Why I DIY (And Love Every Minute Of It)

Last Updated on December 24, 2015 by Kristi Linauer

The last two days have been a bit stressful around the Linauer household.  Our 12-year-old flame point Siamese cat Powder (the white-ish cat who always photo bombs my pictures) became very sick on Monday evening.  After an emergency after-hours call to the vet to describe symptoms, she said to keep her comfortable during the night (a long, sleepless night) and bring her in first thing in the morning (yesterday morning).  Powder’s now in the kitty hospital being treated, and we’re hoping and praying for a good outcome.

After all of that, I tried to work on the kitchen yesterday afternoon, thinking it would be good to keep my mind busy.  But when I tried to build the half wall for the peninsula and the top board came out over 1/2-inch off level from one end to the other, it was obvious that my mind just wasn’t in it and I was wasting my time even trying.  I’ll try again today, and hopefully have better results.

During my down time, I read (again) Jackie’s post on why she quite DIY, plus all of the comments.  I think what I found most interesting about that post is how different all of us are.  For some, DIY can become drudgery.  For others (like me) DIY is what makes us thrive.

So after reading Darlene’s comment on Monday’s post where she said:

I have to ask you something because I’m amazed on the amount of work you’re doing.

Are you doing this yourself to save money and/or is it personal satisfaction of doing on your own?

I ask because you’ve undertaken huge tasks (in my opinion) worthy of experienced sub-contractors.. and yet, here you are!

…and then reading Jackie’s post and all of the comments, I did a bit of soul-searching to ask myself why, exactly, I DIY.  I realized there are numerous reasons.  This is by no means an exhaustive list, but here are a few.

1.  To save money

Since this seems to be the most obvious reason, I thought I’d start here.

It isn’t always true that DIY can save you money, especially now that so much of what we consumers are offered is cheap stuff made from cheap materials made in China or Phillipines or Taiwan.  (I could write a whole blog post on that whole sad state of affairs, but I’ll spare you.)

But DIY can very often save you money.  And not just a little bit of money, but thousands and thousands of dollars.

The wall of built-ins that I installed at the condo is a great example of this.  I paid about $850 for this whole wall of built-ins.

Having something like this built and installed by a pro would have cost at least $2000, if not more.  So I can safely say that I saved at least $1150 by doing this myself.

My current kitchen is another great example.

wall of cabinets -- building finished 1

fridge range wall - build finished

I honestly have no idea how much it would cost me to have cabinets designed and installed like the ones I’m doing in my kitchen, but I’m fairly certain it would cost thousands of dollars.  (I’ll be getting a local cabinet maker to give me an idea of the cost so I can do a true cost comparison.)  My cost by doing it myself will be a fraction of that cost.

I often ask myself if I’d still DIY if I had a bank account full of money that I could throw away on anything and everything my heart desired.  While I might use better quality materials, I really do think I would still DIY simply because the money savings is only one of many reasons that I tackle these projects.  And it’s very likely that it’s not even the most important reason.

2.  To get exactly what I want.

My tufted ottoman coffee table is a great example of DIYing to get exactly what I want.  Since the first day I saw this house, about a year before we actually closed on it, I knew how I wanted to decorate my living room.  And a large teal tufted ottoman was part of that plan.

I searched and searched online trying to find the perfect ready-made ottoman, but there was absolutely nothing available that fit my vision for my living room.  Getting the right size, the right colors, the right style, and the right tufting all on one piece of ready-made furniture was impossible.

Then I came across the Layla Grayce ottoman and knew right away that it was exactly what I wanted.  Well, it was exact, except for the color, the size, the fabric…

So I made my own, and got exactly what I wanted.  Saving a bundle of money in the process was an added bonus.

3.  It’s my form of art.

I joke all the time about how I’m not an artist, I’m just a DIYer.  But the truth is, I am an artist, and my house is my canvas.

Okay, okay…I know that sounds incredibly cheesy, but I really feel like it’s the truth.  What I do differs from what a traditional “interior decorator” or “interior designer” does, in that most decorators and designers have a vision, but then hire others to carry out that vision.  That’s actually the very thing about being an interior decorator that I hated most.  That’s what became drudgery to me, and made me want to quit.

An artist doesn’t have a vision, and then commission others to carry it out.  An artist would never trust someone else to carry out the vision in his or her head.  An artist has the vision, and then sets about bringing that vision to life with his or her own hands.  Actually creating the art is what makes a person an artist instead of a product designer or interior designer.

My herringbone lamps are, in fact, my artwork.

If I had had the vision, and then commissioned someone else to make them for me, they would be the artist.  I would be the product designer.  For many years, I commissioned others to carry out the visions I had in my head, and it was so incredibly dissatisfying.  Now, I’m the artist, and it feels so satisfying to me.

4.  DIY is empowering.

When I was in junior high school, my mom had a friend whose husband died.  The woman was completely lost.  Not only had she lost her spouse, which was devastating in itself, but during their marriage, he had taken care of everything to the point that she didn’t even know how to pay bills.  She was devastated and helpless, not even knowing how to take care of the most basic things to run a household.  I can’t even imagine how it would feel to be so helpless.  That’s a feeling I never want to experience.

Now that’s a drastic example, of course.  But what isn’t so uncommon is women relying on their husbands to do all of the DIY projects around the house.

Almost every single time I post a home improvement type project, I have women comment with something like, “I love that, Kristi!  I’m going to show my husband this and have him do this in our house,” or, “Oh, that’s going on my husband’s honey-do list this summer!”

I’ll be honest with you.  Those types of comments are like fingernails on a chalkboard to me.  In fact, if you were standing in my house as I read comments like that, you would very often hear me yelling at my computer screen, “DO IT YOURSELF!!!  Don’t rely on him to do it for you!!!”  🙂

Ladies, I don’t write this blog and show how to do these projects and how to use these tools so that you can add to your husbands’ honey do lists.  🙂

There’s something so empowering about not having to rely on a husband or someone else to do things for you.  I wouldn’t trade that feeling…that freedom…for anything.

