Monday, April 30, 2012

Happy Clouds

Thursday evening I did something I've been wanting to do for 20 years. Ever since the first time I saw the calm, happy man with big, fluffy hair make landscapes flow from his paint brushes within a half-an-hour PBS show, I knew I wanted to paint like Bob Ross. He has the wonderful philosophy that there are no mistakes, only happy accidents.

From Bob I've learned that trees live in your fan brush, every little tree needs a friend, and that the canvas is your world and you can make it however you want. I still need a lot of practice, but Bob says something like "anything worth doing takes a little practice," so I don't mind.

Bob Ross

I think my first painting is kind of swampy looking. I like the reflection of the water in the middle and I like my big old dead tree. I'm not super happy about some of my foliage trees or the waterline along the shore. My painting didn't turn out much like the painting that Bob did. I think I put on too much liquid white because I had a really hard time getting my sky and clouds right. I kind of felt like a "mud mixer" near the end because everything I tried to do ended up blending with things I had previously done. Even though my painting didn't turn out anything like I wanted it to, I'm glad I finally tried the Bob Ross way and I'm excited to try again soon.

If you've ever painted (and even if you haven't) I'd love to hear what you think and any suggestions for future works of art.

P.S. Even though Bob can paint in half-an-hour, it took me about two hours from setup to cleanup. I'm sure I'll get faster now that I know what I'm doing.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Doug and I are adopting a sweet little Keeshond (pronounced kayz-hond) puppy. Her name will probably be Penny, but that could change. After months of research we decided that a Keeshond will be the right dog for us. They are a medium size intelligent dog. They like to please their owners. Most Keeshonden are bred as show dogs but Doug found a breeder that specializes in family dogs. Our sweet little puppy will be coming to us on Wednesday, May 16. Below is a video of her daddy.

I don't know if our puppy will try to talk to us but I know she'll be cute. 

We have been reading so much about training. So many people I talk to only know about training that uses punishment for bad behavior. I've had people tell me to use a rolled up newspaper to wack her on the nose when she doesn't listen. Other people have told me to make sure to rub her nose in her feces if she has an accident so she'll know it's bad. From everything we've read, those training methods will only teach the dog to fear you.

We are going to use positive reinforcement. If the puppy does something good, she gets rewarded. If she does something bad we say "NO" within 3 seconds of the bad behavior, replace the bad behavior with a desirable behavior, then reward the new good behavior. This way the dog will learn what's expected, instead of learning to be afraid to mess up around you. If she does something bad when we're not around we should ignore it because she won't remember what she did bad and won't understand why she's being punished.

We are going to be crate training so our puppy won't be given free roam of the house. She will be in her crate to sleep and eat. After eating and sleeping she will be taken outside to the bathroom, as well as other times throughout the day. As soon as she comes out of her crate she get's an opportunity outside to go potty. Only after she goes will she be allowed some play time outside of the crate. Some people think it's mean to "lock" up your dog all the time but it will help her succeed with house training. She won't really be locked up a lot, just when she's sleeping, or needs some time to herself, or when we're not home. It should help us avoid accidents and set her up to succeed. After all the videos we've watched and books we've read usually a bad dog is the result of a bad owner. We're trying our hardest to prepare ourselves to be good owners.

If anyone has any feedback or suggestions I'd love for you to comment.

Monday, April 23, 2012


Congratulations to my super hard working husband Doug. He graduated on Friday with a B.S. in Biology from Brigham Young University. Woo Hoo! I'm so proud of him. Huge shout out to his sister Rachel for making a super awesome snake lei. Doug worked a lot with snakes and reptiles during his undergraduate research. Here are the best pictures I got, unfortunately they aren't very good. Someday I'll have a better camera.

Dougie wore a blue shirt so I was a little easier to pick him out of the crowd

That's probably the Dean of the College of Life Science

That fuzzy dark blob is Doug walking to pick up his diploma.

Yay for Dougie!

The photographer had a slight problem with Doug's amazing height.

We got a little tired of taking pictures...

Sunday, April 22, 2012

$9 dishwasher makeover

So we rent our humble abode. And most things about it are great, but something that has been bothering me since we moved in two years ago was this:
Dishwasher Makeover
The top of the portable dishwasher. It has stains, burns and who knows what else. No matter how many times I disinfect it I feel like it's still too dirty to be in a kitchen. The back corner where the veneer came off and showed the particleboard was the worst part. See:
Dishwasher Makeover
My wonderful husband sanded everything and wiped it down. We were supposed to have a level surface so we filled the damaged part with wood filler.
Dishwasher Makeover
We bought 6 linoleum tiles with adhesive on the back. I didn't want to deal with any additional glue and we figured we wouldn't be walking on it so just the adhesive that was on it would be fine. It said to measure from the middle of the room and go out, so I measured from the middle of the dishwasher and went out. The pencil lines are kind of faint but here's a picture anyway.
Dishwasher Makeover
I peeled off the paper backing, lined up the linoleum tile with the lines I drew, and put it in place. I rolled over it with a rolling pin to press it down sufficiently. For some reason I didn't take a picture of  just the center tile in, but here it is about half done. The tiles are 12"x12" and the dishwasher is 25" wide. The area I left in the front was 5.5" so I would have a tile to fit exactly in front with nothing to waste.
Dishwasher Makeover
I had some issues with cutting the tiles at first because I didn't understand how to measure each of the cuts. The directions said to line up a bunch of tiles and cut them some magical way. Eventually I figured it out (not enough to explain it) but I messed up measuring this one:
Dishwasher Makeover
 I just used a utility knife to score a line and then I bent along that line until it broke. Oh, and these are all the tools I used:
Dishwasher Makeover
Wood Filler and a knife to fill that crappy back part. A pencil and ruler to draw the grid lines. The utility knife and pliers to score and break the linoleum. I also used the ruler as a straight edge to aid in scoring the linoleum. The place where the cord and hoses come out needed a special cut. I used a page from a magazine to make a template.
Dishwasher Makeover
I laid the template on the tile and cut out the space I needed to. It was a little tricky meeting up in the corners but it worked out.
Dishwasher Makeover
I have no idea why this loaded upside down but you get
the idea. If anyone knows why it did this please let me know.

