House Rules

I gotta feel sorry for kids.  Especially mine.  I am a strict drill sargeant of a mother.  I let nothing slide.  All they ever get are don'ts.

Don't spit at your little brother.
Don't lick the T.V.
Don't lock me in the bathroom.
Don't throw my books in the garbage.
Don't step on the chicken.
Don't stick your fingers in the fan.
Don't climb in the fridge.
Don't put crayons on the heat vent.
Don't rub that corn dog on your ear.
Don't poke me in the eye with your popsicle.
Don't hide yogurt in your pajama drawer.
Don't throw the remote in the toilet.
Don't sit on my face.
Don't choke to death.
Don't unplug my compu

What I Won't Miss About My Closet

Boy, I pushed one little button by mistake, and suddenly my rough draft became my final draft and everybody is like "B minus!  There are spelling errors!"    Calm down.  I fixed them.  THIS is the final draft, ok?


We decided that instead of having me suffer Death By Remodeling, maybe we should give me something to do. Not that I don't have things to do, but. . . well, I don't.  So Richard agreed that the closet in our bedroom could be my "little project"  He always says it with quotation marks like that.  In kind of a high voice, like I'm going to deck it out in glass unicorns or something.  Maybe I will.  So, the closet is mine.  We figured that I should be able to do just about everything in there on my own, since Richard's time and talents are better spent elsewhere.

Here is how it looked when we bought the house.


Uh, sorry.  That is a picture looking into the closet from the bedroom.  I don't seem to have an actual picture of the closet itself.  You can sort of see inside.  See how it has a window and lots of junk in it?  You'll have to use your imagination for the rest.

The closet is the very first place we started when we bought the house.  After we signed the papers we went and got a pizza and sat down in that closet with some work lamps and went through the stuff.  Boxes of papers, mostly.  We really thought we might find some treasures--stacks of cash, some stock in AT&T from 1905, or maybe we'd find something more wonderful than we could even imagine!

We didn't.

And I guess I never took a picture of that closet.  Not until October, 2005, when we had been in the house for almost 2 years.

And that is how the closet has been for 7 years.  Every once in a while Richard would surprise me by mounting some bar or other to the wall for me to hang my clothes on, instead of those crappy temporary closet systems we were using, but his side has always been the same.

This is how the closet looked 2 weeks ago:


Same Closet.  More Crap.  It probably goes without saying that finishing up this closet has not been that high on our priority list.

So a couple weeks ago I pulled out all the clothes and now they are stacked and piled up all over our bedroom.  Fun!  I like to roll around in them and pretend they are nice clothes.
Here it is, all cleaned out and looking ready to have the RE  modeled right out of it.

I must have done something wrong though, to make the room split in half like that.  I clearly don't know my own strength.

The first thing that needed to be done was removing the chimney.



I know.  Scary, right?

This house was built before the days when a person could just pop a DVD in their dvd player and watch a video of a fire burning in a fireplace for hours.  They actually had to build real fires in all the wood burning stoves that were in every room of the house.  Anyway, that chimney comes up from the dining room downstairs.  It was time for it to go.  So on Thursday, while Harrison was at school and Colin was taking a nap, I climbed out on the roof to see about taking the chimney apart.  I was all set to beat it mercilessly with a hammer, but those bricks were pretty much just resting there.  The mortar holding them together stopped holding anything years ago, so I just lifted the bricks off, easy as you please.  No prob.  Then I threw them into a pile in the back yard.  That was the time consuming part.   I pretty much spent the afternoon standing on the roof, chucking bricks.  It was like Highschool all over again.

I was actually very worried that I would accidently drop a brick on Richard's car in the backyard, or maybe throw one wildly and break the window of the Motorhome.  If you've ever gone bowling with me, you know this was a valid concern.  But I was very careful and I didn't break anything that didn't deserve it.    And I made this beautiful hole!


