Category Archives: Home Projects

Pinterest Class, Starbucks, and Thrifty Chic

This year I think we acquired new Christmas decor from three different places – Sarah’s homeschool co-op Pinterest class, Starbucks, and a local Facebook “for sale” page.

Sarah is so talented!

Sarah is so talented!

I love that our co-op offers such a diverse collection of classes. I am NOT artistic, so it’s a treat when Sarah or David can benefit from the other talented moms. Sarah made several beautiful things this past semester in her Pinterest class.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

For some reason, I decided to splurge and treat myself to several mini Starbucks ornaments this year. I had a few from previous years, and couldn’t resist buying one or two throughout the month of December. I kept them in their little box until late December – still not sure if I was keeping them for myself or giving them as gifts. Heh heh. Then I stumbled on a small golden ornament tree for sale on our local Facebook page.

Filled with ornaments!

Filled with ornaments!

There’s room for a few more ornaments. Next year??

A tree in front of a tree.

A tree in front of a tree.

I even hung them on this little tree IN their boxes. Toward the end of the month a sweet friend gave me two more ornaments I was missing, and Sarah looked at me knowingly.

“Mom, you’re not going to give these away. You think they’re too much fun. Just take them out of their boxes and enjoy the coffee tree.”

Sigh, when your kids know you so well, what can you do??

My artist - working on our chalkboard pantry door.

My artist – working on our chalkboard pantry door.

Over the month I did quite a bit of odds and ends shopping on the FB site. I picked up a tree, some garland, several ornaments, fleece pj’s, decorated mason jars for candles, and so on.

This garland was perfect over.  Took down the curtains, wound lights into the greenery and hung them in the living room.

This garland was perfect over. Took down the curtains, wound lights into the greenery and hung them in the living room.

Our master bedroom is big enough for it’s own tree. I hung all the ornaments on it that I haven’t used in years – memory ones from our first year of marriage, themed ornaments that just didn’t fit on the main tree, childhood creations. I even put lights over the window and around the room. Tim works from home several days a week. Our room became one of our favorite Christmas spots of the season.

Christmas tree decorating in process.

Christmas tree decorating in process.

Of course, putting Christmas decorations AWAY is never as much fun as taking them out – the END of the season is always bitter sweet (kids going back to college, Tim off to work, homeschooling and ministry responsibilities returning). Going through our Project 365 pictures, blogging about the big and small moments of our days, and smiling over it all, helps to keep me thankful and aware of all our abundant blessings.

Project 365 Days 341, 342 and 344 (Dec 7, 8 and 10)
Kathy

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Conquering Landscaper

We made great progress on the overgrown bushes and trees in the front yard on Sunday. But there’s always more work to do, and it’s amazing the life lessons you learn from gardening. Two things I’ve thought about recently:

- Weeds can be easily plucked out or deeply entrenched and require serious work to remove them [Like the sin, struggles, and temptations in my life)

- Some plants are pretty (like ivy) or produce delicious fruit (like blackberries), but they can grow with abandon and often destroy things in their path. [There are so many "good" things in life that can become idols if I place them ahead of the Lord and my role as a wife and mother.]

We’ve been clearing out some greenery from the side of our house. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to feel any ownership of the landscaping in the yard.

Me: “It looks like we’re going to stay here a little while longer, I think we should plant some flowers we like.”
Tim: “After 10 years here, you’re just now feeling settled?”
Me: “Um.”
Tim: “Well, I guess you decluttered the garage and reorganized most of the house, it was time to move to the yard.”
Me: “Yes. That’s it. Or maybe I was just too busy trying to keep track of 5 rascals (homeschooling, housework, and life) and never got around to actually looking at the yard.”
Tim: “You’ll have 3 kids in college in the fall. Plenty of time to work on new things.”
Me: SOB!
Tim: “I’m going inside now.”

After cutting down two little trees that had grown up alongside our lovely Birch by the mailbox, I began to cast my eye around at what else we could get rid of. There was a tall shrub on the one side of the garage that came to my negative attention. Not particularly attractive, not helping with privacy, constantly needing pruning but dead inside, it needed to GO.

