the beer can time capsule

{PSSSST! We finally finished it! here.}

A few weeks ago, there was this wet spot on our carpet… in the doorway between our bathroom and the master bedroom. Every now and then I would step on it on my way in and out.

I didn’t think anything of it at first… I just lined up the usual suspects.

I mean for starters, it was next to our shower so I thought maybe someone had bathed, and dripped a little on the carpet. Jamin, I mean the kids are easily humored by streaking after said showers. It happens.

Then there was option 2: This summer, Malone was busted for pouring out a bottle of water smack dab in the middle of the playroom because he wanted to make a “swimming pool” and I would like to say this is a sign of his infinite creativity… I’m running with that. So that possibility was also coming in at a close second.

Then I blotted the bathroom/bedroom spot up, but it came back.

So, option three: I called a meeting of the offspring to gather around said spot, and asked the potentially guilty parties if they’d played any part in spot-making. When I was (once again) met with blank stares, I even sniffed it. For all I knew, it was a new pee spot. If you have boys children, you know the possibility of this is actually very high, and you probably sniff things more often, than not.


And when I called it to Jamin’s attention, we realized (upon moving Chloe’s dog bed) that the carpet on the far side of our bedroom was pretty damp. A good three feet in length, all the way to the dresser.


So we called the plumber.

And when the plumber was repairing what we thought was a leak in the shower because of a recent freeze…

He found mold.


(I had Jamin do the perfectly logical thing, and stick his face in it, all in the name of a good photo shoot.)

Lots of mold.

We’ve never really shown you guys our bathroom before. I think if you’ve been reading for a long time you may have caught glimpses of it. I guess because to me, it was nothing we wanted to make over… so I let it go.


At some point in a house, you have to decide when to “pull the plug” on expensive redos. And this was one of those things for us. It was perfectly functional… we may paint the cabinets…but really… the end. We would make it work. It was fine and we were fine with our perfectly functional bathroom. I took it for granted, but I certainly didn’t wish for, well, this.

And then this happened.

So over the course of a week and a half, this has become one of those “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” situations.

If you have a wet spot on your carpet, you’d better check the walls.


And once you check the walls, you might want to check the tiles on the other side in the next room.

And if you check the tiles, maybe under the shower stall.


And if under the shower stall, probably the tub, too.


Hashtag holy bust my bathroom… (Can we make this a thing? No?) Within the process of a week… it was gone.


Man, I took our bathroom for granted.


The dehumidifier people came in, and the mold was cleaned.

I’ll say this now: Malone (our youngest) has been sick with sinus/allergy stuff… since Thanksgiving. Two trips to the doctor, nothing-they-can-find, sick. Hmmmm, I’m not sure it takes much of this stuff to give you a permanent case of the cough-y snots… especially if you’re allergic.




A little gem of a factoid about me: If you want to see me lose it, bring something into my home that’s dirty. I have kids. Kids are inherently dirty. I’m talking clogged toilets, nasty shoes, and mold-filled tupperware for starters. They weird me out. I have issues. Annnnxxxxiiieeeeetttttyyyyyy.


So when they moved the tub out from the wall, we found a beer can. And for some reason, this was the piéce de résistance for me. Hilariously weird.

I get it… it happens with construction. But I’m thinking of all the times I scrubbed this bathroom and there was an old beer can in the walls just beyond my reach. It gives this OCD mama the hibbies.

Jamin says I need to get out more because there’s probably a lot more stuff in our walls.


I say we need to ponder hard questions. Like… Who drinks Busch Light whilst working on a dangerous construction site?

Or really, I’ll just settle for… Who drinks Busch Light?


So this is what our home looks like right now.

It could always be worse.

When photographing the bathroom (and the beautiful Busch Light with the rando DNA saliva of someone else forever imprinted on its lip-I thoroughly enjoyed telling Emmy the can was older than her) from this angle I saw sunlight coming from the pipe in the bathroom.



Not the curriculum. The actual light of day coming from a hole. That I could easily fit my entire hand through. And if I could easily fit my entire hand through it… there’s a reason I occasionally found rather large insects in our bathroom.

