When NOT to DIY….In Praise of Expertise! Part One!

Mr. S and I are confirmed DIYers.
Even if it means many trips to the hardware store….and lots of trial and error….we LOVE the feeling of a project well done by US!

A few months ago, we decided that our master bathroom had gotten pretty shabby after 25+ years of hard use.

 It wasn’t AWFUL…just outdated with a few spots that were down right worn out!

We considered the option of doing a lot of the work ourselves.
We looked at the scope of the project.
We knew that Mr. S was still in recovery mode from his ankle replacement.
Even though we knew it would be more expensive to let the
experts take care of it…we GULP…decided that the DIY route wasn’t in the cards for this remodel.

So….we hired a general contractor and put together a plan and got an estimate for the work.
The sticker shock was a bit hard to take….and then we thought about what was involved and decided to go for it!

It turns out that in this case….spending the money and relying on the experts was not just sensible….it probably was a pretty cost effective way to go.

Let me tell you why!

The first set of experts that we used were the people at the Tile Shop.
We went in….told them what our vision was…..and let them lead the way!

In less than an hour…..with Mr. S wheeling his way through the shop on his tricycle…we were able to choose floor tile, shower tile and all the additional pieces.  The advice we got was superb.  Our “expert” listened to our “wants” for elegant mid-range tile that would stand the test of time.

 Then it was off to find the fixtures…..
We started at the logical spots Home Depot and Menards.  That was not the way to go!  While there were many options…it was too overwhelming to put the package together.  Especially since I had my heart set on a free standing tub that was a good quality.  Many hours of on-line shopping and wandering around in a fog at the big box store….we headed to Fergusens.  This is a bath and kitchen source with a great show room.  We made an appointment for a consultation.  We shared our budget and design parameters and….Two hours later…..our salesperson guided us through the process and we had the whole kit and caboodle selected.  We got EXPERT advice and everything matches!  He even found the perfect free standing tub for way less money than I thought it would cost.

Lessons learned:

  • Do your homework.…so you can tell those experts what you do like and what you don’t like. This does mean lots of looking on line to see what is available.  That time pays off when you are actually making selections.
  • Set a price range and be willing to tell your expert what it is.  There is no shame in sticking to a budget…..but….if you fall in love with something see if there is something less expensive to be found.
  • Don’t obsess….the choices were overwhelming….but really…once we decided on the gray marble look and the subway tile we could really shop price because the high end and low end aren’t all that different.  As long as you talk quality….you can find a mid-range product that will work.  Making the decision to stay with one tile source and one fixture source saved us not just time….but money.
  • Listen and Learn…we found out so many things from these people about all the little things that were necessary and available…and how to save money as well.  If we had set out to do this without the advice we would have been making lots of trips to fix our mistakes.  Instead…we were able to have everything ready for the project to begin and stay on schedule.

Speaking of SCHEDULE….my next post will take you through the actual construction and demonstrate how using experts made sense for us!
Would you believe that the whole project started a month ago and we are only waiting for the vanity counter to be completely finished?

 I can’t wait to show you how it turned out!
Stay tuned….

Have A Great Day!

Dollar Store Tips

I have only recently become a Dollar Store shopper.
And….I am not exactly a fanatic about shopping there. 

Face it….some of the stuff in there looks exactly like it cost a dollar!


there are some things to be found that are really pretty good bargains.

Since I am pretty new to the Dollar Store scene, I only have a few tips to share about how I shop there.  But, you know me, I always do my research to see what other people know about a subject and I will share a bunch of links from folks who are far more expert and perhaps a bit more fanatic about Dollar Store shopping.

These are some things I shop for at the Dollar Store:

Poster Board is a staple at Sweetwater.
I use it for backgrounds when I take photos.
I use it to back framed art.

Poster Board at the art supply store is super expensive.

At the Dollar Store….it is 2 for $1

That is a super good deal.

There are always some fun flower picks to look through.
I like the baby’s breath and especially the faux bear grass sprays.

Marvin the Sweetwater Cat eats any real bear grass in my flower arrangements…(and then of course proceeds to hack it up).

I fool him by using these Dollar Store picks mixed in with the real blooms. 

They can be used over and over! 

I think I must be harder on gardening gloves than anyone I know.  My fingernails go right through the ends after only a few days. 
Garden gloves from the garden store are super expensive.

Imagine how thrilled I was to find these latex grip gloves for $1!

I could by 6 pair for the price of one from the garden store.

I have also found that cool mesh ribbon and burlap ribbon.  These are real steals for $1.

When all but one of the real succulents in my planter bit the dust…..I headed to the Dollar Store for a fix.

Would you believe that the succulents in this garden are FAKE?
Would you believe that they came from the Dollar Store?
I did add a bit of craft paint to soften the obvious fake colors….but hey…I think they could fool a lot of people.

Now as promised, here are some Links to other tips about Dollar Store Shopping.

Bargain Babe has a list of 10 Things You Should Always buy at the Dollar Store.

She also has a list of 67 things….here

Can you imagine buying 67 things at the Dollar Store?  I can just hear Mr. S……”you bought what?”

Did you know that the Dollar Tree actually has a BLOG?

And for a giggle…you really need to go see all of these Dollar Store Hacks that some kids did as an assignment for a class.  They are really a hoot

Well that is all for now….I guess I could head to the Dollar Store….but my first love is still Good Will…so I am off to find some thrifty bargains there…..

Have A Beautiful Day!

The Problem With New Furniture!

It seems like ages ago that Mr. S,  the Sweetwater Grandboy and I went shopping and bought a new sofa.
It WAS ages ago….November in fact!

