Friday, February 28, 2014

Peace Corps Week

This week is Peace Corps Week...

Have you thought about Peace Corps lately?

It's more than just the history of President Kennedy starting the program back in 1961 with this purpose:

"To promote world peace and friendship through a Peace Corps, which shall make available to interested countries and areas men and women of the United States qualified for service abroad and willing to serve, under conditions of hardship if necessary, to help the peoples of such countries and areas in meeting their needs for trained manpower."

Over 200,000 American's have served in the Peace Corps since then, including my brother and my daughter (currently serving in Ghana).

The Peace Corps is history, but it's very much now too. There are currently over 7,000 Peace Corps volunteers serving in 139 countries throughout the world.

It's an adventure, but it's also a tremendous sacrifice.... leaving home, job, friends, and family for more than two years. Making a new home in a place that may not have electricity, running water, internet access (the average age of a PCV, Peace Corps Volunteer, is 28... this is a big deal!), and where you may not have access to a variety of foods or even enough food.

For my daughter it's sleeping under a mosquito net every night, and taking anti-malarial medication every day (and dealing with the side effects of this medication) with the awareness that, just months into K's service, another PCV in her area died from malaria. It's heat and dust and tiny beautiful brown children at her feet, and frustration, and opportunity, and being part of a world she otherwise could never have been a part of.

You can read through our daughter's PC blog here and get a little glimpse of her life in Africa.

A few more African PVC blogs are  here,  here and here.

Our daughter K, and a little friend...

Congratulations Peace Corps on your 53rd Anniversary Saturday. I'm off today to mail a package to my PCV, it seems like a good way to celebrate. :)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

When it rains...

It's not been a good week.

It's been one of those "if it can go wrong it will" sorts of weeks.

It probably started with my paint-the-classroom idea.

I'm still painting.

I can paint a whole bedroom in an afternoon. I work quick. This is only a 9x10 room... and I'm only painting two of the walls. But it's been one thing after another every step of the way... from the moldings that wouldn't come off, to the endless caulking it's needed, to the too-many-to-count coats of paint it's taking to make those tongue and groove walls white.

After three different primers (and three trips to Home Depot), I've finally managed to cover the bleed through on the walls. Now it's just a matter of a couple of coats of white over the primer.

(This is what finally got the job done!)

But, even with the complications this project seems to be taking an inordinately long time. Probably because I'm working a few minutes here and a few minutes there... Between M's unsettledness this week, and our running around here and there, I'm just not getting anything done.


And then there is the "rain".

My kitchen has been a bit wet the past couple of days... It started with M accidentally breaking the kitchen faucet the other evening. (He never dreamed if he leaned on it hard enough it would crack and we'd have a fountain!) Joe's been super busy at work so here's my repair.

(No, I'm not a plumber.)

It didn't stop the leak but at least it turned our "fountain" into more of a waterfall...

Well, actually, we don't have any water leaking from the faucet now at all because Joe turned the water to the house off. He turned it off because copper pipe that brings water up to the frig seems to be disintegrating, and the shut off valve on that pipe won't work. It started with one little pinhole leak in the pipe, grew to 9 little leaks just while he messed with it, and now the danger is that the whole pipe will crumble and flood the kitchen and basement. So, we have no water until he drives to town, buys new pipe, and replaces the whole thing.

I can't wait for this week to be over...

On the bright side... (there always has to be a bright side, you know)... we'll have a nice new pipe and valve bringing water to the frig... and I can finally replace the kitchen faucet that I've disliked since we moved in with something I like a lot better!

And you surely can't beat this morning's sunrise... :)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

snapshots of home

Daughter K called from Ghana the other day and I told her about a little chair I had upcycled into a "desk" for for our youngest granddaughter. She asked me to post a picture of it, so...

... here you go K, a tiny little desk. :)

I started with a little unfinished child's chair I found at the thrift store. I removed the little wooden seat, then cut the back legs off level with the front legs. (The back legs had continued up to form the part of the back of the chair.) Then I put it back together again, using some of the unneeded back pieces to add bracing underneath. I used an old 1x6 as the top, cutting it in half, and attaching the halves together lengthwise. I rounded the corners and gave it a good sanding and attached it to the base I'd made. I finished it off with a little paint, stain, and polyurethane .

It's so fun to make something from nothing.... especially when it's for one of the grandkids...

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A fine mess...

..pretty much describes the state of our classroom right now.

If you remember, painting it was next on the list of inside projects I'd hoped to get done before spring. Rather than put it off (more than I already have) I decided yesterday morning to just jump in and get started.

Wonder of wonders I remembered to take a "before" picture. Here is the classroom before I completely tore it apart yesterday.

