Monday, October 29, 2012

My first DIY fail

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I was refinishing my kitchen cabinets.  They were in good shape, but I was sick of medium oak - it's EVERYWHERE in my house. 
I decided against painting because I wanted to keep the wood grain, but knew that staining would be considerably more work since I would have to strip off the existing poly.  Plus I'd heard that poly is not fun to apply.

I chose a dark (but not black) stain.
Anyway over my last week of vacation (from work) I took all the cabinet doors down.  I bought a power sander and sanded all the flat surfaces.  Then applied the stripper to the parts that couldn't be sanded (the stripping had to happen in shifts because I didn't have space to lay out all the doors at once).  And then scraped the stripper and poly off the cabinet doors - it was NOT a fun process.

I used this stripper - no smell and I think it worked pretty good.
The doors took quite a bit longer than the cabinet boxes because I could just sand 95% of the boxes eliminating the time consuming stripping process.  That's why you've already seen this pic.

Once I finished with the boxes I focused on the doors.  I used the sock applicator method.  Basically I put a rubber glove on my hand, covered the glove with an old sock and dipped the hand into the stain and then applied to the wood.  The first time I waited to wipe the stain for 10 min cause I wanted it to be darker.  Yeah in 10 min it was too dry and ended up streaky - I had to do those 7 doors all over.  My advice is to apply the stain to the whole door and then wipe immediately.

After two coats of stain (front and back) I applied the poly with a brush.  I used Rustoleum Poly and LOVED it.  I was careful to brush it on really thin, but I didn't have any problems with visible brush strokes or drips.

Finally I put it all back together and here it is...

The good news is that I'm very happy with the color of the cabinet doors.  The bad news is that they are a different color than the boxes.  I think that since the stain was applied to the cabinet doors when they were lying flat more was absorbed.  And since I did the doors in the garage, I didn't notice the difference in color until they were up.  It's even more obvious up close.

Once Christmas season is over I'm planning to pull the doors back off and re-do the boxes (and a couple of the doors), but for now I'm going to live with it.  Sigh.  I am going to paint the walls very soon because as much as I HATED the maroon with the medium oak, it's even worse with the darker cabinets.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Updating cabinet hardware

I'm working on updating my kitchen cabinets.  I posted a couple quick pics in this post and I'll have an indepth look at the staining process next week. 

In addition to restaining my cabinets I wanted to update the hardware.  Unfortunately I'm not entirely sure what I want the hardware to be because I haven't finalized what I'm doing with a few other kitchen elements.   Currently they are brass (yuck).  Brushed nickel seemed like it would clash with all the brass elsewhere in my house (damn you eighties home decor).  As I've been updating light fixtures I've been going with Oil Rubbed Bronze, but since the cabinet doors were going to be dark I didn't think that would give enough contrast.  My mom suggested Copper and I thought that might be an interesting option, but didn't want to sink $60 - $100 into new handles/pulls and then not like it.

I took off the old handles (and established that they are a very standard size).  Tossed the back plates and decided to try spray painting the existing handles copper.   I used Rustoleum's Spray Primer, Hammered Copper Spray Paint, and Spray Poly.

I spaced nails out on a 1 by 8 so I could prop 15 handles at a time up to be painted.  Then I sprayed 2 thin, even coats of primer, 3 coats of paint, and 2 coats of Poly onto the handles. 

Here are the handles on the doors.  You even get a sneak peak at the final staining outcome.

I'm extremely happy with how the handles turned out.  Someday I may invest in some actual copper pulls, but for now these work just fine. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

Jodi Meadows
2012, 374 pgs

Book Summary from Goodreads

New soul

Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why.

No soul

Even Ana's own mother thinks she's a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she'll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are afraid of what her presence means.  When dragons and sylph attach the city, is Ana to blame?


Sam believes Ana's new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana's enemies—human and creature alike—let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else's life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?

Jodi Meadows expertly weaves soul-deep romance, fantasy, and danger into an extraordinary tale of new life.

