Dirtbag

Dirt. Soil. Gardening.

Add good plants to bad soil and you might as well just go ahead and throw them in the garbage. Usually. Bad soil equals plant stress, which is like hanging a neon welcome sign for disease, bugs, and looking crappy.

I want to submit our yard as the master gardener final exam. Look- a representative sample of every turf weed in NC. As you embark on your manual weed control (aka, hand pulling), you’ll stumble across the vole holes. Cue this year’s version of the World Vole War. But wait! That nandina JB hacked down last fall grew 20 feet– yesterday!

We have landscape challenges.

Soil amending is a hot topic in the gardening community. Just like everything else there are some strong opinions. I’m as enthusiastic about tilling 8-12 inches as JB is about sanding furniture on a Friday night. I once read about rent-a-goat program that seemed promising.

Too many random, yet simultaneously occurring projects, two kids, one husband, a couple dogs, several dozen voles… adding a good soil mix on top of bad soil, as mentioned in Square Foot Gardening gets my enthusiastic thumbs up.

But…it doesn’t solve the problem for the those plants not destined for either a pot, or a raised bed. Most successful (and I’m not) gardeners coexisting with as many mature (read: LARGE and nutrient-sucking) hardwood trees would be challenged with plant placement.

I could do more potted plants, but sometimes you have to water those twice a day in the hot NC summer. I have to water so many talking things in the summer, quite frankly the plants don’t complain loudly enough to catch my attention.

How to improve the overall condition of the surrounding soil for these lone landscape plants? See if you can follow where the ADHD brain went:

Plants, yay. Look at the delicious mint that E picked out– bah-ha-ha chickweed, the mint is gonna get you… at least mint is pretty. i love how they come in these peat pots– I can just plant without feeling the need to hoard five dozen little plastic six-packs. Peat pots are so useful for soil conditioning… hey! Sigh, I don’t want to go back to the store OR pay money for peat pots, I guess I’ll just…

ORIGAMI NEWSPAPER BAGS.

Cue youtube and a shameful bastardization of other people’s talent.

E somehow navigated from the bags to “how to sharpen your scythe.” Um.

Dug out The Independent, folded some edges, added some glue. Rinse, repeat and cut a v-shape to accommodate the soil without damaging the flower.

I scooped and chopped up some leaves. Grabbed the bowl of pulp from the morning’s green juicing session (you could use regular kitchen scraps, but I’d give them a good turn in the blender to break them down into fine little bits).

I gave my 5 year old a shovel and a pot, pointing him to the old garden (which JB was transforming from a single large bed into two 4×4 beds square foot beds). Zach’s face seems less than enthused about 6 hour old kale juice pulp.

Mix

Add a few shovelfuls to the newspaper bag.

Dig your hole in the ground according to the specifications on the plant tag. Put your plant in the soil bag, and backfill.

Water with your repurposed milk container. Walk away.

Observe and admire the following day.

There it is– a dirtbag you actually want.

DIY Master Bathroom upgrade

We finished this particular DIY bathroom upgrade project a year ago, but I never got around to scratching out the details. And since I have lost my motivation to finish the kitchen remodel, I needed a boost. Especially now that Zach is wandering around and asking when we can throw a big party thus providing me with a deadline.

So, here’s how we spent about $1500 dollars on a bathroom upgrade that has an estimated value return of at least $10,000.

In the beginning, there was a HALF bathroom and it was f-ugly. A woman was forced to share a shower with three males, and many toilet aiming fails.

A wall full of sink and counter, but no shower in sight. Surely you see how this situation just isn’t right?

A grizzled old toilet that gushed away 9 gallons of water per flush. Then a beauty with buttons swept in with a demure hush: 0.4 gallons for #1, and 1.4 for #2– a hippie heart filled with joy– what about you?

Alright, enough rhyming. Thank me now.

The only perk of the old bathroom was that the giant mirror let me photograph the whole thing. See that peculiar corner cabinet, because the giant counter was somehow lacking in storage? Now there lives a lovely little sink.


How’d we do that?

Step 1:
Decide one afternoon to start peeling wallpaper, in order to encourage husband’s enthusiasm for the project. By the way, I’m a fan of asking for forgiveness over permission– that doesn’t mean it always works in my favor.

