dear santa: a project

I was pretty worried (and mildly relieved) that last Christmas would also mean our last visit from Santa but oh HO HO HO was I wrong. It actually seemed like his fervor for the gentleman in the old red suit grew this year. Which was fun.

Not long after the tree went up Thanksgiving weekend, Connor wrote a letter to Santa. Pinterest to the rescue for an adorable template that I drew up on a piece of his sketch paper for him to complete. I forgot to note this would be in addition to the list he’d already given me … which was completely different. Of course.  Continue reading

the door to nowhere

Last year I took a road trip with my sister and her girls over to Ikea. Our primary goal was finding a bed for my youngest niece, but as anyone who has ever visited Ikea knows … you don’t leave with

Imagine my excitement (and surprise) when Alyssa and I stumbled upon a suitable boyfriend. When I took him in my arms, I noticed his soft, smooth skin and oddly extreme flexibility. He was quiet, yet he spoke to me. I made up my mind right there he had to be mine. The best part was he was only $4.99. (Sorry to those of you who thought this was going in another direction).

I put stick guy on my nightstand the second we got home. I kept his arms in the form of a nice, big hug. Over time, though, I realized it just wasn’t working out so into my closet he went.

In a strange twist, I was scouring Pinterest one day for a bookshelf and came across an old door propped up against a wall with shelves where a piece of glass or wood would have been. And then? I saw him. He was standing on a shelf calling (Well, it looked like he was. I said he was quiet) to me. <whisper>If you build it, I will have a home.</whisper>

Door bookshelf

I found a really dingy old door at a resale store up in Grand Rapids. The middle was already cut out and it was screaming for a coat of paint. Surprisingly, poop brown only appeals to a few people. I would not be one of them. Thankfully, the two lovely gentleman who were using the store to support a local ministry were willing to negotiate so I left with the door and a small chair. I also truly believe where there’s a will there’s a way when it comes to fitting furniture of that size in a sedan. It actually feels safer when you’re unable to move.

Anyway, it took me quite a while to get to the door. Like … the whole summer. I decided to attack it late one weekend and the first thing I did was sand the heck out of it. A good amount of the (too) thick paint came off. My goal was to throw some new paint on without making it look like I was just adding to the layers. I loved the original hardware too, so I sanded some of the paint off and taped those areas to avoid adding any new. Who paints door hardware? And while I’m at it, who paints a door poop brown?!

After a coat of primer, sanding, a fresh coat of white paint, sanding and yet another coat of white paint (and sanding … again), she was getting closer to providing a permanent residence for my stand-up guy.

I did want to add back in some of the aged appeal, so I did some additional sanding (distressing) after the paint was nice and smooth. I took the power sander to it again with a coarser (more coarse? who knows.) paper and hit a few of the edges. Once the door was dry and sealed, I added the shelves. I asked my dad to cut me up a couple of the barn boards we had left over from the great headboard project of 2012. I felt like the barn wood would be a nice touch for the shelves. My only lack in judgment here was about how sturdy the boards were so I did have to use some Gorilla Glue to help shore them up a bit. While I was at the Home Depot, I also bought some chain to help keep the shelves in place. I’d use some little L-shaped brackets in the front of each and the chain in the back. It was the most careful I will ever likely be with a hammer. Getting the barn wood to play nicely proved to be a challenge but I can tap-tap-tap-aroo with the best of them.

When I got the shelves in place, I brought her inside and found some random stuff I had laying around to place on the shelves. I really like how she turned out. Boyfriend is happy and I finished another pinspiration. On to the next …

i think he’s rubbing his belly and his head. people like to mess with him and like the stand-up guy that he is, he just takes it.

fun old books from my grandma's collection and my pirate nose-picker.

fun old books from my grandma’s collection and my pirate nose-picker.

door to nowhere.

door to nowhere. p.s. i totally see that chain hanging out. perfectly imperfect.

more holes in the wall

It’s been a while since we’ve talked DIY. I haven’t stopped being a do-it-myself’er (huh?) but I have become terrible at photo-journaling the activities and then talking about them. So, here is a long-winded one with two photos. I’ll host a contest to see who can guess which is mine*.

I had been searching out a gallery wall to reside on the wall behind my media stand and TV. The problem is … my media stand and TV. I have a reasonably sized flat-screen that sits atop the media stand and sort of awkwardly covers up a good chunk of the wall. I figured someone else in the world did, too, so all I had to do was find him/her.

