Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Kitchen Renovation

Let me start by saying: I'm no Cook. Therefore, I did not choose any high-end anything for my kitchen, because food to me is just fuel so I can get back to wrangling kids, crafting or gardening. When we moved a year and a half ago, our new-to-us kitchen was smaller than the one we sold. It was also original to our new-to-us brick rambler built in 1977. Because I'm married to an extremely handy dude, we knew that we could make the kitchen into something we loved without breaking the bank (read between the lines: we are both tightwads). And so, I present our under $2000 kitchen makeover!

Here's the thing: You are expecting "before" pictures. But I don't have "before" pictures, because 1.)I hated the kitchen so bad I cropped it out whenever I could. 2.)We honestly don't spend most of our time there, but I have lots of shots in the living room! 3.)We kinda just got going on the renovation without cleaning up (as you can see). So enjoy these "during" pictures.

First up: We removed the bank of cabinets that throw shade on the entire countertop (they had doors on both sides).

Next, we removed the empty box the cabinets were attached to. WHY was that even there? Were people in the 70's that much shorter?

Then we patched the holes left after removing the useless box. We relocated the flourescent lights to rooms that needed them, put beautiful fan/light fixutres up, and installed the old cabinets over my hard working husband's tool bench. Re-use it ALL, baby!
My husband built all new upper cabinets from scratch. He chose MDF, and added 1/4" panels to the doors in the "Shaker" style. We used our car floor jack to help us mount them, because I'm not the burley broad I once was, and I'm the only help he's got.
The back of the cabinets is beadboard, and he scored BIG by finding 5 gallons of mistinted white paint for only $15! We added a few strips of 1/4" to the back of the snack bar, just for interest. I did most of the painting during my mini-tornado's naptime. Somewhere in here, we added crown molding around the top of all the uppers, but you'll have to look for it in a later picture.
Having a big project to focus on helped keep the S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder or "winter blues") away. But using our garage as a woodworking and painting workshop was slightly challenging, since the paint required 60 degree temps for proper use. We fully insulated the garage right after moving in, so we left our poor cars out in the snow while we used heaters to make a good painting environment.
The old drawers had lots of wasted space, so my Handyman decided to build those all new. We also made new doors for the lower cabinets, but we didn't demolish the main frame of the lowers. We did, however, spend a bit of time and effort evening them out, fixing gaps, and adding shelving inside them. I even got away with painting in the Living Room one night when all four of my monsters were sleeping.

Then we took a deeeeeep breath and dove into the countertops! I was ready to put up a fight to get what I thought I wanted (solid laminate!). But my husband fights dirty, and bribed me with a new sewing machine if I would agree to laminate that didn't look like laminate, but was 1/10th the price of other options. I remind you again, I don't cook, but I do sew. If I cooked well or often, high end finishes might make sense. So... we made our own countertops with *gasp* laminate... that looks like marble, and used special bullnosed edging made to match.
Goodbye yellow... the color of Jaundice! (reference to a comedy sketch by Studio C)
Goobye permanently stained sink and faucet that no longer swiveled!
Cut and "dry-fit" the substrate (particle board).

Cut laminate to match substrate.

Glue the two layers together and roll out the air bubbles. Another go with the router to make all edges perfectly square.

Install the behemoth pieces and then add the rounded edging.

Finished countertop! The reinforcing tape just held the edges while the adhesive dried. It looks so much better than I feared it would, The white reflects even  more light from the tube skylight we installed
I got all the handles a few years ago at a thrift store...brand new in the package. All the ones we needed plus MANY more cost me just $28! Thank you to whomever donated them! Also, I HATED the floors and was sure I wanted them sanded and stained darker. But now...I like them! They are staying light. This whole project transformed a very dark, gloomy kitchen into a room so bright during the day that I don't even need lights.

I stole this next little trick from my in-laws. Tilt-out panels in front of the sink! I love them. A little place to keep scrubbers and such, so they can be out of sight but still handy.
Lastly, we installed a backsplash. I fell in love with what is actually a floor tile. It's made of porcelain, but screen printed to look like weathered barn wood. My maternal grandparents lived on a dairy farm in Ucon, Idaho, and every building on their property had beautiful old-looking wood like this someplace on it. I know Farmhouse style is popular right now, but I love it because it feels like I'm honoring my roots. I will still love it long after it's not trendy anymore. The tile still needs to be grouted, but today is the day I decided to blog, so... no grout!

That's the end of my kitchen renovation story. It's not glamorous. It's not expensive. But it now feels LIGHT. It feels calm. That's what I need from my space, and I'm so humbled my man worked so hard alongside me to make it happen. I'm so very blessed. 
Simple Abundance!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Facebook Fast

I recently did the unthinkable. I went for 5 days straight without checking my only active social media feed. I was neither camping, nor was my phone broken. I did it on purpose, or rather, FOR a purpose. The purpose was to reboot my brain.

Wading through my social feed during my country's Presidential elections was mentally exhausting, to say the least.

