Category Archives: It’s a Project!

November 10 – Light Reno Scheduled

I have a contractor scheduled to come in this coming week to tear out and replace a part of the ceiling in our kitchen. Within a year of us moving in, we noticed a moisture stain, which now has spread down the beam. He’ll also be in the attic trying to determine why water is leaking through (or per the original builder of our home, it’s blowing snow) the vents and that it was the way we designed the home and there’s nothing that could have been done. Which come on?! What a crock of crap.

At this time, we will also replace the lights that hang over our peninsula in the kitchen. I was so scared to committing to pendant lights that I had the electrician install track lighting. Since it’s next to the beam, it just makes sense to switch it out now. I’m actually imagining a couple of these which are reminiscent of the lights we would use in the brooder house to keep the new chicks warm. My husband isn’t so sure.


Just a short one for the day as I lost two hours to The Walking Dead and The Talking Dead. I won’t even facebook when those two shows are on.

Display Wall for My Children’s Art

Last May, I started a project. I wanted to create a display wall to display the kids’ art. The idea originally came from a photo on Pinterest from this website.



However, I knew I didn’t want to use chalkboard paint because we currently have a real slate chalkboard in the mudroom and the amount of chalk dust it creates is asinine and I don’t want it constantly mashed into the carpet.

The wall is the hallway that joins Aitch’s and Doodicus’ rooms. In the photo, you can see the doorway to the bathroom that is actually between the bedrooms. This hallway is also right off the living room so it’s highly visible to anyone who visits.

The "before" picture includes my bag of supplies and a toddler potty seat. You're welcome.
The “before” picture includes my bag of supplies and a toddler potty seat. You’re welcome.

Knowing from past trips to the home improvement stores that the cork comes in 12″ squares, I measured the wall for length and then how tall I wanted it to go up on the walls. Simple math: 7 ft wide times 4 ft high meant I needed at least 28 squares. I also bought silicone adhesive, which is why I have the caulk gun. 
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As you can see, each square has a slightly different finish. Originally I considered painting it, but laziness won out. You might also notice that I had to cut around an outlet and a hallway light switch.



We had left over window trim from when we built the house, which we used to cap the cork board and give it a finished look. A couple of things to note:

  • The corkboard is thin. A standard tack will be longer than the cork is thick so if I ever decide to remove this stuff, the drywall will probably need to be replaced. In hindsight, I could have put down an underlayment of foamcore boards (the least expensive) or doubled up the layers of cork.
  • The package may have said 12″ squares, but they were not SQUARE. I had to do quite a bit of trimming to keep the seams even all the way up and across.
  • The “Every child is an Artist” quote is made up of vinyl letters that I bought from Amazon.

When the kids aren’t paying attention, I’ll replace older pieces with more recent ones. Sometimes they even go hang their own as the mood strikes. I’ve included a list of the supplies *I* used for this project, but you may find yourself needing more or less (obviously). It took a couple hours to glue the cork to the wall, but as I said earlier, it was a year between when I started the project to when it got finished. I am the Queen of Procrastination.

  • Cork board
  • Heavy duty adhesive
  • Caulk gun (for the adhesive)
  • Box knife (and extra blades)
  • Yardstick or straight edge
  • Level
  • Pencil
  • Wooden trim (if you want a more finished look)
  • Hacksaw (to cut trim to size)
  • Thumb tacks

Ice Marbles via Pinterest in a Moment of Insanity


If you’ve been on Pinterest for any longer than an hour, you’ve probably seen this image. I would like to first say, you have no idea how annoying it was to try to find the original post for this idea. Even now, I can’t even be 100% this is even it, but let it be known, I tried.

I discovered a stash of balloons the other day and I decided to give this a try. Without the help of the kids, because I just don’t have that kind of patience nor am I quite that insane.

The balloons I had were “standard” size but I discovered that this means smaller than expected marbles. Cheap balloons are meant to hold air, not necessarily dense, heavy water. I’m warning you now.

I filled up the first balloon with water at the kitchen sink at our drinking water tap faucet because I figured the higher pressure would make quick work of it. The balloon’s opening did not fit tightly over the spout, it filled the balloon but wasn’t enough to expand it. The water simply overflowed back out. Since the kitchen faucet had a sprayer head, it wouldn’t fit over that so I moved into the bathroom, which had the only spout in the house that the balloon’s end would fit snugly on.

