Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Holy cow!

I forgot to share this!

Alex and I made some amazing marquee letters last month and they turned out so great. We had such a fun time together - Which is really one of the most important things about doing projects. 

Here is how we did it:

We followed this tutorial.

Alex chose a silver interior and a burnt copper-y color for the outside. It really did look like metal. 

FYI - We did not spray our letters. It was too stinking cold outside to spray paint. We brushed.

We marked the spots where we wanted a bulb to pop through, made the cuts with an exacto and stuffed the bulbs in.

I painted mine black inside and out. I love the look and think it will look super cool on a light colored wall.

How did they look all lit up? So cool! 

They are really, really bright, too. After all, there are 25 light bulbs glowing.

Alex hung her "B" in her kitchen and can pretty much light up her kitchen and living room. 

Jett had to come check it out.

If you are looking around town for giant paper-mache letters, we found ours at Joanne's. 

I think smaller ones to spell something out would be super awesome, too.

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Tuesday, January 7, 2014


Remember this project? The one we started a million years ago? 

Well, it is now 96% done!

We had some touch up to take care of and painting the trim around the steps and a little bit of molding to add. This was the part of the project that took several weeks to finish up. I hate when that happens! But we just could not get to this sooner with so many people in the house, including a two year old.

But Alex, Lawson and Jett have their own place now, and it got wrapped up. 


I was excited to do something fun with these steps, too. I got some of that other stuff done and out of the way - touch-up and trim painting - Take my word for it. You'll see it at the end here.

My friend Ellen and I purchased this set of stencils a million years ago and have used them for so many great projects. I used them on a pillow, on the bathroom wall in one house and on a dining room wall and a bedroom wall in another house. Ellen has used them lots of times, too. Great investment. (If you want to borrow them, just let me know!)

I knew they would be just what I needed for the steps.

I measured. Really. Usually when it comes to this kind of stuff, I just eyeball it. But I knew I needed to be pretty accurate for these or they would look all wonky.

And sometimes I measure with stuff other than a ruler. Sometimes I use a rubber stamp. It happened to be the right height.

These stencils work in a two-part system. It's great because it is easy to line up and there are no gaps, especially in letters and numbers with cut-outs.

Started with the left side. Or the right side. It's hard to tell with an eight.

I have had this set of stencil brushes for a million years, too. They are great for texture painting, and, of course, for stenciling.

See how cool that looks? 

I'm not too worried about that little tiny spot of paint there in the upper curve. Gives it a little character.

Getting ready to do the right/left side. The way it works is that you line up what you have already done with the outline on the second stencil. Genius!

Finishing up the eight. That line under the number is on the stencil. I just line that one up with the one I drew using the rubber stamp as a guide. Peace of cake.

And it is done!

I am in love. A little bit of sass to make you smile.

I had planned to run these numbers up the middle of the steps, but Brenden suggested the side. What a great idea - Just different enough.

See all the trim painted and all those crisp lines? So glad to have those crossed off the list, too. Hero just needs to get some trim pieces at the top and we can call this whole project complete.

Having these stairs done is pretty motivating to get cracking on the rest of the basement. Sounds like a good cold weather project to me. Hopefully it won't take a million years to finish.

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Friday, January 3, 2014


Happy 2014!

I hope you had a fabulous Christmas - We did here! We spent days making yummy food, eating yummy food, spending time together playing and visiting and laughing and loving. Even though things were different this year - we used to spend Christmas with my mom - we had a very good holiday.

With the start of the new year, I get particularly antsy about getting things cleaned up and cleared out. I love doing that! I feel such a sense of accomplishment when I am in control of my stuff instead of the other way around.

One of the very first things that really must be done is not the most fun, but so important. It will be time to do the taxes soon (Ugh.) and all the papers from 2013 need to be sorted. I thought I would share how I keep this very icky task from being way ickier.

Before e-anything, there used to be a ton more paper coming into our house. And I used to have this elaborate system for keeping it all straight. Problem was - It was so elaborate, I didn't use it well at all. I had file folders for every category I had paper for - Mortgage, this credit card, that loan, gas bill, groceries, blah, blah, blah....

The plan was to file the papers right away as they came into the house. One tiny problem - filing is a big pain in the neck! Sooooo, I would put them in a little pile to file later. And that pile would grow and grow until I had to spend lots of time filing. 

Another problem popped up when I needed to find something. It seemed easy enough to check the file, but more often than not, it was in that stack and I would have to sift through it to find it. 

This was not really a good plan at all for our family. Some people love filing - Yay for them! - but this was not working for us at all. I don't like filing. There must be a better way!

I found one!

I discovered a new way of getting this junk paper under control years ago in a book that I adored:

The things I learned from this woman (and others like her) changed my life! I read this kind of stuff like crazy and fell in love with organizing. I still love it. There is probably some psychological reason for this, but I don't really care. I just love it.

Basically, the idea is having only 12 file folders. What??!! 

And filing everything together. What??!! 

And then it's done. What??!!

Sign me up please!

Yep. You only need 12 folders. One for each month.

When paper comes into your house, put it in the file for the month that it is at that time, even if it's dated for a different month. Something like this - when I bring in the mail, I open it up and take everything that needs to be saved (receipts, statements, report cards, etc) and stick them in the month that it is at that moment. If I opened them up today, they would go in January.


When I need to find something, I just go to the month. Sometimes I might be a little off if it were a few months prior, but it's not too challenging to look in a few different months if I need to. It is much better than looking through a huge stack of stuff I didn't file. But truly, I rarely have to go back to find something.

And now that e-most anything is an option, we don't even get half the paperwork we use to. And I love that, too! If I can get an e-version of bills, statements, report cards, etc, bring it on. Less paper=more time to do something else.

Which brings us back to the first of the year. When all the files are loaded up, it's time to spend a little time getting them ready for the new year.

And when I say a little time, I mean much less time than my old way of sorting through dozens of files to get what I need for taxes and to start with a clean slate.

Really - It took me less than an hour to get this done.

Here is what a one month file looks like when I pull it out. Mostly receipts from purchases, and a few other things, but no utility statements, or insurance statements, or other things I now get online. 

Work on one month at a time so you can break it up into manageable chunks or take a break if you need to. Sort what is there into just a few piles. Here is how I do it -

trash - papers I don't need anymore and do not have any personal info on them that a creepy identity thief can use.

shred - papers I don't need anymore and do have personal info on them that a creepy identity thief can use.

tax stuff - things I better hang on to if I want to claim them on my taxes.

pay statements - a little clarification here - I get my statements online, and I just file them there online. Hero has pretty much every pay statement he has ever brought home from the time he was 16. I know. It's not how I would do it, but he does, and we do this stuff together. It would not be nice of me to impose my standard on him (it's important for him to keep them), so we have this compromise. He keeps them all in a box. So I sort them out for him. (And it is kind of fun to see how much he used to earn.)

Here are a few tax receipts. Some are obvious - medical expenses, car title stuff, donations, etc. But others I wrote on the top. These were for school. Because we don't have a ton of purchases that would be used for our taxes, taking a second to make a note on them helps a bunch when it comes to sorting them out. 

One little thing I do. When I get to December (last month) I hang on to a few things that might be important for reconciliation, returns, etc. I just pop those back into the December folder and toss them out later (usually December of the current year - I kind of forget about them).

And that is it! Nice empty files to reuse for the coming year. 

Much less icky than the old way.

(These are leaving my house.)

There are lots of terrific ways to get this job done - How do you do it?

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