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New Furniture

Classes finished last week, and this week is supposed to be final grading time. Sooooo, I refinished my entertainment center. Now, in my defense, I have guests coming to stay at my house starting Thursday of next week. They’ve never stayed at the house, so I wanted to use their arrival as motivation to get as many projects done as possible around here. I mean, if I’m going to do them, what better time than when someone else will get to enjoy them.

I started the week with visions of grandeur: 5 hours a day of Writing Center wrap-up, 1 hour a day of admin work, a few graded projects a day, and house projects galore. Yes, this indeed was to be my schedule for success except that I’m not good at multi-tasking, and when I took off on this little venture, I forgot how low my end of semester motivation can be. To make a long story short, I’ve charted this motivation for my readers.

Slide1Now, I’m at the point where I think I can get the house clean for the guests, finish up with grading by Monday, and still have 3 weeks of break in July (instead of 4) after finishing up Writing Center work. Yeah, I can live with that.

The entertainment centerproject snuck in right before my optimism bubble burst. Here’s a before picture of the piece.

entertainment center beforeSorry about the annoying flash, and please extend some grace and don’t be totally grossed out by all that dog hair that was uncovered once I cleared my board game stash off the floor.

With those disclaimers aside, I have to say that this entertainment center is one of my favorite pieces of furniture in the house. I bought it for $5 at an auction. The auctioneer couldn’t get anyone to jump on it, and my mom and I looked at each other and smirked at the 70s era piece. I said, “It looks like something from IKEA.” And the wheels started spinning. I stopped smirking and put in a bid right before the auctioneer gave up. I can’t believe I almost lost out on it.

I painted it black to fit my black and red living room theme in grad school, and it was one of the reasons that my parents rented a van to come help me move away from grad school because it was one piece of furniture that I did not want to part with.

But, as you can see, the trim in the new living room is brown. There’s not a stitch of black anywhere in the room, so the black paint had to go. So, why this week? I should have taken a before picture, but cords were snaking everywhere for all the electronic gadgets. The power strip that’s normally tucked up under the piece had migrated to the floor during a Roku hook-up, and the cable company sent me a new internet modem that I needed to activate. Still, so why this week?

Well, here is the list of characteristics that I’d like in a future husband:

  1. Must be actively living out his faith
  2. Must love me
  3. Must hook up all electronic devices

Yep, those three characteristics are nearly weighted evenly. I dread hooking up electronic cables, but I also dread house guests seeing the entertainment center askew with cords. So, if I was going to unplug everything and arrange it neatly, I was only going to do it once. That’s why the paint needed to go — now.

Furniture painting ventures on Pinterest fascinate me, and Kate over at Centsational Girl amusingly posted about how well a product called Citristrip worked for her. What I liked was that I could use it (supposedly) indoors. Since the entertainment center was built back in the day when furniture was made out of real wood, I didn’t relish the thought of dragging it outside; nor did I relish the thought of sitting out of the front porch until the wee hours of the night to be sure that no one would abscond with my beautiful entertainment center in the night while it dried.

I was skeptical that a furniture stripper really could be used indoors without a noxious smell, so I threw open windows to create a cross breeze. But, the smell, honestly and truly, wasn’t bad. Of course, when using any chemical indoors, I still recommend ventilation when possible.

If I remember correctly, I used a high gloss latex paint originally. The stripper said that it would take at least 30 minutes before scraping could commence. However, I noticed when my paintbrush overlapped into sections covered in stripped only moments before that some paint was already coming loose. Besides low odor and fast action, what else was so great about the stripper? It is a rather thick gel, so there was virtually no dripping. Even on the sides of the furniture, it stayed in place to do its job.

I painted the stripper all over the piece (except the rollout doors), then I went back to start scraping. A few places didn’t come off right away (probably due to sloppy application). But, I’d say about 85- 90% of the paint came off in the first go round. On that round, I scraped the best I could, found some rags to sacrifice and dry wiped the piece, and then applied a second coat of the stripper to the remaining paint spots.

To give you an idea, here is what everything looked like after round 1.

entertainment center round 1Pretty good, huh?

Round two started the tedious part because it involved getting paint out of the crevices. Plus, my attention span was flagging. If you have to get paint out of the crevices of furniture, do yourself a favor and arm yourself with two things – toothpicks and q-tips — plenty of both. If I didn’t have them, I’d have lost my mind. Obviously, you should also have on some good protective gloves throughout the entire process. I definitely think it’s not a good idea to come into direct contact with a substance that melts paint.

Once I was done with all my rags and toothpicks and q-tips, I thought the floor looked a little like the room of an ER after a trauma case (or at least that’s what it looks like when I watch my guilty pleasure ER shows on the Discovery Fit and Health channel).

