Friday, March 28, 2014

Make the world more awesome

You absolutely must go here and watch all of the Kid Snippets videos.  They are videos scripted by little kids and acted out by adults with the kid voices dubbed in.  They.  Are.  So.  Funny.  Almost as good as Kid President.  He's on the SoulPancake youtube channel.  Start with this one to get the back story, then jump to A Pep Talk from Kid President.  All of that - it's your homework assignment.  Plan to spend some quality time.  Trust me when I say it is worth it.

So, remember when I showed you a picture of the painting that made me feel like a grown up?  The tree piece with a dark red background?  I did something even better.  This is what I did to make the world more awesome:

I named it "wabi sabi winter" and it is the first painting I almost left unvarnished because it looked cool that way.

Can you see the difference?  The texture is more apparent in the unvarnished version, which I liked, but ultimately I gave in to my love of shiny things.  I don't know if I can paint anything else like this - I've got the background on another panel painted and I will try to add the rest tomorrow.  It may be a disaster, but it may be a.w.e.s.o.m.e.r.  Stay tuned.

In the "I was just messing around to see if the idea I thought of in the middle of the night while I couldn't sleep" department, here is a winter tree on a canvas with the sides painted, so it will not require a frame:

Hmmm.  I've got another idea that involves the pile of slate outside at the edge of the yard, but I need to wait for the snow to melt before I try that one.  Which means I could be waiting until September, at the rate we are going.  I heard the plow go by very early this morning and I got up to find a good two inches of fresh stuff, with more coming down in a big fluffy mess.  Now it is raining.  The forecast claims we are going to hit 47 degrees by middle of next week, but I'll believe it when I see it.

Nothing much else new around here, except for this:

Ooooh, countertops.  They are not blemish free, and I think I was a bit over zealous with the stain, which is an issue I believe I can remedy with some mineral spirits - I will find out in a minute - but they are going to be wicked cool.  Hopefully my sister will go with me to pick up the biggest of the five pieces tomorrow when she comes over.  I was hoping someone would deliver it to me this week so I could get started on the staining process (which involves a pre-stain conditioner and then one coat of stain on the underside, then the pre-stain conditioner and two coats of stain on the top and sides, then one or two coats of poly on the underside, then three coats of poly on the tops and sides).  I discovered a logistical error in my countertop calculations, which I will explain at a later date when I have photos to use as a visual aid.  I've got the first coat of primer on all the unfinished cabinet and filler bits in the kitchen and hope to be finished with the next two coats of primer and three coats of paint by Tuesday.  Confession time:  I should have the third coat of primer done by now, but I got distracted by those darn Kid Snippets.  Oops.

The bathroom is in the home stretch.  I painted the walls last night/today!  Woo hoo!  Two little bits of beadboard need a slap of white paint, then all the raw pine needs to be primed and painted, the skylight needs one more coat of primer then some white paint, Matt needs to come back and install the vanity light, then at some point I will repaint the window trim and the door.  BOOM.  It will be done.  This is where we are right now:

That's a pale purple on the wall.  It's actually called Winter Gray.  I can't believe how different it looks in there.  The water has been hooked up for a week but I'm afraid to flush the toilet.  What if it leaks, like the old one did?  Maybe we should have tested that before putting the kitchen back together.  Actually, I'm sure they tested it when they installed it, and I've got total faith in Dean's plumbing ability, but still....

Okay, I have a quick date with some mineral spirits.  And you've got a date with some youtube videos  Then we all need to go make the world more awesome.

Rock and roll.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Who, Me?

She swears she didn't do it.  I think the guilty look gives her away.

Things are slowing down in the remodel department.  My contractor dudes were going to spend Friday shaving down the countertops so they fit in my wonky kitchen, but the countertops weren't finished yet.  And I'm hearing a rumor that nobody wants to cut the opening for my undermount sink.  Hmmm.  Not happy about that news.  Other than the countertops, we're down to the nitty gritty in the kitchen - some kind of tiny crown moulding so you can't see where the beadboard sort-of-but-not-really meets the ceiling; vertical trim down the corners of the walls (the pokey-out walls, not the pokey-in walls.  Got it?); something like 1/4" plywood to finish off the undersides of the bridge cabinets.  I have to stain and seal the countertops once they are cut to fit, and prime/paint a bunch of cabinets -- the two base cabinets that were damaged in delivery, the toe kicks and the filler Jeff needed to make everything fit.  I also need to prime and paint all the new window and door casings, plus the baseboards.  Oh, and all the sides of the cabinets that show, like below the sides of the microwave.  All of this will be a pain in the butt.