1980's kids like myself will remember the part in the movie "Neverending Story" where Atreyu loses his best friend (and horse, Artax) in the Swamp of Sadness. If you don't remember it, here's a refresher:
This is what I felt like as I watched everyone fight about candidates and policies. Then the election was over, and I was hoping to take a deep breath and keep moving forward. Instead, everything got even messier. I have no doubt it would have been messy in a different way had the other candidate won. Long story short, I realized a week ago that I was mentally DROWNING in conflict. I could tell that many Americans were also finding themselves in the "Swamp of Sadness." My efforts at trying to be cheerful and pull my friends out of the mud were like Atreyu's efforts, except even less successful. I needed a break, I took one, and here's a few things I learned:

Even if I control much of what I see on my social media feed, it is never going to be a bias-free/safe zone. For years now, I have given up on watching any broadcast television news whatsoever. I (perhaps foolishly) thought my social media feed would give me all the "news" I needed in order to stay aware of my surroundings and advocate for worthy causes. I thought I could choose to hear only from sources with whom I agreed on key points. Instead, I found myself losing respect for some of my friends, and also wondering which of my friends were losing respect for me. That's not why I originally chose to participate in social media, and taking a break helped me remember why I did/do.

It's such a miracle to communicate instantaneously accross the globe. It's a privilege, an honor. It comes with responsibility. I want to spread kindness. I want to multiply the goodness in the world. I need to do better and be more choosy about what I share. I need to type out the compliments I think in my mind when I read a friend's status.

My children prounouce it "toilet trees."
They think they are hilarious.

I have plenty of time to do what I need to do. While taking my break, I made an effort to replace my usual social media time with worthy activities that I have been telling myself I don't have time for. For instance, I got some Family History out. I'm getting more familiar with navigating . Reading about my ancestors' lives reminded me to catch up on my own journal writing. I prepared a 72 hour kit of food and toiletries for my family of 6, as suggested on . I spent even more time with family members, both immediate and extended. I read books; some to myself, some to my little monsters. I took care of myself. It was so much more pleasant than I feared it would be in the beginning.

God is in control. That is so easy to forget when I read more words from humans in a day than I do from His words. Have I made it obvious to Him that I choose to be on His team regardless of what the scoreboard reads at any given point? I can do better at that, for sure.

Friday, November 11, 2016

This Is My Protest.

I was waiting in the car while my husband and daughter were checking out what the redbox had to offer our evening. As I watched people leaving McDonald's, I was struck by some very small things that really add up to very big things.

One mother of a 4-ish year old had to cross the path of the drive-thru to get her and her child to their vehicle. The child got distracted and lingered in the path of the oncoming cars. I expected the Mom to help the child hurry out of the dangerous place. But instead, she stood there watching the child play, and waited until the child came to the car on her own. Bear with me before you start telling me all the ways I'm judging this mom, who may have had great reasons for allowing her child to do whatever she wanted.

The next two people to catch my attention were a mother and son (I assume by their ages and familiarity with one another), the boy looked to be about 10. He had trash in his hand from his meal, and tossed it on an outdoor table as they walked by it. She saw him toss it, but both carried on their way.

This is more than just "I would have parented these children differently." This is an entire generation of parents who never do anything that is against their child's will. I can't say what has caused so many people to completely misunderstand the job description of "parent," but I can see that it is leading to the behavior we're seeing in the post-election protests. Tossing your trash anywhere you please is a small sign of the bigger problem that "someone else will take care of it." Waiting for your child to allow you to load them in the car is a small sign of the bigger problem that "you can do whatever you want, I'm here to serve you, not teach you."

I chose to take part in a post-election political survey that called my cell phone. I am ever so grateful that Statistics was a required class for my Undergraduate Degree, because it taught me how easily numbers can be manipulated to make it look like a desired outcome was achieved, and how the exact wording of survey questions can sway the results drastically. I am convinced that this particular survey was funded by someone who is in favor of the protests currently happening. I spent twenty minutes answering questions like whether I had "warm" or "cold" feelings about students having to pay back their college debt. Whether I thought Immigrants(I even made the caller repeat to clarify that he said Immigrants only, with no regard to whether he meant legal ones, or not) added to the cultural diversity of America. I chose from intentionally confusing lists about what exactly I do or don't like about Hillary and Trump. They wanted to know my race, ethnicity, religion, age, and so on. I understand there can be value in data and information collection, but the extreme manipulation of that information has become EXTREMELY out-of-hand.

I feel the professional media is manipulating information and spreading more hate than anything Trump has said or done. The media tells us a Trump presidency will cause hatred to grow. What I'm seeing is that the media is what's causing hate to grow.
(I know good people that work for my local media, and they are not personally to blame.)

 I can say that even the "conservative" news channels are far from representative of my views. But you know what? That's OKAY. I can choose not to watch them. I can choose to seek out opinions I agree with. I can choose what stories I strive to share on my social media to spread awareness. I can choose what my children learn while they live in my home. I'm frustrated because this attitude seems to be vanishing. It seems that most people just watch the news and go along with whatever society is feeding them at the moment. That is NOT okay.

Let's see what happens if we turn off the news and go outside of ourselves and BE KIND to other humans. If you are Muslim, and you are always kind, good things will happen, If you are not Muslim, but you are always kind to Muslims, good things will happen. Same goes for immigrants and women and any other people feeling unsafe "because of Trump." Go be kind. Staying inside your house because you are scared is a perfect way to keep you from being kind. Don't let it! When the news starts reporting on people doing KIND things and IGNORING the people doing hateful things, we'll know we're really getting someplace.
As for me and my house, we are going to go out of our way to be kind, kinder, and kindest. Please join us! #thisismyprotest #makeAmericakindagain

Today, our kindness was that we raked leaves for a friend who had shoulder surgery and couldn't do it herself. Comment with YOUR kindnesses!