Our classroom had originally been a small second floor porch (I guess that would be a balcony) that connected to a deck that ran the length of the house. After living in the house the first year, the people who built it decided the porch was too hot in the summer to use and enclosed it into a sunroom.

Here's how it looked the first time we looked at the house:

Two of the walls are logs, like the rest of our house... These had been the original exterior walls (before the porch was enclosed), after they enclosed the porch they finished the other two walls with tongue and groove. They created three giant "steps" to hide the part of the front porch roof that was enclosed when they created the room. Yes, it's a quirky room... most everything about this house is quirky.

Anyway, the walls that are tongue and groove are just bare wood, and I think this tiny room would look lighter and brighter, and maybe a little bigger if those two walls were white.

Before I started painting I had a little tearing apart to do... The top of each of the giant "steps" is this fiber board kind of material that you often see on gas station bathroom walls. I'm sure it has a name, and if I spent enough time on Home Depot's website I could figure out what it is... but it really doesn't matter since it's going to be covered up soon anyway.

My plan is to cover up this fiberboard stuff with a nice water resistant wood laminate flooring material (probably Allure, maybe something like this). (It must be water resistant because I use that space for my large porch geraniums during the winter...)  I thought I'd be smart and just reuse the corner moldings that were already there, so I went to work removing those before painting.

Unfortunately, most of them were not nailed... they were attached with liquid nails and so a couple of them broke as I took them off.


I was curious about how the room had been constructed, so once I had the corner moldings off I gently peaked under the fiber board... and found more tongue and groove! I wonder why they covered it up?

I thought, very briefly, of pulling up the fiberboard, sanding the glue off the tongue and groove, and finishing it nicely... but then I remembered the geraniums.... and decided it was better to leave it covered up, and add one more layer of water resistant material instead.

As soon as all the corner moldings were off I started priming...

I used a brush at first so I could get into all the grooves where the tongue and groove came together...

It was slow going...

M came it at about the time I took that picture and... ever my supporter... said enthusiastically "It looks great Mom! ... Do you think it's going to need another coat?"

Um... yeah... it's going to need about a half dozen more coats.

It was definitely looking worse before it looked better.

As the primer dried I could see that I have a bleed through problem on the back wall. I wasn't too surprised... I'd been hoping I didn't run into that problem, but painting old, raw, wood... I knew it was a possibility. :(

The second coat of primer didn't stop the bleed through, so I'll head down to Home Depot today and buy some shellac to coat the wall with to hopefully stop it.  Then that wall will get another coat of primer and I can finally start painting it the color it's really going to be (an almost white).

So here's when I stopped yesterday...

It's not looking beautiful. It fact it's kind of scary ugly... but I keep reminding myself of my mental picture of how it will look when it's done, and remembering that the middle of any project is not pretty. (The bigger the project the uglier the middle is!)

I'll post an update or two later in the week as the work progresses... hopefully it won't be long before the classroom is put back together and looking fresh and beautiful and light!

Monday, February 24, 2014

She is the Lorax....

I love this picture of our daughter K (who is in Africa with the Peace Corps)...

She'd posted it on her PC blog as part of a post where she writes about the tree there that makes these huge (apparently edible) puff balls... and how they remind her of the Dr Suess book "The Lorax".

I'm pretty sure she's never seen the movie made from this classic book (it came out after she'd left for Africa) but she, and the rest of our kids, was raised on Dr Suess... I read some of his books so many times that I had them memorized.

You can read all of K's post here if you'd like.

Africa must agree with my girl... doesn't she look happy?

Happy Monday

Crazy Casa K

What makes me happy?

The soft, shaggy, fluffiness of Tucker's winter coat...

Thursday, February 20, 2014

snapshots of home (snow curtained windows)

A few more snapshots of home for our daughter in Ghana...

An intense, but quick burst of snow blew through last night, leaving the windows on the north side of the house plastered with snow...



I love the way the kitchen is reflected in the snowy glass...


... the living room reflection in this picture looks dreamy to me.


After I turned out the lights I noticed the neighbor's barn light, just barely visible through the snow, glowing on the hill.

Such a peaceful evening...

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Lassie and Rin-Tin-Tin find a home (kid's bathroom re-do)

I've spent the past week updating the kid's bathroom... It's taken a LOT more time than I expected it to take, but it's done.

Whew! That room had been a mess...

I'd painted it (kind of a light blue) when we moved in. I picked the color to go with a patchwork fabric shower curtain I'd gotten at Pottery Barn years ago. The shower curtain has since started falling apart and has been "retired" (It's here now, folded on a shelf in the guest bath because I still love the colors in it) but the blue remained.

