Pantry progress.

Wayne's World: monkeys might fly out of my butt

Nothing happening in the pantry.

There it is.  It probably won’t surprise you to know that fixing up the old, smelly pantry to match the rest of the sparkly, brand-new kitchen is taking longer than I thought it would.  I figured, one week for this project.  I’d knock it out in one week, and this post would be a “reveal,” and you’d all be surprised and impressed that I actually did a project so fast that it was done before you even realized I was working on it.

Well, I’m two weeks in, and all I’ve managed to do is tear out the old shelves and slap on a coat of primer.  Which doesn’t exactly deserve the standing ovation I was envisioning.

So, as you can imagine, I’m bored with this project already and I’ve been looking for a distraction.

Enter the Minneapolis Remodeling Expo: a convention center filled to the brim with people who, for a price, will do your remodeling for you.  What a novel idea!

Minneapolis Remodeling Expo

Of course, I was mostly just window shopping.  Because I don’t have money.  I just wanted to talk to people and get ideas, because god knows I don’t have enough ideas of my own.  So as much as I’d like to tell you that I hired someone from the expo to finish the pantry while I moved on to grander schemes, that is not what happened.

I did, however, meet some really fun people with interesting stories behind their businesses.  So I thought I’d share them with you.  And FYI, this is not a sponsored post.  I haven’t even tried most of the products I’m about to tell you about.  I’m really just avoiding painting the pantry, and these people were my unwitting accomplices.

1. Beth from MakennaDel Nature Products

MakennaDel Nature Products: candles and lotions

Here’s what I found interesting:

  • Bacon…scented…candles.  I could just leave it at that, because that should be all you need to know.  Beth does for candles (and lotions) what Bertie Bott does for jelly beans.  Campfire.  Beer.  Pipe tobacco + caramel.  Oh, and lots of “normal” fragrances, too.
  • A lot of Beth’s fragrances are based on suggestions from her clients.  So if you visit the MakennaDel website and don’t see what you’re looking for, you can always make a fragrance request.
  • Beth makes all her candles and lotions in her workshop at home.
  • MakennaDel is named after Beth’s daughters.
  • Beth also made that sign in the top picture.  A woman of many talents, no?
  • I left with a “tomato leaf” candle.  It was the only thing I bought at the expo.  It smells like spring and makes me happy.

2.  Tracy from Twin Cities iCoat

Twin Cities iCoat: decorative concrete products

YOU.  GUYS.  These are pictures of skim-coated concrete counters…and they are way cooler than mine.  I stand by all previous statements that:

  • for the price, I love my DIY skim-coated concrete counter tops.  For the price.
  • They scratch waaaaay to easily.  And I’ve been keeping an eye out for other finishes or topcoats that might be more durable.  (From iCoat’s website:  ”ICoat Epoxy is scratch resistant and scorch resistant to over 500°F.”)
  • If I had money, I would have chosen just about ANY other option for counter tops, besides laminate.
  • If I had money and still wanted concrete, I would hire someone else to do it.

The iCoat booth seemed to be one of the busiest ones at the expo, and the words I heard most often (in a tone of disbelief) was, “That’s concrete??”  My friends, this is how I hoped my counters would turn out.  Specifically: glossy, durable, and scratch-free.  I was blown away.  And now, I need that epoxy.

If you’re still intent on DIY-ing it, you might want to look into iCoat‘s products.  Because they also offer training classes.  Which sounded pretty good to me, especially after a conversation with Tracy revealed that the epoxy is a precise two-part system, and that it involves a process called “torching.”  Learning curve, indeed.

3.  Brett and Jim from Minnesota Farmhouse

Minnesota Farmhouse: rustic custom furniture

What can I say?  These guys were just my kind of people.  Brett quit his IT job so he could start a business making rustic and reclaimed furniture, after making a table from plans he found on Ana White (are you kidding?? I read Ana White, too!).  He teamed up with Jim, his father-in-law, who had always had a woodworking addiction hobby.  Now they make custom farmhouse-style furniture and home decor.  How perfect does that sound?

And get this: a lot of their stuff can be shipped.  So you can visit their website and buy your own little piece of rustic perfection.

I talked to Jim for, oh, probably half an hour.  I kinda wanted to kick back on their display couch and have a beer with him while talking about woodwork-y things.

