Pallet Love Seats

There are a lot of things people don’t tell you. Like, if you pierce your tragus, you will never be able to comfortably wear ear buds again. Or if you need to get rid of stale bread crumbs, emptying them down your garbage disposal and then adding water to “flush” them away only creates stuffing in the pipes in your wall. But if multiple published sources give you advice on the same something, maybe take a moment to think that perhaps it made it through the final book edit for a reason.

There is a reason why maple syrup making books tell novices to “only boil indoors in the final stages of syrup making.”

Do not, I repeat, do NOT ever, EVER try to make maple syrup IN your home. Ever. I don’t care if there’s a blizzard. How short you are on time. How you ran out of firewood or some other excuse that makes you think that boiling indoors is the rational alternative. Nononononono. There is a reason why the books warn against this.

It’s no secret that I suffer from impatience. To me, it’s better to do almost anything else than wait for something. (No surprise that my family is notoriously early for everything.)

Maple syrup season is in full swing in VT. This was the weekend that officially kicked off spring in Vermont – not like you’d know based on the amount of snow on the ground (and falling as I write) and frozen taps. But still. You found plenty of free pancakes and hot maple syrup  around the state this weekend if you decide you want to spend a few days in a blissful sugar coma.

I collected six gallons of sap a few weeks ago, and then realized I had to boil it all down before leaving the state for awhile. The weather wasn’t cooperating (hence only getting six gallons that week), and after lugging my sap jugs up the mountain because the snow was too deep for the ATV, I wasn’t about to just pour it down the drain. So I did what all of the books said not to do.

This is my third year making my own syrup from sap harvested from maple trees on the property, but this was my first time moving the operation indoors. And my last. For 7 hours, the steam rolled and the microwave fan hummed away, dispensing the steam away from the stove. By hour 8, every window in the cabin had fogged up so much so that I was surprised that the cops weren’t called by my few neighbors to investigate what the heck was going on. By hour 10, the cabin was 74 degrees (and below freezing outside), my pores were open, and I was stirring in a tank top in something that resembled a log steam room. By hour 11, the microwave fan shut off (uh oh) before totally self-destructing by beeping the doom and gloom code no microwave user ever wants to see: SE. By hour 12, three hours past my normal bedtime, I’m half-delirious, cheering on my bubbling pot of goo, staying awake by asking Siri to pull up YouTube videos on how to repair Samsung microwaves DIY-style. By hour 13,  I’ve created a masterpiece.

Somehow, I must have fallen asleep for a crucial 15-minute time span where my syrup boiled into some crazy maple honey concoction.  I am hoping to replicate that this week once the sap starts flowing again. Outdoors. Gallons of sap and hours of work resulted in one little olive jar’s worth of maple honey stuff. No wonder syrup is so expensive in stores. But SO WORTH IT. I didn’t want to leave my treasure behind, so it road tripped with me and was taste tested in Maryland, where it stayed.

I was gone for about 10 days, all the while wondering how I was going to remove said microwave from the wall and repair it. Apparently time away from me was all it needed. I returned to the cabin, plugged it in, and it hummed away. Crisis averted. Lesson learned. That little olive jar of maple syrup was almost worth $349 in Samsung bucks.

There are some things that just need to be done outdoors, like syrup making. Given the brutal New England winter that still hasn’t let go, I’ve also been doing a lot of building inside. Large pieces. It’s great to have an indoor shop, but then, like with the syrup, when you get to the final stages, you face problems that go beyond testing your microwave’s limits. Like how to get the beasts that I make out the sliding door and up the hill in deep snow.

Sleds and patience are a killer combo.

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New pallet furniture designs for Spring 2017! Order yours now – East Coast delivery options available and also available for pickup if you want to come and get some syrup in the Green Mountain state.

From traditional benches to ones that give you a little space from your neighbor with a table in the middle, there are many styles to choose from.

