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11 Nov

Laundry is the bane of my existence. There is always something to be machine-washed or hand-washed or spot-treated or something. I tend to view laundry as having 3 discrete steps: washing, folding and the dreaded putting away. I guess I could throw a 4th step in there: gathering the laundry – which can be a challenge here, since dirty clothes must spend the evening hours making their way onto floors, so they might creep under beds and sofas.

socksEspecially the socks. You could walk into any room of my house right now, and be almost certain to find a stray sock. It drives me nuts. If I dislike laundry in general, I loathe washing underwear. For the obvious reason – hello, it’s underwear! Also because there are so many things to fold and sort and match up, and how can you get any closure when they don’t match up?!

Paired socks

I keep those irritating unmatched socks in their own little basket and when it’s overflowing I can’t stand it anymore, I match and purge. Today was Sockmageddon. It was a bright spot in a day spent making this:

Laundry Room: Before

look like this:

Laundry Room

Laundry Room: After

That’s right – I kicked laundry’s ass today.

And it felt good.

How do you manage your unmatched socks?


Project: Repaint the Dining Room – Part I

9 Nov

I like to start projects so that they have a sense of urgency – stripping all the wallpaper off of the dining room walls 2 weeks before Thanksgiving fits the bill perfectly. Panic has a tendency to trump procrastination.

Old wallpaper. Yes, I know that print is crooked.

We managed to get all the paper mostly down in one afternoon – even the kids helped without complaining – miracle! Here’s a little wallpaper removal tip: mix a few tablespoons of fabric softener in with a few cups of water in a spray bottle and you have a cheap wallpaper remover that smells good. Our paper wasn’t pre-pasted and our walls are plaster and lathe so the paper really stuck but once we got the top “layer” off to reveal the backing a little spritz of the fabric softener solution was enough to get it off – it just peeled right off the walls.

I think I changed the color of the dining room 6 or 7 times before I settled on the wallpaper. It has just never seemed right to me. The wallpaper, while attractive, had issues during installation and has driven me crazy since then. It was only a matter of time. Then the other day, I was vacuuming the top of the base moulding and a corner of the paper flapped up and well, its time had come.

I’ve decided to go with turquoise for the dining room – though finding just the right shade has been a challenge. I looked through about 100 paint chips before I narrowed it down to 2: Benjamin Moore 2055-20 and 2055-30. In my infinite wisdom, I thought I would save few dollars by having quarts made up at a big-box home improvement store before I committed to a color and bought the paint at my local Benjamin Moore dealer.

I should have known I was in trouble when the big store couldn’t match 1 of the 2 colors. I brought home the single quart, put some up on the wall and realized it didn’t look exactly right. Evidently, the big store couldn’t match either color. So much for penny-pinching.

So now I have the 2 actual colors on the wall…and I’m still not quite satisfied. I’ll be stopping at Sherwin Williams today to grab a 4th quart.

Turquoise paint

Only 16 days to go. No pressure.

Have you ever started a project with a tight deadline, deliberately or inadvertently?

Lazy Sundays and the Mayans

31 Oct

Autumn Sky

In my world, a typical autumn day would be exactly like the ones we had this weekend – crisp, cool and sunny. It’s the ideal weather in which to get things done outside – so that’s exactly what we did. We raked, we cut down the gardens and cleared out the cuttings, pulled up the last remaining annuals and prepared the perennials for next year. We even scavenged the remaining survivors from the vegetable garden. I might be the only one, but I find something so enjoyable in working as a family to accomplish something. And get this – there was almost no complaining from the troops! What the heck is going on here?

Garden Work

The weather here was in such stark contrast to much of the northeast, where many of my friends remained without power (and therefore heat) after a crazy snowstorm. Generally, we’re the ones getting 24″ of snow, while my brother sees a mere dusting in his neck of the woods downstate. That’s just proof that something fishy is going on.


You want more proof? Kitty and Flap played together yesterday. Without fighting. Seriously, maybe those Mayans were on to something.

