Projects: big and small

February 4, 2013

Projects come in all shapes and sizes – but the size is often more determined by the emotional outlay required to complete it than the physical expenditure.


I am the Queen of Pain Avoidance.  If it makes me uncomfortable I will go to amazing lengths to push it to the bottom of my To-Do List.  Dealing with the deluge of incoming mail at home is boring and ungratifying. The lack of pleasure I receive dealing with it results in MOUNTAINS of mail that gets stashed in a bag or box or some such receptacle do be dealt with at some vague date in the future. Needing to find something in that slush pile takes so much time and frustration.  This leads to imagining THE most stylish and efficient solution that will CURE ALLLLL MY WOES… when I can find just the right cabinet, or when the exact thing I want goes on sale.

See what I did there?  I’m still avoiding it.

So I end up with this.


 This started out as a the pile that grew in the corner of the dining room when we moved in 2.5 years ago.  When we threw our Christmas Eve Eve party it took over the only meager (and not at all clear) corner of our bedroom. Yesterday morning I dragged it out back into the light of day.

You see… I see my little pain avoidance problem rearing its ugly head in The Teen. She shares my discomfort with discomfort and is similarly overwhelmed with GIANT UGLY TASKS. I can’t make my baggage her baggage. She needs to see me dealing with my bull$hit.

I told her, “I’m just going to get a bag and pull all our unused wedding invitations and RSVP cards out and recycle them during this commercial break.” And I did that. And I pointed out that by the next commercial break I had the whole laundry basket emptied.

It seems like starting is always the hardest part of any project.

So, with the Super Bowl on and between yelling episodes, I plugged away.  Toss, recycle, file… (Until the most perfectest ever “solution” finds me, I bought decent looking and super sturdy file boxes from Staples)


By the end of the game my heart was broken but the entire disastrous pile was transformed into this..


I still need to label and clean up the files in the boxes but there is now a system:

  • every day the mail goes into the green box
  • shred everything that’s shredable the first time it’s touched
  • bills move to the Bill Pay tub in the dining room (which also has the checkbook, pens and stamps)
  • everything else gets filed in the Current box or the Archive box (and the bottom box holds empty files and labels for now)

OHDEARGODPLEASE let this mean that there will be no more errant piles of mail on every flat surface in the house.


If you know me AT ALL you know that I am frugal. *ahem*

When it comes to projects that will significantly impact the look of the house, I never move quickly. Colors, options, pricing… they all need to be weighed, pondered and significant brain damage is required before I actually do something.

Our beautiful, sweet, charming and ohsoadorable little Craftsman style bungalow was, at some point, SCARRED AND INSULTED with vertical blinds. 


(Also please ignore the extra craptacular photos… this is a project post, not a “look at my billlllllliance in decor post.” Many thanks)

2013-01-25 19.22.31

Of course one could argue the aesthetic injustice of having a weight bench in one’s formal dining room… but I might have to punch one in the mouth with my iron-pumping guns.

But really… REALLY? Not only is that so painfully fug and boring, they left up 3 other sets of ancient roller shade hardware. I kid you not – the lack of love and effort is truly staggering. Anyone so lucky to live in a turn of the century house really should understand their duty to the house. Our little house lived through the 1906 quake and Loma Prieta in 1989… and they can’t be bothered to take down old hardware and just make a million sets of holes in the woodwork??

FAIL. Gah!!!

2013-01-26 13.41.24

(gratuitous shot of the hot Husband being all handy and shizzzz…)

Yeah, I must say that “Big Projects” sure get a lot smaller when you have a very handy and very helpful husband to be your minion er – master craftsman 😀  He very carefully pried out the old sets of hardware and added clean, new properly mounted hardware – using existing holes where possible (and it was about 30% of the time.)

For months I researched ways to block the GIGANTIC YET SUNNY view of the neighbors ugly tar-shingled roof. Nothing was cheap or easy – my two requirements for all solutions. I got sick of nothing so I quit thinking and just bought sheers.

2013-01-26 14.17.19

It’s an improvement.

The curtains over the sheers are closed half the time any way.

The dining room and the living room now feel SO DIFFERENT.  It’s amazing how curtains can change the entire feel of a house – especially when the two sets are at opposite ends of the same view. It feels like the house is loved and it makes the two rooms really come together.

2013-01-26 20.13.34

2013-01-26 20.15.10

Excuse how super stupid I am – again – that I only have craptacular pics of the living room and no dining room (where you could see how lovely the curtains look over the sheers *face palm*).  Whatevs… I’ll do a real photo shoot when I do some more work and it feels more “done” (including recovering the sofa cushions.)

These curtains have the added bonus of being insulated and should spare us some heating bill that’s wasted through the super crap ancient aluminum windows (this poor house is a gold mine of cut-corners and travesty.)

Thanks to some laser-beam purchasing focus, not procrastinating a trip to IKEA for hardware and an exceedingly handy husband this rather large project was miniscule – and I am SO HAPPY with it!

And speaking of trips to IKEA…


Here is the next generation of DIYers assembling her first piece of Swedish furniture.

Excuse me while I wipe a tear of pride.

Her efforts were rewarded with an understanding of how to screw in screws straight, how to use a wrench, a cute little stool for her vanity – and a pile of Costco boxes to take to the recycling.



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