Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Day Two of the Table Re-Do

Yesterday we did all the prep work for our table, so today we got to do the painting. Here is a stunning picture of me doing some early morning painting of a coat of primer before beginning work for the day. (Worked at home today.)
Next we painted the table bronze. It took about three to four coats to cover the primer. I own a bronze table! How fun. Of course, I believe it took several years off of my life. After painting I felt funny. I don't think it's good to inhale copper and zinc. Luckily, Mike says I won't get brain damage. Just maybe weird growths.
Next, we sprayed black patina onto it (also not good for inhalation). It causes the natural oxidizing of metal to occur, just at an extremely accelerated rate. It was scary to do it, not having any idea what we were doing or how it would look or if we were destroying our table. But here it is thus far:

I think we'll still darken it up some more tomorrow (it's hard to see what it really looks like without natural light!), and then we still will add several top coats of polyurethane.

We also still have to paint the legs; I'm considering painting them black and then potentially just glazing/highlighting them with some bronze paint. Partly so that they match the chairs, which I'm thinking of painting black, and partly because bronze paint is stinking expensive! Any thoughts? Also I'll be re-covering the chairs, and I need to choose fabric. Thoughts?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Kitchen Table Re-Do

One fateful 4th of July weekend, many years ago when Mike was in college, his car broke down in Denver. Stranded on I-25 and not knowing what else to do, he tripped on over to American Furniture Warehouse and bought a dining room table. Said table was to become his unfortunate dowry to me.

It wobbles when you eat on it, it's fake wood, which chips to show the particle board underneath, and, most unfortunate of all, it's an orangey oak that blends in atrociously with our new plum floors. I am sounding awful whiny, and I am glad to have a table to eat on, especially now that I know how much a dining room table costs!

So, I am channeling Pa Ingalls and instead of buying a new one, I'm making this one fabulous. I hope. We didn't want to do anything normal because we have a penchant for the abnormal. I was inspired by our new rubbed bronze cabinet hardware (which you can see here) to give our table an antiqued metal look. Jury is still out on whether this is a good idea or not. Basically, we are going to paint our table bronze, then antique it with a black patina to hopefully end up with a rusted metal look.

But there are many steps to get there.

  • First, I cleaned the table and its legs and pieces and parts with my new friend, Trisodium Phosphate.
  • Then I about poisoned my husband by using liquid sander/deglosser on the table to rough it up a bit to take the paint better.

  • Then we sanded the table using the sander Mike got on a Thanksgiving weekend sale. It makes sanding much easier and fun.
  • Then we cleaned the sawdust up with a tack cloth, which made my fingers feel like salamander's.
  • Then we filled in all the cracks with wood fill, since the fake veneer is peeling and cracking.
  • Next, the guy at the paint store taught us a trick to fill in the fake wood grooves, since they would look funny with a metal efffect. We mixed a little water into spackle and smooshed it all over the table.
  • And scraped it into the cracks using my dish scraper. (One more kitchen tool sacrificed to house projects.)

  • Then we sanded the extra spackle off with the sander.

Tomorrow, painting!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Sad Day for the Neighbors

When Mike and I took down our blinds in the spring to paint, we couldn't bear to put them back up, being wood faded to an unseemly, sickly green. So the neighbors have had the delight of watching us live our incredibly stimulating lives every night. You know, having cocktail parties, doing yoga, trimming our bonzais. Oh wait, I mean, sitting on the couch watching Biggest Loser on our laptop.

So a sad day for them has come, as we will no longer be living our lives of couch potatodom on public display. For Christmas I got blinds! Mike is especially glad as now he can maybe kiss me occasionally, and he can run around naked like a little boy who has escaped from the bathtub.

I bought curtains for the front room, to go next to the blue piano and green banquette. The fabric ties the colors together and gives it a nice British library feel. I have already imagined several new projects for Mike inspired by them, including building bookshelves with a ladder, a la Beauty and the Beast. Here is the fabric of the curtains.
For the rest of the house, we got honeycomb blinds, like these.
This next week, I'm working, but I'm going to pretend I'm not working by tackling a big house project that I have to finish in one week, before I have a party here on Sunday. I'll post about it tomorrow!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

This year for Christmas, we're in Sterling with Mike's family. The traditions in my family for Christmas eve are going to a candlelight church service, then driving around looking at Christmas lights and singing carols loudly in the car. Mike's family has a dinner every Christmas eve, with wild rice mushroom casserole (mmm, a new favorite of mine) and prime rib (which was actually delicious tenderloin instead this year).

