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June 2006
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August 2006


Howdy from Philadelphia! Just had to quickly update that Julie had Owen, 8 lb, 11 oz (memory) on Monday. A wonderful belated b'day present!

Valley Forge is . . . exhausting!

There were storms last night that knocked out the power to the convention center and the show started a few hours late. They extended the show hours to compensate. Here's hoping for a quiet night and plenty of electricity tomorrow!

Sleep .  . . must sleep!

SYTYCD - happy for Ivan, sad for Allison.

TPBQOTD (Isn't that a wonderful beginning?  Yeah, it's really good.)

CK Valley Forge convention

Hey guys! I really need a couple of workers on Friday at the Dollar Scrapbooking booth. The pay is $10 an hour, or 20 items an hour. (And it's good stuff, too! Everything's a dollar, but it's valued at $4-$15) You can choose your pay and combine product/cash as you see fit. Admission to the show is included.

You'll bag orders, straighten the product, answer questions and restock as needed. The booth is busy at all times - often a line to get in, so you won't be bored!

If you work all day I'll buy lunch.

If you want to work with a friend that would be peachy!

If you want to work around a class schedule just let me know when you're available.

Can you feel the desperation? Heh.

I could also use another helper setting up the booth on Thursday. No customers and you get first shot at all the fabulous new stuff that's coming in for this show. Pay is the same.

Any takers?

Oh, and new post with all my kitchen plans - just scroll down!

They say it's your birthday . . .

It's my birthday too!

Yep, I'm officially closer to 40 than to 30.


And all I really want for my birthday is . . .

. . .a nephew!

Seriously. My sister is scheduled to have Owen tomorrow, but she's been skating on the edge of labor for a week now, so let's just hope the little guy debuts today so he can share a birthday with  his dear old Auntie Karen.

OK, so you know how I mentioned my kitchen renovation project and how I would share more about it? As you wish! Here's my current kitchen:Existing_kitchen

Now at first glance you may be thinking it isn't too awful, and cosmetically it isn't, but functionally it's a nightmare and I'll tell you why:Kitchen_problems 

Starting above the fridge, we have an utterly unusable cabinet that is set way back on the wall. Currently it holds my aebleskiver pan and phone books. Only the phone books have migrated to the top of the fridge during this whole "find a contractor" process and I haven't yet climbed up onto the counter to put them away. Because I'm old. (heh)

And the fridge itself? BLECH! It came with the house, and since our previous fridge was on the fritz, we decided to live with this one for a while. It has an ice maker, but no dispenser, no filtered water, and the seal on the door is shot, so I find it slightly open quite often. The whole front and side are peppered with magnets, notes and a calendar, for a "messy chic" look. One of the big problems with our kitchen is that we use it as a business and homework center too. It's just not big enough to hold purses (look to the right), papers and the phone junk. We're going to move all that business activity to a new as-of-yet-unpurchased desk in our living/dining room where the china cabinet used to be.

This is the entire kitchen, by the way. I'm not holding back another area of counters or anything. The only thing you don't see is a small pantry that's more in the family room than the kitchen, but I can live with it. As you can see, the counters are completely broken up by the positioning of the appliances and the sink. The only real place I have to prep food is my island, which I love, but it's also our table. There isn't an attached breakfast nook in our house. We do have a formal dining room, but it's carpeted (and currently sans table), so we eat every meal at the bar. (Plates drawn in for emphasis) So you prep on the island, but then you have to clean it all up to make room for setting the "table". I pile the dishes up in the corner by the toaster. I don't put them in the sink because the big side of the sink doesn't have the disposal, and the small side is too small to hold dishes, save a cereal bowl or two. We're going with one large sink basin when we renovate.

Broken_and_mismatchedThe rest of the appliances will be replaced as well. I fell in love with gas cooktops when I lived in New Orleans, so I'm going to have the contractor run gas to the kitchen for a new range. The dishwasher will be replaced with a quieter model - right now we can't run it if we want to watch TV. Plus the skirt is hanging down at a weird angle after the plastic broke. The laminate countertops are pretty fugly, too. The corner of the island peeled off and broke recently. And then there's my "Fifth Bar Stool" - the giant unmatched stainless trash can that I bought because it was big and stainless, utterly disregarding that my kitchen is light with white appliances. The blue stepstool is for the kids to get ice (remember, no dispenser) and for me to reach the phone books. It is NOT used, however, for the kids to reach the microwave. They just dangerously hop onto the stove/counters when they want to heat up water for oatmeal, for instance. Getting the microwave away from over the stove is a huge priority for me as well.

