Friday, June 27, 2014

Working Order

We are still plugging along on the kitchen. We have had some pretty exciting milestones recently, though.

Our countertops were delivered and installed....

Woot! Woot!

Messy insides but looking good on top!


Our plumber finished his work, we had our inspection and I washed my first load of dishes in my new dishwasher! (Sorry, no pictures of that. It's personal. No, I did not cry.)

The crystals got put on my pretty little light over the sink.

I am so pleased with this pendant!

Girly? Yeah!

We are slowly doing the finish work. There are many decisions about what would work best. Honestly, I had to look at images on Pinterest to decide how we were going to trim the doors. There are too many opinions out there. Sometimes I become paralyzed by the options and can't make a decision. This is what we decided to do.

Back door and baseboard.

Rosettes to match the rest of the house.

Doorway to what was the dining room.

Our thresholds are still not done. I ordered the Mohawk flooring thresholds that are sold to match our flooring. We were not happy with the quality of the product, at all. It was thin and kept splitting as we tried to install. We will be returning the rest and buying unfinished product that we will stain ourselves.

I am dying to get the kitchen decorated but have to wait. There is no point doing any of that when I would only have to take things down to paint again. The walls only have one coat right now.

A little peak....

For now, everything is in working order. Dinners are being made in our kitchen once again. The "camp kitchen" in my front room has been broken down. That room will be the dining room and will undergo some changes after the kitchen is done. Yes, there are projects lined up..... But, for now we plug along in the kitchen. It is nice to be getting things in order. We are meant to be ordered and to have things in order and it just feels so much better to have things in their right place. Ahhh......

This weekend the girls and I will be at a baby shower. That will give Mr. FixIt some good quiet time to work without distractions. I anticipate that there will be much more done come the end of the day tomorrow. I'll keep you posted! (hehe)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Crafting One-of-A-Kind Gifts

This summer has me reminiscing about summers past. This time last year we were busy with weddings that took us to Ohio and Delaware. There were three weddings in a matter of three or four months. We only made it to two of the weddings as they were all out of state. Two of the brides moved here with their husbands and all three had showers here for family members and friends who wanted to share in their joy.

Today, I thought I would share with you the gifts I made for their weddings. It has been my experience that newlyweds have not yet quite figured out their decorating style. They have no money for designing rooms and their favorite thing in the world is each other (as it should be). So, I tried to work with that in mind and made a piece of art work for each couple.

While I was working on these projects I had not started my blog yet so pictures were few and far between. I will try to fill in the blanks with words where photos are lacking.

The first couple to marry last year just celebrated their first wedding anniversary. He is the second eldest son of my dear friend. I wanted to use an idea I had found on Pinterest that used engineering prints.  (This is where I realize that I never took even one picture of this project! Maybe she will see my post and send a picture so I can add it.) My first step was to find a frame. I don't like to use new frames; they are expensive and have no interest to them unless they cost an arm and a leg so I visited a favorite shop near my home. Bernat Mill Antiques is like a mini vacation stop for me. I can spend an hour or so in there gathering ideas and finding a treasure or two. I found what I was looking for. I found all three here at different times.

I have a collection of frames. If I like it I will find something
to do with it!
Having found the perfect frame, I could now order my print.   I creeped on Facebook to find images of the couple. The groom-to-be has a very talented sister who is a whiz with the camera. She took engagement photos of two of the couples and I 'borrowed' some of her photos to use for my projects. You can see her work here. The resolution of the photo here matters but remember these are blown up huge! The image is not going to be super sharp if working from regular photos. It is okay. The graininess adds to the charm.

For a couple dollars you end up with a large black and white print of your favorite subject. I ordered it through Staples. It is printed on plain paper (no shiny photo paper). I made sure to leave enough space toward the bottom as I knew I wanted to add a passage from Scripture there. When possible, I like to show the engagement ring! Cropping the original photo gave me the image I wanted.

I used this instead of foam core board for the finished product
shown at the end of this post.
A large piece of foam core board was my next purchase. I used Elmer' spray glue, which I already had on hand,  to spray the back of the print and the foam core board. Slowly and carefully lay the print onto the foam core board. An extra set of hands help here. Smooth with your hand as you go along to try to keep from wrinkling or getting air bubbles in your paper. When everything was adhered and smoothed I used a brayer to go over the whole thing.

This photo was taken by the bride's mother.

