My first furniture rehab: The blue desk

I’d been making a lot of noises about crafting and snazzing up my garage and I guess my little sister caught on because for Christmas, she got me an awesome book on rehabbing furniture (amazon affiliate link ahoy). That week, I set off to our huge local Goodwill with my cousin. When I spotted a 1960s desk I saw all the potential the book had taught me to look for. We pulled the drawers out one by one to make sure they were working (clean and dove-tailed), and found a bunch of letters from the 70s and 80s inside.  (I accidentally forgot them when we left, and I’m pretty bummed about that. They included a pen pal letter from a child, bills, and a doctor’s office sign-in sheet on notebook paper.)



I haggled gently with an employee and ended up getting the desk for $30. A total steal, if you ask me. It had some bumps and light mold on the outside, and one small peeling veneer spot on a drawer, but other than that it was in awesome shape. I loaded it into the back of my car and took it home. My mom advised me to note how much time and money I’d spend on it when I mentioned how cheap it was. I didn’t, but I’d estimate it took me four weekends, a few week days, and about $160. But that included many tools I’ll use again for future projects.

To complete the desk, I did this over the span of about a month:

  • Removed all hardware
  • Washed the desk with a mold remover.
  • Glued the peeling veneer down and let it dry with a clamp.
  • Sanded the desk with an orbital sander.
  • Vacuumed the surface and drawers and wiped with a damp shop towel.
  • Drilled new holes for hardware.
  • Filled the old hardware holes with wood putty.
  • Painted the desk with a tinted primer.
  • Painted the desk with flat paint.
  • Sealed the desk with clear poly-acrylic.
  • Refreshed the legs with Danish oil.
  • Replaced the hardware with white enamel knobs.
  • Thoroughly enjoyed getting to say wood, hole and knob a lot.




The putty part was definitely the most fascinating since I had no idea what I was doing. It didn’t come out totally perfect but I don’t think you can see the holes unless you’re really looking and feeling for them. Drilling was very fun. The polyacrylic was a total nightmare and I’ll be much more careful next time I do it, especially if I’m planning on giving a piece away or selling it. The drips made me crazy. But the kids will be using the desk as a homework and busy-time desk in my home office so I really needed it decently sealed. (It could have used one or two more coats of the sealant but I rage quit the entire project at that point, threw the knobs on and carried it into my office like The Hulk.)

I was going to paper the drawers, but NOPE.


The final result is just wonderful. I couldn’t be happier with it. Every time I glance over it at it I’m thrilled with how cute it is and how cool it is that I did it all by myself. (With the assistance of a cool book, lots of blog posts on how to paint and use polyacrylic, and my best friend wandering over from next door to chatter at me while I swore about paint drips, so many paint drips, we hates them, precious.)

Stuff I used:

  • Ryobi 18-Volt Drill (the only thing I already owned)
  • Drill bits (Christmas present from my brother)
  • Ryobi orbital sander
  • A shop-vac with a brush attachment (borrowed it from my dad)
  • Shop towels
  • Painter’s tape
  • Tons of latex gloves and a plastic drop cloth
  • Fine and medium grit sanding blocks
  • Minwax Polyacrylic
  • Minwax Wood Filler
  • Valspar Ultra Paint + Primer in Sea Exposure
  • Kilz Latex tinted to close to my paint color
  • Watco Danish Oil
  • Wooster Pro synthetic brushes
  • Foam brushes
  • Small foam roller and 3 rolls
  • Plastic tray


 Finished product!


Some day I’ll take a nice picture of it!

home is where you make things

One of the most surreal days of my life was the day I spent packing up all of my then-husband’s belongings and divvying up our kitchen and bathroom stuff. He had just moved out and we knew he wouldn’t be coming back and it felt good to do something, to grab onto that small bit of control I still had. I worked in silence, filling giant storage bins and packing suitcases and making neat piles of clothes. It sucked.

But it also made all this room in my house. And once I was cleaning and organizing for myself, and no longer feeling like someone’s maid, it started to feel a lot nicer to keep my house tidy. I started liking it. (Not dishes or folding or floors though — I still solidly hate those chores.) The de-cluttering and organizing and redecorating, though. That felt so good. Like massaging my own brain. When my anxiety was reaching near-crippling levels during the early divorce stages, cleaning was one of the only activities I found calming.

Then something happened. Actually, nothing happened. I don’t know what tipped the scales or inspired me but I started feeling compelled to make things. And not just stress-hats knit in a frenzy while watching MTV.

