Category Archives: home project

Motorcycle Mama

In college I loved motorcycles.  
Oh yes, I did.
I was always hopping on them, going here and there with boys I sort of knew.  
The wind blowing my hair back?  The thrill of speed?  Lovely.
I usually wore a helmet but sometimes not.  
We have a friend who is working on a downstairs bedroom for Cope.  He often comes on a motorcycle.
It just so happened that he was double dating with another couple that Cope was babysitting for.

Instead of me driving her over, it made more sense for Cope to catch a ride.

Mom, she asked worried, where do I put my hands? (how embarrassing!)

Oh my.  They’re really just going to drive off?

Uh-hmmm…that’s my baby on the back of your bike.

Chris is a very responsible driver.

Off they went.  Was I getting a glimpse of my future?
Somehow, it’s not quite as thrilling to have your children behind that thing.
This is why parents worry.  I totally get it.
Did she have fun?
Gladly, I seem to have enjoyed my motocycle rides more than she.  I hope she feels that way in college!

Tossing this, keeping that

I’m getting so good at throwing stuff out.  Really husband, I am.  I had an epiphanic moment the other day:  Just because we have space, doesn’t mean we have to cram it full of STUFF.  Get it out.  I like to think the house is going through a great purge.  
We don’t have central air (why are New Hampshirites so against this wonderful invention?) hence, we have our windows open all summer, spring, and fall.  Wonderful for that fresh air feeling, not so wonderful for those horrid allergies.  When humidity hits in August, it feels like we’re sitting on a wet couch all month.  I want to roll on the floor and have a great tantrum.  
Instead of the coming tantrum, we got a new couch and chair.  A leather couch and chair.  It seemed to be the right choice since our children are older.  No one has thrown up, or peed on, the couch in ages.  With leather, there are no dust mites for us to battle with.  With one nice swipe, messes can be cleaned.  I wanted to go red leather or green or bright yellow or cream leather.
We went brown.  Because we still actually do have children in the house.  I wish it was lighter, but there it is.  The problem is now I need new couch pillows, lamps, accoutrements!
Now we have to sell the red couch.  In the meantime, we didn’t know where to put it, so we put it in the kitchen.  Alas, all our craig’s list offers fell through last week.  We haven’t eaten at the kitchen table for a week as there is no room in the inn.  Forget what I said about the vomit and pee above, YOU want this couch, don’t you?  This should probably not be a side note, but I was ever-faithful at washing everything after unseemly incidents.  
The irony is that we all love to go sit on the old couch instead of the new couch.  I lay down on it at 2 for my 20-minute power nap (I’m serious, it works wonders), Paige reads on it, Cope snuggles into the corner with a good book.  But I’m afraid the couch in the kitchen has made for a rather cluttered feeling. 
On other tossing topics, I went to town in the study.  Toss, toss.
Paige got bored and did some yoga while waiting for me.

I tend to take everything out instead of concentrating on one area at a time.  It’s a flaw, I know.  I’m trying to do better.  This room is now CLEAN! and a much more lovely place to be.

But I do have some trouble tossing certain items.  I had two full shelves of anatomy & physiology texts, health books, bio texts, lab notes, conditioning drills, nutrition.  I have a strong emotional attachment to many of these books, many of which I used in college.
But we have run out of space and some books I never look at.  I decided two shelves must be whittled down to one.
I looked through all my lab books, remembering the hours of practice, drilling, quizzing, worrying, walking to class with my sister.  We still say that A&P class with the cadavers was the best class we ever took.  How could I part with the lab books?  But did I need six of them?  I bargained with self:  Take pictures and then toss.  This is the exciting part of this post:

Ah yes, being arm deep in adipose tissue, muscle, and arteries – who would have thought it would be at the top of my college experience?  You know, when you can say sternocleidomastoid and know where it is and what it does, you feel smart.  That’s a huge piece of education.  Competence = confidence.
None of the knowledge was wasted education.  I may not be able to name every bone in the foot anymore, but I can still spout anatomy phrases at choice moments.  I can discuss the obliques with the best of them.  And when my children incorrectly use the words Rectum, Colon or Anus (these are hilarious words for a child), this mama can set them straight.  And then it’s not nearly so hilarious.  We are all about being anatomically correct around here.
I gave away a large pile of books, but snuck that lab packet back on the shelf.  It fit perfectly, like it was meant to be there all along.
Other items hard to toss?  My college CDs.
I went through a big country phase in college. Hey, I went to school in Idaho. I was bound to love the cowboy.  Could I have married a man farther removed from being a cowboy?  That husband of mine likes to roll his eyes at my “country crap.”  Offensive!  However, we are making progress.  The other day we had a long conversation about what he would like to do if he weren’t doing the job he’s doing.  Trucker? Business exec?  Lawyer?  Florist?  CIA agent?  Airforce?  Plumber?  Landscaping?  Accounting?  NBA basketball coach?  He shook his head at every profession I threw at him.  Until I said, “cowboy on a ranch.”  
“That would be fun.  Maybe when I’m retired.”  That my friends, was exactly the right answer.  I always knew the cowboy and I were going to end up together.  
I gave away all of the above (and more!) except for Working Girl because it has a special place in my heart regarding a certain college cross-country try-out I miserably failed at.
What the heck do I do with 200 Garbage Pail Kid stickers?  I still don’t know.