Encourage your then 4-year-old to peel wallpaper when he’s pissed off about something. Which will work until he realizes that he’s working.

Step 2:
Fight with wallpaper for several weeks (I have a focus problem, remember?)

My removal method included scoring holes in the paper, wetting down small sections of wall with fabric softener, and carefully scraping away at the loosening paper. For about an hour.

Eventually impatience and cussing smacked careful right out of the house.

Scrape, Cuss. Scrape, Cuss. Scrape, Cuss. Gouge holes in the drywall with the arrival of an unnatural focus to WIN against paper and glue.

Step 3:
Remove the massive sink vanity. JB did this while I took the kids to a mud and i-phone filled renaissance faire. I thought it would take an hour. Four hours, a broken circular saw, and lots of scraped knuckles later he finally peeled it off the wall. But he had to cut it in half first. They didn’t skimp on much back in the Sixties.

Quickly, why would someone wallpaper a wall behind a large mirror? Why? Archaeology?

At this point we had to make a decision about the walls. Either we did a whole bunch of mudding and sanding, bought new drywall, or I applied a faux finish– Venetian plaster style. Lemme see… Yeah, faux plaster won.

Step 4:
Spend a few days pretending to be a 17th century master plaster. I have a lot of fun with plastering having done it around a fireplace as an accent wall in our previous house. It’s like grown up play dough, kinda.

There are many internet resources on faux techniques, and I took what I liked best from from several. This is a good general overview.

    1. Patched the largest of the holes.
    2. Primed the walls– mostly to seal the stale ashtray smell that wallpaper removal had released.
    3. Grab assorted trowels, scrapers, spreaders, and giant bucket of joint compound. I didn’t purchase special plaster– since I had the other in the basement already. A year later and my walls have suffered no ill effects from this choice.
    4. Small, thin coats of the plaster (or joint compound) and let each one dry completely.
    5. Lightly sand between each coat.
    6. Repeat until you are satisfied with the look, or tired of dealing–whichever comes first.
    7. Prime.
    8. Finish coat.

Seven years ago, I bought a bunch of tools for $5 from a Habitat Reuse store. And JB said we’d never need them!

Step 5:
Start laying the new floors. I highly recommend this particular flooring option from Allure: inexpensive, peel-n-stick vinyl, that is also water-proof and gorgeous? Yes, please.

Gorgeous, simply gorgeous.

Step 6:
Remove the old toilet, stuff cloth diaper into the smelly nastiness that is the sewer line. Scrape old wax ring.

Puke in your mouth. A lot. Use all the crime drama TV acquired knowledge, and rub vick’s vapor rub under your nose.

Lay new floor around the hole in the toilet.

REMOVE THE CLOTH DIAPER.

Install new toilet. Note: Read the instructions carefully. Don’t ignore the part that mentions leveling and shimming the toilet bowl. Unless noticing a toilet leak as IT DRIPS ON YOUR HEAD IN THE BASEMENT sounds like fun.

Step 7:
We did use a plumber to install the new lines, because neither of us wanted to cut into the main cast iron pipe down in the basement. And by neither of us, I mean JB. I think we could have handled the plumbing– but wasn’t enthusiastic enough to argue my point. After that, paying the electrician to run new lines for the wall outlets–since neither bathroom came equipped with a place to plug in a hair dryer. That was just laziness on my part.

The plumber was nice enough to install the shower pan (we only paid for roughing in), though he didn’t read the instructions, either. Which turned out to be a good thing, since I had purchased the wrong size shower pan (my focus needs more focus).

This is the wrong shower pan, which was supposed to be laid and leveled with plaster of paris. And the drywall needed to come off the studs.

One new shower pan, 30 minutes of blaring Godsmack, a crowbar and a mallet, and we were back in business. Good times, destruction.

Then we had to put up the fiberglass wall surround. In retrospect, tile would have been just as easy and cost-comparable. Actually, tile probably would have been easier, once you factor in what a PITA it is to get those surrounds perfectly level and plumb.

The accent tile around the top came in 12×12 sheets, and took a few hours one Sunday morning. Which is really nothing, considering the damn wallpaper.

