Tuesday, September 29, 2009

No More Doggies

The other day, Mike was cutting tile outside for our countertops. He accidentally locked himself out when the back door closed behind him. No problem, he had his keys in his pockets. The next time he went out, the door closed behind him again and locked him out. He didn't have his keys. No problem. We have a doggy door wide enough for a Saint Bernard and his hefty owner to go through at the same time. In a matter of minutes, he was able to pull out the rusty metal guard from the doggy door and enter our home. Luckily, there's not a lot of robbers in our neighborhood.

I hate this door. My hatred of it is unreasonable, but intense.
But tonight, we said good night to the door. Mike with many grunts and spurts of blood as he struggled with the new ridiculous door I special ordered.

I'm usually a conservative, frugal person. But then I met my door. I love my new door. It's unnecessary. Especially for a back door. But I love it. Whenever I do freelance work on my free time, I'm allowed to spend it on whatever I want. So this time, I splurged. (And it was 15% off. Yay!)

We still need to paint it and touch up the trim. So, question is: Should I paint it a nice marscapone, like the trim, or a bold cobalt blue? (Here's a preliminary pic of the living room, if it will help you.)

A Personal Struggle or Hermione at Bible Study

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have Hermione Granger at your small group? Your leader would ask some question like, "So what do you think it means that we are a new creation?" Everyone sits quietly, as usual, looking at the floor or pretending to read some verse in the Bible, avoiding eye contact, while Hermione sits in the corner, arm shot to the sky, practically hopping in her chair for excitement. 

If you answered yes to the above question, then you should invite me to your small group. I have an answer for everything. Questions you ask. Questions you didn't ask. Questions you never wanted answered. Questions that are utterly unrelated to the topic at hand. 

Rather than striking it up to being an insufferable know-it-all, I will label it as an unquenchable love of knowledge...and sharing of said knowledge. 

Any given week of the year, you'll find me at small group. The leader asks a question. Everyone awkwardly stares at the floor. Not me. I have an answer. I want to share it. I usually do. I have an opinion on everything. (Of course, not on the stupid questions. You know, when you read a verse that says, "Greater love has no man than to lay down his life for his friends," and then the question is, "What is the greatest love?" Lame.)

Of course, while God gifted me with an intense desire to pontificate, he also, in consideration of all you, made me acutely self-conscious. So as often as I am shooting my hand up to the sky to offer my take, I am also just as often sitting on my hands and biting my tongue. Thus each week is an inner battle for mastery between the two me's. 

I thought you should know. That's all.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Le Petit Prince en Breckenridge

This weekend, Mike was actually not working on a project, so we had a play weekend. Friday night, we found a new hike in our neighborhood which gave us quite dramatic views of Pikes Peak and made Mike look like Le Petit Prince. On Saturday, we went to an Alpaca Extravaganza! Really, that's what it was called. It wasn't very extravagant, but we did get to pet lots of cute little alpacas and Mike even walked one. He became quite bonded with Cezanne, a chocolate alpaca. This event threw me quite out of balance, because it set me back to longing to live in a rural community and can peaches and gossip about rain and farm alpacas.

We then biked the Santa Fe trail down to Filmore, enjoying the warm fall day. Then we watched Fame. (Which I am supposed to be writing a review of, but sit here blogging instead. I'll give you a sneak preview of the review: Fame is not good.)

Sunday we threw caution to the blue fall sky and drove to Breckenridge. We had a little picnic of mead and gouda and a baguette and dates by a sweet mountain stream. Then we promptly biked from Frisco to Copper, fueled by this super food. Because we biked yesterday, and were full of chewy bread and mead-y goodness, we biked slowly.

Then we wandered about the lovely town of Breckenridge before heading home and oohing and ahhing at the lovely fall colors along the way and listening to the Return of the King on Mike's MP3 player. A good time was had by all.
(Notice Mike's manly mountain beard. He hasn't shaved since he started our kitchen cabinets project. It's getting itchy, so he better get that kitchen sink in soon!)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mike in a Box

Let the tiling begin.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Rejoice!

Last night as Mike hacked at plywood for our countertops, I read the book of Revelation to him out loud, thus ending our summer Bible quest...a bit delayed because I just didn't feel like reading Revelation for several weeks. Because when I think of Revelation, I think of scary bejewelled women riding dragons and falling into lakes, and it's unpleasant.

