DIY Hobbies

Handmade Wooden Cookbook Stand – DIY Tutorial

January 14, 2018

My husband’s mind and meticulous detail fascinates me. Although at times, his attention to detail can be a little much – it does make for a beautiful, handmade design. I have always called him my Lumberjack because of his woodworking skills and awesome beard. Not only is he a handy-man, but he can also dream up some pretty cool designs. We both work full time in IT but a few years ago we started our own Etsy shop. He made all kinds of wonderful custom pieces including a wine bar, a couple dining tables, a storage bench, industrial pipe lamps, end tables and desks. It was a lot of fun but hand crafting those items takes a lot of time – especially the way he does it. You can check out some of his work in our Sold section.

We spend A LOT of time at Home Depot or other local lumber shops picking out the perfect piece of wood. My husband will take a piece from the stack and carefully eye it up from many different angles to check for warping and other defects. He wants it to meet his expectations because if he isn’t happy with his work, he has to start all over. After he has picked out all the right material, he starts to make his design a reality.

A few tips from a Lumberjack:

  1. Draw out your design before you start. Whether it’s planning for new furniture in a space or building something from scratch, Andrew draws it out. This helps him visually plan what he is going to do and helps with successfully executing the plan. Below is an example of a plan Andrew created using some free software. We are in the process of rearranging our living room and getting new furniture so Andrew created this to see what would work for our space.
  2. Create a small model to help visualize. Depending on the difficulty of the design, Andrew will sometimes make a small model of what he is going to build. He does this because it helps him to think of better ways to execute his plan or add to his design. For example, he has built a few wooden cooler stands for decks or patios. In his planning process, he realized it would be very difficult to tip this item over to drain out the cooler after use. Because of this, he added a drain and faucet to his design.
  3. Make a template for repeatable components. Sometimes his work requires a certain amount of the same size piece. If he is using nice wood like black walnut or purple heart, he will create a template using cheap pallet wood for planning. He wants to minimize waste and save his nice wood for the project! Good thinking!

So you want to put your lumberjack skills to the test and try to create a cookbook stand? Let’s get started!

Often times, Andrew will create a design from scratch but for this project he followed the instructions from Build Basic.

Equipment needed:

Table saw

Safety Glasses



Sander or Sand Paper


Kreg Jig (optional)

Tape Measure

Materials needed: 

The 12 pieces of wood pictured below


Craft Glue

Wood Glue

Wood Clamps

The wood pieces pictured above include (from top to bottom):

 4.25″ piece with a 45 degree angle cut off one end

7.5″ piece

13.5″ piece

Nine 10.5″ pieces

Estimated time: 8-10 hours

Level of Difficulty: Great for beginner Lumberjacks!

Finish: Sanded it at 600 grit and rubbed with Danish oil

  1. WARM UP THAT SAW. Get ready for a sawdust party because it’s time to start sawing. If you don’t have a table saw, no worries. You can use a miter or even a hand saw it will just be a little extra work. Cut your pieces according to the sizes listed above.
  2. MARK THE NOTCHES. Using a pencil, mark the notches on your 7.5″ piece. You can do as many as you want. Andrew did five marks every inch.
  3. MAKE THE NOTCHES. Using your saw, make the notches that you just marked. If you are using a hand saw then be sure to take the appropriate safety measures. Use a wood clamp to hold your piece in place.
  4. DRILL HOLES. Drill two pocket holes at each end of all your 10.5″ pieces. *Optional* Use a Kreg Jig to help drill at an angle.
  5. PUT IT TOGETHER! Using wood glue and clamps put your pieces together. Remember, a little glue goes a long way. You will be drilling too so you don’t need a lot. Clamp the pieces together and let them dry.
  6. ADD HINGES. Drill your hinges into place.
  7. FINISHING TOUCHES. Apply oil, stain or paint as desired.

The pictures above show two different ways to clamp wood together. You can use a traditional wood clamp (left) or you can use a picture frame clamp or right angle clamp (right). The type of wood you use will depend on your budget and if you want it painted or stained. Andrew used mahogany for this project. Because he does a lot of woodworking project, he has accumulated a lot of “scraps”. He sometimes uses these scraps to test how different paints or stains will look. Different types of wood are more absorbent than others and the stain may not look as good. If you have a really nice piece of wood with a beautiful, unique grain, you may want to keep it as natural as possible so a light oil or stain will do the trick.

Here is the finished project. He modified his design a little bit. As you can see, there is a nice thick ledge for your trusty cookbook or if you are more modern – set your tablet on it!

