How Do You Do It?

I made a pillow! Isn’t it nice?  I think it will look super lovely on my someday new gray couch.

(Maggie, I’ve got one for you too.) (Feet!)

Then I recovered this garage sale ottoman/footstool/bench.  I’m pretty much totally in love with this fabric.  I want to order about a thousand yards of it and cover everything I own in it.

(Yeah, floors! What a lovely job Erik did on those floors.)

I’d show you a picture of the new china cabinet fabric window cover, but that project isn’t going too well.

People ask me all the time how I find the time to do all these projects, so here’s a quick guess, from my perspective:

1. I watch almost no television. In fact I am an extremely boring person and essentially all I do is I work on my house, read, and cook.  If I want to exercise or go for a walk, I don’t get stuff done on my house.  Also, I am a terrible return emailer.

Sometimes I garden.  But pretty much the only stuff I watch on TV are Jersey Shore, Top Chef, and Project Runway.  Sometimes I’ll watch House Hunters if I’m bored.  This is not because I am some kind of elitist who hates TV, I just have a super short attention span and I just don’t really like TV that much.  I blame the internet.

2. I don’t really “play” with my kids, and I don’t really do that much stuff with them outside of the house.  Sometimes we’ll go on outings, but generally they are either to Home Depot or fraught with disaster.  I’ve come to realize that I am not a floor sitter. I hate the park.  And I don’t do imaginary games with my kids, and no amount of trying to make myself into a person who sits and plays with kids has ever worked, so now I don’t sweat it.  Usually if I am doing something active, like a house project, they are pretty content to hang out on the periphery.  What they hate is when I am on the computer, but regardless, they often play with each other or entertain themselves because they know  by now that I am not going to.

3.  My husband IS a carpet sitter.  We call him the baby whisperer.  When he gets home from work, he takes over a lot of the childcare duties while I do stuff like laundry and paint dressers and cook dinner.  He’s pretty much a giant kid.  It’s good to see someone in action who comes by it naturally. It highlights the futility of faking it.

4.  I LIKE doing this stuff.  You really can’t discount the fact that this stuff is fun for me. If you have to MAKE yourself go paint something, you’re never going to get it done.  If you want to do it, you’ll find the time.  If gardening is a wretched chore for you, it’s always going to get pushed to the back of the list, because having fun doing something is the best motivator there is.  This is why I have such a beef with all these life lists – you can put “grow a garden” on all the lists you want, but if it sucks for you, why are you making yourself do it?  Is making yourself do something you don’t like doing just because the rest of the world thinks it’s cool going to make you a better person?  I really doubt it.

5. Most of the projects I do are quick things that can be done in stages or at night, and so I will almost never get something done all at once.  I painted that dresser for three weeks, a little bit at a time.  Kate Face still takes two naps a day, and Eli and I have a deal that he gets to watch movies while she naps and then he also goes to preschool twice a week, so in those four hours I can get a lot of stuff done.

6. Also, I am a maniac and I have way too much anxious energy. If I am not working on something or crossing stuff off a list or obsessing over at three projects, I get crazy.  Although you should see my mother.  I come by it honestly, let me put it that way.  As my friend Sara says “Elizabeth is a doer.  Give her something to do!” and that is very true.  If am not doing something I am not happy.  This is why if you set it down in my house, it will get tidied or thrown out.  Very unfortunate for anyone with the bad habit of leaving copies of Entertainment Weekly lying around.

7.  Rome wasn’t built in a day. I bought the ottoman easily two or three months ago. Then I ordered the fabric for it a couple of weeks ago, and then I had to wash the fabric and then today I finally got around to actually recovering it.

8.  I have a lot of supplies already.  Today for my ottoman I used a cordless drill, a staple gun, a hack saw, some fabric, some random screws, a few screwdrivers, a hammer, and some oil rubbed bronze spray paint.  I’ve got all those things sitting out in my garage. I must have 15 kinds of spray paint on my paint shelf, boxes and boxes of screws, saws, all that good stuff. If I had to go buy paint and tools and screws, projects would take a lot longer.  I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, just that at this stage of the game we’ve accumulated a lot of household repair stuff and so it makes things go more quickly.  But if you don’t have one, might I STRONGLY recommend you go buy a cordless drill?  And then learn how to use it?  Ours is totally awesome and it makes a great present for someone moving into their first new house.

And now I am going to go work on my favorite project of all – mixing up a nice tall G&T.  Smell ya later!




10 Responses

  1. HAHAHA YES YES YES. Yes to everything you just wrote. I am your doppelganger on the east coast. I do not play with my kids, I hate the park, and I’d much rather be painting a piece of furniture than playing with Legos. I have guilt about this but my mother was the same way and I seem to have turned out ok.

    I LOVE the pillow and the ottoman, esp the ottoman.

  2. I’m not a floor sitter, either, and I don’t really play with my kids. Unless, as they’ve gotten older, it’s a game that I like too (like Apples to Apples). I read to them (but honestly the older two read just as often to Marin as I do), and I take them places (because I want to see MY friends too), but that’s about it. I think too many parents today feel the need to ENTERTAIN their kids all the time. Unless it comes naturally and a person really enjoys it, I think it’s a silly expectation to put on one’s self. One thing my friends always say they love about my girls is that they are SO CREATIVE. Well, that comes with being afforded lots of free, not-parent-entertaining time throughout their childhood. They’ve learned to keep themselves busy, and we’re all happier for it!

    I don’t do nearly the projects you do, but I aspire to it… I enjoy getting shit done, yo around here… Also, I barely watch tv either.

  3. P.S. LOVE the pillow and the ottoman!

  4. My mom likes to say “I did things with you guys that I liked to do. Which was NOT playing candyland.” She read to us a lot and got us to do things with her that SHE liked, and we just played on our own a lot. I want my kids to be able to entertain themselves!

  5. Sigh. It’s now very clear my house will never look like yours.

  6. GORGEOUS. Oh wow I am in love with the pillow AND the ottoman. I can completely understand why you’d want to cover all sorts of things in that fabric.

  7. “If gardening is a wretched chore for you, it’s always going to get pushed to the back of the list.”

    I let my backyard be taken over by two years of uncontrolled growth of everything. I just didn’t care, until I came home after being away for 10 days and I saw my yard with fresh eyes, so to speak. I saw how truly awful it looked, and I was shamed into action. I wouldn’t want to live next door to me. It took several hours over two days but I whipped my yard into shape. I wouldn’t call what I did “gardening”; it was more like “wholescale destruction.” It was actually kind of…fun. Which is good, since I’m only about half done.

  8. That ottoman is gorgeous! Love the fabric! And the little short legs!


    I need to stop watching so much tv…

  9. I don’t really like to sit on the floor and play either. In fact, I kind of hate it! I am okay with art projects, and I try to do one a day (thanks, Pinterest!), but there is nothing that makes me want to throw up more than Candyland.

    Now, does this mean I do a lot of projects? No. I am obviously doing this wrong.

  10. Love your projects! And thank you for being honest about not being a floor sitter. It seems like most of the moms I know are and I am definitely not. My mom didn’t play with us either- (she did read to us and I do read to my kids), but otherwise we were left on our own to imagine and play. I think it served us well in the end 🙂 Still, I do feel a little guilty sometimes about how totally not interested I am in playing kid stuff. I do manage the park, but only with an interesting podcast playing in my ears 🙂

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