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{Grown Up Moments} Getting Fancy

Do you ever have those moments who you really feel like a grown up? Despite actually being a grown up for quite some time? I do, but what entertains me is that they’re not the ones you’d expect, they’re super random little moments. I thought I’d post those moments from time to time, mostly for my own amusement.

Here’s a short list of some of the moments I would have expected to make me feel really grown up:
– Earning a master’s degree while working as a consultant for the United Nations
– Getting married and becoming a stepmom
– Signing that scary mortgage document and buying our first home
– Adopting a dog (twice)
– Becoming a Director at work (twice)
– Having a team work for me and having my success directly related to the employment of at least 20 people


I do wonder if most of these moments don’t feel like grown up moments because in most of those cases, I usually feel like I’m fooling everyone and soon they’ll discover I don’t really understand economics (so I shouldn’t have that M.S.), I have no idea what I’m doing as a parent, I’ve never been managed and I have no clue how to manage people, etc. Basically, I’m making it up as I go. Interestingly, Sheryl Sandberg devotes a lot of page-space to this in her book, Lean In, and it turns out this is a common feeling amongst women. And, guess what? EVERYONE is making up as they go.


Anywho, the moments that actually make me feel like an adult are super random. Here are the two times (besides what I’m about to write about), where I felt like a grown up:
– The first night at college after my dad got me unpacked in my dorm and went back to his hotel. I remember standing there, with my soon-to-be friends, realizing I could do WHATEVER I wanted. So, we went out for ice cream (don’t judge, we were nerdy, honors-student 18 year-olds).
– When I bought my first vacuum, at 29 years old. Until that point, I’d managed to inherit vacuums from roommates or parents and had never had to (annoyingly) buy one. Walking out of Target with that vacuum really drove home the point that I was on my own now. (I had a dog, stepson, M.S. and Director title at that point, FYI).

Last week, I had another one of those moments that made me feel grown up. Any guesses on what it was??

Wait for it. Wait for it…


Getting a piece of art custom framed. To this point, I’ve never had any artwork special enough to warrant a custom frame. My sweet grandmother sent me a painting done by my great-grandfather as a housewarming present when we bought our house. It was actually a two-sided painting – one side was a completed painting of a southern California vista (a favorite subject of his) and the other was a half-finished painting of a New York farmhouse. As I understand it, he spent time in Woodstock, NY sometime during the 40s-60s and I’d guess he started it then. It was so neat to receive a piece of family art tied to our new home in New York. 


I was finally able to get to Michaels and worked with an employee who helped me pick the frame and matte. I loved the beat-up edges to the painting and wanted the painting mounted to show them. I also wanted it mounted in a way that preserved the finished painting on the back if we ever changed our mind. The Michaels employee was super sweet and patient with me as hmmed and hawed over what frame and color matte to pick.

It was super helpful (and reassuring) to see the mockup on the computer!


Then, she rang me up. Even after the 50% off + an additional 25% off, I had to steady myself when she gave me the total. I knew custom frames were expensive, but ouch! Definitely a grown up moment. However, I love love love how it turned out and can’t wait to get a wall and room decorated around it. 


Are you a typical-grownup moment kind of person or is it the really random things that make you feel grown up too?

{Kitchen Update} DIY Iron Pipe Gallery Wall

Happy Monday friends. I hope you had a good weekend! I got our taxes done, binged watched House of Cards (omg!)and enjoyed the sunny weather…I’ll call the weekend a success!

As promised last week, I wanted to share the update I made to the kitchen. We haven’t moved forward with any lighting projects, but the tips I got from Carmel and her readers are definitely setting things in motion. And, this project will actually influence lighting decisions…now a chandelier is in the mix.



I’d been trying to sort out what to do on the long wall behind our kitchen table. I kicked around a gallery wall and then read that picture ledges are the new gallery wall, which I loved, for 5 minutes. Then, I imagined all the head and should bonks on the ledges as people walked to their seats or stood up. Ledges were out.

