Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Beans and a Craft Project

Guys. I cooked pinto beans for the first time last week. The results: so easy. I'm such a weenie for avoiding it this long. Lame-o Lu! I'm quite taken with how little effort I put into them and how yummy they tasted. Drawings and Photos too. Check it out.

And, now! craft project!

The apron I told you about--I finished it. And it was very blah so I added a little something.

Before:


After:


(yes, that is my vacuum cleaner modeling the apron in this picture. And so help me! I am through ironing...as you can tell from this picture.)


I drew the leaf/vine design on some tear away embroidery paper (the workers at the Joann's cutting counter helped me pick out the tear away paper). I pinned the paper to the apron, threaded my machine with green thread (which I bought purely because I liked the color. When was the last time you bought something because you liked the color and not because it matched anything?! It was an exhilarating feeling). I used an open toe darning foot and went to town. It was grueling work. Not gonna lie. I enjoyed it for the first 10 minutes and then I plugged on because I wanted to finish--not because it was enjoyable. I'm pleased with the results, though. (and thank you to the Town Library which carries this book (apron pattern inside)--Amy Butler is amazing. I oggle her website every so often and dream of someday finding a pile of cash so I can buy her fabric).

Can I tell you a story about my car cd player now?
It goes like this. My cd player jammed. For months it's been inoperable. That makes for long, long trips to Town. Especially since the radio cuts out every so often and there are long stretches of static only stations (and even one station that is just silence. No static. No music. Silence. Curious isn't it?)

Finally, I went to Best Buy and asked what they could do for my car. I started out with the caveat that I didn't want anything that would make my car deseriable to theives. (Tucson. It'll do that to you.) The guy helped me pick out a low end CD player (which was a reasonable price) and then added all the gear to install it, plus the cost of the labor---the total wasn't nearly so reasonable, but I went through with it with that funny feeling in my gut that happens when I spend much much more than I anticipated.

I drove to the back of the store, met the nice guy who would be installing it and we reviewed what he would do. He asked if I had any external devices that I wanted to hook up to the player (such as an MP3 player). Since an ipod connector was part of the package I said, "No."

Car guy: You sure? You won't need to hook up an MP3 player or anything?
Me: As long as I can hook up my ipod, I'm good.
Car guy: Ok, if that's all you need....
Me: Yep. Just the ipod.
[thought strikes me!]
Me: Oh! Wait! I do have something. I have this little portable cd player. I need to hook that up so I can listen to audio books.
Car guy: [hesitantly] Okaaay...but, um, this IS a cd player. [referencing what he was going to install in my car.]
Me: Yeah, but, I....Oh. Right. Duh. That's why I'm buying it, huh?
Car guy: [politely not laughing] Uh-huh.


Wow. I said that. To another person.

--Lu

Thursday, February 19, 2009

NEW BLOG!!!

Guys. I know I've been posting like a maniac the past weeks...and in keeping with that I've started another blog.

lufoodstorage.blogspot.com

I'm jumping up and down in my chair! I'm pretty excited about this New Blog. It's all about food storage--but this is food storage like you've never seen it before. Yeah. Exploding food storage. (no, not really "exploding." I just wrote that because I think it would be cool if there was explosions. Oh! Brilliant idea: we could have Jason Bourne food storage day. That would involve some explosions. Or at least pellet guns). Anyway, I've been buying up some sweet canned goods lately and I'm going to be reviewing them and recipes and places to buy the stuff...

And it's illustrated.
By me. (so you know it's gonna be classy).

There aren't enough exclamation points to convey my excitement.

Tell your friends. And email me (lufoodstorage@gmail.com) if you have info you want to share--you could be a guest author! All guest author's will receive a prize. (Seriously. I will send you a prize. check the new blog if you don't believe me. It says so right there.)

