Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Mud Room Closet Make Over... Wrapping it Up

When I started this mini-makeover/organization quest my back hall closet looked like this:

Now my closet looks like this:

In my book this is a success! There are still a few things from my original vision that I need to do such as put a fun stencil on the wall. But, for the most part, it is organized and done! Wahoo!

The cushion on the bench is actually a body pillow cover that I found on clearance from Target. I love the fact that it was a no sew solution.

Also, the wine cork hooks are still holding up great!

You may notice that the doors are still on the closet. That is mainly because I don't completely trust my family to put their stuff in their respective bins. So, until they are trained I am leaving the doors on. I do have a new home in mind for the doors (when we finish our basement) so they won't be there forever, but for now they are staying.

Here is the whole process up to this point:

Project Overload - First Up... Mud Room Closet Makeover 

Mud Room Closet Makeover - Day Two I Built a Bench! 


And my updated "To Do" List
1. Create bench
2. Create shelves for storage
3. Get baskets and bins to hang on side wall and to put on shelves
4. Get hooks for back wall and side wall for backpacks, jackets, and hats.
5. Figure out a fun color for the wall and/or finish (wallpaper? decals? wood planking?) Partially Complete
6. Install everything
7. "Make" cushion for bench
8. Decorate the wall across from the closet with mirror or chalkboard/photos/hooks

That feels pretty good. 
Next up, the wall across from the closet!

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Magnet Board finds a Home

Back in December I shared how I made this magnet board for my two year old's Christmas present.

In that post, I promised to share a prettier picture when it was all hung up in Max's room. Well, that just happened this weekend, almost a month later. Yes, this is my typical time frame.

But, I did have some trouble figuring out how to hang it. The board that I used isn't one that if easy to nail or screw into. I tried to use hangers, but couldn't get the screw in. (That sounds dirty.) Then I tried using the small screw hooks in the frame, but the wood was too soft and too thin.

Then I tried using Super Glue to glue hangers onto the back. Super Glue does NOT hold everything. Finally, I tried using liquid nail to attach a hanger to the back. That didn't work either.

By then, as you can imagine, I was feeling pretty frustrated. So I used the drill and drilled holes through the composite board. Then I used dry wall hangers to hang the board on the wall. Good news, it worked!

He loves it!

If you want to read more about this project, it is here.

Does it take anyone else this long to actually get that final step completed?

Friday, January 24, 2014

The other side of the coin

This weekend I found myself in a situation that I have been finding myself in more and more lately as the parent of a now school-aged, child. I found myself being the parent and not the teacher.

At dinner one night, my son calmly told us all about how one of his coaches was calling him names, not letting him go to the bathroom, pushing him over, etc. My initial reaction was that of the Mama Bear. I could feel the my hair bristling, and my body moving into full on protection mode. Then, I stopped myself.

As an educator, I have been in this situation before, but never have I experienced it as a parent. I have received the email in ALL CAPS starting with, "How dare you...," and an impromptu visit from parents (storming into my classroom) wanting to know why I called Little Joe this or that. Once I calm the upset parent down, and we talk about what was reported versus what actually happened (don't get me started on pre-teen perception versus reality) things are usually, quickly set to rights. Thankfully, these scenarios are few and far between, but just one can scar you for life. Believe me!

Suddenly here I was, prepared to storm up to the coach and confront them about what happened. I could not believe how quickly the instinct to protect my child popped up. It was almost immediate. How dare he call me child names? What kind of person won't let a child go to the bathroom? I was drafting an email in ALL CAPS in my head.  Seriously? Seriously.

I find myself in the lucky position of being able to see it from both sides. I talked to my son about the circumstances around the comments. I teased out the possibility that his coach was joking around with him (I am pretty sure he was). We discussed ways that he could tell his coach that the joking actually hurt his feelings, and came up with sentences that he could use so his coach would hear him. In the end he seemed to feel better. And I had a new understanding of where the parents of my students were coming from.

The funny thing is that even if you can calm down and see the other side, that seed of doubt lodges itself in your head. Consequently, the trust that you had for that person is no longer quite as strong. There is still a pit of unease in your stomach since you don't really know exactly what happened.

