Guess what?  My kitchen is done.  They finished it, and I didn't even tell you.  How dare I?  I have a good reason though.  We had to be done with the house by the end of September so the bank could finalize the loan, and so even though all I wanted to do once the kitchen was done was tell you good people about it, there were a few other odds and ends that had to be finished before the inspector came.   So we worked real hard and finished them and the inspector came and said, "Great.  Now just do a few more things and you will be done."

He was pickier than we expected.  They extended the loan for ANOTHER month (for a fee, of course) so we are finishing just a few MORE things and then, just maybe, we will really and truly be done.  I hope we can make it.

Anyhoo, the kitchen.  It is time to see it.  I hope you are ready, because I don't see any point in stalling any more than I already have.

And here it is!  The Finished Kitchen!


Yea!  Lets take a closer look at a few things, shall we?

The cabinet over the fridge:


It is where I keep my cake pans and cookie sheets.  Hooray!  I love having a spot for them.  There is even a shelf above them, though it is too tall to use regularly, so I don't know what we'll keep up there.


The range hood over the stove.


I love it.  I shouldn't love a hood so much, but I do.  And I couldn't have gotten that with Ikea cabinets, so that is at least 1 point in favor of custom cabinets.

Next we have the spice drawers.  Fun!


Right across from the stove lies the microwave, and look what the builder did!  He put a frame up around it!


Over here is the sink with open shelving above and the dishwasher to the right.  There is no kick plate under the dishwasher.  Because the one that came with it is black.  I guess I should just paint it, but probably I will forget for a couple years unless the inspector wants us to do it.


I put a bunch of pottery and brick-a-brack up on the shelving over the sink, cuz I don't have any where else to put them and I don't know what to put up there.

Next you will see my desk.  Guess what we forgot to have the countertop guy do?  Drill a hole in the desk top so all the cables could go through it.  A small thing, but a bit of an annoyance.


See how a little peice of trim under my desk isn't painted? And there is just a hole in the wall where the internet jack is supposed to be? It is things like that the the inspector says we have to finish.

And there you have it!  Everything in my life hasn't magically fallen into place, my problems haven't all gone away and my morning breath is still horrific, but my kitchen is done, and that is pretty ok.



Some more things:

Here is how my master bathroom looks at the moment:


I tiled the wall behind the sink and BOY, do I like how it looks!  We looked around some for mirrors, but everything we liked was very expensive.  So then we went in a different direction and found literally the cheapest mirrors we could: $9.99 a piece from IKEA.  And isn't the sink cool?


It is called a Trough Sink, in case you are wondering.  The countertop is Stainless Steel, and was made by a local heating and air conditioning place, for not much more than laminate would have been.  We had to make the plywood base and cut the holes; they just cut and bent the metals to our measurements and then we glued it on.  I still have to build the drawers to go in the vanity.  The only thing holding me back at this point is my own ability to procrastinate.  So we could be waiting years.

The other side of the bathroom looks like this:


um, yep.  You are seeing that right.  Big ugly hole behind the toilet.


We noticed some discoloration of the trim behind the toilet and couldn't tell what it was.  Turns out there was a leak back there, and it was molding the life out of our drywall and trim.


Richard found and fixed the leak, but we have yet to fix the drywall.   Now, before you start thinking, "Tsk, Tsk.  That is what happens when you act as your own plumber." Let me remind you that even the paid professionals sometimes have things go wrong.   Example:


If you look closely you will see that the railing is no longer attached to the wall.  It happened one day as I was walking down the stairs.  I slipped, and the rail I was holding on to for support just popped right out of the wall.  The screws simply weren't long enough.  It has been balanced on that old paint bucket for a couple of months now.

Last but not least, we have this:


That is an Upper Kitchen Cabinet.  Almost all of them have been installed at this point, though they don't have doors yet, so you are just going to have to wait to see more until I can get a picture of the completely finished kitchen.  This has to happen soon because the bank won't give us any more extensions on our loan.  We have to be done by the end of the month.  Period.  So everyone keep their fingers crossed.