4.  Joe, the Slipcover Man

Slipcover Man: custom fitted slipcovers

In the category of “Things I Did Not Know Existed”: custom-made fitted slipcovers, without the furniture ever leaving your house.  First of all, I’ve never seen slipcovers that fit so precisely.  Looking at the examples that Joe had in his booth, and the pictures of his work, you’d think these pieces were upholstered, not slip-covered.

Secondly, did you catch that bit about the furniture not leaving the house?  Yeah.  Slipcover Man comes to your house and takes a paper template of the piece, then ships/delivers the finished slipcover back to you.  What the what?  So you don’t find yourself one sofa short of a living room set for 6-8 weeks, or however long it takes to have a piece reupholstered.

5.  Becka from Origami Owl

Origami Owl: custom jewelry that tells a story

It’s probably obvious, but I just have to say: I am a sucker for a good story.  And this company has a pretty good one.  I was drawn into Becka’s booth because it was sparkly, and I’m attracted to shiny things.  So I said, “Tell me about all this shiny stuff.”  Okay, get this: Origami Owl was started by Bella Weems, a 14-year-old girl who asked for a car for her 16th birthday, and was told, “Sorry, you’ll have to work for it.”  So she started a direct-marketing company that sells custom jewelry.  The idea is that you can build your own locket or bracelet or whatever that “tells your story.”

And now Bella is 17 or 18 years old and has her own car.  And her own multi-million dollar company.  And 60,000 independent designers like Becka helping her tell her story.

When I was 14, I worked at KFC.  Now I am 33, and I can’t even get my dogs to do my bidding most of the time.

So, you know…proof that greatness comes in all kinds of packages. ;)


Cleaning up the bricks: It was suspiciously easy.

A week ago, before I closed my eyes and said a prayer and dove head-first into cleaning the chimney, I was almost certain that this was going to be a post about how a simple task turned into repointing the entire chimney, and about the meltdown that was sure to follow, and about how I ended up safely locked away in a padded room after attempting to burn my house down.  Tragedy would be avoided only because, in my delirium, I failed to realize that the whole point of a chimney is to not catch on fire.

Much to my surprise, none of that happened.  This project was exactly as easy as I thought it should be.  Which NEVER happens.  You know what the hardest part about this project was?  Deciding what kind of post I should write, instead of the DIY-fail post I’ve been drafting in my head for the past couple of months.

It could be one of those posts where I show you before-and-after pictures that look very similar, then try to convince you that whatever I did made a HUGE difference.

How to clean a chimney.

It’s more impressive in person, I swear.

Or it could be one of those posts where I show you an ugly “before,” then try to convince you that the object is somehow redeemable, then I show you the “after” and you’re like, “Nope.  Different, but still ugly.”

how to clean bricks

Well, I like the exposed brick.  I think Chris’s jury is still out.

It could be a how-to, but I didn’t take any “during” pictures.  So, here’s my half-assed attempt:

how to clean masonry

In no particular order, these are the supplies you’ll need:

supplies for cleaning masonry

-(not pictured) Plastic sheeting, masking tape or painters’ tape, a BUNCH of towels, rubber gloves, and safety goggles
1.  Spray bottle
2.  Concrete and masonry sealer
3.  Concrete and masonry cleaner
4.  Bucket
5.  A pump sprayer (this is optional, but it will make it so much easier)
6.  Nylon bristle brush
7.  Old paint brush

Step 1: Use the plastic and tape to cover anything that you don’t want to get wet, such as new drywall or brand-new wood trim.  Ask yourself, “Why didn’t we clean this thing before we put up the drywall?”  Throw some towels on the floor around the base of the chimney.

Step 2:  Don your goggles and gloves.  Fill your sprayer with warm, clean water.  Mix your cleaning solution in the bucket.

Step 3:  Spray a small area with clean water (I worked in roughly 2-foot squares).  Use the scrub brush and cleaning solution to scrub the wet area.  Then spray again with clean water to rinse.  Grab a towel and blot the area dry.  Repeat in the next section, being sure to overlap slightly.  Check the towels around the base of the chimney once in a while and change them out if they get totally soaked.  I went through almost 3 gallons of water, and only had to change the towels once.  But our chimney is 110 years old, and has never been sealed, so I think a lot of water just soaked into the bricks.  Maybe.

Step 4:  Allow to dry for 24 hours to one week.  (I waited 3 days.  Arbitrary.)  Don’t take the plastic down yet.

Step 5:  Don your goggles again and get ready to seal.  I used the spray bottle.  I just sprayed it directly on the bricks and used the big paint brush to smooth out any big drips or hazy spots.  The sealer will leave some milky spots, but they dry clear.

