Thursday, March 31, 2011

I'm Going to Elton John!?!

Yes, I am going to Elton John! I can hardly believe it, but it's so true...Mike put the tickets in my hand last night. I'm still in shock.
I've never been to a concert ever in my life, unless you count the Wiggles, which I have been to twice.
Anyone who knows me knows how in love I am with Elton John, and in fact I mimic his piano playing style and have since I was a young teenager. He is my idol in every sense of the word!
I have already promised Mike I would try really hard not to embarrass him by:
1. crying
2. screaming
3. calling out "I love you Elton!"
4. crying
5. yelling for him to play 'Yellow Brick Road' even though I KNOW he will.

Just in case I will wear waterproof truth I am crying right now just thinking about seeing his toothy grin...and I will see it, as our seats are RIGHT BY THE STAGE!
I got these tickets last night when I was watching American Idol, and it was Elton John week. Mike had just gotten home from a friends' place when I mentioned to him how I hoped the contestants were hopefully not going to butcher Elton's amazing songs. He said, "I just have to run out to the truck for a minute" and came back in with an envelope. He asked me what I thought of these and handed it to me. I assumed it was a gift card from his partner, as we have received many from him. I stared at the tickets in disbelief, as the concert sold out months ago in 4 minutes and I had given up my halfhearted search on kijiji for any available tickets (at 250 a pop I wasn't going to even ask Mike if we could go). I guess he had bought them on kijiji last week as a surprise for our anniversary in May (11 years, thank you!). I gotta say I cried, the ugly kind of cry with big tears and make up everywhere kind. And, because he loves me, he just smiled at me and wiped my tears and gave me a kiss.
Thank you, honey.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What our week was like..

Since I last blogged we were busy and productive in our busy-ness!
We went to the Spring trade show in Lloydminster on Friday, just Mike, Charlie and I, and had fun walking around looking (and dreaming) at all the home finishing booths. Some of our favorites to note were:
1. fake grass that looks like real grass (cool)
2. Seller's RV (serious daydreaming here)
3. tiny tim's donuts
4. fish filleting demonstration
5. the other tiny tim's donut booth.
Mike's favorite part of the night was stopping at a booth and buying our new Traeger Grill. It's a type of barbecue that is electric, but burns wood pellets infused with any flavor you like. It then distributes the heat, and you can control the heat setting. So it's a smoker, a convection oven, or a grill. The meat just falls off the bone, and once you taste a juicy tender piece of chicken or steak, you'll never go back to gas or propane ever again. Mike has been drooling over Traegers for a year and a half now, and with the booth owners offering such a deal on the grill, he couldn't refuse. That, and we didn't have a bbq as ours bit the dust last year. And yes, we are using it tomorrow night for supper...can't wait!

Charlie showing off her new helmet.
On the weekend we did a few things besides the usual laundry, vacuuming and dusting. We watched a bit of curling, Mike showed some houses, and played with the kids. Not very exciting but that's life around here. On Sunday morning I had the ladies from our decorating committee here to get a jump start on our decorations for the upcoming dance recital, which was a big relief since we got over half of them done. Later on it was just the kids and I, as Mike worked showing houses then went to a hockey game when he was finished.

Yesterday I had Olivia and Noah for the day, and we busied ourselves with cookie making in the afternoon when the little ones were sleeping. As you can see, there was some yummy dough-eating going on, and lots of knock knock jokes while we waited for the cookies to bake.
And today was another house cleaning day, with all the floors to vacuum and mop all over again. Jacey helps me alot, as she likes to dust and she mops alot of the living room. Tomorrow I'll head to North Battleford to watch Brandon and Jacelyn both 0sing in the music festival for their school, which is always nice to listen to and I enjoy watching.
You may not be gripping the edge of your seat, but I am on this ride we call "life". :)
Have a great week everyone!

Until next time....

