Episode #142: Best and Worst DIYs

This week, we are talking about our best and worst DIYs. We’ve been sharing DIYs on our blog for more than 10 years, so we’ve definitely saved thousands of dollars but also made a lot of mistakes.

We’re also letting you in on some thoughts about what makes life meaningful for us!


You can stream the episode here, on the blog, or on iTunesSpotifyGoogle PlayTuneInPocket Casts, and Stitcher. You can find the podcast posts archive here.

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Show notes:

DIYs that save the most money: painting, building shelves, and tiling.

What’s the Best Paint for Kitchen Cabinets?

How to Build Custom Shelves

Emma’s Tiled Faux Fireplace and Kitchen Backsplash

Elsie’s favorite DIYs: Giant Family Gallery Wall, Paint Pen Kitchen Organization, Faux Marble Countertops, Removable Tile Backsplash

-Here’s the IGTV of Elsie’s faux marble countertops

Emma’s favorite DIYs: Honeycomb Dining Table, Easy Faux Weaving

Emma’s bad DIYs: Painted Mixer and DIY couch

Elsie’s bad DIYs: Happy Handmade Home Book and her A-Frame Playhouse DIY 

Emma’s things that make a meaningful life: Family and friends, creative projects, stories, and being outside.

Elsie’s things that make a meaningful life: Creating memories and traditions with family and having a challenge in her life.

Emma’s thing that sparks joy: Diamond Dazzle Stick

Elsie’s thing that sparks joy: Yoto Mini

Miss an episode? Get caught up!

Episode 142 Transcript

Emma: You’re listening to the A Beautiful Mess podcast. This week, we’re talking about our best and worst DIYs. We’ve been sharing DIYs on our blog for more than 10 years so we’ve definitely saved thousands of dollars, but also made a lot of mistakes. Plus some DIYs are just not worth it. We’re also sharing some thoughts about what makes life meaningful to us. 

Elsie: Oh, I love the mixture. 

Emma: It’s gonna end on a big old life thing. 

Elsie: I know people love it when we talk about making mistakes and messing up, which is like so many times.

Emma: As if we’re not already relatable enough.

Elsie: I don’t know.  Okay, so did you see today on Instagram I did a poll that was like, are you an Elsie or are you an Emma? 

Emma: Can I say my favorite question someone asks, and I loved that you put it up. They were like, seems like Elsie makes a lot more money than Emma. It said something like that.

Elsie: It was very rude.

Emma: I was just laughing. I was like, that’s such a hilarious question. I don’t even know if it’s a question really but it’s very funny. Yes, I saw the are you an Emma or an Elsie? Maybe it should be team Emma or Team Elsie, and we’ll make it competitive. I don’t know.

Elsie: No, no, I don’t want a team. No way. No way. We’re not doing the t-shirts either that say like, I’m an Elsie because I just don’t think anyone really wants that t-shirt. No, no, no.

Emma: Well, it’s too specific. We’re not like, I feel like many many years ago they had like Team Jennifer t-shirts when like Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt were breaking up or something like that. 

Elsie: Team Edward and team, what was the other one? 

Emma: Jacob. Yeah. Yeah, you gotta be on that level of fame. That’s the level of fame you gotta be on. We’re not on there. 

Elsie: There’s a  big difference. Yeah, no, I agree. I know, my level of non fame, like, medium nonfamous person. I know how to be that for the rest of my life.  I’m very self-aware about it. So yeah, like, no big deal, everyone. We’re not making t-shirts of ourselves,

Emma: Oh, yeah no, it’s great

Elsie: But I think it was so sweet. I thought it was interesting who voted that they related more with you or with me was like, almost 50/50 but a little bit more you. I thought that was so interesting. I guess I had never thought about it before so that was fun.

Emma: Yeah, and we are very different but I also think of us is so similar in so many ways. I guess because we’re sisters, but we know each other really well and stuff. So I don’t know. That’s kind of funny to me, too. Yeah.  I don’t know if we’re different enough.

Elsie: I think we seem more different on the outside. 

Emma: Yeah, yeah. 

Elsie: Then from you know, our relationship we know, though we have everything in common 

Emma: Pretty much. 

Elsie: Okay, so we’re doing a DIY episode. I think this is such a fun topic. One of the questions that spurred on this episode is that someone wanted to hear, so last year I did a mini makeover in my kitchen and I did a faux marble countertop. Where we took a black very old, it was like very contrasty, it had like a weird spot, granite countertop. We covered it with paint and epoxy to make it look like a marble countertop. It was a very controversial DIY, probably like one of the most, because I get it. I get why it’s controversial. I think it’s interesting. So I’m going to talk about how that held up in this episode. Then also, we covered, we have like a mirrored backsplash, and we covered it with faux tile that I got from Etsy so I’m going to talk about that. I remember when that first went up, people were like, you’re going to get grease on it or oil and it’s going to be ruined immediately and people were saying it was a fire hazard and it was a whole thing. So I’ll talk about that and be like, with both of them, I will be completely real about how they wore a year in.

Emma: I also feel like it’s rare that we’ve ever shared a DIY where people didn’t comment it’s a fire hazard.

