It’s not a bird. It’s not a plane. It’s…

Cane and Rita, and this is the kind of dynamic duo we’d like to be:

This (sorta) Old Life:  Badass cane and rita

Mild-mannered educators by day; sorta-youngish, hip, badass DIY superheroes by night (and weekend) who write an awesome home renovation blog full of inspiration and information.

But this is who we really are:

This (sorta) Old Life: Cane and  Rita

A couple of often-tired, middle-aged, wish-we-were-urban suburbanites trying to renovate our 70’s split-entry home into something awesome–all while living our full and complicated lives.

We are educators by day and parents-to-teens by day-and-night, and we fit blogging about our DIY adventures into the spaces of our life that aren’t filled with our jobs, kids, families, friends, said DIY adventures, and other creative work. Which means that if frequent posts with lots of cool projects are part of your definition of “awesome home renovation blog” we’re just not gonna be that for you.

However, if you’re interested in following the story of how two people without special skills or loads of dough are tackling the challenge of creating a simple, intentional, responsible home, this might be an awesome place for you to spend some time.

This (sorta) Old LIfe: stuck master bathroom vanity

A good example of what “progress” looks like when two people without special skills or loads of dough tackle a bathroom renovation themselves. :-)

A little backstory:

Ours isn’t the kind of picture-book life we imagined back in our 20s. Our story isn’t a once-upon-a-time, first-comes-love-then-comes-marriage, they-all-lived-happily-ever-after fairy tale.

Ours is a still-being-written story of the real, messy, challenging, stops-our-breath-in-our-throats-we’re-so-grateful-for-it life that we’re patching together from the remains of our earlier, broken ones.

Staring down middle age amidst some battered dreams, we did what we now like to do with all kinds of old stuff that looks too worn out and busted up to be any good:

We transformed our lives into something beautiful, functional, and useful.

This (sorta) Old Life:  Cane and Rita on bridge

First came friendship, and there’s no marriage yet, but there’s plenty of love and most days there are at least moments of happy.


For both of us, home projects and story have been the way through. First, we mostly learned from others. Now, we live and share our own, too. The more we read and listen and do, the more we want to hear and tell the stories that we know can save…well, everything.

But really, it’s not all about us

We’re living our story for us, but we’re writing it for you. We figure our job isn’t to tell you how to do things–because there is no one right way to do them.

We just tell the story of how we’re doing them, knowing you’re smart enough to take what’s useful and leave the rest.

Sometimes we totally nail it…

thissortaoldlife adirondack lunch

We built this Adirondack chair for about $10 bucks, using a simple saw and hammer.

…and sometimes we totally miss the mark.

thissortaoldlife retro green couch with new pillows

We really liked this Craigslist score, but our kids hated it. Luckily, the CL door swings both ways.

Either way, we learn valuable things that move us further along toward our goal of creating a home we love–and we share them here with the hope that our lessons can be your gain.

Want to follow along?

We’ve set up all the usual options for staying connected. Please choose any that work for you. 

You’ll find buttons near the top right corner of this page that will allow you to subscribe via RSS reader or the usual social media channels. If you’d prefer to get an email notice when we publish a new post, you can sign up for those near underneath the line of pictures in the sidebar.

If you’d like to know more about our philosophy/approach to making home, we go deeper into that on our Beliefs page and our UnDesign page. If you’d like to sample our blog wares, you can see some highlight posts on our First Time Here? page.

And, in case you’re wondering more about who it is you’re following…

A northwest native who grew up in Seattle, Rita‘s a lifelong over-achiever and recovering perfectionist.

She’s got 15-year-old boy-girl twins, two adult stepchildren, and two dogs. (She likes pairs and balance.)

She’s always been a writer, but she’s also always had a day job. For 20 years she taught middle school and high school English, and now she’s an instructional coach for other teachers.

She’s pretty good at Scrabble, she’s an insecure cook, and her favorite childhood TV show was The Brady Bunch. Maybe that’s why she’s a big believer in second (and third) chances. And why she’s long thought that her life would be much easier if she had an Alice living in a room off the kitchen.



A product of Opelousas, Louisiana, Cane is a painter/photographer/high school teacher/web designer/jui jitsu black belt, and mostly laid-back guy.

He’s got a 12-year old daughter, a cool yellow scooter, and a short attention span. Instead of fighting his yearning to continually learn new things (and thus master none), he’s embraced it.

He teaches digital media to the kind of quirky, creative, passion-following high-school kids he once was—as well as anyone else who lands in his classroom.

His favorite show is Car Talk, his head sweats when he eats hot peppers, and he once returned a pair of Doc Marten’s 6 times until they gave him a pair he was satisfied with. He’s generally easy to please, but he likes things the way he likes them.


 This (sorta) Old Life: kids

 We’ve got three kids between us, each with a different schedule. Sometimes we’re here with one, sometimes two, and sometimes all three. Creating a home that works for everyone is demanding and tricky, but we’re learning as we go and working it out.

Want to talk directly to us? Send us a message at the address below, and we’ll do our best to answer it quickly.

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