Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday Song

It's been a LOOOONNNG time since I've done a Sunday Song here on the blog...but this song has been on my mind a lot lately. It's "American Dream" by Casting Crowns--not one that's played on the radio (at least not here), but really resonates with me, and it's my favorite song of theirs. If you haven't heard it before, please think about giving it a listen. Here's a snippet:

“Not this time son I've no time to waste
Maybe tomorrow we'll have time to play”
And then he slips into his new BMW
And drives farther and farther and farther away

Cause he works all day and tries to sleep at night
He says things will get better;
Better in time

So he works and he builds with his own two hands
And he pours all he has in a castle made with sand
But the wind and the rain are comin' crashing in
Time will tell just how long his kingdom stands
His kingdom stands

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Playground Dilema / BQOTD

Near our house, there is a brand new playground. It's really cool. Heck, it's fun to play on for me. I especially love the fact that the ground is flat recycled rubber rather than wood chips/rubber chips. It also has a really neat variety of structures--as you enter there are essentially two play structures--one has a sign that says, "This area is designed for kids 1-5", and the other has a sign that says, "This area is designed for kids 5-12." Obviously, there is going to be some intermingling between the two structures--Lizzy likes to play on a few of the toys in the older section, and the younger section is the only area that has a (small) slide. That intermingling is to be expected, and not a problem at all.

However, the last few times we've gone to the park, the behavior of the older kids in the "little" kid section has driven me nuts. For example, on several occasions the bigger kids will decide to play tag in that area. They're shoving the little kids out of their way, knocking them off the stairs, pushing them out of the way and cutting in line to go down the slide, climbing up the slide while the little kids are going down, which often causes a tearful collision. Sometimes swearing at each other. Just generally being really rough and not having much regard for the little kids.

There don't seem to be parents around, or if they are there, they don't intervene. My suspicion would be that the older brothers/sisters who are most frequently playing basketball or tanning on the picnic tables were the ones tasked with taking their siblings to the park.

So, the big question of the day is how do you/ would you handle situations like that? I always feel conflicted between wanting to say something to the older kids like, "I know you're just having fun, but one of the little kids just got slammed into that metal pole when you pushed her out of the way. Please be careful," or "Why don't you go down the slide once more and then let one of the little kids have a turn,"  versus just letting them play, 'cause it is a playground after all, and the bottom line is that I am not the parent of the other kids.

What do you think? Is there ever a time or place where we should correct the behavior of other kids when their parents aren't? Is this even one of those instances? What would you do in this situation?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

What Do You Do When....

What do you do when your 1.5 year old decides that she's done taking naps?

Seriously. We're on day 2 of no napping, and this cannot be our new norm. CAN. NOT.

Rocking her to sleep? Doesn't work.

Laying down to watch TV with her and hoping that she falls asleep? Doesn't work.

Just putting her in her crib? That ends with hours of tantrums (interspersed with me going in to check on her, rub her belly, etc), screaming at the top of her lungs, and her putting her legs through the crib slats so that they get stuck...repeatedly. Also, kicking the wall and banging her head against her crib.

Heck, I'd be sorta-semi fine with her just playing quietly in her crib during nap time, but she's not even doing that...and I kinda feel like I might go crazy.


- I made strawberry jam yesterday. I had $5 left on a gift card to Wal-Mart and decided that strawberries would be a great option. I did take photos of the whole process--would you guys be interested in seeing the step-by-step?

-I'm just waiting on payday to buy some more seeds for some fall planting for the garden. I know I haven't posted too many pictures this year, but I have zucchini and yellow squash out the WAZOO. I've already tried out a couple of new zucchini recipes--my favorite is making zucchini "fries" in the oven. Anyone have any other awesome zucchini recipes that I should try?

-I've got another book review up on BlogHer Book Club today. This time, it's for The Kid, Sapphire's follow-up novel to Push (aka Precious, the movie). Ethan, you'll appreciate that a good portion of this review actually talks about the prose itself.

-We're still plugging along at Insanity, though occasionally we've skipped the assigned workout in favor of something else--like going for a bike ride to the park last night after dinner. It wasn't quite as intense of a workout, but I just can't think of a better way to spend an evening than doing something active, outdoors, as a family. My sister-in-law let us use her toddler seat that attaches to the bike, and MAN it is a bit of an ab workout in itself--it definitely feels a lot more wobbly than biking alone! But Lizzy really likes it, and it's a fun way to get us out of the house and do something active at the same time.

