Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Where Do You Blog?

Centsational Girl is having a “Where Do You Blog?” Linky party.  When I first saw this party, I knew there was no way I would be sharing MY blogging location.  Our office is an awful mess and it’s only redeeming value is that it has a door to it that I can close if I can’t stand to see it anymore.

As I looked at all the pictures of all the beautiful blogging spaces, though, I knew I had to post just to give a voice to all of us who have awful, messy offices (please, please, tell me I’m not the only one!).  Maybe I’ll start a self-help group - Messy Office Anonymous (MOA) – where we can all get together and realize that it’s OK to have a messy office (or at least to find pictures of other offices that are even WORSE than ours). 

Hi, my name is Diane and I have a messy office:


I think I actually wrote a blog post about cleaning it up one day.  I swore I would keep it clean, but apparently the filing system is just not working because the papers have returned with a vengeance and filled up every available space.


I also hate all the furniture in it.  I have plans to redo the space at some point, but there are other more pressing matters.  Like finishing the stairway where I ripped up all the carpet or finding the perfect fabric for pillows in my family room or re-painting the gigantic walls in my family room, dining room, and entry way or my bedroom or…well…you get the idea.  It’s low down on the list and the fact that I can’t even seem to keep it slightly clean makes me not want to bother with it at all!

So, for now, here (in all it’s glory) is where I blog:


I’m so proud.  

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Stairway Progress

I know you’re all just dying to see what progress we’ve made on our staircase.  I apologize for taking so long to get anything up here.  We went on vacation the week before last, so no work got done at all.  We got back last Monday and took Tuesday off to recover from vacation, so we were able to put in a bunch of work then.  Which is good, since nothing more happened this week!

Last time I posted, we had done a bunch of painting and had torn out one of the original treads and replaced it with one un-painted tread.  On Tuesday, my ever-so-nice hubby, spent the day pulling out the rest of the treads.  Unfortunately for him, he started with the most difficult one first!

I don’t have any really good pictures of it, but the riser on the very top stair didn’t actually go all the way up to the floor above it.  For some reason, the builders decided it was OK to just use some piece of scrap wood.  It was a really cruddy piece of wood, which was fine when it was covered with carpet, but was a real problem when all the risers are going to be on display!  I thought about cutting down some wood to fill it in (and then pretty it up with wood putty), but we didn’t like that idea, so we decided to pull the old one out and put in a new one.  I figured it wouldn’t be too difficult once the tread below it was out.  I mean there was a big hole at the top where we could pry it out!


I was quickly proven wrong on Tuesday: the tread below it came up relatively easily, but there was just no way for us to get leverage to pry it out, so we went back to brainstorming.  My husband thought to get some really thin wood and just put a face on it.  Great idea!  Unfortunately, we didn’t have anything that would work and we didn’t want to make the trip to the store (or spend any more money on this project).  We eventually decided to go with the original idea and fill the hole in with very thin pieces of wood, then finish it off with a bunch of wood putty.

That actually worked out much better than we thought it would (you can see the end result in the picture below).  Of course, it ended up taking half the day!


 (You can’t even see where the hole used to be!)

I was thinking I was going to need to change my expectations and started preparing myself for not having all the old treads gone, but once again the hubby pulled through for me!  He pulled off all the rest in record time and we got the new ones on!  Here’s where we’re at now:



We I now have a ton of hole filling and painting to do, but if you cross your eyes slightly, you can sort of see what it’s going to look like.  Here, let me do it for you:


The last thing I did Tuesday night was to paint the last coat of Kilz on the landing.  What I forgot, though, is that our cats are nocturnal and they walk around a lot at night.  When we got up to go to bed, once we figured the landing was dry, we found a cute little present.


If you look closely, you can see the foot prints go all the way up the stairs. 


Lucky for this little kitty that I had already planned on putting another coat of black paint on the treads. 

DSC_3060 DSC_3061

Though, now I know I’ll definitely wait until after I’ve done ALL coats of paint on the landing!

