The Lion, The Witch, and The Entryway Bench

It has been a week, folks. A week that started with me reciting, “Kelly and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,” on Monday morning and feels like it may never end.

I’m transitioning out of two of my jobs and back into just the one full time original job. Which, I guess in this awful land of grown ups, just means that I get more work to do. If someone could do the math on that and let me know how it makes any sense at all, that would be great.

We’re also in the throes of a monster furniture build. Good friends contributed pretty heavily to our electronics collection (i.e. Xbox) so when they mentioned they wanted an entry way bench, we were all like, “Tradesies?”

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This project has raised the bar – for our tool collection, our skill set, our patience, and our tolerance for working after work. Between Mr. Rathroy’s creative vision (and extreme talent) and my organizational brainpower, we created a design, calendared our deliverables, delegated actions, and went full-bore into the business of building. And it has been no joke.

Our evenings are filled with sawdust and power tools. And with 8:30 p.m. dinners and bedtimes that are way too late for us. And since Mr. Rathroy’s techniques often lead to artisan joints and precision routing that can only be done by one person, I support however I can.

Router Sawdust

I man the shop-vac. I round corners with the hand-sander (and they are smooth corners, let me tell you). I pick up all the things that he throws down throughout the house after his office job because he needs to get to work in the garage as quickly as possible. And I cook. And oh sweet Jesus do I hate defaulting to that stereotype.

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Because I’ve had a more flexible schedule, I usually take it upon myself to plan the menu and do the shopping. And I’m usually head chef when it comes time to cook, but I always know that Mr. Rathroy will help anytime (and has been known to kick me out of the kitchen completely for throwing a tantrum about how much I hate being stuck in the kitchen). But with my sub-par woodworking skills, and a quickly approaching deadline, it’s clear that my service to our marital partnership is needed elsewhere. And I made it up until tonight.

Routing

Tonight, I ordered pizza. And while it soothed my rage toward our stovetop, it did not remove the dark cloud brooding over my head. The dark cloud that made me snap at Mr. Rathroy and loose patience with Piper. The dark cloud that has been hovering over my optimism and makes me resent this bench, our tiny garage, and even my husband’s work-ethic because they’re all taking away the relaxation time with Mr. Rathroy that I so look forward to each day. They’re all the reason that I only get to see my husband through clouds of sawdust and the reason we can’t have a conversation because his mind is too pre-occupied with the details of his design. It’s the bench’s fault that the pizza was so expensive and that my dog barks at the mailman and that I’m still tired when I wake up in the morning. Right? RIGHT?!

The Hustle

I wish I could blame this project, but I know that’s not a real solution. We chose to take this on, just like we always choose the most challenging of all the options. We bought an old house. We got married in the forest during wildfire season. We honeymooned in one of the harshest places in the world. And it just is not always sunshine and butterflies. Sometimes it’s tense, scary, infuriating and unbelievably frustrating. Sometimes I have meltdowns and sometimes Mr. Rathroy gets tired of dealing with them. And sometimes, he finds me stress eating spoonfuls of Nutella before bed.

But after each adventure is over, we’re immediately looking for the next one, and I don’t think it’s because we’re gluttons for punishment. I think it’s because we love to learn, love to create, love to challenge ourselves, and love to strengthen our relationship through working together. Most of the time, we laugh at our stupid mistakes, we dance when a good song comes on, we find the fun in the work we’re doing together. The sunshine and butterflies might not always be obvious, but you can create them if you try.

Babies on a Farm

This past weekend was so full of friends and family that I thought my heart might burst with love! On top of a fabulous Father’s Day celebration that blended both of our families, it was Carina’s baby shower!

Carina is our wonderfully talented friend that also happens to live on a farm and is growing our wedding flowers for us. She also happens to be pregnant with twins, so she’s been growing a lot of things!

This weekend, in celebration of her and her belly, we all gathered at the farm to eat, craft, swoon over baby gifts, and love on this awesome momma.

Could she be more adorable?

Could she be more adorable?

Just one of the many food options.

Just one of the many food options.

Nothing like hand-decorated onesies!

Nothing like hand-decorated onesies!

Babies on a farm are just too cute!

Babies on a farm are just too cute!

I was too busy doing all of those things to take pictures of all of the creative, thoughtful, amazing details, but I will have you know that some of the food dishes were garnished with already blooming wedding flowers! In fact, I was so preoccupied having fun instead of snapping photos that the only picture I took of the changing table was on my way out!

It's green!

It’s green!

Carina was truly glowing and I am so honored to have been a part of the celebration. She is one badass little lady and I cannot wait to meet those little twins!

And now that we’ve built an incredibly sturdy changing table, I can’t wait to tackle our next project either. Keep your eyes peeled for a post on my lessons learned for painting furniture. That table didn’t paint itself bright green after all…

And finally, before we ran off to celebrate Father’s Day with our families the next day, Mr. Rathroy got some quality time in with his dogchild too.

They are a sleepy pair...

They are a sleepy pair…

I hope you had a great weekend!

Design Antics at the Antique Fair

Once a month, the great city of Sacramento hosts an antique fair. It covers about 4 square blocks and includes everything from WWII paraphernalia to shabby chic framed chalkboards and all that exists in between. Neither Mr. Rathroy nor I had been to the antique market before and we figured it would be a good place to get a deal on some rustic decor (our favorite).

Unfortunately, the good deals were somewhat sub par. I’m a pushover when it comes to sticker price and Russ hasn’t haggled since his days in the Malawian market. And, as it turns out, 4 square blocks of bargain hunting gets tiring, so we only made one purchase.

The antique fair really proved to be more of a design research trip than a shopping spree and we started finding home decor inspiration that we could take home, chew on for a little while, and turn into DIY projects.

So, instead of spending money on things that other people have treasure hunted, I just hurriedly snapped photos of their displays in hopes of putting my own creative spin on our antique market finds.

An old ladder with a fresh punch of color becomes a great outdoor shelving unit.

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One “antique” seller salvaged old picture and window frames and then cut chalkboard to fit inside. Her product was adorable and WAY overpriced for anyone interested in a DIY craft.

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I love an old hutch! How cute is this light blue for a combo storage/statement piece?

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We noticed this table immediately because the first piece of furniture that Mr. Rathroy built was a farmhouse style table that we use currently as a joint desk (I’m sitting at it right now!). Though the lumber we used was new, the finish is super rustic (one might say it’s been antiqued…) and we were curious to see how much a similar table would sell for as an antique.

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Because of the wedding, I’m on a succulent binge and these little guys growing in old tea cups were just too cute!

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Our finale piece was this old rocking chair. It was so masculine and worn in. The hefty lumber combined with the soft leather was the perfect combination of our styles. This is the piece that we’ll be working towards building for a long time…

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And that was only a fraction of the goods! If we had the time and the endurance, I think we could have decorated our entire house with antique fair finds. However, neither of us are that patient, so we picked up a couple hearts salvaged from wine barrel wrappings and called it a day.

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Our ultimate plan is to paint this patio wall a bright color and build a sitting bench underneath!

I’m loving that the whole rustic look is so popular right now because it’s so easy to find pieces that match our style, but I will also readily recognize the ridiculousness of buying something that looks like it’s been sitting in a barn for 70 years. That farmhouse table above looked like someone had literally taken a paintbrush and slapped it around on the surfaces. It was like the seller knew it needed to look crappier than just old wood in order to sell for $500. We’ll just take it as more motivation to build it ourselves I guess…

Are you a fan of antiques? Or does old stuff creep you out? I’m still totally on the fence about the creepiness factor, but I sure do love a good repurposing!

Postponed Pinterest Craft – DIY Jewelry Organizer

Since one of my “look like more of an adult” tactics is to accessorize more often, I figured I should move my jewelry out of a box in the closet and onto display to encourage myself to actually wear it once in a while. And now that we have more power tools and scrap lumber than you can shake a stick at, I figured I’d try my hand at my first solo-crafting project.

So, on one of those rare days when I had nothing else scheduled, I decided to finally get to work on one of my long-term pinterest inspired projects – the DIY shabby chic jewelry organizer. You know the type – mismatched knobs, salvaged wood, hanging necklaces, etc. Basically, a bunch of brand new stuff that you make look really old – like $100 jeans that you buy with holes already in them.

This project is a pretty quick one once you have all of your supplies and it felt really good to have a finished product on the same day that I started work!

Supplies:

1. Piece of wood – sorry to be so vague, but this is totally up to your taste. I literally used the cut off ends of left over fence boards. This depends on how big you want your masterpiece to be. Mine were about 14 inches long and 1 inch thick. I also had lots of extras to experiment on before doing anything to my final boards.

2. Power sander – we have a small handheld one that works perfectly!

Stacks of trail wood and my power sander!

Stacks of wood and my power sander!

3. Hardware – whatever knobs or handles you want to incorporate to hang your jewelry

4. Power drill – this will make the hardware installation a lot easier!

5. Paint, stain, etc. and related supplies (brushes, cloth) – whatever color you want your organizer to be is up to you! I used a really interesting technique that combines paint and stain and makes the wood look super rustic.

Method:

1. Start sanding

If you’ve never used a power sander before, it’s okay! You have backup planks in case things go awry the first time! I ran the sander up and down all sides of the plank to make sure everything had smoothed to the touch, then I worked on all edges and corners to round and wear them down. And remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect! We’re going for the elusive salvaged look, so symmetry is not necessary. Once you’re happy with your sanding handiwork, set that plank aside to be your final product.

These planks started out identical. Sanding makes a big difference!

These planks started out identical. Sanding makes a big difference!

2. Measure, mark and drill

Use one of your practice pieces to measure and mark out where you want your hardware. As much fun as it is to just run around with a power drill, I promise you’ll be happier with your finished product if you have a placement plan for your hardware. I went through at least 2 practice pieces before figuring out exactly where I wanted to drill for the final go ’round.

Practice measurements!

Practice measurements!

3. Drill those holes!

Once you have your measurements down, make small marks on your final plank and pre-drill holes for each piece of hardware. I used a practice plank underneath my final plank for support and just in case I drilled through too far – which I did.

4. Time to paint/stain

Once again, I used my practice planks to make sure I knew which combination of color/stain I wanted on my final product. Once I decided on the mint green/dark stain combo, I started painting.

Practice colors. I wanted to make sure it looked good on both types of wood.

Practice colors. I wanted to make sure it looked good on both types of wood.

Paint/Stain Combo Process: Use a paint brush and apply your paint color roughly. Some areas had heavier paint, some had super light paint, some had none – make it look unfinished and imperfect (it’s harder to do than you think!). Let your paint dry and then hand-sand it down. Rough it up even more, especially along the edges and corners to make it look old and worn before staining. Make sure you’re wearing your rubber gloves and you have a rag that can be thrown away before you start staining. Follow the directions on the stain can and rub it all over your plank. The stain will absorb at different levels depending on the paint and will give it an awesome rugged look.

We're almost there!

We’re almost there!

5. Mount your hardware in their appropriate spots and hang your organizer on the wall.

There are definitely better ways to wall mount your jewelry organizer than what I did, but I opted for simple and quick (to be honest, Russ did this part because I’m afraid of our entire lathe and plaster house crumbling if I nail into it). Russ drilled holes in the two top corners on the back of each plank. He drilled them at an angle and about half way through the width of the plank. Then he set nails in the wall to line up with the holes, and hung them like picture frames.

6. Hang your jewelry and sit back and admire your craftsmanship!

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This project took more of my day than I was hoping it would, but I’m super happy with the outcome. It’s like a piece of functional artwork that reminds me to accessorize and I’m so proud of myself for crafting, using power tools without setting anything on fire, and following through on a project all on my own!

What are your most postponed Pinterest crafts? What should I attempt next?

Bedside Tables with Style

I’ve had the same, white Ikea furniture for at least 5 years now. A dresser and two bedside tables. I’m actually impressed that they have survived the 7+ moves since college. To say the least, they’ve served me well. But alas, there comes a time in your life when you don’t want Ikea and stark white to define your bedroom any longer.

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Unfortunately for me, that time coincided exactly with the time in my life when I have exactly zero dollars left after paying bills and saving for the wedding each month.

So what’s a gal to do with perfectly good furniture that just needs a little spice? Why, paint it, of course!

Because Ikea furniture is made of pressed particle board and then laminated, I did some extra research on how to best repaint. The last thing I wanted to do was handle it like a 200 pound solid oak cabinet and have it disintegrate right in front of me. After reading DIY blog after DIY blog, I decided on a method that wasn’t too far off from re-painting any other type of furniture.

Materials:

1. 220 grit sandpaper (nice and delicate for the particle board)

2. Automatic sander (this makes things go WAY faster)

3. Oil based primer. I used the spray kind as it typically goes on more evenly and you don’t have to worry about extra brush strokes showing through on your paint job. Each small bedside table used about 1.5 cans of spray paint primer each.

4. Paint and a nice brush. You can technically use any brush you want, but the nicer the brush, the less brush strokes you’ll see.

5. Minwax brand furniture wax. This goes on just like car wax (wax on, wax off) and gives a finished look while providing a protective coating for your furniture. You can skip this step if you’d rather sand down the paint and go for the rustic look.

6. Be sure to prep your area! I am notorious for spray painting on concrete or on our deck without a drop cloth of some kind and then we’re stuck with multi-colored paint splatter…old cardboard boxes from moving or old bed sheets are great choices for ground cover before you paint.

Now, you’re ready to reinvent that Ikea furniture!

Procedure:

1. Sand down the top layer of laminate/paint. Be careful not to go too deep or you can start chipping away at the actual particle board structure. Just rough it up so the primer has something to stick to.

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2. Thoroughly wipe down! Any dust left will be painted permanently into your furniture, so use both damp and dry cloths and get that bad boy clean.

3. Spray primer. Follow the directions on the can as this stuff can get sticky and tough to spray if you let it sit. Coat as evenly as possible.

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4. After the primer has dried, you’re ready to paint. We chose a 2-tone design so we made sure that each color had dried fully before working on the other areas. I am also notorious for sticking my thumb in wet paint in order to get my brush into an angle. Patience is a virtue, they say.

5. Eyeball it and see if you need another coat of paint. White is pretty easy to paint over, but we did 2 coats of grey and 3 coats of the peacock green just to cover any weird marks or excess primer.

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6. Wax on, wax off, if you so choose. The directions will have you wax the entire piece of furniture with a light coat, let dry for about 15 minutes, wax off, and repeat.

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Ta da! Like a brand new, custom piece of furniture that fits into your home decor seamlessly.

We did it a little backwards and painted the bedside tables before perfecting our bedroom style and went through about 4 different paint colors and before settling on the perfect grey combination over the weekend. Now our room finally has a super calm, sanctuary feel to it with pops of peacock green!

Good luck with your painting projects and just remember not to be afraid of the laminate! I’m anxious to repaint one of our dressers next…

Easy Chalk Wall DIY

We have a lot of unused space in our already tiny kitchen, and one wall was particularly useless.

It’s perpendicular to our refrigerator door, so we couldn’t put up shelves and while tearing walls down is in the long-term plan, we need to get our financial feet back under ourselves after the wedding before we start anything like that.

So, what’s the cheap/easy way to change a wall? PAINT!

I know chalkboard paint might be a fad, but I just can’t help myself. It’s truly one of the easiest interactive pieces you can add to your house. We bought a can of chalkboard paint at Home Depot and discovered that you can pay a little more to have them mix a color into it. We opted for classic black, but it’s fun to have options! It comes pre-mixed and pre-packaged and doesn’t even require a special paint roller.

Before we get deeper into this process, there’s a prep step that I would like to emphasize: Wipe down your wall before you put chalkboard paint on it. If it’s a bumpy wall, maybe sand it down a little. The intention is to write all over this surface, and the aesthetic of chalk doesn’t fare too well in a bumpy environment (textured walls make this tough). Our kitchen walls still had granite dust all over them from when Russ widened the hole in our countertop for the new sink, so prepping was important!

