Always a Happy Place

What if I told you this time of the year used to be my darkest. It felt like the biggest downside to moving to New Mexico was having to leave my South Carolina roots and family traditions behind. Thanksgiving became my “trigger holiday” as I missed the sound of everyone gathering and endless plates of good food. No matter who was upset with whom, on Thanksgiving we always came together and my Granny’s table was always a happy place.

A few years ago I decided to recreate those traditions and create my own memories. For whatever reason (maybe because it kept me busy and distracted from my sadness) I hyper focused on setting my dining table. It’s now become a tradition of my own. No Thanksgiving dinner is complete without a fabulous table darling! I now dream and take delight in planning what the theme will be. Dark and Afro-moody or bright and classic? What was once depressing is now one of my most favorite days…and for that I will always be thankful.

What A Disaster

On August 29, I nearly had my entire house flooded because of a leak in my bathroom. The aftermath has been one of the most traumatic times I’ve experienced since becoming a homeowner. From juggling insurance paperwork, contractors, the adjuster, constantly changing timelines, oh and the mortgage company too- I’ve nearly lost it a few times. Somehow here I am nearly 3 months later still holding on (and finally ready to blog about it!). Here’s my account of what happened and what I’ve learned from this situation.

This can’t be real. That was my first thought and biggest wish when I walked into my bathroom and saw water shooting out from the toilet supply line like an open fire hydrant. This was not a drill. I initially tried to cover the pipe with my hands (made total sense in the moment), but quickly realized I was losing time and now soaking wet. This ain’t looking good. As I was in total panic, what stands out the most is my frantic attempt to remember where the home inspector pointed out the emergency water shut off valve nearly 6 years ago. Is it in the garage? No, what about the underground cover in front of the house? Yes, it’s in the garage. Trying to recall something that you thought you would never need in the middle of a crisis is a real eye opener.

Eventually, I was able to shut off the water, but not before serious damage had been done. My master bathroom, bedroom, closet, hallway, kitchen ceiling and the entire downstairs floor was flooded. There’s not enough towels for this job. So I called a local plumber, paid the $125 per hour after-hours fee, and waited about an hour for them to show up so they could give me a blank stare and advise me to call my insurance. Wait, that’s it? After running around and saving my house from Hurricane Katrina all I get is barely 10 minutes of work!? Note to self: If you can shut off the water by yourself, you have already completed 98% of the plumber’s job. In all seriousness, its best to call them nevertheless just to be safe, but I absolutely want my money back.

I called my insurance provider the following morning and, unbeknownst to me, boarded the proverbial crazy train. Or maybe I jumped on the night before when I tried to become a human water plug. At any rate, a company (who will remain unnamed) showed up later that day to begin removing the water and setting up an outlandish number of fans to dry out the house. It was apparent that there was an increasing bulge on my kitchen ceiling that was becoming larger by the minute. The company casually explained this was water from the upstairs leak, which was now pooling above my downstairs kitchen, which could and would fall if the water was not released. Great. The next part of this story is synonymous with the part of a prescription drug commercial where the announcer starts speaking at 235 mph. Don’t worry, I’ll slow it down for you and skip to the good part. According to the unnamed company, they don’t do any type of construction and suggested I hire another company. Apparently setting up giant fans were the extent of their services. The crazy train is leaving the station. Please stand clear of the closing doors.

So here I was back at square one, minus a few baseboards and with a whole bunch of added confusion. After conducting a thorough Google search on “my house flooded now what,” I made the decision to call water restoration services. The second company got to work immediately, cutting the hole in my kitchen ceiling to prevent it from collapsing, removing my kitchen floors, and assessing the extent of the damage. I wish I had more to say about all the fun I had renovating my house, but bear in mind that we are on a crazy train that doesn’t stop for anyone. After nearly 3 months the condition of my home is still the same (ripped up floors and a giant hole in the ceiling). I am finally nearing the finish line after much back and forth and three different inspections (the mortgage lender also needs to do their own walk through). The contractor has promised I will have a set appointment for the last phase soon (early November).

What do we want? Renovation! When do we want it? Now! In a couple of weeks I will be picking out new flooring, having the carpet replaced, walls painted and basically designing a new master bath. The contractor estimates 2-3 weeks of work and with the Thanksgiving holiday approaching I can only pray that my house will be complete in time. This ordeal has pushed me in so many ways, but ultimately I know that I am stronger bc of it. I also know that I really, really, really love my home and can’t wait to see her back and better than ever. My home is a reflection of who I am and who I want to be. I’ve worked so hard to create a warm, enjoyable, and unique space. When your house aches, you hurt too, much like a parent would when their child does. Having spent so many days living in the house and staring at the damage on a daily, I can’t wait for things to return to normal.