The vanity is original to the house (1970's) and I believe the big medicine cabinet is too. They were both finished with a shiny orange-y kind of stain (and you know how much I love orange-y wood stain!). We'd laid a new floor down a few years ago and it was in great shape... it was all the rest of the bathroom that badly needed a face lift.

(This is not the vanity in the kid's bathroom, I don't have a "before" picture of it... this is the identical vanity in the guest bath before I painted it.

As I started preparing the walls for paint I found a thick line of drywall going around the top of the shower that had been ruined by moisture, so before I could get to the fun part of fixing up the room I had to dig out all the powdery rotten drywall and patch that whole area.

I'm not the best drywaller... luckily, unless someone is standing on the edge of the tub they're never going to see my patch job.

Once the patching was done I thoroughly caulked that area (the lack of caulk had caused the damage in the first place), primed it and it was finally time to paint.

Since I was too busy working to take pictures, I'm going to skip ahead, past the wall painting, vanity painting, and hook and picture hanging, and show you the finished product:

I was redoing this room on the cheap...It's the kid's bathroom and they are not so very careful with it (how it ended up such a mess to begin with) so I wasn't going to invest a lot in fixing it up. (For them to just mess up again!)

So I mixed the color of the wall paint from paint E (dd#1) had, mixed with some I had... I was going for a parchment like color and it turned out a little dark but I like it.

I decided to ditch the towel bar that had been on this wall (since the kids didn't use it anyway) and instead added this piece of old barn wood I've had stored in the garage and some hooks for towels.


My vintage Lassie and Rin-Tin-Tin pictures are happily put back together and found a home here too.

Here's my favorite part... the "new" vanity. Once the walls were painted the room was looking very "beige" and I wanted to add some color... I debated between navy blue and a grayish herb green.

Navy won out. I used some paint I'd bought for a project years ago and hadn't used since. The paint was still good and I love the way the navy color, with the white knobs, freshens up the vanity. It took three coats to make that worn old vanity look nice again, but I do love how it turned out. (The porcelain knobs on the vanity are old, but still good. If I can find the same ones I'm going to add two more to the blank drawer front in the middle.)

I decided not to distress the vanity since the kids will probably end up "distressing" it themselves... no sense hurrying that process along. ;)

I also painted the frame around the big medicine cabinet mirror...

I rehung the white cotton shower curtain I bought a few months ago to replace the quilted one.  I priced out shower doors for the tub but they were just more money than I wanted to spend on this space. They might have helped keep the shower water IN the shower instead of ON the floor... but I really like how the shower curtain looks, so it's ok that it didn't get replaced.

The wall over the toilet looked empty, but I wasn't sure what to put there. Lassie and Rin-Tin-Tin kind of had a vintage look going on their wall, so ended up adding a couple of vintage looking tin signs from Retro Planet to the room.

(The color in these photos is a little funky... hopefully I can get some better photos when the light is better.)

So.. that's it... it's finally done. It ended being a super inexpensive (less than $50.) makeover... The only money I spent was on the tin signs ($30.) and the towel hooks ($10.).

It feels good to get another room painted (towards my goal of painting the interior of the house before spring). All I have left is the kitchen, master bedroom/loft and the classroom. The classroom is the room I'm really hoping to get done next...

I'm going to paint over the beadboard on the walls. (Not the logs... gasp!... only the beadboard.) With the log walls there is SO much wood in this house I decided to lighten this room up a bit by painting the beadboard. (In this photo you can see the log walls on the right, and the beadboard on the walls behind the desk.)

It's already mid-February though, so I'm running out of time before it's time for outside work and the inside work stops until next winter. I think I can get the classroom done though... :)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Let me be brave in the attempt...

M loves sports.

No... M LOVES sports!

Not watching them so much... he likes to participate. He loves joining a team and getting out there to catch, shoot, dribble, pitch, pass, bowl and hit the ball and run bases, the track, the court, and the field.

So, of course, Special Olympics is important to us. M couldn't participate in sports without Special Olympics... He plays basketball and swims in the winter, soccer or track and field in the spring, softball and sometimes bocce ball in the summer, and bowls in the fall.

He missed a couple of years of basketball when he had his hip surgeries, but he's back now and the regional tournament was Saturday. As always, the tournament was well run, but also had an element of chaos about it. There were six games going on at once, one after another, all day... and one after another award ceremonies going on all day in the lobby. (The Olympic theme song, played each time a team was awarded their ribbons, was played approximately every 10 minutes the whole time we were there...)

Both M and S played in the tournament. R doesn't play basketball... It's the only sport I let her sit out. M really likes playing basketball with a specific Special Olympic team (not our regular team) and R doesn't know the kids well, and it makes her anxious to have people running towards her on the court and trying to block her shots, etc... so I don't fuss at her about not playing.