Next, I used Microsoft Word Starter to write out the verse, change the font and increase the font size. I printed that off. I used carbon paper between the print and the printout to transfer the lettering. Using a pencil I traced the letters. Be careful where you put your hands if using carbon paper as marks can be left where you don't want them. Another option is to rub the back of the printout with a pencil, place it (rubbed side down) on your image and trace over the letters on the right side. For one of projects I went for it and just free-handed the verse. Once the lettering was transferred I went over it with a Sharpie permanent marker.

The eldest son of my pastor and his wife-my
friend, and his bride.

Glitter, swirlies and a rhinestone!
I liked how it looked but it was missing something. Sparkle! It needed some glitter or bling and so back to my craft closet I went. I love the little glue pods by Martha Stewart. It is just a bit of glue with a super fine tip that allows you to control where the glue is going. Free handing some swirly things up two sides of the print gave me the prettiness I was looking for. I quickly covered it in glitter and let it sit a few minutes the tapped off then excess glitter. Do this on a piece of paper so that you can funnel the leftover glitter back into the container to be used again later.

I used paint samples and layered the blue and green on.

I painted over everything in white then sanded
away parts to have the green and blue show through.

After painting the frame I placed the picture into the frame, securing it with hot glue. These are very light as they are mounted on foam core so hot glue is more than sufficient. You could place glass or plexiglass over the image first to protect it. Because I added glitter and rhinestones (over the diamond in the engagement rings in some)  that would not work for me. On this project I used a copy of a hymn (the bride is very musically talented) to write the verse on and then added paper flowers and felt leaves that I dipped in glitter.

After scrutinizing my work a bit I decided that on this print that I would add just a touch of color. I got out my chalk colors and dusted the bride-to-be's lips and cheeks with just a hint of pink. (It does not show well in the photo.) This couple is the eldest son of a dear friend and his bride.

The first couple pictured in this post I did a bit differently. I will post it at another time. I think these make lovely, one-of-a-kind, gifts. I had a great time working on them. For the last couple on this post I order a couple different prints and used the extras as the wrapping paper! Fun!

Friday, June 20, 2014

When the Saints Go Dancing In

The past two weeks we have continued to work on the kitchen. There are things that are taking time and our momentum is slowing a bit. The summer tugs at us and the beach is calling.

And Life happens. Not all of life is about living. Dying is an inevitable truth; none of us get out of this alive. Scripture tells us that the wages of sin is death and so each of us knows, if we are honest with ourselves, that death is the deserved wage we must pay for the offenses we commit against the holy God.

For the past several years it has been my great pleasure to come to know and love two dear ladies that started attending our church after they were invited by a friend. These ladies stepped into our lives shortly after my parents moved far away leaving my two younger daughters without any grandparents close by. These dear ladies were retired and lived together as best friends helping each other care for their biological families and for the families the Lord has given them in the church. A few times a year my children would delight in visiting the ladies for craft days where they would use their budding talents to make gifts for birthdays and Christmas to give to Mr. FixIt and me. They loved their time with the ladies and I loved the time to spend alone with my husband. Their care for us was a blessing to be sure. They became adopted grandmas to my girls.

ALS and a form of Parkinson's Disease attacked one the dears and it has been a gradual process as the diseases broke down the body. Doctors gave their prognosis but we know that it is God who has established the number of our days from before time began. With this in mind our church body rallied in a united effort to help our dear sister finish well. I am still learning of the many different ways that people have stepped in. We did not "coordinate efforts" but rather just did as each of us could- kinda like a tapestry. I was just a small thread. My part was Wednesdays. I would go sit with her while her friend took a few hours of much needed respite-just to clear her head, do some errands and step outside the home. She worked tirelessly on her friend's behalf and the sacrifice and love poured out by her words cannot do justice other than to say that I saw God Almighty love his ailing child through the service of this woman. One of my first Wednesdays left me laughing. The illnesses had taken the gift of speech from my friend but it had not taken her spunk. She did not want a "baby sitter" and that is how she was seeing me. This very timid, quiet, reserved woman quickly let me know that I could sit in the front room in a chair-by myself- while she ate her lunch. I asked her if I was being banished and she simply chuckled but firmly pointed to the front, obediently, I went. She was my elder by 25 years or so and I was reminded that regardless of the diseases her faculties were all there and she was not a child. (A lesson that I learned many times over.)

