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

Category Archives: Simply Living

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,


The Sun Peaks Through – A Wedding and a Funeral

The Sun Peaks Through – A Wedding and a Funeral

Life was so divinely orchestrated yesterday, I felt like I was a character in a movie.  First I attended the funeral of a good friend who at 76 passed away last week.  She shared my love of Jesus, was a model of childlike faith, perseverance, and how to be a loving spouse and mother.

I first met Dottie five years ago when we each were teaching religious education at our parish, she taught in one of the first grade classes and I in the other.  Our friendship began in earnest though 2 1/2 years ago when her husband was nearing the end of his life.

Dotty instilled in me through her stories of their love and through her own sacrifice what the actions of a mature love looks like.  I would listen to her talk about how she viewed her husband, how deeply she cared for him, and sheepishly think to myself, “Hmmmm that’s not how I always am with my husband.”

I found out about Dottie’s passing last Sunday in Mass.  Even though I knew she hadn’t been feeling well for some months it still came as a shock.  I mourned the loss of my friend.  When I found out her funeral would be on my wedding anniversary though, I smiled.

Seventeen years ago yesterday I pledged to love, honor, and cherish, my husband Kevin, in good times and bad, till death do we part  and for the first time in 17 years it looked as if Kevin and I were not going to be together on our anniversary.

Our oldest three boys and Kevin were scheduled to be on a retreat for Catholic Boy Scouts.  Kevin was one of the arrangers of this retreat weekend which at one point had its date changed due to a scheduling conflict and somehow the fact that the rescheduled date was our anniversary weekend didn’t click with him till it was too late.

Any other year I would have let anger get the best of me over this, but by the grace of God this year I didn’t.  I let it go, I let God handle it.  Instead of being together on our actual anniversary, we planned that I would head over to the camp (about an hour away) the next day on Sunday for an intimate Mass in the mess hall.  It would be something fun to do with the four little ones still with me and I wouldn’t have to try to wrangle them at Mass by myself.

On Friday as Kevin and our older boys were packing up to go, I felt melancholy.  I knew it wasn’t “that big a deal” but I was sad that I wouldn’t see him on our anniversary.  Trying to make sure I had all the info for Sunday, I asked him what time Mass would be at.  He checked his email and he said the Mass was changed to Saturday afternoon.  I would see him on our anniversary after all.

My friend Heather was so kind to come over to watch the boys for me on Saturday morning so I could attend Dottie’s funeral.  Dottie always dressed to the nines for Mass often wearing elegant hats to complete her ensemble.  I tried to honor her in the black and white sundress I wore.  I hunted down a curling iron in a drawer it has sat untouched in for years, to give my hair a little lift too.  Dottie’s is the first funeral I have attended in Vermont for a friend in the 11 years I have lived here.

I sat near her usual spot.  I sang the hymns, praised Jesus, looked up at the statue of The Risen Jesus that was so close to Dottie’s heart, felt her presence, and remembered her…  Afterwards at a local Inn I had the opportunity to meet and talk to two of her three children and a few of her grade school friends.  I was able to tell her children how much I loved their mom and that her life made an impact on mine.

As I drove back home after the funeral, time was running short for making it in time for the Mass at the Boy Scout camp.  So when I arrived, I thanked my friend for watching the boys, got them packed up in the car, grabbed a few snacks, and our wedding candle (I thought maybe the priest could just have it lit at the altar or something).  I didn’t really have time to change so I just slipped on a pair of sandals instead of the heels I had on and we headed off.

I drove our big 12 passenger van over the hills of Vermont in and out of rain, the sun sneaking out here and there, following my directions to the camp.  I pulled up as Kevin was walking the dirt road to meet us. Normally I would have felt self conscious to have been wearing a fancy dress to a Boy Scout camp, but this day I didn’t, I was just happy we made it in time and happy to see Kevin.

The first thing that Kevin told me as we pulled up, after “Happy Anniversary!” was that the Mass was going to be said in honor of Dottie.


