The ‘Stair’ that Broke the Camels Back

Have you ever watched that show “Renovation Realities”?

It’s the show where two people pitch their idea to this network on how they are going to DIY something HUGE that clearly needs a trained professionals help, and let the network record every train-wreck-moment of it…

Ten minutes into the show you are hooked on how they are possibly going to finish an entire kitchen re-install with only 3 days of vacation left. then their babysitter cancels and they have a three- year old running around screaming banging pots and pans stored in the living room because they tore apart their whole kitchen because some random you-tuber told them they could do this project in a week.

Know what show I’m talking about?

This was my life… for THREE MONTHS.

The project that would have won us an Oscar on this show though would have been the Staircase of Doom.

Horror Film? or New Staircase Build?


Now rest assured we left all the structural components up to the professionals- Carpenters put in our basement and first floor stringers- leaving for us the ‘pretty stuff’ … like treads, risers, balusters, railing and sanity.
Do you know how many code requirements are on a staircase?- It’s not like sticking some tile on a backsplash DIY- Noooo NO.  Whip out your High School Geometry Books folks.  I’m about to take you to school:



5 Things I Learned DIY’ing a Staircase

  1. Get Over Your Fear of Heights Right Now.
    • I was so terrified of that ledge.  I’d get that mad-helpful tone and cringe until we were done being close to the edge.  But the fear just meant it took longer to do.  Get over it.
    • ACTUALLY here is the PC statement:  Use proper safety precautions and consult a professional.
  2. A Jig is not just an Irish Dance
    • The calculation to find out how many balusters per stair was pretty simple- once I wrapped my head around that fact that I was building a staircase.   Measure from the back of the tread to the front of the tread and divide by how many balusters are needed on that stair-  not something you want to do on every stair-  Make a JIG.  I used a scrap piece of wood and drilled the holes for the perfect spacing so every stair was the same.  We even used one for the rail.  Ten minutes prep saved hours of measuring, plum and leveling.
  3. Don’t plan on finishing over a weekend…
    • This project took weeks. Granted we were doing multiple projects at one time with work and a four year old literally riding her tricycle up and down the hallways.  Even without the daycare atmosphere, I still believe it would have taken weeks because of drytime of the stain and varnish, measuring, angles, etc..
  4. Grab your partner, dosido…
    • Think about a staircase in your mind.  Now think of yourself at the top, then think of yourself holding the handrail that goes alllllll the way to the bottom by yourself.  Get a partner. And tell them they’re awesome, doing great, nice butt.
  5. Know your Codes-
    • This is the most annoying one of all.  Different counties have different codes and your city might be different than what county requires… find someone that knows your codes.  Call your inspectors office with the county early in the morning.  Chances are you ill grab them before they leave for the day and get all the answers you need.


Hello 29, Again…

The Boy celebrated his 30th- *ahem* 29 Again- Birthday over the last week.

Our first party in our new home.

I am a bit of a freak about my cooktop and countertops still.  I covered all of them with tableclothes and towels.  Not Kidding.

Tenley was the ‘hostest with the mostest’… omg did I really just use my mothers saying out loud…  guhhhhh _cringe_

“Mom, they need more watermelon out there!”

“Tenley, you just took a whole cut up watermelon out- there are only 4 people here-the party does not start for another 20 minutes…”

On and On and On… until she passed out in our bed at 11:45pm.


The week afterwards she kept telling me she wanted to make a cake for Dad for his birthday.  So off to the store we go.

Tenley knows a couple of things in this life for her are certain:

  1. She’s fought harder in her first days on Earth than some people will in a lifetime- (Y’all will learn more about this when I get a lil braver)
  2. “Mommy will never let you fall” is a literal and figurative statement.
  3. Daddy’s favorite color is Pink

Not saying #3 is true but my golly she is certain about it…

Things I’ve Learned Baking With a Toddler

(I like numbering things… if you haven’t noticed…)

  1. Teach them how to read ingredients.
    • Any chance I have to make her follow directions I do it.  Pillsbury and Betty Crocker make it so easy for you: they put pictures for their ingredients!
    • One day, when I have my ‘stuff’ together- I’ll make all of my favorite recipes into a Child-Friendly book so she can do this with her children too…. did i just say that… am I already making plans for my grandchildren. gosh 30 is offically that age when you think of this stuff?
  2.  Put your OCD’ness aside.
    • She cracks the eggs for me every time. Whether for breakfast, cakes, brownies… Shes cracking them.   Her technique has improved but my goodness the egg gooeyness is all on her hands and the table and her clothes and she might touch something I don’t see and SALMONELLA IS REAL PEOPLE.
    • The kitchen is an absolute mess afterwards.  But look at her smile.  There’s enough bleach in this world to conquer cook times in this household if it means I’ll get that smile.
  3. Let them show their creative side.
    • She picked it all out- from the confetti center to the pink frosting.  I learned when Tenley was very young that she is a force to be reckoned with.  She was adamant that this would be the perfect cake.  I look at baking a cake for him and think of the what if it had this filling and this mixed into the icing and how that is uneven that is not going to look right.  She sees a cake and that it is perfect.  Their worlds are so much simpler than ours at ’29 again’

…and she was right… he loved it…



The Other 7 Things I Learned From Our IKEA Kitchen Build…

So you have all 200 of your boxes accounted for and in order.

You have read your instructions.

You have your work-space clean and open

You are ready to build…

HERE are the OTHER 7 things I learned from our IKEA Kitchen Build:

    • You are going to be doing this all day, possibly all week if you have distractions like children, pets, lives or needing to eat to survive.  Depending on how many cabinets you have give yourself the time you need.img_8457.jpg
    • For us- we have a new construction- so we were able to pre-make a lot of our bases on a random Saturday night before the kitchen was ready for us and had them in a trailer.  Even with the prep work, we still spend a good week in total building and installing.
  2.  Is there another word for organize?

    Tenley sitting in our sink… watching Trolls… #parentingwin

    • There are baggies of screws and clips and covers in each box…. 234 boxes= 234 sets of screw, clips and covers.  I’m not joking.  The folks at IKEA are genius because they have figured out an affordable way to include every variation of a cabinet in one set- but the 234 baggies of screws they did not give any heads up about.
    • Save your extras until the projects complete.  The bag you throw away will be the first bag you need at 2am when you’re trying to finish up.
  3. The Peg Legs- flawed or fabulous?
    • There are these little black legs that come with the base cabinets that I completely hated when we started installing.  Why are these here?  Come to find out if you install them correctly they can be used to shim and shore up the bases.  Use them.  Use them correctly.  Like putting lipstick on a pig, they can straighten out that one horribly uneven cabinet that just doesn’t fit as well as the others.
    • We did opt to build our own island base and screwed them directly to a 2×4 base.  Don’t complicate it.  Measure at least two inches in from each exposed edge you will need a toe-kick and build a 2×4 box for the ground and add fillers on top to clear the toe-kick.  I researched this island build for days… and when i asked the boy what we should do he literally had it built in 20 minutes.  Keep It Simple Silly.
  4. Find all of your Appliance Installation manuals BEFORE you build the cabinet-
    • We went with IKEA appliances for cooktop, oven, microwave and dishwasher. The only reason I didn’t pick their fridge is because the cabinet depth french door did not have an ‘in-door’ ice option at the time.  First-world problems I’m aware.
    • Find the Manuals for these ahead of time.  If you put your microwave and oven in the same cabinet like we did it was hard to gauge how far the shelves needed to go.
  5. Toe-kicks- Yes, I almost returned them.
    • I don’t like to remember that I almost returned them because now after cleaning the kitchen for a month now not having to find forgotten Fruit Loops hidden under them.  I thought my crafty husband could come up with a cheaper alternative.  As soon as he looked at them he said immediately No.  “No, these are staying-these are going to be great”- somet
      imes he’s right?!?
    • They fit flush to the cabinet fronts and give it such a “built-in” look.  I never would have paid for this from cabinet store and for that
  6. Adjust the drawer fronts at the end.
    • For me, I was so burnt out building I couldn’t stand the meticulous task of making sure every drawer front was within 1/32 of flush and square.  I think I would have broken a door.
    • Thank goodness I did.  When all the cabinets are together, there was not much need for adjusting.  A couple here and there depending on what was beside it and done!
    • Don’t put on the hinge dampers until AFTER you’ve adjusted the cabinets.  Otherwise you’re taking everyone of those things off and on.
  7. Time to Celebrate… or put cabinet pulls on… either way
    • Grab a seat and admire your handiwork. You just built an entire kitchen from 234 boxes.  I think someone said this to me… May have been me… to myself.
    • Open and close the drawers a couple times. It is as fantastic as it was in the store.
    • This is also the time I went through with my registry and marked the cabinets I want to add interior organizers too.  Doing this on your print out will give you dimensions so you can see what size you have to work with when you’re at the store piling it into your bagcartimg_9494

I can remember points hating it.

However, as with everything in our home, I’ll talk about how much I love it far more than I talk about the struggle to get it.

All about that journey.