Mommy’s Piggy Tales – 10th Grade

I’m participating in a project called Mommy’s Piggy Tales where I’ll be writing stories about my childhood once a week for 15 weeks, starting with birth and ending with graduation in the hopes that my children, and possibly my children’s children, will one day appreciate it.


In 10th grade I got my driver’s license and my first boyfriend!

I took the driver’s test very soon after my 16th birthday.  I had learned to drive a stick shift, but for some reason, I didn’t feel comfortable taking the test in that car so, instead, I took it in our van.  I’m not talking about a minivan here – I mean one of those huge vans that’s been converted into a passenger car.  Compared to the car I had been learning on, that thing was BIG!  Which turned out to be a bit of a problem during the parallel parking portion of the test.  At one point, as I was trying to park between two cars, the tester let out a little gasp as if I were about to hit one of the cars.  When I stopped, she said, “Let’s just move on to the next thing…”  (ooops).  So, I didn’t so much pass the parallel parking portion of the test, but I flew through the other parts and I had a license!  Watch out world!

I also had a car! A fire engine red, 1982 RX-7!  The very same car I had played the flute in back in 5th grade.  My mom had moved on to a newer car, so I bought (sort of) this one from her.  I always said it could only go down from there when your first car is a little red sports car.

At almost exactly the same time, my step sister was being introduced to some guy who lived about 15 minutes away and worked at a great pizza shop (I think we called him something like “pizza boy” – how original).  Since I had my license (and she didn’t), she talked me into driving her over to the pizza place when he was working (I’m sure it didn’t take too much convincing, since I was dying to take my new license out for a spin!).

I drove her over a few days in a row.  We’d go hang out while he worked and flirt with him when he wasn’t busy.  After a few days of that, my mom told me to stop – she didn’t feel comfortable with me driving so much so near dark so soon after I’d gotten my license. 

My sister and the boy hung out once outside of his work where she met some of his friends.  Turns out she was more interested in one of the friends and he was interested in me!  We started talking on the phone, which was very exciting for me!  A boy actually liked me!

We eventually did start truly dating and I dated him all through the rest of high school (with one short break) and my first year of college.  We dated so long, we would actually talk about getting married and what we’d name our kids.  I think, though, I always knew we weren’t the right match, but we grew up a lot together and he was such an important part of my life and, for that, I thank him.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mommy’s Piggy Tales – 9th Grade

I’m participating in a project called Mommy’s Piggy Tales where I’ll be writing stories about my childhood once a week for 15 weeks, starting with birth and ending with graduation in the hopes that my children, and possibly my children’s children, will one day appreciate it.


Ninth grade, for me, meant not only the start of High School, but the start of High School at a completely different school.  Instead of moving on with the kids I’d gone to school with for years, I went to a Jesuit High School in town where I basically knew no one.

My mom had good reasons for the switch, like the fact that they had an excellent academic program.  I, on the other hand, thought that the fact that there was a class break every day at 10:00 where you could buy donuts(!) was reason enough to go.  Looking back, I wish we had given more weight to the fact that I wouldn’t know anyone and that the new school didn’t have much of a music/band program (which was an important part of my life) before making a decision.

As it turns out, the transition was fairly difficult for me.  I have a very hard time making friends, so walking into a situation where almost everyone had known each other since Kindergarten made it very difficult for me to find my place.  The school held an orientation session at the end of summer for incoming Freshman.  I spent the day not talking to anyone (though I made a valiant effort at the beginning of the day that completely bombed) and told my mom that I was “going to be a complete nerd!” the second I got in the car afterwards.

I was too shy to try out for the Symphonic Band, so I had resigned myself to being in Concert Band.  Luckily for me, I had a scheduling conflict and the only band I could fit in was Symphonic.  The band director had me and another Freshman stay after class on the first day and told us that we could stay in as long as we took private lessons at the same time.  This was no problem for me since I had been taking private lessons for years and staying in Symphonic Band was really exciting!

