Tuesday, January 31, 2012

New Beginnings of a Father and Daughter Day Two

Posted by: Paulette

On The second day that I went to visit my father, I brought chocolates, and a Life magazine about George Washington. I wasn't sure which he would like most, but after our conversation from the day before about how how liked history shows and enjoyed reading, I thought he's like the magazine. The idea for the chocolate came when he really enjoyed the chocolate kiss that I'd pinched from the nurse's station. I brought Dove Dark Chocolate Raspberry promises. I thought that if we lacked for conversation, the messages on the wrappers would be something to get us started. It turns out that we didn't need the help. 

Paul thought that he wouldn't be able to eat more than one because he's a type 2 diabetic. After speaking to the doctor about his prognosis and the goals for his treatment, I was able to set his mind at ease about that one. She said he was allowed to have all of the chocolate that he wanted. They weren't monitoring his blood sugar, or anything. If he asked for pain meds they'd give them to him. If he looked like he was in distress and not able to breathe, they'd take care of that too. Other than that he was allowed to do what he pleased. When I urged him to drink more water, and stay hydrated, he told me it was hard to "get a drink around here." And requested some tequila. I brought him a steady supply of coffee and chocolate, but he never got that tequila! 

 On this day we were able to speak about his drug abuse. He told me that it was the only way he knew to treat his depression effectively. Such a vicious cycle. Get depressed, do drugs, feel guilty, do drugs....
One of the side effects of his meth use was having hallucinations. He told me that he had a memory that he didn't know was true or false, and it haunted him and gave him a great deal of guilt.  No one is able to confirm or deny that this particular thing happened. It weighs heavy on his soul.

 One of the things I tried to teach him about while there, was the love and sacrifice of our savior Jesus Christ. This was not an easy task. I didn't want him to think that I was trying to proselytize him. I just wanted to let him know how I felt. Going into this on the first day, I was under the impression that he was an Atheist. He'd told me that he was in one of our phone conversations. But on the day that I'd arrived, Uncle David told me that Paul had written that he had "confessed his sins to Jesus," and was "ready to die."
After spending some time with him, he changed his mind. He wants to live.

This day was full of more forgiveness, and teasing. We were building some trust. By the end of the day, he's told his brother to give me his flat screen TV.  This was a huge step for him. I was becoming a daughter to him, not someone who was there to take his stuff.

The hospice social worker and I had a conversation about what Paul needed at this time. I almost feel like I want to say, either hurry up and die, or hurry up and live. The in between part is hard for me. I don't want to leave New Mexico with so much undone and unsaid. 

I'd spent 10 hours at the hospital, and left about 6pm, exhausted.

Monday, January 30, 2012

New Beginnings of a Father and Daughter

Posted by: Paulette

A few months ago I blogged about my biological father who I contacted after searching for him on the internet. I found him through his brother, who gave me a phone number. After a few discouraging phone calls, and a feeling that my father wasn't really interested in a familial relationship, I stopped calling him. He called me one, when I accidentally called him in error, and he saw a missed call. So all together we had 3 phone conversations. 

Last Monday, I received a call from his brother that went something like this. "Is this Paulette?"
"This is uncle David. It doesn't look too good. Your father has been in the ICU for 2 weeks and they've just moved him to hospice."
" What happened?"
"He's had 2 heart attacks and a stroke."
From there we discussed how and when I could make it to the city where he lived, which is about an 8 hour drive. The flights were too expensive, so I decided to rent a car, and drive. I made the reservations, and left 2 days later after getting all of my personal affairs into order.

I arrived on Wednesday evening. My father didn't want to look at me, much less talk to me. I sat on the bed,  held his hand and asked him why  he thought I was there. He indicated that he thought that I was going to wag my finger at him and take his money. After speaking with him for two hours, I left with his brother for some dinner. We spoke, and found common ground. He wanted me to know that as next of kin, I had a responsibility for my father's personal effects.
This was overwhelming for me, since I thought I was only there to put his mind at ease and hold his hand, and when the time came, kiss him goodbye.

 I returned to the hospital without my uncle and told my father that I had a few things to say.
#1 I no longer carried the shame and embarrassment of having a drug abuser for a father.

#2 I thanked him for leaving myself and sister alone to be raised by our mother and step-father. We had a good life. I was thankful for his sacrifice.

#3 That we both agreed that the drug abuse was stupid and that he was now paying for it in a destroyed body. 