I need you

Guess what?  My sister invented a board game!  And I have played it!  It is fun!  She even started a KickStarter campaign to try to get it made for real.  How it works is this:  She comes up with an amount she will need to have the game made by professionals.  Then the rest of the world goes to KickStarter and agrees to donate whatever amount they want.  If she reaches her goal, she gets to make her game.  Then everyone who agreed to donate will have their credit cards charged for the amount they promised to pay.  And if they paid enough, they will even get a copy of the game, or a short story that she wrote, or whatever.  If, by chance, she doesn't reach her goal, all of those who donated will not actually be charged at all.

Does that make sense?  I'm pretty sure I am explaining the heck out of it.  The gyst is, if she raises enough, she gets to make her game and everyone's cards will be charged. If not, no one's cards will be charged and she does NOT get to make her game.  Sad.

You know I never ask anything of you.  (Besides requiring you to read a bunch of mindless rambling or forcing you to learn about Stair Terminology whether you want to or not.)    So do this for me.  And her.  Go and donate!  Even $1.00 would be awesome.  And TELL YOUR FRIENDS because the whole point is to spread the word to as many people as possible so that those game lovers out there might actually hear about it and get to help fund a brand new game.  And she doesn't even know I am asking this of you, so help a girl out, and give her a dollar or two.

We are always looking for games that a lot of people can play together, and this one can have 8 players.  And it is fun because it is cooperative, so instead of everyone trying to destroy everyone else like you do in Monopoly, you have to rely on the other players if anyone is going to make it out alive.  It is good times. Oh, here is a video about the game!  I may or may not have a starring role in this film! 

Click HERE to learn more

And if you can't figure out what to do at KickStarter once you are there, let me know.  I'll do my best to help.

Star Wars: the costume awakens

So.  Costumes.  I like making them.  The trick is finding a time and place to wear them, which I'm guessing is the reason people get so excited about Comic-Con.  We are all just looking for an excuse to dress up.

The most recent excuse was the premier of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  (I am only 8 months late posting this).  Me and my sisters all decided to dress up in different outfits of Princess Leia's.  You can do fun things like that when you have roughly a million sisters.


Just to clarify, one of the people in that picture is my brother, and a few are nieces.  Not everyone conformed to our Leia Manifesto.  Demi even went so far as to dress up as Rey.  She is such a rebel.

I wanted to go as Leia when she is wearing her Boushh disguise.  Here is a shot from the movie for reference:

It is awesome.  But I didn't feel the need to be totally authentic. I think the fun is seeing what I can change to make it work for me, and what I can put together based on stuff I already have. She is wearing a waist band and those shoulder things, but instead I just made a vest.  I made a tunic type shirt and some gauntlet sort of arm bands and then I just had to make her bandoleer.  That was my favorite part.  


In case you are a giant nerd I should tell you that, Yes, I know I am wearing it on the wrong shoulder.  I looked at the picture and figured out what shoulder to put it on and carefully set it up so it would go on the correct shoulder, but maybe I am a little dyslexic because I clearly got it wrong.  Tragic!


I made it by cutting some squares out of craft foam and then I went digging in the junk drawer.  I used hot glue to attach beads, wire, legos, brads, and more pieces of craft foam.  Then I spray painted it black and then brushed on some silver craft paint.  Those little dowels were made out of one long dowel, cut into pieces and painted silver.  Real technical like.


Richard's costume came to me one night just as I was drifting off to sleep.  Or, at least the basic idea did.  Since I was dressing as Leia in her Boushh disguise, it only made sense for Richard to dress as Chewie.  But how to do it?  We considered him wearing a Chewie robe, Chewie pajamas, or a Chewie hoodie, but that night, in the hazy realm between sleep and wakfulness, it suddenly struck me that he should dress the way Chewbacca would dress if he were Human.  But it wasn't till I told Richard my epiphany in the morning that he said, "If Chewie were human, he would be a trucker."  And the costume just fell into place.