The other girl actually ended up being my best friend, but I don’t think I talked to her for several more weeks.  In a perfect example of how hard it was for me to make a connection, I spent the first few weeks of school eating lunch by myself, then just hanging out in the hallways waiting until the next class started.  The other band girl did the same thing.  We would hang out at opposite ends of the hall, ignoring each other, but probably hoping that one of us would make some move.  I don’t remember how the ice was finally broken, but eventually we hit it off and figured out how to make a few more friends together.

It makes me sad (and not a little embarrassed) to look back at that girl who couldn’t even walk up to another girl who also clearly needed a friend and say Hi.  I wish I could give her some pointers.  I spent a lot of High School believing that people didn’t like me, but I don’t think that was actually the case.  Now I realize that I didn’t give people the chance to get anywhere close to me, so I missed out on a lot of potential relationships.

It wasn’t all sad, though.  I did end up with some good friends and if I put everything in the right context, I remember that I actually had a lot of fun in High School.  And I’m guessing many, many people have similar conflicting emotions about their High School experiences.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

5 Ways to Channel Your Inner Martha Stewart – Guest Post

One of my favorite bloggers is Booyah’s Mommy over at The Adventures of Chip and Bobo.  Her posts always feel like they could have been written about my life and they never fail to make me laugh.

I first met her when she tried to hook up my cat Harry with her sweet (yet slightly neglected) kitty, Booyah.  I’d love for you to meet her too, so I asked her to do a guest post for me.  Happily, she agreed and now we can all learn how to channel our inner Martha Stewart!

So, read her post below and then go check her out at The Adventures of Chip and Bobo.  You’ll be happy you did!


My house does not look like Martha Stewart's. I would like it to be.  Instead, I have a personal to-do list honey-do list a mile long of projects we will get to... someday. But until someday comes, I have five rules I live by that have helped me achieve near-domestic perfection.  In short, five surefire ways to be more Martha-like.

1.  Keep an immaculate abode.

Like this:

Oops, wrong picture.  This is actually the way my house always looks:

At least when guests come over.  Just don't peek behind the couch. I am also a stickler for making sure my floors are clean enough to eat off.  Well, sort of.  We apply the 5 second rule to any food dropped on the floor.  Does that count?

2.  Celebrate the holidays.

I love holidays.  Like Martha, I am obsessed with making sure our house is properly decked out for every celebration.  Putting the decorations away, however, is not my strong suit.  (Note that in the above picture, the July 4th decorations are still up).  This is intentional. The truth is, I only like to make one trip to the attic to simultaneously put away the old decorations and haul out the new ones.  Some may call this laziness; I call it efficiency. It is for this reason that if you visit my house in June, you'll still see bunnies, chickens and eggs galore.  And why you'll probably see stars and flags until late September, when the Halloween decorations come out.  Clearly, we need to throw some more holidays into the mix.  I'm thinking we might need to start decorating for more obscure celebrations, like National S'mores Day.

3.  Bake like there's no tomorrow.

I bake a mean instant cookie.  You know, the kind you take out of the package, break apart, and slap onto a cookie sheet.  My kids love 'em.  As do my guests.  I just make sure to hide the wrapper before they come over.

4. Dine in style.

Now that it's summer, dining alfresco is a regular occurrence for us.  This usually entails breaking out the fine china paper plates for every meal. And, because Rule #1 also applies outdoors, I am always diligent about cleaning up afterward.  Spraying down the deck with the garden hose is the easiest way to clean up our outdoor dining room.

5. Accept that the little things can make all the difference.

If you're a Martha aficionado like I am, you know that it's the details that make all the difference.  The little things can turn an event into a party, a meal into a feast, or house into a home. I used to obsess about the details.  My house used to be dust free.  You used to really be able to eat off the floors.  I cooked elaborate meals, and baked... from scratch. Then I had kids.  And I slowly realized that the little things... are just that.  Little details that, in the grand scheme of things, don't make a lick of difference. And so, I'm gradually learning to let go of the details, and just accept... That I'll be constantly sidestepping My Little Ponies and Matchbox cars all over the house.  That my kids are going to grow up thinking Easter is celebrated in June.  That we will kill some perfectly good trees because I just don't want to do the dishes that night. And that the two little things most important to me are named Chip and Bobo.   In the grand scheme of things, they make all of the difference.  As Martha would say, that's a good thing.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Mommy’s Piggy Tales – 8th Grade

I’m participating in a project called Mommy’s Piggy Tales where I’ll be writing stories about my childhood once a week for 15 weeks, starting with birth and ending with graduation in the hopes that my children, and possibly my children’s children, will one day appreciate it.


