Category Archives: Personal Post

He’s Here!

That moment when the baby you thought you’d never get is placed onto your chest and into your heart forever…

We are a big happy, overwhelmed, exhausted mess over here, but I wanted to pop in really quick to let you know that our sweet baby boy has finally arrived!

Samuel Joseph Duesterhaus was born this past Thursday evening, weighing in at 8 lb 6oz, 20.5″ long. After trying my hardest to walk and wish myself into labor, we opted to induce delivery a few days after my due date. Having been induced with Henry, it was the very last thing I wanted; however, the day and the delivery couldn’t have gone better. We’re now home and recovering and completely smitten with our new little guy. And Henry – we knew he’d do great…but the genuine love, care, and interest he has already shown Sam has made my Mama heart burst over and over again!

Thank you so much to all of your for your well wishes, thoughts and prayers! We’ll be hunkered down here for a little while as we adjust to our new pace of life so posts will be sporadic. But I will be back next Tuesday with my kitchen printable project reveal, so be sure to pop back in then. Happy New Year, sweet readers!

P.S. If you haven’t taken my annual Reader Survey yet, I’d love if you did so here!! Thanks so much to all of you who have already provided invaluable feedback!

2016 THIHM Reader Survey!

Your feedback is invaluable to me! I appreciate you taking a few minutes to provide your thoughts on the projects, posts and initiatives on The Homes I Have Made!

Hello and Merry Christmas, sweet readers! I hope you and yours’ had a wonderful holiday full of joy, merriment, relaxation and happy memories. We are still anxiously awaiting Baby Boy’s arrival and trying to soak in every bit of family time and holiday cheer as we can in our remaining days (hours?) as a family of three. I also want to thank you all for your thoughts, suggestions and support on my last post. It’s always so nice to hear from you guys on what you really think and I was so comforted and excited by everything you all said! Hugs!

I’m trying to lay low as much as possible; but as promised last week, I wanted to pop in with my annual end-of-the-year Reader Survey. I have conducted a survey here on the blog for the last few years; and each time, I am always amazed at what valuable feedback I get from you all! With each answer you all click and type, I gain insights to your reader experience, ways I can improve, and awesome ideas for upcoming content. I am so excited to read what you all have to say this year!

I tried to keep the survey quick and to-the-point this year so it should only take you a few minutes. For those of you visiting the site directly, you should be able to log your responses right in the form below. If you’re in a blog reader, you’ll need to click over to the site to enter your responses. Lastly, if you’re having trouble here on the blog for some reason, you can also visit the survey HERE!


I SO appreciate you taking the time to give me some feedback on everything I share here on the blog! In the next month or so, I’ll be back to share the results and give you some updates and sneak peeks of things to come in 2017! Until then…continue enjoying your holiday and Happy New Year!

Christmas Coffee Break

Happy Tuesday-Before-Christmas, Friends! I hope you are all enjoying the final few days/weeks of this fun holiday season and are ready for all the gift-giving and merriment that is just a few days away! I had intentions for a different blog schedule this week; but in all honesty, I think I am ready to cry “Mercy!” I usually hit some good blog burnout this time of year and take some time off by now. Although I could feel the fatigue creeping in a few weeks ago, I tried to keep going strong knowing I would be taking some time off once baby came. This past weekend, I found myself stuck between wanting to knock out a ton of things before baby came (yep, still not here!) and just wanting to sit and relax, soak in and savor every moment of this exciting, scary, overwhelming, and special time for our family. The later sentiment rightly won out so I didn’t snap any photos of our holiday home or prepare my end-of-year survey. Instead, we went to see Santa, watched a Year Without a Santa Claus (my fav!), made some cookies, and finished up some shopping. So I didn’t leave you hanging here at the end of the year, I thought I’d pop in with one more coffee break post before checking out on Christmas/maternity break! Read on to find out the latest on Baby, the blog and other life happenings!

Taking a few minutes to slow down, catch up, and share some thoughts about home, life, baby and more!

