Stepping Back for a Better Look

I did it. I got through Easter. I kept things as simple as possible and focused on the company rather than the trimmings and it was really nice. The meal was simple, what could be done ahead of time, was, and nothing fussy was allowed. It was delicious, we had a nice visit, and yes, everyone noticed that my living room was completely full of crap. It made for a great conversation starter.

Living room pit-of-despair

However, I’ve found that you can direct attention with good food. What living room?

Dining room reclaimed for eatin’

I did find that this time not working on the office, not thinking about the office, and not looking at the office, gave me some fresher eyes. I think I’d like the walls to be a few shades lighter and I still have time to make that change easily.

I’m giving myself a break though. I’m exhausted and I need to pick up the basics that have fallen along the way. Like laundry and the floors (which are so hairy and dusty it looks like I’m trying to grow new carpet).

Pausing mid-way on a project like this is a good way to evaluate my decisions when I’m not whipped up in a planning frenzy. I might have to build something like this in on big projects in the future. I’ll call it the “Stop and Breath.”

The Great Office Makeover – Update

I didn’t mean to hit and run like I did with that last post. My experience with the student loan people is unbelievably frustrating and worrying but I’m tenacious and will figure out how to get this fixed. It worries me though that a lot of people have more respect for these kinds of institutions and let themselves be led down a path that will hurt them in the end.

So back to the office which really occupies more of my time and energy.

Office closet before…

It’s been a really busy week with some heavy deadlines and a conference out-of-town so the work I get to do on the office has been moments here and there. The painting is nearly done. I just need to put on the last coat of gray.

Office closet today

All the trim is done and it felt like it took forever! That brown has been very persistent. I primed everything and they take at least three coats. The door has taken a fourth because some weird yellow spots keep bleeding through.

Door trim done looking through to a door in the “old” style. That is the brown I’m combating throughout the house

I spent Saturday going around to various flooring stores and the big hardware stores trying to find something that would work. Anything I liked was not kept in stock and had to be ordered which wasn’t exactly working to plan. I wanted some kind of easy peel and stick vinyl tiles but everything seemed to be a faux something or other: faux marble, faux stone, faux wood. But they all looked so faux and just didn’t seem like a good choice for a bedroom. I don’t know why they bother trying to look like something else. I’d be fine with just squares of color and then I could do some kind of monochromatic pattern. Marmoleum seemed to be the only option that just had squares of color but they are quite a bit more expensive than I wanted.

Before: wall partially done, trim partly primed

So Saturday was fruitless in finding the flooring which means I couldn’t put anything down which was what the project plan dictated. I’ll probably just go back to the store and get more of the flooring I put in the kitchen and continue it in the office. The price is right and it matches.

Trim done, wall waiting for second coat of gray

Which means the office will not be done for Easter which was the hope. Everything piled on the dining table just got piled in the living room. It isn’t the end of the world. It would have been fun to be able to point and say, “done!” but I’ll still be happy with the new office and certainly happier with a reduced pace to finish. I was starting to get a little wild-eyed and exhausted.

So I’m focused on making a nice Easter for the family and then I’ll turn back to the office and take the time I want to make all the changes I think are needed. Especially when it comes to getting a rid of most of the stuff so it doesn’t go back in the room. Since it’s a small room that provides a lot of function, I’ll have to get creative.

When I painted the window sill, I knew it was probably just a matter of time before my work was inspected

Are the Financial Professionals Dropping the Ball?

Which is a silly question because I think most of us would say YES!

But I’m talking about something slightly different and yet, still a little alarming.

I have a student loan I’m still paying off. I probably should have had it paid off by now but the “professionals” I’ve been dealing with over the years are part of the problem.

I’m not going to go into detail about how the original lender didn’t even tell me I had more than one loan so while I was making payments on one loan, the other loan was going into collections. Eventually, some kind soul somewhere realized what had happened and consolidated the loans.

Oops! Our fault, but we aren’t going to do anything about the damage it does to your financial reputation. That is against our policy.

No, I’m going to vent a little about a different practice they have that I feel is downright dangerous and leaving some of us vulnerable to fraud.

I’ve spent a good part of the morning on the phone trying to track down someone who can tell me how to resolve a problem. It seems the Department of Education’s loan servicer suddenly went out of business but no one was required to let us, the payers know. Instead, I get a random letter from someone I don’t know telling me that I should be sending them money.

For some reason, I didn’t take this letter seriously and tossed it. As the loan status slowly imploded, I made a gazillion calls trying to track down what happened and who could give me information. Someone finally admitted that they didn’t tell any of us anything and I was scolded that I didn’t just start making payments to this random company who sent me a form letter.

What a great scam opportunity. Did you know you can just xerox some flyers off and start demanding payments from people? Because, apparently, I’m the only person who finds it a sketchy practice. I’m being overly suspicious of letters like this. Even though I get letters like that all time and at first, I called the senders thinking I had business with them and found out the hard way it was just a way to trick us into calling them to sell me something and this somehow meant they could sell off my contact information for more junk mail and solicitation calls.

I sat on that phone stunned. I made the call they told me I had to make to the agency that is supposed to be able to fix this and was so pleased to have this conversation:

Me: “So if I do A, will this resolve the issue?”
Him: “I have no idea.”
Me: “OK, what hoops do I need to jump through to resolve this?”
Him: “I have no visibility to that.”
Me: “Who can help me with this?”
Him: “Ma’am, you need to do A.”
Me: “I need to know if that is going to resolve this. I need to know what action will fix things.”
Him: “Ma’am, I have no visibility to that. I see no notes on your account at all.”

This is almost word-for-word. The best part is, they (the Department of Education) aren’t even entirely sure who I should be sending my payments to. Isn’t that awesome? I’m just supposed to send money to someone and hope it “counts.”

Sorry this isn’t funny or even relevant to this blog. I only have a few readers so it isn’t even like I’m revealing a scandal to the public but it was either write about it or continue to beat my head against the wall.

I’d rather be painting them.

Color on Walls!

OK, it isn’t as exciting as my title would suggest but it does always feel good to see some spiffing up in the midst of tearing everything down and out.

I got some pictures this morning in the natural light so you could see the color better. It still isn’t great because I am just taking pictures with my phone. My tripod is somewhere in the home office mess in other rooms so this will be as good as we get for a while.

I like this picture because of the cutting-in on the right wall, you can see how different the gray is from white which doesn’t always read well in pictures of just the gray wall

I ran out of paint half way through so now I have to find time to get to the paint store. That will be a bit of a challenge. I’m using a much thicker nap for the roller this time and it is putting a lot of paint on the walls. I may not have to come back for a second coat.

I was also delighted to discover a little feature on my cutting-in cup last night. This is probably well-known to the rest of the world and obvious to others but I totally missed it until I happened to tap my paint brush against the side of the cup. There is a magnet there to hold the paint brush!

It’s the little things.

When I pulled up my carpet, I did find a few fibers of what is likely the original carpet. Surprise, surprise, this 1978 ranch-style home had brown shag carpet!

I’ll tell you, it has not been easy to stay focused on this little room when this is going on outside now:

Spring. Happening right before my eyes!

Don’t worry, the project supervisor is on the job and won’t let me quit.

The Great Office Makeover – Nearly Half Way

That is a scary prospect as all I can seem to see is what isn’t done. This is exactly why I like to keep lists to remind myself of how much I have finished so I don’t get discouraged and momentum fizzles.

The painting didn’t get finished but I had built in some extra days for that so a little slippage is probably OK.

The closet holes got patched and all these walls and trim have been primed.

I’ll be cutting in and getting the first coat of color on the walls tonight. It isn’t a big room at all but my knee is bothering me so standing on tippy toe hurts really bad and a lot of standing also hurts. This slows the painting down but I just “tortoise through” as I keep saying to people. I just take a lot of little micro-breaks by sitting down, gently flexing my knee, and a few minutes later, I get back to it. It seems like this would bring things to a grinding halt but I’m finding that it just extends things a little and I’m not exhausted and sore at the end so it isn’t a bad system.

Some of the “help” I had this weekend

I don’t have any idea what I’m going to do for the floor which is a little worrisome. The subfloor was in much better condition than I thought it would be which is a relief because the builders used approximately two thousand staples per board so getting them up was going to be a challenge. I just need to make a decision about what I want to put down and then buy it. And then install it.

That’s all.

Thank goodness for being able to order a ham for Easter dinner. I’ve reserved ours and am delegating a few dishes out to family members. That should help a lot with the actual food. I might need to splurge and bring in a cleaning crew for general cleaning up. The tumble fur is threatening to become sentient again and unless they are going to start helping with the laundry and dishes, they must go.

Monday: clean out closet

Tuesday: remove desk

Wednesday: demo closet

Thursday: repair holes in closet

Friday: replace shelves, paint closet door, remove shelves

Weekend: remove carpet, replace sub-floor, paint room

Monday: paint window trim

Tuesday: paint trim, paint room

Wednesday: finish painting closet door, finish painting trim

Thursday: finish painting room

Friday: cut baseboard trim

Weekend: lay new floor, replace base board

Monday: paint desk

Tuesday: paint desk, paint trim

Wednesday: finish painting desk, replace shelves, hang new closet bar

Thursday: hang new blinds

Friday: replace stuff

Saturday: clean house

First Epic Weekend of the Great Office Makeover

Halfway into the first epic weekend and so far so good.

The carpet and pad is out:

The carpet tack strips and the base trim is out:

Things are cleaned up and waiting for the painting of the walls to commence:

A bit of a change with the shelves, I had originally planned on fixing these (one of these was the bookcase that originally started falling apart and started this whole makeover) and painting them white but as I moved them into the garage, I found they are so flimsy and loose that they are not long for this world. No matter what I do to patch them back together, I don’t think they are going to be worth the time and money to repurpose them.

They were cheap Ikea shelves. I don’t mean they were cheap because they are Ikea, I mean they were cheap even by Ikea standards. They were on super-clearance and cost $25 each so you can see why putting any money into them, if they aren’t going to hold up, it just isn’t worth it.

So quick plan adjustment and try to keep the momentum.

Monday: clean out closet

Tuesday: remove desk

Wednesday: demo closet

Thursday: repair holes in closet

Friday: replace shelves, paint closet door, remove shelves

Weekend: remove carpet, replace sub-floor, paint room

Monday: finish painting room, paint window trim

Tuesday: finish painting trim,

Wednesday: paint shelves, finish painting closet door

Thursday: replace closet trim

Friday: cut baseboard trim

Weekend: lay new floor, replace base board

Monday: paint desk

Tuesday: paint desk, paint trim

Wednesday: finish painting desk, replace shelves, hang new closet bar

Thursday: hang new blinds

Friday: replace stuff

Saturday: clean house


Day 3 – The Great Office Makeover

So far so good. I’m trucking along according to the plan. It hasn’t all been easy, the desk wouldn’t completely come apart and the shelf supports in the closet were attached with nearly 3 inch “nails.” I quotation mark those because they look like a hybrid of a nail and a staple and are freakin’ hard to get out of the wall. It didn’t help that there were an excessive number of these “nails.”

This corner isn’t going anywhere

Because of the “nails” the drywall on the wall got kind of damaged so I’ll have to fix that before painting.


I wouldn’t have called this the sexiest part of the project. I’d better start spicing things up.

Sexy or not, this has actually been quite a bit of work already. Here is where we started at the kickoff of this project.

Here is how it looks this evening.

Frankie does not approve of what I’m doing to his room. Yes, he has always considered this his room and the futon his bed. I may actually be making over a dog’s room.

Monday: clean out closet

Tuesday: remove desk

Wednesday: demo closet

Thursday: remove shelves, repair shelves, repair holes in closet

Friday: paint shelves

Weekend: remove carpet, replace sub-floor, paint room

Monday: finish painting room, paint window trim

Tuesday: finish painting trim, paint closet door

Wednesday: finish painting closet door

Thursday: replace closet trim

Friday: cut baseboard trim

Weekend: lay new floor, replace base board

Monday: paint desk

Tuesday: paint desk, paint trim

Wednesday: finish painting desk, replace shelves, hang new closet bar

Thursday: hang new blinds

Friday: replace stuff

Saturday: clean house

Hang On, It’s Going to be a Bumpy Ride

I’ve been whinging on about the office makeover. In fact, considering the pace I’ve set, I can hardly call it a makeover. It’s more like a “wish for.” I wish my office would just spiff up when I’m sleeping.

Then I lost my marbles and volunteered to host Easter. My office is one of my guest rooms so I need it for one of the guests AND my dining room table is completely covered in several layers of detritus from the office. After all that work getting the crap out of the room, I may have just put myself in a position to have to lug it all back temporarily. This is where being a lazy person becomes a conundrum.

As a lazy person, I hate doing work when I don’t have to. Sometimes that translates into action that makes me look like the opposite of a lazy person, but I assure you it all comes from not wanting to do ANY extra work. The office was ridiculously full. It was the black hole of the house. It is where anything I had to “deal” with went in an effort not to deal with it. Stuff accumulates fast when you do that. I’ve been getting rid of stuff as I emptied the room and it is still a ton of crap. Not only is the dining room incapacitated by office crap, the living room is pretty unusable too.

Then someone made the mistake of hearing what I wanted to do in the timeframe it would need to be done and they said the worst thing anyone can say to me…

“You can’t do it.”

Which means I must now attempt the impossible.

This is so stupid on so many levels. Not only is it overly aggressive in of itself, but I am working under some unbelievably tight deadlines at work so I’m into work early and staying late and have absolutely no time during the day to do anything other than work and wolf down some food while working.

That did not stop me from writing out a schedule and thinking, “I think I can actually do this” because I tend to operate in denial. I know I’m in denial but it doesn’t keep me from genuinely believing it is possible. I amaze even myself sometimes.

What is wrong with you?

The project plan for this folly?

Monday: clean out closet

Tuesday: remove desk

Wednesday: demo closet

Thursday: remove shelves, repair shelves

Friday: paint shelves

Weekend: remove carpet, replace sub-floor, paint room

Monday: finish painting room, paint window trim

Tuesday: finish painting trim, paint closet door

Wednesday: finish painting closet door

Thursday: replace closet trim

Friday: cut baseboard trim

Weekend: lay new floor, replace base board

Monday: paint desk

Tuesday: paint desk, paint trim

Wednesday: finish painting desk, replace shelves, hang new closet bar

Thursday: hang new blinds

Friday: replace stuff

Saturday: clean house

What is not reflected in here and what I seem to be pretending won’t impact this schedule is the fact that I’m out-of-town the Tuesday and Wednesday of the second week.

Do you see that task for Monday though? Done. Like a boss. And that closet was still really full of stuff so it was one of the harder tasks.  I’m pretty certain anything I manage to get done is due to my supervisor. She’ll keep me on track and I’ll have a brand new office for Easter.

The boss. Under her supervision, all of this WILL get done!

What I’ll Never Be

The nice thing about being in your 40s is that you have gotten to know yourself pretty well. You’ve even had time to make some adjustments so you are doing more things you like, letting go of things you don’t really like, and finding that, in general, you’re OK as you are and you still look pretty good. It’s a nice place to be. However, I’m also at a point where I can confidently say, I’ll never be certain things. Cross these off the list of possibilities because they aren’t going to happen.

I’ll never be one of those fashionistas you see in the commercials with the spike heels and 1/2 ton of jewelry. I’m not a big fan of wearing most of my closet at once. I have absolutely been known to be perfectly able to start my day without buying something and I have never mistaken a rebate for free money. I’m not even a big fan of shopping in general and since I can do basic math, I’m not under the impression I’m getting paid to shop when the store has money back or discount programs.


I’ll never be an Olympic athlete. I’m too old, have lousy eyesight, and honestly, no interest, what so ever. I have held an Olympic gold medal before. I got to work at a commercial shoot with Janet Evans and she graciously brought her medals for us to see. They are heavy and it scared the crap out of me that I might drop them. I’m impressed by people who make their sport more than a full-time job but I get distracted by sandwiches. That doesn’t strike me as anyone who has the focus for a medal of any kind.

I’ll never be Amish or a pioneer woman. While I am indeed someone who can knit, spin a little, quilt, and like to grow and can food, you’ll never get my Keurig or my microwave. In fact, I might actually fashion a shiv out of a toothbrush if I thought someone was going to try to take them. If the zombie apocalypse happens, I feel confident that my latent scientific talent will emerge and I’ll figure out a way to work my beloved appliances with a bicycle. Or a broom.


Potential weapons for protecting my Keurig; since I’m not using them for the yard.

I’ll never be one of those people with a perfect house and yard. Even if I hired someone to do them all, it just isn’t my destiny to live amongst that. I knock over too many cans of soda and forget about apples in the bowl on the counter until they start to do something strange with shriveling and cracking open. I have the ability to walk by a sink full of dishes and manage not to even think about them. I think that is a much more useful talent.


Otherwise the help I get around the house would make me crazy.

This last “I’ll never be” also pretty much guarantees that I’ll never be on a reality show. I’m not messy enough for hoarders or one of those cleaning intervention shows but no one really wants to see much of my dirty laundry or counter covered in curtain implements that I keep there in the hopes it will jump on the wall itself.

This blog may be as close as I get to my 15 minutes of fame. Just as well. If I was famous, they’d probably expect me to wear spikey heels, 1/2 ton of jewelry and not be distracted by sandwiches.