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5 Ways to Prepare for a Kitchen Renovation

5 ways to prepare for a kitchen renovation
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What do Doordash, Swiffer, and Icy Hot have in common?  A kitchen remodel! That’s right, we’ve finally broken ground on our kitchen remodel and good gravy I have so much to share about this process. When Andrew and I bought this home in June of 2020 we bought it knowing that we’d almost immediately be gutting the kitchen and our master bedroom and bathroom. Let me just tell you, the quotes that came in for these projects were well beyond what we anticipated. In true “adulting” fashion we had to make the tough decision of prioritizing which project we wanted and needed more. That was very glaringly the kitchen. I will just have to deal with my shower that is the size of a phone box and the giant jacuzzi tub (that doesn’t work) taking up more than half of the bathroom space for a little while longer.

Our house is 100 years old and our kitchen had clearly been renovated at some point in its history, but that was at least 40+ years ago. We know this because we discovered that the company who had built the cabinets went out of business before Andrew and I were even born! The sink faucet wouldn’t move, there was not a garbage disposal, the dishwasher leaked and hardly cleaned anything, the freezer in the refrigerator did not work, the cabinets were so narrow they’d barely shut with our plates inside, part of the floor was water damaged and rotting, there was an original radiator taking up about 25% of our cabinet space, and there was no pantry – among other things. So clearly, the kitchen won.

We had multiple companies in the area come out to quote our project and offer up their designs. We had hoped that the kitchen designers that came to see the space would offer up creative ideas for how we could tweak the layout and maximize space. Apparently, most of them were just there to try to sell us their “top of the line cabinets”. We didn’t get much creativity or ideas, but we did get some ridiculously expensive quotes. After some consideration we decided to take on the project ourselves, which will ultimately saves us about $30-40k! If you are willing and able and trying to save money, this is certainly the way to go!

We are only one week into the actual renovation itself, but I’ve already learned so much about how we could’ve prepared better and kept our house a bit cleaner in the process. So PLEASE, learn from our mistakes! 

Here are my 5 Ways to Prepare for a Kitchen Renovation:


Timeline for kitchen renovationTo best prepare for our kitchen renovation, Andrew and I mapped out a timeline before we because I was adamant about not letting this project linger for longer than necessary. Unfortunately, the permit situation has thrown a wrench in our plan, but that will happen with any project and we were mentally prepared for that! So along with your best laid plan, plan for disruptions and set your expectations accordingly! Don’t worry if issues creep up, that is pretty much expected with any big home improvement project.

Also, be sure to plan how you will eat, cook, and clean dishes. After all, you won’t have a kitchen for 6-8 weeks best case. Luckily, we have a spare refrigerator in our basement so we were able to keep things for sandwiches, snacks, and cold drinks in there. We are using our utility sink to rinse out cups as need and we also set up a little card table for our makeshift kitchen. I stocked it with plastic silverware, paper plates, paper towels, a can opener, bottle opener, wine opener (the important things hehe), the coffee maker, and a few of our coffee mugs. I also used a plastic bin to hold various non-perishables to snack on. But ultimately we are living on DoorDash and any friends or family who take pity on us! Invest in the DashPass if you plan to order a lot. It pays for itself!


Kitchen RenovationSomething we didn’t fully vet when preparing for our kitchen renovation was permits. Depending upon where you live you may need permits before you can begin work on a home renovation. Andrew had researched this before we started, and thought we had everything we needed until an inspector from The City of Cincinnati slapped a violation notice on our front door. Turns out we needed something called an “adjustment permit”, which basically means we are changing walls in our home. To be honest, this fired us up, why do we need permission to change a NON load bearing wall in our own home?! But se la vie. We also needed to get an HVAC permit since we were removing an old radiator and replacing with a new one. I guess I can understand that one.

The inspector told us to submit our plans to get the permit and that these could just be a very simple sketch. FALSE! After three different submissions (one rejected because it was on graph paper), the city finally accepted the sketch. ALSO, Andrew had to get a document notarized that basically states he’s the “contractor” of this project. All this to say, only certain places require this level of red tape. If you drive five minutes down our road you wouldn’t need it.

How to find out what permits you need for home renovation?