While driving the winding way through the country side of Vermont over to the Boy Scout camp I was thinking about our marriage and about how I had dealt with the little bump of not being together on our anniversary and how even though it hadn’t been easy for me I had given Kevin grace for it and a few other moments like it lately.  And I thought how different that was from so many bumps we have had in the past, and felt in my soul that not making a big deal about it gave us a peace instead of stealing it and gave Kevin a true feeling of love and me the opportunity to practice the “action” of love.  I thought to myself about how our marriage has grown and how I was excited for our future married life together and how this was just the beginning…

As we were getting out of the van I mentioned to Kevin that I brought our wedding candle.  I watched as he took it over to the priest to explain that it was our anniversary and to ask if we could have it on the altar during Mass or something.

Instead the priest suggested we use it in a ceremony during Mass where we renew our wedding vows.

Jesus took me from the funeral of my friend and a mentor in marriage to this humble scout camp where I would end up renewing my wedding vows.  And just to tie a bow around the whole event with Kevin dressed in his uniform and I in my dress… we were even dressed for it.  Our 7 sons and the other adults and boy scouts there watched as we again pledged to love, honor, and cherish, each other, in good times and bad, till death do we part, with Kevin’s eye glistening at me through his smile just like he did 17 years ago.

pictured left: Our wedding 17 years ago. (photo by Cheryl Levine Photography) pictured right: Renewing our wedding vows at Mass at the Catholic Retreat for Boys Scouts yesterday.

Jesus you orchestrated it all…

How could I have ever doubted you?

Dottie, may you rest joyfully for eternity with our risen Lord and your husband Ed.  Thank you for your friendship and your witness and Happy Anniversary to Kevin, my partner, my husband, my friend.

Sending you all love as the sun peaks through the clouds while driving through the winding hills of Vermont,


A Prayer for My Son, A Prayer for Our World…

A Prayer for My Son, A Prayer for Our World…

We have this little box with a sliding lid that we keep prayers for dinner in.  I made it years ago when the older kids were younger and we were just starting a tradition of saying a blessing before dinner.  Some of the prayers the kids made up over the years and others I collectedContinue Reading

I’m Amazing! or Searching for Simplicity in a Complex World.

I’m Amazing! or Searching for Simplicity in a Complex World.

Ha ha ha, no this is a HUMBLE brag 🙂  So my two littlest really needed some new snow boots this winter.  Even though they are not twins the 2 year old has caught up with his older brother who is 3 1/2 and they now wear the same size shoe.  Out at Marshall’s threeContinue Reading

Running Toward Happiness

Running Toward Happiness

Running is fast becoming a “thing” in our family this year.  After years and years I have started running again and what used to be something very solitary for me has become something quite different as my four oldest sons begin running too. So as summer has hit, most mornings I am out with atContinue Reading

Little Spiders and Paying a Call…

It is spring and our kids schedules seem to be in overdrive.  I can’t even think more than 7 days into our calendar without feeling anxiety, so for better or worse, I am just going day to day to day and moment to moment. Even within all this busy Jesus has been calling me.  PassingContinue Reading

That Sweet Vermont Season

That Sweet Vermont Season

We’ve been prepping all week for a run.  Those cold nights and warm days that wake the sleeping sap from roots to limbs.  Drilling holes, tapping trees, cleaning out holding barrels.  Today was the day, the sap ran and ran.  It’s been 8 years of Sugaring seasons for me now. I’ve been going through myContinue Reading

Obladi Olbada Mr. G Turns Three!

Obladi Olbada Mr. G Turns Three!

Tumbling around on the floor this morning enjoying life and one another, I’m like a mother lion with her cubs.  ~G and ~P jockey for space on my tummy for bounces and snuggles.  “Ob-la-di ob-la-da life goes on bra” sings out from my Pandora “Raffi” station and I can’t help but think: “It sure does…”Continue Reading

Play dough and Being Made

Play dough and Being Made

There are just two of us today in our twelve passenger van making the 5 minute drive to preschool.  At 8:20am it is already a day busy with an agenda ready to sweep me away.  Hidden two rows back safely buckled into his car seat I hear my 4 year old ask in a wayContinue Reading

7 Quick Takes:  It’s Autumn in Vermont Edition

7 Quick Takes: It’s Autumn in Vermont Edition

Here’s my 7 Quick Takes on what’s been going on around here lately… 1 — Fall kind of slid right by no matter how hard I pulled at it’s coat tails begging it to stay!  I did manage to take a few photos before the splendor fades into the winter…     2 — ~PContinue Reading

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