Thrift Diving is 5 Years Old!

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I never really know how to answer when someone asks me the question, “Soooo… long ya been blogging?”

I debate between telling them the technical answer (5 years), and the real answer (12 years), or sharing with them how I’ve been a writer since age 15.

My love of writing goes back even before 15, actually.

There are these vague memories of me trying to write short stories, but never really having a plot, so after a few pages of excellent details and dialogue between descriptive characters, the story would abruptly stop. Even though I never produced anything, the love of it was evident.

I also loved to read.

Remember Jessica Wakefield from the Sweet Valley High books? It was she who inspired my love of journaling and writing.

She loved writing in her black and white composition books, journaling about boys and all the trivial teenage girl problems she had.

I wanted to do that, too.

And so, my love of journaling began.

Listen to the Audio Version of This Post

No time to read? Listen to the audio version of this post!


The First Blog I Started

Fast forward to 2005 and I had received the news that I was pregnant with baby #1! At this point, there were sites online you could create little pages to keep track of your pregnancy, and that’s what I did. I wrote journal entries, documenting everything!

You can imagine how excited I was, but nervous because I had never done this before. At that time, I went online and found a group of other moms online with July 2006 due dates and we formed a little supportive pod for First-Time Mothers.

Every day we wrote back and forth on our chat boards, telling each other about this ache and this cramp and that craving.

Well, one day, one of the girls said, “Hey, there’s this site called Blogger! I’m going to start a blog and keep people up to date with my family and what’s going on with my pregnancy!”

Ding! Ding! Ding!

It was right up my alley!

I wrote often, added tons of pictures, and didn’t give a damn who was reading it. I was just happy to document my pregnant on this thing called a blog. I was lucky if my Mom’s group friends looked at it. LOL

This was one of my early posts.

I can’t believe I was worried about him having a flat head! HA!! LOL

The Appiahs family blog

Five Years Later

After blogging about the birth and parenting of my two little guys, Kwabena and Ohene, (who were 5-years- and 1-year-old at this point) another big event took place:

We found this house:


10 Questions You MUST Ask Before Buying a House


It was 2010 and we had just sold our 2-BR condo (which was soooo nice, by the way–it had skylights and vaulted ceilings and didn’t require any work!). But with having 2 kids now, we wanted space, and the allure of having a backyard and not having to thump thump thump over the head of a neighbor below was exciting!

But this house needed work.

It didn’t need to be gutted or anything major, but there was wallpaper everywhere, avocado green toilets, and problems that needed fixing that were beyond my absolutely non-existent DIY expertise.

In researching how to do some of these improvements and repairs, I stumbled upon a blog called Pretty Handy Girl. I’m sure most of you have heard of her site, right? She’s pretty hot stuff in the DIY community.

But a lightbulb went off inside my head.

What if I can blog about my housetoo??

I was already blogging about babies and potty training…why not blog about removing wallpaper, too??

So the blog From House to House was created!

The funny thing is that my URL didn’t even match my blog name! The URL was

I had no clue what I was doing!

(If you click on that link now, it will redirect to


Where Did I Get the Name “Thrift Diving”?

When I started blogging on From House to Home, it was purely for documenting my progress. Nobody cared about picture quality and writing these long, detailed posts!

Only a few friends were reading it, anyhow.

But I absolutely loved it!

At this point, I wasn’t doing much home improvement beyond just removing wallpaper and painting.

After painting, though, I realized, “Wow. We’ve got, like, no furniture.

When you go from a 1,100 square feet to about 3,400 sq. ft., you realize real quicly  that you need to fill that house!

I started hitting up thrift stores to find a lot of our stuff. I’ve always loved thrift stores, even since I was a kid. Plus, I had been buying some used baby furniture at the thrift store since having kids, so thrift stores and me were no strangers.

But I had never bought furniture there.

At this point, it was early winter of 2012, and I’m home on maternity leave with Baby #3 (aka Kojo).

Every day it was like I was going to the thrift store, looking for stuff, finding this…..finding that

My husband would call and ask, “Where are you? The baby needs nursing  !” And I would respond, “I’ll be home soon! I’m going thrift diving!”

I wasn’t sure where I had gotten that term thrift divingother than it was the knock-off version of dumpster diving.

Around this time, I started getting emails from some DIY blogs that were talking some craziness about making money with your blog.


Wait, you mean, people are actually making money with a blog….something I’d been doing for already seven years?!?!?!

Get the heck out of here!

It was at that exactly moment that I decided I, too, would make money with my blog.

And that meant I needed a better name and needed to buy a .com instead of using a free blogspot account.

I remember lying in bed in the middle of the night, most likely after a nursing session with Kojo, unable to go back to sleep. I needed a good name for my new site!

And then it hit me–THRIFT DIVING….Yes!


Not only was it cool and memorable, but–gasp!–the domain name was available!

I bought it immediately, and from that moment on, I vowed to learn everything that I could about turning my passion for blogging into something from which I could make money!

It was something I already loved, so why not make money from it??

