Small Front Porch and Stairs House Remodel on the Cheap: Before and After Pictures

We have the cutest little front porch, but it was TINY.  I wrote about my love for it for NPR and you can hear it here on WVPE or read it by clicking here.  I had too much furniture on our tiny porch, we spent lot s of meals on it, we read played and rested on it.  When the front steps started getting rickety we knew we had to have them repaired but it never occurred to us to have them widened too.  We thought about adding a wrap around front porch but the cost was prohibitive.  

I really just needed a few extra feet so the front door wouldn't swing open into "Betty" my awesome refinished metal glider swing.  I only needed a few feet.  So we we started talking to contractors and found a guy my friends had used named Jeff Brown.  He was the most affordable for us and did really nice work.  

Here are the before and after pictures of the job.    

Just widening the steps gave us room to fit two adult chairs on either side of them on the porch.  I didn't realize how much space the railing took up.  Frankly just the steps would have been enough of an improvement on the space...the porch deck extension was just cherries on top.  I do not see renovations or decorating in my head very well, so I was thrilled & stunned at the visual and logistical impact of the wider stairs.

I would have preferred the new addition's railing to come directly off of the house and main pillar instead of be framed next to it. For the price and the overall workmanship, it was just great as it happened. Several more expensive bids included removing the entire original porch floor to rebuild it all but we wanted to be more thoughtful and environmental than that.  Plus it was cheaper to use the original wood.  Once painted it all blends fine.

Framing the porch floor.  Jeff basically made a solid deck with four corner posts next to our original porch.  

Jeff Brown FINALLY removing the original porch railing...probably my favorite step in the process.

First meal actually at a table on our front porch.  Divine.  I was obviously quite excited.
The little girls and their animals liked the porch extension quite a bit.
After the addition, my porch swing glider "Betty" didn't knock into the wall or door!  We added a bistro table for our front porch meals.  FINALLY enough room for all the chairs I've been squeezing onto the porch for four years!

We had to leave the wood alone for awhile to let it cure and season and dry out before painting.  It took us several months before we were ready to paint. We hemmed and hawed about paying Jeff Brown to paint or just doing it ourselves.  After a few more house expenses cropping up we decided to paint it ourselves.

Painting the porch (ALL THOSE SPINDLES!) and fence, gate, trellis took a long time.  Probably five days total.  For normal people, maybe three days...we have little kids who like to help. 

If we didn't let them help they were pesky so either way that detracted from dedicated work time. We gave them a shallow dish of paint and foam brushes to hide any mistakes creativity on their part. 

They actually did a GREAT job.  I considered their job a decent first coat.  Even as only three and five year olds, they felt so important and helpful painting I was glad we let them 'try' to help.

I JUST finished painting a second coat of porch and deck paint on the floor yesterday morning.  I also painted the porch ceiling and trim since the new white fence and railing made the old paint look pretty shabby. I really decorate the porch when it is warm, so I am excited already for SPRING!

Tonight we will move Betty back to where she belongs, and probably put the table back...what, maybe with a pumpkin ion it?  Unless it snows.  That is right, here in NW Indiana we are expecting snow today.  This porch project was finished in the NICK OF TIME.

I'm In the Powder Room! My Personal Blog Hero Didn't See Me Sneak In..

Shhh!  I am standing on the toilet In The Powder Room, don't let her see me!  My personal hero blogger the bawdy Bearded Iris, now out in the open as Leslie Marinelli, now Editor Big Cheese in Charge of the HUGE national blog "In The Powder Room" let my little post about body love hate and nekkid yoga slip by her and it is posted there In The Powder Room TODAY!  YIPPEE!

You have heard me adore Leslie here when I first found The Bearded Iris  and also I Fan Girl out  here for her HUGE blogging help .

I've written about body image and mama hood and aging and the trouble with it here. But today on In The Powder Room I talk about YOGA.  Nekkid.  Nekkid Yoga.  Yep, it's like that.

I've begun writing things on my yoga mat.  Things that remind me of my womanly awesomeness.  Words with weight for me like "Bombshell"  "YES!" and LOVE.  And one time I did my YogaGlo yoga Nekkid. 

Quick!  Head over and read what might be too racy for this Jesus loving Wild Mama to post on my own blog.

(And before Leslie realizes I snuck in there and makes me take my yoga mat and go home!)

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What To Expect After Turning 40: Stuff You May Not Be Ready For

Old people are everywhere, and one keeps trying to slip into my mirror!  They may say "forty is the new thirty" but Ladies, 40 is NOT the new 30.  It is a totally different age and that is why the numbers are different! As I wait to go to a gallbladder scan, after having a CT scan a few weeks ago, after hitting menopause (WTH?) after 40, after buying more pairs of orthopedic shoes for my lower back pain issues I thought to myself,  "Wow, this is a fast downhill slide!"  I thought I would warn you about three things I noticed happening after I turned forty so you were better prepared.  Just in case it happens to you.  And then at the end I have an awesome article for you with deeper thoughts on the subject to buoy you right back up.

