Being Kinda Productive For Once

I finally kickstarted my “get some $%&# done around the house” engine. Maybe the guilt of not doing stuff was hanging over my head. Maybe the fact that I purchased paint weeks ago and it was sitting, unused, on our deck. Maybe I finally got enough energy (or overcame the mental demons). Maybe I wanted to find “bursts”(remember those?)  of easier-to-manage tasks (or chunked-up tasks) to make it seem simpler.

Whatever it was, I got to work. And, slowly but surely, the trend continues. It even spilled into the nearest vicinity like a nasty plague (not to the neighbors; to Dave!).

I had already wire brushed a majority of the formerly invasive ivy plants which had attacked the side of our foundation. Seriously, the left caterpillar-esque tendrils of plant veins clinging with what looked like millions of legs ON the cement. There were areas that I just painted over them (uncool, I know), but for the most part those buggers were gone.

So a few quick tips for painting a foundation…

Use a crappy brush. This is actually one of my FAVORITE short rubber-handled angle brushes, but it had seen its day. Your brush will be ruined and will no longer be able to follow a straight line. It’s a drunk brush, but it works for this purpose.

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Use horrible posture and wear the least supportive shoes on earth. Seriously. I know you want to take several minutes to get up then walk like you’re 90 when you’re done, right? Follow this example:

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Show your toddler-toting guns. Seriously, I didn’t know I had those. Thanks for the awesome picture-taking, Dorky Daddy!

My actual advice is to use an old newspaper to not only catch drips but use as a guard. Yes, it’ll keep paint from getting onto your garden beds/driveway/etc (it actually works; the stuff you see is actually junk from when they put in our new window) BUT it keeps your brush from getting dirt/gravel/mulch/randomness stuck in its bristles.

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Nothing to see here, really. Just enjoying the picture. I look badass. Painting. With a “Life is Good” (“Half Full” glass) hat and my too-big cast t-shirt from our high school production of “Once Upon a Mattress”. It’s my go-to painting shirt and has splatters from every set I’ve ever painted on it. It’s getting buried with me. But, of course.

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The perfectionist-without-perfection will admit right here, right now, for all the world to read: I’m not a fan of the paint color. I’m not sure what I was thinking. I know I wanted a more charcoal color, and admittedly this one looked darker on the swatch (and in the can, which tells me it’s not mixed wrong). I’m positive it’s the combination of a super bright summer sun and the angle with which it hits the foundation. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

It also dries dark…er. Darker. Kinda.

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Either way, it looks cleaner and brighter, so it’s fine. I’m not going to nitpick. S’all good.

I started the project late last week, then spent time with family on Saturday and got back to business on Sunday during naptime. Since there’s a chance of rain today, I’m not expecting to finish today (I’m about 2/3 done), but if I do, I do. And I kind of hope I do.

No worries, though. I’ve got another project halfway finished that will grab my attention if the “rain rain rain comes down down down…”

This. Damn. Ceiling. Okay. So…ahem. This spot had a super budget style light fixture installed…but it had been placed where the angled ceiling meets the straight part of the ceiling in our upstairs hallway. Like, a half circle was cut out of the angled ceiling. Crazy town.

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(This is actually after I patched it for the LAST TIME.)

We’ve patched and sanded sporadically over the years, always putting it off longer. There were times we had thin little sheets of crappy patchwork hanging precariously. The cats had grown to ignore them, so used to the crapfest were they.

So, Sunday morning after we went out to breakfast (and I had discovered that my favorite antique center nearby wouldn’t open for another hour, egad), we returned home with one foul-moody, high-strung mama on board. I felt like I was spinning my wheels, so I checked my short list of house to-do’s, grabbed my sander and step stool and started the a-gypsum a-flyin’. (Not sure if it’s really gypsum in drywall…or whatever our house is made of…but work with me here.)

Of course, since I threw myself headlong into the project (happens. every. time.), I had failed to check on our spackle supply. D’oh. Very little, and all dried out.

Sooooo, Dave was good enough to watch Hadman while I ran to Lowe’s. Of course, $100-something later I also came home with a few super cheap window blinds and a handful of other do-dads for other projects…and my beloved Dap goes-on-pink/dries-white stuff.

I applied, then had lunch, put the munchkin down for a nap, and hit the outdoors (see: foundation painting). After Dave had gone inside and got the little guy up, I finished my painting for the day and headed indoors to sand, yet again.

I’m sure you already know this, but start with the lower grit number (it’s rougher); the higher, the gentler (finish with the gentler stuff).

Oh, and another word of advice. Don’t take selfies. Seriously, just don’t. But, if you MUST take a selfie, be sure to do it ONLY when you can embarrass yourself royally with it. 

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And don’t lick your lips after sanding. Stupid idea.

So, today I hope to slap on a coat of ceiling paint (how do I have two gallons of THAT in the basement but am incessantly out of what I usually need?)

Oh, and I also took the cat tower’s rope scratching post from annihilated (spelled that on first try, woo to the hoo!) to looks-like-new —

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RIP Monty Mouse. He squealed. #beardsleesourgodfather #jaspersourmuscle

Complete with massive amounts of help and support from Beardslee along the way. #notreally #heslept  He made some headway on reupholstering Daddy’s computer chair completely in cat fur, though.

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And I thought I’d share a few pics of how the garden’s doing, along with its fashionable tulle attire (to keep cat poop out of our food…how’s THAT for fabulous?).