Costs:
Plumber and Electrician: $500
Flooring: $1.99 per square foot x 30 square feet= $59
Tile: $40 (and I have enough leftover to do a backsplash around the sink
Sink and Cabinet: $99 (it was on sale!)
Sink and Shower Faucets: $200
Shower Surround: $245
First Shower Pan: $100
Second Shower Pan: $158
Paint: $40
Toilet: $199 -$100 state refund for replacing water-hog toilets = $99

Total Cost: $1540 + tax Estimated added value: $12,000.

Hunh. Yeah, I think I DO feel sort of motivated toward the kitchen now.

My Cup of Tea

What I do with my kids, my husband, my hair– are all my own choices.
Any correlation to you exist in your mind, quietly whispered by your inner voices.

Perhaps you should reschedule a visit with your therapist, and no– that’s NOT ME.
I am busy over here, and you lack reciprocity.

The time you spent dissecting the No Good Horrible Thing, and related as such?
More energy of yours wasted, and when you were already lacking so much.

Consider for a moment that you are wrong about this, too;
that the No Good Horrible Thing exists separate from you.

It’s a shock, I know– I’ll give you a moment–
though I’d go to Vegas and take the odds on you owning it.

The assumptions of my motives that you laid at my door?
Simply the reflection of your own failure to be more.

My purpose? My goal? It’s not grandiloquent self-inflation;
but rather to make myself– and my family– happy, through habit adaptation.

Perhaps, and again, I think the therapist would agree,
that you are putting way too much stock in any scribbles from me.

To assume that I have enough brain space to analyze, and then type out all that you lack?
Good gracious, please take two or three very large steps back.

I don’t care what you think; about me, about mine.
You don’t like me? Follow my finger– to the back of the line.

Certainly these things were not because of YOU, in case you needed me to be clearer.
I’m too busy try to figure out ME, to add worry about your brand of paranoid fear.

I have my own faults– the lacking of patience, a quick-temper, and sharp-tongue;
distractibility, and the daunting responsibility of raising my young.

I struggle every day to mellow my own anger, to seek out new joys,
in order to make good men out of each one of these boys.

You can see now, I’m certain how little down time is left in my day…
and then you come calling, like the Mary Kay of Dismay.

I switched out for ladies who can support and lift up,
without first brewing a batch of Bitch Tea by the cup.

Dude really, you give yourself far too much credit.
But I like closure, so here–let me end it.

I think about you maybe once in a day. How I’d love to sit down and just vomit all I have to say.

Both the things that are nice, and the things that are not– I wish it sometimes, I wish it a lot.

Sort of Stainless Steel Kitchen Backsplash

After posting pictures of the kitchen on the message boards of my local mom’s group, I had a few questions about the kitchen backsplash.


Sigh, I still get that first-date feeling every time I walk in the room.

Anyway– I can’t tell the backsplash story without starting with the countertops. Countertops aren’t cheap, but I got lucky one afternoon, getting a bunch of black granite tile for about $1.25 a square foot.

I had leapt at the granite, without considering the backsplash. Imagine (and laugh– go ahead, it’s funny–now) my surprise and JB’s annoyance when I vetoed every single tile sample for the backsplash. Most them gave the kitchen that Tuscany look. I’m not a fan, being neither Italian, nor a patron of the Olive Garden. Now, give me a piece of subway or glass tile– that’s my look. Even the subway tile didn’t look right, unless it was custom glass subway tile (cha-ching!). So, we both kept coming back to stainless steel. Okay, but at $120 for a 30×30 sheet? I just…couldn’t.

For a year, I walked the aisles of home improvement and salvage/re-use stores, just looking and thinking. I spent an hour in the roofing section, trying to convert large rolls of flashing into a backsplash.

Then came the day I found the solution. And that is the DIY high, what keeps me going back for more each time: $9.34 per 24×36 inch sheet compared to $120 per 30×30 inch sheet? Um, yes please.

A few small words of caution. This is professional grade stuff; the edges are sharp– get some heavy duty gloves. And good tin snips. Cutting out the holes for the electric sockets looked like it sucked– JB’s job, what with all that superior upper body strength.