It is hard to be a parent. It is hard to be a teacher. I am realizing that no matter what side you are on, everyone is on the side of the kid. There is no one who would work with kids if they didn't care for children and want to see them grow into successful, happy, bigger versions of themselves. So, I have to trust that the people my son encounters when he is out in the world are supportive of him.  And, when I find myself in these situations, I need to remember to take a moment to see the other side of the coin.

Photo Credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/83346641@N00/4896996561/">JD Hancock</a> via <ahref="http://compfight.com">Compfight</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">cc</a>

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

My "unword" for 2014

Your "unword" is a word that describes what you want to avoid being this year, something that you have fallen into a bad habit of becoming that you would like to erase, undo, rewind. I was introduced to this idea on The Nester's blog. She did a MUCH better job of explaining the UNword in her post than I did here. So check it out if you haven't!

My "unword" for this year is...

I am one of those people that "fight the frazzle" until I just can't take it anymore. And then I just can't take it anymore. I will use self-talk, make lists, breath deeply, do whatever it takes to keep moving through my day and all of the "things" that make up my life. As more and more gets piled on my shoulders, I tend to lose perspective and start assigning all my "to do's" equal priority when that isn't the case. I have a classic case of "can't see the forest through the trees-itis" when I get frazzled. Everything falls apart quickly, I start yelling - at EVERYONE - it isn't pretty.

So, my goal this year is to keep myself on the safe side of frazzled; namely unfrazzled. Keep my head in a calm place and realize that it is okay to let some things go. Keeping my priorities prioritized (family first!) is incredibly important. Sometimes, in the race for perfection, I hit overload and frazzle out (Scary witch hair and all.) and become a less effective parent, wife, teacher. It has to stop!

I know it will be a constant battle as "things" try to get their claws into my time and sanity, but I will work hard at it every day and hopefully stay calm no matter what extra responsibilities get heaped on my shoulders. At least I will try.

P.S. Sorry for my lack of pretty picture on this post. I am too frazzled to get one together for you, so I decided to let it go. Here's to staying unfrazzled!

What's your unword?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Raising Ski Bunnies on a Budget

I love to ski! Love, love, love to ski. I do not love, love, love how much skiing costs.

Skiing is one of the few ways that I can get out of my head and just enjoy myself in the moment. It gives me the opportunity to admire the beauty of nature and clear my head. And, as my family grows, it is quickly becoming an opportunity to share experiences with my children and create memories that will last a lifetime.

When my sisters and I were little, my dad would always say, "I want the girls to be better skiers than any of the boys they date." My sisters and I can definitely hold our own on the hill (them probably more than me) and now that I have the three boys, I can see where he was coming from. I want my boys to become little shredders. To be able to ski any mountain in its entirety with confidence and control. But, above all, I want them to feel the same way that I feel when I am out skiing. To achieve this, I need to get them out on skis as much as possible.

That being said, skiing is expensive. And the more kids you have, the more expensive it becomes. The equipment, lessons, lift tickets, lodging all add up quickly. But, there are ways to save some serious cash if you are willing to be a little flexible with your schedule and take some time to search for options. Here are some tips to affordably getting your little bunnies out on the slopes.

1. Ski mid-week

If you can figure out a way to head to the mountain during the week (not school vacation week, or a holiday week) you can save a TON of money. Maybe your kids aren't in elementary school yet, or are homeschooled, get them out on the slopes! You can find some great deals on mid-week tickets (check out your mountain's promotions). Your kids will have small, possibly even one on one, lessons at ski school and you may get the trails to yourself.

2. Look for mountain promotional packages

Most mountains run promotional ski and stay packages. Pay for lodging and they will throw in the lift ticket, free. Book ahead of time, and they will discount rates for rooms, condos, tickets, and lessons. Commit to staying for a certain amount of time, or on certain days and you can save tons of money. Even some holiday weeks/weekends will have promotional packages. Sign up for newsletters from area mountains so that you can stay on top of their promotions.

3. Buy multi-day tickets

Buying tickets for more than one day saves money off the daily rate. I know the sticker shock is horrific, $83 for a day of skiing doesn't look any better when you multiply that by numbers of days and more than one family member,  but it will shave dollars off your overall cost. I have seen a father drop over $1000 while buying 5 day tickets for his family. Be prepared!

4. Pre-buy lift tickets

Many mountains have e-tickets available (search your mountain's website) which locks you into a date, but costs less than purchasing them on the day that you are skiing. Yes, you run the risk of skiing on a wind-hold day (high winds = no lifts running) or on a below freezing, frost bite warning day, but odds are you will be okay, and save some moolah.