Now you can take the plastic down and bask in the cleanliness of your masonry.  You may want to put on sunglasses, to protect your eyes from all the sparkling.

How to clean a brick chimney

Here’s the thing about how-to’s: I don’t really like writing them if it’s the first time I’ve done something.  I don’t know if I did it right.  And if I didn’t, I probably shouldn’t be telling you how to do it.  Doesn’t anyone else wonder what happened to that 3 gallons of water??

So maybe this should simply be an “updated list” post.  Remember the list?  From way back in November?  Now, I can do THIS:

  • Finish the cabinets
  • Make casing
  • Install casing
  • Make back band
  • Install back band
  • Make base boards
  • Install base boards
  • Make crown molding
  • Install crown molding
  • Install bathroom door
  • Install closet door and organize closet
  • Refinish and install basement door
  • Refinish and install pantry door
  • Organize the pantry
  • Tear up carpet and refinish the stairs
  • Clean and seal the chimney
  • Install a transition strip
  • Finish the peninsula

Which means that the only things standing between me and a finished kitchen are 1) the pantry, and 2) the stairs.

the only things left in the kitchen renovation

That’s a nice thought, isn’t it?  Unless you worry, like I do, that finishing the kitchen will trigger some kind of identity crisis, where I madly run around trying any and every type of DIY project in an attempt to figure out how to define myself outside of this kitchen renovation.

And if you follow me on Instagram (or Facebook, or Twitter), then you know that I’ve already started at least one of these final projects.  So the crisis is near.

And finally, I’ll leave you with a post where I try to pretend I’m a good photographer and I show you some gratuitous pictures taken from weird angles, convinced that they’re “artsy” or “creative.”

Brick chimney, after cleaning and sealing

Unfortunately, that’s the only one.  So your judgement of my eye for photography must be based disproportionately on this one specimen.

Let’s quietly cross “photographer” off the list of potential identities, shall we?  ;)

Making Trim: Lessons learned.

First of all, regarding Tuesday’s post:

victory dance

Amiright?  It’s DONE.  The trim is DONE.  Five months of labor just to cover up ragged edges around the kitchen.  (And when I say “five months” and “labor,” I mean “114 hours of actually working on it and 2,366 hours of hard-core avoidance of a task I really didn’t want to do.)

And, after taking a little time to recover and “gain some perspective” on the experience

Gaining perspective.  With beer.

I’d like to share with you a few lessons I learned along the way.

On valuing my time:  I’m going to start with some math here.  (I know, I’m sorry.  If you’re like, “MATH?!  Eff that!  I didn’t come over here on a Saturday morning to do WORD PROBLEMS!”, then skip to the last sentence of this paragraph.)  Way back whenever, I got a quote to have the millwork custom made.  It was $2,200.  When I decided to make it myself, I spent $800 on materials.  I then spent 54 hours milling it and 19 hours sanding it.  If I had hired the pros, I think I still would have had to do some sanding, but probably not as much.  So let’s cut that 19 in half and say that, in total, I spent roughly an extra 63.5 hours DIY-ing it.  So my hourly rate = (2200 – 800) / 63.5 hours = $22.05 per hour.

Which actually sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

Obama "Not bad."

Unfortunately, as it turns out, I apparently value my time waaaaaayyyyy higher than that.  Because I would rather have my 63.5 hours back and be $1400 poorer.  And it’s possible that Chris would even agree with me on that, having put up with me and my millwork malaise during 5 of the darkest and coldest and malaise-iest months of the year.

Also, fun fact: 63.5 hours averaged out over 5 months is less than 1.5 hours a day.  Now that’s some high-quality procrastination right there, if I do say so myself.

Lesson #2:  My stubby, oddly-shaped thumbs are the perfect size and shape for this little groove on the casing:

sanding the casings.

So to anyone who’s ever asked me, “What’s up with your thumbs?”…the answer is: this.  This is what’s up with my thumbs.  I am perfectly suited to this kind of absurd task.  It’s nature’s miracle. (Take that, Mike!)

That’s it.  Those are the only two things I learned.

So.  Would I do it again?

I am conflicted.  I mean, the math tells me that it was worth it.  Because I know that I would have been forever annoyed by anything that didn’t match the original mill work.  So given that the cheapest option also met my highest standards (what are the chances?), I should be telling you it was worth it.


Thoreau once said, “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”  If that is true (and philosophers are never wrong), then no — this project was not worth it.

