I Grow Rocks

I’m sorry I haven’t been very good about writing. (Is it just me, or do I seem to say that a lot?) I’ll be better about it once I get my act together. (Again, I say this all the time, don’t I?) Actually, my act is fairly together right now as I’ve been spending a lot of time on my website and I’m having so much fun! It’s a lot of work, though! How come nobody told me!? Well anyway, if you haven’t been over to Grace & Such since my last post, you need to take a gander. It’s starting to really come together.

But I’m here to tell you about the home front. I mean that literally. I’m going to tell you about the front of the home. And a little about the back, but mostly the front.

My story begins a long time ago. Back when I tried to grow something. And then it died. I didn’t give up. I tried to grow something again. And then it died. And then I planted petunias around a mailbox in a whiskey barrel and I watered them every day and they were glorious and beautiful and I thought I’d finally figured it out. But then they died.

After a while I would bring plants home from the nursery and Mr. Jenster would apologize to them. “I’m so sorry it’s come to this,” or “You’re not long for this world,” or “dead plant walking.” Eventually he would say cruel things to me like, “What dead plants did you throw our money away on this time?”

I finally had to accept the fact that I have a black thumb. All my plants wither and die slow, painful-looking deaths and I’m helpless to stop it. Except for weeds and unwanted grass. Those I’m really good at.

About a month ago or so Todd cleared out the flower bed in the front of the house. And when I say he cleared it out, what I mean is he took out everything, including the nasty junipers and overgrown “little” evergreen tree. He dug down about 6 inches to get rid of the lousy soil,  took care of some drainage issues and filled it with premium soil from the local landscape supplier.

And then he turned it over to me. The one who kills plants with a mere glance. So I decided I’d start with rocks and see how that goes. Turns out big rocks from a landscape supplier are expensive! So I did what any sane person would do. I asked on Facebook if anyone had any landscaping boulders they wanted to get rid of. Ding, ding, ding!!

The hows of getting the rocks into the flower bed are a whole other story and one I don’t have the energy to tell. Just suffice it to say it was quite the ordeal. Not for me because I just went along for the ride and said, “I like that rock.”

Anyhoo, I’m so happy to report that we’ve had the rocks for over two weeks now and I haven’t killed them yet. I think I may actually try some plants next.

Rocks Collage


And on the homeback, Todd has put two bird feeders in the tree next to the deck. He can see the upper feeder from his office upstairs and I can see them both from the kitchen sink.

Bird Collage

So far we’ve seen a lot of sparrows and another type of little bird that is as of yet unidentified,  a downy woodpecker and yesterday there was a hawk in our tree. I’m not kidding! Why was there a hawk in our tree?? He was fairly close to the upper feeder so I think he may have been waiting for his lunch to come eat some lunch. It’s like Marlon Perkin’s Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom all up in here! The only thing that would have been better is if he hadn’t flown away before Todd could get his camera phone to focus.

Oooo, no! The only thing that would have been better is if his lunch would have come for lunch AND Todd could get his camera phone to focus. That would have been fabulous!

As you can see, Sookie is fascinated.

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Aaaaaaannnnnnnd It’s Done!

Well mostly done, anyway. It’s pretty much complete. The powder room is just a few touch ups away from being finished!

I promised before and after pictures, but I can’t find the before photos. Just suffice it to say it was a boring, construction-grade bathroom. Linoleum on the floor, a beige toilet and a standard cabinet with standard sink and faucet. Got that image in your head?? Now follow me to the bathroom. (That sounded much less awkward in my head.)

First we see the beautiful sink and faucet. I am in love.

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Beautiful, no? I’m filled with delight every time I see them. I’ve never thought myself to be very materialistic, but I’m starting to reconsider.

Now check out these killer switch plates I bought in Cape May! They were instrumental in my choice of cabinet color (which we will get to in a moment).

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Aren’t they nifty??

And now for the Piece de Resistance. The cabinet, which my super talented man made with his own two hands and all those spiffy tools in the garage.

