Thursday, March 31, 2011

Itchin' to Make Some Art!

It's been so long since I've been able to sit down and "be creative." With the move, the remodel, my new part-time job, and just life in general, I have not had the time nor the place nor do I have my supplies organized. Boo. And it looks like it will be a while until I am to that point. Let me tell you, living in one place for 15 years then picking up and trying to get re-settled in a new-old house in a new town... it's been so discombobulating to me! I don't know what my problem is but I often sit and look at all of the boxes around this place and don't know where to start, so I don't start. And when there's something that I need that I HAVE to find I search and sometimes find it but more often I don't find it and it is frustrating. My hope and my wish is that as soon as our kitchen remodel is finished (light at the end of that tunnel - finally!) I can get lots of boxes unpacked in there and then the rest of the rooms will follow. As my daddy always says, it's a process and not an event. Good things take time. But in the scheme of things, looking at the world, I know that I am blessed and for that I am thankful! I have a wonderful hubby, fabulous kiddos, incredible friends... it's good! Thank the Lord.

"Chaos is a friend of mine." —Bob Dylan

Monday, March 28, 2011

Validation and Grouting

Here's a video that I've seen several times. It's so good. You will love it. It's only about 16 minutes long, so take a few minutes and watch it - you will be happy that you did (click on photo below for a link to the video).

Oh, and I also thought I would mention that grouting is HARD! Now it's done and the floor looks great, but oh, are my shoulders, wrists and elbows sore. Worth it? Yeah, man.

"The only place whe
re success comes before work is in the dictionary." —Donald Kendall

"The sum of wisdo
m is that time is never lost that is devoted to work." —Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Shades of Green

It seems I have developed a recent obsession with the color green. I just can't help myself. Love, love, love. While I am still searching for the perfect mossy-chartreuse green cardigan sweater, since we moved into our new-old home in January I have collected no less than seven or eight ceramic pots in various sizes, shapes and shades of green to display and hold potted herbs in the garden window of our kitchen. I also painted two walls in our kitchen a lovely shade of green called "Rye Grass," and today I came across this photo of a window box filled with greenery - all kinds of greenery, and I do believe I will attempt to re-create this look in a planter on my front porch. It is lovely and stunning and I adore this look. So warm, homey, welcoming, soothing, relaxing... all things good! Windowbox is by The Antique Gardner in Sutter Creek, CA, and photo is from Dreamy Whites.

Our kitchen remodel is shaping up. Awesome Contractor Man Rob finished laying our floor tile yesterday (yucky vinyl floor is GONE, man!), and today we grout (sore knees and arms for this weekend, no doubt!). Counter top installation got delayed a bit due to materials held up as they were coming over the snow-bound Sierra mountains, but we now hear that they should be here Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. Then the tile backsplash, then the new appliances come in (I cannot WAIT for my new five-burner convection range and super-quiet and super-sleek new dishwasher. I am simply aching to get cooking in my
nueva cocina! And speaking of green, I treated myself to a new six-quart enamel cast iron Dutch oven (color: green) that I will put to good use in the new oven. Soups, stews, beans, chickens, pot roasts... the possibilities are endless! So excited... (question: how lame is it to get this excited about kitchen appliances? Do I need to get out more? Uh, probably, but I am still jazzed nonetheless! Call me a dork, it's ok.)

Weather here has been treacherous lately. So much rain and wind, and loads of snow in the mountains. Trees and fences falling down. Car wrecks, broken umbrellas and flooded roads. Will Spring ever come? I am ready! I know we need the water, but please, is it enough yet? Hope so! And I should add that after the storms abated today we were rewarded with several brilliant rainbows in the sky. It was a spectacular sight. Someone up there loves us!

"Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby." —Langston Hughes

"Weather is a great metaphor for life: sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad, and there's nothing much you can do about it but carry an umbrella." —Terri Guillemets

The Word is: REMEMBER

I thought I'd feature one of my newer clear stamp sets today. These designs are licensed to Impression Obsession, the set is called REMEMBER and you can get it here. These words can be used separately or combined to create a number of different cards or page layouts. And the always-lovely Daniela Dobson used this set to create a beautiful mini-album that helps to show just how versatile this set is. I've included a few photos of her mini-album here. Thanks Daniela for once again using my designs in your gorgeous creations!