And my hope is that every woman reading my blog, no matter what her circumstance (married to a strong DIY-loving husband, widowed, never married, divorced, married to a man physically incapable of helping around the house, or married to a total couch potato who couldn’t care less) can know that she, too, can feel that same sense of empowerment, not having to rely on others to do things around the house for her.

5.  I love using power tools.

When I was reading Jackie’s post and got to the sentence where she said, “I don’t like using power tools,” I literally gasped in disbelief.  I’m so much the opposite that I can’t imagine someone not liking power tools as much as I do.  😀

But after a couple of seconds, I came to my senses and realized that it’s okay if others don’t love it as much as I do.  We’re all different, and that’s what makes this world so interesting, right?

But yes, I love using power tools.  And it’s much more than just a sense of empowerment.  To me, it’s just plain ‘ole fun.  I can’t wait for the day that I can set up my workshop in the garage, and have all of my power tools at the ready when I need them.  Once my workshop is set up, I very well may disappear for a few days, only to surface when I need to eat, pee, and sleep.  And eating and sleeping may very well be optional.  😀

6.  I love the challenge…and the process.

I honestly think that DIY can be very helpful in keeping one’s mind sharp, and I love to use and exercise my mind.  I love a good challenge.

I love to think to myself, “Okay, I’m starting with “A”, and my goal is “Z”.  So what steps do I need to take to get from A to Z?  What tools will I need?  What processes will be necessary?  What materials do I need, and how much of each do I need?  This thing is going to cause an issue, so how will I work around it to accomplish my goal?”

That process of challenging my mind, of forcing myself to constantly use math that doesn’t come naturally to my brain, of hitting roadblocks and finding ways around them, and everything else that’s part of the process, keeps my brain working overtime.  It’s a much better, healthier feeling than I used to feel wasting hours each day in front of the television.

7.  Nothing beats the satisfaction of a finished project well done.

For me, there’s nothing like that feeling of satisfaction when I walk into my house and am surrounded by all of the things that my own two hands have created.

handmade living room

  1. I sewed those.
  2. I altered that so it would fit.
  3. I built those.
  4. I made that from scratch.
  5. I built that whole thing.
  6. I sewed those.
  7. I totally transformed the look of that.

Nothing beats that feeling.  It’s something that money can’t buy.

So those are just a few of the main reasons I DIY.  Are you a DIYer?  What are your main motivating reasons for doing things yourself rather than buying?

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  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 11, 2014 at 10:26 am

    While I have never made things of such size, I craft when I have some free time, simply because. It’s some sort of creativity. I don’t really like drawing (maybe because I like 3D things?) so at some point when I’m rested and find something inspiring (it could be a piece of paper, some fabric, some clay, whatever) I think “hey, that would be great as a …” and the next thing that happens is I want to make that material A into that item B. And it’s very satisfying.

    And it can waste time ofc, and time is money when you have work to do, so in many cases as I grew up I learned that it’s more economical to just find a repairman or buy something new – so it’s NOT necessarily a matter of saving money. It’s a matter of making that image you have inside your brain into a reality.

    I really enjoyed your post today, I was almost moved by it in fact, dunno why. And you are my inspiration, as I am now trying to fix my own house (so far I’ve only fixed the walls and painted it, but I’m now at the blissful part of custom-making stuff and decorating, which should be nice).

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 11, 2014 at 10:39 am

    I am so inspired by you. I have never minded a challenge and always have had to do it myself out of necessity, but you have given me the insight to realize I can do BIG things. I also realize when the project is too big and time to call in help but I love the satisfaction/pride of seeing a finished product and of course the monetary savings. My ex was never one to have a ‘to do list’ for me, he had his own list for himself, part of why he is an ex, lol, but that is another story.

    So thank you and I am so glad I found your blog!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 11, 2014 at 10:44 am

    DIY IS empowering!! I love being able to do most anything I want done…that I am physically able to accomplish. I know how to use all of the toys….ummm tools in the shop and I am very comfortable using them. If I am home alone and need something done…off I go to DIMyself :^) I also sew, do some reupholstering, refinish some furniture and have upon occasion worked on my own car and driven my own motorcycle.
    On the OTHER hand, I do have a honey do list, because I love the honey, and sometimes he likes to do things FOR me because he loves me, and that becomes empowering for him.
    So………there has to be a happy medium…..
    But as you said…go ladies, you can accomplish anything that you THINK you CAN!! My favorite words are “consider it done”.
    Blessings to you,

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 11, 2014 at 10:45 am

    4. DIY is Empowering! Amen sister. It really irks me when friends of mine tell me there elderly father/ uncle/ brother is going to lay patio pavers, paint their bedroom, shovel there driveway etc. I just bite my tongue. I’m in my 60’s now
    with arthritis and can’t do what I once did, but do everything I am able to.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      June 11, 2014 at 3:08 pm

      I completely agree! I hate seeing women act helpless and depending on people who are in worse shape than themselves to get things done. As a child my dad would never let us say “I can’t” because he would tell us “you will surprise yourself with what you are capable of”and I am so grateful for that. Because when you get out of your own way it’s so shocking what you can accomplish.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 11, 2014 at 10:48 am

    As for me, I ask myself…….”What would Kristi do !?!?!” 🙂

    You are my minter! Your statement “I am an artist and my home is my canvas” was a true lightbulb moment for me! I have a 2-page list of declutter, replacement, repair and improvement projects that I need to do here at my home. I read that list almost every day and there’s slow progress so far. It’s really been a chore list. You have completely changed my attitude. My new attitude….I AM AN ARTIST AND MY CANVAS IS MY HOME… I am not sure I can DIY everything on the list, but I will try first and if it is too much for me, then I will call in a professional (such as, crown molding 🙂 !!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    [email protected]
    June 11, 2014 at 10:50 am