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Last I knew, those things (to the left, to the left) weren’t trees. Too bad they turned into trees this summer ‘cuz they’re bogarting all the sun for my garden, man.

Oh, and the trellis near the garden in that picture? History. (It was being eaten by ants.) That was Dave’s huge project this weekend, and it’s awesome to finally have the thing down. Plus, a farmer helping neighbors move asked if he could take the posts and everything (ants and all), so it all got a second life. *warm fuzzies*

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Summer squash lookin’ all growy and stuff…

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Can you see what I see? Look closely…little neon green cuteness. (I don’t mind that they’re cute. I just mind the taste when they turn red and, y’know, “edible.” Ew. I love my husband enough to grow him two tomato plants, guys. That’s mad huge love.)

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Right after I picked one handful of lettuce, right before I picked the rough-around-the-edges leaves. Keeping it real.

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Our first “bounty.” Just a teensy strawberry (I moved those near the front of the garage and they’re doing “eh, okay”) that Hadley ate immediately, a couple of cherry tomaters and jalapenos, and a fistful of lettuce.

Whew! So! I know it’s a long one, but that’s how we’ve been productive lately. How about you? Getting anything checked off any lists — even if your list includes sitting on a sandy beach with something cold to drink? (I’d like to live vicariously.) Go ahead, tell! Or just post some horrific selfies in the comments to make me feel better about my lack of selfie skillz.

Toddler Clothes Burst

I recently shared my first “burst” of energy — ie using 15 minutes to accomplish one cleaning task. Today, I’m back to tell you about the burst of 15 minutes I spent in Hadley’s room.

Since I technically spent about 20-25 minutes on the first project and about 5 minutes on the second, I’d say I reached the goal of 15 minutes each.

Cheating? Naw. My house, my rules. 😉

With a growing little (or, NOT so little) guy, we regularly need to switch out Hadman’s clothes. Of course, this regularly DOESN’T happen. So, his dresser starts to look like this —

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That’s a nearly-full bin of size 18-month clothes next to the dresser. He’s comfortably in 24-month right now, so I went through his two drawers (the bottom is for sheets and blankies) to pull out too-small items and switch in some 24-month stuff we still had sitting around.


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By the way, I’ve totally gotta use one of my 15-minute bursts to take that changing pad off. He hasn’t used it in, like, a year. Der. (And the cat toy is with its rightful owner…)

So, that burst took about 20+ minutes, which will sometimes happen. If I hadn’t given myself the 15 minute goal, I would’ve spent 30+ minutes, and there would’ve been some crying over how big our baby has gotten. But, not the case. No tears this time. Just a speed-cleaning. Bam.

This also had one of those overlapping effects; our office went from clothes mountain to “whoa, there was a desk chair under there!” (So maybe I did 3 bursts in 30 minutes. Sweet!)

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While I was at it, I organized the two under-crib bins that we use for the clothes that don’t fit the munchkin quite yet. I always keep his next size (sigh…2T) in the one on the left and anything higher in the one on the right. That way, at a quick glance, I can see that he’ll need undershirts or more pants for his next growth spurt. (BTW, isn’t “burst” better than “spurt”? Yeah, I almost considered using that word instead. You’re welcome, hee hee.) This system works SO well for us.

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Another side note: Dave has been stock-piling some Woot shirts in the smallest size for AWHILE. Needless to say, we don’t really need any shirts when he’s in a 4T. This one’s my favorite (others are eyebrow-raising…like the passed out Cookie Monster who’s been on a milk and cookie binge…I laugh, but others may not) —

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So, after about 30 minutes, Had’s clothes are under control again. Ahhhh. Nice.

And maybe…just maybe Winston helped.

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Coat Closet 2.0

Alternate title: Skeletons Scarves in the Closet.

So, I cleaned this closet a couple of years ago. I’m pretty sure that I’ve cleaned it since, but not for quite awhile. Liiiike…I didn’t have to switch our coats out when the cold weather came around this year. Let’s just blame it on the fact that parenting an infant was our priority over supah clean closets last year and move on, m’kay?

The issues with the “before” is mostly the pit of nothingness on the bottom, the fact that every time I put anything on the top shelf it fell back down immediately, and the sheer number of coats. SO. MUCH. CRAP. My breast pump (which we no longer need) was still in there…but it’s not like you can even see it. Purses? A puffy vest? Scarves? Unused yoga mat? Those, we see. 

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The top had a few issues, but was relatively quick compared to the rest of the hot mess going on.

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The thing is, I sat in the living room for countless hours thinking about what a pain in the bum it was going to be to get this chore done. Hence, it sat unfinished. Isn’t that how it usually works? I could’ve pulled a “put a favorite movie on and just pull everything out.” But, regardless, I finally had a moment of clarity, realizing that it would actually be relatively simple enough to do, even with a little one running around. Not fun, mind you, but not hard.

So, I attacked the coats and scarves mercilessly. I couldn’t get rid of too many jackets since our weather likes to flip flop a lot this time of year, but we did purge a couple. The scarves were another thing, though. The ones I don’t use whatsoever, I put in a pile to donate. There are a couple that I’m on the fence about, so I’ll keep a thumb on the situation and purge them as needed. It’s a process.