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Rustic in look but with a smooth 320 grit finish, these sets are built to last, even if they remain outdoors uncovered all year long.

Many cushion options are available. Also sold sans cushions.

Pallet pieces range in price from $75-$199. Please email me for a quote and/or to place an order!

Posted in pallet loveseats, pallets, Reclaimed wood, rustic decor

Pallet Bar Set

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One of a kind pallet high top table with two comfy, wide bar stools. The tabletop and seats are finished with 320 grit, making them very smooth. Made 100% from recycled materials!

Three piece set (table, two stools):  $165.00 

(East coast delivery available: please email me for a delivery estimate.)

Posted in pallets, Reclaimed wood, rustic decor, Stools

Treehouse Bird Feeder

IMG_7218.JPGWord is out that this is the place to come if you are an animal in need of a meal.

I’m impatiently waiting for Diesel to come out of his den. I miss my little buddy. The recent blizzard not only confused the birds who had migrated back early but also frustrated me. I was rather enjoying being able to see the grass again after months of only seeing snow. And from the looks of the upcoming weather forecast, Diesel will probably be sleeping a bit longer. Wise chipmunk. Sad me.

I found a large plastic bin of peanuts in the garage the other week. This posed a problem. I hadn’t filled said bin with peanuts. One of my furry friends went through a lot of effort to chew a hole through the sturdy plastic jug that had contained the peanuts and proceeded to move them three feet to this bin. Not the brightest bulb in the box.

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I moved the bin to the back deck, near the bird feeder, with the intention of taking the animal’s cache and putting it in the feeder, and promptly forgot about it.

My parents were over the other day. “Meli,” my mom asked, looking quizzically at the box. “What’s in the bin?”

The color of my face gave me away instantly. I sheepishly mutter, “peanuts.”

They are well aware they’ve raised a daughter who scarily resembles Elmyra from Animaniacs.

I proceeded to forget about the bin once again until the following morning, distracted by yet another crazy storm rolling through the valley. The river had flooded overnight and the rain was still coming down. I was at my computer when I heard an undeniable thwack! thwack! thwack! 

OOPS. I knew right away what that sound was. Something was going after the peanuts.

Sure enough, a not-so-bright gray squirrel was standing on the lid, flipping it up with his teeth and then letting it slam shut, completely unaware of how gravity works.

The bin had about two inches of water in it already from the storm, and I could see peanuts floating around inside.

And then I saw two little paws press against the milky plastic from inside the bin.

I know it makes absolutely no sense to have mouse traps in the cabin, yet go out in the pouring rain to save a water-logged mouse from drowning. But I did it without thinking. I am a caretaker of this cabin and the grounds. That means helping out the mouse that was only in trouble in the first place because of my forgetfulness and my unhealthy obsession with feeding the wildlife.

Whether the squirrel was trying to get to the nuts or rescue a fellow rodent, I’ll never know. I like to think it was the latter.

In honor of the first day of spring, I converted a “fairy house” that I made last year out of scrap wood into a triple decker bird feeder treehouse, complete with a suet holder, peanut tray, and swing. (Still waiting for a bird to test out the swing.) Three different species of woodpeckers have already been regular visitors, grabbing hold of the log frame while taking a snack. All sorts of birds are loving it. So am I.

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Each one of a kind “Treehouse Bird Feeder” comes with a suet holder and one suet cake.

Happy Spring! Don’t forget to stand your eggs on your counter today. Yes, this really is a thing.

Price:  $49

 

 

Posted in Reclaimed wood, rustic decor, bird feeder

Burl Table

Waiting for wood to season is like waiting for a kettle to boil. Times 100,000,000.

I’ve been eyeing up this burl for years. And once I saw what the slices looked like, I HAD to build something with it. Immediately.

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Apparently bar-top epoxy is an impatient girl’s BFF.

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Each pour is the equivalent of 60 coats of poly. This burl table has been topped off twice and is as smooth as glass while sealing the burl.

