Slow Cooker Nacho Bake

I love a good crock pot recipe that doesn’t require any prep work . . . and try really hard to find those most  of the time, but sometimes that’s awfully hard to do with ground beef recipes!  However, I’ve found that during the school year my afternoons are the busiest part of my days,so I’m more than happy to do a little prep work in the morning if it saves me big work when the craziness hits around here.


So, while this isn’t the easiest slow cooker recipe ever, it requires less than 20 minutes of prep work, which can be done on your own schedule. If you don’t have time to brown the beef in the morning, just brown the beef the night before and then throw in the crockpot heading out in the morning.  And, enjoy a yummy plate of nachos when you get home!


Slow Cooker Nacho Bake


  1. 1 lb ground beef, cooked and drained
  2. 1 can refried beans (we were out of these, so I left them out!)
  3. 1 can red kidney beans, undrained
  4. 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  5. 1 pkg. taco seasoning
  6. 1 cup salsa
  7. 1/2 cup water
  8. salt and pepper to taste
  9. 1 tsp. garlic powder
  10. tortilla chips 
  11. Shredded Cheese
  12. Extra toppings (we used lettuce, tomatoes, onions, green onions, salsa and sour cream)


  1. Brown ground beef in skillet on stove.  Drain off any grease.
  2. Add ground beef, refried beans, kidney beans, tomato paste, taco seasoning, water, and garlic powder to crockpot.
  3. Cook on low 4-6 hours or high 2-3 hours.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Arrange chips in the bottom of a large baking sheet.
  6. Spoon meat mixture over tortilla chips.
  7. Top with cheese and tomato.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes or until cheese has melted.
  9. Top with extra toppings, and enjoy!


Recipe adapted Full Bellies Happy Kids.  If you need a little more menu inspiration, go HERE

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My New Office Space + Why Patience (& Choosing What You Really Value) Is So Important

home office

Be prepared for a long-crazy-drawn-out-chatty-post ~ I’ve got so much to say on this one and want to save it all for myself to look back on one day! :)


Back in late 2013 when we found out we were moving to Ohio, I was pretty shocked. After working on PPP day in and day out for 4 years at that time, we had just built the office of my dreams, and I was so in love with my little space.

home office

For a jillion reasons I had some serious emotions tied to our home ~ it was where we brought our youngest child home from the hospital, where all my kids headed off from on their first day of kindergarten, and where we fell in love with a community who so supported us during some very difficult days when my father-in-law was so sick.


And beyond that, it was where I started this little penny pinching business, and kind of found myself as a small business owner.


my makeshift desk at one point during the move – working from the top of a Rubbermaid cooler is not the way to go! :) 

So when we found out we’d be heading to Ohio, I was almost grief stricken (which I totally didn’t expect to be.) 


It was so hard. 


home office

Honestly? Watching our kids struggle through the move has been the toughest thing our marriage has faced.


So last summer, when we made the move I cried so. many. days. (which is so-not-normal for me), but the best gift my husband gave me was to encourage me to really dream big. 


When he found our home here (during the 6 months I stayed in Alabama with our kids to finish out the school year), I was determined to come up with a way to get my office done while they were finishing the new construction on our home. But James kept reminding me that it would be better to wait and live in the space before making any major decisions.

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I wasn’t happy (at all.)


But I’m so glad now he encouraged me to just wait. 

So last summer we spent $49 on an Ikea desk, and worked there for the last year which was just tough some days. The space was tiny, the room was kind of a dark pit that just depressed me, and I spent any free time I had perusing Pinterest for design ideas. (You can follow my Pinterest office design board over HERE.)

We had a few cabinet makers come out and talk about building cabinets on one wall, but the room was just dark and dreary, and I knew cabinets wouldn’t really fix the problem.


So I scrolled (and scrolled and scrolled) whenever I could on Pinterest, and as my husband and I were driving one day it occurred to me that what I really needed was a window.


I looked at my husband and said “could we just put a window in that wall?”  He thought for a second, realized we only had siding on that side of the house, and we knew we’d figured out how to make this room into just the perfect space for me. 

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So we started taping out design ideas on the walls, and James drew up a basic plan of what we wanted. We then contacted a few local design firms as well as My Handy Mate from Columbus, and after talking to Jassen at My Handy Mate we knew he’d work with our space.


