Tag Archive for repairs

Cara Brookins’ Memoir – Rise (How A House Built A Family)

cara brookinsRise – A Memoir by Cara Brookins

My Story

I was at a writing conference last year. I had the opportunity to listen to Cara Brookins discuss her memoir, ‘Rise (How a House Built a Family)’. She was a very inspiring woman who I had to listen to, because of what she did. I could relate to her in so many ways.

Before we start, I apologize if I got any of the story wrong. It was so inspiring, I may have mixed up a few details. These are my errors!

Cara Brookins’ Story

Cara Brookins was a woman with four children. Count them, four! She admitted to picking the wrong type of men. Abusive men. She finally hit a brick wall and chose to change her life, for her and her kids. She chose to leave and try to start over. I know, many people don’t understand about accepting the abuse. If you haven’t been through it, you may not. Unfortunately (or fortunately for me, this diyhomegoddess had the same history, so I got it). And yes, I have also chosen to escape. I am must stronger now.

Cara Brookins is a freelance writer, an author, and a computer geek. 

What did she do, my diyhomegoddesses? On a trip with her kids, she found an old destroyed house, and it spoke to her. She built a house! 

What Happened?

Cara Brookins wanted to start her life fresh, start anew. With four children, ages 17 (Hope), 15 (Drew), 9 (Jada) and 2 (Roman).

She found a plot of land and purchased it. Her and her children drew some inpronto plans for the house they dreamed of having, along with a stick model. She went to multiple banks, and finally someone was willing to take a chance on her, and gave her a 9 month loan. 9 months before she had to pay the loan back, because she was not a licensed contractor!

Her and her family built the house themselves. Laid the foundation. Put up the frame. Tacked on the walls. Plumbing. Windows and doors. A staircase? Sure, it was a 3500 square-foot two story house! And before they got too far, they built a shed to house the tools, so they wouldn’t have to transport them each day.

How Did Cara Brookins Know What To Do?

They had no experience. They learned everything they attempted to do with You Tube videos. You Tube! They made a lot of mistakes along the way. Sometimes they didn’t have the right tools. They definitely were not equipped clothing wise for the job. Cara didn’t know you were supposed to do a chalk outline of frame, she had the strings set up like the video told her (she used a bag of flour to make the outline!).

Most of the work she and her four children did themselves, after work and school and on weekends. Holidays. She did the plumbing herself. The only help she had, was to pay someone from a home improvement store occasionally $25 an hour, and the electricity was set by professionals (albeit professionals usually high). Everything else her and the children did!

Cara Brookins’ Memoir

Cara Brookins did a pretty good job on the memoir. She has an excellent grasp of descriptions. I spent the entire book gritting my teeth as they strode from one problem to the next. She did not fly through the construction details, she gave you a full explanation of how the progress went and what they had to do.

There were the occasional stories in there about the holidays, special times they had that weren’t related to the building of the house, etc. That gave a good breather. I spent a lot of time feeling for these brave children.

There were gritty details and humorous details. There were struggles they had with the house, and struggles they had with every day life.

The only problem I had with the book, which is normal for memoirs, is the jumping around. You’d read a chapter about the construction, then all of a sudden you were five years earlier talking about the struggles with her significant others that lead to her leaving. This was important to be in here, because it was the basis for her actions. It got a bit confusing sometimes, but I finally got into the rhythm.

I do wish there were a few more pictures of Inkwell Manor. And it would have been awesome to see the floor plan drawn, so we could get a full view of what these people (remember 4 of the 5 were children!) accomplished.

I give this book 4.5 stars!

Want To See More?


And Now For Us Diyhomegoddesses

Sometimes a gal has to do what a gal has to do. We all need inspiration sometimes. We all need to feel like we are not alone. And we can do anything. Cara Brookins is proof of that. I consider her the ultimate diyhomegoddess. For real! Some of my posts show what I’ve accomplished, albeit small. Here, here, and here.

Like Cara Brookins said and wrote in my inscription of the book, and don’t you forget:

Build Big Things!



Undermount Lights Attachment

Undermount Lights

Attaching Undermount Lights

As you know, kitchen lighting for the counters can really suck, depending on how your kitchen is laid out. I have some under-mounted lights that are life-savers for me, in my tiny kitchen. However, have you ever noticed how sometimes when you attach undermount lights, they don’t stick all that great? Here’s a post I did discussing when I purchased my undermount lighting.

My Story

I have undermount lights that are great in an emergency. They are battery operated. If there’s ever a power outage, which happens ALL THE TIME where I live, they become emergency flashlights. I tried to use the adhesive to stick them underneath the cupboards.

Undermount lights

Look what happened!


I put them up after I had painted the cupboards, using the adhesive, instead of the screws, which I had used before I painted. After a few months, the adhesive lost its grip, and they started falling. Bam! It scared the crap out of this diy home goddess the first couple of times. It must have the same problem the puck lights have. The heat causes the adhesive to corrode. On top of that, the paint was being removed with the adhesive! Look at what they did!

What To Do?

The tape light strips are hidden. They look very sophisticated. I don’t have those, because you need a power strip, and I need my outlets!

The puck lights have the same problem, they will steal my precious outlets! These cannot be adhesive attached because of the heat. They need screws. Read more

Changing the Toilet Fill Valve


Did you know a toilet flapper and a toilet fill valve were two different pieces of equipment a toilet tank? I didn’t. Yours truly thought those were different ways of saying the same thing, like some people call a river a brook, some call it a creek, some call it a “crick”.

This diy home goddess learned how to replace the toilet flapper a couple of years ago. Check out the story here. It was fairly easy once you got the hang of it. I had done it a couple of times, since I have three floors and four bathrooms. I thought I knew it all. Boy was I wrong.

The Story of My Broken Toilet Fill Valve

A couple of months ago, (Easter morning, as a matter of fact) my roommate was making all kinds of noise in the bathroom. The toilet would not fill after he flushed. We had been hearing the occasional hissing noise for a couple of weeks, but I hadn’t looked into the cause of it yet. Bad diy home goddess! I really need to learn to look at things immediately!

He was taking water from the sink, and putting it into the bowl to flush the toilet. And then the toilet bowl would not fill again. He was cussing up a storm. He didn’t know what to do, and didn’t want to wake me up. I think maybe I was ignoring the noise for about fifteen minutes before I got out of bed to find out what was going on.

Yeah, it was quite early on Sunday morning, but I just knew it was a flapper that had gone bad. The toilet as only about 2 years old, but I learned a flapper will disintegrate anywhere between two and five years, depending on the usage, the brand, the water supply, etc. After all, I had been through this before, and a diy home goddess learns form her mistakes, from mentors, other people, and the Internet! Read more

Toilet Flapper Replacement



The toilet flapper? The stopper? The whatchamacallit? Whatever name you use for that contraption that makes the tank refill with water after you flush the toilet, you need to become familiar with it. Why? Because it will need to be replaced every two to five years. And a home goddess doesn’t need to waste the $50-$100 by calling a plumber (I have friends who do) when you can do it yourself. Yes, even a diy home goddess can do this, easy peasy.

Why do you need to change the toilet flapper? There are two reasons to change a toilet flapper (the handyman official name for it):

  • If you have a chain, the chain broke. It’s metal, it can happen. You can’t flush the toilet at all.
  • The rubber no longer seals the hole where the water escapes. The water never stops running, because the water keeps leaving the tank; it never gets full.

My Story – “Tanks A Lot!”

When was my first time? I had used the toilet before I headed to work one morning. The toilet would not flush. I opened the tank, and saw the chain was broken and spread around the base. I lifted the metal bar for a manual flush and rushed off to work.

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