Archive for the ‘projects’ Category

There are soooo many cute gifts for teachers on pinterest!  Well, my kids don’t have any teachers, but I like the ideas.  And I like encouraging my co-workers.  So I put my couponing skills to work.  Added in my not-very-good-but-good-enough design skills and came up with gifts for my co-workers.

They were just a bottle of either orange Gatorade, Diet Sunkist or regular Sunkist with a note attached.  It said something clever like

“Orange You Glad:

->Work for such a cool team?

->Work on such a cool product?

->Work with such cool people?

Orange you glad for all that?

We sure are glad you’re here!

Yeah, it was dumb.  It was cheesy.  Yes, they’re mostly grown men.  Yes, it cost me less than $.50 bottle.  But I think they liked it!orange

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(You can see other Everyday Life posts here.  If you wanna.)

Day #31: Organization in the Garage

Jeff’s parents came to town earlier this week and helped us install shelves in the garage!  LOVELY, LOVELY, LOVELY!  It gets stuff off the ground.  It allows me to put stuff in totes.  It helps me to walk around the cars without tripping. It keeps things like bug sprays, ant killers, weed killers and gasoline out of little ones’ hands.  LOVE IT!

The cool black tool chest is also from them – it was Jeff’s Christmas present!  Our garage is very grateful to them!


Here’s Phinehas learning how to work the cordless drill:

LearningToDrillAnd playing with Grandpa’s Hat:


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“Cheater” Quilts!

I made 3 quilts recently — well, a few months ago, but just now getting around to taking pictures of them.  I made one for each of my sister’s 3 kids.  I really like the way they turned out!

They start with a down comforter, so the only thing you’re really sewing is squares onto the comforter.  It would seem that it wouldn’t take that long to do, but it still took 3-5 hours per quilt by the time you cut the fabric, arranged the fabric, ironed the squares on, then sewed the squares on.  (Which I guess isn’t long for making a quilt…)  The hardest part is that I did Twin size and it was a little difficult to fit 1/2 of the comforter under the arm of my sewing machine.  But it might be because I have a smaller sewing machine?

I used Little Bit Funky’s tutorial here.

Anyway, I’m pleased with how they turned out – they’ll be great blankets for movie watching and I think they’ll really last quite a while since the “basis” for the blanket is a down comforter.  I intentionally picked fabrics that are fun while the kids are young, but hopefully, will also “grow” with them!

Here’s the purple one:

Phinehas showing you how you can run all over it!

Phinehas showing you how you can run all over it!

Here’s the pink and red ones:


Quilts are folded into thirds in this picture.

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We now own 2 houses.  For a couple of weeks until we close on our existing home.

Last week, we took ownership of our new house and then a few days later, we took possession of it.  Let the fun begin!

Because it is dramatically easier to paint (the inside) of the house and to replace carpet when the house has no furniture in it, we’ve decided to do those two things before we move in.  Seems simple, right?  Especially when you consider that we’ve ordered carpet from Home Depot (so that they’ll install it) and that we’re hiring my uncle, who is a professional painter to do the painting.  Seems really simple.

But it’s turning out to be ALOT of work.  And we haven’t even moved yet (that happens this week).  The complexity comes in when you start talking wallpaper removal.  What fun that isn’t!  There was wallpaper in each of the 3 bathrooms, a border of wallpaper in the master bedroom, and the entire kitchen was wallpapered.  Now, I don’t like wallpaper.  Mostly because I don’t like removing wallpaper.  It’s never a blast.  But this time?  Oh wow.

In the kitchen (and I’m suspecting the 1/2 bath on the main level), the wallpaper was applied directly to the drywall.  The drywall was never primed.  Never painted.  Never prepped for wallpaper.  They just stuck the wallpaper right onto the wall.  And now, 27 years later, when we want to remove it, it isn’t easy.  In fact, it’s taken over 80 man-hours of work (I have wonderful family and friends!) and in the process, the walls got severely damaged because the wallpaper was so glued to the drywall.

We had no choice but to get the wallpaper down by any means necessary (read: lots of water and soaking and elbow grease).  After that, we sanded down the walls to as-smooth-as-possible surface and then had to prime the walls with an oil-based primer (apparently, if you use a latex primer, any glue or residue left from the wallpaper will eventually soak through and you’ll again have sticky walls).  Next a drywaller has to come in and patch the walls to get a smooth and flat surface.  Then we can start the real painting process.

