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My DIY Book Nook

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Sawing Off More Than I Can Chew

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All-You-Can-DIY Syndrome

As a kid, I did it all the time. Maybe you did too. I’d pick my way through the maze of people, carefully balancing my haul. No sooner would I have set my loaded tray on the table when Mom would say “Oh, Mickelle,” slowly closing her eyes. “You’re going to have to eat all of that before you go to the dessert table. Do you hear me?”

Those All-You-Can-Eat buffet restaurants seemed to be the place to go after a church service. In those days, anyway. And Mom brought me to a lot of church. So, I had plenty of opportunities to learn my limits; or develop childhood obesity. Yet amazingly, neither caught on.

Now many years later, I find that same “eyes bigger than my stomach” tendency shows up in other areas of my life. Like DIY. As a creative soul, I’m always generating ideas. There’s a constant stream of possibilities and inspiration pouring through my mind at any given time. (Especially if that given time is after I’ve had some coffee.) What I don’t naturally have too much of, however, is reason and realism.

Can you relate?

The Idea

I thought a book nook would be the perfect solution to our aggravating home office. The room is crammed with bulky furniture, yet we never seem to have enough storage. I needed more storage, yet also more space. And I wanted an environment that was beautiful. I reaaaaalllllyyyy dislike doing anything paperwork related, so an inviting space is in order.

While scrolling through Pinterest one day, this pin popped up.

nook
(photo source here.)

And in that moment, friends, I knew. The closet in our home office room (really, just a bedroom) needed to become a book nook. Half the furniture in there was bookshelves anyway. By building a book nook into the closet space, we could eliminate most of the shelving units, and GAIN space! Using drawers underneath the bench for storing files would mean we could nix our large filing cabinet, too!

I love reading, and the thought of having a little space like that was wonderful. What reader doesn’t want an in-home library? Complete with a built-in nook???

Our home is an early 1960’s ranch, with basic closets. Our space’s dimensions where nowhere near those in the photo, but that didn’t matter. I had a vision.

Of course, a project like this wasn’t in our budget, but I was pretty sure I had most of what I’d need to pull it off. Err, build it in. Mind you, I’ve never done anything like this before. A built-in unit is an entirely different beast than say, a Christmas Tree silhouette. But as per usual,

my ambitions are bigger than my skill set.

Great Expectations

I started prepping the walls in March. They were a miserable flat color that may have been somewhere near white at one time. I knew in my mind what I was going for, so I dove right in, fully expecting to have the (entire) job completed by the end of April.

My wise and talented (and SO inspiring) sister-in-law, frequently reminds me,

“These projects always take longer than you think they will.”

Wise words, friends. Get them tattooed on the inside of your eyelids if you’re like me and frequently tend to find yourself drowning in good intentions. It’s December. Mid-December. Christmas is two weeks away and I am just now patching holes and caulking gaps, before priming this beast.

My hope now is to have it done and usable by Christmas. Okay, maybe the New Year. At least by my birthday in February… Next April???

I’ve made so many mistakes, friends. Some of them I didn’t even realize until I was far beyond the point  of no return. Several of them are embarrassing, really. But a friend of mine asked if I felt like I could do a better job if I started it again. In other words, if I’ve learned much. HECK. YES.

The book nook project, about halfway through

The truth is, these projects DO take longer. Our office looks like an episode of Hoarders, with everything shoved and piled out of the way. And it’s been that way for 9 months now! I seriously underestimated this thing – but I’m going to finish. And I’ll keep you updated.

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you’ve seen some of the progress already. And to those who have encouraged me along the way, Thank You. (I am so cyber-hugging you right now.)

Stick it out, friends. Stay with your overwhelming whatever-it-is. You’ll get there. And remember, caulk and trim hide a lot of bad decisions.

~m

Izzy, therapy chihuahua

Izzy and Gamble: The Story of Dogs in Service

Making sawdust sure feels good sometimes.

Don’t get me wrong- it’s always pretty fun. But it’s something special when what I’m making is telling someone’s story. This summer, I had two custom orders that carried with them significant meaning. Both pieces featured dogs- if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram you know that’s nothing unusual. I make a lot of dogs. In fact, most of my pieces are inspired by rescue dogs. Rescued wood- rescued dogs… it’s kind of my thing.

But these two pups, Izzy and Gamble, they’re different.

they are the ones who rescue.

Gamble is in training to become a service dog. Izzy is a therapy dog.

Tell me, when you think of a therapy dog, what comes to mind? Maybe this?

 

Izzy, therapy chihuahua

 

Meet Izzy.

Izzy is the physician-prescribed therapy dog of Marissa, a beautiful soul. (And no, a chihuahua isn’t the first canine breed to pop into my mind either.) Intelligent, kind and creative, Marissa is plagued by anxiety and panic attacks. If you’ve ever experienced anything like that, you know just how life-altering it can be. However, Izzy can bring calm like nothing else. This little pint-sized pup has changed Marissa’s life. This gal is going places, friends. She’s a brilliant chemistry student, passionately working toward her PhD.

 

Izzy, asleepThose ears, though.

Marissa has gone to great lengths to keep Izzy by her side- even to the point of losing her housing. Talk about stress! But she’s a fighter. She tackled the stigma of mental illness, the shade thrown by local media, and this girl fought for her rights.

She’s long wanted a piece of art that represented Izzy, and how much she loved her. I can’t begin tell you how honored I was when she asked me to make it. Together we chose the shape, and she already knew what colors she wanted.

Close up of chihuahua piece
foot detail of chihuahua piece

It was so rewarding to make! And I must say, the piece turned out beautifully.

 

Long haired chihuahua made from reclaimed wood, in blues and purples

It’s now home, hanging on Marissa’s wall. Seeing a snapshot of it made me smile- and cry a little. It’s profoundly humbling to create with your own hands a work that reflects someone’s heart. With scrap wood and paint, no less.

And now, Gamble.

After their long-loved beagle crossed the Rainbow Bridge, Kellie (another beautiful soul) and her family really missed having a pup. They came to the decision to take part in training a service dog; and after contacting Paws With A Cause, they found themselves with this guy.

Gamble, service dog in trainingIsn’t he adorable?

The family understood the terms- they’d have him for 6 months, then return him for his next stage of training. There, he’d spend phase two in a correctional facility training with inmates. After a third, more specialized training period, he would then be ready to go to his forever home as a service dog.

As you can imagine, Gamble stole their hearts. He chewed their shoes. And before they could blink, those 6 months had passed.

Gamble, the black lab, as a puppy.

 

Knowing they day was approaching, Kellie asked if I would make a black lab for her. (Umm, of course!)

reclaimed wood boards

 

the black lab I made for Kellie

Kellie is generous-hearted, talented, and a go-getter. Her family is a pretty great group of people. They’ve poured so much energy and love into Gamble- all for the benefit of someone they’ll likely never meet. It was such an honor to make this piece for them. When she saw it for the first time, she cried. I cried. (Oh my word, pass the Kleenex, will you?)

I drove away thinking about these two – Kellie and Marissa. And their pups. Though Izzy and Gamble have very different roles, I found it interesting to glimpse into their situations. The service dog in training, and the therapy dog at work. The family who lays the groundwork, and the woman who benefits in the end.

I really love making special pieces that tell someone’s story. Your’s is unique.  Is there something you’d like me to make for you? Let’s talk!

Close-up of my DIY house numbers display and title graphic

DIY House Numbers Display

Forethought.

Rather, lack thereof.

Wasn’t I just writing about that?! Apparently, I’m not a quick learner. Don’t get me wrong; I’m really happy with my project. It looks just the way I envisioned it… minus a few cracks. It’s beautiful, bright, and functional. Mostly. Mostly functional. ( * sigh * )

You’ve seen the cool address signs on Pinterest, right? The ones that use tons of nails or screws? Like this one: Read more

old Chrysler wheel with flat tire caked in mud

In the Eye of the Beholder

“Did you make that?”

If you're a maker, you know there are two ways to take this question: compliment or condescending.

We have a burning need to create written into our DNA. We can’t NOT be creating. Creatives yearn to make beauty, to make a point, express what we struggle to articulate, or, just fill a need. We toil away to bring our ideas into reality. And oftentimes, we collide with the reality that our skills aren’t up to par. But we carry on. Because making is what we do.

Can you relate?

Read More

cut pieces of wood, laying on a table covered with drop cloth

DIY Snowflakes and Christmas Trees

Hello, Friends!

Sending you tidings of great joy and yuletide cheer from the land of Unrelenting Wind. Sheesh! Can you hear that? I swear my pine trees are bending down to touch their toes out there. Speaking of toes, if somehow this wind gets really ugly and I land myself in Oz, I’m hoping for a pair of ruby slippers. I mean, come on. They’re red. Read more