-Why is it that the day before payday (i.e. when we've already used our spendable money for the month) is always the day that I get the cooking/organizing/decorating/DIY bug? Seriously?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

This Will Rock Your Socks...

Today, I happened onto an interview that MCP Actions posted on Facebook. In it, one of the photogs being interviewed mentioned that you can take a 50mm lens, turn it around backwards, and use it as a macro lens.


My little fingers flew to Google as fast as possible, and lo and behold, it's true. There are several different methods/techniques to this madness, and while on the phone with Sprint tech support for several HOURS during Lizzy's nap, I tried a few.


Method One:
1- Take your 50mm lens, and switch the side to manual focus.
2- Also set the dial to your camera to M.
3- Now, you know how you'd normally attach the 50mm lens to your camera? Yeah, flip it around so that the portion of the lens that's normally facing in to your camera is facing out. I know, it's weird. You'll have to hold the lens in place as you shoot.
4- Turn on the camera, and adjust your settings. You'll probably want to adjust your shutter speed to 1/125 or such depending on the light.
5- Now you'll move your entire body backwards and/or forwards as needed (all while still holding the lens backwards up to your camera body) to make the object that you're trying to capture come into focus.
6- Take a photo, and adjust settings as necessary.

Note: In my experience, this method tended to produce slightly more blurry/ethereal photos and also tended to produce photos that were much lighter, probably due to the ambient light coming in around the sensor. For example:


The other method that I tried seemed easier to produce sharper images with, but had a few pitfalls of it's own, which I'll discuss in a bit.

Method Two:
1- Take a lens other than your 50mm lens (i.e. your kit lens) and attach it to your camera as normal (but do switch over to manual focus if you're not already there).
2- Take your 50mm lens, turn it backwards as in the first method, but this time hold that backwards lens up to your kit lens rather than to the camera body itself.
3- Proceed as above.

Note: This method resulted in sharper images, but usually a vignette as well. Play around with the focal length of your kit lens and the focus ring of your 50mm lens to discover how to minimize the vignette.



Personally, I think I preferred the second method for the sharper image and also because I feel like it might protect my camera's sensor a bit more. Plus, if the vignette really bothers you, it's pretty easy to crop to reduce the effect:



What do you think? Have you seen this before, or did it rock your socks as much as it rocked mine?

BQOTD: Childhood Memories

Today, I'm curious:

What is one of your best memories from your childhood/teenage years?

For me, one of my best memories from growing up was our family's tradition to get dressed up and go out to a fancy dinner every year for Christmas Eve. The best years have included everyone--my two siblings, my parents, grandma, and all my aunts and uncles from my dad's side of the family--no matter what's going on, everyone is nice and gets along for that 4 hour time period. There's just this gleeful anticipation in the air that I completely love. Plus, now it's literally the only time during the course of the year that I see my husband this dressed up! After dinner, we head back to my parent's house to spend the night, and all the kids pose in our nice clothes in front of the Christmas tree. I think we've been going to the same place for the past 10 or 12 years, and I will be so sad if we ever stop!





Monday, July 25, 2011

Blueberries for Lizzy

On Saturday morning, a small local farm was having their third blueberry picking day of the season. Lizzy loves blueberries and so we buy them often, but the price tag (we recently paid $3 for one of those small containers at the grocery store) sometimes prevents it. Justin isn't the biggest blueberry fan in the world, so I wasn't sure that he'd be gung-ho about getting up early on Saturday morning to go, but I think the fact that the u-pick cost was $2 a pound clinched the deal for him.






In all, we ended up with almost 12 pounds of blueberries in about an hour.



The first order of business was definitely to make freezer jam yesterday. Seriously guys, if you want to can but are intimidated by it, try making freezer jam. It took about half an hour to make the jam! The only caveat is that you probably want to buy your jars new rather than getting them at garage sales or such--many of the newer pint size jars are freezer safe while the old ones aren't necessarily. You can also buy the plastic freezer safe containers for jam--I do have some of those, but prefer the jars.


