Tuesday, September 14, 2010


by Tawny

Have you ever unintentionally started a huge project?

Not the huge planned projects, like re-tiling a bathroom or landscaping a yard. But oops huge projects.

Like being so sick of the hallway having the only strip of butt-ugly carpet left in a house of hardwood floors, so despite your husband's warning, you decide to rip it up - after all, how bad can the original wood floors be? Well, let me tell ya, they can be pretty bad if the cretins who carpeted over the floor had spilled a bucket of white paint all the way down the badly pitted wood. But... Do you the thing about ripping up carpet when you have no intention of letting your husband put it back when he gets home? Yeah... it means the carpet is toast. That preceded our two-week long refinishing of the hallway and bedroom floors (why refinish just the hall when it flows into the bedrooms?) James still gives me 'the look' when I mention that how great that hallway turned out. Seriously, it was gorgeous! (so are my puppies lounging on it, aren't they?)

I've had a few of these oopses.

And then there are the less expensive oopses. Like when I need to find the oatmeal in the pantry. But someone (aka my daughter) hates oatmeal so she hides it behind the peanut butter or the cereal or anything and everything. A few weeks of this and the oatmeal is good and buried. So I start pulling things out. Before I know it, the pantry is cleared and I'm reorganizing and cleaning it all out. Its usually dinner time by then.

I do this with knitting, too. I see my knitting basket as I walk by and the urge to play with yarn grabs me. Before I know it, I'm relaxing and knitting away. But I'm horrible at remembering where I'm at with a pattern, so I always have to keep going until I reach a pattern change. Or finish.

I need to learn how to do things halfway, or how to take breaks. I've come to discover that I'm pretty much an all or nothing kind of gal. So by now, I should know better than starting projects when I don't have time to finish them, right?

So this weekend I needed a tool from my scrapbook closet. A little background. When we moved into our new house a year ago, I claimed a closet for scrapping supplies. But its not nearly as much space as I had before, and I'll admit, I was unloading more than unpacking. So the closet is stacked willy-nilly with supplies, all teetering precariously upon one another. To get this one stamp, I had to move a few things. By the time my husband came home from camping last night, the entire office and bedroom were strewn with supplies. Because I'd hauled them all out, and knew that there was no point in putting them back until it was tidy.

But... the closet defied tidiness. It required shelves. Seriously, it screamed for them. I was practically screaming myself as I freaked out trying to write in the mess that was my now messy office. James walked in with his backpack and camping supplies slung over his shoulder, took one look at the narrow, meandering path he'd have to traverse to reach the bedroom and... yeah... he gave me 'that look'.

And then he made me wait until today for the shelves!!! How can people wait when oops projects are screaming to be completed? I just don't get that.

How about you? Have you ever accidentally started a big project that turned into much more than you'd anticipated? Do you plan your projects, or are they often accidental ventures into organization? And are you in my neurotic, have to get it finished, camp? Or are you like my husband and comfortable getting it done when it gets done?


PJ said...


Tawny said...

You :-D

PJ said...

Woot! Nabbed him!

Tawny, many of my big projects could be classified "oops" starters. Can't find something and before I know it the entire closet is torn apart. Well, of course I have to sort, toss and organize before I put anything back into the closet.

That happened to me the other day. I was looking for a pot. Next thing I knew, the entire contents of the kitchen island (you have to understand my kitchen island is 10 ft X 4 ft and has end to end cabinets on the two long sides) were strewn across the kitchen floor. What can I say? I do love to organize! *g*

Tawny said...

Oh PJ, you and me both. (Wait, I have to pause for a second to recover from my island envy... Okay, ready to go again). Why is it that the oddest things trigger these crazy oopses? I can put dishes away, can get dishes out. I can ignore the unorganized piles and lid-less bowls for months on end. Then one day...

*sigh* It's so pretty when it's all done and organized, though. Isn't it? :-D

Tawny said...

And PJ - yay you on nabbing the naughty bird :-D

What kind of trouble will you put him up to today?

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, PJ, one chook for you!

I'm a bit like you - actually have you noticed we're a bit like each other in a lot of ways? I start one of these big jobs and I'm there until the bitter end. At the moment, my hall cupboard is screaming out to me to tidy it up. I'm resisting because it's a BIIIGGGGG job, but I think eventually it will win.