Beyond that? Easy. We glued it to the wall with paneling caulk stuff rated for wood and metal. Maybe even cement and moon rock, I can’t remember.

The cardboard and painters tape accent pieces? Those were the templates for the tile that would someday hide the sharp cut edges. I’m guessing you could sand the sharpness away, assuming you cut a straight line. With tin snips. I’m almost certain that it’s not possible. Those cardboard pieces stayed just like that for 6 months. Then, around the time we tiled the master bath, I grabbed a few sheets of the 12×12 mosaic tiles and silicone caulked myself a new border. No need for thinset since they were sitting on top of the metal. I hadn’t intended to grout, but tile without grout looks strange, so we fixed that another night.

Total backsplash cost? It took 6 sheets of the metal, so $56 plus tax + 3 of the tile sheets, which cost $4 each, $12 plus tax. Which means that we did the whole project for less than what one sheet of the other stuff would have cost.

Tomorrow the boys (all 3 of ’em) and I are going to finish the crib-to-lego-table project. Then perhaps I’ll get the cabinet handles installed. Again. Don’t ask– when it’s done, I’ll tell you all about it.

Painting Kitchen Cabinets with your Kids Home?

Painting kitchen cabinets with your kids home? Totally easy– if you’re insane.

Phase 1: Collect Underpants.
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: Profit.

I have had this nonsense from the Gnomes episode of Southpark going through my head for days. You’re welcome.

Oh, and the actual point of the post, which is to tell everyone (in my best Australian sham-wow voice) that lives in the internet how YES, you CAN have a BRAND NEW KITCHEN for a the low, low price of $63.00 and many a few hours of sweat equity.


The first step is, of course, to do some internet research (I mostly used pinterest and BHG and gather your supplies based on your decisions. I did most of my shopping in the basement, thus this assortment of preparatory items cost me $0. But if you aren’t a hoarder, you’d need to get a degreaser, sand-paper, oil-based primer, rags, and foam rollers. I did have to buy a few packages of foam rollers ($13).

Next you will remove and label all of your cabinet doors, handles, and hinges. My kitchen has a large foot print, without as many cabinets (by choice). I labeled the top row of doors with letters, the bottoms with numbers. I’m not sure why– but it made sense at the time. Phase 1: Collect Underpants, right?

Lay something down on the ground and wash the cabinets with a degreaser. I used a TSP product because it was–say it with me, “already in the basement”. Otherwise I probably would have used warm vinegar and water. Note, all the internet advice for cleaning cabinets recommends a TSP product. I also sanded out here, rather than in the basement like normal. We have 3 different electric hand sanders (…why?), so I picked the one on top, and sanded.


Sit down and stare at the jumbled mess inside your cabinets. Berate yourself for allowing that which is behind closed doors to be in such disorder. Start calculating the number of hours that have been wasted from retrieving–and returning–pans to their part of the stack. Wonder why you aren’t storing all baking, spices, oil and vinegar in the lazy susan. You know, where you can reach them. Plan to make a different plan while you are priming the doors.


Appropriate all flat kitchen surfaces for priming. You could use the basement, but then you’d have to clean all the dog hair and dust first. *shudder*

Gaze in joy at the primed surfaces, right before leaving for a children’s museum that will be hosting no less than 10 elementary school classes on field trips.

I did several coats of the primer to make sure nothing would bleed through. Once everything dried, it was time to start on the finish coats.

Lightly coat with paint (I used Benjamin Moore’s Low VOC Natura paint–$50– in Super White). Let dry. Sand (280 grit). Wipe (fancy folks use tack cloth– I used a damp cloth diaper).

Rinse and repeat until you are satisfied with the finish.


Re-attach the hinges and the doors.


BEFORE:


AFTER:

Now, part of any home improvement project is how much time it will actually take. Well, I always think it will take an hour, and JB always thinks it will take 4 months. Somewhere in between is the real answer, but I needed data.

I could add all that up for y’all, but I promised the Small People a hot wheels track. Like an hour ago– whoops. Y’all are smart though– you can do the math, right?

Crazy? Perhaps.

In my experience, there are at least two common themes among DIYers– the desire for nice things/surroundings and the inability (either tangible or mental) to fork out wads of cash to do so.

