Waterproofing a Shower

This project is making me tired. The tile is currently up, but I need to chisel out the mortar between the tiles and scrape the drips off so we can grout, but I just can’t find the motivation! I think today will be the day.

In the meantime, here’s some photographic evidence of what to do after demo.

There are a lot of things I think I can do on my own, and even attempt, but cutting and hanging cement board was one of those things I knew I’d need some extra muscle for, so this got done during Thanksgiving week. The day after my poor hubby had spent the day very physically ill in bed.

I’m nice like that.


And even that day we got this far and quit. Two walls done, back wall still in insulation.

You are supposed to be able to score and snap cement board, and I’m sure if I’d had a better scoring tool, it wouldn’t have taken as long. So, don’t be like me and use a utility knife. Be smarter than me and buy a scoring tool.


One quick Google search of “scoring tool for cement board” brought this right up.

You’ll also need special cement board screws if cement board is the way you go. Keep that in mind.


I got all gung ho one day and hung those last couple of pieces. I think what got us frustrated was we had one piece of board that was more difficult to score and we just lost the drive.

So, anyway, next you have to tape and mud the joints and screws. In drywalling, you use specific materials for that. The same is true here. There is a specific tape for cement board, and then you mud with your thinset/mortar.


Like so.


The next item on the to do list (after you’ve let the mortar dry for a day) is waterproofing. I was a little fanatical about this since a leak is what got us here in the first place.

I used this product. I ended up using a paintbrush to do the whole thing. The directions say you can use a roller. It calls for two coats, which left me about 1/4 of the bucket left, so you better believe I just painted the last of that on as well! Especially the corners. I’m a little nervous about the corners.

It goes on a lovely shade of pink and dries to an even lovelier shade of red.


Plus it looks a little purple over the mortar. It was feeling pretty Valentine’s Day-ish in there!

We scheduled Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as our new tile day, barring anyone waking up with a stomach bug. And let me tell you, it was close! Two of my kids had stomach bugs the week leading up and I was sure I was going to get it! But, we made it and got most of the tiling done that day.

I have a photo of the RedGard dry and the tile partly up since I didn’t get a shot of the walls in all their red glory.


This project is up and down for me. There are really exciting and satisfying moments, and then there are boring and tedious parts. But we’re coming down the home stretch and I know I will be so glad when it is done.

I won’t have to share my boys’ bathroom with them, even if it is one of my favorite rooms in the house.

Style-wise. Not function wise. Ew.

Updating a Bathroom Vanity

A Towel/Coat Rack






The Great Healer

Ever since the pivotal moment in my youth where I had an undenying witness that Jesus is the Christ and He loves me, I have never doubted. Pulled myself away, yes, but never, ever denied His miraculous love and healing power.

His love is unconditional, and the miracle of His atonement reaches every aspect of every life.

The events of my youth were traumatic and heartbreaking. Add to that the additional choices I made that were not in line with what I was taught, and I had a serious need for the grace and forgiveness of God.

And I got it. It was a long road, and it a was hard, but because I went through those things and experienced both the gift of forgiveness and the weight and burden of my grief and anger lifted, I truly came to know the love of Jesus Christ.

He healed my heart. He blessed me with amazing people to help fill the hole in my heart. Especially my amazing husband.

He also took me by the hand and gave me the strength to repent of the sin I was committing.

In the Book of Mormon, Alma 26:17 uses one of my very favorite words in the scriptures: Who could have supposed that our God would have been so merciful as to have snatched us from our awful, sinful, and polluted state?

Mosiah 27:29 uses it again: My soul hath been redeemed from the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity. I was in the darkest abyss; but now I behold the marvelous light of God. My soul was racked with eternal torment; but I am snatched, and my soul is pained no more.

That word “snatched” is a powerful word. It makes me think of a child in a perilous situation and a parent grabbing them just before they fall off a cliff or sink under the water.

I’ve had this visual for a while now of Satan circling us like a shark, waiting for the slightest sign of weakness, to drag us down into the dark and murky waters the first chance he gets.

But when I read these scriptures, I know that if we just look up, His hand is outstretched, waiting to pull us to the light.
He’s so close. He’s ALWAYS there.

