Book Report: The Nesting Place and a trio of fun stump tables to make

I bought a lot of books for Christmas gifts this year. When I’d get home from the store, I’d sit down and look them over. I’m lucky that my kids always have lots of books on their wish lists and that they read such interesting books! I’ll post later about the rest of the books that we’ve been reading at our house lately, but for today I want to tell you about this one: The Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to be Beautiful, by Myquillyn Smith. I bought a copy for a gift, but I picked it up and leafed through it, and ended up reading the entire thing. What a great book!

I’m also going to show you how I made a trio of stump side tables, totally stolen from inspired by the little tables in this book.

But first, I have a few questions for you: Do you have the impression that you don’t really have what it takes (whatever that is?) to have a beautifully decorated home? Have you endured well-meaning folks looking askance at your decorating choices to the point where your confidence for decorating is basically nonexistent? πŸ™ Do you feel intimidated by the gorgeous images in shelter magazines or websites? Or maybe this: do you have the impression that in order to have a beautifully decorated home that you need oodles of money that you don’t exactly have, and lots more time than you can imagine?

Have you, in essence, given up on ever having that kind of a home?

Well, that’s where I am, too. At least that’s where I’ve been. Until now. Until I was inspired by this book.

As you know, Gentle Reader, I stay plenty busy outside, with my chickens, or in my garden, at the kitchen table teaching the kiddos and whatnot, and teaching theatre to home schooled students. I’ve fostered the notion for years that I just don’t have what it takes to have a beautifully decorated home. But this book totally changed my mind on this matter.

The author, Myquillyn Smith, takes us through an interesting history of the parade of homes and rental apartments that she and her little family lived in–they’ve moved a lot--and the changing of her heart and attitudes about home and beauty.

A few things I gleaned from this book:

  • In decorating, start with what you have. Everybody has things that they love (well, I certainly do!) stuffed under the bed or stored in the attic. Pull those things out to use for decorating, rather than hitting Wal-Mart or the decorating store.
  • It doesn’t have to be difficult to be beautiful: I love the author’s section on drapes, and it has given me courage to get drapes up on several of the bare windows in our house.
  • Bring things into the house that you love, and get rid of the things that you don’t.
  • It doesn’t have to be perfect to be worth doing: For example: I’ve had a really interesting mirror hanging on the wall for several years, with an ugly yellow paint job. I found it at a garage sale, intending to refinish it some day. Every time I passed the mirror, I’d cringe inwardly. I felt like I needed to strip it or something because I think it’s oak underneath that paint. Reading this book gave me courage to just paint over the ugly yellow paint with some leftover wall paint, already. It took me less than 15 minutes, and I love looking at that mirror now. I mean, the frame of the mirror. πŸ˜‰ It’s beautiful, and it took me so little time to cover that ugly yellow. Maybe someday I’ll still strip it and refinish the pretty wood underneath, but it’s good enough for now.
  • It’s worth a little time and money to make your home beautiful, and an attractive place for your friends and family to spend time. And a little is all it really takes, if you don’t mind buying second-hand and then doing a bit of refurbishing. The author shares dozens of ideas for how to do this.

The best takeaway from this book for me: Trust your instincts and just have fun with your house. Don’t make decorating harder than it is. Don’t merely emulate others, but come up with your own style.

Which strikes me as ironic, as I finished the book, because with all the pictures of the author’s gorgeous house, and fun and easy projects, I just wanted to emulate her and her style . . .

Which leads me to these fun little stump tables that you are totally going to laugh atΒ  want to make, once you see my pictures!

We have a pile of firewood still out in the yard, cut but not split. Winter came on us before we finished the job, as usual, so it’ll sit there until spring (or until we have a seasonably warm weekend and nothing pressing to do). So, lucky me, I had plenty of choices when I went out to dig among the chunks of wood for cute little side table material. I was only going to make one, but I bonded quickly with three chunks of wood.

One was tall and slender and had nice feely bark on it, so I left it like it was, put little protectors on the bottom, and set it next to me chair. Cute!

The second had a lovely shape, and the bark had fallen off of it. I painted it white.

Before: I really like the shape of this one.

Before: I really like the shape of this one.

After a quick coat of paint, I thought it was even prettier:



I had a little more fun with the third one. I think it came from the same tree as the one above. It had that lovely shape, but was several inches shorter. I lugged it to Bryan’s shop and sanded the top a bit, and then rubbed the whole thing with boiled linseed oil. The oil really showed off the pretty grain on the end, and the neat color variances on the sides.

Then I lugged it to my studio and pulled out my wood burner and burned a poem on the top. I thought about my dad the whole time. He taught me the wonders of the wood burner for doing pretty things in wood, and he has taught me about the satisfaction of working with lovely woods. Thanks, Dad!

Voila. Finished!


