Guess what we found!

It has been an eventful few days in the Erin/Rick household. One reason being that we discovered a dead mouse glued to the dining room floor with its own, um, bodily fluids, compliments of our cats' hunting prowess. Let me tell you, nearly stepping on a murdered rodent is not my idea of a good time. I'd suggest a moment of silence for our dearly departed mousey, but I really didn't want him in my house in the first place.

In more blog-worthy, less stomach-turning news, though, we also bought a new car: a Nissan Rogue that will fit large furniture that we find on the curb, and future babies, which we probably won't find on the curb.

We picked up our new wheels on Friday, and in a serendipitous turn of events, I drove past this dresser, abandoned on the side of the road, on Saturday.

Since I was driving our far less roomy Elantra at the time, however (remember our creative Ikea piling?), and since I'd have to sprout superhuman biceps to be able to pick up a dresser by myself, I naturally sped home (safely) and convinced Rick we had to go get it. Yes, before lunch. Yes, right now.

It obviously needs some help, and this drawer is currently less than functional...

...but the knobs alone were worth the trip back.

We've already begun sanding it, since we have big plans for it to replace this TV stand that we have to awkwardly perch our VCR/DVD combo in because it doesn't fit properly:

And I'm not a wood purist...hence the paint swatches taped there.

So, in summary:
  • Rick likes our new car because A) it's a four-wheeled shiny thing and he's a man and B) it has a rear camera and built-in Bluetooth and something called a continuously variable transmission at the mention of which I nod and smile and pretend to understand. 
  • I like our new car because I can easily fill it with treasures.
Anyone else find anything fun lately? Or anything not fun, like a rodent? Do share. :)


Blog Crashing: Paisley Print Shoes

I'm guest posting over at Paisley Print Shoes today! Jen and Katie are two sisters who highlight cute stuff for the girl, for the home, and for the soul, and I always enjoy seeing what they're featuring.

And speaking of sisters, mine turned 14 and started high school within the past two weeks. (Where does time go?) She's 11 years younger than me, but we still have fun together...

This was at a summer Minute to Win It party, obviously...:)

...and we both are genetically incapable of making a decent monkey face.

I'm so grateful that we live near each other, at least for now. :)

Happy Friday, everyone...have a great weekend!


The Week I Made a Million Pillows

I went a little crazy over the past week and made a bunch of pillows.

Not sure what the fabric is because I got it in the Joann's clearance section for $3/yard.

Fabric: Robert Kaufman Metro Living Tile White, purchased here; I made the rosettes following this tutorial.

The bow pillow was inspired by this one.

I bought this damask fabric for a different project but changed my mind and tried to return it. Fabric.com gave me a refund and said "Just keep it." Woo hoo for free fabric. :)

Rick says that no pillows are necessary on the couch since he just has to put them on the floor when he wants to lay down anyway. I, on the other hand, am of the mind that the more pillows, the better.

But to safeguard against Daddy "accidentally" putting my creations in the garbage can, I have hired Gingerbread to keep a close eye on them.

She takes her job very seriously.

All of the pillow covers are removable for easy washing and/or changing. I wasn't planning on detailing my sewing process, mainly because it involves strategies such as:

1. taking over the entire dining room table with my supplies
2. measuring the fabric as fast as possible
3. cutting the fabric as fast as possible
4. sewing the fabric as fast as possible

...none of which are helpful to most anyone. For real sewing advice about how to make a removable envelope back pillowcase, see this post or this post.

Right now, I need to figure out where I am going to put all of these pillows. One would be nice in a chair...

Or I could put one on our bed...

Or I could cover Rick with them because he loves them so much...

Or I might just take a nap on them.

This, by the way, is what a week of adolescents will do to you. I'm not sure what GB's excuse is. A week of extreme pillow-watching, perhaps?

Have a great week, everyone! :)

Update: I want to honor the seller's right to her product (the bow pillow) so I won't be sharing how I made it. You can buy one just like it (only nicer because I am a sewing novice) here. :)


"Old Dorky Musty Guys" & Other Fun with Keyword Stats

I honestly don't pay too much attention to my visitor stats. I used to, but then I realized that it really makes no difference how many people click on any given post, plus numbers pretty much mean nothing to me. (I teach English, remember?) :)

However, the "keyword activity" and "came from" are two pieces of information that I do find interesting, because it allows me to see where visitors are coming from and what they searched to get here.

I was inspired while reading Neathering My Fest a while ago to share some of the Google search terms that land people on my blog, just for fun. Here are some of my favorites...