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That dude has some seriously mad skillz! The delight I spoke of when I mentioned the sink and faucet? It’s totally surpassed by my complete joy and amazement every time I look at the cabinet and counter top. We actually had looked at vanities and I knew I wanted a vessel sink, but everything we looked at was either outrageously expensive or just icky. While looking at a particularly flimsy (yet reasonably priced) vanity at Lowes or Home Depot Todd said, “I can make you a vanity if this is all it is,” and BAM! Another new idea was born.

And a few of the finishing touches – the light fixture, the mirror and the flooring.

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The light fixture was one of the first things I bought, along with the sink and faucet. The photo doesn’t really do it justice. Just believe me when I say it’s really cool. And the mirror used to hang in my dining room. My Mother-In-Law bought a pair of these mirrors at an estate sale years ago and then gave me one of them. I had originally thought to paint it the same color as the vanity, but I’ve since changed my mind. I actually like the look of the dark cherry wood atop the bright green vanity.

The flooring is 12×24 inch tile with gray grout. Tile is one of my nemeses because I can never find just the right one. But when I saw these I just knew. Kind of like when I met Todd. I just knew.

The beadboard was one of those, “Oh no! We pulled the old vanity out and there are holes in the wall and we need to cover them up,” decisions. I think it was a good one.

And that, dear ladies and gentleman, is a tour of my new powder room. I can now get on with my life.


A New Disorder

My fans have been hounding me about writing some more since it’s been several months. There have been at least two, maybe three people beg for another post, ask for another post, mention there hasn’t been a post since December.

Always the people pleaser, I’ve decided to forgo the laundry, dishes and other assorted chores I always, usually, sometimes, think I should probably do on Saturday and give the people what they want a bit of time-wasting uselessness.

But what to write about? There are so many options and I’m not good with choices. So I think I’ll just tell you what’s on my mind at this very moment.

I have DADD – Decorating Attention Deficit Disorder.

We have a small powder room that I want to completely redo. Everything – and I mean everything – is coming out. I’m going to put in new flooring, a new toilet, a new vanity, a new mirror and a new light fixture and I’ve been obsessing over making the right choices.

It’s a powder room, for crying out loud. It’s not like people come to the house just to hang out in there. And if that is the reason they’re coming to my house they need to stay away because that’s just weird.

Urban Industrial Rustic Shabby Chic is pretty much what I’m going for. (See what I mean? I can’t even make a decision on what to call the style.)

I was thinking about doing a pallet wall behind the toilet and vanity, but foraging for useable pallets is more than I’m willing to do at the moment. So I’ve spent the last hour or so talking to Todd about the cheapest way to get the look I want and frankly, I think I’m going to like this even better.

Can I just stop here for a second and tell you how much I dig on this stuff? Thanks! I LOVE this stuff! If it didn’t cost money I would be just like Nicole Curtis on Rehab Addict. And if you don’t know who she is or what Rehab Addict is then you haven’t lived! She’s like the cool version of “This Old House”.

Thanks for indulging me.

I’m very excited because we have a plan and it includes paint and Home Depot and the lumber yard and tile and a super cool project. I will, of course, post before and after pictures. I just hope it turns out half as awesome as the image in my head. Sadly, that very rarely happens.

You do know what this means, right? It means I’m going to be too busy to write posts.

And we’ve come full circle.

Home Improvement

I think that term is a little misleading. It suggests that the home would be improved with whatever work is being done. I’m still working on the dining room and at this moment there is no improvement. In fact, it seems to be going quickly down hill.

I finally got all the wallpaper off, but there was a lot of gummy stuff left so I tried to wash it off. That just made it stickier so I tried to sand it off. Meh. I patched the holes and then sanded again and then washed again. These were some clean walls! Once they dried there was no more gumminess so I was ready for the next step.

Priming. What a pain in the rear. I don’t like priming. That stuff is oily and icky and even the “odorless” primer is odorful, just not as bad as the odery stuff. That’s not really a problem, though, because I like the smell. I also like the smell of markers and glue and even diesel and cigar smoke mixed together. Now that I think about it, this strange fondness for certain chemical smells explains a lot about my brain. But I digress.