The kitchen looks awesome, doesn't it?  Matt, the electrician, was here after I took these pictures.  I now have a completed outlet for the fridge and the light switches have been reinstalled.  He also swapped out that ugly fixture in the pantry for me, and put in a recessed light.  He will be back sometime this week to finish.

Upstairs in the bathroom, Jeff and Erin built me some wicked cool trim to cap off the beadboard.

Fancy pants.  I've got a lot of raw pine to prime and paint in here.

This is where the stacked washer/dryer used to be.  The washer/dryer that didn't work.  The washer/dryer that spewed water all over me and then leaked down through the kitchen ceiling.  Now it's a beautiful bunch of open space.  That needs lots of paint.

And this picture is proof that white comes in many different colors.  The bathtub looks almost pink!  I'm not complaining one bit because guess what.  It's brand new.  And that's all that matters.

Since these pictures were taken I have put the first coat of primer on the skylight and painted the ceiling.  The skylight will end up sparkling white.  The ceiling is a color called ... hmmm ... Gray Lake, I think.  It's what I used in the two bedrooms, and what I'm going to use everywhere for consistency; Jeff painted my kitchen ceiling with it before they installed the upper cabinets.  I am not a fan of flat paint, so it's a satin finish with very little color to it.  It's going to need two coats - the ceiling in there was gross.  I went crazy with my caulk gun and filled all the nail holes in the new pine, and a couple other things that perhaps were not meant to be caulked so I won't tell you what they were.  I also patched that hole right above the sink faucet, and threw some mud and tape over that weird drywall seam that used to be hidden behind the mirror.  You can almost see that Matt pulled the new wiring up and installed the box for my vanity light.  He also, by the way, told me I did a fine job swapping out the overhead light.  He took it down so I could paint the ceiling and so he could figure out why only half of it was working.

Speaking of electricians, I channeled my dad today and moved the thermostat over here in the trailer.  I'm guessing that the previous owners moved it from its original spot when they hauled in a huge china cabinet and needed to claim that wall space.  When they moved it, however, they just spliced on another bunch of wire and ran it along the wall to the new spot.  So when they hauled that huge china cabinet out of here, the old-meets-new wires, held together with some electrical tape, were exposed.  I didn't think it looked that great.  Matt told me I wouldn't electrocute myself if I touched the wires, so I ripped the "moulding" that was "hiding" the wires off the wall, unhooked the thermostat from the new wires and reinstalled it in its original location with the old wires.  I didn't even turn off a breaker or anything -- HA!

What else.  Oh, here is what I painted on the first day of Spring.  To honor the change of seasons.

Yep, a winter tree.  It has snowed here every day since the first day of Spring.  I had to buy a pint-sized garden spade and finagle my way over behind the five foot tall pile of snow at the back of my house and shovel a bunch of it away from the window.  More snow was ready to slide off the roof and I was afraid all the pressure would crack the window.  I am seriously ready for some warmer weather.  Today on facebook my friend Robin posted about doing yard work, and yesterday Derek texted me a picture of the front window at Frame of Reference - there was no snow in evidence and the sun was shining.  Enjoy it while you can, people - I'm sending snow your way!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Water Water Everywhere

Nope, not a flood.  As of this morning I've got running water in my bathroom again.  Woo hoo!  Last night it looked like this:

This.  Is.  Crazy.  The bathroom looks huge now, which is weird because when it was totally empty it looked tiny.  I can't wait to get rid of that awful blue paint, but that is last on the list.  Dean thinks today they can cut the hole for the vanity light (he said Matt - the electrician - centers the light on the faucet, which was just installed yesterday) and mud the wall.  Maybe that means Matt is coming back today.  He can fix the ceiling light fixture I swapped out over the weekend.  I wasn't quite channeling my inherited electrician gene and I've been waiting for sparks to fly and the house to burn down.  We won't talk about how I managed to drop one of the wee small pieces down the toilet pipe.  Yes, I did.  Of course I did.  But no need to mention it here.

Moving on.