Bump Update

I am 39 weeks today and the little babe is still cooking. Between Henry being 3 weeks early and all the Braxton Hicks contractions I’ve been having for a month, I’m admittedly shocked to still be pregnant. I thought for sure he would be here before Christmas; but with just days to go, I’m starting to think I might be opening presents with a still very round belly! I’m not horribly uncomfortable (although the numb hands I’ve had for the past month due to pregnancy-induced carpel tunnel are NOT fun!); I just really wanted him to be here for Christmas. We are now heading into a situation where we could be in the hospital on Christmas Eve or Day. We have all sorts of contingencies in place for Henry and for Santa/presents, but I am still hoping we won’t need to use any of them. As many of you long-time readers know, my birthday is on Christmas, so my family knows a thing or two about Christmas babies. And while I think it would be super special to share a Christmas birthday with this little one, I just can’t shake the visions I have of our family of 4 around the tree on Christmas morning. I know, I know…babies come on their own time…but any prayers and good vibes to get this baby out before Christmas would sure be appreciated 😉

Last week, on a whim, I hired a photographer to do a maternity photo shoot. Anyone who knows me knows that this is SO outside my personality. But in recent weeks I’ve been reflecting a lot on what a difference a year makes. I can distinctly remember my mental state last Christmas. I was pretty much completely out of hope, feeling betrayed and frustrated by my body’s inability to get pregnant. The readings at church this time of year were painful to listen to, and I couldn’t look at a pregnant belly without holding back tears. Now a year later, I have wiggles and kicks (and heartburn!) alive inside of me, and we are practically consumed with the anticipation, hope, and excitement of how our family is about to change. This year, I feel so grateful for this body of mine and for the chance to get to carry another baby. If our journey has taught us anything, it’s that we don’t know what the future holds. So while I don’t love the way I look or feel, capturing this crazy wonderful time on “film” suddenly felt right. We haven’t gotten the photos back from the photographer yet, but I will likely share on Instagram once we do 🙂

Christmas Blog Content – Where Do You Stand?

I am beginning to think I should start taking December off of blogging each year. Every single year I struggle SO much with blog content in December. I am usually burnt out from various projects, commitments (and moving!), and putting together holiday content just overwhelms me for some reason. I don’t know how other bloggers churn out SO much holiday content at the end of a full year AND amidst all the hustle and bustle this time brings. Scrolling my Instagram feed sure is inspiring but it makes me tired just looking at all those pretty pictures, lol! I find myself wanting to post organizing posts and other house updates, but worry they would get lost or overlooked among all the holiday content. This is the second year in a row that I really couldn’t bring myself to deck our halls like crazy. Last year our whole life felt so temporary and this year, well…#baby. Admittedly, seasonal decorating really isn’t my “thing,” and the clutter and fuss (and cost!) of it all weighs on me. But as a blogger, it feels like some strange responsibility that I am neglecting. I also can’t get on the bandwagon to decorate my house super early, which puts me behind the curve when that content needs to be posted. I’m starting to wonder if my energies would be better spent in December taking some time off, preparing content and posts for the New Year and making site/backend updates rather than forcing myself to keep up in a race I don’t really feel like running. I’d really love to hear your perspectives as readers! Do you love all the holiday content that is overflowing blogs and social media right now, or is it all just too much to take in? I bet you can guess which camp I’m in 😉

The Next Few Weeks

Next week, I plan to have my annual end-of-the-year reader survey up for you all to take. I do hope you will take a few minutes to give me some feedback, as I take it all to heart in order to make this platform as fun and helpful to all of us! Some of the most successful things I’ve done here on the blog came directly from ideas and suggestions from you all so I can’t wait to read what you all have to say this year! Look for that next Tuesday.

Beyond that, I am planning on taking some time off over the next month or so to snuggle our sweet new baby boy. However, I don’t have intentions of disappearing all together…I hope to pop in here in there with a few announcements and posts. It will take me a little bit of time to find a new rhythm to life and the blog; but once we do, I’ll be sure to update you on when exactly I’ll be posting since I know many of you check the blog directly on post days. I so appreciate your understanding, encouragement and support as we navigate this new and exciting time!

(Pssssttt – Although I am sure I’ll be popping in before then, be sure to check back here on January 10th for the reveal of my big kitchen printable project that I am so excited about! You won’t want to miss it!)

THIHM Around the Web

Last but not least, I thought I’d close out for the week with a quick little round-up of my posts and projects that have been featured around the web in the last 2 months. I realize it’s a little late for some of these projects this year, but you can always pin or bookmark for next year! Click right on the photos to head to the post:


I hope you all have a very, very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Send lots of good labor vibes my way, and keep an eye on Instagram for first news of little man’s arrival! Much love to all of you and see you back here soon!

October Coffee Break

Taking a few minutes to slow down, catch up, and share some thoughts about home, life, baby and more!