We had our ward conference this weekend and our stake president said, “Repentance works every time.”

I know that is true. From the experiences and follies of my youth to, more recently, feeling a call to repentance about my prayers, I have felt the miracle, peace, and love of forgiveness.

Especially as I’ve changed my praying habits and made an effort to be more open and consistent, I have felt an immediate and amazing change. The relationship I once had with my father has returned so quickly. He had the blessings waiting for me. I just had to make the effort.

Since Hymns speak to me, I’ll share this Hymn with you that touched my heart this weekend.

I know that my Redeemer lives.
What comfort this sweet sentence gives!
He lives, he lives, who once was dead.
He lives, my ever-living Head.
He lives to bless me with his love.
He lives to plead for me above.
He lives my hungry soul to feed.
He lives to bless in time of need.

He lives to grant me rich supply.
He lives to guide me with his eye.
He lives to comfort me when faint.
He lives to hear my soul’s complaint.
He lives to silence all my fears.
He lives to wipe away my tears.
He lives to calm my troubled heart.
He lives all blessings to impart.

He lives, my kind, wise heav’nly Friend.
He lives and loves me to the end.
He lives, and while he lives, I’ll sing.
He lives, my Prophet, Priest, and King.
He lives and grants me daily breath.
He lives, and I shall conquer death.
He lives my mansion to prepare.
He lives to bring me safely there.

He lives! All glory to his name!
He lives, my Savior, still the same.
Oh, sweet the joy this sentence gives:
“I know that my Redeemer lives!”
He lives! All glory to his name!
He lives, my Savior, still the same.
Oh, sweet the joy this sentence gives:
“I know that my Redeemer lives!”

I do know that my Redeemer lives. I feel His love and power in my life, giving me strength and hope everyday.

He has healed me.


Scalloped Baked Potatoes

We had a plethora of baked potatoes left after our church Christmas party, and somehow I ended up with a small box full. I didn’t count, but it had to have been between 40 and 50 potatoes.

It would have been really sad to see them go to waste, so we made hashbrowns with them, I made a baked potato soup, and then I was out of ideas.

I had pinned a scalloped potato recipe some time back and decided to give it a try with even more of the potatoes.

It was delicious! I’m not really one to eat leftovers, but I looked forward to having those potatoes for lunch the next day.



(Adapted to what I had on hand from Gimme Some Oven. She has pretty pictures. My food doesn’t last long enough to get photos of.)


  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small white or yellow onion, very finely diced
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 8 to 10 previously baked potatoes, cut into small pieces
  • 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Melt butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add onion and saute until they are soft and translucent enough that your kids won’t notice.  Stir in the flour and garlic powder until it is evenly combined and saute for another minute or so.  Pour in the stock and whisk until combined.  Add in the milk, salt, pepper, and thyme and whisk again.  Continue cooking for an additional minute or two until the sauce thickens.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Spread half of the potatoes in an even layer on the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Cover with half of the cream sauce, one cup of cheddar cheese, and all of the Parmesan cheese.  Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Bake uncovered for 45 minutes until the cheese on top is nice and golden.

NOTES: I’m not kidding about how good this is. The original calls for Yukon Gold potatoes, which would also give it a nice texture. I made it once with regular Russets and it was disappointing. It’s worth throwing some potatoes in the oven early in the day to make this that night. I promise.



Demolishing a Shower

Let the fun begin!

Actually, the fun began Thanksgiving week, when we decided to use the break to get our shower demoed and tiled. But a stomach bug hit my hubby, so we got to the cement board installation and then were on hold for a long while.

But first, let me give you the backstory.

We walked through this house twice, and both times I had children with me. Since the house was occupied, I never felt like I got to give it a good once over with my eagle-eyes. I notice things like water damage, over-wear-and-tear, things that don’t work, and things that need repair. I was counting on the home inspector to be my eyes, but he missed something pretty big. I know he was distracted by what he thought was a bigger issue in that our fan doesn’t vent out of the roof. It vents into the attic and there are some nails in the sheetrock that have rusted, but he totally missed that the caulk and grout had failed and water was trickling out through the shower door and had caused some damage to the sheetrock and floor.

