A home is much more than the support beams that hold up a roof, joists, floor boards, and light switches. Your home is also made up of the people who dwell there, as well as the time spent and the memories made. Time with Thea shares my journey, sharing ideas for increasing your lifestyle and enjoyment of your home.
Enjoy our interview with blogger Thea Morris who shares home improvement tips and tricks on her blog, Time With Thea. She took a moment out of her busy schedule to share insights and inspiration, so you can begin today to feel more at home in your house.
Can you introduce yourself?
My name is Thea and I worked as an elementary school teacher for many years, and retired a couple of years ago. I also worked as a consultant and professional speaker; conducted teacher training workshops; taught as a university instructor, and had five teaching professional resources published.
I've always enjoyed lots of interests and hobbies, and like sharing these on my blog. I'm married with two grown daughters who are pursuing their own careers – one on the other side of the country, and one in Australia. They both went away to study, returned home on their breaks, so our home still has a revolving door for them to come and go.
How did your blog, Time With Thea, get started?
I actually started a blog for my research on how viable iPads were as an instructional tool with young elementary learners. For three years, each student had their own iPad to help them learn. I had to report the results of my research, and I did it through a blog. Nobody had ever used iPads in the classroom, so the blog became very popular.
I really enjoyed developing that blog from a professional perspective, and decided to try one for sharing things I enjoy doing from a personal perspective. I invited people to come spend some time with me on the blog, and hence “Time with Thea” was born.
I love blogging for many reasons – the creativity, development of ideas, problem solving, photography, technology and connecting socially online with bloggers who have similar interests. Not surprisingly, I really enjoy organizing the content on my blog too! Being a lifestyle blogger really lends itself for me to pursue my interests and talents. I also really enjoy the daily learning that goes along with blogging.
Your blog is about “organizing, beautifying and inspiring your life.” How does this affect the way people feel about their homes?
There is a practical and an aesthetic answer to this question. The practical answer is an organized home with systems and routines, saves time, money and unnecessary stress and worry. For example, if you haven't set out what you and your children are going to wear the next day, and the alarm doesn't go off the next morning because you forgot to set it, everyone is starting their day off late. This can be unnecessarily stressful.
A lot of time can be wasted looking for items such as car keys and important documents if they don't have a designated place or aren't returned to their designated place after being used.
An example of money being wasted is when it comes to deciding what to make for dinner every night. When I was working full time with two active daughters, I had to be really organized and do weekly meal planning to make sure nutritious food was prepared for dinner. I didn't have the budget, nor did I want to go through the drive-thru at fast food restaurants every night to pick up something for dinner.
The aesthetic answer is having a home that has elements of beauty, indoors and outdoors, makes a house into a home. Surrounding yourself with decorative and meaningful items turns your home into a sanctuary and retreat after a busy day at school or work. Surrounding yourself with pieces that are important and aesthetically pleasing gives a sense of serenity, tranquility and belonging when you are home.
I believe that you don't have to spend a lot of money to make a home beautiful, because a lot of decorative items in my home have come from the thrift store. Also, taking the time to plant a few flower seeds in the ground or in a large pot adds a simple, elegant beauty to the front yard. I also think that it's fabulous there are so many choices available so we can personalize our homes in a way that fits us.
What are some favorite projects undertaken while writing Time With Thea?
A lot of the projects I share on my blog have come from having had a problem and finding a solution. I believe it's great to do these projects, but they need a purpose and sharing my projects on the blog, is an added bonus. For example …
- When I couldn't find the right drawer organizers for the kitchen desk drawer, I came up with Inexpensive DIY Drawer Organizers.
- We needed a central mobile device charging station for all devices so I made one out of a storage bin and shared the instructions in Inexpensive DIY Mobile Device Charging Station.
- Inexpensive Ideas For Storing Craft Supplies provides some creative, inexpensive and decorative ways to store supplies used in craft projects.
- Wreaths are one of my favorite projects. At first glance, they look quite elaborate and complicated; but I break it down in a step-by-step tutorial so anyone can make their own too.