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Scrapbook Corner

Easter Project

This year's Easter project was a quick one, but it turned out really cute.
We cut some budding branches off of our lilac tree and set them in a tall vase filled with rocks.
Charlie decorated them with eggs hung on ribbon and the other two kids decorated eggs that we blew the yolks out of. Then they hung them on the "Easter Tree" the next day when the glue was dry. Cute and it looks like Spring in the front room now.
We are trying very patiently to wait for our tile to come in, but it's very hard. We have been getting the run around from Home Depot, and we've been back there inquiring after the tile 4 times now. Each time we have talked to someone different and end up with the same result: walking away empty handed, and frustrated. The issue is this: the tile is an automatic order item, which means that when the last tile leaves the store, the computer registers it and the system resets to say there are 0 tiles of that type. Then it automatically orders another pallet. The Lloydminster Home Depot says there are 44 tiles in stock...there are, however, 0. Of course, Mike and I have both asked the sales people if the system can be over-ridden to say "0", and then the computer can then order new stock. Finally, I asked the receiving manager if he could do this, and I think they will, but the question is when. He actually said we would have better results if we went to a Home Depot in Edmonton!! It kind of shocked me that they would direct sales to another store, but on the other hand, that makes for a more expensive tile if we have to drive 2 1/2 hours to get it.

With the kitchen taking so long, I'm finding that my calendar is starting to fill up fast, and my daily events are overlapping with each other. I started babysitting in my home two weeks ago, and while that is going great, I've got dance recital decorations to make, gymnastics pictures and recital coming up the same week as the dance recital, and other small mundane appointments mixed together with general household chores. I don't feel overwhelmed but I do feel busy, and fall into bed most nights. Charlie has been cutting out her nap in the afternoon and it is driving me crazy. Not only do I miss getting my chores done during this time, but she is such a grumpy bear

and her nastiness finally drove me to drink this evening. I called Mike up at 5:30 while I was making supper and said "cocktails are now being served", to which he replied he was on his way home...I think he knew mommy had reached her limit for the day. I had a drink waiting for him too, and now I'm really, really enjoying my quiet time this evening. I know I've commented before about how it's funny that kids can drive you up the wall, but yet at the end of the day in the back of your mind you know it's worth it. I miss them terribly when I'm away for a few hours, and so I guess that means we are doing something right. :)
Here is this week's page's a little bit rock star, and ALL sass. And that's what my girl is.

page elements Raspberry Road Designs "Sassy Lass"

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Comfort Food

What's better on a snowy and blowing day than to bake some comfort foods? I had that urge yesterday and started off by rubbing mustard, bbq sauce, brown sugar, and some liquid smoke all over a ham, then covered it in tin foil and baked it on low for 4 hours. To go with it I made hash brown casserole, which is  rich and creamy and topped with bubbly cheese.
Today I'll get my school goodies done, and I'll try hard not to eat (too) much. Every household grew up on certain homemade staples, which turn into comfort foods for those kids. Then we turn around and make them for our kids. In my house, I grew up on dad's sweet biscuits, mom's kitchen sink cookies, grandma's tea biscuits and grandpa's apple butter. Mike's childhood faves were cinnamon twists and any kind of square his mom would make, then he'd steal them out of the freezer. Needless to say, our kids always ask for those same treats.
While apple butter and biscuits are usually always in the pantry, it's the comfort of making these things together, as a family, that will really stick with them through the years. That is the real essence of 'comfort food'.
Here is one of ours...Jacey's Chocolate Chip Cookies. It took me awhile to find this recipe, as it was tweaked so much and in my memory...I never write things down enough, and usually the palm of my hand is my measuring spoon, but I think the amounts listed will work just fine. Jacey's name is in the title as she came up with some of the measurements, making it her own.


2-1/4   cup flour
1          tsp baking soda
1/2       tsp salt
3/4       cup butter, softened                                   
1/2       cup sugar
3/4       cup light brown sugar (we usually don't pack it;there isn't much difference)
2          tsp real vanilla extract
2          eggs
2          cups choco chips (Jacey likes milk chocolate, but we usually mix with semi sweet)
  1. Heat oven to 375°F.
  2. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt.  Beat butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in large bowl with mixer until creamy.  Add eggs; beat well. Gradually add flour mixture, beating well.  The more you whip the dough the softer the cookie; they will stay soft and chewy for two weeks...if they can last that long in the cookie jar!  Stir in chocolate chips.  Drop by rounded teaspoons (we use a 1-inch cookie scoop, which is why the cookies have tiny bumps on top) onto  an ungreased cookie sheet.
     Bake 9 minutes (no more) or until lightly browned.  Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet. Makes around 5 dozen cookies.   

Feel free to substitute the sugar for any low-cal sugar like Splenda, which works well too. We've added nuts, raisins, craisins, and butterscotch chips over the years as well. But the plain old chocolate chip cookies rule this roost.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Cheez Whiz and Raisins...and some new tile......what?

Mike lucked out metrically as the tile and electrical boxes were working together in harmony...he made the fewest amount of cuts he's ever had to make in all our years of tiling!
 Due to Home Depot still not having our tile in stock, we decided to put up what we had and then just wait until the rest came in to finish the job. We had enough tiles to do the east wall by the pantry, and then around to behind the sink. We still need about 13 tiles or so, but Home Depot wouldn't let us order any of the tile as they are a regular stock item, and is shipped automatically when they are out; we'll just have to wait it out. Hopefully not too long, as I like to do the work all at once, rather than clean up 2 or 3 times. It's always funny to me how tile or any kind of backsplash pulls together the look of a kitchen. Just having that something extra, like a certain texture or a pop of color to draw your eye really makes a difference. This is the third kitchen reno we have done, and by far the cheapest, and we're happy with it so far.

The paint is hardening up very nicely on the cabinets, something that made me happy and pleasantly surprised...I gotta say I was nervous about the whole painting-my-oak-cupboards thing. To me, a lady who gets excited by the smell of a lumber yard, painting beautiful oak is a sin. But they needed updating, and I love white cupboards. So I gotta say that overall I would recommend doing it, if you have the patience for it. Really give it an entire 24 hours between each coat, and I put on a total of 5 coats on each side to ensure a true white color.  I have spent a month reminding the kids to "back away from the cabinets" and "don't put that chair so close to that drawer!"  The key to the paint job looking good was using the foam roller to give it a professional look; they almost look sprayed and have a fine pebbled texture. Now that the paint has almost cured, I've started to relax around them, and don't worry about scratches like I used to.

I'm looking forward to finishing the rest of the tile, and seeing the end result of our work. The countertop and sink fiasco were the hardest, longest hours we put in for the entire project. I bought a nice mahogany floating shelf that will be put up in that big empty space where all that tile is by the pantry (picture above). It's for a few knick knacks, my candle, and my radio; the outlet is hiding in the pantry thru that little hole. I chose the mahogany color as my table and china cabinet are the same color, and it looked nice with the tile...even though my first choice was an espresso color.
Mike and I agree that the tile has made us like the weird arborite...swirly pattern and all! :)

We just came back from a date tonight, and I wish we would do it more often. We left the kids with mom and Jenine, and had supper in the city together. The odd thing was there were 5 other tables in the restaurant all from Maidstone too! It felt like we didn't even get away from town, that's for sure. We stopped in at Walmart for something to do (in truth we didn't want to go home to our kids), and walked out with a bike for Jacelyn (her first one), a helmet for her and Charlie, rubber boots and a puzzle.

 All I needed was Cheez Whiz and raisins. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Kitchen Reno

Well today we managed to get some things done, even though we had a houseful of kids running around...nap time was the most productive time, of course. Mike took out the old piece of counter in the bay window and replaced it with 1/2 plywood. We will tile it as we tile the back splash.
new hardware is all can't tell from the pictures but the color is a rubbed bronze, although it looks black
He also finished the gap left under the cabinet where the old microwave would have been in the '80's. I will tile right up to the underside of that cabinet so that the tile shows behind the decorative shelf I'll put up for my radio and knick-knacks. We were just too busy with watching kids to get any tiling done, and I know I really wanted it finished before I started babysitting kids. I only get them for a few days this week so I can restrain myself until I have time.
a big stack of tile ready to be glued on
If you all know me, I like to get things done right away, and plow through until whatever I'm working on is finished until the end. So starting and stopping is really killing me inside! :) That and the knowledge that my weekends are running out, with me on the decorating committee for dance and recitals coming for gymnastics and dance, then Easter right after. I'm looking forward to the end of school and summer break for some slower days!
I won't post any kitchen pictures until it's all finished, with toe kicks and trim and grout left to do. It will be the big reveal, so stay tuned!
I hope you all have a great week!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Kitchen Reno...I've lost track of the days...

