Outdoor Shower

I honestly was not even sure I remembered how to sign in to my blog, it’s been that long…whoops.  I feel like I need to introduce myself.

My name is Sarah.

My husband and I like DYI.  We are addicted to projects.  Perhaps a hobby sounds better than an addiction.

We have 3 boys (hence the blog name).

We live on a little piece of land.

Which leads to the project that we finished this spring, and it has been the project that is in the running for rookie of the year around here, and it has also garnered the most questions and comments from friends and family.

Let me introduce you to….

Shower 1 Sarahandtheboys

Henrietta, the outdoor shower.  Yes, I’ve named her, kind of like one would name a boat, as this is the closest I’ll probably get to a boat–ha!

I keep struggling to get a picture of her when she’s dry, because she’s rarely dry!  We use her all of the time (hence the potential rookie of the year award).

It may seem strange to have a shower outside, but around here, it works pretty well. Our kids play (or swim!) outside a lot in the summer.  It has been wonderful to be able to let them be in the great outdoors, making a mess to their heart’s content, and have them clean up and leave their mess outside before they head inside.

Added plus?  Their inside shower isn’t needing to be scrubbed.  #winning

Shower 2 Sarahandtheboysblog

Nathan and I have always had a thing for whales, so it seemed like the right spot to add a nautical touch.  If only there was an ocean down the street.  #notwinning #whydoiliveinthemidwest



The whole thing is pretty spacious.  The hooks on the inside come in super handy for wet swimming gear.


The way it’s situated, you can open the door to the shower, go immediately left into the the garage, and then another immediate left into the mudroom.

Of course, this whole deal wouldn’t be perfect for a typical suburban home (hello creeper!), but pretty perfect for our country paradise.  🙂  There’s something amazing about taking a shower on a summer day and watching the blue skies and clouds float by.


My flowers are pretty happy, too.  I’ll be back Monday with a little breakdown of how we put Henrietta together.

PS Facebook and Instagram want lots of $$$ from me to get my post into your feed (darn algorithms), so please consider just subscribing by email if you want to see more diy/project news.  Or check back in often!  I’m going to try to work harder at posting.  We’ve got so many projects in the pipeline, it’s a good time to follow!






Oh Darling, Let’s Be Adventurers

As I decorate my home, I don’t really like to rush through and buy random pieces at Home Goods/Target/Hobby Lobby, etc. just to fill a space and make it look finished.  I want the things in my home to be things I really really love or something that has personal meaning.

Our bedroom has been quite a project and I hope to share more with you soon.  Today is just a small sneak peek into the changes that have happened in that space.

I really love the quote, “Oh Darling, Let’s Be Adventurers” and wanted it to be a centerpiece in our bedroom.  Somehow.  I didn’t know how.

A quick google search found several beautiful “Adventurers” pieces of art, as there are many talented artists that have taken their own spin with that quote.  I’m not sure where the quote originated, but I’ve always loved the romantic idea of adventure with my darling.

As I searched etsy, I found an artist named Katherine DeBoor that had a style I liked.  She had an Oh Darling Listing that jumped out at me and a description on the listing that her art could be personalized.

I knew immediately that I liked her hand lettering, but I needed the art to be more us.  As in Nathan and Sarah.  You see, we like adventures.  We like the outdoors.  This year has not been our best outdoor year, as we’ve taken on this major project, but I always want to have our sights set on adventures.  I wanted it to be a reminder to us every time we walk into our room.

We love to be in boats.  To canoe.  To be outside.  We like to get our kids in boats and on the water at an early age.  Which also means camping in a tent with an infant/toddler.  Which also means no sleep.



So I knew what I wanted our adventure to look like, but I had to communicate this with Katherine.  It was there in my head, but we were having conversations over Etsy, so that’s tricky.  She’s in Indiana.  I’m in Missouri.

I sent her photos of trees that I wanted.  Boats that I wanted.


And she was amazing!  Katherine sent me probably a dozen different sketches of ideas.  We narrowed down by her sketches.  Then I changed the size.  Ok, let’s be honest, I changed the whole listing!  What a trooper!

The end product was just what I had wanted.

oh darling sideview sarahandtheboysblog.com

oh darling photo  sarahandtheboysblog

oh darling sideview sarahandtheboysblog.com

Oh Darling  Sarahandtheboysblog

She delivered just what I had in my head!  Yay, Katherine!

I’m not being sponsored for this post.  And she does not even know I’m writing about her or her awesome work.

She has lots of other fun (and affordable) pieces of art on her Etsy page.  I especially like this personalized watercolor you can have done of your family.  What a fun Christmas gift this would be for your sweetie, friends, or relatives.