I started baking again. I cleaned my garage. I bought new cans of spray paint. I decorated some shitty furniture on the dog-porch so it didn’t look so much like a dog-porch. This escalated little by little, until a friend said to me in a text that I should probably stop saying I’m not crafty. She was right! I’ve become… crafty. I might not spend a lot of time embellishing things with glitter or scrapbooking, but I’ve begun to love using my hands to make things. I made tons of Christmas ornaments. I made an awesome display for photos. I built a planter out of a pallet. I stained a pallet for wall art (but haven’t decided on the art yet.)  I hung a light fixture. I painted picture frames. I installed step stones in my side yard and helped my best friend lay a flower bed between our houses. I installed a curtain wire for photos. I rehabbed an old curio cabinet. I rehabbed a 1970′s desk.

I made things.

My garage is my happy place. My brother and dad have helped me get shelves installed. I have a shop light. I bought an old workbench on Craigslist. My tools are on pegboard. It’s pretty neat.

The other day a friend of a friend asked me why I had a workbench in my garage. I kind of sputtered because I wasn’t sure why he was asking. Was it surprising that a woman would have a workbench? Do I not look handy? I said something awkward about “furniture is fun” but what I meant is that I like making shit, man. It feels good. And not just because of the paint fumes.

wall_art photo_hanger ornament pallet garage photo_frame_art hippo_frames frames planter curio_after

New Year’s Quiz 2013

Six years doing this year-end recap thanks to Sundry’s inspiration! I’m purposefully not reading last year’s because I cringe just thinking about the enormously screwed up headspace I was in.

Let’s do this thing. With bonus gifs because I do what I want, Thor.

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?

I got divorced!


It was official in April, but I’d been on my own since the first week of November, 2012. I can’t say that the process itself was fun, but I can say that it was necessary and ultimately the best possible solution for every party involved. It took a while for me to believe that it was the best thing for the kids, because hurting your own children — even when it’s not your fault —is the worst feeling ever. But as I healed and became a better me, a more present me, I knew it was the best thing for them. And they love the time they spend with their dad. I can’t speak for him, but I think he’s also able to be more present with them when they’re with him now.

I quit drinking coffee too. Not recommended. Unless you have insomnia and anxiety, in which case, highly recommended!

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?


I think my resolution was probably to write more, in which case, nope. I haven’t blogged much and I almost finished revising my manuscript in the early fall and then dropped it yet again. This time I’m much closer to being done though, so maybe I will get the damn thing finished this year so I can do something with it other than agonize about how much I hate writing a book.



This year I just want to keep being the best me I can be. And that sounds like a nursery rhyme but I mean it. Basic health stuff, you know? Checking in with myself emotionally. Working out with a little bit of frequency. Eating better than I do right now would be nice. Continuing to go to bed at a decent time will keep helping. Dating dudes would also be a plus. I miss me some dudes.

And maybe I should recognize that while I’m not writing fiction or attending to my blog, I am researching and writing dozens of articles a month and supporting my family doing so. Which is a thing.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

One of my dear college friends had a baby this fall and I got to hold him yesterday. Man, babies. They’re cute.

4. Did anyone close to you die?


5. What countries did you visit?

I didn’t visit any countries, but I did visit NYC. Which is like visiting a lot of countries.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?

A social life. Considering I got a nervous tummy flutter just typing that, it’s definitely time that I worked on filing down that jagged edge of social anxiety.

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

April was a suckfest of having my wisdom teeth out and getting the divorce finalized.
September was a suckfest of getting the flu and that ulcer thing.

December was glorious with super fun family travel and an exceptionally nice Christmas.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

My biggest achievement was moving out of surviving mode into living mode. I think anyone who has gone through a traumatic life event can relate to this. At some point I stopped measuring my success. I stopped counting how many hours I’d gone without crying. I stopped counting how many days I’d gone without having a panic attack.

I started enjoying my days and the tidal rhythm of life.

Considering where I started, this is a huge achievement and I’m really happy to be where I am right now.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Screw this question. I FAIL AT NOTHING.

I did go visit friends while accidentally wearing two different shoes yesterday though. Which wasn’t so much failing as just being me.


