Friday, December 30, 2011

Red, White and Black Kitchen {Update}

Way back in July (before Jonah's b-day) I took some time off work to re-paint the kitchen cabinets. What a nightmare that was and what was I thinking?!! Well I did get it done in that week but man was I stressed, tired and humbled. It was no easy task and I hope I NEVER have to paint kitchen cabinets ever again in my life! I am mostly happy with the resuls but had a few hiccups along the way.

The kitchen cabinets had been painted over at least 2 other times before by previous owners and evidently they had used oil-based paint. So I could not just paint right over that finish like I had hoped. The paint just peeled right off even after it was dry. So after realizing that halfway into the process I had to sand ALL of the paint back off the surfaces, which was luckily just the bases of the cabinets and not any doors. Ugh! Then I primed and painted 2 coats of paint before the torture was over.

Here is the BEFORE shot of our off-white, beigy colored cabinets and gold and white brassy hardware that was put on at an angle by previous owners. We had already painted the room our red color at this time and got a new sink and laminant counters.

I don't know what happened to my before pics but just scroll down to see how it looks now. Sorry!


I know the differences looks subtle but I promise in reality it is a MAJOR improvement! 

We really like our new hardware too!! It's from Lowe's.

Here are few more shots of the rest of the kitchen area. It is an eat-in kitchen and we love the size but hate that it's blocked off from the rest of the house and we don't have a nice dining room. That is why we really wanted to update things in here because we spend so much time in this room.

Opposite side of kitchen and also the wall for our hallway so that's why it's a different color.
We have no counter space for a microwave so it has it's own little table. :)

Our Eat in area. One of my future projects is to paint this table and chairs white and recover the seats.

The light is off here but this is after painting and a shot of my new sink and fixtures.

So glad it is done! If anyone else is out there have you ever re-painted kitchen cabinets? Was your experience a good one?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Big Fat Christmas Post

Well Christmas 2011 was not what I "anticipated" at all but it was good nonetheless. Basically my whole family on my side got hit with the stomach flu on Christmas Day and some of us are still recovering from it. Jonah threw up his food right after eating it on Christmas Eve but I thought maybe he was beginning to cut some eye teeth. Well by mid-day on Christmas Day he was not feeling good but we still weren't sure what was going on. Then my Mom was so sick to her stomach on Christmas Day that she had to go to bed with a house full of family and us opening presents. Jonah was next with voming off and on all night and not eating or drinking much the next day (Monday). He is just today started eating some regular food! I had a quesy stomach all day Monday and now Michael has been home today with it. It has been no fun and to be honest I really don't feel like we even had a Christmas. Thankfully though Jonah felt good that morning to see his Santa stuff.

Here are some pictures that we managed to slip in of Christmas Day. I hate my Mom is not in any of them but we will just have to make up for it next year. And in all of that this was my brother Kyle's first Chrimstmas to be home againn from Japan. He even got sick with this mess too. Anyhow we will get back to normal evenutally but it's just hard to accept sometimes that Christmas doesn't always live up to it's hype. Thankfully Jonah still doesn't "get" what it's all about yet.

Here are some pics!

Jonah and Bryen, his little cousin. We did Christmas at Michael's parents the Saturday before.

Christmas Even in his jammies

Santa came to visit!!

He went to his tractor and dump truck immediately!

He loves his kitchen!

Trying out the new slide.

Checking out his train table.

Nana and Pawpaw got him his own work table.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Debt Free {Our Story}

I have been wanting to write this post for a while but just wasn't feeling inspired to do it. I do want it recorded for my memory's sake and also hope that maybe it will inspire someone that might stumble across my teensy tiny blog. So here goes.....

Michael and I live debt-free. As in we owe only for our home. As in we pay our utilities and other monthly expenses and the rest of our money is ours to do with it as we please. I am not bragging (well maybe a little) but sometimes I need to remind myself how VERY far we have come. It was HARD WORK I tell ya.....very hard....but SOOOO worth it!

Every person's story to becoming debt-free is different based on how much debt they started with. I will say that Michael and I were extremely blessed to start out with a small amount of debt compared to other people out there. When we got married I had zero debt coming into the marriage (and zero credit mind you). This is because my lovely parents had bought me a newer, used car when I was in high school and I was still driving it. I never got into credit cards either (thank God!). Also my college education to that point was completely paid for either through scholarships or my current workplace. I worked for an extremely benevolent man that offered to pay for my schooling if I continued to work there. Yes please! So anyways I was 21 when we married and had no debt. Even our wedding was paid for by myself and my parents.