For the past seven years.


So here’s a little graphic to sum up the drama of The Handmade Home 2014.

It was only January.


And out of all of it, I’m the most traumatized by the beer can / gash in the floor. And the random droppings I didn’t bother to label. It was too painful for me.

With the scary nest for dirt daubers. And the creepy giant egg sack you can barely see in this photo. Which sat for five days, exposed, when the shower was removed before we could see it because our gargantuan moldy tub was in the way. At least it wasn’t warm? Something very well may have swarmed at our faces. So we I panicked, and made Jamin stuffed it with a drop cloth until we can get to it with actual concrete.

Apparently the guy drinking the beer, forgot to finish up his concrete work. Because apparently, quality construction in a house is a hard thing to come by these days.


Jamin again, told me to calm down stating that it was quite common. I then replied that our home is only seven years old and I find this unacceptable. He quipped that I would never survive in an old house. I told him he was absolutely right because I am a spoiled brat. I then added that if I hear hissing tonight because a giant killer rat rabies family moved in when we weren’t looking… I’m out. Sorry but I have standards.

I half expect a slew of bats to fly out of said hole with epic violence and attack my face a-la Goonies. Because it makes complete rational sense that diseased bats live in our side yard. And that they could fit through that hole.


I’m currently comforting myself by looking at tile options paired with visions of pretty white critter-free bathrooms on Pinterest. Because honestly, we want to take our time and do it right. While we have a general idea of what we want… we really don’t know what we want.



In the meantime, I’ve made an executive decision that when we put the walls back, we will put the beer can back. With a note circa 2044 for the owners of the home. When they’re tired of the pretty tile I’ll pick out now because it’s dated, and their walls are pulled back for a new tile and their holographic shower which transports them to another world… they can find a (slightly overshot and endlessly optimistic) note from me. (Paired with a link to this post if the internet still exists.)

Something to the tune of: Dear new owners,

My name is Ashley Mills. You may recognize the name. It’s probably a household name by now. Hopefully for good things. Like, “this well designed coverlet from the Ashley Mills line at Target”. Not, “I just pulled an Ashley Mills”, after someone trips over a lego and falls down the stairs, only to choke on a toothbrush. (We’ll go with the first option, though the second is also highly possible.) Hopefully, because of said first option, you can sell my signature on the Busch Light can on whatever form of ebay exists and pay off your hover boards for the little tykes. Or turn this bathroom into the new Graceland. Rope it off and charge admission or something.

Anyway, just wanted to say enjoy your bathroom, but don’t judge me for the choices I made. We were on a budget and it was cool in 2014. Trust me. By the way, I have no idea why we shoved the can back into the wall. But we did take care of the rabid, bat-infested gash that required seven years of therapy and eventually launched me into success. You may recall we took down the Martha empire once I learned to get over my fear of folding fitted sheets.

My kids are all successfully gifted too, and I’ve written a book called “The Expert Parent.” It’s remained on the best seller list for ten years now because clearly, I know everything. And all because they were home schooled. Who knew? Shoot me a line and I’ll have my people call your people. I’ve probably had some work done by now, so don’t be surprised by how amazing I look. (If I did in fact succeed in not tripping over a lego and falling down the stairs… in which case I’m probably dead or also have work done to repair my broken nose.) It all happened because we found this can in the wall. Maybe it can bring you the same luck, too. (Take this to go either way, depending on my ultimate outcome.) Yay!

I don’t know. Something like that. I’m still working on what I want to say.


And then I realize that it will be me who probably pulls back the wall once again, twenty years from now… because if I’m redoing this bathroom… I very much better stay here to enjoy it. You now what they say about those lemons.



There’s probably a dead body hidden in the concrete slab. The beer can was the signature of the serial killer they’ve secretly been searching for, and I’ll be contacted by the FBI soon. Or the aforementioned leakage could always be raw sewage. {Clearly my worst nightmare.} Even if there were poisonous spores, at least the water was clean. Trust me… I know. It could always be much, much worse. I just happened to be well-versed in the fine art of coping with humor and sarcasm.

