Days 8 and 9:

Tile work takes mucho timo (That’s a little pidgin Spanish ala Kevin.  😉

However, this is looking pretty coolified to me.

Day 8:

29 30

LOVE that little ledge.  Perfect for a razor, no?  I suspect that’s what will live there.  🙂  This is all pre-grout… but the next day…

Day 9:







That poor plumber was under the house for half an hour today!  I should have had donuts for him.  I’ve heard he likes them… a lot!

Tony is still speaking to me after installing our new shower curtain.  I think this is proof of his amazing skills as a contractor AND his longsuffering as a Christian.

Is that grout not amazing?  I love it.  I love the whole thing.  I’m just jazzed beyond belief.  WOOT.

Now what I don’t have pictures of (awkward lighting at the time) are the two holes in my wall.  One is next to the toilet.  Yep.  The wall with the bathroom door has a hole in it… inside is going to be my toilet roll dispenser–the one with space for a SPARE ROLL.  COOL BEANS STUFF HERE.

Oh, and there’s a hole on the wall opposite the toilet where my RECESSED SHELVING is going.  Yes, there will be room for things like towels and other essentials right there without having to call out and beg someone to bring a towel or a new bottle of shampoo or whatever.  YEEEHAW!

Bathroom Remodel Days 1-5

Before: (Yes, I know it was horribly revolting.  There’s a reason I hated to use my own bathroom.  It’s taken years to finally bite the bullet and do this.  See, we only have one bathroom for ten people.  So, that means a hotel room for the duration so we can do silly things like use the toilet, take a shower… you know, the luxuries of life)



That floor still makes me shudder

That floor still makes me shudder

Just in case the first picture didn't revolt you enough.

Just in case the first picture didn’t revolt you enough.

Day 1:








Day 2:






 Day 4:





Day 5:




Isn’t this cool?  That recess?  It’s for SHAMPOO!  SOAP!!  STUFF.  WOOT.  So excited about that little thing right there.


I think maybe he starts tiling on Monday.  I’m almost giddy.


Peanut Butter Bars were the fun of the night.  Jul tried hard to stir the icing, but he’s a bit small to be of much help.  I enjoyed making them and of course, tasting them to ensure that they were not poisoned.  Yes, yes I did.  For those who have never had Peanut Butter Bars, here is the recipe.  I believe it is from Taste of Home magazine, but I can’t remember.  Friends gave it to us years ago (as in the mid nineties!) and well, we’ve loved them ever since.

Peanut Butter Bars


1/2 cup soft butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter (I think they said creamy, but we’ve used both just fine)
1 egg
1 teaspoon  vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup oats (regular or quick cook both work)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons milk


In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugars and peanut butter until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine the flour, oats, baking soda and salt; gradually into creamed mixture and mix well. Spread into a greased 13 x 9 baking pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips.
Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool for 10 minutes.  Combine icing ingredients; drizzle over the top. Cool completely. Cut into bars.

EAT!… Jul will… if we give him half a chance!


Ok, so they’re Tootsie Pops, but suckers made a better title.  I went the easy route on Sunday mornin’.  I didn’t feel like doing anything major for it, so I fell back on ye olde candy thing.  The kids love it, of course.  Voila.  He tried to hide them all on the top of the shelf, but alas, he just didn’t manage to eke out the other one.  It’s a lot of work carrying something larger than you!

Oh, and thanks to the lovely ladies from “Do Not Grow Weary,” our Elf has a name.  His name is Jul, which is Norwegian for Christmas.  Their suggestion was for Navidad or something or another in German.  Weishunteit.  God bless ’em.  However, I decided that if I have bestekids and am Bestemor and Kevin is Bestefar (since Norwegian is such a cool language), then we should have a nice little Norse Elf.

Jul.  I’m guessing it is pronounced as if it was Brenner’s first name.  Ahh… the king…

I digress.

Here he is after his thievery.  Ornery cuss.

Getting Creative~

Creativity begets creativity.

I know you’re probably sick to death of hearing about my bathroom, but it’s a good illustration.  So, Tuesday night  Kevin and I finished the bulk of the bathroom.  Oh, sure, the faucet needed to be hooked up, and the vanity needed another coat or two of paint, but the majority was done.  We’re still waiting for the shower curtain to arrive.  I can’t wait to take a picture of it when there’s some color in there and the paint is off the window.  Just sayin’.

