Monday, December 31, 2018

Christmas 2018

We made a conscious effort to focus on giving this year.

The onions and I volunteered at a food pantry and helped get food to families in need.  It was not glamorous and it included a lot of standing around.  We did what was needed and everyone was able to contribute.

We also became aware of a family in our ward (church congregation) that needed some help.  We decided to provide gifts for the family.  We went shopping as a family.  It was great fun to pick stuff out for a family we really don't know.  Some of the onions said it was even better than buying gifts for their own siblings.  The onions also donated some of their own money to help purchase the gifts.       
We set a budget and went way over.  We spent more on the other family than we did on ourselves.
The girls (mostly) helped me wrap the gifts.

 I took the onions to a local Ballet performance to see the Nutcracker!  I remember going when I was a girl.  Lovely!

The Relief Society was in charge of the ward Christmas party.  It was already planned before I was called to be the 1st councilor.  I took on the food - it was Mexican themed.  Yum.  It went MUCH better then the first time I was in charge of a Christmas party.

Most of our family participated in the program.

Scott and Naomi sang a song with another girl their age.
Click here to watch the video

Amelia played a medley on the piano.  (not filmed per her request)

And Eric and one of his Young Mens' councilors had a great time with the 
Twelve Days of Christmas
Click here to watch the video

The theme of the evening was the Polar Express - 
with fabulous decorations, good food, hot chocolate, Santa, talk of Christ, candy and bells.

Eric and I have weekly personal interviews with each onion.  During this time, Amelia suggested that we go to Utah for Christmas.  I thought "fat chance."  However, the more Eric thought about it, the more he wanted to go.  He had already taken the week off of work, so all we had to do was to get someone to care for the animals and to secure a place to stay. Easy peasy.  Thank you!  Thank you!

We decided to surprise Eric's mom at her Christmas party.  We drove straight through stopping only for gas, quick bathroom breaks, and dinner. 21 hours!  
We hid in Steven and Nancy's basement and listened to Mimi's family arrive.  Then we heard Robin and Aunt Donna arrive.  Steven said that he had a gift for Robin and sent his boys to get it.  We rushed up the stairs and yelled "Merry Christmas."  They were so surprised and stunned.  They had no clue. Perfect!
We enjoyed the traditional Christmas scones and a visit from Santa!

While talking about our ward Christmas party, we discovered that Santa's helper in our ward in Missouri is the dad of the Elder's Quorum president in Mimi and Karl's ward in Utah.  
The world can be very small in our church sometimes!

We visited with Brent and Misty's family too.

We joined Steven and Nancy's family in their Christmas traditions.  Wonderful!  We got to putting the gifts around the tree.  It was out of control, and so beautiful!

It was made even better by excited givers and eager receivers.

We went to Aunt Donna's log cabin that is being completed.  Beautiful!
We had to park and go in in the Eddy.  We saw the house, explored a bit, and even went snowmobiling!

The creek near the house

Snow is just.....FUN

Snowmobiling with a sled.

Click here to watch the video

Click here to watch the video

Offroading!  giggles and smiles
Click here to watch the video

After snowmobiling and visiting with Robin and Aunt Donna, we went to the temple.  I left my phone in the car and it was too cold to pose for a picture anyway.
Our nearest temple is 4 hours away.  We have a choice of the St. Louis temple or the Kansas City temple.  In Utah there are 7 temples within an hour's drive and over 20 within 4 hours.  We have a greater appreciation for temples!

We visited with SO many people.  During our short visit, including family Christmas celebrations, we tried to visit as many people as we could.  We learned on the first day of venturing out to visit friends, that it was going to be more than we had time for.  The sincere reactions of excitement still warm my heart. The invitations in.  The discussions and connections.  It is wonderful to have so many friends.
We just couldn't get to everyone we wanted to.  (It was not a matter of making the cut.)  Next time.

Eric drove straight through on our return drive too.

I read in a Christmas card that "mas" means more in Spanish.  Christmas is really just More Christ.  More talk of Him.  More reverence for Him.  More yearning to be like Him.  More testimony of Him.  
Christ lives. He is the Savior and Redeemer of the world.  Through Him we can be forgiven, wrongs can be righted, wounds can be healed, imperfect can be made perfect.  Miracles really do happen, even today.  He loves us.  He loves you.  All He asks is for us to love Him.
Are you closer to Christ today than you were a year ago?  Do you have a deeper understanding, relationship, or trust in Him?  

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Refinishing Kitchen Cabinets

This is our kitchen today!

This is what it looked like when we moved in.

This is the beginning of my process.
Click  here  to watch the video.

After prepping a few doors, I figured out a better system.
Click here to watch the video.

Let's start painting.
Click here to watch the video.

The backs are done, but they are not consistent in color.  We all looked at them and came to a consensus about which we thought would look best.  We are going for the look on the bottom right, a little more coverage.

Painting the actual cabinet.....
Click here to watch the video.

Everything is painted and the doors are ready to go back on.

An after shot.  But I still need to solve the back splash problem.

I looked at home improvement stores.  Some of their cheap and easy solutions were neither cheap, nor easy.  I first tried one product, but it was wall paper and it tore and ripped horribly.  I then thought of contact paper - durable and easy to clean!
The funny thing is that I had such a difficult time with the wall paper, I didn't want to mess it up.  Over a week later I finally attempted it.  I love it!