10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I had a pretty iffy year, health-wise, though nothing was super devastating. I had a couple of sinus infections, strep throat, my wisdom teeth out, my ovarian cysts acted up (and are currently back, sigh) and I had that whole fun times endoscopy and ER visits on top of the flu. I feel good right now though, despite the ovary pain, and I hope that being more physically fit and less ultra stressed out will help me continue to be healthier in 2014.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

In the spring, we adopted Loki, a six-month-old terrier mix. I think he’s a Jack-a-poo (Jack Russel Poodle mix.) Ollie is so happy to have a little brother and they play together so well. I love seeing them run crazy circles around the big back yard. They cuddle together on their bed and major cuteness makes up for the fact that Loki is a major barkmonster.


I also got a memory foam mattress topper in the fall. Holy shit, you guys. It improved my neck pain and sleep so much. Every single time I get into bed I’m like THIS IS THE BEST BED EVER. It’s so great.


12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

My kids have adapted so well to their new lifestyle. I’m just so proud of them both. Single parenting is challenging, but their companionship this year has enriched my life in ways I couldn’t imagine. They’re such cool dudes and they’ve really rolled with everything our lives have thrown at them.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

This is such a loaded question. I try not to let other people’s behavior depress me if I can manage that. Meh.

Almost everyone on House Hunters is appalling.

A few choice menfolks on have been appalling as well. I’m looking at you, 23-year-old dude who told me he was into “mature women.”


14. Where did most of your money go?

Rent, utilities, health insurance. (COBRA is not my best friend.)

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

  • Bulleted lists.
  • Obamacare.
  • Yardwork.
  • Organizing my garage and tools.
  • Sex.
  • Spray paint.
  • Crafting.
  • Going to NYC with my oldest son and my best friend.
  • Seeing Pink with my mom.
  • My best friend moving next door. Like, directly next door.
  • Twitter pals.
  • Riding SheiKra at Busch Gardens.
  • My mattress topper.
  • Nail polish. (I stopped biting my nails! Mostly!)
  • Makeup.
  • Hockey hockey hockey.

16. What song will always remind you of 2012?

Roar, by Katy Perry. Shhh.


17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

  • happier or sadder? Happier
  • thinner or fatter? The same? I guess, but my pants are saggy cause Barre3 actually did reshape my “seat” apparently.
  • richer or poorer? Poorer

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

[Edited to add: Reading.]

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Worrying. But I think I’m getting better at this, in baby steps.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

I spent Christmas with my parents and siblings and kids and cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents. I’m not religious and I don’t drop the B word often but I am truly so blessed to have the family that I have and the opportunity to raise my kids with so much help.

21. Did you fall in love in 2012?


22. What was your favorite TV program?

I got rid of cable this fall, so I’ve been watching way less TV. But I enjoy American Horror Story: Coven, Game of Thrones, Top Chef and Teen Wolf. I also watched approximately 340 episodes of House Hunters. I find it so soothing and hilarious.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

Nope. I teach my children that hate is a bad word and I really try not to cultivate anything that even feels close to hate, because dude.


24. What was the best book you read?

I am really embarrassed at how little I’ve read this year. I can’t even think of something I’d list as the best book I’ve read this year. Maybe I should hastily add a New Year’s Resolution or two.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

I don’t think I really had any big musical discoveries in 2013, but I really enjoyed seeing Fitz and the Tantrums and Two Door Cinema Club at the Coastline Music Festival.

26. What did you want and get?

Some grownup fun times. As brief as that stint was, it was, uh, restorative.


27. What did you want and not get?

Financial stability — which isn’t really something you get when you’re a full time freelancer. That being said, being enrolled under the Affordable Care Act will really help me keep my family’s finances and health costs more predictable. I’m insanely grateful for the opportunity to get affordable, comprehensive health care.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

I hardly ever go to the movies. I feel like there must have been some things I liked but nothing is coming to mind. I recently liked The Hobbit and Frozen.

I’m a little concerned that I can’t think of any other movies I saw this year.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 33 and I can’t remember what I did, so I assume it was nothing.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

This is another goofy question. You could answer it with anything. An endless supply of pear Jelly Bellies! A portal to travel through space and time! Nine billion dollars! Nothing reasonable would make life immeasurably more satisfying.

And the things you think you want aren’t without complications of their own.

I’m satisfied with my life right now.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?

Same old jeans and tank tops for the most part. But I’ve been wearing makeup more often and I do my hair once in a while. I’m so happy it’s finally long. Please no one ever let me cut it all off again.

32. What kept you sane?

  • My mom.
  • My friends.
  • Snacks.
  • My therapist.
  • Getting things in the mail.
  • Texting and instant messaging with my lady friends.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Jeez probably still Dylan O’Brien. Tom Hiddleston is a close second though.


34. What political issue stirred you the most?

Gay marriage, women’s reproductive rights.

