New Kitchen Reveal

My long awaited, reveal is so worth every ounce of effort the eye in every detail was intentional it served a purpose.

Ok so my tiny DIY project of just painting the cabinets and upgrading the hardware turned into a full fledged kitchen makeover. You can imagine the disbelief my husband was in when I single handedly started taking down cabinets and chiseling tiles off the wall. As I said in my other post it felt good to tear things up after what I was going through. I think in a sense it was my quasi way of regaining control over my out of control life and possibly a bit of anger therapy was all mixed in. All I know is by the end of my out of control destruction I had huge holes in my walls. No doors on my cabinets, and all the discarded cabinets were just hanging around my house like it was nobody’s business. I made an absolute wreck of my kitchen and unfortunately it stayed that way for months because I was clearly in way over my head. The general contractors were a hot commodity and unavailable during the height of the pandemic. Everyone was fixing up their homes.

How it started
The moment I realized I done fckd up 😭

Of course that didn’t stop me I kept going. I absolutely hated that cabinet space over my kitchen sink. Like WTF were the designers thinking? It was a clear waste of space. So I took down more cabinets at some point my kitchen wasn’t even functional we spent tons of money ordering food for weeks. Learn from my epic fail of Willy Nilly rogue destruction. The big after thought … Oh shit 😳the kids! They had no where to eat comfortably. I planned everything else on point except for that.

The awful somewhat open but closed in cabinet above my sink
How it ended up looking after I pulled it down

The space above my sink was a tough design to pull off because it was in such an awkward recessed corner position. After getting some design inspiration from walking thru Home Depot kitchen displays. I came up with the full open shelves concept. It absolutely had to be executed well to make the dull area a wow point of view while I wash dishes. How did I turn this area from drab to fab? See picture below and I’ll explain how. Click Here to see video.

Wider picture point of view

Did you notice the transition between the hexagon marble tile with the gold accent inlays. I absolutely loved that concept I saw it on a photo of a hotel floor and I wanted to add that cool effect to my kitchen to really make this corner stand out. I ended up finally finding a contractor to do the tiling and flooring because that was way above my creative abilities for starters. I asked my contractor (Eric) to leave the tiles in the corner open and to make it higher than underneath the cabinet spaces. I bought wainscoting and used my jigsaw to puzzle piece it all together. Then I used my Ryobi Brad nailer gun to attach the vertical ship lap in between the marble hexagon tiles. I then used white caulk to fill in the gaps between the wainscoting and the tiles to make it all magically seamless. I then styled the open shelves using metallic gold tone planters, I used old recipe books to add height and layer my decor. I also styled my decor in groups of 3’s for balance. Lastly, I added faux green florals to makes this space have a nice pop of color. Greenery on shelf spaces to me is a must. This was definitely very challenging to do because of the sink and awkward position of the corner. I was so happy with how it all came out. What do you think? Did I execute it that nicely or what? Leave a comment below let me know your thoughts.

I added the gold high arch faucet, the gold water filter, gold and marble soap dispensers, and marble paper towel dispenser, marble pedestal

As you can see below I took down another cabinet over the stove. Of course in my head I was figuring out what am I going to do with the lost cabinet space (more on my pantry makeover on another post). This area was completely redone with a new stove top, hood range, and a newly installed gold pot filler that was a mandatory addition and boy did I not know all the drama of getting a simple pot filler installed. My poor dining room wall had to be completely gutted 😩 the horror. But when I want something your girl stops at nothing to get it and see it through no matter how big that hole in my f**king wall had to get. See Horror show here.

Ignore the mess. This is the before picture of my stove counter space
This is how it looked once completed

I wanted my kitchen to be glam but cozy and functional. My kitchen is in the center of the house so it is where everyone ends up at. I transformed the dining area into a beautiful breakfast nook. I took the grey shades down. I added 2 inch Levolor horizontal blinds from Lowes. I thought about plantation shutters but opted this route for several reasons time, cost, and functionality. I was able to get them cut and sized right in the store to get this custom look. What I had in mind with the table I wanted to create a functional place where my family not only came together to eat, but this is where we would have family game night, family meetings, where I would enjoy a cup of coffee or tea in the morning before my kids got up. Where I would come to journal my goals, or write my blog. Maybe do a homeschool session at the kitchen table or morning prayer with my children. That was what was most important to me when designing this space.