Hey Everyone! Another month has come to a close, so I thought it was a good time for another “Coffee Break.” I was so super excited to see how much you guys liked this new approach to my monthly round-up…and honestly, I really love having this fun, informal, catch-up-style post to on my schedule to look forward to at the end of each month. Soooo…grab a cup of coffee (or whatever suits you!) and let’s catch up on random thoughts and life happenings this month!

Baby Update

As of today, I am 32 weeks pregnant! Thanks in part to the One Room Challenge and a few other things I have on my plate, time seems to be flying faster than ever. When Henry started school back in August, it felt like I had all the time in the world to knock out a million projects and other life-related things before baby arrived. Yet here we are at the beginning of November, and I’ve hardly cracked away at any of them! What’s even crazier is that Henry was 3 weeks early, so it feels like we could be as close as 5 weeks out from having this baby – eeek! BUT – with each passing day and each baby-related project that gets crossed off our list, all three of us grow more and more excited! We ordered Henry this book and besides having his name in it, it’s also a super cute story that does a pretty good job of describing both the fun and not-so-fun parts of being a Big Brother. Henry is pretty much obsessed with the book, and we read it at least once a day. If you are prepping a little boy to become a big brother, I definitely recommend checking it out!

Aside from the insomnia that seems to hit me at 3am each and every day and the exhaustion which now sets in at about 8:45 every single night….I’m feeling pretty good! Admittedly, Greg and I have started to mentally freak out a bit as the reality of this huge life change starts to come into focus. Henry has really become so independent in the last few months, that we’re struggling a bit to wrap our brains around what it will be like to start back at the very beginning again…and more so what that means for our life as we know it right now. As you guys know, we wouldn’t trade it for anything, but man there is A LOT you forget about in 5 years! I know a lot of you out there have kiddos with a big age gap between them – any advice for getting back into the baby groove OR things we might not yet be tracking on would be very much appreciated!

Do You Use a Cleaning Routine?

So…one thing I have been reeeeaaallllyyy struggling with in recent months is keeping our house clean. And when I say clean…I mean BOTH picked up AND clean. I don’t know what my problem is – well, bigger house and bigger belly are two good guesses! Usually, I can keep a pretty good handle on our house-related chores, but lately it feels like both our cleaning and picking-up routines have pretty much gone AWOL, and we all-too-often find ourselves with a house completely out of control. So much to the point that we had to stop everything and dedicate an entire day earlier this month to get everything put away and freshly cleaned. Both Greg and I acknowledge that we are in major need of some sort of “Clean Routine” – and of course, my obvious solution is to create a system/printable/project out of it – but before I do so, I wanted to check-in with you all! When I mentioned our laundry routine during last month’s coffee break, you guys chimed in with some great advice and tips! So…I would LOVE to hear what kind of cleaning tips, tricks, and ideas you guys lean on regularly to keep your house tidy and your sanity in check.

Email Management

Another area I have been really struggling with lately is keeping on top of my email. It’s not that I get a TON of email; but I’ve gotten into the habit of checking my email on my phone (because I don’t like that little red number telling me how many un-read emails I have), but then I forget/run out of time to ultimately respond and/or act on the emails. In an effort to find a better system, I stumbled upon THIS super helpful post by my friend Natalie of Refined Rooms. I’m still working on finalizing a system that will work for me (and you better bet I will share it here once I do!), but one of her recommendations has been such a game changer for me, I wanted to share it now!


Natalie introduced me to which is a free service that allows you to not only see but also unsubscribe to all of your mailing list emails in a single swoop. Seriously, you guys. I’m obsessed. All you do is enter your email address. It scans for all your subscriptions, and then you can choose to either “Keep in Inbox, ” “Add to Roll-Up,” or “Unsubscribe” for each and every one. Sure, the one-click unsubscribe function is awesome…but it’s actually the daily “Roll Up” emails I am loving the most. There are some email subscriptions that I want to read, but I don’t want to be distracted by them throughout the day. I’ve designated all these emails to come to me at the end of the day, rolled up into a single email. While I’m sitting on the couch or at soccer practice, I can go through the emails and read/digest/act on anything that is important/interesting. This simple unsubscribe+roll-up combo already has me feeling like I can better control my Inbox! I highly recommend you check it out…just don’t unsubscribe from my mailing list, okay 😉

