Writings (blog)

Single Woman, Over 40, Limited Income, First-Time-Homeowner, Flips Home by Herself

Living room, 2 weeks BEFORE move in
Living room, AFTER 2 weeks of hard work




No JOKE . . . by myself!

July 21, 2014 I closed on my first home. What a great adventure. Although, by definition I didn’t “flip” the house, because I still live in it. What I accomplished was a transformation, and as my father used to say,

“Sissy, it’ll be like putting a little lipstick on a pig.”

Regardless of one of Pop’s favorite euphemisms, there is still much more I want to accomplish to make it an ideal space. But in the mean time, I’ve got one of the cutest little piggies in town!

I stay snug as a bug in the winter. In the summer I enjoy wood working in the back yard under the shade of my enormous Maple,. Often I take breaks in the front yard, sipping from a chilled glass of sun tea while I visit with Mr. & Mrs. Smith over the fence, or quietly watch my Zinnias grow tall.

I am so proud of my little home. Moreover, I’m proud of the fact that I found the confidence to believe it was possible. And guess what? I’m here to tell you, especially you ladies – that anybody can do this!

BEFORE moving in
Summer AFTER moving in












Alright, let’s get “the rest of the story” ~

First of all, when someone says, “I did it all by myself,” –  I’ll let you in on a little secret . . . that’s probably a lie.  We all need a little help, and I’ll own it, I had a few hands reach out to me. Although they certainly weren’t the ones I’d expected.

Here’s the full disclosure:

  • After day two of pulling up what felt like miles of stank-ass, nasty pet odor infested carpet (by myself), my neighbors took pity on me and helped yank out the rest of the living room carpet and haul it to the curb. So I had a little help there – thanks Matt and Tammy!
  • On day three, I managed to pack God-knows-how-many-tons of flooring into my old 1988 Buick Le Sabre, and then carry that same hernia-producing amount all the way up to my front door (by myself). No help there. Think that emergency back surgery I had in the fall of 2016 may have had something to do with that? Gheezzz!
  • Next, I decided because I’d made such a frugal laminate purchase, that I’d hire a crew to lay the floor. That was a good call. But not before negotiating a reduced price for installation if I pulled all the carpet tack and strip (by myself).
  • On day nine, I rented a hot-saw to cut a hole in my bedroom wall to install a back door. Ok, I may have been a bit over zealous on that one. . . do you know how heavy those damn things are? So I sweet-talked my cousin Michael into cutting through my cinder -block house and framing me in a back door, and – while he was at it – how about a bathroom window?!

“Don’t ever ask me to cut into this house again!” he informed me, after completing a beautiful job. “If you decide to do any more renovations to this little ‘cinder-BOX’ – we’re blowing the whole back end out to add on 6 or 8 feet. But what I’m NOT doing – is cut any more holes for you.”

Noted. Thanks Mikey!

And I agreed. It was a dirty, grueling job, but he turned out to be my most-favoritest cousin ever! So I definitely had some help there, too.

But the rest of it – yeahhhh, baby – all me!
Marigolds reducing the spider population
Front yard filling in beautifully





I’m proud to report that at the time, I was well into my mid-forties, single, still void of children (that I know of), and not in the most financially stable place in my life. But rather than giving way to excuses, I found validation.

I managed to purchase a home within my budget, and find ways to do the majority of the work to make-over my little house. I still look around and wonder who in the hell possessed me to get all that work done … and in just over two weeks!

Let’s review.

. . . because you can do it, too!

  • I pulled up 95% of the houses old, stinky carpet
  • Scored, tugged, ripped, and tore out linoleum flooring
  • Yanked and pulled up carpet tack and strips
  • Painted ceilings, walls, and trim – – – multiple times
  • Discovered that old, wooden wainscot needs an oil-base primer before applying multiple layers of paint. And sanding – – – fahgitaboudit!
  • I learned that your hands do eventually cramp up and physically quit working after days of painting, until finally you call your mama and beg for help painting the rest of the kitchen so you can meet the deadline for the movers. Thanks Mom!
  • The one thing I did for the first time in my life (and would definitely do again) is bite the bullet and hire movers. That was the cherry on top!

So when I tell people that I did it myself – I am confident in that statement. I’m also confident in my ability to encourage others to do the same. Don’t wait around for the right job, the right partner, the right time. Start looking, and start building your confidence.

Believe in yourself, surround yourself with confident people, and stay within your budget. If I can do this – so many women out there can, too. I’ve got my little piece of the American dream – and you can have yours just as easily!

…and I’m not done living the dream.

My back may have given up, but I’m not. So stay tuned, because I’m reaching out to HGTV and the Boise Boys to see if we can’t renovate this little Bench Beauty into a dream come true! ! !

Please enjoy my BEFORE and AFTER photo’s below.