Then, I turned my attention to the bottom business. Snow pants got hung on the Command hook I put up back in the day, purses got emptied (probably the lengthiest part of the job, but it was kind of entertaining finding two flash drives — after buying a new one for myself for Christmas — and notes and lists from several years ago) and flung in a tote in the basement or donated, and so on. That being said, one of my favorite yet busted-but-maybe-someone-will-like-it-anyway purses was donated, so I’m on the lookout for yet another. I’ve got a million medium-sized bags, but need a larger one that’s easier for everyday; read: in which my lunch and water bottle will fit. A big style-factor and ability to match the almost constant brown or black that I wear to work is a must, as well. Sometimes cleaning makes you realize what you don’t need, and what you REALLY, REALLY DO need.

Finally, I pulled out the step ladder and pulled out and reorganized the top shelf (namely, the two cheap little shelf thingies and the large fabric bin with long-since-used mittens, gloves, hats, etc.) It’s nice to know where those random things I always find myself searching aimlessly for will be easily at-hand now. Oh, and not pelting me in the head when I open the door. That’ll be nice.

Here’s what it looks like now:

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Those two metal hangers on the door were here when we moved in. They seem pretty old (maybe the ’50s?), and I almost got rid of the one on top. Luckily, I didn’t, since Dave got “into” old-style hats.  And, yes. The door closes easily again. Isn’t that really the ultimate goal in life? To comfortably close a door? Or is that just me? *1,000 points for anyone who can name the picture on our calendar in the background, or at least the artist.*

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Speaking of finally getting on top of a dreaded task, let’s just say that we’ve been spending a bit of time in the bathroom…and, no, we don’t have the stomach bug. 😉 I’m not done (of COURSE!), but most of it looks finished, and that. Is. Exciting. Exciting enough to keep me motivated enough to finish the last couple of bits before, y’know, 2015.

Hanging Around

Let me just put this out there — honestly, bluntly — house projects are a usurper of confidence, riddled with unknown optimism killing obstacles.

I hate publicly admitting that, I do. Blogs I read most? DIY. My brain falls into the trap of feeling fully capable of attempting a little fix-up or putting an anchor in the wall…then, knee-deep in the project, some inexplicably frustrating mishap (possibly mistake? Possibly not) occurs.

This is why it has taken a year to work on the bathroom. Every single project has been an issue of some sort — LITERALLY EVERY DAMN PART.

Our last check-in, I had just put the laminate tiles down. It was far from perfect. Yes, anything’s an improvement (seriously…check the links at the bottom of that post to see what we started with), but with the uneven floor, they didn’t line up as nicely as I’d like. Let’s just say that I’m too much of a perfectionist to see things done improperly — one reason it takes me so long to get off my arse to complete something. (I hear this was a trait I share with my dad. Thanks for that one, Dad!)

The ceiling was a bear to deal with and still “cracks” here and there. The wainscoting was the wrong material and the guys had to install it by not pushing the grooves together completely in places (I’m sure I’m the only one who’ll ever notice, but it’s blatant to me). Dave nearly had a fit when he installed the toilet paper holder crooked (through tile and what seemed to be cement). It just keeps going.

So, when I finally decided to hang our towel holders, I went into it cautiously optimistic. Idiot. I should do these things cautiously pessimistic — with caution, assuming that the worst will happen, since this all seems to be a mess of superstition. And, after I had successfully hung the first two, I should’ve known better than to pat myself on the back. Stupid.

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I decided to hang the third and final hook to the back of the door. It went on great, then when I opened the door, what did I see? Two screw tips piercing through the stained wood. Argh! So, what would’ve been a 20 minute project turned into 45 minutes and probably a month or two shaved off the end of my life. (I was just that ticked off.) But, finally, after finding two tiny, mismatched screws that would work (after a couple unsuccessful attempts), I’m okay. It never ends, though — I’m going to find some putty matched to those small holes to hopefully deter anyone from noticing the boo-boo.

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I also threw my little painting up (not like…puke…or something) while I was at it, trying it both horizontal and vertical. Still not sure which I like, but I can at least take some consolation in the fact that I know the accessories I’ll be using will tie in the turquoise and coral so it doesn’t look quite so harsh. And at least the man of the house likes it, which I give him mad credit for. I know pinky-orange splotches aren’t everyone’s cup of tea.

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So, what’s next? Hanging those gosh darn shelves over the toilet, ironing and hanging the shower curtain (who am I kidding? I’m going to re-clean and dry the thing to get the wrinkles out), organizing the built-in, accessorizing, and possibly sewing a curtain for the window and the bottom of the built-in. And later on, I hope to attack the bathtub and shower surround, but that’s a whole different battle…and possibly a different war altogether.

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What about you? Am I the only one who would be a much bigger DIYer if not for all the stumbling blocks? It wouldn’t annoy me so much, but it just seems to be EVERY SINGLE PROJECT! Like someone, somewhere, is laughing their butt off at the continued bad luck. And, really, I do my best to find myself in a positive frame of mind before even attempting anything, as with most things — “You can do this! It’s an easy little project, and it’ll look great when you’re done!” Ugh. Naive.

I hate to be negative…I do! I read so many uplifting blog posts touting the fact that, YES, we all can do this! That’s probably why I’m so down about it. I am woman, hear me…fail. Miserably. I guess I disappoint myself sometimes…I guess we all do…and y’know what? That’s okay.

It’s coming along, isn’t it?

SIDE NOTE: The title of this post should really be “Hangin’ Round” after the Monkees song, but I wasn’t quick enough to put 2 and 2 together. Ya live, ya learn.