I finished priming both the top and the bottom of the dining room this afternoon. Next I was going to start painting the woodwork and there’s a lot of it: crown molding; chair rail; baseboards; a fairly large window; and two doorways. I was thrilled the other day when I found the leftover trim paint in the basement. But when I opened it at 5:50 or so I discovered very old paint with crumbly bits of black rusty stuff mixed in it. That left me a little disheartened, but at least I have the color recipe. Unfortunately Sherwin Williams closes at 6:00. Looks like no more work in the dining room until I can get the trim paint tomorrow. Guess I’ll just hang with three-fourths of the family instead.

It now appears that I won’t be actually painting until next weekend. Then maybe I can get the rest of the dining room furniture out of the living room and make the house look a little like Christmas. And maybe then my home will be improved.

My Week in Arkansas, Part 3

**My ears are all plugged up and I’ve got that nasty, post nasal drip thing going on. Tomorrow is the Philadelphia Race for the Cure and my first time to walk since both my mom and myself were diagnosed with breast cancer. Which means it’s my first time to do the Survivor Parade down the Rocky Steps (the Philadelphia Art Museum). I’m telling you right now, if I end up missing it AGAIN because I’m sick I will cry. Not just a little boo-hoo, but body wracking sobs. The kind that makes your eyes-a-ruddin’ and gives you the hooty puckers. But I don’t think it will come to that. Well, actually it may come to that just from the sheer emotion of it all. But not ’cause I missed it. I’ll keep you posted.**

And now for the exciting conclusion to My Week In Arkansas. No doubt you’ve lost sleep from the anticipation.

Will our heroine finish the dining area? Will the living room be completed on time? Will the beautiful and sweet youngest sister fall prey to the scheming manipulations of her mean and jealous sisters? And if so, will anybody save her?

Not to worry, gentle readers. Today’s installment will answer all your questions.

Sunday, April 27:

We all went to church with the folks. The last time we were all in the same church at the same time was five years ago so it was nice to worship together. Katie’s second grade teacher goes to that church so I got to visit with her for a little bit. She finds it hard to believe Katie is in 7th grade and isn’t always sweet.

*You know how when your kids’ teachers tell you how sweet and well behaved they are and what a pleasure they are, yadda, yadda, yadda. Do you enjoy hearing it, but in the back of your head you’re thinking they’re only telling you that because they know you want to hear it and in reality your kid is a brat? No? It’s just me??*

After church we went for lunch at The Cracker Barrel. When I lived in Arkansas I used to regularly meet a good friend of mine there for breakfast. Most of those breakfasts with Wilma turned into lunches. She and her husband, Ray, are very special to our family and I think of her as my spiritual mentor. They’re about the same age as my folks and they all enjoy each others company so when I half-jokingly said the night before that I didn’t feel right about going to Cracker Barrel without Wilma Mom said to invite her and Ray. So they met us there and we had a great visit and the food wasn’t bad, either.

Finally it was time to get back to the house and pick up where we’d left off. We got about four hours or so of work done Sunday. And we had, of course, ice cream for dessert.

Note to Terri – Yes, we did comment on the lack of paint fumes, but that’s the way they work. They mess with your brain so you can’t smell them. Really.

Monday, April 28:

We pretty much jumped right into work on Monday. It was our last day to get everything finished so we didn’t waste any time. The dining area, the hall and the entryway were completely done which left the living room. Shelli and I worked in there while Terri did all the running around, straightening, hanging up stuff and those little things you don’t think about but take up a lot of time.

The painting finally got done, curtains were hanged, switch plates replaced, furniture moved back… And this is what we have to show for it:

The dining room:

The living room:

And Terri’s handiwork over the kitchen cabinets:

All our work paid off and everything looked fresher, cleaner and quite nice, if I do say so myself. Which I do. And my mom wanted me to say that she’s very glad we didn’t keep the wallpaper. She was pretty worried for a day or two when she saw what a mess I’d made of the walls, but it all turned out okay in the end.

After days of hard labor we decided to celebrate. So we had ice cream.