As long as our garden cooperates this year, I plan to "put up" a lot of stuff in the freezer this year. We have virtually no pantry space but actually have 3 freezers, so it just makes more sense for me to freeze tomato sauce and the like than to can them!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Down & Up.

So y'all remember how Justin and I did the first month of Insanity? And it was pretty awesome?

And then we tried to do month 2 of Insanity, but we were having a hard time accommodating the much longer workouts into our day. I was also having a hard time doing 85% of the exercises and was having a hard time modifying. We re-started month 1 of Insanity, and Justin promptly got sent out of town for work. I switched over to jogging while he was gone 'cause Lizzy literally wouldn't sleep unless I was holding her.

And then he came back into town and I started month 1 of Insanity again. I was two weeks in, and then I hurt my knee. Badly. I had to take two weeks off of everything other than co-ed softball (and even that hurt like a mother). I was not happy.

Now, we're two weeks into the first month of Insanity again. And guess what?

I can do real, live push-ups now. The entire first cycle through Insanity, I almost always had to do the push-up drills while kneeling. Heck, I don't really remember EVER being able to do push-ups without my knees on the ground. Ever. Like, not even in high school when I played basketball (I know...some of you are probably like WHAT?!). But I can now.

Sometimes I get frustrated about the number on the scale or the size of my jeans, but I'm trying to remember that I need to judge my level of health on other things too...and being able to do something that I never used to be able to do? That's progress.

I still probably couldn't drop and give you 20...but I'm working on it. :)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

#62- Homemade Ice Cream

I've been wanting to make homemade ice cream for YEARS, which is exactly why it made it onto my 101 in 1001 list almost two years ago. I don't know why we hadn't made it--we have more than one ice cream machine. Anyway, yesterday I mentioned to Renee and Payton that it would be fun to make ice cream together this summer. They agreed, and then went home while Lizzy went down for a nap. While she was napping, I got the bug to make ice cream right then...and I wanted to use a recipe that I hadn't ever used before, so I figured it would make sense to test it out before we make a big batch (i.e. I really wanted ice cream).

Anyway, the idea of either cooking the custard first or using raw eggs is just not something I get excited about. So when I came across a recipe on The Kitchn that used a can of sweetened condensed milk instead of making a base, I decided to give it a go. This time, I just went for plain vanilla instead of adding the Meyer Lemon.


We churned the ice cream for about 45 minutes in the maker during dinner.


The above photo has nothing to do with ice cream--Lizzy was just asking to say grace again during dinner. Melt. My. Heart.

Anyway, after churning the ice cream, we stuck it in our deep freeze for about an hour. It wasn't long enough, but we just couldn't wait any more. So we ate our ice cream as it was--just slightly thinner than soft-serve consistency. But it was delicious. And after being in the freezer overnight, it's frozen quite solid.


Justin said that this recipe (which makes a quart) was NOT enough, and has requested that I make this again for Friday night. Done.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

An entire post about hairties.

Or "binders" as my friend Sara affectionately calls them.


I have really, really thick hair. I can't tell you how many times I've gone into a salon and asked them to thin my hair, and they're all like, 'Oh honey, no one wants thinner hair!' And then the feel my hair and they're like, 'Ohhhhhhh.'

See, putting my hair up in a ponytail to go running requires at least three ponytail holders, and I'm still tightening it all throughout my run. A messy bun? Requires at least five.

The other day, on a whim I bought these:

I actually hadn't read about them or seen them anywhere prior to buying them, but they are made out of the same sort of material that jelly shoes are made out of. I loved my jellies as a kid, I love to buy them for Lizzy, and I was intrigued. So I bought them. 
And they work. As I type this, I'm all sweaty from our Insanity workout this morning, and I have one hair tie in my hair. I didn't even TOUCH my hair the entire workout!!! Ah, bliss. It really is the little things, isn't it?! I seriously want to go buy like 25 packs, because you know they're going to discontinue them because I love them so much.  The only downside is that they hurt a bit coming out of my hair, but so does trying to detangle a messy bun with five hairties, so that's nothing new for me.
PS- This is not a paid review by Sc√ľnci. They also did not supply the hairties for my review. In fact, I'm pretty sure that they have no idea that my little blog exists. I just bought something that I liked and thought I'd share it with y'all.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Upcoming Books to Movies

I don't know about you, but if I'm going to read a book-turned-movie, I've gotta do it before I see the movie, or I just can't ever seem to get through the book. So, I thought I'd highlight a few books that will soon be hitting the big screen and might have floated under the radar in the wake of the big name releases like Breaking Dawn and The Hunger Games--check them out if you haven't already!