Exactly one week after I registered the domain, I spent all week figuring out how to spruce up Thrift Diving and this is what the site looked like! LOL


Thrift Diving Blog - What the site looked like in February 2012


You have to understand how exciting this was for me.

Since graduating from the University of Maryland College Park with a BA in Psychology, my soul yearned for a creative career I loved.

I remember years of heading to jobs that I didn’t like, for the simple fact that I needed to collect a paycheck.

But those jobs never made me happy–everything from being a Research Assistant….to being an Activities Coordinator….to being a Quality Improvement Coordinator….to ending up as a Project Manager.

They were all just….jobs. I wanted something that would allow me the independence to work for myself, while being creative.

I taught myself how to sew right after college graduation, and I started sewing everything from silk handbags…to later making and selling baby carriers, cloth diapers, baby shoes–you name it.

But there was always that fear and doubt–could this really pay the bills??

So for while, I simply sewed for pleasure and continued working my stable jobs to pay the bills.

However, when I started to hear that there were bloggers money from something that I simply loved to do for free, I knew blogging was a game changer.

The Defining Moment

Over the years, I spent God-knows how many hours working on my blog.

Not just on creating good content, but on the back end: trying to understand email marketing and getting people to subscribe, to learning about placing advertisements on the blog to earn money, to learning how to get sponsored posts where companies will pay you for projects.

When 2015 rolled around, something was stirring inside of me.

The yearning to blog full time was palpable, but the fear of whether I could do it and still be able to pay my bills was just as palpable!

There were bloggers I knew who were making six figures a year, so I knew it was possible. But could it be possible for me??

As many of you know, I lost my job in January 2015, and to be honest with you, it was the best decision that could have ever happened.

That day when I lost my job, I came home that afternoon and literally jumped up and down and said, “YES! I don’t have to go back there!” (You can read all about it here).

Hubby wasn’t too happy about that, and it took a while to get him on board.

In fact, he still makes references to me “getting a job” sometimes, at which I just roll my eyes. LOL

Since becoming a full-time blogger, I had made great partnerships with brands such as RYOBI Power Tools, and I have public speaking opportunities, and I even became a Duluth Trading Company model (you can see me on their Model page and also read about the experience here)!

All of these opportunities I never would have imagined. And thankfully, all of those partnerships and opportunities have helped the make being a full-time blogger possible!


Why This Blog is So Important To Me

One day, during my dark, unhappy employed days outside of the home, I asked myself to pick five keywords that symbolize the purpose of my life.

And I came up with only three that had real meaning: CREATE, INSPIRE, TEACH.

I can’t tell you what the other two are because they don’t matter.

These words are my life’s purpose, the things that inspire and drive me.

This is why I love Thrift Diving so much is because it’s the career that allows me to express these purposes.

In every single post, I strive to include these three elements so that someone who reads it will be inspired to be creative and turn their home into a place they love, and hopefully, won’t have to spend a lot of money doing it.

This blog is about my love of creating and inspiring others to be creative, too.

And I love teaching people!

I never claim to be an expert. Many times, I learn right along with you! But when I learn something, I like to teach it and pass along that info, so that other people can be inspired by the knowledge, just like I was inspired.


Where is Thrift Diving Going for 2017?

Thrift Diving’s mission is to create, inspire, and teach so that people can decorate, improve, and maintain their home on a DIY budget.

I realized that the problems people have are things like time, lack of confidence, uncertainty about different products, fear of doing home improvement projects and repairs themselves, and more.

So, for 2017, I will be putting a lot of time and energy into creating content that helps you solve these problems.

I still love thrift stores, so of course, I’ll still be going thrift diving! But over the years, I’ve acquired so much stuff that it’s impossible for me to keep up the thrift hoard. LOL I’d love to find an organization that is in need of furniture donations so that I can still do plenty of furniture makeovers and not worry about to put I’m putting them!

Power tools are still going to be very important this year because I believe every woman should feel comfortable with using them! If you truly want to make home affordable, you’ll need to learn how to use them, so I’m going to spend some time this year trying to get people to feel comfortable using tools.

And of course, I will keep upcycling and repurposing!

I vow to give 110% into every post, with tons of pictures and explanations, and YouTube tutorials, and something new I’m doing, which is audio recordings, too! This may or may not spin-off into a podcast, but at least, for those who want to listen to audio posts, I’d like to offer that option, too!


What’s My 5 Year Plan?

It’s interesting to think of where this blog will be in 2022, when it’s officially 10 years old!

I haven’t really thought much about it, which is probably not the right answer. LOL

But as long as it stays true to my core values of CREATE, INSPIRE, and TEACH, then I’m open for anything! 🙂


A Giveaway!

To celebrate the 5-year bloggerversary for Thrift Diving, I’m giving away this awesome wall print called Antiques in Color!

Isn’t it gorgeous?? It was taken by a photographer (Antony Kazelidis) at an antique shop in Istanbul!


Antiques in Color giveaway


A company called had sent me one to review in a recent YouTube video (click here to see the unboxing!), and I purchased a smaller version of it to give away as a gift for one of you to celebrate this bloggerversary!

