Pretty in Pink

Tim is making awesome headway with the bathroom this weekend. My help includes: cooking, cleaning, running to Home Depot, keeping the kids happy and not overly “helpful” to daddy 😉 If I can keep everything smooth, he can work fast and efficient. I also help set the bathtub, learned almost every tool so I can bring it to him when he needs it, and I clean up behind him so we don’t have too much drywall tracked all over the house by 12 feet (dog included!) Today, I finished both of the kiddos rooms! They have shared a room for a while, so it was very fun for them to make their own little space in the new house.

When moving, all I could get out of my little 3 year old daughter is that she wanted a PINK room! And, that was pretty easy! I made her room all about fun and toys. Her closet is a good size so all of her tiny clothes fit in there!

The only thing I bought for this room was the pink sheers for 6.99 a piece at Ross that my mom actually found.  Behind them is the oh-so-famous drop cloth curtains just to give them some depth. Everything else we already had or one of the crazy grandmothers bought her 😉 You know I love you both.

Bedding: Target clearance, Dollhouse: Target, Princess Tent: Kohls, Princess Chest of Dresses: Costco. Huge poster mattes: Pottery Barn Outlet 1.99, Rugs: Pink- Target, Freize Area Rug: Home Depot Clearance.

Which by the way- I LOVE the dollhouse because of the curtains it comes with… you can just pull them shut to hide all the clutter like my littlest one likes to put in there.

Let me just share this story. While Mackenzie is so tiny and very petite…. she has extreme attitude. She also can hang with her big brother and has an obsession with finding bugs. But, gross bugs. While moving in, I discovered (along with my mom and best friend Jessica), that she had taken worms and snails from my flower pots and put them up for lodging inside the dollhouse. No. Joke.  She had the worm tucked into the doll bed and the snails were taking a ride on the ferris wheel. And do you know what I being the good mom I am did? I just shut her door and let her be. Sometimes you just have to go with it- life lesson across the board.

We later put the worms and snails back into the flower pots after their field trip inside. Oh my.

I have one happy little girl! Can’t wait to post the boy room…

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Demo and Deals

Well, the heat about took us out! When we hit triple digits, Tim goes MIA to handle the commercial accounts he has! So, I close the doors to the demo and just think about the progress ahead =)

So, one thing I love about my job as the supportive-wife-of-a-house-renovater, is I get to do all the shopping. And I really hate shopping and spending money. BUT, when it directly makes the value of something sky rocket…. it doesnt feel like shopping to me, but investing! And I like that. It’s win-win for me and the man.

So, here are some super duper deals! Because of the location of this house and what we are going to do with it, it warrants a higher end renovation. That has also been fun trying to find the most high quality things for really cheap…. and it’s possible!

We decided to go with slate for the floors and to do a slate shower wall as well…. pretty much like tiling, except with slate! We found a left over palate from Floor and Decor and got these long rectangular pieces for $1.30 (to give you a price comparison…. really cheap tile is .79-.99 cents….. so this was a GREAT deal!) We have wet saws so we are doing all the labor ourselves. Here is our slate. And my 3 year old added her toys to the pile of it.

Light fixture. These can run upwards of $100, but I found this iron one from craigslist for $15. The bronze color is off, so I bought a $3 can of oil rubbed bronze to match everything else I have bought. I am not a big spray painter….. but, if it is going to be on something that isnt “touched” or “handled” a lot, no one will ever know the difference. Obviously a no for anything that will ever get wet as well. Yay for craigslist!


Okay! The shower and faucet pieces! These can cost A LOT, especially for a nice finish on one. I found the shower head, lever, and all those pieces in the clearance section in Lowes. It was normally $146 marked down to $50. And when it rang up, it came on the screen for $25…. CRAZY! The cashier just said, “lucky you!” I told her, “Sometimes. Only sometimes.”

