5 Simple Ways to Wake Up Earlier

I never thought of myself as a morning person, although I found out that when I did wake up earlier I got more done, had more energy and stuck to a routine. Getting up earlier allowed me to fit in time to exercise, which then gave me more energy and I felt better. It didn't happen overnight- it took me a while to get in a routine of waking up earlier and here is how I did it.

I’m writing this article for everyone who struggles waking up early. I know not everyone wants or needs to be an early riser. There were many years when my husband worked shifts that I stayed up later because he worked late.

But there are many of you who want to wake up early but struggle, I struggle too.

I don’t consider myself a morning person or an evening person. My best hours are from 9 am to 2 pm.  I am also not one who feels energized when I wake up super early.

To be honest, I feel tired.

But, when I wake up early I am able to accomplish much more in the morning hours than I am ever able to accomplish by staying up until midnight or one in the morning. So even though I am tired later in the day, I’ve already had my most productive hours in the morning, so I don’t have to be “on” at 8pm.

Since I have struggled in this area I figured I would share some of things that have helped me make the change to become an earlier riser. And if we are being honest, when I say early I mean 6 am. I will never be a 4 am person, I have teenagers, and they seem to want to do all their talking after 10 pm.

Quit the Caffeine

I don’t drink it after 1pm, no matter what. If I do I can’t fall asleep even when my body is exhausted. My mind can’t relax enough to fall asleep.

Turn Off Technology

I’m guilty of surfing the web before I go to bed, especially now that I have an iPad. For many months I even read my bible on the computer in the evenings. I have found that computer, television, tablets, and video games do not help you fall asleep.

Not only do they keep you awake, it is easy to turn on the television to catch the end of a show and end up watching another hour or two because we get sucked in! If you need to do something before you fall asleep try reading a book.

Go to Bed Earlier

Sounds simple, but for some reason it is so hard. I often find myself looking at the clock and realizing it is almost midnight! Give yourself a bedtime and set a timer to remind yourself it is time for bed. If I want to fall asleep at 10:30 I try to go to bed at 10pm and give myself a little extra time for reading.

Reader tip: Set your alarm on your phone for an hour before you want to go to bed. That will remind you that you need to start getting ready for bed and winding down so your bedtime doesn’t sneak up on you.

It is hard to fall asleep earlier if you are waking up later. There will be a few days in the beginning where you have to force yourself to get up early even though you were up late. Pretty soon you will be tired enough to fall asleep at the earlier hour.

This year since we had a change in our school schedule, I need to get up before 6am. This was a huge adjustment since we were really enjoying our lazy days of summer. I eased into an earlier schedule by setting my alarm clock 15 minutes earlier every few days. Now I wake up before my alarm several days a week because my body is use to the new schedule.

Get Enough Sleep

You know how much sleep you need to be a productive person the next day, so make sure you get it! Some people only need 6 or 7 hours, and others need at least 8. Figure out how much sleep you need and create a sleeping schedule to accommodate your needs!

Get a Routine

This is the most important thing for me. I need about 7 hours of sleep, so I try to go to bed around 11pm and wake up between 6 and 6:30. It is important to go to bed and wake up at around the same time every day.

If you are just starting to change your routine I would recommend going to bed and waking up 15 minutes earlier every day until you reached your desired wake-up time. (see above)

Don’t Get Discouraged!

I recently started adjusting my schedule to wake up a little earlier, after two successful days my family was hit with the crud. I wasn’t going to bed until after midnight most nights and was up with sick kids numerous times throughout the night.

I turned off my alarm and got some extra sleep so I didn’t get the crud too! I was discouraged to be thrown off track so quickly, but I realized that the crud would soon pass and I could get back on schedule.

Don’t let little setbacks discourage you, just pick up where you left off and work on establishing a good routine.

I never thought of myself as a morning person, although I found out that when I did wake up earlier I got more done, had more energy and stuck to a routine. Getting up earlier allowed me to fit in time to exercise, which then gave me more energy and I felt better. It didn't happen overnight- it took me a while to get in a routine of waking up earlier and here is how I did it.

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This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Side Table Makeover with Valspar Chalk Finish Paint

I’ve been slowing redoing the furniture in my house, since much of it shows tons of wear and tear from being moved from house to house. Since I purchase almost all of my furniture used, I don’t mind experimenting with paint and texture since I know I didn’t pay much for it.