Susanna Fraser said...

Before we moved into our new house in June, we decided to devote a Sunday afternoon to stripping the ugly 80's wallpaper from the entry. Only we discovered said paper was actually layered over the original 60's wallpaper. To this day, it's still only half done, as we got distracted stripping the wallpaper from the kitchen, living room, and two of the three upstairs bedrooms so we could paint the living spaces. The goal now is to have it done by Christmas.

Smaller projects I tend to stick with until I finish them, like the day I decided it no longer made sense to alphabetize my research bookshelf by author and spent an entire evening sorting it by subject.

Jane said...

Hi Tawny,
I find that a lot of projects I start only end up halfway done. This is mostly due to laziness and the loss of motivation for a project that doesn't seem like a good idea anymore.

Tawny said...

Fo, I have noticed that :-) It makes me smile!

Isn't it crazy how those cabinets call to us. I'm always so grateful for doors *ggg*

I have a school supply cabinet that's screaming at me, but so far I too have resisted. Mostly because I have no idea where I'll put all the stuff I clean out but can't get rid of. I have a storage shed, but when we moved, hubby was in charge of filling it. He tends to be a 'throw it in and slam the door' unpacker. So if I clean the cabinet, the supplies will have to go to the storage shed, which I'll then have to organize, too.

That's too big an oops even for me :-D

barb said...

Have a good day with GR PJ

Hi Tawny ... I know how you feel as I think I will just get that and then I have to clear the whole cupboard out to get it..... in walks hubby when I have stuff all over the place... I just say when you clean it has to get worse before it gets better.... and he just looks at me LOL

Tawny said...

Oh man, Susanna. It's like a contagious wallpaper disease! You tear off one wall and it leads to the next room. I'd be having nightmares LOL. I hope you get it done by the holidays- what a lovely gift to yourselves, huh?

LOL on the reference book reorganization. That totally sounds like the kind of thing I'd do. What a nice way to spend a day though -fondling books :-D

Tawny said...

Jane, its funny which projects motivate me to complete vs the ones I can walk away from.

Craft projects often end up half-finished. Personal improvement ventures, oh yeah, those I tend to sputter out on. And exercise regimes? LOLOL. Yeah, they end fast.

But anything that leaves clutter makes me itchy so it has to get finished.

Tawny said...

ROFL Barb. Ohhhh, that look. Men are so funny that way, aren't they?

I love your mantra... I just say when you clean it has to get worse before it gets better

Words to live by.

Anna Sugden said...

Yay PJ! I don't envy you the pesky bird, but I do envy your kitchen island!

Ah Tawny, my sister-under-the-skin. I can see my lovely hubby nodding his head sagely in agreement with your lovely hubby! He dreads the words 'I've been thinking ...'

Yes - totally like that. I can ignore things for ages, then once I get it into my head to do something - I have to do it right *g*. That means emptying, cleaning, sorting, arranging etc etc etc!

My other problem is if the oops turns into a major hassle, I can get bored and find a new oops *g*. But, I always have to go back to it. My office is a case in point - it really needs sorting and rearranging ... has done for ages, probably since I moved into it, but had to get it done so I could start work ... but I know I haven't the time right now, so it's been left

Anna Sugden said...

Oh yes, Susanna - as one who has always lived in very old houses (our last one was built in the late 1800's) I know exactly what that's like! Layers and layers and layers ...

Relatively new houses arent much better - especially if you've bought the house form a DIY expert who should have hired someone!

Helen said...

Well done PJ have fun with him


I often start tidying something up because I am looking for something but get lazy and end up just putting things back in willy nilly LOL I try hard to finish something that I have started but something always distracts me like reading or the phone will ring or the grandkids drop over and then everything has to be put back very quickly LOL. I stay away from major things because i know how bad I am LOL

Love that hallway floor Tawny and of course the babies

Have Fun

Dianna Love said...

Tawny -

Love the post. It reminded me of the first house my husband and I bought. We hated the paneling (paper thin and warped) the previous owners had tacked over the drywall in our basement family room. So one night not long after we bought the house we came home after dinner and discussing the room (over a couple cocktails) and decided it had to go NOW. We pulled out claw hammers and ripped all the cheap paneling off...then had a mess to deal with the next morning. That started an oops project that took several weeks to finish.

