Brag Time!

Aaron in Navy UniformSome of you may have read in my bio post that I’m raising my 2 sons on my own. We lost my husband to cancer over 5 years ago when my guys were 9 and 11 years old. Although single parenthood was a huge adjustment for me the years have gone by so very quickly mostly because my 2 sons have been an absolute dream to raise. Our hearts were broken when learning my husband had terminal cancer and we felt devastated when he passed away 5 months later. The bond the 3 of us have now is indescribable and the heartache we experienced 5 years ago has made us stronger people in many ways.

My guys most definitely are on the right path to success. Hopefully you’ll allow me to brag a little within my own blog. This post is about my youngest son, Aaron. He’ll be 15 in early June and has had an interest in the military since he was about 8 years old. This mama experienced a milestone last weekend when Aaron decided to join the U.S. Navy Sea Cadets. I had to fight back the tears when dropping him off for his very first overnight drill weekend. Good grief….it was worse than when I dropped him off for his first day of kindergarten! Wasn’t that just last year?!! Along with learning how to march and experience some boot camp training he had the opportunity to learn some basic scuba diving skills. Iowa is not known for its scuba diving opportunities so he had an absolute blast with the training. Today, in his traditional Navy uniform, he had the opportunity to be part of the Color Guard in the opening ceremonies for the Special Olympics held at our local high school.  I’m partial to a man in uniform and I have to say this uniformed man is my favorite!

Trash to Treasure

Although I love to build fine furniture there are days when I enjoy taking something old and turning it into something useful.  Allows me to be extra creative!  I was invited a few years ago to go with some pro trash-to-treasure pirates to a town that has a city-wide garage sale every year.  What people don’t sell goes out on the curb and people like me come along and snatch the rejects.  I was embarrassed at first but it didn’t take me long to come out of my shell and grab 2 redwood fence gates some guy put on the curb after replacing his backyard fence.  To tell you the truth I think I was invited because I had a truck and trailer but it allowed me to throw the other pirates stuff off when I needed more room for my finds.  On our way home we looked like The Beverly Hillbillies with the amount of stuff we had piled in the back of the truck and trailer.

Here are the steps for creating my treasure that hangs in my 18′ foot open foyer of my house. It’s big…..5′ x 6′ but it fits perfectly on a huge wall going up my open staircase.

B&A Fence Flag

Look deep into my eyes….

Whenever I get a chance I like to work on my photography skills and the dog or the cats are the only ones who don’t roll their eyes when they see me coming after them with the camera in my hand. This is our kitty Leo who is a Snowshoe Kitten. He’s a mix between a Siamese and an American Shorthair.  Great cat with a wonderful personality.  Best part about it is he was an Animal Rescue League cat and we were thrilled to give him a home!  Support your local ARL!

Leo the great WM


Community Project

I’ve been blessed with a beautiful shop and a community that has been very good to me so when I was approached about creating some projects for a fundraiser for our high school’s new athletic facility I was thrilled to help out.  The renovation calls for all the douglas fir bleachers to be removed.  I stood in awe when I went to the roundhouse to help remove some of the wood for the projects. I was told there’s close to 60,000 linear feet of wood in that gymnasium.  Makes me cringe to think of the demolition crew just ripping it all out.  We’re working on trying to save as much as we can before the crew arrives at the end of the school year to start their work.  Anyway, here’s a sample of my first creation.

(Where’s Waldo….I mean where’s kitty…anyone find her in the picture below?)

Stadium Star Intensify

Refinishing an Oak Table

This was a very straight forward refinishing job.  The date stamped on the bottom of the table was 1979 so not a terribly old table but the finish was certainly wearing thin.  Just thought I’d give you the process I take when doing a refinish job.  It’s really not hard…..just messy and time consuming.  I really do enjoy it but I know more people who try it once and vow they’d never do it again than those who think it’s fun. It helps tremendously when you have a place to do this sort of work. I want to give credit to my refinishing mentor, Jace Weber, for getting me started in this part of the business.  Jace has his own refinishing and repair shop in Missouri and can turn a broken down, throw-it-in-the-trash piece of furniture into a work of art. He’s one of the most helpful guys I know and I usually bug him every few months for advice.  Thanks Jace for teaching me everything I know!


