Monthly Archives: August 2011

A Weekend Quickie

slide from my blogger monetization panel for Bloggy Boot Camp Chicago

A few housing metaphors can't hurt. Can they?

I’m presenting a session on Blog Monetization (AKA How to make the big bucks) today at Bloggy Boot Camp Chicago. Follow along on Twitter at #BBCCHI. I’ve got three hours of material for a 30 minute session, but then again I have a complicated relationship with time. I’ll either have to go through my deck at a pace of 40 seconds per slide or, hmmm, I’m screwed how will this work?

I indulged myself with one slide full of housing metaphors- build a strong foundation for your blog by providing great content on a consistent basis (at least 2-3 times a week), and paint with a broad brush, that is, use social media to build relationships and drive traffic.

I was excited to revisit data I’d collected earlier this year and presented at the Blissdom Blog Conference with Esther Crawford, Sommer Poquette and Barbara Jones. Several people completed the survey after our Blissdom presentation, so for Bloggy Boot Camp I was crunching numbers for 100 bloggers. Good stuff, even if it’s not scientifically valid.

Yes, I plan to wear my toolbelt again. It’s just easier, plus I’m still looking for bloggers to sign my shoes. Pictures, soon. I promise.

I’m going to follow-up on my presentation with a Skype chat (likely text-based) on August 26 at 10 AM Central Time. Ping me if you’d like to join in.

And remember, the Lowes gift card giveaway is still going on. As is the unexpected backpack giveaway.

Which Color? Where?

Benjamin Moore painted walls in nursery If HGTV had a show called Design Spaz, I’d surely be the star. That’s why I reached out to Benjamin Moore, the folks who have helped me with previous painting projects, like my son’s nursery (13 years ago!). The kind staff at my local store matched the paint colors to my son’s bedding set and patiently explained how to get the glazed look I aimed to create.

I’m like a deer in the headlights when it comes to things like picking colors for my new home.

I mean, if we were redecorating one room in our house, it would be a challenge for the hubs and I. But we are revamping every room in our house over the next year. Plan A involves a kitchen, living room/dining room, tween room, teen room, master bedroom, master bath, laundry room, office, den and two hallways (one of which consists of almost all doorways).

I’m excited to share that the folks at Benjamin Moore not only heard my desperate pleas for help, they are willing to answer them. As our house evolves, you’re going to hear more about them, as they will be providing us with advice and paint. In terms of advice, my family is having a color consultation tonight. I’ve never had one of these (hence, the many white walls in our previous house) and I’m not quite sure what to expect, but Evelyn, our consultant sounds like she knows her stuff.

I’m especially excited about a blogger event we are partnering on just before our demolition. Color Expert Mary Hoffman will be leading a presentation on How to Choose the Perfect Color at a Benjamin Moore store not far from my house. After her talk, the group will head to my house(!) to vote on colors based on Evelyn’s recommendations.

If you can’t join in in person, follow along here and on Twitter with the hashtag #PaintMeBen. I love reader feedback, so I’ll invite you to view and vote online and I’ll even have a few prizes to share.

To prep for our color consult, I started playing around with Benjamin Moore’s online color galleries (so. very. many. colors.) and the Personal Color Viewer. You can upload a photo of your room and color it to your heart’s content.

For example, my living room as it appears now (No, the green carpet is not staying!):

Living room before

And with a dash of blue:


Or “razzle dazzle pink”:

pink room

You see why I need help? Also, it’s really fun just to play around with this tool. Thank goodness for online planning tools. They make such a difference for people with limited visual-spatial abilities, which is to say, people like me.

Do you have advice to share on color selection? Please chime in!

Disclosure: As noted above Benjamin Moore will be providing us with advice and paint. We’ll be blogging about our journey to painted walls and I am hosting a MomImpact blogger event in conjunction with the brand. All opinions and content are my own, including the term Design Spaz. We’re depending on input from YOU to color our house. (Be kind.)

Lands’ End Backpack Giveaway

big haul back backpack

Cell phone pic. Check the LE site for a better view of the pack.

Congrats to @AsianMommy, our winner!

I’m trying to stay focused on the house here on this blog, but sometimes fate intervene in the form of a backpack. This week I’m all about squeezing the last bit of enjoyment out of summer with my boys and running around like crazy trying to buy all the last minute school supplies. Of course, I’m doing this while also scheduling a follow-up visit with the electrician (we got our panel upgraded!) and trying to manage some tuckpointing and lintel repair.

My younger son received a sturdy new Lands’ End Solid ClassMate® BigHaul Backpack for review and I guess one of you received one, too. A second backpack unexpectedly landed on my doorstep, so I’m giving it away.

Quick story, and it’s a good reminder for me as I’m feeling overwhelmed by our reno expenses and as a result have a tendency to want to “go cheap” when that happens. Years ago, when choosing a school backpack for my son, I picked up one of the cheapies at Target in an effort to save a few bucks. Six weeks, two trips to Target and an extra $30 out of pocket later, I finally found a backpack that lasted for more than a couple of weeks. Had I just shelled out $40 or so for a quality backpack in the first place, I would have saved myself a lot of time and aggravation.

Going cheap does not always lead to saving money.

