DIY: Replacing Outlets

My husband and I are in the midst of a major overall of our 1979 home. One of the millions of tasks on our list is to replace the old outlets, which are ugly and barely hold onto the cords we put in them. Last Saturday morning, I tackled the first room and replaced all the outlets in it! As it turns out, it’s not that hard. It just takes a few supplies, watching a some You Tube videos, putting on your thinking cap, and rolling up your sleeves. Here’s how.

Supplies (you really do need ALL of these):

  • new outlets
  • voltage sensor ($20 at Lowes)
  • outlet tester ($5 at Lowes)
  • needle nose pliers
  • flathead screw driver
  • wire strippers (You may not need these, but I did.)


Before you begin, schedule a manicure (or plan to give yourself one as I did). After a few hours of this, I had total man hands.

First, watch a few You Tube videos on how this is done. (You can learn anything on You Tube these days! Thank you, self-filming handymen.)

Next, go to the store and get your supplies. No skipping on the voltage sensor or outlet tester! No one wants you to become a vegetable because you touched a live socket, and we don’t want you to burn your house down because you unknowingly wired the outlet wrong.

Now you’re ready to begin. Find your breaker box and turn off the breaker that leads to your outlets. Instead of running back and forth through the house, I plugged in a radio to the outlet I wanted to kill. Test that there is no juice coming to the outlet by holding your voltage sensor up to it. (Test the little booger first on an outlet that you know is hot.)

voltage sensor

Testing the outlet after I’ve turned off the power

Once you’re certain the power is off, unscrew the outlet from the wall. Gently (but firmly too, if that makes sense) pull the outlet away from the wall. If your outlets aren’t that old, you can just unscrew each of the wires. Mine were old backstabbed boxes (learned that new term while doing this project), so I had to cut the wires out with my needle nose pliers and then strip the coating off the end of the wire. Put the white wires off to the left side, the black wires off to the right, and the ground to the bottom of your opening.

Old outlet out of wall and ready to be clipped

Old outlet out of wall and ready to be clipped

Now put the wires onto the new outlet. I found the best way to do this is to make a little shepherd’s hook on the end of each wire. Then it slides right in behind the screw…sometimes. The wires can be kind of a pain to get onto the outlet. Once the wire is in, hold it taught and tighten the screw. Do this for the remaining four wires. (This part gave me man hands!)

Now that the new outlet is wired up, gently but firmly place the wires back into their little box. I found this to be really hard. I pretty much gave it everything I had to get the stupid, I mean, functional wires back into place (more man hands). Once everything is back in box, screw the outlet back onto the wall.

New outlet with tester showing it was wired correctly

New outlet with tester showing it was wired correctly

Insert the outlet tester you bought for five bucks. Now go turn the power back on. Use the little color codes on the tester to see if you’ve wired the outlet correctly. If so, congrats! Replace the decorative plate, kill the power again, and move on to your next outlet.

Time for that manicure…


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Filed under Decorating, DIY, Our Saturday Morning

Saturday Morning 3/30/13

This Saturday morning we are all over the place. Two of us are in the Northwest (Brooke & Sasha) and the other two are in the Southeast (Laura & Jeanne). Sasha hopped on a plane on Friday and flew out to meet a good friend in Seattle. Her bravery of getting on the plane paid off…..she’s having a blast and loves Seattle. On Saturday morning, she took a nice long walk by herself enjoying the beauty of the water and the mountains. It’s so good for the soul to take time for yourself and enjoy nature in the quiet of the morning.IMG_20130330_083716

Winter is quickly ending in Alaska and Spring is right around the corner so Brooke is racing to get her Winter checklist complete. She’s finishing up on house project #17 of the season and busy paining all the interior doors of the house.  When I called her, she happened to be shopping at a  store that is going out of business.  She has to be productive while the paint on the doors is taking time to dry.  So why not shop!


Laura was busy at work and then put together these lovely flowers to take to her Great Grandma to show her love for her and wish her a Happy Easter.


A dear friend of mine, Amy and I met for lunch.  We’ve been friends for over 30 years and hadn’t seen each other for 10 years.  It was as though we’d started just where we left off and we reconnected during our 3 hour lunch. There is nothing as valuable as a good friend. Someone that knows the good, the bad and the ugly about you and still loves you. The best part of our friendship  is if I ever need her or she ever needs me, I know we will be there for each other. She made my day!


