Monday, April 29, 2013

Help! Can't. Stop. Painting.

There is nothing that looks fresher, cleaner and just nicer to me than a fresh coat of paint.

And I don't mind painting...  I kind of like it.

I like quick, obvious, easy results and paint is good for that. I like the smooth back and forth of the brush, and seeing the wet paint dry to the color I've chosen.

But I think I'm almost done painting for this spring... the love affair is just about over and I'm ready to clean the brushes one last time and take a break.

 It started with the heat registers... that had never been painted. They were still primered metal after almost 40 years!


 I decided to fix that... I gave them all two quick coats of my favorite paint (the same color I used on the barn trim, the house trim, the back door, etc... it matches the logs of the house well).


 They look better now. :)

 Since I was right down there on the floor painting heat registers, my eye fell on the trim (baseboard and door moldings) next.  They'd been painted kind of a medium brown just before we moved in. I hadn't minded the color... at least not enough to think about repainting ALL the trim.

 But while painting the heat registers, I realized I couldn't look at those nasty brown moldings another minute! (Forgive the funny angle of this picture, I forgot to take any before pictures until this doorway was the only one left unpainted.)


 So it all got a coat (or two, or sometimes three) of white paint. (It's not a pure white, I had them custom match it to the "horseradish" colored paint on the walls).

 There is a lot of trim in this house, and the people who lived here before us apparently didn't care how it looked because it was poorly fitted, the baseboards "floated" above the floor in several rooms, most of it had never been caulked, and in some places it wasn't even attached to the wall!

 Well, there is no point painting something without fixing it first... So I've been going room by room in the upstairs (bedroom) part of the house, repairing and re-installing the baseboard and door moldings, then painting them.

 I really liked the new paint, but  I didn't really like the shiny brass doorknobs the previous owners had "upgraded" with. I'm not so wasteful as to get rid of a bunch of perfectly good doorknobs... but I was willing to spend the time to paint them.


So as I went room to room painting trim, I used the leftovers from my light fixture painting and painted each of the doorknobs too.

I was very careful about sanding and priming before I used the ORB paint, and I LOVE how they turned out. (And they are holding up very well, no scratches, chips, etc.)


 Here is one of the completed doors up in the bedroom area... so much better than it looked before!


 I made my way around the upstairs fairly easily, even taking a couple of weeks to paint and update the kid's rooms,  but I wondered what I would do when I reached the main living areas. Some of those moldings were put up backwards (with the thick part towards the door, the thin part into the room). What to do with those? Those moldings can't just be fixed and reused because of the way they were cut and installed originally... 

That's the project I'm working on now.

Since I can't reuse the existing moldings, I've decided to trim those doors with a different molding style then what is up in the bedrooms... but this post has gotten long enough, so that post will have to wait.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Frost shadow

Walking out to the barn early the other morning, I noticed the frost on the barn roof was an interesting shape...

As I looked closer I saw that it formed a near perfect frost "shadow" of the big light next to the barn.

It made me think of this quote:

"I believe God embedded the miraculous in the ordinary, and it is our task to discover is and celebrate it."

~Kent Nerburn, author of Ordinary Sacred: The Simple Beauty of Everyday Life

I need to get that book... I think I'd love it.

Monday, April 15, 2013


... our tears and prayers are with you.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Thrifting Thursday

Today was M's day to work at the thrift store in town. He works (with my help and supervision) sorting, pricing, and stocking donations that come in. He LOVES this job... and I do too because there are so many cool things in the store. I frequently come home with one or two little things I've found and can't pass up...

Today seemed to be vintage day at the thrift store... I found several older items that I just couldn't leave behind.

Like this album...

How could I leave Janis Joplin's Greatest Hits there, mixed in with all the Barry Manilow, ABBA,  and Jim Nabors? I couldn't... It's on my record player at this very moment.

And going back in time a little further... how awesome are these vintage linen kitchen towels?

A set of two, with great colors and designs, ready to be embroidered, complete with instructions and (very old) price tags still attached. I couldn't leave them either... It will be fun to stitch them up.


The last thing I bought is an old, small, paddle shaped cutting board. I've been buying these as I find them for a craft I've been playing around with... I'll share some pictures later, right now the board is in the garage half sanded.

A grand total of $3. spent and I'm feeling pretty good about my finds...

Tomorrow, if M is well enough (his gastroparesis is giving him fits!) we're going to town for our "fun lunch"... eating someplace in town we've never been before, and then scoring the restaurant on everything from food and friendliness to bathrooms. It's always a fun time.... but also gives the kids good practice at looking objectively at something and comparing it to other  similar things, using a rating system, "grading" according to the scores we give, deciding what to grade (what is important in a restaurant? what's more important, cleanliness or friendliness?) etc. Hopefully M will be well enough to go. (We haven't been able to do our fun lunch since January because M's stomach has been so touchy....) I've got my fingers crossed.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

ORB-ed chapter 1

I've been working a lot on the house the past few weeks, updating and freshening things up a bit.

