If it continues to rock, you probably have tile that is a bit uneven or some other anomaly with your floor. Here’s what you do. Go raid your kid’s piggy bank and get some pennies. Use the pennies as shims around the edge of the toilet to stabilize it, making sure the weight is distributed across several pennies.

When you caulk around the bottom of the toilet at the end of the job, it will both hide the pennies and ensure they stay in place. Assuming you use white caulk instead of clear. Which you should, for this very reason.

DIY Tips Learned the Hard Way 1

Don’t skimp on plumber’s putty. It’s just not worth it. Sure, as you tighten things down, a bunch will squeeze out that you’ll have to clean up. But that’s 10 seconds of work. Reinstalling everything 4 months after you originally installed it is much more irritating.

Refurbished Chandelier

A big thank you to my mom and dad who, in November bequeathed to us a chandelier they took down when they moved into their new home; they already owned a cherished fixture which they wanted to hang in its place. I brought the chandelier back to Dallas and with the help of an incredibly cute little blonde, blueberry-eyed boy, removed the lights and covers, and prepared it for painting:


After Nicolas and I painted the chandelier a satin black, Jay found a little piece of molding at Home Depot, which we painted to match the fixture, and a couple of weeks ago he installed the whole thing in our dining room which used to look like this:


And here it is, now with the new light in place:


Admittedly, not much of a make-over has yet taken place in the dining room…but at least we have picked a paint color! It will be fun when the walls in here are red…I am really looking forward to decorating this room!

And, I was so thrilled to find out just how simple it is to paint a chandelier and give it a whole new look. When your chandelier just happens to be free, all you spend money on is the can of spray paint (and the optional molding). Quite a deal compared to some of the other projects we’re involved with around the House of Horne!

More Surgery…

It’s been quiet here at House of Horne – not much to write about, because last week the Daddy had a big ole sinus surgery. On Valentine’s Day of all days. Highly romantic! (Poor Jay!)

Many of you are aware that Jay has an alarming propensity toward sinus infections, and gets sick quite often despite many precautionary measures and allergy meds. Well, after ongoing consultations with an ENT, it was determined that Jay had a deviated septum, among other issues. Last Wednesday, the surgeon went in to remedy that, excavate his sinuses and do a bit of other work, which perhaps Jay himself will detail for you later.

Post-surgery, Jay went to the wonderful guest quarters at his folks’ home to recover. While the children and I missed him for those 3 days, he was comfortable (as comfortable as someone who has had major sinus surgery can be!) and cared for at John/Ruth’s, and we are convinced it significantly aided in his recovery. (Thanks, Mom and Dad!) The doctors wanted Jay to move, bend, DO as little as possible after he got home. Any tiny movement those first few days served to increase the bleeding post-surgery. So, being in a place with lots of quiet, and no bouncy, albeit loving little children around, served to help in healing.

Anticipating Jay’s return home sometime this weekend, we set about preparing a surprise for him: I used my time in the evenings after the children were in bed, and some of the daytime, to prime and paint our front entry hall, which was an interesting shade of brown when we moved in. We wanted to brighten and lighten it up. Here is the way it used to look.


The children worked very hard on a homecoming sign for their Daddy which we strung up in the freshly painted hall, to greet him as he came through the front door. At his request we took no pictures of the surgery patient, but here is what he saw:


And here is a shot of the door with that same little boy standing in front of it!


After the moldings/door are painted a fresh white and the light fixture is replaced, we will be all finished in the hall!

We’ll keep ya posted on the patient’s recovery. It is wonderful to have Jay home again, though we are sorry he continues to have really hard nights with little sleep achieved. All the kids are eager to “help” make him feel better, so they are thrilled to be able to see him all during the day. For now, we are limiting visits, and saying “please be gentle!” quite a lot! But readers, I must close: I think I need to bring our patient some yogurt!

In Costume


Why do you suppose I am wearing this clever getup? I’ll give you three answers, from which you may choose your favorite:

1 – I just needed a fresh new look – after all, I’ve been wearing the same “Suburban Stay at Home Mommy Garb” for over 8 years now.

2 – Having way too much free time on my hands, I am off to a daytime masquerade party for other Mommies with Way Too Much Free Time on Their Hands.

3 – I am doing my best to protect my eyes, nose and mouth as I prepare to sand the mudded ceiling in the boys’ bathroom as part of the ongoing remodel.

If you guessed “3”, you were right on the money. The sanding went ok, though I admit I had a great deal of difficulty breathing, as I perched high on my ladder with dust raining down on me. Bleck. But, I got the job done. Here is what I looked like when I finished:


Very classy indeed!

We are making great headway on the bathroom project. Hopefully we’ll have pictures for you soon!

Such excitement!

