Around the Haus – Vol. 3

By | Random | No Comments

I’ve got a ton of posts to write up on the house and projects, but I’m having a hard time finding a moment to do so! So here’s the abbreviated version of our lives lately, along with some other random things thrown in. Have fun!

Holman Ave - Under Contract

THE HOLMAN HOUSE – Quick big news‚ÄĒwe are under contract with a buyer on the Holman house. It went so fast (3 days!). THANK GOD THE LORD ALMIGHTY. I’m not allowing myself to completely relax or celebrate until we close, but we are thrilled. If you have a house you are even considering putting on the market, DO IT RIGHT NOW. The market is insane. I didn’t believe it, but I saw it with my own two eyes. I am so glad we took the big risk that we did.

Beetle Nursery on Design Sponge

NURSERY FEATURE – Otto’s beetle nursery was featured on Design*Sponge on Friday. You can read my post on it here. So that was fun! I had been feeling glum about our current home living in the shadow of the Holman house, so it feels good to get our current home some Internet play. I’m not sure if that’s good that I even care about that, but such is a blogger’s life.

Image from

PRESENT OVER PERFECT BUT? – Can we talk about the book “Present Over Perfect” for a second? Have you all read this book? It’s essentially a story of a woman’s transition from being overscheduled, overstressed and overproductive into a life of intention and peacefulness. I am THE target for the book…. I am the “before” person she mentions without a doubt. There are some excerpts from the book that rocked me to my core because they are SO ME. Like this one…

“Fake resting… it looks like I’m resting, too. But I’m not. I’m ticking down an endless list, sometimes written, always mental, getting things back into their right spots, changing the laundry, wiping down the countertops.”

And this one…

“I don’t operate in ‘later.’ I’ve always been proud of that. But look where it’s gotten me. Stuffed. Exhausted. Wrung out and over-scheduled to the point where even things I love to do sound like obligations, and all my deepest desires and fantasies involve sleep and being left alone. My greatest dream is to be left alone? Things have gone terribly awry.”

WOW. That’s me on my worst days. *raises hand*

However, I finished the book feeling… lost? I read it again, looking for the advice I needed to help step off the crazy train but found none. There were tales of buying nice pajamas and living the lake life everyday, and while those are all lovely, personal stories of her newfound calm, what exactly do I do with mine? I was hoping for some detail on exactly how she made this transition. How did she prioritize? What did she get rid of first? How did she stop caring about those dang countertops? So yea, the book did a great job at convincing me I’m a super strange psycho, but left me with zero idea on what to do next. Any one else feel that way?

DECK PROJECT – In other news, I am trying to work up the nerve to get our back deck stained and its floor painted. (Yes, I see the irony in this based on what I just wrote above.) It’s a huge job and I have exactly one hour of free time during the week, 9pm to 10pm, so that’s out. And the weekends are complicated, because you know, three kids. So I will probably take a vacation day from work to do it and how adult/depressing is that? One good news here… HomeRight is going to sponsor me on it, so the sprayer and some of the other goodies they sent me will make easier work of it. Thank you HomeRight.

Holman House Office Staged to Sell

STAGING THE HOLMAN HOUSE – Back to the Holman house, I need to do a post on all the staging and improvements we did to get the house ready for sale. It’s coming, but it’s going to be a bear to write. If you’ve seen the listing photos, it doesn’t look anything like the house it used to. Which is actually a good thing. It needed some updating and some simplification, that is for sure. I think it worked in our favor. We spent a decent amount of money to do it to get it done fast, so I’ll recap that too and how we made those decisions. Be patient with me.

OTTO TURNED 3 MONTHS OLD – Our little boy Otto turned 3 months a few days ago. He is a dream. He’s so different than how I remember my boys at that age and I think that’s a good thing. I like that he has his own little thing going on. He’s great a blowing bubbles. And he’s strong as heck… loves to kick and stand on my lap. He hates to nap, but loves to sleep at night. And he’s so serious! A big thinker, that is for sure. ūüėČ

POOL FOR THE BIG BOYS – We bought this cheap inflatable pool for the boys (and ok, us) and it’s got us all so excited. It’s so easy to just walk outside and jump in. The boys stay entertained for a good hour and they love it. Nixon loves to dive right in, while TT likes to stand outside the pool and lean in to play. I totally get the whole pool thing now. It really makes you feel like you’re living a good summer.

FIDGET SPINNIN’ – The boys got Aaron this fidget spinner for Father’s Day and I cannot get that whizzing sound it makes out of my head. I hear it in my sleep, in my office, while I’m walking to my car… it haunts me! No regrets though. He loves that thing.

AWESOME DRESS FIND – I bought this dress from Nordstrom and I plan to live in it all summer. Super affordable ($40!) and the cut is so cute, even with the dang 15 extra pounds my body loves to hold on to until I wean Otto.

Image from Route Fifty Vintage Campers

GETTING READY FOR CAMPING – All of us are going camping in early August for a little mini vacation/family reunion. Last year we had the twins with us in a tent, but even I am not daring enough to do a 4-month old, two toddlers and two adults in a 6-person tent. We looked into a million different options (RV, hotel, bigger tent, etc.) and finally just reserved a 1964 Winnebago from Route Fifty Vintage Campers. It was the best option in terms of affordability ($90 bucks a night compared to $250+ with RV’s!) plus somewhat feasible/least chaotic with 3 little kids. And get this, they’re going to deliver it and set it all up for us at our campsite. Fingers crossed.

A post shared by Emily May (@shopthebrothersmay) on

SHOP THE BROTHERS MAY CLOSET – If any of you have babies and toddlers you are trying to clothe, I’m going to be listing some of Nixon, Teller and Otto’s good stuff on this instagram account – @shopthebrothersmay. We have too much!



Ok, that’s all for now. I’ll be back soon!




Affiliate links are used. 

Better Snacking With Lorissa’s Kitchen

By | Random | 3 Comments

This post is sponsored by Lorissa’s Kitchen. Psssttt… there’s a 20% off coupon for Lorissa’s Kitchen on Amazon at the end of this post!

Can we talk snacking for a hot second? I know this is completely off-topic, but since my brain has been encompassed by food thoughts lately, I’m going to go for it. Since December I’ve gone through a huge shift in the way I think about food. It all started with a¬†gestational diabetes diagnosis with Otto‚ÄĒit threw me for a loop! I had to completely change my normal foods and snacks¬†in order to keep my numbers in check. And while it was a total pain in the booty, it was all for the best because I felt amazing! Even hugely pregnant, I had tons of energy and I attribute that most to my change in diet. Without that diagnosis, there is no way I would have had the accountability or dedication that I did. Nothing keeps you accountable like, “Hey, if you can’t keep your numbers down you’re going to have a huge baby with big shoulders and you won’t be able to deliver him!” or something like that. No thanks!

The best part about gestational diabetes is that it generally goes away after the baby is delivered, and that was the case with me. BUT… I didn’t want to lose my dedication to better eating and better snacking. I did not want to lose the way I felt.

One of my secret snacking weapons? Lorissa’s Kitchen meat snacks. Have you heard of them?

Snacking with Lorissa's Kitchen

They reached out in hopes of doing some promotions on my blog and sent me an intro¬†to their products. I had to laugh… I think I know them better than they do… LOL! So I happily agreed.

My favorite is the Korean Barbeque… it has just enough of a kick that it satisfies the need for something super savory and hearty, with a touch of that smoked/grilled taste. The texture is what you’d expect from a jerky-like product‚ÄĒmaybe a little softer‚ÄĒbut tastes¬†much more gourmet and seasoned.

Snacking with Lorissa's Kitchen

There are four flavors overall and each features a different type of animal protein‚ÄĒpork, beef and chicken. Each serving (there’s about 2.5 servings per bag) is 11g of protein, 6g of sugar and 1g (!) of fat. Pretty good, right?

Here’s a look at the other three flavors:

Snacking with Lorissa's Kitchen

Snacking with Lorissa's Kitchen

Snacking with Lorissa's Kitchen

(Do you like my pretty fern background? Mainly because the interior of my house is a disaster zone right now!! We are staging the first house to sell and crap is everywhere!)

Snacking with Lorissa's Kitchen

Anyways, back to the LK meat snacks. They’ve got all the badges good snacks could have: 100% grass-fed beef, antibiotic-free chicken and pork, gluten free, no nitrates, no preservatives and no added MSG. Not too shabby for a packaged snack product. You can read more about the products on their website. Interested in how it all got started? Here’s their story.

And psssttt… here’s how to enter to win a big ‘ole bag of Lorissa’s Kitchen for yourself. I believe it’s also how you get your hands off a 20% off coupon¬†(you’ll have to enter your email) on Amazon.

Happy snacking!!



On Deciding To Sell Our First Home (Versus Renting It Out)

By | Covington House, Haus Hacks | One Comment

On Deciding to Sell Versus Rent

After much hemming and hawing over the big rent vs. sell decision, we made the decision last week to sell (or at least, attempt to sell) our first home! You know, the one with the cool kitchen and the ostrich bathroom? You know, the house that unlocked this little DIY/decorator heart of mine? Sigh.

It was a tough decision to make, but here are all the reasons why we decided to list our home for sale¬†versus rent it out. I know many¬†people face this type of decision at some point in their lives, so I’m hoping this post can be another piece of info you can add to¬†your bank of knowledge as you set out on a similar adventure.