My feelings and intentions when I created this set was exactly what Daniela achieved in her mini-album, which was to capture, preserve and REMEMBER all of the important things in life — that people and memories are so much more important than things. Often in the hustle of life we forget this. I know I do, and it's good to be reminded. To remember.

"Memories are a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose." —from "The Wonder Years"

"Memory is a child walking along a seashore. You
never can tell what small pebble it will pick up and store away among its treasured things." —Pierce Harris

"Everybody needs his memories. They keep the wolf of insignificance from the door." —Saul Bellow

Friday, March 18, 2011

Spring Cleaning

The amazing Lisa Clark from Almost Famous posted the following on her blog a couple days ago. While we here in the Allred home are still remodeling and can't quite do our spring cleaning yet, I am going to save this advice and use it as soon as we are able. Thanks Lisa for the inspiration! You and your entire family are incredibly awesome and I would love to meet you someday. And I've ordered a copy of A Room of One's Own and can't wait to read it!

Here's Lisa's advice on cleaning and keeping an orderly home:

CONSIDER THE COST: Think about the ENERGY—mental, time, etc—it takes to keep this item. You have to see it, store it, move it, clean it, hold onto it, think about it, stumble across it. . . Is it worth the time and energy?

Keeping an item you “might need” prevents something NEW and BEAUTIFUL and MEANINGFUL from taking its place. This less important item has weight in your life. Is it worth it? Do you want a home full of things you might need someday, or a few things you are crazy about and love?!

Start by organizing and cleaning a place just for YOU. Pick up a copy of Virginia Woolfe’s A Room of One’s Own or Simple Abundance. Make this area in the home special and meaningful to you. Your favorite place.

Smell: Choose a cleaning product you love light a candle, essential oil, something invigorating or relaxing. Sound: Put on your favorite music while you clean. Touch: Use cleaning materials that feel good on your skin, or protect yourself when you have to use the heavy-duty stuff. Taste: Reward yourself with a treat while you clean (gum, chocolate, soda). Sight: Declutter—make it look like you really cleaned! Create a space YOU LOVE.

These items should be a few, treasured items stored in a proper place. Pre-set a limit and stick to it. Or take a photo of it (or scan it) and store it on your computer. For example, one box of school projects per year=12+ boxes of “school work” for each child. When they leave home, what are they going to do with 12+boxes of pictures and papers? (I have one plastic tub for grade school and middle school, and then a second for high school).

For example, if you’re cooking and you take out the vanilla, you put it in the mix, then put it back in the cupboard. Immediately. Don’t set it down to put away later, don’t movie it to the side. Don’t put it down. Touch it once.

Break down your weekly cleaning chores into short, daily, 5 minute tasks. Do one or two a day. Do it during a commercial break or while you’re talking on the phone.

Does everything have ONE convenient place? Make cleaning and organization simple enough for a 5 year-old to do by making sure everything has a regular place. One place for shoes, one place for pens, one place for important papers, one place for bills.

The less junk you have, the less you have to clean. When it doubt, throw it away! If you’re reluctant to do this, keep a box in the garage and throw stuff out there, and every 2 weeks, throw what’s in there out.

Fill out notecards for every cleaning task you want done. For example: “Clean the downstairs Bathroom” has a list of items like: *Spray cleaner on sink/around faucet and base and scrub clean *Spray cleaner around top, seat, and base of toilet—wipe down *Put toilet clean in bowl/scrub around sides *Spray shower with cleaner/wipe down all faucets, walls *Wipe down floor *Windex mirror with paper towel *Take out garbage/replace liner Give these cards TO OTHER PEOPLE. Then, they know when they’re “done.”

Check out “I want you to let go of your perfectionism because that is what has been stopping you dead in your tracks and just get up and do something.” –flylady

Start with a place for everything. Make a specific list of everything you need to clean out (laundry room, boys’ closet, kitchen cabinet under sink, etc.) Then do the “Clean Sweep Plan:” Get three boxes or bags: 1. throw away 2. keep 3. give away or sell As you go from room to room, put everything in one of three piles. Make it easy on yourself and, when in doubt: Throw It Away!

Throw away 20 things a day.


"Housekeeping ain't no joke." —Louisa May Alcott

"I got the blues thinking of the future, so I left off and made some marmalade. It's amazing how it cheers one up to shred oranges and scrub the floor." —D.H. Lawrence

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Old Vinyl Floors: um, yuck!

