Reagan’s Photo Project

I promise I will show you her nursery next. I have three TINY things I want to wrap up on her gallery wall, and I just need to take the 30 minutes and get it done. Soon!

Anyways, I wanted to share Reagan’s photo project with you guys. I have been taking her photo every week on the same quilt (thanks Mrs. Kim!) to see how she changes. I am planning on taking her photo every week for the first year. The idea originated from Young House Love‘s photo project with their daughter Clara and their new little man. I decided to just use the same quilt as a back drop to keep the pictures consistent. I am hoping to make some sort of collage when all is said in done!

Reagan will be twelve weeks old tomorrow!!! I would really like to know who stole my infant and replaced her with this giant almost fifteen pound baby who can hold her head up, hates being held like a baby,sleeps 6-7 hour stretches at night and has already rolled over once! EEK!

Enough chit-chat. You are just here for her pictures, so…. let’s start with week 1.

Reagan_1 week old copy

So tiny! Look at those skinny little legs!

Reagan_2 week copy Reagan_3 weeks copy Reagan_4 weeks copy Reagan_5 weeks copy Reagan_6 weeks copy Reagan_7 weeks copy Reagan_8 weeks copy

We switched to our “big girl” cloth diapers at 8 weeks old. Reagan and I both prefer them to disposable believe it or not. With disposable, she HATED having AN OUNCE of pee in her diaper, but with cloth she will wear them for two or three hours without fussing. We decided to use Bum Genius diapers and bought (and were given) enough to last two days. I wash a load every other day, so it’s really not bad at all. Cloth diapers for the win!

Reagan_9 weeks copy Reagan_10 weeks copyI created a separate page for Reagan’s picture project. You can see the tab at the top next to House Tour. I will continue to add her photos there instead of a separate post for each photo. I will try to update that every few weeks with new photos! Hope you enjoyed seeing how much she has changed over the last few weeks.





Meet Reagan Elizabeth

Well, life has changed a little since my last post. Our family has expanded! Meet Reagan Elizabeth Saffell.

Reagan Saffell birth Reagan and Ryan

She was born May 26th and 10:58 pm after a fairly quick labor, weighing 7 lbs, 12 oz and measuring 19 1/2″ long.

Reagan after first bath

Reagan arrived 4 days after our original due date. Apparently my uterus is very comfortable! When the girl decided to enter the world, by golly she came! Labor was under 9 hours from first contraction to holding our sweet girl. Here I am on her due date (and not happy she is making no signs of coming soon).

reagan due date

We are slightly bias, but I am pretty sure she is the prettiest Auburn haired baby on the planet. Yes, she has a head full of auburn hair just like Ryan did when he was born. So far we have nothing but good things to say about Miss Reagan. She is a REALLY good baby. She only fusses when hungry, her diaper is dirty, or wants to be held (which isn’t all day and night – promise!). She entered the world a breast feeding champ and even lets us sleep some! Right now we get two, 3 hour stretches followed by another 2 hour stretch so it’s not that bad.

Reagan Saffell

At her two week check up she weighed 8 lbs, 10 oz and measured 21 1/2″ long. Growing like a weed! I am pretty sure she is well above 9 lbs now 🙂

We are so thankful for our happy and healthy baby girl! Also thankful that this momma is healing and recovering nicely!

Reagan and Ada




Labor Day Laboring

Howdy! I hope you all had a nice Labor Day weekend, whether it was spent leisurely soaking in the last days of summer or if you were “laboring” like we were. I am also glad you enjoyed the shutter story so much. 

Our Labor Day Weekend agenda = Staining the front and back porch. Here’s how it went down.


Step 1. Clean off the Porch. Dump all things into the yard or foyer. Try not to trip or call over the massive amount of stuff. Yes, that is a hunk of oak hanging out in my foyer.

porch_clear-off-foyer Porch_clear-off porch_clearing-off

Step 2. Clean Decks. Try not to spray the supervisors (Tori and Bella) with the power-washer. They don’t like water in any way, shape or form. It stirs terrible memories of…gasp…BATHS. According to Bella baths are evil and should be avoided at all costs.