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Snippet from the Publisher's Synopsis: Seemingly as different from one another as can be, [three] women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.Would I recommend the book?: YES. Please read it immediately if you haven't already.
Big Screen Release Date: August 12, 2011

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson
Snippet from Publisher's Synopsis: Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden's wealthiest families disappeared over forty years ago. All these years later, her aged uncle continues to seek the truth. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently trapped by a libel conviction, to investigate. He is aided by the pierced and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Together they tap into a vein of unfathomable iniquity and astonishing corruption.
Would I recommend the book?: Yes, I did enjoy them though the first was a bit slow in parts.
Big Screen Release Date: December 21, 2001

The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Snippet from the Publisher's Synopsis: This is the story of what it's like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie's letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. Through Charlie, Stephen Chbosky has created a deeply affecting coming-of-age story, a powerful novel that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller coaster days known as growing up.
Would I recommend the book?: I loved this book as a teenager, but it's been years since I've read it, so I'm not sure whether or not my recommendation would still stand. I can tell you that its one of the most controversial books in recent history and so its probably worth a read for that reason alone. I can also tell you that my favorite quote from a book ever comes from Perks of Being A Wallflower.
Big Screen Release Date: Sometime in 2012

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
Snippet from the Publisher's Synopsis: Eva never really wanted to be a mother—and certainly not the mother of the unlovable boy who murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker, and a much-adored teacher who tried to befriend him, all two days before his sixteenth birthday. Now, two years later, it is time for her to come to terms with marriage, career, family, parenthood, and Kevin's horrific rampage in a series of startlingly direct correspondences with her estranged husband, Franklyn. Uneasy with the sacrifices and social demotion of motherhood from the start, Eva fears that her alarming dislike for her own son may be responsible for driving him so nihilistically off the rails.
Would I recommend the book?:  Yes, but with reservations. This book deals with some heavy-duty subject matter. HEAVY. I seriously thought I might throw up on several occasions while reading this book. So, it's a good and important book, but not for everyone.
Big Screen Release Date: This movie was a golden-child of sorts at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. I'd bet it will release in the US in 2011 or early 2012.

What do you think? Any books-turned-movies you're looking forward to seeing on the big screen?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Snippets and More Cabinet Photos

-While I was getting a haircut on Friday, Justin re-hung our cabinet doors for me! Of course, I realized that I forgot to paint the two little doors above the stove...but I am loving how it looks so far. Right before we went to bed the other night, Justin said, "Meredith! Come here! Now I can see in the kitchen even when its dark!" He's right--it really has lightened up the space a ton. Now just to knock out those bottoms, eventually! I'm torn between doing it in little segments (which would mean living with less chaos, but for a longer time period), or trying to knock it out all at once (which would mean chaos out the wazoo, but for a shorter overall time period). Anyway, once the cabinet doors were up, I deep cleaned the was MUCH needed.



-Speaking of above the microwave, remember how at the end of May, I posted about there being a bird in our wall? We figured that the bird must have found his way out of the wall because the squawking stopped, and Justin opened up the space above the stove and didn't see a bird anywhere. Well, two weeks or so ago, the fan above the oven stopped working. While Justin was hanging the doors, I asked him if he could take a look to see what the problem was. Yeah, he found a dead bird in the fan. *Barf*. We had no idea because there (luckily) hadn't been any unusual smell, but YUCK.

-Justin got up to do Insanity with me this morning before he left for work. I was all excited because that meant I'd have an hour to myself after we finished and before Lizzy woke up...which of course meant that she woke up an hour early. I usually let her stay in her crib until about 7am even if she wakes up, but she's starting to get fussy, so I'm not sure we'll make it that long this morning.

-I picked a bowl of strawberries from our garden this morning. LOVE.

-Our softball team might actually make the playoffs this year! Not too shabby when you consider that we only won one game last year.