The odd thing though is that once I got going, I really didn’t want to stop.  Exhaustion forced me to the couch, but all I could think about was that this needed to be cleaned, that needed to be removed, the other could be done, how would that look, maybe this would be a good idea… and so forth.  It was a strange progression.  The disgust with my ugly bathroom grew into a scrub fest, and then a design/paint plan, and finally a clean-up from that mess.  Then, all I could think about was making something.  I thought of skirts, pillows, embroidery (I know, right?) and even dolls.  I have to admit, narrowing anything down was nearly impossible.  I just wanted to DO something.  Crazy, right?  I am exhausted and all I want is more.  Insanity.

Then I woke up and found someone had shoved the shower curtain rod onto the wall, scraping off paint that had not yet cured.  Yeah.  Wonderful.  Took a shower and discovered the last person who had showered had wiped the wall down… instead of “patted” like I instructed.  Another nice peeled piece of uncured paint.  To say I was annoyed was an understatement.  Before I started snapping at people, I grabbed my laptop and went to have lunch.  Even that didn’t work.  So, on the way home I stopped at our new little fabric store and bought a couple of pieces of fabric.

Skirt time!

It took maybe half an hour to make, plus about fifteen minutes to hem it later.  Andra now has a new skirt.

I’m feeling better… not perfect… every time I go in the bathroom I want to growl.  Maybe I need to go buy that other fabric that appealed to me…

Calgon, Take Me Away…

Literally.  So, you know how on Friday I said it was time to do something about my pathetic bathroom?  Well, guess what?  I started it.  My arms are still protesting.  Sunday night, they hurt so bad that I ended up doped up on Ibuprofen and sleeping on the couch.  Pain.  Oh, the pain.  Just sayin’.

The bathroom is getting a mini makeover.  You know, there are lots of kinds of makeovers.  Full ones that include losing 50 lbs, a whole new wardrobe, haircut, color, highlights, and even accessories like purses and jewelry.  I call these kinds of makeovers, “The Rodeo Drive” of makeovers.  Well, that’s not happening to my bathroom.   My bathroom is getting the Pic-n-Save makeover.  You get a new outfit, maybe a haircut, and a new shade of lipstick or something.  Yeah… the “lick and a promise” makeover– that’s what we’re doing.  Why?  Because this is the year of the dental work, not the year of the bathroom.  In about two years, we’ll go for a more “Rodeo Drive” style– well, maybe more like Macy’s.  We’re not Gucci people.

However, QUITE A BIT has been accomplished.  In the past four days Kevin and I have…

  • Scrubbed the shower.  This took about five hours.  No.  Joke.
  • Caulked the shower.  Can we just say that this was a feat?
  • Waxed the shower.  *whimpers*

Then it got interesting…  we…

  • Scraped and brushed the walls above the shower.  (this made a nice mess in my nice clean shower too.  Just sayin’.)
  • Added new mud to the places that crumbled in the scraping (gaping holes).
  • Mudded the HOLES in the drywall near the floor (where water has eaten it away over the past 22 years.  Yeah, some idiot thought it was a good idea to use regular drywall next to a shower/tub combo)
  • Primered the walls.
  • Primered the vanity.

Believe it or not… I’m not even CLOSE to done.  I still have to…

  • Paint the vanity
  • Paint the whole room
  • Install the splash guards
  • Install the upper seal
  • Install the rack
  • Scrub the sink
  • Wax the sink
  • Install a new faucet
  • Hang the new shower curtains

And I’m sure there’s more.  More.

*whimpers whilst curled in fetal position*

See that arc of white at the top of the tub surround? It's not really there. No idea why it looks like that in the photo.


Here’s a bit of our progress… it looks pathetic because we’ve replaced nothing.  We’ve just used an obscene amount of elbow grease and “concealer” in the form of primer.

Why did I take a picture of this again? Dunno. Oh, well. There it is.


