Category Archives: Blog News

Our First Home

Hello again, my dear blog readers! It feels incredibly refreshing writing for this blog again. My last entry was on June 27th a couple of weeks after our baby girl was born. Since then our lives have been an absolute whirlwind! For reals. We sold our house, left the lives we had built in Memphis for 9 yrs and moved 500 miles away to Edmond, OK to be close to family.porchI had grandeur ideas about writing a “goodbye house” blog post, but it didn’t happen in the midst of all the chaos. I was a total crybaby the day we had to leave our first little home (I may have even circled the block and come back for one last look). But this is a story worth telling!

In the summer of ’04 we made a weekend trip to Memphis with my in-laws in search of a house for us to live in for 3 yrs (which turned into 9) while Ben was in grad school. Oh the best-laid plans…
monsHOUSE024This is the day we first looked at the house. Initially we weren’t too impressed, but after looking at several other houses it became the obvious choice. Little did I know how much I would end up loving this home and all the wonderful memories we would make over almost a decade here!
monsHOUSE026This was our first impression upon walking into the house. Wreaths with x-mas lights as window treatments and random trashcans.
monsHOUSE027 The dining room highlighted a space heater that came with the house – bonus!
monsHOUSE036Oh the kitchen! Dirty linoleum floors (that our puppy would later chew up), fake hunter green marble countertops and beige everywhere.
monsHOUSE028All 3 bedrooms were pretty much the same, one being slightly bigger than the others. Scuffed floors, ceiling fans that were falling apart and more beige.
monsHOUSE032The bathroom was pretty neutral, minus the window treatment and Coca-Cola light cover (which I vividly remember, but didn’t capture in this pic).

And that’s pretty much it – all 1,056 sq ft. Over the next 9 yrs we would put blood, sweat and tears into making this house our home. Besides a mini kitchen renovation we did everything ourselves. We got a puppy, had multiple career changes and brought home our baby girl here!

Stay tuned over the next several weeks as I document the transformation of our first home room by room.


New Gig

After much anticipation, I would like to introduce Evangeline Jane!
baby_girlWe may be a little biased, but we think she is the most beautiful baby in the whole world and we’ve been busy getting to know our little girl. I know I’ve made a lot of excuses for not blogging, but this one was legit.

So what direction will this blog go now that I’m a stay-at-home mama? I’m not quite sure yet. I do know that I desperately need an outlet and miss doing DIY and blogging, so don’t count me out yet! I told Ben that I may need internet access and a Keurig for this new gig:) I’ll keep y’all posted!

We’re Pregnant!

preggersThat’s right, Baby Benica is due June 21st and our lives are about to be turned upside down! I thought it would be fun to answer a few commonly asked questions that we’ve been getting a lot about the pregnancy.

  1. When did we find out? October 11th to be exact. I was scheduled to run my first half-marathon that Sunday and, after lots of internet research, I went for it and am so glad I did!
  2. How did I tell Ben? Ben had therapy clients that night and I was going to an EP release show for a friend, so I drew him this family picture and left it on the fridge (note the stick baby in my tummy).
  3. How have I been feeling? Fantastic! I did take a lot more naps during the 1st trimester and had to switch prenatal vitamins at one point, but otherwise I’ve felt great.
  4. Are we really naming our child Benica? Benica is our celebrity name put together (Ben+Monica). Since the beginning we’ve jokingly referred to our unborn child as Baby Benica and it just kinda stuck, but no this will not be on the birth certificate.
  5. How did we tell our families? At Christmas we made my parents a photo calendar that had the ultrasound pic on the month of June and we gave Ben’s parents a decorated paper mache number 6 (since this will be their 6th grandchild). We also gave my grandma an ornament that said, “great-grandma to bee” with a bee on it.

We are very excited to begin this new adventure and relieved to finally be able to share our big news with the world!

So what does this mean for Staging by M? We live in a 1,056 sqft home with tiny closets – can you say organize, organize, organize?! I also have a nursery to decorate and lots of baby preparation in the next 6 months. I’ll go into more detail on Wednesday about my game plan, so stay tuned!

The Marriage You Never Wanted

Have you ever felt so passionate about something that you just HAD to share your message with the world? That’s how I feel about marriage and the transformations that have happened in my marriage the past few years!
Ben and I have reached a point where we just can’t keep quiet anymore. We’ve decided to launch our message, The Marriage You Never Wanted. Intrigued? We will unveil our new blog this Monday which will coincide with seminars, a living room tour, and marriage coaching. I can’t relay how excited I am about this!

What does this mean for Staging by M? Nothing. Seth Godin says the way to start something is 1. Don’t think about it. 2. Just start. 3. Keep starting. We’re simply starting something new. I will continue to blog here at Staging by M twice a week just like usual because I love doing it. More details to come…

Update: is live, so feel free to check it out!

