Monday, February 12, 2018

Valentine’s Happy Mail

I love gifts!  Both giving and recieving gifts makes me the most fulfilled.  I know, there are many that don’t enjoy or value gifts like I do, but hey, I don’t enjoy hugs at all!  Gifts are my form of hugs!  That being said, it doesn’t need to be expensive at all to give my joy!

I have two children in college, so I love to find creative things to send in the mail to them.  Several years ago, I discovered Happy Mail!  The idea is, to find items that are non-traditional to send in the mail.  So, 1-2 times a month, my college kids, get a fun package in the mail, that is unexpected.   Of course, Valentine’s Day affords a great gift in the mail - a tin of chocolates!

For the Star Wars tin, I put: “Join the HEART side!”
For the Minnie Mouse tin: “There are so MINNIE things we love about you!”

I just put address labels on the back side and they go through the mail, just like that!  No box or anything!  I did choose these because they come in a tin and thought it'd be really cute and safe in the mail.

Yes, the are corny, but my kid’s friends fight over them when they see them!  The college students just love them!  It would be so much fun to get this in your mailbox, wouldn't it?

Sunday, January 7, 2018

New Entryway

 This the entry to our front door.  There is white carpet, so thick that the door doesn't even open without some major use of muscles.  I can't put a carpet here, to prevent the entry getting dirty, because the door would never open.  With 23 piano students coming through this door every week (and they walk across the muddy lawn to get there, because there are no sidewalks!), this area is getting dirty beyond repair! 

To at least keep the entryway clean for now, while I talked Mr. Right into cutting out this section of carpet and replacing it with some laminate.  We actually found two boxes of brand new laminate at the Habitat for Humanity for $12 each.  The expensive part was the trim between the laminate and the carpet. It ended up close to $20 each and we needed three pieces, one for each side. If there was some way to do the transition trim cheaper, I would be all over that!
 Here's the carpet and pad cut out.  We found red fir underneath and were pretty excited about the nice condition of the wood.  Someday, we plan to take out all the carpets and see what we have!  Hopefully we can go back to the original woods, but for now, we have too many projects!
Here's the finished product.  We didn't do any cutting of the laminate.  We used the full length of the pieces of laminate coming away from the door to make the size.  Also, side to size, we went as wide as full pieces, so we didn't have to cut them and make the transition difficult to create.  We talked about running it all the way to the wall to the left, so we could have an little entryway coat hanging place, but we are putting that in the addition where we'll enter in the future.

It makes me so happy that my students can come in the front door, take their shoes off, and not destroy my carpets!  I love, too that we have a clear spot for entering the house! What do you think?  Not the cheapest project, but it does save us in replacement of the entire carpet in the living room, because there was no way we would get it clean.

Monday, January 1, 2018

A Prairie Girl’s Faith Book Review

As a young girl I was a huge fan of all the Laura Ingalls’ Books!  I read every single book in the series and even tried some of the extra books written by Laura’s daughter, Rose.  You can imagine how excited I was as an adult to find this lovely book, “A Prairie Girl’s Faith” by Stephen W. Hines which is an exploration into “The Spiritual Legacy of Laurie Ingall’s Wilder.”

This book had many interesting thoughts and research on Laurie’s and Rose’s Spirituality, but it also included many findings on music, recipes and writings of the pioneer’s of this time period.  After reading this book, I yearn for more from Laura, herself on her own spiritual beliefs and growth.  Many findings seem to be supposition and the remainder of the book seems to be snippets of the rest of the Ingalls lives found through reading her newspaper articles.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, but found it to be somewhat disjointed from the actual idea that it was on Laura’s spiritual legacy and each chapter seemed to be a different topic, not necessarily in line with the title. As a musician, I especially enjoyed much of the history and discussion of the hymns and songs of the pioneers, although, I’m not certain they were unique to the Ingall’s family.  For the fan of Laura Ingall’s Wilder, I do recommend this as a good read.  It may leave the reader wanting to read many of the resources in the Bibliography as well.

I received this book from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for this review, but all opinions are my own.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Remodeling deals

We are converting our carport into another living room/piano studio, bathroom and much needed laundry room.  It’s all very exciting, but a lot of work.  Funny, we were talking to some friends who made it seem that they were doing some remodeling of their own in their own new home, and the look on their face when they realized that we were actually doing our own labor was priceless.  I guess when I say we’re remodeling, I actually mean we are doing the work.  When other’s say it, they mean they are paying someone else to do the work!

Needless to say, one of the reasons that we are doing the work ourselves, is that it saves us money.  So, I’ve been frequenting the clearance aisle of Home Depot, just planning what is yet to come!  One time I was there, I found these tiles for the new bathroom!  I was worried a little about making the purchase too far in advance, so I took pictures and sent the to Mr. Right.  He actually was in Home Depot a few days later, so he picked up what we needed.