In our typical “wait until the last-minute” approach to things – we set out yesterday afternoon in search of pumpkins to carve. Guess what? There aren’t too many pumpkins left out there at 4:30pm the night before Halloween. Who’d a thunk it?

The Last Pumpkins in Town

Against all odds, we managed to find 3 suitable pumpkins at a local market about 10 minutes before he was set to close. More proof. We hardly ever get lucky like that.

We headed home, prepared to carve our way to Halloween bliss. And then Flap threw up all over the stairs.

Just like that, life was back to normal.

How was your weekend?

*I’ve been noticing that the pictures I’ve taken with my Nikon DSLR lately are a little blurry – which is weird. Maybe dropping her that last time damaged something. So, no, your eyes aren’t going. I’ll be using my point and shoot until I can get to the bottom of this. Any tips?

I’ll take “Things in the Downspout” for $200, Alex.

28 Sep

This story does not start off delicately. Sorry.

I was on the toilet. There, I said it. Let’s move on – shall we?

Next to the toilet is a window, and through that window I could hear a scratching that was unmistakably rodent in origin. Of course, like the first victim in a horror movie, I had to know what was making that noise.

Here is what I found:

Nondescript fur that was clearly breathing very heavily due to the exertion of trying to climb the 5 or so feet back to the roof where he or she had fallen into the downspout. You can sort of see it in the uppermost hole to the left. How did the holes get there? That would be my dogs – trying to get to a previous rodent.

Let me be clear – I’m not entirely PETA friendly – I love me a burger. When there were mice in my cellar – sorry but, BUH-bye now. BUT. I can’t stand to see an animal suffer. (Yes, I know, the burgers and the cows, but that’s not in my downspout.)

And so:

You’ll notice in this next clip, that the more I interact with my Mom, the more pronounced my Brooklyn accent becomes. I never realized that until I heard it in this video.

Saving lives and trashing homes. All in a day’s work when you’re the Mom.

Do you have any wildlife tales to share?

P.S. This post marks my very first video upload. I’m a little excited.

Catastrophe Math

5 Aug


Plus This:

Equals This:

Discuss. (And yes, that was a 42″ flat screen.)

Things I Probably Won’t Get Done

8 Jul

I have a bunch of things I’d like to get done this summer around the house. I have a tendency to bite off more than I can chew in the “project” department but I thought putting my list out there for all the world to see might keep me motivated. (In other words, I’ll see if shame is really an effective motivator  – so this is really a social science experiment!)

Grow up the girls’ rooms and switch up the beds. Budget: $250

(It might be easier just to set this one on fire and start from scratch – but I doubt I’ll be able to stay under budget that way!) I know my kids can’t be the only ones that are slobs, but you always think your kid is so much worse (or so much better, if you’re one of those parents.)

Repair toilet paper holder in powder room. Budget: $10

This one drives me insane – the kids kept using the dispenser as a handle to hoist themselves off the bowl. Didn’t really work out for the TP holder. I’ll need to cut open the drywall, put in a block to support the holder/handle and then patch it back up. Just call me Bob Villa. Maybe I should wire it for electricity – that will stop the kids from grabbing on! No no no. That would be wrong. And then there would be a less than zero chance they’ll actually replace an empty roll – down from the NO CHANCE we’re at now. (And over the roll, in case you’re wondering.)

Paint these doors a shade of turquoise. Budget: $50

I was totally inspired by this post on Isabella & Max Rooms. This on is just for me. The set on the left holds cleaning supplies, and the right holds extra dishes – so I’m pretty much the only one who opens these anyway. Ha ha.

Make some storage like this for Flap’s room. Budget: $10

I’d like to make these out of pallets. That’s something I’ve always wanted to try. If I don’t chop off a limb in the process, we can call this project done. Agreed?

(Image via Relic Interiors – a sustainable furniture company out of England.)

What’s on your summer to-do list?