So you want to see what I'm going to do? I computer-drew (hey, it's hard to hold the mouse steady) over the picture to give you the general idea:Kitchen_plan

Starting at the left again, there's a new fridge with a top cabinet that comes out to the front. The range is going to move out to the end of the "L", where a gas line and hood vent can be easily installed since it's an outside wall. The sink will move to the corner and the dishwasher to where the range used to be. Notice my now uninterrupted stretches of countertop between the fridge/sink and the sink/range (where I can gaze lovingly at the mountains as I prep food). The triangle makes a lot more sense when you put the sink in the middle.

I can hide my toaster in the little appliance garage next to the fridge, and above it will be a plate rack cabinet for our everyday plates. The range is flanked by 9" cabinets - one for trays and the other a pull-out pantry for oils and spices. Across from the range in the expanded island will be a set of drawers for all the cooking spoons and spatulas.

So let's talk about the island. Here's the plan:Island_plan

The island will stay where it is, but I'm losing the overhang on the side where the range will be (to increase the width of the aisle) and extending the eating area out towards the family room a little, making the island into a quarter circle, essentially. I'll get a new drawer base across from the range (can't see it here) and some extra storage under the seating area. Some new hanging lights will dress up the eating side. On the front of the island will be a pull-out trash can, some drawers, and the microwave.

Microwave_drawerThe microwave was the only disagreement that John and I had. I wanted it lower for the kids, but John likes it above the stove (or at least up high) so he doesn't have to bend over to retrieve his popcorn. (Because let's face it - the boy ain't doing any real cooking!) One of the kitchen designers solved the problem for us. It's a spendy solution, but we're both happy. We're putting in a microwave drawer. You put the food in from the top instead of the front. Sharp is the only one making them right now, but apparently GE has a model coming out next year. I have some concerns about the "gimmicky" nature of something new and fangled, but my online research indicates that people who have them are overwhelmingly happy. Anyone out there have one of these things? What are your thoughts? The only drawback I see is that the handle is just decorative - you have to open it from a button like a DVD drive. But I suppose you just get used to it. If I had little kids, I might be concerned, but my kids are old enough to not play with it. (Well, there's Karl . . .)

The new cabinets will be maple, like my current ones, but with a darker "spice" finish. The base cabinets will have bead board (the vertical slats that look like wainscoting) and the wall cabinets will be just like the base ones but without the bead board. It will be a clean lines type of look since that seems to be what we go for. The counters will be granite.

This is probably going to be a September project. The cabinets will take a month to come in and I have several work trips (and an Oregon vacation!) between now and then. Being without a kitchen is going to be an adventure, especially without a dining room table for homework and take-out meals. We don't want to buy a dining room table just yet though because as part of this whole renovation we're going to extend the hardwood floors and get rid of the carpeting in the dining and living rooms.

So that's the plan! Has anyone been through the horrors of a kitchen renovation? Please share any tips, advice or moral support! This is going to take some courage. Especially at my age! (heh)

TPBQOTD (I give you full marks for bravery. Don't make yourself a fool!)


Let's get caught up in reverse order, Memento-style.Trophies

First (or would that be last?) we wrapped up tee-ball tonight. The snacks won out in Karl's inner battle and he participated in the last two games. And by "participated" I mean batted off the tee when his team was up to bat, and picked grass on the sidelines when his team was in the field. ("The field part is boring" and "The ball never comes to me") (It does, he just doesn't notice!)

But anyway, Karl's participation was enough to warrant a snack and a trophy because this is Stuart Smalley tee-ball, after all!

Hey, at least I thought I might get a nice picture of him on the grass . . .


. . .Give me a "C"! Give me an "I"! Give me a "S"! Give me a "D"! What's that spell? CISD! What's that mean? Camera Induced Smile Disorder!

Horses_blog_1Let's go back some more . . .

We started the day at Hippotherapy. It has nothing to do with hippos. Go figure! It's actually horseback riding therapy. It was Karl's second week and boy does he love riding Buddy.

It's hard to get good pictures because Emma and I have to wait in the observation room, and the glass in the observation room hasn't been cleaned since . . . oh wait, it's never been cleaned.

Vinny: And what is this brown stuff on the windows?

Ernie: Dirt.

There wasn't any dirt (well maybe just a little) on the van windows as we drove away from the farm, though, so Emma could clearly see a pretty white horse grazing in the pasture.

Emma: Hey, there's a white horse!

Karl (looks, but apparently doesn't see the horse and decides to fake it): There's a large white horse galloping through the field over there.

Me: Karl, that horse is not galloping - it's eating.

Karl: I stand corrected.

Yes, that's how he speaks. Always.

Castle_blogLast Thursday my mom drove down and we went to tour a local castle. I didn't know we had a local castle, but you learn something new every day. Especially from mom, who just seems to know things. The kids found the opening informational DVD followed by a lecture from our elderly tour guide to be less-than-scintillating, but as we finally walked with the group up to the castle they started to get interested.