Yeah, here’s to furniture trauma

furniture traumaI tossed that kitchen spatula, but it did come in handy to scrape paint off the curved legs.

So, after several hours of stripping, digging paint out of crevices, and yelling at Deogi to stop walking so close to the furniture, here’s the piece sans black paint.

entertainment center finished

Yay! Who cares that it was 11:30 at night when I reach this point and that I would still be up for a few more hours so I could be routed through 3 different Comcast call centers to get the new modem working.

entertainment center reassembled

A few obnoxious cords rear their ugly selves over the cable box, but now the power strip is tucked back under the entertainment center, and I’ll hide its cord after I mop the floor and stick the board games back under the entertainment center where they are kept so as to lure guests into playing them.

Now, I’ve only got two problems. Unfortunately, stripping the paint did seem to strip off a protective coating that I think used to be on the piece. I don’t want an ultra shiny shellac or poly coating on the piece, but the wood does look a little raw right now. Anyone have any suggestions for what I could rub into it to bring out the natural grain and give it a little protection without going overboard?

Also, I’m not fond of the color of the wood against the yellow walls. Uh-oh. Thoughts of repainting the living room were already faint in my mind before this little undertaking, and now, I’d really like to repaint. Ok, I don’t actually want to repaint (as in the process of doing it), but I would like the walls to be a new color. However, I’m going to make myself solemnly swear not to do that until I finish painting the trim and hallway ceiling that have never even gotten their first round of attention. Still, I might not be able to resist picking up some burgundy paint chips the next time I’m at Home Depot.

I’m linking this project up to one of my new favorite blogs, Young House Love, which is my new favorite substitute for the DIY channel — and if you know me, that’s saying a whole lot. Right now there is an unofficial spring Pinterest Challenge afoot paired with a link party. If I let myself fully explore all those links…well, I just can’t until I get this grading submitted.


Weeklong potpourri

Oy vey, last week was one of those weeks where by Tuesday, I was wishing it was Friday. And, the work week sputtered to an end that left me wanting to run off screaming into the night instead of trying to dig out from under emails. The registration booklet goes to print this week, so for better or for worse, professors’ schedules are set into place. That will calm things down somewhat, but spring break is next week, so this week there is the pressure to not leave any major loose ends unattended. Oh that and do laundry, so I can hatch my great escape plan for break (ie. pack a suitcase without forgetting anything).

I’ve actually come up with a metaphor for my administrative life. When I first stepped into my role as academic chair of the arts and sciences department, it felt like it would be a mildly crazy adventure, taking me right to the edge of my comfort zone but not completely out of my comfort universe. It was almost as if (the metaphor…) I’d been invited for a tubing trip down a river with an overnight stay in the wilderness. Yep, mildly disconcerting, but I could cobble together all of my life skills attained thus far and complete the journey feeling only slightly uncomfortable. Four years later, the institution has grown quite a bit, and my department has grown right along with it. We added a Communication program that falls under my department, added one full-time member to the department, and added number of new adjuncts to the team. And, emails, lots and lots of emails. If I were to count them… well, it’s just best if I don’t try to do that.

Somewhere along the way the metaphor changed to. Life never feels like a tubing trip down a river anymore. Instead, it’s like at some point, we pulled the intertubes out of the river and walked down a little path. At the end, someone chucked me a helmet and a life vest, and we all shoved off in a giant yellow raft into class 5 rapids. During weeks like last week, I spend most of my time (metaphorically) paddling like crazy and spewing out water while screaming phrases like, “Is there a waterfall ahead?” “Are we going to die?” “Is everyone in the boat?” Sigh… maybe there will be a slight lull in the river this week, but that’s doubtful.

I’ll be trying to race to the finish of my latest quilt project. Ideally, I’d like to have it done by Friday. We’ll see; I’m getting bummed already that I might not be able to make that happen. I did finish piecing the top tonight and did the distressing job of mostly squaring it up. I swear, I was checking the measurements of each section of the quilt as I went, and it still came out wonky. I’m going to need to figure out what I do that makes my quilts so out of whack. I’m going to blame it on the dual problems of my inability to sew a straight line and my rather small rotary cutting mat.  At the same time, despite its issues, I was so excited to see the entire quilt pieced together. I gulped a little in fear though as I realized how large it is when all put together. This is hands down my most extensive quilting project to date.

