Sunday, January 31, 2010

I Like Books

One of my Canadian coworkers blogged this idea last week, and I had to steal it. But I changed some of the questions, based on what I felt like answering. I like books so much, lit grad school dropout that I am, that the list got kind of long. Tell me your answers in the comments!

  1. One book that changed your life: A New Kind of Christian, by Brian McLaren. I'm not sure I recommend it, and I don't agree with everything the man has to say, but this book helped me to strip the icky legalism guck out that had gotten clogged in my Christianity.
  2. One book that helped define your perspective on life: Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton, a logical mystic.
  3. One book that you've read more than once: I'm a repeat reader. One of my favorite repeats, that gets better with each read (because I finally start understanding what she's saying) is one of my favorite books, Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers.
  4. One book you'd want on a desert island: Mi Biblia
  5. One book that made you laugh: Dave Barry, Douglas McAdams or Bill Bryson. (Any of their books.) But I hate not having a female, so I'll also say Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray Love. (Hate what she writes, but love how she writes.)
  6. One book that made you cry: Not too hard to do, but I seem to block out the traumatic memory of these books. I'll go with one that made me cry more recently, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.
  7. One book that you wish you had written: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. I've never read it, but I literally had planned to write it, until I found out she already had. Probably a good thing, as I would have been way too lazy to follow through.
  8. One book you wish more people had read: Are Women Human: Astute and Witty Essays on the Role of Women in Society by Dorothy L. Sayers. Love her and her perspective.
  9. Book/s you're currently reading: I'm reading Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery, Humility by C.J. Mahaney, and Forgotten God by Francis Chan.
  10. Your favorite classic book: Even though I made up the question, I'm so torn! Since I just re-read it, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.
  11. Your favorite fantasy book: The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
  12. Your favorite sci-fi/speculative fiction book: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.
  13. Your favorite contemporary book: I don't like many contemporary books. I'm very fussy about them. I'll go with The History of Love by Nicole Krauss - one of the best protagonists I've ever read.
  14. Your favorite romantic book: I don't like romantic books. So why did I make up the question? I don't know. I'll go with a classic, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.
  15. Book I've been meaning to read, but can't get past the first page: The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco and Everlasting Man by G.K. Chesterton.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ten Lessons I Wish I Knew 10 Years Ago

Several years ago, Mike and I were in Kauai, hanging out on Kalapaki Beach, the place where locals go to play in the huge surf. By walked this large Hawaiian woman. She was the kind of woman that makes you unconsciously turn your head as she passes. Not just because she was a very "well-padded" woman in a teensy brown bikini, which she was, but mainly because she was incredibly sexy.

She didn't meet any identifiable set standard for beauty other than this: Confidence. That woman was workin' it. She walked in such a way that said, "I know I'm beautiful and sexy and you better watch out."

I'm probably not going to start walking down the road in my teensy brown bikini workin' it with an "I'm so hot," attitude, but I think it does hold a valuable lesson for every married and single lady. Here are the lessons I've learned about beauty and confidence that I wish I knew 10...or 15 years ago.

  1. Confidence is sexy. Or, if you're single and don't want to be sexy, confidence is attractive. Whatever your package is, if you deliver it with confidence, your appeal will go up 72.4%. It's like free money! It's like hot-ness without the exercise!
  2. Fake it till you make it. True in so many parts of life. Even if you don't feel beautiful, act as though you do. You believe what you consistently tell yourself. If you consistently tell yourself that you're ugly, fat, flabby, or dumb, you'll believe it and you'll act like it. If you tell yourself the lovely truths about yourself, you'll begin to believe those too.
  3. We project our own feminine quick-to-judge attitude upon men. Which is silly. Most husbands want to believe their wives are sexy. You don't have to convince him. So don't unconvince him.
  4. Never insult your body to your husband. I was told this by a beautiful woman who was taught it by her mother. She was generously proportioned, but she moved with a grace only possible for one who has accepted her unique beauty. How exactly are you helping yourself by disagreeing with your husband when he compliments you?
  5. Accept compliments. Period. Period. Period.
  6. Never insult your body to another woman. Many times, your friend will reply back by insulting her own body, thus solidifying the ugly system of self hatred.
  7. Be an example of self acceptance. Create an atmosphere around you in which unhealthy self deprecation is out of place and that encourages a healthy acceptance of oneself, imperfections and needs improvements and all.
  8. Focus on your strengths. Other people will join you.
  9. If you're married, remember that God gave you looks to bless your husband. Not to make you focus on yourself. Bless your husband.
  10. Keep it in perspective. Ultimately, beauty fades. Focus on the "unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." 1 Peter 3:4

