Archive | October 2018

Where am I?

Good question!

I’m about 17 different places.  I think I’m developing ADD because I do a little bit on a project then run to the next thing and do something and off to the next.

Yesterday I laid out all the Halloween costumes to make sure I had all the bits and pieces and I didn’t so I had a crafty afternoon.  Still a bit to do but nothing too major.  When I post daily in November I’ll have DIY Batgirl, Poison Ivy, and Supergirl posts.  I’m already too late for this year, might as well do them right instead of rushing.


still missing a few things, better pictures to come!

I’m mid-major library wall project.  We would be further along but we got all the shells up and decided the center unit was too small so we had to go back to the store and that is a trip all on its own.


All of the tall ones will get taller, we were just doing the layout.  Don’t mind the clutter, yes, that yellow is last min Halloween costume making… 

Campaigning is an on and off thing.  I’m not a ‘major candidate’ but I still feel like I need to attend everything and keep an eye on issues on Facebook.  This grabs chunks of time and attention at unexpected times.

I have an entire post in my head about how we have entered the ‘taxi’ phase of parenthood.  A quarter of my brain is dedicated to the logistics of getting 3 other humans to the places they need/want/have to be.  It is fun overall and the things I hear in the car are priceless, especially when I have an extra kid in there.

Random house projects are still chugging along.  The garage has quite a bit of shelving now and we can, most importantly, park in there now.  I have acquired curtain hardware for the entire house, and fabric for upstairs, and we are working through getting that done.  Given we live in a giant field, privacy isn’t that much of an issue and now that the sun isn’t rising until past 7am I think we actually waited out the situation.  Curtains might be waiting until spring when I get a 5am face full of sunrise.


Family and friend dynamics, like always, are ever in need of attention.  Happily given but those who feel maintaining kids, marriages, friends and family and hobby relationships take no effort might look around one day and have very few.  Same with the poor neglected blog; I feel guilty that I can’t do more with everyone, the house is like a newborn!  Thankfully I hope everyone who matters understands.


And that is all I have time for today.  I need to get back to all the things before they get worse and spawn dangerous things for the neglect…

Making a Mudroom

When we were designing the house there was a wide hallway with 4 doorways and an opening (is that 5 doors or not?  The last is more an arch and has no door) that was between our garage door and the rest of the house.   On the single uninterrupted wall, they put in a bench and ta-da, they call the area a mudroom.  I called it a *future* mudroom because it really had no place to hang anything.  It got higher on my priority list when kids got back to school and there were backpacks all over the floor.  It got even higher when it got cold and jackets joined the jumble.  As with all good projects we start with Pinterest, but, one of my constant annoyances with Pinterest is that there are no directions, this is my contribution to the mudroom category.

I have no before picture – imagine a navy room with a built-in bench.

First step was to evaluate use.  For us we need lots of coat and backpack hooks at a height that my kids can actually reach.  I also wanted a shelf for cool hats, I have a pretty good collection so they needed a spot.  We also end up with wet stuff a lot so we needed wall protection.

Second step design and research.  After some Pinterest searches, I fell in love with the ‘pretty shelf holders’ but that is not the name for them; they are corbels and can be very tricky.  Some I found are decorative only, made of a plastic or hard foam.  I needed structural corbels and the internet has plenty, some are very expensive, and I ended up getting them from Home Depot; 2 for $15 (I got 2 packs).

Home Depot also had wainscoting (the decorative wood panels) for $12 a panel, our wall is 90 inches so we needed just under 2 full panels.  They are pretty flimsy MDF but they got less brittle after 2 coats of paint.  I made the needed cut, using a circular saw, on the far corner and just ignored the asymmetry.  I wanted to avoid too much cutting so I tested the hight dimension on the wall for hook rail #1 before I bought them and it worked for us.

Both hook rails and the shelf are pine from the dimensional lumber section.  The hook rails are 1x4x8 and the shelf is 1x8x8.  They cost about $20 total.