I found this pin …

so lovely. p.s. i tried to link over to the originating blog and got an error. bummer.

and I first reconciled the fact that my gallery wall would look nothing like this gem. And … I wasn’t willing to do the work this heroic woman did to make it happen (which is also why it wasn’t going to turn out as awesome but whatever; the furniture was not going anywhere). I did, however, find another similar gallery project on her blog so I morphed the idea of the first one with the look of the second one and voilà! An idea was born.

The first, and most challenging part I think, of creating a gallery wall is finding frames. I didn’t want to spend a fortune because 1.) I’m cheap and 2.) I knew that other people had frames they no longer wanted and may have donated said frames to places like The Salvation Army and Goodwill. I found several frames in the basement that I’d yet to put anywhere and purchased several that had been previously loved. And, I also found a couple at Hobby Lobby that I refused to purchase unless they were 50% off. Since that happens every other week, I was in good shape.

The first task was painting. I had hoped to keep all the frames white since I have white chairs with my dark wood dining table and could tie in the concept of white accents with dark wood again here. Wow. I’m coordinating! Or something.

So, I painted. It was winter-ish when I was painting (which was likely early May here in Michigan for pete’s sake) so I was in the basement. Fumes are bad, mmmk? Many catch-my-breath breaks ensued. I bought some spray paint from Meijer (Blossom White, I believe it was) in a Satin finish. I didn’t want glossy frames. To avoid having a bunch of clean-up after the fact, I also had to remove all the pieces and parts associated with the frames. A few of my older frames were mad at me for trying to paint them so I taught them a lesson with the sander and they cooperated thereafter.

The spin-off idea from the other gallery wall was cutting brown paper to the size of each frame and then taping it on the wall to get a sense for the overall layout. I’m so, so glad I borrowed this idea. It allowed me to shift and re-configure the layout multiple times without putting a single hole in the wall. Not to worry; I added plenty of holes later.

Once I had the layout I had hoped for, the frames started to go up. Several of them would include photos I’d taken. I wanted to have a mixture of portraits and landscapes as well as objects to reflect the original idea. I also needed this exercise to actually print some photos. My track record at printing photos is less than stellar. So, having a gallery wall means I have to print photos every now and again. New and different content keeps them coming back, you know?! Also, I was kidding about the holes. I really just measured up my frames and made pencil marks where the anchors sat on each. I think I only have two extra holes, and the coolest part? You can’t even see them.

I also mentioned objects. I bought an ampersand and spray painted that a seaweed color (to match my chair cushions). More coordination. Mind.Blown. I also found an el-cheapo shelf that I painted. For now, there’s a photo on it but I also want to find some other “thing” to rest on its top. I also found a key that I’d bought a few months ago to throw into a rectangular frame I’d found at The Salvation Army. It fit perfectly.

So, when all was said and done, I’d created myself a little gallery wall. It took far longer than it should have, but honestly? I was super-nervous about putting this sucker together. I love it because it wraps nicely around the media center and coordinates with my life and because I get to see it everyday and there, staring back at me, is my smiling kid. That’s really the best goshdarn part.

sorry for the poor iphone photo. it was taken a while ago and i'm just lazy.

sorry for the poor iphone photo. it was taken a while ago and i’m just lazy. oh, and disregard the exercise ball. i keep it there for motivation. oh, i also painted a small canvas with a cross and more seaweed-colored paint and put it in that empty frame you see right thar.

*just kidding

we’re all a little creative


I may have mentioned before that I’ve come to love Pinterest. I don’t visit the site (and/or the app) everyday but when I’m looking for an idea or have a ‘how-to’ question to answer, it’s a frequent destination.

Last week, I was trying to pull together an idea based on an Etsy item I’d seen. Oh, I love Etsy too. Everyone should. Anyway, the concept included a wooden frame, burlap and a wreath. The frame was super easy. Hobby Lobby just happened to have a 50% off sale and ‘BAM’, I had a frame. Continue reading

a home for my dahlias


One of my very first purchases when I started appreciating old junk the idea of upcycling was a factory cart. I’d been pin-hunting for some complementary pieces for my new-to-me living room and stumbled upon the idea of restoring a factory cart for use as a coffee table. I decided right then and there I was going to have one of my own. Well, it was that or a chicken crate until I realized 1.) that no one sold those and 2.) that stench might take a small miracle to overcome. Continue reading

diy: what some might call “ruining wood”

My awesome brother-in-law (I’ve talked about him before) had a dresser he’d purchased a year or two ago at a garage sale because it was real wood, beautiful and cheap. I needed a dresser. I saw the dresser he had stored in his barn and it looked sad … like it needed a home … in my bedroom. Continue reading