- Upcycling was the solution for some old and tired looking stepping stones in the garden, which I shared in Upcycled Garden Stepping Stone.
- My favourite project is How To Design A Christmas Outdoor Floral Arrangement using natural Christmas greenery, silk flowers and some embellishments.
Why do people make their own crafts rather than buying pre-made things?
For me, crafting is a process activity where the enjoyment comes from coming up with the idea, collecting the materials, and making the item. It satisfies the creative side of my brain.
Another reason is cost. I like to make my own wreaths because it's less expensive than buying one of the same quality.
A third and very important reason is the homemade craft is more meaningful and perhaps will become a treasured item in the family. I framed a cross-stitch sampler made by my grandmother in 1908, and it hangs on my living room wall. I have a few of my father's paintings hanging in my home and furniture pieces he's painted. All of these pieces are unique, cannot be replicated, and will remain in my family.
What would you say to people who feel like they don't have time or the money to do things around the house themselves?
I totally understand and empathize with that feeling. When I was a busy mother working full time, I didn't have a lot of time to make crafts and missed the creative time immensely. I started creating simple and easy crafts with my children, ones that didn't take up a lot of time. That's why I started making wreaths, spending a few hours on a Sunday afternoon to make a new wreath. Another way I squeezed my crafts in was during summer vacations. In the evenings, I'd sit and make up some scrapbook pages with my daughters joining in making them too.
Crafting is expensive. When we were starting out as a married couple with a mortgage and the children were young, there wasn't a lot of extra money. I'd pick and choose one or two things to make, and was frugal buying materials at thrift stores and sales at the end of the season.
Do you and your husband do your own home repairs? How easy or difficult are they?
We don't do a lot of our own home repairs. You will not see large-scale tutorials like refinishing hardwood floors or installing a new window. We're busy working parents with children, and it comes down to making choices that work for you.
With house repairs, you have to look at a lot of factors including time available, knowledge and skills, as well as equipment, tools and materials needed. We've found instances where it was more effective to outsource the job, because by the time we bought or rented the tools and sometimes a vehicle to transport everything, it wasn't worth the time, money and effort.
They say it's helpful to know people in high places. Fortunately, we have lots of friends who are skilled at different trades. In the past year, we needed to replace the toilets, kitchen, and bathroom faucets as well as the kitchen, living room and dining room lighting. We paid friends with the skills to get the work done.
We also had to replace the stairs at the side of the house because they were rotting. My husband and another friend worked on this project for a day. The friend was paid because we were benefiting from his time and expertise, and he had the necessary equipment and tools to complete the job.
Maintaining a house costs money, and we set aside a budget every year to make sure the needed repairs get done to maintain the value and quality of our home.
What kind influence does your home and blogging have on your family?
They have a sense of pride and also”that's just what Mom does”. My husband says what he loved about me when we first met, was I could do so many different things like sew, crafts and garden ( I also used to play a pretty good game of tennis). My children didn't know any better until they got older and realized that not all Moms do what I do. They now just chuckle and tell their friends I'm a blogger with more technology skills than they have.
Do your daughters share your interests?
My daughters do and don't share my interests. When they were young, I kept inexpensive craft items in the house for them. We didn't buy them computer games. I didn't push my interests on them but role modeling goes a long way. Right now they don't have a lot of time to pursue hobbies because they're at school but …
Just before Christmas I received a text from my older daughter thanking me for teaching her how to make bows. She was helping a friend who was getting married, make wedding decorations for the tables that required tying a bow. She became the designated bow maker in the group of ten, making over one hundred bows!
A few days later, my younger daughter texted me to say thanks for teaching her how to make bows which was a requirement in her part time job. She was making wine gift baskets to sell at Christmas, and each package needed a pretty bow. Interestingly, the photo tutorial I shared titled, How To Make A Big Bow, was the most popular post for several weeks before Christmas.
In what ways can having your home the way you want it affect the time you spend there and the memories you make? We're actually home bodies as a family. I love being at home with my family and enjoying the environment we've created. We're very fortunate.