Next, background info, I came from Whitewater so the kids and I were a little worn out. I start rifling through the clearance section at another Lowes. The college student that worked there asked if he could help me and I said I didn’t think so. 10 minutes later, he came over again. He kind of stood there looking at my kids and said, “My girlfriend just told me she was pregnant.” As I try to figure out mentally why this guy is telling me this, why my own kids are acting crazy, and why I can find tons of clearanced faucets minus the finish that i need…. I calmly respond, “Well, congratulations.” I mean what do you say, really? I know they are like, 18, but a baby is on the way now! He was a little shell shocked looking, so I finally tell him it will all be ok, I met Tim when I was 18, was married at 21 and pregnant with my son at 23 and its really fun to be young parents. That they will figure it out. And that it will all be okay. He says he hopes its a boy and then asks me why I am taking all the faucets off of the shelf. I explain to him I need one specific finish and I will find it if it takes me all night 😉 He then tells me to just pick out whatever faucet I want and he will sell it to me for the clearanced price. Can he do that?? So, sure enough, he walks me to the front with my faucet and tells the manager to give it to me for the clearanced price so I don’t have to keep searching with my kids. HA! Also, I have never had that happened to me before… but shopping with 2 preschoolers for a house renovation…. I’ll take it!!! Sink Faucet- $60, normally $120.

Oil Rubbed Bronze towel bar and toilet paper holder- Target clearance, 1/2 off. 9.98 & 4.98


Here are the demo pictures in timeline of the bathroom:


Bathroom demo- $12 trip to the dump….. but wait, I took the cast iron tub to the recycling center and they paid ME! $24!

*Oh yeah, and I definitely sold the used 20 year old toilet for $25 on craigslist as well. It was kind of a joke that i put it on there, but someone actually came and bought it and wanted it! There ya go!

So bathroom demo was a profit of $37. Yay!

Demo is over, now for the fun part.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

One Step Forward

I had to have one, just ONE room kind of normal. There is something mentally helpful about one room of the house not really needing anything while you are doing a live-in renovation! The family room was the perfect candidate. After we scrubbed the floors to death, I had everything ready to go in there. All I bought for this room was a $39 mirror from Home Depot in a clearance box. My mom gave me the super old bookcase she had in her room as a little girl. It is a really cool piece and I’m leaving it as is, naturally distressed.  *I will eventually replace that white ceiling fan, but I am going to ignore it right now.  This is probably my favorite room in the house because it has the 3 giant floor to ceiling windows across the back. Our backyard has trees and a beautiful magnolia tree so we don’t even need blinds which is a plus.  Anyway, it’s pretty comfy. When I don’t want to deal with the rest in the house, I pull out a book and pretend the rest of the house is just as finished! The wall to the left where you can see the edge of a box is coming down….. but that will happen when we re-do the kitchen. It will be a huge cased opening  from the den to the kitchen, instead of a small doorway.

Bathroom gutting is underway by Tim and I am slowly painting the exterior of the house, not the brick, just the siding. I am also re-landscaping the outside. It’s all a big mess because I have mainly ripped out a bunch of things and the house is painted in sections!! I shop deals constantly and work on things that a girl can do, haha! I don’t gut bathrooms- especially one from 1958 that is underlying with mold. And meth. Okay, probably not, but you get the idea.

We are in the hardest stage where we have so many things that need to be done that it gets overwhelming. You have to just pick one thing and try to finish it without getting side tracked by other issues. After the bathroom, we will begin to re-do the horribly awkward addition with sliding glass doors in the middle of the house and the washer and dryer next to the front door. I am the most excited about the new floor plan there- it is going to be awesome!! Here is the family room- enjoy!

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Bathroom # 1 Deals!

I have to admit, my favorite part is doing the shopping!

We are about to gut the teal bathroom. The sub floor is rotted out, black mold in the vanity, the grout is the grossest thing going…. need I go on? Here is a reminder!

So, I found this awesome new wood vanity with a granite countertop, backsplash, and undermount sink on craigslist and got it for $90. Very excited and probably worth $350.

I also got a new toilet off craigslist. It is a Kohler Wellworth 1.6 gal per flush for $60, valued at $190.