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I Love My Balusters

I've been asked before, "Amber, how do you get so much done?" Well, here is how I get it done. Nice. Mike insisted this picture make an appearance on the blog. His exact quote was, "Honey, usually you look a lot better than me, but this is the stupidest you've ever looked." Don't miss the purple hobo gloves with fingers cut off and the Mary Jane knock-off crocs with socks.

So last week, we began another new home project. Ever since we refinished our cabinets, I've been itching to refinish the banister, one of the last oak holdouts. I sanded and cleaned all the wood, and took out all the balusters--there was no way I was sanding and painting each baluster, so I bought rubbed copper wrought iron ones, which is actually one of the more expensive purchases we've made to redo our kitchen, $200.

Mike had to drill new holes for the new balusters.

Then we had to cut each of the balusters to the correct length. (I'm really just including these pictures because Mike is so cute.)

Then we painted the wood railings and posts black - the same black I used on the kitchen chairs. Not ones to leave well enough alone, we antiqued them with bronze paint mixed with glaze. We added some all over glaze to the globes, then just antiqued the edges of the rest of the wood, so they blend in really well with our rubbed copper wrought iron balusters.

I think it's purty. So here is what it looked like before...
And here is what it looks like now. (Forgive the nighttime darkness...It's brighter in the daylight!) Tada!

I love it as it reminds me of childhood. My parents have a wrought iron banister, and so did my family's chiropractic clinic, which we would play in so often as kids. Good job, handyman Mike!

Monday, January 25, 2010

My Gripes Seem Small Now

Here's a great article on my coworker Ephraim, which reminds me to keep things in perspective, be thankful for what I have, and keep praying!
All of Ephraim (on the right)'s family were safe, though he has many burdens being a pastor. Today I found out that Ricot (on the left)'s brother died in the earthquake. Our staff has been through a lot, yet are still coming in to work (in the parking lot, as the building is cracked) to try to help others.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Our Big News

The Van Schoonevelds pride themselves that the first food they eat as babies is ice cream. Since marrying Mike, I have joined their cult of cream, being already predisposed to anything containing 1. fat and 2. sugar.

When we moved close to Boulder, a city for food lovers, we discovered the best ice cream in America: Glacier Ice Cream and Gelato. And we're not just saying that. Forbes Traveler voted in the Top 10 of America's Best Ice Cream; it's won Best of Boulder; and 5280 magazine voted it best ice cream, even though it's not in Denver. The ice cream is all handmade (they even make their own chocolate chips!) and gourmet and delicious, with flavors like Valhrona sorbet (mmm), Tiramisu gelato (mmm), and fresh seasonal ice creams like Colorado peach (mmm).

One thing that saddened us upon moving to Colorado Springs was the lack of good, local ice cream or gelato. We said, "If only there were a Glacier here." Do you know where this is going?

We've decided to open a Glacier Ice Cream and Gelato store in Colorado Springs. Mike has actually been working quite diligently away at it since October. I haven't said anything, as we've been trying to get all our cones in a row. Beyond just the store, Mike would like to expand it into a wholesale supplier (we already have one account lined up!) and caterer.

We have a licensing contract with Glacier (which from the outside will look like a franchise; we just have more freedom and lower costs than a franchise). And we have a letter of intent on the coolest spot, in my opinion, for an ice cream store.

It's at the brand new University Village, at I-25 and Nevada where the new Costco, Lowes, and Kohls are. It will be the corner tower spot, with ample room outside for patio seating and even summer concerts! It's directly across the street from the Four Diamond Sports Complex, which is packed with chillins in the summer and is univeristy parking in the winter.

Besides ice cream, we're also planning on serving a great local coffee brand (I always wanted to own my own coffee shop!) and even have a chocolate/candy case for local candy makers!