Of course, deciding a big tall (read thick roots and stump) bush needs to be removed and actually doing it are two different things. Another life lesson! Daniel and I did some sawing at the base of the bush before he reluctantly (or was that cheerfully) left me to go off to work. I started to work on the branches since I could tell there was no way I could saw through the thick base myself. Pretty much all I did was make a big mess on the driveway and destroy the bush.

The kids: “Mom, if you thought that bush looked bad before…”
Me: “Quiet and grab some hedge trimmers. We can do this!”
Kids: “Sure thing, we’re just gonna go call Dad first and see when he’s coming home.”
Me: “Traitors!”

I never think to take Before or even Middle pictures. It always looks so bad, I am embarrassed to document it on film. Later, I wish I had captured the “Oh Dear” of the befores.

When Tim got home, I begged him to help me cut down this stupid bush.

Tim: “Really, Kathy, you could easily do this yourself with the saw.”
Me: “Great, so you’ll help me?”
Tim: “If I do this, will you stop bugging me?”
Me: [crossing fingers behind back] “Of course, dear.”

15 minutes later.

Tim: “Man, this saw isn’t even touching the trunk of this bush. Bring me some rope.”
Me: “Thank you so much!”
Pause, pause.
Me: “So the, ‘Kathy you could have easily done this yourself’ was NOT totally true.”
Pause, pause.
Tim: “Harrumph.”

LOL! I had to go pick up the kids at their middle school lake day, so I slipped away while Tim was working. When I came back the bush was cut down, and Tim was victorious!

Got muscles, will prune.

Got muscles, will prune.

Very thankful to get that ugly shrub out of there. Still have some roots and stump to deal with, but that will wait until later.

"I will step on you, little bush."

“I will step on you, little bush.”

Project 365 – Day 217
Kathy

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Tree Pruning Frenzy

One of the banes of my existence (a man of my talents and character has many banes, as it turns out) is the trash, recycling and yard waste removal company that serves our neighborhood.

I am distrustful of monopolies, and the multi-year, exclusive sweetheart contract that our city has made with the company seems to give all the benefit to the removal company, and little to the residents. They charge high rates and are very strict about any overages, once doubling my trash charge because the lid was not flush with the top of the container.

As sometimes happens, Daniel was standing in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

As sometimes happens, Daniel was standing in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

They also have a diabolical tendency to send their trucks early on the days when I forget to put out the cans. There is nothing quite so chilling as the sound of the garbage truck accelerating gleefully past my house, when I know I have a full can, but forgot to put it out. Of course, on the days when I put the cans out on Sunday night, they resentfully send the truck to my neighborhood around noon.

A month or two ago, I decided to shell out for an extra blue yard waste bin, because we seemed to be generating an unusually-large amount of yard waste (clippings, prunings and untreated wood from the deck that used to surround the hot tub). So it was with a sinking feeling this afternoon, that I realized both yard bins were at least half-empty.

Each blue bin costs about $7.50, every time they empty it.

Each blue bin costs about $7.50, every time they empty it.

I hate paying for recycling and yard waste (I believe they should pay me for my valuable recyclables and yard waste, or at least removal should be free) and it is especially infuriating to pay for bins that are left empty.

“Time to prune!” I shouted. Everyone turned out to help as I waved my reciprocating saw over my head with abandon, and tree limbs began to rain down on the driveway. Several unwitting members of the Pancho family (they thought they were coming to watch a movie, and maybe have some ice cream) were sucked into the fun.

I let David play with use my new reciprocating saw to chop up some of the larger branches.

I let David play with use my new reciprocating saw to chop up some of the larger branches.

We managed to fill both our bins, and even contributed to the blue bin of a generous neighbor who was attracted by the noise (or possibly he had dialed 911, and needed details for the dispatcher). Now the mailman can actually approach our mailbox, and Kathy can park in the driveway without being scratched by bushes.

Lawn work is not Sarah's favorite -- she is better at looking beautiful.

Lawn work is not Sarah’s favorite — she is better at looking beautiful.

The full bins are safely out at the curb, so we’re as ready for Monday as we’re likely to be.