Then I selfishly set all three stumps next to my chair. I love them. One thing you’ll notice is that the tops of my little stump tables are not perfectly level. Little Mack pointed this out to me right away. Bryan was otherwise occupied the day that I made them, so I didn’t ask him to level them out for me with his chainsaw. But maybe I’ll ask him someday when he owes me a favor . . . πŸ˜‰

"Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree." --Joyce Kilmer

“Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree.” –Joyce Kilmer. Isn’t the grain just glorious? The oil brought out the colors.

I find these little tables eminently useful. And fun. And pretty. And everything. πŸ™‚ And even little Mack admitted that they worked for balancing his Lego figures, if you get the angle just right.

They actually don't have to be perfectly level: as you can see, my tea is not spilling. ;)

They actually don’t have to be perfectly level: as you can see, my tea is not spilling. πŸ˜‰ And the Lego man is not going anywhere, either.

So that’s it! I think I devoted less than an hour to this whole project, with maybe a few more minutes for pretty log selection. Oh, also I put those little stick-on pads on the bottom of each one, to protect our wood floor from scratches (and because I found some in the junk drawer).

Oh! One more thing: this is definitely a winter project in the areas of the world where subterranean termites reside. Like here in the Midwest. At the first really hard freeze, the termites go underground and you’re safe to bring wood inside the house. I probably wouldn’t bring a natural stump in the house during the warm months of the year, at least not without lots of termite-searching, first!

You can find lots more of these sort of projects on The Nesting Place website, and of course in Myquillyn’s book.

Our kitty Lolo asleep in the newspaper box. Sweet!

Our kitty Lolo asleep in the newspaper box. Sweet! (photo cred goes to Malachi Miller)

And if you go visit over there, tell Myquillyn that Amy says hi. πŸ™‚



17 thoughts on “Book Report: The Nesting Place and a trio of fun stump tables to make

  1. rita

    Yay for you, breaking free! I love the wood tables! Also, that orange kitty – it’s another thing we have in common. Mind is a real character, as I’m sure yours is too.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Our tiger kitty Lolo makes all of us laugh. You’re right, she’s a real character! I’m happy to hear that you have one, too!

  2. Jillian

    I love your stump tables the one with the poem is the best!
    I’ve been in the middle of organization madness, trying to recycle, donate, reuse or just trash all the stuff that has built up over the years! I must say our kitty Butters ( yes thats his name ) has been enjoying access to all the areas and things he hasn’t been able to explore. Oh the fun! The boxes! He’s full grown but acts very much like a kitten still.
    Looking forward to seeing what else your up to!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Jillian, oh, me too! My biggest highlight every day is stealing away for a half an hour to see how much STUFF I can clean out of our house! (82 items today, and one big ole’ box of trash from the attic! Score!!) It just makes my day to get things tidied up and de-cluttered. AND I know that I’ve got to do it before spring, or else it–won’t–get–done!!

  3. victoria

    I LOVE your little tables!! I am a big fan of grabbing random things (like your tree stumps) and turning them into home decor, unfortunately my boyfriend doesn’t share the same knack for improv home decor… I used to have this giant wooden spool (like the ones used in construction sites for wires) as a coffee table, but alas, had to get rid of it when I moved as my new apartment was too small for all of our stuff.
    Thank you for the review on the book, looks worth looking at πŸ™‚

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Awww, thanks Victoria! Maybe the boyfriend will come around to your decorating decisions if you take it one little thing (stump) at a time?

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Alana, haven’t I seen blog posts before where you are walking around the woods? And I can imagine lugging these things into market each week–oiy! They are heavy, but I’d bet you’re right–I’d imagine that folks would like them!

  4. Melody Pittman

    What a cool treasure you turned out! Amazing. I agree with all these concepts, about using what you have and refurbishing it, but sometimes that can be costly. (I had many things reupholstered and for the price, I feel sure I could have just bought new) These are great things to consider and I never see the point in a designer because i want to feel comfortable in my home so it needs to be my style. I have several friends who use designers because they want that perfect look for their dinner parties, etc., but they always feel sterile and uninviting since they aren’t “personalized”. I think you should make more tables and sell them!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Thank you Melody! It was really fun to make those little tables, though I think if I made them to sell, I’d probably have the hubby level out the tabletop . . . maybe not everybody would find the slanting surface quirky . . . πŸ˜‰

  5. Barbara

    I love your wonderful tables especially the one with the beautiful poem inscribed in it. It’s special that you took the time to rub on the linseed oil and do the wood burning. Enjoy them!

  6. K. Lee Banks

    Thank you for sharing such neat idea and photos – and I would like those stump tables, too! Of course, my cats would probably think they were new scratching posts and the dogs would chew on them…but I still like them!

  7. Sharon H

    While I don’t really have anywhere to put one or more of these delightful table in my house, I can see them being a great addition to my porch, or deck or even under the shade tree with a comfy chair or bench.

    Another thing they’d be great for……placing pots of plants on them…..woohoo, new plant pedestals!

    Thanks, Amy

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