Monday, March 29, 2010

Nailed to the wall

Did I start hanging pictures up?

What am I talking about?

That’s how I felt after asking what I thought was a simple question.

This happened several months ago. I thought about posting this story a few times but then I sat on it for a bit longer just to think it over and be sure I was ready to share. I still feel strongly about my position. At the risk of getting attacked again, I would like to know what you think.

We’ve all heard the names Elizabeth Smart, Jaycee Dugard and Somer Thompson to name just a few little girls. Their stories all played out differently but the horror is the same. I worry ever minute that my children are not in plain sight. I double-check every door and window each night. I walk to the bus stop every morning. I’ve even copied down a license plate when a vehicle is new to the morning routine. I will smile and be polite to the neighbor and to the gentleman at church and to the friendly stranger in the store but I really try to not let my guard down. In the back of my mind I try to remember that a predator can be anyone anywhere at any time.

I try to teach age appropriate skills and empowerment without becoming a total freak and creating unnecessary stress for my children. I’d like to think that I’m being proactive. We watch kid friendly safety videos and periodically talk about “what to do if…”. When they show signs of being done with the topic, we move on. It’s not like I’m drilling them 24/7.

So, months ago, I went into a local chat room for area Moms. I asked…

Do any of you know of a business or organization that does role-play to test the street smarts of kids? I periodically discuss safety with my kids and talk about “what if” to give them examples of ways people might try to “trick” them away from school, home or stores and take them but I want to do more. We have watched the “safe side” video and discussed our “really know” and “kinda know” people and all those on our “safe side" list. Kids can be abducted in seconds and I might watch them like a hawk but I don’t really know how they would handle themselves in a real life situation. I was wondering if there was a place where I could hire someone to try and lure one of them away. I really just want to pull out all the stops at giving them all the skills they need to be safe and be smart.”

Here are a few of the replies I received…

Personally, that might damage them for life! They will still be "living the experience" even though it’s not real.”

I agree that it might be a bit of overkill-- if not outright dangerous. Stranger abduction, while tragic and much publicized, is very rare.”

Mark Twain used to say that all the things we worry about are not the things that get us! With all due respect, I would say maybe you should take a chill pill.”

I do share the same concern as the other poster about it possibly traumatizing your children, especially at their young ages.”

I think after the shock of being “nailed to the wall” wore off, I ended up feeling really sad that so many other mothers seemed to not have any concern over the topic. Do they just have a false sense of security? Am I that overbearing? Is it unrealistic to think that what I see on shows like Dateline or 20/20 might be a service that parents would like to have available to them. Can you do too much to protect children?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Yep, magnets too

I told you, if it stands still, it gets painted.

When we first moved into this house, we put gray countertops in and added tin to the cabinets doors to alter their look. I also painted a faux tile backsplash in shades of gray. To help pull thing together I made these refrigerator magnets.

I bought a package of wood disks and a package of magnets from the craft store. I used hot glue to attach the magnets to the backs of the wood disks and then I painted the fronts to coordinate with the kitchen. I used the same paint from the tile backsplash. I had some stamps that I used to embellish the tile so I used the same ones for the magnets.

Here's what they used to look like.

For the makeover, I used some leftover wall paint and the same stamps.

Paint the base color first. Then put a few drops of paint on a paper plate and smooth it out with a brayer. (It’s like a rolling pin for paint) Then push your stamp into the paint and onto the magnet.

This re-do project took me about 15 minutes. It’s just one more detail to help me pull everything together.

What do you use to accent your rooms?
I'm working on pillows next...

Friday, March 26, 2010

Dealing with Change

Change is one of those things that just happens. You may or may not always have a lot of control over the changes around you. There are some changes in the capital that are making people nervous. I’ve made several changes around here and all the hubby can say is “It’s growing on me.” (What does that mean???)

Over the past several months there have been some changes to the landscape in this neck of the woods. Apparently, they have found pockets of natural gas in the area and have started drilling in the neighborhood. I love where I live. I’m close to a big city but I feel like I live way out in the country. I’m in a cute little neighborhood with sidewalks and kids out playing in each other’s yards. I get to look out my windows and see open fields farmland and cows grazing. Now I get to drive past this everyday.

It was sad to watch the trucks come in and start moving the land around. Every day there are more trucks and trailers and large pieces of equipment making their home in my neighborhood. I know the people who farmed that land made good deals and are reaping some kind of benefit from this. I know it’s a good thing to find a resource in our own country. I still wonder if all this change is good. We can hear the drilling.

There’s another drill just over this hillside.

And one just over this one too.

This drill site is just down the road from me. The people that live close to this one complained enough that they built a wall to help reduce to noise. At night sometimes you can see the flame from the burn off. (I wish I knew the purpose of that)

Change is inevitable. Is change a good thing???
How do you deal with change???

Thursday, March 18, 2010

What's taking so long???

As many of you know, I started this year with a huge redecorating project. The total plan includes the living room kitchen area, the dinning room and the master bedroom/bathroom. The first project is by far the biggest. The living room kitchen area. It’s the biggest space wise and it includes the most projects.

The project list:
Paint entertainment unit
Paint bookshelves
Strip and re-stain fireplace mantle
Removes dental molding from fireplace
Paint all baseboards and molding in both rooms
Prep all walls for paining
Paint focal wall
Paint recessed wall in living room
Paint all remaining walls
(Yep, three different colors… that’s just how I am)
Update ceiling fan
Attach wainscoting the ends of all kitchen cabinets
Attach wainscoting to three sides of kitchen island
Paint all lower cabinets one color
Paint all upper cabinets a different color
(Did I mention I like color?)
Demo useless built-in kitchen desk
Replace broken molding
Make new window treatments for three different windows
Make new pillows for couch

Ok, now that is some list, right? In the mean time I’m also maintaining (sort of) the rest of the house and trying to keep up with cooking meals, doing the laundry, grocery shopping and taking care of the three little monkeys that rule this house.

What they don’t show you on those home makeover shows is how all the other stuff is getting done or the 30 some people that they having doing the work. For the most part, I have done the lion’s share of jobs on this project. I occasionally get the hubby to help with things I can’t physically manage or he’ll take over with the kids after work so I can focus on a project or two.

None of these projects came without some sort of hurdle. Almost everything had some hidden problem that changed the time line or the budget or both. For example: The paint I used on the entertainment unit and the bookshelves takes 4 weeks to cure. The bookshelves have NOT yet fully cured after 9 weeks and will need to get a polyurethane sealant before the can be reassembled and used. The one wall in my living room had a geometric pattern painted on it that required several coats of painting, sanding, spackling and painting some more. Now that the cabinets are being painted they will also need to have hardware put on them for easier use. (I never had pulls or handles before and didn’t plan for them until I saw how challenging it would be to open without them. The paint just changed the way things worked slightly.)
Another time line set back was being out of town for two weekends and the hubby went away for one weekend. Then we had a week of school cancellations due to snow and then another week of two-hour delays. Then there is the issue of space. To paint the doors and drawer fronts, they need to come off of the facing and then I need a place to set them while they dry and wait for another coat of paint. That place is the dinning room table. This is also my sewing table. So if I’m working on a curtain that means no painting gets done and visa-versa.

So where am I now… I’d say that about 75 to 80 % of the space has been worked on however each project is only about 90 % finished. For example: The kitchen curtains have been made and are hanging but they need to come back down and get the final hem put in the bottom. Two of the new curtain rods are up but they still have shrink-wrap on them and they need to be cut to length and get the finials attached.

Thank you all for waiting so long for me to get done. I hope that by Easter I can give you the full before and after of everything but for now here are a few teaser photos.
The Blue...
The Brown....

The new wood...

The kitchen island...

The upper cabinets...

I hope that will hold you over for a while. You'll just have to wait to see how it all works together.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Naughty Leprechauns

Saint Patrick’s Day is always such a fun opportunity for a little mischief. Every year we bake a rainbow cake and then wait to see if those mischievous leprechauns will come give us a pot of gold.

Avid baker that I am, I pick out my favorite box cake mix (whatever is on sale) and a can of white icing. Follow the directions on the box and mix the batter. Divide the batter into 6 small bowls. Add a few drops of food color to each bowl until you have all the colors for a rainbow. You’ll only need red, blue and yellow coloring to make them all. Red and yellow make orange, yellow and blue make green and blue and red make purple.

Once all the colors have been mixed you can pour them into your pan. Sometimes we just drop them in randomly but this year we did stripes.

It’s fun to see what color cake you get when you cut a piece.

After it’s cooled, I ice it and then we give it a sugar rainbow. I make a stencil on a sheet of card stock (just an arched swish). Just make it big enough for one color then move it slight as you add each color. Use colored sprinkles for the pot and the rainbow. I make another stencil that looks like a pot or kettle. Then we wrap it up and go to bed. It never fails that while we sleep, those little green guys sneak in our house and fill our pot with tiny gold coins. (Yum, they’re chocolate!)

Here’s the cake from last year. This year’s cake won’t get it’s gold until after midnight. ;-)

Helpful hint… try not to get food color on your skin. (This is just another reason why I don’t bake much).

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mirror, mirror

I wasn’t kidding when I said everything that stood still was getting painted. Remember this mirror from my mantle?

