Category Archives: House

I’m Dreaming of a White Bathroom

It’s becoming clear which room I will tackle next in my never-ending quest to redo every single square foot of this house, whether it needs it or not. Our downstairs half-bath, powder room, lav, whatevs… is annoying the shit out of me. So to speak.

The three bathrooms in this house that are used the most frequently (there’s a fourth in the basement, but it scares me and I have literally stepped foot in it once — while we were viewing the house before purchasing it) have never been painted by me. They’re all still in the putrid colors previous owners left them. Does anyone ever like the colors that previous owners choose?? Maybe I’m just a control freak? Our first floor half-bath and second floor full bath are the two thorns in my side these days. I hate them. But because what I want, no, need, to do to that second-floor bathroom involves major renovation, the first floor half-bath is my target these days.

Wanna see why I hate it? Ok!

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It’s located right off the kitchen and dining room…. I know that there are many people in the world that hate a bathroom right by the food zones of the house, but when you live in the Chicago area and have a lot the width of your pinky finger, bathrooms are shoved into whatever nook of a house they may fit.

Powder Room (from here on out, I’m calling it that to differentiate it from the totally Blah Bathroom on the second floor), how do I hate thee? Let me count the ways:

  1. Your burgundy-brownish paint job… you are the color of a Victorian-era prostitute’s fanciest dress. And that makes you, paint job, one of the only things that could possibly fit with the era in which this house was built.
  2. Your Pre-Dirtied Tile… I guess it’s convenient to put in floor tiles into bathrooms that already look like they have been soiled. They have no character or charm. Blah brown.

Okay, so that was only two ways. But it’s a small room. Like, tiny. So, how many offenses can it have??

Things I like: The frameless mirror, the pretty pedestal sink and the porcelain-and-nickel towel bar… three things that I think would fit well into a powder room in a house built in 1905. I want the rooms in our house to look as if they belong in a house built in 1905.. not exactly “period-perfect” but more like “period-inspired,” you know?

So I’ve been plotting and scheming and dreaming. Here’s what I want to do:

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  1. I never in my life thought I’d be dreaming of putting in wallpaper. That must mean I’m getting old. Wallpaper and pantyhose and shopping for insurance… those are all the harbingers of old age, right? But for some reason, I think it would be fantastic to put a big, bold print in this powder room. When I first ran across Summer Squall in Midnight by Ellie Cashman Designs, I was a smitten kitten. Seriously, not just wallpaper, but a FLORAL wallpaper? It’s like I don’t even know myself anymore.
  2. You put that gorgeous wallpaper up in that little room right above a wonderfully charming beadboard? Perfection, my friend.
  3. There’s no place to put things in this bathroom… not an extra roll of toilet paper, not a backup hand towel, not nothing. So I would love to put some sort of small-ish (cause it has to be) but character-ridden something to hold crap. Like this Rosalie Metal Cabinet from Home Decorators Collection. I’m not sure this will fit into the room, it most likely won’t, but maybe I can find something like it. I hope, dear Distressed Vintage Furniture Gods, that you might bless me with the perfectly sized and styled crap-holder?? Pretty please?
  4. Beautiful, delicious, glorious marble hexagon tile for the floor. Yep. This is it. Love.

Between these four new elements and me painting all the wood trim white* I think I will adore this room now. Yep, totally sure I’ll adore it. Now, to figure out how to DO this!

 

*don’t get your panties in a wad over painting the wood. None of the wood is antique wood (the bathroom was installed in the 70’s and remodeled in 2005) and the wood-tone is just too oppressive for me. I want to lighten this bitch up, ok!?

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A Cautionary Halloween Tale

If I had to give one piece of advice to a new homeowner, it would be this:

When you buy a house in a new-to-you neighborhood:

DON’T LIVE OUT YOUR OWN CHILDHOOD FANTASIES ABOUT BEING THE ‘FULL SIZED CANDY BAR’ HOUSE UNTIL YOU ASK YOUR NEIGHBORS WHAT HALLOWEEN LOOKS LIKE IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD.

I’m not being funny. I’m being for realsy. Let me tell you a little story.

