My husband loves the reality television shows about Alaska.  He pointed out to me one day that a means of survival requires a dependence on the good will of neighbors.  Neighbors are essential and crucial to get repairs done or get help when you need it when you’re in the Alaskan frontier.  I’ve never been to Alaska, but, in theory, I think it would be great if we all used our skills and talents.  Bartering seems to be a thing of the past, yet seems so ideal were we all at a standpoint to survive.   Now, I know this wasn’t a matter of survival, but it was the Alaskan way of neighbors that struck me with this, and when someone says, “Hey, I need help…” actually having the abilities or talents to make a difference makes a person feel like there’s a real purpose in life even if it’s not that big.

I was contacted recently by a friend who needed a little assistance.  About a year ago, a bathroom project was started and was not completed.  With family coming for the holidays, having the bathroom finished was ideal.

Since my friend doesn’t have a fully stocked hardware store nearby, I picked up a bunch of items at my local hardware store and was fortunate to have the right things on hand.  I loaded up tools for the job with the hope I had everything I needed.

The toilet had not been put together or installed.  The vanity had been put together, but didn’t have a faucet installed.  The fixtures in the shower weren’t installed either.  I actually didn’t expect everything to take as long as it did, but I’m a slow perfectionist, and I wanted to make sure they had everything together.  I knew the friend wanted to learn too, and I struggled between wanting to teach and wanting her to have a running bathroom.  I know the latter was probably very important, and I only had a few hours to make it happen.

The friend had hand picked each and every thing in the bathroom, and it was SO CLOSE to done.  She worked with a budget and had a vision of the look she wanted.  She was able to keep the previous shower pan which was great.  I was amazed at her vision because, once everything was installed, it was easy to see how her ideas all pulled together in such a great way.


She had put together the vanity prior to my arrival.  When I arrived, the vanity was in the kitchen (beautiful pick, by the way), and we used a furniture pad to slide it to the bathroom.  This is a technique I use frequently due to spinal injuries.  It makes doing what you want to do so much easier.  It becomes challenging to move heavy items, and I love that I keep furniture pads on hand.  I can’t tell people enough what a difference it makes in my world, and they have come in handy so many times for items you wouldn’t expect.


I installed the faucets she picked out and a toilet she had chosen.  I picked up a new kind of toilet seal (instead of the traditional wax seal) because I used it once in a problematic area, and it was spectacular.  It also allows you to reset the toilet if you need to do so.  Since I hadn’t initially seen how the tile was installed, buying this one item was worth the cost just in case there was a height adjustment with due to tile.  I knew it was something that would also permit the toilet to be reset if needed which is great if you are new to toilet installation.

The vanity needed a P-trap, and, for some odd reason, I actually had extra water lines at my house that worked in her vanity.  I still have no clue as to why I had so many, but there were two that were the perfect lengths.  I was fortunate that one of the P-traps I picked up fit perfectly, and the stars were aligned regarding the vanity and the plumbing.  Sometimes, a person buys a vanity, and the back has to be cut or a shelf has to be cut to fit the plumbing.  In this case, she decided to discard the flimsy back of the vanity and the shelving was perfect.

She wanted to do the caulking, and I gladly handed the task over to her.  I hate caulking.  It’s just something that I can’t stand doing, so I’m more than happy to have her do it.  We had to trouble shoot some of the shower problems because the attachments weren’t evenly sticking through the tile, and there was no give to make things even.  She went to the hardware store and found some longer screws to make it fit.  Another problem encountered was that things were missing from the packaged toilet to install the tank.  She found a replacement kit at the hardware store as well so the toilet could be completed.  I had purchased a universal water line for the toilet, and it worked with great success.  I figured the universal water line was a safe bet since I wasn’t sure what her measurements were and knew it would be adaptable.

In the end, I installed the toilet and the new vanity with the faucets and P-trap.  She finished up installing the handles today.  We both installed different pieces in the shower.  I think she did a great job in her selection of materials.  Once the vanity was installed, all the colors pulled together.  She was also very good with the spacial relations.  Although she might not feel like a handy person, something tells me she’s going to be installing some new plumbing soon.  She is permitting me to use her photos of our work, and I just wanted everyone to see her style.  I’m so happy that the bathroom they waited on for a year is finally finished.  I see they parked the toothbrushes on the vanity as of this morning!

