I built a thing!




Yes, that is just four boards nailed together but please note the following things:

-I am terrible about completing any projects that don’t result in me eating whatever it is that was created.

-This qualifies as a house project, and I am especially awful at following through on those (we haven’t had a front door since 2011).

-I did it by myself, which is a huge deal since I still ask my dad to come from out of town to help me change the batteries in my smoke detector.

I think it looks great.  It was supposed to be a table, but I think I can work with it.

Oh, just kidding.  It’s a frame for my raised bed garden.  Every year I want to do better with my garden, and since my backyard has been overtaken by weeds (all of it) the raised bed was really the only option for vegetable gardening.  My initial thought was “it just has to be four boards nailed together,” but despite that I still researched it and couldn’t find any plans for a raised bed that only involved that (seriously, they get really complicated).  But I have some neighbors who have built them and they look good, and those are just four boards nailed together.  I just had to make sure the wood was untreated.

I think the more-complicated plans are for beds that are expected to last for ten years or so.  However,  now that NPR has confirmed that the world will end shortly, I only need something that will last a few seasons.

My first trip to Lowes to get the wood ended badly. I was too anxious to commit to buying the supplies because the sooner I started on the project the sooner I would fail at it.  I have no confidence in any house/homemaking projects, and was expecting that my first hit with the hammer would cause a small fire.  I did ask someone to verify if the pine that I was looking at was untreated, and she said that it was.

My mom came down and shared her seeds and potato and onion starters with me, and since she is always my #1 source for gardening information and support, I thought since she did so much work to help me start my 2013 garden I could at least follow through and nail four boards together.

garden pre-work

garden pre-work

So I did it!  I was home alone with the baby, and during her nap time I got started.  I took shop in middle school and  still have a twelve-year-old girl’s understanding of how to build anything.  I used every tool that has been gifted to me in the last 10 years.  So, thanks, Dad, your investment in my skills has finally paid off.  It was fun to use the drill for real.

Because I drilled the screw and nail holes first I even applied logic and stopped to make sure that the boards were facing the correct sides, which is something that I don’t normally do (think ahead when it involves important things).  I’m glad that I was alone during the actual work because the methods that I used to nail four boards together were certainly incorrect, and definitely would make me the mayor of Dumb City (but, a FEMALE mayor.  Take that, glass ceiling).

I am not going to give instructions for what I did because DO NOT take any advice from me re: woodworking.  I’m pretty sure at one point I was holding a hammer in my mouth while I tried to balance two pieces of 1x4s.  Still, I think it looks okay.  It’s not ready to be made into a bed yet.   Also, after I  nailed the first layer of ground cloth (to keep out weeds) it occurred to me that the Lowes employee may have been wrong and I did buy treated wood.  It wasn’t marked treated (like the other types) but it looks like Ikea bed slats.  I guess there’s a good chance that I either instead just accidentally built the sandbox I have been thinking about building (for 2014) or I will poison my family with whatever we eat from the garden.  But, again, NPR said Doomsday is coming up, so who cares?

Happy Spring, Everyone!

also I ruined her wading pool

also I ruined her wading pool




The saga of the stupid owl door hanger has ended. In the end, although I did bring the power drills back to life, I used an adhesive that supports up to 5 lbs to hang the hook on her door. Sure, it’s not strong enough to be useful, but it’s up and therefore it’s a goal met. Hooray for me! Hooray for the world.

The Vandring

The Vandring

On the opposite side of the room to this dumb hook is this amazing bookshelf that my dad made. I love it. It makes me feel like I live in an Apartment Therapy post, and isn’t that the dream? My dad has made several things for me/her, including a desk, a CD cabinet, and a tower for her to stand in while we’re in the kitchen.* If he opens up a shop I will let you all know.


Also exactly what our real house looks like.