I apologize if you are here to look at pictures and attempt to exactly replicate the 70's Chewie Trucker  costume, because these are the best pictures I have.  Richard was nice enough to wear this for me once but I don't know if I can get him to put it on again.  You might be able to see the lack of enthusiasm in the above picture.  But it was a pretty simple costume.  I made a vest out of the only fur material I could find at Joann's.  He got a kicky little bag made out of the leftover faux leather from my vest, and more craft foam spray painted silver.  His awesome mustache is more of the same fur, just trimmed a bit, and glued to his face with some cosmetic adhesive.

The hat, however, was a bit of a disappointment.  I spent a ridiculously long time making this stencil to paint on the blank hat I had bought online.
kashyyyk truck stop Final black
But then the vinyl wouldn't stick to the hat long enough for me to paint anything on it.  I eventually painted the stencil on some cotton fabric I had and then used spray adhesive to stick the cotton onto the hat, but that wouldn't stick either, and it fell off after a couple of hours.  What I needed to do was some sort of embroidery, but that was outside of my wheelhouse.  Maybe next year.  Maybe without the mustache I MIGHT be able to convince him to wear it again.  Maybe even just the bag and hat. (In the following picture, the rebel pilot is my brother in law with his son, Little Han.)


The secret to cosplay, I think, is to act like you DON'T feel at all foolish, when in reality, you probably do.  But you don't show it.  You strut your stuff like it makes you feel awesome.  And it is just possible that half of the people who see you sorta wish that they had gotten dressed up too.  You're an inspiration.  And you look fantastic!


Much to tell.  I think the pictures can say it better than I, so I will be brief (Maybe.  You never can tell when I will start rambling, so stay alert).

Last Thursday, July 14th, Lani the Builder called and said, "I think we could get your driveway in this weekend."

We said, "Woohoo!"

Except we weren't actually READY for a driveway, so then things got a little crazy.  Lani came down and he and I tried to finalize the layout of the driveway; How wide, how long, etc.  One fun issue is that our Water Main (or Water Meter?  I don't even know what it is.) sits right where we wanted the driveway to go.  We tried to just move the driveway over, but there is some other water box on the other side.  The only solution for the Water Main problem was to put in some big fancy cone topped with a man-hole cover.  The cost to do that was about $1200.  We were going to just do it, but the cost for the driveway was adding up fast, so instead we decided to do this:


At least, Lani and I agreed that it would be a good idea. It would save us the cost of the cone, and save us some in concrete costs, since the driveway would be narrower most of the way.  However, I could not get in touch with Richard to confirm that he would be ok with it.

The other problem was this:


This is a big 'ol pile of concrete.  It is the concrete from our original front porch, and from the foundation of an old grainery in our backyard.  We had decided to pay a guy down the street to haul it away in his dump truck, but we hadn't done it yet, and somehow we were going to have to get it done before the day was through?  All I could do was ask, so I walked down to DumpTruck Guy's house (I'm sure that is what he likes to be called) and asked him what his schedule was like and wonder of wonders, he was free.  He said he could come over in about 30 minutes.  Luckily Richard called me back at that point and I told him he better come home.  That concrete wasn't going to load itself into a dump truck.

Is this story exciting?  Are you enjoying it?  Good, cuz I'm just getting started.  See?  Rambling!

Here we have a picture of Richard driving the Back Hoe, scooping up concrete and dumping it into the back of the dump truck.  It took us 3 trips to the dump.  Wanna guess how much all that concrete weighed?




Ha!  Not even close!

Oh, now you aren't even trying.

About 25 tons.

I know I exaggerate a lot, and may say things that don't actually have any basis in reality, but not this time.  The total weight of everything we dumped was 24.78 tons.  Truly, the mind boggles.

While he was driving the Back Hoe around, Richard also approved my driveway design, so we contacted Lani the Builder and told him we were a Go.

While all this was happening, we also had a very large truck roll up and dump a huge pile of gravel next to our house.


It seems sort of sad to have spent so much time hauling away what was basically large rocks, only to have them replaced with small rocks, but that was the way it had to be.

I have a vague feeling at this point that this story may not be as fascinating as I had originally thought, but I think it is too late to back out of it now.

