Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Blind Date

39 years ago this very day, I was fixed up on a blind date with a friend of my friend's boyfriend.  His name is Paul.  He was in from college for a long weekend, and we saw each other most of that time.  It is one of my happiest memories.  I married him eight years later.

Celeste and Paul, circa 1976

Happy Update

Paul finished unpacking all of the cabinets last night.  They are all gorgeous; we could not see any flaws or damage.  This is night and day from the first order/different brand.  It pays to upgrade: one can be too economical, to the point that the result is exponentially far worse than the dollar amount would lead one to believe (does that make sense?!).  

Paul has the gas pipe mostly moved.  He needs one more part and then just needs to hook up the new source.  He is also adjusting the electrical for the microwave to be placed above the stove.  I will paint the opposite two walls tomorrow or Friday.  Once that paint is dry we can put up the cabinets there.  As there are no wall adjustments, electrical changes or plumbing changes on that side, we can put in all of the cabinets, one by one, whenever we find the time.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Good Friday - Our Lord's Death - Stabat Mater

Yesterday was Good Friday.  I had the privilege of singing Pergolesi's Stabat Mater with our church's cantor, who is a marvelous soprano.  I used the picture above as inspiration.  We sang it during the Veneration of the Cross.  The piece is beautiful (hear it here, I listened to it endlessly).  The words are in Latin, and depict the sorrow of Mary, Jesus' mother, at the foot of the cross:

Stabat Mater, dolorosa
iuxta Crucem, lacrimosa
dum pendebat Filius

There are translations online more in keeping with the meter, but I wanted to keep the literal translation in my mind.  Here is what I came up with:

Standing Mother, sorrowful
next to the Cross, weeping
while there hung her Son

Monday, March 30, 2015

Phase 9 (Floor) Ready to Launch

So, our floor in the kitchen has mushroomed into a whole new animal.  (In fact, the whole kitchen project has mushroomed, more on that later).  Our hopes of restoring the old floor were dashed: the floor boards were too damaged, to separated, and it would cost so much to restore it that it would cost more than a new floor. Plus the result would not be as nice. We made the decision to replace it.  And it's a good thing we did - the flooring contractor found that the sub-floor was water-damaged, weak, soft in some places.   Added to that, the existing floor smelled icky too, like old grease or something from bygone years spilled long before we moved here.  Buh-bye.

The workers started today, removing the yucky and placing the new sub-flooring.  Here are some photos of the empty room, the night before they started.  There is some weird brown paper-like substance on top of it all:

Sunday, March 22, 2015


We have had some delays in our kitchen.  The cabinets we had ordered were delivered, and unfortunately were mostly damaged/defective.  Very disappointing.  However, the company (Home Depot) has been very good about making this right.  They took back the whole order, no restocking fee, and gave us discounts on upgraded cabinets - much nicer ones than the ones we originally ordered!  The people at the store were aghast at how bad our order ended up.  We all talked about being perplexed as to why the cabinet company would have shipped out cabinets in that state.  Weird.  This has caused a delay in our cabinets, since the whole ordering process needed to begin anew.  Anticipated delivery date: April 2nd.

Our floor ended up not being restorable (technically we could have, but the result would have been unsatisfactory in too many ways), so we will have a new floor put in.  That was delayed a week due to illness of the contractor.  Anticipated start date: March 30th.

But, these delays are a good thing, because Paul became very sick this week (nothing serious, but incapacitating nonetheless).  He was not able to do much of anything.  There are some things that must be done prior to the floor installation.  So we are in this kitchen rehab limbo.  We still have a stove, sink, and running water in our mostly empty kitchen. Our refrigerator is in the dining room, along with some of the existing cabinets.  But we are not cooking much, and it is all chaotic and disorganized.  This is a challenge to live with. My mantra: It is not forever, it is not forever.  

Awaiting the chance to report exciting, happy news in two weeks.

Monday, March 16, 2015

How To Make A Majora's Mask

Tyler wanted a Majora's Mask, from the video game, for one of his Christmas presents this past Christmas.  We foolishly thought we could simply go online and buy one.  No.  The only ones available were art pieces that cost hundreds of dollars.  So, the combined talents of engineer Paul and artist Julie, brought forth a miracle.  I wanted to post how they did it, so that other parents, futilely searching for an affordable Majora's Mask, might be able to follow this plan and make one of their own for their younguns.  

For supplies, they started with a trip to Hobby Lobby.  They spent about $34. I have listed the Hobby Lobby sku numbers after each item.  They began with the mask base (white butterfly mask, sku 925149).  Paul trimmed down the bottom, getting rid of the part that goes by the mouth and lower cheeks (see inside of finished mask, at end of this post).  

To get the proper dimensions of the mask, he found a pdf of Majora's Mask and sized it up to the size he wanted for the final mask size.  He then cut the shape of the outer mask from a 5mm white foam sheet (sku 336339) using this resized pdf, and glued it to the mask base (basically a heart shape with points along the edges - be sure to have the points as part of the 5mm white foam, you will color them later) using foam glue (sku 377473).  He and Julie then cut pieces of 2mm colored foam (sku 570192) in the shapes as indicated on the pdf (with the exception of two small areas on the lower portion of the mask which were either left as white foam or colored green with Sharpie, see details at end of post). The layers were: base mask, white foam, purple foam, red foam, then smaller pieces of purple, orange, yellow, and green for the forehead pieces and the eye sockets.

White foam

Colored foam

Foam glue

Julie then painted and Sharpied any colors not already there in foam.  She used white acrylic for white areas (sku 337170), old gold acrylic paint for the upper points on top of head and just below the sides of the eyes, and the triangles above the eyes (sku 344960).

Sharpie markers (sku 603068) were used for the lower points along the sides of the mask, along with the green areas near the green points.

Inside of mask: white foam heart shape with points along top and sides, glued to mask base

The finished mask

Some details on the finished mask: Most of it is made of foam layered on foam, with gold and white paint and Sharpie markers coloring in the white foam not covered by the colored foam.  The only white foam exposed is the white near near the green points.  The green and black there is Sharpie marker on the white foam.  The white accent just under the nose is painted on the red foam.  All of the points are the white foam colored with either gold paint or Sharpie.  The white accents on the forehead are white acrylic paint, and the triangles on the forehead are gold acrylic paint.  Note also that the eyes on the Majora's Mask pattern are very wide-set.  Your child will not be able to see out of the eyeholes that far apart.  Paul simply cut the eye openings in the foam as a more oval shape so Tyler could see out the mask.

This was a *bit* labor-intensive, truly a labor of love, especially for Julie who was up late several nights artistically painting in the various areas of the mask needing paint.  Stay tuned for a future post of Ty dancing in his mask!

P.S. If you have any questions about how Paul and Julie did this, leave a question in the comments section; we'll try to help!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Buh-Bye Knotty Pine!

Part of our kitchen renovation is to get all of the knotty pine off the walls.  We still had it on the east and south walls.  I had not taken many pictures of it before, because it was not my favorite spot in the world.  But I was able to dig up this picture of Kristin when she was little, sitting on the counter by the knotty pines.  She had either gotten into some paint, or we had gone to the children's museum.  Anyway, she had climbed up on the counter by herself and gotten into the chocolate chips:

Isn't she a cutie?! (Very proud of herself for climbing up on her own and foraging a treat!)

Here's Paul starting on the east wall knotty pines

Another view before removal

Paul sadly saying goodbye to the knotty pines!