I would encourage you, as you decorate your spaces, to try to be intentional.  Try to not just fill spaces with stuff that’s pretty, but stuff that you love.

Things that bring back memories.

Things that bring you joy.

I have spaces in my home that sit empty as I look out for the right thing.  I know what that thing is, but it won’t come with one trip to the box store.  Homes are meant to be spaces that reflect you, not spaces that are a regurgitation of the latest Pottery Barn catalog.

Be intentional. Let your house be YOU.

Be adventurers, my friends.


How To Refresh Antique wood in 10 Minutes for less than $10

When I recently shared about my new door, I took this interior photo:

Living room after new door//Sarahandtheboysblog

The antique sewing machine serves as our little entryway piece.  It does not really have any purpose other than decoration (and holding a surround sound speaker).

This antique is something my mom passed down to me.  I’m not sure where she picked it up, but she used it as her primary sewing machine when I was little.  Eventually she upgraded, but I have memories of her making Christmas dresses on this machine. I remember one particular Christmas where she made my sister and I matching velvet dresses.  The material was so heavy, she had a heck of a time and had to pull this old Sears & Roebuck into service to help sew through the thick fabric.

It’s been in my house for at least 10 years, and in storage before that.  The finish was looking pretty worn out.  Water rings, and just dry.

I didn’t want to refinish the piece.  I liked the patina of the old finish.  Plus, it’s at least 100 years old, and I see no point taking away the original finish!  But I didn’t want it to look quite so rough and aged.


I used a product called Restor-A-Finish.  Basically I just wiped a thin coat on with a rag (material applied to the rag, not to the furniture) and, wiped off any excess that didn’t absorb.  I repeated once.  It took ten minutes, tops.

I was pretty tickled by the difference it made!  Why had I waited so long?




This is not rocket science or mind blowing, but I thought you may want this little tip for your own antiques.  It’s the easiest DIY ever!

Happy Friday, Friends!


BEFORE: It wasn’t pretty.

Often times when we have guests, they say, “your house is so lovely!”.  Which I’m sure is a standard compliment that new guests give to their hosts.  I always reply with, “Oh thank you, it’s a lot different than when we bought it, but we still have a long way to go.”

Looking back over these photos I’m about to share with you, I had forgotten how far we’ve come.  Some days I get impatient with the waiting.  My kitchen layout drives me batty, I have a very ugly bathroom, and some really nasty floors (carpet isn’t my friend).  But then I look back at these photos and see all the massive change, and it stops me in my tracks.

Gosh, I need to be more grateful about the progress we’ve made, rather than always focusing on what’s left to be done.

We purposely purchased a home that needed some TLC because that’s what we do best: taking ugly spaces and bringing them back to life.

We have bought ugly homes for several reasons:

*we are not afraid of hard work.

*we typically are not happy with someone else’s idea of a “good job” on a remodel project, so it’s preferable to do it ourselves and get just what we envision for the space.

*we wanted to be in a certain area, and it just so happens that acreages in this area are not easy to come by at an affordable price.

*since we are able to fix most things ourselves, we have been able to build “sweat equity” in our properties. Our first home gained a significant amount of equity in 5 years, about 45%, enough to buy the one we are currently residing in without breaking the bank.

*we couldn’t afford anything more, and location has always trumped size or a perfect, turn-key home.

Now, this philosophy does not work for everyone.  In fact, there are some people that should not buy a fixer-upper.  But it works for us.

And without further adieu, here are some photos of our fixer-upper (on the day we went in for home inspections and the day we closed):



It was like a maroon paint can had exploded everywhere.  The prior owners were in love with maroon.  Maroon roof, porch, shutters, and even maroon bushes galore (not pictured).  Also included: lots of weeds (home had been unoccupied for a while).


Moldy siding!  Overgrown bushes!  Swampy backyard from poor drainage!  More weeds!


Living room



Fake floral arrangements at every turn.  Even in the fireplace, as if on top of and next to the fireplace wasn’t enough.




Nasty nasty wallpaper.   Nasty.  Original almond stove.  Mis-matched white dishwasher.


It’s the biggest floral arrangement EVER!  And the largest microwave on the planet (which, if I recall, the prior owner took at closing. Probably to put into the museum of “largest microwaves in the world”).


Please note the smoke colored glass light fixtures.


I shudder inside when I see these photos.  The whole place smelled like a funky plug-in.  The prior owner was attempting to cover up the lie that she didn’t have pets.  If a seller tells you they have never had pets, just assume they’ve had 5 cats, mkay? (disclaimer: I’m allergic to cats and they make me sick.  This is not a personal attack on your cats, which I’m sure are quite nice, always clean and minty fresh, and never shed).