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Burl Tables: LIMITED stock – let me know if you want to place an order with this precious tree. You’ll not only get a one of a kind piece but also help me manage my wood hoarding. Win-win.

The table pictured is a 20″ end table. Larger and taller tables can be ordered from the burl slabs pictured above!

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Posted in Reclaimed wood, rustic table, Wood slab

Bottle Bird Feeder

There was a glorious stretch of warm weather (50’s and 60’s) recently that melted all of the snow. The birds and I came out of hibernation mode. And, keeping with my basic instincts, I naturally had to feed the wildlife ASAP.  (I know they are probably worse off because I feed them. BUT. Can’t. Help. Myself.)

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The birdies were a bit confused as to how to get to the seed in the bottles. Some spent a concerning amount of time pecking at the glass bottle before finally figuring out where the food was coming out.

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These bird feeders are just downright fun to make from things found around the woods, in my shop, and in the recycling bin. The bottles easily slide out to fill with seed.

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I highly recommend putting bird feeders by a dirty window. Trust me. You’ll thank me later, unless I just have a bunch of groggy birds around these parts.

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Bottle Bird Feeders:  $25-$35 (food and birds are not included)

Posted in Reclaimed wood, rustic decor, bird feeder

Pallet rack w/ earring holder

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A modern twist on a classic pallet rack!  I got back to my roots a bit this week and repurposed some wooden pallets. Over the years, I’ve worked with pallets to transform them into wine racks, magazine holders, book racks, hat/scarf racks, bath racks, etc.  I lived and breathed pallets for a loooong time. So long that I started to lose interest in working with them. I even (gasp) burned some HT scraps instead of using them for signs. I KNOW.

Sometimes it requires stepping away from something to get a fresh perspective on it. Like the other day, I was lamenting to myself about the mess of tangled-up earrings and hair bands I store in a small dish.

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Yeah. Not pretty. And also not practical.

And then it hit me. By adding small dowel rods to a standard pallet rack, you can not only organize your earrings, bracelets, and necklaces, but also have designated spots for toiletries, nail polish, and much more.

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Posted in pallets, Reclaimed wood, rustic decor

Lincoln Log Bench

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I have a super power. For some odd reason, my brain automatically combines idioms. I don’t have to even think about it; it just happens. Not sure when it started, but it’s second nature to me now. When I consciously try to stop it, I can’t. And when I just let it go, I somehow combine two ideas/sentences/idioms and create some warped hybrid. For example, I’ll say, “I am beating around a dead horse.” People look at me, knowing some part of that sounds sort of true, but they can’t quite figure out where I botched it. Yeah, people. I get it. It baffles me as well.

I’m used to the weird look, followed by, “How the heck did you do that?”

I blink. Crap. A ‘Melanism’ must have struck again. “No idea.” I am no longer surprised when people ask me what country I grew up in.

It may be stretching it to call it a super power because I’m also quite aware that, when this happens, I sound like the offspring of Yoda and Dory.

This ‘trait’ of mine makes story telling…unique. It’s not my gifting. I am well-aware of my shortcomings. Doesn’t mean I stop trying, especially if I’m not afraid of potentially sounding dumb around someone.

“Hey, did you hear the story about the old eagle?” I said to a friend recently.  I went on to recall a story my mom told me about what happens to eagles when they get older. But as I recounted the story, my facts seemed a bit fuzzy. Even to me. And they blurred as each sentence droned on.

“And then the old eagle flies waaaaaaay high in the air and dive bombs down to the earth” (I’m certain by this point I’m looking about as crazy as I sound) “…and loses ALL of its feathers.” Wait. This doesn’t sound right. Think, Mel, think! Oh well. Gotta finish the story at this point. Just go with it! Wait, is this it? “And then it hides out on the mountain until the feathers grow back.” Big finish. “And THAT is why it’s called a bald eagle.”

Said friend bursts out laughing. “MEL. NO. That’s not accurate.”

