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On getting my real estate license (and an accidental break from diy)

Unfortunately, this fall we’ve had a very full schedule without much time for projects. It’s always a busy time of year for Andrew at work anyway (which means fewer projects getting completed to blog about). In addition to that, we had a weekend trip to Little Rock, a 5 day trip to Topeka, friends in town two different weekends, numerous other meetings/events, AND (drum roll, please!) I was busy getting my real estate license!! Yep, it’s official. I am now a licensed real estate agent in the state of Arkansas and a Realtor!! Woot!

This has been a many month process. I started my pre-licensing class in September. The class was 60 hours over two weekends (6 ten hour days, Fri/Sat/Sun). Talk about exhausting.

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That first day in class when you see the textbook and huge stacks of law that you’re supposed to know (and get through in just two weekends?!), it’s more than a bit overwhelming. Let’s be honest, that class and studying was pretty much all of September and the beginning of October. LOTS to study. So many flashcards.

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I talked/met with some brokers, and after choosing one and filling out all my paperwork, mailed my certificate of completion to the AREC. After they lost my certificate of eligibility for the exam once, I finally got another in the mail mid-October, scheduled my test, and did nothing but study for 2 days straight. And praise the Lord, I passed! Maybe I was just well-prepared, but it seemed much easier than I was expecting.

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We went out for macarons to celebrate.


After another meeting with the broker to get all those papers signed and mailed in, a trip to the police station to get fingerprinted again after the FBI rejected my prints for “poor quality”, and then another few weeks wait, the AREC finally issued my official license!

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And then it was time to meet with the Northwest Arkansas Board of Realtors, pay my dues, and get access to MLS and all their other great resources…and then do Realtor orientation just a few days later (a full day of ethics and MLS training).

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Another few meetings with the broker and brokerage team, and then a trip to Topeka for Thanksgiving and here we are. When you count up the hours of meetings or classes, it probably doesn’t seem like so much. After all, it was only seven full days total, plus meetings and the test that might make up another day. But for me, it was very tiring studying and stressing about the test, making constant phone calls, multiple trips to the bank for money orders and the post office to mail things (every week it seemed like), scheduling appointments, and sorting through issues of lost paperwork and rejected fingerprints…

As a result, I feel like this fall has been a bit of a blur, but now that all the paperwork and classes are done (until next year, anyway), I’m hoping we can relax and enjoy this holiday season and time with family. And maybe work on a few projects, too. :)

And since this is supposed to be a DIY blog, here are some of my favorite Christmas projects from years past. (I’m still using these, too!)

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Grieving our garage door

Well, I am so sad to report that our garage door is no more. I mean, technically it’s still there until we find a new one, but it’s ruined. We’ve always loved that our garage door was a bit more unique than most and added character and interest to our house.


I also always knew that its life span was probably pretty limited as it wasn’t in great shape. I really hoped I would have a bit more time with it, though, especially considering that we put soooo many hours into scraping, priming and painting it just 2 years ago.


So what happened, you ask? A few days ago Andrew noticed that one of the brackets attached to the rollers was loose (one at the very top of the door). He took it off to bring it to the store with us to look for a new one, and before we left he told everyone (his brothers happened to be in town for a visit) NOT to push the button.

We started pulling out of the driveway, and I bet you can guess what happened next! Out of habit, he reached up and pushed the garage door button. It started to close and almost immediately we saw the first panel of glass fall out and shatter all over the floor. Then the next one, and the next one, and the next one. Then the door tried to go up, and couldn’t…and back down, and couldn’t, until finally it stopped. It was only a few seconds, but it seemed like forever!


Immediately, I started freaking out (as I always do) and grabbed the camera to document. Meanwhile, Andrew’s brothers and one of his brother’s girlfriend helped him start cleaning up all the shards of glass. (Thanks, guys!!!)



It was even louder and crazier than just the glass breaking, cause it also knocked a bunch of stuff off of this shelf. So that was great…


Luckily the spring held the door part way open, so we unhooked the chain and unplugged the garage door motor just to be safe.


Andrew pulled off the top piece of trim and knocked out any remaining glass, and now our door looks like this.


And this.