In fact, the only good part about this project was discovering American Workshop and realizing what a great resource it was.  Seriously, having the tools and the talent available there gave me the opportunity to turn the concept of this desk into reality, which was totally amazing and wouldn’t have happened without them.

On the other hand…if I hadn’t discovered American Workshop, I might not have even thought it possible to make my own trim work, and I probably wouldn’t have tried, which would have saved me a lot of time and energy and frustration.

I love you, American Workshop, but also…curse you.  For telling me that it could be done.  I know you tried to talk me out of it.  And it’s not really your fault, because you barely knew me back then and had no idea how pig-headed I can be.  But still.  Next time?  Talk louder. ;)

Would I recommend this project to others?


Let me put it to you this way: if all your friends jumped off a cliff (or maybe not all your friends — maybe just your bestest internet friend who writes your favorite-est blog in the world) if that person jumped off a cliff, would you jump too?

If I were your bestest internet friend who also writes your favorite-est blog in the world, I’d be tackling you away from the cliff, sobbing and screaming, “NOOOOOO!  Don’t do it!!  It’s not worth it!!!”  Because no one should have to go through that.

Anyway, the moral of the story is this: just because you see something on the internet, doesn’t make it a good idea.

Bad Ideas.


Disclosure: American Workshop generously allowed me to use their space and equipment for this project, but have not told me what to write.  All projects, opinions, and bad ideas are my own.  


And I looked upon the kitchen I had made, and I saw that it was good.

kitchen remodel after installing trim.

Words cannot express my joy on this momentous occasion.  I would like to lead you all in a hymn:

(To the tune of “Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead“)

Ding Dong! The Trim is done. How much trim? All the trim!
Ding Dong! The effing Trim is done!
Baseboards and casings too, plus back band, and the crown,
Ding dong, the effing Trim is done!
It’s all done and now I know
I know, I know I know I know, I should have paid someone, to do it for me…
Ding dong, the merry-oh, sing it high, sing it low,
Ding dong, the effing Trim is done!

hand made crown molding

Last Saturday, after I told you that all the trim was installed, I spent the whole day spackling nail holes.

black baseboard

Hey, did you know that spackle doesn’t come in black?  Good thing I spent THREE DAYS painting that baseboard before installation. Derp.

Then I spent the whole day on Sunday caulking the gaps.

filling holes and gaps in window casings.

And yesterday, I did all the touch-up paint.

door and window casing

Which means this project is officially DONE.  Officially.  Not like Saturday, when I *also* claimed it was done.

hand made door and window trim

144 days ago, I began this little project.  And it has been the bane of my existence ever since.

You know how there’s always that one project or chore that’s always on your list, but never gets done because you’d rather scrub the grout in the shower with a toothbrush, or move all the furniture to vacuum underneath it, or organize your paperclip collection?

That was this trim.  Seriously, I would have preferred to go outside in the subzero temperatures and chip out all the frozen dog poop in the yard.  In fact, I did.  Many times. Because ANYTHING was better than the thought of sanding and finishing this stuff.

Installing millwork.

But it is DONE!

casing and baseboard in the bathroom

And can I just say, it was kind of anti-climactic.  I didn’t get a single parade.  Nor was I introduced to even a junior member of the Lollipop Guild.

Finishing touches on a kitchen remodel.

I guess the view is its own reward.

Kitchen with finished wood work.

After working on this for five months, I really do feel like I’ve conquered an insurmountable task.  I’m like the Napoleon of moldings.

Me as Napoleon riding a t-rex.

Except instead of a horse, I’d ride a T-Rex.  And instead of crossing the Alps, I hand-scraped 600 linear feet of moldings.

Also, I look better in that hat.


And then pigs flew.

I would like to take a moment to re-introduce you to Ned.

Ned, the Flying Pig.

You may remember Ned from such blog posts as this one.  Ned is here today to help me illustrate a very important point.

Are you sitting down?  Okay.  Here goes.

The trim is done.

Handmade window casing

No, seriously.  I know it’s hard to believe, since this relatively simple task has now been almost five months in the making.

Handmade door casing

Five.  Long.  Months.  Don’t believe me?  Check out the date on this post.  That’s the first time I mentioned the whole DIY millwork project: November 9, 2013.

installing wood trim and moldings

54 hours of planing and routing and hand-scraping.  19 hours of hand-sanding.  11 trips to Little Caesar’s.  4 coats of paint.  2 tantrums thrown.  1 marriage pushed to the brink.

black baseboard under cabinets.