But reading it all the way through last night, I wasn't struck by the freaky beasts, dragons, or locusts, but by worship and how important it is. The book is punctuated and interrupted by praise and worship of God. The 24 elders surrounding the throne are continuously finding adequate reasons to fall on their faces and praise God.

Beginning, middle, and end, the most important thing is clearly giving God the worship he is due, no matter what else is going on at the time.

Tonight I started researching for the Bible study on joy. I felt very unjoyful when Word crashed with all my collected verses into the sea of lost computer files. But being freshly immersed in the truth helped me to wade out quickly.

So, here is some truth for you to wade into with me:

"Always be glad because of the Lord! I will say it again: Be glad!" Phil 4:4

"Let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice! Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually." 1 Chronicles 16:10-11

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!

My mom and aunt should be professional reactors. Seriously. If you ever have anything you're excited to show someone because you're proud of what you've accomplished, you should pay them to come over and ooze enthusiasm all over you.

Their reaction to our cabinets made my cry. Seriously. (Is this house focus becoming a little pathetic, or what?) But when you (read: your husband) have worked so hard on something, it's so nice to have it appreciated. So when they walked into the kitchen to see our finished masterpiece, they said, in chorus: "Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!" My aunt actually thought we'd bought new cabinets.

That's a big build-up, isn't it? Now you'll probably look at the pics and say, they're not that cool. But that's what I have a mommy for. So without further pomp or ado, behold our cabinets!

What once looked like this:
Now looks like this...at a slightly different angle:
Here are the Craigslist appliances we got for a third of the price that nearly killed Mike.
Here's a view of the pretty little column and appliques we added:

The pictures were taken in dim light, so it's hard to show the color. Here are more details in case you were sleeping that day. How did we create such lovely cabinets, you ask? Here's what we did:

  1. Removed all cabinet doors and drawers.
  2. Cleaned everything with trisodium phosphate.
  3. Sanded everything by hand.
  4. Used liquid sander for good measure.
  5. Sawed and sanded trim pieces.
  6. Nailed, glued and otherwise attached trim.
  7. Touched up seams with caulk and wood filler.
  8. Painted everything Morrel.
  9. Antiqued everything with walnut glaze. (Paint glaze on, wipe off.)
  10. Applied one coat of polyurethane to everything.
  11. Rubbed all down with steel wool.
  12. Applied one more coat of polyurethane.
  13. Drilled holes and installed hardware.
  14. Reassembled everything.
  15. Died in freak fridge-crushing incident.

Whew, does that make you less eager to follow in our footsteps? And now there's nothing left to do but start a whole new large project--installing granite tile countertops. No problem.

  • Now here's your homework: What color should I paint the walls? Keep in mind we'll have blackish countertops. The kitchen isn't as dark as these photos are making it look--a combination of bad light and bad photographer. Ideas?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Got New Fridge

Saw...ad....Craigslist. Stainless steel: Fridge ($1600), stove ($1,000), microwave convection oven ($700). All for $1,000.

Got un mille en cash. Got truck. Got dolly. Mike nearly lost his life in a tragic fridge-crushing.

Got them in garage. My 120-pound carpool buddy and me were afternoon helpers.

Several dings in tile, doors, head. Mike in 2nd near tragic fridge-crushing.

Microwave convection oven heaviest microwave known to man. Wet. Snow. Cold. Wet. Head dings. All installed. Now must sleep.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Remember the Victories

Our pastor gave us an assignment today, which was to write down and remember the past victories God has given us. I did that a couple of weeks ago here. But as a discipline, I thought it would be helpful to list more ways, areas in which God has helped me or comforted me or rescued me. So here goes...
  1. Loving my husband. You know there are some prayers God always seems to answer when I pray them. Not the, "please, please, I really want this job" kind, but the, "Please make me humble" kind of prayer. In my marriage, I've prayed, "God please help me to love my husband how you intend him to be loved" when my own human love is limp and flat and flimsy, and I believe he has filled me with the ability to love him better--in the times when I might not really want to.

  2. Self-ishness. Growing up, I was so self-conscious that I didn't talk much unless safe at home with my family or close friends. And, sadly, I wasted so much time fretting in my low self-esteem that I spent far too much time thinking about myself (and my inadequacies) and far too little time doing the good things I could have been doing. Self-consciousness is crippling. But from this, God has delivered me...mostly. The instrument he chose to use was my husband. Who continually and unconditionally showers me with truth and compliments (which are hopefully the same thing). After several years, his words finally got through my thick head, and I started believing him--that I am beautiful and valuable and loved and whatnot. Now I am free to do the things God has for me, rather than worry my self-doubt and dislike like a scab while sitting on my tuckus.