I am so late with my 8th grade post!  In my defense, I’ve been crazy busy this week and tearing my house apart, so other things have been a bit neglected.  Now I’m here to catch up!  Let’s see what I can remember about 8th grade…

…OK, not a damn thing…

…got it!  I have two memories now and they both have to do with my skill (or lack thereof) in handling boys!

The first one isn’t even about me, but it always pops into my head when I think about 8th grade.  It’s about a 7th grade friend of mine and her crush on an 8th grader.

A few of my friends in my neighborhood were a year younger than me, so it was nice in 8th grade when they got to join me at the middle school.  One of these girls, we’ll call her Jennifer (cuz that’s her name) developed a crush on an 8th grade boy who we’ll call Mike (yep, also his name).  Luckily, we determined that he also liked her a bit.  The question, then, became how to get them together so they could “Go With” each other?  Of course, the perfect solution: Notes!

In middle school, everything is accomplished through notes passed back and forth.  (I think one of the perks of teaching adolescents is that you get regular, free entertainment when you get to read the many, many notes you intercept each day.)  So, we began a note campaign, complete with overly complicated plans for passing the notes back and forth.  I must’ve had a ton of vicarious fun with this since I remember it so well and I’m proud to say that our efforts did have a happy result and Mike and Jennifer did end up Going With each other.  Probably for a whole month!

My very memory of 8th grade is graduation day.  We had a ceremony in the gym for our families and a dance afterwards, so it was a “formal” event for us.  Formal enough that my mom made me a fancy dress.  It was so pretty: pink and some slightly shiny material that I can’t remember, though it did have a slight pattern in it. 

The pattern we chose was very pretty too.  It was strapless with a sweetheart bodice and a flared out skirt.  Only problem was, it had a bust and I most definitely did NOT have a bust.  My mom did a great job on the dress and did put some boning (or whatever they call it these days) in to give the bust line some shape and I looked very sweet in it.

Not until I was sitting in the front row during the graduation ceremony did I realize the problem: my dress kept denting in at the bust!  My dress was convex and I was flat (if not concave) and the fabric kept denting in since there was nothing supporting it.  All through the evening, I would surreptitiously (I’m sure) slide my thumb along the top and push the fabric back out.  I’m sure no one noticed (or at least, that’s what I tell myself!).

That evening, during the dance, I ended up outside talking with a friend of mine: a boy named Mike (a different Mike than the Mike above).  He gave me a present and I was so surprised that I didn’t handle it well at all.  I can’t remember what the present was or what I said, but it was definitely not the reaction he was looking for.   At one point, he was fairly angry with me and set the present on the hood of a car.  He got even angrier when he later sat on the hood of that car and broke the present.

Poor Mike.  I felt so bad about that night for the longest time, but I just had no clue what to do.  There had been a few boys who showed interest in me since 5th grade and I was so completely unprepared for any of that that I rebuffed them all.  I often wonder what would have happened had I returned their interest.  Probably I would’ve ended up Going With them…maybe even for a whole month!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Stairway Progress

I’ve been spending much of my free time prepping the stair risers and painting the new treads.  I believe a lot of work has been done, but you wouldn’t know it looking at our staircase. (You can see what it started at as here.)  This is still what it looks like:


(Though you may notice that one of these treads is not like the others.  That’s actually one of the new treads.  More on that later.)

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you probably know that I HATE prep work.  I am so impatient and I just want to see things done.  Right! Now!

This project is a killer for me because it’s pretty much all prep work.  When I tore up the carpet, we realized we’d need to buy new treads.  We also realized that the risers weren’t nice and smooth and ready for paint, so I’ve spent the past few days sanding…


 (Yeah, nice view.)

and filling holes…


and vacuuming up the dust I created…


 (With my new vacuum that is completely awesome!)