In May we finally really had the plan in place, and the window went in (although it ended up in the wrong spot initially – but Jassen was amazing and replaced it for us correctly without any questions asked – I appreciated his willingness to make things right so much!) His team began work on our project (despite an incredibly devastating loss of one of his employees during the build ~ my heart just broke for his family.) But they totally gave me the office I’d only dreamed about.


When we bought our house we planned a budget for this room and our outdoor space because we knew we’d want them done fairly quickly after moving. And honestly? I almost feel guilty working in such a beautiful space. I know there are so many folks who work day in and day out and I feel overwhelmed and humbled to have this just-so-perfect space.

home office


But for six years I’ve typed on PPP every single day (I do mostly take Sundays off, but still work about an hour or two on Sundays just to manage emails and Facebook.) The only real days I’ve taken fully off are Thanksgiving and Christmas each year, and when we travel on vacation my laptop always come along with us.


And, because we’ve always chosen to live on one income, the money from PPP doesn’t get spent except to donate and save for our kids’ college funds. We have used some of the income for a few specific projects (like this one!), but any income earned goes into a separate account that we try not to touch.

home office


That means that even though we both (at least for right now!) have fairly successful careers, we still clip coupons, still shop with a menu plan, still try to budget less than $85 a week for groceries for our family of 5, and still rarely eat out at more expensive restaurants. Our kids still wear some Goodwill and Schoola clothes, I still shop Goodwill as often as I can for bits and pieces of furniture, and my lovely Honda has almost 200,000 miles on it. (I LOVE THAT AND AM KINDA PROUD OF MY BEAT UP MINIVAN!) :)


I guess I’m sharing all this to let you know that this hasn’t come without a price. We’ve chosen that the things we love for our family are vacations, pretty spaces in our home, and giving to other folks as we’re able. We’ve decided that we don’t love expensive groceries, high end clothes or purses, and fancy cars. And for us, with a lot of work (seriously y’all – a lot) it’s been a crazy fun blessing to watch.

home office

Okay, enough of my rambling ~ ready to take a peek? Here we go 😉


Here were the before pictures . . . 

This is what it looked like last May when we moved in ~ there is a window to the right that you can’t see but that was it.

We cleaned it out and put in my Ikea desk,

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And this was where we taped out the window on the wall . . .

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I can’t believe I don’t have better before pictures – but you can see where James basically taped the vision for the room out around the initial window space in this picture. We did that last December, and basically had a room with a bunch of tape on the wall for about six months (we moved around the tape to devise our plan several time during those months!)


And then.


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This happened. 😉 

home office


home office

Here’s Orville from My Handy Mate, who is the nicest guy and did amazing, awesome work every single day. He went way above and beyond (seriously, the guy worked his 12 hour days many days!) to give me the space I dreamed of.


home office

home office

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I chose butcher block for the countertop because in our last office I’d spent a ton on granite, and it was always so cold that I could never even use it to type from. In the winter here I knew I’d freeze with granite, so this butcher block was a great (and more affordable) alternative.

home office

I used a leftover piece from the desktop to make this wooden sign (I saved $65 by making it myself), and am so pleased with the results (just hoping I can convince my hubby to hang it up on the wall for me ~ it weighs a ton so it’s still on our to-do list.)

home office       home office   home office

home office

 home office

home office


I found the chaise at Home Goods for $399 (which was so exciting ~ I’d seen them for $900 elsewhere so I was thrilled at that price!) The small table and lamp are from Home Goods as well, and I think cost around $200.


And this folks? It’s my new view. :) It’s making the thought of winter just around the corner and snowy days where I’m snuggled inside looking out just a little more exciting around here. :)




If you’re in a place where your finances are overwhelming, or you’re just sad about a difficult situation, I so encourage you to truly dream. big.

(Read more HERE on how to make life more liveable during a difficult season ~ these tips truly saved me last summer!)



Back when we were first married and really pinching pennies I would never in a million years have dreamed I’d get to work every day from home in a space like this, but almost twenty years of penny pinching and lots of work choosing to wisely use our finances have so changed our family’s financial future. Be encouraged that you are learning something, today, in whatever situation you’re in which will help you reach your next financial goal, and it is so worth it. 




Okie dokie, way more than enough of me chatting :) I’d love to your thoughts ~ leave a comment to share!