  • Google the name of your city + “development services” and find the residential renovations option.
  • Have a sketch (to scale) of the before and after of your project.
  • Make sure you budget for the fees, they can get pricey.
  • Schedule the necessary inspections.
  • Find more here!


This sounds pretty obvious, but honestly I didn’t even think about it until it showed up in our driveway. When you are preparing for a kitchen renovation, make sure you rent a dumpster to dispose of all the cabinets, counters, floors, wall, and old appliances. We’ve also used Bagster and loved the service, unfortunately power lines would be in the way of this project so we opted to rent a dumpster instead. They’ll drop it off, you fill it up, and then schedule for them to come pick it up.


Kitchen demolitionArguably the most important way to prepare for a kitchen renovation is to cover everything! I cannot stress this enough. Our house has plaster walls, which are notoriously messier to take down than drywall, but regardless of which type of wall you have – THERE WILL BE GOBS OF DUST. We bought plastic covers and taped them over the doorways where the work was being done and it still wasn’t enough. We have dust all the way up our stairs and in all of the bedroom up there. It is quite literally everywhere.

Additionally, we are using our dining room that is attached to the kitchen as a work room. We covered the dining room table with a moving blanket to protect it from dust and scratches and removed everything else. This is great, but we failed to address the hardwood floors in our dining room and they’ve succumbed to some pretty gnarly scratches.

How to protect your house from demolition dust?

  • Cover your air ducts and doorways and make sure the coverings are securely taped down.
  • Don’t get lazy! We got lazy and let one of the door coverings come down. It was at the back of the house and so we didn’t think it would make a difference, BUT IT DID!
  • Invest in booties to cover our shoes to prevent dust from being tracked everywhere when you leave the work area.
  • Cover your floors with cardboard and tape it down to avoid scratches from dropping anything during the demolition. You can just use any old broken-down boxes that you already have on hand.
  • Invest in a shopvac. It can suck up all the dust and even big chunks of wall and sediment to make cleaning up so much easier. Seriously, a miracle worker.
  • Buy ALL of the Swiffer wet wipes or the Swiffer wet jet. No matter how much you prep to cover the air ducts and doorways, there will be dust. The best way to get rid of it is to vacuum and then go over it with the Swiffer.


Something you may not think about, but absolutely should consider when preparing for a kitchen renovation is how to protect yourself. Along with dust flying everywhere, there are wires, loose nails, chipped wood, and not only that, but it is literally what they call back breaking work! Andrew’s dad and I were using a crowbar to rip out the old hardwood floor and I don’t think I have ever been so sore or had more things flying at my face! Luckily, we were well prepared for this part.

How to protect yourself during a home renovation?

  • Make sure your eyes are protected with safety glasses. You’ll be amazed at home much flies up at your face.
  • When you’re crawling all around the floor to pull up nails you’ll be glad you had some knee pads. They don’t look beautiful, but they feel beautiful.
  • You will be sore in places of your body that you never knew existed! We stocked up on these and also had our massager running non-stop in the evening.
  • Stock up on Gatorade. It sounds silly, but it’s tough work and it’s so easy to forget to hydrate.
  • Get some masks so that you’re not inhaling all the bad stuff and dust when you’re tearing things out of the walls.

Throughout the process just remember to take some deep breaths and try not to stress too much. It is admittedly a stressful time and seems never ending, but it will be so worth it! As corny as it sounds, I’ve loved spending this time with my husband and learning all these new skills for how to renovate our home. I also have a massive sense of pride that we’re taking this on ourselves and I know you will too! It’s so worth it, friend! I hope these 5 ways to prepare for a kitchen renovation are super helpful and please let me know if you have any to add as you get going!

Good luck!


Liked this? Find more home inspiration on my post “How to turn a small room into a closet”

How to make quick and easy Homemade Clay Ornaments and Gift Tags

Handmade clay ornaments

One of my most favorite parts of Christmas time is the giving of gifts. Don’t get me wrong, I love
receiving them too, but giving someone something I just know they’ll love (or even make them cry happy tears) is what really excites me. To me, giving is what makes the season so magical. During this time of year, we aren’t so focused on ourselves, we’re focused on our loved ones and finding the perfect something to put a smile on their faces. What could be better than that?!