Lastly, Lowes had our tub! There apparently was a damaged shipment of them. There is a hairline scratch which doesnt hurt the tub at all….. It is a Kohler Ensemble Tub, normally around $350…. and it was marked down to $220. I asked them why they had so many, if they wanted to keep them or sell them, and what their lowest price would be. Hey, I have to negotiate, I’m renovating a whole house here! The nice lady gave it to me for $170, the store’s cost. Sweet!

Very excited to get this bathroom project underway! So there is a sneak peak of what is going in there! Wish us luck- cheers to finding a lot more issues when we rip it all out! Good times!

What the bathroom would have normally cost, not on sale- $890.

What I spent- $320. Booyah!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment


That’s really the only word I can use to describe our first 2 weeks here. We have been cleaning, ripping out, cleaning, and figuring out what to rip out next. It has taken us some time to get a game plan, but we are there. Step 1. We are finishing off where the meth lab was and making the carport look normal again. Step 2. We are gutting the bathroom and that is our next move. Step 3. Phase 1 of the new floor plan involves the entrance to the house….. I won’t get too far ahead, but that is our schedule.

Keep in mind the schedule gets thrown to the side when you discover they ran the dishwasher plumbing into the crawl-space and water comes out everywhere. You have to stop the plan and do that. Or when your circuit breaker is overloaded and running your washer and dryer could burn the whole place down. And then you contemplate if that might just be the best idea going. Anyway, we had a lot of surprises, as I like to call them, our first week here. Tim is a champ and troubleshooted everything and had all things fixed within 24 hours of diagnosing it. Love him.

Now that the Meth Lab is gone…. which by the way, I did get confirmation of the fact that meth was being kept and sold out in the “shed”, no one seems to be quite sure if it was being manufactured here. I don’t think it was… there were no signs of making it, just hiding it from what it appears to me. So glad that is over.

So, apparently, if you don’t mop your floors for a good 10 years….. because you are busy doing meth, a swiffer aint gonna cut it. Neither is harsh chemicals, neither is natural chemicals, and neither is ANYTHING I tried on these nasty floors. So, I called my sister, as she also has foreclosure buying in her blood… and she walked me through the process.

There is not just dirt, but a layer of grime that builds up if you don’t mop your floors people. So no “mop” is going to wipe it up. This is what you have to do:

1. Go to Home Depot and buy an industrial squeegee.

2. Strong chemicals.

3. Lots of arm power =)

You pour the chemicals on the floor to let them soak in. You wait. And pray. And then you come back with a hard core rubber squeegee so you don’t scratch the wood, and push as hard as you can. The grime will literally “roll up” and you will find the clean floors underneath. This is what I did to our entire house. Then went back with water to wash away any cleaner/chemical left behind. Yuck. But, worth the pay-off.

For $35…. pretty spankin clean awesome looking hardwoods. Hallelujah. I earned it 😉

So, other than that…. we have ripped out the shrubbery covering the house (because that is high on the priority list, ha!) It is not, but is a heck of a aggression relief. We hooked up Tim’s truck with a chain to each shrub and ripped them out. It may be red-neck, but it sure saved our backs! Landscaping is something we do when we need a break from the inside of the house.

We have finally figured out a new floorplan for the house, thanks to Tim’s cousin Liz who is an architect genius, and I have almost everything I need for the new bathroom we are about to rip out. I can’t wait to post the deals I found on those!

It is 2 weeks today. We are mostly un-packed, minus the things that will stay in boxes since we are rearranging the floor plan. We are tired. I have a cold. The kids are happy and they love the new house. I take a lot of breaks and we try to do normal summertime activities.

Thanks to all the friends, family, and complete strangers that have offered their support and love to us. Despite the wreck of the place, we are in love with it and the community we moved into. God has made this our passion and we thrive in seeing transformation. We hope to make this broken home whole again.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Buy a Foreclosure, get a Meth Lab free

The first week in a renovation has always been full of surprises for us.

And not good surprises. “Murphy”, the 3 ft. long rat is what greeted us the first week at Nellie Mae. A rat this time? No. Even better. A Meth Lab.

Well, apparently we had no idea what this “shed” was really used for until we went inside.