That was all in the past, and we would start from today. He seemed relieved. I stayed with him until 10pm that night and then went to my grandmother's house to stay the night.

All night long I had dreams about him. They were about what kind of man he could have been without the drugs. I think these dreams were a gift from my Heavenly Father to help me see how precious my father was to him. And that He saw him though different eyes. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Caulking Dos and Don'ts

Posted by, Paulette

One fine Saturday, as I was cleaning house and watching PBS, This Old House was on. It was that segment where they ask viewers to mail in their questions about home repairs, and then one of those handy guys heads to their place to help them fix their problem. In this episode, a woman was asking how to clean that nasty black stuff that kept on showing up in her tub. It looks something like this.
 This is not my bath tub. It's a picture I pulled off the net. But you get the idea. It happens to all of us. MILDEW grows in our showers and bath tubs. Mine happens to be a pretty shade of pink, along with the black, and while that matches with the lovely custom tile work in my shower, (that I am oh so happy to cover up with a curtain) it's still disgusting! So, about once a year I end up pulling out all of the tools and then re-caulk the shower. 
I know, this is traditionally the MAN's job. But we just don't do things that way in our house. 
The first time I did this, I used a tutorial that I'd found online. It involved using a screwdriver to remove the caulk, and your finger and lots of paper towels for smoothing the new stuff. As you can imagine, I made a huge mess! I tried to pretend it was just frosting. That worked about as well as pretending that the dog poo was chocolate (no I didn't eat it!) when I was a kid having to clean it up.  Try frosting mixed with superglue. And you can't eat it.
Anyway, this is supposed to be a tutorial, right? The only problem is that some of the advise I'm about to give is very good. Like what tools to use. I found some amazing tools that I'll show you in a bit. The part I'm talking about that you don't want to copy, is this....I caulked the shower with Liquid Nails construction adhesive. In my defense, it was in the wrong bin. It was supposed to be white kitchen and bathroom caulk. And Liquid Nails does make such a thing. Unfortunately, the one I used was not that variety. I don't know the repercussions at this time. I guess when I have to remove it and re do it, then I'll know whether my boo boo was just that, or a we need to call a professional to fix this.

From left to right, caulk removal tool, caulk smoothing tool, masking tape, razor scraper, and in the back, paper towels. These are the tools I was talking about. First you have to remove the old caulk. By the way, I have researched how to remove the Liquid Nails adhesive, You smear it with petroleum jelly. If you have to do this you'll thank me later. 
 The removal tool has two ends, one that gets the caulk out of the crack, and the other that scrapes it off of the tub and tile.

You may need to use a razor scraper. I did. Some of the caulk was a crazy mess. I made my hubby do it last time. It got the job done, and I could close the curtain. 

Be careful with this tool. You can gouge your tub. This is also why it's not a good idea to use a screwdriver.

Once the caulk has been removed, I suggest vacuuming it up. You don't want this stuff clogging your drain. This is just a small amount. You'll have lots! 

A few tips about your tube of caulk (not  construction adhesive), cut the tip at a 45 degree angle. It will make it easier to get onto vertical surfaces. A handy tutorial all about your caulk gun can be found here at Pretty Handy Girl.

Now for the next tools. If you are really picky about having crisp caulk likes, you'll want some masking tape. I have one spot that I'm picky about because it's right next to the black tile. And it's right on the edge of a ledge. So I taped it off. If you happen to have colored tile. You may want to do this. After I finished I had a nice clean line.
The caulk smoothing tool is excellent! It will not only push the caulk into the crack, but also cleanly scrape away the excess caulk. A paper towel cleans it off for the next pass. It's so much better than using your finger.

When you're done, let the caulk cure for 24 hours. Throw away your paper towels and tape, and enjoy your new cleaner looking shower/tub. And then close the curtain.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Entertainment Center Kitchen

Posted by, Paulette

I didn't manage to finish the play kitchen for Christmas, but that just meant that I had a great birthday present lined up for Katie. Her birthday is next week, but this is already sitting in her room.
 I chose to paint it a pretty light aqua. Partly because I am in love with turquoise and aqua right now, and partly because I already had the paint. It's intended for the bench (whenever I get that finished).