I think that homemade gifts can sometimes get a bad rep. I immediately picture lots of glitter, noodles, and glue. But they don’t have to be cheesy or tacky! I want to share with you how to make quick and easy homemade clay Christmas ornaments and gift tags. It’s a special and cute way to show someone you care and something they can keep for years to come! Plus, it’s affordable, quick, and not very messy. Win win win. 

If you’re looking for a last minute gift to really pull at the heartstrings then these quick and easy homemade clay Christmas ornaments and gift tags are it! You can find everything that you need to make them quite easily and some you may already have! Here’s what you’ll need and how to do it:

Supplies you will need

Supplies needed for making clay ornaments and gift tags

How to make clay ornaments and gift tags

  1. Roll out the dough – should be about ¼ inch thick, if it’s too thin it’ll curl up and/or break easily
  2. Place cookie cutters as desired
  3. Peel away extra dough
  4. Stamp your sayings – be careful to not push too far in otherwise you’ll get the rectangle of the stamp on your design
  5. Put a little hole wherever you’d like the ribbon to go through – the alphabet stamp set that I used came with the perfect little tool for this 
  6. Let dry for 24 hours – the clay will go from a light gray color to pure white when it’s totally dry
    1. You can put in the oven at 300 for 30 minutes to speed up the process
  7. Use a nail file to smoot the edges and any wrinkles that may have occurred while drying (this can get a little messy so hold over the sink or trash can)
  8. Tie the ribbon!

helpful hints

See! Easy peasy! You can also paint your clay ornaments and gift tags if you’d like, I chose not to because I preferred a minimalistic look. I thought I was going to love the Merry Christmas ones the most, but I actually love the Silent Night moons! I also made personalized stocking labels for our family and ornaments for a friend’s newborn baby and another friend who bought a new home. Get as creative as you like with your quick and easy homemade clay ornaments and gift tags. 

Be careful not to roll out your dough too thin. I made this mistake and the dough sort of wilted up and the stamped lettering went all the way through the ornament. Also, don’t skip the filing step, this made all of my ornaments look so much crisper and nicer. I was originally only going to file the edges, but I used the file to smooth out the top of the ornament for any fingerprints or wrinkles and it worked like a charm. Then I used a rollerball ink pen to sign the back.

Personalised Clay Ornaments

merry christmas and happy holidays!

There’s just a few days left until Christmas, but these quick and easy homemade clay ornaments and gift tags only took me about an hour to make! If you don’t have modeling clay on hand and it’s too late to order then try this easy three ingredient homemade dough recipe that I found! And if you’re too crunched for time then definitely bookmark this how-to for next year. 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Xx Ashley

For more tutorials head here. 


5 Steps to Begin Your Anti-Racism Journey

Finish what you startedI never thought that I was a racist. Before this global awakening I thought that the word racist was a label for those spouting racial slurs and committing racially charged violence and discrimination. However, the more I am listening and learning, the more I am becoming painfully aware of my implicit bias and also how quiet I’ve been about racism and the #blacklivesmatter movement. Read on to how I’ve started anti-racism work and how you can begin your anti-racism journey.

Before beginning my anit-racism journey

Quite honestly, whenever I read the words “white supremacy” I would quickly keep scrolling thinking that it didn’t apply to me because I was a good person. Only recently have I learned that that’s exactly a huge part of the problem. White supremacy doesn’t necessarily equal radical racist. What I’ve recently learned is that simply put it means white people have privilege, whether they asked for it or not, that the benefit from every day that is not equally given to Black people. I was completely ignorant to this distinction.

The reason I feel that my eyes are finally opening is because I didn’t know where to look for so long or even that I should be looking. I didn’t think I was part of the problem so I did not make an effort to educate myself.  I’m also not someone who watches the news often, I’m not on Twitter, I don’t read newspapers – that feels horrible to write, but it’s the truth.  I realize now that I COULD ignore those outlets BECAUSE of my white privilege.

I am learning SO much, so much that I should have learned long before, but I am here now and I’m fully committed to begin my anti-racism journey.