Once the wall was clean and dry, Russ marked off the area (I’m not patient enough to use a tape measure, let’s be honest), and I got busy with the roller.

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I actually didn’t even bother using a paint brush for the edges since the tape was so thick and the border didn’t have any curves or details to work around. You can tell in this picture that one coat wasn’t enough. The paint dried to the touch in about 20 minutes, but they recommend waiting 4 hours before painting a second coat.

I usually don’t follow directions when they involve waiting, but since this was going to be a stand-out piece, I figured I’d take their word for it.

I think the directions recommended three coats, but I stopped after the second and it looks great. Despite the four hour dry time, this project is a super quick way to make an entire room more fun. The kicker is that you are instructed to wait 3 days before writing on it. Three days! I’ve never wanted to use a chalkboard so badly in my life just knowing that I couldn’t.

Eventually, the time passed and now we have a cute little chalkboard menu in our kitchen. I can use it to list ingredients or left-overs in the refrigerator that are available for consumption or we can write cute notes to each other or to our tiny little house.

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At some point, we plan to frame the edges with some cheap, custom painted siding and make a little shelf for the chalk. But for now, I’ll just get the chalk out of the drawer to write out all of the non-meat meals that Russ has to choose from…

Old McDonald

As I mentioned in the “Save the Dates” post, we are very blessed to have such talented and generous friends. Not only has it saved us money in this ridiculous wedding industry, but it warms our hearts to know that the details of our wedding have been created by people that we love.

One of these friends just so happens to live on a farm. She also happens to have florist experience. And she loves me (and Russ too) enough to grow our flowers from seed and turn them into wedding centerpieces and bouquets.

One of the perks of this arrangement (as if those mentioned above weren’t enough), is that we get to help grow our flowers too! So, this past weekend, we strapped on our work boots and off to the farm we went!

If we were going to grow flowers from seed, we would need some serious preparations for the somewhat unpredictable spring. On the agenda – build a hay bale cold frame and a few raised beds.

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Russ was hoping he would get to use a hay pick and he was a pro! After the chauffeured ride back to the yard, we unloaded and rolled hay bales into place. For anyone that has never physically moved a hay bale, they’re about as heavy as I am. You learn to put your body weight behind it.

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Topped with an old sliding glass door or window, and you have yourself a cold frame! Hay bales are excellent insulators and this cold frame will be like a mini greenhouse for the baby flowers.

After a quick hydration break complete with tea, ginger ale, sparkly water, fresh lemon juice and simple syrup (all homemade), we were ready to start on the raised beds.

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Farmer Carina is the master of repurposing. We used old melon bins and a book shelf for the frames. After moving them into position, it was time to fill. Our farmer florist did all of the research on how to best grow baby flowers, so she just pointed to different piles around the farm and we pitchforked it into wheelbarrows to fill the beds.

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Chicken poo off the floor of the chicken coop

Compost from a pile made two years ago containing remains from a chicken slaughter and hay (completely decomposed so it just looked like warm dirt!)

Dirt from the melon field that now housed a herd of cows, calves, and a giant bull that was not too excited to see us in his field

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The things we’ve done for these flowers already…

After loads upon loads of dirt and compost, a snack of homemade hummus, and a few hours of solid manual labor, we had a finished product.

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Farmer Carina even cooked us a big, farm lunch and showed off her started succulent garden for the wedding. Apparently to grow a succulent, all you need is the leaf/petal from another succulent. Place it on top of the soil and spritz it with water once a day. Viola!

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If there is anything better than a day spent outdoors with your favorite people, I haven’t found it yet. We got a little dirty, survived a bull stand-off, created something awesome, and spent quality time together. Our friends are truly incredible and we will owe our entire wedding to them! I can’t wait for the first sprouts to pop up and watch them become our sea of home grown wedding wildflowers!

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We couldn’t leave without having a farm photo shoot…