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Tag Archives: home improvements

Only Took Nine Years

As of August, we have officially been the owners of this house for nine years.

For nine years, I’ve thought about hanging family photos. I have hung precisely none. Not only do I not take many pictures (and let’s not even talk about having photos done by a professional), but the commitment of how to frame them, and what size? Color or black and white? Ugh. Too many choices!

So, the kids came home from Grandma Camp this summer with the most adorable self-portraits on canvas. Oh my gosh — too much! They went straight up on the mantel. Then, I started thinking that it would be cute to have actual photos beside them. Fun, right? And don’t forget, I was still riding the high of hanging the kids’ other artwork. Things were happening! But here we go with the choices again. Never mind — I dove into the files online to peruse.

And that’s when I discovered that I’d lost several years worth of photos. Noooooo. I’d transferred them to an external hard drive, which appears to have somehow fried. I can’t even think about it without wanting to cry. My favorite picture of Joey on his 6th birthday, with a bottle of root beer in one hand and a piece of pizza in the other, and the happiest little face? Gone. Gone gone gone. OK, where was I? So looking for pictures, discovered many years missing, decide to print some of the remaining and give them a better life immediately.

Which brings us to today, when I framed them and hung them on the wall in less than half an hour:

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I am too excited to have brought this idea to life! The photos of the kids captured them at about the same age; I think Bridget was almost four, and Joey may have been in Kindergarten. I had really cute ones of them at exactly the same age, which would have been perfect, but the photo size wasn’t good for printing on one of them or something like that. Whatever. We’re not going for perfect, here. If we were, I surely would not have hung these using push pins. Yes, push pins, and yes, there are about five holes behind each frame. Hey, this method was good enough for my apartment, and it’s good enough for this place. Also, I got the frames for $3.99 at Hobby Lobby, and just used pieces of scrapbook paper for the background. Totally easy and affordable.

[In case you’re wondering, Joey is wearing a hat in his painting…and a monocle. And is holding up a mustache on a stick. Why not?]

The Little Things: Bag Dispenser

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Years ago, I made a bag dispenser from a tutorial which utilized a dishtowel. It didn’t specify the longest of all dishtowels, but the one with the best graphics in my collection made for a dispenser the size of a windsock. It got knocked down constantly, my husband did not like it (which says something, because he rarely makes a comment on these kind of things), and it was just annoying. When the ribbon “hook” snapped, that was that. Sure, it could have been easily repaired, but why?

Well, mostly because the alternative — stuffing the loose plastic bags into any corner of the hanging over-the-door baskets — was doubly annoying. And messy.

The dandy little version you see in the picture was made using a pattern from Stitch magazine, earmarked long ago and finally made after the great magazine clean-out. It only took me an afternoon, and is perfect for the job. Of course, the dimensions veer from the original pattern, because I changed the way I put the patchwork together, which meant math was involved, which of course meant that the dimensions would change. C’est la vie.

Are there bags in it? Why, yes there are, so it all ends well!

Much Better

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As it turns out, there’s a certain amount of getting what you paid for when it comes to those cheap stacks of hand-towels on the end cap in Housewares. Eight years ago, when I was setting up housekeeping here, I grabbed a pack of white ones and figured they’d surely do the trick. Also, since they were white, they could easily be bleached and made good as new whenever I pleased.

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They could become crummy almost immediately, and cause me to want to tell guests to our powder room, “No, really — the towel is clean! I just changed it today!”  For the next eight years.

Then I came across this genius idea, and new I had the answer to my problem. Actually, two problems, the other being what to do with the faded chenille-like Shabby Chic bath towel that was losing its chic and heading straight for shabby.

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One short year later, I got down to it. Since it was a bath towel, rather than a beach towel, I was only able to get two generous hand towels out of it. The borders used up a piece of fabric that has been on my shelf FOREVER, just mocking me. You would laugh at the happiness these towels have brought me. Already, they have been completely streaked with markers [why won’t kids rinse their hands properly?!] — seemingly within hours of me hanging the first one — and came out of the wash pristine. They just feel so…fancy…compared to the old thin ones.

We’re nothing if not fancy.