And my slightly overactive imagination.

kids_amused_redoAt least the kids are endlessly entertained.

Stay tuned!

What’s the craziest thing that has ever happened to you in your home? I know ours is a walk in the park compared to some people. This is normal, right? Just part of the adventure. This is what I’m telling myself.

Have an inspired day!

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Responses to the beer can time capsule

  1. Julie says:

    Wow. Just wow. I’ve just been reminded that I’m not the only one who’s had a crazy January. Thanks for a very entertaining post :) May He work all of it out for your good. And He will :)

    • You had a crazy January too? between the flu, and a fun little bout with a cyst (I’m just glad we figured out what it was) and this… I’m ready to quit already! haha! And these aren’t even real problems. Jamin said this new year so far has been both our hardest start… and our best. It will all work out. ;} Just SO glad we’re not the only ones!

  2. Jenna says:

    Funniest. Post. Ever. I almost lost my coffee.

  3. Anna says:

    Lemons into lemonade. You know we can’t wait to see what you do-And I haven’t laughed this hard in a while so thank you. :)

  4. Kat says:

    Funny thing about mold….
    We once lived in a charming little 112 year old New England colonial. With four kids and three bedrooms, we grew out of it. So we tried to sell it. Lucky for us a couple put a contract on it (after it sat on the market for a good four months). Lucky for us, half of the couple was an unemployed lawyer who worked in the legal department of the mold sector of an insurance company. True story.
    So yeah, we finally sold our house to said couple after two more months and $10K of mold remediation work. We paid them extra money to cover the “peek” into the closed off attic space. There was no way we were going to go through the closed off attic space before we sold it. Who knows how long that was closed off and how big the mold forest was up there. (If for some reason the buyers read this blog too, “Hi! Hope you’re loving the house!”)
    So yep, we finally sold it for a whole lot less than we bought it for 6 years prior.
    # winning!
    Have fun with the remodel. We are starting on our master bath remodel as well. Haven’t opened up the walls yet, but given our history and location (coastal New England), I’m readying myself for a happy little forest behind the walls and under the floor. Yay!
    Must go. Having a snow day and the 2 year old is naked and sat on a cream cheese bagel. It’s not a party til he gets naked. Party!

    • Yay for cream cheese bagel bums! And sorry about the loss on your house. :( What a pain!!!! We consider it a huge blessing that they found it now, and we had a chance to make it right with the help of insurance… rather than later. This house ownership stuff is for the birds! boooo!

  5. Brittany says:

    Too funny! Looking forward to what you do with it!

  6. Brittany says:

    And amen! on quality home construction being so rare!!! We ran into this when buying our first house…we were all…”look at this brand new house, it’s so shiny and so much nicer than we thought we could afford”…then we had our contractor friend come look at it. Ummmm he found 10,000 things wrong with it.. BRAND.NEW.CONSTRUCTION. so sad. We got out of that contract and found something older, and better. (Although I wouldn’t be shocked if we had beer cans in our walls, too.)

    And now you have me wondering if we have big holes somewhere in the slab because I find insects in the house not infrequently. Specifically earwigs. uggh.

    Your blog has really inspired me over the past few months. I learned about it a few yeas back, from my cousin Lindsey Jones. I think you drew up a decorating plan for her and Clay’s house when they moved in, in Tuscaloosa. I wasn’t as fully into DIY-ing at that point in life…then I got pregnant…then I decided to quit my full-time job as an RN to be at home. Best decision ever, but it did seriously change our finances. :) Now I DIY all things possible, and check your blog every chance I get. :) Anyway, just wanted to say please keep doing what you’re doing! Love the ideas and your sense of style! I’m also enjoying your homeschool adventure…we are considering a similar path once we get there. :)

    • AMEN Brittany. We will never go this route again. My grandfather was a builder, and some of his buildings are nearing 100 years old now. A MILLION times better than this thing we over paid for. Thanks so much for dropping in, and your sweet words! So nice to hear from you! ;}

  7. Alison says:

    Oh, so I’m not the only one currently undertaking an unplanned bathroom renovation? On the only bathroom in the house? That houses myself and 3 kids (1 x teen boy and 2 x pre-teens (boy and girl)?

