Celebrating the Corps

This year I attended my tenth Marine Corps Ball. We missed one when the hubs was in Iraq in 2004, and another when I’d just had Lunchbox in 2009. (His birthday is in early November, so getting to a ball on the 10th was not happening!)

But we made it this year, and kid-free to boot!

I talked about the ball a little bit last year, and it still strikes me as an important way to remember what the Corps stands for. But this year was a much more festive event for some reason, and I had a really good time. (and, for the tenth year I was able to stifle the urge to scream out inappropriate things during the ceremony… does this happen to anyone else??? I seriously can’t take the quiet, and the ceremony. I get the same urge at weddings… it’s like when you’re on a tall building and you think, “I could totally jump right now!” Oh, that’s just me? Okay… well, then…)

So here’s the required shot of us in our ball attire! 🙂

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Fireplace Makeover

There are LOTS of projects in our house that demand attention (pink master bath countertops, anyone??) But since we lack the cash needed to undertake a major makeover at this point, we’ve been focusing on small, high-impact projects. I have a dining room update coming that I’m totally excited to share… but for now, I present: The living room fireplace…

Here’s the before:

brick fireplace makeover

Yeah. It wasn’t super exciting. I like exposed brick — especially if we’re talking urban apartment. But in a suburban house built in the last 20 years, I feel like it’s just one more standard-builder feature. And I wanted to make ours a little bit different.

So I pulled off the mantel and gave it a few coats of paint. I actually did it in two steps, and the first one was definitely the most labor intensive. I used 2 pints of paint — actually less, since when I pulled something out of the back of my car, one of the pints opened up on the driveway. That was not my smoothest move. I fashioned a scoop out of tin foil and literally scooped it back into the can, getting paint pretty much everywhere. I saved as much as I could, and then hosed off the driveway for a good half hour. (*we do not live in California anymore. This would have a been a much tougher proposition if I was super wary about water usage!!) I scrubbed and hosed, and the spot came out…

But that’s not important right now. Back to the fireplace!

So I painted one coat of a nice beige neutral…not super exciting (see photo…)

first coat fireplace

This coat took the longest because the brick is so porous and it soaked up a ton of paint. Next, I sponged on a lighter color sparsely.

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The lighter coat really brought out all the dips and crevices in the brick.

After that, I put the mantel back up and called it done! A one-evening project with a ton of impact!

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The Art

My kids bring home a lot of artwork. Lunchbox is in Kindergarten, so he is still creating huge 11 x 17 paintings and drawings for us to display around the house. Turbo’s art has gotten more intricate, and has lots of complicated houses filled with rooms and beds and–frighteningly–men with guns and sometimes blood. But 8 year old boys will be 8 year old boys, right?

Anyway, I’m out of room. As much as I want to keep every precious memory and wonderful owl made from fingerprints… I can’t. I’m not a hoarder and I don’t want to be one. I know that things that seem precious now are tomorrow’s junk. Don’t get me wrong–I keep a few things each month, tucking them into a folder that I convince myself I will then organize into big binders of keepsakes for them. (I haven’t done that, but I could spring into action any moment!)

So for now, I put the art here.

Today I give you, Red Dragon (Turbo) and Giraffe (Turbo, artwork commissioned by his little brother, Lunchbox, who has a particular affinity for giraffes.)

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Goodnight Garden

We live in a kind of rural place… not like the middle of nowhere. Like an hour from nowhere. (And about an hour from DC, so it’s all good…) But we have enough space that the hubs bought a ride-on mower and for the first year I got to plant a real garden. My tomatoes and squash were seriously out of control, and while my neighbors might have initially thought I was crazy when I dug up and then fenced a ten foot square pretty much in the middle of our yard, they understood when I showed up with baskets of tomatoes!

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But now, it’s getting cold, and it was time to pull out the rest of the plants and settle the garden for the winter.

So I ordered a truckload of mulch, and a big truck dumped a serious mountain of it into our driveway. And for two solid weekends, I drove our little tractor around and shoveled mulch and made tree rings and stuff. I’m like an effing farmer! (Okay, not at all. But I did like driving the tractor!)