My Summary

Ana lived the first eighteen years of her life with a mother who hated her for being a “New Soul”.  She’s the only person alive who hasn’t been reincarnated for 1000’s of years and no one knows why.  At eighteen, she leaves for the city of Heart because she wants to discover who she is and why she exists.  Of course her mother gives her a malfunctioning compass and she's almost killed by a Sylph and then almost drowns getting away.
She’s saved from drowning by Sam.  Sam is obviously the love interest, but that develops over the course of the book – there is no insta-love here.  But there’s also no insta-hate that morphs to love.  Ana distrusts Sam because she distrusts everyone.  She’s been told her whole life that she’s a nosoul and shouldn’t exist and anytime her mother showed her any kindness it was part of a trick.  Sam is a nice guy who treats her well and works to earn her trust. 

Sam takes Ana to Heart where conditions are placed on her being allowed into the city.  She must study to become a productive member of society and abide by a curfew.  She can do this under Sam’s guidance, but if she doesn’t succeed she will be sent back to her mother or out into the wilderness alone (essentially a death sentence).

I really enjoyed the overall story, but I was occasionally distracted wondering about the wheres and whats.  Where does all this take place?  At they on Earth at some point in the distant future?  I don’t think I would have cared except there were mystical creatures – sylphs and dragons, but all the musical instruments are the same as what we have – Pianos, violins, flutes, etc.  If they created all their own instruments it seems that they would vary at least a little from ours.  I just was occasionally confused – am I reading a fantasy novel placed somewhere completely different or is it going to turn out to be a distant future right here.  Hopefully the sequels answer these questions.

Overall I enjoyed this book quite a bit more than I expected too.  Not all heroines can be Katniss Everdeen and while Ana’s ineptness at the beginning was frustrating, it was completely understandable.  I definitely did not find her to be too teen angsty. 

Other Reviews
The Book Smugglers

Christina Reads YA

My Rating
Enjoyability (4 out of 5 stars)

Romance (4 out of 5 stars)

Writing (3 out of 5 stars)

This book will stay with me until….I read the sequel.  Then it will depend on where the second book takes me.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

King Me!

I just got my new bed - 5 months and 3 cancelled deliveries after I originally ordered it.  I first posted about my Master bedroom here

As a refresher, this is what my bedroom looked like with the old bed.


 And here it is with the new

I love the king size bed.  I still feel like I have enough space to manuever in the room and love the extra sleeping space (and so does Gizmo).  Side note - I bought a new camera too - that's why the colors look so different.
I'm struggling with what to do with the wall above the bed.   I have these two that I think would go colorwise.
The head board is so high that I'm afraid any art I hang will look weird cause you're suppose to hang art at eye level.   Has anyone else had this issue?  Ideas?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Top 10 Books to get into the Halloween Spirit

This week’s Top 10 from The Broke and The Bookish is Top 10 Books to get into the Halloween Spirit. 

I'm going with Top 10 books for costume inspiration.

1.  Harry Potter

2.  Gone with the Wind 

3.  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

4.  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

5.  Little House on the Prairie  

6.  Twilight

7.  The Wizard of Oz

8.  The Princess Bride

9.  Romeo and Juliet

10.  Pippi Longstocking

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Anna Dressed in Blood
Kendare Blake
2011, 316 pgs

Book Summary from Goodreads

Just your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story...

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until his gruesome murder by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn’t expect anything outside of the ordinary: move, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, but now stained red and dripping blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

And she, for whatever reason, spares his life.

My Summary

Supernatural (the show on CW) in book form. 

Dean and Sam Cas is a hunter.   He only stays in one place long enough to kill whatever ghost is haunting and killing in the area and then moves on.  He doesn’t want to make friends because he doesn’t what to end up in a “Buffy” situation where he’s responsible for the lives of people who don’t know what they are doing.

My feelings about the novel are very similar to my feelings about Supernatural:  I really enjoyed the ghost story part of it (the beginning) and then it took a turn that went too far and lost me.   I loved the first couple seasons of Supernatural and then they went off the weird ledge – it was just too much.

Cas is an interesting character and so is his Wiccan mother.  I also got a kick out of there spirit sniffing cat.  But none of the friends Cas acquired in his new school every grew on me.  Also I did not like the romantic interest.  At. All.

I guess I don’t have much to say about this one – I don’t like to spoil any details.  If you are a fan of the supernatural genre you’ll probably like this one.   Also if you don't watch Supernatural but like a scary story you'll probably like this one.
It was just OK for me.

Other Reviews

My Rating
Enjoyability (3 out of 5 stars)

Character Development (2 out of 5 stars) - The romance in this one was COMPLETELY lost on me

Writing (3 out of 5 stars)

This book will stay with me until…. the next time I Netflix an episode of Supernatural.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Girl's Best Friend

It's hard to believe I've been blogging for 7-8 months and this is the first time I will introduce....