Because everyone is all dressed up, we tried for family portraits. Trevor's family were old pros at it and smiled beautifully at the camera.
Other families faced more challenges ensuring no one was blinking or crying or picking their nose or closing their eyes.
Including mine.
After our tasty dinner, the children put on a nativity play for which Kara was the executive producer, writer, cast director, costume designer, and caterer. One of the highlights was certainly Josh as the donkey. [Insert donkey pun here.]
Ater this, we played with the kids downstairs and got imprisoned, tortured, And shot at.
A violent ending to a pleasant Christmas Eve.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I Am 31, Going on 32

When I was younger, I used to daydream about silly things like being cast to sing some beautiful love song with the cutest boy in school in front of everyone at the pep rally, and then he would fall madly in love with me and I'd become famous on Broadway and all the popular girls would be jealous of me. Didn't you?

Oddly enough, daydreams do come true. Kind of. I've been striving to live my life not out of fear or worry about what other people think. So when certain opportunities come up that are scary, I've decided to embrace them, rather than laughing them off as cheesy.

That is why I auditioned to sing at a Valentine's dinner fundraiser some people from my work are organizing to benefit a local non-profit. And guess who gets to sing the part of Liesl, "I am 16, going on 17"? That's right, me. And guess who is singing the male lead? That's right, the cutest boy in school. No wait, some married guy in facilities. That's where the daydream breaks down and gets a bit weird.

And he does happen to be about a decade younger than me, so hopefully no one in the audience laughs when I sing, "I am 16!" and look moon-eyed at my adolescent co-worker. Or maybe it would be better if they did laugh.

In any case, it's all for charity, right?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas, Part I

Saturday officially began the Christmas season for us. Mike heard that his siblings had celebrated their at home Christmasses in Salt Lake City and Omaha on Friday night, and got a bit green. So on Saturday we had our Christmas at home together--our first in our new home! I love starting new traditions.

We turned on Christmas music and drank root beer (it was too hot for hot chocolate) and opened our stockings. Mike got his favorite candy, and I got kitchen gadgets.
Then we opened our gifts to each other, which are supposed to be modest. I am good at keeping my promises of frugality, but Mike is less good (or more generous, one or the other). I got him an MP3 player, and he completely surprised me with a very exciting gift, a chiminea, which we promptly assembled outside.

The first time I experienced a chiminea was last year at my sister's birthday party, otherwise known as Marchmas. She hung twinkly lights in her backyard, and we sat sipping black hot chocolate by her glowing chimenea, warming our hands and melting marshmallows. It was magical. Now I can't wait to throw a little party on a chilly spring night on my patio.

Today we went to Denver for my mother's birthday party. My mother and I sprinkled snow on her snow village while the more mischevious men of the family hid gunmen in the snow village, as they do every year. (Ah, Christmas traditions. At least this year, no one in the village got eaten by bears or wolves as in years past.)

We arrived back home with a fresh new batch of presents that we'll open tomorrow before we leave for Sterling. It is going to be a marathon week of unwrapping--No tin cup and a penny for us, Pa Ingalls. But we couldn't resist opening the present my parents gave us and my mother created. (At the very moment of reading this, my mother is gasping loudly and saying in a very high-pitched voice, "You didn't!" And my sisters are both clucking their tongues at our impertinence.)

But mommy, the day was so magical with your birthday party and the tree was so beautiful and the package was so festive that it seemed right to open it early. I can say nothing now of the gift, lest my sisters become indignant, but thank you very much, mom and dad. :)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Simple Saturday

I have not had the brain space to write lately, so I'll borrow this idea again.

Outside my window: Coral-tipped mountains in the morning sunlight.
I am thinking: About how I can renew my enthusiasm in my job and whether or not I embarrassed myself in choir auditions yesterday.
I am thankful for: My caring mother and loving father.
From the kitchen: Leftovers of my grandmother's artichoke dip I brought to an ornament exchange party.
I am wearing: A faded green "Ireland Rugby" T-shirt I bought at Target but like to pretend has some more romantic heritage, like when I went to Ireland that one time...
I am reading: Anne of Green Gables
I am hoping: For my husband
I am hearing: The deep, contented breath of Mike sleeping next to me.
I am creating: Holiday memories in my first home.
Around the house: There are presents underfoot, the smell of our white pine, and Christmas cards that domino onto the floor when I inevitably knock one over on the kitchen table.
One of my favorite things: Saturday mornings, the breath of my husband next to me, a whole day stretching blank before me.
A Few Plans for the Rest of the Week: My wonderful mother's birthday on Sunday. Two distracted days of work and a potluck for which I will most likely sell out and buy a pie. Monday night at home with Mike to pack and celebrate our Christmas together in our first house. Sterling for Christmas with the Vans and 8 little chillins. Saturday in Denver to see my Grandmother and celebrate Mike's big Two Eight.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dowager Laura Vane Granger

I just finished reading through the majority of the Little House on the Prairie series (having begun on Thanksgiving weekend and having omitted the two books my mother-in-law didn't have). I love Laura Ingalls. Reading it reminds me of myself.