Something else I have a hard time letting go of?  Calendars.  I started taking pictures of dates…all the way back to 1997 when Gregor and I were dating.  “Pick up rings,” and “Matt show” when Matt Nathanson was just starting out, playing to the college crowds.  There’s our wedding date, starting our first job at Proctor Academy, all those Wed. and Saturday soccer games, all the indoor soccer games with Meredith, Mindy, Ale, and Megan.  History.
There’s the calendars when Cope and Nelson were babies, when they started talking.  Cope said the funniest things:  “Satan made me do it.”  Woah.  And, “If Gaston is good, I will share my snack with him.”  

And then Nelson was jumping off of everything, jumping out of his play-pen, saying “Mama,” and “Ca-ca” for cracker.  My intention was to record these events and then toss the calendars.  But I couldn’t do it.  I put them right back in the closet.  I did give away bags and bags of stuff, swear.  And I am getting better, husband, at cleaning out some things.  Just not all.  I don’t believe I’m the only one with this problem…?


Grape Juice With My Buddy

I got an email the other day:  I have millions of grapes – please come take them!
So I did.

I can’t make jam – it never turns out.  But I’ve never made grape juice…  
Step 1:  Take all the grapes off the stems and give them a good wash.

Step 2:  Give them a good crushing.  Your 4 year old will like this part.

Mash ’em up good.

Hey Paige, do you know how they used to crush grapes?  They STEPPED on them!  Do they still do that?

Step 3:  Put on stove and heat on medium heat.

Make sure to give them a good sniff sniff…mmm…it will make your kitchen smell divine.

Heat to simmer.  About 10 minutes.

Step 4:  Use your strainer!  If you don’t have one there is some other method using cheese cloth?  I have no idea on that one…

Step 5:  Take a photo of your fresh grape juice.

But where does that juice look best?

Too much reflection, though I do like the outdoor background color.

Those reflecting lights are a bit annoying.  How about placement?

Oh well.  I’m not a food blogger, now am I?  
Step 6:  Drink up!  I served some up for Friday Night Lights and boy oh boy was it good.  Like SO good.  Like, is this what wine tastes like?  Good thing I don’t know or I might be in trouble!  
It’s best to drink the grape juice fresh; that’s when it tastes it’s beauty best.  And think of all those antioxidants ridding your body of those pesty disease-causing free radicals!  Uh-huh.

Step 7:  Ask the maid to kindly clean up after you.

Wait, the maid is off today?  She’s reading on the couch?  The little red hen would say, “More for me!”

a day in the life

“What did you do today?” Brynne will often ask me, anxiously, after she gets off the school bus…An ordinary day…
Paige is learning her letters.  She likes to draw on the chalkboard.  But letters get old after awhile.  The best part is erasing with her hands.

Sometimes I try to fix things…like this topiary lamp.  This could very well be the last crafty thing I ever made.  It was for the girl’s room.  It is broken.  The shade sits wobbly atop the light bulb from constantly falling over due to a wobbly base I could never get quite right.  There is a burn spot on the inside that gives me nightmares of a fire.  I do not think it’s fixable.  It sits on top of the dryer as I go back and forth about what to do…It’s so hard to toss, but I fear this is what must be.

Brynne fakes illness so she can stay home with me.  Actually, she really was sick.  I took the kids to school and left her to sleep.  When I got back home I found a note on the stairs.  Lovely.

As the end of the school day approaches, piles of soccer gear starts piling up by the door.  I have many bags to remember.  Many smelly socks, shoes, and water bottles.

Other piles get piled as I continue to purge…yes, even the beloved books.  I tried using but the most they would pay was $1.49.  Donations here we come.

Sometimes I get a cleaning bug.  The ones in red are worth $1.  Think any of them have been done by any of the children?  September’s value is “Peaceability.”  I feel more peace with “clean.”

I’m trying to do a cleaning project every morning with Paige.  The pantry was one such  goal.

Paige loves to wash with water, soap, and a scrub brush.  We often do our chores in our pajamas and do not change until we absolutely have to.

We took everything out, washed and vacuumed the shelves, then lined them with contact paper.

