Monday, February 28, 2011

A Closer Look

Here is a close-up of that wallpaper in the stairwell.
It was installed in the late 70s, as was the carpet:Sometimes I need a reminder of how far we have come in our remodeling. (I refused to walk on this carpet barefoot.)Can you see why wallpaper scares me?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Old Post: New Oven

Sometime in the aftermath of Quinn's birthday, when everyone was bringing us meals, I realized my old oven had quit. One friend brought me a dish that needed some baking time, and when she got here, my preheated oven was still cold. Since I had had absolutely enough out of that beastly appliance that continually heated up the kitchen and set off my smoke alarm, I wasn't interested in any diagnostic testing, and I'm quite sure had we had it looked at, any serviceman would have laughed himself silly over us. It was, of course, 32 years old. Not that that is a bad thing.

I have a second old oven in the basement, so I wasn't without a paddle, but after a while, the trips up and down the stairs to check on my food's progress got annoying, not to mention dangerous when I was carrying hot pizza back up the steps, blindly dodging kids and toys.

So Jason measured our cabinets and went to the appliance store. It's such a small wall space that we had only two choices in one brand--regular or self-cleaning. We did what any self-respecting, hurried homeowners would do. We bought the self-cleaning variety.

The oven had to be special ordered, since no other Atmore resident in a right state of mind would install such a tiny thing. Jason still had to modify a top cabinet to make room for the oven, and he hired a cousin to make new doors for it.

George the appliance man delivered our Frigidaire one exciting afternoon. I was happy, but immediately skeptical of one thing, the thing that had been bugging me since before the oven was even a twinkle in Jason's eye.

Sure enough. My favorite pans wouldn't fit. Not even close. Bless my heart. I had been volunteered to make a fancy dessert for a Christmas gathering, and I chose a chocolate cake roll. It had been a long several years since I had baked my recipe, so a few details were cloudy. I chose my smaller jelly roll pan, which was a mistake.
When you're pressed for time and have to make a decision on your feet, Cool Whip folded into melted chocolate chips is a clever disguise for a dessert flop. (I didn't have time to take pictures of the ugly-but-delicious finished product.)

And I'm still getting to know my new friend, who can be a little uneven tempered, and possesses an overall maladjusted, narrow outlook. But I bought some new pans, and everyone is making nice, even the smoke alarm, which has only squawked three or four times.
P.S. How d'you like my stairwell wallpaper?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Mmm...Smells Like Lacquer in Here!

Four long years of mattresses on the floor have finally come to an end with the delivery of our brand-new bed today! I'm just so happy, I don't know how to act. I feel like a real, true adult now. New furniture can do that to you.Jason worked on this project off and on for a couple of weeks, with the help and tools of a cabinet maker across the road from us. I am so proud of him! (Aren't you proud of him?) I printed a picture of what I wanted, sketched a few details, gave some measurements, and he did it!
My Dad lent a hand too. He and Jason mixed three different colors of stain to grant my picky-picky wish.
I should have removed the boxes of Kleenex and stacks of running magazines before I took pictures, but the room is a lot cleaner than it normally is. And look! I'll be able to reach my lamp all calm and sophisticated-like now, instead of heaving myself skyward, flailing for the switch. Ooh.

Sweet dreams!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

About that Drug Test

After my earlier post, can I just say, "What in the world?"

First of all, I never knew one could purchase such a thing as an at-home drug test. Call me naive, but I've never been in desperate need to know the levels of certain illegal substances in my urine. Second, why would anyone throw that out of a car window? What would make a person say, "Hey, I can't wait to stop driving to pee in this cup!"? Third, I wonder how the "sample" was kept steady. Would it have spilled as the driver swerved to miss a pothole? Isn't texting while driving enough? And how would one go about explaining the need for carpet shampoo to the auto detailer?

Comments, please! I love this.

It's Not Exactly a Gift Registry or Crazy Things I Do for Fun

It's no secret to most of my friends that I enjoy running. It took me until I was an adult, trying desperately to shed pregnancy pounds, to discover this fabulous way to keep my heart healthy and my buns in check. My husband isn't so much concerned about his buns, but he loves to run too, and we like to race together. And yes, that means we PAY MONEY to wake up early, safety-pin signs to our shirts, stick in earbuds, then sweat and pant alongside a great crowd of other crazies doing the same thing.

We have friends who run too, and in fact were running long before we were, so we know we really aren't that weird. OK, at least we're not alone in our weirdness.

