Category Archives: Projects

DIY open shelving

There won’t be many words here, I just want to show off a project Jason finished for me a few days ago.

It all began back in June when we were the recipients of some free wood, which was originally used for fencing.  I saw something on Pinterest a few months ago I thought we could use it for.

For dramatic effect, I’ll post the pictures in chronological order so you see the finished piece at the end.

Here’s the blank wall.  We don’t have a lot of upper cabinets so this spot was a prime space to add more storage but I wanted open shelving to keep it feeling less cluttered.

Here’s the wall in relation to the rest of the kitchen.  Please avoid looking at the total mess. But of course now you are looking at it because I just pointed it out.

Jason at work.  I served as aesthetic director, cheerleader, and also did photographic documentation.


I really love the look of the wood.  All Jason did was sand it, no stain was applied.  It’s definitely got a rustic feel, but that’s what we were going for.

Total I think the shelves cost about $7 –Jason bought a little bit of hardware, but the majority of the cost was buying drywall anchors (Jason says the technical term is “strap toggles”), since the shelves are not attached to any studs in the wall.

Jason says the project was easier than he thought it was going to be.  We really just looked to the photos posted on Keeping It Cozy for direction and adjusted our measurements to fit our space and my preference.

There’s still lots more wood left and Jason just picked some more up off the side of the road today.  We’ll see what we come up with next!








Our cool DIY hexagonal light

Jason and I are back to working on the house.  The intensity of the fourth trimester has let up, the weather is warm and nice, our yard is blooming and we are checking things off our house list (and, I might add, are quite pleased with ourselves).

I was going to wait to devote one post to display all of our work, but I am really excited about a DIY project we worked on and completed this weekend.

May I present to you my new hall light.  Or chandelier.  Or nautical-inspired glass dome of bursting, hexagonal light.  Or whatever you want to call it.

It’s pretty cool, I think.  Here’s what it looks like close up.

I had no idea that it would look so cool lit up, I was excited just by the idea and finished product hanging there in the daylight.

The lamp itself was a find from Goodwill for $6 and originally served as an exterior light over a front door.  It came with a chain link strand, which I knew right away I was going to get rid of to snazz it up a bit (this is where husband comes into the picture).

Jason confirmed to me that the idea I had in mind was probably do-able, so we brought it home and he started thinking about how to make it all happen.  We needed to put together some sort of set-up to put the electrical wire through that I could also fix the rope to.

Here’s what Jason came up with . . .

First, he bought PVC pipe and cut it to our desired length.  Then he drilled holes through at the top and bottom. He used stainless steel eye straps which he bent and put into the pipe, threaded with screws.

Hopefully the pictures below will help make sense of that description.

The top of the pipe, side view.

More of the top attachment.

The bottom of the pipe, where it attaches to the light.

Threading the wires through.

At this point we started messing with the rope we bought, trying to figure out how we (I) wanted it to look wrapped around the PVC pipe.  It ended up looking too fat attached to the lamp.  Jason was annoyed and my dreams of a fun, happy fight-free DIY couples project started to fizzle.

Apparently he felt stronger about the aesthetics of this project than I had realized (this is typically unheard of).  He really liked the particular type of rope we bought (as did I) and he didn’t want to use something thinner, which I thought would look better.  Eventually I went back to Home Depot and found smaller copper pipe to replace the PVC.  This way we could keep the rope.

Once Jason had drilled and configured the new copper pipe, put the wire through and added the existing top and bottom hardware, we hot-glued the rope to the pipe.  The only hard thing was, as I mentioned, figuring out how we wanted the rope to look.  Thankfully, we were in agreement about this, so the gluing process was easy.

Then Jason slapped some ceiling paint on to cover up the gross brown spot that the old light left, and did whatever electrical stuff needed to be done to hang the light and make it shine.  And then, voila!

We finished the project at about 11pm, but it even shoots out those rays in the daytime, too.  Usually I am fastidious about turning off lights when we’re not using them, but I like to leave this one on for the wow factor.

For the sake of me showing off one more time, here’s a before and after.

Our lamp, at the steep price of probably about $25 total.