Life passes by,

In the midst of a screen,

While others will live,

Others will dream,

Technology rises,

While others ignore,

Love misses marks,

While the big screen will score,

Children in parking lots,

Walk without mothers,

Cars miss their marks,

there are no sisters or brothers,

People are glued,

To the big screen,

where nothing else matters,

except what it means,

Lost loves and lost feelings,

selfishness abounds,

The big screen does not care,

It won’t make a sound,

Humans aren’t human,

They stop losing touch,

wives lose their husbands,

to the screen crutch,

They can’t search for feelings,

They won’t find it there.

They’ll lose them forever.

The big screen won’t care.


Recently, I attended the wedding of two very special people:  Elena Humphreys and George Tabb.  Both bride and groom are creative artists in different realms, and, prior to the wedding, I knew I wanted to make something special for them that came from the heart.

When Elena announced she was looking for someone to take some fabric off her hands to reduce storage, I was more than thrilled to take her up on that offer.  My grandmother had a saying that stated, “Whoever dies with the most fabric wins!”  I was trying to beat my mother out, but I’m not sure what kind of reward this will entail when I hit the pavement.

Elena showed me these beautiful fabrics she designed.  Then, she pulled out these bags.  There was something exciting about them, but I wasn’t sure why.  She said, “These are antique grain bags.”  She described to me how they were mended and showed me how they were embroidered with initials so people knew which grain bag was their bag.  I was fascinated by the story, and I put them in a special place when I brought them home.



When I received a wedding announcement, I knew immediately I had to make pillows from these bags.  Why?  Elena had told me that she thought the bags would make some really cool pillows and had me promise that I would make her pillows one day.  So, I did.  Knowing how much the details of these bags meant to her, it took me some time to figure out how I was going to make the pillows without changing the integrity of the original bag.

I knew I wanted to place zippers in the pillow covers in case the pillows ever had to be removed.  I ordered upholstery/slipcover zippers.  I also ordered down and feather pillows in the appropriate sizes (two inches larger than the intended size of the pillow cover).  I initially intended to make one red and one blue striped pillow.  To my surprise, when two of the pillows arrived, I realized the red striped bag was too narrow for the pillows I ordered.  That’s my own fault for assuming all things are created equal  Also, the red striped bag had an additional pieces of fabric attached to it that wasn’t going to work right with what I was creating. No problem. I ordered a narrow pillow to create something from the red striped grain bag.

First, the blue striped bag: I wanted to keep as much original stitching in place. I cut the bag in half. It was approximately two inches smaller in height and length than my pillows, but due to trying to get two pillows out of one bag, all sides were not equal.  I knew the fabric had give and that the pillows would work out despite the measurements not being a perfect 23″ by 23″.

After cutting the bag in half, there was a tie on one side and two open ends. I chose to sew the zipper in the end  that I cut to keep the original stitching in the other side. Once I installed the zipper, I put the bag top pieces side by side and stitched them together. You could do this with a basic zig zag stitch. This kept the original hand sewing visible along with the tie string.

On the bottom part of the bag, I had to pin in each side of the zipper. It was trickier because there wasn’t another open end. I basted each side of the zipper in and sewed it down. A heavy duty needle is a must for these bags because it’s like sewing through a canvas or denim fabric, and the layers make it needle breaking worthy.  If you’ve sewn enough, you know what I’m talking about.  There are needles specifically designed for denim.  If you have a needle for silk, you will lose it on this fabric.  Also, the fabric has a tendency to dull needles.

The narrow pillow required more creativity. I originally wanted to install a zipper, but the fabric wasn’t working with me. I had wanted to work it so I could have the red stripes running horizontally. All of these grain bags are different sizes, so giving dimensions, etc. isn’t really helpful to someone attempting this with any bag. This particular bag had pieces added to it. I removed the pieces that had been added onto the bag. I decided the bet method would be to overlap the pieces of fabric. I folded over edges with hems, and then overlapped them so I could fit the pillow into it. I reserved as much as I could from the bag as possible. I cut the tie piece off and attached it to the back with the original stitching still on it.



From scrap pieces of the bag, I pulled threads out with a pin and created a loop with the same character as the tie to pull the tie through to close the pillow. I made a small edge around the pillow for decorative purposes and to give a good fit to the pillow. It’s a little more difficult to get the pillow in and out with this method, but it works when you have limited fabric to use or don’t have much knowledge of zipper installation.