-Yesterday's Bible study (we're still doing Esther by Beth Moore) talked about fear, and how we have to retrain our thinking about our worst case scenario fears--she talked about how everybody has some sort of fear where they think, 'If X happens, I just won't be able to keep going'--and that those fears can be exploited over and over again to shake us to our core. Not to mention the fact that it's kind of telling God that we trust him not to make these bad things happen in our lives, which is not one of the promises that God has made to us. It's a conditional faith, no?

Instead, we have to retrain ourselves to think, 'If X happens, then I'll be devastated for a couple of months or years. I'll be depressed. I'll have a hard time trusting God. I'll be angry. But God will be with me, and I will get through it, eventually.' Um, yeah. That hit home for me.

Friday, July 15, 2011

BQOTD: Version Aversion

The other day, I was reading John Acuff's blog where he was discussing seeing a church sign during a recent vacation that said "NIV- Non-Inspired Version." He then asked people to sound off about their favorite version of the Bible, and WHOO BOY, there are some intense feelings out there among Bible readers about Bible translations.

So, that got me to thinking, and eventually brought me to today's Burning Question of the Day:

If you're a Bible reader, do you have a preferred translation of the Bible that you usually use? Are there any translations that you don't particularly like?

Here's my answer--I use an NIV Bible. I didn't pick that translation in particular, it's just a Bible that I got at the National Youth Convention where Justin and I started dating. It has some sentimental value for that reason, but I also like that the paper is more like a normal book instead of that paper-thin business. Plus, at this point I've got so many notes written in the margins that switching over to a new Bible just doesn't seem worth it. I also do have the Oxford Annotated Bible from my college classes, and I will pull that out every once in awhile as well. It's an NSRV version.

That said, if I'm looking up verses online, I do check out multiple translations. Sometimes reading say, Psalm 23, through a translation like The Message lets me think about it in a new way that I might not have thought about it before, and I do appreciate that.

Just for fun and illustration purposes, here's one of my favorite verses (Philippians 4:6) in a plethora of different translations: 

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. (KJV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.(NIV)

Be nothing solicitous; but in every thing, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God. (Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition)

Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (NRSV)

Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. (The Message)

For nothing be anxious, but in everything by prayer, and by supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God; (Young's Literal Translation)

Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. (Amplified Bible)

Don't worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking him with a thankful heart. (Good News Translation)

Do not worry about anything. Talk to God about everything. Thank him for what you have. Ask him for what you need. (Worldwide English Version)

So, what do you think?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Letter to Lizzy- Eighteen Months

Dear Lizzy,

This month, you have started to develop the most precious sense of humor. Just recently, you've started to like to tease us, and I love it--we'll ask you what a particular animal says, and you'll make the wrong sound on purpose and then dissolve into giggles. Right now, you especially like to roar like lions and you also do the cutest imitation of an elephant where you stick one arm straight up into the air and say "EEEEEEE!".  We spend a lot of time playing "Yi-Yo" (which is your version of e-i-e-i-o) with your toy farm.


You love to yell "Hi!" and "Bye!" to every person we pass at the grocery store, and you get very upset if they do not say it back to you. You love to talk on the phone, both for real and pretend. We've had a tough time this month with you plugging your ears and shaking your head no anytime we tell you something that you don't want to hear or do. Right now, your favorite food is still bananas, followed closely by ice (which you want in your cup every time you drink water) and blueberries. We recently bought you a small pool, and the faces that you make while playing in it are hilarious.You also love to go swimming at Grandma Joyce and Grandpa Mike's house--you especially love to jump into the pool (no more blowing in your face to get you to hold your breath) and want to do it over and over again!

Baby girl, you have so much fire and spunk in you. You are very opinionated (about everything, and you've recently started to love the word 'no' and say it to me frequently), stubborn, and also determined. You throw fake temper tantrums often and can turn off the tears like a pro. I think that dad and I will have our hands full with you as you continue to grow up, and I hope we're able to find some techniques that will help us to parent you in a way that will facilitate these natural leadership traits that we're already seeing in a positive way.


Words that you're saying right now include:
-Mah-nah (Banana)
-No (which can mean both 'no' and 'Logan')
-Baa-Baa (which is your favorite stuffed animal)
-Peas (please)
-Tee (thank you)
-Bones (our cat)
-Up-Ah-Bof-High! (Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star)
-Ney-Ney (Renee)
-Stump (which can mean both Stump and/or Kelsey)
-Pee-Yew (which you say any time you want your diaper changed or observe anyone going into the bathroom)
-Num-num (Yum-Yum!)