While this may not prove vastly exciting to all our readers, I feel I have to announce that today we have embarked upon what is to us a wonderful chapter in our home improvement efforts, and one which we believe will greatly increase the aesthetic appeal of our new casa: the painting of the walls!!

For 4 months we have lived with a huge and shall I say, very much outside what we consider our taste, assortment of paint colors in this house. Everything from very sad-looking, dingy beige (not a nice, pleasing shade of cream for all of you out there who are quite happy with your more neutral-toned walls!), to a neon yellow to some color that I don’t think I could actually find in a store even if I were looking to match it – it’s an awful green paired with a blue splotchy ceiling in the boys’ bathroom. Just hideous. Given it’s one of the smaller rooms we have to tackle, and since it also needs some other attention beside just color improvement to make it functional for our little guys, we’ve chosen it for our first room makeover candidate. Here are some “before” photos for you to enjoy….stay tuned for the photos of the finished product!

Here is the sink area which has always been lacking a mirror and light fixture (the small blue circular area is where we had wire pulled so Jay can install the vanity light fixture), but has plenty of green wall to enjoy:

And here you can fully appreciate the green/blue color scheme in all its glory (actually, it looks worse in person IMHO), and see another area where we had wire dropped to allow for Jay to install a tub light:


New Headboard for Abigail’s Bed

Early last year, we returned our second borrowed twin bed to Peter/Katie for sweet Sarah to graduate into. (Thanks, guys, for the several-year-loan of your wonderful beds.) At that time, we knew a move to a smaller house was in our future, and in preparation for losing that 5th bedroom/guestroom, we moved our comfy queen-sized bed into Abigail’s room, since 1) it was the only bed we had to give her and 2) we planned to eventually allow her room to function as a guest room and a queen bed is more conducive to guests than a teensy twin!

This meant she had to say goodbye to the headboard I’d painted for her “big girl” room several years back, and so I began searching for a queen sized headboard/footboard to “girlify” her new nest. (Note: I have decided that hunting for furniture bargains is a HUGE hobby of mine. Big shocker to my husband, I know! I love being able to furnish our home for a fraction of what it would cost me to walk into a store and pick out pieces sold there.) Anyway, I gave myself a reasonable, yet modest budget ($25-50) and searched for something that could be painted. And while I came across lots of very acceptable choices it seemed impossible to find something “sweet” that didn’t look generic, or as if it were more suited to an older person than for a little girl. The other thing I discovered as I searched was that while double and full sized headboards were everywhere for the taking, there were far fewer queens to choose from. (The double size has been around forever, the queen, not so long.)

After doing some calculations and making some inquiries, I determined that one could, if one was not super picky, try using a double-sized headboard on a queen bed. And probably make it work. This made the search a little easier..and just before Christmas I found the perfect headboard. It was wrought iron with beautiful scrolls and flowers that gave it a younger feel than many of the other headboards I’d found. I bought it at this place (neat bit of trivia on this store is that the owner’s name is Horne too…so they are always happy to see me when I go in!) and came in under my budget ceiling. Always nice. Last Thursday, after a few weeks’ stay in Grammy Ruth’s guest room (where I’m told it was very happy!), we brought the headboard home and set it up with Abigail’s bed, and we LOVE IT!! When the weather gets warmer, Abigail and I will drag it back outside and have fun painting it white, per her request.


Besides pairing a full-sized headboard with the queen-sized bed, there is one more “trick” I used in setting up Abigail’s bed, and that regards the quilt on top. When she moved into her big girl room at 22months, we purchased this adorable quilt shown with the patches of little girls in various scenes all over it. It was a twin-sized quilt intended for her then twin-sized bed. But, as I mentioned earlier, we are now dealing with a queen bed. While I do hope to someday acquire/make new, queen bedding for the room, I wanted to use what she had for the time being, and we have done this rather successfully, by simply taking a queen sized quilt, flipping it over to its plain white side, and laying it on the bed, then draping her twin size on top. It may have been Stephie who suggested this wonderful idea to me, and if so, kudos to her! At any rate, the twin quilt perfectly fits across the top side of the queen bed, you can see the edges in green where it ends. It works beautifully…and perhaps it will be a helpful tip for any of you possibly trying to use a twin quilt/spread on a larger bed!


Household Unpacking and Organization, Part 1 of Many

Since I have been away from our blog for a bit, I thought I should try and update you on some of my progress around our new place. For those who are easily bored by pictures of household belongings neatly displayed on shelves and photographic proof that at least SOME of the rooms in our home are slowly becoming decluttered, just go ahead and skip this post.