Instead of buying an entire table set I designed furniture picks from all different places and styled them together to create this one of a kind look. I purchased the Maddox dining L shape extra wide couch bench with pillows for comfort and coziness. It took me forever but I found a farm style, heavy, white marble stone dining table. It goes so nicely with my marble tile backsplash and porcelain floor. I also purchased 3 emerald green tufted, velvet bucket chairs with gold metal legs to add a pop of color to my white and black kitchen. This was a bold call typically the color to accent black and white is red. I added green velvet pillows to tie into the velvet chairs on the other side of the couch. I absolutely love the way everything turned out It is hands down the favorite spot in the house right now. What do you think? Beautiful or absolutely beautiful?

How it looked before the renovation with the old fan and grey shades
New Chandelier it’s actually a Fandelier a best of both worlds Gem
Seats 8 comfortably – you don’t have to compromise style for comfort

Now let’s get to the good part… Back to how I started remember the desk area I tore up and put all holes in the wall tearing out the tiles? I know who wants to remember that right. You want to see how I turned that hot mess into oh yes? I’m going to do a separate blog on just that area alone be sure to check back in on my next blog post to get all the details on how I put that together. For now just enjoy the transformation.

Now on to my floors, remember I wasn’t even supposed to be doing the floors it was just “minor upgrades” oh the lies 😭 My floors wasn’t in terrible condition there were a few hairline cracks but it was just dated and I didn’t like the grooved texture in the tiles it made dirt easy to stick to it and it was all white so you saw everything on it. I went for the large format porcelain tile why because I have expensive taste… lol Once I saw it, I was in love and your girl once again determined AF did whatever it took to get it here even if it meant longer delays, extra delivery costs, finding someone who knew how to install large format tiles not only in my kitchen but in my hallway and foyer because it wasn’t separated. Ugh all the exchanges and the drama and mess ups from my original selection. I’m a hot damn mess. I don’t know how my husband deals sometimes. He just lets me be me. I truly love him for that. Stay TF outta my way when I’m on a mission. I have tunnel vision when I’m in getter done mode. It was the gold in the marble design that completely sold me and had me completely enamored. The process of getting the old tile up and laying the cement boards and new floor down took about a little over a week to complete. My kids had to stay upstairs most of the time. Normally, I would have just left and stayed at a hotel but those damn covid restrictions 🙄 ruined everything. So it finally happened and when it did I was so excited. Check out the pics of the process.

There are more details in this makeover like the chandelier fan, the Gold decor I was clearly obsessed with, my refrigerator that’s an entire project within it’s self I will do a separate post on that DIY, my new appliances. How about that double oven? What a God send for cooking big meals. We downsized our microwave to a small insignificant appliance. Microwaves are not a great healthy source so we minimized the usage by removing it all together we opted in for the french door air fryer convection oven. Amazing alternative. I cleared all appliances off my counter tops to make room for the beautiful decor that I’d prefer to see rather than clunky soiled appliances. We completely gutted our small food pantry closet to store all of the counter top appliances. That way it gets used, cleaned and stored away out of sight. I am 100% happy with how everything turned out my family enjoys this space thoroughly. Mission Accomplished.

I hope you enjoyed this read if you want to stay updated on more please join me in my stories on Instagram Here for live projects and other things going on in my in between life as it occurs. Leave your email below to get notified when a new post updates. Thank you so much for taking the time to read or share my blog. I hope I was able to inspire you to do some “minor upgrades” on your kitchen 😉 if you want any additional info on anything you see in the photos Let me know I’d be happy to share with you. I’m a real person on the other side of this so it’s totally ok to connect with me.

Please have a safe and wonderful New Year! Many blessings to you and your family in 2022!

Salt & Light

Your new friend,


Meet Me In The Middle

I seek out the ones who are in the middle of it:

The middle of making

The middle of healing

The middle of learning

The middle of changing

Because I know how much courage it takes to get from the beginning to the middle and then stay there and do the work.

