Tears in America’s Paradise

SHL Island

In 2008, I met my husband, Tripp, while visiting a friend who lived on St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands.  The short story is, we fell in love, and I moved to the island a few months after meeting him.  At the time, it made sense.  I loved my life in Orange County, CA, but I was willing and ready for a change.  In hindsight, it was insane.  I left a good job, fantastic girlfriends, and a condo that I loved (and had finally nearly finished updating and decorating).  But, it was definitely an adventure, and it has become an important part of our story.

Tripp and I spent the first 7 years of life together on St. Thomas, a 32-square mile island in the Caribbean.  St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix, Water Island, and a number of smaller cays, make up the US Virgin Islands.  These islands, surrounded by turquoise blue water, are known as “America’s Paradise”.  It even says so on the license plate.  They are a major cruise ship and tourist destination.  As a US territory, Virgin Islanders, just like their commonwealth neighbors in Puerto Rico, are US citizens.  Americans.

On September 6, 2017, St. Thomas was hit by Hurricane Irma, a category 5 hurricane that had already demolished Barbuda, St. Martin, and Anguilla.  Irma tore roofs off homes, uprooted trees, tore the siding off buildings, destroyed roads, condemned the hospital, and left many people without safe water, food, and shelter.  St. John and the British Virgin Islands were also leveled by Irma.  Then, two weeks later, Hurricane Maria, another category 5 hurricane, destroyed Dominica, St. Croix, and Puerto Rico while causing additional damage and flooding to the islands already devastated by Hurricane Irma.

The situation in the USVI, Puerto Rico, and the BVI is dire.  So many people, including over 3 million Americans, are without water, food, and shelter.  Relief efforts have begun, and there are stories of amazing people doing amazing things.  Organizations like Island Dog Rescue, that sent a large plane to fly all the dogs and cats from the St. John, St. Thomas, and St. Croix animal shelters to Virginia Beach, VA, where they were delivered to the safety of local animal rescues (how awesome are they?).  Tim Duncan, a St. Croix native, has been actively involved in collecting and distributing donations.  Congresswoman Stacy Plaskett was instrumental in setting up Fund for the Virgin Islands through the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands.  The islands are in desperate need of any help you can provide, whether monetary or supplies.

Want to help? 

USVI Recovery 

Island Dog Rescue 

Adopt a Family in the USVI

There are just a few ideas for donations.  Check your local community for ways that you can help as well.  Thank you!




Pretty No-Sew Utility Skirt

After years of tiny, awkward, flooded, mosquito-filled laundry rooms on the island, I am super grateful for our large, very efficient, dry, pest-free laundry room.  Our washer and dryer both work, there is a counter top for folding, lower cabinets for storage, a rod for hanging clothes to dry, space for a drying rack, and a utility sink.  I found some great gently used upper cabinets to paint and hang above the water and dryer, which are in the process of being refinished, but, in the meantime, I wanted to make the utility sink a little prettier by adding a skirt.


I found this great shower curtain on clearance at the HomeGoods near my office.

SHL Skirt curtain


It compliments my inspiration piece for the laundry room, was ~$5, and the fabric is relatively heavy.  I started by measuring the utility sink for 2 panels, one along the front, and one along the right side.  Then, I spread the curtain on our table, marked the measurements, and cut the fabric.

I had fusing tape on hand to use instead of sewing the seams.  I folded each seam in place and ironed it in place before inserting the fusing tape and ironing it in place.

Then, I added a strip of sticky-back velcro along the top of the cleaned utility sink, and the matching strip along the top edge of the newly fused skirt.

And, voila!

SHL Skirt After 1

Hope you enjoy!  I look forward to sharing the completed laundry room soon.

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A Stroll Thru Life

i should be mopping the floor


Dining Room Update

Our dining room was originally chocolate brown with a sharp white chair rail.  It was a beautiful paint job, very clean and classic.

I knew I wanted to eventually paint the area under the chair rail white with gray above, but with so many other rooms needing attention, it was not a priority project.  Then, I found the canvas cow that reminded me of our time on St. Thomas, and the room started to get more attention.

SHL Dining Before Cow

And, then, we found our dining room table on clearance at Macy’s.

SHL Dining Room before table

With the dark furniture, the room felt so dark and enclosed, and I knew it was time to lighten it up.

First, I taped the chair rail, baseboard, and molding around the windows.  Since I was going with lighter paint colors, I primed both sections of the wall.  I used the left over white primer from the kitchen for the lower section, and the leftover gray primer from Tripp’s office for the upper section.