The two areas in our home that have been the MOST cluttered, messy and disorganized since we moved in are Abigail’s room and the kitchen. In the case of Abigail’s room, all toys were pretty much dumped there, the kids generally used it for playing, and I just did not make an effort to cull through, separate and organize all their playthings. Lack of organization makes it hard to keep a space anything close to tidy. So, week after week, the mess got worse, Christmas busyness put some necessary jobs on the back shelf, then travel and final move out from the old house put the work off even longer. Hence, her little girl “sanctuary” has been anything but, for many weeks now.

Until last week, when during our snow day the kids and I went crazy working in there and moved boy toys to boys’ rooms, unpacked everything that belonged to Abigail, and went through carefully getting rid of things we might not need before setting her room up. Getting her things in order also involved going through the many children’s books we own, sorting them into proper age groups for our family, and also poring over all games/puzzles/creative, crafty toys and doing likewise. So, like many an organizational task, it touched on so many more places in the house than just the room we were “working on”.

While I wish I had some before pics to show you, so you could easily see just what a miracle has been wrought in Abigail’s space, at least I have some “after” shots. Here is a shot of as much of her room as I can easily capture in one camera shot given walls, doors and angles:


Here is the saving grace in her room, and what I spent most of my time getting set up to be both as functional and as pretty as is possible for me: two floor to ceiling built-ins of shelves. The shelves are adjustable, so we had the joy of rearranging them to suit the best placement of her things. (The rearranging was NOT easy or quickly achieved…but I’m so happy with the finished product.) We were able to store most of what she uses/plays with on a regular basis in this space. Here is what we came up with:


So for now, we are done in Abigail’s room. She has asked for the walls to be pink someday, which sounds like so much fun. And sometime in the future we will work out curtains and some other things. But for now, we are very pleased with the state of her room. I walk in there at least once a day and tell her, “I feel so happy in this room. It’s so peaceful and serene and NEAT!” And she smiles and giggles and proceeds to entertain me with her latest story or account of some such that has happened in the land of stuffed animals, blankies, horseys, and dollies.

House Closed! (Hooray!)

Hello, Dear Readers!

This is just a brief note to help bring closure to our house drama of the last few months. Yesterday, at 10am, we signed the documents to officially hand over ownership of our “old” house to the buyers. What a blessed relief…it is such a joy to just own one home again. And yes, I did do a little happy dance.

To those of you who have followed this house buying/selling saga in much more granular detail than we’ve provided here on our website, thanks for your patience and prayers and encouragement for the last 12+ months. We are truly blessed with so many kind and loving family and friends.

Now, we turn our attentions fully to our current home: unpacking, repairing, updating, maintaining. But first, just to keep things fun, Jay is set to undergo a bit of a surgical procedure today. Because, hey, why not celebrate a house closing with a little surgery?!?!

Old and New House Updates

I haven’t made time to post much at all this season. The already very busy Thanksgiving through New Year’s Holiday time has been that much busier at the Horne House because we have been in the process of moving along with everything else.

A couple weeks ago our realtor suggested we clear our old home of the remaining furniture to try a new strategy for marketing. It had been a little over two months since we’d gone on the market, we’d had about 50 showings in that time (including through the Thanksgiving holiday), with not one “bite”. James hoped that clearing out the house might help buyers envision themselves in the home more easily. We planned a move for last Saturday, but knew that after we cleared out furniture and belongings, that we’d need to take the plunge and replace our carpets, much of which downstairs, were in sad shape. That meant an outlay of cash, which we were quite willing to make in order to sell the home, but which we weren’t looking forward to.

Well, WHILE WE WERE STILL BRINGING THINGS OUT OF THE HOUSE, we received a call from our realtor, saying we had an offer on our home! And you cannot imagine the elation Jay and I felt. The potential buyers were from California and had already placed an offer on another home in town, but the sellers never responded to their proposal, so they moved to their second choice (us!). We had a mutually-agreed-upon contract within a day, and inspections the morning following. They were in a hurry to return home as their plane left later that day! This past week we agreed to terms on the repairs (which are very few) and as of today, we are out of the option period and PENDING SALE!

This is so amazingly providential in its timing. We will not be replacing the carpets…or fence for that matter, as we’d been planning to. While no sale is final till close date, we have a great situation with a good deal of hope that it will ultimately result in the sale of our other home. And the buyers are happy because now they have a home to live in when they move here. While they didn’t love all the cosmetics of our home, they did fall in love with our lot, which is really nice. And they can change around the insides to suit their taste.

We are so grateful for this answer to prayer…and pray this will all come to a smooth close in early January, as planned. And in the midst of this excitement, we are so grateful to have all our furniture back in our new home. Sitting on a couch in my living room, and putting my children to sleep on beds feels like a luxury after going without these things for a few months. How happy we are to be finally setting up house in our new place.

We’ll keep you posted on the sale…I know many of you have asked about this and prayed for it to happen….thank you for your love and care for us!