I painted everything  (SW7005) Pure White to match our trim, the base of the bench and the door frames.

I marked the studs with masking tape in the area I was not planning on putting anything so I didn’t have to constantly look for them.  In my 90 inches, I had 5 studs to work with.  One thing I’ve had problems with in the past is overloading coat hooks so I wanted to make sure this was very strong.  Yes, Dad, I overdid it I am sure, but now I know I can put everything, including a bag of bricks books, on the hooks. Here is my hardware/mounting list (not the order of building)

  • 2 of the 3 corbels are mounted on studs, 3rd is on a screw in anchor
  • The bottom hook rail is mounted using 3in #10 cabinet installation screws
  • The long sections of top hook rail are also mounted to studs with the 3in #10
  • The two short sections of the top rail use wall anchors rated for 50lb
  • Wainscoting is held up by finishing staples from a nail gun, but, finishing nails would work fine.


Order of building;

  1. Wainscoting first, making sure it was perfectly level.  Fun fact, the bench is not level…  I kept the nails around the edge for easier painting later.
  2. Lower rail next.  I positioned the screws so I could cover them with hooks

dry fit everything first

3. Corbels mounted per directions – I decided on the height by a very scientific method; I put a mark where I could still reach but was high enough to look balanced on the wall.  I’ve done enough ‘rule of 3rds’ that it is just part of my life.  I like to use post-its to mark so I can stand back and look and easily move if I need to.


pink marker is a post-it, blue marks are painters tape on my studs

4. Cut sections of wood for the top rail, mine were 4 different lengths so cutting had to be after corbels.  I decided anchoring to the studs was more important than perfect symmetry. In planning, I made sure each long section would have a stud, the short sections I used toggle bolts.

5. The shelf is mostly held by gravity but to be more secure I used the nail gun along the back to anchor it to the top rail.

6. I added hooks, starting by covering my fasteners and then eyeballing (using pink post-its) the others.  The lower hooks are the bigger style and the uppers are small because I didn’t want to bang into the shelf above so I needed a low profile.

7. Touch up paint.  Went over all the nail heads and the seam of the wainscoting and along the joins of the rails to the shelf above.  Looks way better with the hairline cracks filled in with paint

8. Clean up all the tools, trash, and dust and took a picture because this is likely the last time it will be so empty ever!



There are 2 things I wish I could have done differently.

First, I’m not wild about how the upper rail looks cut up because it is slightly thicker than the back of the corbel.  Paint helped but the only real solution would have been to put in verticle strips but that would have looked bad because my spaces were not equal, or, even with the wainscoting.  I found other places on Pinterest that did the same so I’m not the only one with the quandary.  I don’t think anyone will really notice.

Second, I would have preferred to run a router grove on the lower rail so it nested over the wainscoting adding to the structure.  I didn’t because my router is still at a friends house and I wanted to get this done and he was on vacation.  It worked out fine so far at least.

Even with those two reservations, I’m really happy with how this turned out.  I’m proud to contribute this to the Pinterest universe.

Oh! I was asked about the color and we used SW6244 – navel here and in the front hall and it is scary dark on the chip but awesome in person.  The bench stain is Koa, the flooring is a vinyl plank laid in a herringbone pattern (left that to the pros!)

Picking blueberries

Yesterday a Facebook friend was lamenting the gap in her budget.  That underwater feel of not having enough and definitely not having enough for fun stuff.  I offered to give her a few things that have worked for me to earn a little side money without investment or too much extra effort.  Enough other friends asked for the same info that I feel it is worth just writing up here properly not just texting a list of sites.