What do you think about that black baseboard, eh? Eh?  Yeah, you like it.

And now, it’s all installed.  Not just painted, but installed.  512 feet of casing and back band.  72 feet of 2-piece baseboard.  And 16 precious feet of crown molding.  All made by hand.

handmade crown molding

And the kitchen finally, finally looks done.


trimming out doors and windows.

Because there’s still that little bit about caulking all the gaps around the trim, and filling all the nail holes.   And then, of course, there will have to be some paint touch-ups here and there.

So, um….while you’ve been reading this story about how the trim is all done now, that’s what I’m doing.  Caulking and filling.  And painting.

In other words:

Finishing the trim. ;)

All the thoughts.

Hey, guess what?!  The trim’s not done.

Oh, don’t look so shocked.  I know I said I wasn’t going to blog again until it was done.  But it’s not like you didn’t see this coming, after Tuesday’s post.  I’ve clearly been thinking about things other than trim.  And it turns out that I have SO MANY THOUGHTS banging around inside my head that if I don’t release them in the form of a post, bad things happen.  Like, the last time I didn’t post for two whole weeks, and the thoughts got so crowded that they had to compete for territory, and there was some sort of battle royal in my brain.

It was a messy fight, in which the biggest, baddest thought of them all pummeled its way to the top, throwing out all the weaker thoughts and finally forcing me to do its bidding: to enter myself in a terrifying contest.

I shudder to imagine what other kinds of compromising positions I could find myself in if I let that happen again.  So I’m gonna let some of my thoughts out to play here, in this post.

So if you’re reading this: thanks for taking one for the team.

Thought #1: ”I still can’t believe I did that.”  I’m only going to write that sentence once here, to save you some time.  But just so you know, that phrase pops into my head about every 12 seconds or so.  It’s getting hard to concentrate on things that actually matter in real life.

Thought #2:  Remember when this website looked like this?

screen shot Feb 2014

As in, a couple of days ago?  Did you notice that it looks a little different around here today?  I spent 3 days re-designing this blog.  Why?  I don’t know.  Because I am a master at avoiding things that I don’t want to do.  Like sanding trim.  So I consulted my “Photoshop for Dummies” bible and dusted off my rusty (and elementary) HTML skills, and messed with things I don’t understand.  All of which caused me a lot of stress and made me think that maybe I should have just stuck to sanding trim.  Or maybe I should have made…

Thought #3:  M&M cookies.  I’ve been thinking about making M&M cookies since Friday.  Not yesterday, but the Friday before that.  Because I saw this recipe (or more accurately, I saw the huge picture of M&M cookies), and I knew I had to try it.  But it took me a couple of days to remember to buy M&Ms at the grocery store, and then it took me a couple of days to find the time to make cookies, and then in between those two things happening, I ate too many of the M&Ms and didn’t have enough for the cookies, so I had to buy more M&Ms.  And then once I started making them, I realized I didn’t have quite enough shortening, so I had to supplement with butter.  And then I realized I didn’t have quite enough flour, so I had to supplement with chickpea flour (that makes them healthy, right Lisa?).  So it’s almost like the universe was conspiring to keep me from making these cookies.  But luckily, as usual, I was a little slow to take the hint.

m&m cookies from Pinch of Yum

And they were glorious.

Thought #4:  I’ve been looking for something to hang on the chimney, to cover the large unexplained hole, which is currently covered by a weird metal thing that kind of looks like a paper plate.

hole in the chimney

I found the perfect vintage tin sign.  I am SO EXCITED about it.

vintage tin sign, censored

But I can’t show you until it’s hung in place.  And I can’t hang it until I clean and seal the brick.  Which is on the list of things that need to be done in order to call the kitchen “done”…right after “finish the trim.”  Which is not done yet.  But, as you might have noticed in the picture above, significant trim-progress has been made, despite my best efforts.


Thought #5-A:  Remember that fabulous crystal chandelier I bought for our tiny half bathroom?  Well the other day, I was doing whatever it is people do while sitting in a bathroom, and I realized how nice the view is when you look straight up.

chandelier for the bathroom

That light fixture…was a good choice.  It really made me smile.

bathroom light fixture

Until I looked straight down and saw this:

air compressor

And I thought 5-B) This does not bother me as much as I think it should.  Because it’s been there for so long, that I kinda forgot it was there.  Is it weird that I don’t think it’s weird to have an air compressor in the bathroom?  And 5-C) I wonder what guests think when they use that bathroom.