 Close up of the stove. The burners are pickle jar lids painted black. The stove and oven are painted after taping off the remaining kitchen with a spray on silver paint. The knobs are porcelain drawer pulls that I painted silver. The door on the oven was hinged at the bottom. Using my jigsaw, I cut out the hole for the oven window and used a piece of plexiglass for the window. It's glued to the back of the door with clear latex caulk. The oven handle is a piece of wood I picked up at Ace, and cut to size.
 The window is a taped off piece of watercolor paper that has a simple outdoor scene painted on it. I gave it a quick spray of adhesive and slapped it up on the back wall. The curtains are a scrap of fabric with a simple casing sewn into the top, and then threaded onto a dowel. The dowel sits on two stick up hooks I picked up at Wal-mart.

 The sink. I could have kicked myself for this one. We recently replaced all of our sink faucets. And I thought I'd use one of those for this project. After all of the frustration involved, I was so happy to just throw those suckers in the trash. Argh! This meant that I had to make a trip to our Restore to get a new (used) one. $10! Darn it! Do you know how far $10 goes at Goodwill...on a 1/2 price Saturday?! 
The sink basin, is a dog bowl. I cut a hole in the cabinet with my jigsaw and adhered it with a little liquid nails. Oh, boy! Have I got a story for you about Liquid Nails. Not this time though. You'll have to tune in next time! 

Linking up to:
 The Shabby Creek Cottage

Friday, January 13, 2012

Unexpected Organizing Tools

Posted by: Paulette

If you've been reading my blog for a while, then you know I love shopping at thrift stores. It's spoiled me. I don't want to pay retail or sales tax. I like that some things have history, and I love repurposing things.
Here's some of my latest finds.
 It was really hard to get a full picture of this because the space is so cramped and the shower caddy is so long. Yes. That is a shower caddy turned spice rack. And the hooks on the bottom are holding the bag I use to store plastic shopping bags (formerly a pillow case) and my aprons. This freed up so much space in my pantry and gave me a place for my aprons, which freed up a drawer in the kitchen. 

Here's another recent find.

 In a former life this was a picnic basket. This is actually one of my favorite kinds of things to get. I have several of these large picnic baskets that I use for various things. One holds sweaters,  another holds my brook stick skirts and I have one in the girl's room for toys. This one was a little different from the others. It has a pull out drawer underneath and all kinds of cubby holes inside. Which makes it perfect for a sewing basket.
The only thing I had to do was cut off the leather straps that were used to hold plates, and sew on some ribbon to tie my scissors on with.
I used to have all kinds of boxes for this stuff. I love that I can just pull out the one basket, and not have to return to the closet for something I missed. And it closes up tight!
Tomorrow is half price day at my local Goodwill. I wonder what I'll find!

Simple Wing chair Slipcover

Posted by: Paulette

A couple of days ago a friend from church asked me to make a couple of slipcovers for her wing chairs. For me this is a relatively easy thing to do, since I've made so many fitted slipcovers already. She had already attempted to make one, and discovered it's not as easy as it looks. I would try a piece of furniture with straighter lines for your first. And this chair...well, this chair would have been a nightmare to cover without some experience. It had so many curves! Look at those kidney shaped arm insets. It took me a little bit to figure out how to gather the fabric to fit around those.

Do you see that spot that wraps around the bottom of the arm? It's a little bump out. Another feature that made it difficult to draft the pattern. My friend didn't want any skirt or welting on this. 

The hardest part for me was these covered buttons.

I didn't have a covered button kit, and tried to use a pair of pliers, a hammer and a socket attachment. I should have just bought the kit and forwarded her the cost. What a mess. Thank goodness that's all hidden on the underside of the button.
I used a painter's drop cloth that she provided for the material, and a contrasting bit of upholstery fabric for the buttons.

My poor friend had been watching Miss Mustard Seed's tutorials. They are wonderfully done. And I hope that some day she will try again.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Severus Snape Doll

Posted by: Paulette

Introducing Severus Snape. He stands 16 inches (42 cm) tall. Severus holds his wand in his right hand.
This doll is cloth with a needle sculpted face with colored pencil shading and acrylic paint features. He has  posable fingers. Snape is a completely original doll from my own patterns. Okay. now get ready for picture overload!

 I am so excited to have this new camera that is so awesome that it even picks up the texture and weave of the fabric. Amazing! 

Snape is sold already, but I do take special orders!
I got a phone call this morning asking if I could sew up some slipcovers for a couple of wing chairs. Looks like I won't be putting the sewing machine away any time soon. That's okay. A little extra money is always welcome. I have a trip planned to Florida to see the folks this summer and still don't have the money to pay for it. Since I'm a stay at home mom, it makes me happy to contribute to the pot. 