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 6.28.33 AM

Then, I was out to dinner in Syracuse at this restaurant that looked like Joanna Gaines had decorated it. With the exception of a random fake tree in the middle of the room, they had some awesome decor. I noticed a gallery wall of pictures hanging from an iron pipe. Y’all know how much I love iron pipe decor. Sold! 


I went on a wild goose chase looking for the same black pipe Larry and Tim used to build my bookshelves. All the hardware stores only had super black iron pipe (too black) or galvanized steel pipe (too silver). It wasn’t until after I went to two different stores that I called TimTheFarmer and learned that when they washed the grease off the super black iron pipes, they also lightened the color. Ugh. #lessonlearned 


I was so excited to do this project that while dinner was in the oven, I scrubbed down the pipes in kitchen sink #keepingitclassy. I just used dish soap and one of those green scrub pad things. How wild is the color difference?

GWall4 GWall5

I assembled the pipe pieces and TimTheFarmer helped me figure out where to put the anchors in the wall for a level hang. #yayforhusbands Then began the never-ending process of installing the anchors.


It was at this time that TimTheFarmer informed me that he’s figured out our relationship. According to him, I’m the chef, and he’s my sous chef  – – prepping everything for me to finish the project. Does that mean he’s calling me bossy? Probably. I sort of am though. #IllBeYourSousChefTooHoney

Once the anchors were in (and I ran back to the hardware store because we discovered the anchor screws were too small and slipped through the pipe mounts – which I fixed my getting little washers), we hung the pipe. Using, of course, my new hot pink drill from my dad. I then went around the house collecting items to hang from the pipe. I’d picked up an assortment of things I hoped would help with hanging (clear picture hanging wire (basically thick fishing line), ribbon, a wreathe hanger, etc.) and crossed my fingers. 


This project did involve dismantling the picture frame wall I showed you last week. I have a piece coming for that wall, which is why I was OK taking the wall apart. Stay tuned! I used the same technique and laid out my plan on the kitchen floor.


As I set out to figure out how the heck to hang all this stuff, I thanked my dad (in my head) for making me tie on my own fishing hooks for all those years – that knot came in handy with the clear picture hanging line. To minimize my knots, I looped the line around the bar and then tied it to the object being hung. The objects were floating a bit, so I used some good ol’ ticky tack to stick them to the wall. On the flamingo I used the 3M velcro mounting strips because the ticky tack couldn’t hack it.


Side note on the flamingo. I had an Audubon calendar a few years ago and saved it (#hoarder) for future decor projects. See honey, there is a reason I keep all this crap. I cut the calendar up and put this picture in a frame. The flamingo was the only picture I wanted to look at while eating. Unlike this one, which one freaks me out.


Insider Tip: I liked how the hangers looked more intentional in the inspiration wall in Syracuse, but I have no idea what those hangers are. So, I hung everything with the clear line. Then, I used more ticky tack to stick a glittery burlap ribbon to the line to make it look like it was hung with ribbon. 



And….here’s the finished product!


I’d like to figure out an easier hanging method so I can switch things out seasonally. I love the idea of switching out the flowers depending on the season, too.

And, what are your thoughts on a wedding picture in your kitchen/dining area? I love this picture – it’s really a work of art from Casie Zalud. But, is it too personal for a dining/community space?


Project Sources:

Pipes: Lowes/Home Depot/Ace Hardware 
B: Michaels
Picture frame: thrifted find
Dalias: Michaels
Antique blue mason jars: thrifted find
Bird: I have no idea – I’ve had that for years. 
Flamingo print: page from Audubon calendar in a frame we had
Picture line, ribbon, ticky tack: Michaels

{Living Room} How to Hang A Picture Frame Gallery Wall

Update: Kim sent me a picture of the picture frame gallery wall at Panzur and I inserted it below.

Oh my goodness! It has been so fun to see everyone come through from Our Fifth House – thank you for your sweet emails! I have gotten so many great ideas from all the comments on Carmel’s post about our kitchen lighting dilemma. For today’s post, I’d planned to show you the project I did this weekend in the kitchen, but a reader noticed our the picture frame gallery wall in this post and asked about it – it’s a post I’ve meant to do for a while, so since that project preceded the kitchen project, let’s start there! 