Elsie: Oh my gosh, I just had a flashback to Emma made this bedframe, maybe we can link it, with long Christmas lights taped to the back and she went so far as to have the local fire department employee come and check it to make sure that it wasn’t a fire hazard because the comments were so brutal. He did say it was safe. 

Emma: He said it’s safer than a Christmas tree.

Elsie: I see why they would have that impulse but there really was no logic. Like, logically it was safe. It looked a little crazy from behind because it was like a ton of electrical tape holding on a ton of Christmas lights, poking out a ton of holes. It definitely didn’t ever burn down. I don’t remember how long we had it but I know I had it in my house for a number of years.

Emma: Then I had it after you really in my house.

Elsie: Really?

Emma: Yeah, in our guest bedroom for a bunch of years.

Elsie: I missed that from when we lived in the same city when you could just like trade furniture. Now, all we get to trade is clothes.

Emma: Yeah, it was so nice. I basically just get your things when you’re ready to retire them. Which is great because it’s like Christmas.  Okay, anyway so as we kind of alluded to DIYs, for me, I usually am more doing DIYs for two reasons. One fun creativity, two sometimes I’m just trying to save some money so that’s kind of it for me. There are times I’ve replicated things I’ve seen in stores basically, again like to save money. But usually I’m kind of putting my own twist on it because that’s just what I’m like. I like to do things in different colors or whatever. So I guess maybe let’s talk about some things that we’ve done DIYs that have saved money, maybe they were creative. Maybe they were just like, a way to save money.

Elsie: Totally. When we first started our blog, we were in our early 20s and we were living in apartments. It made sense why we needed and wanted to do everything for the lowest possible price. There was no option that we were going to buy new furniture for a bedroom or a new sofa. It just wasn’t what we did at that time. Obviously, it’s evolved and changed since then and I love that part of our blog. I think it’s really interesting and really fun. So I love that about our blog, I think it’s really interesting what things you do at different ages, like what’s worth it to you at different ages and what’s fun for you. So yeah, I will totally admit that I do less DIY now than I did in my middle 20s because it makes sense. We’re in a different lifestyle. We have two businesses, and I have two kids and things like that. But there are still a lot of DIYs that I do think are super worth it. So I think that that is interesting to explore as well. So anyway, when it comes to saving money, the things that I think have saved the most money over time, are definitely painting ourselves. For example, in my first house, we had zero professional painters. Actually, I think we had one day of a professional painter to just paint like our stairs. That was it for the whole house. Then in our second house, again, zero professional painters. In our third house, I’ve had a little bit more professional painters, which makes sense, but I still like feel if I can paint it if it’s easy to do and simple, I will do it because it’s just like nice to save money. Another thing is building shelves and then even tiling is a big one. I don’t tile but when we worked with Collin, he tiled lots and lots of things for me. That can save a lot of money too. So I think that those like really practical things, they’re somewhat boring. They can save a lot of money on labor. What do you think?

Emma: Yeah, I’m very similar. I have painted so so much in my life. I’m not the best painter, I have learned that about myself. So if it’s something like kitchen cabinets, I will definitely at least get quotes for that as opposed to trying to do it myself, just because I know it’ll hold up better and probably be a better outcome. But like painting rooms, yeah, I’ll do that. I’ve also done tiling before. We tiled our last kitchen backsplash. I tiled a whole bathroom once with my friend Ethan. Although I feel like okay, I can do some tiling, it is something I still would definitely get a quote for because it’s just, one I don’t own a tile saw so I have to rent that piece of equipment at the very least. So I’m already kind of racking up a little bit of expense there. So it just kind of depends. There’s certain tile, that if it’s expensive enough, I’m like, I don’t really want to cut it because I know I’m not going to do as good of a job. So I’d rather have someone with more experience to it. Whereas if it’s a cheaper tile or an easier then that’s like a different situation. So it kind of depends.

Elsie: For sure. That’s the thing with wallpaper, too. People always ask me how hard is it to do wallpaper and I firmly believe it’s a personality-based thing because some people will say that it’s easy, but for me, it’s like insurmountable. I’m not wired for it so I think you should try it on something small. I even think that like lining my kitchen drawers and the back of a cabinet, I even think that that’s frustrating. So you can test yourself on something small, and then see if you have the capacity for it or not. What I’m going to link in the show notes about painting is this post about painting cabinets. We painted kitchen cabinets, we painted some bathroom vanity cabinets, and then also a post about building custom shelves. That’s like a general informational post that Collin wrote about just like, if you’re interested in building shelves, it’s a great post to read. 

Emma: Yeah, and I wrote a post a while back about tiling so I can link that in the show notes when we tiled our kitchen backsplash. 

Elsie: Perfect. Okay, so as far as like joy and just like personal creativity and satisfaction, and that is the kind of DIYs that I’m attracted to at this phase in my life. The sort of thing like making a wreath or holiday decor, making garlands making stockings, that’s the kind of thing that really draws me in because it’s like one part making something with your hands. It’s like relaxing and I like the kind of project that is kind of tedious that you can zone out, things like that. My most recent one that I’m proud of is I did a second iteration of a family photo wall. I don’t know if I should call like hanging photos a DIY, but it is a lot of work. I don’t know. I had to prepare it and whatever. 