5. Search for deals online

Sites such as Groupon and Liftopia sell discount lift tickets and ski and stay packages. If you keep your eye out, you can get lucky and score a great deal!

6. Be flexible with where you ski

Smaller mountains usually have lower prices overall. If you just want to get the kids out there, then bigger may not necessarily be better. Yes, your ski day may be a little less exhilarating, but for a kid, one bunny hill looks pretty similar to the other.

7. If you have a mountain you love, suck it up and buy a season pass

Seasons passes are the way to go if you have one mountain (or a group of mountains owned by the same company) that you are devoted to. For our mountain, we only have to get in nine ski days to equal the cost of our season's pass. Nine ski days is nothing if you are planning on spending a school vacation week hitting the slopes. Most mountains also have options for seasons passes that may be cheaper, but include certain black out days. Pick what works best for you. SIDE NOTE: Some mountains also have seasons passes for ski lessons, or special ski programs to get your kids skiing faster. Do the math to see if it makes sense for you and your family.

AND check to see if your mountain has a rewards program. You can rack up major points based on what you buy at the mountain. For some programs lift tickets, lessons, purchases in stores and restaurants on mountain all count and you can apply points towards new equipment for your little cherubs (among other things). Bonus!!

Have an older kid? The best deal around is the seasons pass for college students. It is hugely discounted! I am not sure if they are trying to get that portion of the market out on the mountain so they will be sucked into the sport and bring their kids when they get older then spend millions of dollars at their ski resorts (wait a minute...) but if you can prove that you are a full time college student you can save! Part of me wants to enroll back into classes just to get the season's pass. It may be completely worth it!

8. Skiing in your state? See if they have a discount for locals

Sometimes it pays to be a local. Many mountains discount tickets on certain days for residents of the state. These opportunities can sometimes equal huge discounts. Keep your eye out for the dates and bring your drivers license to buy tickets for the whole family. Also, some mountains discount seasons passes for students who attend school in their state. For our favorite mountain, we will save almost $300 when we purchase our school aged son's season pass simply because he is a resident of the state.

9. Look for "healthy kid" programs

Maine has special ski programs that encourage outdoor play and exercise for certain age groups. For example, the WinterKids program gives middle school aged children access to free and reduced lift tickets (as well as other outdoor winter activities) to many mountains across the state.

10. Be flexible with when you ski during the season

If you can get the jump on the season or wait until the end of the season to hit the slopes you can save some money. Deals pop up around these times because mountains are trying to get skiers to the slopes when they may not have winter on their mind. Take advantage!

I know just how lucky I am to be able to consider us a "skiing family." The kids LOVE to go up to the mountain and I have had SO many chats with older parents on chairlifts who share how everything from the two hour drive north, to quiet nights in the condo, to spending the days on the slopes, helped their families bond and stay close throughout the tumultuous teenage years. (NOT looking forward to those years, BTW.)

The benefits of doing something you love as a family completely outweigh the costs of the sport itself. Yes, sometimes we have to decide which days to ski for the sake of our budget. But there are ways to make it happen as long as you are willing to look at all your options and make good choices.
If you haven't tried skiing out, try it! All I can say is one day out there could make you a believer.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Running Update: Falling off the Wagon

Yes, I admit it. I have fallen of the running wagon. This is infuriating because I put in SO much effort to start running again after Ry was born. But I have decided, this time, to be kind to myself.

Too often I find that I hold myself to standards that I would never expect of other people, and that is unfair. I have a thousand and one excuses about why I haven't run in almost three weeks, but I don't think they are necessary. Instead, I choose to accept the disappointment that I am feeling, and do my best to get back on track.  Because I am busy being a mom to three boys, a teacher to forty-eight students five days a week, a wife, a daughter, and so much more to the people in my life. That is a lot and I am doing the best that I can.

This week I will sneak in at least one run somehow. I will do this because it makes me feel better about myself and gives me more energy, which is in short supply these days. I will do this because it helps keep my brain moving and because it helps me sleep better at night. I will do this for me so I can be better for those who rely on me. I will do this one small thing for myself.

Photo Credit: kaneda99 via Compfight/Flickr

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The view from here...Pumping Conversations

I'm not sure if I am delirious from lack of sleep or what, but right now my pump is talking to me.