Realist Mom’s Garage Sale Tips (or, how not to have a garage sale induced anxiety attack)

28 Jun

First, let me apologize for being away for so long. Between my eldest’s elementary graduation and then getting her off to camp and the general insanity that comes with end of school/beginning of summer – let’s just say it’s been crazy here.

So – I had my garage sale. And it went really well. Yes, I made some money and cleared out a bunch of stuff that’s been taking up so much space in our home. Most importantly, I didn’t have a nervous breakdown. For those of us that really don’t enjoy having strangers sift through our belongings, that’s HUGE.

There are many many places on the internet that will give you all sorts of tips on how to prepare, organize and promote your garage sale. I looked at a lot of them. And they were all helpful. But. (Doesn’t Dr. Phil say that when you say “but” you negate everything that came before it? I think so. That’s not my intention.) I think there are some things that those articles don’t quite cover. For example, how DO you deal with the creepy guy strolling around your garage holding one sundae glass? For thirty minutes.

Allow me to present Realist Mom’s Garage Sale Tips:

1. Be ready to let the stuff go. This is important. If you’re not quite sure whether you’re ready to get rid of Aunt Fanny’s old skillet – do not put it out there. It will only make you crazy and upset. And you’ll secretly dislike anyone who even picks it up.

2. Do not, I repeat do not have a garage sale a few days before another momentous event in your life. Or just after. Going through my daughter’s baby and toddler clothes just before she graduated was a bad idea. I was sobbing into the Rubbermaid bins. It also took me twice as long to sort through things because I was hugging almost every garment. And, if you really must know, I snatched a pair of socks out of the hand of a woman who was preparing to buy them. What? They were Kitty’s favorite socks – see rule #1.

3. Some people suck. But most people do not. I met some really nice people who were reasonable and fair as we haggled over prices. Then there were a handful of people who I would have liked to smack upside the head. Here’s a tip for buyers – don’t talk smack about me when you’re standing in my garage. It’s not going to encourage me to sell you that worn-once $80 girl’s party dress for 50 cents. It will make me want to dump my coffee on your head, though. And yes, that really happened. Except for the coffee. And then this lovely specimen of humanity proceeded to yell at me as she pulled away from the curb. Okaaaaayy.

4. Know your bottom line. Know the least you’re willing to accept for an item. You may find that you’d rather donate an item then allow yourself to be pushed into selling it for next-to-nothing. My husband is an avid reader. That’s his treat to himself: books. So, we had a lot of really current, like new books at the sale. It turned out, I would rather donate those books to my library rather than sell them to the woman who advised me that “at garage sales, people sell their hardcovers for $1, not $3. (Insert look of disgust here.)” On the other hand, I was okay with going way down on the price of some of the kids’ clothing.

5. Do not let people push you around. This is sort of an addendum to my previous tip. People can be a little bananas. I think there are people who wear their aggressive bargaining skills like a badge of honor. My grandmother was like that. She would talk the grocery clerk into giving her two free packages of cookies instead of one on senior citizen day and then would brag about it the rest of the week. I could write pages on some of the tactics people tried to get better deals. Some were really effective, some less so and some – just plain offensive. Telling me you’re buying the clothes to help out a family on your street that doesn’t have much = effective. Trying to get me to lower a price because you’re not sure if the wall hanging will look good in your house = less effective. Trying to hide a more “expensive” item in your arms among a bunch of crap and then trying to get me to price the armload without mentioning the item I saw you pick up = offensive. If you need to brush up on your assertiveness, a garage sale is a great place to practice.

6. Have some friends available for moral support. I’m pretty sure I would not have gotten through it all without the support of some good friends who stayed with me and laughed with me. And brought me coffee.

7. Know that if worse comes to worse, you can always shut the garage doors and bring everything to Goodwill. I didn’t do that, but it was sort of comforting to know that was an option.

I hope I’m not forgetting anything.

What’s your best garage sale tip? What’s your most horrifying garage sale story? Please share it in the comments!

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