35. Who did you miss?

I don’t miss the individual I was married to, but there are many times that I miss the life I thought I’d be leading.


When my kids come home from school with cute drawings or behavior notes, I want to turn to my co-parent and share the ups and downs of the children we made. That kind of stuff.

I miss the casual intimacy of love and the comfort of companionship. But I’ve missed those things for so long that it’s not a stabbing ache as much as a reminder that love is not impossible and the future is very unknown.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

They aren’t new people but I’m incredibly grateful for the team of women I work with. My editors are brilliant and compassionate and I wish I could teleport to meet them and work alongside them. I love the freedom of my freelance schedule but I miss a good old-fashioned in-person brainstorm or a long lunch on a Friday.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.

Having jumper cables is not the same as knowing how jumper cables work.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

It’s a little heavy-handed on paper, but I love the Lumineer’s lyric, “It’s better to feel pain than nothing it at all.”

My year hasn’t been summed up by pain, not by any means. But I’m an emotional woman. I overreact, I fly off the handle. I could list a lot of negative things about the way I feel my feelings, but I won’t. Because I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t experience things at eleven and a half. And I’m glad I’m me.

us boys moose chipmunk

State of the me

Every time I think about blogging I get this choked up feeling in my belly, like my bowels are cartoonishly crumpling together. Do you know what I mean? Like when cartoon cars smash and adorably fold together? It’s like that but less adorable. Why am I talking about my bowels. Aren’t you glad I updated my blog?

But seriously, blogging, like fiction, has become this looming cloud of FAIL hovering at the edge of my perception. I resent writing because it feels like work and then I childishly ignore it because I can, and I can’t ignore my actual work. Which, by the way, is going well. I can’t say that I’m in a financially rad position but I’ve now made it an entire year supporting myself by writing and that feels good. Sort of the way going down a slide feels good. Hopefully I won’t hit the water awkwardly with water up my nose and my top flying off.

I could bullet point some pretty compelling excuses for not blogging, but the truth is I could find ten minutes here and there. I just haven’t been feeling it. Except lately, every once in a while, I’ve had thoughts that have managed to escape the dark cloud of fail/bowels/etc. Maybe I’ll be able to start making words here again.

Because the thing is, I have stuff to talk about. Like Chipmunk (7) being back in social skills therapy and Moose (5) being totally different at his age than his brother was and thus throwing me for a giant loop. I’d like to talk about how I’ve been working out maybe 5 times a week or so and how it’s completely changed my health/stress/anxiety levels. I want to tell you about quitting coffee and the tremendous benefit it’s had on my sleep issues and, again, my anxiety. (Did I tell you how I got the flu the first week of September and ended up in the hospital twice with an esophageal ulcer from taking Advil for the flu? I can’t remember if I did but boy howdy was that a trip and a half and I am happy every day to not be that sick because it was THE WORST.)

I still want to talk about my kids all day and how they make me feel explodey. Sometimes it’s explodey with rage but often it’s explodey with love. They’re good dudes. Except at Joann Fabrics. Then they’re not good dudes and you want to leave them at Joann Fabrics.

When I get my words back under my fingers again, I’ll write about entering my second year of single motherhood and singleness and how sometimes it feels like the time flew by and sometimes it feels… like shit. I won’t talk about the times when I’m driving on some random errand and I’m crushed with anger and grief, because I’d rather talk about the everyday triumphs of being a person who is stronger and significantly less broken.

Can I tell you about the dude I dated for six weeks who abruptly dumped me over lunch because he “met someone” and how hard it is, sometimes, to swallow back a knee-jerk resentment toward the entire population lady-someones who are younger or not moms or whatever. But I refuse to be that way. Nope.

Right now my life is a lot of silly home improvements, like re-organizing my garage and adding a Craigslist work bench. It’s painting over paintings I got when I bought my first house with my ex-husband. It’s collecting makeup but not wearing it all that often but feeling sassy and pretty when I do. It’s being super glad I bought that Hitachi Magic Wand a few years back. It’s stopping biting my nails long enough that maybe this time it’s for good. It’s cooking again and keeping my house clean. It’s finally feeling competent at my job. It’s stressing about money. It’s selfies. It’s looking forward to time to myself but then looking forward to seeing my kids again even more. It’s touching my toes when I never, ever could.

I’m like a goddamned Alanis Morissette song and I do not give a single baked crap if I’m a divorced lady cliché — I am primarily happy and that’s far more happiness than I’ve been able to lay claim to for a long, long time.


this is a post about balls

I’m not in an awesome head space.