*You may even need to clean and scrub the decks with a deck cleaner*

Step 3. Let the decks dry. No pictures because it was very boring. We decided that watching football was much more fun than watching decks dry. Roll Tide.

Step 4. Select and test out your stain color. He opted for something that would match the color of dirt – the color was called Chocolate. Gather other staining supplies as well.



1. Paint pan 2. Roller with correct nap size (read instructions on your paint or stain) 3. Deck brush 4. Stir sticks 5. Rags to clean up rogue stain.

Step 5. Sweep one more time, unless you like the look of hair and leaves on your porch. Personal preference.

Step 6. Start the fun. Staining. I rolled on stain while Ryan brushed close to the house. I also went back with a brush to try and push the stain between the boards.




Step 7. Let it dry for one hour (or whatever your directions tell you) and start coat 2.

Step 8. Apply coat 2. Don’t stain yourself in to a corner like I did. I blame the heat, lack of water, and snack deprivation.

Step 9. Don’t walk on the deck. Tell your friends and neighbors to not walk on the deck.

Step 10. Wait for deck to cure according to instructions. Our was 72 hours. Then, admire your handy work!


I have a couple projects up my sleeve this week to help “pretty-up” the porch before the Open House Party in a few weeks! What are you guys up to this weekend? Do you have any plans to treat your deck or porch before the weather changes? We heard this was a good time to do it. We are helping so friends move today and can hopefully tackle a few little things around the house. Have a good weekend!



FAQ: So what made you choose to live there?

Second Most FAQ: What made you choose Merrimack?

This can also be asked as, “Why did you choose to buy a 100 year old house in need of lots of repair?” “Why did you choose to live three blocks form the ghetto?” “Why do you live on THAT side of the town?” “Why did you buy a dump?”

All excellent questions!

I mentioned how we found Merrimack Mill Village over a year ago when we first bought the house. It all started with an article in The Huntsville Times and This Old House. You can read more in detail about that here. Remember this first picture I posted?

Merrimack Village circa 1900

We immediately loved it here. We loved the people who warmly welcomed us and calmed some of our fears. We loved the potential of a house that we could make entirely ours. We loved being right in the middle of town. Obviously, I love old houses!

But there are some draw backs. If you are familiar with the Huntsville area, you probably know that West Huntsville is not seen as desirable. We are in the worst school zone. We are in the area with the highest crime rate. We probably have the highest crime rate (just a guess). Our zip code has the lowest family income in all of Huntsville. Sounds glamorous, right? 😉 You totally want to move now, right?

Despite all of those “lovely” things, we know this is the area we want to live in and raise a family in. This whole house adventure has been crazy from the start, but we have always been at peace that this is where we needed to be. Here. In Merrimack. In West Huntsville.

When I think about what we REALLY want to teach our children (not ABCs or math or a well rounded taste in music), but important life lessons I can narrow it down to two things.

1) Love God. All the time.

2) Love People. All People. Rich. Poor. Straight. Gay. Black. White. Purple. Educated. Drop Outs. Hookers. Preachers. Engineers. Bus Drivers. Young People. Old People. PEOPLE.

Love all people

I need to paste that on the front door, so I can read it every day.

Well, Ryan and I decided the best way to teach our children to love all kinds of people was to live in an area with ALL kinds of people. I don’t want them to grow in an area with only people just like them. I want them to be around a wide range of people. Merrimack has that. It is a combination of people living in poverty, people in the working class, and a few middle class people sprinkled in (that would be us). I think there are also a few folks that would rather sit on their porch doing nothing and live off the government instead of actually working for a living. I try not to give them dirty looks, but I am not always successful.

Another reason I love Merrimack is that it forces me to count my blessings daily. I seriously cannot drive down my street without realizing I am abundantly blessed. Healthy husband. Family. Jobs. Income. Education. Fur babies. Common sense. Food. My life is good. Really really good. I have done nothing to deserve God’s grace and blessings.

We want to be a part of a positive change in West Huntsville. We aren’t sure exactly how or what that is yet, but there are plenty of needs here.

Poverty. Drugs. Prostitutes. Children with crappy parents. Terrible Schools.  NEEDS! So many needs.

Living in West Huntsville is our calling, and we are here for the long haul.