Based on measurements regarding the fabric I had available, I created a pillow cover that overlapped in the back.  I kept original mending because the flaws are what makes these bags so special.


I cut the bag large enough for an edge to go around it.  The rule of thumb with the pillows – after you work out what you want to do with a feather and down pillow, make sure your pillow cover is approximately two inches shorter.  With the smaller pillow, I had to adjust it a bit for the particular pillow because that rule of thumb made the cover too tight.  Just give yourself some room to work with things and take your time measuring and thinking things out.  I’m an experienced seamstress, and the thought process of trying to get what I wanted out of this and making it happen took some time.  I even did things over because I didn’t like how something turned out.  Don’t rush it.  Just take your time.

I apologize for lack of detailed instructions regarding the making of the pillows, but, as I stated, the bags come in different sizes which can cause a person to have to get creative as far as creating a pillow out of them. Antique grain bags are a bit expensive, but there are fabrics created that replicate grain bags of the past that you could get the same look for a lower cost.  Also, you can use less expensive pillows. If you have any embroidery skills or a machine that embroiders, you could replicate an original grain bag look by putting initials on your creation.

And, if you’re wondering how the initial “P” holds up for the new bride and groom, I suppose you need to look them up.   ;)


Elena and George – here’s to many years of happiness, new chapters in life, and a story that continues forever.


I had the pleasure of being able to sample some of the most awesome hot and spicy mustard I’ve ever tried.  The variety of mustard El Diablo creates are good for just about anything you can think up!  As a creative cook, I was thrilled to try every single one of these.

El Diablo Mustards have what it takes to jack up the heat in so many of your dishes.  Add the Texas Chili on your hot dog to make it taste like a spicy chili dog.  Use the mango with your favorite chicken dish.  Add the Habanero to a Bloody Mary Mix.  How about some jalapeno in your dip right before you hit the couch for a football game?  There are so many things you can do with these mustards.  Some like it hot, and those who know how to dish it out will be thrilled to add El Diablo Mustards to your favorite dishes.

One lucky person will win the El Diablo Mustard variety pack.  With the winter season right around the corner, how many ways do you think you can use these in your dishes?  Let me know in the comments below!

To earn the most points for the giveaway, log into the entry below using either your email or facebook page! The more you do, the more entries you get.

There is one more thing:  SHOW EL DIABLO MUSTARD SOME LOVE!

We want you to hashtag El Diablo on Twitter and Facebook with  #mustardbitesback

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Good luck to all!


2292_50421772276_356_nDaughter, there’s so much to say from one woman to another,

There are things that you will just not understand until you are a mother,

I reflect back to the day you were born,

I was your age at most,

Struggling for survival,

Living on the coast,

I was on my own as a parent,

Growing up took place so fast,

There wasn’t time to play,

Or focus on the past,

I had two beautiful girls to love,

Responsibility was in tow,

No living life like 22 years,

Because I had to grow,

I have no regrets of decisions made,

But I know you think I do,

The best thing that ever happened to me,

was being a mom to Katie and you,


I wish I could promise,

A smooth sailing life,

It doesn’t come from making tons of money,

Or being someone’s wife,

It won’t come from granting other’s wishes,

Or traveling the world,

It’s a roller coaster ride,

That sometimes will unfurl,

Live nightmares take place,

As well as sunny days,

Ups and downs will abound,

As wrinkles appear on your face,


Life constantly changes,

No matter what you do,

And no matter where you go,

People will love you,

Because when you’re a mom,

Looking back on a day,

You wonder where time went,

Why your kids don’t stay,

Why they can’t feel all the love,

That’s pouring out in your heart,

Why they don’t know how deeply you feel,

About their lives having a great start,


But some never know,

Thinking they are black sheep,

That love from your mom,

Has no boundary or favorite,

It’s unconditional love,

It’s so hard to explain,

When you see your child fall or hurt,

It causes such deep pain,

You want so much for them to have,

everything you didn’t,

You want them to conquer the world,

with everything within them,

My piece of advice to you today,

is that only you know you,

Others can try to lead the way,

But they don’t really know what you SHOULD do,

They aren’t in your head or in your mind,

You can expect them to understand,

That maybe the path that others take,

Isn’t in your life plan,

Maybe whatever they think is good,

Isn’t what’s good for you,

And the only way to make things right,

is to do what you need to do,

My only wish for you is that,

You love all that you do,

That you end up where you want to go

And enjoy being 22.