Last night was a long one; we wanted to get as much done with the counter top as we could and really pushed to do it.
Our niece and nephew were staying over and as they are so young I was running around after 5 kids instead of helping Mike in the garage. After I got them all to bed around 9:30 I went to help get it done. As a result we finally crawled into bed 2:30 am.
I really need to get the tile on today in order to grout tomorrow, so I am hoping my brother (who was obviously partying a bit too hard as he never came home last night) stops in early to pick up his kids.
We were disappointed in a few things with the sink and arborite...the arborite had a wierd swirly pattern that was repeated too much. The only reason I don't really care too much about it is because my choices were limited in matching it to the floor. It's not something I personally would have picked if I was designing my own kitchen, and my lesson learned here is that if/when we ever build our own house I will personally go to the warehouse to pick out what I want from a bigger piece of arborite.

The sink was another odd story to our long night. Everything was measured perfectly where it would go, and so Mike cut out the hole and fit in the wouldn't go. It was tight on one side. So we took it out, and Mike cut some more, put the sink in and still we had to shave more off. I thought this was wierd, as the measuring was so accurate. It turned out that the template that came with the sink was way far off that when Mike tightened the sink to the counter the bolts didn't even tighten to the underside of the sink...instead they are tightened to the countertop. The template didn't allow room for the bolts to clear the underside of the was out by about a half and inch. I was worried that the sink wouldn't be watertight, but it looks ok. Also, the drain is 'mounded' in such a way that the water doesn't drain fully out of the sink. The sink and counter is level in every sense of the word, so we ruled that out, and the pipes under the sink aren't too high, causing the underside of the sink to mound in the middle. If we push lightly on the bowl of the sink, it dips down, and the water that is pooled to the front of the sink starts to move toward the drain. Frustrating for us, as the sink is in and there's nothing I can think of to fix the problem. If any of you readers has a super handy hubby who can think of a fix, let me know!

And of course, when you start playing around with plumbing, you are essentially playing with fire, because usually you are going to find something you don't want to fix.
That happens to us everytime, being as we have always owned old houses, with corroded copper pipes that are so thin they spring pin-hole leaks if you look at them the wrong way.
Mike had to put a new shut off valve on the hot water of the old lines that Mike was taking off was actually fused to the inside of the pipe, and he couldn't attach the new one until he removed it.

 Mike has to do a bit more finish work he tells me before I can tile. I was hoping to at least get it started since I was on a roll but I guess I'll wait, hopefully not for too long or I'll get the gumption to do it myself... I feel unproductive when I can't do the bigger stuff.
I start babysitting on Monday and I'm worried I won't feel like completing the finicky stuff as soon as I normally would. We need toe kicks, the oak trim needs varnish, and the cabinet hardware has to be attached. With all of that running around in my mind, and the kids driving me bonkers and my floor needing to be washed, I feel like I'm losing my mind!!

update: I signed on to Home Depot to leave feedback about the items we purchased for the reno, and I'm a firm believer in reading customer's reviews before buying something I'm making a long term investment on, like fridges, washing machines, faucets, etc. When Mike went to the store to get the sink (it was a surprise to me as I thought we were re-using our old one), it was a spur of the moment thing during the middle of his day and so no homework was done on the sink he was buying. When I left a review, the review above mine listed the same problems we had...yes the template was too small! I laughed so hard at's in now so it's too late to take it back, but if we had known ahead of time we could have made the hole bigger! Although, with the sink not sloped to the drain, we wouldn't have got it in the first place..the water is pooled to the front of the sink and I have had to CLR the calcium buildup already as our water is so hard. It's too bad but we'll have to make do!
calcium buildup at the front of the bowl where the water layed all night long.  there are water stains already that I can't remove with CLR or anything else I tried.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

100 posts!

Today is my 100th post, and I wanted to write something profound...something really deep and meaningful.

I got nothin'.

So I scrapped a page of Charlie wearing her butterfly princess get up that she has been wearing all day. She loves to dress up, play babies, have her nails painted and lipgloss smeared on...she's a true girly girl in every sense of that phrase. And she's so darn sweet too.

papers: cherie mask @ 2ps; very cherry minikit @ 2ps
elements: rr sassy lass; mdk be sweet; word graphic by Tina @dsp

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Kitchen Reno

I was right about the rocket-box...Brandon noticed it right away yesterday and asked if he could turn it into a spaceship! That will be our weekend project I guess.