Then, however, we reached a standstill.  You can see all the wood around the hole is very rotted and falling apart after a century of water leakage around the chimney.  The wood was going to have to be replaced and Richard decided he was probably going to need to fix it himself.  I was glad, cuz the magic of velcro can only do so much, and replacing rotten joists and roofing is a bit beyond me.  But when would he find the time???

He shoved some insulation in the hole and then it snowed and I was in all kinds of suspense wondering how long we would have to live this way.  Luckily Richard took pity on me and stayed home from work yesterday and fixed it.  He cut out the rotten wood, put good wood in and then had to put 3 layers of 3/4 inch playwood on it to make it level with the roof and the 6 layers of shingles on it.  No exaggeration.


Then, yesterday afternoon, he watched the kids and I put the shingles on.   The weather report said it would rain last night, so we were kind of in a hurry.  I mean, we went out to a movie, but after that, it was really crunch time. I did it though.  I finished up just as it was getting too dark to see.  And I really should have worn gloves.  I think there is fiberglass or tiny porcupines in the shingles that gets under your skin and hurts like the dickens.  Next time any of you do some roofing, take my advice.  Wear gloves.

Here it is!


Yeah, it doesn't match.  Nobody cares.  That whole sad roof is going to have to come off before too long anyway.

So someday, in the not-too-distant future, this closet will be all done, and I won't miss the old one at all.

Yes, right now it is unfinished and dusty and ugly and not all that functional, but the number one thing I won't miss is the lack of insulation.  It is COLD in there.  Breezy, even.  I cannot wait until it it insulated and drywalled and WARM. I have been far too cold for far too long.  So stay tuned.  There is more to come.

You made it!  This is the end!  Thanks for hanging in there with me.  Ha!  Get it?  Hanging in there?  Just like hangers do in a closet?  Humor!

Facial Hair

Do you ever go to get ready for the day, stand in front of the mirror to make yourself up so that you can look your best to face the world, only to suddenly notice that your eyebrows look like this?


How did my eyebrows get so out of control without me even noticing?  Sure, it is no secret that I am not the most meticulous tweezer in the world, but either those puppies filled out over night, or I have been seriously distracted for quite some time.

That thick black hair on my chin is exactly the same.  I check for it regularly,  knowing it is likely to rear its head any minute, and then one morning, Boom!


It's Diabolical!

Working Hard or Hardly Working

Sometimes I hear people talk about working with contractors, and how frustrating it is, and I'm jealous.  I wish I had a contractor to get mad at.  I wish I had a contractor to blame for my homely troubles.  Back in the day when we were working on our living room, we got close to the end and got all excited and went and bought ourselves a couch.  BRAND NEW.  But when RC Willey delivered it we were still in the middle of refinishing the floor and so we had to have the delivery guy kind of stack the couch on its side in the other room, wedged between some piles of who knows what and a box of old bed sheets.  We were like "Sorry, we thought the floor would be done by now." and the delivery guy said "Contractors!"  And were were like, "Uh, yeah.  Darn those contractors."  But of course there were no contractors.  Only us.  It is always only us.

Remodeling is fun.  At the end.  Right after the drywall goes up and it is finally time to paint and then put in flooring and decorate.  Even the drywall is kinda fun, cuz a few hours work makes so much difference and you know that the really fun stuff is right around the corner.


The beginning is fun too, when you get to plan and dream and look at catalogs and walk through Ikea and think and plot and draw out floor plans and pin beautiful rooms on pinterest.

 Even the demolition is fun when you get to smash things with big hammers, and knock down ugly walls and get really, really dirty, and take out all your frustration on stubborn pieces of plaster and wood.


It is just the middle that is painfully boring.  This part


that seems to stretch on into eternity while nothing seems to be happening and your husband spends every free day he can get and after hours and hours of work he is exhausted and there isn't even anything to show for it.  And it looks like you should be ready to put up drywall, but first a wire has to be run here, and a hole has to be drilled there, and floors have to be reinforced and joists have to be replaced.  There is drilling and screwing and cutting and cursing and hours spent crawling around under the house and STILL NOTHING TO SHOW FOR IT.  And it stretches on and on and on until a person thinks they might actually Die from Remodeling.  And you wonder if the end will ever come?  Will it?  WILL IT??

If I had a contractor, I would so be writing him an angry email right now.

It ALL sounds good.

Valentine's went well, but I think THIS is what I am going to make for Valentine's Dinner next year.

2/14/12: A Minute by Minute Recap of My Entire Day. By Elesa

Ah Valentine's Day.  The National Holiday of Obligatory Love.  The Celebration of Pink and Doilies.  The day that isn't complete until someone ends up in tears.

Ours began on Monday night, making valentines for Harrison to take to school with him.  I had wanted to make them for family home evening, but it didn't work out.  We had to wait until the kids were asleep because Colin nearly has a seizure if he can see candy that he is not allowed to eat.  We decided to make those Rolos dressed up to look like Dynamite which you can see here.  They are so cute in such a manly way! There are 17 kids in Harrison's class though, and 3 Rolos per kid at $0.89 a piece would have been like $100 dollars, so we used Smarties instead.  Not as tasty, but good enough for kids.

Richard and I watched Castle, and put them together:  rolled the smarties in red construction paper, then taped 3 together using black electrical tape and stuck some black electrical wire in the top for the fuse.  It really is such a cute idea.  Until I actually looked at our pile of valentines.


And I suddenly realized I was sending my 5 year to school with a backpack full of explosives.  I could just see him being tackled by school security.  Or at the very least me getting a concerned email  from his teacher.

So we stuck little tags on top - Harrison insisted they say "Kaboom" - and suddenly, they were cute again.


The "Kaboom" was made using the Sound FX font which you can download for free here.  Or you can use the tags that I made and not have to do any work:

Click on the picture to make it full size, then save and print on card stock.

So, Valentines for school? Check.

The next phase of Operation: Valentine's Day! came at dinner time.  I made Tacos Al Pastor because it is one of Richard's favorite's.   Since I'm sharing junk, I might as well share that recipe with you too, because it is seriously delicious.


Tacos Al Pastor
(adapted from We Cook Here)
1/4 Yellow Onion, chopped
1/4 cup crushed pineapple
1/4 cup orange juice
2 Tbsp vinegar
1/2 Tbsp chili powder
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp coarse salt
1/2 tsp Oregano
1/2 tsp Cumin
1 lb Pork Roast
     Put the Roast in a crockpot.  Puree remaining ingredients in blender.  Pour the sauce over the roast and cook for 7-9 hours on low.
     When it is time to eat, heat up corn tortillas in the microwave until they are warm and very soft (30 seconds or more).  Then put the meat in the tortillas and top with cabbage, chopped onion, and cilantro.  My husband uses 2 tortillas at a time, cuz that is how they serve it at his favorite Mexican restaurant.

Then I made some sweet rice, which I adapted from a recipe I found on Recipezaar.  Which I have just learned is now Food.com.


Sweet Rice
1/2 Tbsp olive oil (or butter, or whatever)
4 green onions, sliced
6 or so Sprigs of fresh Cilantro, chopped (just use the leaves)
1 cup Instant Rice
1 cup chicken broth
2 Tbsp white sugar
     Warm the oil in a frying pan.  Saute the onion for a few minutes, then add the chopped cilantro and saute a minute more.
     Add the rice, cooking and stirring until it is light brown.  In a microwave safe bowl, combine the chicken broth and sugar until the sugar dissolves, then add the rice.
     Cover and microwave according to the package directions (about 5-6 minutes).  Let rice sit 5 minutes until all liquid is absorbed, then fluff and eat.  (You can also do this last part in a sauce pan on the stove top if you are that sort of person.)


I also recommend eating this meal with THESE Black Beans cuz they are goood.  
We also had some Sprite with Raspberry Sherbet to drink and candles to set the mood, so dinner was a complete success.   Harrison thought it was so fun to be so fancy at home, and pretend like we were at a "Real Restaurant!"

