Yesterday was our first day of teacher inservice. Determined to have a more positive attitude this school year than I did last, I started reading Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts. This book is beautiful. It's like a piece of really fancy chocolate, you know the kind you want to let melt in your mouth really slowly so you don't miss a single taste? That is this book.
Yesterday morning I sat out on my back patio and read a few pages of this book before heading into work. I was reminded that although I don't like getting up early, I do really love the quiet of early morning. I love the time when the crickets are still chirping and the birds are just beginning to wake up and there is still fresh dew on the grass.
I read this beautiful passage yesterday morning about choosing joy over anger this morning. As you know, "choose joy" is a bit of a slogan for me, so this particular passage resonated with me.
And then yesterday morning at work, some changes were made at the last minute (kids arrive for us on Wednesday) that deeply affected my teaching team. My first reaction was, admittedly, anger. I wanted to storm down the hallway into someone's office and give someone, anyone really, a piece of my mind. I wanted to shout about how unfair it was.
But as the day continued, the words I had read in the quiet of early morning, before the day began and the news came and the anger surfaced....those words came floating back across my mind. In those early morning moments, I pondered the beauty of those words that I now realize God had so intentionally placed in my path exactly when I would need to hear them.
"Why would the world need more anger, more outrage? How does it save the world to reject unabashed joy when it is joy that saves us? Rejecting joy to stand in solidarity with the suffering doesn't rescue the suffering. The converse does. The brave who focus on all things good and all things beautiful and all things true, even in the small, who give thanks for it and discover the joy even in the here and now, they are the change agents who bring fullest Light to all the world. When we lay the soil of our hard lives open to the rain of grace and let joy penetrate our cracked and dry places, let joy soak into our broken skin and deep crevices, life grows. How can this not be the best thing in the world?" (Ann Voskamp)
Well, as you're reading this post, chances are I'm sitting in teacher inservice. That's right folks, today is the first official day back at school! Though I have been in a few days in the last 2 weeks setting up my classroom, today is the first day I had to wear something other than sweatpants and actually had to listen in meetings - haha!
So, I thought I'd take the opportunity to look back at my "to do" lists from the beginning of the summer and see how I did!
We'll start with the fun stuff...the book list! Here's the list I started with:
I read a few chapters in #1, I'm enjoying it and just reading small bits at a time. #2, I didn't read at all yet - but I am hoping to get it this Fall. I finished #3 with my girlfriends, and it was AWESOME! If you haven't done this Beth study yet, you should! I'm in the middle of #4 now and I am LOVING it. I can't wait to share a whole post about it later on! I abandoned #5 - I just didn't like the writing style and didn't get hooked. #6 I'm working through a few devotionals a week. They are awesome and really help me think on my grief process. And #7, I read in one day and cried through most of it. I LOVED THIS BOOK.
I also read several fiction novels this summer and a few books for my students, too!
Ok, now on to the project list!
Curb appeal makeover - including a new front door, painting my porch, and actually taking time to decorate it.
And guess what? DONE, DONE, and DONE! The only remaining project on this list is painting the front porch. I wanted to wait until my new door was installed, and that just happened last week. At this point, I'm thinking I'll tackle the porch painting over Columbus Day weekend. Hopefully it will be cooler and less humid. But, I did get the door in and do a little sprucing up - a post about it will be coming!
You know that one big house project that you're dreading? The one that you can't wait to be DONE with, but don't actually want to start? That project for me was cleaning out my basement. It was atrocious. Seriously - think "we should probably call in the crew from Hoarders". This was caused by a combination of things. One being, when we moved in here in November 2009 there were a lot of boxes that we simply directed our movers (aka friends) to just stick in the basement to be dealt with "later". Second, my parents sold their house and moved into an RV - leaving me with several boxes of stuff to store (including an entire set of blocks and a 1970's era Sesame Street play set for the grandchildren they may someday have). But mostly, this got out of hand because I just kept ignoring it and then making it worse.
Here it is in all its unorganized glory:
Ok, so clearly SOMEONE doesn't mind the mess...