    The house that is made completely of stone, and requires TIME to dry out said stone?

    Fortunately, it is the middle of a VERY hot summer here in Australia (case in point: on Sunday, it reached 44.9C, which is 112F for you guys, in a cooler part of the country), and the damage was caused by cracks in the tiles, not damage to the pipes.

    It’s a good thing I’ve always wanted to learn how to tile – and given the fact that I was made redundant from my job today, I’ve just found the time I was looking for to finish this project!

    Looking forward to seeing what you come up with :-)

  8. Amber says:

    Hilarious. Sorry to laugh at your pain and misery but that’s the funniest thing I’ve read all week. Also, as a former homeschooler I did appreciate the Sonlight curriculum comment :) And, just to encourage you, we had a year like that in 2012. Started off the same way too; cysts, house problems, etc. We affectionately call that the year we lost our marbles and the wheels fell off everything. But, we made it through and I think we are the stronger for it. Hang in there!

  9. Oh my! I am so sorry. We had to rip out our upstairs bathroom because of leaks but luckily there wasn’t any mold. We caught it in time. That was almost a year ago and it is sitting there because of no money and because we don’t know what we want either. So for now I am just browsing the internet for ideas :)

  10. Avivi says:

    Well let’s see..the worst would be the day roots in the yard got to the pipes and the entire bottom floor of the house flooded, including SEWAGE, on THE DAY WE PUT THE HOUSE ON THE MARKET TO SELL. Same house that had a lady bug infestation, a dung beetle plop down the chimney and out onto the floor and it was so big the Auburn entymology people kept it, a dead squirrel appeared in toilet one day and a live bird was clinging to the inside of a window and pane and animal control had to come.
    And so far in the past few months….flat screen died, laptop crashed, desktop messed up, one kid in the ER, one kid had wreck on black ice resulting in broken tailbone (same kid had stitches on the hand which is bad for a professional clarinetist), new engine in one truck, fuel pump van (both after being stranded on the side of the road), no estimate yet on the wrecked one, parents sick, and my trusty Kitchen Aid hand mixer just exploded into cake batter one day. Basically if it plugs in or has a motor and I looked at it it quit. I am getting on a plane tomorrow…please pray.

    • Your comment made me laugh out loud after reading in terror. SO sorry Avivi. When it rains it POURS. PRAYING you have a safe trip! And so glad your girls are okay! i totally forgot about your sewage story. UGH. And the squirrel in the toilet? That would have been IT for me. HAHAHA! Funny not funny. ;}

  11. Yep, I definitely would have sniffed the carpet, too. When did our lives come to the point where sniffing for OTHER PEOPLE’S urine was a normal part of our days? Oh my, being a mom is weird.

    I’m totally with you. I would be 100% freaked to find a huge-ish hole in my wall. It definitely would have been harboring terrifying freak show creatures. Definitely.

    On a happier note, I’m excited to see your new bathroom! I’ll live vicariously through you on this, as my rental bathrooms are deep mustard yellow and blue and I can’t do aaaaanything about it.

  12. Jamie Beth says:

    Oh girl.I totally feel you! Here is a link about our water disaster. Hopefully it will make you feel better.

    And on the subject of finding things in you walls..when we ripped the walls out in our bathroom, we found $583. It’s probably drug money, but we’ll take it. So there is still hope for you. I suggest you start ripping out more walls. Just Kidding!