It needed updated to fit in with the rest of the changes around here. This was a fun, easy, can-do-no-wrong project. Hubby brought this mirror home for me on one of his trips to Sam’s club shortly after we moved in this house. It came with two matching picture frames that I think I sold at a yard sale. I liked the mirror for the mantle and it had a home there for several years now. What made this project so easy to update was the texture on the frame. It was the perfect pallet for adding color. The pattern has a lot of recessed areas to catch paint and raised areas that catch other colors.

Originally it was sort of a brass tone or an antiqued gold. To fit in with the new color scheme, I added blue, green and brown. First, it got a coat of primer then the fun began. This was a no-fear project because if I didn’t like the look, I just added more paint until it felt right. Step one was to fill in the recessed areas with blue from one of my wall colors. Some of the smaller recessed areas got a touch of green. (I plan to use that color as an accent color in the room). Then I covered the frame in brown paint (another wall color). I added paint and then wiped it off until there was just enough of each color to give the “look” I was hopping for. Now, these were the colors from the room but it felt like it was missing something. I mixed some craft paint together to get a combination of silver and black. I dry-brushed this on in random spots to give added depth to the frame. (That's my son's foot...he had to be a part of Mama's picture).

After I felt like I had enough color on then I put a coat of clear finish on the frame to give it a shine. Ta Da! A new mirror for my mantle. I can’t wait to put it in place.

BTW- the pictures don't do it justice. It looks much better in person.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Plan B is not so bad

A few years ago as I was approaching a milestone I started to plan my dream birthday party. I wanted there to be lots of finger foods; various breads, cheeses, olives and fruit. There would be all different types of wines. Each guest would bring their own wine glass to use during the "wine" party and then they would leave it as a gift to me and memento of my 40th birthday celebration. I would have these glasses and each time I used one I could look back and think of the good times and remember the friend who gave it to me.

Well when my 40th birthday rolled around, I was pregnant (no wine for me) and my husband was in the hospital have 23 centimeters of his colon removed. Needless to say that party was put on hold indefinitely.

This year brought another milestone birthday around. It is my Mother’s 60th birthday. I struggled for a while on what to do/get her for such a big birthday. Then it hit me… Hey! She likes wine too! I could plan something that she would like and I could live vicariously and we’ll both be happy.

The plan was for the hubby and I to take the kids and my Mom on a road trip. My Mother loves to spend “everyday” time with the kids. She likes to see them in the morning, at bedtime, during meals, while they play; she could watch them all day. I figured riding six plus hours in the van and spending the weekend in a hotel would be more than enough to fill her “kid fix” and on top of that we going to cover a wine trail. There is a trail in the southeast corner of Pennsylvania that has seven local wineries within a few miles of each other. It’s called the Brandywine Valley wine trail.
All the wineries are mapped out and you can go from one to the other and sample wines at your own speed.

Did I mention when this trip was???? Remember that blizzard that hit the northeast, dumping 2 feet of snow and putting everyone into a state of emergency. Yep. Good timing huh?

Well, the trip went on just with a slight “detour” to plan B. As we headed into town on Friday, we were able to make stops at two of the wineries. The first one was the Twin Brook winery.

It was a nice easy way to get in the mood. We were there for about 30 minutes or so and sampled about 5 wines for free. The wines were fairy good but not the best during the trip.

From there we followed the map and found our way to Stargazers Vineyard.

It would have been really nice to read the fine print that said they are only open on Saturday and Sunday. Ooops. It looked like a cool place and we thought we might get to go back on Saturday if the weather forecast was wrong. (That didn’t happen).

Next we headed closer to the hotel and made a stop at Chaddsford Winery.

The state of Pennsylvania has over 200 wineries and this one is ranked number ONE. It was such a good find for us. We had a wonderful visit there. We were there for a little over an hour. There the fee was $8.00 pp and you get to sample 8 wines and keep the glass as a memento. We left there with a case and a half of wine.

As we walked out it was just starting to snow. Within 20 minutes we were in our hotel and had ordered out for dinner.

In the morning we woke to find the city covered in that white stuff and everything was shut down. Thankfully, I had a cooler full of food, bags of toys and actives for the kids, we had 21 bottles of wine, room service, an indoor swimming pool, 2 adjoining suits with plenty of space and 4 televisions. If you’re going to be snowed in this is the way to do it!!!!

We midded out on going to wineries on Saturday but on Sunday we checked out and found our way to one more winery. I was determined to try for another before the long drive home.

Penns Woods Winery was the closest to our road home. We stopped there for about 45 minutes. Mom and I bought 2 bottles each.

All-in-all a good trip even if it was plan B. And the most amazing thing was what I found when we got home. Remember the 2 feet of snow that dumped on us while we were traveling fools???

Our next-door neighbor shoveled enough space at the end of the drive so we could pull off the road and then shoveled a path to the door so we could just come inside. What an Angle!!!!!

Thanks Anne!!!!