I noticed the damage right when we moved in but it felt dry so I figured someone must have fixed the problem without fixing the damage. After a few weeks of using the shower, I realized that neither was fixed and the wall was soaked. I panicked and cut the wet drywall out and pulled up the peel-and-stick tiles to find mold. Fabulous.


A contractor came in and told me the mold wasn’t the bad kind, just mold, and found the source of the problem and that the shower needed some waterproofing. He gave us a bid, we called our homeowners insurance, and we were told they didn’t cover damage from faulty caulk or grout.

So, we decided to redo it ourselves! I’m sure you’re surprised.

I had taken the glass shower door off a long time ago and taken it to our Habit for Humanity Surplus Store. All I had left was tearing down the walls!

It’s a dirty job. You’ll need safety gear. Specifically a face mask, gloves, and eye protection. I would also recommend some heavy-duty clothing.

You’ll also need some heavy tools.


I mostly ended up using that big hammer on the left.

You’ll also need a way to haul the debris out, especially if you are a bedroom, a hall, a flight of stairs, an entry, and a yard away from the truck you’re loading it all into.


I decided buckets were a good solution.

And figure out a way to cover your drain. You don’t want any of it going through your plumbing. I ended up using a scrap piece of plywood.

The only way to get started is to start hammering away. If you’re breaking through ceramic tile like I was, you’ll be very grateful for the eye protection now. Those suckers shatter into tiny shards!


But once you make some headway, it gets a lot easier. When you can see some joists, then you can figure out what lines to break so you can pull big chunks of wall and tile down. See how I just broke through all the way down between the studs?


Along this edge, I used a utility knife to score the wall board because I wasn’t sure how much I wanted to take off. I ended up going all the way to the corner, but was glad I did this until I was sure.

IMG_0171 - Copy

See? A nice sized chunk. That was pretty rewarding. Also, I ended up on my hiney a few times trying pull large chunks off. It does require some yanking.

The back of the shower is an exterior wall, and so whoever had installed it had put a sheet of plastic between the studs and the wallboard. I had read that you shouldn’t do that because if moisture does get behind your tile, it has nowhere to go.

That was true for this shower.

I gave that wall one solid whack and the whole thing practically crumbled. There was an obvious difference between the dry and the wet. Plus, it stunk! Musty, moldy yuck.


It probably took about 10 solid hits with the hammer before this whole wall crumbled to the floor.

I got that last wall down, and a few days later it was time for hanging the cement board!

And that’s where I’ll leave you for today. On the next installment of The Great Shower Makeover!, lessons I learned about installing cement board.

It’s harder to cut than you think.





Letting the Lord Back In

A number of years ago, our family started giving a Gift to Jesus at Christmas. For me, it’s like a New Year’s resolution. We’ve dropped the ball the last couple of years, but I’ve still thought about something I’d like to work on throught the year to bring me closer to my Savior.

Just like I’ve dropped the ball in writing our goals down, I’ve also dropped the ball on accomplishing my own goal – increasing the frequency and efficacy of my prayers.

For a long time, I felt very close to my Heavenly Father. I turned to Him often and with fervency.

Then, when my step-dad Lloyd passed away, I got knocked for a loop. I prayed and prayed when he got his leukemia diagnosis. I felt certain he would be healed. His life would be different, but he would still be around to be a very important part of our lives. He was such a critical and stabilizing pillar for me and my kids. We needed him.

Two weeks later, he was gone.

My faith and trust in my Heavenly Father was shaken and it was really hard to turn to Him.

I could talk about the mundane and offer pretty generic prayers, but truly trusting the deep feelings of my soul to Him  was beyond me.

When I think about it, it seems so silly that I felt/feel that way. He has trusted me with so much. He has given me warnings and strengthened me before traumatic times that I wasn’t aware were coming, but after the fact, I’ve recognized that I was prompted to do something that would help me through a trial.

I’ve turned to Him and trusted in Him when I knew there was no one else I could possibly turn to, and He loved me and supported me in a way no one else possibly could.

And yet, here I am, over three years after Lloyd’s death, still having a hard time trusting Him with my heart.