    Just wanted to say that I hope that Powder is going to be okay–from one cat lover to another. Speedy recovery to her.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 11, 2014 at 10:50 am

    I couldn’t have said it better, Kristi. I have been DIYing since I was a teenager when my mother brought home two rolls of wallpaper and didn’t know what to do with them. I researched how to apply the wallpaper, and completed the hall before she returned home from work, and she loved it. This started my journey into creating and bringing to life that picture in my mind. Yes, DIYing is extremely satisfying! However, teaching one daughter, and granddaughter is another story. They prefer to have someone else “take care of it”. Nevertheless, my baby girl has been inspired by my creations, and is working on her first solo project. Yes! Someone has heard about the fun, and freedom DIYing does for you and want to experience it for themselves. My female neighbors always make these comments when they see me “creating”, “My father does that for me, or stop that or my husband my think I can do that.”
    I smile and just keep working on my project. Then after I am done, the men come over and tell me how impressed they are. I just smile and start the next project. Lol!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Barbie B
    June 11, 2014 at 10:57 am

    I love reading your blog and watching your progress. Your descriptions of your ups…and your downs….and your inspirations….and your change-of-heart-moments. I look at your living room picture on this post and think to myself “WOW!” from where it started to this and although I’m not totally convinced on the painted sofa (would like to sit on it to see what it’s like) that’s just me and you have done an awesome and amazing job. I can’t imagine you not inspiring others to try it themselves.

    I work full-time job outside of my home and have a long commute daily so I’m not so inclined to DIY myself these days but that doesn’t mean I can’t, or won’t in the future. I look forward to each new post and the progress – the transformation of your kitchen is remarkable!

    Thanks for sharing all of your steps and I hope your sweet Powder is back home and healthy soon.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 11, 2014 at 11:06 am

    I too, am hoping your dear, sweet kitty powder is improving. As someone who has been down that road so many times, I know it is not easy. You are doing a great job with your reno, and are very inspiring! I love taking on projects that are challenging- it’s a great way to stay sharp. There are so many things to be accomplished if we only give it a chance!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 11, 2014 at 11:06 am

    Thoughts and prayers for your little furbaby Powder. They are such a part of our families that it is really heartbreaking when they are sick. Our Simba and Linus mean the world to us. I really hope they can figure out what is going on with Powder and he makes a speedy recovery! 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 11, 2014 at 11:34 am

    First off, I hope Powder is good. -Said a little prayer for him. 🙂
    Also, I too think DIY is empowering but that said….I have a husband who is all thumbs on most things so it falls on me. Although I love it for the most part, I gotta say not all women enjoy or even want to do DIY. and since we can find all kinds of other way to feel empowered and if they have a husband who can do DIY and they want to put it on his “honey do” list…I envy them too and no judgement here. I can be empowered as a woman in so many other ways, by teaching, inspiring others etc., so I wouldn’t mind a little less DIY on my own …I personally wish my man was more hands on with the DIY and I didn’t have to do some much myself. For me, I would love to do it together but the interest on his part just isn’t there.
    Also, thank you thank you thank you for showing the living room. That’s the only picture I remember seeing of it all put together with drapes up etc?? You are an amazing woman who it seems just barreled head long into a new MAJOR contractor worthy project of remodeling your kitchen…but I’m still back in your living room wondering what lamps you chose and how it looks all decorated????? Any more pictures of the room decorated?? 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    C.B. McDuff
    June 11, 2014 at 11:53 am

    Wow – hope that Photo bomber Powder will be back up to photo worthy activity soon! I’d nevr be able to concentrate on anything if my pooch took ill!

    I must say that I am TOTALLY jealous of you! I too used to love being able to have people come into my home and exclaim how much they loved something, that I created. The saving money DOES help out massively! Saving money on one project often got me to another project!
    Last year when we sold our house, it was pretty much up to ME, to get that puppy sold. I did EVERYTHING that needed to be stripped, painted, fixed and snazzed up!
    Sadly now, all of that has changed for me. And it’s not that I can’t handle doing things on my own, anymore. But, my hubby retired last year, and we moved to a new state, into a new house – we redid the entire interior and exterior of the house together. But, there are things left that I would like to do, and now he is home ALL THE TIME, this just isn’t possible! Because I am disabled, I too am home all day, but I work slow,,,the problem with this? Because the hubby was a supervisor at work, he now kinda supervises EVERYTHING!!! I don’t think that it is intentional as much as it it ingrained into his brain to oversee all jobs, and have input on how to get it done. Because of this, I no longer have the will or want, to do anything, around the house. It already looks great, but finishing touches, of little things just isn’t possible anymore without having a ‘supervisor’ over my shoulder. Now, if I want to change something, and he has a different idea on what should be done,,,,I can’t just dive into our home like I used to do, and then wait for a reaction when he got home from work. I can’t be too upset, as it is HIS home too. 🙂
    Perhaps I’ll get the bug again some day, but for now, I’m really kind of sad that I don’t have free reign like you do, (and like I used to have) anymore,,,,So until then, I’ll just live vicariously thru you!!! 🙂

    Keep up the great work and GET WELL SOON Powder Kitty!!!! <3

    I'm so glad that you posted the pictures of the living room – it reminds me how wonderful the kitchen is going to look when you are done – because lets be 100% honest here, that room doesn't even resemble the starting pictures, and seeing it come together has been a sheer joy! It really LOOKS like a kitchen now

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 11, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    I LOVE power tools!
    I dislike home improvement stores that treat women like “why are you here”. I make most of the major purchases in these stores and feel like the biggest problem bestbuy had was they always want to help my son or husband and I can wander the whole store and have literally jumped up and down to get help and attention.

    Your blogs should be the new wave of possibilities and with Pinterest, inspire women to try. Both have enhanced my DIY world.