Rumor has it, this old foreclosure we bought had multiple arrests made from this location for drug charges. I don’t know all the details (and don’t really care to).  When the listing agent came by to pick up their signs and lock box, I questioned him about what he saw when the owners defaulted on their payments and were forced to leave. The owners had left all their possessions on the inside and just left the house basically trashed. So the bank does what is called a “trash out” and sets all things inside the house on the lawn. The owners even left their cat. Someone did take the cat for a pet, by the way.  Anyway, I asked him about the drugs and he said the inside of the house was pretty much full of kid toys and he didn’t see any drugs or paraphernalia. Well, as we took apart this shed…. we soon realized there was a reason no drugs were used inside…. I think they were all out there!

The walls were super insulated (how many sheds do you insulate?) The roofing, sides, and all. Then, there was fireproofing installed throughout. It was also soundproof. Another huge clue. Then, there were many, many outlets and a lot of locks. Way more locks than a shed should have. Hooks hanging from the ceiling, ect.  Creepy. I guess we will never know for sure…

Needless to say, despite the fact this meth lab was taking up half the carport- it was just plain nasty and creepy and had to go. Because of all the insulation and fireproofing…. I’m sure neighbors thought we tore out the entire insides of our house. It was an unbelievable MESS. To be exact, when Tim took it to the dump, the contents weighed 2100 lbs.

Here are the demo pictures. I always say, it has to get worse before it gets better…. but that beautiful exposed stacked brick wall was a small glimmer of hope.

Goodbye shed, goodbye meth. xoxo, the willis’

And thank you also to our friends, Greg and Jess Sykes for helping us take down the drug hut. We owe you. No seriously.

Tools used: Sawzall, crowbars, and hammers.

Total cost for Meth Lab Removal- $59.10 dump costs plus some serious manual labor.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

All Decked Out…

Nellie Mae got a deck. Merry Christmas and happy new year, Nellie Mae.

I can’t believe it, but we are down to 1 project left. Re-roofing. We have actually almost successfully flipped a house. May will be 2 years. Unbelievable, right?

Well, thanks to all our family and friends that helped out!! We had our dads, neighbor, family/friends….. one day there were 7 men out there doing this! I’m glad this little old house has brought so many together =)

For Tim’s 30th birthday, everyone got him giftcards to Home Depot.

He had a 10% off coupon, and he found competitor prices that Home Depot not only matched, but then took an additional 10% off that as well.

Deck cost (material only) b/c he did the labor: $1150

minus coupons, deals, and giftcards- we paid $185.

Oh, Nellie Mae… some days you make us oh so proud.

Here is the before shots of the house. They are from when Tim added on a bedroom enclosing the backporch.

And here it is!! It may be close to 30 degrees in Atlanta right now, but we have definitely grilled out 3 times. Come on, Spring!!


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

One Year Later…

It has been one year at Nellie Mae, whew!! As of today, we had over 20,000 visitors to our site! We have both really spent the past 12 months figuring out how to simplify. And we finally accomplished our goal!! It was very frustrating at first to try and fit our life into a house 1,000 square feet smaller than our last. That and we have 2 very small children and a dog. Ikea is known for this statement and its 100% true: Your house doesn’t have to be big, just smart. I’m not a huge fan of all things Ikea, but I like the way they think. I have spent so much time studying, analyzing, and researching ways to organize and simplify our life.
You really have to let stuff go and purge regularly, knowing that it is just “stuff.” And finding systems for the parts of your house that need one. Laundry, mail, toys, and any type of clutter. This house has made us efficient and easy. I would give my right arm some days for just one more bedroom and closet, but learning contentment where ever you are is a huge life lesson to embrace. I am thankful for this house and very proud of how it turned out. Next projects are a deck, new roof, and a fence.
We are undecided when we will sell and flip it. The more we do to the house, the more we love it. We are taking it season by season! Here are the final before and after pictures, enjoy!
The Family Room

Secrets about this room: the end table on the left is my filing cabinet since there is no room for an office. The end table on the right is our dogs nighttime crate since there is not a spare bedroom to put it in. The coffee table serves as a storage ottoman.

The Dining Area

The Kid’s bedroom

Our Master Bedroom

Master Bathroom

Tim turned the backporch into a small 3rd bedroom we use as a playroom.

