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

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.


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) . . .


. . .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


(#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!)


#58 I always hated that towel.

#60—not using gloves on my hands.


#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.


(#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.


#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.


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.


(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!”


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

How I made a weeping angel (or, why I don’t host a diy blog)

All I wanted was a Dr. Who Weeping Angel for my front yard for Halloween. 

People are terrified of them. If you don’t know what they are, watch the episode “Blink.” (Try Netflix.) You don’t even have to know the first thing about Dr. Who in order to appreciate this episode. Weeping angels seem like innocent statues in parks and cemeteries, but when you blink, they move faster than lighting, touch you, and . . .

No, you don’t die. They send you back in time. For some reason, I love that idea and don’t find weeping angels scary at all. Unless they send me back to relieve 8th grade, then yeah.

Madison weeping angelBut otherwise, they’re one of the most terrifying villains, and you can readily recognize a Whovian based on their response to weeping angels. One year my oldest daughter in college at BYU in Provo, Utah, spent a few weeks making a weeping angel costume, then a few hours getting ready to wear it on campus. When she was a gray statue bustling from one class to another, she’d stop, cover her eyes, and stand perfectly still.

That’s when she’d hear, “Holy cow! That’s a weeping angel! Oh my gosh, nobody touch her! Is she real? Yeah, she’s real! Whoa. That’s like the greatest costume ever–no, don’t get near me!!!”

She said it was the best Halloween ever. A few Dr. Who costumed students tried to subdue her with their sonic screwdrivers, but we all know that sonic has no power over ancient time zapping angels.

Four years ago I made my kids t-shirts that read “The angels have the blue box” (watch the episode “Blink”) and this family portrait, which will forever warm my heart, sits in prominence in my living room.

Mercer weeping angels

(Great photo, Charcie Rebalkin of Milestone Photography)

Over the years my kids have invited their friends over to see episodes of Dr. Who, and whenever the weeping angels were featured, those teenagers were quite nervous walking home at night. Being the nice mom that I am, I’d see their anxiety and tell them, “Then RUN home! And whatever you do, DON’T BLINK!” Then I’d slam the door and laugh as they hurried home, their eyes watering.

Maybe that’s why my kids don’t have friends over very often.


The cloak is also army surplus, and even though he couldn’t do a British accent, his “Are you my mummy?” was creepy enough.

Dr. Who is full of frightening references. Two years ago one of my sons wore his brother’s gas mask for Halloween (yes, we have an army surplus gas mask; doesn’t everyone?).  After he was done trick-or-treating, he sat on our front porch with the bowl of candy quietly saying, “Are you my mummy?”

Again we played “Spot the Whovian,” and found one very quickly. As I watched from the front window, a little boy happily tromped up to our front porch, but his mother had a nervous breakdown at our driveway.

“OHHHH. Look at the little boy in the gas mask!” (Her voice became an octave higher.) “Oh, very scary. Grab your candy, honey. RIGHT NOW! No, don’t choose something, JUST GRAB IT AND DON’T TOUCH HIM! Ha-ha-ha! Very good costume. GET AWAY FROM HIM!”

I love Halloween.

Especially when it doesn’t scare me, but scares everyone else. Weeping angels aren’t scary, neither are Daleks, which look like soda cans with toilet plungers, and can be foiled by stairs.

Nor are cybermen frightening, because even I can out-jog them.

(The Borg from Star Trek, however, are truly terrifying man-machines.)


The Silence, on the other hand . . .let’s not talk about the Silence.  Really.



When I saw this foam head at my local Joann’s, I realized her potential. I knew I was on to something when I bought a couple yards of gray fleece, and the young woman cutting my fabric asked the usual, “What are you making with this?”

“Ever watch Dr. Who?” I asked her.
“I love Dr. Who!”
Slowly I raised the foam head to the cut counter and said, in a quiet monotone, “I . . . am making . . . a weeping angel.”
The girl shivered in her green apron. “Oh!” she exclaimed in a higher pitch. “That’ll be . . . amazing! Here’syourfabric. Haveagreatday. NEXT!”

It should have been simple enough. Make a simple gray dress, put it on a framework of pvc pipe, paint her head and stick it on top, paint long gloves for hands, and attach wings.

016The head was easy enough. Using wood glue, straight pins, and rope, I glued on her hair, securing it with pins (foam doesn’t scream when you stab it).