What is comes down to is me.

How do I make the time to pray in the way I feel is most effective and personal? Where can I find time in my day to kneel and truly offer what is in my heart?

The time is the hardest part. A friend shared once that she prays in the shower, which I can truly see the merits of, since it is about the only time during the day when I can ponder and have complete, coherent thoughts. So, I use that time to meditate, if you will, and figure out what is happening in my day. Plus, it’s one of the only times in my day I don’t have someone needing my attention, or if they do, they know they have to wait.

I already set my alarm for 15 minutes before the morning has to start to read my scriptures, which I do off my phone in the dark, so as to not awaken anyone who may have come into my room in the night. By the time I push my alarm once, or twice, depending on how the night went, I’m rushing to get in my chapter of reading. By then someone is up and wanting to chat or snuggle, and I’m rousing everyone else to get going.

Last year I put a sticky-note on my bathroom mirror so I would remember after the kids were off and I had showered, which worked until I got used to the sticky-note and didn’t notice it anymore.

I have all kinds of excuses about nightly prayers, too. That’s when Brandon and I find a few minutes to talk and watch a show together, I’m tired and fall asleep while praying, someone needs another hug or a drink of water and I’ve reached the end of my rope and then don’t feel like praying because I’m trying my hardest not to lose it.

My list could go on.

I also feel like I need to come to the Throne of God appropriately dressed. I find it hard to talk to Diety in my underwear, even if it is Mormon underwear. And I’m so excited to get to climb into my bed that I don’t think about kneeling before I’ve stripped down to those fancy skivies and snuggled into a blanket.

So then I end up kind of bowing my head and hunching under my covers to pray.

The Lord deserves more from me. He has given me everything. I can at least get dressed.

This article from the October 2014 General Conference really stuck with me. The title, most particularly.

Approaching the Throne of God with Confidence

Whenever the adversary cannot persuade imperfect yet striving Saints such as you to abandon your belief in a personal and loving God, he employs a vicious campaign to put as much distance as possible between you and God. The adversary knows that faith in Christ—the kind of faith that produces a steady stream of tender mercies and even mighty miracles—goes hand in hand with a personal confidence that you are striving to choose the right….

As long as you allow these voices to chisel away at your soul, you can’t approach the throne of God with real confidence. Whatever you do, whatever you pray for, whatever hopes for a miracle you may have, there will always be just enough self-doubt chipping away at your faith—not only your faith in God but also your confidence in yourself.

Self-doubt is really what it comes down to. I have been doubting my own faith. Sure I’ve prayed and gotten answers to things, but my faith is lacking.

Take responsibility for your own spiritual well-being….Spiritual confidence increases when you take responsibility for your own spiritual well-being by applying the Atonement of Jesus Christ daily.

This comes down to time again. Time to read the scriptures, time to read the Ensign, time to plan my Primary lesson, time to prepare and have Family Home Evening, time to read scriptures as a family and with my spouse, time to have personal, couple, and family prayer.

But is it worth the time? Is feeling like I can come before the Lord with confidence and faith in what I’m asking worth scheduling these critical tasks into my schedule?

Obviously, the answer is yes. I have really disliked feeling a distance (that I’m responsible for) between me and my Heavenly Confidant.

Accept trials, setbacks, and “surprises” as part of your mortal experience. Remember that you are here to be proved and tested, “to see if [you] will do all things whatsoever the Lord [your] God shall command [you]” (Abraham 3:25)—and may I just add, “under all circumstances.”

I think because I had felt so close to and trusted by my Father, and in turn had truly trusted in Him and felt so confident my prayers would be answered as they had so often before, I was truly shocked. I felt betrayed and shut myself down.

This year, my relationship with Him will improve. He loves me. I know that, and I’ve been treating Him pretty badly.

Time to let the Lord back in.



Thrifted Winter Porch

As promised, I did a little sewing and made some new pillow covers for my front porch.

front without numbers

I went from this terrible photo of my very Christmas porch (which I loved! The porch, not the photo.)…


to this (hopefully) more winter looking porch. The stack of shirts and a blazer turned into some nice pillows. I also switched the wool blanket of my Grandma’s with some wool that I inherited when she downsized to live with us. Now the blanket can actually be used as a blanket!

