The Gathered Home _

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

I Am Not A Fearless DIYer

There. I said it.

I am not a fearless DIYer.

They say confession is good for the soul, so here it goes: I am a slow, cautious and overly fearful DIYer. I get bogged down in the details of a project and paralyzed in problem-solving. I’m intimidated by new tools and techniques. Sometimes I just wish I could turn it all over to someone else because I’m completely overwhelmed.

Sometimes I feel like the worst DIY blogger ever because aren’t we all supposed to be endlessly inspired, driven, skillful and confident?

You guys, I follow some seriously impressive and talented DIYers. Sandra from Sawdust Girl can build just about anything and the results are incredible. Kristi from Addicted2Decorating is tackling her whole house renovations from drywall to tiling to installing kitchen cabinets, doing the majority of the work by herself. Cassity from Remodelaholic has completed multiple house remodels with no sign of slowing down. Mandi from Vintage Revivals is one of my long-standing blogging heroes and the epitome of fearless DIYing.

Gosh, I look up to these ladies and sit in awe of their skill and creativity. I wonder if they’ve ever completely come undone over hopelessly stripped screws or say, a broken ladder? Or put off starting a project for days and days and days because some portion of the plan was a bit scary? Maybe, maybe not.

My point is that there are these fantastic and brilliant DIYers out there and at times I get so frustrated at my own inexperience and anxieties. But I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle”. I tend to dislike pithy little sayings like that until something clicks in my life and it fits perfectly and I’m like: “Oh. I get it now.”

Don't Compare

I’m kind of a tenderfoot DIYer, learning as I go. I just bought my first hand-saw last week. I own a drill and an electric sander, and that’s about the extent of my current power tool collection. This is our first house and my first time stretching my own little DIY wings. This is my beginning.

At the same time, I’m thinking back over the last several years and some of the skills I’ve acquired and that feels very empowering. A few years ago, I had no idea how to install a light fixture myself. A few years ago I had never scraped popcorn ceilings and turned them into smooth, bright surfaces. A few years ago I had never stripped wallpaper, or cut copper pipe, or painted upholstery. And I was nervous and anxious about starting each one of those projects. But I was able to learn (and make mistakes) while doing them and accomplish my goals.

So I just wanted to level with you today: This where I am. I have really big, wild ideas and sometimes I lack the experience needed to execute them. I’m on a journey to acquire those skills. Sometimes those skills scare the crap out of me. Maybe you’ve felt that way too?

I thought I’d share a few things I do when I’m feeling particularly un-fearless about starting a project or trying something new.

#1: Hit The Books

Like Hermione Granger, whom I uncannily resembled as a child, my first step is research.  I frequently spend several hours online reading product reviews, tutorials or checking out YouTube videos on techniques before jumping into a new project. I like to have a plan formulated first, before I ever pick up a tool or run out to the store for supplies. If I’m feeling nervous about something new, I boost my confidence by becoming an internet expert on it.
Sometimes I’m still not feeling completely confident after exhausting my online research capabilities…

#2: Phone A Friend

For me, this friend is frequently my dad. He seems to know how to do just about everything when it comes to making things and fixing things! Sometimes I just feel better if he’s run through something with me over the phone, and sometimes he’s awesome enough to take a little trip over here and help me out or I take my project to him (like when I needed his input and garage full of power tools for these agate and copper sconces). Other times, the friend is another blogger with more experience in the subject who is kind enough to answer a few questions or make some recommendations.
Hit a speed bump in the middle of a project? Phone a friend for advice or even just plain commiseration. Having that support network in place definitely helps ease my anxiety about potential problems.

#3: Get Your Feet Wet

Just start. I can easily let myself become paralyzed by perfectionism and preparation and sometimes I just have to actually begin the project. Dip my toes into whatever the project is so it becomes easier to dive in. Since even the best-laid plans can flop unexpectedly, sometimes you just need to go for it, get the ball rolling and then deal with obstacles as they arise. Run into trouble? Repeat tips 1 and 2, but then ultimately get right back into DIYing. Complete a small step and let that confidence propel you towards your next goal.