The sad thing is, the other panels are still ok for now. Technically, we could probably repair this door with new glass and a new piece of trim across the top. And new rollers, of course. But you know what they say about throwing good money after bad, or putting lipstick on a pig, or throwing pearls before swine. I could go on, but you get the point.


It looks good in pictures and from far away, but a lot of the paint is already peeling, cracks are beginning to appear, and we know that repairing it would still only be a short term solution. So now we have the fun process of spending money on a door that could never be as cute as what we already have. We’ve already done extensive looking and haven’t found anything that we like that isn’t way too expensive for this house. So that sucks.

On the bright side, we had a good weekend exploring Arkansas with some of Andrew’s family! We realized we need to have a better balance of working on projects and exploring the area around us! We went on several awesome hikes with amazing scenery including waterfalls, caves…

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Stacked rocks. (Apparently, they’re called cairns?)

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And lots of fungi. I seriously think that was Andrew’s favorite part of the weekend.

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We went canoeing and got to witness two of Andrew’s brothers tip over their canoe, which is always a good time!

And we spent a few hours in the very quirky town of Eureka Springs, AR and ate some delicious food!

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All in all it was a fun weekend. Here’s hoping we find some time this summer for more adventuring and maybe do a little less project-ing. (Or just better time management and less laziness so we can do both!)


Oh, and a new garage door that we don’t hate. That would be nice, too.

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Celebrating 80 years

This past weekend we were in Manhattan, KS, for almost 5 days to celebrate my Grandpa Max’s 80th birthday!!


We had so much fun hanging out with all of our extended family at the hotel, a toast and roast dinner for Max on Friday, a family BBQ/K-state watch party on Saturday, the reception on Sunday afternoon that nearly 230 people attended (!!!!), and especially at the donut food truck in Aggieville. Who wouldn’t love a macaroni and cheese grilled cheese sandwich?


But it wasn’t all fun and games…and donuts. The centerpieces for the reception on Sunday were my assignment. I struggled with what to do for at least a month! I wanted them to be personal, but there aren’t exactly a lot of ideas on Pinterest for an 80 year old man’s birthday party!

I finally decided that displaying family pictures might be the best option. I had a bit of trouble figuring out how to display them and collecting so many pictures, but I think they turned out great!


So here’s how they came together. First we cut a 4 x 6 into 6″ pieces (we borrowed a miter saw for this since our circular won’t go all the way through, leaving a weird ridge on the ends.)


Treated lumber isn’t exactly pretty, so I used a light gray paint and a cheap natural bristle brush to dry-brush every side of the block. (Dip a cheap chip brush in the paint, wipe excess on paper towel, and apply with light, quick strokes.)

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They still looked like rustic blocks of wood, but without the unsightly green tinge of treated lumber.

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For the focal point, I created pinwheels out of 12″ x 12″ scrapbook paper. Here’s the tutorial I used from Dream Green DIY.  I didn’t follow it exactly since mine were double sided, so here are a few tips (which probably won’t make sense if you haven’t read the tutorial):

  1. I cut my paper into 4″ wide strips and used the 3 pieces to create one pinwheel. It looked full enough and used less paper. I folded each strip in half, then each half in half, and so on to keep my pleats a consistent size.
  2. To secure the pinwheels and keep them flat, I glued small pieces of wooden dowel on each side using super glue (short enough that they’d be covered by the circle). Hot glue also works, but is a bit messier and takes longer to dry.
  3. I used double sided tape to secure my sections of pleated paper together. Use 3M Scotch brand! Duck brand doesn’t hold!
  4. When securing the first strip to the last to complete the circle, I overlapped several pleats (with the last pleat facing down/in so you didn’t see a cut edge) leaving an untaped pocket in the middle to insert a dowel to hold it up.


My awesome graphic designer brother created a medallion for the middle that I printed out and glued in the center on both sides. White background on purple pinwheels…


And a purple background for the gray pinwheels. We went with purple as the main color because K-State is the sports team of choice for the Bayer family!