Mike in reading it, says he can tell that I read it growing up, as he says that much in it sounds like the way my mom and I talk wistfully and romantically about the country and the simple life. It is interesting how something as simple as a book can have profound impact on your values as an adult. I think Little House laid the foundation for my belief in hard work and thrift. (Though I'm about the fattest lazy cat on the planet compared to them. Sheesh. I'm exhausted just reading about their daily life sewing and cooking and cleaning and milking and on and on.)

I also just finished re-reading Jane Eyre for book club, another book about a strong, intelligent, indepent leading lady. At book club today, someone asked the interesting question, "If you were a heroine from a book, who would you be?"

Mike says I'd be the Dowager Duchess of Denver from the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries. Thanks a lot. (None of you will get this reference except for him and my mother-in-law, but it's not completely complimentary, though I do love her laughing spirit).

I would like to be a mix of Laura Ingalls--her romantic, adventurous spirit mixed with practical sensibility, Harriet Vane Wimsey--her independent and idealistic mind, and Hermione Granger--her bookishness bent on compassionate ends. And maybe just a tad of The Dowager's good humor.

So who would you be, if you were a hero or heroine? I would be Dowager Laura Vane Granger. How about you? Elizabeth Bennet? Captain Underpants? Amelia Bedelia?

Ukelele Boy

I'm in love.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Good Sunday

Today on our way home from church, we saw the tamale truck that often hangs out on Woodmen, and finally bought some. Mmmm. They were lunch and dinner.

Then we finished up our Christmas shopping. When Mikey Dudders saw all the gifts under the tree he said, "How many are there?" in his distinct cockney accent. "27," I replied. "27! But last year, last year there were 28!" he cried, like the spoiled English brat he is.

At night, we carried on to the zoo and Broadmoor, as we did last year at this time of year (although this time I wasn't crying because of any silly rocks).

Mike harassed the tortoises.
And the giraffes harassed him.
Then we went to the Broadmoor and peeked into the gingerbread barns and castles and churches.
And looked at the pretty, pretty lights.
Tomorrow, I get to wear pajamas to work (and basically party all week long--don't know when I'll get my work done), so after such a nice day, I don't have the Sunday night blues.

Friday, December 11, 2009

New Zealand TV News Is Better Than Ours

We need to say "extricate" and "crikey" more...and "that there"...and "jollies."

Disclaimer: Krista, don't watch this with your kids, because I don't want to be responsible for them learning Kiwi cussing.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Van Schooneveld Run-Free Marathon for Justice

A picture of the piles of snow that keep accumulating in front of our house that will never melt because it's frickin' freezing out here, Mr. Bigglesworth. I should have put a little elf in the photo for perspective, because the front pile is about the height of an elf. Last night was the Biggest Loser finale and watching it made me want to do something big. It will probably pass, but in the meantime, I've been thinking of what I might do. I've had various 'big" ideas in the past, such as walking across America or hiking the Continental Divide, which I never follow through on because they're complicated and impractical.

But I would like to keep healthy this winter before I start biking again. Because when I first started biking, every day was like someone was scraping out my lungs with a dull spoon and most days I had to put my head between my legs to fend off the vomiting. So I have motivation to keep up my cardio strength.

If I were a runner, it would be easy to set a goal, like running a 5K or half marathon. But I don't want to have knee surgery by 40 or be grumpy all the time, so I don't run. But what if I could borrow from the motivational bag of a runner and walk a marathon or a half marathon? I googled it, and apparently people do it.

But looking at running sites, I remember how much I hate crowds and paying money to be in crowds and paying money to sweat in crowds. And how much I cower in front of gangly runners who intimidate me with their Jack the Pumpkin King legs and wee beady eyes.

So, I thought, why not organize my own personal run-free marathon or half-marathon? Maybe somewhere beautiful and peaceful like Steamboat Springs or Ouray. Maybe I can use it to raise money for something cool, like IJM. It's not the Dunder Mifflin Celebrity Rabies Fun Run, but I think the Van Schooneveld Run-Free Marathon for Justice is pretty catchy.

What do you think? If I don't forget this idea by tomorrow, does anyone want to join me?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Places We've Been

It's a quiet December Sunday. A thick layer of white snow that looks like buttercream frosting is blanketed all around the house. I just saw a cross-country skiier glide by our front door. Spritz cookies are baked, candy-cane cookies are baking, and Christmas fudge is in the fridge. And I spent time looking through our pictures from the past year, like I did last year. Here is how we've spent the past year.