Love you forever,



I wrote this last month and wanted to wait to publish it.  There’s never a good time or enough said…or things that we all want to add later on…

I always thought it was unfortunate for women who didn’t get along with their mother-in-laws.  I was lucky.  My husband’s mother couldn’t have been happier to see her son get married.  In fact, when he asked me to marry him, he intended to get a preacher within three days after asking, go to the family home, and get married.  Not one for having a big wedding ceremony, that’s what he had in mind. To our surprise his mother and sister threw together a rather nice wedding within a three day period.   They called family friends, and we were stunned to find out we had guests coming to our last minute event.

We spoke almost daily.  My husband would often be perplexed at the amount of time we spent talking.  I had told him if we had been the same age in the same high school, we would have been great friends for life.  Despite our age difference, we were great friends.  I married into knowing her, but her friends from grade school kept in touch her entire life.

She loved to play bridge with her friends.  My husband often said she was so good at it that she didn’t have to think about it, but she never cared about winning.  She did it to socialize even though she was a born card player.

She always wanted a sister and never had one.  I always thought she related so well to women due to her want of a sister.  It was as though she became a sister to many.  Maybe that’s why God blessed her with a daughter who had a daughter, sons that had daughters, a great granddaughter, and a couple of grandsons who could bring more girls into the family.  Her life was inundated with females in the family.  At the same time, she loved being able to see her husband in her sons and cared so much for her grandsons that her face lit up talking about them.

Sue was a registered nurse.  She was proud of her accomplishments in the field, and I loved hearing the stories of nursing school back when she attended.  You weren’t allowed to be married.  You had to live there.  You went to church every morning.  There were no computerized mechanisms to check blood pressure or heart beats…you had to know how to do things without all the equipment out today, and she believed nurses today should still be taught the old school methods.  She roomed above a funeral home with other future nurses and said they had to be quiet when a funeral took place.  She talked about how she traded clothes with the other girls and how mad her mother became with her when she visited one day because one of her roommates walked out wearing her sweater.  It was her mother’s dream for her to become a nurse, but she ended up loving it and spoke fondly of her experiences with her nursing school comrades.

Sue was told she was the best looking girl in high school.  She was the best dressed.  She loved men, and they loved her.  One even became a doctor BECAUSE of her.  She was caught kissing another one and was told that if she wasn’t going to marry him, she shouldn’t be kissing him.

I use to tell her that she should write a book called, “The Many Loves of Sue.”  She said it would be quite a book..might have a mature rating on it.  That was her sense of humor.

She was raised in the church, singing in the choir, but she would let a curse word pass her lips and would do it in a way that could crack a person up.  Then she’d say, “How do you like that coming from an 85 year old woman?” with a grin on her face.  She told me about a time she was driving, stuck her middle finger out the window at a younger, obnoxious driver, and when the driver and his passenger saw how old she was, they broke out laughing…as did she.

It’s fortunate to have a life filled with people who care about you…a life full of people you loved and lost no matter how difficult it is to lose.


The other day, I caught myself wanting to pick up the phone to see how you were doing, but I knew you couldn’t talk to me.  Today, I got the phone call telling me you were gone.  I’m glad the suffering has ended, but I’m sad you were taken from our lives.  I look at my daughters, and I see your love of animals in their lives, a build like yours, hair like yours, and a sense of humor with a firecracker personality along with a love of being social.  They love their daddy like you loved yours, and, now, they both get to be with their father as do you.  I’ll never forget this summer…when Kylie drew a picture of Blaze and Dot for you, and you had to have it hanging perfectly to view it.  If a nurse knocked it down, you wanted it fixed to be perfectly straight and centered.  I laughed when you called a doctor, “Dr. Cutie Pie.”  His face flushed so red, but he was smiling the rest of the day.  You greeted the nurses with, “Hello, Beautiful,” and when I greeted you with that greeting, we went back and forth trying to one up each other with the compliments until someone stopped from laughing.  Most of all, I’m glad we were able to say goodbye to you…even though I still can’t seem to convince myself that it’s all real.  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo, I bugged  out with an easy dessert using a recipe from Taste of Home’s September/October issue!  The recipe is called Frosted Pistachio Bars.  They kind of taste like a cookie/cake combination…but more like a soft cookie than anything.  I can see a lot of variations could be done with this bar, but here’s one I came up with for Halloween.  Then again, my kids (who aren’t THAT young) loved this, so maybe it’s good for crazy kids who like candy bugs and slugs on their food.