Here it is with the piece cut out. The template worked better than I thought it would. It helped that I was near the end of the project.
Dishwasher Makeover
Again, upside down, I don't know why. I've tried everything.
For my first linoleum tile laying project, I think it went pretty well. Here's the final result:
Dishwasher Makeover
And, so you can appreciate the total transformation, a beautiful before and after:
Dishwasher Makeover
Dishwasher Makeover
Not too shabby for $6 worth of linoleum tiles and a $3 tube of wood filler. I feel better about having food near this surface. It really brightened up the room too. What do you think? Do you have any questions about the process?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Grandma Brown Minestrone

Traditional Minestrone is an Italian soup made with a hodgepodge of whatever ingredients are on hand. There are a lot of good metaphors for life but I think minestrone is one of the best. You take what have and mix it together and get a flavorful existence. Until August 2011 my knowledge of minestrone was imparted to me by The Olive Garden. Until that fateful day... During a balmy afternoon in Groton, Connecticut I had the most amazing minestrone I'd ever consumed. It contained the Lima beans of working for a Jewish family washing dishes and doing chores for twenty-five cents. The essence of tomatoes of saving those hard earned quarters to go to the Spaghetti western at the local theater. An older brother and four sisters were the oregano, basal, and rosemary that seasoned childhood days full of play. The salty broth was tears in a father's eyes when he couldn't provide enough meat for dinner during the Great Depression. The bitter eggplant of having to share a rubber ball with the landlady's daughter following the threat of eviction. There are many more unrecognizable but essential elements of this amazing soup; A hodgepodge of memories stewing together to create the minestrone of Grandma Brown's life.

Grandma Brown March 2012

Grandma Brown and her children Janet, Paul, and Ed

Grandma Brown passed away on Friday night April 13, 2012. I am so happy to have had the pleasure of meeting her and having a small sample of her minestrone.

*We really did eat minestrone while we were there, and it was amazingly delicious.

Friday, April 13, 2012

I'm late

The past few weeks I've been feeling really behind. The culture I was raised in has an unspoken timeline for life. Being born a girl, my pre-determined timeline looks something like this:
  • Birth - 3 years: Normal baby stuff while wearing pink so people don't mistake me for a boy.
  • 3 - 8: Playing house, tending to my baby dolls, and practicing how to be a good mommy.
  • 8-12: Graduating from dolls to younger siblings 
  •  12-18: Going to a young women's group and earning a necklace that says I qualify to be a good mommy. Babysitting as much as possible. Being a graceful ladylike young woman who does well in school and seeks after good things. Never going on a date until age 16 and most certainly not having a steady boyfriend .
  • 18-20: Graduating from high school and attending college, not necessarily to earn a useful degree which will lead to an esteemed career, but to find a suitable husband. 
  • 19-25: Marry a suitable man. Definition of a suitable man: Any young man who is worthy to take you to the temple, who holds the priesthood, and who, MOST IMPORTANTLY, has served a full time church mission because even though he may be stellar in every area of life, those accomplishments mean nothing without missionary service.
  • Within 1 year of marriage: Have your first child.
The rest doesn't really have an age, just sequential.
  • Have many more children, most of which you won't be able to control at the grocery store but you're trying your best and multiplying and replenishing the Earth and that's all that matters.
  • Buy a house with your husband, with his money since he's the sole provider of your family's income.
  • Continue raising your children.
  • Marry your children off when the time comes.
  • Serve a senior mission.
  • Enjoy your grandchildren.

It feels like everyone my age has gotten pretty far on the timeline. I, however, have not. I have completely ignored some of the items. I have done things out of order, or I haven't met the age deadlines. Looking at this preplanned life that everyone seems to be adhering to, I feel like I'm late. Or getting left behind. Or the odd woman out. Or an outcast. Or the black sheep. The list goes on...

Only when I take a step back do I realize that while I'm not fitting the mold, I have things I love and that I am in a good place.
I have this:
My darling cat Biscuit

And this:

My amazing husband Doug

And so much more! I keep trying to remind myself that I don't have to be on the same timeline as everyone else. I only have to be in the right place for me. And I'm happy where I am. I have a college degree and even though it's not in my ideal subject, I'm proud that I earned it. Economics was hard but I pushed through. Even though I want to go back to school to be an English teacher, I'm proud that I can use my degree to earn a living for our household if I need to. While I haven't started a career yet I have a great job. It's hard to deal with picky brides some days but overall it's very rewarding. I get to help people choose their wardrobe for the happiest day of their life. I don't need kids yet. I want them someday, but not until I'm ready. I need to complete myself as a person before I create a new one. Yeah, I'm married, but not because the timeline told me it was the right time, because I fell in love with a wonderful man and we wanted to start our lives together.

After taking a step back and only comparing me to myself I realized I just have to be grateful for what I have and where I am. And for who I am. And for knowing who I am. If this were a piece of paper, I'd wrinkle up the timeline and chuck it in the garbage.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Yep, the first post

I've been meaning to start a blog for awhile. I just never got around to it. But today is the DAY! A lot of things are changing in my life and I want to keep track of them. I'm going to use this blog to record craft projects, post pictures of pets (including a new puppy in May), and just write how I'm feeling. I don't expect it to become anything fancy. Just a small hobby. I'll keep you posted!