Making Room For Your Passion When Life Is Already Full

By | Random | 11 Comments

I get asked all the time how I do it all—how do I work full-time, spend quality time with my kids, be a good wife and do all the projects and writing that is associated with having a blog/design business? Oh and a relatively new one—start a kids’ used clothes Instagram shop.

Well, for one, I don’t really do it all. And I certainly don’t have everything figured out. Some days I feel bad at everything (like Monday… Monday was a bad one for me).

For me, it’s all about a shift in how I think, so I thought I’d share that. And of course, I always love hearing how you find the time in your busy lives for the things you love, too. What are some of your tips and tricks?

First, let’s talk passions. What is yours?

For me, a passion is the thing I have to do, even just a little bit, in order to feel like my best self. It’s also what I would choose to do, without a doubt, if money and obligations and general adult-ness weren’t an issue. And my passion, specifically, is making spaces pretty and all of the DIY, decor and construction mess that goes along with that.

When you realize you have a passion and get to spend time on that passion, a whole new world opens up. It took me most of my adult life to realize mine, even though it was right in front of me for much longer than that. For me, I wanted to be more than just my 9-5 job. Life is too great and too full of potential to be so one-dimensional. I have a great job, but I was looking for more. And you might be one of the lucky ones—where your full time job is also your passion.

If you haven’t found your passion yet, keep looking. Chances are it’s right in front of you. It could be something simple—like reading books or something more intense—like starting a business. Passions don’t necessarily have to translate to money. That’s the beauty (and evil… ha!) of passions.

To be my best self, I have to spend time doing what I love.

That right there is how I have the time. I make it a priority in my life. It lifts me up and makes me feel good. That’s how this whole blog got started in the first place—I wanted to share that joy with others and document my journey in some way. And honestly, I was hoping there were more people out there like me. I never expected it to 1.) last 6 years and 2.) earn me some money along the way and 3.) meet a whole bunch of people who are also house freaks 🙂

If it’s important to you, you’ll find the time to do it.

There are 24 hours in a day. For example, one of the “omg how do you have time for that?” projects is getting our deck stained. This one is important to me because I care how the backyard looks. And so I find the time for it. My kids get up around 7:30 am, but light breaks around 5:30 am. That’s a good 2 hours of staining time, which might be just enough considering we plan to spray it versus hand brush. And we’ll do all the prepping the night before. (And be in bed by 10 pm, because that morning alarm will come quick. Ugh.)

And remember, what’s important to me may not be important to you. I can’t tell you the last time I went to the gym, or cooked a nice meal. And that’s OK.

I squeeze minutes out of every day.

I am always looking for ways to get more time out of my day. Let’s talk about the full-time job. My lunch break is 100% dedicated to my passion. It’s when I write posts, run out to grab supplies or research my next project. I joke that I’m a hermit at work during lunch time—I rarely go out with coworkers or sit and chat with a group. Sometimes it sucks and I miss that time, but I try to stay as focused as I can.

I consider my passions when making big decisions.

When your passions are considered alongside family and health when making a big decision, time becomes much easier to find. For example, when changing jobs I wanted to be sure to stay within a 10-mile radius of our house. Staying close allows me to run home when needed and finish any projects (and also to throw in a load of laundry). And in the winter, when there is no evening or morning light to speak of, I can run home and take any photos I need for the blog.

The window of 7am-8pm doesn’t exist in my mind.

I try to leave that window of time off the table as much as I can—that’s when it’s all about family. I’ll sometimes get a nap time here or there, but I don’t like to count on it. I didn’t always used to be good at this. I used to try to squeeze out time during that window, but it just ended up making me feel guilty and a terrible mom, so it’s been a helpful shift in thinking to keep that window off limits.

One of the really cool things that’s happened now that my kids are a little bit older, is I can get them involved in the projects I’m doing. It is an enormous exercise in patience (and I have to make sure it’s safe), but I love seeing how focused and interested they become in doing something new. And then it becomes rewarding for all of us.

Give yourself grace.

Please don’t think this is easy for me. It’s really, really tough. And some days I wonder if having my hand in so many things is really worth it. But so far, it has been. I love being able to spend time on sometime that gives me so much in return. Is it sustainable? I hope so—and I’ll continue until it doesn’t feel good or make sense to do so anymore.

I was talking with someone on this very topic the other day and they said the smartest thing: when you value something, time becomes less of an issue. Isn’t that so true? Staining the deck, painting a wall, taking photos—those might seem like chores to some, but for me, it’s a task that I absolutely look forward to and feel real benefit from. And because of that, time is often a non-issue.

How have you made room for passions in your own life? I’d love to hear about the hobbies or work that gets you going.



Image from 



How We Got Our First Home Ready To Sell

By | Covington House, Room Makeovers | 8 Comments

We never planned to put our first home up for sale a few weeks ago, but I am so glad we did. It sold! And in 3 days! So here’s what happened. Our renter notified us that she was planning a move, with May 31 being her last day. We had to make a quick decision–do we rent again or do we try to sell? We made the decision to sell for all the reasons we shared, and thought we could get the place ready in about 30 days. But that 30 days became 12 days, as we were advised to try to beat the doldrums of real estate in July.

12 days was insanity, but we did it. (And we had a lot of help.) Here was our plan:

Our Goals

  • Brighten up (and refresh!) the entire house
  • Fix/replace/repaint “high touch” areas like doors and door knobs
  • Reduce and simplify to make each space seem bigger
  • Make everything at eye level near perfect
  • Show off the light fixtures (because the good ones were staying!)
  • Make the floors and trim shine
  • Add thorough staging with super neutral, “everyone loves it” type of style

The Exterior

  • Powerwashing all the concrete and window sills
  • Replacing all exterior door hardware and locks
  • Landscaping—aka taming the giant jungle that had grown while we had been gone
  • Painting the porch floor and porch rails
  • Painting the front door
  • Painting the awning
  • Painting the back steps
  • “Refacing” the backyard’s chain link fence
  • Fixing the gate (it never closed properly)
  • Staging—plants, planters, etc.

All of that to say, things were looking rough…

I posted about the chipped door hardware on my Instagram stories (@gohausgo) last night. For those of you that have been reading for a long time, that was a project from over 6 years ago. (Holy crap!) Would I spray paint door hardware again? Probably not. It’s one of those DIY projects where the time invested and the end result do not at all equal just buying new. A deadbolt/privacy knob combo for two doors cost just $33 to replace. And no chipping. 🙂

Staging Our House To Sell (In 3 Days!)

I mention “refacing” the backyard’s chain link fence and here it is! The backyard fence is made up of three different fences (our neighbors each have a different style) and the most prominent one is a beat up chain link fence. I had been wanting to cover it up for years—it ended up being so easy! We bought three 16′ rolls of this reed fencing, which cost around $75 and took about two hours to do. We attached the reeds to the fence with brown zip ties.

Staging Our House To Sell (In 3 Days!)

A freshly painted porch… there’s nothing better! For the porch, I used all Sherwin Williams paint colors. Anonymous for the stairs, Tricorn Black for the front door and Shoji White for the railings. Here’s the front of the house when we were all done. I wish I would have painted the metal awnings… they look shabby in this photo, but throughout this entire thing I had to hold myself back. We only wanted to spend so much money (about $5k) to get everything done, so I had to pick the things that had the biggest impact. And we definitely had bigger fish to fry.

Staging Our House To Sell (In 3 Days!)

The Interior

  • Replacing all door hardware
  • Re-hanging the bedroom door
  • New carpet
  • Painting the office—doors, trim, ceiling and walls
  • Replacing the bedroom light
  • Adding a fresh coat of paint to living room walls and trims
  • Painting doors
  • Fixing the bathroom lighting
  • Major deep clean throughout
  • Clean out basement
  • And of course, staging staging staging

I had so much fun with the interior. One of the biggest changes we made inside was to the office. We neutralized the heck out of it! What once was a bold, dark and boldly patterned space with a million different purposes (office, dressing room, second bedroom, etc.) became a simple office space with a single desk and fresh carpet. It was painful to make that change (one of my favorite spaces!) but I was trying to keep my eye on the prize.

Staging Our House To Sell (In 3 Days!)

The bathroom more or less stayed the same, but you may notice one big thing missing—the brass mirror! There’s no way I was going to let that one go–you’d have to pry it out of my cold, dead fingers. We replaced it with a simple black framed mirror from Home Depot. (Also, the vanity color did not change, the lighting is just off here.)

Staging Our House To Sell (In 3 Days!)

Ok, moving on to the bedroom. First off, we downsized the bed and bought a queen bed frame, which fit the space much better than our gigantic king. We also toned down all the bedding and accessories and added a rug to the floor.  Most of the furniture was also removed (like that IKEA dresser), so only the bed and a chair in the corner remained. It’s a small house, so the less packed it felt, the better.

The bed frame was awesomely inexpensive—it’s this one from AllModern.

Staging Our House To Sell (In 3 Days!)

Same thing in the kitchen—removed most of the color and simplified. I tried to forego a lot of big rugs overall (although I did manage to sneak one in the bedroom) because I was trying to show off the floors. Plus, for whatever reason, rooms without rugs always seem bigger.

Staging Our House To Sell (In 3 Days!)

And finally, the living room. My version was always a little wack-a-doo (in a way that I loved), so I needed something a little safer. And also way less furniture. I used our old CB2 Lubi daybed to act as a couch, and purchased an accent chair to finish off the space. We added some oversized generic art last, which tied in with the blue pillows below.

Staging Our House To Sell (In 3 Days!)

It was a very exciting 12 days. We relied on an outside handyman to do a lot of the heavy lifting, which was the only way we were able to finish as fast as we did. Best decision we ever made, plus freed me up to spend my last maternity leave days with my main man Otto. It felt like such a big risk at the time, not knowing when/how fast it would sell, but now that we’re on the other side we can see we did the right thing. We still haven’t closed (scheduled for the end of this month) so I’m still holding my breath a bit, but overall, I’m feeling at peace in ending this big chapter of our lives.

I’m skipping over a lot of the heavy work here—all the DIYs and projects and spray painting (so much spray painting)—mainly because it’s almost 1 am and I’m tired! And at the same time, I’m also just sort of done talking about this house? My current house needs so much love and I haven’t been able to work on it as much as I would like, so a lot of my excitement comes from a renewed opportunity to freshen up our current space. And lordy, it needs it!

Also, staging is super fun. I would totally do that as a full-time job! The schlepping seems like a drag, but getting to makeover several rooms over a few days? Count me in on that instant gratification goodness. I’m just glad I had most of the decor and furniture on hand to make it all happen. See, I knew there was a reason for my hoard. 😉





Around the Haus – Vol. 3

By | Random | 2 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—we 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. 😉

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!




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