*          *          *

"stylish high school outfits" 
I recommend leg warmers, pleather bell bottoms, and spandex. Lots and lots of spandex.

"old dorky musty guy"
What is Google suggesting about my husband?!

"i am at my ropes end"
This does probably describe how Rick feels, sometimes, like when I put yet another pillow on the couch the other day...

"painted mice"

"black lagoon pool"  
You wouldn't believe how many hits I get for stuff like this. Maybe I should actually put something helpful in that post about our gross pool, like how we fixed it, instead of non-helpful stuff like ceramic girls rising out of the muck and mire.

"what if someone says will you be mine"
Run the other way. Unless it's an old dorky musty guy, in which case you should marry him immediately.

"betty crocker enema"
Whoever searched for this probably found it really disturbing that a post about cupcakes came up. Although that may have been a welcome alternative to an actual enema.

"polyester pantsuits"
Naturally, since I'm an expert on stylish outfits. Or because I post things like this on my blog.

"gross refrigerator"
Well. Guilty as charged. You will find one of those on my blog.

"diy barbie head stencil" 
I only wish I could boast of having such an item on my blog.

And my favorite one ever from my old apartment blog: "barbara streisand hands"
And I always thought her nose was her defining feature?

*          *          *

Basically, I've learned that I should really quit my job and begin an advice column about being your high school's next top model, winning the guy of your dreams, and getting your small-time blog to pop up in Google search results. (The answer is not become popular, obviously, or write really clever posts about really clever projects. The answer is to make references to completely irrelevant stuff on your blog. Who knew?)

All of this silliness makes me want to search for some really random thing and click on the first blog that pops up just so they can have as much fun reading their stats as I do. Like maybe "yellow babies in squirrel's nest" or "string cheese violin balloon" or "pickled goatee." Hmmm...the possibilities... ;)

While I mull over this devious plan, I'll be making my own Barbie head stencil so that the next person who searches for one won't leave sorely disappointed. This is my inspiration pic:

Psycho much?

What strange stuff has popped up in your keyword stats? I'd love for you to share so we can all get a snicker or two out of it. If you don't have a blog, what do you recommend I search for when I embark on a road of mischief after DIYing a Barbie head stencil? ;)

Thanks, Skye, for the fun inspiration! :)  


Free Printable: Fearfully & Wonderfully Made

Teaching adolescents, I see how cruel they can be to each other for no reason at all other than owning the "wrong" clothing, using the "wrong" makeup, wearing the "wrong" hairstyle. For instance, I had a female student last year who was constantly pointing out the flaws of her classmates and wrote a paper entitled "How to Not Be Ugly," in which she included helpful tips like "watch Jersey Shore" and "only buy Victoria's Secret pants." I cringe knowing that someday, hopefully, she will cringe, too, at her flippancy and shallowness. This same student once told me that "I should go tanning; I'd be so pretty." I smiled at her when she provided this unsolicited beauty tip and remarked that I was content with myself, that I was more concerned with improving other aspects of my life.

Her comment has not, however, kept me from admiring the healthy glowing tans of some fellow teachers and friends, the irony, of course, being that fair skin is actually healthy, and tan skin is not.

Unfortunately, this student's attitude about appearance, I'm sure, is not at all new from centuries of adolescents--and adults--gone by. We live in a world that is constantly picking away at our natural selves and telling us what we are not. Your skin is not the right color. You do not have attractive thighs. Your cheekbones are not pronounced. You are not tall enough. You are not skinny enough. Your bangs are not cut right. Your body is not shapely. Your clothes are not in style.

You're not, you're not, you're not.

When did we get away from what we are?  Because the truth is, we are fearfully and wonderfully made, exactly as we are. My fair skin is wonderfully made. So is my barely perceptible need for a 34A bra. So is my nose that sometimes feels too big. So is my struggle with acne (still.). So is my bone-y butt. So is my left foot that is bigger than my right foot. So are my shoulders that sometimes look too broad for a halter top.

To print, simply click on the image, then right click and save to your computer. You can then resize as needed. Click here to view my other free printable.

God makes no mistakes. Beauty is fleeting. The only thing eternal is what's on the inside. No tanning booth, push-up bra, facial treatment will save my soul or make me happy. It's easy to say, but difficult to remember, and even harder to live by.

There can never be a more beautiful you. Remember that next time the world, a mirror, or a careless 14 year-old tells you otherwise.


Houston, we have a dark walnut bedroom floor...