Spackle that face, y'all!

1) Your skin changes after 40 even if you don't suddenly get all wrinkly.
Yes,  This.  I noticed the texture of my skin changing enough that I decided to wear makeup more often. Actually, it was more like I would add concealer  to cover my new dark circles.  Then I would add a BB cream to even out my complexion. I looked so much better I would just keep right on going with a full face of makeup.  I've always worn lipstick or lip stain and little else, but most days now I wear everything else too. Spackle that face, y'all.  (Or don't, but be prepared for your skin to change even if it doesn't wrinkle.) (Yet.)


2) You might not be able to eat everything you used to.
Enjoy eating what you want NOW.  Weight gain may not always happen, but weight redistribution was a surprise.  Apparently linked to menopause.  Which I am now in. Early.  Yay.
Also, I used to roll my eyes at my sweet Mother In Love who would say "Oh, I can't eat that, it doesn't agree with me!"  I thought that was code for "I do not like that food so I will claim I cannot 'tolerate it."  Then I started getting HEARTBURN.  And my gall bladder started acting up.  The two have intertwined symptoms so it took a couple years to iron that out with lots of doctor's visits and expensive tests.  Enjoy eating whatever you are eating now.  Your days of chowing spicy and fatty and suchthelike may be numbered, Babe.

I cannot hover over them at a playground and keep them from taking jungle gym risks to discover the world 
(and gravity) for themselves.

3) You may become Tired and Afraid.
The thrills and risks of your youth maybe be OUTTA THERE after 40.  As I've gotten older I am more worried about health and illness, safety, and school shootings.  I have these two precious daughters who have ruined crime TV and Jodi Picoult novels for me forever.  I am battling against myself to be cool and fun, but many things are harder for me to get excited about.  I also need to shut my mouth when it comes to the kids and their simple excitement.  I cannot hover over them at a playground and keep them from taking jungle gym risks to discover the world and gravity for themselves.  I am often tired and cannot fathom running hither and yon like my kid lets do.  What happened?  For me having kids changed some things.  Taking care of people is a gift and a challenge and it makes me tired.  And I wouldn't change a thing.

 "Becoming a bag lady. Getting Alzheimer's. Ending up alone. All of these concerns speak to a fear not of aging but of living. What is a fear of living? It's being preeminently afraid of dying. It is not doing what you came here to do, out of timidity and spinelessness. The antidote is to take full responsibility for yourself—for the time you take up and the space you occupy. If you don't know what you're here to do, then just do some good. I'm convinced of this: Good done anywhere is good done everywhere. For a change, start by speaking to people rather than walking by them like they're stones that don't matter. As long as you're breathing, it's never too late to do some good." (Maya Angelou)

This quote really resonates with me as I grow older and settle into myself.  Regardless of the changes in getting older, I know my mindset and daily choices will determine the quality of my days.  If you want more inspiration, read more thoughts from this Oprah article on women getting older.  I found lots of great thoughts including the Maya Angelou paragraph above.  I would love to hear what you have noticed about becoming older, and how you are ensuring age isn't all you see when you look at your life to come.  Please share with us in the comments.

Lets live, folks!  Live Your Love out Loud!

What Made My Day: Making a Home and Making a Life

When I opened the front door and saw it I thought "NO WAY!" and began to plan to drive instead.  Our house is about four blocks from Portia's elementary school and we usually walk or bike to school.  I plan enough time to stop and dawdle and look and chatter on the way to and from each day.  Today it was pouring rain.  Not light misty but deluge.  I automatically defaulted to the car.  And then I didn't.

I may be occasionally short tempered, but I am not a Wizard of Oz witch who will melt in water.  All three of us girls have rain boots and rain coats and adorable umbrellas.  Even wet pants will dry.  Eventually.  So I talked myself back out of the car idea and we geared up.

The girls and I enjoyed our stroll, waded through two inch deep puddles, and breathed deep breaths of rainy weather air.  Our walk to school made me feel alive even with awful rainy day hair.  (A hat would be good. Maybe a big old rain hat in slicker yellow?)  I delighted in watching my girls marvel at wading through streams in their waterproof boots. It was wonderful to enjoy the rain with them.  It was the best part of my day. 

I think I have grown so comfortable I forget that conquering even the slightest challenge can refresh me completely.  When I bicycle places instead of driving, I feel like I am embracing a deeper way of living.  Walking in the rain even though I certainly do not have to made me feel wild and free.   Like camping in a tent, crossing a fallen log or cleaning the whole house at once.  I am in charge of my life and I am living OUT LOUD instead of passively.

Making dinner tonight feels like that too.  Truly tonight I would rather order pizza or reheat leftovers. That admitted, when I give myself over to the process of "Making a Home" as the Daily Connoisseur Blogger says, I come alive.  I slow down, I relish, and I even enjoy the process.  Tidy home, healthy meal and rain boots drying in the front hall.  AMEN.

