Monday, September 22, 2014


Monday, September 22, 2014

Happy "First Day of Autumn!"
Autumn is my FAVORITE season. I love the cooler weather.  I love the colors and the sounds.  (I have a bit of an obsession with "crunchy" sounds.  Like walking on dried leaves.  And if there are pinecones out.  They are like heroin to me (or what I would assume heroin would be to an addict?) I HAVE to step on them.  The satisfaction I get from stepping on a crunchy pinecone...well, I just can't even begin to describe it.  Heaven for me would be a beautiful, tree lined path, filled with crunchy pinecones. And I would step on every. single. one.
I think a huge draw for me, as far as autumn is concerned, is the fact that I am a nester.  I love cozy.  When my house is filled with fluffy chairs and couches, covered in knit throws, a fire glowing in the fireplace, fresh bread baking in the oven, and spicy candles lit everywhere...I am blissful.
Of course, creating this perfect Norman Rockwell moment is much easier said than done.  Even if I have all of these wonderful things in place....there is a good chance I'm not happy.  Because it is pretty likely there are dirty dishes in the sink.  And I can guarantee that the kids left their shoes in the middle of the floor again.  Those spicy candles can't even cover up the fact that the stupid dog just pooped in the hallway.  And even though I created the perfect little "here is a bench to set your bag on, and hooks to hang your coat" nook, my husband has thrown his crap on the dining room chair AGAIN, and his paperwork is taking up half the table.
Yes, I have a little problem with perfectionism.
This is actually a pretty funny thing, considering I am a bit of a slob.  I guess, I would consider myself an "all or nothing" girl.  The difference between the two is that when things are perfect, I am HAPPY.  When things are a disaster, so am I.
When I was younger (in my 20's and 30's) I believe one might classify me as crazy.  During these years, my life typically consisted of raising two babies/toddlers, teaching anywhere from 60%-full time in a school, teaching private lessons at home, having at least one church job, and then of course, playing for musicals, weddings, funerals, recitals, etc.  On top of that, I also liked to take on big home decorating projects.   I recall moving into our 5th house.  My husband pleaded with me, "PLEASE, can you just hold off just one year before you start ripping down wallpaper and doing your thing?" I nodded and smiled. The next night I was standing on the kitchen counter ripping down the wallpaper border.  I couldn't stand it.  I had to make it MINE.  Of course, my tastes change with the wind, so around the 3rd re-do on that particular kitchen, I just sent the whole family away for the weekend. (It was much less painful for all of us that way.)  I had three days to make some magic.  Looking back, I have no idea how I got so much done...especially since it was a weekend, so I still had to play for three Masses at church during all of this....AND I sewed all of the curtains, bench pads, table runners, etc.  I know this is much more interesting with let's do a little before and after:
Before: Welcome to Country Kitchen

 Disaster area. (Forgot to take photo before moving all the "stuff"!)
 And After: 

I did try being a stay-at-home mom for one year when we lived in the cities.  My kids were 1 and 3, and I thought this would be a fantastic idea.  We couldn't live on Mark's income alone, so I decided I would do daycare three days a week.  I had 3-6 kids (ages 6 months to 4) at my house from 8-5 every Tues, Wed and Thurs.  I wanted to throw myself off a cliff every Tues, Wed and Thurs.
Around 5:15 everyday, one of my 18 private voice students would arrive.  After I was finished teaching, I would head off to choir rehearsal at one of the THREE churches I worked at.
Yes, that was a wonderful, relaxing year spent at home, caring for my children. And when you are home all day, you have the pleasure of observing every single thing you hate about your house for hours on end.  For someone like me, who needs to have all the pictures on the wall and the entire place decorated within 48 hours of moving in....this is not a good thing.
I would share a photo of myself at that time, but I don't think my husband was brave enough to take one.
Our house was a total piece of crap.  It was in Bloomington, MN.  We were literally 2 miles from the Mall of America and we were poor.  We were used to home prices in Prairie du Chein, WI (aka: middle of nowhere)  When we told our realtor to find us a house in the $100K range, she had us make the 4 hour trip to look at "this adorable doll house."  It literally was about the size of a doll-house.  I don't think our couch would have fit diagonally, much less on a wall in the living room.  And there was no way our bed would ever make it up the stairway.  It would have been a lovely home for a family of orangutans.  Except for what appeared to be drug paraphernalia in the front yard.  Yes, a lovely place to raise children.
The house we ended up buying had previously been owned by a guy and his three bachelor roommates. It was on the East side of Bloomington. According to our students (On the West side of Bloomington...who all had much nicer cars than we did, by the way) we lived in "the hood." The kitchen was designed so that you could simply hose down the walls after your evening meal.  It was just lovely.  And yes, we addressed that beauty as well.  Would you like to see?

This is it looked originally.  By the way..we were babies then. It was like 1999.  And we were NOT partying.  (Because I was 6 months pregnant)
I insisted Mark paint those cabinets white before we moved in.
It didn't help.
So, we ripped off the lovely plastic walls.

Now things were looking FABULOUS.  But we decided it was time to go further.  New counter, sink, FLOOR (not that the "stick one tiles" weren't attractive and all...) and since it WAS the 90's, I was going to go whole hog with the country theme.

 Wainscotting...that sucked to paint.  (Trim was still drying)
 New, non plastic back splash.  See the chicken wire fronts on the cabinets? 
 We added a pantry cabinet and desk area

 And Mark even built a screen door for my closet.  This was a good thing, considering he had accidentally cut 22" instead of 2" off the bottom of the door that originally went there after we put the tile in. Oops. 
^^ The one picture that shows we DID actually finish off the wainscoting!^^
My aunt had planned to help us wallpaper, since we had never done it before.  Of course, there was a huge snowstorm that night, so we decided to give it a try anyway.  The only disaster was when Lexie (then 1 1/2) decided to climb the ladder and grab the razor blade we were using to cut the corners.  She sliced her thumb open, and I went back and forth between trying not to throw up and trying not to pass out. (It was very attractive, considering I had a humongous pregnant belly, and was maybe slightly dramatic about this.)  At any rate, she could have used stitches, but the snow was so bad, we all would have ended up needing stitches, so we opted for excellent home bandaging.
What we learned from this whole experience?  The couple who wallpapers (tiles, wainscots, paints, rips out sinks, puts in faucets, etc) together....stays together. :)

Well, this post took on a life of it's own.  It ended up having absolutely nothing to do with what I started with, or what I had intended to write about.  However, you now know that if I don't like it, I will change it.  Perhaps tomorrow, we can address that whole perfectionism thing.  Perhaps.

And to keep us up to date:
My kitchen today:
Only it doesn't look quite like this....because I changed it. ;)

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