Shak{er}ing It Up {Part One}

I am what I refer to as “ornate sensitive” when it comes to furniture. I like my lines clean and simple but warm. Furniture most people wouldn’t consider ornate, I do. I certainly have an appreciation for ornate furniture, for the craftsmanship that goes into it.

Yes, Andy teases me about this, especially because it’s entirely arbitrary and confusing. I can see a dresser with curved drawers on the front even if the rest is basic and find it ornate; a week later I can see a vintage side table with turned legs at a flea market and love it.

Your guess is as good as mine why I feel this way. I guess I just like my details and art on the walls and pieces I can easily change out, and not incorporated into my furniture.  The best way I can explain it is that I have a visceral reaction to the thought of ornate furniture in my house. I know that’s weird, but it’s true.

What this essentially comes down to is that I like Shaker and Mission style furniture. So when Andy showed me these side tables from Fine Woodworking and asked if I wanted him to build me two out of walnut we were given I eeked with joy. I loved the simplicity of them, how they let the wood speak for itself and the clean lines. Even though I really love the straight legs, I wasn’t too picky either way. Andy decided to go with the turned ones since the walnut grain would look gorgeous through them—and it meant he could use the lathe.

The lathe almost always wins.

Andy has been working so hard lately on things for the house, and getting his wood shop in order, he really needed to do something or himself. Making fine furniture is something he loves to do for us as a family so when he gets the chance to he absolutely will. I let Andy have some time to himself down in the wood shop but when I couldn’t take it any longer I grabbed the Nikon and headed into the cave.

I never get tired of seeing, and being amazed by, the beauty of wood behind bark. I mean, look at this.

The further I walked into the shop, the more pieces I saw coming together. First I saw Andy on the Jointer shaving the bark off the sides of each board and beautiful walnut shavings methodically coming out of the base.

Then I looked up and saw the back workbench covered in walnut boards. Beautiful, dark, rich, walnut boards. Andy informed me these were going to be the top of each side table.

A glance to my left showed some of the legs ready for turning, and a few more boards glued up together to make the other legs. Andy showed me how they were glued and said if you glue the faces when they set up and are turned round it will be harder to tell they aren’t once piece—as long as you match the grain and color.

It’s hard to believe each of these legs were ripped from pieces that looked like this.

I still haven’t decided whether we’ll be using them in the livingroom or up in our bedroom. I’m just excited to start getting some handmade shaker furniture around here. I think of these items as heirloom items we can eventually pass down and I love the thought of it.

I’m so excited to see how these turn out. Today Andy has been putting the tops together and turning the legs, so I’ll be back later this week with an update on them. You may wonder why I didn’t wait until they were done to post on this. I try to show things in real time so I knew I had to write about these as soon as I could. Just. So. Excited.

Until the next update you can just imagine me doing the running man with a huge dorky grin on my face every time I walk into the basement and see these in process.

I love being married to a carpenter/construction/work ox.

Happy Woodworking,



DIY Firewood French Rolling Pin

It’s 15 degrees out and I got covered in sawdust today. I am a happy woman.

After getting our lathe set up last night I was thinking about what I could make. I knew the project had to be easy, since I had never used one before and I’m most definitely a novice in any woodworking. Even though the lathe has chucks to turn wood bowls it would be too difficult for a first project. A light bulb went off this morning and I told Andy I wanted to try making a french rolling pin. About two seconds later he was headed to the workshop. I love that he got excited too.

We needed a 2×2 by 20 to 24 inch piece of wood. Unfortunately we didn’t have any so Andy found the longest piece of firewood he could and used the bandsaw & tablesaw to cut it to size. This piece happened to be maple.

Next he showed me how to find the center of each end with a square edge, and align the edges into each chuck on the lathe. Then he told me how to tighten it all down, line up the guide and a quick lesson in how to use the lathe & tools. Here’s some tips Andy gave me (in my words). Do not use these tips as “good enough” guidance. Lathes are extremely dangerous and I don’t condone using them unless you are already skilled with them, or have someone who is skilled with you.