When I was a kid growing up in an idyllic working-middle-class suburb outside of Cleveland, Halloween was the most magical day of the year to me. I would don whatever homemade costume my mom made for me (or made for my sisters and then handed down to me) and with pillow case in hand (you could get more candy in a pillow case than a bucket, I reasoned), I set out house-to-house in our densely packed residential area, coming home with a nice, satisfying bag of loot. There were a lot of kids in our neighborhood, but there were a lot of older people whose adult children didn’t live there anymore, so I suppose that kept the crowds to a minimum. There were always lots of people, I though, a nice steady stream of friends from the neighborhood and friends from school.

This was my candy bowl at 2:59p that day. All filled with sugar and full-sized bars and optimism. I ran out of all three of those things at 4:45p.

This was my candy bowl at 2:59p that day. All filled with sugar and full-sized bars and optimism. I ran out of all three of those things at 4:45p.

When we moved to our new house in Oak Park, just outside of the Chicago, I didn’t ask my new neighbors what Halloween looked like in our neighborhood… it never occurred to me that it would be something different from what I grew up with. I expected it to be busier than any Halloween I experienced while living in the city (when you’re in a third floor walk up, surrounded by many non-married post-college “kids” like yourself, you don’t get many trick or treaters), but I didn’t know it would be the kind of Halloween that we had:

Fucking pandelerium.

I’m telling you, our street was packed with cars—people coming in from Chicago neighborhoods, just to trick-or-treat in our neighborhood. Minivans would slow—not stop—and I’m not kidding dozens of kids spilled out of the moving cars to go collect candy. When trick-or-treating started at 3p (wtf time is that to start?? Half the kids and parents are still in school… but whatever), throngs of kids, some in costume, some not, started appearing at my door. Throngs. Dozens. Myriad. And I panicked. It was my first homeowner-Halloween so I wanted to live out a fantasy I had as a kid as being the ‘Full-Sized Candy Bar’ house. This was a big fucking mistake. Also a mistake was letting the kids pick out their candy from the bowl. They would reach in, grab handfuls and throw it into their buckets, turning and running, not a thank you to be heard. Sometimes the moms standing in the background on their cell phones would reach in and grab themselves a few candy bars. Hardly anyone said thank you. I was kind of appalled. Occasionally there would be a very polite kiddo that just made me so proud… that kid would get two candy bars.

But I started panicking… by 4:30p, I was down to about four pieces of candy. Seriously? When I ran out, I had to turn off my light and pack it up—we weren’t even halfway through the trick or treating hours! But even turning off the porch light and blowing out the candles in the jack o’lanterns didn’t stop the hundreds of kids from knocking on my door, looking for candy. I felt like such a jerk, standing in my dark house as mobs of kids kept on knocking on the door.

As I went house to house with my own kiddo a bit later, I started talking to my neighbors… “This is insane!” I told one. She replied that yep, this is what it’s like in our neighborhood… she will usually buy 800-900 pieces of candy every year and always runs out before the end of the T-or-T time is over. Houses in the neighborhood had signs up on their doors that read “Sorry! Out of candy” and one had even carved the words “No More Candy” into a pumpkin and left it illuminated on their porch.

So this year, I’ve made this sign, printed it out and laminated it, so that when I run out of our (fun-sized) candy, I can hang this along the bottom of my porch steps, alerting the kids that we have no fun for them anymore before they have to traipse up the stairs. Feel free to do the same!

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And yeah… definitely no more full-sized candy bars. I’d have to take out a second mortgage to provide full-sized candy bars for everyone that comes knocking.

keepintouch

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The Big Reveal: Playroom & Guest Room Makeover

Holy hell, y’all. It’s done.* And to think, it all started with just painting the walls. But I’m just a teensy bit blue about it… what the heck am I going to do now after the kids go to bed??? Actually clean the kitchen up from dinner? Psssshaw. Whatevs. I’m probably just going to zone out on Pinterest with a glass of wine. Don’t judge. You know you do it too.

Let’s get to the good stuff.

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I’ve seen enough design blogs and Before & After posts on Apartment Therapy to know that what people want to see when you reveal an “After” are photos in the same angle and POV as the “before picture. So for those of you people who may read this, here you go:

The guest area, from roughly the same spot.