Alternate title to this post: Tack Cloths are Tacky (and Other Things I Learned While Refinishing our Bedroom Floor).

Here she is, before and after (not including when she was carpeted, which we had to remove when we took out the closet):

She's not made of the same high-quality wood that our downstairs floors are (and we are floor-refinishing novices, obviously), so she's not perfect. We're just going to say that the knots and dents "Add character!", though, and move on with life, because we're perfectly content with it in all its imperfection.

Dear Owners: Please put up my trim ASAP so my edges don't feel so unsightly. Love, Your Bedroom.

Our process wasn't fancy, but here is our basic method (again, we're novices, but it worked out alright in the end):

Step One: Sand the floors. We rented an orbital plate sander. I am a lame blogger and have no photos of this. However, I can let you know that when Rick first turned it on and tried pushing it around, he looked something like this:

Sander image courtesy of here.

It was a mash-up of a dancing Elaine from Seinfeld and what those kids looked like on homecoming when they had to spin around on a bat and then run around for a relay race. I don't know what that particular game is called, because I was always the one hiding in the bleachers.

In all seriousness, Rick found that he had the most control over it when he kept it upright as opposed to tilted back at a slight angle. I found that I had the most control over it when I didn't use it and instead was in charge of Dust Control by following Rick around with our shop-vac (whom I lovingly refer to as R2-D2). Here's a post-sanding photo:

Rick first used 20 grit sandpaper, then 60, then 100 to get the smoothest finish possible. The 20 grit cleaned off all of the paint and grossness, but left the floors feeling slightly like when I don't shave my legs for days at a time. (I mean, when other people don't shave their legs for days at a time...) The 100 grit made it like those commercials where the model's legs are all sparkly and shiny after using some fancy new razor.

Step Two: Clean the floors. We used R2-D2 a shop-vac to get the dust and other residue from the spaces in between the floor boards and tack cloths to clean the surface. Now, am I the only one who had no idea that tack cloths were tacky, as in they-leave-a-sticky-residue-on-your-hands? Don't ask what I thought "tack" meant, because I really don't know. The things I've discovered since owning a house. At least now I know that you use a circular saw to cut out circles. What? That's wrong, too? Sigh. Apparently I have a lot to learn.

Step Three: Condition the wood. We used Minwax brand and needed 2 quarts for our 12'x18' room. It was stinky.

I guess this step is actually optional, but we read that with soft wood like pine (which is what we have) the "pros" recommend conditioning it first so that your stain goes on evenly. According to the directions on the can, you should stain within 2 hours after applying the conditioner.

Step Four: Stain.We used Minwax Dark Walnut. It was stinky.

It went on a lot darker than it appeared on the can, so Rick wiped it off after about 10 minutes. It's still a little darker than I envisioned, but that's okay.

Step Five: Seal. We used Varathane oil-based sealer (because the stain was oil-based) in satin and applied two thin coats. It was--guess what?--stinky.

I've found by trial and annoying error that when working with polyurethane it's best to re-touch your application as little as possible, because after even just a few minutes the finish is already tacky and re-touching it will give it a matted, uneven look. In between coats, I gave the floor a light sanding with 220 grit sandpaper to help get a more even finish.

Step Six: Wait. We could walk on it/give your cats free reign of the upstairs again after 24 hours, but as soon as the three days curing time have passed, we can move our furniture in. Happy day!

Our self-imposed deadline for making our bedroom "livable" started out as the end of July, but that was a bit ambitious, so we changed it to the end of summer vacation. Summer vacation, for me, ended yesterday. (Yes, as you read, this, I am off being enlightened about Common Core Standards and Accessing Success for Every Student, Every Day.) I'm ready to go back, I think. Of course, it will take only one student giving me attitude about her assigned seat to make me once again pine away for the lazy days of summer, where the only thing giving me attitude is my cat. And occasionally the dishwasher.


Wheelchair Fun and a Feature

Cassity at Remodelaholic is featuring our bathroom today! Thanks, Cassity! If that's not a good way to end my summer vacation, I don't know what is. Well, participating in wheelchair races in the post office parking lot would be fun, too, but the neighborhood kids (who are perfectly able-bodied, just so you know) didn't invite me.

Bet mom and dad wished they had thought of this diversion sooner than a week before school started up again.

Speaking of school, I'll soon be spending another year in a classroom with kids just a few short years older than the ones you saw in the photo above. Be jealous of my chosen career.

Hope everyone had a great weekend! :)

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