Paige greatly enjoyed organizing the meds.  And she didn’t eat any of them.

Ah…so much better.

We like to take walks.  We went up the hill to see the water buffalo, the new puppy Reuben, and pick apples from the apple orchard.  I made an effort and changed out of my pajama pants.  Paige can get away with a bundle and  her rain boots.  Everything is more fun when you bring a little basket for treasures.  She is finally getting old enough to sometimes go without a stroller.  She will walk…but still asks to be carried.
Eventually we must get dressed.  At least three different outfits.  And pose for pictures for Mama.  Our first year growing sunflowers.  Fall has arrived in New England.  Colors will be begin popping soon.  When the sun shines, it is glorious.

Brynne likes to do dishes too so we saved some for her.  The three oldest have 2 dish nights a week.  “This is so fun!” Brynne often says with the water going full blast.  Cope and Nelson no longer say this…enjoy them while they’re young.
An ordinary day is sometimes the best kind.

kitchen color

For months the itch has festered…I want to paint the kitchen.  Bad.  Spring is here and only makes the itch worse:  clean and fresh is what I need!
The problem of course, is what color?  I do like my tangerine kitchen but I want to go lighter and then add the tangerine and aquamarine accents!  Oh yeah.  
I’ve looked at so many paint colors, so many blogs, so many catalogs.  Do I go beige or grey?  Even then, there are gazillion variations of those two color schemes!  I am stuck in the land of indecision.
My friend Megan tells me Bay Sands is a great color and darn it, I was just at her house and forgot to look!  Lindsey just painted blue and it’s gorgeous.  I swore I’d never again go Navajo White and yet now it seems calm and clean.

There are things I cannot change:  The cupboards are a beautiful orangey wood.  The floor and countertops on black.  Shouldn’t my walls be lighter?  Oh what would Nate B. advise?
Wonderful Janell, of emailed me back after I asked her opinion.  Since my cabinetry is warm, my walls should follow suit.

So tell me friends, what would you do?

Blog Polls


A Warm Winter Project

Nelson finally outgrew his fleece Spiderman quilt.  It was time for a new one.  He wanted camouflage but I just couldn’t get myself to pay money for camo fleece.  So we compromised with gray and green.  50% fleece at Joanne’s.
I carefully followed Janell’s instructions.  Even measuring!  

My sewing has always been hampered by my lack of patience.  This time I was careful.  Cut and tie.  My kind of sewing.

Nice…Cozy…Snuggling while watching Nelson’s current favorite – Indiana Jones!

Janell gives great instructions HERE.  Follow them exactly and you will be as happy as me.


Play Dough; Mom Recants Stance

Over a year ago I said it here, right here on this blog:  No More Playdoh!  Ever!  Ever.  Again.  I don’t even know how to spell it – playdoh? play dough? playdough?
But then awhile back it rained and rained and rained.  Paige was so bored and I was out of ideas.  So I got on-line (it continues to amaze how we can learn about anything and everything on-line!) and found a simple recipe.
It’s a stove top recipe.  Paige was mighty confused.  Since its banishment, playdoh was not even a household word.  She didn’t know what it was!  She thought I was making something to eat.

Mmmm…let me smell it.  Let me tasted it.  Salty snack!
Letting it cool was interesting.
Anticipation was high!
Ooooh…it’s so fun!  so moldable, not sticky!
And it’s all mine since all the kids are gone!
We rolled and rolled and rolled.
We cut it up into a million pieces.  I’m not kidding when I say she did this for over an hour without stopping.  Then Brynne came home and they played another hour!  Just goes to show that sometimes its wise to put things away and wise to bring them back when more “appropriate.”  As of now, it has not been mashed into bits into the carpet, floor, or trampoline.  It has not dried out and been scattered across the house.  The dog has not eaten it.  It’s played with and put back into its proper sealed baggie.
Are your kids ready again?  Are you?

Make Your Own Play-Dough

I love this Play-Dough Recipe because it’s super quick to make and provides hours of fun with the kids. I used to make a batch of this play-dough once a month in the classroom. I always chaged up the colors to match the season. Although 20 little hands stayed busy shaping and molding, the play-dough never dried out! Had enough of play-dough? TryBread and Glue Clay, or Gooey Goop.

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups salt
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon cream of tartar
  • a few drops of food coloring (color of your choice) OR 1 package of unsweetened Kool-Aid

1. Mix ALL of the ingredients in a large saucepan.
2. Cook over medium low heat, stirring intermittently, until the dough comes away from the edges of the pan and becomes thick so it is difficult to move the spoon. Remove from heat.
3. Let play-dough cool in the pan until it can be handled.
4. Turn play-dough out on counter or on wax paper and knead 3 – 4 times.
5.Play! Store in an air tight container.