I told my therapist that this entire experience (divorce grief?) feels like a marathon, and I guess I’ve settled into a quiet, down part of it. She told me I seemed sadder than I’ve been and for the first time since I started seeing her, I almost broke down completely. I couldn’t quite choke out the words, “I’m just so tired.” (Thank you for noticing, I meant, thank you, you’re right. I’m sad, and I feel like I’m not supposed to admit that, or that if I do it’ll just open the floodgates and I’ll lose my tenuous ability to keep carrying on.)

Yesterday I had my second appointment with the ABA therapist to try to get to a place where I can manage my bigger kid’s ultra-defiant, violent behavior. It is unbelievably hard (and a little humiliating) to step back and look at the way you parent. I know there have been outside circumstances affecting my availability and our routine, but I see all these corners I’ve cut and ways I haven’t been there for him, and I really feel like I’ve failed him when it comes to providing the structure and discipline he needs. She asked if we have a chore chart or reward chart and I said no, but I’ve been meaning to do that. For ten months.

She talks about getting to a place where we’re anticipating his problem behavior and preventing it, instead of constantly reacting. I get that, but I also want to scream, because it’s one more ball to juggle. It’s also the kind of not-warm-and-fuzzy parenting you don’t think about when you’re folding onesies and reading breastfeeding tips.

I have my kids all but four days/nights a month. I’m the sole provider. I work from home doing a job that I frequently have to defend to people who think I’m a professional mommy blogger (um, no) or that I just screw around on the Internet for funsies (I do, but I don’t get paid for that part). Even my four-year-old told me last weekend that I don’t actually have a real job.

I’m the sole housekeeper and the vast majority of the time I’m the sole parent.

The fact is, I’m always dropping a ball. Work through the early evening to hit a deadline? Neglecting the kids. Spend the morning trying to straighten up the house? Moving a deadline. Stop everything else and play with the kids? Neglecting work and house.

I know it’s not that black and white, and that I can always be better about managing my time, but I’m stretched so thin and no matter what I accomplish I feel like it’s at the expense of something else. So it doesn’t matter how “good” I am at one thing. I can never do enough, never do it well enough.

“And I’m not even a ball,” I told my therapist yesterday. My ball’s over in the corner gathering metaphors and impulsive makeup purchases for some nebulous upside to being single I thought there’d be when I was still in shock and looking for a brighter side than getting the whole bed to myself.

I need someone to tell me helpful things about getting rid of ovarian cysts

reproductiveSo I had surgery back in September of 2011 for a 5+cm ovarian cyst on my right ovarian thanks to it being symptomatic and growing. Since then I’ve had one more smaller cyst that slowly inflated on its own, early in 2012. I’ve been in pain and uncomfortable for a few weeks and figured it was nothing, since my gyno didn’t feel anything at my annual only like 10 days ago, but apparently it’s SOMETHING since my radiology report finally got to my primary doc (long story) and I have a 3.5 cyst on the right AND a 2.5 cyst on the left. (It doesn’t seem like a lot of cyst until you add them together.) I’m assuming they’re simple cysts but the radiologist didn’t put that on the report. So.

My surgeon/gyno can’t see me until Wednesday. I’m hoping the u/s tech there will be able to take a look and tell me a little more about the placement and whether the big one is leaking, which could be a source of the pain. Earlier on, I was told the next step would be to remove the offending (right) ovary. But now that there’s a not insignificant cyst on BOTH, I don’t even know. My treatment for the past two years, including the past 9 months that I haven’t needed birth control, has been birth control (mononessa). You’re not supposed to get these things on birth control. You’re far less likely to get them if you’ve had babies or breastfed. So I’m kind of at the end of my rope here.

My symptoms at the moment are pain (on the right), bloating, feeling of fullness, difficulty going to the bathroom, having to pee all the time, mild nausea and really sore boobs. Basically my stupid body thinks I’m early pregnant at this point, so it’s a lot of those fun symptoms. Whee!

I can’t begin to explain how disappointed and frustrated I am. My surgery wasn’t horrible in 2011 but it was pretty bad. I react to anesthesia and pain meds in an enormously pukey way. I really don’t want to do it again, especially knowing it’s a temporary fix. Oh and the last one cost me $5,000. Out of pocket.

I’m going to make an acupuncture appointment next week. Beyond that, I’d love to know any success stories about getting rid of ovarian cysts or how yours magically went away or anything that’ll keep me from completely losing my mind.