Emma: I think it’s a DIY. 

Elsie: It’s on the fence whether or not. How people wanted to find DIY anyway is also just kind of muddy. Anyway, so I had in my last house this nice little family photo wall. It was a grid with matching frames, and I loved it. So when we moved, I had saved them, and then I bought like twice as many frames. So I just added more to it, kept all the old ones, and then added more. So it’s just like a bigger wall, bigger hall, more frames and it looks so cool. It’s just the place it is in our house, it’s going towards our guestrooms so people always see it like when they come for the first time. Yeah, it’s really special. Then the other thing, okay, so I scrolled back through my blog posts archives for like seven years, yesterday when we were preparing for this just to see what caught my eye. This was so random, but the one that sparked the most joy for me is this one I did in our last house called like paint pen kitchen organization and just labeling your jars with a paint pen, but it’s so much fun. I can’t wait to do it again. So yeah, I guess that I’m on Team Super Easy DIY, where you get that feeling of making something and it’s something that brings you joy, but I kind of like the organization products bring me or sorry, the organization projects bring me a lot of just satisfaction.

Emma: Oh, yeah, I love organizing. Organizing is the best. Yeah, I’m kind of more into like DIYs that are decor. I do a lot of holiday stuff. I also scrolled back through my archive of DIYs and one thing I noticed is I used to do a lot more kind of furniture building and bigger pieces. I really think that was because I didn’t have a lot of furniture. Now that I’m like farther along in my home-owning experience in life and I’m also like, in my later 30s I just happened to have a lot more furniture now than I did in my mid-20s. So I just don’t really have the room to like, make a bunch of things like I used to. 

Elsie: There’s definitely such thing as too much furniture. 

Emma: There definitely is. Yes. So but too that I might link in the show notes is that we made this like a hex table. I think I called it a honeycomb table. It was kind of a great solution for our house at the time because we didn’t really have a dining room we had more of like a kitchen that had a breakfast nook area, but we still wanted to have six chairs. But really you could only fit a table that was like four chairs.

Elsie: I remember that. It was like a more charming version of a circle table.

Emma: Yeah, yeah. So it was just something a little different. It was also on wheels which was great for me because I do food blogging so I’m always moving things near a window or away from the window or just depending on the light. So that and then also this like wooden coffee table that we built a long time ago. I really loved it. We had it for so long. I was thinking what sparks joy because that was what we were just talking about and one thing so random, but there’s this faux weaving that I did. It’s not a real weaving. I love weaving but this one’s just like a fakie. It’s got like felt balls and tassels and I kind of glued it all together. I’ll link it in the show notes but I made it years ago and I still have it in this house. I don’t see me getting rid of it. Unless I like can’t find a place for it at some point, but like has a really prominent spot in our living room right now and I just love it. I think it’s so cute. It was just really fun to make. It looks like a weaving but it’s not. It’s just kind of like piece of wall art, things like that I like to do.

Elsie: That’s super fun. Okay so let’s talk about the nightmares. Because I think people, that’s one of the funny things about blogging is sometimes you start a project and you just, you know it’s gonna work out perfectly, and then it just doesn’t. Sometimes you start a project and you’re like, I’m not sure about this, and then it turns out amazing. There’s always this unknown but I think that the thing people would maybe be most surprised by is how much we redo things and tweak things behind the scenes before. Like how many times you redo a recipe or I have so many rooms in my house that are basically done and people are like, why don’t you post that tour? It’s like, because I want to fix this one little thing first so anyway, that’s what it’s like being a blogger.

Emma: Yeah, I also have one on my list that was just kind of like a waste of time. Looking back, I just kind of learned like, oh, there was really no reason to do that. I don’t know why. I mean, I sometimes I feel like you just have to like do something, and then you kind of learn from it. 

Elsie: Yeah, tell us your time waster and stuff? 

Emma: Well, the time-waster was when I was moving out of my first home that I owned, I decided to the kitchen, I think just the kitchen, the kitchen had tile. It had like a just really kind of muddy grout in between. I decided to paint the grout and I had never painted grout before. there’s a certain kind of paint, that’s like grout refresh. I went with white. That’s really why I’m like this, I don’t know why I did this, because white grout on a floor, especially a high traffic area like a kitchen makes no sense whatsoever. It’s going to immediately get dirty again.

Elsie: You were just trying to get it ready for like selling it or something like that. 

Emma: Yeah, that’s what I was, in my mind, it made sense at the time but looking back, I’m like, that was really just a waste of time. I don’t know why I did that but I did learn about painting grout, and I listened to the whole first season of Cereal It was back in those days. So I have fond memories of that but looking back I’m like, yeah, I wouldn’t repaint necessarily floor grout, at least not white in a high traffic area. But wall grout or something like it’s a great product and it’s a good like thing to do yourself but it just didn’t make any sense why I was doing that.