My obsession with lighting continues.  I’ve decided to sell the chandelier that hangs in our stairwell and probably the ceiling fan/light in our bedroom and come up with some lighting we can make ourselves.  If it works out and isn’t ugly,  I will be sure to share the results.

Yard work

And work it has been!  It’s been over a month and we’re still plugging away on our garden and yard.  The hope is that it will be 1) fruitful and 2) presentable for those times–hopefully they won’t be few and far between this summer!–when we’ll get out there and play and relax in the sun.

At the beginning of the month we worked at getting the soil in our garden ready in order to plant seeds.  We still don’t feel like we know what we’re doing, but we thought mixing several bags of compost and some lime into the soil, along with our ground cover, would yield us more success this year.

Seeing as how trying to maintain a garden with a 2-year-old and a newborn is ambitious enough for me, we stuck to carrots, arugula, and a mixture of lettuces to grow from seed.  Our neighbor said he’d give us some of the tomato starts he’s been growing inside and I also plan to grow some cilantro from seed in June.

I’ve been directing the garden endeavor, but Jason has been doing the hard work involved, buying the supplies and getting his hands dirty and his back sore.  He has done a great job and continues to go out there every few weeks and plant more seeds.

Because this work isn’t nearly enough for this manly yard man, Jason took on his own project–the raspberry starts he planted along the back fence.  He insists that they MUST get enough sunlight.

He’s totally right.  They won’t produce very much fruit if they don’t.  But I didn’t realize this would involve going ape on any tree or significantly sized bush in our yard (or out, for that matter).

First he said he wanted to cut back some of the branches from the birch nearby.  Again, I did not realize what this would involve–corralling as many sawing instruments as he could from both of our bordering neighbors, getting out his climbing gear, procuring a spotter (Ben), getting up in the tree, and hacking about half of it off.

After that he went to town on the laurel bush that hangs out of the back of our neighbor’s yard across the alley and the shrubs that create a big fence on the right side of the yard (the latter didn’t have anything to do with the raspberries, but it did need trimming).

In the end, the result was (in order of importance):

  1. Jason had subdued the earth
  2. The neighbor kids thought he was the coolest guy ever for wielding sharp, sawing objects while straddling a tree branch 20 feet in the air
  3. The raspberries will now get sunlight

All of this subduing has occurred incrementally.  For a while it seemed whenever Jason had a spare moment he was out there cutting something down.  Ian loved it because it meant he could go out, too.  He would head straight to the neighbors to play with their kids.  They have way cooler yard than we do and it’s filled with toys.

All Jason’s hard work has produced a huge pile of branches and leaves which sits in the middle of our yard–as if it didn’t look trashy enough.  On the bright side, it covers up the big bald spot of dirt and weeds where we can’t get grass to grow (equally, if not more, trashy).

Now that the hacking has ended, Jason has been out there diligently cutting the branches into manageable pieces and getting all the debris into our neighbor’s yard waste bin, which picks up every Monday.  Ian even gets to help by using one of the clipper thingies to cut up small branches.

The pile is slowly getting smaller and Jason is proud of the fact that he didn’t have to pay anyone to take it.  I imagine in the next month it will be all gone and we’ll be back to figuring out what to do with that bald spot (probably nothing).

In not nearly as riveting news, I hope to do my own subduing soon by weeding my potted herbs, which are currently being choked.  This won’t involve a chainsaw, at least I hope.  I also want to do some simple potted flower arrangements for the deck and front step.  And I want to keep our tomato plants alive and producing by the end of the summer.  I guess that could be another drama in and of itself!

We’re also working on making the yard more friendly for Ian so that when Baby Sister comes along it’s a good place for us to retreat so he can get exercise and have fun without us gearing up and heading to the park.  On May 14th West Seattle is having their community garage sale day and I’m hoping we’ll find some climbing equipment, a basketball hoop and other goodies to keep him occupied.

This report doesn’t even get to the mowing, weeding, or raking or even the front yard.  Oh well, they will eventually happen . . . probably in a flurry of militaristic nesting activity come mid-June (directed by none other than moi).

A miniature dream

I love dollhouses.  When I was a kid I had quite a few of them.  I believe my first one was a Fisher Price or Playskool when I was very little.  Then there was the Barbie Glamour Home and the Playmobil Victorian Mansion.  And there were, of course, the numerous customized Lego houses I built.