  3. Freedom from Legalism. I don't like to think about it, but there was a time in my spiritual life in college in which I became legalistic. I don't like to think about it because I hurt others through it and, ugly of all uglies, passed it on to others in some circumstances--what an awful legacy. God redeems, and so those relationships are healed, but I think of it as a gross blackness, like tar, that sucked me down and kept me sticky and ineffectual for some time. Thank God he reached out to me and pulled me out of legalism into our true legacy--grace.

  4. Times of Doubt. I'm a doubter, and I'm critical by nature. I have my times of doubt off and on, and they don't worry me much, actually. But there was one specific period of time in which I began to seriously doubt and rethink my faith and everything, fueled by disillusionment and hurt I'd experienced at church. That wasn't a fun time, but God was faithful to me and brought me out on the other side a more gracious and solid believer.

Well, those are my victories of how God has been faithful and gracious and victorious for me. How has he helped you be victorious?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Teasers

We did it! Well, Mike did it. Our cabinets are officially complete. I'm going to wait to post pictures of the cabinets as a whole until our countertops are in. So here are some teasers for you of Mike's incredible handiwork. (If you want a refresher, here's our old cabinets. They weren't bad. But they weren't fabulous either.)






Wednesday, September 16, 2009

It Has to Get Worse,

...before it can get better. Right? We're at the worse stage. Just look at that. The view from my kitchen table. Did an earthquake come through here?

The front room is a little better, but you still can't really walk into it and there is a panini press on the antique entry table and random killing devices stewn about on the floor.
My parents will be here Saturday, so we's got to get a move on. Persnickity Mikity actually allowed me to stain and paint the back sides of the cabinet doors to expedite the process.

In other news, I was asked to write another Bible study. Yay! Will it make you judge me if I tell you that with the proceeds I plan to replace that icky stove pictured above that keeps burnin' my biscuits?

The study will be on a topic that I am not exactly good at--finding joy in the ups and down in life. But, then again, I've never been asked to write on any topic that I am particularly good at whatsoever. (They don't seem to want a study on "How to Offend People on Facebook" or "How to Be Totally Self-Interested" or "How to Be a Mediocre Wife." Go figure.)

In any case, it'll give me a good excuse to interview old wise women who do know something and give me some nice study direction now that we're about done with our summer Bible read through. (Here's my confession: I'm stalling out at Revelation. I just really don't feel like reading it right now. But I will.)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Who Are You, Floating Ghana Man?

Did you know that I stalk you? I really do. My little statcounter site allows me to see where you are and how often you visit and what time you visit and what you're wearing when you visit.

Luckily for you, I'm too distracted to ever pay attention to my rich spy resources. The one page I do pay attention to is my visitor map, so I can see what exotic locales people are visiting from, such as Brunswick, Maine and Stockton, California. As you can see, I'm not too big in South America. Or Asia. Or Africa. Working on that.


But one locale that always pops up is some little guy floating there, off the coast of West Africa near Ghana. He's been back 24 times, usually around 5 pm. (See, stalking.) There's no island there, just the Atlantic, so I have to say, Who the heck are you, floating Ghana man? Don't your legs get tired and your computer circuit wet? How are you liking the blog? Would you like more stories on underwater African baking?

A Chance to Be Family

Africa has a branding problem...to read the rest of my thoughts, click here for my post on Compassion's blog today.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Capers of Mad Mikey

The day finally came for our cabinets. No longer must they sit in oaky obscurity.