New Blog vs. Old Blog

Welcome to the new and improved Staging by M blog! I’ve owned the domain for awhile and decided to make the jump over. That way when you tell all your friends about this fun blog, it’s easy-peasy to remember:)

You’ll also notice a delicious chevron background I downloaded here at – gotta love those talented peeps that offer their goodies for free! You can also follow me via Google Friend Connect over in the right-hand column. Don’t worry, I’ll wait while you do that…

A huge thank you goes out to my BFF Bobbie who helped me with these tweaks! She has a pretty amazing blog herself about her family of four enjoying debt free living on one part-time income!

We have been crazy busy trying to simplify and improve our lives through budgeting (, diet (the Paleo Diet) and by booking a vacation! This summer we’re headed to the Riviera Maya, Mexico for our 9 yr. anniversary where it all began (that’s where we spent our honeymoon). Stay tuned for some exciting home projects I have up my sleeve too!

1-year Blogiversary

I apologize for being MIA this last week. Sometimes important things in life get in the way of blogging and this was one of those times. I am happy to announce that my 1-year blogiversary was Jan 14th! In celebration, I thought it would be fun to pick some highlights from this last year.
Jan – We saw how big a difference staging a vacant home can make!
Feb – I did a mini guest bedroom makeover using a table runner for wall art.
Feb – I also made curtains from tablecloths for our living room.
Feb – We rounded up the month by doing a front garden facelift.
Mar – One of my most popular posts was how to fold a fitted sheet.
Mar – I did the unthinkable and revealed our junk room!
Mar – I had fun putting together a spring-inspired tabletop.
Apr – Another super popular post was decorating above kitchen cabinets.
Apr – We cleared out the junk room to make room for our new Cali King bed.
May – I announced that we planned to move and did a house tour including our kitchen, bath-living-dining, bedrooms and exterior.
May – I threw together this orange-inspired summer display.
June – I spilled the beans on the top 10 ways we save money.
June – Our guest bedroom went from sailor blue to beige.
June – I revealed a home that I staged and what a difference staging makes!
July – Our master bedroom went from olive green to mega greige!
July – Ben saved us tons of money by fixing our fence that was leaning himself.
Aug – We enjoyed a staycation in Memphis with my brother and sis-in-law!
Aug – Our kitchen reno began by having a contractor install a new dishwasher, disposal, cabinets, countertop and sink. Then we painted it neutral.
Sept – We got a new dining set and reupholstered the chairs.
Sept – We painted our kitchen cabinets and revealed our updated kitchen!
Sept – I decided to stage a fun fall shelf in our new kitchen.
Oct – For $5 I transformed a spring wreath into a fall wreath, I decorated with mini pumpkins and designed a fall tabletop.
Oct – I announced why we decided not to move here and here.
Nov – After months of debate and a lot of prep work, I finally revealed the frame collage for our dining room.
Nov – I staged a Christmas tablescape.
Dec – I transformed our unsightly ceiling fan with a lamp shade.
Dec – I got into the Christmas spirit and decorated shelves, our home and revealed our favorite things of 2011.

Wowsers – I can’t believe how different our home looks now compared to a year ago! Anyone have any comments or tips for Staging by M in 2012?

P.S. I’ll be blogging on Tues/Thurs this next month – think quality vs. quantity!

2011 in Review

On Jan 14th of 2011 I sat down and wrote my first blog post for Staging by M. My goal was to blog 3 times a week and to use this blog as a way to advertise my staging business. I am happy to say that I feel like I achieved that goal!My blog was viewed about 21,000 times in 2011 with 132 new posts and 744 pics uploaded. Some of my top referrers were,, and I had readers from 6 continents – mostly from the US, but Canada and IE weren’t far behind.

My top 5 commenters were Merschon, Levi, Bobbie, Katie and Denise (love you guys!). My top 5 blog posts were A Shopping Secret, Decorating Above Kitchen Cabinets, Ideas for Blank Walls, Master Bedroom Paint Makeover and A Curtain Conundrum. You might want to check those out if you missed them!

I am VERY excited about where I want this blog to go in 2012! The purpose of my blog has switched from promoting my business to simply being my creative outlet to the world. I had a chance to get my “blog feet” wet this last year and feel like I learned a lot about writing a design blog.

My goal is still to blog 3 times a week (Mon-Wed-Fri). I want to seriously up my photography game and really learn how to use my fancy camera. Since we have decided to stay put in Memphis for awhile, I also want to focus on making our house a home doing as much ourselves on a budget as possible.
My next goal can best be described via this Chick-fil-A napkin that my genius hubby brainstormed on. Barb Schwarz is the creator of home staging and the Founder and CEO of which I did my training through. She is on one end of the scale whereas crazy Lady Gaga is on the other. Ben suggested that I find a happy staging/design medium to make it fun again!

Thank you all SO much for reading and for all of the encouragement I’ve received in this venture! What was your favorite blog post of 2011? What would you like to see more of in 2012? Who else doodles their best ideas on napkins?