OK, so here are all the reasons why we’ve decided to list our home for sale.

1.) Landlord Life Is Not For Us

The house has been a rental for the last two years, so we’ve lived the landlord life for that period of time. And while we were blessed with an amazing renter (seriously, it couldn’t have worked out better!!), the surprise phone calls and maintenance¬†needs¬†were tough on our already hectic lives and schedules. I hated that feeling of being on pins and needles… wincing when a text came through. It all comes down to control. As a type A freak who plans out everything and tries to accommodate every possible future obstacle, I still could not nail down the needs of a house we do not live in. Many friends suggested a property manager, but it was not a smart financial move for us given the profit margin was super slim anyways.

2.) It Doesn’t Make Sense Financially

When I bought the place in 2008, the interest rate on the mortgage was at a then-low 5.5%. The biggest mistake we made with this house is that we did not refinance to the 3.5-4% rates that exist today before we moved out. And now that the property is not owner occupied, the terms of refinancing became much more strict. For us in the state of Kentucky, we had to have much more equity in the home than we do to refinance. And dear Lord, I am SO TIRED of paying 5.5% interest rate. We would have to stay the course about 3 more years, or pay down with a big wad of cash and neither of hose options sound great.

3.) The Updates We Made May Lose Their Value Over Time

We made a ton of aesthetic updates to the house over time. Many of them happened in 2014‚ÄĒnew kitchen, new box gutters, updated bathroom and modernized exterior. The longer we wait to sell, the greater the chance that these updates will become outdated. Say it stays a rental for the next 10 years. All of those things will need a refresh should we decide to sell at that time.¬†And that kills me! I don’t want our hard work to be lost in a rental.

4.) The Housing Market is HOT Right Now

We’ve been told over and over again… the Cincinnati market (especially for sellers) is excellent right now. So we decided to look into it. The market is moving at an incredibly fast pace¬†and demand is high‚ÄĒso high that it seems to be outpacing actual inventory available. I assume this perceived “lack of inventory” is making potential buyers antsy, causing them to move quickly and aggressively when they do find a place, all of which works in our favor. Fingers crossed!

5.) A Rental Property Was/Is Never Our Long Game Strategy

Through all of this, we’ve had to consistently remind ourselves of our long term plan when it comes to investments and income streams. Guess what’s not on our list? Rental properties. We did the rental thing for two years for this house because we felt¬†backed in a corner. Our twins were about to be born, we needed a larger house and we did not want the stress of selling added to our plates. Our renter came to us and was ready to move in… we needed the comfort of that security at that time. But perhaps even a bigger note to make‚ÄĒrenting actually keeps us from doing something we DO want to do and that is to dabble in the business of flipping houses. It’s hard to do that with a pesky second mortgage already on our plate.

6.)¬†We’re Young Enough to Take Risks

To play devil’s advocate here… one of the biggest pros to keeping it as a rental property is that it’s coming at perhaps the worst time ever, financially speaking. We are about to add a third kid to our full-time daycare roster and the cost increase is huge. So daycare, plus carrying the first home’s mortgage while it’s on the market means an increase of about $1900 to our monthly bills.¬†Barf-o-rama. But you know what? It’s going to be OK. Being on a rice and beans budget isn’t going to kill us. We have a safety net at this time in our lives that allows us to take a financial risk like this. And it’s only temporary. (But you won’t see me at Target anytime soon.)

7.) If It Doesn’t Work Out, The Landlord Life Wasn’t That Bad

I have to admit‚ÄĒI’m incredibly nervous about this house selling.¬†Everyone tells me it will (good location, updated, big basement, etc. etc.), but the pessimist in me tends to expect the worst. And if the worst does happen and we find ourselves still on the market in the Fall…. well you know what?¬†We’ll rent it out and take a break for another year or so. We always have that to fall back on. And we’ll hire a damn property manager. ūüėČ

8.) We Can Use The Equity To Increase the Value of Our Current Home

Perhaps the greatest upside to this whole thing is that we do have a decent amount of equity in our first home (although not enough for refinancing… see above… grumble).¬†And me being me I already have that money spent! We have big plans to finish our basement in our current home (see my 2017 house goals), which will add a second living area (read: child-fueled destruction zone) and a bathroom. That will be huge for this house!


So that’s all folks. Eight reasons why we’re working hard to get our first home on the MLS versus accepting another renter. I’m glad I did this post… I think I may have re-convinced myself! ūüėČ

And now it’s time to get to work!¬†We have a ton of projects happening over there to spiff it back up and I’ll share all of that with you. We’re also going to stage the heck out of it on a super budget, something I’m excited to share more of once I’ve gathered all my goodies. My first house love is getting its final hurrah!



8 Reasons Why We Decided to Sell vs. Rent -