There are several different notches in the back so you can set up your stand at different levels. This is a nice feature because you can have your stand almost laying flat if that’s your preference.

Here is a closer look at the notch situation. Andrew put 5 notches about every inch. He made these notches using the lowest setting on his table saw and carefully running the wood through to make it look nice and uniform.

Andrew bought a 4 pack of gold hinges at Lowe’s for about $2.50. There are two on the bottom portion as shown in the above picture and one for the piece that goes in the notches.

Good luck to you and your woodworking project! Be sure to spend lots of time in the planning stage as this will help you execute a successful project. Don’t give up if you mess up. Take a break and come back to it later with a fresh start. You will be at full lumberjack status in no time!



November 11, 2017

What the heck is a bullet journal?

A bullet journal is a customization journal that you create by hand. This can include your ideas, schedule, to-do lists, etc. The sky is the limit with how creative you can get with colors, fonts and themes. Here are 10 ideas of what you can put in your bullet journal:

  1. Diary Entry
  2. To Do Lists
  3. Grocery Lists
  4. Schedules (homework, baby feeding/napping, work meetings, blogging)
  5. Positive Quotes
  6. Ideas (Christmas gift ideas, blogging ideas, new app ideas)
  7. Sketches or new font design
  8. Budget & Financial Goals
  9. Life Goals
  10. Document Milestones (personal achievements, baby’s first step, etc.)

Why should I try a bullet journal?

To be honest, when I first learned of this idea, I thought of many reasons why this isn’t for me. If you are thinking the same thing, keep reading. Maybe this is something worth trying. I was a skeptic at first. Here are the reasons why I thought this was NOT for me:

  • I have zero time
  • My handwriting is horrible
  • I’m not artsy and creative

Ain’t no mama got time for that. I get it. It seems time consuming. Yes, it does take extra time when you can easily download an app on your phone or type up your lists. But, there is something more relaxing about creating your own by hand. You are more likely to remember and tackle your to dos when you write it down versus typing. True story! I work in IT and blog part time so I am on the computer day and night. I get sick of typing and staring at a screen. If you took a peek at my cubical or desk at home, I have little sticky notes and hand written items all over the place! They aren’t that pretty which is why I am very excited to try a bullet journal. If you really want to make it worth your time you can create free download templates to share with others. Freebies can attract traffic to your website or blog if you have one!

My handwriting is honestly embarrassing. It is so sloppy and hard to read. Even when I try to slow down and make it look nice I still know elementary students who have better penmanship. I remember for my parent’s 25th anniversary I had made this awesome chalkboard sign that said “Cheers to 25 Years!” The handwriting was so ugly that my sister couldn’t handle it and had to redo it for me. She has much better handwriting. When I recently started practicing some cool bullet journal fonts that I liked, I wasn’t that bad! I created something pretty by hand, yay!

Even if you are like me and think you aren’t artsy and creative, there could still be hope. If you can use a ruler and know which colors you like then it’s worth a try. It’s that easy. Here are several reasons why a bullet journal is right for you:

  • If you are a list junkie (have lists in notebooks, phone, email, tablet, on the fridge…)
  • If checking off your to-dos is rewarding (I need to be able to check or cross off items in order to feel the full feeling of achievement haha)
  • If your life is crazy hectic and you need some planning/organization
  • If you need a creative outlet

How do I do it?

  1. Buy a blank journal
  2. Gather some supplies: ruler, pens, markers, pencils, stickers
  3. Start creating

You can do this in three easy steps! If you need a little inspiration like I did there are also very helpful tutorials available like the one below which is where I learned what a bullet journal was!

Why I decided to try it

My life feels more chaotic then ever. I am a new mom, work full time in IT and run an Etsy shop and blog on the side. Some days I am so tired I am not even sure how I will get out of bed. Mom brain is a real thing that I thought I would never have to worry about. Mom brain is when you become forgetful and feel like you are losing your mind at times. Why did this happen to me? Because when you have a newborn and a demanding schedule there isn’t much time left for sleep! Your brain and body need sleep to function at it’s full potential. Lately I have walked into Target and completely forgot what I needed there. Yikes, I’m losing it!

Because of my mom brain, I rely on my lists more than ever. I have tried downloading a few different apps on my phone to keep lists and I have also tried using sticky notes but it’s not doing the trick for me. I feel like a bullet journal will help me compile all my ideas, lists and goals in one place! I am excited to give it a try since we live in a day and age where almost EVERYTHING is typed and on a screen. I miss the days where I wrote and drew more than I typed!