Last Saturday, we ran Pensacola's Double Bridge Run, which is a 15K (9.3 mile) distance that begins close to historic downtown, goes across a 3-mile bridge, over Gulf Breeze island, another bridge, and then ends at the beach. Since I was not in 15K shape this year, I opted for the 5K. See Lisa? She's well over 20 weeks pregnant! (And she's still faster than I am.) Her husband Jason chose to chauffeur us to our start lines and be on Daddy duty instead of competing. Post-race, he also did a great job of maneuvering to the nearest Krispy Kreme and buying a box of hot.

Here's Jason, getting pumped up for one last trip to the porta-potty before the gun. The poor dear looks so cold!
And here the two of us are after the finish. We had long cooled off, and had begun to freeze again, but we were happy because each of us had pulled off a new PR (personal record.)Racing is always fun, but training is not. I've had to rebuild my fitness since Quinn was born, since I was a huge slacker during the last half of the pregnancy, and the road has not always been an adrenaline-pumping success. I'm still working on endurance, but I've come a long way. One of my current challenges is fighting boredom. My body can run for a long time, but my mind can get pretty tired of it. And so.........

a tried-and-true remedy? I've started collecting! It's quite amazing what people toss out of their vehicles. Among the fast food wrappers, beer cans and at-home drug tests, there are some treasures.

My first (and most exciting) find was an aluminum 9x13 pan. At first sight I passed it up, thinking if I still remembered it at the end of my run, I would drive back to retrieve it. Then I thought better of my forgetful self, decided I really wanted that pan, and doubled back. I carried it the last mile and a quarter of my run, switching it from left to right and back again every hundred strides. It made the time fly, and I was hooked on collecting!
A few runs later, I found a companion for my pan.It's really not fit for dining use, since the tines are all bent out of shape, but what a great sandbox toy or plant poke or beginnings of a wind-chime!Wednesday I found a perfectly fine bucket to inspire some cleaning. I'll give it to Jason?
And today I found a grapefruit spoon, which is perfectly fitting since we have a huge box of grapefruit sitting in the garage and a shortage of grapefruit spoons.
Who knows what I'll find next run amid the litter? I have no desire to pick up the faux evergreen Christmas garland that has been not decomposing for over a year, nor the red camp chair that has faded to pink, but I'll certainly be keeping my eyes open for new stuff, and in the process, train for our next race!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Dreams of Cupcakes

After my earlier post about Helen wanting to see Quinn again, my sweet cousin e-mailed me.

"I just read your latest post about your sweet and precious Helen's thoughts and wanted to write you. It got me thinking... I just wonder if it would be appropriate to pray with Helen and ask Jesus for a special dream meant just for her. A dream where maybe she can give Quinn a great big hug and kiss... I don't know. I have just found in our family at least, that there have been times when -as a mom- I don't know how to respond, and sometimes Jesus can take care of things in really creative ways. Does that make sense? You might not be comfortable with that, but it may be something to consider?"

I never would have thought of asking God for something like that. As Jason and I tucked Helen into bed that night, we talked to her about it, then prayed that God would give her a special dream about Quinn.

In the morning, I asked her if she had a dream about her sister.

"Yes," she said, as if I were doubting. "There was a cake and cupcakes and butterflies and sprinkles!"

"Was Quinn still a baby or was she a little girl?"

"She was still a baby."

"What color was her hair?"

"Brown." Then, "She didn't have any hair!"

We tried not to suggest anything with our questions, but since it wasn't our experience, we didn't really know what to ask or think. She is not characterized by lying, and furthermore, her details stayed the same all day.

She was very happy about her dream, and we reasoned that cupcakes and sparkles are the happiest things that Helen can think of. Maybe God used Helen's own personal symbols of happiness to communicate to her the excitement of Heaven, and that Quinn is having a great time there.

More Freezer Paper Stencils to the Rescue

This fall I snatched up some long-sleeved shirts for Helen at a discount store in town. They were brand new, only fifty cents, or maybe a dollar. Either way, I was glad to pay the puny sum, and thoroughly delighted that they were plain. I over-bought, thinking either of my gift stash, or the way little girls attract stains on their clothing.

When I asked Helen what she wanted me to paint on her shirt, she landed on a strawberry. I tried to influence her toward something more winterish, but her choice was solid. It got complicated when she wanted a letter H too. I sketched some designs, and she chose her favorite.

She was a satisfied customer, especially delighting in the tiny strawberry seeds carved into the stencil and the paint with sparkles.

I didn't make too many Christmas gifts this year, but when my sister-in-law mentioned what she wanted in a new bag for my 2-year-old niece, I got to work right away the night before our gift exchange. I found a plain denim bag at JoAnn and embellished it with a big bow and a monogram. Is that Southern or what?
I also lined it with some of her leftover quilt fabric.
I loved it almost enough to make one for myself.