Elsie: Yeah, I also did that when we lived in our house for three months and then we did our quarantine move. That house had an entryway with dark grout and I decided to paint it. I also agree it’s like yeah, there was not really a reason other than I thought it would look better for a photo and better for showings. I was just trying to like, you know, I made a checklist of like, you want to paint your floorboards, you want to caulk things, you want to clean up your messes, leave your closets half fill empty so it feels spacious cycles and all these things, but changing the color of grout in the entryway was so silly. But by the time I realized it, it was too late. Although I probably should have just like at that point pivoted and colored over the white part dark again and just like stopped. But yeah, I read a couple of audiobooks. Yeah, totally not worth it. But I do think it’s a good skill to know how to do and understand what it works on. It can be easier sometimes than others when you can do it all with the pen, like subway tile. That’s much easier.

Emma: Yeah, I had to do the painting brush, but yeah, the pens are nice if you have real thin grout lines. Anyway, that was my time waster. But then the two DIYs that came to mind of like fails or didn’t work out the way I wanted or whatever,  one was, I don’t know if you remember this. I have it on the blog so I will link it because I went and checked but it’s a post where I was trying to paint my KitchenAid mixer to look marble. So that was why I didn’t want you to do your marble countertop. It’s not because I think it’s bad to paint over granite. I’m sure some people think that. I don’t think that because it’s your house and also I had seen the stain and anyway, but I just had a terrible experience with that marble paint kit. I don’t know if I’m just not the right artistic level to do it, I don’t know, but it looked terrible. 

Elsie: When we that point, I’ll talk more about the kit and the skill that it takes because it is very specific. I bet I could give you some tips.  

Emma: I didn’t have it, I did not have it. It looked terrible.

Elsie: The KitchenAid is curved so you’re doing it all on curves. I think that will be much more challenging than a flat surface.

Emma: Yeah, so it looked awful. So I ended up painting it a solid color afterward. Obviously, I still kept using it for years and years, and it was fine. Nothing functionally wrong happened, it was just a huge waste of time and it just looked so bad. It was so sad. So that and then there was this other time I had this idea for a DIY couch. Josh was helping me build it. It was kind of based off like something I’d seen I think at Urban Outfitters, where it’s it’s kind of like a lounge couch. I don’t know how to describe this.

Elsie: It’s kind of like a bench with a cushion, like a rustic mid-century inspired wood bench with like a nice sleek cushion. That would be like her vision.

Emma: Yes, but I think the dimensions I provided, or I don’t think I explained well enough what I wanted, and it just didn’t turn out at all. We had gotten rid of our couch once this one was completed so that we could put this, I didn’t have space in my house for two couches. But once we got it in it was just not right at all. Within a couple of days, we got rid of it. I think we put it on the curb and I think someone took it and use it as a bookshelf or something. I don’t know. It was a huge waste of money and time and I think it was just a failure of like sometimes you have a vision for something that it can’t exist you think it will just doesn’t work out. 

Elsie: I agree. I think trying to make a couch is very ambitious. So I will say like, one of the good things about blogging and DIY blogging all these years, is you learn to like look at things and think like, could I make that? Over time, I think my opinions have changed, where I don’t like look at everything and think, oh, I could just make that because you’ve had enough experiences to know which ones are going to be really hard, harder than it’s worth and which ones are like oh, that’s actually pretty easy and simple. Okay, so my dark place is like I told you, I recently got a Goodreads account. I saw that someone on Goodreads was reading our book, Happy Handmade Home, which is our second book, it’s our home book. I clicked on it and I saw the reviews. I’ve seen them before on Amazon. I will say like if you ever want to support someone, leave them a nice review. That’s the nicest thing you can ever do for an author or a blogger or just anyone. When I leave my friends reviews, they always like notice right away. It’s a thing, it’s significant. But I don’t blame anyone for leaving a bad review if that’s what they feel and I think a lot of people did feel that about this book. When I read them, it was pretty rough. It sort of like gave me a lot of flashbacks because I remember the phase we were in when we wrote it. It was our first houses. It was our first time that we had even a little bit of extra money to spend on projects, just to buy supplies. We were young, we were still in our 20s. Anyway, the reviews are basically stop complaining about how we made everything out of tape and crayons and things like that, which is true. It’s like every single project is painted. We did a lot of projects that are supposed to be like a $5 project that’s fun to do and gives you a big impact. To be fair to us that’s a really hard concept to nail and even harder when you have the trends are not timeless. We did a lot of like, what was current trends at the time. So anyway, I think that’s like my dark spot with DIY is when I look at that book still and when I look at it, I feel very strongly proud and sad at the same time. It’s so bizarre.

Emma: Yeah, because I literally have that book on my shelf right now in my office and I still love it. I think it’s got some really good projects in it. I don’t know but it is older. It’s been out for a while. I think it’s great but it’s cool if people want to leave bad reviews, that’s totally fine. It is totally anyone’s choice. That’s no big deal at all. I probably shouldn’t tell this, but I have never read the reviews for any of our books or any of the things we’ve put out. I don’t plan to.

Elsie: That’s amazing. I think I never should again. I mean, maybe someday I’ll have a book with a good review. It’s been pretty challenging. 

Emma: I do like to get feedback and I feel like I get it a lot of ways, though. So I don’t really feel the need to read reviews. But I do 100% agree, there’s been so many times I’ve left friends or just people I’m a fan of a review of their podcast or on Amazon for their book. They almost always write me and I’m always like, wow, you read those? I don’t even tell them that I did it. I just do it and it’s always interesting. A few weeks later, my friend will be like I saw you left review from a podcast. I’m like, oh, I didn’t know you’d ever see that. 