Why is this so amazing? It used to be a light gray with streaks of rust that I thought we couldn't get rid of... I DID IT


The world's worst mud job. Why didn't I do it right? Because I had no idea where the tools were. So, we'll "sand it right. Most of that area was a hole. NOT ANYMORE


Oh, is this where I should remind you that we have one bathroom and eleven people– eight of whom are females, all but one over the age of 13


Uprooting Regrets

Photo compliments of I buy all my photos from istock

I’m always amazed at how much power regrets can have over our lives.  I mean, I’m not one to think much about what I “shouldda” or “couldda” done/been.  I’m more of a, “It’s over, let’s move along with life” kind of gal.  Then again, like everyone, and at the oddest times, I find that regrets have a hold on me that I never would have imagined.  Take composting.  A LONG time ago, I had a really great idea (or so it seemed/s to me) on how to get our sandy, clay, nutrient deficient soil nicely composted.  I figured it’d be a fairly simple thing to do.  It wouldn’t take any special supplies or really any extra time from my life (what time it did take being so negligible that it isn’t worth counting anyway).

My idea was this:  I’d dig a small hole in the dirt patch to the left of our back step.  We have a dirt patch that’s about … 3×4 feet.  Tops.  I figured I’d start in the corner farthest from the step, and dig a mini trench about 12″ wide and oh… maybe 18″ deep.  Then, every time I had compostable stuff to discard (too often, let me tell you), I’d just scatter it in the hole (literally a dozen steps from my sink or so) and then kick a smidge of dirt over it.  Not a lot.  Just a little.  Once or twice a week, I figured I’d toss a bowl of water on it too.  Once full, I’d dig another one next to it.  Lather. Rinse. Repeat.  I might have to repeat the entire process a few times, but I figured it wouldn’t take too long to have a nice bit of earth there.  I could stir in a little “Bandini” for extra goodness (does anyone else remember those commercials?  My dad used to say that some things people said were just “transparent Bandini.”  Sheer bull… well, you get the picture).

If I had done this back when I first thought of it, we’d have quite a lot of real soil out there– but I didn’t.  Nope.  I forgot about it, time after time, and then twenty or so years went by.  Wow, that’s hard to imagine.  Twenty years.  However, they did.  They just went WHEE…………. and we haven’t seen them since.  In those 20 years, I’ve done a lot of things and wasted a lot of time– time I could have spent enriching our soil instead of the landfill.

So why am I writing about this instead of doing something?  You know, those who can’t do, plan, right?  No, that’s not why.  No, I was sitting here thinking of it again, and I sighed.  I was a little discouraged that something so simple was left undone for all that time, and then I had a horrible thought.  I almost missed just how terrible it was because of how innocuous it seemed.  I thought, “Oh well.  It’s too late now.”


Seriously?  I thought “It’s too late.”  What, am I going to die tomorrow?  No one else is ever going to live here?  I waited too long and now the soil’s muscles have atrophied beyond their nutrient absorption abilities?  Seriously?  What kind of nonsense is that?  I can’t believe I almost let regret (particularly over something so minor and easily corrected) paralyze me into sticking to status quo!  OY.

Honestly, if I could have, I’d have gone right outside right then and dug my first trench.  I tried to figure out how to rig up a flashlight to do it (the porch light has been removed pending a paint job that might happen before that soil is nice and enriched– maybe), but decided that replacing one folly (letting regrets win) with another (breaking my neck to rectify it) wasn’t too brilliant either.

Then I thought about it.  How often do we do that?  How often do we THINK we have control over our regrets when they really have control over us!  The woman who always wanted to write her children’s school curricula but didn’t.  So, she continues to suffer through products that she doesn’t like because her youngest is already in the fourth grade.  Just get in there and write the sixth then!  Do seventh– eighth… think about how GRATEFUL your children will be if they decide to home-school!  What about the man saved late in life who didn’t spend his early childhood years memorizing scripture?  Is he going to mope and whine about the wasted years, or is he going to get in there and memorize what he can?  Sure, it’s harder.  Sure he didn’t need to memorize all the dirty jokes he learned instead, but he can write God’s Word on his heart, or he can let the past control his future.  Which is it going to be?

As for me and my dirt, we’re gonna get nice and rotten together come mornin’.


Another week, another page… my goal is that in 2011, I’ll work on a weekly page for an album… I’ll try to make each page be about one person in the family (yes, I might even try me!) and that way at the end of the year, we do have some record of our life.  Until then, though, I’ve been using this time to make this book happen.  Not sure how I’ll go about that when 2011 hits though!