So Friday Richard and Lani spent the day getting the area as driveway ready as possible.  First they had to pull up an old driveway approach, that was halfway between our lot and our neighbor's lot.  They wrapped a chain around it, hooked it to the Back Hoe, and lifted it up.  It took a few hours, and then what did we have?  Another pile of concrete!


They spent the rest of the time marking out the boundaries of the driveway and the new sidewalk.  It was like 102 degrees.  Fun times were had by all.  But they had to finish, because people were coming to flatten and level out everything, and then add the gravel.  They were supposed to get there for final driveway prep at 3:00pm.  They finally got there at 8:30pm.



It was late and they had to do some work in the dark, but they didn't have much choice because the concrete was scheduled to be delivered at 6:00 am the next morning.

And it arrived, just like it was supposed to!  We spent the morning sitting on on the porch, eating doughnuts and watching the concrete workers like it was paid entertainment.



The filing cabinets enjoyed the show too, as you can see.
And guess what we got to do today?


Park in our driveway.  For the first time in 12 years.


Does life get any more exciting than this?


I have been remiss on the house updates.  One of my readers called me to ask about my kitchen since I haven't posted any pictures recently (I like to keep things really personal, so feel free to call me any time!), so I decided it was finally time. I had to clean my kitchen to take these pictures. I hope you appreciate the effort I go to just to keep you happy.  (I didn't sweep the floor though.  Your happiness isn't THAT important to me.)


We've got doors, knobs and pulls!  There will be some nifty little spice cabinets on either side of the oven there.  Install date TBD.


As you see, the microwave is down in the island.  The plan was to have it all nicely built in, but we're not sure how to do it.  You can buy a trim kit to go with the microwave, to give it that built it look and still have it vent properly, but it costs more than the microwave does.  Dumb.  I don't really mind it just sitting on the shelf like that, but it kind of slides around a bit.  We'll see.



The cabinet you see in the above picture has two drawers inside.


They are too tightly wedged in there to be able to pull out however, so we are waiting for them to be adjusted before we utilize that very handy bit of storage space.


There is a panel that matches the cabinet doors that is supposed to go on the dishwasher.  Not sure the status on that. Not a huge deal.  A bigger deal is this: In the picture, you can see a board just to the right of the dishwasher.  It is temporary.  They didn't have the right one with them with they put in the cabinets.  So we can't really install the dishwasher all the way, so I can't actually use it.  Which means I am still washing everything by hand.  Surprisingly, this has not yet killed me.  

Next to the dishwasher, we have my desk.  Which is covered with stuff.  


And if you'll come with me around to the backside of the island you will see that there are also cabinets under there.  There aren't any shelves in them yet, but someday there will be and I will fill them up with games!



Most importantly, I put a table runner on the dining room table.  Such a difference, right?!!?


I don't know at this time when we'll get the upper cabinets, but it is mostly just an issue of storage at this point.  I still have several boxes of kitchen stuff stacked up in the mudroom.


I have some serious doubts that we will be able to fit that stuff into the upper cabinets, but kitchens are kind of magical in their ability to store obscene amounts of stuff, so you never know.  For now though, I can get to what I need and that is all that really matters.  That.  Nothing else.  It's the only thing that matters in the world.  Sorry.  I'm sure you thought that your stuff mattered, but it doesn't.

Bracing Insight from the Diary of A Normal Girl

All my life I was taught and encouraged to keep a journal.  I took that counsel to heart knowing that one day, if it didn't inspire a nation, my diary would at least inspire my daughter or granddaughter as she worked her way through struggles just like my own.

In spite of the problems with this: including the fact that I don't have a daughter and even if I manage to have a granddaughter someday, she will be too busy colonizing another galaxy or fighting off the sentient robots to read my journals, there is one more major problem:  These journals are filled with completely useless, ridiculous nonsense.  I've read it.  It is mind numbing.  It is boring and tedious.  Someone should have slapped me upside the head.  Who would ever want to read that drivel??