Michael on the other hand had all the debt coming into marriage. I didn't even realize how much he had. He had one credit card, a new truck payment (upside down in it), a motorcycle (Harley-Davidson) payment, and I think another small car payment. I can't really remember but I know his payments all added up to half of his monthly income. He did not have good credit due to a bad deal (before I met him) with a four-wheeler loan. He even had a really hard time getting approved for a cell phone! His credit got a little better as we bought some furniture on credit while we were engaged and we both worked at paying it off before we were actually married.

So we were married and living in least that's what I thought. I worked part-time and went to school full-time for the 1st two years of our marriage. We lived rent-free next door to my parent's in a single-wide trailer they owned and used to rent out. I thought we had all the money in the world. Little did I know that my husband was crumbling and afraid to tell me how bad things were getting.

We each had our own checking accounts when we married and we had decided that to keep things simple we would just leave it that way. I kept up with "my" money and Michael kept us with "his." I was expected to take care of the groceries and my gas and Michael paid all the bills with his check since my pay would fluctuate based on how much I got to work that month. So I continued spending much the way I had when we were dating/engaged. I would buy little things I wanted with no budget in mind and then sometimes I would realize I didn't have enough money to buy gas to go to work/school. So I thought "no problem" I will just ask Michael for some money. But I didn't know that he didn't have any to give me.

I just could not figure out why Michael was sooo moody on pay days instead of being happy about getting paid. I was happy to have another gush of money to spend on whatever my heart desired (mind you I've always been a bargain shopper and like to make stuff rather than buy stuff). So I wasn't spending insane amounts of money but I just wasn't spending with any real thought. Also, I need to mention that we had just bought an 11 acre lot and financed it with a mortgage and even had to finance the closing costs, etc.

It all came to head after our second Christmas together. In fact Dave Ramsey himself is what saved us. I truly believe it was a God thing. I had found this interesting looking audio book at the library. I had just gotten into listening to audio books on my 45 minute rides to work/school each day. So I thought what does it hurt to hear what this bald-headed man claiming to help you become debt-free had to say. I popped the CD in on my way home one night and I just knew my life was about to change in a major way! I so wanted Michael to be happy and I was worried about how upset he seemed to get around payday. I was beginning to realize that our money situation was not what it could be. Why did we not have more extra money when we didn't even have to pay rent?!!

So I listened to the whole CD/book in a couple of days and I knew Michael HAD to listen to it too and not just go off what I said. I just asked him to listen to it and see what he thought about it. I didn't start in on preaching it to him until he had listened to it first. To my surprise he did and he was as excited about it as I was!! But that's when the truth finally came out....and it was not easy to swallow.....

We were in more debt that I realized. Michael had a debt that I had no idea about. I knew about all the others but I didn't know that he had taken out a personal loan (at a less than stellar financial institute) to help cover the cost of Christmas!!! I knew we were cutting it close to paying for all the gifts and then Michael had given me some extra to use (that I thought was from his account). See I told you were were no where on the same page with money! So naturally I was upset....furious.....hurt.....and feeling guilty......he was just trying to protect me and not make me worry and make everything OK. He felt terrible too but I think just getting the truth out and realizing that we were in this together from now on took a huge weight off of him. So then we had to decide where we went from there.....rock bottom.

We added up the debts (smallest to largest), cashed in his small and old retirement account, and started tackling our debt. We had our $1,000 emergency fund in no time thanks to the cashed in account and then we put the rest on that personal loan to get it out of our life first thing!! We struggled a lot with paying off the debts until I finally graduated and started working full-time. Then things started rolling better. We cut out a lot of extra spending that we did. We didn't go out to eat very much at all, we watched just the basic channels on TV and we of course had basic cell phone service. We drove our same old cars and just saved! Here is a basic list of what we did.

1. Cashed in Michael's retirement account from his former job to get our ER fund funded and pay off the personal loan and part of a credit card that had a small balance. 

2. Sold the Harley (tear)! That was a hard one but when you are paying more for something than you are supposed to get enjoyment out of's no longer fun.

