A Productive Fortnight – 12 good things

It’s always really amusing to me how much we think we’re “so busy” and then, when it comes to writing it all down, it just sounds pathetic. I’m pretty sure this is because we ignore all the sub-tasks for a project. For example, if I told you I added quarter round trim in my master bedroom closet it sounds a little woopie-de-doo. But if I talked about moving out the dog kennels, 16 boxes in the corner, going through all my hanging clothes and pulling out things for donation/consignment, vacuuming the floor, nailing in the baseboards again (they were too high), measuring 7 lengths of quarter round (16 cuts total), nailing it all in, crawling around on my hands and knees with the caulking gun, taping off the floor and painting it all white THEN it sounds a little bit more productive.

Often we ignore all the little tasks and then don’t do the big ones because it feels too massive to start. Here are 12 things I’ve accomplished since Jan 1st.

1. The gutters I took down in summer 2015 have been in the side yard leaning against the fence right outside my office window. Not hurting anything but I see them every day I’m working and wow they are ugly! So on Friday I moved them to the front yard. I just dumped them, unceremoniously on the grass and went about my afternoon.

Today, Saturday, I used the metal shears to cut the longest piece into 2 smaller pieces, wrapped the end in a blanket so I wouldn’t get shanked in the eye, loaded them in my car and took them to the dump. Free to drop off at the scrap metal area. Something that’s been hanging around for 18 months is gone and it only took 30 minutes but I had to do that first step of moving them out.

While we’re not quite halfway into January, I am really happy about how much I’ve been able to accomplish personally and around the house. I updated my 2017 personal goals here and I’m already making progress.

2. I set a goal to read a book a week, 2 are already done.

3. I set the goal to workout 3x a week (minimum) with my trainer, 6 sessions are complete.

4. After a fender bender in December the Yaris is going into the shop for bodywork. I’ve cleaned most everything out and will be restocking the trunk with my emergency supplies when it returns. As soon as I get it back it goes to the dealer for a recall on the airbags. I’ve also got a new air filter to replace and 4 new hubcaps since mine are cracked and falling apart.

5. I started the quarter round trim the first week of January, adding 5 pieces of baseboard to the living room, replacing 1 piece in the hall closet + 1 more so far in the guest room. As of today the hallway, hall closet, living room, dining room and master bedroom are complete and I’ve started caulk and tape in the master bedroom closet. By my count that’s 41 lengths of quarter round so far done and another 13 in the guest room and 13 in the office.

6. The final in-house light was added this week with a can light above the guest bathtub. It’s pretty small but makes a big difference in lighting in this darker corner of the bathroom. There are drawbacks to having no windows in these rooms!

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7. Outside – With a break in the rain I’ve caught up on a few of the outdoor chores, namely dumping buckets of water so I don’t end up living in mosquito heaven this spring. I mowed the front lawn which is coming back with a vengeance with all this rain and already mentioned taking in the gutters to the dump. Since it’s January I’m now cutting back the rose bushes and want to pull out most of the bougainvillea which has grown too wild in the side yard and is a constant mess. The dirt from the front yard where we took out a tree still needs to be evened out, when it’s dry enough I’ll keep shoveling that into the backyard and flower beds.

8. Christmas decor is all packed up again and I found a number of items I could donate. Additionally, I put all the ornaments in smaller bankers boxes so they fit easily at the top of my master bedroom closet. This freed up a lot of room in the garage.

9. I’d picked up a bottle of wine for a friend from college who got married last year and got that sent off in the mail last week.

10. Another little win is replacing the light bulbs in the fixture in the living room. They don’t screw in and are tricky to yank out so I got that done since 2 of the 4 had burnt out. It makes a big difference in the light situation, especially during storms, and it’s hard to believe there was no overhead light here when I bought the place.

11. I found amazing deals on 2 new rugs and they were delivered last week. Until the trim is done I’m keeping them in plastic but once I finish painting trim I’ll be rolling them out in the living room and office.

12. Finally, I’ve started working with a charity that I support here in town to sew burp rags (shared some of them here) throughout the year. That required pulling out the stash of fabric I already had, matching it up, purchasing new fabric to match and then 18 new yards of fabric to get the number that I agreed to create. All the fabric is in a big bin in the living room and once I get started on trim in the guest room I’ll pull the sewing machine out. While I would love to get started, this really is a perfect rainy day project so I’m focusing on the outdoor stuff while the weather is nice and then will switch back to sewing when the rain comes back.