So now I’m in the bathroom with my balloons and food coloring. I used the cheap liquid drops – the kind that comes in the bottles that look like garden gnomes. You know the kind I’m talking about.

I put a couple drops of the coloring in an empty balloon and then fit the end over the tap and gently turned the water on. It expanded as I had hoped, but I didn’t try to fill it very full for fear of it exploding. I didn’t want to reuse that balloon, either, so when I turned it over to empty it, the water violently erupted and red water went everywhere! It was a mess.

After I cleaned that up, I took a new balloon, added a couple drops of the coloring and tried again. It got about the size of a very large grapefruit when I carefully removed it from the faucet and tied off the end. It is crucial to NOT fumble-finger this part unless you are outside and you don’t care about the mess. I ended up with four filled balloons, which I gingerly placed in a bucket (again, because I kept imagining one would burst) and then set it outside overnight.

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Sparring Partner said that they would end up sticking together when the latex froze, however they did not, and really? It wouldn’t have mattered if they had. This morning, I cut the balloons away and I was left with my ice marbles.

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They are not perfectly round, so don’t expect them to be if you try this. The food coloring actually settles while the water is freezing, which resulted in a more ombre affect. Don’t put the final product anywhere you don’t want stained when it melts, like your deck rail or porch or steps. Of course, I don’t care, so I did sit mine on top of the deck.

OH! And I almost forgot: there’s no need to wait until the outside temps reach and maintain freezing. Since the balloons don’t get THAT big, you could just put them in a bowl or container and put that in the freezer, especially if you have a chest or storage freezer. I would recommend you put them inside something, just in case the balloon gives way.

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Witch of the West


My husband helped me with this project I saw in Martha Stewart’s Halloween magazine issue.

My original plan did not include Sparring Partner helping me because that always means a simple project will turn into a production of epic proportion, which invariably turns into me hating my husband for 24 hours. Don’t feel too bad for him as the feeling is usually reciprocated.

I am the kind of person who likes to start projects with only the vaguest of plans. I like to work from a picture or from an idea. SP wants dimensions, weights and formulas. If I want a board cut for a project, I will hold my index fingers out in front of me and say, “I need it to be yay-big.” He will then ask, “Is that 18 or 24 inches? Do you want a 2×4 or 2×6? Does the wood need to be treated? Do you want me to router the ends?” And then I get pissy. Read my mind, man!!

I felt I could tackle this project myself. Except I needed his help going to the home store and picking out a sheet of plywood. Oh, and he didn’t think a jigsaw would do as nice of a job as a rotory saw even though we had access to at least three jigsaws but not one rotory, so he had to pick one out and it requires special bits. He also declared that using conduit and conduit straps was not good enough; he would MAKE the brackets. I’m surprised he didn’t demand that he get to cut down the trees to make the plywood and press it out himself calculating the tensile strength necessary to withstand the autumn prairie winds…

I was adamant that I would use the saw. I didn’t want to have to depend on when he was willing to put aside his own projects to help me with mine. However, after I broke the third bit before making it even a tenth of the way around the template for the witch, I knew I’d have to hand over the new toy. He completed the rest of the witch and the cat using a single bit.

I had the kids help me apply the black paint with rollers. They thought that was fun at first, but black seemed to suck that excitement right out of them. Plus Aitch tripped and fell into the dirt with the wet roller and then proceeded to roll that onto the witch and then back into the tray of paint and to the witch again. I didn’t care but for Doodicus, who takes after his dad, complained how she was ruining it and the bickering and whining was too much. They soon threw down their rollers and went back inside the house.

SP made the brackets as promised, and I wish I could explain his ingenious design, but it would require me to use words like jig, sled, and channeling and really, what does it matter? The end result was fabulous and way better than conduit brackets.

The witch and the cat are now in the side yard. I still have a few minor touches to add, like a broom, lantern and some lighting, but considering I’d never thought I’d get this far, especially before the first of October, I’m pretty happy with how it looks now.

Gift Tags

I am the laziest crafter out there. I can’t even call myself a “crafter” because if I can find someone to make it for me, that’s what I’d rather do, but then I’m so lazy it may be next to never by the time I make arrangements to have someone make it for me.

I saw some handmade gift tags on Pinterest but the photo wasn’t accurate with the description and then blah, blah, blah, I became annoyed and distracted. Sure, I’d love to have hand-glazed, ceramic gift tags, but seriously?? I have a life. In spite of what you might read on Facebook.