Gizmo is an almost 3 year old Goldendoodle.  I adopted him from the Humane Society when he was 6 months old.  It still baffles me that anyone could give him up, but I'm glad they did because he's MINE!

Gizmo is your classic couch potato. 

He loves TV (anything with a screen really - he's tried to eat my phone when I was watching a video on it. I don't do that anymore) and Harry Potter is his favorite.

At 60 lbs he's never met a lap he didn't like.

And this freaked him out for about 10 seconds.  Then he got comfy.  Now my brother does this everytime he sees The Giz. 

Gizmo is also an excellent guard dog.

 Makes friends easily and does not discriminate based on size.  These pictures are with his best friend (my Mom's dog) Tigger - a mini goldendoodle. 

And finally, he's a Husker fan just like me!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Speechless by Hannah Harrington

Hannah Harrington
2012, 288 pgs

Book Summary from Goodreads

Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can't keep a secret

Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast—and nearly got someone killed.

Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence—to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting anyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she's ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse.

But there's strength in silence, and in the new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way—people she never noticed before; a boy she might even fall for. If only her new friends can forgive what she's done. If only she can forgive herself.

My Summary

So this is my first review in at least a month and I’m feeling very rusty. 

Chelsea is popular.  But more the “she’s friends with the right person so she’s in the group” popular than the “people gravitate towards her” popular.  Her responsibility in the group is to be the one with the info….and to spill.   When Chelsea discovers one piece of REALLY big news she immediately tells her best friend and the aftermath of that secret getting out has disastrous consequences.

I didn’t especially like Chelsea in the first chapter or so of the book.  She’s a weak, self-centered gossip – not much to like.  BUT she redeems herself pretty quickly because while she does tell a secret she shouldn’t have, she does the right thing afterward even though it results in alienation from her friends and the popularity she worked so hard for.

Chelsea decides that since talking just gets her in trouble she’s just going to stop talking.  She writes a note to show her teachers letting them know about the change – some accept it, others respond with daily detention.  While it’s difficult to be silent, especially when being verbally harassed and bullied by her peers, the silence allows Chelsea to really think about who SHE is, without the outside influences of the in crowd.

I was never popular in high school.  Occasionally, I’d have a touch of envy because something the “popular” crowd did seemed fun, but even at fourteen, I recognized that popularity would require more work than I was willing to put into it.  I had a great group of friends so I enjoyed high school.   Anyway this made me really happy for Chelsea when she started making new friends during her vow of silence.  Friends that just wanted to be there for her and vice versa rather than because she could provide them with the “scoop”.

I haven’t said anything about the love interest because it’s really a back story.  I liked the relationship and felt it was well developed, but the romance wasn’t important in my enjoyment of this book.

I’m well past my teens at this point, but I still felt a huge connection to Chelsea and this book gave me a lot to think about.  I actually can think of one secret I told that wasn’t mine to tell and there were consequences (though no where near as disastrous as the aftermath in the book).  I still have some guilt over my part in that secret getting out.  I also have forgiven myself, but this book was a good reminder to think before speaking.  You can’t take it back once it’s out there.

Other Reviews 

My Rating
Enjoyability (4 out of 5 stars)

Character Development (5 out of 5 stars)

Writing (3 out of 5 stars)

This book will stay with me for at least 1 year.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Decisions are the Worst

After a summer of not being super excited about any reading choices, now I am overwhelmed.  So many  books I want to read THIS INSTANT! 

The Twelve by Justin Cronin - I've been anxiously awaiting the sequel to The Passage for months and it came out today.  BUT I have a feeling I shouldn't start it during the work week.

Promised by Caragh O'Brien - The final book of the Birthmarked Trilogy.  Might be a good choice cause it should be a fairly quick read.

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling - I bought this the week it came out and I can't believe I haven't read it yet! 

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell - I've been intrigued by the movie trailer, but I can't see the movie until I read the book.  Added bonus - it's on the list of 1001 books to read before you die.

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan - Retelling of the Scarlet Letter that a friend just recommended and it sounds AMAZING!

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn - Several people who's opinion I trust recommended this one.  Unfortunately there's a VERY long library wait list (I'm currently 324) but it is moving somewhat quickly and I do have a fairly strict book budget.