First off, ya have to be fashionable to do this kind of work.  Rubber boots and grungy aprons are the in look ya know! And I know you’ll never think of mint chocolate chip ice cream in the same way again will you?!

Refinishing outfit copy


Lateral File Cabinet

One of my dearest friends who was my college roommate at UNI contacted me asking if I could use some old corn crib boards from their farm to build a file cabinet.  Working with 100+ old barn boards can be tricky and very unpredictable because….well, they’re just old and can be grumpy. On top of that it was douglas fir so not an easy kind of wood to stain and finish….now that’s for sure unpredictable!  I love Emily to pieces though and just couldn’t say no but knew I’d have my work cut out for me to give her the look she wanted.  I ended up using 3/4″ knotty pine for the main carcass of the cabinet and used the crib boards for the drawer fronts and wide trim around the plywood top.  I had just enough boards to whip up a little cubbie unit to set on top of the cabinet so she could use shallow baskets in it for paperwork.  I’m a lover of finish work (I know I’m weird, most woodworkers hate finish work) so I had a healthy challenge getting the lily white plywood to mesh with the 100 year old barn wood. With lots of testing and tweaking I managed to blend the plywood with the character of the solid wood.  Knowing who it was for made it all so worth it!

Emily Cabbie WMed

Emily Cabbie Opened WMed


The WoodGal’s Shop

A year after my husband passed away I decided it was time to get up on my feet, brush off the heartache and move on with life.  I’m the kind of character who is happiest when I’m building so building a shop behind my house was a huge dream of mine. Life can be mighty short for some of us so I decided to enjoy it while I have it because you never know what’s around the corner.  I spent months trying to find the perfect plan for the shop but gave up and decided to design something that would fit my budget and give me the room to work in but yet not overwhelm my backyard.  It was important to me to create something that would not only compliment my home but a building my neighbors would be happy to look at everyday.  Here’s my dream shop!  Hope you enjoy the pictures!

Shop from FB


Oak China Hutch Refinished

I refinished this cabinet for a gal whose grandfather brought this home to her grandmother after he was done serving in World War II. My client inherited it but wanted to bring it back to life. Here’s a quick overview of the before and after pictures.

Meyer Hutch B & A

 I always try to strip down the pieces outside because as you can imagine…’s a very messy job!

Goopy Stage 1

Orig Finish 2

I scrape off as much of the stripping goop and old finish as I can into a small pail.  A bucket of water and a scrub brush is used next to tackle the areas that are a little more stubborn. A quick final rinse with the hose is needed to remove any excess stripping agent.

Final Wash Off

I’m a huge fan of General Finishes waterbased stains and this is their pecan stain.  I used their Van Dyke Brown glaze to bring out the carving in the doors.

Meyer Hutch Door

I then top coated it with 3 coats of General Finishes Enduro Waterbased Poly. This is how it turned out.

Meyer Liq WaterM

Finished 2

It would be a true honor to meet the craftsman that built this cabinet. The doors were hand carved… machine laser carving on these doors. Truly a piece of art!

My Lifesaver!

I’ve had many dogs in my life but Piper, our Airedale Terrier has been the best dog ever. She has the best sense of humor and like many Airedales she’s a total clown. She has an incredibly special place in my heart as we got her just 5 weeks before my husband passed away.  My husband had terminal cancer and was encouraging me to get a dog right in the midst of his illness.  Piper was the comic relief all of us needed during the terribly dark days we were suffering through.  She gave us something to laugh about but for my husband it was that little bit of extra security our family would have after he was no longer here with us.  I had wanted an Airedale for over 20 years and the timing seemed totally wrong but looking back now God knew what a blessing this animal would be for my 2 young sons and I. Next to my boys she’s the highlight of my life. If you want a funny, super family friendly dog an Airedale just might be what you’re looking for! Oh and they don’t shed either. What more could you want?!!

Piper October 2013

Piper Flippy Ears

Piper and Ball

Somebody is about to get her spring haircut.  I’m getting those “Please Mama….do we have to do this?” eyes!!

Pipe & Haircut

The video below is an example of the goofiness we see everyday with this dog!  She’s crazy about those velcro sticky weed pods that stick to your clothes when you’ve been tromping through the field. Just like a kid….you get ‘em all kinds of toys and the things they enjoy playing with the most are freebies…..annoying freebies!



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