Click here to watch the video.

I prefer to decorate with red rather than to have it be part of the permanent decor.  
However, the counter is red and this contact paper caught my eye.

We installed hardware too.

This is my kitchen for now!

After painting, you will want to put a protective coat on, like polyurethane.  This may take several coats.  
I cannot handle the chemicals, so no go for me.  I just have extra paint. 
Even with a protective coating, painted cabinets tend to chip.  Use the BEST quality paint you can find.  A specialty paint store will be more expensive up front, but it will save disappointment in the long run.
Buy the best brush too!
It took me 3 years of wanting to refinish my first set of cabinets.  I was so pleased when I finally did it.  If you are thinking about it, just get started.  If you hate your cabinets, I'm sure any change you make will be an improvement.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Wood Stove and Furniture

We ran out of propane shortly after moving to our house.  We had a guy come out and fill it.  He said our 250 gallon tank was way too small for our house.  He suggested that we get a 500 tank and use it with the 250 one, or to get a 1,000 gallon tank.  We made arrangements for him to bring out a 500 gallon tank.  We had the 500 gallon tank delivered November 1st.  We set our thermostat to a whopping 57 degrees in an effort to conserve and experiment.
We used over 200 gallons of propane in less than a month!
Um....  This is NOT the way to go!
(However, I was told if you have to pay for wood, it comes out about the same.)

The house had a wood burning furnace in the utility room.  It was disconnected, and we were told it increases homeowners insurance significantly when hooked up.  The furnace itself was on its way to be recycled before being installed in the house.  We are not familiar with these things and decided not to mess with it.
Eric and I looked online for a used wood burning stove.  Everything we called on was already taken and the majority listed were too small to heat a house of our size.  We bought a new stove.

We had not planned on relying on wood this winter.  However, that is our plan now.  Burning green or wet wood is potentially dangerous and contributes greatly to 3rd degree creosote build up. (The nasty black stuff in chimneys that can catch on fire.  Click here for an explanation if you are interested.)

Thankfully we have lots of standing dead trees and Elanor marked around 20 with pink spray paint so we could tell them apart from the healthy trees when all the leaves had fallen.  Standing dead trees are much further along in the curing process than green wood, and cures super fast if split and stacked, rather than stacking the whole log and splitting just before burning.  Yay!  We can make this work.

We went to collect wood before the stove arrived..

Is anyone else thinking we should have a truck by now?  Right?  We have been looking.  But good trucks get passed along in families around here.  They are really hard to come by.  And we just want an old beat up farm truck that runs, nothing fancy; a cheap truck.  4 doors, long bed.  We haven't found one yet.

We managed to get the wood burning furnace OUT. 
The furnace is roughly the size of a small refrigerator and several hundred pounds heavy.  Eric removed the outer panels so we could get it through the door.  We got it out, but just barely.  It sits right next to the door it came out of.

Then came the challenge of cleaning the soot out of the chimney.

And checking to verify that it was clear.

The stove arrived and was dropped off in the front of our house.  The stove needed to come in through the back of the house. Elanor started off helping Eric.  They got two sheets of 4' x 8' plywood and two moving dollies.  They got the 400 pound stove out of the box and onto the dollies.  Then the leap frogged the plywood pieces and rolled the stove around the house.  I went out to offer help and completely forgot to get a visual record.  It took 4 of us to get it in over the threshold.

Once in, the wood frame was disassembled.   And we placed it according to the specifications in the owners manual.

Click here to watch the video.

The stove required 3 initial burns to cure the paint/coating on the stove.  The off gasses were gross, but were contained in the utility room.
Eric purchased the thermometers so that we could monitor the temperature and ensure the initial burns were carried out with the temperatures required do cure our wood stove according to the instructions.
We even had a little fun boiling water.

The plan is to burn wood in the stove in the utility room and blow the warm air into the main part of the house and use the furnace fan to circulate the air.  The only air return was in the ceiling of the second floor.  That's not going to work. 
Eric installed an air intake vent on the main level.
The circle in a rectangle!  Eric got it situated properly and blocked off the corners.

Our neighbors, the next road over, are hosting Christmas activities - hay ride to meet Santa, scavenger hunt, popcorn, hot chocolate, games and a bonfire.  They are a wonderful family. We had a great time!

Reindeer Ring Toss

This was a celebrated event.  12+ weeks of no no comfortable cozy seats, and the previous 4-5 months in an RV.  I was almost in tears grateful!

The floor in the living room is clean.  It still concerned some to see the couches ON the floor, but I have faith in my steamer/sanitizer.


The onions said they never go in the living room and asked why the couches were going in there.  
Where there are comfy seats, there are my children!

No more camp chair lounging...

We purchased a wood splitter.  Elanor has claimed it and no one else has a desire to split wood. Win win.  She has filled several wheel barrow fulls of the standing dead tree that my dad cut down in September.

Seth wanted some seeds that came in to Bakersville - an heirloom seed store with thousands of seeds.

We stopped for ice cream and sherbet on the way back. (A very rare occasion.)

We went to the Temple in St. Louis on Saturday.  It was wonderful to be in the temple!  We started off the Christmas season by helping to do the work for people that did not have that opportunity in their life time.  I vicariously performed ordinances for sisters from Slovakia.  I love the temple!