Soon she had a lovely head of hair that looked like cut stone, especially when I coated it with a layer of exterior latex paint, tinted the same color as the fabric I purchased for her dress.

012 023 024

I added a braid of fabric for a headband, secured it with pins, then painted over the entire thing, and spritzed it with darker spray paint for a stone-like appearance.


(I thought she was rather pretty. My kids thought I was weird to keep referring to “her” as “my angel.” When I put her head in my bedroom for the night, my teenage daughter covered it with a cloth.)

Then I made the dress which, because I should have purchased three yards of fabric instead of two, kind of was a bit short.


(Excuse my son’s foot photo-bombing.) I cut a simple T, cinched in the waist, and put a braid of woven leftover fabric around the neck as a decorative touch, and also to try to camouflage the fact that I cut the hole for the head too big.


Then I realized the sleeves of the T were too wide (this ain’t no choir angel) so I cut those narrower. I’m not showing all the steps I took, because most of them were wrong. (That’s why I don’t have a “diy” blog. More like a “ddiy”–“Don’t Do it Yourself.”)












Well, I couldn’t screw up the arms and hands too badly, right? I purchased long gloves from Walmart, and painted them gray with the very good latex exterior paint.


Inexplicably, I thought it’d be a good idea to put the gloves on, then paint them.

Do you know what happens to thin gloves when they have a thick coating of very good paint on them, which then soaks through to your skin? I spent that night soaking my arm in the bathtub then scrubbed it with a washcloth for about half an hour.

Only later did I realize I should have put the wire skeletons I made inside the gloves, instead of my hand.

See? Aren’t these clever? 032

Of course, once the gloves dried, they stiffened to a nearly impossible form, so it was also nearly impossible to get my skeletons into them.


Theses are scary, all by themselves. Maybe I should just stick them in the ground, coming out of my forest.

That’s when I realized I should have put the wire in them FIRST, and then painted them. Sigh.  034


I twisted together 6 strands of wire for the arms to try to pose them, and it sort of worked.


Take off the arms at the shoulders. Give pipe sections to preschooler to use as guns.

Then my husband helped me make a pvc form out of 1″ pipe which toppled over by itself (we now have a green stake holding it up) and the arms were useless, so we pulled them off.

Now her body is only a T.

I ran the 6 strands of wire through the shoulder section of the pipe, and twisted the arms and their wires together. When the wind blows, she quite comes to life.

I put the dress form on the T and painted it with a coat of the exterior paint to make it stiffer, and followed up with spritzes of the darker gray spray paint.

046   048

It stiffened up the fabric rather well, and spraying darker gray into the crevices added depth.

005As for the wings I purchased foam core boards, and cut out a wing shape. Later, I discovered a razor blade is far, far easier than using scissors. I sketched on the scallop of the wings, then using thin plastic, I cut out the feathers and glued them on to the wings, trying to create a layered affect.

From the foam core I also cut another ridge for the top of the wing, trying to give that also more dimension. Again, I painted it all with the exterior paint and highlighted (or lowlighted?) it with the darker gray spray paint. 014009

As for attaching them? After much trial and error with wire, I just bought the strongest duct tape I could find and wire and taped them to her. When the wind starts to blow, I put her in the shed so she won’t fly to pieces.

After again many problems and issues, I finally got her together and placed in my forest. And, here she is: homemade weeping angel

All right, I admit she looks emaciated, ill-proportioned, and decrepit. Which, at Halloween, is actually a good thing.

My husband asked how expensive it would be next year to buy a mannequin and just paint it.
Or how good my skills were with acrylic and molds.
My teenage daughter patted me on the back and said, “Not . . . too bad, Mom.”
My teenage son, however, glancing it in the dusk of evening between the trees said, “Hey, that’s not bad!”

Guess who’s my favorite relative this week?



When the sun’s setting, and you’re driving past it, and you glimpse it out of the corner of your eye for a brief moment, she’s pretty convincing! As with most Halloween decorations, it’s much better from afar than up close.

I’ve ordered this screeching Weeping Angel mask for her to wear for Halloween. (And I’ll paint it the correct shade of gray.)

That’s when I’ll unpin her hands from her face (remember, foam doesn’t scream) and I’ll extend her arms to touch the parents of trick-or-treaters and send them back to the horrors of 1969.

So if you come around my house, don’t blink!