Elsie: I think on a living thing, like your blog, or podcast, you can use that feedback to do better for the future. I read our podcast reviews one time, and there was a couple mean reviews that I did take into account. I think I improved what we do here and it’s helpful. But on a book, it’s just so sad, that ship has sailed and it’s like you put your love into it, you wait like a lot of times almost a whole year for it to come out after you’ve completed it. Then for the reviews to be mostly bad. It’s not helpful because what would it help. We have no chance to go back. I would love to go back and fix it. If I got another book deal for a house book, I’m sure it would be better the second time? 

Emma: It’s tough too because it’s like I do appreciate critical feedback that can help you improve. Yeah, I do appreciate that. It’s useful and it’s valuable. But also, I’ve seen a lot of products or movies, or books or things that I loved and I think they’re awesome and I see them get terrible reviews. I’m like, honestly, I hope that this writer or director or whatever the type of project, I hope they don’t read that and take it in because I actually don’t think that it’s, so it’s like this weird dynamic of like, I don’t know. You want to take in useful things and you kind of want to let everything else just slide off your shoulders. I think if it just slows you down from making, then it’s not valuable. So that’s why I don’t really read reviews because I don’t think it’s going to help me. I just have this kind of I know myself fairly well and I just know it’s just gonna slow me down or get in my head or make me doubt myself in a way that’s not helpful that doesn’t propel me forward. I get a lot of feedback other ways. So I just feel like, I’m good on that. 

Elsie: You’re very good at that. Emma’s very wise and she’s very focused. I think that’s like, I’m very easily distracted. We’re like very different like that. Anyway, I didn’t mean to take such a long tangent about reviews. I don’t know, I think it’s kind of an interesting conversation so moving on. the other thing I had down is like, do you have any like, funny worst DIYs? Where it’s just like a disaster story because I have one, only one time. Do you want to hear it?

Emma: Yes.

Elsie: So this is a post I will link it is my airframe play house DIY. Collin and I made it. I think I talked about it in the post. I don’t remember, but we had to redo the roof twice. So I’ll tell about that. So the first time we did it, I’m very decisive, like when we’re working on projects with Collin. I would often be like, let’s do it this way. Then he would just like do it, you know, and we didn’t always put in the research needed to do a technical skill perfectly. A lot of those things you learn over time through trial and error and a lot of them you need to learn from YouTube properly from someone who knows what they’re doing. So the first time we built the A-frame house, I wanted to get the corrugated metal roof, but we got the cheapest one, which is the plain silver one that has no painted color. So after it was on there, then he painted it. We made sure to use paint that was made to paint metal. Almost immediately, probably within weeks, it rained and the paint started bubbling off in huge bubbles and peels. At first, there was like set like wet balls, like water balloons inside of the roof. Then they just became like bubbles. So yeah, we knew immediately that it wasn’t going to work. Then we looked into getting it professionally like, so we found out, it would have to be powder coated. Which if you’re ever going to pay outdoor metal like this is kind of like across the board. My friend did her rails around her pool, and you have to take them off, take them to a professional powder coating place. They’ll do it and then you know you reinstall them. That’s the proper way to do it. For this roof, since it was so big, they were going to have to sandblast it to get the original paint off. It just wasn’t worth it. So we ended up just getting a different roof that was already painted. It had a smaller selection of colors. I think it we ended up with like a white roof. Originally I wanted a brown roof. Anyways, that was my most just instant failure, DIY post of all time.

Emma: Yeah, no, that’s a bummer. It’s making me think of a little bit of a tip, which is like how you originally wanted to brown roof. Then you had to go with white after you realized, oh, I basically have to choose from these three or four options, or whatever it was. I do feel like anytime you’re entering into a big DIY, or a renovation, or whatever, especially if you’re going to be on a budget, keep your mind open. Don’t get too set on something because sometimes you just run into weird things and you’re gonna need to pivot a little. You kind of just got to hold things loosely in your heart, because sometimes I’ll get so set on something and then I’m just like, devastatingly sad that it can’t be, you know what I mean? It’s like, why I didn’t even need to get so set on that if I had just held it loosely I could have been a little happier here, because it’s not a big deal. It’s just the roofs white instead of black or whatever it was.

Elsie: Tragically, like 75% of my personality is getting set on things. 

Emma: I think a lot of people it is. I mean me to some. So that’s why I’m like here’s something I’m telling myself, maybe it’ll help someone else out there. I don’t know. But here’s where I’m at. 