  1. subscribe to Penny Hoarder.  All my info came from them and there have been dozens that I don’t do because they didn’t fit my life.  The grain of salt for them is that they push out a lot of suggestions and I recommend googling the specific thing you are interested in trying to get more info on it before you do it.
  2. Paribus – absolutely passive service that is great if you order from Amazon or Walmart or a few other online sites.  It keeps track of shipping guarantees and sends a note on your behalf when things deliver late.  I’ve gotten about $40 over the past few months because I tend to get either 5 or 10 dollars in ‘compensation’ each time.  They also do price watch on certain sites and a couple years ago I got $100 when the oven I purchased from went on sale a week after I bought it.  If you shop online this is absolutely worth the sign-up.
  3.  –  This is the best of the bunch for the online ‘survey’ stuff.  They pay 10 a completed job and each job is about 20 min on the computer.  You more or less beta test a website and they record your voice and screen and you think/talk your way through it.  The catch is you need to qualify for each job and they take limited numbers so if you have time to watch it and jump on the ones with broad qualifications, or, are in a few niche categories (usually specific business software testing) you might not find much you can do.  During the phase I was checking daily I usually got 1 or 2 a day.  The best part is they auto-pay to PayPal a week after the completed test.  No requesting, no minimum, just bam – money in PayPal.  I think I’ve earned over $100 in the few months I kept track of it.
  4. JobSpotter – this is a phone app and they want you to take pictures of help wanted signs in real life.  This is a good app if you are out and about because it is just 30 seconds to enter a sign.  The downside is the pay is very low, between .10 and .75 per but it does add up.  I view it as a game to see what my high score picture might be.  So far my top is an adult store that had ‘help wanted’ written in paint on their window.  They prefer unique location jobs that are probably not already on a big website but they still pay .10 for a McDonalds sign.  You also are earning toward a gift card not cash but they have Amazon and plenty of things I would like.  I don’t super go out of my way for .25 but I view it as picking up change from the ground.
  5. Shopkick – another phone app and another one that works with my life because they pay (pennies) when you go to a store they are affiliated with.  If you just open the app in the store you get the points/pennies.  If you have time white shopping there are always ‘scans’ you can do – find the product they want and take a picture of it. Occasionally there is a question about where the item was but that is pretty rare.  You can also get a big point bonus if you actually buy the thing you scan.  Every so often I was planning on getting that thing anyway so I buy the brand they want and get a dollar by submitting my receipt.  The app is easy to use and you can be very passive or do all the things.  You are also working toward gift cards and I’ve made this one my starbucks card, I’ve collected 4 or 5 fancy coffees over time,
  6. Walmart savings catcher.  I use the website version but there is also an app.  You just enter the receipt number and date within a week of shopping and they give the money back if the same item is advertised lower by a competitor.  Honestly I forgot about this one for years and just started back on it so my yield is about .36 right now but I do shop there and I know sometimes I’m passing up a sale at a different store because I just don’t have time to store hop so this makes me feel like I’m getting some of that back.
  7. Rewards points with Chase – my credit card makes it easy to earn points on purchases but this is a risky thing if you don’t pay off your card monthly.  I hate paying interest so I use my credit card as a debit card and don’t spend more than I have but if that isn’t your way don’t depend on this!  If you can pay off monthly, I suggest digging into the system because often they have bonus points if you use their shopping portal.  It is an extra step to log into chase, then go to the rewards page and click the site I was planning on shopping with.  I find it easier to shop the site and fill the cart and just before checkout go log in through chase. The biggest bang for the buck is using the Chase portal for a Groupon.

I’ve tried others and but these are my consistent winners because they work for me in the life I lead already.  I’m out and about, I do the shopping for the family, I shop online, and I have a decent phone, internet, and computer to make it all work.  I’ve had poor luck with the reselling stuff sites but maybe you have more or better stuff?  I listed more or less in the order I think they are worth doing with chase at the bottom because even though I get a good amount from them, you HAVE to pay your credit card in full every month to have it be worth it.  I hope some or at least one helps out!


ps. If you are wondering about the title it is from my favorite economics teacher who had a famous story about the year he picked blueberries for cash and it just stuck with me with the lesson that sometimes you just pick the little berry because it adds up.