To start at the very beginning, a few years ago our favorite restaurant put in a new installation where they hung empty picture frames layered on top of each other along a whole wall. I LOVED it – Kim is super creative and artisitc – and hoped to do one of my own someday.  


To start, I knew I’d need some cool, vintage (read: old) picture frames. In anticipation of moving into a bigger home, we spent a fair amount of time last summer poking through flea markets and little local antique stores. Well…I would actually call them picker or junk stores because they’re not fancy curated antique shops, which is perfect because things are a little more dusty, beat up, and inexpensive – exactly what I wanted! It was funny because most of the sellers couldn’t believe I wanted old beat up frames and would give them to me for free or just a few dollars. My favorite find was this turquoise frame from Mexico, part of a great day’s haul from a big flea market (see what I did with the antique scale here). 


After painting the whole loft, stairwell, and entry/living room, I was determined to get a few decorations up before our Second Thanksgiving feast. That morning I got out all my old frames and knew I’d need a few smaller ones to offset the three large ones I’d picked up. I’d bought a bunch of distressed white and light blue frames from Michaels (or HomeGoods…I think it was HomeGoods) a few months before and thought they’d fit in the with old frames. I removed their glass and backing which I stored safely in a box in the basement for if/when I wanted to use the frames for actual pictures. Tip: pick frames with similar colors to pull the wall together – in my case I went with antiqued blacks/grays and turquoise.

One lesson I learned when Jesse helped me with my first gallery wall was to lay out your whole plan on the floor, before you commit to holes in the wall. That’s the kind of planning that would never cross my mind and I use it all the time now! So, I laid them out in a few different patterns on the floor until I got the arrangement I liked. Then, I took a picture so I could reference it once I started hanging the frames.


To hang them, I started with the two largest frames that were to be flush to the wall and used little picture hanging nails (one or two nails depending on the mounting hardware the frames came with). Because they’re empty, the frames are super light, so I didn’t worry about finding studs (insert TimTheFarmer saying, “Plus you already found one.”). To hang the pictures the frames that were floating, I used longer picture nails which I only hammered in a little (enough to hold the weight, but far enough out to keep the frames off the wall). To keep them from getting wonky, I put a nail in behind the floating corners of the frames to keep them off the wall and fairly level/flush. The frame just rests on the nail in the bottom corner. Finally, to keep everything fairly level since there’s a fair amount of balancing going on, I stuck 3M mounting strips between the frames to hold them all together. I checked the straight lines both visually and with a level, and then accepted that they might be a teense off in places (let your OCD go, folks). I made a handy dandy nail (in pink) and 3M strip (in green) map below. The curvy arrow is the floating support nail. Let me know if it’s helpful or super confusing!


I’m not a big fan of whoever placed that darn thermostat in the middle of the wall (which we’ve since replaced with an even bulkier one I have to work around…but it saves us heating oil!), but I did take that into account when working on the layout. 


Also, I picked up the vintage ironing board and metal pot at one of those junk stores and the white table at a garage sale. I love all the old stuff you can find living on the East Coast! The metal buckets are from our wedding (from JoAnn Fabric) and the flowers are from Michaels.


To summarize the tips:

1. Gather your supplies: empty frames, 1 and 2 inch picture hanging nails, 3M mounting strips, hammer, and level.

2. Lay out your gallery wall on the floor, rearrange until you get a layout you like, and take a picture.

3. Start with hanging your largest pieces first that will be flush to the wall. Hang with smaller picture nails. 

4. Float your next round of frames by using longer picture nails that will keep the frames off the wall. Hammer your nails in enough to hold the frame, but leave enough extra to be above your first level of frames. Add a second nail in the wall at the bottom corner of your frame for your frame to rest on to keep it floating.

5. Take a step back and then use a level make sure the frames are generally level. Keep the frames from sliding on each other by sticking them together with 3M mounting strips. 

6. Cross your fingers that you’ve secured everything well enough that the teenager and dogs running through your house don’t make the frames wonky (luckily I did!).

Have you tried a picture frame gallery wall? Any tips to add?