3. Sold Michael's truck (to Car Max) at a loss and took out a smaller loan for the difference. Then paid off the small loan. That was a hard one b/c Michael had never sold something and "lost" money and that's when some of our relatives really thought we had lost it!

4. Bought a beater Honda Civic for Michael to drive about saving gas!

5. Worked really hard and paid off the small personal loan we took out on our land that had a high interest rate/balloon payment plan.

So at this point all we owed for was our land (remember we didn't have a mortgage) and we were loving it. We still only had the small ER fund but we thought we were rich at this point. Here is where we veered off Dave's path a little (and came to regret it later). We (me) decided we wanted to buy a house instead of wait and build on our little piece of land. I was so sick of living in that trailer (5 years) and saw no end in sight and I had vowed we would not bring a child home to that tiny place! So buy a house we did!

Then we made a big no-no and bought a newer vehicle on credit rather than saving up......cue the duh, duh, duh....

Well we learned from that mistake too and worked our butts off to pay the thing off and in the middle of that we sold our little piece of land that we had fallen out of love with (for a small profit) and banked that money to beef up our ER fund.

So that is our long story of how we got where we are today and how we learned to live on less than we make. We are so blessed that God put Dave Ramsey's plan into our path when he did and that hopefully Jonah will benefit from our mistakes that were made before he came along.

The last thing I will add is that while we went through this whole process we never stopped fact we gave more money than we each ever had in our adult lives. And God blessed us right back every time we thought things were going to get bad. Going through the process and actually seeing the blessing appear right in front of us is what kept us going. God is so good and so faithful to provide when you are going in a direction that he likes.

For more information on how to start your own Total Money Makeover click here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday {Christmas Edition}

I thought I would do a Christmas Edition of WILW since I am all about Christmas right now!

Linking up here:

I am loving that Christmas is almost here and we are checking things off our holiday to-do list left and right. This past weekend Jonah and I briefly braved the shopping masses for a couple of hours to do some shopping. I hadn't been out shopping at all since I started early and ordered most of my stuff online this year. Needless to say I wasn't missing anything! Then on Sunday our little family ventured down to the Cumberland River walk to see the light display. Jonah loved it and took it all in with wonder. It was freezing so we make it a quick walk!

I am loving that our annual Christmas Cookie Exchange and ornament/towel swap is next week and I am trying to figure out what to make and take! So fun!

I am loving watching these movies right now!

My all-time favorite Christmas movie!

wonderful love stories and no bad scenes

So many life-lessons in one movie!

Saw this one, November Christmas, for the 1st time on Hallmark Channel this year. I balled my eyes out!

 What are you loving for Christmas?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Oh Christmas Tree

Well things are looking mighty festive around the Cheatham house. We are super excited about Christmas this year with Jonah being so interactive and my brother is coming home for good!!!! Kyle (my brother) is getting out of the Navy and will be home the week before Christmas. We have missed him so much and I am ready for Jonah to really get to know his Uncle!

The tree is up and has been since Thanksgiving weekend. Jonah has done great with not even bothering or touching it. As soon as we had it up we told him "no touching" and he has obeyed so well. Last night after his bath he seemed interested in it so we sat down around it and he pointed to the ornaments on the bottom and I would tell him what they were. He would point to the same ones and just giggled when I said what they were. I imagine that tree looks so massive to his little self!

I am totally in the Christmas spirit this year and have actually enjoyed checking things off my holiday to-do list. We are anticipating checking more items off as well. So far here is what I've gotten done.

- Took Jonah to see Santa and got a picture....even though he was not happy about being in Santa's lap.

- Got all my shopping done (except Michael's stocking) and now just have to start wrapping.

- Decided what we are going to GIVE this year. Micahel and I always do something extra either for Church or a family/friend that needs help. This year we will be helping a family member with recent health concerns that has small children.

- Ordered our Christmas cards and now just have to send them out.

Still To-Do:

- Go see lights
- Make my traditional cookies (peanut butter and crackers covered in chocolate) for Michael
- Watch Little Women (my all time favorite movie to watch at Christmas)
- Send out Christmas cards
- Attend my office Christmas party (tonight)
- Attend the cookie exchange party (and ornament swap) with church ladies
- Wrap presents!!!!
- Cook, cook and cook some more!

Merry Christmas!!!