 

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12 Final Things from August

It’s hard to believe that August, and therefore summer, is over but the calendar doesn’t lie. Before we transitioned into Fall I had a productive couple of days working mostly outside to get shit done. Here’s my list of accomplishments:

1. While the sugar maple tree came out last November, the stump was still about 2-2.5′ tall and 2 other big sections of the trunk were hanging out in my side yard, taking up space. Here’s what it looked like before:

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So Dad arrived with his chainsaw and took it all the way down to the dirt and now I’m working to remove the rest of the dirt and roots to make this box even with the grass and sidewalk:

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2. We also took out a medium palm, see the small one in the photo above? There was a second small one in this box a few years ago so I transplanted it to the patch of dirt under the garage window but it quickly grew too big. Bye-bye palm.

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3. To keep the garden going in the drought, I’ve been watering sporadically while pulling out the plants I hate and want to die. So I bought 2 hose hangers for the house. We put one in the backyard:

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and one in the front yard:

 

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4. Outside the front door I’ve always had this lattice covering the beams that bridge a gap in the roofline. Which was a pain because birds could get up in the rafters and make a nest and the lattice was sagging heavily. So we took it down.

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Now when I walk out the front door it’s nice and bright!

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I may still add something decorative there but first need to clear out the gutters up there and probably replace them with new.

Here’s the bird’s nest I found:

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(Note, I’m going to be doing something fun with the lattice so it won’t go to waste!

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but until then it’s taking up space in the side yard so I can pull out 1,000 nails.)

6. The next thing we did was so simple but made a big difference to me! When I bought my washer and dryer last November they went side by side until I could have Dad fix the gas line. Then we stacked them with the dryer on top. The only problem was the washer door swings open to the left, the dryer to the right. With the right drill bit and some patience, the door hardware was swapped so the dryer door now swings open to the left and I can quickly transfer wet clothes up to the dryer!

In case you’re wondering why I want them to swing left, it’s because the soap and softener are on a small shelf to the right of the units.
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7. As I mentioned in the last round up, my miter saw had been smoking and wasn’t cutting cleanly so it was time for a new blade. I picked one up on Amazon and then Dad found a replacement at the swap meet for my table saw. In a couple minutes he had both of them traded out and even took the old one to be sharpened for reuse. Now I can bust out the rest of the baseboards and a new project coming up this fall! Look at that shiny blade on the table saw! No more rust is a good thing.

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8. With the new blade in place, I was able to cut the cleats for my headboard and get that installed! I’m so glad it’s done:

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9. Super simple but been on the to do list too long task: Got the propane tank refilled and hooked up to the grill and immediately rewarded this achievement with steaks on the grill for lunch. The grill is now hanging out on the side yard now that the stump from the tree is gone.

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10. It was also time to disassemble the raised garden bed I put under the guest room window and recycle that wood. I had to unscrew the supports but then it was pretty quick work to cut up the wood and put it out in the trash.

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11. In the front yard I took some time to clear off the potting bench, wash it down, scrub it a little and then wash it again. I do need to slap on some Thompson’s water seal but that could come later on.

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Although it seems like I’ve been spending all my days outside, this really was a productive week of catch up after a hot and icky summer. Inside most of my projects are done so there’s not a whole lot left to do week to week.

12. This year I finally got my ducks in a row to enter photos in the county fair:
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and I brought them home the Monday after the Fair + 2 ribbons!IMG_1424

 

12 Good Things

I started this list a few weeks ago but things have been so active around here I didn’t get a chance to post it. These weeks feel a lot slower, for some reason, so tracking what’s new and good and accomplished is always helpful.

1.I pulled out the outdoor fabric I’ve been hoarding saving for years and started cutting with an 18″ square template. I started matching up fabric and soon had 4 pillows:

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2. After cutting, pinning, sewing, flipping, stuffing and sewing closed the opening they were almost done. I picked up this “never wet” fabric spray and gave each side a coating. Here’s how it works in real life:

Cool right? These pillows are now hanging out on my bench and I have a couple more indoors.

My strategy for years has been to buy ugly outdoor pillows at the end of the season and then recover them with nicer fabric. So I’ve been cannibalizing the innards and tossing the old outer fabric which is mostly faded and horrible. This has helped me seriously reduce the pillows floating around in my garage taking up space!