Elsie: Well, I guess then to summarize, you can tell me if you agree or disagree with this, I think that when it comes to DIY, think about the time and life you’re in. What benefits you the most? Do you want to save some money or do you want to do something that’s going to bring you joy? They’re not always the same projects. I think finding that combination, I do think I will do DIY in the sense of arts and crafts, I will do my whole life. Painting my own trim to save money, not necessarily something that I could see myself doing my whole life. So I think finding like your why. I think knowing how much money you’re saving is a motivator. I think for me like now just like I don’t know, doing things specifically to bring joy is the most fulfilling part of it. So oh, we still have to do the how did it hold up section I didn’t remember that. I’m excited about this. So I already said the two projects are the faux marble countertop, which is a painting a countertop and then adding an epoxy coating over the top. So that project as far as like if I were giving it a rating one to ten and ten is the best as far as how easy it is and how worth it. I would maybe give it like a nine or a ten. It was not that hard. It was really fun. I had a great experience doing the marble painting. So I’ll give a couple of my tips real quick. Before you ever buy the kit, if you’re not sure if you’re gonna be a person who enjoys the marble painting or can do it. If you’re just like I don’t paint, here’s my tip. It is a wet brush technique so all you have to do is take a piece of poster board or a piece of wood like a scrap whatever and paint it with plain wall paint like white plain wall paint and then take a little bit of gray craft paint and do the technique. So I will link to my blog post you can see in there the video I watched. It’s pretty long, but it was really helpful and really worth it and do that technique. Just try it. It’ll take you 10 minutes to know if you have the ability. Yeah, if you have what it takes or not because I was seriously like, I like painting in like I like to paint like cute little characters. I don’t think I’m a strong abstract painter so I was really nervous that I wouldn’t be good at the marble technique because it’s just really different. I don’t usually paint realistic things but it was really easy for me. All I did was follow the tutorial. Then I also put an IGTV on our Instagram where you can see more of me doing it if you want to watch that. I think it’s helpful as well. So how it wore, we did the epoxy, we followed all the rules of wait a couple of days without like touching it basically. This is like an island and our kitchen where our kids eat pretty much every meal. They are there all the time. They play playdough there, they draw, they do their homework, anything like that happens at this table. So it’s a very heavy traffic spot in our home. I’ve heard lots of people who are like an adult with no kids who did it who had zero wear on theirs after several years. On ours, I would say the wear is like a two out of ten so there are a couple of spots. There was a spot that got like a little dent immediately, like the first week and I was like oh no, but then it didn’t really keep happening. Since then there’s like one other little spot where I can see a little bit of black through it but it’s not really like changing or peeling. That stuff has been there for a long time so I do feel like it will last several years. If I wanted to go back and touch up the epoxy, I easily could. I just probably won’t because I don’t care. It’s not very noticeable. So I would say I would give it a very big thumbs up as far as does it last. For me, I don’t think that you could have a more brutally used kitchen island than how we use it. I mean, we don’t cut on it. We use cutting boards but other than that, our kids are really banging their forks around and stuff. So yeah, I would give the project overall, it’s inexpensive to do. I think the kits are around $200. It is bringing quote-unquote toxic chemicals into your home, like all paint so there’s that. So if you don’t want that, then that’s maybe a consideration. For me, I think that just being able to feel like I have a beautiful kitchen for now before I’ve renovated was so worth it. It’s so incredibly worth it. I thought we were going to start renovating our kitchen by now already, but it’s going to stretch like a whole extra year longer than I thought. I thought it would probably have that countertop for one year and it’s definitely going to be two years so I would recommend it ten out of ten.

Emma: What about the tile backsplash in the kitchen?

Elsie: Okay, so the tile backsplash so what we did is, we had a mirror it was a dark black kind of tinted mirrored backsplash. It was very 80s I guess is what I would say. I personally, I didn’t like it and I wanted something a little more that fit the vibe so that and the countertop were the two things in the kitchen. Overall, it’s like a very boring basic 90s white kitchen. So just doing these two little things, it really changed the vibe quite a bit and feel like kind of like gives your eyes something to look at. After a year, so we have wiped the backsplash a lot, just like any backsplash behind an oven, it’ll get dirty and you’ll wipe it. I would say it has a few spots that don’t come off but overall like it’s nothing I could see from far away. It’s nothing I really even care about it. I would say overall it’s lasted better than I thought it would. I definitely don’t think there’s a fire hazard. There’s just not even with the flames turned up all the way it’s like impossible. So there would have to be some kind of uncontained fire. So I don’t know, that I just don’t necessarily think was accurate. I would recommend it if you have a kitchen backsplash that is an eyesore to you and you know that in a couple of years, you’re gonna be able to do it but at the current moment, you would spend you know $100 or $200 from an Etsy shop to get something to just cover it up with. I would definitely recommend it for that. For me, it was worth it because I got something that is beautiful to my eye. It’s been in lots of photos like it’s in photos all the time. But as far as like how it wears, I wouldn’t give it as high of a score as the countertop because I do feel like you can tell that it’s a piece of vinyl. It’s not something that I would want in my kitchen as a permanent renovation. It’s definitely a temporary solution. So I would just put that out there. It is a thin piece of vinyl. The stickers are, and you can easily cut them, you can easily put it up by yourself. It’s not like wallpaper because it comes in smaller pieces. So yeah, I don’t know, I guess I would give it a thumbs up and say it was worth it. It served its purpose.

Emma: Well, good. Those are both thumbs up then.

Elsie: Yes. I will link to all of these, we talked about lots of DIY,  we’ll link to every single thing in the show notes. Okay, so we have a listener question from Antonia. Emma made sure that I added one of these questions this week because she sent such thoughtful, nice questions. 