Yesterday was a good day. Cabinets are complete, crown moldings installed. Micro-hood venting finished, countertop measurement done and materials ordered. We had planned on keeping the existing wood laminate flooring, however after moving the island to its new location and discovering that the existing laminate floor is the glued-to-itself type and not the click-in-place type, we were in a bit of a spot because that meant we couldn't really patch the floor in a way that wouldn't look like poo. So the decision was made to remove the flooring in the kitchen and replace it with nice ceramic tile... which means also removing the old yucky vinyl floor that's glued to the concrete subfloor. That's right, man. I said it. Cue the scary music and flickering lights, cuz this is gonna be a LOT of extra work! Eew. But I am trying to stay positive because this just means that after the work is done the new kitchen will look even better with a brand new floor! It will be so worth it in the end. Rich and I are headed out tonight to select and purchase the floor tile, which may also result in changing our minds on the backsplash tiles as well (they were going to be white subway tile). We'll see what we find tonight that's within the budget. Budget - ha, that's a funny word. Doesn't that just mean to keep spending money until it's gone? Kinda feels like it these days. But we're trying to stay realistic. If we have no more surprises I think we're still ok.

Hmm, I just realized that my arms hurt. I believe those are my floor-scraping muscles. It's going to be a long couple of days to come, and messy too! Fun, fun...

"It's kind of fun to do the impossible." —Walt Disney

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Did You Know??

So, did you know that walls in houses are sometimes not straight, especially walls in older homes? And in addition to being not straight, one wall may not meet squarely with the wall next to it, and when you are putting cabinets on those walls that have to align precisely with each other in a corner, it's kind of a problem when the walls are not straight. Well, they aren't, and it is. So... let's just say that we've hit a little snag and Rob our awesome contractor (and my buddy since high school days - that's more than 30 years but who's counting??) has to do a bit of tweaking to get the last of the cabinets installed. Then the counter top man can come and take his final measurements, and so on... and someday soon we will have a lovely new kitchen!

Ah, the fun continues. But as I told a friend today, considering all that is going on in the world, living for a few weeks without a kitchen is really not a big deal. Life is good!

"Where thou art, that is home." —Emily Dickinson

"The fellow that owns his own home is always just coming out of a hardware store." —Frank McKinney Hubbard

Monday, March 14, 2011

Prayers for Japan

Like most people I have been mesmerized these past few days by the scenes coming out of Japan. The devastation is just beyond comprehension. My prayers have been for the people there. Japan is so far away and I have never been there, and sometimes it may be easy to think that the suffering of others does not really affect us, but it does. We are all children of God, and deep down we are all the same. We live, we love, we yearn, and we fear. We hunger, we thirst, we ache, we bleed, and we strive for happiness in whatever form that may take for each of us. The people of Japan are our brothers and sisters.

Occasions like this make me stop and thank God for h
ow blessed I am in my life, and they also give me a renewed respect and awe for the powerful forces of Nature. But through it all I know that our Heavenly Father watches over us, and there is a plan for all things. We may not understand it or see it from where we are, but all will be well in the end.

Go to the American Red Cross if you can and donate to the relief efforts. Or donate funds or humanitarian supplies to your church or other charitable organization. We need to help those in need. God Bless.

"People are made of flesh and blood and a miracle fiber called courage." —Mignon McLaughlin

Friday, March 11, 2011

Just be Happy!

Rich, my sweet hubby and eternal companion, always tells me this: "Just be happy. It's a choice!" That is such good advice, and it's something I need to be reminded of often. I can get down, yes I can, and sometimes it's hard for me to cheer myself back up when I am in the down place. But oh how I love that man of mine. He is so good for me, and so good to me. How blessed I am! Life is so good. I just forget sometimes...

"Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn't arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I am going to be happy in it." —Groucho Marx

Thursday, March 10, 2011

May is Building Her House

I was doing a little on-line research today about home building and came across this poem, written by Richard Le Gallienne. Love it! The words and the images are oh so delicious...

May is building her house.
With apple blooms
She is roofing over the glimmering rooms; Of the oak and the beech
hath s
he builded its beams,
And, spinning all day at her secret looms, With arras of leaves
each wind-swayed wall

She pictureth over, and peopleth it all
With echoes and dreams,

And singing of streams.

May is building her house.
Of petal and blade,
Of the roots of the oak,
is the flooring made,

With a carpet of mosses and lichen and clover,

Each small miracle over and over,
And tender, traveling green things strayed.
Her windows, the morning and evening star,
And her rustling doorways, ever ajar
With the coming and going
Of fair things blowing,
The thresholds of the four winds are.