But the fun didn't stop there!  If you knew how much I sucked as a mom sometimes, you'd, . . . well. . . never mind.  It is none of your business.  But today I decided to stop sucking and come up with some kind of Valentine's Day activity and I found just the thing at Serving Pink Lemonade.  And so we had ourselves a little Valentine's Day Treasure Hunt!


I used all of her clues, cuz why mess with genius?  Here they are, for your convenience.

Do you believe in magic wishes?
Head to the place that cleans your dishes.

Now I know that you're no fool,
This is where your drinks keep cool.

Maybe you have super powers
The next clue will be where Dad takes his showers.

Are you having fun with all these clues?
Look in a place that we keep shoes.

 And then had to come up with some clues of my own, which aren't really clues so much as a little poem that tells you where to look:

I think you are getting cuter.
Look behind Daddy's computer

This heart is a pretty red.
Look under a tall, black bed

You're I.Q. is getting higher.
Check the place that holds the fire.

Valentine's is very groovy.  
Look inside where we keep movies.

You're so smart it isn't fair.
Go look under Mommy's chair.

At the end was hidden some Hershey's Kisses, and Megamind on DVD, which we sat down and watched right then.

And Harrison loved it!  It was really too easy for him, but he still had so much fun running around and finding hearts.  I might just make this a Valentine's Day Tradition.

So, instead of waiting for hours to get seated in a restaurant on Valentine's day, and the stress of finding a babysitter on the one night when the rest of the world wants one too, we stayed at home and had Valentine's Day with our kids and it was perfect.  I really couldn't have asked for any more from the day.  Except, you know, to win 2nd prize in a Beauty Contest and collect $10.00.

House Stuff - 2/10/12

Our bathroom remodel is finally coming together in my mind.  FINALLY.  Which is a good thing, because for a long time I couldn't quite picture it and was constantly worried that it wouldn't look good.  Now I am only sometimes worried that it might not look good.  It would have been so much easier if I had just found a picture of the perfect bathroom (cuz I have found a picture of the perfect living room, and lots of pictures of the perfect kitchen), and we could have copied it, but though I looked and looked and looked and LOOKED at pictures of bathrooms, the right one still eluded me.  So we finally decided to just pick some tile we liked and work from there.  


We went to Contempo, even though they are expensive, cuz I already knew they didn't have any tile we liked in stock at Lowes or Home Depot.  And they have lots of tile that is GORGEOUS, but we had kind of decided we wanted something in the dark gray family.  And then we fell in love with this:

Nero Fulligine

and the picture is ridiculous.  it is just a blurry bunch of gray slop, but in person, I was drooling.  I looks like a sheet of metal.  At only $19 a square foot.  Which is also ridiculous.  We have agreed that we don't just want to get whatever is cheapest, we want to really love it, and if that means spending more, so be it.  Just not THAT much more.  We have to somehow find a balance between what we really like and the price we are willing to pay.  Long story short, we kept looking.

Then we found this:

Hmm, nope, can't find a picture.  But it was sort of similarish for only $2.95 a square foot.  And comes in 18x18 tiles.  So, after lots of time and thought and looking around some more, I think that is the one we are going with.  

We're going to cut the tile into skinny strips and do something like this in the shower:


and then cut the tiles in half to do something like this on the floor:


I guess that is actually a herringbone pattern.  Whatever.

So then we went to Ikea to pick out a vanity.  Vanity cabinets are expensive.  Especially for something 60" wide, which is what we need.  I was having a hard time finding a cabinet and countertop for less than $1000.  And I just really don't want to pay that much.  Really.  So I figured we could convert a dresser into a vanity for cheaper than that, and I looked on KSL for months, but anything I found that was big enough was in Salt Lake or further away, and none of them seemed perfect and cheap enough to make a trip all the way to Salt Lake just to see if maybe it would work.  So Ikea it was.    I had my eye on this one:
and then Richard decided he liked it in blue, and I was more than happy to get on board with that.
HEMNES 8-drawer dresser IKEA Extra roomy drawers. Smooth running drawers with pull-out stop. Solid wood, a hardwearing natural material.
Maybe it will look sort of like this?  (And yes, we should have a tiny shelf along the bottom edge of the mirror like that.)


cuz yeah, a nice white marble countertop is just what I want.  I've looked for marble slabs, but those aren't cheap either.  Richard thought for a while about doing a concrete countertop, but decided that would be more fun in the summer.   