The guest area, from roughly the same spot.

You can see that not too much has changed on this side of the room–the bed and bedding are the same, but we have added a Kallax bookshelf to serve as dresser-ish nightstandy thing for anyone staying at the O’D Inn.

Here are some detail photos:

I wanted the things in the shelves to be practical for a guest--plenty of fresh towels, some enjoyable books and some books about Chicago. Easy access to electric sockets... all the comforts of home!

I wanted the things in the shelves to be practical for a guest–plenty of fresh towels, some enjoyable books and some books about Chicago. Easy access to electric sockets… all the comforts of home!

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I'm a mom so there are always snacks around. I just figured I should put some up here for my guests, too. Oh who am I kidding. The moment the kids discover these in the baskets, they're done-zo.

I’m a mom so there are always snacks around. I just figured I should put some up here for my guests, too. Oh who am I kidding. The moment the kids discover these in the baskets, they’re done-zo.

Is there ever anything more frustrating than not knowing the password to the wifi when you're visiting somewhere? I decided to solve that with a jaunty little picture.

Is there ever anything more frustrating than not knowing the password to the wifi when you’re visiting somewhere? I decided to solve that with a jaunty little picture.

I feel like it's a pretty cozy little nook for my mom or my in-laws or whomever else decides to pay us a visit! (Come visit soon!!)

I feel like it’s a pretty cozy little nook for my mom or my in-laws or whomever else decides to pay us a visit! (Come visit soon!!)

But what my kiddos are most excited about is the playroom space. I have to admit… I am too.

Pay no mind to the painters tape that I just realized is still on the ceiling fan, ok?

Pay no mind to the painters tape that I just realized is still on the ceiling fan, ok?

I love how bright and fun this looks. It's better (to me) than some of the local indoor playspaces! I'm so glad we did the Flor carpet tiles.

I love how bright and fun this looks. It’s better (to me) than some of the local indoor playspaces! I’m so glad we did the Flor carpet tiles.

Read about the disgusting job of removing of the old carpet and how I laid the new carpet tiles!

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This is from the inside of the “secret” room… I made a conscious decision to do square tiles in here rather than the triangles in the main playroom. First, we only decided to finish out this hidden crawlspace after we had initially ordered the Flor tiles for the main play area. I wanted the secret room to have a different feel than the main room, but still match it, you know? I think the beadboard and the square tiles helps accomplish that.

The secret-hidden room slash reading nook was an afterthought, but man, am I glad we after-thought it.

We decided to finish the crawlspace all the way to the back wall... it's pretty long but I figured it would be great storage space after the kids are grown and gone.

We decided to finish the crawlspace all the way to the back wall… it’s pretty long but I figured it would be great storage space after the kids are grown and gone.

The cubbies really make it, in my mind. You can see the toys but there's also a place for everything, which is what it's all about, right?

The cubbies really make it, in my mind. You can see the toys but there’s also a place for everything, which is what it’s all about, right?

These chairs and table are my favorite shopping conquest ever! We got them at the Land of Nod's warehouse sale--they were floor models from The Land of Nod store so they had a little wear and tear, but I thought

These chairs and table are my favorite shopping conquest ever! We got them at the Land of Nod’s warehouse sale–they were floor models from The Land of Nod store so they had a little wear and tear, but I thought “Hey. They’re for kids to use! They’re going to get beat up anyway!” You cannot beat a deeply discounted 75% less than the retail price, right? Right.

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None of those books taught my kid how to swear, by the way.

My kids seem to love anything that has a million pieces. Thank goodness for Ikea's storage boxes.

We used some scrap beadboard from the secret room to back the kallax bookshelves so toys wouldn’t fall behind into the abyss. I love the look of beadboard. I want every room to have beadboard somewhere.

I love being able to display some toys and hide all the rest! Maybe this will encourage me and my kids to put things back where they belong.

I love being able to display some toys and hide all the rest! Maybe this will encourage me and my kids to put things back where they belong.

Here's a floor plan for those of you who like to see how it all actually fits together!

Here’s a floor plan for those of you who like to see how it all actually fits together!

I hope you like it as much as we do! Now I want to redo EVERY room! Maybe I should just start by cleaning every room. Ha!