I love you forever and ever baby girl. Always will. Nothing can change that ever, okay?


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cabinet Update/ Ace Hardware Cabinet Enamel Review

First off, let me start by saying that this is not a paid review of Ace Hardware Cabinet, Door & Trim Enamel. However, when I was researching about painting cabinets, I came across lots of instances of people asking about Ace's Cabinet Enamel online, and very few instances of people actually giving their reviews, so I thought I might include that here just-in-cases (have a cookie if you can name that movie!).


So, here's what I have to say so far:
  • The Ace Hardware Cabinet, Door, & Trim Enamel is an "alkatex" paint, which I gather means that it is supposed to function like oil-based paint, but washes up with water like a latex paint. It's also supposed to dry to more of an enamel for added durability on things like cabinets. It does wash up pretty well, but it tended to leave my hands and the brushes/rollers feeling a bit sticky, and that residue never really left the brushes/rollers. So, you may have to replace the rollers a little bit more frequently than you would if you used latex paint. 
  • This particular paint is different than any latex paint I've used--it starts to set up in about 30 seconds. You have to work quickly and have a plan as you're painting, 'cause there's really no going back for touch-ups. 
  • The paint also looks TERRIBLE as it's drying. This is the one thing that I consistently read online about this paint, and it is totally true. You'll look at it and think, 'I must be the worst painter in the world--there's no way this is going to end up looking good.'  Apparently, it looks so wonky because the paint has self-leveling properties that are designed to help minimize brush strokes. 
  • However, because of the self-leveling business, the can recommends waiting a full 24 hours in between coats. This seems to be super counter-intuitive because the paint begins to set up so quickly, but it really does remain tacky for quite some time. On occasion we'd go ahead at the 16 or 18 hour mark since there's not much humidity here, but you definitely need to wait about a day in between coats. So, if you're doing both the insides and outsides of the cabinet doors (as we are), you're in for a long haul! 
  • So far, we've consistently needed 3-4 coats of the enamel (plus sanding and a coat of primer). I did try using two coats of primer once to see if I could get away with two coats of the enamel, but that was interestingly the only time I've actually had to use FOUR coats of the enamel paint. 
  • I've tried using both a smooth and a semi-smooth roller for the enamel. They seem to produce the same end result, but I slightly prefer the smooth roller. That said, I just used the semi-smooth roller again since my smooth roller got all gunky, and it's growing on me--I think I may use less paint with the semi-smooth roller. 
  • Painting the cabinet doors on a drop cloth on the kitchen floor is no fun. I had cat hair, my hair, dirt from Justin's work boots, and an aching back. No bueno. Thank goodness I wised up today and put everything up on folding tables!




 This last pic probably most closely captures the paint in the kitchen--a light bluish green.

Overall, I think that it's been worth the extra time to go with the enamel paint. It does seem to look more like white cabinets than cabinets that have been painted white--there really are very few brush strokes. Aside from needing light sanding in a few places, it looks pretty good.

That said, we may wait awhile before we tackle the bottom cabinets. I've realized that visual clutter stresses me out a LOT. Seeing all the open shelving stresses me out. Having cabinets all over our kitchen and on our dining room table stresses me out--especially since there is very little counter space available for cooking and it has also meant eating all our meals in the living room, which is obviously less than desirable with a toddler. I'm just hoping that seeing the doors on the upper cabinets gives me the final kick in the butt that I need in order to get the bottoms finished...eventually.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Baby Love

More newborn squishiness from a few weeks ago. It's funny--this influx of newborn sessions has caused me to fall in LOVE with newborns, but I distinctly do not have even one iota of baby fever myself.

Kellan (14)

This "newborn" was actually almost two months old--I was happily surprised that he slept so well! Also, he cracked me up with his hands...he was always putting them in such grown up positions without any posing from me. It was adorable.

Kellan (9)

Kellan (15)

Kellan (17)

Hopefully, I'll get another dose of newborn goodness later this week!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

BQOTD: Last Book You Read

Well...what was the last book you read? When did you finish it? Did you like it? Would you recommend it?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Book Review: Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

 Imagine a world where at 16 years old, plastic surgery is compulsory. Upon reaching the magic age, you're given every kind of plastic surgery known to man, intended to turn every single person into the most stunningly beautiful version of themselves. Such is the world that Tally lives in.