There is also a closet to the right that has a stackable washer and dryer.

The kitchen

This is a half-bath that Tim created instead of a hallway that was here.

The backyard

Thanks for all our faithful followers!!

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The Farmer and the Dell

One of the first things I wanted to do at this house was have a garden! The renter that lived here for 40 years had one every year. So, it was perfectly prepared for us to use.  It is also 1 acre so what else am I going to do with huge amounts of open space during the summer?!! I realized earlier this week that we had not yet started our garden. We are still cleaning out tree debris in the backyard from the last post! So, I got crazy one night and stayed up and tilled the whole garden with a shovel. I know you are supposed to use a tiller, but that involved us going to get my dads and who knows what else. It was easy to shovel for hours and shovel frustration away, ha! My husband always says I do things the hard way, but you know what? We have a garden now =)

I didn’t really know how “into it” the kids would be, but holy cow, they think it is the coolest thing ever. I guess I never realized what a neat lesson it would be to teach them how we get food. David is just blown away by the whole thing and the first thing he asked was if we could grow candy. Did I mention this will be a great lesson?! They also go ouside everyday and just watch it. And watch for food to appear. They haven’t quite gotten that it will take a couple of weeks!

Here is the garden stats:

It is a 12 x 20 foot long rectangle

We’ve planted tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, sweet potatos, cantelope, watermelon, eggplant, squash, zucchini, and pumpkin.

I have planted marigolds and grated Irish spring soap to keep away bugs, deer, and bunnies.

And I sing to it. Just kidding, but I have no idea if this whole thing will work so I’ll keep you posted. I grew grass, so I figure it can’t be rocket science. I also feel like it’s in my blood since my mom grew up on farmland. And since my grandpa and great grandpa built Nellie-Mae, it has to work out, right?!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Nellie-Mae had some dead trees that needed immediate attention! We had kind of overlooked them until 2 weeks ago when one dropped a 25 ft long dead branch across the yard 5 minutes before going out to play (Thank you Lord!) Anyway, that plus the tornado season, we decided to get them taken out! This is one DIY that I would NOT recommend. Out of all the things you can pay someone else to do, pay someone to chop trees down! We had a bad experience with this at our first home! That’s another story for another day!

I had 3 different quotes. Always get three. And make sure they show you proof of being licensed and insured. We had most companies wanting between $1500-1750 to take down 3 trees and haul away. Finally, we found Xtreme Tree Worx, my parents had used them years back. They were fantastic! He only charged $650 to get the trees down. He gave us the option of us doing our own haul away.

We had a plan. We would burn the branches (small brush fire) and chop up the logs for firewood. My dad has a log-spliter (you can also rent them cheap at Home Depot). And bam! We’d be done!

The owner really helped us out. For an additional $100, he used his chainsaw and sawed off all the branches and cut the tree into firewood sized logs we could split. The whole thing went streamlined. Awesome.

However, did I mention they were INSANE?!! This tree was 60 ft. tall. They climb it, rope it, and saw down chunks of the tree. Unbelievable. Seriously. No fear in tree removers.

Obviously, David had the time of his life. The owner also said we had about $2000 of Red Oak firewood we could sell this fall from these trees. So, not only was this project super cheap, we will actually make a profit. I wish all projects could work out like that.

And that is how its done!

Cost- $750 for tree removal and chainsawing them up

Log Splitter- free, borrowed from my dad

Profit from firewood- $2000.

Total project profit- $1250.

That’s why you get 3 quotes. Can you imagine if I paid the first guy $1750 for removal and haul away? So funny.

Here is the tree, and David with his chain-saw.




Mackenzie found her home on the tree stumps and here is me sitting next to the log to show the comparison of how huge the tree was!  


David also used the logs as balance beams.

And here is Lumberjack Tim. He was a firewood splitting machine. Can I just make one side note *** Our neighbors probably think we have lost our marbles b/c

1. Its May and we are chopping firewood

2. We have no fireplace.

Just wanted to note that. Anyway, our firewood will be seasoned Red Oak, ready this fall!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment