I used to think in my early twenties that I would either make a go of the world, let go of my black and white, get elbow deep into the muck of the world, or move to Vermont...
I used to think in my early twenties that I would either make a go of the world, let go of my black and white, good vs. bad thinking, get elbow deep into the muck of the world, or move to Vermont... read more here

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Plumbing Pipe Table – A Table for Twelve!

Plumbing Pipe Table – A Table for Twelve!

I am pretty impatient when it comes to projects.  So this summers table project is like a miracle of perseverance…  It all started 4 years ago as serendipity would have it, when out of the corner of my eyes I saw something moving out the window and watched as one of our very tall and large cherry trees fell over in our backyard.  I couldn’t believe it was happening, there was no storm, no wind, it just fell.  Thankfully no one was out there.  It fell right beside our chicken coop, happily not on it.

Well there were three more cherry trees in the same mound, large and tall.  We knew we just had to take them down.  A tree service came and took them down for us and then we had them milled into boards and sold some of the boards to make up for the cost of having the trees taken down.  The rest of the cherry boards have sat and rested for 4 years.

Cherry tree that fell down among cherry trees we cut down.


Stack of boards milled from our Cherry trees.


My husband Kevin thought it would be great someday to make a farm table from some of those boards.  I thought it sounded like a nice idea, but also like a lot of work and a lot of time.  Time is not something we have a lot of at the moment.

As many of you know we have 7 sons ages 15 to 2.  Over this past year it has grown increasingly obvious that we have outgrown our kitchen table.  It seems as if every night either Kevin or I (depending who is last to the table) is without a seat.  We used benches as a way to eek out a few more spots at the table, and if we had visitors I would often just add another smaller table we had to the end.  Knowing the kids were only going to get bigger, not smaller, I diligently searched Craigslist for a fairly inexpensive but bigger and thinner table to replace it.  Each time I thought I had found the right table, it ended up already being taken or located ridiculously far away.

The turning point came in early June when after feeling exasperated by my Craigslist search, I google searched table base ideas. Really if we were even going to consider making a table the base of it was key for me.  With so many little boys and now bigger boys pushing on that table I knew the base needed to be strong and well put together for it to be sturdy.  I found the brilliant idea (on Pinterest of course) of using plumbing pipe for a table base.  You just screw the pieces together and then use screws to attatch it to your table top. I thought to myself for the first time:  “OK, I think we can do this…”.

So at the beginning of the summer we started this project and just a couple of days ago we finally finished it.  Kevin did most of the structural work and I did all of the finishing work.

It was an exercise in patience.  Lots of starts and stops, backtracking, waiting for time, playing with kids and living life instead.  By the time we were ready to put the base on the table top this past week, I had had it and was ready to quit!  We really don’t have a lot of time for a project like this, with so many kids and their needs (like being fed at least 3x a day) and so forth.  So we would work for 15 minutes here, a half hour there, etc.  For someone who likes to do projects and do them quickly it was a challenge to put it mildly.

Here are some photos I took along the way…

Planing the Cherry boards.


Chiseling the supports for underneath.


My little inlay like method of filling the cracks.  I took the chips of cherry that Kevin made when chiseling out notches for the bottom braces and pushed them into the cracks with glue on them.  I later took a chisel and chiseled them off to make it even with the boards.


Sanding out in the sugar shack with all the mosquitos… (Kevin said they didn’t really bother him, but whenever I went out to check on the progress they loved me!)


Re-working the bottom braces as we measured wrong and needed to make them farther apart to fit the pipe leg base we were making.


And more sanding…


Really the top of the table is what took the majority of the time.  After all the sanding and filling, I used General Finishes Water Based Top Coat for the finish.  I had been really unhappy with the minwax I have use in the past, so I researched water based finishes and this one had great reviews.  I would definitely follow the directions they use on their website for application, and not just use a foam brush.  The finish came out great and wasn’t hard to apply at all once I got the hang of it.