I finished Incarnate by Jodi Meadows last night and I"m almost done with The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.  I've been trying to mix up my genre's so I don't do a bunch of Fantasy/Dystopian YA in a row or pile on a bunch of heavy thought provoking books.  As excited as I am to read When She Woke I think it will be too much immediately after the Atwood novel. 

Any thoughts? 

Can anyone name the 80's movie the quote for my post title came from?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Top 10 Authors in the "Chick-Lit" Genre

This week’s Top 10 from The Broke and The Bookish is Top 10 authors in X Genre and I've chosen "Chick-lit" (PS I hate that term, but can't think of a better descriptor). 

Here are my top 10 authors and my favorite book each has written
  1. Rainbow Rowell  -->Favorite Book – “Eleanor & Park”

  1. Claire LaZebnik --> Favorite Book – “If You Lived Here, You’d be Home by Now”

  1. Meg Cabot--> Favorite Books – “Boy Meets Girl” and ‘All American Girl”

  1. Emily Giffin --> Favorite Book – “Baby Proof”

  1. Barbara O’Neal --> Favorite Book – “The Secret of Everything”

  1. Stephanie Perkins --> Favorite Book – “Lola and the Book Next Door”

  1. Sophia Kinsella --> Favorite Books – “Can You Keep a Secret” and “Undomesticated Goddess”

  1. Lauren Weisburger --> Favorite Book – “Everyone Worth Knowing”

  1. Liza Palmer --> Favorite Book – “Seeing Me Naked”

  1. Jennifer Weiner --> Favorite Book – “Little Earthquakes”

The Trouble with Ratings

It's been a while since I've reviewed a book, partly because I've been busy with other projects and partly because I've been feeling like I needed to revamp my rating system a bit.  So in the future instead of one overall rating for books I review they'll get several.


Enjoyability (out of 5 stars)

Character Development (out of 5 stars)

Writing (out of 5 stars)

This book will stay with me for at least (amount of time - could be hours, days, or decades)

And yes I have a couple book reviews that will post soon (one on Thursday!).

Monday, October 8, 2012

Top 10 Contemporary Reads for Students

This week’s Top 10 from The Broke and The Bookish is a freebie and I’ve been thinking a lot about the consistency in hearing that people who love to read hated the books assigned in high school.  I do think there is value in the classics, but I also think that the high school curriculum can get bogged down by them and neglect contemporary fiction.  I think if you mix in some contemporary fiction that students enjoy you’ll have an easier time getting them into the classics.  I also like the idea of pairing contemporary books with classics.  

Here are my top 10.  If I could think of a good classic "pair" I included it.

1.  Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne)
2.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger)
3.  A Time to Kill by John Grisham (To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee)
4.  The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (1984 by George Orwell)
5.  The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank)
6.  Incarnate by Jodi Meadows (Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte)
7.  Exile by Richard North Patterson (Mila 18 by Leon Uris)
8.  The Help by Kathryn Stockett  (Beloved by Toni Morrison)
9.  The Kite Runner by Khaled Kossini
10. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Confession time - I haven't read "To Kill a Mockingbird", "1984", "Jane Eyre" or "Beloved".  I paired those based on summaries.  Also I don't know if "Mila 18" or "Beloved" can really be called classics.  I do think they make good discussion books, especially when paired.   Making this list actually made me add a couple classics to my TBR pile.

Anyone have any suggestions for classics to pair with my last 4 contemporary reads?  Any contemporary reads you think would be great additions to curriculum?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Top 10 Older Books I don't want to be forgotten

This weeks Top 10 from The Broke and the Bookish is "Books I don't want to be forgotten amid the new releases".  I struggled with it a bit because I tend to think of book over 50 years old as "safe".  If we're still reading it now then it will be good for awhile.

I ended up splitting this into two categories. 

Books/Series I've read that I don't want to be forgotten

1. Little House Series – Laura Ingalls Wilder
2. Ramona SeriesBeverly Cleary
3. We Need to Talk About Kevin – Lionel Shriver
4. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
5. The Power of One – Bryce Courtenay

Books that have been on my TBR list for awhile that I don't want to forget to read

1. Lonesome Dove – Larry McMurtry
2. 1984 – George Orwell
3. The Glass Castle – Jeannette Walls
4. To Kill a Mockingbird  - Harper Lee
5. Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand