demystifying the piano

My poor blog has been taking an unintended nap.  My own computer time  has grown scarce as my kids spend more time on it for school and life has been so busy.  I finished my yoga training, there has been 6 birthdays in our family, and we’re preparing for our move.  We have found a house in the Manassas, VA area and are getting excited.  It is hard to stay focused on what needs to be done here and now to get ready instead of filling my pinterest boards with dreams of fireplace makeovers and chicken coops, but there is a yard sale to prepare for, cleaning to do,

and a piano to fix.

the old piano

Our piano is old.  Like over 100 years old.  Over the past year several of the keys have stopped working.  One by one we lost crucial notes in the Middle C octave.  My kids have been practicing on Logan’s little electric keyboard.  I felt like Christmas was ruined– well, not ruined, just not quite what it should have been.  So, the decision was made to not put the poor thing through another cross country move.

I started taking pictures of it for craigslist.

May 13th, 1900

crackling finish on old details

And, well, one thing led to another.

working on the action

We watched a youtube video.


doing the work

We got our screw drivers and wood glue.  Brenna wielded the camera.


one of us on each side

not as hard as I thought it would be

We unscrewed and glued and screwed.  We oohed and ahhed at the amazing mechanics.

lovely hidden details

the coolest way to play a piano

with guitar picks

rining through the house

The whole house rang with piano strings strummed with guitar picks.


Barry even joined in a bit later to help with the finishing touches.  We put new felt pads under the keys that needed them and put the whole thing back together.

dad got in on the action

Pianos are a mechanical miracle– all those moving parts that sound and feel just right.  I have loved the piano my whole life, but now I love it even more.  I feel so empowered to have fixed my own, lovely, amazing, old piano.  Granted, it does need a good tuning.

We’ll have to tackle that when we all get to Virginia.

(What do you think about painted pianos?  yellow? white? turquoise?)


spruced up corners

A couple of weekends ago I framed up a spider mum print for a bridal shower because I just couldn’t find anything to buy that I really liked the idea of buying.

framed spider mum print

Once I did that I wanted one for myself.

I also had this amazing letterpress print of the Salt Lake Temple waiting for a frame.

close up of letterpress temple by Cameron Moll


So, this weekend I took a trip to Ikea, framed some prints, and spruced up my mantle and the top of the amoire in my entryway.

new mantle arrangement

new mantle


slipcover sneak peek

The slipcover for my wingback chair has been nearly done for months.  I just need to add ties to the back opening.  Do you think I can get it done this week to show you all?  I hope so.  I have a sweater I need to finish for Eva before she outgrows it.  Maybe I’ll have to save that project for next week when Barry and I travel.

We’re going on a house hunting trip to Washington D.C.  We’re moving there in July.  Have I mentioned that here yet?  Do you think there is such thing as a rental house within a reasonable commute of the Pentagon that will have a big yard, lots of trees, allow us have a dog and chickens, fit 2 parents and 6 kids, and be within our budget?  How do I go about finding such a place?  My main method of house hunting has been craigslist.  That’s how we found a house here in Colorado.  There’s got to be a better way.  A property management company?  A realtor?  Advice anyone?

major progress!

I got to spend a lot of time finishing up my fabric printing for my wing back chair slip-cover on Saturday.


cups of ink

Here’s a few details on how I go about doing this:

I carve my stamps on Soft-Kut printing blocks from Dick Blick.  They cut so smoothly and hold all the detail too.  Once I get my design carved I cut it out with an exacto-knife, round down the edges with my carving tools and then use plain old double stick tape to attach it to a piece of plexiglass.  (I just get a big sheet of plexiglass from Home Depot and cut it down with a utility knife.  I’m not going for perfection, so it’s okay if my edges are a little wonky sometimes.)

3 stamps

I use Versatex screen printing ink with permafix added so I don’t have to do any heat setting to make it permanent.  To get it the right consistency I just add a little water.

I put an old towel down on my drafting table to be a cushion for my stamps to sink into when I print and to catch any prints that go over the edges of my fabric.  Someday I’d like to have a table with batting and canvas stretched over it for fabric printing, but this works for now.

mum #1


The fabric I’m using is just a big canvas drop cloth from Home Depot that I pre-washed.  It’s quite a bit coarser canvas than the one I used to recover my rocking chair right before Eva was born.  I think I got that drop cloth at Lowe’s.  I prefer the Lowe’s drop cloth, but didn’t realize there was a difference until I had washed the Home Depot one and couldn’t return it.  I would get a lot clearer prints on a less coarse fabric, but I like the character.  It’s handmade, right?

big brown mum

blue mum

Can you imagine it all fitted and sewn into a lovely slip cover for my sad old chair?

my poor chair is ready for its new fabric

ready for the chair!

There’s light at the end of the tunnel of this project!  It felt so liberating to have it all cleaned up.  I can’t wait to show you my finished chair!

the difference between messy and dirty

his special eye computer


the garage

the chalk board



Today Barry and I had a conversation about the difference between messy and dirty.  You see– I have these voices in my mind that tell me that in order to be the “true mom” my house needs to be clean and orderly at all times.

This is a problem.

For starters, being tidy is not natural to me, never has been.   Also I like to make things.  Actually, to put that better I need to make things.  Making things makes a mess.  And then there are the children– the SIX children that live here and NEVER LEAVE.  They read books and leave them places.  They build legos and leave them places.  They make block towers, and take off socks, and draw pictures and cut paper, and heaven forbid– they EAT, which leads to dirty dishes.

Orderly at all times in this house is completely unrealistic– and unnecessary.  DUH!   Messy is one thing.  Blocks don’t take long to pick up, dishes get washed and used again, books get reshelved.  Neat and orderly can only be a reality around 10 pm when kids are in bed.  As long as our house isn’t DIRTY, as long as bathrooms are sanitary, dust is kept reasonably at bay and floors are unstickified on a regular basis it’s all  okay.

TAKE THAT NASTY VOICES OF PERFECTIONISM!  Dirty = bad, but a little mess never hurt anyone.  (Well, not permanently.  Stepping on a lego is pretty painful.)

It does take a little effort to keep on top of the dirtiness, though.  Here’s what works for me:  The house is divided into 6 zones (not a new concept, but such a good one) and we work on a different one each day of the week.  I have the Home Routines app on my iPhone, but I never use it.  I just make a list in the morning of what I want done in the day’s zone on some random piece of paper I find, have each of the 3 older kids pick 2 chores, do 2 chores myself with little kid help, and that’s it.  We don’t live in pristine conditions, but nothing is gross.

Today the entryway got freshened up.  The stairs vacuumed, the front porch swept, etc. etc.  Logan got the chore everyone wanted.  He got to freshen up the entryway chalkboard.