I've been doing those jobs that when I would look around the house and see them I'd say, "I should ___________________ some day."

Then I decided someday is now... right now... today.

My first project involved getting brave and painting the light fixtures in the kitchen and dining room. They had been kind of a light, non-descript beige... and blended in with the logs above and around them. After doing some smaller projects with ORB (oil rubbed bronze) spray paint, I decided I wanted those fixtures  to be ORB'ed too.

Here's a very poor before picture of the kitchen light (that you are barely see)...

...and the one in the dining room.

(I really should have remembered to take "before" pictures!)

I was a little worried about how I'd do the job without accidentally spray painting parts of my kitchen or dining room that I didn't want painted. I had visions of over-spray on the logs... or the cabinets... or over everything. The first plan was to avoid that potential problem by having Joe take the lights down to paint, but the weekend I'd planned on painting I was all ready to go, and he didn't feel well. So instead of asking him to help, I bagged the kitchen light and painted it where it hung....

I wouldn't recommend this...It was kind of a ordeal.

I cut a large square of cardboard with an opening in the center and a slit down the side to the opening, then (standing on the counter, triggering M's anxiety in a huge way) I slid the cardboard under where the fixture attaches to the ceiling until the light was centered in the opening, with the cardboard snug between the light and the ceiling. I taped the edges of the cardboard to the ceiling, and used it as a base to hang painters plastic from. I cut slits into each side of the plastic for me to get my hand in to see what I was doing and paint... (It was a snowed-in, blizzardy day, I had lots of time on my hands....)


Luckily, I didn't get over-spray on anything, and I far as I know I didn't poison myself with spray paint fumes.

The second light was easier... Joe felt better and took the whole fixture down so I could paint it. It was the larger of the two and there was really no way I could have bagged it up anyway...

I love how the lights look now... You can actually see them, they are no longer "lost" in the brown of the wood that surrounds them.


Not a bad project for an $8. investment (the cost of one can of ORB paint).

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Eight years (and two days) ago

The wind is howling, the snow is blowing sideways, and all the schools are closed... Another major spring snowstorm is upon us. These springs storms always remind me of the huge storm we had to make it through when we moved here 8 years ago.

Just for fun (and laziness...) I thought I'd copy and paste a blog entry I wrote on the first anniversary of that move.

April 7. 2006
One year ago today we moved into this house... I wasn't thinking much about the anniversary of that move until I woke up this morning to the slap of the snow hitting the windows, and the howl of the wind down the chimney.

We're in the middle of a storm here today, and under a blizzard watch... the snow is blowing sideways and our back pasture is hidden by a curtain of white.  It looks (and sounds) exactly like it did one year ago, when we moved in.

So in honor of that anniversary, and all this tumbledown house has put us through since then, I thought I'd celebrate by sharing the story of that move.

After many years of living in the same house in the city, we decided it was time for a drastic change... a move to the country. After a crazy few months of looking at houses, and finally getting our old house sold, we ended up with only a narrow window of time to actually get ourselves moved. We had to give possession of our old house to the new owners just three days after getting possession of the new house. (That seems like plenty of time now, but remember we were moving 18 years and 5 kids worth of stuff!) As the date for the move got closer, the weather reports were forecasting a snow storm for day two of our three moving days.
As the day got closer the forecast got more ominous... it was supposed to be a huge storm, and dump lots of snow. Hmmm... what to do? We decided to really push to  get everything to the new house on day one... just in case the weatherman was right. We didn't want to have to deal with getting moving trucks through deep snow...

April 6th of 2005 was a beautiful day... We had lots of help coming, and I had the old house completely packed and ready for our "movers" (friends and family). The entire house was empty and all our things loaded into trucks by mid-afternoon. We filled two 24' moving trucks and a long horse trailer (with stuff from the garage). The new house is about 30 miles away from the old house and by the time we got there it was late afternoon and still warm, but the wind was starting to pick up. We quickly unloaded the house stuff into the garage, and the outside stuff into the barn. As we unloaded, the temperature was dropping by the minute... When we finished, the garage was absolutely stuffed full of boxes and furniture...there was just a narrow path through the garage to the door into the house..
As soon as we unloaded, M, R and I went to a motel about 20 minutes away (so we could have beds!) and Joe and older daughter K went back to the old house (because they didn't mind sleeping on the floor).

The storm started during the night sometime and when I woke up the next morning I could hear the wind outside the motel room window. I pulled back the heavy drapes but couldn't seem to get hold of the white sheers that still covered the window. It took a minute to realize that the sheers were already pulled back, but the air outside was so thick with fine flakes of snow that it was like trying to see through sheer white curtains.