If you’ve ever sat at the beginning of a new project and felt completely overwhelmed too, I hope this post helps you! I spent a lot of time chatting about my fears in DIYing, and yet… I keep on DIYing! There’s just something so rewarding about conquering difficulties and seeing something come to life under your own two hands! The joy of a job well done, the satisfaction of hurdles cleared, the achievement of the fruits of our labors – this is why we DIY.

I wish you courage and success in your creative endeavors!

Much love,

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Thrift Score Thursday 48–TST’s One Year Birthday!

I find this incredibly hard to believe. Like as hard to believe as the conversation I had with Bryan last night where he told me that there are extremely smart people who believe that computers will take over the world by as early as 2035…

That’s how hard I find it to believe that our little hashtag party has been running for an entire year now!

Happy first birthday, Thrift Score Thursday! I forgot to get you a smash cake, or in fact any presents, however, my awesome cohosts and I did collaborate to put together a fun little giveaway for our awesome #thriftscorethursday participants…

thrift score thursday giveaway

We love and appreciate our incredible community of fellow thrift-lovers and we wanted to say thank-you for everything you’ve done to help us grow #thriftscorethursday over the past year! We’ll be giving away $50 PayPal cash to one lucky thrifter on Instagram – and you all know what incredible treasures that can buy in a thrifter’s world!

Here are the details (otherwise known as the official giveaway rules):
  • Simply share a thrift find* using #thriftscorethursday on Instagram between 1/22 and 2/4 and you will be entered to win!
    *Remember: you can share any thrifty finds with us any day of the week – whether they hail from a thrift store, Craigslist, estate sale, garage sale, side of the road, or apartment dumpster! The fun, the funny, the awesome, the odd - this hashtag party is open to all!
  • You can earn an optional second entry by tagging a friend in your post and challenging THEM to share their own #thriftscorethursday find!
  • The prize is $50 PayPal cash. The winner will be selected at random and announced 2/5.
  • This giveaway is open to US residents 18 and older. (We love you too, non-US thrifters, but laws governing giveaways are complicated!)
  • This giveaway is not sponsored by or affiliated with Instagram or PayPal.
So get to sharing!

Here to help us celebrate, our guest host this week is Ashley from Bigger Than The Three of Us! Check out her gorgeous dining room and see if you can spot the thrift scores!

TST Guest Host Ashley

This week’s Features:

Kristin from The Best From Our Nest (Instagram: thebestfromournest) shared this adorable piece of art in her son’s nursery – she made a monogram wall plaque out of these vintage laundry bag pins she found in an antique store.

thriftscorethursday thebestfromournest vintage laundry bag pins

I bet you could have guess I would go crazy for the brass bunnies Jo (Instagram: simplepleasuresvintage) spotted on her local online yard sale group. Are you part of any in your area? Try searching Facebook for “online garage sale” or “online yard sale” + your town name – you can find some really neat things!

thriftscorethursday simplepleasuresvintage brass bunnies

Tanya from Dans Le Lakehouse (Instagram: danslelakehouse) posted her absolutely stunning and drool-worthy collection of vintage Iitala glass candlesticks. Read more about her collection here on her blog.

thriftscorethursday danslelakehouse iitala glass candlesticks

My Find:

The rules are that if you spot a box marked “Pottery Barn” at the thrift store, you have to look inside. (Hey, I don’t make the rules… Oh wait, I do.)

Inside, I found a little Christmas lights ball – the kind you would hang from a tree branch or from your porch. I thought it was cute but I couldn’t think of the perfect purpose for it. A sweet fellow thrifter saw me contemplating it and mentioned that there were several more the next aisle down. Cue me opening more boxes and finding this “big daddy” version – like 10” diameter big and super sparkly. I just couldn’t resist!

thriftscorethursday pottery barn christmas light ball

Sadly, I had to leave behind the other two smaller versions (you know, financial responsibility and all that). But I have huge plans for this one. I want to hang it in our guest bedroom (which I have never showed you here on the blog because it is completely undecorated) – I think it will make the sweetest reading light over the bed!

thriftscorethursday pottery barn christmas light ball2

thriftscorethursday pottery barn christmas light ball3

Okay – are you ready? Hop onto Instagram and share your awesome finds! Wishing you all the best of luck in the giveaway!

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Be sure to stop by and check out the finds and features from Trisha, Cassie, Corinna & Ashley!