While at Hobby Lobby, I found a tub of Sculpt-It and it didn’t require mixing or baking so in my head, it was a win-win. I could invest $13 into an experiment and no one but me would know if it was a Big Fat Fail. Happily, they came out better than I expected and so I’ll pass on this lazy mom’s findings.

In addition to the Sculpt It, you’ll want some cookie cutters (or just make your shapes with a glass), rolling pin, straw, ribbon (or twine, which is what I used), wax paper and a surface to work on.

As you can see I used one of those flexible cutting boards, but I strongly recommend setting down a sheet of wax paper to work on to reduce the stickiness of the Sculpt It. I also used a couple of paint stir sticks to roll the clay down to a good thickness. If you are a regular baker, you won’t need a cheater like me.

The tub of Sculpt It has handy “tubes” ready to take out and work a little at a time. If while you are working it and dries a bit, just wet your hands and then worked the clay again introducing moisture gradually. I only had to do this a couple of times.

Here’s one tube of clay rolled out and I used a glass to get round ornament/tags. Not that I needed to include this photo, but it was there.

Here’s a batch of little hearts that I used the straw to punch holes in and then just some stamps to create the design. I might use these for Valentine’s Day as a small garland in my office and just thread some ribbon in and out of the holes.

This project is so easy and basically mess free, I let Aitch and Doodicus make some as well. Aitch’s favorite part was blowing the clay out of the straw.

Below is a photo of a completed ornament/tag on a package (I ‘shopped out our last name that was stamped in the main body of the ornament) by wrapping the twine around the package and then tieing on the tag.

Some things you should know about the clay: it shrinks, just a little, but if the hole you make is *JUST* the right size before it dries, it may be too small afterward. I’m also surprised with how strong and light-weight the final product is. Give it at least 24 hours to dry completely.

I had been able to make enough tags for what I needed this year so I made a few to experiment with including a round ornament with several holes on the circumference so I can weave some ribbon through the holes (if you do this, make sure to have an ODD number of holes!). I also tried “sewing” spaghetti pasta in one, but that didn’t thrill me. I suppose you could use a large needle and some yarn and sew it while they are still wet and if you didn’t like them, wad it up and roll it back out again. Maybe even add some food-coloring to a batch. However, that’s more work than I’m willing to put in to it. Another shape I thought about trying was a thin rectangle and then use them as just “everyday” tags and stamping “From Doodicus” or “From Aitch” on them to use throughout the year.

Easy, cheap, child-friendly, and cute.

Like Water Off A Duck’s Ass

That’s how many of the things that would bother me before feel now. I’m almost wishing Sparring Partner was taking ADs as well and then maybe he wouldn’t blow his fuse every time Doodicus opened his mouth.

I can’t help but wonder if I had done this three years ago, would I have lost my job? Isn’t that crazy? What ifs still haunt me, but it’s been a long time since I thought about my ex-boss in a way that wouldn’t be considered premeditation in a court. Obviously part of it is finding a very comparable job after two and half years of looking, looking, and looking, but I no longer miss where I worked or who I worked with.

I’m still trying to square out the sleep issues. The ambien gets me to sleep, but doesn’t keep me there. I’m tossing and turning by 3:00 am. NOT taking the ambien means a little longer getting to sleep, but I’m once again tossing and turning by 3:00 am. I’ll keep my eyes open (literally?) for other options to the suppository-sized gelcaps of melatonin from my last post. I admit that I reread the instructions to make sure they WEREN’T suppositories.

ADs: not for everyone, but seriously? If you’re a hot, angry mess of tears and rage, I would strongly recommend.

Speaking of a hot, angry mess, Sparring Partner and I are considering finishing our basement. We didn’t when we built the house just because we had no idea how we wanted it finished. We have about 2,000 sq ft to work with and plumbing for one bathroom and a kitchenette already dropped in addition to one large bedroom space already framed but not walled.

SP said that he’s going to have a dropped ceiling installed. I said “you’re fucking insane!” That’s only the first of hundreds of disagreements this next adventure holds for us. I also want heated flooring and sound barriers installed in the ceiling and walls since HE wants to have a media center. Aaaaannnnnd….? yeah, that’s all I’ve got in mind so far.