Walls and floors_BEFORE
Walls and floors_AFTER





Desk area_BEFORE
Desk area_AFTER






Bedroom & Closet_BEFORE
Bedroom & Closet_AFTER








Back door_BEFORE
Back door_BEFORE
Back door_AFTER








Cutting out Back Door
Cutting bathroom window
Bathroom window / Back door
Bathroom during construction
Bathroom window_BEFORE
Bathroom window_AFTER













Blue shed in back yard
From Shed to Shop
Including the Old Maple Tree
From my back door
View from inside
Half a Maple in my Shop
Pulled out all shrubs, and replaced with grasses and Zinnia’s
Planted tall Pampas Grass against that old wood fence
Brought trailing vines with me when I moved from the North End to cover fence
Google view from when I first purchased
The decorative grasses took off
The Zinnias grew tall
The vines…
…took over as expected
Even through winter I enjoyed my front yard
The winter, however was unkind to my Pampas grasses
The fall wasn’t too bad
But the Snopocalypse . . .
… seemed to go on forever (2016-17)
I enjoyed the “Dali” art produced on my glass table
My favorite part was weathering the storms with Duggan, the cat-dog.

Celebrating my Extraordinary Father

Writing this February feature article for Idaho Magazine was an honor. Such an opportunity commemorates on paper, all of my Pop’s hard work in Pearl. With his own two hands and the sweat of his brow, he molded acres of sage brush, rock, and high-desert terrain into an Oasis. Benevolence, being one of his many gifts for his family, enabled his legacy to live on for future generations. This is my thank you to an extraordinary man, who is missed by many -everyday.

Managing Fear

wildflower_Tatters_ccSomething that I frequently explore is the idea of technology and how it shapes our world, and quite frankly, at times, scares the ever loving crap out of me! However, it just so happens, it was during one of these conversations when the concept of my Domestic Wildflower was born,  and I recognized how to face, and perhaps embrace, some of my technological fears.

As artists, many of us find ourselves in an ever changing technical landscape where we must learn to navigate in order to make a living at our craft. That artistic soul, trying to make their talents known to the world – for profit or not – will ultimately experience a certain amount of growing pains on this journey.

As a Wildflower [artist], those ‘to-do-lists’ we have all been conditioned to follow are in direct violation to the wild pounding of our hearts. That anxiety, that blind determination – those are simply wake up calls, reminders – that we were born to create – not cross off!

And I love my to-do-lists! How is that for twisted logic?

My point is, as we become more reliant on technology, and the expectations to learn, develop, and keep up – it can make us feel as though were in some kind of race with humanity. Or worse – with ourselves.

How nice it would be to completely lose ourselves in our chosen crafts and never look back. I envy those who have figured out how to do that. Those are the true Wildflowers!  Instead, many of us feel forced to live with one foot in two worlds, until striking a balance to make those worlds work.

At times this is a painful, confusing, frightening transition, but one that forces growth and experience. Those are the moments beckoning us to face our challenges. To face our fears.

The following is an excerpt from my book The Writer’s Handbook; 365 Days of Motivation & Inspiration:

Feb 23

“The ‘public’ scares me, but people I trust.”
~ Marilyn Monroe

This magnificent woman was known to both publicly announce, and privately manage her fears. As artists, we are all subjected to a broad spectrum of criticism. How do you manage your fears?

For more quotes, or to purchase a copy of The Writer’s Handbook, visitwww.rochellecunningham.com by clicking on the link(s) in this sentence.

Writing that Wakes the Dead

spider web

by Rochelle Cunningham, Gypsy Writer

One of my favorite prosaic pieces, I jotted down at 3 a.m. The rest of the construction came later, but I’ll never forget how the majority of this prose flowed out of me in one sitting. Had I ignored the persistent muses’s calling – this piece may have died on the vine.

Here is an excerpt from my poetry collection on my website, entitled Jealousy of Night.

There is a man out there…

…who refuses to abandon a dream that naps quietly on a dusty shelf in someone’s basement. He’s caught clawing at the blank pages of a bedside journal – unwilling to turn on the lamp. And his breath weighs heavy on the back of a sleeping poets mind.

There is a man out there…

…who assembles broken memories that crash on the shores of desperation. Wrestling with the rising tide he sails the course of a barely beating heart toward the horizon of a forbidden kiss. A swell in the stillness of the room uncovers a woman’s face and stirs the bedroom curtains as a reminder of troubled waters ahead.

Remember that persistence pays of in many ways. . . even if it’s completing a burning piece of prose keeping you awake! Keep challenging yourself. Keep listening to your muse. Keep writing.

Below is an excerpt from by publication, The Writer’s Handbook; 365 Days of Motivation & Inspiration:

Dec 14

“I heard a preacher say recently that hope is a revolutionary patience; let me add that so is being a writer. Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.” ~ Anne Lamott

The next time you are unable to return to sleep – get up and write. It may end up being some of your best work.