And by the way, I can’t say enough good things about Jassen and his crew from My Handy Mate ~ you can see more of his work HERE and HERE, and if you’re in the Columbus area and looking for a job big or small I definitely recommend giving him a call. 
I’d love for you to join me over on Pinterest (I love that place!)  If you have a blog and have done a little fluffing in your home, I’d love to see it, so leave your link in the comments section. Also, if there’s a craft you’ve seen on a website that you’re hoping to make, feel free to share that link as well (I’m always looking for new ideas!)

See previous Friday Fluff Up projects and ideas . . . and Happy Fluffing!


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Clean The Cupboards Out Pizza Pasta Bake

Looking for more penny pinched recipes? Here you go!


Like I’ve shared with you all this month, we’ve been working on  a once a month grocery shopping experiment, and this week it was time to really dig deep and see what I could use in from our kitchen! I had several items in my fridge that I needed to use up, so I quickly came up with this Clean-the-Cupboards-Out-Pizza-Pasta-Bake.


It was delicious.


My whole family devoured it, my youngest even commented (after sticking her nose up before the very first bite), that “this is actually pretty good mama.” And it even made enough for leftovers later in the week.


So, if you need some dinnertime inspiration, this might just be for you! Here’s what you’ll need . . . 


Clean The Cupboards Out Pizza Pasta Bake


  • 16 oz pasta (we used rotelle)
  • 24 oz cottage cheese or ricotta (I like ricotta better but needed to use up the cottage cheese that was in the fridge)
  • 16 oz mozzarella, divided
  • 24 oz spaghetti sauce
  • pepperoni (optional)
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • parmesan cheese




  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Cook pasta according to package directions.
  • While pasta is cooking, brown ground beef. After ground beef is browned, add spaghetti sauce and pepperoni and heat through.
  • Mix together cottage or ricotta cheese and mozzarella in bowl, then add in ground beef mixture.
    Add cooked pasta into spaghetti mixture.
  • Spoon ingredients into greased casserole dish.
  • Top with additional mozzarella and and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  • Remove foil and bake an additional 5 minutes.
  • Enjoy!

If you need a little more menu inspiration, go HERE



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DIY Butcher Block Sign (Saved $65!)

DIY Butcher Block Sign


I saw this sign a few weeks ago at Alter’d State (I love that store and am so glad they opened one in Columbus!) It was priced though at $75 (yikes), and I knew there had to be a way to make it for less.




Well, this week when my office finally was completed (watch for pictures next week!) some of the butcher block from countertop was leftover and I knew I could make it myself. I’d wanted the sign for my office, so this was the perfect way to make good use of what we already had.


I’ve always loved Proverbs 31, and debated between this and the phrase “Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound.” (I’m all about grace around here!) But since I struggle so much some days with behaving like a girl who’s clothed in strength and dignity (anyone else?), I chose this one as a daily reminder to myself.


I used my Silhouette Cutting machine and some left over paint, and finished it in about an hour.


Note to self – what looks easy NEVER is easy . . . I couldn’t believe it took that long!


I found Silhouette Stencil Material at Michaels this morning (they had it for $9.99 – it’s a little cheaper on Amazon), but honestly I wasn’t all that impressed. It was very hard to pull away from the backing (literally, that took me 45 minutes!), and while maybe I could re-use the stencil again to make a similar pattern somewhere else it just wasn’t all that easy.

(I’ve used vinyl before on projects and it’s worked so well – I’ll use that again next time!)


But, once that was done it was easy to paint in the stencil, and I couldn’t believe how well it turned out! I spent $9.99 for the stencil material compared to $75 at the store, and I couldn’t be more pleased. Love it!


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(I’m still debating furniture in my office and picked up this table and lamp today at Home Goods – that’s why the tags are still there but I’ll share the complete room next week! )


I’d love for you to join me over on Pinterest (I love that place!)  If you have a blog and have done a little fluffing in your home, I’d love to see it, so leave your link in the comments section. Also, if there’s a craft you’ve seen on a website that you’re hoping to make, feel free to share that link as well (I’m always looking for new ideas!)


See previous Friday Fluff Up projects and ideas . . . and Happy Fluffing!



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How We Saved $10,000 By Doing It Ourselvses

You guys.


I’m not gonna lie, saving $10,000 by doing most of this project ourselves was not. easy.


And I’m also not going to tell you we did it all for $100.


Not even close. At all. Crazy.


But, I am going to tell you that if you’re willing to put in some serious work and researching you can save a bundle by doing home projects yourself.