Rebecca Ray

If you are reading this that means YOU have found ME stuck in middle of my life of now and lately. Somewhere in between here and there, where everyday feels like the weekend and the days are just called today, tomorrow, and yesterday. Time is simply an anomaly of daytime and nighttime that seem to run concurrently. Sounds like the freaking twilight zone right? Have you felt like this before? If so we just became friends because this is our first relatable feeling together, of feeling lost. Hi, my name is Aurora Bean but you can call me Rory (my new name moniker for blogging) no one I know ever calls me that in real life, but it’s good because I’ll be able to know who my new tribe is when “Rory” is used. So Nice to meet you, and I mean that sincerely. Thanks for meeting me in the middle of my life journey where I don’t have it all together. What I do have is a passion create a new more meaningful and joyful life in this in between space I ended up in. I hope you decide to stay for a while. Follow the Journey

You might be wondering at this point what happened to me. Well before I bare my entire soul about my entire life lets warm up to each other first. We’ll get back to my childhood to adulthood life story one day. Like many other women from what I’ve been reading this pandemic experience has been a lifestyle game changer hands down. What’s in common is that the Pandemic happened to all of us simultaneously what’s different is how it affected our lives individually for better and worse.

Let me take you back a few years before the pandemic hit. I’ll give you a brief timeline of major events that happened in my life so you can see how the trajectory of where I was going and how it completely collapsed. In 2008, I became a Life and Health Insurance Broker I had planned to grow in this position well into retirement. Why? Because I was f***ing good at it. I made a lot of f***ing money and I was very successful. I was the top sales rep/broker year after year.

Side note: Yes, I have a potty mouth in real life so it may occur in my writings. I read that people who curse are truth tellers 😉

In September of 2015, I got married to my wonderful husband Keith. We had been dating for five years prior before settling down and we both had one kid each from our previous relationships. Ahyloni & Justin they are now 23 and 22 years old. We also had a little boy together prior to us getting married his name is Kaden he is 10 years old now. In December of 2016, we purchased our forever home in New Jersey. A big, beautiful colonial style, 6 bedroom home on a lovely treelined cul de sac street. The hidden gem wasn’t just the gorgeous home but the neighborhood was everything a new family could hope for, to be genuinely welcomed.

Right after we purchased the house we were so overjoyed when we found out we were expecting a new baby. We were trying for a while to get pregnant for 2 years. We started the process of IVF counseling but in the end we didn’t need to continue because we became pregnant naturally. In July of 2017, we had another boy his name is Khari he’s now 4. It is only by the Grace of God I am still here because right after I had him (via c Section) 2 weeks postpartum I became gravely ill and almost died. Yes, really .. really. (I will do another post going into details about this story another time.)

Then three months later my Aunt Linda passed away she was like a mother to me the devastation from her death still gets me down. So, 2018 was really a year of recovery for me, both emotionally and physically. I had rehab 3x per week for about nine months, I was actively planning my next comeback steps in my career and caring for my infant baby with the help of a nanny.

By the end of 2018 I had it all mapped out on how I was going to level up and solidify my career even more by becoming more secure and traveling less by establishing a brick and mortar business insurance agency. The business was in a specialized niche market in Medicare Health Insurance sales. I invested hours of market research and securing a high traffic location. I spent thousands of dollars on new construction, signage, purchasing office furniture, office supplies, websites, business cards and business marketing. By June of 2019, I had a big Grand Opening of my full service Insurance Agency we were finally opened and thriving. First quarter plans of 2020 were so robust it was scary. My team was full steam ahead with growing my new business from hiring grant writers to secure funding, creating events to help and educate the community about financial security, acquiring new agents, creating sponsored licensing opportunities for high school graduates. We were finally getting recognized as go to place for health and life insurance and going above and beyond helping the people of the community and it felt amazing.

At the end of February of 2020 we started to hear stories of the virus outbreak in Wuhan, China. March 5th I found out I was two months pregnant this time it wasn’t planned. March 10th I pulled my kids out of school. March 11th the day the pandemic was declared and we were all forced into a non essential business mandatory shutdown with no end in sight. That was legit one of the scariest days of my life, like WTF is happening right now?? At first it was for a week, then two weeks, then a month, then two months, three months, four months, five months, six months, seven months, eight months… As the months went by my belly grew and so did my office bills and rental debt too! It quadrupled by the thousands. The bulk of my income stopped because I wasn’t actively producing, because our core niche audience were seniors and disabled folks on Medicare. It was very difficult to connect with them online or they had lack of trust over the phone. Sales came to a screeching halt.