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So I cleared out my garden, laid cardboard down over the dirt and then shoveled about four inches of mulch over the top of it. The hubs asked me what was up with the cardboard and I didn’t really have a good answer. I thought I read somewhere that I was supposed to do that. Don’t suppose it can hurt either way, right?

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Now all our beds are mulched, my bulbs are all planted, and I even added a little tree ring out front around the cherry tree!

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Guest Room Step 1…

I’ve hated our guest room for a while. We’re still using curtains that were here when we bought the house… and the walls are just blah… and it just doesn’t have much personality. It’s a nice little square room with lots of light, and a big closet. And right now it doesn’t scream “welcome!” But I want it to. I’ve been thinking about what to do in there for a long time.

And I’m still not sure. But I’m thinking about navy blue with pink and yellow accents. And gray. Is that too much?

In the meantime, I saw this headboard at Joss and Main and couldn’t help myself… it’s pretty neutral. Gray, though… It arrived last week and I was super excited. And way too busy to put it together. (Why did the fact that assembly was required surprise me?)

So recently, after some pumpkin farm shenanigans, I set to work. Lunchbox helped by manning the allen wrench. And the assembly was a piece of cake!

And then we went to put it on the bed. It attaches to the metal bedframe with two screws on each side. The holes are pre-drilled through the upholstery of the headboard, and so naturally I assumed there would be no problem attaching it properly to the bedframe. And our frame did have two screw hole slats in exactly the right place! Huzzah, I thought (prematurely, of course.) The screws were too wide to fit through the narrow metal hole. I tried. And tried some more… and realized that there must be a tool in the Major’s well-stocked garage that would certainly enlarge a metal hole. Some kind of drill, I thought. Some kind of file slash drill bit thing, right?

If only the Major had been home… I wouldn’t have had to send him a text with this photo…

destroyed bit

Whatever this sharp saw bit thingy is for, I can tell you…it’s not for enlarging holes in metal. It did work, however, on the one hole I ruined it in. 🙂 So that was a small win. I’d replace this for the Major but I seriously don’t even know what it’s called. I guess I can take it to Lowe’s with my hangdog look and ask them for another whatever it is.

Since the Major still wasn’t home, and I can’t stand leaving things not done, I decided that shoving the bed up against the headboard would work for now. So here is the not-really-yet begun guestroom. (or at least here is the bed!)

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More to come…

Charming Childrens’ Artwork (not)

On Sunday I took Turbo to his soccer game (where an Arctic wind blew freezy air fingers up my butt — hello!), leaving Lunchbox at home alone with the Major. When I got home, the Major told me how they’d had lunch in the trailer in the driveway since he was doing some work on it, and how they’d played CandyLand after lunch. It was one of the first real fall days around these parts, and this whole situation just had me feeling all warm and fuzzy about the way they’d spent their time while we’d been out.

As I walked in with Turbo, I noticed some chalk art on the driveway, and knowing how wholesome the rest of their lunch hour had been, I asked Lunchbox about it.

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“Lunchbox,” I said. “Is that a picture of you and Daddy?”

He grinned at me and shook his sweet little head. “That’s Mr. Fartybottom and Sir Poop.” Then he trotted into the house, leaving me to wonder what the rest of these pictures might be of and whether I should hose them off before we get in trouble for depicting driveway obscenity…

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I’m afraid to ask what these are…

Duct Tape Redux

Have you SEEN these??? Duct tape in awesome colors and patterns. If you hang out at Target like I do, you definitely have. And if you’re like me, you’ve been like, what can I do with this??

I have an answer.

HERE is my favorite version of this tape: duct tape

You may recall that I have a teal home office… what you probably didn’t know was that I had a super beat up old white LACK Ikea table (but really, who doesn’t have one of these??) lack-side-table-white__22519_PE107398_S4

And now, I have one of THESE: IKEA Lack Table with Duct Tape Hack!