!YOU GOTTA JUMP! Watch this video, I can totally relate to it!

I saw this video by Steve Harvey and so many things hit home for me.  I naturally tend to stay in the “safe” zone but I recently took the “Jump”!



A New Start, Chapter Two: Two Chicks, a Stud, and a Truck

NEWS UPDATE: June 12, 2016

Remember back in December I wrote a few paragraphs about  quitting my job and starting a Jobby?  Well, after all that hooplah, rah rah, and follow your dreams talk, I think you all deserve an update.

After I took the voluntary layoff I started to panic. The severance money was running out and since it’s hard to wean oneself off a regular paycheck plus benefits,  I started looking for another job. A month later, I finally found one, at another school, doing the same darn thing!  I hated every moment of it, so bad so, that every Monday morning I would wake up to a mini-panic attack.  I completed the three weeks of training, and on the first Friday of my first week on the floor, I got called into the office and was handed a letter stating the company no longer wished to continue with my employment.  My jaw dropped!  I had never been fired before in my life. It was so surreal, but at the same time it was the best thing that ever happened to me. (Besides meeting my husband).  I remember driving home feeling highly insulted, but at the same time, so relieved!  Luckily, my husband arrived shortly after I did so I could cry on his shoulder, for a about full one and a half minutes, Hah!

I still had lingering regular paycheck withdrawals, but my loving and ever supportive husband told me every thing is going to be OK. These withdrawals kept me from moving forward aggressively with my Jobby and I actually took a part time job as an administrative assistant.  I made significantly less money  but I knew I never wanted to ever, no never go back to what I was dong before!  That is when things started to change.

I had been talking about, doing research on, and trying to learn all I could about home staging and real estate photography for the last year so I had definitely put it out there in the Universe.  I just couldn’t figure out where to begin.  Then one day, I got a call from a friend who said she met a real estate agent who was looking for someone to stage his properties.

And that is how it all started.  My friend Michelle and I decided we needed to jump on this opportunity right away.  We had no inventory and no professional experience, but we quickly became the perfect example of the cliche’ “fake it till you make it”.   We quickly put together a price sheet, while  Michelle, who is now my business partner, started our website. We also told the real estate agent we could take the photos for him as well even though we had no camera and no photography experience. He loved that idea so I quickly ordered a Canon camera kit. Being the clever and thrifty person that I am, I acquired a tripod from Goodwill for five dollars.

Don’t judge, but Michelle and I created our inventory with the furniture and accessories we had in our own houses.  Talk about winging it and flying by the seat of my pants!  (I  also have an extensive inventory of cliche’s).  I don’t know if the real estate agent knew what novices we were, but after our first stage and photo shoot, he asked us to do it again. That’s when I realized we could really do this!

As Michelle and I continued to acquire more jobs from him, I took the time to really study and practice taking HDR pictures and using Photoshop to edit them. Each photo shoot gave me the opportunity to get better. I am still learning but have been receiving positive feedback so far.  The staging part was easy, I had interest in interior decorating since I was a teenager. Most of my free time was spent looking at any thing that has to do with decor and design.  It has been my life long passion. Now, all my “free time” consists of scouring ads for furniture and accessories. OfferUp is my new best friend. I have since acquired several pieces of furniture and decor to build my inventory so I can now”retire” my personal stuff and bring them home.

I have to give a shout out to my husband for being not only my Chief Motivator, Cheerleader, Suggestion Box, and Counselor, but now also, the Heavy Lifter.  He has been so supportive and helpful all along the way with never a complaint or negative word.  He also just so happens to own a truck with a trailer and big muscles so he helps us move the furniture from one house to the next.  I could not do this without him and all of his support and encouragement.  He believed in me and never questioned whether I was capable or not.  If any thing, I was always the one questioning myself. I just love him!

So, to wrap this up, when the real estate agent sent us a link to his listing with Our photos on it, it finally hit me.  I am now a professional real estate photographer and home stager.  Wow, does that feel amazing to say that! Since then, I have received interest from other real estate agents and am now trying to find a nice way to tell my sweet wonderful boss that I am quitting my job as his assistant. Another bonus, I bought a new car so I can haul more stuff. Yay!

There is more than one formula for success, and for me I think the key things that helped me get to where I am are first, a good support system. Second, live, breath, and constantly think about what it is you love to do, put it out there so others know, and it will eventually come back to you. Third, risks have to be taken, but make them calculated and carefully planned. And finally, don’t be afraid of working long hours.  It’s not as painful if it is something you love to do anyways.  The first few set of photos I edited took me until the wee hours of the morning to finish but I enjoyed learning about many of the Photoshop tools.   Lastly, I have another but oh so true cliche’: “Enjoy the Journey”


I Wanted a Garden, He Got Me A Garden!

“Ask and ye shall receive” brought on a whole new meaning last week when I told my husband I wanted to start a vegetable garden.  Now keep in mind, we don’t have a typical backyard with grass and trees,  but instead have a small narrow side yard with nothing but pavers.  I told him I needed some raised planter boxes so he said to me “well then, I will go just go build you one!”  And within an hour and a half I had a planter box!  I was stunned and amazed that not only could he produce one so fast, but do it so happily and willingly.  My hero!


He’s got Tools!