I did get in some relaxation over the weekend. I spent some time hanging out with my grandma and my mom. I mentioned before that my grandma was diagnosed with cancer with a tumor in her lung and stomach as well as a smattering of tumors elsewhere in abdominal region. It’s been a rough journey, but last Saturday she seemed to somewhat turn the corner. Her appetite is coming back, and she’s slowly regaining her strength. It was good to see her able to make it through the day without napping, and she’s not on meds that are making her foggy now, so she was back to telling stories, talking politics, and admiring my cousin’s attempt to make a Ghostbuster’s proton pack out of spare spark plug wires and VHS tapes. It’s hard to beat a Saturday night just watching a Hallmark movie with your mom and grandma. I hated to leave tonight and drove away wondering if I’ll ever get old enough to not feel a little wistful to leave “home” to come home. In this busy life, it’s hard to soak up enough family time.

And, finally, an update on the goal to try something new. I half cheated this week. I made something new, but it wasn’t new-new. The girls that I shared an apartment with my senior year of college came over to spend some time together on Saturday and to reluctantly say goodbye to our friend who is leaving for Idaho in June. My other friend, Becca, who feeds me every Monday had just introduced me to slow cooker three envelope pot roast. This recipe is amazing. After surviving the class 5 rapids of my work week, racing through some quilting, and cleaning the house (sorta), I had just enough energy to throw four ingredients and a roast into the crockpot at 1 am. I awoke the next morning to the smell of lunch cooking downstairs. Crockpots and this roast recipe are beautiful gifts.

Baby Quilt for Baby Adam

I’m excited that I finally get to post this project. My friend, Kristy, reads my blog, so I couldn’t spoil the surprise. I had the quilt done before Christmas, but I didn’t get to deliver it until earlier this week because I got sick and had to cancel meeting my friend’s new baby. Friends don’t give other friend’s colicky babies illness if it can be helped. Kristy is a special friend of mine. We used to cry together over boys and dream together about the future and encourage each other spiritually. Come to think of it, we still encourage each other spiritually, and she’s continued to let me cry about boys. It’s one of those friendships where we only see each other a couple times a year due to distance, but we can pick up the phone and pick up right where we left off. I remember riding a train to NYC with her as she was just starting a relationship with the man who would become her husband. She was giddy as she got his text messages with a Bible verse of the day, and now Kristy has moved on to a new phase in life as a beautiful mom, so a quilt seemed like a good way to celebrate.

Adam's quiltThe last quilting project I finished was a table runner that I think I may have started in high school or early on in college and didn’t finish until after grad school.

I wanted to get this quilt ready before Adam’s graduation, so I had to machine quilt for the first time instead of doing everything by hand, though I did still do the applique by hand.

The quilt itself took a small village to make. My friend Danielle helped me pick the fabrics. Then, my Pinterest group helped me figure out that I needed to swap the polka dot pattern that is in the border and on the back of the quilt with the light green fabric (that was originally supposed to be the back of the quilt). I was having a mini meltdown because the letters wouldn’t show up on the busy larger polka dots, but the girls at Pinterest night helped me trouble shoot until the colors were just right. Jennifer, one of my friends in the area, graciously helped me get the quilt sandwiched together and let me use her Cadillac of a sewing machine for my first experience in machine quilting. Then, another friend, Brock, searched all over his house to find good lighting to get a picture of the finished quilt after dark in the dead of winter.  Thanks guys!

If you’re a quilter feeling inspired, you can check out the free pattern and detailed tutorial for this Baby Life quilt on the Moda Bake Shop blog. Don’t forget to iron your letters onto the wrong side of the fabric. The tutorial does a good job of pointing that out, but I still messed it up a time or two, so I figured I would pass along the reminder. If you’re looking for some other inspiration for this pattern, you could check out two beautiful variations at Hooked on Needles (fun alternative word placement) and Sew Sane Jane (her polka dot fabric is too much fun!).

TED talks

I’m supposed to be grading papers, but I just knew I’d be distracted by the desire to write a blog post if I waited. I actually thought of what I might post last night, but I just couldn’t fit it in considering I was multitasking by watching TED talks, working on my top secret sewing project and texting my sister all at once. But, getting my very own blog shout-out inspired me to get back here to write. Many thanks to one of my former classmates for mentioning me on her blog, Jairus’ Daughter. I think the same year that I was holed up in the yearbook office, she was in her office editing the student newspaper. And, all that journalism experience served her well because she graciously made my ramblings sound so much  better than I deserve.

Now, isn’t it a shame  that I’m about to follow her shout out with inane observations about last night’s eclectic activities?

I’ll have to leave the top secret sewing project out of it since it’s…well…top secret. I’ll post pictures when it’s completed and gifted to the appropriate person. But, I decided instead of watching more reruns of Coach, I would enrich my brain by listening to some TED talks. I cannot tell a lie; all my smart friends should sit down now. Probably before last night, I had watched a total of one TED talk. Oh sure, I knew that all the cool kids were doing it, but I had never gotten around to firing up the TED channel on my Roku. Now, whoa! Guess what I found only two TED talks into my adventure? Videos of kids eating marshmallows.