Don’t you just hate it when they tell you that your new furniture will be here in 6 weeks and it takes more like 15!!!!
The store finally called last week to schedule the delivery!
I was so happy.
I had a meeting and was gone when the sofa was delivered.
When Mr. S asked where I wanted them to put it….I said it should go right where the old one was.
Sounds like a plan….

The sofa was in place when I got home…
…and it is absolutely wonderful!I love it….

  • Great neutral color that goes with the new wall paint and the rattan chair cushions.
  • Long enough for Mr. S to stretch out on at naptime.
  • Deep cushions to cuddle into.

BUT…..something was just a bit off with the room arrangement!

Mr. S was off to go ice fishing for 3 days.
I figured that rearranging could wait…..but it was bugging me that my beautiful new couch was not in the right spot!

And then….
Sweetwater Daughter to the rescue!

When I “whined” about the arrangement….she said….”Let’s just DO IT!”

I love moving furniture with her….she doesn’t get “an attitude” 
when something needs moving more than once! 
I am sure you know what I mean!

We got moving!
Now the room looks like this!

I guess there are “rules” for arranging furniture!
If you are a rule follower, here are a couple of sites to look over:

This link is from Better Homes and Gardens.  Once you register, you can virtually move your furniture around.  “Say What? ”

 Furniture Arranging Tool –‎ 

These rules are pretty good…..and amazingly I think I followed a lot of them!

10 Rules for Arranging Furniture 

The problem with RULES is that you don’t always have the pieces that allow you to follow the rules!
The problem with RULES is that you can’t just go out and buy new stuff….especially when you just spent your furniture budget on a new couch!
Instead of going out to buy new things to follow the rules….
I “shopped” the house!

There are a few more tweaks to do…..hey….at Sweetwater the decorating is never done!
Sadly, drinking red wine on the couch is a thing of the past! It is good that the little leather loveseat is comfortable and easy to wipe clean!
But for now…..I am going to sit on my new couch with a clear glass of water and enjoy!

Have A Wonderful Day!

Blog Parties

Wow Me Wednesdays

Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree!

The plans for the Christmas Tree we are decorating for the Auburn Homes Festival of Trees are complete!
We are thrilled to be part of this fun event!
The day to decorate is next Thursday!
The theme this year is Christmas Carols!
The theme for our tree is
“Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree!
All of the components ready to go!
It is good that we did a lot of planning ahead of time!
we are getting close to the due date for the Sweetwater Grandbaby!
Somehow I don’t see the  Sweetwater Daughter able to climb around on ladders by then!
We will let her come and be the “decorating director” if she is still waiting to go into labor!
We have gotten some back-up decorating help from the Sweetwater Niece!
I thought you might like to take a peek at the things we have found to create a unique and fun take on the theme!
What a great score at GoodWill!
4 boxes of these 45s for $3.99 a box.
They will go on the tree using skinny black ribbon!
(note to self….buy some skinny black ribbon)
These “classic hot rods” are really cardboard food trays for a 50’s party theme.
What a find for $1.50 each.
Won’t they will make a big impact nestled into the branches of the tree?
We learned last year that larger objects on the trees add a lot of drama!
The records and the cars fill that bill!
We got some of these little cardboard Jukeboxes from the same place!
Not sure if the scale is right….so we may or may not use them.
What do you think?
A Poodle Skirt from Amazon will be the perfect tree skirt!
The black and white ribbon will reflect the “malt shop” theme!
Nothing says the 50s like black an pink!
These shatterproof pink ornaments and silver tinsel garland will complete the look!
The garland is from Amazon and the ornaments from Christmas Central!
I can’t wait to put this whole thing together!
I think we have come up with a pretty unique take on the Christmas Carol theme!
We are still trying to figure out a tree topper…..any ideas would be most welcome!
Have A Great Day!
Link Parties

Girls Weekend Wander in Waconia!

Saturday was a beautiful Fall day in Minnesota!
The sun was bright….
The temperature hit 80 degrees….

Mom is less than a month away from leaving us to travel to her Winter home in Florida!

What better than to gather all the girls for a fun day of shopping and lunch in the beautiful lakeside town of Waconia!

There are lots of fun little shops to explore….and a great lunch destination on the lake!
Check out all that this little gem of a town has to offer:  Destination Waconia!
Come along and share the day with me!

Our day started with shopping of course!
We browsed all of the cute stuff at The Shop Around the Corner

 This darling little shop finally got me in the mood for Halloween!

It is filled to the brim with great little crafted items….


  These little burlap notebooks…..

And what princess can live without hooks in the shape of crowns?

 I actually splurged and bought myself this cute Halloween owl….

 Then scrounged around the yard and found the perfect branch for him to perch on…..
I stuck the branch in a vase as the focal point in front of the entry way mirror….
You get the effect even if the lighting is hard to photograph….but it looks awesome!

 Here are some more photos from the shop….what a fun collection of goodies to browse through!

 They also had a table set up for us to make little necklaces from Dominoes! 

Then off to and The Wild Bird Store…a wonderful collection of more goodies….all in a fun casual atmosphere…..

We had plans to go to The Stash and The Apple Orchard…..but alas…..we got too hungry and headed off to Lola’s Lakehouse for lunch instead….
I guess we will have to get together again soon to do the rest of the shopping!

For more flavor of Waconia….check out the website of Brian Jensen,  a local artist who paints the most charming views of Waconia…reasonably priced prints and cards are available from his website:

 Here is a set of notecards by Brian that I matted and framed….
One for me…
and one for Mom to have hanging in her winter home so she can have “Waconia” in Florida!

Framing notecards is a great way to cheaply display fun prints!

What a wonderful day we all had…memories like this truly are PRICELESS!

Link Parties:

Seasonal Sunday