But we'd do it again. :)

Susan Sey said...

One word for you: Ikea.

Seriously, every time I go to that place I come home with baskets. Baskets that must then be put to immediate use somewhere, which requires the opening & disembowelment of a closet.

Happened just last night.

But you should see my linen closet. Pretty. :-)

PJ said...

Back from our morning walk. The GR kept trying to ditch us for his Canadian geese cousins in the cove but the pups managed to herd him on home. His feathers were just a wee bit ruffled. ;-)

It's a cool morning here which always fills me with energy. That and your blog, Tawny, have inspired me to ORGANIZE! Now I just have to narrow down the victim...um...project. Sure hope nobody wants to look at the house today. Whatever I choose, it's not like to be pretty...at least not until I'm done. :)

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Once again Tawny you have brought up a topic where I have a foot in both camps, I am really starting to fear I must be a wishy washy type of person.

I have oops projects a lot. Or I see an oops project in the making and very politely turn my back on it. I have been organizing my books now for over 3 weeks. In my defense, I work 10 hour days so nothing gets done during the week Tues.-Friday. However, not in my defense I have had one 4-day weekend, a 3-day weekend and yet another 4-day weekend, guess what, books aren't done yet. It is lovely handling the books, unfortanately when I pick a particular old favorite I start turning the pages and well, I am sure you know the rest. The oops that started the project was a lady from work needed books to read, a lot of them, her husband has cancer and his treatment will include bone marrow transplant and that requires him to be in a sort of isolation for a couple of months, she is going to stay with him during those two months she like Nora Roberts so I said got you covered, and proceeded to dig out all of Nora's books, which were scattered throughout the bookshelves, living room, bedroom, closet and under the bed. Once I pulled the books for her I had everything from all those places stacked on the table, on the floor, on two desks and still on some of the shelves. It isn't a pretty sight even to book lovers.

Christie Kelley said...

Oh, where do I begin... :)

Tawny, I do this all the time. The last one was during the remodel when I offered to take out the upstairs bath tile. Little did I know that the previous owner had tiled over the old tile. So I had two layers of tile to remove. What a pain!

Karen Olson said...

I was looking for something in my closet and three hours later had a huge garbage bag full of old clothes, purses, and shoes ready for the Goodwill. I'm not quite sure how it happened, but it really made me feel cleansed.

My husband and I are avoiding the basement, though. It's a mess and will be a huge undertaking once we finally take the plunge. Until then, though, we are in complete denial.

Susanna Fraser said...

Relatively new houses arent much better - especially if you've bought the house form a DIY expert who should have hired someone!

This is very much our house. My husband spent much longer than he'd planned removing a bunch of bracketed shelves from one of the bedrooms because the former owners had used whatever screws they happened to have handy to install them rather than all of one type, so he had to keep changing the drill bits he was using to pull them out.

Anna Sugden said...

Uggh Christie - been there and got that t-shirt with the tiles! Who does that?!

Susanna - better than trying to remove bookshelves that were nailed in! Yes, nailed and the nails went rusty *sigh*.

Deb said...

The DH started a project that turned into an all-week deal. He is quite handy when it comes to plumbing, so I didn't think much about him wanting to replace a pipe in our basement. HA! Let's just say it involved a jack hammer, a huge hole in my basement floor, a pile of dirt, and a cast-iron pipe that had to be removed.

We need to replace our bathroom and kitchen floors, but are going to let my BIL do it this winter since he is a professional fixer-upper.

Tawny said...

Anna :-) I knew we'd be on the same page, here! Our sweet hubbies are so alike, too. Lucky us *g*

YES on the ignoring thing. I can ignore like crazy. When James built my cabinets and drawers for the new office, I just emptied the box of filing into it's designated drawer (no files, no nice tidiness, just dumped) I've spent the past year not filing. When I think about it, it's like nails on the chalkboard in my head. But I'm ignoring it quite nicely right now :-)

I've ignored office messes in the past, too. Its like a flu bug - we're fine for long periods of time, but once we get big, we can't do anything but give in...

Tawny said...

Oh, Anna. Don't get me started on faulty DIY. The stories I could tell... scary.


Cassondra said...


Soul Sister.

Well..not the part about finishing. Yes, I want to, but I never get it done.