Source List

Playroom & Guest Room Walls: Benjamin Moore “Atrium White” in eggshell

Secret Room Walls: bead board painted with Benjamin Moore Ultra Spec Semi-Gloss trim paint

Flooring: Flor carpet tiles

Guest bed, table, shelves and lamps: Ikea

Guest bedding: Target

All Storage Baskets and Bins: Ikea

Table: Land of Nod (discontinued)

Chairs: Land of Nod

Train Table: Melissa & Doug

*There are still a few things left for me to do up there. I need to put the shoe on the baseboard to bridge the gap between the carpet and the baseboard. I need to obviously remove the painters tape from around the ceiling fan. I’m going to sew a curtain for the secret room opening (when I learn how to sew… ha). The insanely huge and unsightly brown air conditioner that just stares at you from the wall… I’d love to get rid of that thing and get something more sleek, energy-efficient, pretty, but we just can’t right now. The thing is a tank and it works really, really, really well. It sticks out of the siding of the back of the house so replacing it isn’t merely the same as replacing a window air conditioner and it would be far more expensive. So in the wall it stays, until one day, it finally dies on us. And I want to figure out some sort of art for the walls… that is going to take time.

keepintouch

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How To Lay Triangle Carpet Tiles In a Not-So-Square Space

Now that all the things have been done to the third floor playroom/guest room, it’s time to do the final bit: laying the wall-to-wall carpet tile! Isn’t it exciting when a complicated project nears the finish line??

As I’ve shared before, this is our “inspiration room.” I’ll take a minute while you marvel at it’s beauty:

Done? Yeah… I pretty much want to move into this space. It’s so bright and clean and fun and inspiring. And I’ve been hell-bent on recreating it in my house, come what may. Determination… I haz it. Continue reading

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Thinking Ahead: Millie’s Big Girl Bed

I’m wrapping up my playroom/guest room redecoration and so I’m starting to get that familiar itch… the “Can’t Wait to Start My Next Project!” itch. Maybe that’s why I so often leave projects almost finished, but not quite there… I get inpatient and anxious to do something new. Writing this blog is helping me to actually finish what I’m starting, thankfully.

But I can’t help myself… I’m starting to plot and plan the next project: Millie’s Big Girl Bed.

She’s in a toddler bed which is just her crib with the toddler rail on, but it’s showing signs that it is becoming a bit structurally unsound and since Millie is also growing like a weed, it’s time for a more permanent bed that she can have for years and grow into.

For several years, I have been obsessed with the Ikea Kura bed because of its infinite possibilities… the thing can be used as a lofted bed or as a bed on the ground and it’s simplicity lends itself to whatever “hack” you can imagine for it. There are dozens of blogs out there showing off the ways creative folks have customized the bed and I can’t help but want to join them. One particular customization has just drawn me in and I want to steal the idea completely:

This. So so so much this.

How much would you have loved having a bed like that as a kid??? I know I would’ve adored it! I had this tent thing that had a fitted sheet at the bottom and every so often, I would put my bed tent on and sleep that way for a few weeks… I just loved sleeping in a cozy, enclosed space (which is why I think the best night’s sleep a person could get is the sleep one gets in one of those coffin-like bunks on a tour bus).

I’ve started to build up the “You’re going to get a big girl bed soon!!” thing with Milie, which is important to do because as a preschooler, change is… well, difficult. She is pretty jazzed up about it though and has already specified that she really wants the curtain part to be rainbow.

Rainbow, huh?

When I think about rainbows and beds, the first thing that comes to mind are the rainbow sheets we had when I was a kid (I think everyone had these). So I got my happy little ass on to the internets and I found a seller on etsy selling a queen-sized flat rainbow sheet from this set. From that, I think I will create the rainbow curtain on the Kura bed that Millie is dreaming of.

I don’t think we had the comforter, but I am certain we had the sheets…. in fact, I still have one of the pillow cases.

I’m still trying to decide what to do with the rest of the Kura bed frame–how I will customize the frame and the panels. I think the rainbow is now going to dictate the colors. A few hours on Pinterest should do me, though, right?