To make my life easier (uploading these pics separately was nuts!), here’s a video of how the actual fireplace took shape.

A few notes on the video:

  • We saved $500 by pouring the concrete foundation for the fireplace alone – it was a lot of work but took about 2 hours so we figured James and I made a $125 hour rate and a little exercise too.
  • The stone for the hearth was HEAVY. It was a miracle James & Jackson were able to move it into place!
  • The size of the original fireplace was fairly narrow, so James bought $20 in concrete block to beef it up a bit.


Last Spring when we moved to Ohio we knew we wanted a pretty patio to enjoy. We love being outside, and have a beautiful yard but missed the outdoor space we’d had in Alabama.


When we moved, we budgeted immediately some moo-lah for this (backyard living spaces aren’t cheap!) and got a few estimates.


Because our kids are getting older (I have a sophomore. in. high. school. CRAZY.) we knew that we wanted the space pretty quickly so that we could enjoy it while our kids were still at home. We’ve always been pretty patient and usually wait several years before tackling major home projects, but since we’d budgeted for this from the day we purchased the home, we knew it was something we wanted to tackle pretty quickly.


One of the biggest things I struggled with when we moved is that after 18 years of marriage we’d pinch our pennies to re-do three homes to varying degrees, and I just hated to start again after feeling like our home was almost done. We really planned to stay in our Alabama home forever so the move was tough! When we looked for homes here we made sure we had money set aside for the backyard and office updates which has helped so much. I’m so glad we did because it’s made these updates much more manageable!

So, we got an estimate for the backyard last summer, including the patio, deck, landscaping and a fireplace (knowing that we would likely do some of it ourselves.)


However, when the estimates all came in between $22,000 and $24,000 (YIKES), we knew we’d be doing quite a bit of it ourselves! Like I shared last week, we did hire someone to put in the stamped concrete patio, but tackled everything else on our own.


Here’s the before (remember?)


And here’s the after . . .



This is the view from our back porch before . . .

And here it is today . . .




Like I said, we still spent a bundle, but saved a ton. There were a few things that we paid more for than we probably had to, but for us they were worth it for the convenience. So, just to be honest with you all, here’s what we spent (which is still so much, but added value to our home and we already enjoy it so much!)

  • Semco Outdoor for Stone Fireplace Kit, Stone Hearth from Lang Stone, Cedar Mantel from Columbus Millwork, and fireplace stone and mortar from Reitter Stucco $6401 (looking back we probably could have done this for less by building the fireplace out of concrete block, but the kit made it much easier to build, which was worth it since it was the first time we’d tackled a project like this)
  • Patio Landscaping – $1954 (included stacked stone around the fireplace, 5 trees, plants, topsoil, mulch ~ I can’t believe this cost that much, but it went up fast!)
  • Poured concrete patio $2800 
  • Stacked stone column $165
  • Total = $11320
  • Savings from $23,000 estimate = $11680



My amazing-fantastic-he-must-really-love-me-a-bunch husband has never tackled a project this large, but did just an incredible job. By working on smaller projects when we first were married he learned the ropes, and got his confidence up for this monster. I couldn’t be more pleased with it!


While this was a lot of work, getting what we dreamed of was completely worth it (, and we were able to decide exactly how things would end up. We still have little tweaking to do, but I’m so proud of his work (along with his awesome sidekicks – our kids Jackson and Caroline were an amazing help, and we just paid them in half price Sonic milkshakes this summer!) :)

Have you tackled any major DIY projects in your home? I’d love to hear what you’re up to!

Looking for more landscaping posts? Here are a few: 

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I’d love for you to join me over on Pinterest (I love that place!)  If you have a blog and have done a little fluffing in your home, I’d love to see it, so leave your link in the comments section. Also, if there’s a craft you’ve seen on a website that you’re hoping to make, feel free to share that link as well (I’m always looking for new ideas!)


See previous Friday Fluff Up projects and ideas . . . and Happy Fluffing!



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Our Backyard Makeover Part 2: Deck, Patio, and Flower Bed



After tackling the flower bed on the side yard, our next big goal was to get a small deck added to the back of the house and add a stamped concrete patio. As I shared last time, we did most of the work ourselves, but did hire a company to lay the stamped concrete, as that was too big a project for us to take on ourselves.