    My sister- in-law doesn’t even mow her lawn with a riding mower. He rides the mower and she uses the push. She feels that he is the man and women need to help them feel that way……. (Talk about chalk!)

    The feeling of completion and being able to do it myself is more than empowering, as it builds confidence.

    Thank you for all the blogs and letting us into your home.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 11, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    Completely agree.

    I am raising my six kids by myself and I am raising them toDIY as much as possible.

    A iittle funny… my e-mail address… julies_freedom… No amount of money could buy that.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 11, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    You forgot to put a number on the wainscoting and the upper walls, which you painted yourself! I too look around my home and see the big and little projects I have done either by myself or with my husband. It is fun to work with someone who shares your vision as well. We have saved literally thousands and thousands of dollars over the years, added to the value of our home, and had the satisfaction of getting a job done just the way we want it. We have remodeled, built or refinished or reupholstered furniture, taken garage sale ‘junque’ and made it look like a million bucks, gained useful skills and experience, and learned a lot about working with one another in the process.

    Here’s to DIY!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 11, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    I love to DIY! I have only accomplished small things but I do love doing it myself. You mentioned you had no idea how much money you have saved on your kitchen – I had a house built in 1998 – the kitchen cabinets didn’t have the nice crown molding or feet like you have done on yours. There were about the same amount of cabinets as yours and mine cost $9,400! I can only imagine the amount it would cost to have someone do what you are doing. I look forward to your posts each day – thank you for being so real!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 11, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    Kristi, when I didn’t find a new blog post in my inbox yesterday my first reaction was that I hoped nothing was wrong in your family. I completely understand your passion for moving forward with your projects and not having a post seemed so strange. I guess that now that I am divorced and living in an apartment I can’t alter beyond paint and the odd cabinet pull replacement, I can live through your experiences vicariously just a little bit. So I am not surprised to learn your dear kitty is ill. My best wishes and chin scritches to Powder for a fast recovery. Keep up your strong advocacy for the immense satisfaction to be found in creating your home. And if I might make a tiny suggestion, perhaps you will inspire younger or less courageous readers if you share what got you started in DIY. For me it was having a father who was a master carpenter and could create anything from wood. When I was a girl he literally built our house himself. I was so proud of him and that house then, and looking back, I am even more in awe, since he did it on evenings and weekends after his full time carpentry job.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Mary Anne Looby
    June 11, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    Hope Miss Kitty will be up and around soon. Nothing brings a mama to a stand still like a sick baby, no matter what kind. THE TRUE DIY’ER DOES IT BECAUSE SHE CAN. FOR NO OTHER REASOM THAN TO PROVE SOMETING TO HERSELF. IF YOU DON’ tget your kicks by creating, you will never get it. DIFFRTRNT STROKES FOR DIFFERENT FOLKS!!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 11, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    I, too, love your insight about you being the artist and your home the canvas – there is nothing cheesy about it! I love doing things myself as well, even though I like the fact that sometimes I can tackle them with my hsubands help help. It always leaves me speechless considering how you alone manage to install big boards or move furniture all by yourself where my husband and I sometimes struggle together!! Your determination to find a solution around obstacles is very inspiring and amazing!!
    We’ve moved into our own house 2 years ago and after that period I can add another reason for doing things by yourself: Handimen can suck so much!! We’ve had a lot of help in before we moved because we didn’t dare tackle things like water or eletrics ourselves. And from there follwoed other rahter compliated projects which we didn’t dare do ourselves….Our experience after 2 years:whenever somebody hired to improve something in our house comes and goes again, either the job itself hasn’t been done right or something else needs to be repaired afterwards…
    So we’ve intensified our own DIY processes in order to get what we want or at least be responsible for the errors and able to remedy them in the process. And a lot of the inspiration to tackle them myself comes from following your blog, so as ever: thanks again for sharing!!
    I too keep my fingers crossed that your cat is getting well soon!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 11, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    First up- awww… hoping the best for photo bombing specialist aka: Ombre Kitteh (yes typo is on purpose) <3 <3

    Secondly- I know the dissatisfaction of having to shell out $$ for contractors that are not up to snuff and lack in the details department (our old house). Even having built new- there are details that make me cringe, details that scream nothing more than a "Get'er Done!" rush job, not just novice mistakes. A Lot of hindsight topics. I guess because I grew up with my dad doing so much around the house (don't mistake that for really fast) It was slow but it was done well I notice the finish details more. My dad was DIY for the sake of cost, but he also did things very well probably because of age and experience. With him there was no paint burrs left on the doors from being sprayed where they were leaned. Little finishing details done horribly irritate the hell out of me, because of seeing how my dad did things and paid attention to all the little details. It's difficult for me to figure out where to start and find a project that I can finish within my current skill set and lack of experience to elevate my confidence to move on to the next project, and not just focus on the end details. I have no idea if that makes sense. I want to build a bench, a couple of planters. Easy stuff on the DIY scale. ha ha ha… *sigh*

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 11, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    I agree that depending on someone else to do everything is ridiculous! I love doing things for myself and try to do as many projects myself that I am able to. Usually, my husband and I together do the big remodeling type things around our house while I do the furniture refinishing and other creative things myself. The main reason for that is because some of the big jobs are too much for me to do by myself – I have some chronic health issues – and also because I find that a lot of the power tools are made so large and I cannot use them. I am very small with small hands and I am unable to use some of the tools safely.

    I’m so impressed with your work and you inspire me and give me the confidence that we can do some of these type projects ourselves.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 11, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    Great post. I may never build a first class ottoman like you did, but you inspired me to paint mine and put fun colored knobs on it. I think you underestimate how much money you save- can’t wait to hear what cabinet maker quotes. I paid 3 thousand just for click lock laminate floors to be installed. Expressing creativity is fun and good for the brain at any level. I gotta say, though, watching you build a kitchen from nothing has been mind blowing. Keep it up! !
    HUGS to powder kitty! !