However, shortly before she is to turn 16 and become pretty, Tally makes a new friend and learns that there is a world outside the city walls that she's grown up in--a world where people don't want to be pretty. To Tally, such a thought is incomprehensible because all she's ever wanted is to be pretty. Although Tally ultimately decides not to run away with her new friend, she quickly finds herself in custody of authorities, who give her a choice between the two worst possible outcomes Tally can imagine.


I've mentioned before that I LOVE dystopian literature. Brave New World. A Handmaid's Tale. The Hunger Games Trilogy. Cat's Cradle. 1984. The Giver. Anthem. I love them all. The only dystopian book I've ever read and didn't enjoy was The Road by Cormac McCarthy (sorry Ethan).  However, after taking a distopian literature class, sometimes I feel like I've read them all...and in the adult section, I've probably come close. 

However, I'm finding that the Young Adult section is a wealth of dystopian literature...which is exactly how I came across Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. And I read the whole book yesterday.

It's not the most unique piece of dystopian literature I've ever read. It's not the most clever or the least predictable. But I read the whole book in a day--which says something. And I immediately requested the second book of the trilogy from the library, which also says something. I suppose that "something" is that even if it isn't the best piece of dystopian literature I've ever read, it was entertaining, and I still enjoyed it immensely. Overall, if you enjoyed The Hunger Games trilogy or like dystopian literature in general, I think you'd probably enjoy Uglies. Give it a shot and tell me what you think! 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Photo Snippets

Here's the island before:


And In Progress:


I've since added another coat, but you get the general idea. Now this week, we'll be working on everything else...which is sure to be a BIG job. We went with the Ace Hardware Cabinet Enamel for paint, which I think I'm going to like in the end. The only bummer is that it takes a full 24 hours to dry in between coats, and since we're doing both the insides and outsides of the cabinet doors, that's a pretty hefty time commitment for primer, and then 2-3 coats of paint for each side!

-Saw this on Pinterest and had to try it:

-And I know that I've been sucking on the 30 in 30 updates. I've just re-started a new group of clothes...and I'm following the plan, but not to the letter. My rule is that I can't just browse the other side of my closet, but if I find myself thinking, "Hey, I'd really like to wear that red cardigan"--I'm going to wear it, even if it isn't part of the "plan". This helps me decide which articles of clothing are things that I wear most often or really love, and which things I never think about until I see them. Here's what I wore to J's baseball game on Thursday (though most of the time I didn't wear the cardigan):

-And misc 4th of July shots:


(This is Lizzy mimicking the sound fireworks make)




(Justin sang "Whiskey Lullaby" with Kelsey at the karaoke place after the parade)


Friday, July 1, 2011

Cabinet Conundrum

For some unknown reason, I've decided that I want to finally paint our kitchen cabinets white. I tried to go to Home Depot last night to pick up the paint that Kristal recommended ('cause her cabinets look awesome!), but they apparently don't carry it in store and treated me like a total idiot (which is par for the course in my experience at Home Depot).

I wish they would have just had it in stock, because the extra few hours has just allowed me extra research time, which has just confused me even more and made me even more indecisive. Here's the deal:

-Kristal used a water-based cabinet enamel. She didn't sand or prime (though says that she would have primed in retrospect). I can't find the product that Kristal used locally, but Ace Hardware does carry their own version of a water-based cabinet enamel.

-My internet-buds over at Young House Love recommend oil based primer followed by latex paint.

-My dad, who is a contractor and has painted many-a-cabinet in his day, told me that oil based paint and primer are THE way to go for kitchens due to the high levels of water and grease.

-Centsational Girl said that oil based paint and primer are THE way to go for kitchens UNLESS you are painting white, as oil based whites can fade to yellow.

So basically, everything I read/person I talk to gives different advice. You would THINK that this would lead me to realize that I'll probably have good success no matter what I try. Instead, it has almost paralyzed me into a state of non-decision. I have no clue which way to go. My dad told me just to go ahead and do it--that even if I don't like how it looks, I can always just re-paint. But seriously....I don't know what to do.

Have you painted cabinets? Which method did/would you use?
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