I hid my pregnancy from everyone, I was scared of the unexpected, like what if something happened to me and the baby. I didn’t know how to process the shit show I was in. I questioned the fairness of even bringing a child into this crazy world, I felt the guilt of that like a weighted smothering gasp of air. This pregnancy was so different it was very lonely, my husband couldn’t attend any of the doctor visits. The doctor had to speak to both of us in a parking lot, there were no oohs and ahhs, no parties or showers, no photo shoots, no visitors. I was very depressed in a happy face. Do you know what I mean? I had to show up happy for my children who I was stuck at home with, binge watching 24/7 with no outside help of nannies or family. I had to be the happy face my husband comes home to after braving the outside world of this unknown virus. I had to be his peace, his comfort. Meanwhile, I was feeling the dread of each day not knowing who’s going to die next. I sent more condolences, thoughts and prayers messages to several high school and close friends who passed away than I could stomach it was all just too much. A lot of my senior clients also passed away and that absolutely broke my heart. This overwhelming grief of death that surrounded me made it very difficult to enjoy the little life that was growing inside of me.

The PPP loan scammers made off real big meanwhile real business owners like myself who needed the real help to stay afloat didn’t get much. My business didn’t fit into the cookie cutter requirements of Eligibility to secure the non repayment loan to save my business. I fought humbly to survive, I applied to everything I knew was available. I wrote letters to the mayor, I asked everyone for advice, I felt so embarrassed when I went to social media and asked for help. I felt like a complete failure. I asked everyone I knew to step in no one was able to and understandably so everyone was also going through tough times themselves.

In August of 2020, I tried to reopen my business and reignite the excitement but the once bustling vigorously, noisy main street was now an absolute ghost town. I saw rows of businesses with aluminum fences still down covering the storefronts during business hours. No one walked in my door for days. By then I was 8 months pregnant, masked up, sanitized, and afraid to be out or interact with anyone. I sought the advice from some close business friends on how to handle this and it made the best sense to cut my losses. The longer I held on to my business the more debt I would incur. More over, with the impending maternity leave in the next weeks coming would only further delay me coming back to work to run the business full time. By then, my admin team left, my agents left, I was the only one who could run my business but even I wasn’t available.

I decided to still hold on to the location for a few more months to see if a miracle would occur and I can turn this ship wreck around. I needed an influx of steady customers and someone to help me run the business and sadly I no longer had that luxury of either situation. Additionally, by this time I had a brand new baby to care for and protect. My priorities completely shifted. By December 2020, I finally made the decision to forfeit my lease. In the end, this was a huge loss financially. I was almost $40,000 dollars behind in rental debt and bills. Not to mention the several thousands of dollars in the start up construction costs I lost. However, the silver lining in the end was KINDNESS the company who owned/managed the commercial property treated me fairly, with lots of empathy to my unique situation, they allowed me to go outside of the boundaries of my lease to find solutions.

In February of 2021, I was finally able to find another broker in my same business on my downline team that was able to assume the lease, on her own negotiated terms and she took over the office. Majority of the accrued rent was abated. I was able to be released from the 5 year lease with no court drama, no bankruptcies, and no other responsibilities or obligations. God is good.

I had gotten used to the high accolades reputation that was disguised as my personal purpose through my career that I created all these years as an entrepreneur. That fall from losing my business burned all the desire in me to continue on that same career path again. My business partner asked me to come back and start over as a regular field rep again. I knew that was not going to happen. (I will always continue to maintain my active Licenses and take referral business but not physically pursue new business in the Medicare Insurance field but I am still actively in PEO HR and Payroll Services to small & medium sized businesses. ) Like I said earlier, I had planned to retire in that career, I made a load of money, I was really good at it but after 13 years in the industry and the loss I endured. I wanted out.