The dessert is so easy to make, and the fun part is finding new ways to decorate it.

I created the bugs and slugs using a variety of candies.  Tootsie Roll assortments are great because you can use the different colored Tootsie Rolls and form them into things like snails, meal worms, and inch worms.  I rolled the Tootsie Rolls in my hands to shape them and marked them with little marks to make them look more worm-like (you can use a knife just to make little cuts into the candy).  For the snails, I rolled out two different colors, twisted them together, rolled a shell, and let one of the Tootsie Rolls extend further for the snail’s head.  I formed two antennae for the top.

I used Rips candy for centipede legs.  I separated a bit on each side of the Rips.  Then, I put a little leftover frosting from the bowl onto the Rips and stuck them to Trolli Sour Brite Crawlers.  I also used Rips for some antennae on mini Mars candy bars.  Somehow, the Twix disappeared from the bag before I could use them…hmmmm…OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

For the colorful spiders, I cut up colored Twizzlers and placed Dots candy on the top.  I used Twizzlers for most of the legs.  Rips also came into play for some legs. Twizzlers were great to hold up my M&M’s to make more little bugs.  Whoppers and M&M’s also gave me some great bugs lying in the frosting.  Milk Duds made nice little bugs in the rug of the frosting.  I applied strips of Twizzlers over the top of the Milk Duds because they looked like a pet rock of sorts without anything added to them except eyes.

I sliced some Dots in half and cut pieces for a middle contrast.  They stuck together easily, so they were simply made crawling creatures.

The eyes and legs of some of the bugs were applied using an assortment of Cake Mate writing gels.  You could always make a small amount of frosting and color it to do the same, but it won’t take much to apply eyes and legs.


There you have it…bugs and slugs.  They taste relatively good too.  I’m surprised the Whoppers made it considering they are one of my favorite, but I held back for the sake of art.

If you have any pictures you’d like to share of your project, send them to me via my facebook page!  Let your imagination run wild!


My youngest daughter was asked by one of her teachers to interview one of her parents about 9/11.  It’s difficult to express to a child what type of impact all of this had on us that day.  So many lives were lost without just cause.  I remember going to a grocery store the following day.  People were silent as we heard names read off of a long list of people killed.  The images will haunt us forever, but the aftermath of what happened to my husband was even more difficult.  Over the years, we have readjusted our lives.

 I received a letter from the school the other day.  Some sort of portable museum about 9/11 was going to be brought to the middle school.  The letter read that kids today might not remember because they were too young or not born yet.  However, the impact of what happened to my family is known by my children.  We are not alone.  It took years of fighting to get the onslaught of illnesses acknowledged, but there is always a constant fight and a growing list.  My husband may not see himself as a hero to anyone, but in our house, he’s our hero.  I find myself extremely defensive of him knowing all that he’s been through physically due to the aftermath of 9/11.  But, there is a moral of the story today….sometimes, something wonderful comes out of something so terrible.  I told my daughter that I would post her paper today on my site.  I did edit where she wrote out her whole name.


On September 11th, 2001, my mom saw the first attack had already taken place on the news. As she was watching the news, the second attack took place. She saw the second plane hit the tower.



She had just come home from taking her two oldest daughters to the bus stop. At the time, she had a baby. She turned the news on before she gave Kylie breakfast. Her first reaction was that a bomb blew up in one of the towers because the first picture on the news was the first tower on fire. When she saw the second tower get hit by an airplane, she knew it was a terrorist attack.



The day was horrible for my mother. My father was a NYPD detective, and he was working in the city that day. She tried calling him to see if he was okay, but none of the cell phones were working. It took awhile to get through. She was very worried. When she finally got through, she was the first to tell her husband about the attacks because the police radios weren’t working right. My father said he wasn’t sure when he would see her again.


