Monday, March 28, 2011

watch as i can make any post way...too...long.

subtitle: a recent project

i have always disliked our "entryway", which is really just the space behind our front door, but have never known quite what to do with it. because we don't have an attached garage, this is the door we come in all the time and this is the space that should in theory store all the appropriate "just came in the door" stuff. i think this is an issue that a lot of mommas struggle with. i've heard women fantasize about spacious mudrooms more than chocolate or a tropical vacation.

when we first moved in, someone in the family was getting rid of an oak, 4-peg coat rack with embossed hearts and flowers. totally not my style, but it was free and served the purpose of hanging coats. so we hung that up and used it for awhile.

then, after ben was born and i cleaned out my massage room at my cousin's office, i used the mirror with hooks that i had been using there. i liked the look of it (obviously, because i had bought it) but not so much how it looked in it's new home, the hooks were really small for coats (tim's coat is quite heavy and doesn't stay on little hooks), and when tim helped me hang it, we hung it too high-that's the problem when there's almost a foot difference in our heights. i had to stand at the other side of the room to see myself in it. i would have lowered it, but we had to put anchors in the wall to support the weight of coats and i was too lazy to buy new anchors and try to put them in by myself. (tim would not have been very happy helping redo the mirror-he HATES house projects.) but again, it mostly worked, so i just tried to ignore it.

(this picture looks weird because i cropped out the rest of the picture-tim caught a dinner guest who hates to have her picture taken in a very uncomplimentary pose. the picture was taken in september, so it doesn't show how overflowing the coat rack would get in the winter. )

when max was a baby i added the baskety tower thing to store hats, gloves, keys, etc. i had really gotten a bee in my bonnet that the space needed something of the sort, but after pricing said items and not finding anything i liked that i thought was worth the money, i was stalled. then my mom's neighbor was getting rid of this and my mom snagged it for me. price: a couple loaves of homemade bread as a thank you to said neighbor.

that arrangement worked for awhile, although i wasn't totally wild about it, but then we added our wood box by the wood burning stove and it took over the space of the baskety tower thing. plus, as the boys were getting bigger, we had more stuff that needed to be hung up. the five stubby little hooks just weren't enough for all our stuff, especially when we had friends over. although i have absolutely no problem plopping our coats on the floor when we visit friends, i always felt like a terrible host not having a place to hang the coats of our guests.

enter solution/entryway #3. this summer i got this odd expandable coat rack thing, again free, and decided to give it a try.

i really don't know why i bothered to hang it up. i didn't like it and knew i wouldn't be satisfied with it, but i think the thing that allowed it to stay was the fact that it had really long pegs that would allow us to pile a ton of coats on it. plus the screws and anchors were already in the wall, so i didn't have to invest any effort in hanging it.

then when we combined ben and max into one room and put their mattresses on the floor so their beds would double as a huge trampoline, ben's headboard got put by the door to be moved to the garage. i had seen on this post on better after where the gal turned a headboard into an entryway table and i thought i might do the same, minus painting it.

the headboard would allow for a place to drop our keys and a place to put the million things that needed to be taken to people/returned-a bible left at our confirmation retreat, a necklace my boys broke that i was going to my brother to fix, some stuff to return to lowes, etc. the little sliding doors would be perfect for hiding all that stuff.

but as you can see in the picture, the coat rack totally overwhelmed the headboard, the headboard was really too big for the space, the little doors didn't slide well so stuff just piled up, and honestly, this is more of what it looked like most of the time (or worse):

the space just kept nagging at me, largely because this was my view from my spot at the table for breakfast, lunch, and dinner:

okay, i guess i could have looked out the windows, but the space really bugged me and i couldn't let it go. all winter i stared at this wall trying to figure out what to do. i wanted the space to be functional-no more precariously piled up coats or pesky little hooks, as well as aesthetic. well, at least as good looking as a wall of coats can be.

back in december i was at hobby lobby picking up some candles for our advent wreath and on a whim, bought some hooks for half price that i thought would work well. they reminded me of these from anthropologie but were $1.50 instead of $18 each. (now that i went back and looked at the anthro hooks i realized mine aren't really like those, but oh how i do love anthropologie. last winter i fantasized about getting an assortment of anthro hooks for the space. it remained a fantasy because although it would have been killer cute, the hooks wouldn't have been very functional and it would have cost over $100 for hooks!)

since i bought the hooks spur of the moment, i didn't really have a plan for them. i knew that i didn't want to mount them directly to the wall, but hmmmm, what to do? so they sat for awhile. then soulemama, my wanna-be soul sista posted this project. i had thought about mounting them on wood like that, but needed to get the visual confirmation that i would like it. yes, clean and simple-i liked it indeed. then i saw this post and totally fell in love with the awesome rustic-ness of this wall. after letting my thoughts marinate for a few days, i couldn't take the taunting anymore and decided to tackle the wall once and for all.

i grabbed some wood that i had stashed upstairs after me and the boys took apart a mattress support from an old bunk bed one night when they were driving me nuts (controlled deconstruction is much better than their usual brand of destruction) and started laying it out.

then i had the boys hold it up on the wall to see if i liked the look of it.

i had two options of length. i liked the look and color of the three smaller boards, but i liked the length of the two wider boards. so i decided to use the length of the longer boards as a guide and piece together the smaller boards like the pallet wall to achieve the length i wanted. i spent quite a while piecing the boards together since a lot of them were warped and left too big of gaps when put together, had everything marked and was ready to make my cuts. i even had the forsight to mark each board so the puzzle would fit back together once i'd made my cuts. (note: the boys were literally running around me in circles as i did this after they finished their art projects i had tried to distract them with.)

just as i was ready to go get the saw i sat back and looked at what i was about to do. i would have to secure each of those little boards on the wall and some of them would have to be strong enough to hold the weight of the hooks and coats. i would have to use screws and need to hit studs, not like the little finishing nails used in the pallet wall. although i knew it was doable and would look cool, i decided the little boards just weren't worth all the effort. so i accepted using the wider boards and waited for tim to get home.

as i said earlier, tim hates helping with projects, but he was mostly very patient with this and fortunately it didn't take us very long to get the boards up after i got all the hooks screwed to the boards.

and in all it's coated glory:

although it's very simple, i'm really happy with how it turned out. it wasn't so much the most recent project itself, but six years of it being not quite right hanging over me. i'd considered a lot of solutions over the years including a hall tree or hat stand, plans that included a bench or cubbies, things that i could buy or make. but nothing seemed quite right for us. and for now and for the forseeable future, this seems right. we have space for guests to hang their coats and bags, the boys can reach to hang up their own coats (and DO! when i remind them),the baskets for shoes and hats are realistic, as opposed to a tidy shelf for shoes that i knew my guys would never use, and it's not too bulky. best of all was the cost: $12 for eight hooks. the wood and screws were free.

one down, two more projects to catch up on. although the other two *shouldn't* be as lengthy. they don't have as much history and emotional baggage behind them.

Monday, March 21, 2011

life keeps going

with everything that is happening in our world, i haven't really felt like writing. you see, the content of my blog seems to fall into two categories- 1.) whining about my boys while at the same time knowing that i am incredibly blessed. and 2.) my projects. i don't watch tv so all of my news comes from npr in the car or my yahoo home page. sometimes i go days without getting in the car so the radio isn't a consistent news source. after a totally frustrating day, i'll get on the computer, locked and loaded and ready to unleash my wrath of frustration about life, then i see the newest problem facing the people of japan or the escalations in libya. then i feel more miserable realizing just how weak and ungrateful i am. or my projects seem so trivial and selfish in a world were sooo many people have so little.

but feeling depressed and worried about the state of our world doesn't help anybody. i wish i could say that i've used my frustration with my boys as an opportunity to pray for others in our world. i've tried, but mostly i've just felt really sorry for myself to an epically pathetic degree. proof of this is that most of my pictures of the boys of late have been taken while they are sleeping. it's my weird way of reminding myself that, yes, i am blessed. although they make me question, "what is insanity? do you know it when you've gone crazy?", i'm thankful for them. i also take pictures to prove that, even in their sleep, they're wild.

by posting this, i realize i'm showing my laziness to all the world-i don't change the boys into jammies every night. some nights it's because one of them falls asleep in the car on the way home from my parent's house and i don't bother to wake them. mostly, it's because i'm too tired at the end of the day for one more battle. max hates changing his clothes and sometimes it leads to major screaming fits. ben's better about it, but he used to be the same way. please don't call srs on me.

max started the night on the purple pillow by the penguin. sometimes when i go in to check on them before i go to bed, i honestly have a hard time finding them for a few seconds.

even with the rail, i sometimes hear max fall out of bed. ben used to roll out of bed all the time. their wildness is a majorly annoying when they sleep in our bed. they have an uncanny knack for rotating to a horizontal position and taking up most of the bed. but i was a very wild sleeper as a kid too, so i have only myself to blame. i just don't for see bunk beds in their near future.

(maybe i'll get some project posts cranked out soon.)