Even with just primer, the room felt more open and spacious.


SHL dining room after

This is the best after picture that I currently have on file.  Still a work in progress, but at least I can see progress being made.

I think the Before and After with the cow best reflect the change.



Guest Bath Update

Nearly every room in our house is a work-in-progress, and our guest bathroom is no exception.  Although it is still in need of further updating, I think we have improved the overall look of the bathroom by simply removing the wallpaper, painting, and adding a simple shower curtain.

At some point in home interior design history, this bathroom was a real work of art.

SHL Guest Bath Before

Yes, it’s true; the wallpaper border and the shower curtain match.  I had no idea that they actually matched shower curtains and borders.  And, in case you can’t see it in the above picture, the walls have a special “faux finish”, which I have affectionately referred to as bologna splatters against the wall.

SHL Guest Bath Before 1

My goal with this project was to remove the wallpaper border, freshen up the paint to remove the bologna splatters, and change out the shower curtain.  The vanity, counter top, and flooring are part of the “work-in-progress” features of this bathroom, but it was important to me that our guests not feel like they were in a mid-90’s time warp when visiting us.

The first step was removing the border and the 90’s light fixture.  I was surprised that the adhesive on the border was in better condition than our powder room, so it took a bit longer than I anticipated to spray and scrape off all the border and adhesive.

Once the border and light fixture were removed, I painted 2 coats of Sherwin-Williams’ Agreeable Gray. 

And, here is the initial simple update on our guest bathroom.

SHL Guest Bath almost after

Pardon the poor lighting.  It isn’t a fancy, spa-like bathroom at this point, but it is a clean and simple update.


Easy Spring Wreath

I don’t know about you, but I am ready for Spring!  Our daffodils are starting to sprout up and there are buds on our trees.  And, even though the Ohio weather doesn’t seem to appreciate the fact that it is now Spring, I decided to deck our front door out in a new Spring wreath.

SHL Spring Wreath 1

I found all my supplies at our local Michaels store.  I had a 40% off coupon, and Spring faux flowers were 50%-60% off.  I bought a grapevine wreath, one bunch of dahlias, a roll of ribbon, and a “T” letter (for our last name).

I wrapped the ribbon around the wreath, and tucked the ends into the wreath.  The great thing about grapevine wreaths is that you don’t need to use a lot of hot glue because you can tuck and wrap everything through and around the vines.  Then, I used my wire cutters to cut the flowers from the bunch, leaving about a 4-inch  stem to wrap around the back of the wreath.

SHL Spring Wreath 2

After the flowers were attached, I determined where to place the “T” and plugged in my hot glue gun.  I dabbed a bit of glue to the back of the “T” and also on a few leaves to pop in for greenery.

SHL Spring Wreath 3

Voila!  Easy Spring wreath!

SHL Spring Wreath

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AFTER: Powder Room

It took me about a week to strip the wallpaper, scrape the adhesive, and prime and paint the walls in the powder room.

SHL Powder Room After

My goal for this project was to just freshen up the look and feel of the bathroom, quickly and inexpensively.  At some point I would like to replace the vanity, add floating shelves above the toilet, and add some interest and texture to the main wall.  But, for now, we are happy with the update.

Hope you enjoyed this transformation!

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The 36th Avenue
Life on Lakeshore Drive

Easy 1-2-3 Wallpaper Removal

Our lovely downstairs powder room was originally decorated in 1996 with a cream wallpaper with a black floral design and a coordinating border.

I’m sure it was stylish when it was first decorated, but over the years the wallpaper had faded, the cream had turned dirty, and the style had changed.

I was a bit apprehensive about tackling this project.  When I was about 15, my parents purchased a “new-to-us” house, and the previous owners had hung gold floral wall paper on a 15-foot wall.  Unfortunately, they did not prep the wall, and the wallpaper was hung directly on the drywall.  I remember many summer days spent try to scrap the wallpaper off, only the gouge dip rips in the hideous paper.  My dad eventually solved the problem by installing pine paneling, which was painted white and that was that.

One night, while gabbing on the phone with my brother, I stepped into our powder room and thought about how much nicer and cleaner it will feel if the wallpaper was gone and the walls were freshly painted.  And, then I saw it.  A small rip in a seam.  I pulled, and it easily ripped a large section of the paper off the wall.  Success!  I pealed another section.  By the end of my conversation, I pulled off a trash bag full of wallpaper.