The past few weeks have been heavy for all of us. As overwhelmed and exhausted as I feel from the current state of our world, it can’t remotely compare to the people that deal with the hatred of racism on a daily basis. And it is not their job to teach us or listen to us or tell us what to do, it is our job to do the work and support the cause. We must be allies. It’s not enough to not be a racist; we must actively be anti-racist and spark radical change.

How to begin your anti-racism journey

Real transformation will only happen if we attack the issue from multiple sides. I’ve compiled this list for those of you that are like me, new to the movement and actively trying to learn and do as much as we can. These are a few of the actions that I have taken SO FAR. This is just the beginning. We have a lot of work to do, but we have to start somewhere and maybe you’ll find your somewhere in the below suggestions. Read these 5 steps to begin your anti-racism journey:

listen & learn:

Many of us are new to the concept of anti-racism and with anything new, it is important that we learn about it. Our new knowledge will give us the confidence to have difficult conversations with family, friends, co-workers, really anyone who is still blind to racism and their part in it. It will also help inform our voting decisions and what we say about these decisions on our social media platforms. Most importantly, in my opinion, it will prepare us for educating our children and the next generation.

I’m a voracious reader, so I immediately gravitated towards the book Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad. The book is designed as a 28-day journaling challenge, but I devoured the content in three days because I felt so behind. I won’t sugarcoat this (and neither does Layla); some of it is really difficult to read. You’ll feel defensive at least once per page, but I encourage you to see it through. You’ll learn terms like white silence, white fragility, and so many more. And when you hear these terms, it’ll dawn on you how you never thought you were a racist, but clearly it was inside you somewhere.

I found this post with 16 Black-owned bookstores if you’d like to get your copy from one of them 🙂

Up next for me is So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. I haven’t started yet, but I’m committed to keep going on this work!

I’m also going to listen to the podcast, “Unlocking Us with Brené Brown”, specifically the episodes with Austin Channing Brown on I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness as well as with Ibram X. Kendi on How to be an Antiracist. Both of these episodes are based on the books that should also go on our reading lists!

I’ve also just recently watched When They See Us on Netflix, which dives deep into the Central Park 5, five young boys falsely accused of a crime against a white woman. It’s disturbing and upsetting, but that’s the point, we have to face the uncomfortable to really see the truth on our anti-racism journey.


We cannot all be activists or civil rights attorneys, but we have to do what we can to support them! Another way to begin your anti-racism journey is by donating, our money can support initiatives as big as policy change to as small as grassroots awareness campaigns, both equally important. This is why I gravitated toward this campaign via Crooked Media on Instagram.  The reason I liked this option is because it takes whatever amount you choose to give and splits that money among some or all of the organizations below. I chose to split my money among each one because they are all doing essential work. Each of these groups helps to spread awareness, change policy, and promote voter rights. I’ve included links to each organization below as well as a brief snippet of their mission statement to help with your research!


  • Black Lives Matter Global Network: “Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, is a global organization in the US, UK, and Canada, whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by state and vigilantes.”
  • National Bail Out: “National Bail Out is a Black-led and Black-centred collective of abolitionist organizers, lawyers and activists building a community-based movement to support our folks and end systems of pre-trial detention and ultimately mass incarceration.”
  • Know Your Rights Camp: The mission of Know Your Rights Camp “is to advance the liberation and well-being of Black and Brown communities through education, self-empowerment, mass-mobilization and the creation of new systems that elevate the next generation of change leaders.”
  • Black Voters Matter Fund: The Black Voters Matter Fund strives to increase voter registration and turnout to build power. They also advocate for policies to expand voting rights/access, including expanded early voting, resisting voter ID, re-entry restoration of rights and strengthening the Voting Rights Act.  And advocate for policies that intersect with race, gender, economic, and other aspects of equity.
  • BYP100: Founded in 2013, BYP100 (Black Youth Project 100) is a member-based organization of Black youth activists creating justice and freedom for all Black people.
  • NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund: “The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, America’s premier legal organization fighting for racial justice. Through litigation, advocacy, and public education, LDF seeks structural changes to expand democracy, eliminate disparities, and achieve racial justice in a society that fulfils the promise of equality for all Americans.”
  • The National Police Accountability Project: “NPAP was created as a non-profit to protect the human and civil rights of individuals in their encounters with law enforcement and detention facility personnel.”
  • Colour of Change Education Fund: “As a national online force driven by 1.7 million members, the Colour of Change Education Fund moves decision-makers in corporations and government to create a more human and less hostile world for Black people in America.”
  • Unicorn Riot: “Unicorn Riot is a decentralized, educational 501(c)(3) non-profit media organization of artists and journalists. Our work is dedicated to exposing root causes of dynamic social and environmental issues through amplifying stories and exploring sustainable alternatives in today’s globalized world.”
  • Advancement Project: “Advancement Project is a next generation, multi-racial civil rights organization. Rooted in the great human rights struggles for equality and justice, we exist to fulfil America’s promise of a caring, inclusive and just democracy. We use innovative tools and strategies to strengthen social movements and achieve high impact policy change.”
  • Higher Heights for America: “Higher Heights is the only national organization providing Black women with a political home exclusively dedicated to harnessing their power to expand Black women’s elected representation and voting participation, and advance progressive policies.”
  • Fair Fight Action: “Fair Fight PAC has initiated programs to support voter protection programs at state parties around the country and is engaging in partnerships to support and elect pro voting rights, progressive leaders.”