Laminate seemed like the way to go.  I don't mind laminate.  I am always a fan of a good, cheap knock off, and laminate falls right into that category.  And then, today I found that you can buy laminate sheets from Lowes in any style we want, for under $100, I got VERY EXCITED.  

I'm thinking Carrara, 

Zoomed: Wilsonart 36" x 96" White Carrara Laminate Countertop Sheet

or Calcutta
Zoomed: Wilsonart 48" x 96" Calcutta Marble Laminate Countertop Sheet

I might prefer the Calcutta, but the Carrara is about $40 cheaper.    Yes, yes, it is all coming together.  But what really made the difference was when I saw this picture:


Then the final pieces fell into place.  Because I knew.  That is my bathroom.   Of course some of it is wrong, like the sink and the floor, but it is still the one.  

Dark tile floor, white wainscot, gray wallpaper, dark blue accents, and maybe a little orange, just for fun.  

Here are a couple others that have led me down the right path:

Our shower to be:

The basic view of our vanity.  Only the colors are wrong.

The above picture even inspired us to use pendant lights as our vanity lighting.  I really like those exact ones, but Richard didn't so we found something else we both like.  Which came in a pack of 3 for $40.  Can't beat that!

And here is another bathroom with wallpaper.  Wrong colors, RIGHT STYLES.  Oh, so right.


That is the wainscot I want.  So simple, yet so elegant.  And instead of wallpaper, I'm going to stencil the top half of the wall, kinda like this:


Awesome.  Finding the right wallpaper was getting pretty difficult anyway.  So this way, we get exactly what we want AND save money, which is the whole point.

5 confessions - Just like Misty

1. You know how you don't let your kids eat off the floor?  When you are in public?  But how sometimes at home, you just don't care?  Heck, if I never let my kids eat off the floor, what would they eat?    Breakfast is usually a bowl of dry cereal, no milk, on the kitchen floor, huddled around the heater vent.  Cuz that is where my kids eat, no matter what I say.  And in about 23 seconds the cereal has been dumped on the floor and they are happily eating their apple jacks right off the linoleum like that is the way that breakfast is supposed to be.  We call it Floorkfest.

2. I can tell I'm getting old because I can no longer keep track of all the places thick black hairs grow out of on my face.

3. Today I didn't feel like making dinner.  So I made cookies instead and we had pizza for dinner.   Yeah.  My kids are in trouble.

4.  I prefer imitation vanilla extract.  The real stuff is so expensive.  And the bottle is so small.  I have had a giant bottle of imitation vanilla for about 10 years now and it is only half empty.  I'm probably going to be able to leave it to my children when I die.  THAT is spending wisely.   So all you vanilla snobs can go suck on a lemon.

5.  I use exclamation marks that I don't mean.  Mostly when I write emails!  I am never as enthusiastic about stuff as I sound based on my punctuation, but ,especially if I am writing to someone I don't know, I feel like my email seems too grumpy without an exlamation mark or two thrown in.  They don't know me, so they have no way of guessing my tone and adding an exclamation mark seems to make it more cheerful.  It is like adding a smile!    But, I always kind of feel like I am lying!  Cuz I'm not THAT cheerful.  I wish there was something in between a period and an exclamation mark.  Maybe I just need to use more cheerful language.  Maybe throw a "giggles" or a "sunshine" into my sentences here and there.  I'll let you know how it goes.

And here is some advice for you: (in no way should this be considered a confession of any sort).  Don't pick your nose while driving through your ward boundaries.  Again, advice, not a confession.  Just to be clear.


Thanks!  It is good to get all that out in the open.  Now it is your turn.  Go Confess to Something!