Really, that was a discovery. I had to stop sewing to watch.

I’ve been geeking out a little bit lately with sociology based books, and I think it’s almost standard practice that when you write a sociology book, you have to discuss the study done years ago on kids who were left alone in a room for 15 minutes with a marshmallow. The kids were told that they could eat the marshmallow right away when  the researcher left the room, but that would be their only marshmallow. Game over. Or, they could wait 15 minutes for the researcher  to return, and they would then get two marshmallows. Good kiddo. A follow-up study was done. Man, I love longitudinal studies. Who wants to volunteer as my lab rat? Kids who didn’t wait got poor grades and had behavioral issues. Game over. Kids who waited for the marshmallow were successful and well adjusted. Good citizens. The marshmallows were a greater predictor of success than the IQ tests administered to the kids at the same time.

But, I digress. I was listening to the audio version of How We Decide a week or two and actually chuckling aloud as I listened to Jonah Lehrer’s descriptions of what those poor kids did to avoid eating the marshmallows while the researcher was out of the room. I thought to myself, “I want to lock kids in rooms with marshmallows. Maybe I should get my PhD in sociology. ” I even told me mom that I was going to test my own kids with this marshmallow test and enact interventions if they didn’t wait. I think she’s less eager to become a grandparent now.

So, imagine my pure bliss when Joachim de Posada recapped the study and a parallel one done with Hispanic children and included video of the kids resisting the marshmallows. Too funny. I felt like yelling, “It’s worth it! Hold out. You’re going to rule the world some day because you can delay gratification. Be strong.”

After sandwiching that TED talk between two others that sang the praises of the arts and sciences in education, my brain started to hurt, and I turned Coach back on. That’s when the earth shattering text came (after midnight, mind you). More in the next post….

Send me some TED talk links!



Pinterest Party – Wrapped Up

A bunch of fellow Pinterest addicts and I decided to have a Pinterest party. After an intense process that involved quite the mass of Facebook posts and email chains, we decided to make twine covered containers for our first project. We all showed up with our containers and some twine.

We had containers from the dollar store, old empty bulk pretzel containers, the cheapo vases that come with florist flowers, glass candles, and a Jack Daniels bottle. And, one of us decided to freestyle and use only the twine with no base container at all. The gathering was eclectic.

I showed up looking quite excited (maybe too much of that Coke Zero there). Notice my hot glue gun complete with stand.










Meanwhile, my friend Becca, an art teacher by trade, showed up with Elmer’s glue. We ribbed her all night for being an art teacher who doesn’t own a glue gun.












We had a few near Pinterest fails. Poor Amy had some issues with excess glue as she tried to get her project started. When she ripped the twine off the container, it looked like she had attacked a cat with a candle and some hot glue. She persevered though, used a lighter hand on the glue gun, and soon put all things to right.

Nicole, who was attempting the freestyle method, ran into some difficulties as well. The tutorial that she was following was a bit negligent in describing where the glue should go, but she also got everything figured out.

Here’s my finished product. I left some glass visible at the bottom and switched the type of twine that I was using halfway through the project.



We also ate some delicious food. I took Buckeye brownies, which are dangerous. With two layers of chocolate and one of peanut butter, I could be tempted to eat the entire pan at once and then lie on the floor writhing in blissful chocolate overload agony. One of my other favorite snacks of the night was an apple dip that was so simple. Blend equal parts of peanut butter and vanilla yogurt. That’s it. Two ingredients. I have a feeling that dip is going to wind up being my snack at school on a regular basis.

After good food and lots of laughs…here are the completed projects.

One English Teacher

...with a world to discover


OPQuilt: Quilts & Textiles

A Daisy Garden

Photography. Sewing. Cooking. Quilting. Inspiration.


Searching for the perfect quarter inch seam

The Sassy Quilter

saving the world one quilt at a time...

Wasn't Quilt in a Day

Since Rome wasn't either, I'll take my time.


YA Literature into Your Earphones

Christa Quilts

Make it yourself. Make it your own.

Planting Sequoias

I do things and then I write about doing things

Found This Painted That

Decorating Solutions for the Dollar Challenged


Wanna be country in a Boro...

Bit o' Betty

Outlook on Life, Observations in the World, and Total Allegiance to Christ

sewing room secrets

the story behind the stitches

Rachel Goble

Trying to live fully, love deeply and tell stories with dignity.


Daily Thoughts and Meditations as we journey together with our Lord.

I Like String

Watch and learn as I make things!

lilru96's Blog

A topnotch site

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