I have two house projects that are in the planning stages — making a compost pile that works this time, and a washing-machine-that-is- ruining-a-floor situation (these have been in the planning stages for a seriously long time).  I will hold off on writing about those until I have made progress. So, since this has basically become a mommy bjournal, here’s a toddler conversation:

Jr. Associate likes to say “knock knock” and when you say “who’s there?” she says “uh . . . “ and her name or any member of the Fresh Beat Band (though the other day “Play Legos” was there). My mom told me that my first joke was “knock knock/who’s there?/hatch/hatch who?/gesundheit.” I have taught her to say “bless you,” because although I’m not really a “bless you” person it’s already a stupid thing that we even say things after we sneeze, so might as well go the most polite route.  After I told her “hatch” and to say “hatch who?,” this was the result:

JA – Knock knock
Me – Who’s there?
JA – Catch
Me – Hatch who?
JA – Knock knock
Me – Who’s there?
JA – Catch
Me – Hatch who?
JA – Knock knock
Me – Who’s there?
JA – Bless you.

As of yesterday she says the joke correctly.   And it’s funny when she says it.

*If I’m in the kitchen for longer than 20 seconds she stops whatever she’s doing and shouts “I get-a my tower,” and then she pushes it from its storage corner until she gets it to the kitchen and then I carry it to the counter for her. Also, keep in mind she still adds “a” to the end of most words because she’s an old Italian grandmother who doesn’t get English.

I have hinted to this before, but I am terrible at completing home improvements. We have been in our home four years this week, and the only things we’ve done are a couple of not-great paint jobs, installed a dimmer switch, and had a six-foot tall fence built in the backyard that basically serves as our dog’s way of giving us the middle finger every time she climbs over it. Our house is decorated, and we clean it and stuff, but we haven’t done anything to keep it in shape to make it more attractive for someone to want to buy it from us when/if that time ever comes.
The inability to hang a shelf is what bothers me the most. We bought a shelf that also functions as a coat/clothes hanger for our kid’s room before she was born and we never hung it up, and it no longer goes anywhere in the room. Despite knowing this I purchased a different, smaller hanger that needs to be installed on her wall. Why haven’t I hung it up? Because we have two drills, and can’t find either power cord or battery pack to charge the drills in order to use them. Every task we have cannot be completed because of the prework before it.

Now I have shared this, it’s going to (hopefully) serve as motivation to get it done. My hope is once we get started, there isn’t any bit of home-bettering we can’t accomplish. I am going to find a battery pack, charge a drill, find a spot on the wall and hang up this stupid owl thing I bought to hang a coat or something (I don’t know what I got it for, it was purchased during an Ikea trip where everything served a purpose until I unpacked it at home). If I can’t charge the battery, I will borrow a drill.

If I can’t do that, I might as well just lock the door and leave the house to the cats.

UPDATE: After I wrote this draft the other day, I went home, found the battery and charger, and charged the drill.  But it turns out that I don’t need a drill, I can use nails.  Still, step 1 has been accomplished!  And we have like a dozen hammers around the house because we are constantly fighting the Mario Brothers.  More on that (housework, not the Mario Bros.) later.

If I could change one thing about myself — and I’m near perfect — I would be a motivated homeowner.  There are dozens of small and big house projects that can be done, but I lack resources (specifically time, skill, interest, probably funds).  I guess I could be the sort of person who has a vision of how the house should be and then sees it through, but I’m not.  As long as our house is still standing it seems more important to ignore it (I call this style “Don’t Tell Me What to DIY”).

I threw a baby shower for my sister last month (side note — I’m going to be an aunt, !!!).  I had a list of house tasks, and the shower was a perfect kick in the pants to get some things done.  While I did a lot of small things, the biggest item was a complete re-haul of our utility room, and possibly kitchen, floor.  It’s just a mess back in the mud room.  It would actually be a better place if it had a mud floor and not cat-business-covered loose vinyl tiles and random storage.  I did make an effort to find fresher tiles but the obvious places didn’t carry them, and it was getting too close to the shower date to finish a project that size.

Just to spruce things up I bought a new trash can for the kitchen.  We had a dingy white plastic one from our apartment, and it was kept shut by placing a toolbox on it because Bunk would root through it otherwise.  We will have had the dog for three years this summer and the baby was starting to walk off with the toolbox, and it just occurred to us that a new trash can was a better solution.  I bought a plastic black trash can.  It really makes the kitchen look better.