You can imagine I’m thinking about these again because we’re having a little girl.  Yes, you are right.  And I *think* Mother T has packed these precious relics away for safekeeping until the day we can pass them along to Little Girl Haggard.

Beyond these beauties, there is one other dollhouse.  I’ve had it in my personal possession the last few years.  And it is the one I hold dearest to my heart. There is a story to it, of course.

When I was around eight or nine we used to make routine trips to a place called Frank’s Nursery & Crafts.  I loved going there.  Mom would look for flowers and I  meandered the aisles looking at art supplies.

The best spot in the entire store was the aisle that had wooden dollhouses displayed on the very top row.  They were build-it-yourself kits, and let me tell you, they were not for the faint-of-dollhouse-heart.

They were all intricate, with ornate details and individual cedar shingles.  And these were the unpainted, un-dazzled-up, empty versions.  Looking up at them, I would imagine what a completed, furnished version of each one of them might look like.

I don’t know how long it was before I convinced my parents to buy one for me.  They were not cheap.  And I would need Dad to work with me on it.   I remember how huge the box was when we brought it home.  Yes, this would be quite a bit of work.

Our house in Minnesota had a detached two-story garage and the upstairs included a shop/storage area.  This is where we began the project.  I remember sitting there impatiently watching Dad glue the base together, put down each small piece of wood for the flooring, and then stain it a deep, dark color. I’m pretty sure we got in an argument that time because I wanted to help more and he was intent on getting it perfect.

We didn’t get much farther than the base and the main walls before I lost interest and it got lost in the mix of life.  All the pieces still sat there on the shop table and when I would go upstairs in the garage to play, I would remember and feel overwhelmed by the task and discouraged that we hadn’t finished it.

It was probably two years later when I got up the gumption and decided we were going to finish it. I guess those two extra years were what I needed. It felt like this time around I could figure out more of the directions and complete the steps myself or with some extra instruction from Dad.

It was only a matter of a few months and the house was almost done.  I moved it to our basement and that’s where I glued on each individual shingle and painted it.

Here is the finished product.  I will say, it’s almost 20 years old and has moved from Minnesota to Idaho to Seattle and is still in pretty darn good shape.

[Bring back any memories, Dad? And because of your hard work, the hardwood floors look amazing to this day! ]

You can tell the exterior needs some love.  Railings are broken, window panes are gone, and I’d like to repaint it.

You don’t even know how excited I am to give it all the love it needs.  Yes, this is the project I’m undertaking for Little Girl Haggard and really, for myself.  Even just pulling it out has brought back a lot of memories of what it was like to be a girl and to like girl things.

When I unveiled it for Jason his response was “Wow, it’s big!”  I set up all the furniture inside to show him, but I think I got more enjoyment out of that than he did.

During that process I realized it will be really hard for me to just focus on the exterior.  When I was a kid, though I ended up really enjoying the building, it was also the part I had to get done so I could devote myself to decorating it and making up stories inside of it.  I spent a lot of time collecting the furniture and miniatures (again, not a cheap endeavor for my parents).

And let me tell you, finding dollhouse stores is not easy to do.  This was back before internet shopping and let’s just say there aren’t a whole lot of people out there obsessed enough with dollhouses to try to make a living off of them.  But if there were those people in the early 90s in Spokane and North Idaho I was bound to find them!

But back to the project at hand.  My next steps are to find some photos for inspiration and visit the dollhouse shop that just happens to be minutes from our house.  I have always wanted to go there and now I have a great reason.

In my initial internet search this afternoon I came across a photo of the same dollhouse, which I was so excited to find–in France, of all places (scroll down to last photo). It’s given me some ideas for exterior accroutements that would really change the whole look of the house.  Though we will see, I’m not sure my budget allows so many do-dads.

That is it for now, but I look forward to updating here as the project continues.  And, I will leave you with one little sound bite from my dollhouse unveiling on Saturday night:

Jason: Since you already have this dollhouse, what project will her and I have to do together?

Me: When I was a kid I dreamed of a whole neighborhood of these houses!  If she’s anything like me, you’ll have plenty to do.

Secretly, I hope I get to be involved, too. 🙂