So tell me what you think! Don't be shy. I do read all of the comments I get.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Pullover Sweater Converted to a Cardigan

Posted by, Paulette
I found this cute pullover sweater at Goodwill for $4. On half price day it was $2. Love that! I loved the color and the cable knit, but the pullover style just wasn't doing it for me. So I decided to make it into a cardigan.

Here's what it looked like before I cut into it.

And this is what it looked like after I slit it from top to bottom.
Fortunately, I've done this kind of surgery before. My friend received a cowl neck sweater for Christmas. She liked the color, but not the style. My friend is 16 years old, and very fashion conscience, and luckily with the help of some grosgrain ribbon and an exposed zipper, I was able to make it wearable for her. She loves it now.

So, with ribbon and scissors in hand, I got to work on this one. After cutting it up the center, I pinned, then sewed the ribbon of the same color to the right side of the fabric. This stabilizes the knit and keeps it from unraveling.

 Then it tuned the ribbon to the wrong side of the fabric and pinned and sewed it down. A little note here. I also singed the ends of the ribbon on a flame to prohibit unraveling. You could also use fray check, but then I would have had to wait for it to dry.

Then you're ready to add your button holes and buttons, or zipper. I chose mother of pearl buttons. They're my favorite for just about anything.

I Want Candy!

Posted by:  Paulette

This is not a broken glass casserole dish. This is raspberry candy!

Sometimes I just get a thought into my head out of the blue. Today it was while cleaning the boys' room. They had some candy from Christmas stuck to their desk. And I was thinking how good all that peanut brittle was. And how much I love raspberry. And then I remembered that we had some raspberry extract in the pantry from our hot cocoa bar. 
If you are a man reading this. This is how women think. One thought leads to another in lightening speed, and before we know it, we're on a totally different errand than we intended. 
I did finish cleaning the boy's room. And THEN I made candy!

Raspberry Hard Candy
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup lite corn syrup
1/4 cup water
4 drops pink food coloring
2 drops purple food coloring
1 teaspoon raspberry extract

In a medium size pot, on medium heat, combine sugar. corn syrup and water. Cook until the syrup mixture starts to turn yellow. This is your cue to get it off the stove. Quickly add food coloring and extract. Pour into a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Wait until cool, and then break into pieces.

 I had so much fun playing with Katie. We played "I see you!" as we looked through our rose colored glass. 
And the candy was yummy too. It only lasted about 2 hours in our house. Good thing it was so easy to make.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Right Song For The Job

Posted by: Paulette
How did I spend my Christmas Vacation? Well, I reupholstered a loveseat, made copious amounts of peanut brittle and other sweets. Sewed myself a new dress, painted a bathroom, changed out the innards of a toilet (glamorous. I know), changed out 3 faucets;1 kitchen and two bathrooms, baked bread a few times, and then the usual Chrismasy stuff.

And to tell you the truth, the thing that I'm most proud of is changing out the faucets. On the surface it looks really easy, right? Just remove the old faucet and hook up a new one. But, as in all home improvement projects, there's probably going to be something that you didn't plan for.
 So, I am going to share with you some of the things that helped me when getting off the old faucets. 
Turn off the water at the shut offs. Remember that there's probably going to be some corrosion.

This is not a picture of the corroded supply lines that I had to deal with, But don't let that pretty aqua color fool you. It acts like glue. Superglue. and you can't get the supply line off. This is where I had to turn on some powerful music. You know, the kind that vents all of the frustration that I was feeling. In this case Metallica's "Master of Puppets" came to mind. And Techie brother-in-law was there with his I-Phone to produce it. But first I had some other help at hand. This stuff, Liquid Wrench. I was advised to get this stuff when I was trying to get the nuts and bolts off of the porch swing frame. I'm so glad I still had some. Just spray on and then wait about 10 minutes. Then bang the nut with your wrench a few times. You'll actually see some of the corrosion disappear. The you'll need your next tool.
A pair of vise grips was the main tool that I used for this project. See those lovely jaws with teeth? They bit into that nut and wouldn't let go!
Once you've removed the old faucet and the supply lines, you're ready for the next step. Hooking up the new faucet. Make sure that you measure your supply lines before you buy them. It will save you lots of grief, and extra visits to the hardware store later. 
My bathroom sinks took 16", and the kitchen sink needed a longer one. I ended up not changing them out because the ones I bought weren't long enough. I'm sure I'll be changing them soon. Make sure you pick up some Teflon tape too. You'll need that for the faucet connectors.