The real estate guys gave us such a great deal to finish the space (in fact twice what we were expecting), that we hope to create the interior to be a real experience and a place people will come to hang out and have a good time. (If we get our way, we'll even have a Philosophers' Corner with comfy couches by a fire and a bookcase full of good books. Lord knows we have enough books to fill it.)

Right now, we are playing the waiting game. Our loan application is being considered by the federal government, who will hopefully recognize what fine and upstanding people we are and what an excellent idea this is. Mike is also meeting with potential investors, as we think this could be a real money maker.

So, I've finally let you in on this big part of our lives. It's hard waiting, but I'm currently learning not to worry about the things I can't control. Mike has done everything he could to prepare the business for success, and now we wait.

So if you've always dreamed of investing in an up-and-coming ice cream and gelato business, give us a call. But in any case, get ready to eat some great ice cream come late spring!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Vacation Time

I love vacations. My parents always put a high value on vacations for us growing up. Each year as kids, they'd involve us in the planning of our yearly summer vacation, whether it was the hot springs in Glenwood or Disney World in Florida. We'd begin anticipating June 9 months in advance and were so excited by the time it came.

Getting married, vacation was one of the things Mike and I agreed to make a priority - we believed taking time to refresh, be alone with each other or family, build memories, and get away from hectic life was an important part of our life together. All that to say, I think vacation = good.

This week, Royal Caribbean has gotten in a world of stink for continuing its cruises to Labadee in Haiti. The rationale being, "how disgusting for people to frolic their rich lives away while there are people in such suffering 100 miles away."

The main objection seems to be proximity. It reminds me of when I was in Kenya. It did seem disgusting to see the large (for Kenya) homes on a hill, when the next hill over had people living in shacks in abject poverty. But here in Colorado, I see hundreds of homes that size every day and don't think the inhabitants are disgusting. Similarly, you (probably) don't think I'm disgusting for vacationing in the beautiful Colorado mountains each summer.

It's foolish to think an activity is wrong simply because of proximity to the poor, if we consider it acceptable elsewhere. So I still say vacation = good, whether here or in Haiti.

But some people will say that all that money for vacationing could be given to the poor, and many have been convicted to do so, rather then take a yearly vacation. That's cool. But I don't think God has asked me to do that.

Beyond feeling that God hasn't asked me to do that, I feel that my tourism, or anyone's tourism, is vital to many emerging (or submerging, for that matter) economies. There is a place for short-term aid for countries in need. There's also a place for development. And I would argue there is a big place for tourism.

Ultimately, Haiti doesn't want to be dependent. No country does. They want to emerge as a self-sustaining country. Fostering industries, agriculture, and trade are vital to the long-term development and well-being of any country. Because of environmental destruction, Haiti doesn't have great agriculture to speak of, but one natural resource it does have is beautiful Caribbean beaches and a fascinating history.

Canceling cruises to Haiti could be construed as some kind of abstract solidarity with the suffering of the Haitian people, but what will it tangibly do? Further depress Haiti's tourism (which was on a hopeful rise before last Tuesday) and potentially cause loss of jobs for the few gainfully employed, who are quite likely supporting their extended family in Port-au-Prince.

So if you don't take vacations because you feel God has asked you to spend your money otherwise, that's cool. But if you do take vacations, don't purposefully divert your funds away from countries who could seriously benefit from it.

I plan to take a vacation to Haiti and Guatemala and soon as I can convince Mike of how great an idea this is. :)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Haiti Update - Tuesday

Edited post.

I wrote earlier today that all 74 Compassion Haiti staff are alive and accounted for. However, last night Farcine Desir passed away after internal injuries from being trapped under a university building went untreated. She has a husband and four small children. I didn't know her, but I know it comes as a real blow to my coworkers in Haiti who are dealing with trauma and discouragement.

There still has been no word on David Hames, the contractor who was in the Hotel Montana. His wife Renee made a statement:

"For all the people who know and love David with me, we need to remember that God says, 'Be still and know that I am God.' He is our God who will provide beauty and joy even in the midst of devastation. I have been blessed with friends who have tucked me under their wings and have prayed with me, encouraged me, supported me, and cried with me. Because of the support structure they have built around me, I have felt a great peace. Please continue to pray for David's rescue and well-being."

I also wrote a quick blog post for Compassion on an idea for how to respond to the crisis, from our book Passport to Prayer.

Dan Woolley was also on the Today show today! You can watch his inspiring interview here. It will be a bit of a pick-me-up for those of you discouraged by other news. He is arriving home to DIA to much fanfare tonight!

Thank you for all your prayers and support!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Keep Praying!

Wess Stafford tweeted (twittered? twitted? whatever): "Rescue workers hearing sounds of life in the hotel wreckage! Dan tells us David had pack with energy bars and water. Please breathe a prayer!"

They still haven't found David Hames, but there are still people alive in the Hotel Montana rubble. Dan was able to give rescuers an idea of where he might be. Please pray for the rescuers, emotionally and physically, and pray that David and others would be found, at the hotel and elsewhere in Port-au-Prince.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Compassion Haiti Update

Sighing a big sigh of relief after holding my breath for four days. 73 out of our 74 staff in Haiti have been accounted for. Praise God! I don't know the name of the one who isn't. Many of the stafff are injured and have lost loved ones. Here's all the latest.

I also really liked this article about Dan's rescue. But the videographer who was with Dan, David Hames, is still trapped in the rubble of the hotel, along with others. Please keep praying for their rescue, along with prayer for all the many people in need of water, food, treatment, etc. Pray for passable roads and good coordination between all the many groups trying to help.

In the midst of this traumatic time, one of my all-time favorite people, Sarah Swan, had a baby! Isn't he cute? His name is Emery, but I prefer Swan Spawn.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Dan Is Safe

My boss just shared this article with me from the NY Times. My coworker Ephraim is quoted. He says that he was dropping Dan off at the hotel right before the earthquake. Thank God Ephraim didn't go in to the hotel! It was my fear that Ephraim or Ricot had gone inside the hotel with Dan and Dave, but now I know they didn't.
Dan Woolley, who is now famous on the internet, has been safely rescued from the rubble of the Hotel Montana. Dan is about the nicest guy you could meet and was in Haiti shooting stories with a freelance videographer, David Hames, about our Child Survival Program. We still don't have any news if David has been rescued from the rubble, only conflicting reports. Dan spent the 3 days trapped in an elevator shaft of the collapsed hotel.

You can watch Dan's rescue on this French news video. He is at about the 1:20 mark.

We still await news on our Haitian staff. About 40 out of our 75 staff are accounted for. It could take a bit before we can gather news on everyone.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Hope

This afternoon at work, I sat down to read through some reports I'd received from our field countries about issues affecting children. Ephraim had sent me his from Haiti on Monday. (By the way, Ephraim is safe. Praise God!)

Today I read the report he wrote at the beginning of the new year that espoused such a hopeful tone. Children were heading back to schools on Monday. Violence and crime and rape were all down in 2009. Haiti had been recovering since the food crisis and hurricanes of 2008. They were entering the new year with a certain calm and hope. Then Tuesday happened.

This dear country had such hopes. There is a group of young people who have graduated from Compassion and gone on to graduate with university degrees. They have big dreams for their country. One is Abbel Joseph. He graduated with a degree in business and has been working at the UN. He was a hero to the kids in Solino, his home slum, who all wanted to grow up to be like him. He was the ring leader and mentor of other graduates and students, who were studying economics and medicine and business in the most prestigious univeristies.

Their dream: To change Haiti. To be the ones who transform it into a great nation.

In the 1950's, South Korea was war-torn and filled with need. Compassion began its ministry there. Over the years, Korea strengthened, and Compassion closed up shop - they didn't need us anymore. But South Korea wasn't finished. They insisted on becoming a partner country, and are now Compassion's fastest growing partner, as the Korean nation is so eager to help and sponsor children in their turn.

What Joseph's dream and belief is, and what Ricot has told me his dream is, is for Haiti to become the next South Korea. They believe their country can rise up and become a nation that doesn't need aid, but that proactively helps others.

Ricot has told me this dream several times, and it always seemed to me like an absurd hope. The problems just seem too big. But they believed in it. And then Tuesday happened.