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Hernias in the Hot Tub: What REALLY happened to the Hot Chick You Married?

Sometimes I wonder what happened to me.  A bunch of us girls were in a hot tub the other night and the conversation was delightfully kid free.  We had wine and chocolate.  We laughed, we talked.  We marveled at how we all knew each other and our lovely hostess.  Then it happened.

We talked of ovarian cancer, plantar fasciitis, hernias and the like.  We talked of all our surgeries and heartburn and whether Mephisto or Dansko shoes where best for hammer toe or plantar fasciitis.  We stopped ourselves and laughed.  What had become of us?  We were  all mid thirties to mid forties, and if one of us wasn't, no one knew the difference.  We were vibrant wild women and yet here we were sounding off on physical maladies like we were in a Bingo Hall.  What happened?

My only guess is after having kids and being married awhile, we don't have the same self indulgent energy we might have had when we were younger.  And though we do not feel like we are middle age, we are awfully close and physically adjustments must be made.  And of course we then talk about such adjustments with horror and morbid fascination.  We stand toe to toe with OLD AGE and possible BLUE HAIR and A GROWING DESIRE not for our hubbies but to watch TV and eat dinner at 4:30.  

Really?  Already?  I'm only forty two years old! 

All it takes to recalibrate our conversation is one of us getting sick.  One of us has to look The Worst in the face and all the rest of us stop worrying about the size of our waistlines and grow intensely interested in the size of our LIVES.  We suddenly see what really matters, and that our physical health is a barometer of our quality of life.  We mature under trial by fire, and we are grateful to our friend even as we are worried for her.  We pray it goes well for her, and we pray it won't be us next.  We are once again reminded life is fleeting.

We caught ourselves and I spiced up the conversation and we moved on.  We all dyed a streak of our hair teal blue to support a pal going into surgery and keep ourselves from crying for two hours.  We drank wine, snacked on the snacks and hugged each other.  

I do not think it is having kids that drains us of our lavish youth, but rather life itself.  In all the living our bodies wear down, our minds mature and we are more interested in each other than we are in ourselves.  I think this is OK.  I think it is easier to stop obsessing over myself and to see the broader world and my place in it.  Getting older doesn't mean I am old.  Not yet.  I enjoy doing more for others and I talk about myself less now that I have heard my own stories enough.  I'd like to hear your story instead.  

And that friend of mine, the one we dyed our hair for?  She got a miracle and does NOT have cancer.  She had surgery to make her feel better and there will not be weeks of treatment to follow.  She is blessed, and so we all are.  Our colored hair streak remains to remind us of our greatest fear.  Hopefully in remembering we will celebrate each day to come as the gift it is.   

And if you have some free time and an open bottle of wine, let's get in the hot tub again and lemme tell you about my menopause...

WINNER ANNOUNCED: Win a Ticket to Goodwill's "Little Black Dress Fashion Show" & Boutique October 16th!

Congratulations to Nicole Voss for winning a ticket to this awesome event.  Thanks to all of you who entered, let me know if you plan to attend, it is week wroth eh moolah and I'd love to see you there!

Hey gang!  Goodwill is giving me two free tickets to the Goodwill LBD Fashion Show with Boutique shopping.  I'm totally using one for myself, and I am offering one to YOU.  Who wants to come with me October 16th at Avalon Manor in Merrilville?   

If you do not know about this awesome event, check out my post from earlier this month or the other one from when I walked the runway for them last year.

Goodwill’s 2nd Annual Little Black Dress Fashion Show will be held on Thursday, October 16th at the Avalon Manor Banquet Center in Merrillville.  

Goodwill Industries of Michiana is partnering with Comcast, Adams Radio Group and WIMS-AM to raise funds to support their mission to provide jobs, training and placement services for people with barriers to employment.

Models will walk the runway in clothing from Goodwill showcasing the latest fashion trends while guests enjoy a gourmet lunch.  Kathy Friend, nationally known as a stylist and image consultant and President of the Style and Image Institute, will produce and host the program.  She will be joined by Emcee Laura Waluszko, Adams Radio Group News Director.  WIMS-AM Partner and General Manager, Ric Federighi will join the event as Goodwill’s Celebrity Model. 

Guests will enjoy shopping in the Goodwill Boutique complete with dressing rooms to find that perfect outfit.  Doors open at 10:00 am for shopping 50% Off in the Goodwill Boutique and the Luncheon / Fashion Show will begin at 11:30 am

Event               The Little Black Dress Fashion Show

Date / Time       Thursday, October 16                10:00 am – 3:00 pm
   Goodwill Boutique                     10:00 am – 11:30 am & 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
   Luncheon & Fashion Show         11:30 am – 1:00 pm

Location           Avalon Manor Banquet Center
3550 East US Route 30 / MerrillvilleIN  46410

Contacts           Katie Paceley / Public Relations Specialist
Phone – (574) 472-7379