Right now I do a lot of my blog organizing in Excel. Excel is my good friend. But it’s not as pretty and creative as a bullet journal. Below are the many tabs in Excel that I use for blog planning. I have a tab for all my ideas sorted by category, a to-do list that I prioritize weekly, and a bunch of other tabs for my affiliate programs and other things. I will likely continue to use Excel even if I start a bullet journal because I am able to quickly do a find (ctrl f) for information I need and can insert links for later reference. The great thing about bullet journaling is you can put in whatever works for you!

Good luck on your bullet journal journey (tongue twister). At least try it once on a blank piece of paper to see if it’s something for you. If you hate it after trying it then go find an app that works for you. At least you tried it once!

This post may contain affiliate links meaning I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only promote products that I have personally used myself or believe in. Please see my Policies tab for more details.

Hobbies Home & Living Marriage


September 30, 2017

When my husband and I started house hunting for our first home, he had very specific taste. He had owned properties before and this was my first time buying a home so I took his lead. He enjoyed modern day conveniences and new construction but had a great appreciation for antiques.

We bought our first home together in 2014. It was brand new and we were the first owners, yay! I had been apartment living for a few years up until that point so I was overwhelmed with all the new space I had. I didn’t really have a ton of décor and all my furniture was mismatched and worn.

Fortunately, my husband had some amazing ideas. He is such a visionary and planner. His idea of furnishing our new home was to use graph paper and plan out every room to maximize space and bring character to our home. At first, I thought it was a little much but he had the right idea!

His first amazing idea was to create a tv stand out of an old door and crates. I can’t count how many times he tried explaining his vision to me and I just could not picture it. Finally, we went out to flea markets and antique shops to search for some pieces. It was so fun! With his vision and my haggling skills, we got all the pieces we needed for his design for around $150 and it was a blast.

Then came the fun part. Andrew brought his vision to life! Finally, I saw what he had been describing to me for weeks. After some significant rearranging, he finally drilled the pieces together. It was the most charming tv stand I had ever seen! The way we arranged the crates was practical too, because we had some storage space! As you can see, the stand is made up of different antique crates and an old door from an estate sale!

Our other great finds and projects include:

This book shelf we made for less than $20.  Andrew and I made the bookshelf shown below. We bought three smaller book shelves from an old local bookstore that went out of business. We painted them a light green and drilled them together. The back of the shelf is made from vintage farmhouse shutters that we got at a flea market. It’s also fun to shop for little vintage knick knacks and use them as décor around the house! Some of our favorites include vintage globes, fans, matchpacks, cigar boxes and license plates.

This amazing 100-year-old, mahogany airplane propeller. We didn’t do anything to it other than clean it and hang it. I got this for Andrew’s birthday last year and he was SPEECHLESS. When we were dating he had told me he always wanted a wooden propeller. I remembered it because I thought it was so random! I got in contact with a guy who lived about 10 miles from us who was willing to sell this piece. The guy had a hard time letting it go and shared with me that he got this from his great grandfather. I told him I would take good care of it and even sent him a picture of it proudly hanging on our wall. This thing is HEAVY! It was quite the task to bring it in our house and hide it on Andrew!


These spooky industrial pipe lamps! I say spooky because they have this dim glow that’s a hue of orange, perfect for Halloween! Andrew made these himself. We do custom orders on our Etsy shop so if you like these, please reach out to us for a quote!

Pictured below is a dining table that Andrew built from scratch, no kit! He used mostly pallet wood so it was super cheap to build. The chairs are the cheapest wood set from Ikea that we painted different tones of green.

My favorite part of giving tours of our home is pointing out all the pieces Andrew built, designed or dreamed of and remembering all the quality time we spent together making them happen! Some we did for super cheap, others were a little more expensive but it just makes our home so much more cozy and unique! Message me with any questions. Thanks for reading!

This post may contain affiliate links meaning I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only promote products that I have personally used myself or believe in. Please see my Policies tab for more details.

Etsy Finance Hobbies Marriage


September 30, 2017

This post may contain affiliate links meaning I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only promote products that I have personally used myself or believe in. Please see my Policies tab for more details.

When I opened my Etsy shop in 2015, I didn’t expect to become rich or have hundreds of sales a month. I was actually in my second year of grad school, working full time and a newlywed so I didn’t have too much extra time to invest in my business. I decided that as long as my Etsy stuff didn’t take too much time away from my husband, I would allow it to be part of my life. The great thing about an Etsy shop is that there is not a big initial start-up cost at all depending on what you’re selling so you can invest as much or as little time as you want. I decided to incorporate our shared hobbies into earning money on Etsy.