If you haven't experienced the joys of hiding in a closet and pumping throughout your work day, don't be alarmed. This will happen to you too. Assuming you are a woman who is planning on having a baby, and breast feeding, and going back to work...

It really is the strangest thing. One day my pump will be cheering me on - "lactate, lactate, lactate," -another day it is giving me decorating advice  -"black wall, black wall, black wall" - another it may be rushing me along - "let's go, let's go, let's go." I never really know which particular message I will get on any certain day. Sometimes it even swears at me.

On good days it's funny, on bad days it makes me hate pumping even more. I mean, who wants to be hooked up to a machine that extracts your bodily fluids? Every time I think about it, the image of a dairy cow flashes into my mind. Yes, I am comparing myself to a dairy cow.

At one point, before he was married and had kids, my brother-in-law shared a business plan, in which he would open up a bar where women would go and get paid to hook up to machines that expressed their milk. He would then sell that milk across the country. Now, women do just that...sell their breast milk. God bless those women who hook themselves up willingly.

Who in their right mind would want to pump? Seriously? I do it because I have no choice. Because I have to work, but also want to continue to breastfeed for all of the benefits for my child and myself. But choosing to do it more than is absolutely necessary? I don't think think so.

Clearly, I am now on a rant. I apologize. If you stuck with me through this, I hope I have made one thing perfectly clear: I. Hate. Pumping.

I have to go now, because my pump says so.

My lovely closet and sometimes supportive pump.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Mud Room Closet Makeover - Basket, Basket, on the Wall

Remember how just a few weeks ago (maybe less than that) I was complaining about all the stuff in our house? Well, here is a perfect example. This is the collection of my kids' hats and mittens that were in the back hall closet. I assure you that all of my children only have one head. So why do they have so many hats?
The baby, who is 4 1/2 months old, has no less than eight hats in the closet. Even if he wore a different hat every day of the week, he couldn't get through all of these hats. We never bother with putting mittens on him because he is usually bundled in his Bundle Me in his car seat. But for some reason he has four pairs of mittens.
The funny thing is that the kid who spends the most time outside has the least hats and mittens. However, that could be because he regularly loses them. Currently we have three sets of missing mittens that are somewhere between our house and school.
 And, the two year old... well, I'll let the picture tell the story.
After laying all of this out, I realized that no matter what kind of organization I came up with for the closet, I was destined to fail if I didn't edit what was being kept there. This was a huge "AHA" moment for me (although it probably shouldn't have been). Yes, what I am saying is, the less stuff you have, the less cluttered your house will be. I know, I just blew your mind, right?

I will work on it.

When I began working on the closet makeover, I planned to build a lovely cabinet with 16 cubby holes to stash all of the hats and mittens and sunscreen and other stuff but, I quickly realized designing it on my own and figuring out cuts and all that was WAYYY over my ability level. So, I decided baskets would be much easier. Many people had used window baskets in their closets like the ones here, or bins like the ones here.

I tried to order the window baskets from the first link but, although they were on the Lowe's website, they were not available. I searched for other window boxes to no avail. (Wrong time of year?) I ended up purchasing some of these "Media baskets" from Target.

I had a plan for hanging them that failed royally. (I almost put a "wait for it" in there.) So, after an hour and a half of trying things out, a trip to the Home Depot,  another hour of trying things out, a few breaks to relieve frustration, and at least one rant on the topic of why I INSIST on DIYing everything and how bloggers make everything so effing easy when in reality it is not, I ended up with this:
Phew! Let's just say, no "project" ever goes 100% smoothly for me. Or ends up the way I envisioned it. Just keeping it real for you!

Here is how I did it:

* I measured the space.
* Divided it by the number of baskets. 4
* Figured out how much room I wanted between the baskets. 3 1/2"
* Measured some more and marked up the wall

* Decided how many places I wanted to attach the baskets to the wall. 3.
* Marked up the wall some more
* Drilled pilot holes

 * Used wall anchors and my drill to knock them into the wall (who needs a hammer?)
* I used the screws that came with the wall anchors and some washers to attach the baskets to the wall. The idea came from here. Thanks "A Beautiful Mess!" Basically, I put the washer on the screw, then pushed the screw through the basket weave from the inside of the basket out. Then I screwed the screw into the wall anchor and voila! Hanging baskets.