I’ve been using Annie Sloan chalk paint which I LOVE, but it is very expensive. A quart at the store closest to me is about $51. When I heard that Valspar had created a chalky finish paint I was excited to try it, since it was only $29.99 at Lowes.

chalky-finish-paint_

As far as color options for Valspar chalk paint, they are really pretty, although I’ve only tried Sunday Bustle on my furniture.

Valspar chalky finish paint as some gorgeous color options. I tried Sunday Bustle on a few pieces of furniture and they turned out great.

The nice thing about the Valspar paint (other than its price) is that you can buy it at Lowes. The Annie Sloan is sold in smaller shops, which might not always be close to where you live.

I tried the paint on two pieces of furniture. One was this small side table that we got for free several years ago. We purchased a sofa set off Craig’s List and when my husband went to pick it up, they guy asked if we wanted the table so we took it.

Before we painted this side table with Valspar chalk finish paint

Since getting the table I’ve felt it was a little plain but I wasn’t motivated enough to change it. After finishing my hutch in May, I finally got inspired to change this little table.

I chose Sunday Bustle because I loved the color on the back of my hutch and I *thought it was similar.

White cabinet with Annie Sloan pure white chalk paint. Interior is a mixture of Aubussen Blue and Florence.

I got the color in my hutch by mixing Florence and Aubussen Blue. Let’s just say I was WAY off, when I thought Sunday Bustle was similar. I should have gone with Sapphire Bracelet!

It turned out to be more of a caribbean blue, which is pretty, but not what I was going for with the table.

Small side table before I painted it with Valspar Sunday Bustle Chalky Finish paint

I had an idea for how to fix it once I was finished so I kept painting.

Valspar Chalky Finish Paint Sunday Bustle

The Valspar paint went on pretty smoothly and had good coverage. I didn’t sand the table, I just wiped it down and cleaned off the sticky kid residue.

Since I was painting a darker color on a darker piece of furniture it is hard to tell how one of the lighter colors would cover on a dark piece of furniture with no prep. I ended up doing two coats on the base of the table and three coats on the top. There were a few spots where the paint didn’t stick as well, and I’m not sure why.

I didn’t want the knob to the be the same color as the rest of the table so I removed the knob and sprayed it with Rust-Oleum Hammered Bronze.

I’m a huge fan of spray painting knobs and pulls. Replacing knobs is so expensive. One can of spray paint at the hardware store is usually under $6 and you can update the fixtures on several pieces of furniture and get an entirely new look!

hammered bronze spray painted knobs

One thing to consider when using the Valspar Chalky Finish paint is that they recommend 4-6 hours between coats. If you are an impatient painter like me, that is just too long! Another thing I love about Annie Sloan is that you can do a second coat almost immediately which means you can finish a small project like this table in a few hours.

The Valspar Chalky Finish dried much quicker than I expected and I actually gave it a second coat about an hour after I painted the first coat.

Since the color was too bright I was going to use a dark wax to tone it down a bit. When using the dark wax, you can either put it directly on the paint, or do a coat of clear wax first. If you put dark wax directly on the paint it absorbs very quickly and really changes the color. (I have another piece where I did this and will share later this month)

Valspar chalky finish paint from lowes, show in Sunday Bustle with a coat of dark wax

I did a coat of clear wax, then did a coat of dark wax. I ended up buying a buffer brush that attaches to your drill because I have so many painting projects on my list this summer.

I’ve only done this small project with it, but so far I love it.

The dark wax definitely toned down the bright blue and I’m so happy with how this little table turned out. I feel like it went from blah to pop and it only took me an afternoon to redo it.

Valspar chalky finish paint shown in Sunday Bustle with a coat of dark wax.

These chairs were a thrift store find and I snatched them up for $40 each earlier this year. I had planned on getting them recovered, but they look really good with the new table color so I might keep them just the way they are.

valsapr chalky paint review

After using the Valspar Chalky Finish paint on two pieces of furniture I can definitely recommend it, although if you are familiar with Annie Sloan you will find a slight difference. I do think Annie Sloan goes on easier, however Valspar definitely does the job and is much less expensive so it is worth trying out.

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Home Renovation: Dining Room Makeover

We are still working on our house, so it seems like we are always in a state of construction, but some rooms are totally finished. One of those rooms is our dining room.