Nobody’s ever asked about it.  Which is too bad, because I have an answer all ready to go:

Imaginary guest:  Why do you have an air compressor in the bathroom?

Me:  To blow sh*t up.

Get it?!  HA!

And now you know why no one ever comes over.

Thought #6:  I walked the dogs to the park the other day.  It took me about twenty minutes to get there, and when I got there I saw this:

powderhorn park

And I thought it was so pretty that I should take a picture.  Except I didn’t have my camera.  Or my phone.  Or anything with which to take said picture.  So I turned around and walked the dogs twenty minutes back home to get a camera.  Then I walked them twenty minutes back to the park so I could take that picture.  I walked those dogs for almost an hour and a half, because it was 15 degrees outside and sunny.  It was the first time in about two weeks that it was above zero, and it felt GLORIOUS!

Thank you, Minnesota, for teaching me to appreciate 15 measly degrees.  And now that you’ve taught me that important life lesson, let’s just let bygones be bygones, and promise to never have a winter like this one ever again.


Thought #7:  This is the last one, I swear.  While I was walking back from the park the second time, I snapped this picture:

tweety birds

Because it was a beautiful sunny day, and the birds were making such a happy racket, and I thought it was so cute the way they were all clustered together like leaves on the bush.

And then I realized it was probably super creepy of me to be standing about 15 feet away from my neighbors’ house, with my camera pointed at their windows.

that creepy awkward look


Have a great weekend!


Creating with the Stars: I’m already panicking and I’m not even a contestant. Yet.

So two Saturdays ago, I’m sitting around in my pajamas, avoiding working on the trim work by reading other people’s blogs.  And it came to my attention that Creating with the Stars (CWTS) would soon be opening up “auditions” for this year’s contestants.

For those of you who don’t know what CWTS is, you can read more about it here, on East Coast Creative.  I’ll wait here while you go check it out.  Here’s the part that’s relevant to today’s post: 12 bloggers compete in a 4-week competition, in which they have to crank out one project per week in four different categories.  They have to be super creative.  They have to be fast, both in planning and execution.  And it wouldn’t hurt to be crafty.

Now.  For those of you who don’t know me, allow me to share a couple of anecdotes.

1)  I have only one documented example of being super creative.  The rest of the time, I do things like 2013′s Christmas decorations:

the festivus gazelle

Given my track record, banking on being struck by FOUR lightning bolts of creativity in four consecutive weeks seems like kinda poor planning.

2)  As regards my speed in execution:  We are on Day 476 of a kitchen remodel.  That should speak for itself.  But if you need further proof, I’ll direct your attention to Exhibit A, in which I learn to install a transition strip in only 40 simple steps — one of which was “Use jacks to level the house.  Again.”

installing a transition strip

3)  As regards my speed in planning and decision making: I’d like to refer to Exhibit B: the time it took me about two weeks to decide what color to paint doors.

glass and satin nickel door knob

4)  And — just a general strike against the idea of me winning a DIY-decor contest —  I once decorated a room like this:

living room before

…and then had the good sense to share it with the whole wide interwebs.  You like it, right?

5)  You know that ability that some people have, to scale down ideas into something that a reasonable person could do in a reasonable amount of time?  Like, a week, for instance?  This is a skill I clearly lack.  I originally planned on the kitchen remodel taking three months, which is why I budgeted six.  Ahem.  Please refer back to my earlier statement about Day 476.  In other words: Approximately SIXTEEN months.  And counting.

So.  There I was reading about Creating with the Stars, and thinking, “No way.  Terrible idea.  Maybe next year…no, never.”  And after another hour or so looking at past CWTS projects, I peeled myself off the couch to go sand some trim.

But.  Apparently, the more menial the task, the greater my delusions of grandeur.  Because the more I sanded, the more I began to think the same thing that William Hung thought when he first watched American Idol: I bet I could do that.

And then I started thinking:

  • About the projects I would do, if I were selected.
  • And how much they would cost.
  • And that Chris would never agree to spend that money.
  • And that I would fail in the first round, because I wouldn’t know what to knock off, because I habitually avoid going into places where they sell things that are expensive enough to need knock-offs, because I’m afraid that if I see a $5,000 couch, I will buy a $5,000 couch, and then Chris will leave me, and I’ll have to sleep on my $5,000 couch out on the curb, and within a year it will be out of style anyway, and then I’ll have nothing.
  • I never thought I’d regret spending so little time in high-end home decor stores.
  • My list of Big Ideas is has approximately 4,138 items on it…there must be something I could do as a project for CWTS.
  • I wonder if Chris would let me paint a room for no good reason.
  • No.  He will not.
  • He will not want me to spend money on this.
  • He may not want me to spend my time on this.  Because, you know…Day 476.  And counting.
  • Just shut up and keep sanding.  Only 215 linear feet to go…

And so the menial task continued.

