Category: House Work

Inspiration and expectations, managed.

I woke up to the weather person on MPR saying that today is going to be looked at as when spring began in MN in 2013. What welcome news, because this winter was a DOOZY. I thought it would have been reasonable to expect all the winter-storm-warning-stuff to be done before the end of April (or the middle… or the beginning….), but this year, winter just kept hitting us.

And while I’ve been managing my expectations for this spring, I haven’t completely given up!


These plant babies are really helping me along, even though I know better than to get far too excited about putting them in the ground prior to the end of May (the last chance for frost around these parts). I am planning a major overhaul of the gardens this year. I’ve had two summers of raised bed vegetable gardens now, and I’ve learned things. The most important thing is that one of them does not get enough sun for anything other than lettuces (and cucumbers that hang over the end and really reach for the sun). And while the idea of a 4×8′ lettuce bed is really intriguing, it’s probably not the best use of space, time, seeds, and compost. So it’s gotta move. I’m also pretty interested in doing something more than 15 tomato plants that take up almost all of the space in the front garden that DOES get enough sun (ok, so it was only 8 last year. but you get my point).

I’ve been getting pretty excited about this garden re-do lately. I even borrowed my parents’ wheelbarrow so that I can move the 1.5 tons of dirt and compost from the back garden to the front gardens. And then this weekend, while I was visiting my parents, we were offered some barrels to use to make our own rain barrels. I’ve been looking at rain barrels a lot over these past two years, but they’re expensive! I’m really looking forward to these MUCH CHEAPER barrels, and now I feel as if it is time to get the roof redone on the garage and put some gutters up.

But here’s where I have the biggest problems with all of this. I am SO SUPER INSPIRED by thinking of spring and my gardens and TOMATOES and grilling. But I can’t do it all, so I can’t really expect to get it all done. So what is important here? I get to have rain barrels and I will have a better planned garden this year. What might not happen? the roof of the garage and new gutters. That’s ok, though. They might get done later this summer, but it’ll not be happening before the beginning of the shortish growing season here.

Inspiration and expectations for the garage: Managed. (next: get a grip …. again…. on my knitting and sewing expectations. that’ll be a little more emotionally complex….)


Still here.

March is almost done, and I’ve been a little AWOL on the blog even though I still want to try for the 100 posts in 2013. But it’s been for a really great reason – I’ve been busy with work. Like my paid job. And I’ve been really happy! Even though it’s still not what I pictured doing with my degree, and even though it’s not what I picture doing for the rest of my life, I LOVE IT. And what a difference being in my new office has made. I’m still not organized to the point where I want to show you everything (really, it’s at the “organized chaos” point. still, it’s moving towards being more in line with my simple life for the year.), but I have TWO WINDOWS in this room.

around the office

Mornings are bright like this. I was going to put up a curtain or something over this window – it opens directly onto my neighbor’s porch, and when I say “directly,” I mean there is a gap of about 12″ from my window to their porch. Hence the muslin that is starched to the window for privacy. P.S. BEST PRIVACY-WITHOUT-BLINDS-OR-CURTAINS FIX EVER. Seriously, I still get a lot of light with no worries about anyone being able to see anything. Not even the outlines of anything, like with the frosted glass clings. It was a great solution when this used to be my bedroom and it’s a great solution now that this is my office.

around the office

Signe’s new space is finally set too. We tried a few different places in the new space, but this is by far the best. A cozy little corner beneath the other window and between the filing cabinet and the closet. Better still, I was able to resurrect an old canvas bed cover that I had made for her when she was a puppy. Baby girl’s turning 4 this May, and I can’t imagine what I did before her, nor can I imagine living alone without her. Thankful for the companionship of animals is what I am.

around the office

and last I leave you with this picture of my ceramic dragon, watching over my cutting/ironing table from by my printer.

Life is good folks. And next week is SPRING BREAK. All sorts of goodies planned for that, I tell you.

Putting the wheels back on.

The carpet is in. Even better, I’m almost re-organized in my new office. Good enough to be working in here daily, at any rate. Pictures to come.

But the important thing is that I’m back on track after a February that was nothing like I thought it should be. It wasn’t bad, just scattered and not really productive. I didn’t get everything done that I wanted to get done (though I did get those socks done. still haven’t mailed them yet….) And I’m getting back to running now that it’s no longer -40 out and my frostbitten toes are healed.

So I haven’t lost all the focus that I had hoped to shove into 2013.

I even have something crafty-like to show you today. Read on to see….

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Hooray for Mondays!

We got hit by the big snowstorm at the end of last week, and I was super-happy to be able to use the snowblower. Signe was just happy to plow through the snow gazelle-style. I shared this on facebook too, with the caption “i hope you have the chance to be this happy sometime today, even if it is only for a little bit.” And it holds true today too.

Mondays are great and have just about always been my favorite day of the week. No, I’m not kidding. I like routine, and monday is a return to routine, the end of a weekend in which I try to get EVERYTHING POSSIBLE done.

