Wednesday, January 30, 2013


I have taken a few weeks off from doing too much with our cutie little home. And I am really looking forward to getting back into the swing of things around here.

As we work on our home and it evolves into something that feels like "Murphy", we feel more and more at home. And although there is nothing wrong with decorating a home and calling it done, I have a tendency to change things up. I love decorating for different holidays and seasons - those are some good changes - but I also love moving things in and our and around.

Something I just brought in is this great "liberty bell" bottle.

During the bicentennial everyone and their brother celebrated our awesome country with all kinds of marketing geniuses. I remember eating green olives from a liberty bell jar, lunch boxes and t-shirts were crazy red, white and blue and some coins, like the quarter, were special editions. You could not go anywhere without getting bonked on the head with a flag. It was pretty neat actually. I remember feeling lots of pride to be an American. Our school even had a parade. I jumped in after I had gotten back from a doctor's visit to remove a cast from my then healed broken arm and ended up with the flag with the broken stick. Obviously still a tender moment.

But, anywho - The bicentennial bottle - So cute!

I brought it home from my mom's house.

Baby Jett, Mama Alex, Grammy and Great-Grandma.

That's what I have been up to the last few weeks. 

Just two days after celebrating my mom's 70th birthday, she had a massive stroke. Another three days later, she was gone.

Unexpected for sure. Still trying to wrap my head around it. We had a terrific memorial for her a few days ago that brought lots of good people together to celebrate her life.

She lived in the same house for about 60 years - Her dad built the house! It has been added on to twice. For most of her life, she has had a hard time letting go of things. 

I inherited all of it. It will take several months to get through it all.

It's kind of an ironic time - I now own enough stuff to fill my house a few times right when we are on a journey to downsize. I took a few hours last week (with the help of my mom's partner, Sher) to get started. 

I brought home four boxes of stuff, gave one box to an aunt, donated one box and am keeping one partial box for my kiddos to look through. I pulled out a few things for our home, including this bottle of pennies.

It actually started as four full bottles of coins, mostly pennies. Colin, Liam and I went through each coin, pulled out the old ones and took the rest to Coinstar, where we ended up with about $35 cash.

The ones we saved are wheat pennies. These pennies were made up until 1958. Our oldest is a 1909, which is pretty valuable. My mom was born in 1943 - we have ten 1943 steel pennies, which sounds cool and they are cool, but not worth much. It's actually the 1943 copper pennies that are worth like a million dollars. Really.

We don't have any of those.

We are planning to do more penny hunting and keeping all the wheat pennies in the bottle. My mom saved tons of coins, so I'm sure the opportunity will come up soon. We had a great time searching through these, calling out the dates and googling their history and value. 

It will be a great connection to my mom, to always be on the lookout for the wheat pennies. 

And with that, I don't feel like I need to save everything my mom kept. There will be a few things coming home with me, but the rest will find a new home with relatives who may have a connection with some things or it will be donated or sold. 

This jar full of pennies now feels like "Murphy" to me.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Another Super-fun Project

Look what else we have been up to!

Hero and I bought 14 ten foot long quarter round molding for the hardwood floors - Finally!

Remember we re-did the floors way back in April before we even moved in to our small house? Eight months later we got on the moldings that edge them.

We are very pleased with the way the floors turned out - Very easy to maintain that good look, too. But you can see what the edges look like - not so terrific. 

And when we swept, all the little dust bunnies hung on to those edges for dear life.

Time to get on it!

First up - painting.

The ping pong table in the basement is the perfect work table for this project. 

That protection is an old vinyl table cloth that we have had for a million years. There are paint splatters on that from so many other fun projects. It's like a scrapbook of projects - Oh the memories.

And taking a little break to get them dry. I had to bring a few fans in to help speed things along - Hero was waiting in the wings with his measuring tape, saw and nail gun.

Moldings on the perimeters on each room in the house meant everything scoots to the middle. 

Here's a great idea - Let's tackle this project during the holidays when we have a 7 1/2' Christmas tree in the living room!

We can just slide the molding right under there, like a gift. Nifty.

Colin's room.

And Liam's room.

The way the boys typically keep their rooms does not look too different from this.

Here is a good look at the hallway edge before:

See what I mean about squeezing in to get these moldings in? This would have been much easier in an empty house.

But not as many acrobats.

Hero nailing a piece in behind Liam's bed.

We got quite the workout installing these - all kinds of stretching and reaching going on.

And crouching.

What a difference!

And this is before filling the gaps and touch up painting.

Filling the gaps is a piece of cake! And it makes the job look like a pro was on it. Caulk is your friend for this task. Just put a little on your finger and smooth over the gap. And then paint.

For the skinny horizontal gaps between the existing molding and the new molding, I didn't even bother with the caulk. Paint fills those in nicely.

Hanging out under the table and behind the couch. Just painting. And shimmying along on my hands and knees in about eight inches of space.

Look at this lovely corner!

Remember this long expanse of dust bunny hangout?

Check it out now! What a big difference and so much easier to sweep the edges.

See the corner on the lower right there? That is turning the corner going into the kitchen. Ugh. But we'll be getting on that soon.

Oh - I could admire those moldings all day. Ok, not really, but seriously - What an improvement! The floors are finally finished finished. Love getting projects like this wrapped up.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Update on the Hole in the Wall

Happy New 2013!

During the holidays we had lots of time for relaxing and playing and seeing friends and family. Loved it. Sad to see it end - as usual.

We also worked on a few projects.

Remember the hole in the wall? Well, really it was a mini-pantry, way across the room from the working end of the kitchen in an awkward spot. It's hard to say that we will even miss the storage space, because we didn't really use it that well. But we will love the blank wall.

Here is where we left off -

Ready to fill in that hole!

Hero had some drywall pieces in the garage (of course) and filled that baby in. 

Then came the tape to seal the seam and then "mud". Not really mud - it's drywall joint compound. But all the pros call it "mudding." And we like to pretend we are pros.

But, we are not.

Something went not quite right. The tape stuck out way too much and we knew no amount of sanding would get these seams flat and smooth.

So off came the tape.

Fortunately it came right off. 

Came off in long satisfying strips, just like the wallpaper.

Smoothing the remaining mud was a piece of cake, especially for me. Good job, Hero!

Look how nice and smooth that is. I have to remind myself that it is super important to get these seams really, really smooth before painting. Really. I can be a little impatient about things like this - I want to get to the fun part.

Luckily Hero and I balance each other out - I am patient when he wants to rush through something and he is patient when I want to. 

And there is no one when we both want to plow through. It happens.

Here is where we really need to be patient. This seam at the top is pretty wide. If we just slapped a bunch of mud in there it would crack all over town while it dried. And that would never be smooth and flat.

So, we do lots of little layers and let them dry completely between each one.


Looking good, right?

Soon, very soon, it will be paint-able.