The tree got a little makeover, too, with some sleds, mittens, gloves, and stockings. I threw a grapevine garland on there for good measure. Pathetically enough, I had all that in my attic. I still hold that I don’t have a Christmas problem.


The corner by the door got an addition of a doll-sized sled (my mom’s) and some twigs cut from the trees in our backyard. The lantern and turned post were thrifted, the square wreath with the red berries I’ve had for a looooong time, and the greens are from an artificial tree.

That’s one of my favorite cheap-skate tricks. Any greenery found around my house is from a Goodwill tree left over from our December wedding reception 14 years ago. It’s the kind that you have to insert the individual branches. I had used some of the branches in a porch decoration in our old house where we had an opossum that felt the need to mark his territory. Those got thrown away (obviously) and the rest get used as loose greenery on the mantle, piano, top of the fridge, table, porch, put in vases, … basically wherever needs a little green. You can find thrifted trees for about $10, at least in my experience.

OK, so maybe the fact that I’ve been carrying around the remnants of a Christmas tree for that long is a sign of a problem.

But! I used the base pole of that tree to put together the tree for the porch this year, since the pole of the tree that was my Grandma’s that is the porch tree was too tall, so I used the old pole and her branches!

Yeah, I see the problem.


Thrifting for Decor

Phew, that last post was heavy! Let’s lighten things up with a sneak peak at a project in the works.

front without numbers

This is what my front porch looks like right now, except the grass is covered with snow!!! It was a lot of fun to put together for Christmas. I raided my mom’s fabric stash and wrapped the pillows and cushions with Christmas fabric and a wool blanket of my Grandma’s. I really love it, but now that Christmas is over, it SCREAMS Christmas a little too much. I need to tone it all down for winter.

So I’m starting with this….



A a wool blazer, a lovely collection of worn plaid shirts, and a terribly shaped cable-knit sweater, all for under $3 a piece. They are going to be the new pillow covers.

I’m keeping a look out for some antique looking skis, sleds, and ice skates as well.

I think that’ll get me through the winter.

I’ll let you know how it’s going on Friday. See you then!


My Experience Concerning Mental Illness and Guns

I hope it’s pretty obvious that I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I believe in the importance and power of prayer, and since I pray about pretty much every aspect of my life, I also pray for guidance about what I should write about here.

I was praying about it this morning and felt like I needed to share my personal experiences about guns and mental illness. Please know that this is something close to my heart. I am in no way trying to start a debate. I’m not a fan of confrontation. I’m happy to have a civil discussion, but the moment it gets unkind, hurtful, attacking, or unintelligent, the conversation will end.

My dad was diagnosed as a manic-depressive in the 80s. I’m pretty sure today he would be called bi-polar. I remember him going to a place to get better, which I can now only assume was some sort of mental health facility. He came home and I remember him not having sugar because it helped him not lose his temper or something. I was young and don’t know full details, and don’t really care to make my mom dig up what must be very painful memories.

He was great to me. I have memories of him carrying me up to bed, I snuggled with him in his big recliner, and he took me hunting, fishing, camping, and for rides on his motorcycle. I idolized him.

What I didn’t see or chose not to see or have repressed somewhere is the angry side of him. He would lash out irrationally at my older siblings and mom. There was abuse in many forms. But I wasn’t old enough to have it directed at me.

He was transferred to Washington state for his job in 1989 and was shortly thereafter in a serious motorcycle accident which caused some severe head damage, both physical and mental.

We owned guns. Prior to our move to Washington, we lived in Wyoming and every fall included getting an antelope to put in the freezer for winter. We would practice shooting pistols and I remember being a pretty good shot. I’ve shot rifles that knocked me on my butt. Guns were a part of our life.

But guns should not have been in our home. My father should never have been allowed to purchase a firearm.

He was physically abusive and had been diagnosed with a mental illness. There was no way he should have been allowed that right.

And he did use them to do harm.