DIY Curtain Rods: Plumbing Parts Edition

Happy Saturday, folks! I hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July. Alabama is in the middle of some sort of monsoon, so our 4th involved my brother grilling in the rain, the entire family attempting to entertain my five year old and eighteen month old cousin, and a nap on my parents couch with the hubby. Still a great day with family, but the rain did put a damper on the usual pool and firework fun!

Anyways, let’s get back to today’s tutorial. When I gave you guys the house June update the other day, I gave you a speak peak at our bedroom curtains. I knew I wanted something with an industrial look for the bedroom. I also loved the look of curtain rods that wrap around the entire room, like this one below.

and here.

I think the curtains and curtain rods help make the space feel so more luxurious. Is that an actual thing? Luxurious curtain rods? Maybe. IF there is such a thing as a luxurious curtain rods I am pretty sure it would be the kind that wraps around the room. Generally speaking, if I REALLY like something it means it is probably expensive, and more than likely it is THE most expensive option. It’s a gift I have. A talent really. You can walk me into a store, rip off all the tags, and 9 times out of 10 I will pick out the most expensive item. Just ask Ryan 🙂

Well, luckily for Ryan I couldn’t actually find the curtain rods that wrap around the corner. *Womp womp* I did find several industrial curtain rods that I really liked. This one from Pottery Barn, this one from West Elm, and this one from Serena & Lily. What I did not like about these options was the price tag: $250-$300 FOR THREE WINDOWS! 

Not in the budget, y’all. We still have two whole bathrooms to finish and a bajillion other things to buy, so frugal is the name of the game right now.

Enter: DIY Curtain Rods. After some googling and Pinteresting (totally verbs), I settled on using plumbing parts. We decided to use 3/4″ galvanized pipe, which can be picked up from a hardware store like Lowe’s or Home Depot.


What is not shown in the picture above is the 3/4″ Nipple fitting. I’m not making that up. Not sure why someone thought nipple was a good name, but whatever. This is what it looks like.

diy curtain rods_nippe

We also picked up a can of Rust-oleum metallic spray paint.


I gave everything a coat of spray paint, except for the nipple fittings. I also tried to avoid getting paint inside any of the threading.


You will need to remove a couple stickers before spray painting – just fyi!


After two or three light coats of spray paint, all of the plumbing parts are ready to go.  I am  going to encourage you to do a test fitting of all the pieces while it is still on the ground, just to be sure everything works like it needs to.


You can see in the picture above, the pipe threads into the 90 degree elbow. The elbow and flange are connected with the nipple fitting. All you have to do is twist everything together. It’s that easy!!! Even a caveman could do it.

Once you have made sure all the parts are fitting well, time to grab your curtains and an extra set of hands! If you are using curtains with grommet holes, you need to put the curtains on before hanging the curtain rod. If you are using clip rings, you will need to put the rings on before putting up the curtain rod.


Getting the curtain rod on the wall is definitely a two person job. You will also need a drill, screws, and a step stool (unless you are a giant).

I have no photos of the actual going up process because it required all hands on deck! I held up one end of the rod while Ryan held up the other. He would attach his end to the wall, and then come attach mine. Then, repeat.


With all flanges attached, step back and admire your work!


Since we decided to create the look of one long curtain rod above the bed, we used a tee fitting in the center to connect the two pieces of pipe as well as attach it to the wall with a flange. You can see it right above the bed in the picture below.


There you have it! Industrial curtain rods. Here’s a quick review.

diy curtain rod tutorial copy

Here is our material list & cost break down:

  • 2 – 6′ 3/4″ galvanized pipe – $17 each
  • 1 – 5′ 3/4″ galvanized pipe – $17
  • 5 – 3/4″ galvanized floor flanges – $5.60 each
  • 4 – 3/4″ 90 degree elbow fitting – $1.90 each
  • 1 – 3/4″ Tee fitting – $2.90 each
  • 5 – 3/4″ Nipple fittings – $1.50 each

Total cost for all three windows was around $97. $30 a window is a lot better than $100 a window in my book!

Has anyone else DIY-ed curtain rods before? Any other ideas besides pipe material? Here are a couple other tutorials about industrial curtain rods – Here and here. How was your 4th of July holiday?