The Lands’ End BigHaul Backpack is currently on sale for $39.50. It’s a Big Kid backpack designed for those over four feet tall with many things to carry each day (it measures 18″Hx12 1/2″Wx8″D ). The bag has two compartments with a double-strength base, so the bottom is quite rugged. In general, Lands’ End backpacks really hold up. I expect this bag to last through a year of school and summer camp, possibly beyond. It’s got nicely padded straps and reflective trim for safety

One of my favorite features is the integrated, removable lunch box- one less thing to carry each morning. Pockets in the straps also help tote a phone or MP3 player. And it comes with a removable organizer pouch and has mesh side pockets for water bottles and such.

Custom monogramming is available for an added fee.

My kid is going to back to school in style and so can yours. I’m giving away a black BigHaul with gray details.  Would you like to win it?

To enter:

1. (required) Comment once on this blog by 11:50 PM CST on August 30, 2011 for a basic entry. Say anything, but reminders to focus on quality over price are helpful. Do you have a good story about that?

You can also have up to five optional extra entries; I need a separate comment for each of these items, so I can count each one as an extra entry:

2. Tweet about the entry and come back to let me know you did.

3. “Like” Reluctant Renovator on Facebook and come back to let me know.

4. Subscribe to our newsletter, Progress Notes. Starting later this summer, we’ll be sending 1-2 updates a month featuring our progress and advising you on our fabulous home product finds and giveaways. Come back to let me know.

5. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel so you can keep up with Reluctant Renovator video blogs (admittedly, there have been few of these as I’ve spent most of my summer in pajamas, but just you wait).

6. Follow @RenovatorKim on Twitter.

Winner will be chosen and notified by August 31, 2011 and will have two days to respond to me. If no response if received, a new winner will be chosen.

And remember the Lowes Gift Card Giveaway runs through August 24!

Disclosure: Lands’ End provided me with a backpack for review and one to giveaway.


Casa de Renovation

A quick recap of our journey to renovation presented for your viewing pleasure.

Bathroom Design Fail

vitnage bathroom cabinet and vanityThankfully, it’s not ours. My friend Susan Bearman, the talented wordsmith behind 2 Kinds of People and Mike and Ollie, which documented the journey of her twins who were born at less than 25 weeks gestation, pointed me toward this funny photo essay of bathroom disasters. Taking on so many design projects at once is intimidating to me. I fear getting it wrong and having to live with the miserable results for years to come. But clicking through to the 17 worst bathroom designs bolstered my confidence. Click and you’ll see why.

Pictured: The cabinet/sink base from the current upstairs bathroom. This bathroom isn’t part of our Plan A Renovation Project (I’m not made of money, people), but will get an overhaul in 2012 (I hope). I recently realized that vanity, with its embedded bowl, is actually in pretty good shape, so I’m going to try to make the glittery gold vintage swirls work for me.glittery gold bathroom vanity

I plan to paint the base, doors and drawers and replace the hardware to extend its life. Since we don’t plan to keep it around for the long-term, I might try something outrageous to go with the golden glitter, as long as my boys approve, of course.



I know that our renovation is going to present some challenges. It’s clear there will be ups and downs in the process. I am aware that certain results will disappoint and frustrate me, and that despite our time and planning efforts, things may not go as expected. The fact is we are fortunate to be doing this. I am happy to be looking, and literally moving, ahead.

Recent life events have driven this point home for me. My friend Susan has been fighting cancer on and off since 2007, and right now it’s a full-on battle. My friend Brandie was also recently diagnosed with cancer; she’s halfway through her chemo. (If I kept going with a list of people I know who have been declared cancer free in the last year after undergoing chemo and radiation, this post would be shockingly long.)

And last weekend, my friend Jennifer Perillo’s husband Mikey died. Suddenly. Of a heart attack. He was only 51; his daughters 8 and 3.

I was sobbing over my laptop when I read the news. DH arrived home just a few minutes later and found me. I could barely choke out the news. And, of course, then I had to explain, that Jennifer was not just one of my “invisible friends” (as he likes to call my internet peeps), but I had actually hung out with her a few times in real life (but, you know, so what if I hadn’t? I’d still feel for her.)

Yesterday, Jennifer held a celebration of Mikey and the internet followed along. Jennifer is a well-known and positive member of the food blogging community; she asked friends to make her husband’s favorite peanut butter pie in his honor and memory. This amazing video sums up the response beautifully.

I wanted to make a pie, too, but I was torn because as delicious as it sounded, it had too much dairy for the lactose intolerant among us, and too many peanuts for the peanut intolerant among us…so I compromised (not without much guilt) and chose another recipe from Jennifer’s blog, promising to no one in particular that we’d still be enjoying food as a family in Mikey’s honor.

I made the Sweet Cherry Hand Pies I read about on her blog in the summer of 2010. They were a delicious summer treat destined to become a summer tradition, and I’m sure to think of Jennifer, Mikey and their girls each time I bake them. Even if you don’t plan to whip up a batch, I encourage you to click over to the post with the recipe in which Jennifer writes of stopping time, of loss and edible heirlooms. Her words were beautiful a year ago, but are truly poignant in light of Mikey’s sudden death.

My heart goes out to Jennifer’s family. And so do the hearts of many others.

So, the few hundred pounds of dirt and clay the plumber left sitting in my front yard? The inevitable misplaced wall? An improperly measured cabinet or counter top?  Nothing but temporary, minor annoyances.