Is it wrong to soften butter by putting it on a floor heat register?  Just wondering.

Remember the gold frames I mentioned the other day?  The ones I'm having a hard time finding a use for?  Did I mention they remind me of a giraffe?  Here's an awkward painting for an awkward frame:

Yessirree, I think this is the start of the Questionable Pile, Vermont Edition.  I was thinking spring, and trying to find something that works with this color of gold and that won't be overwhelmed by the gold texture.  I don't know, maybe it will grow on me.

Heh heh.

That was funny.

I had an idea that I thought was going to be awesome, but the execution of which may have resulted in a hot mess.  It still needs a second coat of varnish, and is much better in real life, but this painting is called "I Love You Like Sugar on Snow."

Twice I had to scrape and scrub all that red paint off - if you look in my garbage you would think someone had a serious industrial accident around here.  Curiously enough, at some point I noticed I was leaving bloody fingerprints all over my house - hence the band aid on my finger in this picture - so I guess someone DID have an industrial accident.  No idea how it happened, and not even sure when.  The excitement level around here is obviously so high I don't even notice when I cut the crap out of my finger.

Here is a better (I think) picture of my favorite painting from the other day.  I am going to name it Golden Girls:

Again, it is better in real life.

I am softening butter on my heat register because I'm going to make chocolate cherry cookies.  Partly because I am craving something sweet, and partly to feed my contractor dudes.  Maybe other people who have lived through a remodel that involved professional help don't get as thrilled by the little things, like new kitchen cabinets that DO look all snug and cozy in a crooked space, and running water in a brand new bathtub, but I am very appreciative.  The least I can do - besides pay them the big bucks - is stuff them full of sugar.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Funday Monday

And so it begins, another week of getting up early.  But this time, I have a good reason.  There were contractor dudes next door today.  Woo hoo!  Progress is happening in bits and pieces, but so far I have a bathtub in my bathroom again (a much prettier and brand new bathtub).  I've got a kitchen door, window and pantry door trimmed out again.  I think I also have a few of the base cabinets installed, which is great except I really wanted to paint the two big ones before they got installed, and those were the two broken cabinets.  They are fixed now, but I didn't get to paint them....  I'm also a little worried about how everything is going to line up.  Remember, there is not a single straight line in my little crooked house, including walls, ceiling and floor.  So I don't think I'm going to end up with a bunch of level cabinets that look like one solid piece.  I think I am going to have wonky gaps between them.  I hope not, but we shall see.

I DID paint a crap ton of other stuff today, tho.  See?

Busy, busy, busy.  But first, I decided the other day I am not going to paint anything except flowers until the snow melts, so I ended up with this:

I like it.  It's bright and perky.  Looks even better in a dark frame.

Then I painted another one, which is ... meh.  It's okay.

I'm trying to paint something that will work in some gold photo frames I got at the tradeshow in Vegas, and this painting is not it.  So last night I painted the background of another panel in a dark brown.  I finished that one today, but haven't taken its picture yet.  Nothing exciting there.  Then, while digging through a bunch of miscellaneous paper today, I found this old thing:

Somehow these trees made me think of fall (wait - it's not even officially spring yet!) and away we went on a tangent.

And my favorite of the day, the one that makes me feel like a grown up, is this next one.  As soon as the varnish dries I will get better pictures.  I was afraid to carry it around too much because it would be just my luck that I drop it face down and spend the rest of the night picking carpet fuzz out of the varnish.  That would absolutely happen to me.


The appliance delivery guys were here late this afternoon.  I didn't open the boxes - hope they didn't bring me a dishwasher by accident.

Yesterday I found Roxie sitting in my blue chair, with her head resting on the chair arm, contemplating the five foot tall pile of snow out the back window.

That stuff better start melting soon - spring is this week!  And yes, it really is a five foot tall pile.  When it slides off my roof it sounds like an avalanche.

Lastly, in honor of St. Patrick's Day, here is my Chinese fortune:


P.S.  I just checked next door and those base cabinets are NOT installed yet, so I'm going to slap a coat of primer on the back and sides tonight.  That will make me feel better, and it's all about me me me.  Because, you know, why not?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Still Life With Socks

There shall be no rhyme or reason in this post.  Just sayin'.