We chose stamped concrete instead of pavers because of the long term maintenance (we didn’t want to eventually have to weed between pavers), and my husband had heard that pavers sometimes shift. Stamped concrete can be considerably less expensive than pavers, so we decided that was the best option for us. (I do absolutely love the look of pavers, but am pretty pleased with the way the patio turned out!)

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After the patio was laid, it kind of looked to me like it hovered too high above the ground and I just wasn’t sold that we’d done the right thing. My (wise!) husband assured me it was going to turn out perfectly (I so didn’t trust him!), but after adding in stone and landscaping, he was absolutely right.

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It took about two days (and a jillion trips back and forth to pick up new stone) for the kids, James and I to complete the flower bed around the patio. Once it was finished, we added landscaping (the difference landscaping made was huge!) and since James and I are both pretty addicted to landscape nurseries, we had the best time picking out the right plants. (See how we’re keeping those flower beds mostly weed free over HERE.)

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Neither of us have any real background in landscaping (other than what we’ve done as we’ve moved from  house to house to update the yard), so this was probably the biggest job we tackled. Honestly, once the bed was done planting it was easy and is one of those things that you can do yourself and feel so rewarded when you’re finished.

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I’m in love with the funky Japanese Maple we found for the center of the back, and we’ve always loved Stella D’oro Daylilies so we picked a bunch of those as well. We both thought the the lavender in bloom was so pretty (see it above), and I’m so pleased that now that the lavender’s no longer bloom those Stellas are taking over. So fun to play with pretty plantings!


The big project (um, huge) has been that fireplace and it’s almost there. I’m so hoping we’ll have it ready next week to show you (you can keep up with updates over HERE on instagram), and while I totally think it’s worth doing things yourself, this one has been a monster project for us.

So, there you have it! Can’t wait to show you the final reveal next week . . . so exciting! :)


Looking for more landscaping posts? Here are a few: 

I’d love for you to join me over on Pinterest (I love that place!)  If you have a blog and have done a little fluffing in your home, I’d love to see it, so leave your link in the comments section. Also, if there’s a craft you’ve seen on a website that you’re hoping to make, feel free to share that link as well (I’m always looking for new ideas!)


See previous Friday Fluff Up projects and ideas . . . and Happy Fluffing!


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Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings

Slow Cooker Chicken & Dumplings
Looking for more penny pinched recipes? Here you go!

Of all the recipes I’ve posted here on Passionate Penny Pincher, these Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings (and of course everyone’s favorite Italian Beef) are consistently the ones people mention to me, and I notice folks searching for them almost daily on PPP. My kids love them and would happily eat them once a week if I’d make them that often!


These are just so easy, and while I love to make these homemade Chicken and Dumplings (so good too!), you can’t beat these for a busy weeknight. (You can also try out this Chicken & Dumpling Casserole  . . . can you tell we like some Chicken & Dumplings around here?) 😉


If you have extra time you could make your own cream of chicken soup, and even use homemade biscuit doughThis recipe is super adaptable, and some yummy comfort food if your family loves chicken and dumplings like my bunch does. Here’s the recipe so you can get started . . .


Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings


  • 1-2 pounds chicken breast
  • 2 10 oz cans cream of chicken soup (can substitute with homemade cream of chicken soup)
  • 1 10 oz. can chicken broth (I use bouillon cubes)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 2 10 0z cans inexpensive biscuits cut in quarters


  1. Place chicken breast, soup, broth, water, salt, garlic powder, pepper & onion in crockpot.
  2. Cook on low six to seven hours.
  3. 1 hours before dinner time, add quartered biscuits to crockpot. (I use kitchen scissors to cut the biscuits.)
  4. Gently stir in biscuits so that they’re covered.
  5. Cook one more hours on low. Enjoy!

If you need a little more menu inspiration, go HERE

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How to Flash Freeze Cookie Dough

Looking for more penny pinched recipes? Here you go!



How to Flash Freeze Cookie Dough

Love warm homemade cookies but hate making a mess in your kitchen? Here’s how to make the dough ahead of time so you can whip up a batch whenever you’d like!


1. Mix your favorite cookie dough (I use this one.)

2. Drop in spoonfuls onto baking sheet (I place them close together since they won’t bake together on a sheet, you’re just using the sheets to freeze them.)

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3. Place cookie dough in freezer while on baking sheets.

4. Freeze dough until completely frozen.

5. Remove dough from freezer and place cookie dough into large plastic bags or plastic storage container. (I’ve read that you should wrap them with in plastic or wax paper first, but have never done that and the dough has been just fine.)