use your platform:

This is the one that I have been absolutely terrible about doing. I shied away from addressing any political issue, particularly including racism, because it seems to bring about such divisiveness and anger. I just cannot keep silent any longer and I must apologize for my past silence and apathy. 

Whether you have thousands of followers or hundreds, someone will be impacted by what you post. This is how I found everything I’m sharing with you! Because people farther along on their anti-racism journey shared valuable resources and I trusted them and took their advice. It’s truly a ripple effect. Let people know you began your anti-racism journey and it just might inspire them to do the same!


Diversify your feedI had noticed months ago before beginning my anti-racism journey that my social media circles were pretty much all white, not at all because I purposefully made it this way, but I also made no effort to seek out BIPOC accounts. I immediately jumped into action, particularly on Blackout Tuesday, to follow more BIPOC accounts. This doesn’t mean you just follow anyone, follow the people you relate to and whose content you admire. That will facilitate a deeper connection and you’ll be less likely to keep scrolling. Some of my new faves on Insta:

Tabitha Brown

Courtney Quinn

Tanesha Awasthi

Tiffany Moon

Tunde Oyeneyin

Ruthie Ridley

Keep going:

To quote Tabitha Brown, “Finish what you started”. Her brief and encouraging IGTV is the inspiration you need when the going gets tough, and it will.

Continue to have tough conversations, continue confronting yourself and others, continue donating and learning, continue amplifying melanated voices – this work won’t be complete for generations and we need to keep the momentum going. Together we can make great change!

As you begin your anti-racism journey, please remember to take breaks and rests. This is extremely emotional material. It is upsetting and draining and in order to give it the most attention, we will occasionally need to pause and regroup. That’s okay! Just don’t forget to keep going.

If there are any resources that you’ve found helpful PLEASE let me know in the comments! I have so much to learn on this lifelong anti-racism journey. Any and all suggestions are welcome 🙂

Xx, Ashley

Want more? Check these out!

How to Distress and Acid Wash a T-Shirt

Street style with acid wash
My first acid wash T!

Learn how to distress and acid wash a t-shirt with me!

Who here went through a low-key, Avril Lavigne, punk rocker-ish phase back in high school? I definitely did and I never left it 100% in the past! My personal style never has and never will have a category or label. I bounce around from extremely preppy, to euro-chic, to grunge/punk, to whatever we’d classify Zooey Deschanel (love you Zooey!). I’ve never fallen into one category, it’s just too limiting for me. I can’t predict what my mood or a certain occasion will inspire and that’s what makes fashion so fun! You can be whoever you want to be, whenever you want to be. The only drawback is that being versatile requires a very large closet. 😉

Like so many of us, I’m loving the tie-dye trend and really can’t get enough. However, since I’m trying to limit spending during these uncertain times, I didn’t want to invest in a tie-dye kit and fresh white clothing. So, I decided to embrace my edgy high school days and try my hand at distressing and acid washing shirts that I already had in my closet. I’ve always loved the distressed acid wash look, but buying those pieces can get pricey! If you prefer to buy rather than DIY here are a few cool options that I found: this one and this one. But if you’re up for a little DIY project then let me tell you how to distress and acid wash a t-shirt!