She kept her kids close. Lots of family members were calling them, wondering if her husband was okay. Her girls told her about people in the school who were notified that family members may be dead. It was horrible. She was very, very sad. She knew people that lost family members and friends. One day, while her husband was working at Ground Zero, one of the buildings next to him collapsed right after he left.  He barely got out in time.



The images that stay in my mother’s mind are of the buildings on fire, the airplanes crashing into the building, the towers collapsing with people inside it, people running from the building covered in dust, people jumping, and photos of people standing within the buildings waiting to be rescued.


When my dad got sick from 9/11 working in Rescue and Recovery for nine months, it took a long time for the government to acknowledge that people were sick from 9/11. Something really good came out of all of this. After my dad worked there for over nine months, he saw a lot of sad families who lost their family members. He called my mom up. He said to my mom that he was sad about all the people who died and that he wanted to bring a life to this world. So they decided to have another baby, and gave her the middle name Renee which means reborn. That baby was me.  We always need a new life to this world.


I was asked to assist in a home that needed a “mini” flip.  There were a few things that needed to be changed and repaired in the home.

The medicine cabinet that had been previously installed had large holes in the bottom of it, shelving that was inadequate due to warping, and broken mirrors.  The mirrors had also lost their silvering on the back and looked terrible.


I had a challenge in a few areas with this installation because I didn’t have my usual go-to tools available and needed to replace a large medicine cabinet in a short period of time (hence, no waiting for one to be delivered and no desire for a large amount of money to be spent).  Also, the cabinet being replaced had lights attached to it and no electrical box to hook up another light fixture – something that had to be installed in order to attach a separate light fixture.

The goal was to attempt to replace the cabinet and light fixture with one like it.  The cabinet was 48″ wide, and the local hardware store only had one cabinet in stock that would replace the existing cabinet.  The problem?  There was no light fixture attached, and it was a cabinet that was normally placed outside of a wall, not inside.  With the design of this particular bathroom, an outside cabinet placement would have required installing drywall, and the cabinet would have run into a pedestal sink placed close to it.  Time being of the essence led to trying to find a close match to what was originally installed.

I turned the power off to the location in order to remove the cabinet since the light fixture was installed into it.  The previous installer had glued the cabinet and lighting in relatively well, so I had to use caution with the breakage of glass and held a towel over it as I gently pried away caulking.  I paid attention to where the cabinet was installed and noted that the area was relatively empty except a pipe that was in the way of the install.  I capped off the electrical wires and proceeded with the install.

One of the first challenges of the cabinet itself was a pipe that was in the way.  The previous cabinet installed had been cut to fit the pipe.  I removed the mirrors to work on the cabinet and gently laid them down with towels between them.  Using a miter box with a saw, I cut the corner of the cabinet the same way the previous cabinet had been cut to avoid the pipe.  I then cut the small corner piece backing off a bit and fit it back into the corner with glue and permitted it to dry.  This left enough room for the pipe to exist while keeping the integrity of the cabinet.  I had to saw all of this without power tools, and I think I did a decent job.

20140729_183443I used a cover already made from the other cabinet to cover the pipe area, painted it white, and caulked it in with white caulking to match the cabinet after the install was complete.  If you look at the next photo on the left hand side, you can see the pipe cover.

When installing, I used two screws on each side to screw the cabinet into studs and used a level and shims to make sure the cabinet was in level prior to screwing it into the studs.


I had to place a light fixture relatively close to the cabinet, and I knew with the one I’d use to replace it that there would be gaps on the edges.  I didn’t have a tile cutter or replacement tile for where gaps may be showing.  A gap was going to exist between the top of the medicine cabinet and light fixture that would be covered by the mirrors being closed, but I bought six feet of wood with a large depth than the cabinet, and I cut the wood to fit to the top of the cabinet.  I found some semi gloss white paint in the storage area, and painted it white.

I cut wood and glued it in with construction adhesive on the sides of where the light was going to exist so that I could put some caulking over it due to not having tile or paint to match the bathroom.  I also cut two pieces of wood and used construction adhesive to create a place to put two screws to hold the light fixture up on the wall.  After I let it dry overnight, the adhesion was spectacular.

I installed the lighting using a level.  I caulked around the cabinet and used a caulking tool to smooth it out.  I used a color similar to the tiles.  Then, I “neatened” it up with a razor blade after it dried overnight.  The end result looked very close to the original cabinet installation.