In a bout of mad energy, Mike began the transformation. First he added all the trim, which you can see below. We added pieces to the top and bottom, then a line of scrolly trim between each cabinet to cover the seams. (We've never seen this done; we just made it up, so we're hoping for the best.) Then we also added my little flowerly thing-a-ma-bobs under the sink. Mike wasn't sure about these, but the old saying does go, "More is more."
Then it was time to paint. Finally. I was seriously getting an indecision ulcer with all the back and forth about colors and style. (Paint or stain; cherry or white; antique or sleek.) On the morning of painting, Mike actually started rethinking our paint color, so I quickly left for work to save my embattled stomach. He ended up mixing the two paint colors we were waffling between, the tricksy little hobbit.
Then, in a fit of madness last night, Mike tore up our countertops and ripped out the kitchen sink. (Actually, let me tell you a secret. He gingerly lifted out the kitchen sink, his baby, and asked if he could put it in his office instead of the garage. He wanted his precious someplace safe and near at hand. How cute.) Demo is by far the funnest part of home projects, as you can see from the gleeful look of insanity on Mike's face.
Now we don't have a kitchen sink, which makes life hard. For example, last night I had to lick the peach crumble baking dish clean with my tongue before putting it in the dish washer, because the sink couldn't do it. I don't know how long the countertops and cabinet antiquing will take, so my tongue is going to get a workout.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Labor Day Fun

This Labor Day weekend, we drove out to Salt Lake City to see Mike's sister's family. We drove Friday night out to Steamboat Springs to camp. We got there late and had to set up in the dark, but the full moon was so bright, it was like sunrise. We waited for a werewolf to attack us, but none came.

Here is our camp site in Steamboat, which isn't very interesting, but you can see our Hobitat, which we love. Who doesn't love a tent named after a hobbit? Unfortunately, I broke one of the tent poles last night, again setting up to camp in the dark.
We took a backwoods crazy way to Salt Lake, because we're like that. So we were able to stop at Dinosaur National Park. If you've ever wondered to yourself, "Should I drive hours out of my way through the desert of Colorado to see Dinosaur?", don't. The visitor center which is where you see all the bones has been closed since 2006, and the canyons are interesting...but not that interesting.
We had a great time hanging out with the Whitneys and their progeny. We hiked in a canyon above Salt Lake, played games, talked, went to Oktoberfest, and Mike helped Josh fortify his creaking deck stairs. My favorite part was hearing Hayley repeatedly say, "Uncle Michael, Uncle Michael, Uncle Michael, Uncle Michael." "Yes, Hayley?" "I want to wrestle."
Then Monday night we left, and drove down to Green River, Utah to camp. On our drive home, we stopped in Palisade for a mead tasting at a meadery and for fresh peaches, corn and tomatoes. Here's happy Mike with his spoils. Now I just have to figure out to do with this many peaches!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Old World Charm

Well, the kitchen madness has begun. Mike has stripped and sanded and cleaned all our cabinets.

Because we can never just keep any home project simple, we have decided to take our cabinet renewal to the next level by adding crown molding on top and bottom (I didn't even know you could do it on the bottom), and adding detail wood all over the darn place. Mike and me, we have a certain predilection for the ostentatious.

Here are the purty little wood embellisments we'll add to the fake drawers in front of the sink. (Mom, do you see how messy my kitchen is? Blech.)

Here is Master Mike clammping on the crown molding we are attaching to the bottoms of the cabinets.
And, of course, we bought the fancy shmanciest crown molding Home Depot has to offer for the top.
We decided to paint and antique the cabinets Morrel (which I am leaving purposefully vague). In the end we scrapped the dark cherry/espresso, realizing that we really like dark wood furniture, so it would just be too much with our cabinets that dark too. Our hope is the crown molding with the antiquing will give the kitchen that certain "je ne sais quois" old world charm.

We caved and bought new hinges today. Fifty bucks. Can you believe? We've counted up, and in total our cabinets are going to come to $300 with paint, glaze, hardware, and wood ostentation. Which is a whole lot more than planned. But it sure beats $10,000.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Where Troubles Melt Like Lemon Drops

Lately, I've been a bit down in the doldrums. Here is a song that always makes me feel better.



(Of course, the end of this video is the singer's ashes being thrown in the sea. That's a bit morbid.)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Obsessing Over Wood

I'm sorry, I'm too busy obsessing over wood to blog.

Our cabinet doors are all off the hinges. My pistachio Kitchenaid and cookbook collection are stashed on the couch. All waiting for us to decide what to do with our old oak cabinets.

Do we stain? Do we paint? If we stain, do we dye stain or gel stain? If we paint, do we faux finish? Oh me, I'm fuzzy with finishes.

I just spent two hours browsing sample cabinet pictures on line. Should I stay the course and go for a nice cherry like this:
Or should I be fun Ammy and go for something funky like this:
Or should I stop being so dark and dreary and go for something like this:

Remember, my countertops will look like this. And my floor looks like this. Help? Please?