Our Crate Coffee Table!

A few weeks ago David and I decided to take a weekend to make a coffee table out of crates, an idea I got from My Anything and Everything DIY Blog.  It was an all-consuming project – just what we needed!

First, we needed crates. I was going to purchase them from Home Depot. After visiting several different Home Depots in a few hours, I found a couple but they weren’t in very good shape. Apparently they sell out very quickly, and also tend to get beat up a bit during transport.

So off I went to Michaels Craft Store! I purchased all four of them at Michaels because the store manager agreed to a price match (which ended up being more than 50% off!). I recommend using Michaels crates for this project as they seem to be better quality (they’re prettier!). The ones at Home Depot are more “workhorse” crates, whereas the ones at Michaels are specifically made for crafts. They look exactly the same online, which is why I was able to get the price match.

We chose Miniwax’s Polyshades “Bombay Mahogany” because we were going for a deep red-brown. We also decided on table legs instead of castor wheels, so we bought T-Nuts for attaching the legs.

We bought teeny tiny screws to replace the ones that came with the L brackets because the screws included were a bit too long, and we didn’t want them to poke through the wood.  We didn’t have a sander, so I took all the crates outside and sanded them by hand. It took a long time, but it was a beautiful day and ended up being very relaxing!

Overall, this product will cost you approximately $100.00 (about $85-90 if you go for the castor wheels).

I don’t have any picture from the process, unfortunately; I just didn’t think about it!

Without further ado, here’s our final product!

 

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I was sitting back with some coffee, taking a look through one of my storytime books for tomorrow.

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I think this picture most accurately represents the colour. Love the richness! We’re also really happy about choosing table legs instead of castor wheels.
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Added a couple more candles for this picture :).

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We’re very happy with our new coffee table! This was a really fun project and if you’re in the market for a coffee table, I recommend making this one! You can even re-arrange the crates or add more to suit your purposes!

 

 

 

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Meanwhile, two months later…

David and I are back in Toronto and settled in our new apartment. We’re back to school and back to work.

Albeit, it took an extra 3.5 weeks leave from work, a lot of tears, sleepless nights, and dare I say it, a bout of depression, to get where we are now.

I had intended to write and share this post on October 15 – Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day – but I still needed a bit of time. I think you can probably see where this is going.

David and I were expecting a baby early next year.

Everything was going according to plan. We got pregnant during our European adventure, found a midwife, I even bought a crib, mattress, and sheets because the deal was too good to pass up ($50.00 for everything, you say? Yes, please!). I joined BabyCenter‘s group for pregnant women, and David and I started daydreaming about names and life after baby. We had even decided, wholeheartedly, on a girl’s name – both first and middle names! We were so thrilled.

And then at our 12 week ultrasound, we learned that I had suffered what’s called a “missed miscarriage.” The baby had actually died before we ever returned to Canada, but my body still believed I was pregnant. We had told some of our close friends upon our return that we were expecting a baby, never knowing that it had passed away weeks before.

Miscarriage is common. But that doesn’t lessen the heartbreak when it does happen.

It didn’t help matters that we learned this difficult news while we were both sick with the flu, still in the process of moving, and in the midst of exploring an entirely new part of Toronto. Needless to say, we ate a lot of takeout for several weeks. There were days I cried for hours and hours. Sometimes I’d wake up and stare at the ceiling  for what felt like days. I lost a lot of weight. I didn’t sleep. I would look into the second bedroom in our apartment – the one we specifically picked for baby – and become so angry I had to slam the door. I don’t think we laughed for several weeks. Obviously a large part of how I was feeling was hormonal, but again, that doesn’t mean that what was felt was any less real. And we’ve both suffered greatly. We were in a deep fog for a long time, and in recent weeks we’re finally laughing again.

One of my close friends also suffered a miscarriage, and I remember when she told me about it, I thought it was so sad, but not a big deal. It happens all the time, right? And it’s not like you suffered a loss after the baby was born. Sigh. Oh my. Based on my own naive experience and expectations, I’m not sure anyone can truly understand the real devastation in learning about a miscarriage until you’ve experienced it for yourself. Also, I don’t want to say the husband or partner doesn’t experience suffering, but I do think that the physical manifestations, and necessary medical procedures, of a miscarriage that a woman must endure only make things more difficult to bear.