It really wrecks timelines.  What I thought would take 1 evening to do with 8-9 people working on it, has now taken 3-4 days and the drywaller hasn’t even started his work yet.  His work will take 2-3 days to complete (a couple of coats of mud over a few days).  And we haven’t painted yet.  And that isn’t even taking into account what else we’ve had to put aside in order to dedicate so much time to this.

We will be moving in Wednesday, no matter what the house looks like.  With me being 38 weeks pregnant and Phinehas having been born at 38.5 weeks, I really am itching to get in there.  If there are unpainted walls, well, so be it.  Better that than having to direct movers around while I’m in the hospital or while I have a 3-day old.

So please don’t install wallpaper in your house.  Future homeowners don’t need that headache.  And if you must install wallpaper, please prep your walls well.  (“They” say it’s possible to install wallpaper well, but I don’t know that I believe them anymore…)

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I’m sure this is a normal feeling, but I’m feeling lots of self-induced pressure to know everything about the next house.  Specifically how it will be decorated.  On one hand, it makes sense.  If you’re going to hire someone to come out and just paint everything, it’s certainly logical to have picked the ‘final’ colors for each room.  Otherwise, you’ll just have to paint again.  Waste of time and money.

If you’re wanting to get new carpet, you might as well get it all at once so that you can get a better deal AND so that you can get new carpet installed when there isn’t any furniture to have to navigate around.  Seems wise, right?

Except, I don’t know if I want carpet in the ‘toy room’ (really supposed to be a formal living room, but we’ll make it a toy room).  Carpet isn’t exactly child friendly and I adore the look and ease of the wood floors that we have now.  So if I’m going to get wood floors in that room, maybe I’ll get wood floors in the kitchen.  After all, the rooms are right next to each other.

But what if I’m going to want tile in the kitchen instead?  Tile is a nice look (so pinterest tells me).  Is it more expensive than wood floors?  And I haven’t made any decisions on what I’m going to do with the kitchen cabinets.  I don’t like the style of them, so I’ve thought about getting new doors for them.  But will I do painted doors or wood doors?  If I do paint them (off white?  gray?), will that affect what I want for flooring?

And what if I don’t really want carpet in the family room?  If the kitchen is going to be wood floors and the toy room is going to be wood floors, maybe I should just keep everything “downstairs” wood floors?  That would like nice.

Money isn’t unlimited either.  Since we aren’t living there yet, I can’t get semi-decent measurements.  And I can’t let in professionals to give me design ideas or price quotes.  We can handle spending $20,000 in house upgrades, but not all at once.  Spread over 2-3 years, that’s doable.

But I’m not prepared to make these kinds of flooring decisions yet.  I’d still like to identify what I think the final room colors will be so that I can have someone else doing my painting.  The idea of me painting being 9 months pregnant (which I’ll be when we move in) doesn’t appeal to me.  The idea of me painting with a newborn and an 18-month-old doesn’t appeal to me.  The idea of shoving furniture into the middle of each room-by-room doesn’t appeal to me.  And I feel reasonably confident that I can pick colors that I’ll be happy with.  I can always add decorative touches later – stripes around a wall, some board and batten maybe.

So finally I relinquished the idea that I had to know right now what the house was going to look like in 2 years.   So I’m officially post-poning making any decisions on flooring for a while.  Let me live there, meet the house’s personality, THEN I’ll decide.

It’s another case of where my head gets ahead of me.

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Decorating a new house

So, we’re moving! Which means a whole new house to decorate! I’m excited (and overwhelmed) by that.

But, what I’m finding is that I don’t really know my home decorating philosophy. There are certain color combinations that I really like and if I think about each individual room, I think I’d end up putting the same 2 colors in each room.

But is that wise? It certainly makes painting easier – just get a lot of gallons in 1 color.

But is that fun? I like the idea of a soft gray in the living room.  I like the idea of a soft gray in the hallway.  I like the idea of a soft gray in the master bedroom.  I like the idea of a soft gray in the powder room.  That’s alot of soft gray!  Wouldn’t a bright yellow laundry room be fun?  Or maybe a green “play space”?

Our new house is bigger, but that’s not where my confusion lies. If it was just more square feet, that’d be one thing. Instead, it has more rooms. And more rooms = more choices.