As for the pictures around the outside, I collected over 100 pictures from family’s Facebook pages, old pictures that were scanned and emailed, and my Grandma’s Kodak Pulse account. I had them printed so they would be on nice photo paper, and then cut them and attached them to the paper backings using re-positionable glue dots. Not as cheap as a glue stick, but much faster and way less messy! (4×6 prints are the cheapest, but I knew most of those would be too big so I edited them first to have some white space on the bottom and one side! Glad I did. I wouldn’t have had room for 6 to 8 pictures per block otherwise!)


I had initially intended to display the pictures on wires, but any wire thick enough to hole up the picture came in rolls, so it was kinked when it was unrolled! Hence, the wooden dowels!

Andrew helped me drill holes in the blocks: one in the center for the pinwheel and 6 to 8 holes for the pictures. (I had already organized the pictures and decided on the groupings for each block.)


Another tip here: We drilled the first few holes at an angle away from the center thinking this would allow more room for pictures. We quickly realized this caused each picture to tilt forward, making it difficult to see. It worked much better to drill the holes almost straight up and down.

Next, I cut a bunch of dowels into smaller lengths and used “gel control” super glue to attach a mini clothespin to the top of each one. We found the dowels and clothespins at Hobby Lobby. I couldn’t tell you what section since the whole store is the “craft section!”


Arranging them was the time-consuming part. I thought I’d be able to glue all the dowels and then put the centerpieces together, but it really worked better to do one centerpiece at a time so I could cut the exact length of dowels I needed to make each block’s pictures work together.


I did the blocks in loose themes, like travel (they travel a lot!)…


Important events with grandkids, Max and Sue (my grandparents) through the years…


Family, Wind River Ranch (a guest ranch we all went to together for 5 years in a row), etc.


The final touch was a square of purple fabric under each block. I bought 2 yards of a cheap broadcloth and cut it with a rotary cutter (thanks to my awesome sister-in-law) for clean edges. I thought it added a bit more presence to each centerpiece and helped it pop off the white tablecloth.

We sprinkled a few extras around the room, too.



Another relative had sent me old pictures of Max. I wanted everyone to be able to see them, so I arranged them in vases (using white beans as the filler…cheap and cute!) at the entrance of the party room where people could look at them as they waited in line to sign the guest book.


Apparently, there was even one photo that Max himself had never seen! I call that a win.

The centerpieces were also pretty easy to travel with since everything was detachable. I wrote out the order of the pictures for each block on a sticky note, stuck it to the block, labeled hole #1, and then put all the pictures (still on their dowels) in file folders lined up in a box. It made it really easy for other people to help me put them back together!

The party was so much fun, and I really think the centerpieces were a huge hit! I noticed several people throughout the party pluck a picture out of its block and carry it off to show somebody. My perfectionistic side wanted to scream, but I realized I should take it as a compliment that people were looking at the pictures and wanted to interact with the centerpieces! Can’t say that about a boring flower centerpiece!


All in all, it was a great weekend with family! I really had a lot of fun looking through the old pictures and I’m glad I got to be a part of making the day special for my sweet Grandpa. Happy 80th birthday, Grandpa Max, and here’s to many more!!

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A final farewell

I feel like I’m noticing a trend here, but the past week has been busy and stressful, and we haven’t had time for projects or blog posts! As I mentioned a few weeks ago, my computer died (after I dropped it…go me), which has made posting somewhat difficult.

As if that weren’t enough stress (and cost) for us, last week our trusty (or not) ’98 Nissan Altima, Friedrich, decided it was at the end of its rope.  It is 17 years old with over 170,000 miles, but we thought we’d have about 6 more months with it, and hoped we could sell it for at least $1000. Imagine our surprise (and dismay) last Thursday when Norm the tire man told us it was toast. Or a giant paper weight.

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Yeah, ok, so the paint is totally oxidized and splotchy (looks worse in person!), it has a hole in the front bumper from where someone (cough, Andrew!) ran into a trailer hitch (We glued the piece back in. If you squint you hardly notice!!), the Nissan decal on the back fell off, technically the compressor is broken so the AC could stop working at any time, you have to unlock with the fob because the lock on the driver door is broken, the driver side visor falls out and hits you in the head when you try to open it, the trunk doesn’t stay open very well, resulting in several banged heads…AND we’ve gotten locked out countless times because it randomly locks all on it’s own (but hey, that’s been happening since it was new!). So what…our car just had LOTS of character!! Nothing we couldn’t deal with…

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Until he told us that to get it running again could be up to $1000 and there was no guarantee that would even fix the problem. Kelley Blue Book value was only $1500, so we couldn’t sink any more money into it and had to say goodbye.