3. The super soft burp rags are stilling rolling along and I have a box ready for cousin Katie who just had her first last week and am busting through the designs for cousin Micah who is expecting his first in August. (Update: sent both boxes out and Micah’s son was born last week!)

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4. In the stash of outdoor fabric I found the extra that I bought to match my kitchen curtains (which are now all lined, hurray!) and used it to cover the kitchen rug. This also got a coat of never wet but I might need to apply a heavy coat of Modge Podge since the fabric is a bit loose.

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5. Last weekend I finally brought in the piece of plywood I cut for my headboard and started working. I covered it in a queen sized egg carton used for mattresses that I got pretty cheap at Amazon. Then I layered on batting, muslin and the fabric to match my upholstered bed.

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It’s not yet installed on the wall so I’m just leaning it carefully in place until I can finish the cleats.

I know it seems like all my projects have been fabric related but there’s a good reason for that: my saw blade needs replacing.

6. Before the saw went smokey and the bandit, I was able to cut the 1x2s I picked up for my trellis project and then stain the whole contraption.

It was messy. I had dark spotches on my hands for days.

Each support got nailed and screwed together for stability and then I buried them in the flower bed. It won’t withstand a lot of force but it’s working to keep the bougainvillea growing up instead of out.

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7. It’s back to school season so I hit a few stores to pick up supplies to donate to my chiropractor who is putting together a drive for a local charity. I found a backpack as well as the usual pens, pencils, erasers, folders and markers.

9. I also found quite a few awesome things for me, namely these cool wood bins which were clearanced for $7 each and are absolutely perfect for storing my finished corn bags that are ready for sale. It’s the little things that make me ridiculously happy. All of the corn bags are now stored in the guest room.

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10. Meanwhile, I had to put away the sewing machine for a bit and pull out my poster project. This huge mandala of flowers has been fun to work on and the set of pens I got from Amazon are awesome (and only $8/set!). I’m so close to having this done and then I have no idea where I’ll put it.

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11. Taking advantage of our hot days and sun beating in through the kitchen window (now that the sugar maple is out), I made several batches of sun tea.

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12. Finally, in August I’ve been trying to get to the Farmer’s Market on Saturdays and one weekend I took Nixon with me for a turn in the convertible.

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Getting Shit Done

What I actually accomplished this past weekend was far more than I thought possible!

  • I painted the back door white to match the new trim:

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It needs a third coat to cover the gray completely but I love it!

  • I also worked on the floor transitions, trimming the floor tiles with my Dremel and then chipping the pieces away with a chisel. I secured the metal transition piece in place with liquid nails and then used a mallet to get the trim piece in securely. The only one that needs more work is the front door.
  • The Ikea curtain wire set up in the master bedroom closet was falling out of the wall so I took it down, installed 2 braces and a solid wood curtain rod. It needed to be trimmed down on the miter saw a little but fits great!

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  • The closet shelves got a little update when I added another, lower shelf so now there’s enough room for all my shoes (with space for ones I’m wearing at the moment)

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  • I also picked up a little tool to cut copper pipes. Since I’m not using the towel rods in the master bath anymore I took off a few inches so this one could be installed inside the cabinet to hold headbands

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  • Also in the master bath I switched the towel hooks and hand towel rack back – I prefer to have the hand towel right by the sink and it’s easier to hang my robes when the dog water bowl isn’t right underneath.

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  • Speaking of bathrooms, the guest bath got another few rounds of caulk and I started painting the trim. Even though the beadboard comes in white it’s a weird off-white that I hate.

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  • I had a piece of MDF leftover from a project (literally cannot remember which project) so I drilled 4 holes in the corners and then painted it with chalkboard paint. That quart was separating so I had to mix it quite a bit and it’ll probably need to be used up soon. Once it’s dry that will go in the garage, maybe as a list of things in the chest freezer?

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  • I picked up this big, square, brown pillow for $4 and knew it would be great in my office but needed a cover. Luckily a few weeks back I found a single panel of my closet curtains in Ikea’s As-Is section for a couple bucks. I was able to sew this pocket pillowcase right before my sewing machine needle broke.

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  • I took off the pad from this little bench that goes with the desk in the guest room, it had an ugly pink cover. Using the palm sander and Dremel, I sanded off the reddish stain and wiped it clean. Then covered the top with a bright outdoor fabric.

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I’ve also made a handy checklist of the projects I want to finish in each room before I update my house pages (here). Only 3 projects will require me to spend actual money, most are simple updates and I already have all the materials on hand.