Project 365, Day 214
Tim

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Sink or Swim

Poor Tim. The Declutter Madness is never ending. Saturday he was trapped. Daniel was working, Rachel was babysitting, Sarah and David were busy with projects. No where to hide (no children to hide behind).

“Hi sweetie. Whatcha doing?” (Has any wife ever asked that question without ulterior motives?)

“Um, working on my class.” (Politely doesn’t say – “Isn’t it obvious? I’m sitting at the computer writing?”)

“Heh heh.” Slightly wicked smile.

“Great, could you help me for a little bit?” (Cause obviously working at the computer = not doing anything and ready to help me with my random projects? Hmmm. Let’s not examine that line of thinking too closely.)

“Sure,” he says with a sweet sigh. (Tim is a great husband. He may or may not be looking into a Declutter Intervention program for me).

Knowing he could change his mind at any time, I hurried (okay, shoved) him into the garage.

“I need space on these shelves. Now, I don’t want to get rid of these Playmobil Bins (the future/eventual grandchildren will want to play with them). Or these six (cough, cough) bins of Christmas things. So what else can we work with? I need to find some place to put a bin of winter clothes and a box of Sarah’s stuffed animals.”

“Stuffed animals?”

“Well, yes. She’s cleared them out of her room, but she’s not ready to get rid of them completely yet.” (Decluttering is sometimes a two phase process. From the bedroom to the garage and eventually Good Will.)

“Okay. What about this bin of Water Things. What in the world is in there?”

Time for a swim?

Time for a swim?

“Perfect! There are only a few things in there and we can unload, I mean, share this cool boat with our good friend who lives on the lake.”

“Exactly,” Tim said. (It sounded sarcastic, but I can’t be certain.) “No doubt she’s been hoping you would give her a big raft. Maybe we can throw in an extra child as well.”

Paddle David, paddle!  You'll make it to shore.

Paddle David, paddle! You’ll make it to shore.

“No, I think we need to keep David.” (Silly guy, thinking I’d give away one of our kids. I do have limits to my decluttering.)

A couple of coolers to the shed. A bin emptied and stored away. Old table cloths added to the Good Will pile. And eventually there was room for Sarah’s stuffed animals on the shelves. All tidy and organized.

“Ah. Isn’t it beautiful?” I breathed as Tim slipped quietly out of the garage. I couldn’t tell, but there might have been some rolling of the eyes. Probably just dust from the shelves. Or, more likely, a tear of appreciation for the masterpiece of order and tidiness the garage is becoming.

Project 365 – Day 213
Kathy

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Dan the Gardener

This year Daniel gave me a unique and special Mother’s Day present.

From my sweet son!

From my sweet son!

Weeding – Planting- Paying for Bark

Happy words to a mother’s heart! At least a mother who has a bare and forlorn looking front yard.

Of course, I love presents of ALL kinds, but I was especially excited by this gift! I feel extra special LOVED when my family helps me around the house and take on on big projects for (and with me). I so appreciate Daniel’s generosity of his time and finances, and also his sensitivity in knowing I have longed to brighten up the front yard for years.

Tim’s mom bought me some beautiful flowers, Daniel prepped the land, and Tim planted the flowers.

It’s been interesting figuring out when and how Daniel likes to tackle yard work. I have really learned that a gift is one that is given – not nagged or fussed out of a person. There have been times over the past month when I thought, “This would be the perfect day for yard work.” And Daniel was busy with school or work at Chick-Fil-A or even his own relaxing. I had to learn patience. And I got the opportunity to get out in the yard and enjoy some of the labor myself. Tim was very kind to step in and help me get the wilting plants into the ground – it has been one HOT and DRY summer.

Meanwhile, Daniel continues to work on additional improvements. And he’s not reluctant to spend some of his own money. He bought us a large broom for sweeping up the driveway. He surprised me with a new welcome mat.

And today he went out and purchased 7 bags of topsoil for the flower beds.

Thank you, Daniel! I feel very loved!

He also pulls up naughty trees that are trying to infiltrate the yard.

He also pulls up naughty trees that are trying to infiltrate the yard.

Project 365 – Day 188
Kathy

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