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My Weekend, In Google Searches 

Is it bad that most of my 3 year old’s diet comes from food in pouches?” Seriously, y’all. I had purchased a bunch of baby food pouches when Poppy was six-months-old, thinking I would feed them to her but it turned out the girl wanted nothing to do with purées of any sort. She apparently did some reading of the Baby Center Birth Club boards while in utero and decided she was a “Baby Led Weaning” kind of kid. (I don’t call it baby led weaning… I just call it feeding your kid food that isn’t puréed)

Anyway, I digress.

So I have all these food pouches. Millie asked what they were and I, quick on my feet, said “it’s applesauce!” So she sucked it down. She didn’t know it was butternut squash, beet, peaches and kale or some crap like that. She thinks all food in pouches are “applesauce.” So for the past few weeks, that’s the only way I’ve been getting her to eat veggies. You gotta do what you gotta do, right??

How the hell do you fix a pocket door?” We have a pocket door that separates the first floor half-bath from the kitchen and dining room. Some family came in from out of town recently and a member of said family got a little rough with the door and ripped it off the track. So now the door won’t close, the wheels at the top have ripped off and we have quite a fix on our hands I think. Also, open door bathrooming. Yikes!

Quick vegetable side dishesGarlic Parmesan roasted broccoli for the win! Millie even ate a few pieces (after I bribed her with two M&M’s).

I keep forgetting to brush my baby’s teeth” I can’t be the only one right?? Someone tell me it’ll all be ok, please?

Typical paint finish for beadboard.” The beadboard is finally all hung and trimmed out in the playroom’s secret room! I had originally thought that hanging beadboard would be a great way to avoid having to paint in there but after seeing it with all the nails that have been filled in and caulking and stuff around the trim, it will need at least a thin coat of paint just to get everything looking cohesive. I am a total idiot when it comes to picking the correct paint finish for a wall… I have spent so many years living in rentals with terrible flat white, dirty walls that I’ve got this hatred for flat paint. In a poorly informed knee-jerk reaction to that flat-paint-hate, I had the entire interior of our house painted in semi-gloss (I know, I know). Now that I’m a few years in, I’ve learned that eggshell and satin are not the devils I thought them to be and that semi-gloss is totally inappropriate for most rooms. As I lay in my bed looking at the shiny charcoal walls reflecting at me, I know that now. It’s embarrassing.

So I had to find out what exactly I should do to the beadboard. Turns out, semi-gloss IS appropriate on beadboard, at least according to a few of the forums the Google search sent me to. I’m happy about that because I have a giant five-gallon bucket of Ben Moore trim paint sitting barely used in my basement. So any chance to use what I already have and not have to spend more money is welcome!

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Cubby Holes + Secret Rooms

The entire third floor of this house was used by the previous owners as their master suite… I can see how it would be pretty awesome. We chose not to do that though, as it just felt so disconnected from the rest of the house, and with two little kids on the second floor, it just felt better to be near their rooms in the middle of the night.

The previous owners (POs?) did a great thing utilizing the empty space behind the knee walls by inserting three dressers into them to make a lot of “built-in” storage. Super practical and I totally get it.

However…

For whatever reason, these things are just FUGLY to me. Maybe it’s the hardware? Maybe it’s the rounded molding around the sides? They just look so dated and yucky to me and since we moved in, I’ve been saying that I just want to chuck ‘em and put in something else. Anything else. Shelves? Cubbies? Different drawers? My mom, ever the practical one, always advises me to keep them (“Drawers are so functional!”) But I just can’t do it.

They’ve gotta go.

When I did a pinterest search for “Built in cubbies playroom,” a sense of omg I love these just washed over me. Seriously, there is just something pleasing about a little cubby hole, right? I can remember back to when I was in preschool… the littlest kids had hooks on a coat rack, but the bigger kids? Those guys had their own personalized cubby holes near the front door. I coveted those cubby holes and I remember how excited I was when I aged up into the part of the preschool where I got my very own personalized cubby hole.

So I feel like cubby holes are the way to go.

The Kallax just roughed in, before we get the trim and stuff up. Peanut The Cat is very excited about the cubbies. Cats + Cubbies are a natural combo.

The Kallax just roughed in, before we get the trim and stuff up. Peanut The Cat is very excited about the cubbies. Cats + Cubbies are a natural combo.