--Lu

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Table, Redone

As one of our wedding presents, my parents gave us an oak table and matching chairs. The table and chairs were put into storage because we were barely moved into our apartment and we were in the midst of the hustle and bustle known as Getting Married. Two years later, the table was still sitting in storage. It's not that we didn't like the table or that we didn't want it. Rather, we were really short on space, and our apartment conveniently (or not) came equipped with a table.

Now that we're in a bigger space we thought for sure we'd use the table. But then we opted for a bar in the kitchen--it's a small space and there are only two of us and we both like tall tables. Those factors added up to: a counter top and four screw on legs from Ikea (our current landlords are picky about installing things into the walls, hence the four, instead of two legs). That left the oak wedding table still in storage.

About this time I was scouring the internet and the ikea catalog for ideas for a craft table. In the midst of my scouring it hit me: I owned a very sturdy table already. And so, the table came to live with us in the FP.

Since I was a teenager, I've wanted to repaint furniture--all of those home decorating books at the library sparked the desire and the home improvement shows that have exploded in the past eightish years only added to it. I (with some serious coaxing from The Rock because I wanted to chicken out and just keep it the way it was) decided this table was The One. I researched how to repaint (using YouTube, of course). I stocked up on primer and paint during my many, many trips to Lowe's during our House Painting Extravaganza. And then, after the House Painting Extravaganza had finished, I started on my table.

Here's some pics and my notes on the process:




My dad took the table apart when it was put in storage so that part was already done for me. (I forgot to take a "before" picture of the table as a whole, so you get to see the top only.)

I started by sanding with fine grit sand paper. My can of primer said it could be used on cabinets without sanding--so I figured I didn't really need to sand, but it couldn't hurt to do it anyway. I used a fine grit (120, I think) sanding sponge that I found in the paint section at the hardware store. (it's on the left in the photo above)

After sanding:



Note the watermark on the top--I didn't think it would be a problem, so I just treated it the same as everything else.

Here's a close up view: you can see how the sand paper took off some of the finish, making the surface rougher. (I don't know if I was supposed to sand until the whole table looked like the lighter parts...I didn't though.)


Then I wiped all the dust off the table.

Now comes the primer. I took this picture in part to show you that the primer looked splotchy--that happened when I painted the walls too, but the top coat always seemed to go on without any problem, in spite of the splotchy primer. So I took a gamble and hoped it would be true here too (it is). I used a roller on the top and a brush on the sides.



The sides (underneath the table top) were tricky, but I plugged on in spite of drips. (In this photo I've propped the tabletop on top of the leaf, then covered the leaf with plastic. Later, I rigged a better system: two boxes (full of No. 10 cans--food storage comes in handy!) with a plastic drop cloth on top.

Then I sanded the stand--this is where I was grateful for the bendiness of the sanding sponge. When I finished sanding the stand it looked the same as the table top did. Then primed. I tried using a roller, but failed. So this is all brushwork. Note the brushy strokes.



A word about the table feet (they aren't really legs, are they? And they have claws. I love the claws. Need some for my bathtub too.)...the feet were tricky. I took them off and sanded and primed the stand by itself first. Then I painted the stand. After the stand dried, I sanded the feet and attached them to the stand. I kept them loose so I could pull them away from the stand when I painted close to the stand. I primed the feet and then gave them a coat of paint.

In this photo note how the stand is shiny with paint while the feet are not--they only have primer at this point.



If I could go back in time, I would have checked the paint and primer (on the feet) 15 minutes after I was done painting and mopped up any drips. Since I didn't do that, there are a few now dry drips on the stand. Don't look too closely when you come to visit.

Everything got a second coat of paint. (High Gloss White)

It took forever and three days for the table to mostly dry. I must not have given the lower coats enough drying time. And the table top is still a smidge tacky. I'll let you know if it ever dries.

Painter's remorse thoughts:

If I catch it at the right angle, I can still see the watermark. Go figure. I would have researched how to deal with watermarks.