I don't know if Joseph is safe. I don't know if Ricot is safe. But today at work we were praying for Haiti, and our Vice President shared his young son's prayer. His son prayed that perhaps out of this disaster, regeneration can come. Perhaps this is the time for the church of Haiti and perhaps this is the time for young, brave leaders to lead this country in a new direction. Perhaps out of this dust and despair, hope and a new beginning can also arise.

It still seems too great to hope, but I'm going to be audacious enough to pray for it.

Please continue to pray for our Haitian staff who are unaccounted for (here's Ricot and his wife below), our 2 missing workers from Colorado, those who are needing rescue, those who are trying to rescue others, the roads, and for water.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Still Praying

It was hard to work today. I checked my email over and over, hoping to receive some communication. We still have had no contact with our staff in Haiti. But we have reason to believe that our office building is still standing.

The hotel I stayed in last year, Hotel Karibe, is reported as rubble. There are still people trapped in it. (You can see some of my pictures of it from before here.)

The neighborhood that the children above and the little girl whose pic I posted yesterday (Carrefour) lived in is reportedly completely destroyed.

The Hotel Montana, where most foreigners stay (including 2 Compassion people) was destroyed. 200 people are feared trapped inside. No word from either of them yet.

Please keep praying. It's possible people are still alive in the rubble, so pray that they are rescued. Pray that access to necessities, such as water, medical supplies, and food can get through. Pray that the major roadways would be passable to get aid in. Pray that the church would be salt and light and would be able to help those around them.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Prayer Request

I was in Haiti only a short time last year, but it enchanted me. Something about the romance of French and the warmth of a displaced African culture.

Here is my friend Ricot, looking over his home of Port-au-Prince. I don't know if Ricot or Ephraim or my other coworkers are OK, let alone the many church partners and children. There was a 7.0 earthquake there today.
Haiti suffers from such poor infrastructure and instability and seemingly endless crises. Last year they experienced 4 hurricanes/major tropical storms in a row.

Please pray for Haiti; for my coworkers Ephraim, Ricot, and Moise; for my American coworker Dan who was there filming; for emergency and relief crews to have good access to those suffering and injured. If you feel so led, donate to disaster relief efforts.

To Cleave

At church, we have been going through the book of Joshua, verse by verse. There's a lot of verses in Joshua that are lists of names and places, so it was exciting this week to get to this:

"But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you: to love the LORD your God to walk in all his ways, to obey his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and all your soul." (Joshua 22:5)

This week I'm meditating on what it means to "hold fast" to God. Other versions translate it "to cling to" or "to cleave to." Our pastor exhorted us to "be clingy" and to hold on tightly to God's robes (or whatever God wears), even when it feels like God must be turning in circles, because life is whipping us around and it's hard to hold on.

I like the imagery of being clingy. I think of myself as Saran Wrap stuck with my cheek pressed tight against God. Or my arms wrapped around his leg, just like when I would sit on my own dad's foot as a girl and cling tightly to his leg, and he'd walk us about the room for a game.

"To cleave" is the hard one. How ironic is it that one word means both to stick to closely, as a husband cleaves to his wife, and the exact opposite--to divide, as chopping wood in two with an ax. Someone was asleep at the language wheel in Old England.

To cleave, meaning to separate, often connotes cutting on a natural line of division--as in a grain of wood or a natural cleave line in a rock. (Middle school science class pays off!) I love the beautiful imagery of the natural unity - just as a husband and wife are one, like a block of quartz, but one can detect the cleave line. Or just as God has grafted me into his family, like a branch of a vine or a tree, through Christ.

It's Old English poetic justice that the two things we were designed to cling to, our spouse and God, we seem to be often cleft from, broken away from, chopped from.

So I'm going to spend the day picturing myself as a child clinging tightly to her Father's foot, not falling off even if he walks fast or turns in circles, and a branch growing out of a leafing plant, that if cut off from the plant will inevitably wither in the hot sun without a source of life.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

My New Rolph

As it turns out, my incredible stage presence and glittering singing voice has intimidated the male lead I was singing I Am 16 Going on 17 with to bow out of our performance. (Either that, or his wife didn't want some cougar singing at her husband.)