  • New house: Master Bath.      Current house: No master bathroom.
  • New house: Laundry Room.     Current house: Washer & dryer located in an unfinished part of the basement.
  • New house: Powder Room.     Current house: No powder room.
  • New house: Living Room and a Family Room.     Current house: No Living Room.
  • New house: Fireplace & a mantel.     Current house: No fireplace. No mantle.
  • New house: Entryway.     Current house: Step inside to the house and you’re smack dab in the middle of the family room.

So, do you paint the majority of the house 1 nice, neutral color or do you ‘live on the wild side’ and paint some radical-for-my-tastes-I-think-until-I-see-it-on-the-walls in different places?  One makes it seem like all the rooms belong to the same family and could be nice and peaceful. The other seems to speak to different sides of a personality or to preferences to different family members.  I guess there isn’t a right or a wrong answer.  Just whatever I want to do in the short-term.  You can always repaint in a couple of years.  Or months.

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As I mentioned, the plan is to move Phinehas to a new room sometime this fall before the new baby arrives.  He’ll still be in a crib (thanks to my sister, yet again, for another hand-me-down.  My sister = lifesaver!).

Originally, I had visions of a red/white/gray-ish striped room, but I ending up going in a different direction.  See, I had some leftover yellow-ish paint (a quart costing $2.00 because it was in the Oops bin at Home Depot – LOVE that!), so instead of a lot of stripes, I just did one big stripe at the top as a border.

I wanted something else, something more visually interesting in the room though, so I installed some ‘trim’ as a “middle stripe”.  It’s at the same height as the top of his window and bedroom door.

To make it even more interesting, I made the longest wall into a shelf.  Nothing fancy, but it can hold pictures or knick knacks.  Nothing too heavy until I figure out a better way to secure it.

All of this is thanks to my father-in-law for tools.  My Christmas present last year was an air compressor and a nail gun.  (How cool of a gift is that!?!)  Then he drove down last weekend to let me borrow his miter saw (I think that’s what it is called).  Since the bedroom had just been emptied of pretty much everything, it was time to put my plan into action!

It took me just about the whole week to finish, but that’s because I did so in 30 minute increments – around nap and bed times.

Total Cost:

  • $2 on the “oops” yellow-ish paint.
  • $0 on the white paint, rollers, nail gun nails – I already had those.
  • $7 on the “shelf”
  • $11.50 on the “trim”
  • $20.50 TOTAL — not bad at all and, I think, well worth it!

Basic Instructions:

  • Paint the border.  I wanted the border to be about 12 inches showing, so I painted 13 inches down.  I knew my “trim” would cover up where the yellow met the gray, so I didn’t have to worry about any ‘bleeding’ under my taped line.  I didn’t need a super crisp line.
  • Buy the lumber.  The “trim” around the room is just 1x4s.  The “shelf” is just a 1×6 board.  Home Depot called it “common wood” (aka: nothing fancy.)
  • Paint the lumber.  So much easier to paint them when you can lay them flat on the basement floor than after they’re already hung on the wall.  I learned that lesson from my back entryway!
  • Measure & nail up the trim, piece by piece.  I started by one of the windows, used a level to make sure it was straight and worked my way around the room.  It took longer to set up the saw, air compressor & nail gun than it did to actually hang the trim!
  • Touch up the paint.  You’ll want to touch up some of the corners, where boards meet and where the nails are.  I didn’t need to use any paintable caulk, but that’s always a possibility.


  • When you buy the lumber, you’ll want to know not just how many total inches you need, but if you have a couple of long walls, you don’t want to have to use lots of odds & ends to piece it together.  So, for those walls, you’ll want to have pieces as long as you can.  You might still need to use 2 pieces to fit a wall, but better 2 pieces than 8!
  • Little boys love to play with the big machines that appear in your living room.  Be careful with that!
  • The light in that room is horrible.  I have dreams of installing a better light and ceiling fan in there.
  • We have doors that go almost all the way to the ceiling which presented some decision.  Paint a yellow stripe on there too?  Leave it all gray?  What about the fact that I can’t put white trim on the doors as it will affect the way they open?  In the end, I decided not to paint yellow at the top.

Some pictures:

Phinehas Room Collage

1. The room before.

2 & 3. Phinehas playing with the saw.  Don’t worry – there were 4 adults in the room and the power was off.

4. The closet before.  A dumping ground of things that need to be sorted.

5. The walls after.

6. Phinehas playing on the bed and you can see the shelf above him.

7. A different view of the room

8. The closet after – I also installed some shelving in there, which was another cheap and easy project.

9. The closet doors.  I think it looks okay to be all gray and not have the yellow/white stripes.

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