6. Store frozen for up to 3 months.

7. To bake, place on parchment paper and bake according to original cookie dough recipe. Enjoy!

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(See how I recently whipped up a triple batch before flash freezing over HERE. Yikes!)

Chocolate Chip Cookies


And try out my all time favorite cookie dough recipe if you’re looking for the best chocolate chip cookies!


If you need a little more menu inspiration, go HERE


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Our Backyard Makeover Part One (& 5 Reasons Why You Should Do It Yourself)



I have been waiting and waiting and waiting to share some backyard updates with you all, and we’re finally getting close to the finished results! 

Last summer when we moved from Alabama to Ohio, we were so unprepared for the state of our yard. In Alabama folks live outside just about year round, and we’d spent ten years fluffing up our backyard until it was one of our favorite spots.

(Our Alabama backyard – see more pictures HERE. We loved that yard!)

So when we moved to a new home in Ohio we were shocked at the lack of landscaping (goodness, we had no grass!) for our first summer. For a jillion reasons we were unable to get sod or any kind of green stuff in our yard all summer long. We moved to Ohio in May, and here’s a peek of what our yard still looked like in August.


(In Alabama this would have been unheard of ~ to say it was a long summer for our 3 kids with nowhere to play outside is an understatement!)

But we learned a few things (isn’t there always something to learn?) Many nights we’d head outside, walk around our rocky yard (it was so rocky that you could hardly walk without wearing hiking boots) :) and imagine what we wanted for our yard.


(this is that same yard in the above picture one year later after grass and we added stone – amazing what a year will do!)


We slowly started picking up all the rocks that were in the yard (because we knew the landscapers who were handling the sod wouldn’t take care to remove smaller rocks), and ended up with a huge pile of stone that we could work with. Not knowing what to do with all that stone, we decided to slowly create a bed around one of our first flower beds. We didn’t spend a penny (other than our labor), and while it doesn’t look at all like many of the beautiful stone borders I’ve seen, it does look much better than nothing at all (and it was free! I love free . . . ) 





Here’s the view from our breakfast room the day our sod was finally delivered – such a glorious day (no joke!) 😉 



Since last summer we’ve gotten grass (WOOHOO!) and all of our flowers have started to fill in. While we’ve paid folks to have some of the work done we’ve done a bunch of it ourselves, and I’ll be sharing what we’ve finished over the next few weeks.

So what’s the value in doing it yourself? Here’s what we’ve learned (after nineteen years of oodles of DIY’ing . . . )
  1. We care about our own home more than anyone else. While we choose sometimes to pay people for certain projects in our home, no one cares about our home like we do, which means we can give ourselves the very best finished product!
  2. It’s often hard to find good help, and if you’re impatient (like me) waiting for them to get something done can make you crazy. While there are projects that we’d love to pay people for, the fact that I can decide to paint a room, head to my home supply store, purchase what I need, and come home and paint it myself all in a few hours is much more appealing than waiting for a contractor to do the work for me. So, while it may take me some time to do, I’m more than happy to work on it because I’m in control of each project’s time frame!
  3. It’s great exercise. Working in our yard has always been one of my husband’s favorite things to do, because he loves getting the exercise and just being outside. If he paid someone else to do it he wouldn’t enjoy those benefits (and isn’t someone who naturally loves to exercise), so this is an added (free!) bonus.
  4. Doing it yourself gives you a fantastic sense of accomplishment. It’s fun to have a project completely in your home, but it’s so much more fun when you can say you learned how to do something new all by yourself. I’m lucky enough to be married to someone who’s willing to learn how to do just about anything (and frugal enough not to pay people all that often), but we started out just like everyone else and have learned so much along the way.
  5. You will add a ton of value to your home when you do things yourself. The first two homes we purchased were huge fixer uppers, however we spent very little to update them because we did just about all the work ourselves. Doing things ourselves in those early years helped us put basically free equity in our homes, and has increased the value of our home each time we’ve moved.




Here are the basic projects we’ve been working on in our yard (I’ll show the steps over the next few weeks):

  1. Getting grass (this was included in the purchase of our home but didn’t actually happen until almost four months after we moved in. Crazy!)
  2. Stamped concrete patio (we paid someone to do this because it was too big a project for my husband and I to do. I’ll update with pictures next soon.)
  3. Build a small deck off the breakfast room so that we could keep our grill at the top of the steps so we could easily grill outside in the winter time.
  4. Create a flower bed using stone around the patio.
  5. Build a stone fireplace (this is a huge project to tackle, but my husband’s doing an incredible job and we’re saving almost $10,000 by doing it ourselves!)