For yes, declareth the masses– she embodied all that was Cheap and Skin-Flinty. But, lo, she couldn’t deny the appreciation of the expensive items she scorned. And I’m not talking Home Depot/Pottery Barn expensive. I’m talking custom-made, one-of-a-kind, hipster-magnet-boutique. I’m not a hipster, by the way– but the boutique stores I sort of adore can generally be found right smack dab in the middle of a hipster nest. More’s the pity.

My point is that in order to have many of the things that I want– and not out-price my neighborhood–I needed to learn how to do it myself. Beyond that, the raw truth is that I get off on these adrenaline-laced, disaster-turned beauty projects, because it breaks up the minutiae. I got off on these adrenaline-laced, disaster-turned success projects at my for-pay jobs, too. It’s how the ADHD brain keeps itself from pinging into neverland. Or something. All I know is that a bored me, is an unhappy me.

So, people shouldn’t eye-roll so much when I consider making my own pendant lamps because I kinda like these from Home Depot, but now they are sold at Home Depot which means everyone will have them… and… dude, seriously they are charging how much for various sized glass bowls, upside down with a light bulb? Re-alllyyy?

Okay, so the price picture blows– my phone has heard me talking about an upgrade and it is protesting in a most unbecoming manner. But the ones I liked best were $100 bucks each. I’m not paying that for a glass cake bowl and a light bulb.

Then I googled “how to DIY a pendant lamp” and there it is: Instructions. Inspiration. Originality. Done intelligently, the first one is inexpensive– just to see if you can, and the second one can be fancier. This DIY lesson, by the way, took several expensive failures to learn. For example, 2 years ago I bought a $150 worth of fabric, notions, pattern, etc. for an uber complicated renaissance faire costume. Yeah, it’s still waiting for me.

Anyway, I guess my point is that, yes, the internet is full of a vast amount of horrific misinformation. However, every yin has its yang, and that same internet also contains an entire lifetime of useful knowledge. Criminy, you can practically get a college degree via youtube videos. Essentially, if you can think it, someone on the interwebs has probably tried–and blogged– it.

Kitchen Remodel: Phase II

Remember the Phase I post from a few days ago?

You wonder– is she actually done?!
Done is often such a subjective word, don’t you think? It’s like perfect– can the pure meaning of those words exist in the world of paint or furniture placement? No, really– JB wants to know if done exists in someone else’s house.

Ahem. So the answer is no, I’m not done. But I’ve met the first major milestone– a working kitchen, with many, many coats of beautiful brilliant white paint.

There are handles to rehang and another coat of paint (hmmm…sharpie?) around the counter-tops. Speaking of molding– we need some around the top of the cabinets. And to add the furniture feet at the kick plates. And to paint the door (quick, no one look up– so don’t wanna paint that popcorn ceiling!)

But not tonight.

I’m also going to move two of our bookshelves to surround the big dining room window, adding cabinet doors at the bottom to mimic a built-in look. Which means more sanding/priming/painting.

But not tonight.

I want to add beadboard inserts to replace the current panels in the cabinet doors (paint the beadboard after cutting, then it’s just a simple glue-caulk-quicky top coat type of install). Yes, I did stare at a package of wood shims for 10 minutes, trying to decide if they could be turned into some facsimile of beadboard. Then I stared at the dremel kit and considered.

JB googled the instructions for involuntary commitment of spouse.

Thankfully, none of that is happening tonight.

The computer-armoire-turned-food-pantry needs more shelves. All the cabinets either need shelves or vertical stacking systems. Maybe some pull out drawers. Both the kitchen and dining room windows need new curtains.

But not tonight.

I want a new dining room table– round this time. Which would then free up the current table to be scavenged for parts. That I plan to turn into a mini-kitchen island. With a pot rack. On wheels.

But not tonight.

Why? Because last night, what you saw up there looked like:

Me? I set up a hard deadline by hosting my mother-in-law’s birthday dinner here today. For 11 people. Why? Because I’m not stupid organized enough to fall for those soft, internal deadlines. I need the adrenaline-fueled energy that can only come from a looming event requiring the use of whatever space is currently deconstructed.

I’m supposed to run–5.5 miles. Anyone want to take the over/under on whether THAT happens tonight?

But I did at least find the inspiration for the design– what great paper! Yes, it did occur to me to use it as wall paper accents in some of the panels. Yes, JB did threaten to lock me in the bathroom if I came within 10 feet of the kitchen with wallpaper paste. Now all I have to do is narrow down the accent color. Bright turquoise blue? Shhh… orange?

Kitchen Remodel: Phase I

Yes, it’s Phase I– of Version 4. This isn’t the first transformation for our kitchen and all the big ticket items (new floors, cabinets, appliances that aren’t brown) have long been paid for. But thus far, the total investment in Version 4 of Redesign That Kitchen is $56. $50 for low VOC Benjamin Moore paint + $6 for sponge rollers. Everything else (to include the materials for the building projects) existed down there in the region some folks call a basement. I currently call it 1200 square feet of wasted space since it’s housing a whole bunch of junk and projects to-be-determined. Part of my current obsessed motivation is getting that square footage back. Small People–and their things– take up a ridiculous amount of room.

So, version history of this kitchen?

Version I
The kitchen had blue flower vinyl flooring, complimented by the light blue dining room carpet and brown wood paneling in the dining room. And the dry-clean only curtains with giant brass thingy. Yes, we did buy this house with a dining room that looked like that picture. We replaced that carpet and the vinyl with pretending-to-be-granite-tile floors.

Version 2
Look closely– beyond the christmas tree–

We tried to salvage the original cabinets with a few coats of paint–they were, after all, real wood. However, even good paint couldn’t cover the old-lady-with-bad-kitty cabinet smell. Sniffle– look how little Z is in this picture. Totally unaware I was gestating his arch nemesis– aka, little brother.

And for 24-odd months, I lived with that kitchen.

Version 3
But at about 7 months pregnant with E– and nesting like a damn pigeon in an electric store sign– we used tax refund money to sorta upgrade the cabinets. Tax refund money and the expertise of a friend’s impulsive offer to help (meh-heh-heh). At that point, basic stock cabinets was an upgrade. A smart upgrade, since we live in a transitional neighborhood (aka, homes values probably won’t decrease, but it’s anyone’s guess if they will increase). When upgrading a house in a transitional neighborhood, one must be very careful to temper personal taste with common sense.

Was the kitchen okay, as is? Yeah, I guess so. It wastes a ton of space and it’s not very user friendly for the Small People. The Small People who really, really want to help do things– like unload the dishwasher and set the table. They are already hanging up their own laundry thanks to my installation of wire shelves and a closet rod within their reach. I feel wrong by not giving them what they want with the helping thing!

So, between pinterest, a lives-in-my-computer friend/DIY person, and the desire to use my children for manual labor, I began to get motivated. If y’all didn’t know, an ADHD person with their meds and motivation can do amazing things. Include in that a husband who leaves the country for a week, kids that go to bed at 7pm, and same ADHD lady who can’t burn off any of that gee-gee-gee-gee energy by running, and you end up with this.

By the way– don’t think I’m ignoring the children– most of this good-times-fun happened during naptime or after bed. The other little bits? Well, never underestimate what can be accomplished in 20-30 minute spurts. Of course, there was also a casualty– RIP dish drainer that was in the oven during the preheat cycle. You had a good run.

As of tonight, most everything has had its second pass of the top coat, so the painting should be done tomorrow. That’s the real bitch with painting cabinets– it takes time (most of it of the drying/preparation variety) to do a good job. But after the last bit dries, the really fun stuff is next– building!

The Beauty of Love

This was the little story that JB and I (snort, who we kidding, it was I, all I) included on our wedding announcement. Sweet, hunh?

Now, that I rediscovered the thing a few hours after screeching for him to bring me crowbar? Just amusing.
That he brought me the crowbar, with the only comment delivered being a reminder to not accidentally knock a hole in the wall? That’s trust– trust I haven’t necessarily earned.

But, hey, when I did this to the wall, in a different room, a week later, I had it patched long before he got home!

Why is the trust so impressive? Well, I ask you all– do you know what your couch looks like under the fabric and foam?