The most horrific time I can remember him using a gun as a threat was when he and one of my older siblings got into an argument. I have no idea what it would take a child doing to feel you needed to threaten them with a firearm, but he got out a shotgun and chased that sibling through the yard with it. Fortunately, that sibling was smart and fast and ran into the woods and my dad was practically blind and disabled and couldn’t follow.

The last time he used a gun to do harm was when he ended his life. My mother had finally filed for divorce or was on her way to file after a what must have been an ugly fight. I remember being mad at him that morning and didn’t give him a kiss when I left for school. I’m sure the argument continued until my mom finally left to go to the grocery store. When she got home, he went out behind her car that she had just taken a load of groceries into the house from and blew out the back of his head. In the driveway. Right where she was coming back to get another load. You can’t tell me that wasn’t done out of anger and spite. I’d like to say fortunately he only hurt himself, but anyone who has had someone close to them commit suicide will tell you that the mental anguish and blame they have gone through is truly like a hell.

On top of all that, my youngest brother got off the school bus to paramedics and ambulances and brains in the driveway.

He never recovered from that.

Yes, you could argue that my father could have killed himself in a variety of ways, but there are all sorts of studies about ways people commit suicide and what their chosen method says about the psychological state they were in when they did it.

He wanted my mom to suffer.

So, I support gun control. I support Obama’s attempt to close the loopholes about reporting mental health statuses to the NICS database. And if that means that the government has access to my medical records, then so be it. I have nothing to hide. And if I can’t get a gun because my father was bipolar and it can be passed on hereditarily, I’m OK with that also.

I also support guns rights. I totally support hunting and understand shooting for sport. I acknowledge that people own weapons to protect their homes and families. I just don’t want to be a part of it.



Installing a New Light Fixture

AND bye bye popcorn ceiling!

Whoever built my house loved fluorescent tube light fixtures and couldn’t decide on a ceiling texture they liked. We’ve got a little of everything in this house, from popcorn to knockdown to brush method. It’s a little zany.

My husband’s office was one of the lucky popcorn rooms, and that surely had to go. Our walls have a pretty heavy orange peel texture, so I didn’t want to scrape it flat. I thought that would look weird. I decided to just knock the heaviness of the popcorn off and see how that looked.



Maybe you can see the difference here. Scraped on the right, not on the left.

I was pretty happy with it so I went ahead and scraped the whole ceiling. I just used a 3 or 4 inch putty knife to do the whole thing then gave it a coat of Sherwin Williams Alabaster.

It’s a messy job. Wear a facemask.

The next thing that absolutely had to go was the light fixture. It was the worst. I think a nightlight would have been brighter.


Observe. It actually looks larger in this photo than it really was. It was pathetic.


I replaced it with this lovely.

Changing out a light fixture seems intimidating. Working with anything to do with electricity is scary to me, but this I can handle.

Step 1 – Turn off the power.

Step 2 – Double check that the power is off.

Proceed with removing the old light fixture. They’re held up by a couple a screws, so you just need a stepladder and a screwdriver.

The wires from the fixture and the wires from the house will be joined by a wire cap that is just twisted on. Twist those off. The wires from the fixture will most likely be wrapped around the house wires and come apart pretty easily.

Put that light fixture in a place it won’t get broken so you can take it to your local Habitat for Humanity store, then get your pretty new fixture out. Unless you bought your pretty fixture second-hand, there will be helpful instructions in the box.

This post from The Family Handyman is also very helpful and has some additional trouble-shooting. We’re big fans of The Family Handyman around here.


Basically, you’re just matching wire colors. Then you’ll uncerimoniously shove the wires back into the box and screw the fixture to the mounting bracket. If your old fixture didn’t have a mounting bracket, a new one will come in your box or you can pick one up at your local hardware store.


Nice work clothes.


Installing the missing bracket.


Connecting wires.


Shoving the wires into the box and a weird hair situation.


Ready to secure.


Pretty! And pretty easy. I bought my fixture from Home Depot from the comfort of our office chair. It was half price that day. I also looked at and was tempted by quite a few at overstock.com. Just do a little online shopping and find something you love at a price you love.

You can do this!






Pallet Board Backed Bookshelf

My husband made the mistake of mentioning he’d like a little project done in his office for Christmas. I took that to mean I had free reign in his space! He was going to be gone for a weekend, he’d been complaining about the TERRIBLE lighting in there, and I hated the ugly, mismatched metal desks he had. Plus, popcorn ceiling. Need I say more?

Of course my wheels started turning when he asked for a small shelf to store the router, modem, external hard drives, VOIP contraption, and the new internet controller we just got. I couldn’t help myself. I went into overdrive.

New desk made out of filing cabinets with a wood top.

New pretty light fixture.


Scrape the ceiling.

Replace the terrible cardboard backing to the cheap bookcases.

Let the shopping begin! I started pricing things out and realized my pretty small budget (less than $200) wasn’t going to get me very far if I was going to purchase beadboard at $35 a sheet to back the five bookshelves.

Let’s come up with a plan B.

When I had driven into the lumber yard in the past, I noticed a sign advertising free pallets. I’d seen projects done with pallets before, and while I really didn’t think that was my style, the price was right, so I picked some up.

Of course I figured taking them apart would just require a little muscle and a pry bar. WRONG!

Did you know that pallets are put together with these special, twisted screws? It makes sense when I really think about it. Those pallets hold some substantial loads and are carried around by forklifts. Not just any old nails would do the job. It makes them very strong so they won’t fall apart. It also makes them very difficult to pull apart. Like, almost impossible.


Ask me how I know. It only took me about an hour getting two boards off to realize I needed to figure out another way.

A reciprocating saw became my very good friend.


Hello, friend!

Here’s a quick rundown of how to cut those pallets apart.


Get your blade in between the joints. There might be a little gap, but there might not. You just want to run your blade between the two pieces of wood to cut the nails. Try not to gouge into the wood. It’s not the end of the world, but it makes it harder to cut through.

Go through all the boards on all the edge sides.

The middle is a little more difficult. You have pallet boards in the way from having a straight edge to go along.

To get the best control, I laid the pallet on the ground.


Then I could maneuver my saw in between the boards and cut the nails. It’s a little tricky, but totally doable.

It took me between 15 and 20 minutes to get one pallet apart. For free wood, it was totally worth my time.

Once you have all your pallets cut apart, you need to cut them to the correct length.

Measure your bookshelf width.


Go ahead and do it again for good measure. (Pun totally intended!)

Then mark your boards (again, measure twice, cut once) and cut them with a miter saw. Same kind of saw I used to make this coat rack.

Then lay them out on your $35 Walmart particle board bookshelf that you’ve happily ripped the paper-thin backing off of.


I had a little space left, and I wanted to make sure the bottom board was nailed to the bottom shelf for stability, so I just moved that board down so the gap was above the bottom board instead of below.


Like so.

Then I got to nailing. I put two nails in each side of the boards. Ask me how I know one nail in each side is not a effective. Go ahead, ask! Nevermind, you probably already know that answer.


Two by two. Kind of like Noah’s ark! Except with nails, so not really at all like Noah’s ark.


Stand it up and admire your handiwork! Also realize that forever when someone looks at this post they will know you did this project at Christmas. And your boots are in the corner. And there is a random picture on the floor that needs to get up on the wall. And…. oh, well. This is what my house really looks like. Nothing to be done about that.

See the gap in between the bottom two boards? If you hate it, you can certainly run a board through a table saw (which I don’t have) so you don’t have a gap, but I figured that stuff will fill up the bottom shelf and no one will ever see it. You could also space your boards out so there is a very small gap in between each one instead of one big gap. Do what feels right to you.

I’ve also used boards that were broken in parts. I figured it added to the rustic charm.


And here’s the small shelf that started the whole project. I’m sure he’ll never ask for a project as a gift again!

I never thought I would jump on the pallet bandwagon, but when it came down to it, I couldn’t beat the price. And it turns out, I love it! The black of the shelving unit with the multifaceted tones of the wood is really beautiful, and I love the contrast of the more formal light fixture I chose with the raw and rustic quality of the pallet boards.


The color of the walls really make the wood tones look richer as well.


I was truly surprised.

I’m going to start collecting pallets for the wood feature wall my son wants in his room as well!

What can I say? Gotta have a project.