Mike was confident using the contact cement, as it wasn't his first time using it, but I chuckled when I saw he also picked up contact cement remover. You gotta know my husband...he really does have two left feet and has tripped over lines in our lino. The remover was a necessary pre-cautionary addition to the workshop.
Mike worked all morning and afternoon and the three smaller counter tops are on, leaving me with some touch-ups to do where the back splash on the old one met the cabinets. He got to use some tools he hadn't had the chance to use in quite a while, and had fun getting dirty (*insert Tim the Tool Man grunts here*).

The entire house smells like a glue factory, much to Brandon's disgust, and he's been walking around with his shirt up over his nose...and has been downstairs to avoid doing that as well.
Tomorrow after supper the large piece will be finished and we'll let it sit in the garage for the night to get rid of some of the stinky smell. On Friday I will whip into the city and get my tile and grout, and get them up by Saturday night. Because they are quite porous, I need to get them sealed before I grout.
If I can follow this schedule then I should be drinking coffee in my new kitchen on Monday morning. But we all know how reno schedules go...don't we?? :)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Kitchen Reno...Day who knows?

My arborite is in! I scooted in to the city today to pick it up (undamaged), and also stopped into Home Depot to pick up my cabinet hardware. I'm now officially over-budget, as 35 pieces cost me $170.00 bucks. I went with oil rubbed bronze, as the hue will match the hinges and also the counter top and tile. Whew, big stuff over, now bring on the power tools!!

That's right, tomorrow we'll pull out the big guns (aka: Mike's heavy duty 'Rigid' table saw) and make the counter top.
 Hopefully before the weekend I will grab my tile and start to work on it Saturday, and grout on Sunday.
 That's my schedule, not sure if it will really happen but I'm hoping!!
Gosh I love the finishing touches of a reno, where all the visions and day-dreaming starts to take shape before your eyes!
Someday I will get rid of the ugly 1980's huge fluorescent ceiling light ( I HATE fluorescent lighting, which is why I hate the new Eco-friendly light bulbs too), but there was only so much I wanted to do, and if I had the extra money to spend I would use it to upgrade the things I was re-doing in the first place. So taking that down can wait for another day...I don't feel like re-spackling the ceiling anytime soon either.

After everything is finished it'll be time to tackle the main bathroom! ---uh-oh.....I think I just heard Mike's head hit his desk 50 km away. :)

This huge cardboard box will make an AWESOME rocket, which I'm absolutely positive will be the first words out of Brandon's mouth when he walks in the door today!!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Scrapbook Corner

Good morning everyone! Finally the cold snap has passed and the kids can go out and enjoy the days a bit more than they have. We have been sitting around the house this weekend, flipping the channels between TSN and CTV, watching snippets of curling and's hard to believe that it has been raising money in Saskatchewan for 35 years.
So between folding laundry, playing with the kids, and flipping channels back and forth, there really isn't much more to my day today...that's about as exciting as it gets around here folks!
I did sneak in an hour early today to scrap this page, and I hope you like it.
Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Day 14 Kitchen Reno

Mike wants to put in a new kitchen sink when he does the counter top...does the added expense have to go towards my budget, or can that be considered "a gift" ?

Well here we are, day 14, and the doors are finally all on. What a difference for us to walk into a light-filled room rather than all that dark yellowed oak we were used to.
My guy at Totem called, and my arborite was in yesterday. Mike went to pick it up, and was told it was damaged...they had to order a new slab. Another little setback, but there was nothing to say about it as it is out of my control. The upside is that the new piece should be here this week, I'm hoping by Friday. Arborite is brittle and easily damaged until it is put onto the counter top, and it was bitterly cold this week, as everyone knows, so I wasn't surprised to hear it was broken.

the cabinets look funny to me without the new toe kicks!
Mike has all the measurements and the MDF and will prepare the new base for the counter top, and we'll go from there! We won't have any seams to worry trapped bread crumbs for this lady. Next week I will grab the tile, but until the arborite is in and we make the counter top, there won't be any renovating happening to blog about!

I can picture the new counter top and tile so keenly that it's so hard to wait this long to see the finished result!