  13. Jessica says:

    You are killing me! So funny! The craziest thing that happened in my home involved an overflowing toilet (filled with #2) and a light fixture. My master bath toilet was on the fritz and would continue to run like crazy if you didn’t take the lid off the tank and push the plunger down. My children knew not to flush that potty, their friend did not. So the child used my bathroom due to its proximity to our playroom and tried to flush. The toilet got clogged and because the plunger was stuck open water kept gushing into the toilet. I get a panicked call from the kids and dash up to shut the water off and deal with the mess. Knowing I would need heavy duty cleaning supplies I sent my son down into our laundry room to get some things when I hear him yell “MOMMY!!!!! There is water POURING out of the kitchen ceiling!”. Yes, the disgusting, poo filled water was not only all over my floor it had also run behind the toilet into a plumbing access panel and eventually found its way into the brand new light fixture in my kitchen where it filled the entire glass globe and poured onto my floor and rug. My saving grace was a sweet friend who happened to be there and helped me clean everything up and helped me laugh rather than cry.

  14. Kyla F says:

    Everything about this post cracked me up Ashley, especially the letter to accompany the beer can. It is quite disturbing to think of a saw-yielding construction worker sipping a cold one while building a family home. I hope that your new bathroom makes up for the mold-pocolypse of 2014! :)

  15. Sara says:

    Oh my gosh…I’m seriously laughing SO out loud right now! Maybe I should get some lemons!

  16. Lisa says:

    Love the sniff test! What us mothers do.
    Last year, redoing the kitchen in our new home to us I freaked b/c there was a putrified squirrel in the wall. Now that is gross. Did no one hear him? Still freaks me out when I think about it.
    I also have another story. We were camping in our small camper. My dog, who is not allowed on the bed, jumped on the bed at night. I told her to get down in my sleepiness. She jumped up again, pushing her off I noticed she was wet. I got up, to my surprise there was two inches or so of toilet water on the camper floor. My son got up to go to the bathroom and the handle got stuck so it overflowed. I used all our towels, blankets, etc to clean up the mess. (went shopping the next day for new towels and blankets) Fun times! Finished our week camping. Kids still remember and laugh about that trip.

  17. You are so funny!! But the situation definitely is NOT!! Poor you — a Busch Light. Perhaps you should send it to the FBI, CIA for DNA testing!! It could be just the clue they need. Oops, you put it back in the wall. I won’t tell anyone. They may make you tear into the wall again. I will pray for your state of mind.

  18. Oh Ashley! I feel for you guys…you know I do! Will it make you feel better if I tell you a scary bathroom remodel story we had? We had the shower to working condition, but not really “done” but we were greedy to start using it. One day my husband was in there taking a shower, and he turned his head to the right and there was a giant ROACH crawling up the curtain right next to a giant SPIDER. He very calmly turned the water off and stepped out, after killing them. I WOULD HAVE PASSED OUT. And probably been eaten by the roach/spider. So bad. Turns out we had a hole in the ground that hadn’t been sealed and bugs could get through. BOO. Fixed now. 😀

    BUT I can say…it’s worth it. And it makes for a good story…and a great blog post. 😀

  19. Wendy says:

    Ashley, no one can spin a tale like you! You had me cracking up all the way through, although I’m sure it wasn’t funny for you at the time. I can just picture some guy hunched over with his crack showing slurping a Busch Lite while working on your bathroom. I feel your pain about renovations and shoddy craftsmanship. Last week I thought I would be a DIY diva and tried to repair my own dryer because you just cannot line dry your clothes in January in New Jersey. When I moved my dryer I found a big hacked out hole in the floorboard that looked like something you would find in an outhouse! No pipe for the hose, which ripped apart when I moved the dryer, just a big hole in the floor. As a bonus, there was an animal nest and droppings (Ewww) inside the floor. Ahh the pleasures of living in the country.

    Anyway, I’m sure your renovation will be marvelous and I can’t wait to see what you come up with. Thanks for putting a smile on my face!

  20. Ellen says:

    Yes, this happens to every homeowner. Our bathtub sprung a leak last year and was yanked out and yes a beer can was found. And jewelry was stolen. Good luck with the remodel!