And then there was the kitchen sink! Oy vey! That job required a drill, a torch, and some music by Nine Inch Nails. It's funny that I always thought my sister was strange for listening to this music when we were growing up. It all sounded so angry. Sometimes you have to have the right song for the job!

I won't keep you any longer with my tale of the kitchen sink, but in case you're wondering. This is the faucet that I installed.
It's beautiful, but I'll never get a decent picture of it, because the kitchen sink is perpetually full of dirty dishes. I wonder what song I need to motivate the kids to wash the dishes. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Getting Real

Posted by, Paulette

A couple of years ago I started working out at the gym 6 days a week, 1 1/2 to 2 hours a day. I lost 50 lbs. I was feeling great and strong. I went from a size 20 to a size 12. I had learned to eat well. Restricting breads, and starches, and eating lean meats and vegetables.

And then I discovered blogland. I began changing and improving and fixing things around the house. I was so motivated!

This is me today:

In this picture I am wearing a size 16. I'm too large for my frame, but I've still not put 30 of the pound I lost back on.
I am having a lot of fun making home improvements, and sewing dolls. And when I am able to eat vegetables again, (I have major food allergies), I am confident that I will fit into that size 12 again, and maybe even continue in the weight loss journey. I need to love myself for who I am today. And do the best I can in any situation. That's why I've named this post "Getting real."
Life is all about balance. I am still learning how to balance my own life. And while I can do a lot of things really well, I can't do them perfectly without letting something go. I got a ton of compliments on the day that I wore that red dress, that I made for myself. I need to own that, and not deny the beauty that is in me. I may have a muffin top, and more junk in the trunk than I'd like. But there are more important things to focus on right now.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Winter Mantle

Posted by Paulette
I've taken down all of the Christmas decorations and the house feels so bare. I love having all of the beautiful evergreens about, but having all of that and the Christmas tree up feels too crowded. 
A quick trip to Hobby Lobby for some of their clearance Christmas artificial foliage and blooms and we're  feeling pretty again.
The evergreens were 66% off and the rose bouquet was 50% off. I filled one of my white porcelain water pitchers with stones, and then just poked the greens and blooms in. So much neater than floral foam, and easier to disassemble when I'm tired of it. 

Sweet and simple.

Gluten Free Snickerdoodles

Posted by: Paulette
One of the saddest days in my life was when I discovered that I was allergic to wheat. I used to make all my own breads, including tortillas. And to tell you the truth, I'm a cookie addict! Five years ago gluten free products were not what they are now. The baked goods tasted like they were made with cornstarch, and left a strange taste in your mouth. Now, you can get all kinds of yummy stuff that tastes just like ones made with wheat flour. The problem is that they are still prepackaged, sitting on the shelf for months, getting stale. Homemade is always better, right? So while I should be swearing off the cookies for good, I'm not. Today I made snickerdoodles. you know, the yummy cinnamon sugar chewy goodness. And lucky you. I'm going to share the recipe!

 Gluten Free Snickerdoodles
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees
 1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups gluten free flour*
1 teaspoon cream of tarter
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon water (optional)
Combine sugar, butter, and vanilla together in a large mixing bowl and mix. Add remaining ingredients and mix until they form into a ball of dough. I use a teaspoon of water because I live in the Arizona desert. If you live in a humid climate, omit that ingredient. 
Mix together in a small bowl:
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon 

Roll dough into 2 inch balls, then roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten with the heel of your hand. Bake in 400 degree oven for 12 minutes.  
Remove to a cooling rack or aluminum foil.

*The gluten free bread flour I use is Pamela's. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

I Got A New Camera!

Posted by: Paulette

I've been so unhappy with the pictures that my old camera was taking lately, and so decided to get a new one. I am no great photographer and am just starting to learn about lighting, and shutter speed, and such things. So a point and shoot is all that I can handle right now.

 Dave and I bought our old digital camera just as they were becoming popular. It would only handle a 2GB card it was so old. My new one:

 is sooo easy to use! I love it. It's tiny it's red (my favorite color) AND fits in my purse. I love that it takes beautiful clear pictures even in low light. And I think that I can use a manual mode when I start playing around with the aforementioned things. I don't know yet. It's still so new to me and I've not had much time to play with it. This one can handle an 8Gb memory card, (and higher) so, I have plenty of space to play around. Next on my list of things to learn, how to upload them to my computer! Ha!