I didn't take pictures of M and S playing... I've already got countless mediocre photos of the kids playing sports... I just can't get close enough, and things happen so fast that I end up with blurry photos, or photos where it's impossible to tell who is who because they are so far away.

But I did take a few pictures after the tournament...

S after playing both her games and the award ceremony...


M after playing both his games...

He does go all out when he plays, ;) and his tachycardia makes his face turn all kinds of interesting shades of red... sometimes even leaning towards purple!

M's team... he is on the left with his fist in the air.


The "Three Musketeers", ready to head for home...

M has three more games before the season is over... R and I will sit in the stands and cheer him on. (S plays on her school team so, except for the tournament, we aren't able to go to her games.)

*The title for this post is taken from the Special Olympics motto, "Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt." M doesn't know this motto, but it could have been written for him...


Monday, February 17, 2014

Happy Monday

Crazy Casa K

What makes me happy?

A sweet cup of warm chai and little mando time early in the morning when everyone else is still asleep...

Friday, February 14, 2014




Outside my window... it's still dark, and last night's brilliant full moon is out of sight.

I am thinking... that I need to get caught up on paperwork kinds of things... I've been getting a lot of things done around the house but paying bills and finishing up the taxes are still on the to-do list.

I am thankful... that this past week is behind us. It was a tough one...

In the kitchen... I should probably make dinner tonight, last night was take out pizza eaten while watching American Idol.

I am creating... a little music. I've discovered that I LOVE playing double jigs on the mandolin...

I am going... to schedule in some stay-home days next week. We had too many little time sucking errands this week, I felt like all we did was make little trips here and there. Unfortunately, today and tomorrow are more of the same....

I am reading... A Case for Solomon: Bobbie Dunbar and the Kidnapping That Haunted a Nation. It's a good, well thought out and researched book about an event I knew nothing about. Not only is the case itself interesting, it's made me think a lot about how very much has changed in the past 100 years in terms of how we understand and relate to children.

I am hoping... tomorrow goes well, we have a super busy day (Special Olympics basketball tournament as well as a concert in the evening) and we'll have S with us... which is always kind of a wild card.

I am looking forward to... Sunday (and hopefully a less stressful week!)

I am learning... The Sligo Chorus, a hornpipe that keep trying to twist my fingers up into knots.

Around the house... I'm keeping busy. ;) I've been working this past week on updating the kid's bathroom. Finding some drywall that had been ruined by moisture has slowed me down, but the room should be done and put back together later today. (Whew!)

One of my favorite things... my siblings (this should really be three of my favorite things!) we are all very different, and yet I feel such a connection to each of them. They are people I am blessed to know...

A peek into my day...

The view off my back porch  just four days ago...

What a difference a few days makes!

Today the temperature is supposed to be in the mid-high 50's with plenty of sunshine.

(Yesterday it was so warm we didn't even need jackets!)

Yay for crazy Colorado weather!


Visit Peggy's blog for more about The Simple Woman's Daybook

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Thrifting Thursday (vintage paint-by-number pictures)

M and I got to the thrift store a little early last week to work, so I took a few minutes to look around before we started sorting and setting things out. There were a couple of framed prints set out that I hadn't seen the week before...  They were those retro sad-eyed-kitten prints that were popular back in the 70's.  Like this one:

There was no glass in the frames and the prints were just thin paper and were dirty and a little warped from moisture. I always thought those sad eyed animal prints were ugly, but I took a closer look at these when I saw that, where one of the prints had warped away from the frame enough to see behind it, there was another picture of some kind back there.

I gently pulled the print out enough to see behind it and found a very nice, old, paint by number of a German Shepherd. Of course I had to peak behind the print in the other frame, and found a paint by number collie.... also in good shape. (Thank you ugly sad eyed kitten prints, you protected the sweet paint by number paintings you were hiding!)


Hmm.... I think I found Lassie and Rin-Tin-Tin!


Of course I bought them... I paid $1. for both of them and I can't wait to get glass in the frames and get them hung up.

Unfortunately, the frames are an odd size, so I will probably have to have glass cut to size.

The frames are in great shape though, good wood with a bit of age showing...

And I do love the paintings.... the collie looks a little like our sheltie Quin.

See a resemblance?


I wonder about the person who painted these... It must have taken forever, and they are very nicely, carefully done. When they are all put back together again, they'll go upstairs... probably in the kid's bathroom (carefully sealed from moisture!), which I'm in the process of painting and fixing up.


Once they are finished and hung up I'll post some pics and show you how they look....