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 11, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    I’m posting here for the first time. I can’t resist this topic. I would echo EVERYTHING you said and I would add somehow that I love upping my game. With each DIY project I attempt I start with one vision and hear that tiny voice in my head say “yeah, but you can do more can’t you?” For instance, I’m using your instructions for the relaxed roman shades. As I’m cutting, pinning, pressing I started thinking I could do more. I’m now researching how to bead the embroidered flowers on the fabric I’m using. I’m thinking of how I can handstitch and embellish in a tasteful yet striking way to boost the monochromatic neutral. I think ultimately it’s the problem solving I love and the empowerment you mention: the chance to do more and do better than I thought I could. I love your blog. To say it’s inspiring is a gross understatement.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Peggy R
    June 11, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    I agree. I love doing things myself, however my weapon of choice is the sewing machine. Sew drapes, pillows, duvets, etc. I wonder how do you know what to use where? Is it trial and error or instinct? I have two book shelves that I would like to build beside our fireplace, however I don’t know where to start. I know you built book shelves. How did you know to add a piece of trim here or there? What nails, tools etc to use? Do you have any go to books? Everything is looking amazing in the kitchen. Can’t wait to see the finish.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      June 11, 2014 at 3:45 pm

      LOL! Love your expression ‘weapon of choice is my sewing machine’. Mine too! I am on an apartment redo binge. And it’s why I started quilting. Buy pieces of fabric, cut them into strange shapes, sew back together. Make something useful and awesome.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Lisa E
      June 12, 2014 at 7:14 am

      Peggy, try http://www.Ana-White.com. She not only has lots of free plans, but she also tells what tools a beginner to use, etc. That beginner info is in the left column of her site titled Getting Started. You can do this!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Gilmer Gal
    June 11, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    I love doing projects around my house and am planning on taking down a 1/2 wall in one of my bathrooms to give the illusion of more space. I also like power tools! But honestly, I HATE (make that DESPISE) sanding. Can’t help it, it gives me a major headache, mask or not. Even if it didn’t, I would still try to avoid it. I do it, but I wish I could put it on MY honey-do list!

    Prayers for Powder. Keep us posted on her progress.

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    June 11, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    You are incredibly talented and an inspiration to all of us! I am vicariously charged by each step in your process! And I hope your kitty is recovering nicely by now <3

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    June 11, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    I used to be that woman who would have her husband tackle all of the DIY projects not because I’m lazy, I’m anything but lazy, but because I was afraid of saws and was unskilled with some other tools. One day I wanted some shelves built and my husband just didn’t feel like it that day so I decided this fear of power tools is ridiculous and I used them anyway. Once I learned to used them all I found that they weren’t so scary after all. Now I have just about every imaginable DIY project under my belt from tables to benches to beds and flooring and handmade cabinetry. Now my husband’s way of helping more often than not is entertaining the kids so I can put a coat of paint on something without tiny fingerprints ending up on it. It’s so much more fun now having him stare admiringly and the latest thing that I’ve done than it ever was trying to have him build things based on my vision.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kristi C
    June 11, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    I totally agree with everything you said, Kristi! Well maybe I don’t like power tools as much as you do because I’m still afraid of some of them a little bit (table saws, yikes), but I do appreciate when they can make the job go quicker than by hand.

    I couldn’t agree more with how DIY is an amazingly satisfying form of artistic expression. And I too can never find exactly what I want and generally am only happy with something when I end up making it myself. Happens ALL the time (I almost said EVERY time).

    I’ve been in situations in my life where I can’t afford nice things so I DIY them, but also times when I can afford nicer things, but instead I DIY with better materials because it’s my passion and so much more satisfying. Looking around my house, some really nice features I hardly notice because they were original to the house, but anything I worked on personally I noticed daily and get so much satisfaction from.

    It was great to read a post that summed up how I feel so well, and nice to be inspired daily by someone who is motivated by the same things I am!

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    June 11, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    Now THAT’S what I call a great speech on empowering women!!! Move over Wendy D!!

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    June 11, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    Artistry is indeed creating a vision, whether it is your own, or someone else’s. 🙂

    Your list of reasons are *exactly* the same reasons I would/will have once I have the home to DIY on. In the meantime, I create artistically using other mediums and means when and where I can. ~:0)

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    June 11, 2014 at 4:03 pm

    Great post and great comments from everyone. I feel for you and your little Powder. I know how devastating it can be when one of our fur babies gets sick . I hope she will bedeviling good again real soon. Don’t forget that cats really do have 9 lives. I have seen a few of mine overcome some big illnesses and bounce back.

    You are an inspiration to me! I have worked alongside of my husband designing, fabricating and installing custom bookcases, an oak staircase. Custom millwork and more – things that we foul d never have afforded to pay someone else to do. I don’t mind hard work, in fact I love it but I have not done any big projects on my own but you’ve got me thinking that I can!

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    June 11, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    Amen to all of those! I will admit to liking having strong male bodies around to do the heavy lifting since I have no desire to do cortisone shots in my back again.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 11, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    Opps, that word was not bedeviling (hate those auto corrections) it was supposed to be back in business

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 11, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Hope Powder feels better and comes home soon! Over the years I’ve become DIY obsessed. Using power tools is empowering to me and it’s fun! I’m always thinking about how to build or make something I want, rather than settling (and paying) for something that’s not “it”. Your artistic creativity and talent are inspiring, and it’s so exciting watching your progress on these projects. Your living room looks fab, and I’m absolutely loving the painted floor and custom kitchen cabinets. I got a contractor table saw for Christmas, and my list of stuff I want to build is growing 🙂 I enjoy DIY-ing with my Hubby, but our work schedules lately are very disjointed. Recent projects we’ve done solo, and then we oohh and aaah over each other’s work when we get home. 🙂 He gets a kick out of seeing how much I enjoy my power tools, and sometimes his way of helping me is to stand back while I go to town with my nailgun or sander. I love your tutorials that have pictures. They really are worth a thousand words! It’s clear from your posts that doing your DIY projects brings you joy, and I’m so grateful that you share that joy with your readers. Yay Kristi! 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Yvonne @ Sunnyside Up-Stairs
    June 11, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    Kristi, everything you mentioned about why you DIY is completely true of me too, but interestingly enough, everything Jackie shared was also true for me. In my view, Jackie was talking about the pressure we put on ourselves to have the “next best thing,” all the time. She was creating things solely for her business blog, for the DIY niche, and not for her space anymore.

    I’m a small-time blogger, and even I feel this pressure too. After reading Jackie’s post, I’ve decided (again) to stick with decorating my space as I am able, and sharing what I did, because it serves me and my family’s style (something you’ve posted about recently that was a fabulous reminder for me as well!) 🙂

    I’ve reminded myself that I’m going to love DIY by focusing on what brings me and my family joy, and creating things that we need and want in our lives. I had to look back at my blog, look back at my work, and find things I enjoyed about it. I too found great pleasure in knowing, I have built almost everything, every little wooden thing in this entire apartment, many things I have not even posted. Then I realized that what I do is good enough for me, my family, and for sharing with others. I’ve said it before, but I need to remind myself again, that creating is a form of necessary, functional play for me, and I do think it is important that we continue to ask ourselves if it is fun for us still, just as you have today, in this post. 🙂 But we also have to be willing, ready, and courageous enough, like Jackie and others, to move in the direction that will restore our joy.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Lesley Ann Sturge
    June 11, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    Hi kristi, today’s post was great. I am a gal who pretty much has learnt to not depend on others from an early age. My mom made sure of it. So I never have. I married last year and my husband loves this about me. I have family and girlfriends who say things like ‘oh my husband does that’, I just smile but I don’t get it. I mean it isn’t hard to pump your own gas!
    I can’t do as much as i much as I used to because of health reasons but I paint, refinish furniture, strip wall paper, etc. I just finished our kitchen cabinets and today I plastered the walls preparing them for subway tile. I’ve never done tiling so I am excited to learn even if it takes me a month. And I think that’s what I like about DIYing I like to learn. I’m not as fast or knowledgable as you with tools and techniques but I am determined. Have a great day and I hope powder is feeling better soon. Cheers.

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    Chirs Marek
    June 11, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    I want to first say I hope your “baby” Powder is doing better. Over the years our “kids” have had many a crisis and it takes a toll on you both physically and emotionally but well worth it all for their unconditional love.
    I next want to say that your site and wonderful DIYs are so wonderful to watch and read. After a major back condition shut down my ability to do it myself it has really taken a toll on my self worth. I loved doing things myself and my hubby joined in as he felt guilt to watch and not help and found he is a natural at carpentry. We moved into our current home 11 years ago with the intent of getting our updates done and just enjoying life with our grandchildren ( we bought a 1979 rambler with great bones) . Well life got in the way, Mothers took ill and we were their caregivers, then after their passing we both were worn out. I have been slowly encouraging my hubby to get small things done but it is such a challenge for him with working full time as well. I will do what I can and keep encouraging him at completing this final home for our retired years.
    I say to all the women, do as much as you can while you can, embrace the power and you will love the empowerment you get from it as well as seeing your visions come to life. You are a great Teacher and I hope you continue this life for you will never know how many women you reach.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 11, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    Kristi, I have to admit that as I started reading this post I clicked over to read Teal & Limes post. The title grabbed me and I could not imagine anyone quitting DIY. I’ve only been blogging for a year and a half. About 6 months ago I started to feel the pressure that Jackie did. I took a step back and realized why I started blogging. I wanted to share what “I” did with my own two hands with other women who thought they would never be able to create. If the internet was to die today and I could not share, I’d still spend my free time building, painting, upholstering and redecorating. I love learning and challenging myself.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Susan M.
    June 11, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    As an avid DIYer, the best way for me to explain it is that it feeds the creative beast within. I also love the challenge and the sense of satisfaction.

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    Sandra E
    June 11, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    Hang in there, Kristi! My husband and I have two dogs and a cat and no children — it’s a cliche but it’s true — those pets are our defacto children. They bring us comfort and unconditional love (well, mostly conditional — I suspect one of them games the system for extra kibble). But nothing is more distracting and troubling than an ailing pet when you know something is wrong, but they can’t tell you what it is. My mind works the same way as yours — when something heavy happens, you go to that “deep place” of reflection and wonder about big picture things. It’s heartening that so much of your thoughts turn back to the joy you have for what you do. I wish that for everyone — if we loved what we did, think about how happy our lives would be! I was just getting into the rhythm of your posts (Monday through Friday, around noon is when I check), but I am going to throttle back on my panic when I don’t see my daily fix from you. Actually, it’s fun to go into your archives and look at your prior things. You are much loved in this world, Kristi!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 11, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    Best wishes for Powder–it’s terrible to have a little pet sick!

    There was a funny Erma Bombeck column once that stated: “You can always tell the children of DIYers–they’re the ones that scream ‘Contractor!’ any time they need something.” She then went on to list the reasons, such as the sawhorses in the bedrooms, and the sacks of concrete stashed in the foyer. Been there, done that. My parents were children of the Depression, and either did it themselves or did without (they also pack-ratted such things as Cool Whip bowls and string, because you never know when you might need some, but we won’t go there, lol) Daddy was so emboldened by his successes that he undertook building our house by himself. As his gofer I learned all sorts of skills, skills that he learned by hanging out at construction sites asking questions, reading lots of books, and picking the minds of friends who were in the trades. The only time he hired someone was to install the electrical, so that it could pass building inspection. Mother was a whiz at tiling and wallpapering. When I grew up I swore that I’d get a professional for things.

    But I found that I can often do things cheaper, and sometimes much better, by DIY. So I’ve come almost full circle. I do things now for most of the reasons you listed: satisfaction of doing it myself, getting it done right, getting precisely what I want, self-expression, expanding my horizons.