‘Tis the Season to Get Rid of Crap

…fa la la la la, la la la laaaa! So, now that we’ve been downright blessed with all things fun or practical or lovely (or all three) for Christmas, we look to the post-holiday season as the time to purge unnecessary items and generally decrapify our lives and home.

For the last bit of December (and, of course, spilling into January), we’ll be going through some of our closets, cabinets, built-ins, toy baskets and bins, dressers, and more. There are a few reasons.

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1) The obvious — We don’t want to live amid piles of stuff, so Christmas + Normal amount of stuff = Way too much stuff with not enough room. Wow. How much can I say “stuff”?! Anyhoo, the gist is a basic idea of displacement; if you pour too much water into a space, it spills out. Same with stuff.  And we don’t want to live like hoarders.

2) We try to live a simpler life. We look to our house and our love of history and old movies as guides to living. For example, back when our house was built, the average person didn’t own 5 pairs of black pants (or quite possibly more) like I do. We don’t need everything we have, so to simplify we’ll be assessing what we love, what we need, and what we can do without.

3) Less clutter, more mental clarity. Great way to start the new year! Although, admittedly, this isn’t really a resolution. It’s an all-year, never-ending search for clarity and organization. (It isn’t that we’re above resolutions; it’s that I, for one, suck at public statements of commitment. I’m lucky marriage has worked so well for me!)

4) We obviously don’t just toss what we don’t need; we donate it. So, it’s a great feeling to think that someone else will benefit from our purge…hopefully!

So, what’s our strategy? I’m glad you ask! Although it sometimes differs from item to item (toys vs. clothes or bills/office stuff vs. medicine cabinet vs. food, for example), there are a few questions that we ask ourselves to get the ball rolling —

1) Is it outdated? This is mostly relevant for medication and food, but can also refer to clothes. I loved a white, short-sleeved jacket for the longest time, but I finally woke up and realized that every time I put it on I’d think, “Well, those sleeves are awkwardly puffy. Um, yeah, no. Not today.” So, having not worn it in over a year, I woke up to the fact that it’s outdated and finally ditched it.

2) Hand-in-hand with being outdated is will I use/have I used it? If it’s in your house already, has it been used in the last year? If it’s new, you may think you don’t know if it will be of use, but don’t just stuff it away willy-nilly. You may immediately be able to say, “That’s the 3rd pull toy Hadley has and he doesn’t play with the others” (just an example, not true at all; he loves pull toys) or “That’s an ugly sweater; I’ll never wear it.” Give yourself credit and listen to your internal REALISTIC voice; not the internal IDEALISTIC voice (the one that optimistically gives everyone and everything a chance; you know the voice. It can be great in the right situation; not in the purging environment).

3) Is the item in disrepair? This probably should be up there with #1, along with “does it fit?” If an item doesn’t fit, don’t keep it until it does (be it small or large) unless you REALLY, REALLY love it. Does the item have an irreparable tear? (If you have the correct button or can steal one from the inside of the garment, that’s fine; if the button’s long gone and you have no option of finding a new one, call it a loss and move on — we don’t have the time these days to hunt down proper buttons and such.) Yes, I’ve been known to sew the hell out of some shirt armpits or loose hems or holes in pockets, and I’m all for sewing on buttons, but if the issue’s not an easy fix…it may be time to say “adios” to that garment.

4) Will you need it? This is a VERY difficult question, especially as a mom/parent looking at clothes. This is where the “size” issue I mentioned above can be brushed aside — but ONLY if the item was of exemplar benefit to you at a previous time. In the case of clothing (and in my example as a mama), I allow you to evaluate your pregnancy body (during AND post; don’t forget the “post”!). In my situation, there were pregnancy pieces that just did the trick far more than any others, so I know I’ll need to keep those on hand for future bambinos. Oh, and the particularly wonderful thing about those items is that they were generally great for layering, so whether I’m pregnant in the fall, winter, spring or summer, I’m covered. After having Hadley, I was in a larger size for awhile, so those transitional pieces are in storage with my preggers stuff — they’re great for when you start to show and when things are “dying down” at the end. Plus, in my sometimes-rare case, breastfeeding caused me to lose mad weight — like, a size below my pre-pregnant self. Now that he’s tapering off, I’m still between the lower and pre-pregnant sizes (yet I still try just to have stuff that I can wear NOW in my dresser drawers and closet).

On a side note, this goes for stuff like hand lotions and that stuff that so quickly can clutter a hall closet. Much of what I receive as gifts in this area aren’t what we generally use; ie not eco-friendly, not an appealing smell, etc. I find no fault in regifting such a thing (especially if it’s a quality brand and clearly unused) if I think the gift receiver would APPRECIATE it (I don’t want to pawn off something just to clutter someone else’s space; we try to be cognizant of others’ wishes when gifting), or finding a women’s shelter or other facility that can use things that we won’t ever need.

5) Why am I keeping this? Here’s where we get all “come to Jesus” on ourselves. See if you can honestly answer. Sometimes there’s some real value in keeping something; other times, it’s an emotional attachment (be it rational or not). Here, I have a hard time with cards. Birthday cards, thank you cards, Christmas cards…yeah. Do I NEED to keep them? No. If I do, our basement will end up looking like a Great Depression survivor’s, with stacks of newspapers from every week…ever. Silly. So, I keep the prior year’s, then that 1 year anniversary rolls around, I look at what I should keep. This year, my grandfather scrawled a Christmas card in his very shaky, very difficult to understand hand. It may very well be his last. That, I keep.