Mine is hanging in my computer room area.


Antiques in Color wall art


It’s my way of saying, “Thanks!” for going along on this journey and being a reader of this blog!

To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment below and answer this question:

What’s one thing that Thrift Diving has been doing well, and what’s one thing that Thrift Diving should improve for 2017?

The winner must live in the U.S.! (Sorry, my international friends! But you’re more than welcome to leave a comment, too, if you’d like to leave your feedback!) 🙂

I’ll select the winner by February 28, 2017, and you’ll get an email from me, so watch your inbox! – CLOSED!

WINNER – Jenna!

Jenna was lucky #11 comment that was randomly chosen by! Congrats! You’ve got 48 hours to answer my email! 🙂

Screen Shot 2017-03-08 at 12.30.26 PM

Again, thank you so much for being a reader, and more importantly, being a friend!





Download the 5 freebies!

Thrift Diving inspires women to decorate, improve, and maintain their home themselves...using paint, power tools, and thrift stores! Use these 5 printables, checklists, and ebooks to get started!

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  1. Happy Birthday to your blog! I have loved your blog from the first time I read it. You come across as a real person who is learning new things everyday…not someone who studied craftsmanship/woodworking/interior design/you name it, in order to present the “perfect, polished, highly filtered, airbrushed” version of a DIY blogger. That’s the best thing about your blog…don’t ever lose that realness and down-to-earth, girlfriend-next-door quality. What could you improve or do more of in 2017? I would love to see videos of you going into thrift stores showing your thought process of buying, more video tutorials of your projects and more overall explanations of your big-picture goals for your interior decorating. Or, if you don’t have big-picture goals (like me) show us how you decide what to add to a room and why. I don’t consider myself good at decorating so I’d like to get into the head of someone who does it and how they make decisions, especially when on a budget.

  2. Congratulations on your five year anniversary!! I appreciate the fact that you are so “down to earth.”

  3. Is on a job well done, Serena. I am pretty sure I’ve been with you since the beginning and have enjoyed every single post. Your blog notifications are one of the first emails I click on. Continued success to you. The next five years will be even better, I am sure.

  4. Hi Serena,
    I have loved and will continue to love all the larger projects that you attempt. When I watch what you have done it gives me confidence to try the projects that I think are above my level.
    I would love to see more furniture painting, I love the color combos and the transformations that you do, keep up
    the good work.
    Please enter me in the give away, that picture is awesome.

  5. Congratulations on 5 years of doing what you love! Your blog is the first one I have joined. I have been working full time for the last 28 years, and made the difficult decision to walk away from my career. Your blog has given me confidence and inspiration to tackle projects at home myself! I cannot think of one thing that needs improving! Thank you for your encouragement.

  6. I love how you show all the steps, and explain what you tried, what worked, what didn’t. You start at the beginning and take it to the end. Your blogs on understanding wood, working with power tools, etc, have given me confidence that I can do it! Wish I had found you 5 years ago!

  7. Simone Fernandes da Silva says:

    Seu blog é lindo e inspirador, aqui do Brasil, fico acompanhando suas artes manuais e querendo fazer tudo! Mas o tempo é curto para tantas atividades, desejo muito sucesso para você e adoraria receber seu presente, o Correio até aqui não é difícil não, expandindo as fronteiras. um super beijo . Simone

  8. Ruth Hoefert says:

    Your projects are so fun to explore! Perhaps show us more instruction withe power tools, maybe highlight the era of some of your pieces, what you like and don’t like.

  9. Wow, five years! I have been following you since you lost your job and took up blogging full time. Hard to believe, time just flies! I love how you are so down to earth and seem so approachable. I enjoy your furniture and tool tutorials – and I am grateful for your one room challenges – it’s the only reason my laundry room has been organized and remodeled! It would be great if you could hold some in person clinics, showing us the proper way to use power tools and perhaps completing a small project doing so. Or refinishing a small piece of furniture. Looking forward to another 5 years!


  10. Congratulations on your 5 year anniversary! You’ve come a long way and I know you’ll continue to go far. One of the most important things about your blog is how approachable and real you are. I know that takes a lot of time and effort, but it’s what makes me believe in you and want to follow you. I love how you are willing to try new projects, learning as you go, addressing your mistakes, and teaching the rest of us so that we, hopefully, won’t make the same ones. I’m sure it’s difficult to keep a balance between bigger and smaller projects, but it gives everyone something they can do. Either way, whether it’s a project I would do myself or not, I almost never go away without learning something that can be applied to another project. To me, learning the underlying skills and techniques is what is exciting.

    As for improvement, I almost hate to bring it up, but I do feel it’s important that your written materials be as professional as you can make them. Your audience has a wide range of followers from many educational and background levels. That means spelling and grammar should be as accurate as you can make them. Those to whom “school” was more important will notice errors, and sometimes even comment a bit rudely, but those who were perhaps not so interested in academics will “feel” the difference whether they can define it or not.

    Overall, I’d give you an A-. For content and teaching, you get an A+. Love you; keep up the great work!

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