Always more like this:
It’s such a strange word isn’t it? I feel like these days many people often say their goal is to lead a “happy life.” You ask, “Where do you want to be in 5 years?” and often times you’ll hear “I want to be HAPPY!” thrown somewhere in there along with a fulfilling career, family, and good health. That’s a great answer, but what does it truly mean to be happy?
I’ve been thinking A LOT about that question lately. Last year I quit my “corporate-y” job to come home to Chicago and pursue projects that I actually enjoy. I wasn’t feeling stimulated at my past job, and didn’t see much room for growth. I remember coming home crying to Finn, asking him what I should do, how could I be happy at work? And he simply (& sweetly) urged me to take control of my career path. So in August I made the scary jump from full-time gig to freelance, and I haven’t looked back. It was a terrifying decision, but I’ve managed to survive the transition and I’m now taking on plenty of clients.
Am I happy now as a freelancer? Kinda. The answer should be a resounding “yes!” However, as any freelancer can tell you it’s scary to think too far into the future. Sure I’m busy now, but what if that one client doesn’t ask me to come back? What if I sit at home the entire month of July with no work? The anxiety of the future is holding me back from truly being happy RIGHT NOW. And the thing is I don’t want it to. I want to be able to wake up each day with a smile on my face, and be able to count my blessings on all of my fingers and my toes.
Remember the last time I was worried about the past….anxious about the future…and not living in the present? I decided to make this quote onto canvas, so the mantra would be stuck in my mind each and every single day.
That canvas art is still going strong in our master bedroom…but I wanted to also incorporate this new happiness sentiment. So I decided to tackle another DIY project, and I enlisted the help of my fellow rookie and pallet building extraordinaire.
See those O’Connor’s have quite the knack for building magnificent pieces of art out of old pallets…
Just like when B made this amazing pallet for her Dad for Father’s Day. When she blogged about that pallet, she divulged all of the deets on creating this awesome work of art. So I won’t bore you with the details about building a pallet sign. If you’re looking for the goods, you can just head to this post for the full tutorial.
Instead, we’re going to jump right to my finished pallet sign…
If you follow us on Instagram, then you may have seen this little gem a few weeks back. Yep, it’s a pallet with a big “BE HAPPY” message on it. That pallet sign is actually hanging in Bridget’s guest room. We worked on it at her casa, and hung it up in there to try it out on the wall. Looked pretty fab if you ask me.
Lucky for me, Bridget already has an amazing pallet sign in her guest room and I was able to take this home with me for a much needed pick-me-up on a boring wall…
The area by our TV has been seriously lacking in the decorating department, and I knew this sign would be the perfect addition to the space.
I’m totally loving this little area. I added some color with a HomeGoods throw and pillows, and it is now looking much more cheerful.
Not to mention, you can’t help but notice this huuuuge sign when you walk into our home. Sure it’s a nice message for our guests. But more importantly it’s a reminder to me.
I look at this sign and take its message seriously. I’m going to Be Happy RIGHT NOW. It doesn’t say Be Happy….when you have more money. Be Happy…when it’s finally the weekend. Not when I buy my own house. Not when I’m 10 lbs lighter. Not when I have a child, or a family of my own. Nope. It simply says Be Happy. And to me that means I need to see the joy and happiness in this moment. The blessings I have right now…not the ones that may happen in my future.
So there you have it. My small daily reminder that is making a big impact on my life. I hope you take some time today to live in the moment and be happy right now. You deserve it.
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DIY Pallet Sign
With lots of intimidation and quite a bit of hesitation, I decided to create a pallet sign to give to my dad for Father’s Day!
I enlisted my better half to carry this way-heavier-than-I-expected pallet home from a dumpster nearby. (I say “nearby” loosely… more like 1/2 mile of trucking this thing home). Poor Matt, such a team player.
Breaking the Pallet Apart
After we he got this bad boy home, we got to work tearing the wood apart.
I know this is the man of my dreams when I see him knee deep in DIY still rocking his Sperry’s.
Needless to say, the muscle part of this duo took care of most of this demolition as well.
Thanks to Matt, we were left with some weathered pallet wood that would eventually make up the Pallet Sign.
We laid out a rough draft of the sign and decided that the tiny pallet leftovers just weren’t sturdy enough to back this heavy sign. We headed to Home Depot to buy some new wood.
But first, these dangerously scary nails needed to go. With the back of a hammer and some more muscle (ohhh Maaaattttttt), we got those bad boys out in no time.
To identify how big our strips of wood needed to be at Home Depot, the project manager did some measuring.
Putting it back together
Since the whole sign was 21 inches long, we picked out one long strip of wood and had it cut down (for free) to 20 inches. The total at Home Depot for the wood, a whopping 97 cents.
After we did some more measuring and re-adjusting, we were ready to nail. One pallet board at a time, we leveled, nailed, nailed, nailed, nailed, nailed, nailed and repeated the process over and over and over again.
Until we were done!!
Sturdy? Check. Level? Check. Proud? Check, check double check!
Now, the fun part- adding a “little” finish to the already weathered pallet strips. I didn’t want to add a fresh coat of pure paint onto this sign because I figured that would eliminate the vintage charm this wood already offers. However, without a little color I knew the wood was just too unfinished for my dad’s style. The compromise: watering down paint to give it a vintage washed look.
I used a small jar of an old paint sample for my paint base. #hugemoneysaver. Instead of buying an entire gallon, Home Depot will create a sample of any paint color you choose for around $3. How could you beat that?
Before I took my (paint + water) concoction to the pallet sign, I sampled it on a piece of leftover wood. If you want the darker look, use less paint. I wanted my finish to be a little lighter, so I added more water to the paint. There’s no rhyme or reason to my mixture, I just kept adding a little bit of water until the consistency was exactly what I was looking for. It’s sort of like creating the perfect pancake mix… kinda?
Some of the pallet wood absorbed more of the paint than others; giving those strips a darker look. Clearly each strip looks a little different, which was A-ok with me! The more weathered charm, the better.
The next step: adding some words! I traced some letters that I printed off the of computer with a pencil.
I filled in the lines with a few itty-bitty artsy paintbrushes and some white paint.
About an hour and a half later, I was so excited to present this treasure to my pops.
(Dad, if you’re reading this…. skip this part)
- Pallet Wood……… Free
- Backing Wood…. $0.97
- Nails………………. $1.30
- Paint………………. already had it
- paint brushes……. already had them
- Total Cost: $2.27
A personalized gift….. Priceless
Happy belated Father’s Day to the best dad in the world. Not only have you taught your daughters how to become independent young ladies, you have SHOWN us what it means to be a selfless parent, hardworking professional, amazing husband, and most importantly…. a good person. Thank you.
P.S. if you love this affordable project, I think you’re going to love DIY Address Sign too!