On October 2nd, My father, 80, passed away from metastasized colon cancer. As if my heavy burdened load wasn’t already depleting me to the core. I now had the sole responsibility planning and preparing his funeral services. The sadness and grief and the pressure was so overwhelming. On October 11th, 2020 a little over a week after my dad passed away, I had my 4th baby boy Kairo Cruz he is the most adorable, cutest little boy ever. He is now 14 months and just started walking. My last baby blessing the joy of him being born healthy was absolutely immeasurable. The inexplicable experience of both joy and pain of life and death almost simultaneously was surreal.

No one and nothing could have prepared me for what would come to pass in 2020. Yet, I still blamed myself, I couldn’t shake the feeling of failure. I had let so many people down. I suffered from postpartum depression. As resilient and strong as I always am in hiding behind my smile my husband began to see the cracks in me. I would stay in bed all day, I became so overwhelmed with parenting my kids all day, every day then add in a colicky newborn, I would just breakdown and cry. I couldn’t just snap out of it. I had a no visitor ban on my home once the baby was born. I had to protect my new baby. No one could come to my house or leave except my husband and when he returned he had to get undressed in the garage, bleach his hands and go straight to the shower every single time he came in. Total madness. Did you do the same? I didn’t go anywhere. I lived in a state of pure fear over this stupid virus. Overtime, I believe I became agoraphobic (fear of leaving my house) I became anxious and had panic attacks when I had to leave to take the baby to the doctor. I became a total OCD addict on masks and hand sanitizer. My new f***ing normal life sucked. After the baby turned one I decided not to live in fear of this virus anymore. I turned off the fear peddlers on TV and began living freely. Eating healthy foods and wellness remedies that makes our bodies thrive so our immune systems can be at their optimal best.

I also had to pulled Kaden, out of school completely for the second half of his 4th grade year he wasn’t learning anything virtually, it was a total waste of time. Daycares were only opened to first responders and medical families so Khari never returned back to his daycare pre k-2. My younger brother after being quarantined and passed 2 covid tests he came to live with us and he helped me homeschool my kids while I gave birth and cared for my needy, colicky baby Kairo. My son Kaden is now in 5th grade and Khari is in pre-k 4 I decided not put them back in school this year (2021-22) for several reasons. One of the most prominent reasons was I found after putting a full effort in teaching my children full time at home it was so rewarding to see their faces light up when they learned something new that I taught them. I couldn’t believe all these years I gave the pleasurable experience to a complete strangers. I absolutely adore all of my children after awhile being stuck with having them around all the time they grew on me. I began embracing the new change and started seeing things from a different perspective. We feel free! I can better influence and shape my children with strong foundational character traits and a greater sense of self. Rather than them being pushed into dealing with a large amount of people with all kinds of personalities and issues trying to fit in all while figuring themselves out to begin with. I know homeschooling has a little house on the prairie stigma to it and people are concerned with homeschoolers being raised as socially awkward, weak, odd kids but that is so far from the truth today my kids have a very active structured school and social schedule.(More details on this on another post) Because instruction is 1 on 1 the rate at which they are learning is leaps and bounds faster and more in depth than any group schooling session in one year we can accomplish more in half the time, but at our own pace, on our own time. I am currently in the process of setting up a Montessori homeschool for my little ones. (I will also share more on this effort)

After a while, I began to notice the lack of motivation to exercise to lose my baby weight when normally I’d be on my A game burning my baby weight off. In efforts of the good ole try I pushed my self to the max limit I went really hard on my peloton bike. I completed 300 miles in one month. It felt good for the moment then I just stopped completely. I lost complete interest in my self, I didn’t wear business suits and heels anymore, I wore sweats and sneakers most days, raggedy pajamas on other days, no make up, no jewelry, my hair was in braids so that would be another thing I let go. I left them in way past their due date I ended up cutting them out. I was a complete mess. I remembered feeling so angry, I was so lost. I lost a part of my self identity. I was a miserable, happy mom/wife. I asked myself Aurora, “outside of being a mom and wife who are you really”? I couldn’t answer. I really lost my sense of purpose and direction. I realized I was in a mid-life crisis and saw no light at the end of the tunnel.