June’s Progress

Hello there. A few things have changed around the house since we moved in. We have slowly worked through the piles and piles of boxes. Furniture is slowly finding permanent (and temporary) spots. Some boxes have been moved upstairs to the I-will-get-there-when-I-get-there area. They will probably be there for a while 🙂

We decided to take June pretty slow. We have just focused on unpacking and working on little things to make the house feel more like home. We have also been eating dinner at an almost normal time, and we have been doing this thing called sitting? Like you sit on a couch or chair in front of the TV and watch it or something like that?

Ryan was able to get all of the window and door casing put up in the bedroom, living room, and dining room.


Remember when we dropped off a truck load to Southern Accents to have paint stripped off? This is it! We have enough original molding to finish the majority of downstairs doors and windows. You know what else? That stuff is a pain to paint! Good grief. In about 30 minutes I was able to prime the casing on TWO doors. TWO!


It might just take all summer just to prime and paint trim. No joke.

We have successfully primed and painted the trim in the bedroom downstairs, and we put up blinds.

more-money_blinds more-homey_bedroom-blinds

Hurray for no more neighbors right out side of our window every morning! Not that our neighbors are creepy. We LOVE all of our neighbors. I just don’t enjoy them being able to see right into their yard every morning.

We even got REALLY crazy and put up curtains.

more-money_bedroom-curtains More-homey_bedroom-curtains

We even DIY-ed and saved a few bucks with the curtain rods. I will be back to share more about that later. Both the curtains and blinds (see here) came from IKEA (I can’t find the curtains online, but they are called Ransby). We actually snatched those up back in March when we made a pit spot at the IKEA in Atlanta, Georgia, and I have been anxious to put them up since we moved in! It just feels so much more homey now.

I have been working on finishing the tile back splash in the kitchen off and on all month. If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram you may have seen these pop up.

more-homey_kitchen-tile more-homey_kitchen-tile2

I am starting to feel pretty darn good about tile skills, you guys. I am thinking I have at least moved up to intermediate! This past Saturday, I finished up the last of the back-splash. I had saved the hardest spots for last. One of those areas being the top row of tile around the crown (seen above) and the other being the focal point behind the stove.


Whew. Too many 45 degree cuts make my brain hurt!! Ha. Actually, this was easier than the tile around the cabinet crown. I am thankful to be done! I still have to grout and all that jazz, but right now I am just enjoying my handy work.

Last update for tonight, and I doesn’t revolve around the house! I chopped my hair off and donated 11 inches to Locks of Love.


Thankfully, I still have hair left! Hope you all have a great week.



House Tour: Move In Day

Hey there strangers!! The Saffell House FINALLY has internet which means HOUSE TOUR TIME. Why it took over two weeks for us to get internet set up is a story for another day 🙂 *hint – it involved SIX appointments with Comcast where NO ONE showed up*

These pictures were taken the day after we moved out of the condo, so the pictures are full of real life moving fun, like lots of boxes and junk everywhere. It also gives you a pretty good idea of all the things that are not done. I have had several people ask if we were completely done when we moved in, and the answer is HECK NO! We finished enough to pass our final inspections and feel like semi-normal people.

Enough chitter-chatter. Let’s begin! Here we are outside by the main walk way.


Welcome to our home!


We still need to hang the screen door. It is still sitting there as we speak.


The living room in all of its I-just-moved-in-glory.



From the living room you can peak into the powder room and bedroom. Here is the powder room, complete with no mirror but I think we did have toilet paper in there by this point.


From the living room also enter the downstairs bedroom where we are currently living.


The floor is my favorite in here! We also now have blinds and curtains, woot woot!!

house-tour_bedroom-floor house-tour_bedroom-Tori


What you can’t see is that we have room for our other large dresser on the wall opposite of the brick fireplace. We also have a bathroom attached to this bedroom…


and we haven’t even touched it. One day folks, one day.

Let’s move back out into the living room. Here is the view from when you are actually standing in the living room looking forwards the front door.


Everyone has extra furniture and a shop vac in the foyer right? 😉 Let’s move into the dining room.



You walk through the dining room into the kitchen.



In the kitchen area is also the laundry nook.


When you walk into the kitchen, the door to the pantry is on your left.



