Get your clock for Christmas, and $5 off!

Get your Forest at the Edge official clock ordered soon to ensure delivery by Christmas. Remember to put “Book Reader” in the message section, and I can refund you back $5. That way, the clock will be only $10, and with shipping (about $3.70 in the US) that’s less than $15 for a gift. 

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Also comes in white and red:

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I can customize it, too! Tell me what you want it to say, and I can modify up to three entries, so yours is absolutely unique. (Just get one for yourself; you know you want one.) Order here!

Barn pantry doors, in 85 mistakes (or more!)

I’ve written before why I don’t do a diy blog. Below is more evidence why:

#1 mistake—going on to Pinterest and typing, “Remodel bifold doors,” because for eight years I’ve hated my pantry doors which never closed properly. Pinterest is almost always a mistake, one that I usually try to avoid, but I fell in a moment of weakness.

Fie you, Pinterest! 

This is what inspired me: Builder basic bifold door makeover, into stylish French doors - tutorial from Sawdust2Stitches on Remodelaholic.com

This is not what I ended up with.

#2 mistake—assuming this was going to be different from the rest of my remodeling attempts, that I would need only one trip to the store (it was four), that I’d measure everything correctly for once (nope) and that the project would turn out exactly as I expected (wrong again).

#3–not telling my husband, who lives and works in another state, what I was about to do. (Actually, that was probably a good thing; always easier to get sympathy than a lecture on how it’ll be harder than I expect. And he would have been right, fie him!)

I’ll give you only the highlights of the rest of my mistakes, ones I remembered to document.

#23—losing control of the drill while trying to use mending plates to turn the 20-year-old bifold doors into unfolding doors.

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I’ll give you one guess as to what kind of drill bit I was using.

(Wound’s healing nicely, thank you for asking.)

#35—Transposing the wrong measurement numbers, so that the guy at Home Depot cut my luan boards seven inches shorter than he should have. (Fie him, not knowing I wrote the wrong numbers!) Which meant I had to put in a middle 1×3” (#36) because I had to cut the luan board in half to compensate for the mistake so that it’d cover enough door (#37) . . .

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. . .which also meant I didn’t have enough 1×3’s (#38) so I had to go back to the store for another one because I had to change my original design (#39). (Come to think of it, yes–I DO want barn doors!)

#40—not living closer than ten miles to the nearest good home improvement store.

img_1904#41—Yes, I ALWAYS measure twice and cut once! I don’t know WHY everything ends up shorter than I measured! And yes, I do KNOW the blade eats away at measurements! That’s why I plug in bits of wood to compensate (#42) then have to get wood filler at the store (another trip to the store–#43) to “smooth” it all in.

#56—staining the doors on the kitchen floor. But this isn’t entirely a mistake. I’m hoping that if I destroy this old linoleum sufficiently enough that I can magically afford to replace it. img_1906

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(#57—believing in magical “Laminate Flooring Fairies” who leave gifts during a full moon. The Supermoon came and went, and not one box of flooring was left on my front doorstep. I must admit, I’m beginning to fear that the “Laminate Flooring Installation Fairies” may also be a figment of my very particular imagination. Fie, you fairies!)

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#58 I always hated that towel.

#60—not using gloves on my hands.

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#61—not having any paint remover in the house for my hands. (On the bright side, that Minwax stain is quite wash resistant!)

#63—bracing the doors against the side door that leads to the garbage cans to dry overnight.

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(#64—believing there’s nothing wrong with letting the trash overflow for the night, forgetting there was raw chicken fat in there, creating a lovely smell by morning, especially combined with the scent of oil-based stain.)

#65—buying too small a can of stain and running out during the second coat.

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#78—getting the wrong door handles, and #80—assuming four hinges would be enough because those doors got HEAVY. (Another trip to the hardware store.)

And many more . . .

But the project wasn’t all disaster—nothing really ever is, when you get honest with yourself. While I did run out of stain, I remembered an old quart in the basement. To my relief, it was the same color (I guess I really love Minwax’s Espresso Gloss) that I’d used on computer desks, and there was just enough to touch up the doors.