Few people know that in addition to my unique name created by my father, I have a very common nickname that only my great grandmother called me.  Granny never could say or remember my name, so she called me Sally whenever she referred to me by name.  I was always in a little awe of her.

Granny chewed snuff.  It’s odd, I never thought anything of this habit except for the occasional moment when she’d pull the lid off an old coffee can and spit into it.  I didn’t develop my revulsion for the habit until the day I saw Grandma Avants dump one of the cans down to toilet.  There is nothing like a spittoon emptied in your presence to ensure that you never touch tobacco in any form.

I think Granny had false teeth, but I don’t remember seeing her with them.  She didn’t talk to me very often that I can remember.  I don’t know if it was because she didn’t talk to many people or if she wasn’t comfortable with me, or what.  We have a picture of my mom and dad laughing with her and it is one that makes me smile every time I think of it.  Apparently, she talked to some people!

The only negative memory I have of Granny has nothing to do with her per se.  My sister’s husband, Kelly, took Vyonie and me to see Granny one day when Grandma Avants was out for some reason.  I’m not sure why we went, but as we walked along the covered walkway to Grandma’s house, Kelly pulled me aside slightly and said, “You behave yourself in there.  If you sass your Granny I’ll take you out here and whip the tar out of you.”  I was terrified.  I’d never been rude or sassy to Granny, and I couldn’t imagine why Kelly would say that.  I remember getting it into my head that Kelly was looking for a reason to thrash me, and I knew why he might want to, but that is for another story.

However, I remember one day at grandma’s when Granny cornered me in her bedroom.  I admit I was slightly frightened, which Granny noticed.  She asked me if I was afraid of her and I lied.  I said I wasn’t and smiled and then surprisingly, I wasn’t afraid of her anymore.  She called me Sally again and asked me if I loved her.  It was a strange question to my ears.  She was granny!  Of course, I loved her.  I had that child-like love for everyone I was supposed to love regardless of whether or not I really knew them.

I assured Granny of my love, and she pulled a dress from her closet.  Grandma and Mom had made several dresses for me to wear to school.  I had them in several colors of gingham with white aprons.  This dress was brown calico.  It had a heart-shaped pocket with lace around it.  I don’t remember much more about the dress, but I remember the color and that pocket.  I remember being so happy about that dress.  They’d made another one- a pink one.  I actually remember more about that dress but I didn’t care much for it.  I wish I had a picture of that brown dress.

A few years later, Granny died.  Honestly, I think she was the first person that I ever knew personally that had died.  I’m sure others did, but Granny is the one that registers first.  Within the next twelve months or so, my brother and my Grandma Fullerton died as well, so I was introduced to death quite rapidly, but I remember feeling so awkward about going to Grandma’s house after that.  Granny wasn’t there and it felt strange to be there without Granny.

Mini Stash-Buster~

So, on HearthKeepers this week, many of us are trying to use up our “stashes.”  Whether we are fabric hoarders stockers, paper pilers organizers, or yarn stringers ballers, we’re out to see how much we can use up this week.  This is kind of a trial run for January-March when we do a big de-junk/de-stash.  That has points, prizes, etc and you have to subtract if you buy more.  (I’ve already ordered one piece of fabric and another one I want will be purchased this coming week.  So, in light of these things, I thought I’d make a list of all the things I might want to make…

  • Cloth tote bags
  • My Amy Butler Purse (full size)
  • My mini Amy Butler Purse (reduced size)
  • My other purse pattern I bought (denim)
  • A black skirt for Andra
  • Jenna’s tiered skirt
  • Nautical dress for Teresa’s girl
  • Hannah’s dress
  • Skirt for Andra
  • Skirt for Jenna

I will be adding to this list over the next week or so, but I thought it’d be a good idea to have it written down some place.  At some point, I plan to mark a running tally of yards used.  I’ll also be posting my projects over at Eclectivity where I try to remember to post my hobby progresses to remind me that I do get things done… even when it doesn’t feel like it!

In addition, I want to use up a lot of my patterned paper.  I’ll be finding ways to keep tallies on sheets used.  It’s gonna be fun!