Master Bath


We will call this “tiny master bathroom with giant vanity, peeling popcorn ceiling and falling-down towel bars”

Upstairs Bathroom (for bedrooms upstairs)


Did you know toilet LID covers existed?  This owner loved a good toilet cover.


Guest Bath/Powder Room: we have more toilet seat covers, complete with floral arrangement and circa-1986 wallpaper and mauve mini-blinds.


Do you think we are cray cray?  Oh, friend, I’m not done.

Nothing says sexy like a laundry room that has not been painted in 25 years, yes?


Before I take you to the bedrooms, let me lead you up this beautiful set of stairs, and don’t forget to look up to catch sight of the pretty wallpaper border AND BATHROOM DOOR WREATH.  That baby could take an eye out.







The only part of the home that looks better then, as compared to now, is the upstairs attic storage.  I can only dream of it being this empty today!  I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t put this in the post, as Nathan will freak out and rent a dumpster for us to fill.


Yes, we bought this house on purpose.  With eyes (and nose) wide open.  We saw potential.  We saw a quality, custom-built home that needed some (lots of) love.  We saw a home that gave us room to grow and host guests.  We saw 3 acres within 15 minutes of our jobs.

Even though we saw all of that we were quite skeerd.  We were afraid of what we may find.  Of how long it may take to fix up the home.  When we bought it, we couldn’t even afford to buy a gallon of paint.

I snapped this photo of our boys playing on the front porch of the home we were selling.  This was taken the morning of the closing day.  It’s no wonder I had to go in the bathroom of the bank, sit in a stall and ball my eyes out.


We had to step back to move forward.  And it was hard.  But worth it, even though there are days I still miss our tiny, completely updated, 1920s bungalow.

More coming in future posts on the things we’ve done to our home, and what’s still in the works.  We’ll never be “done”, but seeing these photos will help give you context to appreciate where we started.

We’ve come a long way, baby.

Thanks for reading.


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Happy Valentine’s Day, Happy Birthday, Happy Father’s day, Happy Mother’s day, Merry Christmas. A new door!

We bought our home in 2010, and while it had good bones, it needed A LOT of TLC. We were able to see past the rough issues, in exchange for a location we wanted in a price range we could afford.

We are not afraid of hard work. We can be patient. We have lived in this home for 5 years, and there have been so many areas inside and out that needed attention. Even if we had the money, we don’t have the time to attend to all of these areas at once.

Just to backup a bit, this is what our home looked like when we purchased it 5 years ago:

Our Home Then sarahandtheboysblog.com

Not totally ugly, just needed a lot of attention.  Bushes unkept, weeds growing.  Ugly roof.  Front door was rough.  But from a distance, it didn’t look too bad.

We knew we wanted a new roof, but a new roof is an expensive proposition.  So we waited.  Did little things, like trim bushes, add landscaping rocks, paint shutters, clean siding, replace light fixtures.

***this photo was not taken last night.  This photo is one year old, from July 2014, four years after we moved in.***

Now home 1 exterior sarahandtheboysblog

Lots of little things, totaling less than $200, made a difference in making this home look more “loved”.

But when you walked up close, you would have noticed that this home still had some curb appeal issues.  Doors are so important for making a home look up-to-date, well-kept, and appealing.

Our front door wasn’t cutting it for us.

before door 2

Saying it lacked curb appeal is an understatement. I had done my best, adding a vinyl “welcome” cling and painting it (I’m pretty sure the prior owners had painted the front door with interior flat paint, it was beat up and rough). I added a wreath and we put on a new door handle.


But you didn’t have to look far to see it’s flaws.

before door 1

Between an ugly storm door, awful caulking job, and bad painting, it was just rough.  After we re-roofed our home earlier this year, it made us want a new door even more.

front of home jan 15

Unfortunately, new doors are not cheap, so we waited.  The other unfortunate thing about our front door is that it let no light through.  If you are inside our home, you will realize quickly that the living room isn’t super bright, because it’s covered by the porch.  This is great for energy-efficiency, but not great for light.  So the front “entryway” of our home felt dark, cramped, and dank.  Kind of like a cave.  And if you know me, you know I don’t like caves whatsoever.  It may or may not be a phobia.  We won’t go into that today.

before new door 1

We knew we could not change the tight size of our entryway, and that’s fine.  Only guests ever use our front door, so it’s really not a big deal.  But we could change the way the entryway felt to us inside.