Those are pretty much the questions mulling around in our heads as we tackle our spaces. While practically every corner of the house needs some decluttering, our main areas include: TOYS (Dave just got a new fabric bin, so we now have a large basket and a bin in the living room; it’s working for now), CLOSETS, PILES (I’m a piler; the hard part is going through them to find a final resting place for every…little…piece…of…paper. Gah. I’m overwhelmed already.), BOOKS.

Is anyone else attacking some clutter this 2014? What stuff are you going to be sifting through and saying “goodbye” to? Are you doing it cheerfully or begrudgingly? (Admittedly, we’re happy after something has been tackled…but we hate it while we’re doing it.)

Blood, Sweat and Tears

Innocent. Unassuming. Even strangely invisible. But this damn toilet paper holder brought blood, sweat and tears for my poor husband.

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See, our walls kind of…suck. For the longest time, it took a couple of hours to hang ANYTHING involving anchors. They don’t appear to be plaster, but they’re super hard, so odds are they probably are. We needed to get a more heavy-duty drill to handle what they were dishing. Seriously. Hate. These. Walls.

That’s probably why it’s taken us so long to add the floating shelves, towel hooks and this TP holder to the bathroom. Those finishing touches that should be relatively simple could end up breaking us. Add the fact that there’s HARD AS A ROCK tile (along with what seems to be the hardest mastic ever known to man used behind it; my stepdad, who has worked on countless bathrooms, has never seen such a hard wall) behind the bead board and you’re just asking for a headache. We’ve known it. We’ve procrastinated.

But, one Sunday night, Dave decided it was time to check at least this one project off our list. Maybe he was sick of reaching around to grab the roll off the back of the toilet. For whatever reason, it was TOUGH.

There was a burned hand (from the torque of the drill, I kid you not). There were two calls to my stepdad. There was major swearing (he NEVER swears, folks! That’s my job). And, finally, there was disappointment that it was crooked. He felt defeated. Yes, there were almost tears (I think he started to well up, but I didn’t see it…so let’s just say he kept it together).

I suggested he put the roll on to see how crooked it really was. When he did, we noticed…

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Nothing. It looked perfectly fine. Considering how much general crookedness we have in our house, it fits right in and even looks good. Phew.

So, my friends, you have heard the story of how Dave won the Battle of the Bathroom, Round 1. Let’s hope we survive the next couple of rounds to call this thing, finally, DONE! At least it’s coming together. 

Fall 2013 To-Do

I’m not sure why, but every time autumn rolls around, I find myself turning an eye to house projects, inside and out. Maybe because I know that the impending snow means that I’ll be hunkering down (and will prefer snuggling up with all the boys in the house vs. fixing it up). Maybe because I get sluggish with the heat during the summer. Eh, whatever the reason, I’m hoping we get a couple of rain-free days at some point to put my energy into a few (or thousand) things I’ve been neglecting.

Mind you, I truly love our house. Sure, there are annoyances (hey, just like a relationship! Whaddya know??), but the more that I see what’s out there, the more I appreciate certain aspects of ours. So, this “to-do” list doesn’t take into account all the work we have whittled away at over the 4+ years of living here. I also don’t foresee getting it all done during the fall, but it’s good to do a seasonal analysis of where you are and where you’d like to go. The *asterisked* stuff is the most dire. Update: Oh, and some of the outdoor pictures show that we already got a couple of projects out of the way. Hence why those flowers are strewn on the front lawn and you see the bottles of cleaning stuff. 😉 Oh, and a couple of “before-and-afters.”


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After! And wet.

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Ha ha, proof! A pile o’ bricks. I found a use for a few of them but never found enough projects to recycle them. So, to the street they go. (A few have been picked up, but I think my father-in-law will take the rest. Score!)

I totally neglected the deck (we didn’t use it this year except for occasional grilling, which we brought inside; maybe if I’d gotten a heavy duty gate for the baby to hang out there…) and our front porch (which has some issues all its own; possible repair of bowing wood pieces? The whole thing was slapped together by a previous owner). Heck, I planted some planters with veggie and herb seeds that really did…um…like…nothing. SO, it’s time to dump the dirt and FOR ONCE clean the garden tools properly. What a fun but necessary task, eh, kids?

Once I’ve picked up and stored the stuff off of both the porch and deck, I’d like to spray them down with a non-toxic cleaner I bought awhile back. (Done!)

Garden-wise, Dave already pulled the veggie gardens (my hero!) and we, together, pulled the man-eating tomato plants, so I’m ready to plant some mums. I also hope to divide this hosta which triples in size every year — making the house look lopsided in the process. We’ve also gotta do some digging in the front-most part of our lawn to even it out and amend the dirt, which has taken to growing phallic-looking mushrooms (which I’m pretty sure are inedible; not testing that for SO many reasons).

We’ve got some weeds floating around, and our monster of a driveway (uneven, in desperate need of a complete and utter facelift) is growing some moss. Y’know. Just for fun. So, I’d like to attack it with a stiff bristle brush and whatever safe, eco DIY method will help get rid of the stuff. While we’re at it, a day of attacking the garage’s INSANE mess would benefit us all!

If we happen to get a run of nice days (I’m pretty sure I’ve already blown it, but we were quite busy during our recent stretch of gorgeous weather), I’d like to attack the porch, deck, basement windows, and at least the front of the garage with a fresh coat of paint. Hey, a girl can dream, right?