I take some comfort in knowing that the original story passed on to me, while uplifting, was proven to be false.

This is the story my poor mom tried to drive home to me:

The eagle has the longest life-span of its species. It can live up to 70 years. But to reach this age, the eagle must make a hard decision. In its 40′s its long and flexible talons can no longer grab prey which serves as food. Its long and sharp beak becomes bent. Its old-aged and heavy wings, due to their thick feathers, become stuck to its chest and make it difficult to fly. Then, the eagle is left with only two options: die or go through a painful process of change which lasts 150 days. The process requires that the eagle fly to a mountaintop and sit on its nest. There the eagle knocks its beak against a rock until it plucks it out. After plucking it out, the eagle will wait for a new beak to grow back and then it will pluck out its talons. When its new talons grow back, the eagle starts plucking its old-aged feathers. And after five months, the eagle takes its famous flight of rebirth and lives for 30 more years.

Yeah. I wasn’t even close.

While false, it still inspired me as I’ve been intentionally seeking renewal on this cold and quiet mountain. I’m doing what is instinctual right now because I have hope that I can finally, FINALLY be healthy from a 16-year battle with a disease that I have let rob me of so much life and happiness. Whether the facts of the story are fictional or my version of it is far from accurate, Psalm 91:4 holds a promise. “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”

I have benches scattered throughout the woods. From those vantage points, I have watched the eagles soar above the Battenkill valley in all four seasons. If there are more benches in the world, maybe more people will take the time to pause and see the beauty all around them.

So my current mission is to build more benches.

Mission accomplished. Now to figure out how to move this to its new home. How quickly I forget that I told myself I’d start building lighter pieces. Instead, I once again build something that resembles Lincoln Logs on steroids.

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A beautiful reclaimed wood slab treated with Waterlox, reclaimed rough walnut 4×4’s, and black walnut chainsawed logs make up this piece.

Sam tried running off with a log (really, Sampson, REALLY?) until I scolded him.

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When I see those eagles flying overhead,  it’s a reminder of my own painful process of change. I don’t regret the growth process for one moment; I regret not being honest about my daily battle and abuse of food for the past sixteen years. There is so much vulnerability in authenticity that sometimes YOU can’t even handle yourself, let alone admit to others just how bad it is. Because you know some can handle it. And others can’t. And that’s ok. It’s unfair to place unrealistic expectations on people in your life. It isn’t necessarily about who is going to try to pull you out of the abyss when you fall; it’s about who is by your side while you are there in the darkness.

I fell into a trench in Africa a few years ago while running through the village, away from harm,  snapping back and breaking all of my toes at once while a mob scene formed in front of me in the darkness. I was terrified. No, beyond terrified as I lay four feet down in the dark, covered in the filth that those trenches served a purpose for. I don’t know who pulled me out. I was told a group of local men did, and I’m forever thankful to those kind people who helped a stranger. But I will never forget the few friends who wouldn’t leave my side while I was in that trench, who knew the dangers of the scene unfolding around us, who quietly let me lean on them when I could hardly walk on my own after I was pulled out, and who guided me home without ever chastising me for my mzungu ways.

Lauren Bogess wrote recently, “The ghost of voices long past rise up to meet me decades later, in the midst of the darkest season. And I struggle to hold on to what I know is TRUTH. Because this wraps its black fingers around the hearts of all those who are bound to the afflicted. It hurts the entire family. The thing I know most about seasons – is that God made them to change. And it is in the passing through them, the move from one season to the next, that true beauty is brought forth.”

Winter is ending.

And if you see a bench? Why not take some time to sit on it…because as busy as you think you may be, you do have time. Stop looking at your phone. Just be present. You may be surprised to see what you’ve been missing.

Lincoln Log Bench: $175 (seats three people)

If interested in purchasing this one of a kind art piece, please let me know before it goes to a local store!

Posted in bench, Reclaimed wood, rustic decor, Wood slab