Karl: My research indicates that this castle has 56 rooms.

Actually Karl did no research whatsoever, unless the game he was playing on mom's cell phone happened to be called "Interesting Facts About Hometown Hidden Castles" but somehow I doubt it.

Which brings me to my current crisis . . . my son is a bit of a liar.

I mean, he doesn't mean to lie. He just loves to spout off facts and although his brain is rather encyclopedic in nature he certainly doesn't have hard fast knowledge on every subject possible, and in those cases his imagination takes over.

Only he doesn't warn his audience that he's hypothesizing. He just states his own made-up facts. And I'm worried that he's going to get a reputation if I don't teach him the difference.

Pathological lying is soooo 1985.

The garage sale went well. We got rid of a lot of furniture, including our dining room table, chairs, china cabinet and sofa table. The dining room is Sparse Chic at the moment. But this is good, because we want more contemporary style table. The one we sold was purchased ten years ago and had a really country feel to it - solid knotty pine with knobby legs, etc. It just wasn't gelling with our new slightly-funky-contemporary living room furniture.

Which brings me, finally, to the thing that's been keeping me so busy that I haven't been even passable, let alone decent, with my blog updates.

I'm going to remodel my kitchen!

I've been interviewing contractors and researching cabinets, appliances and countertops for a couple of weeks now. I did the design myself, of course, because although the engineering degree was relatively unnecessary for my previous career in road construction, it has been a godsend for scrapbooking and home improvement projects. I designed my office last summer and had a blast, so now I've set my sights on the kitchen, which needs an overhaul.

So when the first contractor came last week and I presented three potential designs, all CAD-drafted with cabinet designations and elevations and stuff, the estimator was understandably shocked. But also impressed.

And he offered me a job!

How cool is that?! It wasn't like a "true" offer - like "come work for us starting on Tuesday and we'll pay you X amount of money", but it was a semi-serious offer of "hey, you should be designing kitchens and if you ever want to do it - let me know"

It's tempting, that's for sure. I really, really enjoyed designing my office and kitchen.

But I'm going to stick with teaching scrapbooking classes for a while. I'll be teaching in Portland, Oregon at A Joy Forever on August 5th and at Scrapbook Cupboard near Boston August 22-24th. I'd love to meet some of you crazy cats!

More kitchen updates to come, but dang - I'm sleepy!

TPBQOTD ("Sheesh! I never worked for so little. Except once, and that was a very noble cause."  "This is noble, sir. His wife is crippled. Children on the brink of starvation . . ."  "Are you a rotten liar.")

A little birdie . . .

OK, so here's the thing. I had this little window of time today that I was all set to use for a blog update and then Typepad was down for maintenance! The nerve!

And now it's midnight and I have big plans with my mom tomorrow, so I have to just throw a quickie up here and save the whole "what has kept Karen so occupied for the last week" for, say, Sunday. And you know it's a good one when I refer to myself in the third person.

The royal oui. (See what I did there? It's even MORE bourgeois if you use a French homonym)

The quick hilarious story is actually courtesy John, who told me about it earlier this evening.

Apparently a few days ago, in the family room, Emma and Karl got into a squabble, which is so frequent that I want to tell all the people who have ever said how nifty it must be to have twins because they "entertain each other" to just go have a set and report back with their rays of sunshine in 8 years, thank you very kindly. But anyway . . .

John was in the kitchen when the argument exploded. He asked what was wrong and it went something like this:

Emma: Karl BIT ME!

Karl: I did not!

Emma: He did too!

Karl: I didn't bite her!


John: Look, I don't really care what happened. Just get along and work it out or you'll have to go to your rooms.

Now here John paused to tell me that he could tell from Emma's "harrumphs" that she was very unsatisfied with the verdict. John wasn't paying much attention but when he turned around to look at her she was. . . you will not believe this . . .

flipping him the bird!

(And here John demonstrated Emma holding up her middle finger)

Me: OH NO SHE DIH-UN'T?! (Picture me gasping in horror) Where did she learn something like that?! Oh my gosh! What did you do?

John: Well I was about to jump all over her about it when I realized that she was just showing me where Karl supposedly bit her!


John: I had to switch from angry to concerned really quickly. I said "oh is that where Karl bit you?" and she said "Uh-huh" still holding it up for me to see.

And that was simply priceless.

Favorite couple on SYTYCD this week . . . Ivan and Allison. Wow. Totally hot.

Oh, and a few of us on our street are having garage sales on Saturday, so if  you live near me and like cheap and plentiful scrapbooking supplies, stop on by. I'm doing another big purge. In the words of Vivian: Big. Huge. I have to go shopping now.