I do. I absolutely know that most couches are made of a few pieces of wood and some really strong cardboard. Why? Because I took a reciprocating saw to our old one once, just to see.

Any-hoo. I needed that crowbar because I was doing my own version of Habitat for Humanity for the homeless stuff in our house. Mostly mine. And the Small People. Not much of it is JB’s. That’s the issue with DIY (and ADHD). A person needs supplies if they are going to craft their own environment. An ADHDer goes and buys those supplies, shoves them in a drawer, laundry basket, box, bag, or closet which promptly wipes stuff’s existence from working memory. Then, while frantically looking for a missing plastic shark for the Smallest Small Person, she opens up a box, and it’s christmas all over again.

I can’t even claim this behavior is new– I’ve always been this way. Which is probably why I hooked up with a guy who moved the totality of his belongings in a Saturn Coupe, whilst I needed a 17 foot uhaul.

Then the hoarder and the minimalist had two children, whereupon they realized their stuff spreads like kudzu over a southern telephone pole. And just like kudzu, you can metaphorically burn that shit to the ground, only to step on the sharpest part of a lego brick which is lying in mocking repose right next to your bed, the very next morning. True story: I threw away a plastic kazoo 17 million times– before finally crushing it to death in the driveway and throwing it in the neighbor’s trashcan. Never underestimate the staying power of a cheap (yet costly in its annoyance factor) toy.

I started with some free wire shelving and some not-so-free tracks and brackets (why, pray tell, are those damn brackets $3.50 each? Because if you don’t want the shit to fall down, you have to buy them, that’s why). And technically those shelves were installed a few months ago– just not correctly and were being held up with duct tape, which just isn’t safe.

Thus it went from this:

to this:

Ahhh— I might not be able to get a whole room of my own, but dammit I made myself a writing nook–as per my not-resolution resolution’s list to write more. And no nook would be complete without my Quixote, ready to tilt at some windmills. And all the old shoe boxes I decoupaged, thus saving them from JB’s need to throw away the things I’m saving finishing the planned upcycling project.

One mess done, one giant one to go.

Bunk Bed Tents

Before anyone starts doing the cough-laugh thing whilst whispering “bless her heart” to themselves… I know. I feel the same way about the tent portion of the bed tent. The images on the inside? I traced what they wanted from that google place onto leftover scrap material, added some acrylic paint (and some glow in the dark paint) and was done in an hour. JB did the Millennium Falcon, after he fell to the floor laughing about how my version looked like a penis with some sort of testicle disease.

I had many,many dreams for the bed tents (damn you, pinterest!) But dreams are dreams and reality is, well. Life. 😀

Dream: You wait until the last minute (December 21st…) for stuff like this, while blithely waving your hand, saying, “it’ll take me an hour– tops”.
Reality: Your youngest child will puke that night followed by your oldest, 48 hours later. In between they will seek your love and attention. You will feel like a douchebag for ditching them to sew. You sigh and sit with your children. As it should be.

Dream: You will decide to wait until Christmas night, since you know you are getting a new sewing machine.
Reality: Sixteen seconds after you get motivated to unpack the new toy, you– and the rest of the street, oy he’s loud– hear your husband vomit. He will then spend the first 2 days of vacation either holding down the couch, or sitting really still on the floor watching cars spin on a track. I must pause and give some love– he was made a strong effort to play enough with the kids that I wasn’t bombarded the entire time.

Dream: Your husband is finally well enough to take kids away from the house for a 3 hour window. You can finish the tents!
Reality: You realize that the very reinforced window is crooked as hell. You will also realize that the up-cycled bed sheet is so old that ripping out seams is not an option. You nash your teeth, figure out a way to hang the monstrosity in the living room window and stare at it for 2 days.

Dream: You’ll just start over, you think.
Reality: Your kid has already said he didn’t care about the crooked window. If you start over you are in direct conflict with the “not everything has to be perfect”** life vibe you keep preaching.

Solution: You do your tracing thing and hot glue gun the pictures over the crooked window, which will now face the wall. Then you glance at your shiny new sewing machine and the now-hated bed tent. You feel the weight of the already heated glue gun. You hot glue gun the rest of it– sewing be damned.

**will resist urge to obsess about making upgraded bed tents. will…resist…**