In January, I went to India and saw a Hindu temple, learned to hold a boom mic, met the boy we sponsor, spent a day on an Indian beach, and ate my weight in bananas and coconut.
In February, Mike and I went to Estes Park for Valentine's Day, as we have in years past. We snowshoed through what felt like a blizzard and slid on the ice of frozen lakes.
In March, we bought our very first house.
In April, we visited the Black Canyon of the Gunnison for the first time...
...while on our way to Moab with Mike's family, where we sat in hot tubs, climbed things, and ate things.
In June, we went to Bent's Fort with my parents in southeast Colorado where we ate hard tack and spit it back out.
Then we went to Pampa, Texas, my dad's stomping grounds, where we ate Dyer's barbecue, visited museums, and held races in the park.
In August, we went again to Estes Park with Mike's parents.
In September, we went to Breckenridge to bike through the changing leaves.
In October, we finished all the many home projects we had started, such as re-doing the bathrooms, installing new floors and re-doing the kitchen.
Then we went on vacation to Kauai with Mike's parents where we laid on beaches, snorkeled, and read 4 books (They snorkeled, I read 4 books).
In November, we traveled to Omaha for Thanksgiving with the Omaha Van Schooneveld's.
And in December, we decorated for our first Christmas in our new home.
Thus ends a good year!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Stockings Hung on the Mantel With Care

We decided tonight would be a Christmas-y night, so we braved the 9 degree weather to shop for our Christmas tree. Michael finally indulged me and let me get a non-standard variety, a white pine. A beautiful name for a beautiful, bushy, full tree.

He also let me decorate it monochromatic, or duochromatic--blue and green.

But then when I wasn't looking, he apparently changed his mind and snuck all kinds of chromas onto the trees.

I put some of my favorite ornaments in my candy dishes, of which I still have 2 sets up for grabs as Christmas gifts.

Father Christmas looked on the festive night approvingly.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The 4th Annual Van Schooneveld Christmas Quiz

Merry Christmas!
Mike thinks that the greeting card industry is a racket run by the mob and I find this to be a more subtle, nuanced method of bragging, so it's time again for the much anticipated 4th Annual Van Schooneveld Christmas Quiz! (Yay! Hooray! Huzzah!) Take our little quiz and see how your results compare to last year.

1. In January, Amber ate a lifetime's worth of:
a. Ice Cream at the National Ice Cream Conference in Davenport, Iowa
b. Squid Ink as a special guest on Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern
c. Curries, biryanies, and tepid coconut flesh in India on a work trip

2. In April, Mike and Amber bought a
a. quaint Victorian bungalow in Old Colorado City, built in 1893.
b. hipster condo downtown.
c. white-bread suburban home on the West side of Colorado Springs.

3. Since April, Mike has learned
a. to juggle live eels while playing "Oh Susanna" on a nose harp.
b. every soliloquy in Hamlet in Yiddish.
c. how to do everything, including install new floors, refurbish kitchen cabinets, install granite countertops, and paint impossibly high walls.

4. Mike and Amber went on a short family vacation to
a. Moab, Utah
b. Pampa, TX
c. Omaha, NE

5. In July, Mike and Amber published a book together entitled,
a. Marriage That Works: The Van Schooneveld Way
b. Passport to Prayer: A Journey of Compassion
c. How to Refinish Your Kitchen for the Price of a Latte

6. In October, Mike and Amber took a belated summer vacation to:
a. Test and re-test every Shave Ice in Kauai.
b. Save baby turtles on the Galapagos Islands.
c. The annual Harry Potter convention in Detroit.

7. Finally found a home church after much searching, called
a. The Infinite Church of Zoroaster
b. The Derek Zoolander Church for People Who Want to Learn to Praise Good and Do Other Stuff Good Too
c. Springs Calvary

8. Mike and Amber still do not have
a. cable TV and cell phones.
b. offspring to dominate and rule the world.
c. any cool tattoes.

1. c
2. c
3. c
4. trick question, all of the above
5. b
6. a
7. c
8. trick question, all of the above

Merry Christmas!
Amber and Michael

The Monday After

It's no fun to go back to work on a Monday after a long weekend, so I didn't. My boss gave me permission to work "off-site," which included many sites.

First, I worked in bed with Jen Sunday night and Monday morning. Then we had to run, so bad were my cat allergies. I have learned this week that I still cannot buy a cat. We headed to Loveland, where we stopped at my old work, Group Publishing. We worked in the cafe, and I got to see many of my favorite people.

Then the sky was so blue and Longs was so white that we could not help driving to Estes Park to work at the lodge at the Y.
After some work and a walk to the livery, we ran into these dudes in the parking lot. 5 bull elks with huge antlers and 3 more elks with medium antlers. Check out the size of this elk next to the van. You can see 3 other elk in this pic.
A couple of them kept locking antlers.
It was the best elk viewing I've ever seen in all my countless trips to Estes.
Then we drove back down the canyon, and lo, what sits at the foot of the canyon? Glacier ice cream. That was dinner. A fitting end to a lovely week of excess.