Come the end of this week, Brooke, Laura, Sasha and I will be together and we can’t wait to relax and have fun together.

Also, let’s not forget this is Easter weekend and such an exciting time for those of faith. Why? Because Christ rose from the dead and lives! If you believe in him, you will have eternal life. Take a moment this Easter to reflect on all He did for you. He will change your life forever. Happy Easter Everyone.


Filed under General

Easy & Cheap Homemade Granola Bars


The perfect healthy snack! This is a quick & easy granola bar recipe with endless possibilities. Try it over some greek yogurt, so good. Some other variations of the bar I want to try: freeze-dried strawberries, raspberries & walnuts, and peanut butter chips & dried banana. So many variations!

So here’s what you need:

Ready to bake!

Ready to bake!

2 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup wheat germ (I had some flax seed around that I ground up and it worked beautifully)

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat)

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup honey

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used EVOO)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract (Or almond, lemon, ect)

3/4 cup cranberries (I used orange flavored cranberries, you could use cherries or any dried fruit you like)

3/4 cup slivered almonds

1/2 cup shaved coconut 


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13 inch baking pan with parchment paper (For a crunchier granola bar that can be used as crumbled granola as well use a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil – oil the foil first!) In a large bowl mix: oats, brown sugar, wheat germ (or flax seed), cinnamon, flour, & salt. Make a hole in the center & pour in honey, egg, oil, & extract. Mix well with your hands and lastly add in the dried fruits & nuts of your choosing. Spread onto pan evenly & bake for 25-30 minutes. Cut the bars before they have cooled completely or else it will be a crumbly mess. Enjoy! 








Filed under Cooking & Eating

Munchie Monday: Better Than Your Grandma’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ooh, Lawd! They must be good. My Monday evening plans for a workout just went out the window. I’m making these cookies instead!

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Filed under General

Mango and avocado salsa

Spring is just around the corner and summer is near! In honor of the beautiful Georgia weather, I decided to make one of my favorite summer salsas this weekend.  This recipe is so good it’s definitely worth sharing! I hope you enjoy it as much as my family and I do!


3 avocados (thinly sliced)

1 Red bell pepper (diced)

1 mango (diced)

1/3 cup red onion (diced)

1 clove garlic (mined)

3 tablespoons cilantro (or to taste)

Juice of half a lime

Sea salt (to taste)

Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

Olive oil

    1. Heat a pan over med-high heat and drizzle some olive oil in the pan. Place the sliced avocado on the pan and cook a couple minutes on each side until slightly charred. Take the avocado off the heat and let them cool. Cooking the avocado gives this dish a delicious buttery texture that is soo good!


    1. Mix the next five ingredients together in a mixing bowl and squeeze the juice of half a lime on top.


    1. Roughly chop the cooled avocado into pieces and easily stir into the mango mixture.


    1. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and drizzle with enough olive oil to bind.


Enjoy with chips or on top of grilled chicken or fish!

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by | March 17, 2013 · 3:52 pm


Fear of flying is a fear of being on an airplane (aeroplane), or other flying vehicle, such as a helicopter, while in flight. It is also sometimes referred to as aerophobia,aviatophobia, or aviophobia.

I desperately need all of your help. I am not sure when this phobia started or why because when I was younger I was able to fly in planes for family vacations without batting an eyelash. It must be something about getting older really makes you scared of more things. For example, roller coasters, car crashes, and planes all now scare me. Take off and landing are the worst for me by far but any turbulence while in the air also makes me grip the arm rest as hard as I possibly can and clench my  mouth & eyes shut. I am used to the stares from the other passengers at this point 🙂

Thankfully I can still muster up the courage to get on a plane. Last year I went to visit Brooke in Alaska, two years before that I was in Portugal for my 21st, and later this year I will be flying again. I refuse to let my fear stop me from going places (it just takes a Xanax or a couple cocktails at the gate before departure) but regardless of the steps I take to prevent it I still experience a high level of anxiety, crying (sometimes), and always that fun look of sheer panic on my face.


Myself enjoying a mimosa before the long flight to Alaska. The look of terror is already starting! I mean who needs two hands to hold a mimosa? I was trembling here, haha

At the end of this month I will be flying to visit my good friend Katie in Seattle for her birthday. To prepare myself I am starting to envision myself sitting on the plane to make the process a little smoother, right? No. Instantly I feel nauseous, hot, and I start to breathe fast. Not a good start.

So here is where I need your help: I am a firm believer in the power of music and using it to change moods, attitudes, and feelings. It even helps with depression! So I am going to make a playlist for the trip. I cant decide if I want songs to help me remain calm, (Norah Jones -ish) or if I want some songs to pump me up (“Eye of the Tiger” or “Harlem Shake” really gets me going during a workout. Then I would feel all, “Go Sasha you can kick this plane rides ass! In the face!”) But if you would give me some of your favorite song suggestions I could really use them! It will be a 4 hour plane ride & I would like to be distracted for most of them. Really, any suggestions you have would be appreciated.


I actually was in this 10 seater plane flying over Denali National Park in Alaska!! (See, I CAN do it!)

Here’s to hoping that this plane ride goes as smoothly as possible! (Literally, PLEASE GOD DONT LET THERE BE TURBULENCE!)



Filed under Adventures, General

4-day hair experiment

I have fine, blondish hair that tends to get oily after one day (without product of some sort) and an acne-prone T zone. None of these qualities make me a good candidate for going four days without washing my hair, and so I’ve always ignored the benefits associated with having dirty hair (shiny, less damaged hair, faster mornings, curls that hold). Before moving to the west coast, I washed my hair daily (humidity + oil + sweat + fine hair = gross). Since moving west, I skip one day between shampooing, mostly to save time.

This weekend, I decided it was time for a 4-day hair experiment. I got my hair cut on Thursday and used the salon-freshness to kick start my experiment. Armed with Osis Dust-it texturing powder, Oscar Blandi dry shampoo, a shower cap, and head band, I began my quest. A few caveats: I refuse to spend more than about 30 minutes total getting ready in the morning, so any hair-style must adhere to that strict schedule.

Day 1: Fresh from the salon. (I can’t take any credit.) I love salon days!

post-salon hair, freshly washed (by Kari at The Beauty Room)

post-salon hair, freshly washed (by Kari at The Beauty Room)

Day 2: Quick shower wearing my oh-so-hot shower cap, and five minutes of applying Dust-it using Laura’s guidance and brushing out my hair. Voila!

Day 2 hair: Osis Dust-it works, Laura!

Day 2 hair: Osis Dust-it works, Laura!

Evening 2: Because I have acne-prone skin and am sporting second day hair, I added a few additional steps to my daily routine. First, I did an afternoon face wash with Burt’s Bees sensitive skin facial towelettes followed by a new, light application of facial moisturizer. (I don’t wear any base makeup, so this works for me.) Second, I slept with a soft head band on and swept my hair up in a loose bun (to keep any additional oils away from my face).

Day 3: Quick shower wearing hot mama shower cap, a few blasts of Oscar Blandi dry shampoo, and five minutes of twisting my ends with a curling iron. Not bad! At some point during the day, my husband kissed me on the head and said, “ooh, you’re hair smells great!” Thanks, honey… if you only knew.

Day 3 hair: rocking the curls

Day 3 hair: rocking the curls

Afternoon 3: My hair was still looking good, but I got a little grossed out. So, I swept my hair up into a side bun following the steps in this awesome post on up-dos by my girls at the Glitter Life. Now I’m ready for our evening out!

mid-day 3: swept up the curls into a side bun. Thanks for the tutorial, Glitter Life girls!

mid-day 3: swept up the curls into a side bun. Thanks for the tutorial, Glitter Life girls!

Day 4: I spent a lazy morning at home with my hair in a head band and loose top bun. It looked ok, and I could’ve rocked a more polished version of that bun, but I broke down and washed it (mostly because I didn’t want to leave the task of washing to the Monday morning after daylight savings time began… I must maintain my 30-minute rule).

The Result: No acne, a love affair with two new products, and the know-how to rock one shampooing every three (or four) days from now on. Rejoice, girls with fine hair! We can do this!

P.S. I’m now on my third round of this three day ritual, and it’s still working!


Filed under Health and Beauty, Trying Something New