    I enjoy your blog. It gives me new ways of looking at things.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Gloria S.
    June 11, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    My Mother worked in a furniture factory, she used power tools, painted, all DIY things. My Dad was a very quiet man, handy, a DIYfer for all his life. My younger sister and I learned from an early age how to do all things DIYfers know. They are both gone now, but we continue on the tradition and sometimes(more often than not), we really surprise our families and friends with what we accomplish! Kudos to you for all you have done! Always looking forward to your projects! A prayer for your Kitty.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 11, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    I sure hope the photobomber is better soon! I am always distracted when one of my family (2 or 4 legged) are ill.

    Now on to the DIY. I LOVE DIY. It is my creative outlet too. We don’t have all of the wonderful power tools, but we are amassing quite a collection. When I see something that I just gotta have. I show it to hubbie and hubbie and I together figure out how to do it the way we want it. Darling Hubbie was never very handy but after he met and married me, it was sink or DIY!! Love and your DIY, you inspire to create our house into our home! DIY on lady!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Julie Mandell
    June 11, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    Best. Post. Ever. Hope Powder is all better soon! Please let us know how she’s doing : )

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 11, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    alot of diyers here, i do like the sense of satisfaction, like when i fixed my fancy toilet lever when 2 different contraters could not get it to work and wanted to put the ugly standard handle back on. but i think i also know in my mind what i want before i really start looking for it, so everything i buy i have to “alter” somehow to make it perfect. i do hope powder gets well, i know the pain that comes from having a sick kitty.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 11, 2014 at 7:51 pm

    Why? All the reasons you gave. But also, there is something inside that drives us on, where you can’t sit at peace, where your fingers itch to be doing, making, constructing. I think the central tenet is artistry, to have conjured up something which is uniquely yours. You look, you love (or not as the case may be) and you move on.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 11, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    I hope powder is better soon!

    I enjoyed your post. It makes sense to me about why you do what you do. And you have done some pretty amazing projects! I can’t say that I have done anything as big as you have done. I agree that when you DIY, you can get what you want. I have to say, though, that to compare your costs with hiring someone else to do the job is unfair unless you include the hours put in to the job. I think, for instance, that your kitchen is going to be beautiful, but if I were going to do that project, it would be cost effective for ME to continue my day job and hire it out. The kitchen would require too many hours and it is better for me to spend those hours earning the money to do the job. That said, I do like to do some smaller projects, but it is because of your other reasons– getting what I want and being satisfied with the accomplishment.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Angie King
    June 11, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    I admire you SOOOOO much! And while I would LOVE to be able to say I’d done what you’ve done, I’m not quite sure I will make it to that point. I consider myself a DIYer to the point that I see something and refuse to pay retail for it . . . I absolutely love recreating anything from furniture “looks” to wall art to well, just about anything.

    The reason I say I may never make it to that point is that my husband of almost 3 years and I love working together on projects. We are about to make a HUGE move from Mississippi to Texas where we are building a house . . . I don’t want the same old bedroom furniture I’ve always had! So I know we will make our own headboard – together – and I’m so excited about that!

    We’ve – together – transformed what was “his” house into “ours” – my ideas and our work and effort. Many times he questioned me but followed through with my ideas to say later, “Wow, honey, you did great!”

    I’m so looking forward to having a new home with him that is truly “OURS” 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Becky B
    June 11, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    You’re still my hero. Just wanted to let you know that I am sending sweet Powder my best wishes. Prayers that all goes well.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 11, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    Sending best wishes for Powder’s quick recovery, and hopes that she is back to photobombing real soon! I checked periodically all day yesterday for a post from you and got real nervous when one didn’t pop up, was hoping you were just taking a day off. Sad to hear kitty is sick, but cats really do have 9 lives and are amazing in how quickly they can recover.

    Loved this post, and love that you are empowering women to DIY! I know a lot of people, me included, are incredibly inspired by your blog and your skills and abilities in figuring things out. You really show us that with enough planning, research, and “stick-to-it-iveness,” great things can be accomplished. You are a force to be reckoned with, and I must tell you that I am in awe of everything about you!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Karen Edgin
    June 11, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    Loved the blog. I too love the feeling of looking around my house and knowing that ” I did that!”. You mentioned crown molding did not click in your brain. Here is something that might help you if you haven’t heard of it – The Cut and Crown Method-. There are plastic forms that you set the molding on as you cut. The form hold the molding at the right angle for your cuts. There is a video explaining how to use the method. We have found it very useful.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 11, 2014 at 11:27 pm

    I hope your cat is getting better and soon!

    I do a lot of creating- mostly because I’m cheap! lol I see something and the first thought I have is “I can do that”!

    Plus I hate housework!!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 11, 2014 at 11:31 pm

    For some reason I haven’t been getting posts. I am stunned by the finished room, it’s really beautiful! (I had to look the blog up on the internet).
    I love how cohesive it all is, everything works together. Someday my house might be like that…love it all! You do great work. The craftsmanship of everything is amazing too and yes, you really are an artist.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 12, 2014 at 12:21 am

    I had just finished Jackie’s post before coming over her, and I just found her blog by chance today!! (weird)
    I was thinking when I read the title to her post, that she didn’t REALLY quit DIYing, but evidently it’s true.
    While reading HER post I was nodding my head to her comment “I like the IDEA of building furniture”, my problem is I don’t know if I do or don’t because I’m kind of afraid of STARTING!!! When I read your posts, I get all excited, and motivated, but then I think of hubby reminding me of all the projects I’ve started (believe me, his negativity affects me in many ways) and I get discouraged, not to mention disgusted with myself. I DID actually buy a miter saw (I think it was almost a year ago) but every time I think I’ve worked up the courage to get it out and use it, I have a vision of cutting a finger, or worse off!!
    I’m still motivated by you however, so please keep going!!!