But, that was just the paper.  The adhesive backing remained on the walls.  I am a big fan of white vinegar and all its magical properties.  A bit of research indicated that I could spray the adhesive with white vinegar, then scrap with my putty knife.  Simple as that!

SHL Wallpaper

Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of me actually spritzing and scraping the walls, but I can explain it in 3 easy steps:

  1.  Spray adhesive with white vinegar.  You want to ensure that the vinegar is able to permeate the adhesive without damaging the drywall beneath.
  2. Use the putty knife to scrape the damp adhesive from the drywall.  Make sure you hold it at an angle.
  3. Place the sticky, damp adhesive in a trash bag and let the wall dry. Simple!

During my adhesive removal, I found the names of the original owners and the date penciled on the wall.  I had to snap a picture.

SHL Powder Room During 4

Although our home is only 20 years old, it’s obviously been well loved, and that makes me happy.

After the adhesive was removed, I wiped down the walls again with vinegar spray, just to make sure all the stickiness was gone, and then I spackled a few small nail holes and dings and sanded the walls before painting.

Since I decided to use a darker paint, I primed the walls with the leftover primer from Tripp’s office.

Stay tuned for the final reveal!


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Ducks 'n a Row


Painting A Red Stripe

When we first viewed our house, there was one bedroom that we could barely see.  Literally.  The light bulb was burned out and it was overcast outside, but with the help of my iPhone flashlight we were able to glimpse the green room.

SHL Office 3

Tripp hard at work in the Green Room

My parents had scored this great desk FREE on Craigslist, and brought it up with them when they came to help us move.  The desk isn’t perfect, but it was FREE and is super sturdy.  Sturdy as in heavy.  It took both of us to move the desk away from the wall, and we were not able to move it completely out of the room, so I had to work around the desk while I taped, primed, and painted.

Tripp is an Ohio State fan and wanted an office that reflected the school’s colors.  He really wanted an all scarlet office, but I put a stop to that idea.  We decided to go with one scarlet wall, and 3 gray walls with a red and white stripe. {I have been advised to refer to “red” as “scarlet” when discussing The Ohio State University}

The first thing I did before I started taping was to determine roughly where I wanted the scarlet stripe.  Then, I painted a thick white stripe around the 3 walls.

After the white paint dried, I marked the measurements in the pencil and then applied tape to the lines.  I thought this step would take longer, but the taping went really fast.

Once the tape was in place, I went back over the white paint, above and below the tape to ensure that the white fully covered and to prevent bleeding when I started the scarlet.

The next step was priming.  Red/scarlet paint over a lighter color can take a lot of coats, so I asked our Sherwin-Williams store to recommend a gray primer for the wall.

And, then I primed all the areas that would be painted scarlet.

After all the prep work was finished, it was time for the fun.  I used 2 coats of Sherwin-Williams’ Bolero and 2 coats of Sherwin-Williams’ Mindful Gray.  I started the scarlet on our anniversary, and sent Tripp a picture of his anniversary gift while he was away at corporate.

And, after the tape was removed, I had a white strip above and below the scarlet.

And, this is what the office looks like on a daily basis.

Thanks for reading!

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A Stroll Thru Life

Easy Afternoon Project: Coffee Tray

SHL Coffee Tray 1

This re-purposed desk drawer became our simple coffee tray after a quick coat of primer, a piece of contact paper, and 2 cute drawer pulls were added.

I found this abandoned desk drawer, dirty and filled with old pencils stubs, paper clips, and random scraps of paper, lying next to the dumpster at our former apartment complex.  It wasn’t very pretty, with chipped paint and dirty smudges, but it is solid wood with dove tailed corners, so I knew it could be cleaned up and used for something around the house.  I grabbed it and hid it in our garage (away from my husband who is not a big fan of DIY projects until completed) while we prepared to move to our house.

After we were settled in and the kitchen cabinets were painted, I realized that the neglected drawer was the perfect size for a beverage tray to organize our Keurig, coffee, sugar and cream containers.  I wiped down the drawer and added a quick coat of gray primer that I had on hand.  I like that the primer is flat and looks a little like caulk paint.

SHL Coffee Tray 2

I wanted a surface that was easy to clean, so I cut a piece of black contact paper and fit it into the bottom of the tray.

SHL Coffee tray 5

The drawer was missing its original knobs, so I added these cute, vintage-inspired knobs to accent the front of the tray.

Viola!  Super simple, inexpensive re-purposing project!

SHL Coffee Tray 6


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Pieced Pastimes
          Grandma’s House DIY and the House of Hollingsworth

Life on Lakeshore Drive