The plumbing pipe part took measuring, buying the black iron pipe at Lowes (we decided to make our base with the standard sizes they had, though we could have had them cut and thread the pipe to suit our sizes.  Kevin thought it was just easier to go with the standard sizes.)  After buying the pipe Kevin cleaned off the oily residue they have on them with Naptha, then we put it together and I used 2 coats of black rustoleum spray paint to give it a more cast iron look to match our wood stove.  If you want more info about what plumbing parts to use, etc., we loosely based our design on this tutorial.

And here it is finally finished!


From the top with all our chairs and some pretty hydrangeas from our yard:



Facing the livingroom… 


…and facing the kitchen.


We now have three extra spaces at our table instead of one too few and can fit 8 chairs and two benches at it.  We still have one son away at Cross Country Camp, so the whole family hasn’t quite eaten together at our new nice and long cherry board plumbing pipe table.  I am so so so happy with how it turned out and I am even more happy that the whole process is OVER  and we can now just enjoy it.

With love from Vermont,


We are Easter People.

We are Easter People.

We have just arrived home from our Easter celebration in Massachusetts with my family.  The boys are all neatly tucked into bed and Kevin is out harvesting sap from our maple trees as our buckets are overflowing from two days of sap runs in our absence.

Lent ended last week.  It is that time of preparation for our hearts where we either give up the things that are keeping us from getting closer to God or we take on things that will help us grow closer to him.  I chose to get out for a walk each day and be kinder to my husband.  The first gave me precious time for my soul so I could be more successful with the 2nd.  I hope to continue with both far beyond Lent.

You could feel the tensions build in the readings this Holy Week.  There was Palm Sunday when Jesus was welcomed into Jerusalem as a king (shortly after raising Lazarus a good friend of his from the dead), to the lead up to Holy Thursday where Jesus celebrates the Last Supper with his apostles which ends with one of them turning him over to the authorities.  Then his apostles all flee in fear as Jesus is tortured and humiliated, and on Good Friday Jesus is horrifically crucified on a cross.

Holy Saturday is spent in stunned silence as his followers hide in fear and mourn the death of their hope, and then today…  some of his followers go to his tomb to pray and find it empty.  What has happened?  Where did he go?  Was he stolen?  Those questions are not immediately answered, not until later in the day and then over the next 40 days as Jesus appears to his followers over and over again and the truth is unmistakable.  He Is Risen.

Paper mache' and grass recreation of Jesus' tomb the boys and I put together this past week. We tried to improve upon our previous tomb and make it more travelable.

Paper mache’ and grass recreation of Jesus’ tomb the boys and I put together this past week. We tried to improve upon our previous tomb and make it more travelable.


How often are we in stunned silence in the moment?  Disoriented, fearful?  Just like the apostles on Good Friday and Holy Saturday.  They couldn’t make sense of what was going on.  He was supposed to be their king, to lead them to freedom.

I see a lot of myself in the apostles.  I often say in my heart “Jesus l give you all of me, do with me what you want.” and I mean it when I say it, but then things get tough and I am disoriented in my heart and end up saying to him “Oh, no you didn’t mean THAT though did you? That is too hard!”.

How could Jesus’ brutal humiliation on the cross or my –fill in the blank with any thing I don’t want to do– be part of the PLAN???

It’s not supposed to be easy, this life.  If it doesn’t make us cringe a little, if we aren’t giving up something, then we cannot be transformed.  Jesus knew this so well.  He gave us his all to free us from the parts of ourselves that we tend to cling to, the parts he sees keeping us back.

Jesus sees how very beautiful we are.  He can look beyond all our little and big sins to our potential.  The potential each and every one of us has.  He’s got a plan that he revises each moment of our lives.  We can help him complete it if we decide to look to him and listen.  To listen even when it means carrying his cross for a mile or two or three…

Pouring sap into holding containers.

Pouring sap into holding containers.