Because I spent years of my life filling those journals with my deepest, most heartfelt and secret emotions and I am not going to let it go to waste.  Lets take a look at one of my earliest journal entries, shall we?  (Some punctuation and spelling mistakes have been corrected to aid with comprehension.)

April 17, 1988

I'm 10 now. I turned 10 sixteen days ago. Through March we had roadshow rehersal on the 30 and 31 of March. Last Tuesday we bought a new Toyota Corrola from my grandparents.  It's really nice.  I found out how to make the back seat go forward and make it stay down.  Faralee and G.B. know too, but know one else! Dance show was on April 8, 1988, and it was a good one.  I left my ballet shoes there, but I have them back now. We got the Gremlin lisensd and we got it inspectid. It's noisy, the Corrolla is very quiet. We named all our cars.

The Subberbans name is "Godzilla".
The Nova's name is "Little Red Riding Hood".
The Corrola's name is "The Limo".
The Gremlins name is "Gismo".

 There you have it.  This is only my 3rd  journal entry ever (the 2nd is one line long and reads: "I'm in thired grade now and I'm eight and 2/1.) and what I thought was worth sharing was not anything about my family or the town I lived in, but the names of our cars. You're welcome, posterity!  May this information change your lives for the better! (FYI: Faralee and G.B.--more accurately known as Gaea--are two of my younger sisters.)

Besides that, this is actually a pretty newsy entry for me.  Just wait until I hit middle school.  You're going to want to gouge your eyes out. Stay tuned!

More Toys for Bots

Thanks for coming to the toy review on my blog.  Today we are looking at a brand new toy that has just hit the market, the very cool X-Robot!

Also known as the X-5 Robot, it comes loaded with all kinds of built in features.  Lets take a look at them.  Come on!

Woah, woah woah.  Slow down.  Left AND right?  Forward AND backward?  What kind of out-of-this world, futuristic space toy is this?  How much do they really think kids can handle?  FOUR DIRECTIONS?    I don't know.  One Direction seems to be working pretty well for that funky boy band and all their loyal fans.  Adding 3 more directions might just make some poor kid's head explode.  

But wait, there's more.  It ALSO dances to the sound of gun fire.  Just like One Direction would in an Old West Saloon.  I'm not sure anyone can handle this much Super-Dazzle.   It is hard to Grow Up in Happiness when you have to dance away from bullets.  

On the other hand surely there are still places where a kid can go to watch real Robots dance to the exciting sounds of real gun fire these days.  A place they can go close to home to see the artillery boogie without being overstimulated by all the different directions that they would be exposed to with this toy.  Buyer beware.  It may not be a good fit for all kids.

The Pillow Predicament

Here is the thing about me.  I didn't handle remodeling very well.  (Actually, I don't handle a LOT of stuff very well.  I often wonder how it is possible that I was raised so well by such good parents and still managed to grow up into such a nut case.  Anyone else with me?  Am I the only one who feels completely insane half of the time?)

It drove me crazy, for instance, that since none of the rooms we were living in were really "Done" yet, we couldn't really decorate them yet. This has been the case for almost the entire time we lived here.  I was ready to decorate, darn it, but we still had to replace joists and rerun wiring and probably pull down wallpaper and paint and redo all the plumbing and I JUST WANTED TO DECORATE ALREADY.

So I coped with it in the usual way.  I bought throw pillows. You would have done the same.  It was too soon to buy art, or furniture, or fabric for curtains, But throw pillows are timeless and go with everything and so I told myself it was ok to buy them and buy them I did.  For 10 years I have been buying pillows and putting them in bags in the attic until the time arrived to finally use them.


I guess you could say that the time has arrived.  There is nothing stopping me now.  Lets pull out those throw pillows!




Thats a lot of pillows.  It is possible that I have more than I need.  It is even more possible that I don't even like half of the these anymore.  Pillow Therapy is still in its infancy.  Naturally there are some kinks that will need to be worked out.  But I am on the home stretch of the remodel and I am still alive and who do I have to thank for it if not the pillows?

So it is ok if I give most of them away.  Right?  RIGHT? I saved the ones I love, and the ones I love saved me.  What else matters?