Emma: Yes, she did. Yes. I just loved her whole email. So her question was, what makes a meaningful life for you? Yes. So I have four things that came to mind for a meaningful life. 

Elsie: Awesome. I can’t wait to hear. 

Emma: Yeah. So first one, family and friends. I think we’re all kinds of social creatures, even if you’re a bit of an introvert like me. Obviously reading the question, the first thing that pops in my mind is my little baby Oscar right now, because that’s where I’m at in life, and probably will be for some time. That’s the journey I’m on. So yeah, family and friends. Also, creative projects, I think making things adds so much meaning to life for me. I don’t know if it does for everyone. I really couldn’t speak to that. But for me, like, if you told me one day, like, you’re never going to make another creative project, nothing, I would be like, oh my gosh, like, I don’t know, that would really bummed me out because I just like making things. I don’t care so much if it’s a part of my career, I’ve been so lucky that that is the case. I just want to make things even if it’s not have anything to do with my career, anything to do with money, or even if nobody ever sees it. I just want to make stuff. I love making things. So yeah, creative projects. Then the third one is stories. I love stories. So I love reading. I love movies. I’m very obsessed with going to a movie theater, and reading books anytime I can. I’d love to write my own book someday and get it published. But I just love stories. I feel like it’s a fun, it’s a creative thing. It’s also just like, observing humanity, or making up a fantasy of some kind. I just think it’s a blast so I love stories. Then the fourth one is being outside. I’m just so much happier if I get to go outside now and again. So getting some sunshine and fresh air. I really do think just adds a little bit of meaning to life. 

Elsie: I love all of those. Okay, so I just wrote down two. So what makes life meaningful to me is, first of all, creating memories and traditions with family. It’s the meaning of life, there’s nothing more special and valuable and perfect. That’s the stuff that sort of like, makes it all make sense. So yeah, I have little kids right now and just like creating these special moments. We just went to the beach for the first time together and it was so cute and so special. It’s unexpected like we didn’t know how they would react to the sand and things like that. So anyway, that is the number one thing but it’s not just like my kids like it’s also my husband and you Emma, my sister. We’re also really close with our brother. I think that family is really the most meaningful part of life. Then the other thing that I would put like almost equally, it is so important to me and I don’t think every human is wired this way but I know I am now is that I have to have a challenge in my life. When I start to feel like I don’t have a challenge in my life or something that I’m like, almost like an impossible challenge too. I want to have a big challenge. I want to have something that’s going to take me years to achieve ahead of me at all times. I know now that I will have that until I die. I don’t think that’s something I knew when I was younger because you just don’t know what to expect. I think it’s hard to imagine yourself in the middle ages and the older ages, and now it’s becoming much, much, much easier for me to imagine it and I’m realizing that yeah, like having those big challenges. I don’t think everyone needs that to survive, but I 100% must have a big challenge ahead of me at all times. So yeah, for anyone who relates with that, when you feel like you’ve achieved something big, no matter how wonderful that feeling of achievement is, there’s like a letdown. There’s like a soft depression that comes immediately after achieving something, you’re checking something off because the most wonderful part of the journey for you is the climb, not the top of the mountain. So now that I know that about myself, I can keep myself challenged forever. I think I’ve made a pretty good plan but that’s something that I didn’t understand when I was younger. I thought that yearning would one day be satisfied. Now I know that it never will.

Emma: Yeah, no, I completely agree. I actually love that song. Miley Cyrus got it right. It’s the climb, man. You never really get to the top. Yeah, it’s always just like even when you reach some kind of plateau and then it’s like, looking for the next thing. Not in a like have to fill something kind of way but it’s exciting to be facing a challenge. Anyway, I get that 100%.

Elsie: I feel kind of emotional. Nice. I’ve already had my checkmark of two cryings for today so I don’t really need one right now. But I can take an extra one.

Emma: I was crying yesterday reading our podcast listeners’ emails.

Elsie: So I have that in the outro at the end, but I’ll just say it now since we’re on the subject, the messages this week were so sweet. Last week, I think was the week when we talked about aging and I guess we’re gonna do an episode about that because you all responded really positively and it was like a group hug email session in there. So thank you, for everyone for sending those. They mean a lot. 

Emma: Yeah, they do.  

Elsie: Okay, well thank you, everyone, for sending those. The emails have been popping lately, and we’re loving it. Okay, so next, we’re gonna do our sparks joy segment where we each share something, it’s usually kind of like an affordable thing that has just brought us joy or made a bigger difference than we thought it would. So yeah, I’m excited to share mine this week. Do you have one?

Emma: Yes. Mine is inspired by Jacki who works at A Beautiful Mess if you follow our blog, you know who Jackie is. So when we were shooting our holiday special this past year, Jacki had this little thing, it was called a dazzle stick. She had this really beautiful cocktail ring from her grandma I believe that she was wearing and she cleans it with his dazzle stick. it’s like this little stick, it’s blue and you click the bottom and this liquid comes up through the kind of brush top part. Almost like when you click up like a lip gloss, if that makes any sense. Then you brush it on to your gemstones, your diamonds, whatever ring you have or whatever. It makes it so sparkly and she was just into it. She was cleaning all of our rings that we were there while we’re filming. She was just like basically doing a demonstration for us and she sold me so I got influenced. I bought the dazzle stick. I love it. Trey got me a new ring for Christmas and so I just like kind of obsessed with cleaning. My old ring I got reset and then he got me a new ring and so I’ve just been like dazzle sticking it up.