Tuesday, April 29:

I’m pretty sure Terri and Michele felt the same way I did Tuesday morning. Excited to be getting home and sad at having to leave. We had flights out of the Little Rock airport close to the same time so Mom and Dad dropped us off together. After we made it through security we went to Starbuck’s for breakfast while we waited for our planes. That was nice, too. Again, the last time it had just been the three of us together (except for when we drove to Baskin Robbins) was when I was having those scans almost three years earlier.

Neither Terri nor Michele abused me much, if at all. Or else I’m so used to it I didn’t notice. I think, however, it’s because there is power in the written word and they knew I’d tell on them for all the world to see. Or the five people who read this blog.

All joking aside, I was so happy we managed to coordinate our schedules and do this for Mom and Dad. Not even the painting so much, but just all of us being together. That doesn’t happen very often anymore because for one thing we’re fairly spread out. But more than that, Terri and Michele have grown children – also spread out and some with families of their own. So it’s a bit of a balancing act on their part – who are we going to go see this time. Even if we spent most of the week painting it was just great to be together.

My Week In Arkansas, Part Two

I’m not sure what my deal is, but I’m having the hardest time getting the Arkansas trip written. In fact I’m having the hardest time getting anything written. Or done. I think I’ll blame the puppy.

When we last parted I was regaling you with my wallpaper faux pas. Let’s move past that, okay?

Friday, April 25:

After a stout cup of coffee and cereal, Shelli and I went back to work. She worked on the entryway while I continued to angrily rip gently pull the rest of the wallpaper from the kitchen wall. Mom and Dad went to pick Terri up at the airport and Rhonda showed up to see my mess handiwork. I think I’d finished the removal and had done a bit of Spackling and sanding, preparing the wall for the next step. But I didn’t have what I needed for the next step so Rhonda drove me to Lowe’s for primer. Used to be when I got in this predicament I would buy some drywall mud and mix it with the paint. That worked pretty good, but it made the wall almost too textured. This day, however, we found wall texture specifically made to mix with paint. So I bought that, a can of primer and voila!!

Terri was at the house when we returned from Lowes. She tried to convince me and Michele that she came to supervise, but two against one trumps the oldest. So Shelli worked on the hallway (the entryway was finished and looked great!), I set out to redeem myself and Terri started taping the eating area.

After I got the textured primer applied I began to relax. It looked pretty much like a regular wall so I knew most likely I was going to get to go home the following Tuesday. Which was a good thing because I was almost getting those little tiny twinges you get when you kinda, sorta miss someone.

Terri did trimming, I did trimming, Shelli did trimming, Terri did taping, I did painting, Shelli did painting, Terri did painting, I did taping, Shelli did more painting. We had four areas to paint and it was nice to have three of us always with something to do.

I wish I had taken notes while I was there like I’d meant to do, but the slave drivers my sisters cracked the whip so I wouldn’t have had time to write anything anyway. Since I know somebody will tell on me I’ll confess right now that I did take frequent Sudoku breaks. However, they were only to keep my brain sharp against the dulling effects of paint fumes. Anyway, since I didn’t keep a paint trip journal I’m a little sketchy on when we finished one project and started another, etc. Not to worry, though. I’m pretty sure Terri or Michele will be perfectly happy to fill in any gaps.

What I know for absolutely positive (because how could I forget) is we had a delicious roast with vegetables and salad for dinner that night. And what roast beast meal would be complete without following up with ice cream later? So the three of us hopped into the folks’ car and drove to Baskin Robbins. My sisters had to decide what flavor they wanted while all I wanted was Vanilla. “Boring”, you say? Quite the contrary!! Vanilla ice cream, melted chunky peanut butter and chocolate syrup. Now THAT’S delicioso!!

Once again we stayed up too late.

Saturday, April 26:

At the risk of being redundant, we trimmed. And taped. And painted. I believe this was the day we put the finishing touches on the dining area. My parents have cathedral ceilings in the living room and we had to do one side at a time. So I trimmed one of the “triangles” on Saturday.

We couldn’t get too into the painting because we had some major celebrating to do. We worked for a couple of few hours and then cleaned up so we could take our parents to dinner for their 55th anniversary. Yup. You read that right. Fifty-five years. We took them to the same restaurant the family went to five years earlier after their 50th anniversary party.