Stop back next week to see more updates (above is just a peek), and follow me on Instagram if you’d like to sneak peeks as the work progresses. Such fun!


I’d love for you to join me over on Pinterest (I love that place!)  If you have a blog and have done a little fluffing in your home, I’d love to see it, so leave your link in the comments section. Also, if there’s a craft you’ve seen on a website that you’re hoping to make, feel free to share that link as well (I’m always looking for new ideas!)


See previous Friday Fluff Up projects and ideas . . . and Happy Fluffing!







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Guest Bedroom Update Part #3: The Finished Room




See part one and part two.


I am so stinkin’ excited to finally share some updates of our guest bedroom with you! Remember a few weeks ago when I shared how I used homemade chalk paint to repaint a $48 Goodwill headboard? Well I also used it to update the furniture in the bedroom, and painted the room as well.


The guest bedroom is a small room in our basement with just one small window (which actually leads out to a window well so there isn’t much light in that room.) I’ve never painted anything grey in my life (and really have never been a big fan of grey?), but after seeing it more and more often in rooms as I’ve scrolled through Pinterest, I decided this was my chance.  Here’s a peek at the before and after . . .





Here’s how I did it on a (mostly) penny pinched budget . . .


1. Re-used lamps from our dining room by re-painting them white. (Perfect as I recently replaced them with Goodwill lamps that were spray painted as well.)

Cost = $16 for 2 new shades at the Ballard Design Outlet in Cincinnati 


2. Added curtain panels to window and tied them back using hidden clothespins.

Cost = $14.99 for curtains and $19.99 for rod set at TJMaxx


 3. Added a chair and mirror from other rooms in our house that were no longer being used. The chair had been painted black and the mirror was off white, so I just repainted them to match.

Cost = $0 (I already had the paint on hand)


 4. Added a simple wooden set of hooks for hanging clothes.

Cost = $0 (I picked these up years ago from my the basement of my in-law’s home because they were no longer in use – love that!)


5. Re-painted these super cute nightstands in grey.

Cost = $10

These nightstands are my favorite garage sale deal ever. About nine years ago my neighbors were selling them – both he and she had made them in shop class in high school but they didn’t match (I think one was oak and one was maple.) I paid $10 for them and have repainted them three times depending on the room they’re in!


PicMonkey Collage

6. Updated these old wall hangings with a little fresh paint.

Cost = $0


 7. Repainted a Goodwill headboard with chalk paint.

Cost = $48 for the headboard, $.50 for the chalk paint by using a mismatched sample in the bargain bin

8. Repainted the bedroom

Cost = $38 for paint

I used the higher grade paint at Home Depot because it goes on easily with one coat – so worth it for me to save time and extra paint!


9. Bought new bedding at TJMaxx.

Cost = $129

This was by far the biggest expense in the room. I just didn’t see any thing else that I loved, and I love the way fresh white bedding looks in a guest bedroom. Since everything else was pretty penny pinched, this was a worthwhile splurge!


The total cost of the update came in at $217.98, and I do wish I’d looked a little harder for less expensive bedding (but I really do love how this looks in that space!  The only thing I didn’t consider before updating the room was the color of the carpet (eek!)

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 12.26.46 PM

Honestly, until I saw it in these pictures I never even noticed it was so beige (it looks pretty neutral normally, and I just didn’t pay attention to it at all!) It does show up a bit more in the pictures, but I’m still pretty pleased with the results.


I really do love the grey though, and it was a great way to try out a new color in a safe spot that could be different than the rest of the house.


So there you have it! Do you have any other suggestions on how to update a room on a budget? I’d love to hear your ideas – leave a comment to share! (And feel free to share your updated pictures on the PPP Facebook page – I’d love to see what you’re up to!)

I’d love for you to join me over on Pinterest (I love that place!)  If you have a blog and have done a little fluffing in your home, I’d love to see it, so leave your link in the comments section. Also, if there’s a craft you’ve seen on a website that you’re hoping to make, feel free to share that link as well (I’m always looking for new ideas!)


See previous Friday Fluff Up projects and ideas . . . and Happy Fluffing!









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