…We thought this sugaring season was a bust a few weeks ago.  With no snow on the ground to keep our perishable sap from spoiling we have to boil each run of sap as it comes in.  That was ok when we were thinking it was a short season and the warm weather would make the buds on the trees open and it would be over soon as the sap wouldn’t be good for sugaring anymore.  Then you just pull the taps out of the trees, wash out and put away the containers, lines, and pans.

Well that hasn’t been the story.  So far we’ve made 7 gallons of syrup from about 280 gallons of sap.  It has been our biggest yield since we’ve been sugaring.  That has meant some long nights in the sugar shack, a whole lot of persistence, and even a little faith.

Sugaring seasons on average are about 4 weeks long and by the end we are often tired and yes we have been known to waste some sap instead of boil it at the end because we just felt spent.

So far we are keeping on keeping on.  We’ll see how the season turns out and if we boil every last drop of sap (you know we’ll kick ourselves in the summer if we don’t do it now when the getting is good).

I know making maple syrup for 4 weeks is hardly a great cross to carry, but it is where our family is at right in this very moment, THIS Easter.

Steam rising out of our sugar shack.

Steam rising out of our sugar shack.


Leaning into the collecting, the boiling, the feeding the fire, the waiting, all while carrying on with all the other aspects of our busy lives…  Four weeks of persistence rewarded with gallons and gallons of sweetness.

Who doesn’t want gallons and gallons of sweetness?

We are ALL Easter people, we are made truly alive by the challenges we face.  I don’t know about you, but I want to see what plan Jesus has for me and the goodness that I can’t even comprehend.  Oh God give me faith and persistence and yes, gallons and gallons of sweetness!!

Happy Easter Everyone!!

HE IS RISEN, Alleluia, Alleluia!!



Hidden Shoes and Lego’s Up the Nose…

Hidden Shoes and Lego’s Up the Nose…

Last summer I spent weeks researching and designing an entryway storage system / mud room that would work for our family of 9.  We had fast outgrown the set of hooks we had been using and had nothing in the way of shoe and boot storage.  Basically we piled all of our shoes by theContinue Reading

From Pain to Peace, Alleluia, Alleluia!

We rented a 12 passenger van and traveled for the first time in 8 years to Massachusetts for Easter this year. I was excited to celebrate Mass this morning with close family at their parish church.  We got there early to be sure to get a whole row for our large crew.  We found anContinue Reading

Bosom Buddies…

  There is no mistaking that ~O and ~G love each other. One of ~O’s favorite things is getting into the crib with his younger brother.  Here’s a photo of them from this morning: We took a walk a little later and for what ever reason ~O did not want to get out of theContinue Reading

Well Loved…

Today is World Down Syndrome Day.  This post is for my 13 month old son Gus who was born with an extra copy of his 21st chromosome and has Down syndrome. Gus you are so loved by your brothers, your Dad, and me.   You have special moments with each one of us, like when yourContinue Reading

A special end to a special day…

My two oldest boys ~V and ~K spent 3 hours Saturday afternoon at a local mall selling their origami ornaments to help support the Vermont Food Bank. I parked the car in the parking garage and while trying to find our way to the elevator we met up with a young family.  They had aContinue Reading

Filling up by reaching up.

  So I went to Walmart today.  Gosh its been forever really since I’ve gone, maybe a year, more…  It’s only 20 minutes away and only 1 of 3 Walmarts in the whole state of Vermont.  It is almost always busy and for me overwhelming, so I do my best to avoid it.  We wereContinue Reading

A Vitamix Valentine

This was my Valentine’s Day present this year…   A Vitamix.  Kevin said he was going to do it, being honest, I kind of wished for it, but didn’t quite believe he would do it. See, we had an impromptu “date” about a month ago.  We were flipping through the channels after getting the kids toContinue Reading

A Favorite…

I am so not a “favorite” sort of person.  I hate questions like “What is your favorite color, food, movie?”  It’s too hard for me to choose, I like lots of colors, foods, & movies.  But this morning I think I found favorite worthy of defining and sharing: Today was the first day of school for my children.  IContinue Reading

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