  21. Jackie Lee says:

    Best read EVER!!!! I ended up with tears rolling down my cheeks! The image of bats attacking while you ran away only to trip down the stairs with a toothbrush stuck sideways in your mouth and Legos embedded in your feet sprang into my mind and I was done! My imagination when coupled with your dilemma just went wild, my apologies!
    Bravo and good luck!

  22. Kitty says:

    Oh my gosh. I totally feel for you. I too am a total germ-o-freak. Once upon a time when we lived in a tiny old house in New Jersey (story for another day) there was a plumbing “problem”. I had raw sewage come up through my kitchen drain. Aacckkk!! Apparently, the original clay pipes had tree roots growing through them, AAANNNDD back in the day they didn’t install back flow prevention valves. That was over 15 years ago and I still get the heebie jeebies just thinking about it. To say that I got hysterical would be an understatement. I must have gone through 5 gallons of bleach!
    I’m sure your stress-o-meter is pegged to the max. I’ll be thinking about you!!! Hopefully your trauma drama will be over soon. :)

  23. Sharon P says:

    I’m sitting at my desk laughing out loud! No, really, belly-laughing out loud! Thanks for sharing your overactive imagination and humor! I hope don’t have to tear out anymore walls or floors. No, wait! That’s not entirely true because I’d want to see what
    else you would find that would set off your anxiety-ridden OCD that would make us laugh. Seriously, I look forward to your posts. Thanks for keeping it real.

  24. Jeanne says:

    Good grief, “When You Give a Mouse a Cookie” reference is spot-on! Living in a cottage built in the late 1890s, I can sympathize. We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of a new shower-stall and so I fear that we may encounter some of what you did when we begin the demo/re-install process. We have an old metal stall now that is rusted out in all 4 corners and there is NO doubt mold spores are growing behind it. I KNOW there are all sorts of creepy/crawly things on the walls behind and I can’t wait to break out the dusters and Kilz before we erect the new shower kit. And since nothing, I mean nothing, is easy in our house, we could be in for a comical DIY project (and when I say nothing is easy, I mean even what you would think would be simple like putting in a wrapping paper storage system from elfa, which basically requires no tools becomes a project!) My husband had to take the track to work to cut it down to fit our non-standard size closet door, no two doors in our house are the same size! Argh. Can’t wait to see how the new bathroom turns out, best of luck Ashley and Jamin (and be glad it’s not the only bathroom in your house, as ours is, with me, my husband and our 3 girls!)

  25. Mark says:

    Ugh on the mold!

    But the worst (so far) discovery from the pits of this old house was discovering that a past owner had clearly had a drinking problem! A sea of empty liquor bottles were secreted in our crawl space. LOL

    Couldn’t have been much of a secret when we mentioned it to an elderly neighbor, she knew exactly who had put them there, too. Ha! 😉

  26. Shar says:

    Oh my! You have to laugh or you’ll cry! We’ve all been there in some way, shape or form. At our last house (an older home), we came home from vacation to find a dead mouse floating in our upstairs toilet bowl. A friend of mine with a new home, decided to replace her first floor carpeting 7 years in, because the furniture all rocked around as the floors didn’t seem level. When they took the builder-grade carpet up, they found drink cups, straws & fast food bags everywhere (minus the food, thankfully!). Someone had flattened everything down to the “just lumpy” stage. Of course the builder was long gone by then….

  27. Christina says:

    Oddly enough when my parents were doing renovations on their house, the house I grew up in, an older home 1940s-ish build they found a beer can as well, or maybe it was a bottle. They also found a random soda bottle (a discontinued brand) and a shoe to one of my dolls. In the wall. Which can only mean one thing. Something large enough to carry said shoe, carried it into the wall from the room where my tiny childhood body slept. Creepy. I feel you on the hibbies.

  28. Hilarious post! This made my day. The laughing, not your bathroom trauma. :) To throw another log on your heeby-jeeby fire….I was bit on the face by a house centipede this past winter. While sleeping. In our bed. Yeah, thanks 124-year old house.

  29. Omg I know home repairs are stressful, but your post is so funny! I love your letter in the wall.

  30. k says:

    so where was the leak coming from?