Is your life going exactly as you expected it would? Same here. Maybe that’s not a bad thing.

Not what I expected BOOK 8 teaser HORIZONTAL

I hate surprises, procrastination, and not knowing how things will work out. So I plan for every contingency and emergency, and STILL God finds the one (or likely millions) of scenarios I didn’t anticipate and throws that one at me leaving me to think, “Why didn’t I see that coming?!”

And that sums up life, I’ve realized.

How many of you are living exactly as you expected you would? With all your family, financial, and employment goals achieved?

Yeah, same here.

Yet how many of you, if given the opportunity, would go back and reverse all the unexpected twists in your life?

I used to think I would, but now I realize I wouldn’t. Everything good and bad and perplexing has worked to shape me into the person I am right now, and I like who I might finally become.

The unexpected is good, in a long, roundabout way.

Speaking of the unexpected, I’ve heard back from a lot of you about the ending of Book 8. So far no one has said, “That’s exactly what I thought would happen.” (Which is a huge relief because I did NOT want to write a predictable story!)

To be honest, a lot of how the story went caught me off-guard as well. Trying to avoid a spoiler here, but about Lemuel and Perrin? That smacked me upside the head and added an unexpected layer of insight and depth that I didn’t know was coming. I didn’t set out to write the story that way, and that’s why writing this has been so darn fun.

Nor did I expect how eagerly you snatched up the book when it came out. You threw The Last Day to “Bestseller” status–thank you!

Best Selling Book 8 24 hours after release

I’m also happy to report that The Last Day is now available in paperback for $16.65, and for free on Smashwords. In fact, the ENTIRE SERIES is on Smashwords and for free!

I never expected to write this series, never expected to find so many new friends as readers, and never expected to have a little bit of success.

I guess being surprised every now and then is acceptable.

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