Walk in pantries are awesome. End of story. Now let’s head upstairs.


At the top of the stairs we have a linen closet on the right (now complete with shelves).


On your right is also the master bedroom/work shop.


There is also a lovely empty room that will one day be the master bathroom.



One day there will even be a closet up there! Crazy talk.


Upstairs there are two other bedrooms. Here is the smaller of the two bedrooms.



I know you are jealous right now. Between the two (unfinished) bedrooms is our “finished” bathroom.

house-tour_upstairs-finishe house-tour_upstairs-bath-va House-tour_upstairs-bath

The large upstairs bedroom is currently being used as our main storage area. It pretty much still looks just like what you see here.

house-tour_storage-room-ups House-tour_storage-room

Our other storage area is the back porch. It is a little ridiculous right now.


Over the past two weeks we have slowly been getting settled in, unpacking boxes, and clearing out the storage unit. As of Sunday, the storage unit is officially EMPTY!! There is another $100+ back in our pocket every month. Woot woot!

Sorry it has taken so long to share pictures with you guys! Not having internet really puts a damper on the whole blogging thing 🙂

What have you guys been up to? Am I the only one that after moving realizes there are fives boxes full of stuff to take to Goodwill? Why didn’t I do that BEFORE I moved all of that stuff three times?!?!?!



Every Light in the House is On

I started walking through our house singing “Every Light in the House is On”, and Ryan had NO IDEA what the heck I referencing. I am not an avid country music fan by any means, but even I know that song. What you should take from this little story is that 1) Ryan is not a country music fan and 2) we have power at the house! Lights are on!


I mentioned the other day that the electricians were back (you can read that here). Well, not only did they install fixtures and such, but they were able to hook us up with temporary power.

The past 6 months or so we have been working with temporary power from the utility pole. We had two very long extension cords plugged into the temporary power and ran into the house. From there we had splitters and more extension cords. It was a constant game of extension cord shuffle between tools and construction lamps. NOW we have the electrical panel hooked up to the temporary power! No more shuffle!

Electrical_panel Electrical_Brittney-with-pa

Let’s note just how large this panel is. Keep in mind this is in our dining room. Hiding that sucker will be an interesting challenge to say the least!

Want to see what our house looks like with power?! Of course you do!

Lighting_entry Electrical_southern-accents

POWER! No more construction lamps! No more extension cord shuffle! Wahoo!!!

Not every light and outlet is working right now, but it is a lot more than what we had, so we are pretty pumped about it. We will still have to get the temporary power converted to permanent power, but I think that is all done at the electricity pole. I could be wrong there, so don’t quote me on that.

I am pretty excited about some of our light fixtures! The living room chandelier for example. Love LOVE love!


It is from Southern Accents in Cullman, Alabama. It is had a dark bronze finish to it and looks pretty cool with the Edison bulbs!

Electrical_living-room2 electrical_light-living-roo

If you are thinking about using Edison bulbs, let me warn you that they give off a very yellow tinted light. Just FYI!

I showed you this one last week, but it is a favorite, too. It is upstairs in the bathroom, and IT. IS. CUTE.


The fixture is a cheap one from Lowe’s (the one’s you buy without the shades) and the shades are from School House Electric. I also really like the lanterns in the dining room. I am so glad I decided to go with two instead of just one!


It is going to look awesome above our future farmhouse table.

Now, we also have some pretty darn ugly light fixtures as well.


Yea. U-G-L-Y! Some of them came from thrift stores and some are the absolute cheapest light fixtures I could find. Most of the ugly light fixtures are upstairs. One ugly fixture did end up in the pantry, but hopefully it won’t be there too terribly long. Ryan and I decided we would rather spend the money on light fixtures we really liked in the rooms we are finishing first and worry about the others later. Upgrading light fixtures is an easy fix down the road and saves us a good chunk of money right now.

Moving on to another subject, we have lots of exciting things going on in the kitchen right now! Ryan and I started putting hardwood down in the kitchen Friday night….


Ryan and my Dad knocked it out on Saturday! They are troopers! I will have pictures of the finished floor later this week. It is still pretty dirty right now. Cleaning the floor is on my agenda for Monday night. MORE exciting news is that we are getting KITCHEN CABINETS & COUNTER TOPS this week! Wahoo! Tile for the upstairs bathroom also came in on Friday! Yay for pretty things!