Here’s a video recap of the leak and aftermath.

Just Like My Grandma

This blog is named after my paternal and maternal Grandmothers, Ella Francis and Beatrice Miller. It was my Granny’s (Beatrice) passing in 2007 that pushed me to ask the tough questions and learn our family’s history before it was too late. They say ‘you can’t take it with you’ referring to materialistic things. But what about the wisdom and countless stories our elderly withhold. I wanted to leave no stone unturned, no story left behind. So I spent as much time as possible with my surviving (at the time) Grandma Francis, listening to her stories and recording her singing her favorite songs.

On May 10, I lost my dear Grandma Francis. She was my best friend. Although both of my Grandma’s are gone, their words and wisdom continue to live within me. I’m so blessed to have countless memories and this blog to commemorate them both.

Bargain Hunted: Authentic Persian Rug

I love hunting a good bargain, but this one may go down in history as one of the greatest!

According to Wikipedia, Heriz rugs are Persian rugs from the area of Heris, East Azerbaijan in northwest Iran, northeast of Tabriz. Persian Heriz rugs are typically crimson red and Persian blue, combined with varied neutrals. It’s featured pattern include a central medallion motif surrounded by rectilinear vine-scrolls (as cited by Nazmiyal Antique Rugs).

Here’s a side-by-side of my thrifted Persian heriz rug and a similar one found online.

Finding an authentic, vintage Persian rug is beyond exciting. I can only imagine it’s journey and whether it had been passed down for generations. I certainly plan to do so. The history of this rug was only the part of this amazing find. The other part was the price! Brace yourselves…

As soon as I eyed this magnificent piece I drifted towards it. I had to blink several times to make sure I was reading the price right! I immediacy dragged the entire rug stand over to the cashier to make sure it wasn’t a mistake. Priced for $24.99!! * Nearly faints* but not before I paid so no one else could grab it.

My thrifted Persian Heriz rug in my home.

DIY Planter

Don’t throw away that cardbox box!

Turn it into an eco-friendly planter instead. I purchased a new patio umbrella and couldn’t help but notice that the box it came in was pretty sturdy. I immediately had the vision to create a plant box. As far as knowing how to actually make one, I wouldn’t say I was an expert! Because of my obsession with succulents and cacti, I signed up for a Home Depot DIY workshop (pre-pandemic, of course) on how to build a succulent wall planter. With determination and my basic skills, I got started building my own version. Lowe’s provided a great selection of succulents! I grabbed a bit of everything, including portulaca, aloe vera, and Portulacaria Afra also known as Elephant Bush. I also used a few cacti that I already had around the house.

Designing the box proved to be the easiest part. I used matte black generic spray paint as the base. A few months back I found a few packs of beautiful tile in mosaic patterns. At under 2 bucks each, I had to have them. Maybe not so surprisingly, they ended up collecting dust in my garage until I figured out what I was going to use them for. The time has come…mosaic tile, Suit up!

I used E6000 glue for the tile. Halfway through I switched to Gorilla wood glue-I just preferred it better. I also tiled the sides of the box but didn’t have enough out of the 3 packs to tile the back. After letting it dry overnight, it was time to cut the plant holes. Let me start by saying there was no strategy. I figured creating one huge hole would cause the box to lose support, so I opted for multiple, smaller versions. I also added wood sticks on the inside of the box, opposite the tiled side, for extra support. For some reason, I was most excited about the next step-adding the soil! Pouring the soil into the box was my most favorite part. Maybe because soil and plants are what makes it an actual planter. Now came the tough part.

I had no idea that designing cacti was so difficult! I mean, I guess floral arrangement is a special talent for a reason. It took a while to figure out which pieces would like cute paired with the other. Should I place the Portulaca next to the Aloe vera or the Ferocactus? Shrugs shoulders. In the end, I went with my gut and every plant had a home.

DIY Succulent & Cacti Planter

Labor of Love

My home has definitely been a labor of love. From DIYs to extreme thrifting, I am proud of every ounce of sweat I’ve put in to making my home reflect who I am. I hope that everyone takes some time today to appreciate your own hard work and achievements and the hard work of those who came before us.