Luckily enough, we discovered that Ikea’s Kallax bookshelf is almost exactly as big as the openings in the wall! There is about an inch or two room on each side but I figured that can be covered with trim. This saves us from constructing a cubby unit from scratch and I also love that all the great Ikea storage boxes and baskets will fit into the cubbies—they’re my favorite organizational tools anyway! Ikea for the win, once again!

So that’s what is going to happen with those two horizontal dresser openings.

What I’m really excited about is what we are doing on the opposite side of the room where the vertical dresser was.

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When we pulled it out, we found that the space behind was pretty roomy, and it felt like such a waste to just block it back up with something else. So we are fulfilling one of my childhood fantasties: A SECRET ROOM! Or a reading nook. Or a hidden room. Whatever you want to call it I CAN’T WAIT FOR THE GIRLS TO SEE IT.

It just makes sense to finish out that space. Once the kids are grown up and gone, it’s great storage space… or that how I’m justifying the expense in my head. 😉

The framing inside was already done and there are already floor boards in, so I had my friend Jeff, who is also an extraordinary handyman, come over to hang dry wall and beadboard and trim. Basically, Jeff has a saw. I do not have a saw, nor do I possess the gross motor skills to use a saw safely. So Jeff is here to do all the things that I cannot do with a screwdriver, hammer, or crow bar. (Okay he can do more than saw things, like plumbing stuff and electrical stuff… basically, he’s a great guy to have on speed dial if you own a house).

crawlspace10032015jeffincrawlspace10012015

Poor guy. He’s at least six feet tall and he’s spent more hours than he ever wanted to cramped in a tiny crawlspace that we nicknamed the [horribly-bad-politically-incorrect-name-that-I-shall-not-publish-here.]

After all this talk about cubbies and cozy secret rooms, I’m sure you (and my husband) are wondering just who this playroom is actually for… the kids or me? Let’s just say “the kids” ok? 😉

Check out the finished project here!

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Cutting A Rug, Or The Most Disgusting Home Improvement Job Next To Toilet-Related Work

The new to do list for getting the third floor done is this:

  1. Paint walls and trim.
  2. Rip up disgusting 20 year old wall to wall carpet.IMG_9830
  3. Remove the ugly “built in” dressers from the knee walls
  4. Drywall and finish the crawlspace behind one of the knee walls
  5. Create built-in cubbies where dressers once were
  6. Lay down Flor carpet tiles inspired by this awesome picture ——>
  7. Enjoy really cool fun new space.

We are getting there!

Let’s talk about getting that carpet up, ok? It was the worst. It was tedious and smelly and dusty and itchy and I hated every second of it. Continue reading

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A Sonnet To My Crowbar

I’ve been working hard to get the third floor playroom/guest room ready, but I discovered something… I fell in love. Deep, mad love. With my crowbar.

I can say that I am deep into my Third Floor Checklist, which has been modified yet again (I’ll get to that tomorrow), but in the midst of ripping up the disgusting, not-my-pet urine soaked wall to wall carpet, I started to have feelings for this tool. I don’t even know where he came from. I never bought a crowbar. But he was in my basement workshop area, beckoning me just as I was standing there thinking “What the fuck do I use to get those old staples and tack strips off that fucking subfloor??” The needlenose pliers were effective at getting some of the staples up, but they were taking a long ass time to get even one, and they certainly weren’t going to do what I needed done on the tack strips.

But there he was. This guy. He came into my life serendipitously and I can promise you I will never look back.

And because my love is true, I wrote him a poem:

sonnetcrowbar

Crowbar, I did not know my love for you
Within your simple shape, magic exists
People say you’re the best, I’ve found it true
Times spent with you are my favorite trysts.

Just a wee move and you (de)nail my floor
I slip your smooth tool around pesky tacks
Pulling up nail strips is my least fave chore
It’s love, dear ‘bar, cue the sexy-time sax.

You do it all with a slide and a tug
Sometimes the pliers joined us just for fun
With you and the knife we sure cut a rug
Sweaty, spent, wasted, finally all done.

The wood is all gone, no more nails or pricks.
But I’ll come back soon when I need a fix.

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