And so my delusions of grandeur grew.

And yesterday, when CWTS started taking submissions, I entered the contest.

mind blown

Now.  I have spent the last 10 days or so thinking about what projects I would do.  No, thinking is not the right word.  I have spent the last 10 days or so literally obsessing — in the actual literal sense of the words “literal” and not the new figurative meaning — that is to say, thinking about projects for Creating With The Stars has “preoccupied or filled my mind continually, intrusively, and to a troubling extent.”

Emphasis on “intrusive” and “troubling.”  Like John McClane, this idea got in my head and just refused to die.

I have lost sleep.

I have not figured out what projects I’d do.

And yet, at the first opportunity, I applied to be a contestant.

Yippee ky-yay, %^&$!@*!

If I get in, I’ll have only two options: A) Succeed and win the whole thing, B) Fail. Fail SPECTACULARLY, or C) Take down a helicopter with a car.

If you would like to see either of those two things happen, here’s what you can do: hop over to East Coast Creative and take a gander at the projects being submitted.  See if you recognize mine (hint: it’s number 70-something).  Along the way, click on the ones that look interesting to you; the 12 contestants will be chosen partly based on the number of clicks their submissions receive (don’t be a goon and find mine and click on it a million times, it won’t do anybody any favors).

Remember, either way, if I get in, you’ll get to read the riveting story behind my eventual and unavoidable nervous breakdown.  So, you know…win-win, right?

Last week in the news…

Well, let’s start with the big one:  I came to my senses and realized that I had to at least try to finish the kitchen.

installing door casing

That’s right, I started installing some of the trim work that I last mentioned here, back on December 17th.  Yup, two months ago I was already talking about how long I’ve ignored this project.

But building that desk and planning the music room have apparently exorcised my creative demons, at least for the time being.  With that out of my system, I’ve realized that I am now able to focus on mundane, repetitive, non-creative projects…

installing trim around doors

…such as sanding and painting 600 linear feet of home-made trim work.

So far I have managed to sand and paint (and install!) 64 linear feet of home-made trim work.  So, you know — moving right along.  Woo.

Remind me again how “making my own moldings” falls into the category of “coming to my senses?”

Anyway, my plan is to bury myself in this mundane, repetitive, non-creative task and not come up for air until it’s done.  So you might not see me for a while.  But I have other tidings to entertain you until then.

First of all, *shameless plug* in case you missed it in Saturday’s post, I’ve been nominated for a Homies Award on Apartment Therapy.

Apartment Therapy Homies 2014

The first round of voting ends on February 22nd, so if I’m not writing anything interesting over here (due to engaging in projects too boring to write about), you should hop over there and check out the list of worthy blogs.  And while you’re at it, feel free to vote for me.  Or, I suppose, vote for whichever blog you like the best.  Which we all know is this one.  But I can pretend to be magnanimous.

Second of all, Apartment Therapy has actually done me two solids this week.  (Yes, I just paraphrased “do me a solid.”)  They featured my plywood strip desk on Sunday.  While you wait for me to sand minuscule woodworking details, you could head over there to see what AT readers had to say about my desk.

By the way, I may sound calm to you right now, but this is the first time anyone’s featured anything of mine anywhere.  So I can assure you that, on Sunday morning, I was anything but calm.

excited freak out

“Yay!” cannot fully express my feelings.

But eventually I did calm down long enough to focus on one last thing to keep you busy while I’m away.  It’s a behind-the-scenes project that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time: update the House Tour and Big Ideas pages of this fine website.  I still need to take new pictures with my new camera – which is actually what precipitated this update — but the reason I’m telling you about it now is because

So.  In case I don’t see you again for a while…I love you.  I’ll never let go.


Have a wonderful week!

She Said, He Said: Painting the Music Room

It’s no secret:  I’m going to paint the music room.  I haven’t been trying to hide that fact.  I mean, I showed you what the room looks like now…

music room 11-24-2013

…and I also showed you what I imagine it will look like when it’s done.

music room makeover

So although I never said it outright, yeah.  I’m going to paint the music room.  Or more accurately, I’m going to paint Chris’s music room.  But.  I never really discussed the painting of Chris’s music room with Chris.