It took me 2 days of serious work, 14 large bags of trash, and a lot of plastic storage bins to get this place organized!
Here's the "post-Hoarders" basement!
Wait - there was a floor down here?
Small pile on the right is for Goodwill. Bins/pile against the wall is the parents'.
ahhhh - clean!
You can actually see my washing machine now!
Isaac would be happy that I dug out his big tool box and can now actually access it.
So much cleaner!
This is my new and improved laundry area. I store my extra sheets and towels down here, so I added this plastic shelf from Target and some clear bins to organize a little better.
Every morning when I go down to feed the cats, I am SO happy I finally tackled this beast of a job. It's so nice to actually be able to find things!
What's your least favorite big job? Did you tackle any of those this summer??
The last and final room in my house to receive a makeover was the bathroom. I can now officially say that every live-able room in my house has been painted since I bought the place last November. What will I do with my time now??
Anyway...on to the bathroom remodel. This 1925 duplex came equipped with one, very small bathroom. This small bathroom came equipped with a beige bathtub and gold-flecked Formica wall panels. Ugh.
Here's the before:
Gold-flecked Formica walls! YES!
The Formica walls caused this makeover to have a few more steps than my previous makeovers. I had to wash the walls, sand them, wipe them down again, prime them, and then paint them. Add in my first attempt at changing a light fixture (which was ALMOST a success - thanks, Eric, for fixing my loose wire mistake), my first attempt at caulking (more successful than the light fixture), and the crackle medium the previous owner used on the trim...and well, smallest room = biggest headache.
Before I could wash the walls, I removed all of the trim. And behind it I discovered this:
So once the walls were all washed, sanded, prepped, and primed....I started edging with the color I chose. I decided on "greige" (grey + beige) - so it would compliment the stripe in the floor, as well the bathtub, and still be in the gray color family (which is my current favorite).
Wait...you can't see the paint color? That's not the lighting. That's the "way-too-light" greige. And so back to Lowe's I went....
Ahh - that's better!
I decided to pick up the blue from the floor as my accent color...and here's the final product!
And here are some of the close-ups and accents:
New light fixture $29 at Lowe's
New mirror (spray painted blue) $9 at Wal Mart
Blue soap pump $12 at Target
New blue hardware $3 on clearance at Target
Since I took down the medicine cabinet, I added this storage cabinet for $45 from Target.
Shower Curtain $8 on Clearance at Target
New hooks $5.99 at HomeGoods
Large blue accent bowl $6 at Target
Small blue accent bowl (set of 4) $5 at Target
All of the accessories, plus paint, brings this bathroom makeover in at under $250! Isn't that insane? It looks so different, much larger, and more modern!
This was my dinner last night! It was so good!! I also love that it makes easy leftovers.
Everday With Rachael Ray, September 2011
1/3 cup plain breadcrumbs
4 slices bacon, chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp finely chopped chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
1 lb. ground chicken (I used beef instead!)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 package (16 oz) frozen corn, thawed
8 oz cabbage, shredded
1. Preheat broiler. In a large bowl, combine the breadcrumbs with 1/3 cup water. (just realized I didn't do this - oops - my meatballs still turned out fine!)
2. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat. Transfer to a plate; pour all but 2 tsp fat into a bowl.
3. Add the onion to the skillet and cook over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in three-quarters of the garlic, the chiles, and 2 tbsp of water, scraping up any browned bits. Add to the breadcrumbs and let cool slightly.
4. Add the chicken (or beef in my case), bacon, and 1/4 cup cilantro to the breadcrumbs. Form into 32 meatballs.
5. Broil the meatballs, turning once until just cooked through, about 12 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the reserved bacon fat over medium-high heat. Add the corn and cook undisturbed until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cabbage and remaining garlic and cook, stirring, until the cabbage just begins to wilt, about 3 minutes. Stir in remaining cilantro, salt, and peper.
To serve, I spread some salsa on a corn tortilla (you could use flour), topped it with the corn slaw, added some meatballs, and a little grated cheese! Yum!