For more quotes, or to purchase a copy of The Writer’s Handbook, click on the link in this sentence.

How Do You Brew?

Boil Boil Toil & Trouble_wittco.gmbh_cc
by Rochelle Cunningham, Gypsy Writer

As a writer, I am always in the midst of several projects. This morning, the inside of my head felt like three Scottish witches were using my congested skull as their personal cauldron!

Boil, boil, toil, and trouble . . . I write a few lines of a poem . . . eye of newt . . . a dark villain presents himself to me as I apply mascara . . . a pinch of bat hair . . . my sweet, brunette heroine falls from grace – ohh, what event shall return her to the arms of her lover . . . and toe of salamander . . . fictional names explode like popcorn and I’m digging through my purse like a cat covering crap on concrete, desperately trying to find a pen! Not an unusual morning for most writers.

We’re crazy like that.

The challenge is getting all that great stuff from our heads, on to the page. Writing is magical, and can be quite therapeutic. But it’s also a lot of determined, disciplined work. I frequently fall short as life continues to get in the way. It’s crucial to develop good habits.

The most important, is writing (and reading) EVERYDAY. As a blogger, I’ve discovered an addictive way to strengthen that habit, and keep me motivated and accountable. <strong>The Gypsy Writers would L O V E to hear some of your dark secrets or challenges with the craft, and perhaps, some remedies for how you stay on track.</strong>

Wishing you all much luck with your boiling pots and good habit development!

An excerpt from my book The Writer’s Handbook; 365 Days of Motivation & Inspiration:

Nov 04

“I would rather write 10,000 notes than a single letter of the alphabet.”
~ Ludwig van Beethoven
Regardless of your medium, or the craft that calls to you, connecting to the human soul – as an artist of a written language – is what you have been called to do.

For more quotes, or to purchase a copy of  The Writer’s Handbook visit my webpage by clicking on the link(s) in this sentence.

Communicating Our Experiences

by Rochelle Cunningham, Gypsy Writer

Life is full of juxtapositions, many rich in fodder for writing. In my experience, it’s all in the timing. Learning to seize delicate moments, albeit brief and fleeting, is about keeping your eyes peeled and your heart open to capture them. Take my life over the last week, for example. I buried two uncles, one from my mother’s side, and the other from my father’s. Painful? Yes, of course, and one might think a writer would produce only dark or dreary material. That wasn’t the case at all.

On Thursday evening surrounded by family, I watched my Uncle Dennis take his last sip of air. Having been closer to this uncle, I experienced a more profound, and peaceful sense of his absence the next day. It was there in the sunrise, and not any ordinary sunrise, that I found him.

The Friday morning sky wasn’t painted with the typical broad strokes of amethyst and orange against the crisp, blue canvas. On this day there was an entire cosmos of exploding pastels that reached out from the waking foot hills, shrouding the dampened grass and fall leaves in full glory, as it came to pass over me with warm yellow light. I stood outside in perfect humility while my uncle greeted me, quietly assuring me he had arrived at his destination. I smiled back at him.

It was in those moments, standing alone, bathed in lustrous golden, new morning sunlight – that all was well in the world – even though it felt a little different without him in it anymore.

My muse immediately began dipping her pen into a more poetic ink well. We are currently creating a poem entitled The Mourning Sky.

An excerpt from my book The Writer’s Handbook; 365 Days of Motivation & Inspiration:

Nov 02

“If a writer stops observing he is finished. Experience is communicated by small details intimately observed.”
~ Ernest Hemingway

When was the last time that your writing made you happy? Did you call a friend, dance a happy-dance around your desk, or simply chuckle to yourself with great pride? Be sure to celebrate the moments when your words come to life.

For more quotes, or to purchase a copy of The Writer’s Handbook, visit www.rochellecunningham.com by clicking on the link(s) in this sentence.


Nature, my joy

It is true; my greatest sense of joy is discovered outdoors. I grew up camping, hunting, hiking, swimming, rock climbing, boating, and playing softball or pretty much anything that involved getting out in the sunshine. I am definitely not a winter person, although I am a decent snowboarder. Having been accused of being part lizard by an ex-brother-in-law, I tend to be happier in the warmer climates, which I why I absolutely loved my freelance time in Arizona. Continue reading Nature, my joy

I am a story teller (part 1)

Story telling is in my blood. My Scotch-Irish father was known to take any opportunity to spin a tall-tale or deliver a well-loved, well-rehearsed story from his childhood, and his crowds never tired of his delivery. He was completely at ease passing down our family history through oral-tradition, where as I am much more comfortable with the pen. It was the second winter after his death in 2011 that I discovered a talent for telling other peoples’ stories. Continue reading I am a story teller (part 1)