This room needed some work, but not as much as our kitchen or bathroom so it wasn’t a total gut.

When we purchased the house, the room looked like this.

The dining room needed a little updating, here's what we did on a budget.

There was wallpaper and border paper around the top half of the room. The closet doors where louvered which made them look more like a bedroom closet than a closet in a living space.

The tile was classic 1980’s white that carried into the kitchen. There was no light fixture, which was fine because we replaced all the lights in the house.

The dining room opens to the family room and backs to the kitchen. For about 15 seconds we discussed opening the wall between the kitchen and the dining room, but I actually like the separation so I’m glad we didn’t do it, at least for now while the kids are still young. I also would have lost all my upper cabinets in the kitchen had we removed the wall, which would have definitely not worked in the kitchen!

What we did:

  • Removed the tile and replaced with hardwood. We chose a dark hand scraped hickory for all the hardwood in the house.
  • Replaced the louvered closet doors with paneled doors.
  • Removed wallpaper and border. (AHHH WALLPAPER!!!!)
  • Painted wainscoting (it was an off-white) the same color as the trim and doors in the rest of the house.
  • Installed a new light fixture.
  • Replaced all receptacles 
  • Painted the air register white

dining_room_after

Products used: 

  • Wainscoting, doors, and trim: Pure White by Sherwin Williams
  • Walls: Front Porch by Sherwin Williams
  • Light fixture: CB2.com

I’m planning on painting my dining room table and probably changing the hutch from an off white to a pure white, but the “bones” of the dining room are completed.

Dining room renovation

I absolutely love this room, it is very sunny and overlooks the pool. Because it opens up to the family room, when we have parties there is tons of space for people to gather, eat, and relax.

dining_room_finished

I just realized that we haven’t painted the knobs on the closet doors yet, whoops! I guess the dining room is almost finished. We didn’t need to replace the closet doors, but I’m so glad we did. It makes a big difference in the room.

Firefly_pendant_from_cb2

This is the firefly pendant from CB2.com. It took me two months to find the right light fixture for this room. All the fixtures I wanted were super expensive and they hung too low. Our dining room ceilings are only eight feet so I had to find a pendant light that was designed for an older home with lower ceilings.

The only problem with the firefly pendant is that it is a pain to install. Because of the flat panel along the ceiling, you have to jam all the wires up into the ceiling in order to make the panel flush. It took my guys about three hours to get it right.

However it was totally worth it because I LOVE IT!

Even though it wasn’t part of the renovation, many folks have asked on Facebook about the furniture in the room. I have a very hard time buying new furniture because I feel like there are so many used “gems” out there.

We did buy the dining room table and chairs new at IKEA. I do not love them, however the table easily seats twelve with the leaves. The table is STORNAS and was around $500. The chairs are KAUSTBY and are $49 each. I’m more impressed with the chairs than the table. The table is pine so it dings very easily. The chairs have held up well considering how many people sit on them every day.

The hutch is something I found used and is painted Annie Sloan Old White and Duck Egg Blue in the insets. It is distressed slightly but not much. Most of the items in the hutch are things my husband picked up during his travels around the world while he was in the Navy.

The dining room has become one of my favorite rooms in the house. We don’t eat in here often, because of the giant island in the kitchen, but we play games, do school, make crafts, and just hang out.

The rest of the house is coming together slowly. One of the things I’ve realized about doing a remodel yourself is that many projects get “mostly” done. Then it becomes livable and you stop caring that it isn’t totally finished. This is probably why I still do not have any backsplash in my kitchen. :-)

We do have a few more rooms finished, so stay tuned for more renovation updates in July.

See all of our renovation projects here.

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DIY Hutch Chalk Paint Makeover

Several years ago I saw this hutch on Craig’s List and knew it would be a great versatile piece for my home. I love furniture that can be moved from room to room and serve different purposes. China cabinet one day, school supply cabinet the next, craft cabinet, display case, you know what I mean!

Cherry cabinet before the makeover with Annie Sloan Chalk paint

The hutch was in pretty good shape (which is rare for me to purchase something that looks this good) however, I really liked it so I spent a little more than I normally like to pay for used furniture.

The only major issue was a that piece that had broken off on the bottom cabinet. I actually had the broken piece of wood so I could repair it, but it was lost in the move.

The only major issue was a that piece that had broken off on the bottom cabinet. I actually had the broken piece of wood so I could repair it, but it was lost in the move. Covering the cabinet with paint solved this problem!

I knew I wanted to paint it with Annie Sloan Pure White chalk paint, but it took me almost three years to get to this project!

Hutch painted with Annie Sloan Pure White and a mixture of Florence and Aubusson Blue.

You can buy Annie Sloan brushes, but I’ve found the bristle brushes by Purdy (that are available online, Home Depot or Lowes) do a great job and they cost significantly less.

Here’s one thing I’ve learned about covering cherry with white paint, the cherry bleeds creating a pinkish hue instead of the pure white. When you are not finishing with a dark wax or a distressed look, this really matters.

I’ve covered a few really dark pieces with chalk paint recently and I’ve decided that using one coat of primer means using less coats of the very expensive chalk paint.

cabinet shelves before

By the time I painted the shelves, I had realized there were coverage issues so I did one coat of primer first.

I prefer using spray paint primer because it is so much faster than painting with a brush, but if you are painting inside I do not recommend it! I love the Kilz primer and it is available at Home Depot and Lowes.

I wish I would have primed this whole piece before I started, but I forgot about the bleed issue. I did end up priming the doors and some of the very visible parts of the cabinet, but not the entire thing.

Thankfully I only have one other piece that is this color that I’m thinking of painting because I do not like priming.

I wanted this cabinet to have a “pop” of color and Annie Sloan didn’t have exactly what I wanted.

I ended up buying sample containers of Florence and Aubusson Blue. We tried several different variations of these two colors, but ended up deciding that a 50/50 mix gave me the deep teal color I had seen on Pinterest.

I ended up buying sample containers of Florence and Aubusson Blue. We tried several different variations of these two colors, but ended up deciding that a 50/50 mix gave me the deep teal color I had seen on Pinterest.

As a side note, can I just say that I wish I was rich and could buy every sample container of paint and mix colors to find awesome combinations for my furniture? I had SO MUCH FUN finding the right color for my cabinet, it was like kindergarten all over again! 

Also, if you really want to try chalk paint I highly recommend buying one of the sample containers. They are around $13 which is much less than the $50+ quart container. You can actually paint a small piece of furniture like a side table or bedside table with the sample container. Especially if you want to do a small statement piece with a pop of color, the sample size is perfect!

Due to the cherry stain/ laminate this cabinet need FOUR coats of Annie Sloan Pure White. The places I used the primer needed only two.

The back wall needed two coats of the Florence mixed with Aubusson Blue. Although I probably could have gotten away with one coat.

I ended up buying sample containers of Florence and Aubusson Blue. We tried several different variations of these two colors, but ended up deciding that a 50/50 mix gave me the deep teal color I had seen on Pinterest.

I ended up doing two coats of the clear wax on the majority of the cabinet, but did four coats on the shelves and the places people would be touching frequently.

I bought my wax brush on Amazon for significantly less than I’ve seen elsewhere. This wax brush on Amazon was around $20.

Annie Sloan (or other brand) chalk paint is not cheap, so I try to save where I can when it doesn’t make a difference in quality.

I ended up buying sample containers of Florence and Aubusson Blue. We tried several different variations of these two colors, but ended up deciding that a 50/50 mix gave me the deep teal color I had seen on Pinterest.

I usually paint or change out the hardware when I redo a piece of furniture, but I loved the handles on this cabinet. They were in perfect condition and looked great with the white.

I ended up buying sample containers of Florence and Aubusson Blue. We tried several different variations of these two colors, but ended up deciding that a 50/50 mix gave me the deep teal color I had seen on Pinterest.

I can’t believe how much more I love this cabinet. Right now it is in my kitchen, but I might move it to my living room once we finish the office remodel. I really feel like it could go anywhere in the house and I’m excited about the possibilities.

Before/ After. 

I ended up buying sample containers of Florence and Aubusson Blue. We tried several different variations of these two colors, but ended up deciding that a 50/50 mix gave me the deep teal color I wanted.

I’m addicted (lol) to painted furniture. I know many people love the look of wood, and I do to at times, but I just love how painted furniture looks in my house!

I ended up buying sample containers of Florence and Aubusson Blue. We tried several different variations of these two colors, but ended up deciding that a 50/50 mix gave me the deep teal color I wanted.

What do you prefer? Painted or natural?

 

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.