Thursday, March 10, 2011


because i'm a procrastinator, i usually wait until ash wednesday to think of what i should do for lent. it usually leads to a half-hearted attempt at something that is either too impossible or something not very meaningful. and i waver about what i'm going to do because i'm lazy and i don't like to do hard things.

this year, instead of giving something up, because i tend to be an action person, i'm going to focus on doing instead.

i constantly struggle with being a better wife and mother. the boys overwhelm me with their constancy and i'm often cross with tim because i feel exhausted from all of my responsibilities. i've long known that i would do better in my vocations if i were more organized with my time and tasks. when ben was a baby i read "a mother's rule of life" but was frustrated with it because my life was much too unpredictable at that time and i was so sleep-deprived, all i could ever accomplish for a day was nursing and preparing food.

over the last four years, i have written up many, MANY "schedules" and "routines" for us to follow for our days and weeks. but again, i would quickly get discouraged with the constantly changing needs of the boys and work. one day would go great, then the next day the boys would be extra "charming" and nothing would get done or follow order, then i would give up, declaring that it would never work. on top of the needs of the boys and the house, i was always resentful of tim and his lack of schedule or demands. why should i have to discipline myself to go to bed at a reasonable time and get up early when he got to stay up as late as he wanted and then got to sleep in. and in regards to our household, tim is very undemanding. he never complains if the bathroom hasn't been cleaned in way too long or if the laundry baskets have been sitting in our room, full of unfolded laundry for several days. i'm not great at self-motivating, so without the "threat" of his displeasure or with the incentive of his praise, i often just didn't do the stuff i needed to do.

living in a cluttered house, where everywhere i turned, i was reminded of tasks that i was ignoring was exhausting. i was resentful of the boys, because if they weren't demanding my attention, i could just get the stuff done. and when i did get things done, they were quickly undone by my three guys. arrrrrrrrgggg!!!

i've slowly but surely gotten better about some things, but i still have a long ways to go. thus-my goal for this lent. i'm really going to work on being a more disciplined person, knowing that although it will be hard, the benefits for our family will be invaluable. i'm not going to give up and i will focus on offering up my frustrations and interruptions. i will be realistic about what i can accomplish in a day, not setting myself up for failure with an impossible list. i'm going to focus on the things that really make a difference in my mood and attitude, like cleaning the kitchen every night (which i've mostly conquered, but occasionally drag my feet on and then get super annoyed that tim never pitches in to help), clearing off the table every night so that i'm greeted by a clean slate each morning instead of piles of paperwork that nag at my attention, folding the laundry on my set day, and following a more focused daily routine that includes time for work, play, and chill. (and maybe even exercise if i'm working for a truly awesome lent.)

so far, i've failed. i did get all the laundry folded and put away yesterday and cleaned the kitchen, but there has been no order to our day today and growing frustration. oh to conquer my laziness-only by the grace of God.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

fun with frames

another one of those posts that never quite got out of my brain was about my little picture frame painting obsession that i've developed. i was reminded that i never clarified this project when a friend, having seen one of my posts, asked for some pointers.

it all started christmas of 2009 when i had the boys paint pictures to give to a family friend as a gift. because i was trying to save money on the gift, hence the idea of giving original artwork from the boys in the first place, inspired by better after, where people are constantly breathing new life into old, beat up items by painting them, i dug out some old, odd shaped, over sized frames i had in my craft/crap room and painted them black with some craft acrylic paint i had from another project. using the glass pane as a template, i then cut out the part of the boy's painting that i liked the best, and framed it. ta da! super cool, sentimental, thrifty project. (pretend i took a picture of the finished project.)

i next turned my crafty thoughts towards these embroidered towels that tim's mom had given us for our wedding shower, over six years ago.

tim's great grandmother had embroidered them, and while i really liked them, they had sat in a box, unsure of how to display them. i thought it would be cute to frame them, but since i didn't really have anywhere to hang them once completed, i left them sit in their box. (i don't like doing projects just for the sake of doing a project. it has to have a use or a purpose. and generally, be thrifty.)

then the whole kitchen project happened and i had this weird blank space open over the new stove, with that odd little hole in the wall that needed to be covered up.

and since tim's mom had given me a whole box of old frames over the summer because she knows i like to hoard random junk, i set to work painting a set to display the towels.

i liked the size of these-8x10 and the slight variance in their size and design. i figured once painted the same color, they would be interesting, but not too matchy matchy.

while max napped, i let ben work with me. the craft paint is pretty forgiving using cheap sponge brushes, so i just smoothed out any globs that were too big on his frame.

i think i let him help with two coats of paint, then i finished the project after the boys were in bed that night with two more coats of paint.

the next day i cut the towels to the framable size (i had a hard time bringing myself to cut into them) and really had to work to get them to fit into the frames. at one point, i was having such a hard time fitting them in and the boys had started to go nuts, running circles around me, that in frustration, i yelled out, "OH FART TOOTS!!!" ben stopped dead in his tracks, gave me the weirdest look, and burst out laughing. after scolding myself for such crass language, i persevered and had these beauties to show for my hard work.

i think they fill the space above the stove well.

then of course i did these blue ones back in december.

and then the black one for our family picture.

boring oakey before:

dazzling, more contemporary after:

today i was plotting my grand finale of painted frame projects-a multiple frame display wall. but that one might take awhile, if i even decide to attempt it.

so go paint something and make it new. shazam.