House Money Woes


Hydrangea at our old house. The one with the crappy/dreamy porch.

For nearly the last five years, I lived in rental houses that were in varying states of repair. The first house we moved to in New Jersey was bigger than our Maryland house which was enough to ignore every other problem, and man were there problems with that place. We quickly found the oil heat barely heated and the plaster walls, though full of character, were full of chipping mess. Yet, I invited people over and entertained as often as someone who is new to a town with three small children can. I adored the ramshackle front porch because it was screened in so when the world felt like it was spinning out of control I could take a cup of tea out to my favorite chair (that didn’t fit INSIDE the house) and just take some deep breaths, the kind of satisfying breaths that can only come on a screened in porch.

The owner of that house went into foreclosure so within a year we moved on to a tiny little duplex that was barely big enough to contain us. In that house, we had a big, sunny kitchen where everyone gathered. I baked my heart out, learned how to eat healthy and just filled all those tiny rooms with such love that they were bursting even more than we thought they could. In both of these houses, we had no money. There were no choices to be made. The houses were way less than ideal but our life was what it was and we had better make the best of it.

We did.

Then, one day on a run I spotted this house, the house we’re in. I ran past it for months watching the for sale sign for any kind of new activity. I dreamed of this house. I pictured us in it, throwing parties in the backyard, cooking in the kitchen and filling the rooms with love. Through a million strokes of luck, and some strategic work on our part, we ended up in this house. First, we were renters and now we are set to be buyers, putting down roots for the very first time. Happy ending right?


For some reason, the closer we get to making this house permanent, all I seem to do is focus on all that I hate. The kitchen is laid out wrong. The floors are a mess. The lighting is terrible and the paint colors are wrong in every room. Let’s not even get into the thousand-year old roof and windows, the heat that makes a horrific sound when it kicks on and the attic bedroom that is either freezing cold or desert hot, never anything comfortably in between.

Hydrangea at our new house. It's growing into something beautiful...I hope.

Hydrangea at our new house. It’s growing into something beautiful…I hope.

Why am I just now seeing these things? Why am I suddenly embarrassed to entertain? Why can’t I seem to find anything I love about the place that filled my dreams for months?

I have a theory. I know, you’re shocked right? My theory goes back to money. Before, when we were living in the less than desirable houses, we had no money. We were up to our necks paying off debt so we couldn’t even entertain thoughts of home improvement. We lived in the moment and the only time we looked ahead was to imagine ourselves out from under the cloud of owing the world our lives. I didn’t look at a single catalog. I didn’t pin a “Home” board on pinterest. I saw what I had and I found a way to love it.

Now, we’re almost finished owing anything. We’ve paid off massive debt and just have a few more loose ends to tie up which will happen in the very immediate future. All that is left is a life full of choices that we haven’t had in the last few years. We have to decide how to spend our money, or not. Suddenly the way our house looks makes me feel like it’s a reflection of how our life looks. All that work I did over the last few years to get comfortable with who I am, not what I had, seems to be falling away. The stress of these decisions can be paralyzing. I thought I was happy with exactly what I had and now that I have options I’m suddenly not happy anymore.

It’s funny really. All I wanted when we were paying off our debt was to have more choices. Now that I have them, all I’m wishing for is that dilapidated screened in porch.

Mohawk SmartStrand Carpet Takes on The Puppies

I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for #CollectiveBias and its advertiser.


Living somewhat close to the sight of this year’s Super Bowl had its perks. One of those was getting the chance to go into the city for some of the fan experience activities. My favorite of course was the Puppy Bowl experience sponsored by Mohawk Flooring. 

If you’re not familiar with the Puppy Bowl, well then I’m not sure we can be friends. Kidding, of course. (Is she?) The Puppy Bowl is the fantastic show within a show. For the last ten years Discovery Communications has aired this adorable festival of cuteness on Animal Planet during the Super Bowl and it gets better every year.


The adorable puppies (all available for adoption) run around in what is supposed to be a game between two teams but just turns into a bunch of pups chasing around a stuffed ball, or each other, whichever strikes their fancy.

I went in to witness this dose of adorable first hand for two reasons. One: who can resist puppies? Two: I was intrigued by Mohawk’s SmartStrand carpet and wanted a chance to test it out.


We’re close to buying the house that we’ve rented for the last two years and living here before purchasing has given us the real picture of what we’re about to get. Let’s just say that picture is not the most clearly focused.

We’ll need news floors eventually (painted hardwood anyone?), and in the bedrooms we need new carpet immediately. What we have is not only outdated, but so used it’s bordering on gross. I can’t wait to rip it up and replace it as soon as the ink on the settlement papers is dry. The problem is with three kids and what will undoubtedly end up being a house full of pets once we own this place, I’m scared about how quickly we’ll wreck new carpet. Add to that a seemingly endless snowy winter and a summer that brings beach filth and I wasn’t sure there was a carpet out there that could withstand this family.

If Mohawk SmartStrand can withstand this, surely it will survive my home!

If Mohawk SmartStrand can withstand this, surely it will survive my home!

I have, of course, considered stain resistant carpet, but often those are coated in some sort of chemical that keeps the carpet from absorbing stains. The practical side of me clashes with the side that buys all natural cleaning products and strives to protect said kids and pets from any carcinogen I know about.

When I heard Mohawk’s SmartStrand stain protectant is woven into the carpet fibers, which means no rubbing off over time, I had to see for myself. I just got lucky that while I was learning about the carpet,  there was the added bonus of Mo the Mohawk Dog and all these other cute puppies at the same time.

Just hanging with my new friend Mo.

Just hanging with my new friend Mo.

At the Puppy Bowl Experience, I got to see the carpet stand up all beating and bruising a litter of pups can throw at a carpet at one time. Mohawk was the official sponsor of Puppy Bowl X so the “field” was all Mohawk carpet.

At home, I put my sample of SmartStrand to the test with (what else?) beet juice. You all know I’m a beet-aholic and there is nothing that stains faster and deeper than beet juice. (Just ask my red fingertips.) So I spilled some beet juice on my off-white sample carpet and let it sit while I sliced my newly roasted beets.


I was told that simple soap and water would do the trick, but I’ll admit I was skeptical. In fact when I started dabbing I was sure the red stain was never coming out. I figured at best I would end up with a pink hue in the area where I spilled the juice.

Because I’m impatient, I quickly went from dabbing to rubbing and turned the entire spot into pink soap. I thought I had beaten the carpet but when I re-wet the sponge and weft after it again, sure enough the pink went away and I was left with off-white again.


Pretty impressive Mohawk.

I’m certain Mohawk SmartStrand just shot up to the top of our list when we go to look for carpet after the sale is final. And I swear it had nothing to do with the puppies. (Ok, maybe a little!)


Don’t be fooled by these cute feet. They’re deadly on carpet!

Want to help #ShareMoLove by supporting doggy rescue? I know I always do and Mohawk Flooring is making it super easy. Just got like sweet Mo on Facebook here, and Mohawk will donate $2 to organizations that help rescue  animals find good homes.  That’s a lot of dollars for pets!