Do you have a finished basement? What should we consider? What should we avoid? It’s a walk-out to the backyard and patio. This is the view from the outside, except now there’s grass and we decided the propane tank would look better about 100 yards away.


Thanks for the encouragement in regards to me finishing my project. It’s nothing less than a miracle that I actually did and in such a short amount of time. Now I can only hope that these projects (in limbo) below will eventually get finished.

First we have the vanity dresser Sparring Partner bought at a garage sale. While it is an antique, the finish was faux tiger maple. Once the drawers were sanded we discovered that it has a mash-up of different wood used. It will get painted eventually. Luckily the mirror is intact.

This metal head- and foot-board for a twin-sized mattress was in one of the bedrooms in the house I grew up in up until about four years ago. I’m fairly certain it had been there 20 years before even I was born. My mother did something to it decades ago so that this ugly finish is the only way I’ve ever seen it. I’m envisioning it in Aitch’s room but only after a serious make-over.

And this? While I know it looks like pieces recovered from the scrap pile from a lumbar yard, they are the parts to an antique school desk that SP bought at the same garage sale as the dresser above. It was in awful condition and I really have no idea what will be under all that paint. My other concern is that SP won’t remember how to put it all back together by the time I get around to removing all that crap.

And the stack of drawers actually belong to a desk that had to be tossed as it was beyond salvage. However, I’ve seen drawers like this used as wall shelves. I just don’t really know where to put them or what to put IN them or if to bother to refinish them… The drawer on its side goes to the dresser and you can see where sanding was started, but as a testament to my inability to finish anything it is collecting dust and cobwebs.

I didn’t bother including pictures of the funky storage table I bought years ago or the screen door I want to hang the accumulation of the year’s greeting cards or the barrister bookcase SP used to hold all his music CDs…

Aitch’s Cabinet

I finished it. And I love it.




I first “cleaned” it using a paint deglosser. I nearly used up one can of spray paint giving it about three even coats of color. I used batting to pad up the panels on the front of the drawers but not the sides. Just when I thought I was done, I added the stenciled pattern at the handles just to break up the teal.

What did my daughter say when I put it back into her room?

“It’s bootiful!”

P.S. I’ve added a new post that includes the details on the completion of the project.

Deadline: 2021

I hate the storage necessary to hide all the toys in our house. I say “hide” because ultimately that’s my goal when I need to do a quick clean-up. Like those times my husband calls on his way home to let me know one of his buddies and the wife are on the way over for whatever reason. I’m sorry, but I still try to put on a show that I live in a somewhat clean house. I have on more than one occasion made like a whirlwind in the living room by scooping up everything on the floor and throwing it in a laundry basket and hiding that until our guests leave.

When Doodicus was a toddler and we were living at our other house, I found a couple of inexpensive units with simple drawers to keep in our family room for small toys like the Hot Wheels, Little People and Legos. When we moved, one was moved to Aitch’s room and the other stayed in the family room. We kept DVDs and the Wii games and remotes in the drawers.

In the past week, we found something to replace the little tower and it has been moved yet again. The second one remains in Hazel’s room. A brown, dark ugly thing next to her dresser. It’s mostly empty except for some miscellaneous crap I haven’t found a better home for so it remains.

It’s been during this time that I was turned on to a blog: Better After. My creative juices, long stifled by diapers, Dora, and Sponge Bob, have started flowing again. I’m starting small.

Here’s the the hideous cabinet in Aitch’s room:

Don’t mind the layer of dust on the side. You can see in the very right margins of this photo her dresser, which is blonde wood. While not necessarily my favorite finish, it goes well with her room. That’s why this piece does not. Here’s a better shot of Aitch’s room:

Fucking chaos.

I found some fabric that would easily blend into her room from now until she becomes an emo teen and everything has to be painted black. I plan on covering the drawer faces (where it’s like a basket weave) with the fabric. I’m debating whether or not to put batting behind the fabric…

I’m going to spray paint the wood in that teal blue. Depending on whether that color is too overwhelming, I may trim out the drawers in yet another coordinating color.

Now if Spring would show her whore-face, I could get outside to start prepping this piece with some sanding. Who knows? I might even start on the antique school desk (which is already been taken apart by my dear Sparring Partner – sucker!) (but needs an ass-load of paint stripping) and that cheap TV cabinet we’ve had in the basement for five years may have a new life after all!

Who wants to take odds on when this bad baby will actually get done?