The rug had been pulled out from under my feet while I was in a hot pursuit of a rewarding entrepreneurial Insurance career with a brand new business location. I had been suddenly thrusted back into our new six bedroom home that we never really had a chance to fix up because of our endless work. God has a funny sense of humor you know … he planted my feet where I really needed to sow my seeds and get back to the things that really mattered most in my life. Putting God first, being present in my marriage, teaching and loving on my children giving them the experience of real quality parenting and teaching time (in this crazy world they are going to need it more than anything ) and more importantly getting back to me finding my truest purpose and beautifying this big beautiful house into a real foundational source of love, wonderful memories, and overall positive environment. I prayed for this home and we have been blessed with it now, I am going to doing all things that bring joy to myself and my family. Doing these things are more meaningful to me then working endless hours in pursuit of money and recognition.

This idea began on a whim when my husband and I were taking a simple walk around the neighborhood at the start of the pandemic . We were trying to figure how can we to be productive with all of this time on our hands. We literally compared how the grass was greener on the other side…lol that’s really a thing. We created a small garden and then cut down several trees in efforts to do re do the landscaping to our front lawn. My husband and I became certified bananas DIYr’s. We got lots of stares. We didn’t care we were happy working together as a family. We purchased an arsenal of tools and saws and went to work outside with our boys, even the little bun in the oven and also help from my brother. Together we created something to look forward to in this solemn world where we couldn’t go anywhere or do much of anything.

After I had the baby and it began to get cold. I began tearing up the house, taking down cabinets, putting holes in walls, removing old tiles it felt good to tear things down. I did a lot of retail therapy in the home decor department to make me “feel better” to say I went overboard with it is an absolute understatement. I was completely obsessed with all of the beautiful pieces. I became so inspired to make my house into a cozy but glamorous home. See Instagram reel Here
It went viral after the owner of the business shared my reel on IG of all my purchases. The feverish excitement of buying things to make my home beautiful ignited a long held lost passion of mine of decorating it has always brought me joy. I went from changing the shelves on my wet bar, to just painting my family room, to completely renovating my entire kitchen. I will be revealing my complete Kitchen makeover the day after Christmas go Here to see it all.

With my creative entrepreneurial spirit lit up like a fire. I was on a new mission to turn my long held lost passion into my purpose. How amazing is that to do what I absolutely love doing and not focusing on the money but have faith that it will eventually follow. To pursue what’s most important in life instead of the pursuit of money. One thing is for certain if it’s meant to be, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Two things for sure, once I decided to embraced the change instead of struggle with the uncomfortableness of it all, and I got rid of the why me stinking thinking. I shifted my perspective of “all is lost” to now seeing the opportunity of this wonderful moment. My attitude began to change. I began learning all the how to’s of social media, I set up a new business, I immersed by self in fixing up my home. I poured into my children no longer with an attitude of the necessary burdensome task but with instead absolute love, patience, adoration and delight. I began to see a shift in the way I felt about myself. I decided to reinvent myself. I sped up my grey hair journey and I cut all of my hair all by myself (I’m also a licensed cosmetologist) I began eating healthier and working out again. This time I went back to another lost passion I used to love to do – roller skating it is such an amazing way to workout. What a joyful feeling it was to get back on skates after all these years.

Lastly, I decided to start a blog and share my story in efforts to inspire and encourage other moms and dads too who feels stuck or defeated, if you had a life changing experience and now have to pivot but you are completely lost. I hope you see my beginning journey of me turning my life around and it sparks a fire in you to do the same. My friend my advice to you would be to begin right where you are with all that you have and all that you are able to do. Be consistent. Be determined and resourceful. Ask yourself the tough questions and stand in your truth. Never be afraid to pitch it all in and begin again. This is me at 44 beginning an entire new journey that I know nothing about I am learning and growing along the way but I’m here and I’m dancing to my hearts passions that brings me absolute joy.

I want to build a community with you. I’d love if you would comment your thoughts. Email me your your own personal stories of challenges. If you have any advice for me, I’d be happy to hear it. Join me on Instagram Here to see all the updates visually. Thank you for taking the time to read my personal story about how I ended up on this joy journey in this in between space.

Salt and Light, Aurora “Rory”

“If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings”

IF by Rudyard Kipling