The cost was less than half the price of what it would have cost to order an exact replica of the original cabinet.  It took great measuring skills to make sure the lighting didn’t butt into the top of the cabinet.

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Real estate agents would discourage you from selling your house as a FSBO.  Why?  Let’s face it, as homeowners, we are inexperienced when it comes to rules and regulations of selling a house.  However, there is no need for you to have to hire someone and be kept out of the loop in order to sell your home.

I sold my own house, and there are a few things I learned that I wanted to pass onto anyone else considering going this route.  First, why is it that you want to sell your own home?  Is it because you’re trying to get more money for the house?  If so, buyers today are savvy, and they may attempt to knock the potential commission that you were hoping to make for yourself off your home.  Is it that you had a bad experience with a real estate agent?  I’ve been there, and this is why I put my own house on the market.  Not all real estate agents are bad, but there are just some (as in any occupation or job) that rubbed me the wrong way to a point where I didn’t want to make a mistake committing to the wrong person.

Here’s a list of things to keep in mind while selling your own home:

1.  Be realistic with your price.  Just because you think your house is worth a certain number doesn’t mean it is worth it.  Be willing to do price comparisons with homes that have sold in the area (not necessarily ones that are LISTED, but comparables of homes that have SOLD recently in your area).

2.  Pay a flat fee to have your home listed on the MLS.  If you don’t get it on the MLS, chances are people won’t see it.  It’s like paying for advertising.  A six month listing might cost approximately $500.00.  It’s well worth it to invest in selling your home.

3.  Purchase a lock box and put it on your home.  I used one made by Master Lock.  This way, if a real estate agent brings someone to your house, you won’t be there….which brings me to my next point.

4.  Don’t be at the house when a real estate agent is showing.  People look at you as a reflection of themselves.  If they see something in you that they don’t like, they might not want to buy your home.  You may say the wrong thing to turn them off.  Point is that even though you are selling your house as a FSBO, the majority of the people who come to see it will use a real estate agent.  In our case, we only showed our house ONCE.  Every other showing was done by a real estate agent which brings me to my next point:

5.  Offer a great commission to the real estate agent that sells your house.  When you have your house listed in the MLS, you have the opportunity to offer a commission to a real estate agent showing your home.  We offered a 3% commission.  Be fair.  After all, someone else is selling your house for you and, when the time comes, they are going to have to put up with you being the person in charge of the sale.  When you offer a great commission, real estate agents go out of their way and show your house more than one time…especially if you have it priced in a manner that makes it very appealing.  Also, keep in mind that because you are selling your home as a FSBO, you can actually lower the price since you aren’t paying a 5% or 6% commission.

6.  ALWAYS BE KIND.  No matter what a real estate agent says to you, remember they are representing the buyer, but also remember, YOU are the one paying them the commission.  You can be kind, but be firm with what you want at the same time.  If you’re a super nice person in life, it can be difficult to stand up for yourself, but when your house is on the market and you start to get offers, you HAVE to stand up for what you want.  If you’re not happy with a purchase deal, compromise until you get what you want.  I’ll cover this in another article.

7.  Don’t talk too much when a real estate agent contacts you.  When real estate agents contact you, some are wary that they are speaking with the homeowner.  Others won’t care so much.  Either way, treat it like a professional transaction.

8.  Ask for feedback after a showing.  Don’t be offended with what you hear.  No house is perfect.  Usually, when someone is interested in your home, they will find things wrong with it to try to get a better deal.  Keep this in mind.  When there are things you cannot change, shrug your shoulders and say, “Well, that’s something I can’t change.”  We had a home with a steep driveway that was in existence for decades.  The driveway was always something that someone brought up.  My reply, “It’s funny how you get use to things.  I had teenage daughters that drove up and down that driveway, and it’s something that didn’t bother us because it gave us privacy.”    There’s a positive to some, so called, negative aspects of your house.  Sometimes, people don’t realize why something like a steep driveway might be great.

9.  Don’t speak negatively of your home or neighbors.  Some real estate agents will ask, “Is there anything I should know about the house?”  This usually means they want to know if something, somewhere, is wrong.  We had electrical work taking place due to a telephone pole going down, and I explained what was happening and when the work would be completed…and that it would be completed by the time the person closed on the home.  Make sure you don’t speak of your home, neighbors, etc. in a negative manner.  Just because you don’t like the person living next door doesn’t mean someone else won’t be the neighbor’s best friend.

