Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Season of Advent

The Christmas season has come to my house. I love having my tree up so much that it didn't get put away until Ash Wednesday last year ... I could blame traveling, but that wouldn't be the whole truth... Anyway, I put my tree up on Sunday after I started Advent with Mass. I know it's a little early. I used to have a rule that decorations didn't go up until after the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, but last year someone gave me a tree on Thanksgiving weekend and I had to get it out of my hallway. I mean, I couldn't trip over it for two weeks. Plus since I traveled for about half the time it was up last year, I needed more time before Christmas to enjoy it. I promise to leave it up until at least February 2nd - the last acceptable day to have Christmas decorations up as it's the Feast of the Presentation.

This year as I was putting up my Nativity, a few mishaps happened. Well, a few years ago one of my wise men lost his head. Then last year another head fell off. I've tried glue, it doesn't work ... also I noticed today that there is lots of glue on many of these figures. I think a new nativity might be in my future for next year. Now to begin searching...

Beginning my 3rd annual Advent tradition, spending the time with Mary to prepare for my consecration anniversary. Although Advent started on Sunday - today, I begin my daily half hour with Mary to prepare for Christmas. Oh Advent!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Living the DIY Life Annie Sloan Style

When I purchased my house a little over two years ago, I decided I wanted to redo my kitchen cabinets because I disliked the gold knobs and wanted something different. Then, my entire downstairs was redone because of the flood of 2014 (remember when...) lots of other things happened instead. 

The Before
So this Fall, I decided that it was the time. It took me a month to make the decision and at the end of October, I went and took a class with my local Annie Sloan Stockist in South Charlotte to learn the techniques. When they asked what project everyone was planning, I told the teacher I was going to paint my kitchen cabinets. She replied, "Normally we recommend starting with a smaller project." Well, I say "go big or go home." So I went BIG at HOME!

So on November 8th I decided to clean everything and take all of the cabinets down and prepped my floors with paper. I did the cleaning with Krud Kutter and it took all kinds of things off the cabinets! This is fantastic stuff, but kind of gross smelling.

Open & Exposed
I painted the knobs with chalk style spray paint two coats and then poly'd them to make them shiny instead of chalky and matte.

The after, of course I did them outside and not inside, but
there aren't any pictures of that!
I purchased my paint, a brush, a roller, and went to town, painting, painting, painting. 

Annie Sloan Paris Gray
Clear Soft Wax
For three weeks with the tunes blaring. All of the cabinets on the walls, the drawer fronts, and door fronts got three coats of paint and the backs of the doors received two coats. 

Cabinets in the Dining Room
Cabinets down the Hall

I learned after this to prop them up on hangers to keep them
from sticking to the paper as they dried!

This made such a difference in the feel of the kitchen!
After painting and painting and painting and painting for what felt like forever ... but it was just a little over two weeks. The paint dries so quickly I could do two coats in one night.

Because some of my doors with underneath my drawers propping them up, I had two rounds of painting fronts and backs to do. Once everything was painted with as many coats as I was going to do, I sanded them. Not intensely because the paint doesn't need it. Just to even things out and smooth it up a bit. Then I reattached the hardware and rehung the doors. All with my little IKEA electric screwdriver!

Not everyone needs super power tools!
I was finally able to stop living on the paper covered floor, so on Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I threw it all away and cleaned my hangers which were covered with paint. I still need to rehang everything in my upstairs closet!

How Fantastic Already!
Then over the coarse of this weekend, I started waxing the cabinets. This was the hardest part - the uppers were the hardest since I couldn't scoot across the floor. I used the brush for the first coat and wiped off the excess with cheese cloth. For the second coat, which was SO much easier, I wiped the wax on with the cheese cloth. I was dreading the 2nd coat, but being able to wipe it on made it a lot easier and it went so fast!

I wanted to buff them so I purchased a car buffing attachment (that only AutoZone carries) and a friends Power Drill (maybe a girl does need power tools)! 

