Finding Joy Through Upcycling

Nine weeks is a really long time! Being home with our family and balancing all the work/life demands during social distancing (while homeschooling) and trying to maintain some level of sanity has certainly had its challenges. Like many families, my husband and I dedicated much of our free time to diving head first into projects around our house. This helped to keep us entertained and feel like we were accomplishing something.

First off, let me say that I got lucky. My husband is handy, and he is usually on board with my crazy ideas, which is a major plus. We don’t always agree on our process, but we can usually agree on the end result for which we are aiming. I also believe that we share that same “completion high” when a project is done.

Of all the random projects we have tackled over the last 2 months, our attempts to UPCYCLE have probably been my favorite. Making old things new again, re-using old parts, and giving things new life has brought me joy and has gotten many through many gray days during coronavirus.

Turning Lemons into Lemonade

One of our major projects this spring was finishing out a downstairs bathroom that would eventually become the pool bathroom/garage bathroom. We were going for a rustic/ outdoor look, and we had gotten to the point where walls were complete and most of the wood trim was up. We had not quite figured out what to do about the ceiling, which was basically just our house rafters and some visible wiring. In late April, we had a pretty bad storm hit our neighborhood that included some really terrifying tornadoes. That part was awful. A few days after, we noticed several people repairing and replacing their wooden fences, so we asked if the fence boards were available for the taking. We were able to cut down the boards and find the best pieces to create a rustic wood plank ceiling that I adore! He really did well on this one!

Thinking Outside the Box

Another fun project, which we have been discussing since we moved into our house almost two years ago, was to start a vegetable and herb garden. We finally had space and time to tackle this one. Although I pretty much have a “black thumb,” my husband tends to be pretty talented at growing things. He was able to find some scrap beams from our home construction (yes, he hangs onto things) and laid out four sections in our yard to create a box. Then he added some scrap trim (also from the house construction) to polish it off. Some decent dirt and a few trips to the nursery, and VOILA, things are growing back there! I love our garden box and the fact that the supplies were free! Tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and herbs — coming soon!

There’s Something About a Porch Swing

Our most recent project was a reclaimed porch swing, generously handed down from my friend Beth. I got lucky and was able to take it off her hands when she was gifted a new, shiny swing last week. I was able to take it home, sand it down some, and give it a fresh coat of white paint. A little polyurethane spray, and it was ready to hang. I love this addition to our front porch, and also love that my husband went out of his way to hurry up and hang it for me on Mother’s Day. There is something so sweet and simple about a porch swing, and my kids love it too!

There have been a lot of days lately that have felt like a drag. Some days are good, and some days seem sad. We all miss our normal lives, our routines, and the people and places that create our worlds. Turning old things new again has made my heart happy and our home cozier too. Finding thanks and joy in the little things really can get you through. And apparently, at our house, busy hands are the happiest hands!

Rachel Harris Ledet
A New Orleans native and entrepreneurial mom, Rachel maintains a daily balance of running her own marketing firm, 30|90 Marketing, managing her kids’ schedules, and maintaining an active extracurricular life including teaching dance, volunteering, and instructing a digital marketing class at UNO. Rachel lives in Mandeville with her best friend and husband Lenny, daughters Addison and Amelia, stepson Luke, and new baby Tucker. With a growing family and a million balls in the air, Rachel keeps things light by continuously learning, spending time with amazing friends, blogging, finding any route to a concert or outdoor festival, and planning her next getaway with her husband. A sense of humor can get you through almost anything, so she tends to surround herself with fabulous and very funny people.


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