A Comment on Comments

While I’m on the topic of emails, I did want to make a quick comment on comments. I love, love, love getting comments from you guys, whether it’s on social media or here on the posts themselves. Seriously. It really helps me remember that you guys are out there…reading, engaging, enjoying, etc; as well as gauge what you guys really like and find most helpful. I realize it takes time and effort for you to leave comments, so I also try to make the time and effort to respond to them. BUT…I am having a tough time keeping on top of comments. At one point, I was spending between 3-5 hours a week replying to comments, which was honestly sucking me a bit dry. Hopefully once I get my email system in better order, I can also identify a quicker and easier way to respond to you guys. Until then, please know that I read, love and cherish every single comment you make, and I am trying to do my best to answer/respond, especially when there is a very specific question. Also, I’m just curious – do you guys have any strong feelings about the platform Disqus for leaving comments? It certainly makes responding to comments much easier on my end, but I know some avid blog readers don’t like it. Feel free to chime in if you care either way!

A Quick Wreath Hack I’m Loving Right Now

When I was shopping for props for my Apple Cart project, I came across a super simple, oversized straw wreath at HomeGoods. I didn’t end up using it in the photo shoot and was planning on returning it; but then I realized it was a pretty great “neutral” wreath to have for this time of year. See…I am realizing that I don’t really LOVE seasonal decorating – am I even allowed to admit that as a decor/DIY blogger?!? I love decorating my house, but seasonal stuff tends to stress me out and leads to an accumulation of more stuff around the house. When I realized I could hang this simple straw wreath in September and with a few simple tweaks, leave it up until I put up a Christmas wreath, I felt like finally found a holiday decorating strategy that works for me! All of September, the wreath was just plain on our door. Up until last night, my wreath looked like this for all of October (by the way, you can see how to make the cute spider bow here!):

Super Simple Halloween Wreath

Today, I am going to swap out the spider bow for a Fall plaid bow for November/Thanksgiving (I’ll share on Instagram once I do!). I love that I can now store one, simple wreath (at least for this time of year!) and make a new/seasonal bow as I desire, rather than trying to come up (and store) something for my door every month/holiday!

THIHM Around the Web

Last but not least, I wanted to close out this month’s Coffee Break with a round-up of my posts and projects that have been featured around the world wide web this month. As usual, keep in mind that these posts will never appear here on THIHM; so to visit the post, just click right on the pictures!

Should You DIY or HIre Out Your Move Out Cleaning? Strategies for Cutting the Cost of Moving Line Your Drawers Like a Pro 3 Super Simple Halloween Wreaths

I hope you all had a fantastic and safe Halloween celebration last night! I’ll be back here on Thursday with our next One Room Challenge installment – a look at our finished closet! See you then!

Megan Signature

September Coffee Break

Taking a few minutes to slow down, catch up, and share some thoughts about home, life, baby and more!

Hi Guys! As I’ve hinted at here and there, I’m tweaking the format of my monthly project round-ups to a new series I am calling “Coffee Break.” For a while now, I’ve realized my THIHM Around the Web posts weren’t the most fun, exciting, or interesting posts for you or me; AND I’ve been craving a way to just chat more informally here on the blog about the house, our family, the baby, our life, etc without feeling like it has to fit neatly into a project tutorial or house update. I’m not yet sure if these will be monthly or just when I’m feeling chatty; but hopefully you all will enjoy this glimpse into our life, and it will allow us all to connect and get to know each other a bit more!

Bump Update

Oh you guys – we are just one giddy and excited household over here as we wait and prepare for Baby. I’m 27 weeks tomorrow (starting my third trimester already?!?!?), and I can’t believe how fast time is going! I’m pretty sure I can thank having a busy 5 year old, a busy blog business, and a “new” house for filling up all my time! Is it really October tomorrow? (Oh gosh – that means I need to start thinking about Halloween costumes!) I remember with Henry that I was very content waiting all 40 weeks for him to arrive; then he came 3 weeks early, and I was actually a little bummed to miss those last 3 weeks of pregnancy. This time around though, I feel very impatient. I’ve got a few big projects I really want to finish before he gets here (more on that in a bit), but I find myself just wanting him here now…not because I’m done being pregnant. Rather because I just can’t wait to see him and see how Henry reacts to him. If how Henry acts toward Baby now is any indication (he is always snuggling up and talking to him in my belly), I think my heart is going to burst. I told Henry the other day that I wanted Baby here now, and he said to me, “Mom, you will just have to wait. He’s not ready yet.” Hmmmm – wonder where he’s heard that before?!?