And painting.  Luckily, I have something that will make many of you jealous: my very own painting room.  Inside my house!


People keep trying to store things like dining tables and pianos in my paint room, so I’m constantly having to move them and work around them, but still I shouldn’t complain.


The new treads and paneling for the landing now have two coats of primer and one coat of black paint.  The risers have been primed in white, so I’m getting close to being done with the painting.  (Or at least round one of the painting.)

Once the treads are done, we are going to take the existing treads off, one by one, and put the new ones down.  Sounds easy, right?


We needed to test to make sure the new treads would work before I started painting, so last Sunday, I respectfully asked my husband to pull up one of the treads for a test.

The 9 screws came up pretty quickly…but the stair didn’t.  Next, he started prying up the 9 nails.  Not so bad, but a lot of work.  Still, the stair stayed put.  Clearly something was still holding it down, but we couldn’t see anymore screws or nails.

Eventually, my husband started gouging out the top of the stair with a chisel to see if he could find the offending nail/screw.  He didn’t find it, but it did weaken the stair enough such that we could pull up on each side and break it off.  That’s when we saw the screw that had been holding it in.  Just hiding there.  Little bugger – we showed it.

That took about 45 minutes – to take off JUST ONE stair tread.  As I’m watching this, I’m starting a very low panic thinking there is no way he’s going to be willing to do this 10 more times.  I started coming up with alternatives, but that stair had clearly issued a challenge to my husband and he wasn’t going to let it go by.  He just kept systematically working at it and teaching me about patience.

Clearly the old stair tread wasn’t going to be going back in, so we ended up putting in the new one.  I think it looks very nice and they look even nicer once painted!


My hope plan is to have everything painted by this weekend, so we can start replacing the treads.  I, of course, picked the worst possible week to start this project since I’m spending my evenings at Girl Scout camp and will not be able to work on it at all next week, but when you’ve had enough, you’ve had enough and it’s best to put that energy to work when you got it.

Stay tuned!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

It Has Begun – Stairway Teardown

Actually, I think I should have named this post: “My Husband is a Saint”.  I’ll explain why later.

As I mentioned in my guest post over at Sawdust and Paper Scraps, I’ve been wanting to tear up the carpet in our staircase and paint our stairs for months now.  The carpet was in terrible shape and one of our cats has been having “accidents” on it for years. (Though, somehow, I don’t think there was anything accidental about it!)  It’s become rather embarrassing and it brings me down a bit every time I walk up or down the stairs.

I have pictures, but they really don’t portray the true hideous-ness (yes, that’s a word!) that is our staircase. 

Just to give you an idea of what it looks like, it’s one short run, with two landings and then a longer run at 180 degrees to the first.

DSC_2431 DSC_2433

Can you see, here, where the cats scratched straight through the carpet and I did a horrible patch job?


Or, how about here – the cat’s favorite corner – where the particle board molding soaked up too much moisture from the many times I tried to treat the stains and odor.


Well, yesterday morning, I’d had enough.  I woke up a little early and sat down at the computer and pored over Thrifty Decor Chick’s awesome stair redo.  By the time my husband came into the room, looking tired and bleary-eyed, I had tons of pictures to show him and then I jumped out of my chair, trotted down the stairs, and pulled up the carpet on the landing.

I’ve been trying to pull up little pieces of our carpet for weeks now, but haven’t been able to get a really good look because I wasn’t ready to just tear the carpet yet, so while I was assuming the stair treads were good enough to paint, I really had no idea.

Turns out, I was wrong.  The treads, did have a nice, bull-nosed front edge (which I was pretty sure about), but it was not pine or even plywood (like I had hoped).  Instead it was OSB, which is rough and not at all sand-able (yes, that’s also a word!).  Crap!

Not to be deterred, I started Googling stair treads and found that I could buy bull-nosed pine treads for a reasonable price.  Of course, this was no longer going to be a cheap project along the lines of Thrifty Decor Chick’s $30 redo, but I had already mentally passed the point of no return.