I decided I wanted a box I didn’t have to lean over too far because of my bad back.  I also wanted it to be narrow enough for just one row to keep it decorative and not crowd out the small space in our yard.  I have to confess, I wanted to be involved with the project so he humored me by teaching me how to use his power drill.  After fumbling with it a bit, I  managed to screw some of the pieces together.   I will never be as quick as he though.   We really enjoyed working together and he was as patient as can be.



I decided I wanted to give it a reclaimed wood look to it so I brushed on some gray stain and after it dried, gave it a good sanding.  I then treated it with Thompson’s water seal.  We lined the inside with plastic, and then drilled a few holes for drainage.  After covering the holes with rocks,  we added  garden soil purchased at a local landscape material company.  It is much cheaper than buying them in bags at the big box hardware stores.



I love my new garden and we plan on building more boxes because there are so many more types of vegies I want to try.


We received a lot of positive feedback from friends who said they want one, so we decided to build to order. Contact us for sizes and prices at 480-650-8863

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Master Craftsman Marries Designer Wannabe

The trend of the day has many names such as repurposing, hacking, upcycling, reclaimed, etc., where one takes something old, outdated, or otherwise ugly and turns it into something unique and beautiful.  I love it! And, I am very fortunate to be married to a very talented and creative carpenter.

When we first moved into our new place as newly weds, we decided we needed a bookshelf for our upstairs loft area.  The cost of a new one was not in our budget that month so we scoured Craig’s list for used ones.  We found a pair of solid wood shelves for fifty dollars but it looked pretty beat up.  Stan said he could do a little bit of this and a little bit of that to it so we decided to buy it. It was our first project together and it was a lot of fun.

He added more shelves, replaced the tops and added molding and trim all around.  After giving it a good sanding, we painted it an antique black using his commercial paint sprayer.  (The perks of being a professional). The transformation was stunning, but unfortunately I did not take a “before” picture!  Needless to say, we took a fifty dollar pair of ugly old bookshelves and with the cost of half a can of paint, some wood trim and an afternoon, we created a very substantial piece of furniture that someone would easily pay hundreds of dollars for.  He hates that I bragged about him for weeks!

first project  bookshelves1 bookshelves2bookshelves4

Roll the clock forward to a week ago when I found another old worn out bookshelf on a Facebook page and nabbed it.  We didn’t have a particular need for it but the price was too good to pass up.  We love anything vintage, industrial, or shabby so we decided to create a piece using a little bit of everything to turn the shelf into a unique cabinet.


Up close there were a lot of scratches but every piece is solid wood.

To create an industrial/vintage look, Stan built a pair of doors with stretched steel inserts. We gave the metal an aged look by spraying it with salty water so it would have the right amount of rust.


Molding is on and two coats of paint

Next, Stan added some dentil molding at the top, and some trim on the fronts of the shelves and the sides to give it a more substantial look.  He also added a back panel. Finally, he gave it a couple coats of black paint and then when it dried, used sand paper and a chisel to distress it. We had to add some matching wood stain to the new wood he used after being exposed from the distressing process.


cabinethackdoors With a few coats of wax, new door handles, and a light kit, we created a stunning piece that is completely unrecognizable from the original.  Now we just have to decide whether to keep it or sell it.  It’s hard to give it up but we are running out of room for more furniture!





We had such a great time working on this project and are excited to start our next one.  Now I have to figure out how to turn this into a Jobby!

A New Start

FullSizeRender   Today I start the beginning of a new career.  Instead of doing what I have to do, or what needs to be done, I am going to do what I want to do.  After recently leaving my company “voluntarily” I was faced with many decisions. One of them being “what do I want to be when I grow up?” At my previous job, I asked this question to prospective students every day  who were looking to go to school but not knowing what they wanted. Now I am faced with the same dilemma. How ironic.  At my age, it seems a little too late to start a new career that requires years of schooling and experience.  I obtained a bachelors degree at the age of 49 but with no experience in my field of study, it was difficult to find a job that paid as much as my previous one.

For the last month I have combed through job search engines, submitted resume’s, and networked with little success. Partly because I have been quite particular. I know it has only been a month, but bills do not stop coming.  The practical side of me wants a stable job with benefits, but I know it will most likely end up being something I utterly hate. Like my last job.  Quality of life means different things to different people. Hate the job but love the regular paycheck and the ability to sleep at night knowing you can at least make your house payment and utilities. But, come home stressed from pressures at work, and waking up every morning with a knot in your stomach, feeling complete and utter dread. Or, work a job you love, a “Jobby” as I call it, but constantly worry about money.  Which is the lesser of two evils?

I decided quality of life for me is to pursue my “Jobby”.  As the saying goes, I am not getting any younger. If I keep waiting for that perfect moment, it will never come.  I have to make it my perfect moment, even when it is the most imperfect timing. With the encouragement of my sweet husband, I have decided to pursue areas I love which includes interior design, home staging, and real estate photography.  I have never had any professional experience in any of these fields but the passion is real. I know I have a lot to learn but I had enough feed back to know I have some talent.  It’s not like when Simon Cowell says to those wanna-be singers at the American Idol auditions “your parents should be ashamed of themselves for leading you to believe you could sing!”.

So the moral of the story is, go to school earlier in life so you can get a good job and save money for the future. Then, you can pursue your Jobby when you are older like me and be happy.  In other words don’t do what I did and wait until it is almost too late. But if you did procrastinate, do it anyways. shannons phone 018