Welcome to Keeping Up With Mrs. Smith!
My name is Leilani, and I’m so glad you stopped by.
As a rule, no guest of mine goes hungry so please help yourself to some tea and scones. 🙂
This blog is for people who:
- Enjoy savoring and sharing good food
- Appreciate tried-and-true recipes (and not just the ones that can be prepared in 30 minutes)
- Desire beautiful, creative and organized spaces
- Find ways to DIY what is on their wishlist rather than pay full price for it
- Like gardening smarter, not harder
- Love cats
- Live in a less-than-perfect house and are slowly making improvements as their budget allows but are also feeling overwhelmed by the requirements of home improvement projects and wonder if they will ever see the light at the end of the tunnel
To those of you who fit into the latter, please enjoy another scone and know that you are not alone! I’ve SO been there. In fact, some days I’m STILL there. Restoring a home can be so rewarding and yet so discouraging. It’s for these reasons that I started this blog shortly after moving into our fixer-upper. In the process, I’ve come to believe that no matter the state of your home or budget, you can enjoy something tasty, energizing and beautiful each and every day. So whether you’re looking for DIY tutorials, tried-and-true recipes or inspiration from someone who has been in the trenches of home improvement, my hope is that you’ll find it here and that we can become friends in the journey.
Let’s keep up!
It all started with a foreclosure…
For the record, I had never wanted a fixer-upper because why purchase a home only to have to remodel its outdated bathrooms? Instead, Mr. Smith and I made plans to build our own picture-perfect home, get it right the first time and skip the whole Money Pit charade.
And then we met our fixer-upper.
When friends heard that we wanted to build, they encouraged us to check out more affordable options first and gave us an address to a foreclosure that had been on the market for several months. I must admit that our first tour was more of a break-in. The back door was locked but was so loose in its frame that it opened with a firm push (I pushed while Mr. Smith played lookout). Once inside, we tiptoed around, admiring the bay windows, the built-ins and the character of each room. Coincidentally, the house had nearly all of the characteristics we had planned on incorporating in the home we planned to build one day. Immediately, I began seeing the possibilities. Sure, the place had nasty carpet, broken windows and probably a slew of other problems, but it also had great bones and so much potential! While exploring the massive backyard, I even thought I heard the house whisper:
Help me! I’m such a good house, I just need a second chance.
From that moment on I knew that:
- We just HAD to buy this house, and
- The decision would change our lives forever.
And so we purchased the house a couple months later at a majorly reduced price. Since we’d gotten a good deal, I automatically assumed that we’d take out a massive home improvement loan and completely remodel the house within a year. Mr. Smith, however, was not on board with this assumption. Something about too many loans and needing to eat each month.
The realization of living in, well, a dump for more than a year brought my world of high expectations and fast results to a halt. This was NOT how things happened in magazines or on home improvement channels where houses go from frumpy to fabulous in a matter of days. Days, not…(gulp)…years! It wasn’t the thought of hard work that intimidated me. I’ve always enjoyed diving into sweaty projects. However, as someone who struggles with impatience and perfectionism, I knew that moving into the slow track was going to test every ounce of my courage.
My first lesson in courage was August 1, 2010: Moving Day. Mr. Smith and I and our two cats, Brody and Baby Girl, moved into our fixer-upper despite it’s lack of air-conditioning and running water. That night I blew the breaker because I accidentally flipped on our faulty bedroom light switch. The night was very warm, but I drew the covers tightly over my head in case a squirrel decided to creep down from the attic to chew on my face.
Needless to say, those first couple years were filled with sweat, tears, paint, plaster and many, MANY chances to practice courage. On the up side, we were never bored and we always had a story to tell!
One thing Mr. Smith and I vowed when we first moved in was to not let the state of our home dictate our social lives. I’ve always enjoyed cooking and sharing meals and that wasn’t going to stop just because we didn’t have air conditioning or matching furniture. For the first year and a half, we didn’t even have a stove, but we got creative and served our guests waffles and Crock-Pot dishes instead. And since it was usually too hot or musty-smelling to eat inside, we would enjoy our waffles or stew outside on the deck.
Life has been one big adventure since we moved into our fixer-upper, and I am so thankful for the experiences it’s given us. Through broken plumbing, faulty wiring, tornadoes, house fires and nighttime monsters, I’ve become a little more patient, a lot more daring and perhaps even a tiny bit more appreciative of life in the slow lane. It’s because of this fixer-upper that I started a blog, and it’s because of this blog that I’ve come to know so many wonderful people like you! I look forward to many more projects completed, meals shared and friendships made.
Current House Project:
Landscaping an entire acre full of grass burrs and weeds.
Oy….where to start?
Wish to contact me?