tis the orange season (5 DIY hopefuls).

Ya’ll: it’s fall.

With the change of seasons, and with the pigskin dominating the television most Sundays, Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays, I am suddenly left to my own amusement and naturally, there births this innate desire to create and get my DIY and bust out the dusty Crock Pot.  I start to scour the portals of Pinterest again and I consider investing stock in orange, and with a cup of decaf creamy decaf chai in my hands, all is healed, all is well.

So without further adieu, here are five items I’m looking at creating – who wants to join me?  Come on over, come on over, Baby!

Photo cred: Pinterest
Photo cred: Pinterest

1.  Word Scramble Pumpkins: I mean, be still my little word-savvy heart.  And the best part is, since I get to create the to-be-unscrambled-words, I’ll dominate any opponent.  Come on, try me.

Photo cred: Pinterest.
Photo cred: Pinterest.

2.  Whimsical Wordy Floor Mat: Guess what?  We just got a BORING woven floor mat that’s just sitting in our kitchen desperately awaiting its own greeting of a message.  And if I don’t like it?  Voila!  Flip that puppy on over.

Photo cred: Pinterest.
Photo cred: Pinterest.

3.  Candy Corn Halloween Punch: I mean, I mean, YES!  Not only is this the tackiest drink I’ve ever laid eyes on, but what dinner guest wouldn’t want to participate of this goulish concoction?  Drink up, partygoers!

Photo cred: One King's Lane.
Photo cred: Joss & Main.

4.  Ocean Street Sign: Distressed wood paint + simple, large letters + a beach-themed word?  You betcha.  

Photo cred: Design Sponge.
Photo cred: One King’s Lane.

5.  BOO-TIFUL Halloween Signage: ugh, sometimes the simplest of designs (wood + letters, see above) end up the best.  True dat.  

So, tell me, what are you excited to create this fall?

And let’s be honest: how many of these above projects do you think I’m actually going to finish?

Cheers to candy corn punch and my general obsession with all-things-words!  xo, c.



teal kitchen mclovin (DIY).

A few months ago, I came to the realization that even though I really, really like open shelves in the kitchen, I can’t necessarily really, really have open shelves in a kitchen with a toddling, waddling “Is this glass vase a football?” little man.  I also realized that we have about 2.5 inches of counter space in our current living situation, and could stand to have an inch or two more.  

So, I rummaged through the landlord’s collection of odd items in the basement (of which we’ve been given permission to use – see also: I wasn’t going to paint one of the extra toilets lying down there and use it as a kitchen island), and stumbled upon this unpainted wooden cupboard: 

Love me some teal paint.
Love me some teal paint.

It was also around that time that I decided that we have altogether too many dark wooden objects in our house, and needed to add a bright and splendid splash of teal paint.  Done.  Behr Ultra Aqua Waters, you are magical, I say.   

Eventually this bad boy was hoisted upstairs, where it sat, ready for finishing, in our kitchen for the past three months.  [See also: Apparently burglars do not like teal-colored DIY projects, because they did not steal this in-progress piece of art.]  

That is, until this past week, where in we make lemonade out of lemons to take our minds off the lurking fear!

Now, part of why this project sat unfinished for so long was because I envisioned a tall and narrow kitchen island (as pictured above), with wheels affixed to the bottom for easy moving accessibility.  But then, as Neighbor Kara reminded me, it’s silly to have cupboards open incorrectly (and we’d have to drill new holes for the shelves, and cut the wood accordingly, and well, that’s just a lot of work).  So why don’t you just raise it off the ground to the correct level AND gain more counter space while you’re at it?  Brilliant.    

But how does one raise it up?  

Neighbor Kara pulled out her brilliancy again: raised swivel castorsand even found the perfect match at The Container Store.  So Cancan and I braved downtown traffic, all to realize when we got home, that there’s absolutely no way to attach said raised swivel castors to your fabulous teal kitchen island, unless you’re using their system.  

Of course.  Fail.  

That, and The Container Store DIY queen said it’d look janky, even if I did figure it out, and suggested I hire a carpenter.  

No way, lady!  I own an electric drill for a reason! 

Finally, we – me, myself and I – landed at good ol’ Home Depot again this past Sunday, where a slightly inebriated employee with rather bloodshot eyes gave me the step-by-step tutorial on how this was gonna work.  He was, after all, a carpenter for 30 years before cruising the orange aisles.  

Here’s what he came up with: 

Top plates.
Top plates.

That’s right: add top plates to the bottom of the cupboard and screw wooden legs into it.  I did have to give up the wheels at the bottom, but I think the island would be the epitome of JANK had I tried to make them work.  

Four top plates, affixed to each of the corners.
Four top plates, affixed to each of the corners.

Then, we added the wooden legs (left over from a defunct bench I made a couple years ago): 

14" wooden legs (from Home Depot), stained dark brown.
14″ wooden legs (from Home Depot), stained dark brown.

And then we got to flip it over and add the fun finishing touches: 

First, two hooks (similar to this) from Restoration Hardware when its San Mateo store was closing a couple years ago: 

His and hers aprons.
His and hers aprons.

And then, two knobs from Anthropologie (similar to this), also marked down significantly – did I mention I really, really believe in the clearance section of extremely overpriced stores?  Cough cough.  

Just lovely.
Just lovely.

Finally, so the Little Man can have an area all his own in the kitchen, I painted an old piece of wood with chalkboard paint, and screwed it onto one of the sides.  [See also: wherein Cancan begins painting every wall in our house.]

He wrote "A b C," but the scribbles are mine.
He wrote “A b C,” but the scribbles are mine.

So, but for the childproof locks that still need to be installed, the kitchen island is done, and I love it!  I’m still debating whether or not I should cover the entire top with a butcher’s block, or just leave it as is.  Your thoughts?  

Cancan "drawing" this morning.
Cancan “drawing” this morning.
Keep the current (smaller) butcher's block, or go for something bigger?
Keep the current (smaller) butcher’s block, or go for something bigger?
Recipe for disaster?  Glass, glass, glass.  Ball, ball, ball.
Recipe for disaster? Glass, glass, glass. Ball, ball, ball.

And finally, in all its DIY glory, the finished product: 

And did I mention our kitchen window now has bars?  Safety first!
And did I mention our kitchen window now has bars? Safety first!

What can I say?  I love it, and it serves our space well – but enough about me, what about you?  What are you making and creating right now?  Do share!  

xo, c.  


letting sunshine in.

Cancan shows off the "new" chairs.
Cancan shows off the “new” chairs.

Four coats of muted yellow paint took to two of our dark, drab wooden pub chairs, and now reside smack dab in the middle of the living room.  The HBH took one look at them, and with raised eyebrows responded, “Well, those are …bright.”

Yes, they are.

DIY aside (because, honestly, a little bit of color can create quite the low-cost transformation), ever since reading the book, The Happiness Project, I’ve been chewing on this whole idea of happiness: can we actually create happiness in our lives?  Can happiness be a by-product of the environment around us?  What, then, does it mean to be happy?  

Now here’s the deal: the book wasn’t my favorite, mostly because I’m not the biggest fan of (author) Gretchen Rubin’s voice.  While happiness, to me, does not involve a check-off list of items to do in order that an ultimate sunny, cheerful end goal might be achieved, there’s no doubt that the book’s overall theme has stayed with me, making me think and wonder and ponder happiness in our little corner of the world.

Because, let me be honest: this past year has been good-hard.  It’s been good in every sense of the way: welcoming a growing Cancan into this world, passing on the baton in Young Life, and pursuing my writing passion.  But it’s also been hard.  Staying at home with a little one can be lonely, as well as the solitary occupation of writing in general; parenthood is not for the faint at heart, and the HBH and I have had our share of growing pains along the way.  And, there’s been a whole lot of starting over and reinvesting in relationships, as we settle into life in San Francisco, away from the Peninsula, where the crux of ministry and life used to reside.

Life can be hard.  But it’s also so, so good.

It’s brutiful – brutal and beautiful, all at the same time – as author Glennon Melton Doyle would say.

So, here, I suppose, is the crux of it all: if I believe that life is good-hard, and that the concept of happiness is either there or it’s not there, then surely regardless of what we do, of the check-off lists we seek to check off in order to attain rainbows and lollipops and sunshine, I can at least take a look at my own attitude, which lies at the root of it all.  

When I was an old schoolmarm, my students would crank out whines like this: Whyyyyyy-eeeee do we have to write this 500 word essay?  

In all my wisdom and dignity, I’d respond, “Oh, you mean why do you get to write this 500 word essay?” and launch into all the paper’s advantages.

So, for me, this whole idea of happiness resides in the same boat: I get to stay home with this little Cancan-man, one blessed, good-hard minute at a time.  I get to pursue writing, one finicky finger tap at a time.  And I get to further step into the skin and bones of who I was destined to be, by the One who made and created me.

And that, I suppose, is why I painted my chairs yellow: to further remind me of my own attitude’s choice in the matter.  Because when I catch a glimpse of sunshine popping out from the other side of the room, I’m reminded to let go.  To not take myself so damn seriously.  To lighten up and smile and giggle and play with the Little Man, to choose an attitude of airiness, remembering that even if life is hard, it’s still good.

I’m letting a little sunshine in.

What about you?  Is happiness a choice?  How do you let sunshine into your life?

paint a chair (please and thank you).

I’ve had a couple of high pub chairs for a number of years now, back when I purchased MFT (My First Table), along with MFB (My First Bed) and all the other accoutrements that adorned MFA (My First Apartment).

Originally a set of four chairs with matching table, the set was hauled from Washington to California, and then moved in and out of no less than three living spaces, along with a garage and a storage unit to boot.  Needless to say, it’d seen better days, so when the opportunity came to pass along two of the chairs and the table to a local ministry, I kissed my MFT good-bye but kept the other two for our bar area.

Here we are now, another move later, bar-less, but still with two of the chairs that have sat in the basement collecting dust.  Finally, I moved them up to the dining room, no sooner realizing these well-worn Fred Meyer steal-of-a-deal finds aren’t adding anything to the space.

But that’s all going to change.

And that’s where you come in: much to the chagrin of the HBH, I’m bringing a bit of sunshine into our corner of San Francisco.  We’re going yellow, folks.

The vision started with my friend T-Mar’s chairs…

T-Mar's dining room chairs.
T-Mar’s dining room chairs.

See how they’re just a little bit weathered, mostly around the edges and such?  You can still see the paint stripes, and I love the high-gloss finish (as do I love the seats, though I doubt I’ll be able to replicate that).

So, studio audience, how many coats of paint do my chairs need to still have that slightly weathered look?

Pic 1.
Pic 1.

I sanded the chairs, particularly the edges, before painting them, but how many coats do you think I should do?

Pic 2.
Pic 2.

Should I just apply a high-gloss finishing coat now?

Pic 3.
Pic 3.

Or is quasi-shabby chic so 2012, and I just ignore the weathered look all together, and really scare the begeebers out of the HBH with the yellowest of yellow chairs?

Thank you for being my painting consultants.

Yours truly,

Painty McPainterson

TLC, some burlap & a board (DIY)

Life’s been rather CrazySexyCool lately, or so my inner TLC-self likes to believe, as evidenced by the current project:

Millions of papers, papers for me.
CrazySexyCool in a Dwight Schrut sort of way, that is.

See, the HBH is really, really good at saving all things paper-related, while I’m really, really good at recycling a bit too much, while hoping that Charm and Good Looks will win the IRS over in any future auditing endeavors.  But alas, he finally gave me permission to start purging and organizing and sorting – and so the fun begins.  

In the meantime, we decided that we need a place to retreat that didn’t involve the baby’s room or the reading chair 2.5 feet away from the couch.  Seeing as our place is a dreamy two-bedroom (Welcome to San Francisco), that left the musty, landlord-filled basement or our bedroom.  We chose the latter.  But in the midst of recreating an office area, I needed a break from the millions of papers, papers for me, and decided to get my craft on.

Every office space needs a bulletin board, but I wasn’t about to employ a boring ol’ piece of cork – so I repurposed an old one we had lying around with burlap.

What you need:

Bulletin board, burlap and a stapler.   

Easy peasy.
Easy peasy.

1.  Cut burlap into equal lengths spanning the length of your bulletin board: add on a minimum of 3-inches per side so that it can be wrapped around the edge and stapled to the back.

2.  If you’re using strips of burlap like I did (from Michael’s), fold in half from 6 inches to 3.

3.  Staple each (folded) strip of burlap to the back, each strip touching the one next to it all the way across the length of the board.

4.  Check on the whereabouts of your child, you know, just for kicks.

5.  Still focusing on the length part of the bulletin board, pull each already-stapled burlap strip across to the other side, pulling taut, and then staple to the back of the board.

6.  Repeat steps 1-3 for the width of the board (but not #5!)

7.  Now’s the fun part: after you’ve fully secured the length strips, and halfway secured the width strips, begin weaving the width strips over-under, under-over the already secured length strips.

8.  Secure width strips on the other side of the board, according to #5 above.


And the finished product in its almost-finished environment:

To-do: embellish it with a girly flower or two, and hang it to the wall.
To-do: embellish it with a girly flower or two, and hang it to the wall.

love how it turned out, but even more than that, I’m excited about the space this corner will ultimately be for both of us.

(Full disclosure: I believe I first saw a board like this on Jones Design Company, but wasn’t able to find it with a quick look through her tutorials).

What about you?  What are you creating?