    Hope your kitty is better soon!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Lisa E
    June 12, 2014 at 6:58 am

    When you didn’t post yesterday, I immediately thought something was wrong because that isn’t like you. Sorry to hear about your furbaby Powder and praying she will bounce back quickly. As for DIY, I’ve always done some, but now I am doing it more and more. There are some times when I take the easy route, like having my friend sew my roman shades using your tutorial recently, but I am so glad I did. There was a pattern to it and some tricks I would never have thought of and it made me glad I took that route to learn tips I could do myself next time. Right now I have my hubby building a bench. It’s not because I can’t do it, but it’s simply because I want it done right now and lately I feel so unmotivated/lethargic. However, I have sewn my first pillow covers this week. Easy peasy. Thank God for DIY blogs and people like you and your tenacity to keep going. There are projects that in the past I would never have thought to tackle myself and now I’m thinking, heck yea, I can do that! Others……no so much, ha! I have friends that are amazed at what I do and it’s literally a fraction of what you tackle. Rock on Kristi!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 12, 2014 at 9:28 am

    I love your creative ideas, but most of all I love your “realness”. Prayer for powder! You inspire me to challenge the things that stop me in life- and to look for a way through.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Debbie Brewster
    June 12, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    Your post really hit home with me. Let’s just say I am a ‘mature’ woman and have been married to the world’s greatest man for 42 years. I also have RA which tries to sideline me but I refuse to sit and watch the world go by. I despise hearing young able-bodied women say they can’t do something or are afraid of tools. We started our DYI lives with the bare minimum of hand tools and added tools when we could afford them. Friends of my husband have always thought he is so lucky because for every momentous occasion I ask for a new power tool. We work good together as he is the muscle man and I am the detail gal. I’m not afraid to tackle any job but there are a couple that I don’t relish doing again. I enjoy watching your progress and feel certain that you are inspiring other women to at least try something more than throwing some fabric on a cork board or changing lampshades. I DIY because 1. I can use higher quality material for the same amount or less 2. Art feeds my soul and I approach every project as a work of art. 3. Compliments from others are nice but there is nothing that compares to the feeling of I DID IT MYSELF.
    You have my respect and admiration and thanks for sharing. Hope Powder has a speedy recovery.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 12, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    You are my favorite blog to read everyday. Although I can no longer do the things I once enjoyed, I am living vicariously through your actions. Being in my late 60’s and side lined by arthritis of the spine as well as degenerative disk disease has made lots of things impossible, at least right now while I am in the middle of a flare-up. I was a divorced mom with a small son when I was younger and even my career path began with a job that “couldn’t be done by women because the service case was to heavy, couldn’t lift the machines, etc”. While about a year and a half after. that conversation, company began hiring women in that position for the first time ever. I was lucky enough to be given a chance and was hired. Lots of what I learned, mechanical, electrical, diagnostics and other skills easily transferred to skill just as useable at home. I repaired my washer and then later, my dryer followed later by my ice-maker, a friends dryer etc. I also put grasscloth in my entry hall and above the chair rail in my living/dining room as well as the usual painting making shades, curtains etc. I only wish I had learned wood working skills.
    So, keep it up, Kristi, so I can enjoy what you are accomplishing the things I would so love to be doing.

    I’m so sorry to that Powder is ill and I hope everything turns out okay. It is so hard to deal with anything else when our cats are ill. Any cat ‘pawrent’ knows what I mean. They hold so much of your heart in those tiny little paws and are always there when you need them for support and some extra affection.

    My cat, Winston J., 11 1/2 yrs) is very ill, too Poor baby has been through x-rays, many blood tests, ultrasound of intestinal area and, yesterday, biopsies of the intestines, liver and lymph node. He is a very, very sick baby whose best diagnosis is IBD but given the blood test results on the last panel as well as the thickening of his intestines it is most likely an infiltrative disease such as Lymphoma. We are waiting on the results of the biopsies with all our hopes and prayers for a treatable outcome. I will add Powder to my “hopes list”, too.

    Waiting anxiously for your blacksplash solution!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 16, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    I am a DIYer but I tend to lean towards crafting rather than remodeling. I have remodeled several rooms in our home but I enjoy the crafting aspect most. Your lamps are phenomonal and I’ve sent a LOT of people to read your blog by sending out links and pinning your beautiful work. Your blog makes me happy and I look forward to reading it each day. Thank you.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    suzie dunson
    June 17, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    I decorate because it is my passion..make old things beautiful again. and, it is my talent. I must of been born with. I don’t know. That would be my only answer to that question. And, I know, I can do anything. The ski is the limit. You do wonderful work. I am really enjoying watching your house grow into your home. Thank you for sharing!!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Elizabeth Sagarminaga
    July 3, 2014 at 11:59 pm

    Hi Kristi, You are my favorite blog to read every day. I love your creative ideas; someday my house might be like that…loves it all! You do great work. The craftsmanship of everything is amazing too and yes, you really are an artist. Loved this post, and love that you are empowering women to DIY!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 28, 2016 at 1:17 am

    I am TOTALLY right there with you! I started decorating in full force as soon as I got married at 26. When we moved into our brand new house almost 18 years ago I had to transform this “big white elephant” into a home. I made window treatments that looked like wooden cornices but were actually made out of foam blue board. I built a really large ottoman with tufting, a tailored skirt (my then 2 year old loved to hide under it) and wheels because I couldn’t find one that size that I could afford. I’ve wallpapered, painted, refinished, built, etc ALL BY MYSELF forever! My husband works long hours and frankly, I have the vision in my head and I don’t have the patience to explain it to him! I’ve recently started buying myself power tools and I’m about to buy a table saw. My husband has a lot of tools that I could use but I want to have my own! I love knowing that I can do it! Maybe seeing so many women like your mother’s friend when I was growing up put the fear in me. I don’t know. What I do know is that I did it all in this house and I’m proud of myself!