I forced my too tired husband to discuss all these options with me until we had a preliminary plan and then sent him off to work.  After he left, I got to work and pulled up all the carpet on the landings.  *Gag*

I knew the first order of business was to figure out how to get the odor out of the subfloor.  At one point, I thought I might end up replacing the subfloor and even cutting out the lower portion of the wall, but I Googled and found some simpler solutions that should take care of the odor.  Keep your fingers crossed.  If it works, I’ll post what I did.  So far, I’ve done step 1, which made the whole house smell.  Awesome.

Next, I headed to the lumber store and then to Lowe’s to get the wood for the treads and to cover the landing.  By the time I got home, it was after lunch and I had to take a break and actually attend to actual work-work cuz I like to get paid.

Later this evening, though, I attacked the carpet on the rest of the stairs and my husband walked through the door just as I was pulling the last piece off the short run.  Somehow he wasn’t too surprised to see that the carpet was missing.  (After 15 years of marriage, he shouldn’t be surprised anymore.)

The carpet came out fairly easily, though there must have been a sale on staples when our carpet was installed because, I swear, there were at least 100 in each riser.  Those staples were too strong for me, so I recruited the one with the upper body strength to get the rest out, which he did in no time flat.



I followed behind pulling the staples and tack strips out and now we have this:


And this:


I must admit that I’m a bit stressed about this right now.  This is how it goes, I get a bug in my bonnet about a project that needs to be done RIGHT NOW.  I do enough research to get us started and then I “throw the hammer through the wall” (or tear up all our carpet, whichever works).  Then I freak out a little bit wondering what on earth I was thinking.

And this is where my husband earns his Saint-hood.  Because, even though this is not his project, nor would he have ever chosen to do this project, he goes along with my crazy ideas and even helps me out when I need a little more muscle.  The poor man.

Stay tuned to see our progress!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Mommy’s Piggy Tales – 7th Grade

I’m participating in a project called Mommy’s Piggy Tales where I’ll be writing stories about my childhood once a week for 15 weeks, starting with birth and ending with graduation in the hopes that my children, and possibly my children’s children, will one day appreciate it.


Seventh grade: the beginning of Middle School.  What a big year!  I went to a very small elementary school, outside of town, so everyone in my class moved together to the middle school, which was a much longer bus ride away.  I remember being very excited to have multiple classes and a locker!  I had my best friend with me and was looking forward to doing some fun marching with the band, so I was all set!

I believe 7th grade was also the year that I met my future step-sister.  I don’t know why I can’t remember the exact years these things happened, but I always associate it with 7th grade.  (Maybe, though, that’s actually when my mom got married again?  Who knows. Well, except for maybe my mom.)

My mom had been dating a nice man for a while and one day we went to visit someone associated with him.  I’m pretty sure I had no idea where we were going.  Turns out we were going to visit his daughters (one was one year older than me and the other two were way younger) at their grandparents house.  (Hmmm, I’m thinking this must have happened when I was in 6th grade and they got married just before I started 7th grade.  Oh well, too late to stop now.)

When we got there, I was way too shy to go and introduce myself to play, so I stuck to my mother like glue.  I’m guessing this was not the way she wanted it to go because she eventually kicked me out of the house and FORCED ME TO GO PLAY WITH THOSE STRANGE GIRLS!

I still remember feeling betrayed that she would make me do something that was so very uncomfortable for me.  Somehow, though, I managed to communicate with them and I ended up having a great time.  We ran all over that yard and came up with some pretty great games.  Of course, when it was time to go, I didn’t want to leave.

My mom and her guy did get married later that summer and I went from being an only child, in practice (I had two half-sisters who lived halfway across the country), to having three sisters living with me.  The older one and I were very different, but we got along famously and would make each other laugh until our sides hurt.

She must have also started at the middle school the same year that I did, so not only did I have my best friend, but I had a new sister there as well!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Guest Posting

I’m guest posting over at Sawdust and Paper Scraps today!  If you’ve not been there, you should check it out.  Sandra always has the most amazing building projects going on and she does it all with her own two hands!

Hope y’all are having a great summer!

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