May is building her house.
From the dust of things

She is making the songs and the flowers and the wings;
From October's tossed and trodden gold
She is making the young year out of the old;
Yea: out of winter's flying sleet
She is making all the summer sweet,
And the brown leaves spurned of November's feet

She is changing back again to spring's.

"He is the happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home." —Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Kitchen Install & Cute Coasters

Kitchen Install day #1 is done! It started a little slow with lots of little things (some expected and some surprises) to take care of before the cabinets could be hung. There were electrical changes, water for the refrigerator to be moved, flooring to be cut, the stove vent to be moved, drywall to be patched, etc. etc. etc....... But right now there are five out of our nineteen new cabinets attached to the wall! It's starting to look like something! I will try and get some pictures taken so I can share them. Oh, and you should see the *lovely* vinyl floor we discovered under the wood floor. It's 1987 perfection: yellow, gray, and dusty slate blue. I may keep a piece of it just for grins... it's truly hideous!

On a different no
te, I came across these coasters today, and I do believe they are just about the cutest thing I've seen in a long time! They're made out of cork, shaped like slices of toast... they're Toast Coasters! I think I'm gonna have to order me some, and maybe a few extras for gift-giving. You can get yours from the MoMA store here. Delightful!

OK - it's time to relax for a bit, then it's off to the hardware store. Rich and I have a list of things we need to pick up for our continued kitchen adventure tomorrow, then it's home to do some more prep work. Fun, fun!

"Barry and I were in the middle of building a house, and I was in the midst of having a nervous breakdown, because that's what you do when you build a house." —Cynthia Weil

"The four building blocks of the universe are fire, water, gravel, and vinyl." —Dave Barry

Monday, March 7, 2011

Old Kitchen: GONE!

Wowza, have we been busy around here. It's been a long weekend of destruction, and as of a few hours ago our old kitchen has been completely wiped off the map. Before I swept up the last of the debris it looked kinda like this picture — well, not quite, but you get the idea! Holy heck let me tell you, old tile countertops are a MESS to remove! Add in some old water damage to the sheet rock and an over-zealous use of nails and staples by whoever put the old kitchen in, and that meant lots of extra work for us! But I have to admit there was something a little gratifying and even kinda fun about taking a hammer and crowbar to those old, chipped, ugly counters! After the countertops went, we removed the last of the old grungy cabinets. And now the worst part is over (we hope) and it's time to watch the new kitchen take shape!

OK, it's back to work... more later!

"Whatever good things we build end up building us." —Jim Rohn

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Word is: SWEET

Hey. I just finished re-reading Candy and Me: A Love Story by the hilarious and thoughtful Hilary Liftin. This is one of my favorite books. It's about candy, and the love of things sweet, but it's also about life and love and friends and families and the search for happiness and balance. It's one of my favorite books. You should get it, and you should read it! I highly recommend it.

...And speaking of "sweet" things, here's an image from one of my new stamp sets from Impression Obsession. The SKU is CL 307. It's an all-occasion set that you can use all year. Lots of cute and versatile images, if I do say so! Check it out!

Rich and I met with our contractor yesterday. Our NEW kitchen cabinets are being delivered next Monday, and the installation starts next Wednesday - that means that now is demolition time! We've already started removing the old grungy cabinets, and this weekend we get to tear out the ugly 80's tile countertops. And in a few short weeks (hopefully sooner) we'll be the proud and happy owners of a brand new kitchen! Yay! Hopefully we'll live through this adventure. It's been a bit rough so far, I won't lie. But I am trying to be patient and am focusing on the outcome and trying to ignore the mess and the chaos...

I am excited to see our new kitchen color scheme take shape (not to mention all that awesome new storage space!). Wall cabinets will be natural hickory, island cabinets will be black, and countertops are called "Maui Quartz." And I think I've decided to paint an accent wall a lovely green called "Withered Moss" from Valspar. It will be delicious! We've taken some "before" photos prior to the start of demolition, and will take some "afters" when it's all done. Oh the anticipation... I can't wait!

OK. Time to get out of here. Busy day!

"If you don't think every day is a good day, just try missing one." —Cavett Robert

"I had the blues because I had no shoes until upon the street, I met a man who had no feet." —Ancient Persian Saying

"A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely." —Roald Dahl