My husband and I love to go to flea markets, antique shops and yard sales and find one of a kind items. We loved it so much that we bought too many items and our house quickly became cluttered! We started posting these items on Etsy and some of them sold quickly. Sometimes it was even sad to see a cool piece go! But it was a good feeling to know that it was going to bring joy to someone else. I love when people message me with a note or picture on Etsy about how much they love their new item. At one point, we had a listing for a vintage medical bag and a couple out East bought it for their son who was graduating from med school – so cool! We made a rule that we would only buy items that we loved and we wanted to display in our house. That way, if it didn’t sell, we weren’t stuck with some item that we didn’t really want. We also agreed that we wouldn’t buy too many of one specific item. We got really excited about buying vintage cigar boxes and license plates but we got to a point where we had too many so we stopped.

The coolest thing about shopping for these items was that sometimes we were lucky enough to hear the stories of where the items had been or what they meant to someone. One older couple gave us an antique at no cost because they loved the appreciation we had for the history behind it. We probably talked with them for over an hour about their collection.

We also listed several handmade items. At one point my husband was getting several custom orders at once which was exciting. I would work with the client to get the dimensions and design figured out and talk price. My husband would do all the handy work of sometimes designing from scratch and building beautiful custom pieces. Some of his best work included a storage bench, dining tables, and a wine cabinet. Unfortunately, we had to start turning away business because we do have full time jobs in IT. People told us we should do Etsy full time but Andrew and I agreed that it’s better to keep it as a hobby.

So, we didn’t make millions or anything from our Etsy shop but we were able to buy some nice woodworking equipment for my husband and some awesome craft supplies for me! Of course, we also use some of the money to go out hunting for antiques! We usually make about 5-10 sales a month which is a great pace for us.

Start your own Etsy shop, and let me know if you have any questions. You can easily make it your full-time gig if you want to. I know hundreds of people have so you can too!

Gardening Hobbies Home & Living


September 24, 2017

This is my third year gardening and I have had some awesome crops and some big fat flop crops. I live in northern Wisconsin and our area has sandy soil which can be good and bad. Good for drainage, but not so good for nutrients. Because of the sandy soil, my husband made me a raised garden bed. It has three sections, one deep square section, and two shallow rectangular sections. He also installed some amazing solar lights. The lights aren’t necessary but it looks awesome at night!

I know there are recommendations for which crops work best together in a raised garden bed. I didn’t realize that when I first started and I picked some aggressive, viney crops that took over! One year I had cucumbers and sugar pumpkins. They did awesome but took over my other poor plants. Now that I know there is some great information out there regarding what to plant together, my garden is doing much better.

Now, as much as I love going out each week and coming inside with a big tray full of crops, I sometimes find myself overwhelmed and not sure what to do with it all! After all, I am only cooking for myself and my husband. Our baby boy is still on that all milk diet. Below is a list of things I do with my harvest.

  1. Share with Friends & Co-workers! It feels good to give to others without expecting anything in return. Also, you get to show off your awesome crops you grew! I usually just bring in excess crops (rinsed) to work and put up a sign that says, “Help Yourself!”
  2. Prep & Freeze Depending on which crops you have, some of them might freeze nicely. I currently have bags of chopped zucchini, grated zucchini, and chopped peppers in the freezer. These are so handy to grab and through into a meal. I grab the chopped peppers and throw them into an omelet for the morning. I recently grabbed the chopped zucchini and threw it on the stove top with a mix of other things and made delicious veggie melts. My husband was hesitant at first but ended up loving it!
  3. Rinse, Chop & Enjoy If you know you can eat the veggies within the next few days, give them a good rinse and put them in the fridge. Today, I picked poblano peppers, banana peppers, tomatoes, and a green pepper. I gave them all a good rinse and chopped most of them. With the chopped mix I made some individual baggies that I can throw on a salad, in an omelet or pasta dish. I also made salsa by adding some salt, pepper, cumin, and garlic to the mix.

*Bonus Tip* I was so frustrated this season because my tomatoes were not turning red. At first I thought I was just being impatient but when I saw my fellow gardening buddies posting about their delicious red tomatoes I decided something was up! It had been well over the amount of time that species of tomato was supposed to become ripe. I discovered that because we had a significant amount of rain this summer and we have an irrigation system, they were getting too much water. Fortunately, the rain let up and we turned off the sprinklers. I finally got my red tomatoes!

Now, I will leave you with an adorable picture of Axel next to a giant zucchini!