Right now, it looks neat and clean in that corner of the closet. And, the boys have FAR less choices of hats in their individual baskets. I do have larger baskets on the shelf above the bench where I could put a few back-up hats in case the bus gobbles up some more.

Here is my updated "To do" list for the project:

1. Create bench
2. Create shelves for storage
3. Get baskets and bins to hang on side wall and to put on shelves
4. Get hooks for back wall and side wall for backpacks, jackets, and hats.
5. Figure out a fun color for the wall and/or finish (wallpaper? decals? wood planking?) Partially Complete
6. Install everything Partially Complete (Only the hooks to go!)
7. Make cushion for bench
8. Decorate the wall across from the closet with mirror or chalkboard/photos/hooks

I am almost done with this one! I am still thinking through some ideas for details of the project, but I have all the big pieces in place, or in transit. It looks like I will be averaging about a project a month this year. We will see!

Anyone else try to hang baskets this weekend? Or go on a rant about  DIY bloggers?  I must be feeling pretty ranty lately. (Not to be confused with randy) I have another one I'm currently editing for next week. I apologize in advance.

If you want to see where this project started, and how I have gotten to where I am today, here are the links:

Project Overload - First Up... Mud Room Closet Makeover

Mud Room Closet Makeover - Day Two I Built a Bench!

Mud Room Closet Makeover - Let's Build Some Shelves!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Piece of Advice to Teenage Girls Everywhere

Although you may view me as old, it wasn't that long ago that I was a high school student. I remember the everyday struggle to fit in. To be part of THE group of the moment. I remember the insecurity in not knowing who was really my friend and who was talking behind my back. I remember the hurt when I found out what my "best" friend had said about me, or done. Or, when one of my closest friends failed to support me within said group.

I remember the struggle to figure out my own identity (a struggle I still find myself in at my "old" age). I remember how important the boyfriend was. Almost like the pass to stay in the group. A way to ensure that I would be invited to the right parties, hang out with the "right" friends, and keep my position in the group. The gossip, the drama, the emotional roller coaster of never feeling confidence in yourself or your relationships. I remember it all.

A month or so ago I ran into a girl who was a freshman, when I was a senior. I felt guilty that I didn't remember her., then she hit me with, "I remember you, you dated (fill in the blank)." I was immediately taken aback by this comment. The realization that I was THAT girl. The one who was remembered only as the girlfriend of a distant ex. Was dating some boy the only thing that I had done that was memorable in my four years of high school? How sad.

Please, don't let this happen to you. High school is a time to try out things, figure out who you are. Yes, the boys and being part of a group can be important too. (Although for most of you, those same boys and "friends" will not even be a blip on your radar in ten years...no matter how convinced you are right now that they are the most important thing.) But don't let them be the only thing.

Be friends with the people who support you, and will support you no matter what. Whose loyalty doesn't waiver depending on the whims of the group, or who you are dating at the time. Make sure you find at least one good friend. A life-long friend who will be there for you. . Don't be afraid to be who YOU are.

Imagine how much nicer it will be for you to be remembered as a nice person, a good friend, a great athlete or actor or leader in your school. Anything, really. Or, even better, all of these things. Try it all! Find what you love. But, please, don't let yourself be remembered solely as the girlfriend of that boy. You are more than the boy. If you are not careful, it will hurt when you are faced by this truth ten years later. Trust me.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A Simple Thank You

I am a big believer in sending thank you notes. They not only show that you are grateful for the gift, or gesture, or time, or small act of kindness, or person, or whatever, but it also shows the person that you are willing to put some time and effort into showing that gratitude. Plus, it's nice to get something other the bills in the mail.

I am trying to teach my sons the importance of being grateful for what they have, so they send thank you notes too. Until very recently none of my children were actually able to write a thank you note, but that didn't get them out of sending little notes of thanks. Typically I write their words for them, or hold their little hands to help them form the letter all the while saying the shape that I am making.

To get the kids in on the act so that they are showing their thanks in their own way, I simply put a large piece of blank paper in front of them and let them go to town. Sometimes they use crayons, sometimes markers, in the most recent case, for their Christmas thank you cards, they used paint that Santa brought them.

Here is Ben's masterpiece:

And Max's on the left:

I then cut the paper into card shapes and we write the notes together. 