10.  Make sure there are CO’s on the house.  Wood stoves, pellet stoves, or anything else that you know didn’t have a CO – get one.  You’re going to need everything to be legit and in place.  If something is wrong, fix it.  The saying, “It takes money to make money,” comes into play here.

11. Always have the house ready to show.  If you have moved out, you should leave some furniture in some rooms for staging purposes.  I never believed in staging until I staged and suddenly had offers afterward.  We left a sofa and coffee table, chair, and end tables in a living room with a rug.  We put a small bed with an end table and dresser in one bedroom.  The kitchen was set up with a small round table, two chairs, and it was staged to look like a country home.  There are so many people who can’t picture things being in a room unless it’s set up a certain way.

12.  BE PATIENT!!!  Treat every showing as the one that could be IT.  I heard one real estate agent become so enthusiastic that I thought I had a sale.  It was one that was unassuming that surprised me.

13.  Don’t be offended when you get low ball offers.  I think certain television shows have done some damage when it comes to selling homes in the real world.  First time home buyers are watching first time home buying shows where people want everything for nothing.  There is a dream world created for home buying where they feel the art of negotiation means to offend the seller.  Don’t take it personally when someone offers you $30,000 below a legit asking price.  They are trying to get you to meet them somewhere in the middle.  If you don’t want to meet in the middle, don’t be a jerk about it, just say, “I’m sorry.  We have other showings taking place, and I don’t want to entertain an offer this low.  If you really want the home, please bring up the price.”

14.  Reevaluate your home if it isn’t selling.  If your house doesn’t have many showings, you probably need to lower your price. Don’t lower it $500.00.  Significantly lower it to a price that is more reasonable.  If you are getting a lot of showings and no offers, drop it more if you can.  We dropped the price $15,000 and then got a bidding war bidding it to the price we wanted.

15.  Real estate agents will try to get a feel for you when they contact you.  They want to know what the situation is regarding the home.  If the house has been on the market for awhile and they sense some kind of desperation, it will indicate that you’ll sell for a lower price.  If you’re going through a divorce, it will indicate a lower price.  Don’t indicate desperation.  You’re moving onto another chapter in your life and selling your house – plain and simple.  Don’t give them a reason to think their clients can drop that price on you.

16.  If your MLS listing expires, renew it.  Every real estate agent under the sun will call you and some will be so bold as to say, “Oh, so you didn’t sell your house as a FSBO.  Now, do you realize you need to hire an agent?”  You’ll be told you priced your house too high (because they are told that must be the reason a house didn’t sell).  They will tell you that no one wanted to show your house because it was a FSBO (not true – we had SEVERAL agents show it, and one lucky agent got a 3% commission).  They will tell you that you’re not going to succeed.  Renew your MLS listing.  Don’t even entertain phone calls like this.  Don’t argue with the person on the other end.  Just say, “Oh, we just renewed our listing.  Thank you for your concerns.”  Politely get off the phone.  It’s easy to be angered by certain aggressive people, but don’t let it bother you.  It’s just business.

17.  The first offer is NOT always the best offer.   The saying that the first offer is always the best offer just isn’t true.  We had a low ball offer given to us.  When we asked for a prequalification to accompany the offer, none was given, and the person went away.  There were over three offers before we got what we wanted.  If you’re not in a mad rush to have the house sold, you might actually get a better offer.  Know your limits with how long you can tolerate having your home on the market and be willing to wait for the right person to come along.

18.  Just because it’s a buyers market doesn’t mean you don’t have rights.  You are selling your home.  When someone falls in love with it, they are hoping you will agree to their terms, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to do everything they want in order for the house to be sold.  Again, this is going back to the “something for nothing” mentality that people seem to have, and you do not have to give your home away if you are being fair all the way around.

19.  Some months are better than others.  We had the world’s worst winter this past year with few showings over the winter months.  When April and May came around, showings shot up like mad.  This is when we received a lot of offers.

20.  Always get a prequalification.  If someone contacts you and no agent is involved, request a prequalification prior to showing the house.  If the person is legit, the person will email or fax it to you.  For the most part, no one contacted us personally.  Real estate agents showed the home.

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