As for brushes vs. rollers---the roller gave a more even coat of paint, but it also left some texture. The brushes left brush marks, but they applied a smoother coat of paint. (I used both sponge and regular brushes--I think it comes down to personal preference on that one.) In hindsight I don't know that I would have used brushes instead of the roller though. The uneven gloss/brush marks on top would have driven me crazier than the texturized top does.

I don't know if I should have bothered with High Gloss paint. I probably will end up putting on a clear coat anyway so I could have used satin. It would have eliminated any issues with seeing brush strokes from uneaven gloss application. But maybe a clear coat will have that problem in the end anyway. I'll avoid the issue next time by spray painting instead. I've heard spray paint leaves the finished product looking awesome. I'll let you know.

The End.


--Lu

Monday, February 16, 2009

At first sight

We explored a little on Saturday. You could say I'm in love.





Cactus flowers are red
The sky is blue
I'm in love with a boy
And the wild desert too.

--Lu

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Night Mail and Co.

I got a sewing machine. Did I tell you? I like it. It's all shiny and new. And I'm making an apron as my first practice project. Get the feel of the machine and all. The apron's...not the cutest, but not because I didn't do a good job. The fabrics wouldn't have been my first pick (or second) for an apron, but since I bought them to practice on...anyway. It's coming right along. Look at me, Domestic Goddess.

Speaking of domesticity, I made some cookies today, in honor of Valentine's day. One of my favorite holidays because I love cutting hearts out of construction paper and putting up pink and red and white decorations. And I love sugar cookies with pink frosting. Yum. But I've been sorely behind schedule this year. Today, I tried to gain back some of the ground I'd lost. I made valentine's cards, and I made those cookies I mentioned above (did I also mention that I ate at least half of them? That's pretty much a WHOLE STICK OF BUTTER! No wonder I wasn't hungry for lunch. I didn't even realize I'd missed lunch until after dinner. And that's saying something. You know how much I like to eat all the time. Don't like missing meals.) Ugh. Just thinking of the cookies makes me feel a little ill right now. Don't eat that much dough in one afternoon. Just a word of warning.

I needed to get the mail today--but The Rock went to bed early tonight--so I had to go by myself. After dark. And my Tucson self said, "Drive the car--it's Safer." And the Already-Adjusted-To-Life-in-the-Favorite-Place-Small-Town husband said, "Walk. It will take the same amount of time." I said, "No way. Is scary out there." (visions of marauding javelina car thief purse snatcher types passed through my mind). Then...I remembered. It's dang cold outside. Javelina won't be out (actually, I don't know this...but I pretended). And it's not Tucson. No one's gonna bother me. And I would have to warm up the car.

So I did it. I walked over there. In the pitch black darkness of a small town. With the sky arching above me, covered in stars. More stars than in Tucson. Enough stars to make the sky noticeable...and big. I even left the front door of the house unlocked. And I came back without injury to body or soul. And the house seems to be exactly as I left it (aside from the two pieces of mail I brought in).

There's something nice about having brisk air in your face. In the silent dark. With the stars. And your mail. And knowing that in just a few minutes, you'll be back in your warm house.
--Lu

On Repetition

Did you know that Moo and I requested The Pale Green Pants poem on a regular basis as our bedtime story? Well we did. It was in an anthology of Dr. Seuss that includes one of his best--Too Many Dave's. The last name on the list of possible alternative names for all of the Dave's is Zanzabar Buck Buck McFate. I loved hearing that name!

Now, and for many years, I haven't liked Dr. Seuss books. And the movies--I don't like those either. (I just don't.) And I probably won't buy the books for my kids or nieces or nephews or friends kids because I don't want to read them out loud. Over. And over. That's a nightmare. Reading them once is a nightmare. BUT in the midst of all of this dislike, I DO like the anthology that includes pale green pants and too many daves. I would buy that. And read it too. (In fairness, I like one page out of Hop On Pop. The one where the gleeful "kids" are hopping on pop's tummy. That is funny. I only look at that one picture though and then I'm done with the book.)