In general, I am feeling pretty good. I’m a little bummed out that I don’t feel quite as fit, limber, and overall fine as I did when I was pregnant with Henry. I guess 6 more years in age will do that to you. I am definitely feeling more of the typical aches and pains of pregnancy (heart burn, swollen feet) and feel like I put on weight so much faster this time around (which is why you most likely won’t see a baby bump picture here or on social media). But Baby is healthy, wiggling, and growing, and I’m still so thankful he’s coming…so I’ll happily take on whatever else this pregnancy brings!

Nursery Plans

One of the big projects that I want to get done before Baby arrives is the nursery. I have been plotting and planning and fabric selecting and paint testing for the last few weeks, and I am so darn excited at the direction we are going! Kids’ rooms are my favorite to work on because you can really go wild with color and pattern. Don’t worry – you are not going to have to wait long to see – nursery posts and projects will kick off one week from today.  Beyond just being excited for Baby though, it’s also been really fun to get back into a “room makeover” frame of mind. So much of the last few months has been trying to fit and tweak our existing stuff to work in this new home…which is good and valuable and interesting in its own right. But it has been so refreshing to start from scratch and just brainstorm, plan, and have fun!

Random But Helpful…

This is so random, but each and every week when I’m doing it, I think “I should share this on the blog.” It’s not all that revolutionary (and something I am sure some of you are doing too), but it’s changed our laundry routine so much that I thought I’d share.

For almost our entire marriage (almost 11 years), I have folded our clean laundry on Sunday nights while watching TV. We’d move all the loads through during the day, then make a huge pile on the floor, and I would unwind from the weekend by folding it all and loading it into person-specific baskets. Not always but quite often however, laundry would STAY in the laundry baskets all week…clean and folded…just not put away. For whatever reason, that final step was hard for all of us to carry through on on Sunday nights at the end of a long weekend.

Then a few months ago, Greg started throwing the piles of clean clothes onto OUR bed as they came out of the dryer. So I would then go in there throughout the day and fold whatever was clean and dry and stack it up in piles on OUR bed. Wouldn’t you know that it is SO much quicker and easier to fold and put away laundry when you are in the same room it eventually goes in? Plus…we can’t go to sleep without putting all the laundry away first. So not only does it save us time by skipping that middle basket step, but the laundry actually gets put away each and every week! It’s worked so well for us that we’ve now started folding Henry’s cloths in his room, making piles on his bed. He can now go in and put everything away all by himself! It’s the little things, people!

Things I’m Loving Right Now

*affiliate links

  • Apple Music – I’ve been frustrated with Pandora for a while now, so Greg and I went looking for something new and decided to give the 3 free month trial a try. We are totally hooked since we can pretty much play any album from the iTunes library at any time. Lately – I’m jamming to Neil Diamond! So random, but it makes me think of home and my Mom.
  • Fruit and Tart Candy – Lately, I’ve been loving the taste of jelly beans, gummies, and other fruit and tart candy. I’m pretty sure pregnancy has everything to do with it since I’m usually a “don’t even bother unless it has chocolate in it”-type girl. My Dad came to visit last weekend and had some fruit-flavored Mentos with him. I haven’t had them in forever, and man, those were the best!
  • Powerbeats Wireless Ear Buds – I bought these for Greg last year for Christmas, but I have been using them every day for my walks in recent months. We have tried a lot of wireless ear buds over the years, and we BOTH love these….to the point where we might need another pair! They pair really easily to my phone, fit snug, and never fall out. #notsponsored – just something we really love!

THIHM Around the Web!

Last but not least, I still plan to link up all the articles and projects I’ve created for other sites each month at the end of these Coffee Break posts. In many ways, my free-lance work allows me to create content here on THIHM, and I do think some of the projects and topics will continue to interest you (I hope!). As usual, these posts/tutorials will never appear here on THIHM, so just click on the picture to head straight to the articles!

Things to Check Before You Sign Your Lease Ways to Ensure You Get Back Your Security Deposit Things to Do After You Move Into Your Next Rental Clever Spots to Carve Out More Storage  DIY Chore Chart School Work Display Frames DIY Monogram Key Chains

Alright….with that, I’m going to sign off for the week! I’d love to hear what you think of this new casual post and/or if you have any great tips/tricks that have rocked your daily life lately? Share in the comments below!

Next week: a look inside our kitchen drawers AND nursery plans! See you then!

Megan Signature