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Eventually, after two days of work, I finished. The design of the doors wasn’t what I at first intended (it wasn’t going to be this “busy”), but once I got up the doors, I was astonished.

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(Boys, get out of the picture!)

 . . . Because while it was nothing like I had intended, it was still beautiful.

There are still errors I won’t bother to point out, sections to fix and finish, walls to repaint (you can see color tests on the left side), moulding to resolve . . . but all in all, it worked.

In the middle of this project I realized life is pretty much the same way. (Here’s my Forrest Gump moment.) We see something we want, make our plans, then muck it all up in our pursuit—despite our best efforts—and hope to fix it all before anyone sees just how wrong it all went. (But here I am, confessing some of those parts that did go wrong . . .)

We fix, we revise, we rethink, we adjust, and we keep going. 

It’s never going to turn out exactly as we planned, but in the end I hope we will all look back on our lives and think, “Wow–that all turned out better than I expected!”

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Just don’t give up when your hands are filthy, your wounds throb, and everything stinks. It’ll get better, eventually, as long as you don’t give up.

(By the way, that stain is REALLY good—going on day five, and it’s still coating my hands.)

“Well?” Perrin asked as he beamed in pride at his creation.

“I have to admit, it’s not too bad.” Mahrree eyed the massive timbers turned into simple furniture. Apparently the blood of the High Generals had never been tainted by craftsmen with artistic leanings. She wondered if, left to their own devices, the Shin men would have opted for clubs torn off of trees instead of elegant swords with ornate hilts. ~Book 1, The Forest at the Edge of the World

The world hasn’t ended: 6 things I still get to do, even with the election results in.

  • Tomorrow, attend a lecture at the local university given by a Methodist preacher and doctor of divinity from England who researches Temple Theology, because we still have freedom of religion.
  • Teach my sons history as part of our homeschooling, because the home is still sacred and the center of all worthwhile learning.
  • Purchase online some beautiful woodwork from a woman in Ukraine, because we still have commerce with other countries.
  • Drive many miles to meet up with my daughters, see my grandchildren, and even do some shopping, because we still have the infrastructure that supports it.
  • Redo some closet doors that I’ve despised for years, because others freely share their knowledge and experience with online tutorials.
  • Take a deep breath and realize that things are still functioning in America, that I could add a hundred more things to this list, and cling to the strange emotion that surprised me this morning: cautious optimism.

Stunned, Perrin and Mahrree sat on the bed and stared.
“It might not freeze,” said Perrin, trying the new approach of optimism. ~Book 3, The Mansions of Idumea

[By the way, if you’re looking for a great Christmas gift, The Forest at the Edge of the World clock is here on Etsy! When you order, put in the comments “Book Reader” and I’ll refund you $5. That means it’s only $10! You’re welcome!]img_1890

Official Forest at the Edge clock is here–just in time for Christmas!

I’ll be honest: I made this for me.

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I love unique clocks, and while I’ve made clocks for other genres, I never made one based on my own books.

The other day I thought, “Why not? I wrote the kind of books I want to read, because I couldn’t find them. Why not make the kind of clock I want, too?”

Then I thought, maybe a few of you might like one, too. On my Etsy site they’re listed for $15 (plus shipping: USA is about $3.60, international about $21.00).

BUT, if when you order you put in the comments, “Book reader” I’ll refund you $5.00. 

So your total cost for this fun clock, straight from my house, will be less than $15.00. Pretty good deal for a fun gift!

They come in black, white, or red. The black can have either parchment-like paper (scroll down to see close up of parchment-like paper) or plain white.

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Detail of parchment-like paper option on black clock.

I ship usually within three days of receiving an order, and clocks arrive about three days after that. If you want this for Christmas, make sure you order by the middle of December, because I get a bit backed up with other orders. Click here to order!

Two logical reasons why I bizarrely thank canning jars . . . and everything else

I didn’t realize until I was older that we had a weird tradition in our house. It was mandatory that when a canning jar popped, no matter what part of the house my mother was in, she’d shout, “Thank you!”

If she wasn’t home, that duty fell to me, and I didn’t always want to do it.