Earlier this year we came up with a solution that would work in our already tight home-improvement.  You see, we took on the major task of adding space to our home, which incurred a lot of expenses.  Was it worth it?  Yes, but still expensive!  We decided: no Valentine’s day, birthday, mother’s/father’s day or Christmas gifts for each other.  We were buying each other a new door.  We knew we needed a door with lots of light.  We knew we still couldn’t afford anything out-of-this-world expensive.  We looked at a lot of options.  Mission-style doors are very popular right now, and even though we love them, they don’t match our Cape-Cod style home.  We finally  pulled the trigger and ordered the door.  And waited.  And waited.  It was only 6 weeks, but it felt like an eternity (wait…did I say earlier that I had patience?  Because I don’t).

While I was waiting for the door to arrive, I ordered new door hardware.  We ordered Schlage hardware, which we used on all of our interior doors.  If you special-order door hardware you can choose for the interior to match your interior hardware, while your exterior can be whatever you choose.  We used buyschlagenow.com and it went from order to our front door within 1 day.  Seriourly, I don’t know how they did this (shipping was free!).  I would highly recommend them, based on our experience.

Once the door arrived, it took Nathan about a half of a day to install it,  He’s pretty handy, and while I wouldn’t say it was too difficult, it takes awhile to make sure you get everything level and secure.  And we love it!  Get ready for photo overload.

new door 4

new door 8

new door

new door 2
new door 3

new door 5

new door 7

The interior has improved dramatically, too.  Our once-dark corner lets in a lot of light, and makes our small entry-way feel much larger.  It look a little while for us to adjust, as it always felt like our front door was open :-).

after new door

That light was so very needed.  Photos don’t show the difference in before and after, in terms of how much better our entryway feels–inside and out.


We’ve come a long way.  I am so amazed what a difference the front door has made in making our home feel more fresh and current.

So as a review:

new door comparison

Before after interior

We still have one major front porch project that I’m hoping to work on in 2016.  Here’s where we stand on our front of the exterior renovations:

*Clean up landscaping

*Added landscaping rock border

*Replace front light fixture

*Painted shutters

*replace roof

*replace front door

*Replace porch flooring (prior owner loved maroon everything, painted the concrete, and it’s now peeling.)

*Replace skinny front porch columns with something larger

*Change out character-less, sagging vinyl porch ceiling with wood beadboard

*Add porch ceiling fan

Even though we still have a decent amount of projects left, it’s a huge improvement from where we were.

updated home new door

 Sometimes it’s hard to wait till you can afford to do projects, but when you do them, and you do them the way you want them, the reward is greater.  I really enjoy our front porch these days.








Fitness Apparel Trends & Favorites

Recently I posted a photo on my Instagram page of all of my workout laundry, and a friend suggested I do a post on workout gear.


Now, I tend to go through a lot of workout gear every week because I teach Jazzercise 5x a week.  That, my friends means a lot of laundry.  I try not to live in it when I’m not working out, even though it’s easy to do, it’s dangerous (read this post regarding my opinions of living a life in leggings).  The trend these days is to wear fitness apparel even when you have absolutely no plans on breaking a sweat.  Because of this, the fitness fashion industry is booming, giving us lots of styles and choices!

Here are some of the things I’ve observed of fitness fashion trends:

#1 Loose-fitting tops

It’s still very common and normal to see trim-fitting tops, but the world of loose-fitting tops are making their way from the normal fashion trends to the fitness fashion trends.  This is a refreshing change for those days when sucking in and standing tall don’t sound appealing 🙂  Often times you tuck in one side to your waistline of your pants…or you can tie on the side (hello 1980s!).

lulu loose fitting tankVia Lululemon

#2 Bras Making a Statement, 3 Ways

There are a few different ways that the undergarment is making their way into the fitness trend.

Peekaboo Bra

Often times the top is loose fitting, and the bra is peeking out on the sides or in the back.

peekaboo bra

Via Jazzercise 

Colorful Bra Layered Under Basic Top

You don’t have to have a wild and crazy patterned top to have fun.  Start being more adventurous with your bra colors and more basic with your tops.  Victoria’s Secret has a great selection of fun sports bras.

colorful bra

Via Jazzercise

Statement Backs

Of course, you can always just wear a bra top (but you won’t find me doing this…no matter how much I work out!), but if I were to wear bra tops, I would be looking to find more with statement backs.

Victoria's Secret Knockout

Via Victoria’s Secret

Free to be wild bra

Via Lululemon

#3 Sheer Fabrics

Colorful, sassy pants still have a place in the fitness world, but again, I’m noticing a trend towards solid pants with a subtle statement of sheer pieces to break up the same ol’ same ol’ black leggings (and also noticing sheer in tops).

bee's knees

Via Nordstrom

sheer top Jazzercise

Via Jazzercise

#4 Joggers

As a child of the 1980s, I knew these as “sweat pants”.  But “joggers” is way more fun, don’t you think?  And they are everywhere.

jogger  Via Athleta

#5 Motivational T Shirts

Nordstrom has a great selection of these shirts, but unfortunately I can’t save a picture of them.  But check this one out here or this one here.  I’ve also seen a lot of affordable motivational shirts at Kohls near the fitness section.

A word on brands…..

There are so many good brands in the fitness industry, it’s hard for me to narrow it down to just a few good ones.  Generally, I do believe you get what you pay for.  Even though Lululemon pants are overpriced, they are better than a pair from Old Navy.  Even though an Athleta shirt may seem a little sky-high at $50 bucks, it feels so much better than a top from Target and lasts longer.  But perhaps you don’t want to spend the money, that’s okay.  As I’ve worked out more, I’ve come to appreciate the higher quality workout gear and tend to only be buying nicer brands these days, knowing they will last longer. I’ve bought several nice brands via Facebook swap sites, or at consignment stores!  They have lasted way longer than my Old Navy bottoms I bought new!  My go-to brands are pretty much all the ones you saw listed in this post.  I’ve heard GREAT things about the Zella pants (Nordstrom’s house brand), but I have not tried them yet.

A word on supportive sports bras…

If you have anything to “hold up”, I highly suggest plunking down the bucks for a good bra.  Here are my 3 favorite for support, shape, and quality: Panache/Victoria’s Secret/Natori.  But everyone is different and I would suggest checking out Title Nine for a variety of styles/support levels.

What’s your favorite, go-to brands for fitness apparel?

Outdoor Garage Updates & Pipe Dreams

We’ve been in the middle of an addition to our home, it’s not something that will be done quickly….more at a snail’s pace.  But Rome wasn’t built in a day, right?

Last I updated on the exterior of our garage doors, it looked like this:

garage doors finished

We had no driveway, no electrical, therefore garage doors that would only open manually, no lighting installed, and we were dealing with a lot of this:

mudfront property
That, my friends, was the view out of my back door all winter.  Let me tell you, it was muddy outside our house AND inside our house.  Try telling 3 boys to stay out of the mud for 6 months.  The holdup and the reason for all the forever mud is that we had the project started in October/November, but we didn’t pour concrete till the temperatures warmed up in the spring and the weather cooperated.

Even though I get anxious to move this project along at a faster rate, it’s good to look back at these old photos, because it’s come a long way, baby!

As of today, this is where we stand:

house 6

Our driveway has been poured.  I was about to hug the contractors when they came with all their fancy machines and trucks full of concrete.

Also, you can see that we added lighting all along the garage doors.   They are not the nicest, fanciest lights ever, but I think it helps the house look more finished.  Lighting on a house are like the “accessories” that really set off the perfect outfit (not that I would know, since I never remember to accessorize).  Hopefully these will last for a bit, and perhaps when they are wearing out we can replace with something a little nicer.

house 3

I have a friend that’s in the middle of a major remodel at her home, and she summed it up best when she said, “I feel like there’s a hole in the bottom of my wallet.”  

Ummmm.  Yeah.

But we are coming along!

Having a driveway is so nice, parking in the garage is a luxury that I missed dearly when I was banished, and 2 of the 3 garage doors are fully-functional with a garage door opener!

house 2

We now have a really long driveway.  The old garage space and driveway connects to the new garage and driveway.  What we’ve done so far to this original space is enclose the old 2-car garage, exchange garage door openings for windows, and replace the light up high to match the garage door lights (it’s larger in scale than the garage door lights).

house 1

Ascetically, we would like to purchase shutters for the new windows that match the front of the house, making this space feel more original and less plain.  Also, I think two large, long planters underneath the windows would help break up the long driveway and make it feel less concrete-ish.  For now, a generous friend gave me some pots and old patio furniture when she was moving, and I’ve just added those plants to help add some warmth.

When I was taking these photos, I noticed I had a photobomber! I’m pretty sure I scared the crap right out of him.  Literally.


scared turtle

I love this photo I happened to catch of the boys visiting with the scared little turtle.  Eventually they got him off the driveway and set him free in the back yard.

house 5

What do you think?   I would love suggestions and ideas from you on what to do with our old exterior space/garage to make that feel more warm and inviting?  It gets a lot of sun, so it’s not exactly a fun space to “hang out” or put seating.  Plus we’ll use that for parking space when we have guests, so it needs to stay somewhat clutter-free.

Hopefully next week I can share about our patio and our future plans pipe dreams.