And, while we’re at it, I’ve finally decided simply to do away with the old bricks we’ve got floating around that I can’t find any truly acceptable means to use. So, they’ll go to the curb with a “free” sign (and probably post it on Craigslist). Free bricks, folks! Some are even broken! Don’t speed rushing over to pick them up, I know they sound like a dream come true.

Inside – Downstairs

Living Room

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The biggest thing in this room is the fact that Hadley plays with…eh…maybe 1/6 of his toys, if that. So, it’s time for another toy switcheroo (yaaaaayyyy!!!). I’m sure we’ll have to have a toy purge come Christmas, but the cool thing about switching them out is that it’s like buying all new toys every few months. The kid doesn’t know the difference. Oh, and this probably goes for his room, too.

I’d also like to finally finish up my fall decorating in here, but some of that can actually overlap into Christmas. Yet another reason not to do red and green every year. 😉

Dining Room

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This could easily be a winter project, but I NEED to paint these walls. I’m by FAR officially over the crimsony cranberry-ish red. It sucks the room into itself…seriously. The trim also needs a fresh coat of white. I’m also “over” the chandy, but Dave and I put it in together and it’s not worth trying to change right now.


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While I’m at it with the white trim in the dining room, I still need to finish half of the trim here. The previous owners used a flat paint, which isn’t really helpful with all the dirt and grease that tends to build up in a kitchen. We’ve also gotta clean and re-organize the shelves, and the open shelving needs a bit of a shift (we’ve got a little bowing goin’ on from the weight). Otherwise, this is easily one of my favorite places in the joint, cluttery goodness and all.

Front Room

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See the front room through the living room?

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It’s not a huge deal, but we’ve got some organizing to do out here (I need to find a permanent spot for the sewing machine and all its accoutrements, among other things), not to mention needing some better privacy curtains or blinds.


Dude. I haven’t switched the coats to summer yet…meaning, I don’t think I need to switch anything back. I do, however, need to purge tons of coats (and we luckily have numerous charities in the area that take them for families that can’t afford cold weather jackets) between this closet and a tote or two in the basement, so there’s some organizing in our future. (I’ll show you “before” pics when I get around to that project.)


Ditto. 😉 We’ve done a good job of getting rid of any and all of our boxes and bags full of possible garage sale stuff (we didn’t have our annual one this summer) thanks to Goodwill, but there’s still a ton of our own storage containers that need to be sifted through, reorganized, and then filed away using better basement-organizing methods. Yet another good ol’ time in the old “dorky family” household.

Inside – Upstairs


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We’re coming down to the home stretch here, with things like hanging a toilet paper holder and towel hooks (as you can tell by the towel hanging over the tub), putting up open shelves, and accessorizing yet to do (including taking everything out of the open built-ins, of course). We still have to figure out what to do with the damaged, icky surround in the tub, but for now we’re happy with the changes we’ve made.

Hadley’s Room (Nursery?! Is it still a nursery if he’s a toddler? Gulp. Please say ‘yes’!)

It’s not always clean and perfect, but it’s Hadley through-and-through…so, needless to say, it’s wonderful just as it is, just like the little man, himself.


Yes, yes, more organization. We’re starting to see a trend, I know. HOWEVER, if I could tear up the carpet and clean the floors, and throw on a new coat of paint (the current was an okay first choice, but I now think pink whenever I see it; I’d like a greiger color), I’d SO do it. Tough with all the crap and kitties to contend with. (Oops, forgot to take a pic. You’ve seen it in other posts (search “office” at the top of the blog if ya want), but I’m sure I’ll include some when we tackle this.)

Our Room (Laughable calling it a “Master Room” without a “master bath” or grandiose…anything)

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Just for fun, I’m hoping to paint our side tables, and finally figure out some art (and maybe an extra light for my side of the bed). Otherwise, if the bed is made, I’m ahead for the day, so let’s not push it. Mmmmm’kay?

– Empty/clean planters and gardening tools*
Store outdoor furniture and cover grill* (For the most part! Have a chair hanging out on the front porch…not sure why. I like it. Does that work?)
Spray/clean deck, porch and house* (Did it this weekend!)
– Drain and store garden hose*
Plant mums and divide/transfer hosta*
– Dig front lawn to even (and get rid of penile mushrooms…seriously, weird-lookin’ things)
Bricks. Bricks. More bricks. (Come ‘n get ’em! They’re at the curb. Freebie time!)
– Paint deck & porch
– Scrape and paint the garage
– Take down the weird wooden thing hanging out near the garage (previous owners had a swing, we’re guessing)*
– Clean, organize and donate unwanted stuff from the garage* (started it this weekend)

Living Room:

– The Great Toy Switch*
– Fall decorating* (What? Decorating is pretty dire…isn’t it?)

Dining Room:
– Paint walls (greige) and trim (white)

– Paint cabinets and rest of trim (white)
– Clean open shelving/reorganize*
– Reorganize cabinets/storage*

Front Room:
– Buy and put up blinds or curtains*

– Go through coats (and those in the basement) & reorganize*

– Organize, organize, organize!*

– Finish hanging “stuff”*
– Accessorize*
– Figure out the tub surround (ugh)

Hadley’s Room:
– “Practically Perfect in Every Way” (no, not really, but it’s fine)

– Organize* (constant battle, I tell ya)
– Paint walls
– Rip up carpet/clean floor

Our Room:
– Paint side tables
– Figure out art!!!

What about you guys? Any big projects you need to work on this fall (or that you’re building up to)?

Nursery Reveal – Devil’s in the Details

You’ve already seen a general nursery reveal here, but some of my favorite parts of the space are the little details. The personal touches that make it special. The room may not be perfect, but consider me smitten.

First, a reminder of the nursery as a whole…

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Nifty, eh? Like I said — smitten! Now, here’s a look at some of the specifics that make my heart go pitter pat.

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The “LOVE” over the crib is simply those papier maché (had to write it in the proper French format; hope to make Mrs. Turner proud!) letters that are available at any craft store. I hemmed and hawed over whether or not to paint them — white? Bright orange? Plum, if Hadley had been a girl? When all was said and done, I just wanted the space DONE, so I figured I could always paint them if the urge struck. It hasn’t. I love them au naturel. Oh, and they’re being held up with the hubby’s packing tape. Use whatchya got! (And, yes, I have to occasionally “press” them back up, but they’re nothing that will crush the bambino in his sleep, so we’re not worried.)

Time to get artsy fartsy! Aside from the “LOVE” ‘installment’ above, we made a bit of a collage wall o’ stuff. Here’s the general gist of the thing…

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(The picture on the bottom left is of Dave as a baby. I’m trying to track one down of me. Few and far between, my friends.) And here are some close-ups…

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This is a lovely print that one of Dave’s co-workers had made for us when the little guy was born. How. Cool. Is. That?!

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And, of course we want the buddy to learn his “brothers'” names, so what better way than to throw some pictures on the wall? It doesn’t hurt that they’re right above the mirror (which he stares longingly into before trying to pull off the wall. Must take after his mama.)

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This is a hat that Dave got from his family that we think is just awesomesauce. I think it was his dad’s, but you know we’re trying it on the little guy when his head grows a bit more. Gotta love a 3-D effect in the midst of flat art, and some history/sentimentality is even better.

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I’m pretty proud of these guys — two oval thrift store frames, a couple of sheets of scrapbook paper and two tiny wooden dudes taped to the front and you’ve got Hadley’s favorite thing in the whole room. He’s mesmerized by them. Serendipity!

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Yes, you can see me in the reflection. I don’t care! My mom sang this to me when I was a baby, so it had to be included in the room. (I’ve tried to sing it but can’t get through without tears.) I took my inspiration from a print I saw online, changed the colors a bit, painted the frame, and voila!

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Speaking of stealing, er borrowing art ideas from the internet, I downloaded a cool font and created this piece, too. Another thrift store frame and some cutting (you can tell that it’s a bit small; I need to find a larger mat or something, but it’s no hurry. Oh, and notice the yellow letters…

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Here’s a different angle. You can see the pattern on the curtains (which I made (!) using this tutorial), along with a McCoy pottery teapot (I think my mother bought it for me; the fact that my maiden name is “McCoy” is not lost on me) and a couple of cheap (cheep!), cute ceramic birds (another craft store find) that help fancy up the place.

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Here’s another online print that we LOVE. Sure, the owls are cute, but we prefer the irreverent Beatles quote (er, variation of a Beatles quote). It’s our favorite song and we want our son to hold that meaning dearly.

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I wish this artwork worked better lately… It still makes me laugh a bit, though. And ya gotta love for getting juuuust the right font. (Run your virus scanner afterwards, though; ya never know.)

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This art started life as a sweet baby shower card from a friend of ours. Strangely enough, giraffes have become the little man’s “animal,” but the colors and design just screamed “I need to be seen every single day!” Oh, and then there are a couple of antique blue glass bottles that I’ve had around forever, plus a basket for his toiletries. (This is high up, by the way.)

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Speaking of high-up glass, here’s a place for us to keep some of our smaller toys, like blocks, an awesome organic wood teether (another owl) and the special musical turtle from Aunt Tara and Uncle Dan from their trip to Italy. I just love all of it!…which means, keep your glass-hating comments to yourself. 😉

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And, last but not least, we have our rocking chair. It doesn’t get a ton of use (he’d rather be held standing up), but it came from my mother’s childhood home; God only knows how old it is. It’s got the best dark patina and helps make the place a tad more “serious,” playing off all the bright colors and modern prints.

So, these are just a few of my favorite details in the little man’s room. I’m hoping to do a bit of a source list/price breakdown of everything. Most of the items are hand-me-downs (or a gift, like the crib and the Ikea shelves), but I figure that’ll wrap up the nursery over-sharing.

Operation Closet: Closed

Over my recent spring break, I performed what I can only describe as (in my skewed little world) a miracle.

It all started with a closet that was brimming with, well, crap. Coats, scarves, gloves, hats…and the occasional piece of randomness (on the bright side: Now we don’t have to decide which towel hooks to buy for the bathroom! How long ago did I BUY those??). Let’s just say that, like many doors in our home, we couldn’t close it. And being in the middle of our most-used living space, it was downright embarrassing.

The goal for this closet was to 1) purge our winter coats and maybe even make some room for *gasp* visitors to hang their jackets, 2) organize the top shelf area, 3) make some room for my everyday use bags, and 4) be able to see the floor.

While pulling out all the items in the closet, I found some wooden hangers that we got for Christmas (luckily it was this past Christmas, not last year or any other embarrassing year) to add some consistency and get rid of the ol’ plastic ones. Isn’t it strange how the worst part of organization is the fact that you have to completely destroy an area first? You can’t really clean a closet (or pantry or cabinet or…) without pulling everything out. So, long story short – that’s what I did.