These days David and I are doing very well. My purpose in writing this post is threefold – it’s cathartic in that I can express to you something that has profoundly impacted me and David. I also hope that, by talking about this, more women will feel empowered to share. Finally, I wanted to use this platform to express my gratitude to those that helped us heal.

First of all – why do we wait to tell people we’re pregnant? Because of the fear of miscarriage, right? Ultimately deciding to tell people early on or not is an individual choice that each have positives and negatives.

However, because of our experience, David feels strongly that the next time we get pregnant we’ll share with our close friends and family immediately instead of waiting for that “safe” time. I’m not sure how I feel about this yet, but his reasoning is that it was easier for us when people could share in our joy… but also hold us up in our pain. We told several people we were pregnant, but when we miscarried, we told many more people who never even knew we were pregnant at all.

And it’s been through our loving community of friends and church that we’ve found healing. It’s not time that heals all wounds, it’s through our relationships with others – a community of healing, if you will. And sometimes wounds never fully heal. Someone I know recently told me that grief is like the tide – it ebbs and flows, sometimes more strongly than others. These words really resonated with me; we have had our share of grief in recent years and know this to be a real vision of grief. And it has been a great relief to know that during those times of ebb and flow, we’ve had so much support.

I have told almost everyone at my workplace, and together we told so many at church, and many close friends. Our friends listened with open arms and open hearts, and that’s all we really needed. One such friend offered to fly to Toronto and look after us – and we knew she would do it if we expressed in any way that we wanted that. Women who told me they’d experienced a miscarriage themselves united around me with love, support, and understanding. And those who didn’t understand the deep pain, were still some of the most loving and gracious people we’ve ever met.

To those who have suffered a loss, whether it be through miscarriage or otherwise, don’t be afraid to share. One of the passages of the Bible that I hold dear to my heart is Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12:  

Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor.10 For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. 11 Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone12 And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of threestrands is not quickly torn apart.

And we’re blessed that our cord has many strands.

So with that we want to encourage others who have experienced a loss to remember that it’s okay to have and let others lift you back up. Life will go on and be wonderful again, but perhaps things will always be just a little bit different.  And that’s okay.

We also want to express our deep gratitude to our wonderful friends for being such a great support in our lives.

You know who you are.

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Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam (Loved It!)

While David and I have been living in Den Haag, we knew we’d have to make several trips to Amsterdam. David spent several days visiting the University of Amsterdam to take a look at a few 400-year-old books. Yeah, seriously.

I knew that I wanted to visit the Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam (Amsterdam Public Library), specifically their central branch. It’s one of the biggest libraries in Europe! It’s also really modern, and I was extremely curious to see how well (or if they tried at all) to balance traditional and modern library spaces.

Photo from Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam Wikipedia page (Dutch version).

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I counted a total of 9 floors, including the floor with the restaurant, but Wikipedia says there are 10 floors… maybe there’s a hidden floor just for staff!
There are hundreds of workstations, wireless internet (free if you first get an OBA membership), a theatre, museum, restaurant, café, two radio stations, music, games, newspapers, magazines, and lots and lots of books!

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Yeah, there’s a lot of stuff…

The first floor (which the library refers to as “Level -1”) housed the children’s section!

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One thing that I noticed, especially in the children’s section (but the furniture is largely the same throughout the branch), is that almost all the shelving is white. I’m surprised how much I liked this choice (I’m all about wooden shelving!), but the white really highlighted the colours of the books and some of the other furniture. I found the book spines really popped from the shelves!

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This was a pretty brilliant use of space; I loved it. There are little stairs that lead up to a second level on this circular book case! At the top the floor is squishy, and there were blankets and pillows lying neatly on the side. A great “hideout” for kids coming to read!

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This was so incredibly comfortable. I actually kind of threw myself onto this big poof. Nap time?

As David and I were walking around we saw a Dad with his twin daughters lying back on one of these poofs, one daughter on either side, while he read to them. Awww.

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One of the few areas that had toys. And that chair is seriously funky, is it not?

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Lots of the shelving units had Papier-mâché figures that were brightly painted. This one was my favourite.

Next, we moved to Level B1! There’s actually nothing really exciting about this floor, other than the fact that these awesome stations were there!