So happy Monday! I hope it’s a great day! Here are a few things that are making my Monday great today –

  • I got my new carpet installed on Saturday afternoon. I’m writing this FROM MY NEW OFFICE, and I can’t wait to share pictures with you! Importantly, I am reclaiming my livingroom and bedroom inch-by-inch. Not quite there yet, but it’s getting SO MUCH BETTER. I think I’ll be back to normal by the end of this week. Hallelujah!
  • I painted my new office white. and I love it. because now this is an option, though for now i’m leaving it white and am just enjoying the clean look. (found via elise.)
  • While the language used by the writer of this article isn’t exactly what I would use, a great point about the excitement of science is made: let’s stop trying to over-sell discoveries and just be ecstatic about how much closer each little thing we learn gets us to understanding the awesomeness of nature (and, in particular, the brain.) I have a lot of thoughts about this and would love to discuss them, but not here. I actually just deleted about 5000 words summarizing my thoughts on this, because it is monday and I want to keep things light for you. (you’re welcome.)
  • again, the language is a little coarse, but as someone who has participated in the relocation of not one, not two, but three labs (and now my own personal home office), this is something to which I can certainly relate.
  • I wants to spend all of my time with these.
  • I made this over the weekend. It works like magic (I used snow instead of ice and my immersion blender instead of the whisk). Tasted like magic too. And because of dark chocolate’s health benefits, I think it can even be classified under “health food.” No. Really.
  • Gotta find time for making  this, some of these, one of these, and a whole pile of these, with sour cream in vinegar.

Happy Monday!

In which everything falls apart.

In a series of unfortunate events, (actually, not SO unfortunate – more unforseen?) my life has devolved into what feels like an episode of Hoarders. I’ve never actually seen the show because it makes my skin crawl to just think about it, but I’m sure that this is close to what it must be like. And it has really been negatively impacting my simple goals for the month….

Let me back up and start at the beginning.

I bought my house three years ago, and I immediately knew that there would be new carpet going into the back two bedrooms (i.e. the “back bedroom” and my “office”). This to-do list has been on my chalkboard for close to 9 months now –


The goal was to get new carpet after finding that teaching job. Well… things are still moving pretty slowly on the job front, and the impending arrival of a new treadmill is forcing the moving of my office to the back bedroom. So carpet time it is.

But, as you might have guessed from the title of this post, these things don’t move along the way we always expect them to. More after the jump….

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Goals and Resolutions: The first month.

January is ending. I ran, worked on finishing projects, and tried to get myself more organized.


Running: Didn’t do so well here. My excuse is that it was COLD the last half of the month, so I missed out on all those days. The total distance over the first 15 days of January, according to my garmin watch, was 15.71 miles. The battery died about a mile into one of those runs, so the total was actually closer to 17.5 miles. Not bad, just not what I was hoping to log in January. The exciting news for running in February is the appearance of a treadmill on the horizon. That’s right! I won’t have any more excuses (like these below-zero temperatures/windchills and the inch of ice all over everything from earlier this week) for not getting the miles in, and now I can start training Signe to run on the treadmill as well!!! That’s the REAL reason I want a treadmill…

The rest of the month is a little harder to quantify. There were new Etsy sales, a lot of sewing projects that will never see the light of day, a bunch of knitting, and a good deal of reflection on my hopes for 2013 to be a year of more organization in my brain, my house, and my life. a summary –

Jan Wrapup

  1. Almost finished knitting those Christmas presents! just this pair of socks for my sister, to be delivered by her birthday in February!
  2. Got the baseboard trim finished in the livingroom – added the quarter-round and even got it PAINTED!
  3. Sorted most of my tools, both handywoman and crafting tools, and now i know where BOTH of my hammers live!
  4. learned to use my binding foot  and made a knitting needle roll (more on that later). Look at how awesome that binding looks!
  5. finally got all the embroidery floss into some semblance of order – not perfect, but certainly better than smushed in a box on the shelf. now it’s out for me to see every day in these clear pouches!
  6. Ate a lot of pancakes… YUM!
  7. Helped the old roommate to organize her yarn – even helped her get rid of two bags of extras. It was so inspiring, that all I can think about is destashing my own knitting resource center!
  8. Got my hair cut. Michelle Obama bangs for EVERYONE!

January was a great month – here’s to February being EVEN BETTER!

Bringing the outdoors in…?

I’m still working on decorating my living room. The latest addition?


Yes. a huge birch branch. It’s probably a weird addition, but I’m in love with it. (you’ll note that my “to-do list” is pretty cut-and-dry….) It’s from my first major tree-removal project as a home-owner – this tree here.

The tree was dying from the top-down even when I bought the house three years ago, and it just got worse and worse each year until I finally had it cut down. Being the sentimentalist that I am (har har), I decided to take a chunk of it and use it to decorate my livingroom. I think I was thinking of something like this –

Source: via Rachel on Pinterest

Actually, I’m still using this image as inspiration; I have high hopes to yarnbomb that sucker and do some more decorating of the branch itself. But for now I like it au naturale. And while it took me over a year to get it up there, it was pretty simple to put it up. First I found the center stud on the wall and marked it. Then I found the two flanking studs and placed large corner braces with 3″ drywall screws. I had originally intended to make sure that the branch was perfectly centered and exactly level from one end to the other, but then I woke up from the dream of perfection and just winged it. Aside from guessing-ish where I wanted the brackets on the log itself, I just placed the first bracket, then grabbed the second bracket and the branch, held the branch on the brackets, marked where it looked good for the second bracket to stay, and screwed it into the wall.


The branch is secured to the corner braces with two screws to prevent disasters. (And yes, that is a Lego unicorn on the blackboard.) I really like the black and white of the branch with the black and white of this wall. And i’m leaving the Christmas Garland up for a few more weeks. It is, after all, only January.