More Power!
After buffing, I put on my cabinet bumpers and replaced the knobs on all of the doors and drawers. 

These are so much better than what I
scrapped off when I started!
When adding the bumpers be sure to put them in the upper,
upper corner, so they totally miss the wall!
I cleaned everything up and added some flare to the top with frames (which need new pictures since those are from a friend's nursery), new signs from The Happy Little Zoo (check it out for yourself), and some left over twinkle lights. Now I have a happy little kitchen!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

I'm not seeing what you're seeing

As I prepare for Thanksgiving, tonight a comment my cousin made to me last month kept coming to mine mind. I was together with tons of my family for my godmother's 50th Wedding Anniversary. Some of the siblings hadn't seen each other since their brother died. Others in the family it'd been more than a decade, maybe since my grandmother's passing in 1999. Although not everyone was present at the party, we did have a great time catching up.

My cousin was taking photos as everyone came into the party and had us put our names on them. After about 10 of the shots were done, she realized that there was a setting on the camera to make them lighter. It was an old Polaroid, so no adjusting after the shot is taken. I was one of the people who had to take their picture twice.

When I teased about having to take a second photo, she said "come on, you never take a bad photo - ever since we were little, you've always been photogenic." Hmm, I don't particularly love taking pictures these days, haven't for years because I don't particularly love the me I see when I look at them later. I think I should be different. But as a kid, I mean - I was cute. Just check out this little girl - with those glasses (people pay big money for frames like that now - oh, and my baby brother - he was pretty cute too!

And this one - with my grandfather. This photo is the only thing I have of my grandfather and it is a treasured memory still today. The original is in a frame in my parent's bedroom, and now in my bedroom.

But now as an adult I don't always see a picture as a representative of who I am, or more truthfully, who I want to be. I have this issue in particular when I look in the mirror. The reflection doesn't always tell the truth. When I look into the mirror, I see a broken little girl who is trying really hard to keep it together. A woman who wonders if someone will love her forever, or if she'll be single her whole life. A sinner who doesn't know how to stop doing the stupid things she does over and over again and just get over her need to be in control of everything. I also see all of the flaws. The extra pimple that just won't go away, the scars from when I had terrible acne and popping pimples seemed like a good idea. The left over stretch marks from when I was 50 pounds heavier. The remaining 25 to 30 pounds I'd just like to lose once and for all, but cannot get past where I am now. All of these things make up my reflection. I see me at my most broken, and truthfully, that isn't today.

Today I am strong, faithful, good at my job, 20% lighter. But I see that as just not good enough yet. When will it be good enough?

After Mass this week, I saw a friend who I haven't seen in quite some time. She knows about my struggle with weight and self-image. She also took me shopping when I needed a new wardrobe this year. She asked if I had lost weight. That sounds like such a lovely question to be asked, right? Whenever I'm asked, I feel so discouraged because the answer is no. She had no idea that I had stepped on the scale just that morning and it read a number 5 pounds heavier than last time. Granted I don't know how accurate that actually was - but it's there, staring me in the face. Those numbers that are not what I want them to be.

Instead of saying "thanks" - I said "actually I haven't and I'm really discouraged about it to be honest." Although that's not the safe or polite answer, it is the honest answer. 

So I resolved to do something different beginning Monday. Regarding food, I'm going to plan my meals ahead of time - tomorrow's my first day on the "real plan" recipe roulette. And I bit the bullet and purchased my favorite online yoga teacher's new "Perfect Body Yoga Program" - which seems like it wouldn't be what I need - but the name means that "the body you have right now is the perfect body - work from there." 

Week #1's mantra? "I am enough."

I. am. enough. I. am. enough. I. am. enough.

Even if I never lose those extra 25 pounds. I am enough.

Even if I continue to go to confession for the same sins of pride, being controlling, and selfishness. I am enough.

Even if I'm still living in this house as a sixty year old single woman. I am enough.