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I asked this woman if I could take her picture. She was more than happy to oblige! They have these really cute (and kind of weird…) individual workstations. There’s a plugin for your laptop and a nice tabletop for all your things. There were several of these around the library, which provide privacy without taking up a lot of room!

See below for a view of them from the next floor up.

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David checking out the computer stations.

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This is a great place for people bringing their own laptops. There’s a plugin on the tabletop with two outlets, and once you’re finished you can slide it closed so it’s not sticking up. Though obviously a lot of people don’t do that, haha. I can count four in this picture that have been closed!

Level 1 houses all the multimedia (CDs, DVDs, etc). I walked up the stairs and Beethoven was playing from…

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I suppose the librarian picks a CD and people can check it out if they like what they hear while they’re browsing!

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A listening station for music! While I was exploring this station, it seemed as though all the music available for sampling was available digitally. Though, I did see there was a slot on the side of the computer for a CD, so I think you can also sample music CDs.

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“Taalcursussen” translates to “language courses.” Which does not refer to these computers, but the shelving behind them! These computers were available for catalogue searches.
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One of the two radio stations, on Level 4! I could see they had it set up for their live show that had happened earlier in the day. The public is welcome to both radio stations during their live show!

And here are a few more random pictures from various floors.

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The café on level 1. You can see the train going by in the background!

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They had some of these collections on various floors – old books, comic strips, newspapers, etc. encased in glass. They were sort of museum-esque. I wasn’t sure exactly what was being displayed, but there was one display case of old toys!

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Photo from “Model Programme for Public Libraries.” Click on the image for the URL.

On the top floor is a self-serve restaurant (La Place). There’s lots of comfortable seating as well as an outdoor terrace! La Place is not a restaurant that’s unique to the library, it’s located all around the Netherlands (we really like it!). They make awesome pizza. And lemonade.

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And what a spectacular view, right? This is from the outdoor terrace on the top floor of the library. I’ve heard that the Central Library in Amsterdam has some of the best views of Amsterdam. I’d have to agree!

David and I visited this library a total of 3 times. During Sail Amsterdam 2015 we ate at La Place! We also took a break from one of our days touring Amsterdam by plopping down in a chair and reading Dutch magazines (or, in my case, looking at all the fun pictures!).

My thoughts:

I attempted to be brief, but obviously I could go on for pages and pages about libraries. Love them!

Overall, I really enjoyed this library, and it was really interesting to visit. I loved the children’s area. There is also a Mouse House (it reminded me of Beatric Potter’s The Tale of Two Bad Mice), which is cute and fun to look at. There are lots of funky and colourful furniture that really popped out from the white shelving units, and the use of space is great! In the children’s area, there is an entire craft room, but the walls are made of glass so you can watch the kids make fun things! And a lot of their creations are on display.

I liked how they had a lot of space for people who brought their own computers, and I LOVED the café in the Newspaper section. Lots of people hanging out reading and drinking coffee. During our initial visit, there was a staff member (at least one) on each floor and catalogue computers. Very well organized!

Sometimes I did feel like the library was a bit cold and uninviting with all the white shelving. I think they handled this the best in the children’s area, but other floors were less inviting. There was just a lot of white.

Obviously not all libraries can (or should!) look this way. They had a lot of space and money to work with (seriously, 80 million euros…).

Also, one thing to note is that library membership is only free if you’re under the age of 19! A standard membership is €35 a year which allows you to check out 8 items at a time, and limits you to 50 items a year. Borrowing movies, CDs, games, or blurays cost at least €1 a week, per item (that’s not a late fine, that’s just the rental fee). If you want unlimited checkouts a year (but still limited to 8 at a time) you have to pay €55/year. And the cost of borrowing media items remains the same.

I don’t think having to pay for a library membership is a bad thing, and certainly the cost indicated above is quite minimal for what you get. There are lending stations in hospitals and train stations! However, I think you’d have to be offering an extraordinary level of service (and be good at marketing those services!) to have patrons feel comfortable paying for a library membership. I love libraries, and I wouldn’t hesitate paying €55/year for the “Leenpass+”, but I know many people would be angered that a membership costs money.

I think they’d get over it. Eventually.

 

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