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

it’s just what we do

I used those exact words last week to describe the way my little hometown rallied around the Smit family. Amy actually wrote a post tonight describing the flood of support she received from the community because today, we find ourselves under water. Literally.

And again, our little hometown came together in support of those who needed it. I had no idea how aggressively the water was rising. I mean, I was acutely aware that I left a balmy Florida morning to return to a 46 degree driving rainstorm that lasted from early afternoon and through the night, but I didn’t realize we were that close to flood conditions. Then, this morning, the school closed after an initial two-hour delay and I was like, ‘whoa, it must be bad. i’m sure no one wants to add more days to the end of this already extended school year!’ Continue reading

best snow day ever


I started getting that sick feeling Thursday night. You know the one, right? It’s that anxiety-inducing feeling that results from deteriorating weather conditions and the assumption school will most likely close the next day. I know, you can just call it Mama Llama Drama.

But still, balancing a hefty workload and an almost seven-year-old (who had just been ‘crowned’ Citizen of the Month) is no easy feat. I was thankful to get a couple extra minutes of sleep the next morning. I’d gotten the call and turned the alarm off. When I did wake, I left all the lights off and sat quietly with my laptop on the couch so CJ could continue to rest. I think that lasted ten minutes before I heard his little feet shuffling on the carpet.

Next thing I know, he was sitting next to me. Well, on me. He was sitting on me. Surely, the day was going to go really, really well.

We talked about playing some Uno and making some breakfast as first steps. I will admit that I was totally okay with the fact that I didn’t have to rush anywhere first thing. Oh, and that I didn’t even have to shower if I didn’t want to. Booyah.

After breakfast, I told CJ he could watch a movie so I could focus on a few things and then we would go pick up the girls. He stole the DVD player away and I found him in his room a few minutes later.

precious moments

precious moments

We picked up the girls and took some of the back roads home. The snow was just beautiful and I couldn’t help but get out and snap a few pics along the way.

[32.365] all eyes

whatchu lookin at?

Funny story. When I saw these moo cows, they were all saddled up to the fence. I got out of my car and I’m not sure if I shut the door too quickly or if I was too loud when I exclaimed, “hey, what’s going on, guys?!” but they all freaked out and started running (air quotes, question mark) at the sight of me. Thankfully, they didn’t get too far because I fell in love with the snow-covered beasts.

Later in the afternoon, I told the kiddos that I had a couple calls I had to be on so I could hide out in my room but I would need them to play the silent game keep it down a bit. Just before my second call, though, we turned on the kids music channel and they started dancing around. It literally melted my heart. Their smiles; their clasped hands; the cousin love. I couldn’t help but watch them.

it was hair-raising

it was hair-raising

yay, we did it!

yay, we did it!

The girls stayed until just before dinner time. When we got to Grandma’s for dinner, both of them mentioned it was the best snow day ever. I’m sure it was just because they got to be somewhere other than home while their mom and dad had to work, but I don’t think they realized that they made it a great snow day for me, too. When I looked  back at the moments I was able to witness and be a part of that I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise, I was so thankful. Snow days rule.


I may have mentioned that I’ve been enjoying the Olympics … or maybe I just mentioned the swimming. Anyway, in the couple of hours after CJ goes to bed, I’ve had my tv tuned in to NBC. As I’m waiting for the swimming, working away on my computer, I’ve heard a song play along with a montage of the US womens’ gymnastics team. I’m not even kidding when I share that I get a tear in my eye every time. Continue reading