Time wore on as did the ALS and Parkinson's. Wednesdays got quieter. She worked a program on her Ipad for a while that allowed her to put together sentences but never had been a big talker so it was not her favorite tool. About six months ago she lost the use of the only hand that would work and she lost her 'voice' completely.  Often, my mind would suppose the struggles she must be having to be trapped inside a body that would not allow her to communicate. I prayed many times that her faith would not fail. I was reminded of how Christ stood before his accusers, silent. The Bible tells us that we have been called to share in his sufferings. Here, in my sweet friend, was a picture of these things so tangible that I could not help but be humbled. Every Wednesday God witnessed to me of His great love and care. I would talk to her. I would make jokes and she would laugh. I would sing the promises of God and she would cry. Her mind was ever present.

A call came a two weeks ago that made me dash over. She was failing and her friend and caregiver needed reinforcement. Our pastor showed up shortly after. We saw her take what would be the start of morphine regime. As our pastor held her hand I prayed silently but as loudly before the Throne of Mercy as if yelling at a Patriot's game. We know that God works all things together for good for his children. If He has chosen to give this suffering we know it is meant to bless her and us in the  process. I sang. She cried. Her breathing quieted and she rested. God is good.

The next Wednesday found me sitting in silence while she slept. She did awake for a short time. I sang. She cried. (Mr.FixIt wanted to know if she requested more morphine when I sang- always a joker!) I don't have a great voice but I do love to sing. She loved to play piano. It seemed to me that God spent a life time ministering to her through music and it does resonate in our hearts. She went back to sleep. Her friend, our sister-in-Christ, was told that she was not "actively dying" and could continue on this way for several weeks. My family and I had plans for a mini vacation with another family from our church and so we went Thursday afternoon.

That evening the call came. She was going home. I talked to her via the speaker phone. "Eyes to Christ, Ruthie!" In the wee hours of Friday morning surrounded by our pastor and his wife,  her best friend/caregiver, a brother (what a blessing from God he has been) and his wife, our deacon, and at least one other family member she was ushered home by songs and the reading of the Word of God. Her eyes closed here for the last time..... and opened there to Eternity. Oh, the beauties that she awakened to! Oh, all the promises and hopes finally realized! Oh, to see the face of our King as he welcomed her home.

This weekend we will say our final farewells publically as we lay her body to rest. We know that this is only for us. She is not here! The body was a jar of clay that held a treasure. She is not here! At one point I remember saying to her that soon she would be singing and dancing before the Throne of Grace. Her friend said "Aw, she's not much for dancing" to which I replied "Oh, she will be!"  Words to a song..."Surrounded by your glory, what will my heart feel. Will I dance for you Jesus or in awe of you be still?" Whatever she is doing before the Lord she is doing it without pain, her voice works, day has no end and death has been conquered. Well done, you have fought the good fight and the prize that you have run the race for is yours forever. He is your portion! Until we meet again, around the throne.....

Saturday, June 7, 2014

We're Cookin' Now!

....or at least we could be if we wanted to.

The stomach bug, which my pediatrician says is probably the Coxsackie Virus, has made it's mark on our lives this week. My youngest was sick while we were on vacation. When we got back my second oldest got a bit of a bug but nothing major. Monday evening it visit me and boy, oh boy, it knocked me flat! I won't go into all the pretty details but suffice it to say that it was violent. By the time I was feeling better my youngest was awakened at 1AM with it all over again! Yikes! Come to find out where about 15 of us from our church that caught it. As one young friend said "our church does like to share everything".

On day two of me feeling like a worn out dish rag the counter top man came to make a template for what will be our new granite countertops. I was falling asleep while he worked in the kitchen. One of my daughters sat with me to just try to keep me lucid until he was done. I napped for a few hours after he left and was able to stay awake while the electrician worked that afternoon. Two days later he returned to finish the electrical work. YAY!

My new kitchen pendant less the crystals. I
will add those after the countertops go in.

View from the dining room into the kitchen.
Bathroom light fixture in place...check!

Three months after we started my stove is plugged in and theoretically I could cook on it. We still have no plumbing anywhere on the first level so that makes it difficult to conceive of cooking like I am used to. The other happy moment was when we moved the refrigerator from the dining room back into the kitchen and plugged it in.

It looks better there than in the dining room,
don't you think?

This weekend we will work on the trim. We have shoe mulding, window trim and door trim to keep us busy until the countertops are delivered on the 18th. Our plumber can't come back in until the 16th. It gives us plenty of time to work on the detail stuff. We also have to finish the tops of the cabinets by filling the space above and place the crown molding.

Must get busy. Busy, busy, busy! (Frosty the Snowman quote.)