1) There never is time to complete a project, because in a house that's 160 years old, you always have to have three times as long as you should, and three other things have to be done FIRST, to make way to get to that thing.

2) I am an accidental project starter, but refuse to let myself start anything because I know there isn't time and it will be worse when it's all dragged out. So it never gets done.

3) Steve starts things, but never finishes. never. Nothing in my life is finished. It's a disease, and I hate it.

4) You can become so bogged down with clutter, there is no place to start. That's where I am. Overwhelmed.

5) I need life to stop so I can finish one thing. But it won't.

So...yes, I am an accidental "big project" starter. But I've been burned, and I've stopped "starting."

I admit that I feel thwarted. Repressed. Smooshed.

Clearly, I need therapy.

Cassondra said...

PJ, WOOOT on the rooster!

Tawny said...

Thank you, Helen :-) My babies are such good girls.

I think playing with grandkids and enjoying family trumps oops fixes any day :-D I can imagine how distracted things get! And hey, you have a built-in ooops deterrent :-D I'm jealous!

Tawny said...

ROFL Dianna.

I can just imagine, nice leisurely dinner and drinks, then the hammers start flying.

The thing about oops projects is they really do tend to be GREAT ideas after they are done, but we never really think them through before we start. They just - oops- start. Maybe if we thought them through, they'd never get done *g*

Tawny said...

No. No no no, Susan. Don't say the I word. I'd put my fingers over my eyes but I can't type that way.

I'm a basket fiend. I adore baskets. I collect baskets. And like you, as soon as I get one, something has to go into it.

I have linen closet envy, now.

Tawny said...

YAY!!! It's contagious!!! PJ, so glad you're oops, I mean, organizing :-D

Put that ruffled bird to work. He's a mastermind at thinking up ways to make things go where they shouldn't, he should be able to figure out how to make them go where they should.

Tawny said...

Dianna, sending hugs to your friend and her husband for having to go through such a painful circumstance. I'm sure a bevy of Nora books will be a wonderful comfort for her! What a great friend you are.

As for time, oh yeah. That's a scary thing. You are smart to recognize your constraints and not let the oopses lure you in. (well, except the bookcase oops, which really is more a labor of love, right? Did you find a bunch of books you'd forgot you had and now have to read again?)

Tawny said...

Wince. Oh Christie. That's horrid!!! What a pain. I'll bet your tile looks gorgeous after it was done, though :-D

Cassondra said...

Dianna said:

So one night not long after we bought the house we came home after dinner and discussing the room (over a couple cocktails) and decided it had to go NOW. We pulled out claw hammers and ripped all the cheap paneling off...then had a mess to deal with the next morning. That started an oops project that took several weeks to finish.

But we'd do it again. :)

Oh..I did something like this once. When we moved into this house, I hated the drywall in the dining area. The people who lived here before did it on the cheap and hung 1/4" drywall instead of 1/2". Quarter-inch is too thin. You never use it for walls or ceilings without a backer. It warps. And it WAS warped.

I had decided to leave it. I had enough fights to deal with and didn't need to pick another. (Hanging drywall on two 10-foot high ceilings in two 17 X 17 rooms, for instance.)

So one day Steve was at work, I walked into the house after a trip to Lowe's (my home away from home) after staring at pretty paint colors and there lay the Stanley WonderBar on the counter, right next to the hammer. I grabbed the hammer and went to the dining room wall and slammed it right through that 1/4" warped ugliness. When Steve got home I was knee deep in drywall and old insulation, and had only one wall to go.

"Guess we're redoing the walls in here, are we?" he said.

And we did. And I don't regret it.

The ceiling in here--it really sucks. I've been looking at it lately....

Tawny said...

Karen, isn't that a GREAT feeling?! I tend to always have a charity bag going, mostly because my youngest grows out of clothes faster than i can buy them. So I'm tossing things in the bag as I finish laundry.

Right now I'm afraid of my closet. One of the great things about moving is that so much gets cleaned out (why carry boxes of stuff you don't want, right?) but the bad thing is that it gets unpacked before you really get a feel for the house and how you will use the space. My closets and cabinets are all like that right now.