The other not so exciting item that I got on clearance, was a bathroom light/vent for $30 marked down from $120!  It’s not really a fun part of remodeling, but hey, I can think of a lot better things to do with my saved $90 than buy a bathroom vent!

What about you - do you find deals and buy them on the spot for future remodeling projects?

Monday, December 11, 2017

Piano Student Gifts & Top 5 Piano Teacher Gifts

Last year, I gave my piano students a Christmas ornament that I found that had music around it.  This year, I noticed that some of my beginner students are learning to play their pieces with their left hand holding their book open.  They are always relieved when I clip their music open with my clothespin.  I decided to make some cute clothespins for my students to hold their books open for at home!

Speaking of which, wondering what some good ideas are for gifts for your piano teacher this Christmas?  Here’s my top 5 ideas for your favorite piano teacher:
  1. Gift card to a favorite coffee shop, restaurant, or store.
  2. Amazon Gift Card.
  3. Gift Certificate to a favorite online music store (mine is, btw!)
  4. Purchase something off of the studio/piano teacher’s online wish list.  Ask if they have one.
  5. Food item - chocolates, hot cocoa, wine, etc.

These are just some of the things I like.  I’m currently building a new studio space in my home, so I would love a Home Depot card, a new doormat, really anything for the new space!  Some teachers don’t care for the music themed gifts, because there’s only so many you can have, but for me, I love them so far!  

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Book Review: Daring to Hope

It seems hard to believe in today's day, that someone would give up everything and move to Uganda to run a non-profit and personally house African children, but that's exactly what Katie Davis Majors did.  Although this seems like an act of faith that not everyone has, "Daring to Hope" humanizes the struggles that Katie goes through personally, to continue on to love and care for people in desperate need of help.

Katie has personally adopted 13 girls, but after having her own personal tragedy, is painfully afraid to open herself to loving another person. Life goes on for Katie, more people in need of love and care, even on their deathbeds are sent to her.  Can she open herself to love again?  Does she dare to hope that God will provide and give her the strength to love over and over, even knowing that person may die?

Uganda and Katie's organization seem so far away from my own, busy life in America, but Katie brings her story of pain and suffering into an encouraging book about "Daring to Hope" no matter where God has you in life.  I found myself unable to put this book down, to see how Katie would find her way through the pain and grief of loss and suffering.  I even felt the deep conviction of looking for the blessings, even the smallest things in my own life.  I found myself feeling Katie's pain deep in my heart, as well as seeing the hope from a ever-loving God.

This book is a well-written, almost diary-style of the emotional struggles of a mom, a woman, a missionary.  So lovely to learn that though she feels like giving up daily, much like I do. Often times, she found her God in the middle of the night, on the floor of her bathroom.  Such an encouraging, real-life story a modern day missionary. A wonderful present day story of God's call to dare to hope.

This book was given to me by Multnomah Publishing in exchange for this review, although it all written with my own opinions.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Small Things

Every renovation project has it’s setbacks, but it’s felt like our new-to-us home has had more than our share.  We had originally planned to enclose our carport area between our house and the carriage house.  It seems straight forward enough, but of course, our city government is involved, so we were at a standstill for several weeks, just waiting to get a building permit.

As it stands, we are being required to add a sidewalk to the front of our house, to the tune of more than $25,000 for the entire thing!  There’s a telephone pole, a grade, a drainage ditch, the utility post for the entire neighborhood and our water meter in the way on one end.  Fortunately, it seems like the Public Works guy is on our side and is going to try to put an end to it, at least for now.

Meanwhile, we bit the bullet, paid the deposit plus the building permit and were overjoyed to begin this additional living room project.  HALT!!!  Of course, that is if the local rental center has the jackhammer in, so we can break up the concrete and replace it.  3 1/2 weeks later, the rental center finally has the jackhammer back in, so we will be finishing it off.

Many of the things that we are wanting to fix or paint in the house are attached to another, bigger project after the extra living room gets finished.  One thing we have done is raise one of the kitchen over 4 inches to make it level for the new area.  I don’t want to paint the kitchen or the bathrooms until we get done with renovations.  Why spend the money and time if I don’t have to, so for the time being, I’m getting used to appreciating The Small Things!  Like a new shower curtain.

I had left the original shower curtain in the bathroom (after washing it) since it fit.  Our liner from the last rental, didn’t fit, so I got rid of that.  I bought a “fancy” liner from Walmart for $7 that made me happy and went with it.  Don’t you agree? It’s so much better!
Unfortunately, I can’t do much else with this bathroom just yet, because it’s going to get some wall knockouts, but this clean, modern looking curtain makes me happy!  It’s the small things!

Then, because the extra living room isn’t finished or hardly started, piano lessons had to start in our main living room.  Well, as with most moves, it’s hard to unpack - so I unpacked the living room and hung pictures.  What do you think?  I’d love to paint this room, but again, we are going to be changing up some walls.  So for now, I’m thankful to have our own home, and the small things that I can do to make it a happy place to live.