Initially, I was pretty upset about the timing and angry that this had happened. Like crying upset off and on all day Thursday and Friday. We had just spent quite a bit to try to keep this car running, and now we weren’t even going to be able to resell it. Bummer. *hugs*

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Plus, this was also this my first car, so I was a bit attached, and we were just not ready to make the plunge into car shopping! The used market is horrible right now, so we knew it could present a challenge.

I don’t currently work, so we could deal with one vehicle for a while, but our other vehicle is a 2000 Ford Ranger. It’s a tiny truck so you can’t fit very much in it (unless it can get rained on), yet it also has terrible gas mileage (It is fairly old, after all). Since we have several holiday trips coming up, we knew we’d need something “travel-friendly” fairly soon. Everyone says September is the best month to buy, so we started looking.

Fairly quickly, we realized we liked the newer Nissan Altima’s much better than any other car in our price range, particularly over the Toyota Corolla, which we were also considering. I suppose I may have been a bit biased from the beginning.




Isn’t it pretty?? I still just couldn’t wrap my mind around having to buying a new (to us) car. I even had a mini break down while one salesperson tried to sell us a car. Sorry ’bout that, Keith.

But my awesome husband, who’s great with numbers, did all the math (factoring in things like depreciation, maintenance, and potential resale value) and showed me that this car will actually cost us about the same or less to own each year than the previous car. Can’t get me with the emotions of special new features or horsepower, but talk to me about numbers and you might have me convinced.

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So, this weekend we bought this 2014 Nissan Altima in Storm Blue.

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We also stopped by to say goodbye to Friedrich and get all our stuff (since he would never be coming home again). The shininess of the new car certainly made it a bit easier to let go. No offense, Friedrich.

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Then we had quite another task in front of us: cleaning out the garage!! No way was this car is going to hang out in the driveway like the last one. Garage parking only!! So…that only took us like 4 hours. (You can kind of see the mess in the background.)

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Need to keep that paint shiny, though!

We don’t have all the fancy features, but almost anything feels fancy to us at this point! We do have push button start, which is awesome! And blue tooth capabilities for our phones! Woot! Also, great gas mileage.

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I’m sure it has tons of other features, but here’s what I care about: the driver side visor doesn’t fall out on your face while you’re driving, the car doesn’t lock us out, and we haven’t had it long, but I’m guessing the alarm won’t start blaring at 2 in the morning just because it feels like it. Oh yeah, that happened with the old one. Sorry neighbors. We have a trunk button on our key fobs, and the trunk actually stays open, even when parked in our sloped driveway! Which it never will be…cause it will be in the garage. But still, it’s the little things. :)

Oh, and did I mention it’s pretty?

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I still feel a bit emotional about saying goodbye to Friedrich and about the timing of all of this, but I think we thoroughly researched our decision and got a good deal. We did buy it from a dealer (which we didn’t think we would) because no one is selling these private party (that we could find.) Luckily, we found the exact same car at two different dealers, so we were able to do some decent negotiating. 

Then when the finance manager gave us the paperwork to sign, we noticed that the final amount was for $1000 less than we had agreed on! Andrew and I both mentioned it several times, but he insisted it was right! We even got a $500 trade in for our non-working vehicle (are they insane??) and they said they would go pick it up with their trailer if we just dropped off the title. Win win.

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The real question is, do we name this car? The old car really only had a name cause I was pressured into it in high school. The truck is still nameless. Eh, we’ll see.

So now that all that craziness is over and we’ve got the computer stuff sorted out, too, maybe we can work on some unfinished projects (like staining the deck if it would just stop raining!) and blog posts won’t be so infrequent and random? Well, one can hope.

Auf wiedersehen, Friedrich. You were a good car. I’ll miss all your little quirks and random honking. Xoxo.

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