Back to Repetition: we also refused to let our parents rent any movie but the Rainbow Brite movie from blockbuster (or whatever rental store they had back in those days). I distinctly remember my dad asking us if maybe we wanted to rent a different movie, since we had already rented That one. No. We didn't.

We also watched Dumbo on a regular basis (and by "regular basis" I mean practically every day.) That is a SCARY movie, and disturbing too, but watch it we did. If you start singing a song from Dumbo, I guarantee I can sing along. I bet Moo can too.

--Lu

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I think I know where your sweater is Lu...

A well known verse:

And in that dreadful place
Those spooky empty pants and I
Were standing face to face.
I yelled for help. I screamed. I shrieked.
I howled. I yowled. I cried.
Oh! Save me from those pale green pants
With nobody inside.
-Dr. Seuss

The only likely explanation. They ran off with the pants and are now somewhere south of Picacho Peak.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Ode to My Green Sweatshirt

Farewell green goodness.
Fuzzy inside.
Sturdy outside.
With the little stain above the front pocket.
Too short, but snug all the same.
Found in a dumpster (on campus, behind a sorority).
Free of charge.
Now you are somewhere
in Ikea.
A sad fate for a green sweater.
I liked you. Come back to me
if you get tired of Ikea.
We can go outside more: camping, hiking.
And drink more hot cocoa (you like that, remember?).
And I'll take that stain out of you. Good as new.
Why did you leave me?
I miss you.

--Lu

Friday, February 6, 2009

Charlie Brown's Pepper Plant or Three Reasons for Things

Why my husband is a saint:


Those are the sample paints. Whoever invented sample paints---I want to kiss you and slap you. You have made life easier and yet more challenging too. I've sampled the paints, thank you. And then we had to choose colors--but not the ones I'd first chosen as samples. So, I went back for more. And then more. And suddenly, I have a sample paint collection. (on the kitchen floor, in front of my dishwasher.) But. Rest is come for the weary painter. Almost. I still have one wall left.

Why I am not employed as a gardener: (and YES I KNOW the picture is not vertical. and that it should be. But I'm not able to change it. So you'll have to tilt your head a little, if you please.)
The once verdent pepper plant...is now a frostbit pepper plant. Or a frostbit stick stuck in a pot. Sad sad day. And there were two peppers growing on it, but they have both changed their minds. One is brown and squunchy. The other fell off.


Why I'm starting to like Town:

Remember how I used to shop at the Ghetto Fry's (Kroger grocery store) in Tucson. Sigh. Ghetto Fry's has a very very special place in my heart (even though the renovations do not. I liked it better more ghettoy, but it's too late to register that complaint now).

When I left Tucson I thought I was leaving all fun times at Fry's behind.

But I was wrong.

It turns out that Town has a not so very ghetto fry's. It was deceptive at first. On my third trip to Town Fry's, I don't know if I was just more perceptive, or if something special was happening in the store that day--or in Town that day, that led all of the crazies to be at Fry's at the same time. But there they all were.

Actually, that's not true. Some of the crazies were at JC Penny's hassling a very sweet looking cashier. It was such good fun at the stores yesterday that I left Town in a spirited mood. Seeing bizarre things in the store does that to me, I guess.

There was the woman who couldn't pronounce "schedule" the correct way (and she wasn't doing it the "German" way either). And who insisted the cashier look up loads of information, only to tell her that she was on a tight schedule so she didn't need that coupon after all and to please take it off. There was the tall, white tufty haired man, lanky, in a sweater who had outdated glasses. And the person hacking up a lung every 2 minutes or so (each time in a different part of the store). There was the woman asking the cashier if a men's small would do as well as a children's large, right?! And the man being escorted back into the store with a store employee angrily telling him, "But I saw you pick it up!" And the woman who stood in line behind me. I hadn't realized she was there so I didn't put a divider on the food conveyor belt (what is that called????) and I told her, "I'm sorry, I would have done that, I didn't realize you were there." Her response: "I just love these new carts." (can you see me looking confused? I was.) She continued, "They're so quiet." She smiled. Understanding hit me, so I said, "Makes 'em so you can sneak right up on me." She nods her head and chuckles.