Thrift Score Thursday Trisha color

Thrift Score Thursday Cassie

Thrift Score Thursday Corinna

TST Guest Host Ashley

P.S. If you’re a blogger who loves thrifty finds too, we’d love to have you guest host a week of Thrift Score Thursday with us! Just send me a message!

Thrift Score Thursday Guest Host Call

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

How To Fix A Ladder That Your Cat Broke

Subtitle: Knowing is half 99% of the battle.

Does that title seem oddly specific? I’m fairly certain you could fix your ladder in this same way even if it wasn’t broken by your mischievous feline, but, ever helpful, I want to be sure to show up in search engines for cat owners with broken ladders who are googling desperately as I was the other day.

multi position ladder2

I set this ladder up to snap a quick shot for this post and sure enough, Tiny Tina came back to the scene of the crime!

As you may remember, I’m currently tackling my entry and stairwaypainting the railing and the walls, for starters. I knew that I would need a multi-position ladder to handle painting the walls going up the stairs, so I was thrilled to be able to borrow one from my dad. (This one*)

*denotes affiliate link – you know, if you feel like impulse-buying a ladder from your couch, I’ll receive a tiny percentage of the sale to help keep this blog running.

Step 1. Leave ladder in irresponsible place.
I brought it home, propped it up, sat down to eat dinner and promptly forgot about the ladder...

Step 2. Possess kitty with a penchant for investigating new acquisitions.
Unless you’re ready to run right out and adopt a new cat after bringing home the ladder, technically this is step one. But if you already have the inquisitive cat on hand, jump ahead to step 3.

tiny tina angel

Who her? A total angel. Never sends things hurtling to the ground just to hear them smash.

While we were eating, there came the mother-crash of all crashes from behind us that caused us to jump in our seats and one of us to shriek (I’m not going to tell you which one, but she may or may not be writing this blog post) in shock.

Step 3. Inspect broken ladder. Panic attack. Be relieved your cat is fine.

I mean, I guess a panic attack is optional. (If you’re the type of person who can borrow a two hundred dollar ladder and not freak out just a little when you think your cat has completely destroyed it.) The ladder’s crash to ground caused the spring-loaded “palm button hinge lock” to go flying, sprinkling various little parts throughout the room that need to be a) found and b) reattached. I’m pretty sure my hyperventilating was overkill though… I’ll work on that.

multi position ladder3

Step 4. Try your darnedest to reassemble the hinge lock mechanism and brainstorm ways to reattach the “piece from hell”.

This little hard metal ring piece with holes on each end that needs to somehow snap over the larger metal piece and into a special groove to hold everything together*:

*note: there IS a special name for this piece and it will be revealed in due time…

snap ring piece from hell

We tried everything. One person holding down the spring-loaded palm button while the other wrangled the piece from hell. Using two pairs of pliers. Using wires looped through the holes. Using a screwdriver to push it down. Using all our strength and combined brain power to no avail. It was late. We went to bed defeated. We tried the same tactics again in the morning.

Step 5. Google.

You guys, I’m so embarrassed at how far down the list this is. Only after being completely stumped and frustrated for HOURS with that stupid little metal ring did it occur to me to search the internet. So I decided to see if I could find out anything about repairing this part of the ladder, without exactly knowing what part it was. Thankfully, I was able to find a source for this ladder’s replacement parts online that contained a helpful little graphic explaining how to install the “palm button hinge lock” and the mention of the one helpful tool that would eliminate all frustrationsnap ring pliers*.

So. For future generations and for all cat owners everywhere who also happen to own multi-position ladders…

That piece from hell? Is called a snap ring.

And these are what you need to get it back into place in approximately 10 seconds flat:

snap ring pliers

So in summary, this tutorial should really read as follows:

Use Google, buy pliers, fix ladder, drink beer*.

(*But don’t use ladders while drinking beer. Please note that this method worked for me, but I can’t guarantee that it will work for you. Ladders are scary. Proceed with caution. Also, public safety announcement: please keep ladders out of the reach of pets and children. Basically, note that this post is tongue in cheek and act accordingly.)

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Hi, I'm Brynne! Welcome to my little home on the world wide web in celebration of finding and making!

I'm an admitted Craigslist addict, cheapskate, and dyed-in-the-wool DIYer with a weakness for anything brass and a penchant for hyperbole. Read more...