Ingenuity- Five Year Old Style

Another page… CHECK!  At this rate, I might finish these silly memory book pages before my grandkids are old enough to read them.  Now wouldn’t THAT be nice.  Whew.  Twenty-seven pages down, too many to count to go.  Loving it though.  Loving it.  Somehow, the upper paragraph got shifted upward, but it’s fixed now.  🙂

We raced around the house playing all kinds of exciting games.  We dug in the garden, “rode” on my father’s motorcycle, played with my toys and then something changed.  Any time children get antsy, they’re liable to do something odd, and we did.  A game of hide and seek turned into an odd game of tag.

There were steps of some kind leading into French doors.  I think to my parents’ room.  Julie slipped into the door and promptly locked it before I could get in.  The second she saw me turn to go downstairs and come in that way, she raced to lock that door.  I, on the other hand, was prepared.

On the railing, near the door, was a hammer.  I have no idea why there was a hammer there— it certainly didn’t belong there.  However, a hammer was exactly what I needed to “best” my cousin.  I was four or five at the time.  No older than five though.  Once I saw Julie run out the door, I picked up the hammer and broke the pane nearest the door handle.  I simply reached in and opened the door.  Oh the look on Julie’s face when she saw me come into the kitchen from behind her!

Oh the look on Mom’s face when she discovered the broken pane!


Autumn Leaves

Pasted on the window…

The Autumn leaves…

That I colored…


Late summer often found us at Grandma Avants’ apartment on Osborn in Phoenix.  Uncle Oscar and Aunt Kay drove up from Kearney and while Dad and Uncle Oscar debated football scores, politics, and who knows what else, Aunt Kay and I would cut out decorations for the bulletin board and windows of her third or fourth grade classroom.

Leaves of red, gold, and brown appeared and we wrote the names of her students on each leaf.  She talked about her classes and the children that went through her room each year.  To be honest, I didn’t listen to her stories as much as I did her voice.  I tried to imagine myself as a student in one of those desks with my name on a nearby window or bulletin board.  I tried to hear her tell the class to take out paper and pencils while she gave out spelling words that I knew instinctively I would spell correctly.  I was always very good at spelling with the exception of the word very.  I had serious issues with very containing only one r.  For a word that implies a great quantity or deep meaning, very with one r just didn’t make sense.  it should be verry.  Well, that was my story and I was sticking to it.

You know, two of my uncles were also teachers but I knew little about their classes.  Uncle Lon taught automotive shop at Channel Islands High School.  Uncle Oscar taught at Kearney High School I think.  I have no idea what he taught and if I am correct about the school where he taught.  I do remember Aunt Kay and though I never saw it, her classroom.


I did another page for the memory book for my parents.  I moseyed on over to A Wonderful Life and found this silly story.  It was very hard to do this page.  It’s more “elements” than story.  I’ll probably make adjustments later.  I’m not exactly pleased with it, but it’s fine for now.  What amazed me most was how the page kept asking for more and then WHAM.  Something I really thought it needed WOULD NOT WORK.  So, I’ll give it another look when the time comes to put the whole thing together.  YAY!

I also see that I need to adjust margins etc… I don’t like the split up words.  That annoys me.

Because it’s nearly impossible to read, I’m adding the text below.

We went camping once when we lived in either Fillmore or Moorpark—Mom, Dad, Bear, my cousin David, possibly Julie, and me.  I don’t remember much of that trip except that David was very out of his element.  I remember campfires, and I think Bear and David did some hunting.  I don’t remember if they were successful.

However, the morning we left, David tried to feed Wheaties to a nearby donkey or mule.  The animal was not impressed and showed his disdain for the lack of carrot or apple by kicking David in the gut.

Why is it that I always giggle at that thought?  Shame on me.


Christmas Card Idea…

Image compliments of I buy all my images from Istock!

It’s that time of year.  The cards flow into the house reminding us of our beloved friends and family.

One lady takes the front of the card, cuts it off, uses it as a post card, and mails one of them out each week of the year, telling the family that sent it to her that she was praying for them that week.

It’s an idea, anyway.  Obviously  photo cards and handmade ones won’t work, but for most Christmas cards, wouldn’t that be a fun way to let people know how much you appreciate them?  I think I’m going to try to remember to do this during 2011.