Tawny said...

the former owners had used whatever screws they happened to have handy to install them rather than all of one type,

LOL, Susanna. I'll admit, this is the kind of thing I'd have done years ago. Hey, don't have a screw, use a nail! I was horrible. I figured a show with a hard heel made a fine hammer and butter knives worked for screwdrivers. After we married, my husband made a rule that I couldn't hang shelves. He'd hang any one I wanted, any time I wanted, and move it as often as I wanted until I was happy. But the shelves I hang tend to fall. On people's heads. So... yeah. I can sympathize with the multi-screw debacle.

Tawny said...

Oh Deb, I admire anyone who can do plumbing. It is a big no-no in our house. Did you lose use of your plumbing for the week that your husband was changing the oops pipe?

I mentioned changing flooring to my husband last week and he gave me the look. Then he told me he's getting old and his body doesn't want to do hard labor any longer so I'd have to get someone to do the floors. I'm seeing our renovation days dwindling fast! That's great that you have a family member you can tap to do jobs like that :-)

Tawny said...

Cassondra said: I admit that I feel thwarted. Repressed. Smooshed.

Clearly, I need therapy.

Oh sweetie, come over here and sit by me on the couch. Wanna lay down? Go ahead :-D

That has to be such a HUGE ongoing project. I'd go a little crazy, too. I can't imagine the time, love and money that is devoted to renovating like that, but I'll bet its incredible as you get things done.

Clutter is overwhelming. It seriously drives me batty. When James came home and saw the piles of scrapbooking stuff and the bins and plastic drawers all over my office, the first thing he asked was how I could write in here. I can't think in clutter!! (I wrote on the laptop in the other room *g*)

I'm a big believer in the Feng Shui concept that clearing clutter clears our mind and our path toward our goals. At least, I'm a believer in the idea that this supports my neurotic organizational obsession so I use it *g*

Cassondra said...

Tawny said:

I'm a big believer in the Feng Shui concept that clearing clutter clears our mind and our path toward our goals.

This is my belief too. For the first time in my life, there is so much of it that I can't see my way out of it. Can't get it managed.

Must. Do. Something.


Yes, clutter kills creativity for me, as well.

Tawny said...

Stanley WonderBar

LOL My imagination is going in so many directions with this.

I will refrain, though, and just say that I'd have done the same thing. And to suggest that you look away from the ceiling, Cassondra. Just look away!

Donna MacMeans said...

Hey congrats PJ!

Tawny - I can so relate. Two years ago, my husband wanted a paved path that ran from the driveway to the back of the house. A path - that's all. But I figured the path should lead to something other than the screened porch - so I said we needed to add a paved patio. The guy comes back with plans - I said "do it bigger". New plans. Beautiful big patio, retaining walls, full landscaping...by the time they were done (and our wallets empty) I think they tossed in the paved walkway for free.

Nancy said...

PJ, congrats on the bird!

Tawny, we rarely get into oops projects, probably because we lack the skills, and know we lack them, for many things we would like to do. This means we have to save up to get someone else to do them, which means we have to plan.

We've never pulled up the dining room carpet (really not attractive, sort of muddy brown) because there's a certain place on the floor where, if you step on it, it gives. We know this means having boards replaced. The floor is heart pine in a width no longer standard. This means custom milling. Or else salvage.

The dogs have worn a path to the door in the finish of the living room floor, so we know refinishing is in our future. So, alas, is finding some of that heart pine because some former owner replaced a couple of problem boards with oak cut to fit and just nailed those puppies right down.

Wreaks havoc on a sander. Even I know that.

Tawny said...

Oh, Donna, that sounds so gorgeous!! I'd definitely prefer hiring out my oopses to doing the hard labor myself!!

Tawny said...

Nancy, you are a smart woman :-)

Me? I'd bounce on that bad board a few times and start going nuts, needing to replace it SOMEHOW. I wouldn't think ahead to the difficulty in replacing the lovely pine. See, this is where oops is such a big bad thing.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey PJ! Congrats on the Chook! :>

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Tawny, I'm late to the party, but I'll answer the question unequivocably.

Yes, yes, and almost allll of the time do I start projects w/o enough time or thought to finish. Then they lie about, waiting. Sigh.

When they're finally done, though, it's a treasure. Grins.

Tawny said...

Oh yes, Jeanne :-) Definitely a treasure. I love those completed projects!!!

The waiting about, reminders of unfinished work to do? Not so much love for those *g*