My mother, a refugee from Germany after WWII, learned how to can after she came to America. But she was always worried about sealing the jars properly, so she’d watch the jars, waiting for the lid to pop up indicating that it had sealed. Relieved, my mother would exclaim, “Oh, thank you!”

Over the years, it became a habit to thank each jar for sealing properly, and I grew up knowing that when the jars popped in the kitchen, “Thank you!” needed to be shouted. Otherwise, who knew what evil would transpire?

I thought the tradition was ridiculous, especially when I discovered that no one else did this.

When I was twelve, Mom pulled out a batch of pears, then went outside to pick strawberries. It was then that a cooling jar popped, and . . .  I was the only one to hear it.

I knew what was expected—that I should thank it, but how stupid was that? Thanking an inanimate object?

The house became very quiet and still, as if waiting for me to thank the jar for its kindness in sealing, but I wasn’t going to do it, not going to—

“Thank you,” I finally whispered, because the cosmos seemed to demand it.

Two more jars popped cheerfully after that, and I thanked each of them. Fortunately my mom came back into the house and asked urgently, “Did any pop?”

“Yes, and I thanked them,” I said sheepishly.

She thanked each of the jars herself anyway, just to be sure.

It wasn’t until about ten years later, when I tried canning for the first time, that I eagerly and worriedly watched for my first can of tomatoes to signal its sealing. When it did, I cried out, “Oh, thank you!”

And immediately I understood. And immediately I was hooked.

You see, I began to thank all kinds of things; our old vans when they start without spluttering (I frequently pat them on the dashboard, telling them what good vehicles they are); the driver’s side window of my minivan when it decides to go up when I push the button—especially when it starts raining; my printer when it communicates with my laptop and actually prints something; when the traffic light stays green for a second longer; when there’s a 2-for-1 sale on my favorite bagged salad—all of that gets an audible, “Thank you!”

Yes, even in the grocery store.

I’ve found myself saying “Thank you!” when:
my sons’ favorite t-shirts are on sale;
that 50% off coupon is still good at the fabric store;
the berries produce;
the bread rises;
I get to the pot just before it boils over; and
when the stain comes out in the laundry.

Because everything deserves thanks, animate or inanimate.

It’s contagious. My oldest daughter confessed that when she cans, she also calls out “Thank you!” each time a jar pops; another child thanks the scooter when it starts up; and the other day I heard my four-year-old thank his Legos for going together.

There are numerous studies showing the spiritual/psychological/emotional improvements when we count our blessings, but here are the reasons why I became hooked on thanking the world:

  • It immediately makes me happy. Think of every time you say thank you, or someone says it to you. There is always—always—a hint of a smile (or maybe a huge one, depending upon the situation).

I have yet to witness a sincere expression of thanks without accompanying happiness.

  • I feel in harmony with the world when I thank it, and that makes me peaceful. So what if it’s weird to thank the automatic door for opening; I do so anyway. It might not have opened, and that may have made me grumpy as I wrestled with doors, trying to leave the store.

But something kind and helpful happened for me, as it does every day, so I show gratitude. It does nothing for the item I thank, but it does ME a world of good: I see the world as a kind and helpful place, which in many,  many ways it still is.

I need to remind myself that there is peace, even during horrific times, or I’ll hide in my closet terrified of the world.

My mom told me once of fleeing the Soviets when they were taking over her hometown of Neisse (Nysa), now in Poland. She was a teenager, fleeing all alone to the west, and had only a sausage in her backpack for food. She found a mother and her child willing to shelter her for the night, and she shared her sausage with them. She thanked the woman for safety from the Soviets, and the woman thanked her for giving them something to eat when she had literally nothing left.

And for that evening, for them, the world was at peace. I don’t know about you, but I desperately want that kind of peace in a world growing more hostile. My mom always remembered that night fondly, when she realized that kindness still existed, and so did God.

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(My  mom, a few years later, in happier times in Munich.)

So really, it’s not so much thanking the world as an inanimate object, either; it’s thanking, in many different ways, the Creator of it all.

“Thank you,” Perrin said again to the forest, wondering if anyone was there to hear it.

Back behind a clump of pines, a man in white and gray mottled clothing nodded. “You’re welcome, sir. My pleasure and honor.” ~Book One: The Forest at the Edge of the World

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