A New Favorite Toy

About a year ago my domestic friend Kate introduced me to this great contraption:  The Food Strainer.  Then she showed me how to make applesauce.  I was hooked.  It was soooo good and I don’t think I’ve bought store applesauce since.
As Fall approached this year I couldn’t help myself.  I bought one too.  And I got a great deal!  Free shipping on orders over $25 at Amazon.  This Back to Basics Food Strainer was about $50.   

Before apples were ready we had our first trial run using tomatoes.  So many many tomatoes.
And I almost broke the darn thing.  I spent hours trying to get some pieces apart.  Had to wait until Gregor came home to pull the big pieces apart.  You see, it does pay to follow directions. 
So I did.  Read the directions again.  And my little helper painted.
Once you get it, it’s very easy.  Here Paige turns the handle.
Ta da – tomato sauce!  The strainer just removes all the seeds and skins.
I only did this for one batch.  The rest of the time I just dumped the big batch of tomatoes in a pot and boiled with spices.  Then froze.
But now I know to use this new toy.  And I have two bushels of apples sitting outside, just waiting…would you like some applesauce?

House Updates

So many choices…everywhere we look.  A packed grocery store filled with food that we can choose this one or that.  You know why I love Market Basket in Tilton?  Their produce is the best and their apples have not been over 99 cents/lb for as long as I’ve been shopping there!
Choices.  So we needed a new toilet.  Because remember Gwyn and I cracked the upstairs one? 
Who knew there were SO many choices.  
Do you go really cheap – a $30 toilet?  Too cheap, even for us.  We went middle of the road, low $100s. “American Standard” – Made in Mexico!  And then there’s the color.  White or bone?  The bone looked too dark but when we got home the white looked too white.  Too bad.  It matched the baseboards.
The girls were quite helpful.  Gregor and I installed it.  Let me just say right now that spending those hours with Gregor were a wee bit different than spending a week working with Gwyn.  I’m just sayin’!
A marital moment
Putting the baseboards back on = big hassle.  We had to MEASURE, then cut at a 45 degree angle.  But my man can do it – yes he can! (Shouldn’t that make up for the sleeping pic?)  Good thing we have a great neighbor – thank you Phil!  He has the tools.  Have I mentioned how much easier projects are with the right tools?  Then we had to borrow his nail gun.  But we did give him eggs.
In the meantime, my baby put on roller skates.  (My baby!)
So the toilet went on, the baseboards went on.  It was beautiful.
And then the toilet leaked.  Just a little bit.  In the front.  And in the back.  I almost cried.
When Gwyn heard she asked if she could come over.  We spent Monday morning installing the toilet and even buying a handy dandy new extra-strength wax ring.  Tonight (4 days later) it leaked.  I’m calling a plumber.
This was a home project before the bathroom.  I hated my cupboards.  Gregor bought these liners b/c he likes neutral and b/c we thought they’d be better than sticky contact paper you can’t get off.  They weren’t.  Terrible.  They never stayed down.  I always thought when I got married that I would be in charge of the kitchen.  That my husband wouldn’t really have a clue and just say, “It looks great honey.”  HA!
I remember moving all our kitchen stuff into our very first dormitory apartment:  Morton House.  How thrilling to have a little space just for the two of us.  I was very confused when he had an opinion on where the glasses went.  And the silverware.  And the plates.  I felt a little put out.  Which is why it’s strange I did not learn my lesson.  I mean, our kitchen is pumpkin because of my husband.
I was struck with inspiration after seeing the kitchen on this BLOG.  $3 Sarah says!  Transform your kitchen just by buying wrapping paper from Target.  So I did.  I love her kitchen.
Even though I had to MEASURE.  Not doing a good job at all.  Why is this so hard?  But I did.  I carefully cut out 6 squares.  It took me a long time.  And then I put it up.
I wasn’t sure it was great with the green, but when you close the doors you can’t see the green.  Just the back wall.  I was so excited to have Gregor walk in and see.  Well, excited and nervous.
“What is that?” he says.  And he shakes his head.
“Don’t you like it?” I ask.
“No.  No.  And no.  I do not like it at all.”
Perhaps I was irrational.  It’s just an opinion.  But I was MAD.
I thought it very Darcy-ish.  I took it down.  And then he felt bad and said I should put it back.
But I didn’t.  Because everytime he looked it I would know he hated it.
But I did do this.
I do love this contact paper.
So all the drawers had to be done.
Which leads to organization.  Ooooh…love that.
This was a gross space under the stove.
I’m embarrassed to say this rusted piece of disgusting has been there since we moved in and I just thought it was something not to mess with?
Much better.
It’s true what they say.  There is always something to fix.