I like to think that the act of giving thanks is rubbing off on them. Last year Ben wrote this sweet little message on his new chalkboard.

And Max spent most of Christmas morning thanking Santa. 

I also hope that these little homemade cards are creating small moments of joy in the people who receive them. 

Do you still send thank you cards? Do you have your kids send them? If you have young kids, How do you get around the whole inability to write part? 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Wine Cork Hooks

If you read this blog regularly, you know that I have been working on updating the closet in the back hall to make it more of a mud room. If you don't read the blog, but want to know more about the project, check out the posts here, here, and here.

I have spent a few hours browsing for bins and hooks for storage in the cabinets. I think I have found most of what I am looking for, but until I pull the trigger and input my credit card information, I decided to try a project with wine corks.

The inspiration came from reading this post on A Beautiful Mess. It got me thinking about all the wine corks that I had hidden in drawer in the kitchen. I'm not sure why I save them, I just do. Then, my mind wandered to the browsing that I had just been doing for the closet. And then Pinterest popped into my head (because it tends to go there, always) and I remembered all of the clever things that people had done with wine corks. Why not try it myself?

I have to admit that I thought this one would fail epically. And, it was completely trial and error. But, it worked. Here is what I came up with:

You may be thinking that these look like corks, sitting on a surface, but they are not. They are hooks... in the closet. I know, crazy, right?

First I scavenged for corks and found these three. They are all rubber corks. I am not sure what would happen with real cork ones. I have a feeling they might split when you drill the hole into them, but maybe not. 

Although I was originally going to have them sticking straight out, I realized that each of them could have a completely different orientation on the wall. So, crazy me, I tried all three ways.

First I had to figure out where to put them on the wall. I had a command hook lower in the closet so my 2 1/2 year old could hang up his own jacket. I pulled off the hook (and paint and wall with it. Oops!) and used that area to hang my first hook.

I drilled the cork with a 1/4" drill bit. I wanted the hole to be big enough to get the screw in, but small enough so it wouldn't move around too much. I tried a variety of sizes and this is the one that worked the best.  I also mistakingly drilled through the entire cork, oops! If I did this again, I would have only gone halfway through. Luckily the ones that went all the way through were when I was trying out smaller drill sizes so the holes aren't as gaping as they could have been.
I made the holes depending on how I wanted the corks to hang on the wall.

I used drywall anchors to secure them to the wall. At first I was going to put the screw into the cork and then screw it into the wall. It didn't work. So, instead, I put the screw into the wall leaving about a quarter inch hanging out of the wall.

Then, I put the cork onto the screw,
and hung something on it to make sure that it was secure and wouldn't twist on the screw. 
It worked! Although if you want it to be more secure on the screw you could add a dab of glue into the hole before you put the cork on the screw.  The reason that I didn't is because I am afraid of what might happen if I ever want to take the corks off the wall. Theoretically you should be able to just unscrew the cork, but one never knows...

Here is the third one, which is actually more of my original idea:

 I kind of like them. And they were cheap free, so why not? If I get sick of them I can always take them down. And now I have hooks to hang some more of our winter gear. Good thing because it is snowing...again!

What do you think? This took all of 20 minutes. So it was quick, and easy!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Mud Room Closet Makeover - Let's Build Some Shelves!

First, let's admire my newly built bench in the mudroom/closet...
It fits perfectly! I love how the shoes tuck nicely below the bench without spilling out all over the place. We have PLENTY of room. In this picture each of the four members of the family who walk (baby not included) have three or four pairs of shoes under the bench. (If you want to read all about how this came together check out the posts here and here.)

And, just for fun, let's recap for a minute...
Here is the BEFORE
And after I cleaned it out...
Gross right?

The first step with dealing with the closet was to paint it. Originally I wanted a darker blue color  such as Hale Navy by Benjamin Moore. But, the Hubs quickly nixed that idea because he didn't want to buy paint. (GRRR) So I scavenged the basement for leftovers. Unfortunately, all of the leftovers had less than an inch of paint left in them. Not enough for the whole closet. So, I mixed some light blue/gray colors to make a custom color. This is a mix of Benjamin Moore's First Snowfall, and Sherwin Williams' Northstar. (Is it a no-no to mix different brands? Look at me breaking the rules!) I am still not completely happy with the color. *YAWN* But, I have some other ideas for stenciling that may make it a little more original. That will have to come later.