Here’s a fun little “before and after” for you.
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So, what’s the miracle? Not only can I see the floor AND close the door, but we can now toss our unsightly shoes there before company comes. They’ll never know! Tricky, tricky! (All the rest of our shoes go into the nearby ottoman…which makes me sick to think about because one of our naughty scratching boys who shall remain nameless has created his own artwork of pinhole scratches upon said faux leather ottoman. *sigh* It still fits its purpose and folks wouldn’t know unless I made them run their hand across it, but it’s the principle of the thing!) So, now our guests not only have space for their shoes to go near the door, but there’s room in the closet for their bits ‘n pieces. In other words, we can have folks over! Seriously. Who’s coming? (Too bad we’re booked solid the next several weeks, LOL.)

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DSC03292DSC03296It’s closed!!

One other tidbit of trickiness to share: my favorite “work bag slash purse” (see in the last picture above; I retired the green for the mustard a little while ago) can now be treated with some respect when I get home, thanks to am M3 plastic hook or two. Although, admittedly, it still gets tossed near the ottoman 50% of the time. Ya win some, ya lose some. Either way, this is definitely a “Dude, Get On That Already” that’s been awaiting my attention for years. *bows* Finally!

Oh, and while I was at it, I replaced an outdoorsy wreath (featuring those fake red “buds” that I used to like so much) with a bit of summery freshness. This is our “dump everything” spot, so it doesn’t always look so tidy, but the ceremonious, aggressive deletion of red from the living room is definitely happening! You can also see my attempt at daily organization with our “mail basket” and ottoman.


DGOTA: Closet

My most recent “Dude, Get On That Already” challenge may seem small, but small projects add up! And, honestly, it’s HUGE in a small kinda way. Okay, that makes zero sense, but I’ve got a serious case of Pregnancy Brain, so it’s a miracle that I can speak in complete sentences. 😉

Anyhoo, I started this “project” a little while ago by taking a rather large haul of unused or unwanted goodies to Goodwill, including some purses and lots o’ shoes. I went from two totes (which were both housed in “my” closet, now the nursery closet) down to one. A single tote housing all of my purses/handbags/shoes…given how little of a “girlie girl” I am, I’m surprised how much I’m impressed by that.

From here, it took me awhile to finally clear out the rest of the closet, but consider it DONE! If my hubby could reduce his space usage by one closet and one dresser (down to one of each), the least I could do is FINALLY get off my tuckus and shift (and edit) some stuff. Sure, I’m leaving a couple of large, important items (um…y’know…my wedding dress) way in the back of the nursery closet, alongside the big ol’ bin of accessories, but there will still be plenty of room for the baby’s stuff.

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Pay no attention to the scarves hanging on the closet door (and the messy bookshelf to the left).
Every amateur actress needs a feather boa, right? 😉

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 The “rest” of the closet…where my wedding dress and other sundries live.

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Winston had to remind me that our “big” luggage also will be housed,
atop the bin that holds my accessories

And the closet’s still not quite done! I know, “dude, get on that already”…I know. It’s just lovely to have an empty space that we know will be filled with baby storage solutions and cute things. We already have a large board that we’ll be painting white and retrofitting to create a shelf above the closet pole. Er, rod. Whatever that thing is. Either way, I already expect it to be a bit of a challenge, since we did the same in Dave’s closet space and it. Was. A. Bear. I’m wishing for a pleasant surprise, especially now that the belly’s getting in the way more and more everyday.

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What other storage solutions are we thinking of for the baby? Other than the closet (which is LOTS of space, considering the size of the rest of the house!), we’ve got a couple of empty drawers from a previous DGOTA challenge, which is miraculous in our house — or anyone’s house, it seems!

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‘Tis a thing of beauty. This free space is mere feet away in our hallway, so it’s quite convenient. A little closer by, I’m stocking up (or will be) on baskets and bins that will help organize on shelves and other surfaces. Some items don’t have a job yet, but I’ve got a couple of possible ideas for them – such as a white, seriously-made-of-plastic-but-doesn’t-look-it “basket” that will be ideal for laundry OR diapers (or a still TBD use).

I’m also already indebted to a dear friend who lives *swoon* near an Ikea who will be picking up some hanging shelves for us (aaaaand possibly one for the office…shhh, she doesn’t know it yet ;-)), once I can determine exactly where they’ll go and what size we’ll need. Thanks to Pinterest and other ideas I’ve gleaned, I’ve got some…erm…”creative” ways to display and house some of the other goodies. Wait ‘n see.

Oh, and one of the most important storage factors involves a free dresser that will be getting a low-VOC paint job and new jewelry (hardware) to play a very important, not-just-for-storage role as a changing table. Now, let’s all hope it’s an okay size for this job!

Then there’s everyone’s favorite: “sneaky” storage. You know the kind. We’ve got this all over the house – from the two ottomans in our living room to the old “treasure chest” in our front room. In this case, I’ve got a mini-, faux leather ottoman ($7.49?! Sign me up!) and will be looking for a lidded basket or two (possibly the “soft” kind), especially for toys ‘n blankets. Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a possible toy chest that my hubby’s rather fond of. I only wish I could paint it, but it’s got that “rustic” (read: orange wood that would look quite at home in a family camp) vibe that he seems to like going on. Hmm. Maybe that look will come back someday. One can only hope.

So, there’s obviously lots left to do in this space. But, like I said, every little project brings us closer to having a nursery where, once, there was a guest room-slash-dressing room. Purdy exciting! Now, on to that shelf!