Homeschooling: It's not what we do, it's how we live.

Tool Time at the THE Academy

Another thing that’s been cutting into my blogging time lately is what we’re dubbing ‘Tool Time at THE Academy’. If you’ve ever seen the show Home Improvement, then you’ll get the reference, though I sincerely hope that Loverly Husband and I perform better in DIY tasks than Tim does.

We’re on a serious cleaning/organizing/de-cluttering kick around here. We bought our house last year after renting for several years, and so with home ownership comes both responsibility and the desire to make it pretty. LH and I decided a while back that when we got our income tax refund, our priority would be fixing up our house and yard. We’ve even been watching DIY Network shows like Renovation Rookies, Marriage Under Construction and Sweat Equity to prepare. Oy vey! My dad owned his own home construction business when I was a kid, so with his guiding hand and the wisdom of his experience in or corner, I anticipate smooth waters (… stick around to see me eat those words).

One of the big changes we’ll be making is switching bedrooms around. We have a split floor-plan in this house, and when the boys were small, we didn’t want them across the house from us at night. We co-slept for the first three or so years, but anticipated them being in their own room together at some point, so we put our bed in one of the other bedrooms instead of in the ‘master’ (the only thing differentiating the master from the regular bedrooms is an attached second bathroom). We only needed one bath, so we shut the water off in the en suite bathroom and used the master bedroom as a library/office/storage room.

Now that the boys are bigger, they’re ready for their own bedrooms and we could really use another bath, so we’re going to split them up and move our bedroom to the master and open up the other bathroom. With all this switching around comes redecorating and some minor repairs (new ceiling in the master & bath). From the walls out, we’re repainting, re-trimming and re-lighting almost all the rooms. Both bathrooms will get new paint, lighting and cabinetry as well. Then, we move on to furniture.

If you like Pottery Barn or Land of Nod and can swing a hammer, then you’re going to fall in love with Knock Off Wood. Ana White has blueprints and step-by-step DIY instructions that even the most inexperienced carpenter can tackle. With savings of up to thousands of dollars, you can get the look for significantly less – and spend some QT with the fam in the process. I fell in love with Pottery Barn’s Brady 5-piece entry system, but at over $1500, that’s just not in my budget. KOW has a reproduction that will work and is customizable for a fraction of that cost. There are also Land of Nod knock-offs that I’ve been pining over for a while now, and even the loft beds that I’ve been wanting for the boys.

Before we can begin all of this though, we have to clean out and clean up. Cleaning out isn’t an issue. I’ve read tips on how to get and stay organized; I am pretty organized anyway, but I tend to collect things on the premise that we might need it one day. I’m trying to cut down on that. We just don’t have the kind of storage for (or the need to store) that much. Though I don’t use’s program, I do keep a modified version of her system. I have a household book that I use to keep track of things – similar to her control journal. When I stay on it, I notice that things tend to stay neater and more organized; with the addition of our soon-to-be built and installed furniture pieces, we’ll have a better handle on ‘a place for everything and everything in its place’.

As for cleaning up, I got through phases where I really need bleach, and then I go all-organic, all the time, then cycle back to BLEEEEEEACH!! Right now, I’m in an all-organic phase, so it’s Mrs. Meyers (I LOVE that woman’s Lavender products!!) and vinegar/baking soda/citrus oil. Taking a page from SFK‘s book, I put orange peels in mason jars and covered with white vinegar to make cleaning solutions – useful and very pretty on the counters. I’ll make some of Nadine’s Orange Vinegar cleaner next week. If you’re new to natural cleaning products, here are some organic cleaning recipes at EarthNotes that are easy to try.

We’ve been working on the outside of the house and yard, too. With spring finally poking green things out, we’ve all been itchy to be outside. I took our (old, ragged, broken) screen door off the front in anticipation of getting a new front door and glass-front storm door, and planted two big/tall plants on either side of the front doorway on the porch. We lost our carport cover in hurricane Rita several years ago, and just have the concrete car park. We’re using that as a patio at the moment, which is nice – at least until we have a proper patio put in (hopefully this year sometime).

The boys and I also are preparing for our garden this year – last year, we planted in a semi-raised bed. This year, we’re trying our hand at container gardening. We have a lot of clay and rocks in our soil near the house, and if I try to put a garden away from the house I’ll forget about it, so containers are the compromise. We started our seed trays yesterday with carrots, cantaloupe, watermelon, green snap beans, sweet peas, jalapeño peppers, bell peppers, onions and an herb garden with lavender, sage, thyme, rosemary, cilantro and basil.

I have this yard swing that I got through our local Freecycle group. When I got it, it was ragged, but it still had a canopy and the upper portion of the original cushioned swing seat. It’s lived in our yard for five years or more, and been dragged to the front and back and then front again countless times, survived two hurricanes and numerous reincarnations as a ‘fort foundation’ over the years. Suffice it to say, we’ve gotten our money’s worth. A year or so ago, we finally lost the canopy, and have been sitting on the bare netting. I’ve been meaning to fix it, and finally got around to it the other day.

I have a ton of old fabric from my grandmother and big plans to use it all. I can officially say that I’ve begun whittling down the stash! Here’s a before:

and here are the afters:

It’s not perfect, but it is definitely serviceable, and though my Loverly Husband claims to have been blinded by the floral ocular assault, I think it’s pretty… well, pretty-ER anyway. It really should be made with heavy-duty canvas; this is a lighter-weight canvas, and the seat needs more padding, but it’s good for now. By the time this wears out or tears, I’ll make a new set with a less garish print and spray paint the metal while it’s all apart. My next fabric stash-busting project will probably be making curtains. I need some in basically every room, so if I can use what is on-hand, that would be awesome.

Have you started your spring cleaning and/or gardening yet? Do tell!




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