 And here is my To Do list for this project:
1. Create bench
2. Create shelves for storage
3. Get baskets and bins to hang on side wall and to put on shelves
4. Get hooks for back wall and side wall for backpacks, jackets, and hats.
5. Figure out a fun color for the wall and/or finish (wallpaper? decals? wood planking?) Partially Complete
6. Install everything
7. Make cushion for bench
8. Decorate the wall across from the closet with mirror or chalkboard/photos/hooks

This was my plan for the shelves in the closet. Spoiler Alert: "Was" is a very important word.
Look at that 6th grade math coming in handy. Yes, I seriously had to do the math out. DUH!
Everything was cut, sanded, primed, and painted. But, when we checked out the closet to find the studs on the back wall to screw the shelves into, they were nowhere to be found. Wierd? Then the Hubs remembered that the "guys" had had a hard time finding them when they hung our kitchen cabinets. You would think that with a new construction the studs would be pretty uniform. I guess not...frustrating!

So, we had to figure out a solution for plan B. (I did not think it was safe to screw the shelving into the wall with only drywall anchors.) We did easily find the studs in the side of the closet (because they were in the right place) so we used those studs and created this:

I am going to add some corbels for extra support towards the center of the shelves, but for now this was the best we could do. It is not ideal, but I am determined to make this work. Oh and the top shelf is really high (we have 9 foot ceilings on the first floor and there is a TON of wasted space in the top of the closets) but it will work for storing things we rarely use.

The boards are screwed and wood glued into the supports and the supports are screwed into studs with 3" wood screws. 

Here is the most up to date picture: 
Although it isn't my original vision, it looks WAYYY better than the original


Let's update the "To Do" list again!
1. Create bench
2. Create shelves for storage
3. Get baskets and bins to hang on side wall and to put on shelves
4. Get hooks for back wall and side wall for backpacks, jackets, and hats.
5. Figure out a fun color for the wall and/or finish (wallpaper? decals? wood planking?) Partially Complete
6. Install everything Partially Complete
7. Make cushion for bench
8. Decorate the wall across from the closet with mirror or chalkboard/photos/hooks

What do you think? Anyone else tackling a project similar to this? Anyone else running into issues and having to make plan B, C, or Ds?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Mud Room Closet Makeover - Day Two I Built a Bench!

Let me start by saying that, for me, Ana White's Simple Bench was relatively simple....as long as you are going for the rustic look. Which I am, of course. It is a little infuriating to see the picture of a clean, perfect bench, and then look at my creation, which is still a cute bench (if I do say so myself) but does not look like I put as much time and effort into it as I did. And boy, did I excel at the "rustic" part.If you want to read more about the beginning of this project and why I built a bench, check out this post.

After sanding, priming, and painting all the boards (remember how may? Yes, it took a while)

I started laying out the bench making sure to check for square, and following all of Ana's directions.

It was kind of like putting a giant puzzle together. I have to admit, I liked this part. Not only because I was figuring out a puzzle, but because I could also see it coming together.

Don't be fooled, there were some set backs. A few of the boards split on me.


Luckily I had some extra wood, so I cut replacements and did the whole sand, prime, paint routine again.

Once the bench was all put together, I simply filled the holes, sanded, and painted one last coat.

I have to admit, I fully expected it to be wobbly, or completely unlevel, but it wasn't. Score one for me!  For my first try building something, ever, I think I did a pretty decent job. Not perfect by any means, and I'm sure it took me significantly longer than it would have for someone who knew what they were doing, but I like my little rustic bench. Oh, and for those of you wondering how much it cost, here you go:

Budget Breakdown
1x3  4@1.25 each
1x4 4@7.44 each
Wood glue 2.97
Screws 2@7.98 each
Square 4.97
Primer 14.98

Total: 73.64
BUT most people would have the primer, square, and wood glue (we actually had some, we just didn't check first. Dumb) and at least some of the screws. This would have brought our total in at $42.74. Not bad, right?

Wait until you see it in my mud room closet. I am in the process of getting that put together right now. Stay tuned!

If you have any other "simple" projects that you think I should try next, let me know. I will put them on my ever lengthening "to do" list. Have you built anything lately? Crossed anything off your "I've always wanted to list?"