  • Never use chisels as lathe tools. Ever. In a million years. Ever.
  • Don’t use a lathe without professional guidance – it’s way dangerous.
  • Wear a full face shield.
  • Take your time. Go slow. Pay attention. You simply cannot be rushed, or distracted, when using one. You will get hurt.
  • You have to have control over the tools – but you have to respect the how sharp it is.
  • If you tip your lathe tool too low, it can get pulled under the piece – along with your hand and arm.
  • If you tip your lathe tool too high, it can fling back and up into your neck/face.
  • Knocking the corners off right when you start is the most dangerous part, you pretty much want to barely touch the wood but have a very firm grip – it takes a while.
  • Baggy clothing plus spinning wood is a super bad idea. I wore a fitted shirt with my sleeve pushed up the entire time.

You’ll get used to the best grip for you. As the photo below indicates, I had a death grip on the tool right at the beginning while knocking off the edges. As I kept working with it, and different tools, my grip and style definitely changed.

It turns out I am left handed on the lathe. Your dominant hand is suppose to be on the bottom of the handle but it just didn’t work for me. I can definitely work with my right hand (as I did above) but it felt far more natural using my left hand.

It took a while to knock off the edges, but I finally started getting somewhere and getting more comfortable.

Near the end Andy helped me from wanting to briefly throw the rolling pin in the wood-stove. I just couldn’t get the ends the exact the same size and taper. Thankfully my husband is the shit. Andy showed me where it needed work, but stepped back and let me do it. It was awesome to have someone come over and give tips throughout and then leave me to it. Finally, Andy showed me how to sand the piece and he cut off the ends where the chucks were.

Total cost to make? $0.00.

Here’s it is close up. The final piece is about 18″ long. It’s a little short for a french rolling pin and you can tell it’s not totally even, but I love it. For the first piece I ever made and without calipers to make sure I was entirely accurate it’s not bad. Andy would have had me shave some more but I decided it was good enough. I am looking forward to trying my hand at another one.

Andy’s brother suggested I “whisker” the piece. Even though I haven’t yet, it’s a great idea. Per my brother in law, this entails taking a slightly damp cloth and gently rubbing it over the piece. Then you hold it in front of the wood-stove with high heat to raise the grain or “whiskers”. Once the grain raises you take a piece of 600-1000 grit sandpaper and wipe only in the same direction as the grain to sheer the “whiskers” off. This makes for a smoother piece and keeps it from whiskering out after the first wash—which can end up in your food. Once this is done, a little rub of mineral oil and it’s set for use!

It’s kind of awesome to know this was a piece of firewood just hanging out in our basement.

I have to admit something. This is one of the most relaxing  and satisfying things I have ever done. You literally cannot think about anything else except the present. For someone who thinks a lot, this is welcome. I also welcome the fact it was free.

Now to decide what else I can create. Maybe a set of wooden cooking utensils?

Much Love,


Be Our Guest {Or Maybe Wait A Few More Weeks}

Not that this has anything to do with this post, but does anyone else find networking one of the most awkward things ever? I am loud, talkative and boisterous around people I know, but I crave alone time, and introverted when it comes to networking. The thought of walking up to someone I don’t know anything about, without someone introducing us, and having to talk about myself and ask them mundane generic questions makes me crawl out of my skin. I’m working on it. I only ask this because I attended two networking events tonight. They were good, but I really need to get out of my shell. I never, ever, thought I would say that sentence.

The point is, I do well in small groups of people. Which leads us into our guest room renovations, because I love when people come to visit overnight.

While Andy was mudding our kitchen, I was in the back room painting. Oddly, the room we refer to as “the back room”/”guest room” is actually the center room on the front of our house. This graphic might help. When we moved in, this was essentially the layout (not to scale) and color of each room. The pantry was white, with one bright teal wall. The brown of the living room should be imagined as brown paneling. You can see more on that here, and here.

When we moved in, this room was a very purple nursery. We also have these weird “basement” windows over the entire house. The only normal windows in the house are three in the living room. Real windows will exist. I’m hoping to re-use some of these windows as cold frames for extending the garden growing season eventually.

Also in this room is a cute white built in. I’m hoping to save this for use in another room. It, like 90% of other items in this house, are not centered and balanced.

As much as someone else might love it, the purple wasn’t my cup of tea. So, over the last few weeks I’ve had a few color samples up on the walls that I loved initially for the pantry area but were too odd in natural light. My favorite was Koi Pond from Sherwin Williams. In direct sunlight it read as a weird goldish-beige. In indirect light it showed as a beautiful soft green color. Since the front of our house gets very little natural light, the guest room was a great place for it.

Once we renovate completely, the guest room will become my office/craft room. In fact, this is what most of the colors will look like after all of our pre-renovation updates. The only reason the bedroom is staying blue is because that’s Tom Cruise’s bedroom, eventually our bathroom.

Other quirks – the guest room also has no door on it. When we moved in it had no door. I am completely unaware what actually ever happened to this door. It is an unsolved mystery. This said, the door to our current office on the other side of the common room has a door, and better light. You see where I’m going with this? For now, before renovations begin, I’m going to switch the two rooms (the office will be next to the bedroom). Our guest can actually have privacy, not be next to the road, and get some natural light. This also allows me to get used to having my office in the “guest room” area.

In order to prep the room for painting, I first piled everything on to the bed and away from the back wall. Then I sanded down the significantly rough spots. Once that was done and any rough nail holes were gone I caulked the 3,000 nail holes throughout the walls. The photo below is before I wiped everything, and sanded the caulked areas down. So excuse the technique.

Once the caulked areas dried I sanded them down smooth. By smooth I mean there was no major crazyness. Take that major, in this house, is relative. In other words it was a lot better and that’s fine by me. Because this room isn’t one of the main rooms we’re not re-taping & mudding in here before the big renovation. As it turns out, this room used to be BRIGHT red. The kitchen used to be teal. What on earth was going on around here in the 70’s? You know what. Don’t answer that.

After the “prep” was complete, I decided to edge out the window with the Koi Pond color to see how I liked it in a bigger area. As it turns out, I loved it.

One coat in and I was sure this was the color I wanted for my {almost} office. By the way, the sample size from Sherwin-Williams was about $5.00 and it gave me exactly two coats.

While this dried I did the first coat of apple green on the backside of the white shelving. Once all was said and done, this is where I ended up.

Here’s the shelving color during the day. It dried slightly darker than this.

Things left to do before the big renovation:

  • Paint the trim white.
  • Give the baseboards a fresh coat of paint.
  • Give the shelving a fresh coat of white paint.
  • Paint the remaining purple walls white.
  • Put up drapes over the closet, which is currently holding a piece of furniture to hold extra blankets, etc.
  • Switch the office & guest room.
  • Get better lighting.
  • Replace the bed & mattress (which will be brought over into the new guest room someday).

Hopefully I’ll get the kitchen caulked, and the purple walls painted white this weekend. Until then my friends. It’s time for bed.

Happy Painting, Networking & Napping,




Bathroom Update: Fabric + Glass Cabinet Doors

This is a technical one, i.e. it’s lengthy. Hang with me, it’s super easy to do.

We have a pretty small bathroom that gets the job done – sink, toilet, tub – with just enough room to move around between the three. Unfortunately it had zero storage when we moved in and was the thing of nightmares. Ok, I’m being dramatic, but it did need help. You can read a little more about it here.

To sum things up when we first moved in it looked like this.

We then:

  • replaced the partially rotten out floor
  • Removed the toilet and replaced all the plumbing do-dads to it
  • Power sprayed the toilet to get it cleaner. Grossest. Task. Ever. (for me – I still have yet to share Andy’s grossest task ever, from when we first moved in – it’s a doozy).
  • Removed the glass doors to the tub which were filmy and harvested enough putridness for a putrid-party.
  • Painted it. Er, primed it. We never actually ended up painting it which means cleaning has been a beetch (my fault). We also didn’t know it would be four years before we started renovations.
  • Added storage via a cabinet from target (about $40.00) with glass doors.

After all of this it looked like the following:

I really enjoy the storage, but I really dislike the glass doors. They are perfect for people who are crazy good at keeping clean and organized apothecary jars full of cotton balls and swabs. I certainly keep ours organized, but there was just something about all of our toiletries being on display that I didn’t particularly like. Funny because I write a blog and share everything.

So after long debating what I could do to opaque out the doors, I came up with a few options:

  • Modpodge paper onto it. What if it got wet? Would it just crumble and bleed?
  • Frost it –  I’m all for frosted glass but I couldn’t help but want a punch of color.
  • Fabric it – yes! yes! I shall fabric it, and it shall be perfect. I should note that this is part of a larger design overhaul I’m doing for the bathroom, so the fabric doesn’t match anything in the picture above.


You’re going to need:

  • any tools to remove the doors from your cabinet, and the glass from the doors
  • hot glue
  •  an iron to smooth the fabric out
  • heatbond backing for the fabric to help stiffen it and repel moisture (this is optional – this is the product). I used it to help repel any slight moisture from the back, and/or if something fell in the cabinet and leaked.
  • scissors
  • a marker
  • about 30 minutes.

1. Remove the doors from your cabinet and remove the glass. Mine was removed with a small screw driver. Put all hardware in a zip lock bag so you don’t lose any of it.

2. Measure your glass so you know how much fabric to buy. I would stick with 100% cotton or linen as they are the most breathable if things get wet.  One yard should be plenty. If you’re using a solid or pattern you don’t need to center you could probably get away with 1/2 yard if you have the normal 12×12 (or smaller) glass doors. If your glass is 12×12 or small you will likely be fine with any fabric for the width, but just to make sure do the following:


A few tips: Most fabrics are 36″-48″ but you need to check first. If your glass isn’t square (12×12 etc.) then I would do the measurements for both sides. You may find a fabric with a design you love, but you need to make it go the other way i.e. you need to place the pieces of glass one on top of each other versus side by side to make the pattern fit the way you want.

3. Iron out the fabric flat. If you’re using heatbond iron it onto the wrong side of the fabric now. I just rolled out and did a big swatch of fabric with it and measured it all out after.

4. Layout the glass on the wrong side of your fabric. Once you get it perfect for you, trace around the glass.

5. Cut out your shapes and start gluing the right side to the glass (the wrong side should be facing you. Start in one corner, then glue the other corner. Always work in opposites from each other to keep everything taught. In the photo below I’ve glued the two opposite corners first, and then the top left. I’ll do the bottom right and then each edge, working in opposites again.

6. Once you’re complete it will look like this:

7. Place the glass back in your door frames and reinstall hardware to hold everything down.

8. Install completed doors back onto furniture and enjoy the obstructed but fun view.

Cost Breakdown:

I made mine for zero dolla dolla bills, zero moneys, zero dimes, zero…$0.00, zilch since I owned everything already. If you had to buy it all it might look like the following:

Fabric (1 yard) = $4.00

Heat Bond = $2.00

Glue Gun and Glue = $6.00

Total Cost (assuming you own scissors and a few tools) = $12.00

Pst. Pstttttt. There are a few more updates coming which is why it doesn’t look completed. Let’s just say I’m stepping out of my design boundaries. There are reasons it’s absolutely awesome to have a house that will be entirely renovated, it allows you to test out different design styles that interest you to see what really fits and what doesn’t.

I’ll let you know in the next post on my sneaky-sneakerson bathroom decor whether I’ve decided it’s my style or not.

And 945 words later – I’m out.  Are you still there?


It’s All In The (Wedding) Details

This is going to be a long, but fun one folks. I’m taking a posting-about-the-livingroom break. I figured in this interlude we could jump back a month. It’s time to share some details of our wedding day shenanigans with you guys. Especially some of the “at home” things we did, in action. You’ve seen a post on the vintage suitcase card holder, the cake topping blue birds, the colored mason jars, and even our wedding invitations here and here.  I’ve saved some other things for you until now.

We went as homemade as possible to save on money. For one, we couldn’t afford an expensive wedding and for two, we’re too cheap, even when our parents helped us out. We need to give a big hearty and loving thanks to my parents and Mr. A’s parents. They really stepped up to the plate and helped us out without asking. Our wedding was easily under $10,000, including my designer dress which was a gift from my father.

I really wanted to incorporate white, burlap and color into the wedding. Keeping it clean but still whimsical and charming. A while back I mentioned spray-painting wine bottles white to hold single stems of flowers. First I used a primer, since it gave a thicker coverage right away. Then I used a cheap semi-gloss to give it a little luster. For the burlap I scored some old coffee bags for free at our local shop Coffee By Design (for a minimal donation to a charity, which of course I did). We simply cut them to fit, sewed them and slid them on.

My mom made us a gorgeous bunting banner using fabric I picked up at Mardens, and then my best friend Marcia and I sewed more wine bottle slip covers out of the same fabric. A friend cleaned a whole bunch of wine bottles for us, so we had a mix of white with burlap, and plain with fabric.

Photos (c) Alexandra Roberts Photography

Speaking of tables, we had two different kinds, 8 foot rectangle tables, 5 foot round tables and four foot round tables. There were 3 eight foot tables on either side and the center had round tables. The round tables had white table cloths with a burlap runner, as seen above.

The rectangle tables were pushed together making one super long table covered in a 10 yard piece of burlap. I was pretty proud of my bulk burlap buying. 30 yards from with a 50% coupon and I ended up paying about $60.00 not including shipping. I was able to get 6 runners, two 10 yard table cloths and I still have some left! I hemmed each end and washed and dried them before I put them on the table.

As for the flowers, we originally looked into a florist, only to find out bridal bouquets started at $200. Not a chance I was ever going to pay that much for flowers. We decided to go with Trader Joe’s and ended up with all the flowers we needed for the reception, the ceremony and our bouquets for $60.00, with extra to go. Mr. A’s father also brought down two five gallon buckets of lilacs. We were going to transfer them, but there was just something about lilacs in buckets I couldn’t resist, probably because I’m a classy lady.

Top Right Photo (c) Alexandra Roberts Photography

For about $70 from Rons Home and Hardware I picked up strands of outdoor lights. Paired with lights donated from family and friends we were able to string lights throughout the inside of the tent, and from the tent to the garage.

Photo (c) Alexandra Roberts Photography

Over the course of about 6 months I picked up lighting at Mardens, which in itself is amazing because you can never find the same things within 6 months there. I went with blue/green/natural tone chinese lanterns, sans lights. I simply wanted them hanging for effect. It turns out my sister-in-law had the same exact mini-lights from her wedding which we used too.

For the ceremony we also made a Cord of Three Strands instead of a unity candle. You braid it to represent intertwining God thoughout your marriage. They cost about $40.00 but I made ours for about $10.00 with materials from Joannes Fabric and our garage.

As gifts for my guests, I gave everyone a sample sized bar of my handmade soap. My best friend cut tissue paper from my bridal shower gifts into strips and wrapped every one of those suckers by hand. She is hands down the best ever. You bet our gift table was our back workbench in the garage.

All in all, we had an absolute blast. I loved being able to hand make so much of my wedding and am so thankful for all of the wonderful people who pitched in and helped out like my amazing mother, sister, best friend, husband and tons of friends and family. You’re all the greatest. So on that note – I leave you with a few more details. Pst – note the delicious looking cake. My sister in law and her husband made that for us. Chocolate with bourbon ganache layered and carrot with caramel pecan glaze. Delicious!

Photo (c) Alexandra Roberts Photography

Much Love & DIY,