She's crafty. (Not really.)

So it’s been a long time since I posted. I’m sorry about that, but I’ve been super busy being unproductive professionally. It happens.

I made this.

From this.

And then I made this.

I forgot to take a before picture, but it was a dark brown changing table.

And finally, I made this, using this as a guide.

The thing is: I’m spectacularly un-crafty. I tried making roman shades, and it worked out wonderfully if you didn’t try to open or close them or expect them to actually reach the bottom of the window. I once tried making my daughter a fairy tutu for Halloween. She looked more like a sparkly zombie. I tried making a birthday cake for my husband once, and let’s just say it involved hidden crunchy layers and a jar of jam.

I shouldn’t craft. It’s just that I have massive writer’s block, complicated by the stress of being on submission with publishers.

You know that stomach-melting, soul-crushing moment in middle school when you tossed a note onto your crush’s desk? The one that had “Do you like me? Circle yes or no.” written on it?

Being on submission means being stuck in that moment for months. And months.

I’m managing to subdue it while doing things around the house or playing with the kids. But sitting down at my computer with Word open? I’m a pathetic fourth-grader with a bad perm all over again.

The stress has led to some serious creative outlets other than writing.

Now that I’ve run out of frames, coffee tables and changing tables to repurpose, I’ve moved onto collecting other people’s basement junk. Mostly this is because I’m also spectacularly thrifty.

OK, I’ll be honest. I’m cheap. That coffee-table-turned-ottoman? Cost me about $20 to create. The changing table? That one was $3. The picture? About $15 and a stapled finger.

But after all of those things were in place, I noticed our living room rug. It’s lovely, but small, and our room is long. The space around the rug to the couch began to make my nerves itchy. So I started rug shopping during what was supposed to be writing time.

The first place I went was a local furniture store that was going out of business. “Sacrificial mark downs” was advertised. Hmm. We have different ideas about what sacrificial prices mean. “Do you have swatches that we may use to compare colors?” the salesman asked as I walked in.

Um. No. “I’m just browsing for now.”

“Well, let me direct you to our rug expert.”

Rug expert: “Are you looking for wool blend? Hand-hooked? Oriental? Contemporary?”

Me: “Um. A big rug?”

And that’s when he gave up on me and pointed to a pile of rugs they were “sacrificing” for more than I made last year. OK, more than I made the past three years combined.

HomeGoods was next. Lots of big rugs. A few more digits on the price tag than I wanted.

I went on Craigslist. And I learned an important lesson: While purchasing second-hand items is great for the environment and bank account, not all things are wise purchases second-hand. Such as, oh, I don’t know. Rugs.

We drove halfway across the state (which actually isn’t far. It’s a small state.) to pick up a 10-by-12-foot rug for a steal of a deal. The Oriental rug looked lovely, if a little faded. “We’ll take it!” I said.

The moment the rolled-up rug was in the car, my husband’s eyes began to water. Soon they were flaming red and he was coughing.

By the time we drove back halfway across the state, he needed his inhaler.

“Cats,” he said. “They must’ve had cats.”

“I’ll vacuum the hell out of it,” I answered.

So we got home, unrolled the rug, the dog peed on the rug, I cleaned the rug, and then proceeded to vacuum up several cats. Husband still couldn’t breathe. I spent nearly the cost of the rug on carpet cleaner, carpet brushes, baking soda and a candy bar, then invested several hours behind a closed door scrubbing the rug.

Husband still couldn’t breathe.

We borrowed a steam cleaner. I steamed cleaned the entire house.

Husband could breathe. Also good news: The rug wasn’t faded after all. It was just once furred.

We spread out the rug. Finally! Proportions were perfect! The rug went under both couches. Awesome! It was so clean!

A few days passed. “The rug is lovely,” I’d say occasionally.

“Beautiful,” husband would respond.

“It’s too dark. I don’t like it,” daughter would pipe in.

I noticed, but pushed away the thought, that the rug clashed horribly with the prints on the wall.

A few more days passed.

“I don’t like rug,” husband said.

“I don’t either.”

“Thank God.”

Now we have a new rug, from IKEA. The old rug is now in my daughter’s room. Where it’s just lovely. Beautiful. But it keeps her bedroom door from closing.

And I still have writer’s block.