And while two of those people weren't at Fry's--it's hard for me to convey the general air of pandamonium that pervaded Town Fry's yesterday. How do I describe the people I saw--their mannerisms all evoking interest, all calling out that the people were worth watching (and writing about)? I feel a bit like Mr. Bennett (the father in Pride and Prejudice) must feel when he finds that he has a ridiculous nephew (Mr. Collins). Does he bemoan his fate? No. In fact, he rejoices a little because he knows he has found a source of endless entertainment.

Yes. Ghetto Fry's will always have a special place in my heart. But Town Fry's has caught my eye. I'm going to be watching you Town Fry's because I think you have more to offer than just food.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Locked Out

So, I locked myself out of my car on Friday. While I was in Town. THAT was fun. I had just stocked up on cheese at Safeway (the Lucerne brand cheese is REALLY GOOD, okay. And I LOVE CHEESE!) and I guess in the excitement of all that cheese, my keys slipped away from me and as I bounced my way across the parking lot to put my cart in the cart corral, I patted my pocket for my keys and...I found them in the back seat of the car. (and by "found them," I mean I gazed longingly through the window at them).

I called The Rock about a million times in a row (because he wasn't answering his phone), then went through a series of emotions: which ended in the rational thought of: Hey! A mechanic's shop. Right there across the street. I went over there, dejectedly explained my plight to the mechanic (who had to hide a smirk) and called the tow company's number that he gave me. After calling them, I realized, hey! The Rock could come and get me after he got off work--it's only an hour and a half drive (vs. $50 and at least a half hour wait for the tow company). I stressed about that decision for a half hour until he called me back (I started imagining that he had gotten off work early, was already playing racquetball and wouldn't check his phone for hours! HOURS I TELL YOU! --and all this stress was building as I skulked around in Kmart (it was cold outside and warm in Kmart). I bet they had their security cameras all over me as I wandered up and down the curtain isles using my cell phone every 20 seconds.))

He came for me.
And happiness (and cheese) abounded!

Ironically---I had gone to the library just before stopping at Safeway. All my books, my cds, my cd player--locked in the car. (I whiled away the hour and a half ogling all the craft items in Joanns and then resigned myself to doodling in my notebook while sitting at a table in the Subway restaurant inside Walmart--then Moo called and I chatted with her. THAT was a good thing!)

It could have been a lot worse--I could have locked my purse and cell phone in the car. There could have been no other places for me to amuse myself (but then I would have just hung out inside Safeway for a while...maybe even gotten a job there. Can't you see them? "Um, well, since you're hanging around here, might as well make yourself useful).

But, I did get an Arby's sandwhich and curly fries out of the ordeal. Yum. Then, on the way home, I stumbled across this AMAZING radio program called Thunder Road. It's slogan is, "Bringing the best of Country Music and NASCAR together." How did I live without THAT?!!!! (actually, they played some really good country music...with NASCAR interviews every other song or so... It makes me laugh even now.) (have you heard Tim McGraw's song Nothin' to Die For? I hadn't, but thanks to Thunder Road, I'll be adding it to my playlist.)

And, I got to visit the little graveyard that divides the Safeway shopping center from the Walmart shopping center. I like visiting graveyards (I'll have to explore that in another post sometime) and I had wanted to visit this one, and that day I had the time to go there. I took some pictures to memorialize the event.




(Is it just me, or does this graveyard look unusually dug up? I noticed the little mounds of dirt as I tromped through the grounds and it wasn't limited to just one spot.)


--Lu