Lots of excitement this week! Kitchen pictures coming soon 🙂

Have a good week!


Paint the Town White

Hey there! Hope you are all having a good week. I just want to say a quick thank you to everyone who had something nice to say about the article, whether that was in person or on social media! We are excited to help draw GOOD publicity to West Huntsville. We LOVE Merrimack! I have thought about making a sign for my yard that says, “Hello! Won’t you be my neighbor? I bake cookies!” Haha. Would that make you want to move in? Brownies perhaps? Perhaps I just take the porta-potty out of the front yard? 🙂

Anyways, we have been working on painting the town house red white this past week! Some of that being actual paint and some being a coat of primer. I spent all of last week working on priming and painting the kitchen ceiling *insert shoulder groans here* while Ryan worked on getting the living room ceiling ready for PRIMER!

I was able to prime the whole kitchen ceiling with a 3″ brush two Saturdays ago. Last week I moved on to actual paint!


For the ceiling and the cabinets we are going with Sherwin Williams Pure White. It is PRETTY, and very, very white, with almost a blue/gray undertone. It works really well with the flooring we will be putting down. You can see that here.

Since the ceiling is bead board, a brush works better than a roller. A paint sprayer would work well too, but the only paint sprayer we had at the time was a gravity feed and it didn’t work so well above my head. Stupid gravity! That left me with brushing the entire coat of primer and paint by hand.


After another couple of two-hour shifts (and a shoulder rub from Ryan), I had the entire ceiling painted. I cannot tell you how nice it is to have something WHITE and bright and clean in the house!


While I was climbing up and down a ladder 1,3i3,592 times, Ryan tackled the last of the wallpaper in the living room.


Did you catch that key word there? LAST!!! Wahoo!!

Then, he started sanding the ceilings. *Insert happy dancer*


So this tool we borrowed from a friend is AWESOME! Thank you Stephanie and Eric for saving my shoulders a week’s worth of sanding. I think it is actually designed to be used for finishing drywall, but it worked perfect for sanding the last of the glue and gunk off of the ceiling. Ryan was able to sand the entire living room area in less than an hour and a half, AND the sander attaches to a shop vac so you don’t have tons of dust anywhere. Woot woot!!


The ceilings looked so CLEAN with all of the gunk gone. While the sander worked well on the ceiling, the walls are a different story. I had to sand those suckers by hand. Say hello to thing 1 and thing 2.



I used a course sanding block and a fine sanding block to prep the walls for paint. My goal was not to remove the paint, but remove the rest of the glue and gunk and dirt. If you ever want an arm work out, just sand walls by hand. Works like a charm!


With the ceilings and walls gunk free, time for primer! Again, we have awesome friends with awesome tools. We borrowed a serious paint sprayer from a friend and immediately fell in love with it.


About an hour later, Ryan had the entire room (walls and ceilings) complete.


Dude. The walls are no longer seven colors!

Can I get a virtual high five please??



Our Old House Article

If you are friends with me or any of my family members on Facebook, you probably saw the announcement about our article on


Surprise! Actually, it is only surprising for you guys. Ryan and I obviously knew it it was coming. It all started a few weeks ago, when this article on Merrimack & West Huntsville was published. I was very excited to see someone saying something positive about West Huntsville, so I sent an e-mail to the journalist saying thank you and that as a homeowner in the area I appreciated her article very much. I also told her that we were one of those homeowners in the process of renovating (complete with a dumpster in the yard) and that we would be happy to help with any future article about Merrimack.

Well, she accepted our offer and here we are a few weeks later! Not only did Pat Ammons do a wonderful job with the article, but the photographer Bob Gathany did an amazing job with photographs. Here’s a few of the photographs he took from our house.

Merrimack Renovation stairs Merrimack Village reno Merrimack Village Renovation

You can see his photo gallery here.  It is well worth your time to take a look!

We are very excited about this series (yep, there is more coming, not sure exactly what but I’ll let you know).  There is also a second article where we share some things we have learned during this entire process. I hope that others in Huntsville will be encouraged to consider renovating in Merrimack! We love this community and want others to join in!