Elsie: That’s magical. I also got one and it’s definitely the best ring cleaner I’ve had. 

Emma: Me too. So yeah, what’s mine, what’s your sparks joy this week? 

Elsie: Okay. So we just went on a trip with our friends who also have two little girls, and they had this device that it was so great that I immediately ordered them for our kids. I’m gonna put them in their Easter baskets. So it is called a Yodo mini player and what it is, it’s the perfect solution for us. It’s like an audiobook player for little kids. So it’s like just this little box, it has a little speaker, I think they can plug in headphones or not. Then it has little cards that you can buy or you stick the card in so your kids can easily pick their story. There are pictures on it because our younger daughter, she like can’t read it all, easy to tell what they are, stick them in. Then it plays the story. So I’m really excited about this because as soon as we built the hidden library, we were trying to explain to Nova about audiobooks. She was so excited to like listen to books with her headphones, but we aren’t really ready to buy her and we don’t want her to have a phone. We don’t really want her to have access to our iPad, we use it for certain things and we’re kind of like, it’s just not an everyday thing in our lives that we want. This was the perfect solution because it’s like sort of technology, but it’s limited to just these books. So yeah, I got a ton of like, there was some meditations. I took my friend’s recommendations. I can actually link these in the show notes. The ones that we got, some meditation ones like for sort of bedtime and then there were some stories. There’s packs of books, I got the llama llama pack because our kids love llama llama. It’s always been like a big part of our family. Then there’s also like familiar things in there like Frozen. If your kid is into something, there’s probably one of those in there. I decided to save and not get those. Maybe I’ll like think about that for Christmas because I wanted to start off with kind of like the less like, what am I trying to say? I was afraid if they got a Frozen story that they would only listen to that one. So I’m saving it for later when it’ll be an exciting addition. So I didn’t get anything with characters for this first time. That’s my thing and they haven’t actually received it yet so maybe I’ll do a follow-up later and share how they’re using and stuff, but they were playing with them on the trip. It just seemed like the perfect little kid solution so I wanted to share it.

Emma: I love that. That’s so cute.

Elsie: Yes. All right. Well, thank you so much for listening. We’ve been getting some amazing emails. If you want to email us it’s podcast@abeautifulmess.com. We love to take your suggestions. We do a listener question in almost every episode so send us questions, topic suggestions, anything you’re interested in hearing more about. Also, this week was so fun, because we heard from so many of you like what you do when you’re listening to the podcast, which I didn’t know people do such a big variety of things. I always imagined everyone listens to podcasts exactly like I do, which was not accurate. It was really fun and interesting to hear all the different things and also so many people whose kids listen along or who get their whole family to listen along. I thought that was amazing and it really made my week.

Emma: So sweet. 

Elsie: Okay, we’ll be back next week. 

Emma: Okay, bye.

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  • I totally agree that like any other job breaks are necessary but how am I going to survive all summer without the podcast!!!??!!

    • We’re going to leave a summer reading list (audio books!) in our last episode and we’ll be back in August :))
      Thank you for your support!

  • This yoto player sounds like the modern version of Hit Clips. This might only be a memory for a very small sliver of millennials, but those were the jam! You got little chips that played like 60 seconds of a song?!? You’d have a keychain full of them! I love that kids today can have something similar!

    I appreciated the unintentional blast from the past!

  • I just want you to know that I used to get the “Monday blues” after the weekend spent with the whole family and I’d feel sad with my husband back at work (I’m in a SAHM season). But NOW I created a routine where I listen to your podcast with my boys in the double stroller and get myself an iced-mocha on our walk and I have officially cured the monday blues all thanks to you!!! It’s my fav podcast of all time.
    Much love to you both!

  • You guys! So funny. I have a comment about your diy “fails”
    Emma first, because I am wearing her fan shirt ha! That mixer! Oh my gosh, it’s so…. But I’ll bet it took forever and you worked so hard and kudos for sharing it!
    Elsie, would that book be a “fail” in your mind if you never read the reviews? I think it is a PRICELESS time capsule of you guys and your work.
    Thanks Emma and Elsie, for all the fun 🤩

    • Hi! For the home book, yes, I look back and think about how I could “do it better” regardless of the reviews. I don’t think it’s a “fail” though. I love it for what it is- I just wish I could get a redo!

  • your podcast starts my morning drive every monday! i wake up looking forward to it! 💛 could you possibly do an episode or maybe a highlight of people who have taken your courses, such as an instagram course, and tell us of their success? i have recently purchased a few of your e-courses and am looking for inspiration. love you guys! happy monday!

  • You are both smart, hilarious, creative, relatable and business/money role models! But I am definitely an Emma; a little more cautious and frugal. Love the podcast.

  • I love your podcast so much! Listening has become part of my Monday morning routine. Keep up the great work 🙂

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