And THANK YOU for all the pity praise! You like me! You really like me! And not just when I'm doing embarrassing things and reporting them on the internet for everybody's amusement.

OK, so maybe MOSTLY the embarrassing things, but you also like my excellent use of adhesives. And that touches. It does. It really does.

And now to rest. If you haven't got your health, you haven't got anything.

TPBQOTD ("What?! Go in!! Go after her!!"  "I don't swim."  "I only dog paddle.")

So you think you can segue . . .

This post is going to be a challenge. I have several unrelated stories that I somehow have to segue seamlessly from one to another. Let's give it a go!

I am quite enjoying So You Think You Can Dance this summer. I would put Benji and Donyelle at the top of my faves list, but Ivan and Allison are gaining. They are just so CUTE! I have no idea who is going home tonight, but I hope that Benyelle, Ivison, Mutalie and Dmitry are safe.

Speaking of safe . . .

It is no longer a foregone conclusion that every kid will be safe in tee-ball. There have been *gasp* a few outs here and there. Emma's skills are coming right along. She's starting to pay attention, had a couple of hits off the pitcher, and made a great stop out near short-center-second-base. (The kids seem to clump together like Magnetix in the field) Here she is with her mad skills:


(Notice the way she pays attention while a teammate is batting) Bravo, my dear! No laying down on the job for you.

Meanwhile . . .


No, he wasn't hit by a ball. This is just his interpretation of warming up. Bill Gates might have cause to worry, but *insert any major leaguer's name here* does not. In fact, Karl has just informed me that he wants to quit the team.

I told him he could quit . . . but quitting means no snack time after the game.

He's seriously troubled at the moment. The inner battle is raging. He doesn't know what he wants . . .

Except when it comes to his birthday next month. (The segues. So good at the segues)

Karls_birthday_wish_list_1 Karl's birthday wish list

  1. 1. A iPod
  2. 2. A Leapster L-Max
  3. 3. A Leapster L-Max Madagascar cartridge
  4. 4. A new Gameboy (even if the other is found)
  5. 5. A few notepaper pads
  6. 6. Post-it notes (this can be used to fill #5)
  7. 7. Singing Coach (www. singingcoach. com)
  8. 8. A Rocet Pole
  9. 9. A Gameboy E-bridge
  10. 10. Heelys (www. heelys. com)

This list has been on the fridge for about a month. He occasionally adds to it. To clarify a few issues, he has a Gameboy but can't find it. (Hence #4) I personally think he's being quite generous in allowing #6 to fill #5, don't you? And #7 is apparently something he saw on TV that teaches you to sing. Judging by his off-tune top-of-his-lungs rendition of Gwen Stefani's "Rich Girl" (Kidz Bop Version), he could really use the coaching. #8 is some sort of fishing pole that disguises the hook and makes catching fish easier. He's been fishing about three times in his life.

But hey, he knows what he wants for his birthday.

And all he wants for Christmas is . . .

Karl_effects_1 his two front teeth. Yes, I know he's only lost one so far, but the other one is very wiggly and let's give points for the excellent segue, shall we?

It's fun to get gifts, isn't it? For your birthday, or for Christmas, or a surprise gift in the mail from Alana at Artistic Embellishments

Alana_gift_blog How cool is this?! Blue is my favorite color, too. She sent me products from her April Color Kit just to say thanks for being the guest designer for July.

And ahem? Is my posting layouts some sort of kiss-of-death for comments? Yes, yes, I realize that I don't post work very often, but that's all the more reason for mustering up some fake praise when I do. Here - I'll help you out: "Thanks for sharing" "I like your color combinations" "She looks cute in that photo" "You cut very straight" "Nice adhesives!" "Wow! I like this better than the bird-calling lady on America's Got Talent" See how easy that is? Heh.

But don't rush to scroll down and leave me pity praise. That's not what I'm implying.

Oh wait . . . yes it is.

(No, no - I really am joking. I jest. It's my thing.)

And one last thing . . . (See what I did there?)

Happy Belated Fourth of July! Here are some photos I took on Independence Day. We were in New York! (And you can tell that by the Statue of Liberty)4th_collage

OK, I'm lying. We were not in New York. We were in our family room. We've been having monsoonish thunderstorms every afternoon/evening. It's pouring right now, as a matter of fact, which canceled the game, meaning Karl has 5 more days to weigh the pros and cons of quitting snack time, er, tee-ball.

Anyway, it was raining on the 4th, too, so we had to watch fireworks on the TV with the lights off. Karl and I had fun snapping photos of the TV screen.

Speaking of TV . . .

Don't forget to watch So You Think You Can Dance tonight.

Circle . . .consider yourself full!

TPBQOTD (I need him to help avenge my father, murdered these twenty years)