You will need

  • Bleach
  • Water
  • Spray Bottle
  • Plastic Garbage Bag or Table Cloth
  • Q-tips
  • Scissors
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Rubber Bands (optional)

get prepped

Pinpoint a few items from your closet that you’d be willing to totally redesign. (I chose this rep T-Shirt that I bought to wear to Taylor Swift’s Reputation tour – best concert ever). I recommend finding items with bold colours because then you’ll really be able to see the acid wash magic. Keep in mind that black items won’t necessarily bleach to white, they tend to go a bit peachy/orange no matter how much bleach you pour (see mine as an example).

  1. Once you’ve decided on the item/s you want to distress and acid wash you will need to set up your DIY area. Since this project requires A LOT of bleach you’ll need to make sure you’re working somewhere that won’t be destroyed by the chemicals. I chose my kitchen counter and laid down some garbage bags as an extra precaution to protect the countertops.
  2. Now it’s time to prepare the solution. I used an old spray bottle and mixed one part Clorox bleach with one part water. You can also use pure bleach, but I found that you get similar results both ways so why not save some of your chemicals for cleaning.  🙂

How to distress the fabric

Distressed Details
Its a lewk!

You can absolutely skip the distressing and go straight to the acid wash in Step 5, but if you want an even more grungy aesthetic then I recommend trying out this step. Distressing the fabric just means that you are creating tiny holes, rips, and tears to get a more vintage vibe. It’s actually a lot easier than you’d think!  I did most of the distressing around the collar, the chest/shoulders, and toward the bottom of the shirt. I also scraped the “rep” letters to make sure the distressing looked cohesive. I also cut off the hems of my sleeves to get an even edgier look, I thought they just seemed too perfect otherwise. There are two ways to do this, I went with Option 2 because it was quicker, but you do you!

    1. Pinch the fabric and cut tiny little holes wherever you desire. The bigger the pinched fabric, the bigger the hole. *This method is more calculated, but also takes a lot longer. If you want to make your tiny holes bigger you can simply wiggle your finger in the hole and spread it out. I watched this video for some extra help!
    2. The scraping method is so much quicker, but much less predictable. Open your scissors as wide as possible and then press the blade against the fabric and begin scraping the fabric with the sharp edge with a pulling down motion. You will quickly see the tears and tiny holes. Watch your fingers! Just remember that you can always go back and add more holes or more bleach, so start with less and work your way up from there. 

How to acid wash the fabric

Double Spiral
Double Spiral

Once you’re happy with the distressing you can move on to the acid wash. Be sure to put on your rubber gloves before bleach so that your hands don’t stink afterwards. 🙂 There are a few ways to do the acid washing, it all just depends on what look you have in mind. You can do the traditional spiral that you would do with rubber bands when tie-dying or you can do more of a splatter look (like mine). Personally, I think the splatter look is best with distressing and acid wash. Simply lay your t-shirt flat and then mist in various spots with your spray bottle. I sprayed closer to the fabric in places that I wanted to be more saturated with bleach. The bleach will change the fabric’s color almost instantly so you’ll easily be able to see what design you’re creating and where you need more of the solution. For more dots and drag dots you can dip your q-tip into the solution and place where desired. I also flicked the q-tip to create a splatter look. Don’t forget to do the back too! Some of the solution will soak through to both sides, but you’ll still need to go over it to improve the design.

Finishing touches

  1. When you love your new design, rinse the t-shirt (or whatever you’re acid washing) with water to remove any excess bleach.
  2. Wash and dry your t-shirt by itself for the first wash or two to make sure you don’t bleach any of your other clothes.
  3. Style your shirt with a pair of distressed jeans or jean shorts and some fun jewellery for the perfect, edgy look!

Now you’ve successfully learned how to distress and acid wash a t-shirt! If you try this method be sure to let me know how it went in the comments! Any other DIY projects you’d like to see? Let me know and happy DIYing!