It was still very early, hadn't been snowing too long, and there wasn't much snow on the roads yet. So, rather than risk getting snowed in at the motel (at $100. a night!), I decided to head to the new house. It wasn't that far, and most of the way was on main roads... so I thought we'd be fine.

The kids and I checked out, and headed east. The roads were slippery, but the snow wasn't deep and the visibility was ok. I crept along (I hate driving on ice) and was about a third of the way there when the back end of the car suddenly started moving sideways, seemingly on it's own. It was the strangest feeling... the back end of the car was moving sideways, gathering speed as it moved in a circle, and eventually the front end just followed it around. It felt as though neither the brake nor the steering wheel were attached to anything... I couldn't stop or control the slide. We went up and over the median (mowing over a bunch of evergreen bushes in the process) onto the wrong side of the four lane road, then... still spinning, up and over the median again ending up back where we started (even facing the right direction!). We sat for a minute, while I calmed the kids (and myself) and then I tentatively put the car back into gear to see if it was still drivable. It WAS! It drove funny though, so I stopped and quickly checked it... no flat tires, no obvious damage... so we kept on going.

It was such a strange drive... the farther east we drove the worst the blizzard got. I could see nothing but white at times, and we were almost the only ones on the road. We made it through the little town closest to the new house, and started up the hills leading to the house. The car still felt funny, but it just kept moving (and I just kept praying).
We were about 2 miles from the new house when the car stopped. It was still running but would no longer move forward. We were out in the country by now, and I was pretty worried. It was just the kids and I... in a broken car, in a  howling blizzard... and my cell phone didn't have any service. Within just a few minutes though, I saw a big SUV heading towards us (from the direction we were going) and flagged them down. The woman driving said she'd turn around and come back for us. While she was gone I backed the car off the road (it would still go backwards, just not frontwards!). The kids grabbed their overnight bags, and I grabbed M's meds, and we jumped into the SUV.

As it turned out, the woman who stopped lives in our new neighborhood. She had left to go to town, but had decided to turn around and go back home when she saw how bad the snow was. Had my car stopped any sooner, she would have already turned around and missed us...

By the time she dropped us at the new house, it was more than four hours after we'd left the motel for the 20 minute drive to the house, and the snow was about a foot deep. We ran down the driveway and into the garage, then found the light switch and wound our way, through the boxes and things, upstairs and into the house. The house was cold, but I turned up the heat and we finally warmed up. I tried to make a fire in the fireplace, but the wind was blowing so
hard that it was blowing down the chimney and I couldn't get a fire started.

That first morning we had a "breakfast" of sprite and chips that had been snacks leftover from the moving the day before. Then I started digging around and found a box of pantry food, a tiny TV set, a radio, and an old plug in
telephone. That gave us food, a way to check on the weather, entertainment for the kids (kind of... the TV had no antenna) and I was able to call Joe and let him know that we were ok.

We were snowed in for 2 days before Joe and K could make it to the house. During that time I unpacked some boxes, and moved some of the smaller furniture into the house. We ate a lot of instant oatmeal and canned soup during those days, and slept together on the floor. The kids still enjoy talking about "camping out" here at the house...

When I finally got my car dug out and towed to a repair shop, we were told that I had a broken axle from the accident, which had also caused other major problems in the rear end. They were surprised that I was able to drive it at all after the axle broke, and were really surprised to hear it had gone another 10 miles or so. They said the rear wheel really should have fallen off... (I'm thinking it took several "every day" miracles to get us home through that storm!)

That old blog post ends here, with a few pictures of the 2006 storm. So I'll close this post with a few of my  "storm" pictures from the years we've lived here... (since there is no way I'm going out into the current storm to snap pictures!).







Stay warm and safe today Coloradoans!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

keeping track...

We like to keep busy...  but often it seems like the fun things we do are quickly forgotten by the kids. (Not because they don't care about those things, or have no appreciation, but because of the memory problems connected to their FASD.)

So a few months ago I turned my little chalkboard wall in my kitchen/dining room into a log or journal of sorts, and I list our "special" activities. It's always amazing to me how much we do. (I forget about things too!) Before cleaning off the wall and starting over again at the beginning of each new season, I take a picture of the wall to print out for the kids. (They each have a photo album for these pictures...)

We've just started the "spring wall" , here's the "winter wall". (The little box with Accra 6,742 indicates the miles away K (dd#3) is while she's in the Peace Corps, she wrote that after we mapquested it the day before she left... I can't bring myself to wipe it away... so it stays.)

    Our "holiday wall":

    Let's go back even further... our "summer wall":

    This has been such a fun way to keep track of the things we do... Often I'll find R just standing in front of the wall, reading and remembering what we've done.