Seriously — Out With the Old

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My mom gave me a lovely set of metal mixing bowls for Christmas. (Thanks again, Mom! And it’s an old photo — the tongs are no longer wrapped, although you know I do like to savor a gift fully before putting it into use.) Metal totally trumps plastic in a lot of ways, but the key to me is that it’s so much easier to clean when you’ve used any kind of grease. Have you tried washing a plastic bowl after eating buttery popcorn? Ugh! Drives me bonkers. Also, they look nice in an industrial way when used as serving bowls, especially considering that they’re replacing a bunch of mismatched green ones.

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I mean, they are all green, so they can be considered a “collection”, I guess? But they weren’t making me particularly happy. Yet, when it came time to swap them out for the shiny new ones…that was a little hard.

Might they come in handy some day?

Don’t I have some little smidgen of space in the pantry where they could be stashed? You know — in case of a bowl emergency?

What constitutes a bowl emergency?

Am I my own grandma? Because I hold onto things like someone raised in an orphanage during the Depression.

The Greens headed out the door to Goodwill this morning, along with a few other beautiful, perfectly good things. The load is lightening every day, friends!

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Slowly but surely, I’ve set out to change or fix every thing about this house that’s not working for me. Superficially speaking — there are waaaay too many things that need fixing which I’m not equipped to take on. But the other stuff that’s been making me twitchy? Yeah, it’s time for it to go.

Have you ever noticed how much mental energy gets sapped by something that bugs you? Here’s an example, and it’s a really dumb one, but here it is:

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See that ridiculous tiny shelving thing in the corner? The one that doesn’t actually fit on the wall, and is way too short to make sense? Well, this is where I store napkins and tablecloths. It made sense at the time: The cube had been tossed out of another room, and it was convenient to have the linens right next to the table. Since it was out of the way, it didn’t really have to be perfect.

Unfortunately, it bothered me every time I came into the kitchen. Sometimes I didn’t even notice it was bothering me, but the way it cluttered up that corner aggravated me more than you would believe. It just made the whole space feel cluttered (which it usually is anyway, but this made it way worse.) Then, just the other day, a radical thought occurred to me:

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MOVE THE DARN THING!

Actually, it was more convoluted than that. I was trying to shoehorn a different cupboard from a different room [a story for another day] into this nook. In the process, I moved the recycling bin out of the space — and over into no man’s land, so that still needs to be addressed — and realized that this cube fit perfectly. And with the plant on top, there’s no way for me to crap it all up with stuff from the table!

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So much better.

What you can’t tell from this angle is that I also moved the table over closer to the door, which makes the space feel way roomier. That was a surprise, seeing as how it was only about a foot, but now the table is centered more on one of the overhead lights (which I hate, but that’s one of the “unfixables” for the moment) rather than the wall, and it feels much cleaner. Plus, Kevin no longer hits his head on the stupid swinging light, so he’s happy, too.

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I’m working on one last add-on project from last year, which has also been zapping me mentally. But! I think I can finish it this week, and then there are so very many things I’d like to get cracking on. Too many! Clearly, I need a good system for attacking them as well; working on that, too. Also, I’ve been baking with the kids. There’s more to that story, also. Oddly enough, it’s all interrelated.

31 Days: Welcome to the 21st Century!

As much as I hate having to stay at home all morning when a technician is working in the house, it actually does me a lot of good. Yesterday was one such morning. In two hours, I:

  • finished and folded three loads of laundry
  • prepared (well, finished preparing) the next five weeks of materials for Children’s Church
  • cleaned the powder room
  • cut the invitations for our holiday boutique (which is only three weeks away — what?!)
  • washed the dishes

Lots of stuff! Oh, and played two hands of something which resembled War with my girl. Card games with pre-schoolers are highly improvisational, don’t ya know. While I did all that, the nice gentleman from ATT hooked our home up with UVerse, thus bringing us up to speed with the rest of the neighborhood. Yes, we now have a few — very few, according to the disappointed man of the house — new channels, but that is not the best part.

Want to see the best part?

That hot mess is no longer littering my kitchen!!! OH HAPPY DAY! And that is after I’d already removed the phone from the windowsill. Yes, there was previously a phone sitting on my windowsill. With a modem. And a power strip. Care to take a guess how many times I tripped over that nest of cords, and toppled the whole blasted arrangement? Or opened one of the drawers under the oven and accidentally unplugged the power strip? So many times, but no more, my friends! No more.

I can’t tell you how happy this one little change has made me.

Even better? With the new and improved lines, we can now use the phone and the internet at the same time. Sweet freedom! So long, Pioneer House — we’re taking this place into the future!
Or ten years ago. Whatever — we’re forging ahead!