I. Am. Enough.

Cousin, it's true. You. Are. Enough.

and pretty cute too, although no sporting the stylish glasses I am
we can't all have everything, now can we!

one more, including the woman we get our amazing spirit from, Viola Francis!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

A Cast of Characters

Last night I was at dinner with a few friends when a guy who used to be interested in me came up in conversation. One of the people at the table wasn't around when this guy was around all of the time almost stalking me. Someone else at the table said "they weren't good for each other age-wise, physically, emotionally, etc..." But she was referring to the wrong guy - another character in this crazy cast.

I complain a lot about being alone - and this time of the year the feeling of being alone is exacerbated even more. But it was interesting having this conversation yesterday. The crazy cast of characters that have been on the first date list is wide and varied. But none of them have made the cut.

Why is that? Many have asked - in some pretty invasive ways to be honest. What's wrong with that one? Too old, too young, too jerk-ish, too full of them selves, too 'I want to be a priest,' too...

Looking to the future, I hope that he's just "too great to deny." Maybe life will be different when making next year's November and December plan...

Monday, November 14, 2016

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Confirmation Preparation

I have a confession to make: When I first started as the Middle School Youth Minister at St. Mark, I didn't know what the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit were or how many fruits there were ... and I was the Confirmation Coordinator. I didn't learn those things until about 30 minutes before my first Confirmation Parent/Candidate Sessions a year and half into the job either. And I did not actually learn all twelve fruits until about 3 years ago.

These are just two of the things I make my students memorize and learn now. Yesterday, my 8th class of Confirmation Candidates were just confirmed. My team has changed. My level of responsibility has changed. My parish has changed. My job has changed. And my understanding of the Sacrament of Confirmation has changed.

This year's group was prepared by some adults, some teens, a nun, and me. Quite the group!

I cannot believe that I've seen almost 600 students confirmed. Through it all each class has gotten better and better. They know more and more coming into 9th grade. This year's group had a great understanding of the basics of the faith when they entered class with us at the end of August. So we were able to have more fun with them as the weeks went along.

Did we make an impact on them? I don't know yet. Only time will tell if they see this as a foundation on their faith life. I do firmly believe that as teachers of the sacraments, we are only planting seeds. We only plant the seeds and water them, to hopefully see them grow and flourish over the course of decades. 

I remember my own Confirmation. I was a junior in high school and can remember it distinctly. I chose a sponsor was good friends with my grandmother, who's name I chose. That man has since passed away, probably doing more for me and my faith than he was capable of while here on earth. Daily I remember him at Mass along with my grandparents, asking them to cheer me on my faith. To continue to water the seeds of faith that were planted so long ago and are hopefully now trees producing beautiful fruit. 

p.s. And now I know the gifts and the fruits and the difference. There are some songs (or here) that make this memorization a little easier. 

just need to add in Chasity, Modesty, and Generosity to the end to learn them all ... and that's not as easy as you think!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Being Creative in My Home

When I bought my townhouse, I was most excited about being able to decorate it the way I wanted, paint the walls the colors I like, and have an opportunity to explore my creative side.

On Wednesday, Mer and I went to IKEA to get me a full length mirror. We came up with so many great things, not including a mirror. I decided to buy a bedside night stand instead from the as-is bin that was more than 50% off. An excellent choice.

I also purchased a bunch (15) of white frames to decorate my office. I've filled three and ordered 12 other prints to be picked up at Target today to get hanging. I think that all but three will be great in my office and I'm going to use those ones to redo how my bedroom looks.

I've also decided to (finally) paint my kitchen cabinets. I'm going to an Annie Sloan Chalk Paint tutorial class tomorrow to get my technique down.

They had some curtains that are a beautiful blue fabric that I'm going to try to make into two roman shades for my dining room to complement my new dining room center piece. Of all of the great new decorating things I got, I'm most excited about this. It makes my dining room table so happy looking!!

How cute! Oh, I love my decorating style ... not many do, but I think it's so happy and fun! All I need to do is paint the wooden box with a white wash. Being a homeowner is so much fun!