I was driving so instead of going straight home after dinner I took the scenic route past our old house. It’s still as cute as ever. *sigh* I miss my wide front porch. And the most beautiful redbud tree I’ve ever seen still grows in the front.

Comfy jammies, conversation and ice cream completes day four. I’ll try not to go so long before the final installment of the My Week in Arkansas chronicles.

My Week In Arkansas, Part One

While I’m not even close to being a linear thinker, I do believe stories are best when started at the beginning. So here it goes.

Wednesday, April 23:

Todd and I stopped at the local Wawa on our way to the Philadelphia airport for gas and coffee. In that order. Gas for the car. Coffee for me. I don’t think we’d even made it to the freeway when I’d spilt coffee on my pristine white tee-shirt.

I’ve only ever flown Delta out of Philly and the Delta terminal is horrible. Old, dirty, nothing good to eat… This time, however, I flew out of the US Airways terminal and it was much better. So much better that I wish I would have foregone the Wawa coffee. Next time I’ll know better.

I had a two-and-a-half hour layover in Charlotte, North Carolina. Now that’s a nice airport! Just look.

A pretty Wright Brothersesque Biplane.

A really cool clock mobile in the middle of the main terminal

And because Brian Jones (our pastor) hates is such a fan of NASCAR I snapped these shots just for him.

The sign says Charlotte, NC – June 19, 1949: The first NASCAR strictly stock race. Who knew an airport could be so edumacational?

I arrived at the Little Rock airport about 30 minutes before Michele did. By then it was time for dinner so we ate at Ruby Tuesday just a few minutes from my parents’ house. We then proceeded to stay up way too late.

Thursday, April 24:

We all woke up. And this would be where things started going downhill. Do you remember the following paragraph when I was talking about removing wallpaper?

Bad idea. It was put directly onto the wallboard except for a few places where they had Spackled something – the spots we tried. So we made three times more work for ourselves than we would have had we just primed the wallpaper first and then painted.

You did remember it? Why didn’t you remind me!?!? It was a major case of deja vu, except Rhonda wasn’t there to relieve some of the blame! Oh, it all started out okay. In fact it was pretty fun. Pulling off wallpaper and watching it come away without a hitch. And then… and then… I can’t even bring myself to say it. Just see for yourselves.

The brown is where the wallboard ripped.

This is where I was sweating profusely, thinking what have I done? Surely they’re going to disown me after this! While on the outside I was reassuring them that I knew what I was doing and it would all turn out fine.

My mother even told Todd that if the kitchen wasn’t finished the following Tuesday she was taking my ticket and flying to Philly until I got it fixed. I think he was kind of excited because he said, “Great! Then we’ll get dinners cooked and a clean house and washed and ironed clothes…” and I can’t remember the long list.

In my defense, there was a spider in the garage and Michele drowned it in Raid. But it wasn’t just your everyday, average spider. No. Not this one. Take a look:

That’s right, folks. It was a bonafied Black Widow. Between the shock of finding a lethal arachnid only a door away from the kitchen and the fumes from the aerosol poison I wasn’t thinking clearly and, ergo, the kitchen wallpaper debacle.

** Side note: If you haven’t noticed, my talent for procrastination is only superseded by my gift of rationalization. **

Terri wasn’t coming in until the next day and when she called, my mom told her what I did. She said, “Doesn’t she read her own blog?” Shelli hadn’t read it and I was all, “What? What did I write?” So Michele and I went to read it and when we got to that paragraph there were serious tears and crossed legs and red faces and trouble breathing.

** Both my sisters left comments on that particular post and I just want to say for the record, those comments are erroneous at best, bald faced lies at worst. And I don’t think it’s fair when two people gang up against one helpless, defenseless, much younger person **

That evening I went to dinner with three of my good friends, Teresa, Rhonda and Beth. Rhonda couldn’t believe what I’d done because, well, I’m pretty sure I swore I’d never do it again after the office fiasco. But my memory is faulty so… Anyway, it was fun catching up. The waitress took our picture and I’d thought about posting it, but I haven’t figured out Photoshop/air brushing yet so no such luck.


Stay tuned for the next riveting installment of My Week In Arkansas.