So, I am such a bad house-upkeeper than my grand plans for home renovations were satiated by getting a new trash can.

Also, I feel like I should apologize to my constant chum, who dropped serious (for then, and then not serious, and now serious again) money on a stainless steel trash can when we lived together and I didn’t understand the appeal until now.  I GET IT.  I will get one some day.

Anyway, babies.

I spent some time today at Ben Franklin Crafts getting the painting of our dog framed (I know — I can’t believe that I had this commissioned, either, but what are you going to do?).  When I was in middle school I really liked craft fairs and making stuff, and just assumed that it was something that young girls liked that went dormant until middle age because I spent the last 18 years not noticing handmade home decor or having any interest in making anything that I couldn’t eat.

I’m old now, as proven by many things (that I read the Ukrop’s weekly online, purchased a Michael Buble song on iTunes, considered Christmas-related hand towels, and have grandchildren), so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that I felt the urge to decorate based on the season and then purchase a bunch of bird prints.  And then puffy paint my couch.  Ugh, that store is adorable.  I can’t believe that a modestly-sized retail space could have both Bob Marley posters and leprechaun yard flags.  I wanted neither of those things, but, still.

As a boring, old person I care about these things now.  This means my garden officially needs me to ignore it for a couple of months (this is a fact from the gardening book that I’m writing).  Hello, frozen grass.  Goodbye, watering and dead-heading.

My sister and I went to Ikea the other day and I stocked up on Christmas decorations.  I know that in the past I have punched Christmastime in the face, but this year I will give it a go.  I’ll put up a tree, although I’m pretty certain that someone’s dumb cats and dog (probably ours) will knock down the tree, have a messy time getting away from it when I angrily stomp over to check out the damage, and then eat glass ornaments.  And probably die.  Worst Christmas Ever.

Still, I love Ikea.  Being there makes me realize that as content as I can be, I never have enough stuff.


I am completing my sixth month as a homeowner, and since we have had no major repairs, two weddings, eight births, and four attempted murders foiled due in part to people being touched by our home, I thought I would open the ol’ mailbox and answer some questions from you young homeowners out there who would like to benefit from my wisdom.

How do you keep your house from being robbed?

Ah, easy.  First, buy the smallest house you can find and make sure it looks like the other four houses around it.  People will assume you are too poor to own anything nice enough to steal.  They are sort of right.

How long do you live in a house before you know it’s haunted?

As a member of Boo Club, I know for certain that immediately upon unpacking, you can tell if your house is haunted.  Signature signs of ghosts: things being knocked over, hoots and wails of “you don’t belong here/get out of my house,” etc, and also the sight of ghosts.  These may be confused with signs of buying a home that was previously foreclosed, or also a sign of having cats.

Seriously.  Three days.  GHOSTS ARE SCARY.

With the warm weather,  my hubby and I have noticed an increase of ants in our  house, and are afraid that is a sign of other vermin, such as mice.  What are some organic ways to get rid of pests?

According to my favorite blog that is not written by anyone I know, you can use stuff from your spice cabinet, like bay leaves or teeny guns.

Back in your Museum District/Northside days, you and your buddy Susan were vocal opponents of possums.  Any updates?  How are you handling possums in the Southside?


I mean, when you see them now, are you still scared?

What do you mean, when I see them.  Have you seen any?

No, I don’t even live near you.  I live on a houseboat.

CRAP CRAP CRAP.  I thought this stuff didn’t happen to homeowners.  I thought possums were a rental issue.

What?  Of course not.  They are everywhere.

I think I’m going to be sick.

My partner and I are disagreeing on paint colors.  How did you and Richard decide on what colors to paint your house?

Now that you mention it, when I was driving to the gym, I saw a freshly killed possum on Forest Hill Ave.  It was so bright and large.  It makes me ill to think that as I type this, they are crawling all over my backyard, on my car, reading my recycled magazines, licking my seedlings.  I need to move.

possum loving

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