And you know how word gets around to your spouse when you start posting pictures on the interwebs, so he was bound to find out sooner or later.  And then this happened.

He said: So you’re gonna get rid of the green paint?

She said: Yeah.

He said: But…I kinda like the green paint.

She said: I can’t let you do that.

He said:  (pauses, as if he knows it’s a lost cause but has to try anyway) ‘Cause it’s already there…and it’s free, you know?

She said:  NOOOOO!  No!  NO.

“Free” plays no role in my calculation here.  Because it looks like Kermit the Frog and Oscar the Grouch got thrown into a blender and smeared on the walls, amiright??

music room before

I’m right.

And the lucky object of my paint-color affection for this particular transformation is Benjamin Moore Iced Cube Silver.

Which I think will provide a nice, calming, subtle backdrop for the most awesome desk in the world and its matching shelves.  The pale grayish-blue will be classy, without competing with the furniture for attention.

Speaking of attention — now that I have yours for a moment — I would like some more.  Because I love you and I think you love me and yesterday was Valentine’s Day and all, so there’s probably some leftover love to go around.  Apartment Therapy is now taking nominations for this year’s Homies awards, and I’ve been nominated in the “Home Projects and DIY” category.  I don’t know what my chances of winning are, but I would VERY. MUCH. like your help in trying.  Please take a moment to head over and vote for your favorite DIY blog (maybe it’s mine!).  And if you take another moment to check out some of the other nominees, you might just discover some really good blogs in the process.

You don’t necessarily have to vote for Sarah’s Big Idea.

But if you don’t I will come to your house while you’re sleeping and paint a room with blended Muppets.


If you like it then you shoulda put a shelf on it.

What’s the Number 1 rule of decorating?  More is better.  Right?

Wait, what?  That’s not the Number 1 rule of decorating?

Well.  Too bad.  Call me a rookie, I guess.  But I decided that since the most awesome desk in the world turned out so — well, so awesome — that the only way to possibly make it better would be to make more.  Why feature a single piece of furniture when you could feature a WHOLE WALL?

So I made a bunch of plywood-strip shelves to match the plywood-strip desk.  Ta-daa!

plywood strip shelves

Okay, so I realize that a picture of shelves just lying there, not doing shelf-y things, is not very impressive.  But in my head, the shelves are already hung and the room is coming together, like this:

music room makeover

Except it’s actually even better than that, because now, in your head, you can replace the “desk” in the photo with this:

plywood scrap desk

Nope, I haven’t gotten tired of showing you that desk yet.

I will say that the shelves were infinitely easier to make than the desk.  They’re solid all the way through, so I didn’t have to really build anything the way I built the desk.  Just a few days at American Workshop, gluing and clamping and sanding.

And sanding.

And sanding.

And filling hundreds of little holes, because plywood is actually quite a crappy material to work with.

And sanding some more.

Thank God for the Timesaver (and the workshop’s steady supply of clamps), or this project never would have happened.

Then I just trimmed the shelves to the right sizes and made some funky cuts on the front end, to get the right look.  Because if you just leave it, the front of the shelf looks like this:

back of plywood strip shelf

And we all know it would look way cooler like this:

front of plywood strip shelf

For the shelves, I gave up on the “infinity” look that I created on the desk.  I couldn’t figure out how to make it work without a lot of effing around, and I didn’t want to put that much energy into shelves.  So the sides of the shelves look like they’ve been gift-wrapped.

side of plywood strip shelf


My plan is to mount them with these brackets:

plywood strip shelf and brackets

I think the black wedge-shape of the brackets will complement the hairpin legs on the desk.  Plus, they’re heavy-duty.  Which is good, because each shelf weighs approximately one ton.  You might have noticed that my “plan” shows six shelves, but the most you can see in any picture is four — that’s because they’re heavy, and I didn’t feel like carrying all them upstairs from the basement just for a photo shoot.  So you’ll have to take my word for it: a) there are 6 shelves, and b) all of them are heavy.

Originally, I planned on having floating shelves, but once again I decided that there was a limit to the amount of effort I wanted to put into shelves.  Brackets are easy.  And apparently, I’m learning to scale back my Big Ideas.

Because making your own slabs of solid wood out of scraps is “big” enough, don’t you think?

plywood scrap shelvesplywood strip shelf


Disclosure: This post was written in partnership with American Workshop.  They have generously allowed me to use their space for this project, but have not told me what to write.  All projects and opinions are my own.