So, I was left all alone to either sing solo or find a new Rolph.

Where, oh where, could I find someone who is an innocent, blonde Aryan on the outside?
And a despicable villian on the inside?
With a penchant for public tomfoolery? (Scroll down to the bottom of this post for example of said tomfoolery.)

As it turns out, it wasn't very hard. So if you're in the Springs area, come February 5th at 7 pm to Compassion to see Mike and I make our big debut, before we are no doubt swept off to Broadway by some casting agent. It's for a good cause!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Sir Ian, Sir Ian, Sir Ian!

Still in the mood for silly videos, not wistful new year's meanderings. I hope I haven't posted this one yet.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Huge Pictures of Me!

I work with this great woman--one of those women that when you were younger and less mature and less self-confident you would have wanted to hate because she has so much going for her, but couldn't because she's too nice. She's smart and funny and pretty and talented. And takes pretty photos of me. :) She works as a writer/editor at Compassion, but also does photography on the side. I recently asked her if she would take some portraits of me for author type-y stuff. Here they are!

(Caution, they are huge pictures of my face. You might want to back up from your computer.)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Male Prima Donna

I know this time of year I should be waxing philosophic about life and time and hope and all that, but I'm not really in the mood. Maybe next week.

Instead, I'm digging this video from The Office. It reminds me of my Mike Prima Donna.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Birthday Party

Today is my friend Brandy's 30th birthday. Brandy and I are friends because we both know what it's like to have people be jealous of us. (Just kidding. Clueless quote in honor of Brittany Murphy.) Brandy and I are friends because we both take pictures of food. And we both write. And we're both hilariously witty. Or rather, she is hilariously witty, and I'd like to be hilariously witty.

I knew if I took pictures of the food I made for her party she wouldn't laugh at me. So here's one. I needed something to put in these fun green glasses I got from my grandma, so I made individual 7-layer dips in a mug. (Congratulating myself on my creativity.)

Then I checked out Brandy's favorite blogs and made these cheese straws, like homemade Cheez-Its! (Now I know exactly why Cheez-Its are so bad for you.) And these brie stuffed mushrooms. I also baked pear gingerbread cupcakes with lemon frosting and a peach cake. Mmm!

Brandy got to read our 30 favorite things about her.
And blow out her candles. And drink many kinds of wines.
And take awkward family photos.

Happy Birthday, Brandy!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Our New Table

Here's our old table and chairs...
And after much work, a partial meltdown (by me), a metal malfunction, and a heroic save by Mike, here is the after:
It's hard to get a picture that shows what it looks like. So you'll just have to come visit me to see! But here's a close-up that will show you the texture a little better.
Mike yesterday called it "interesting." He said he "didn't dislike it." I think it's still growing on him. I like it. It doesn't blend in like the oak did and it makes a definite statement. It cost $50 for the paints. So for $100 total (including the chairs), we were able to make our dining room set a keeper.

Now if I could just change that oak banister!...

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Chairs

There has been much grunting and groaning and sniffing as we work on our dining room table redo. But by far the most time-consuming, grunt-inducing part of it has been the chairs. Because there's six of them and only one of me.

Here's the before chair. A nice, respectable chair.
I am now a lover of power tools. I never thought I, of all people, would say this. But they rock. They made sanding so much easier. But it was still painful. I cleaned, sanded, cleaned, sanded till my back ached, my ankle swelled (how did that happen?), and I hated the shape of the chairs.

Far more fun were the cushions. I found some fabric I liked at Hobby Lobby for 30% off. I made the cushion covers by measuring the width and depth of the cushion, then adding the height (2 inches) times 2 to both width and depth, and so cut out 26x30-inch squares.

Then I put these right on top of the old fabric and pleated and tucked until they looked right--and again relied on my power tools, like this power stapler.

In the meantime, we kept working on the chairs themselves. We painted two coats of black wood enamel and one coat of high gloss polyurethane, wishing every moment there were fewer slats and nooks and crannies on the chairs.

But, all in all, it was very simple and a fun way to snazz up our chairs for little money. $38 for the fabric. $10 for the enamel. Everything else needed we had from past projects--so $48 for our new chairs!