Mom was here for the weekend.  We were hoping I would have a working bathroom next door, and perhaps for the first time we would be able to sleep in real beds, but alas, it was not to be.  No contractor dudes last week, but Erin told me they would be here on Tuesday this week.  Rock and roll. 

One night last week I had popcorn for dinner.  Usually when I do that it's all I have, but since I'm trying to eat better this month I had a salad for dessert.  Made me feel virtuous.  I cooked tilapia and carrots for dinner on Friday when mom was here - I accidentally went a little overboard with the carrots.

Tasty.  It's really easy for me to get in the habit of eating whatever I can find that doesn't require any prep work; I forget that cooking isn't difficult and (usually) the end result is worth the extra effort.  Here is my food porn from tonight:

Scallops with green beans, shallots, garlic and the leftover soy sauce stuff that comes with scallion pancakes from the Chinese store.  Awesome.

I painted a few more coats on the face of the cabinets next door over the weekend.  I keep forgetting to take pictures because nothing looks different.  This is three coats of primer:

That's three coats just on the face, only one coat on the sides and back.  These are all the uppers.  As of Sunday afternoon they also have three coats of blue paint on their faces.  And here are the base cabinets, after one coat of primer on their sides and back bits:

They now have all three coats of primer on their faces, and tomorrow will get their first coat of blue.  Sandpaper is my friend.  Since I took these pictures, I moved some of the uppers into the kitchen to make room for the lowers in the living room.  I was hoping my dudes would fix the two broken cabinets on Tuesday so I could start painting them, and was trying to make room for them to maneuver.  Also, the range and microwave were scheduled for delivery Wednesday - today - and I had no idea where I was going to stick those buggers.

Then Erin called and postponed me until Thursday.  That was good and bad:  bad because I really want to get this project rolling again; good because while I was unable to sleep last night it SUDDENLY occurred to me that I need to paint the beadboard in the bathroom before they install the vanity and the toilet.  Oops.

This morning the phone rings and it is the delivery guy, calling from the next town over.  The roads were getting slippery and he was worried.  Better safe than sorry - we rescheduled the delivery for Monday.  And tonight Erin called and said he thinks they will be shoveling out tomorrow and won't be able to make it.  So it looks like Monday will be the day for serious progress around here.

Oh yeah, did I mention we are having a storm?  I got an email from Stowe earlier today and as they said, "it's puking powder around here."  I shoveled twice today, and this is what my driveway looks like right now:

I can't wait to see what it looks like in the morning.  My back hurts just thinking about it.  I sure wish I had figured out how to work my snow blower.  Someone in Montana posted on facebook today about driving around with her sunroof open.  Grrr.  I curse you.

But here is a happy something.  Way back last year, maybe around this time last year, my friend Lauren sent me a link to a small design company that was putting together a book about dogs called "1,000 Dog Portraits:  From the People Who Love Them" and she encouraged me to submit artwork for consideration.  I looked at the submission form and thought "what the hell, it's free."  So I sent in the two portraits I painted of Roxie and waited to hear if they made the cut.  I waited for a couple of months, only to find out the woman putting together the book decided to notify all the accepted artists when the book is actually published in the spring of 2014.  Poo.  So I forgot all about it.  Until a notice showed up in my facebook newsfeed today saying the book is available for pre-order on Amazon.  I clicked on the link and used the Look Inside! feature to see some of the pages.  No, I didn't see either of my paintings, but I DID see my name in the list of contributing artists!  WOO HOO!  I think only one of my paintings made it, and I don't know which one, but WOO HOO!  I put the book in my shopping cart.  I hope you do, too.  Roxie is going to be famous.

As a final note, here's an awkward question:  do you ever multi-task in the bathroom?  If you are one of those people with a magazine rack next to your toilet, the obvious answer is "yes."  But that has nothing to do with why I am asking.  Other than the toilet part.  Not to get all TMI or anything, but the other night I sat down to pee and, taking advantage of the fact that my feet were closer to my hands than they usually are, I also whipped off my socks at the same time.  See?  Multi-tasking.  Anyway, I got up, walked to the sink to wash my hands and brush my teeth, then turned around to leave the bathroom and saw this arrangement:

Standing up, all by themselves.

Okay, maybe it was really late and I was kinda tired, but at the time this was so funny I wanted to leave them there until someone else could see.  But the only company I am expecting in the near future is a bunch of contractor dudes and I don't think they would find as much humor in my socks as I did.  So I took a picture.  Still Life With Socks.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Hot Lips

Today is Day 4 of getting up early for no good reason.  Poo.  I thought my contractor dudes were going to show up on Monday to put my bathroom together, but I have yet to see them.  And today is Thursday.  We didn't have a set date and I'm sure if I had slept in today they would have been knocking on the door bright and early.  But all that is neither here nor there (begging the question -- where is it?).  The bigger issue is that it is March already, and we all know what that means.

It is time for my annual confrontation with my personal trifecta.

I have never been able to simultaneously master three particular areas of my life and every March - for reasons I cannot now recall, although it has something to do with March Madness - I give it another shot.  I am attempting to paint well, eat well and exercise well.  I was thinking about my trifecta the other night and I realized that were I to give it an acronym I would have to say I am attempting to PEE.  Paint, eat, exercise.  Awesome, right?  Looking at it another way, I've got EEP, the initials of my friend Eric.  You can see his blog here and his website here.

Anywho, my first step was to give something up for Lent.  I know, I know, I'm not a practicing Catholic, but all this happened on the first day of Lent, so there you go, I'm taking advantage of the coincidence.  And what did I give up?  If you think I'm going to say chocolate, you obviously do not know me at all.  I gave up sloth.

Yep, that's right, sloth.  And not the three-toed variety.  We're talking the "habitual disinclination to exertion" variety (thank you - I couldn't have said it better myself).  You know that expression about things in motion tending to stay in motion?  Well the opposite is also true.  Things not in motion have a hell of a time gettin' a move on without some external influence.  I have become habitually inclined to take the path of least resistance, which is to say when I am lying on the chaise with poodle reading a book, I tend to stay lying on the chaise with poodle reading a book.  The only one around here getting a good workout is my library card.

And this is a problem.  So yesterday I got up early and waited for the potential arrival of contractors.  After an hour I figured they weren't coming so I made a lovely breakfast of sausage and scrambled eggs with shallots.  I can't remember what I did for the rest of the morning, but early afternoon poodle and I packed our gym bag and headed out into the world.  I put my running shoes on for the first time in months and although I only clocked two miles on the treadmill, two slow and pathetic miles, a girl's gotta start somewhere.  I feel so much better after I exercise, and yesterday was no exception.  Dinner was chicken soup with a crap ton of broccoli and some leftover chicken boobs, so I feel pretty good about what I ate yesterday too.  That just leaves the P.

I painted the background of this canvas the other day and finished it last night.  This was going to be my teaser photo for you but since I didn't write this blog post last night like I intended and I took some beauty shots this morning, here you go.  I named it "Hot Lips."

My first cow.  A wee small cow, 7" wide by 5" high.  Happy me.  That rounds out a successful day of PEE.  I hope this is the start of something good.

In poodle news, someone got a new coat.  It is a hand-me-down from Jane's dog Carly.  Carly is a Rottweiler so the coat is a bit big on poodle, and when Jane reached in the jeep window and put it on her, poodle was already wearing a sweater underneath another coat.  It was cold that day.  When we got home and poodle jumped out of the car I almost fell over laughing because she looked like a little pork sausage.  She's not quite sure what to do with this coat because it is so much bigger than all her others.  When we went out to run errands on Sunday she wore the coat and I tried to get some pictures before we got in the car.  This is the best I could do:

Our first stop was Costco (I know, on a Sunday, but it wasn't as bad as I expected) and when I got back to the car poodle was in the front seat.  Naked.


Did I forget to lock the car doors?  Did someone break in and steal her coat?  It took a bit but common sense finally prevailed and I checked the back seat, which I had flipped up when I put the box of food in the way back.  There was the coat.  How she got it off I have no idea.

We also went to Lowe's to pick up the bathroom vanity.  Ann met me there since it wouldn't fit in the jeep; she took it home and brought it to me on Monday for which I am very grateful since I'm not sure how I would have gotten it here otherwise.  Last stop was at Home Depot to pick up my kitchen sink.  Now the only major item I am lacking is the kitchen faucet.  Range and microwave are being delivered on the 12th and Kevin from Morrisville Lumber will come get the final measurements for my countertops as soon as the cabinets are installed.  Which means I've got an immediate date with some primer.