Ten Books That Have Influenced Me

Monday, September 15, 2014


Last week my cousin, Lori, tagged me on facebook in a post with this caption,
 List 10 books that have influenced or stayed with you. The rules: "Don't overthink it; they don't need to be literary masterpieces, just books that have influenced you in some way. Tag friends, have them list their 10 books and also tag you so you can see their picks."
 Since reading is for sure my thang I decided to put my list here where the possibility exists that everybody in the entire world can see and really appreciate it for the masterpiece that my list is. Masterpiece! Also, I'm putting links to the books on Amazon but lest you worry that I make money from them, rest easy, I blog for free. Unless you want to pay me. Then let's talk.

We pretty much have books stashed everywhere at our house, it makes me feel happy to be surrounded by old friends. Okay, here goes.

1. The Chronicles of Narnia, specifically The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe  Oh, how I loved this book! Words can't really describe, but when I was in grade school it was like religion to me.
2. The Book of Mormon I hesitated to put this one on the list because I read it in a completely different way than the others since it's scripture and not fiction, but if I'm talking about what influenced me...it's kind of an understatement.

3. A Little Princess The idea that who you really are is manifest by how you behave when life sucks, it's stuck with me.
4. Gone with the Wind I read this in high school and it was the first classic novel I read just because I wanted to. Liking it changed the way I felt about the cannon, not as something my teachers made me read, but as books I was excited to read because they were likely to be awesome!
5. Little Women I know I'm not the only one who wanted to be as good as those girls. I'm hiding Anne of Green Gables in here too.
6. The Joy Luck Club It's not my favorite Amy Tan novel anymore, but it was the first grown up lady fiction I ever read and it sent me careening down that path where I've spent countless happy nights up reading when I should have been sleeping.

7. The Samurai's Garden I've read this so many times that it hardly counts as reading anymore. Love.
8. The Hiding Place Re-reading this is like pushing my own re-set button.
9. The Time Travelers Wife I've mentioned this book before. It is about love and romance between a husband and wife that endures crazy, impossible adversity. 
10. The Harry Potter series. Whatever. It was so fun reading those with Marc and Maddie.


Looking over this list I'm noticing how many of the books I read before I was thirty. I wonder if I've just become a lot less malleable in my old age.

So now, I tag YOU! If you can't share ten, at least give me one recommendation. I'm always looking for a good book and you're much more reliable than the New York Times.


The Perfectly (Ha!) Painted Kitchen Floor

Thursday, September 11, 2014

About a million years ago I blogged here about how I wanted to paint my kitchen floor on account of it being covered with nasty linoleum with nothing of redeeming value underneath. I had excellent intentions friends, but they were hijacked by Maddie's wedding along with all of my money. More on that another day.

But after the fabulous wedding in question we did begin our multi-stepped kitchen face lift. It had to be a face lift because a remodel was out of the budget. I think a true remodel will be possible in a couple of years, but in the meantime, I needed relief from this:

  I actually pulled this photo from the internet (thank you zillow) because I, of course, forgot to take a real "before" photo.

But let's just all agree that it is a bizarre world where the internet has pictures of the interior of my house that I did not put there and that I cannot take down.

Shortly after we moved in we replaced the fridge, dishwasher and cooktop with black KitchenAid appliances that we had brought with us or found on Craigslist. And here is a photo detailing my plans for the rest of the update.
 Oops, I forgot to put 8.replace fluorescent light fixture.

Because I'm thinking of this face lift as a kind of band aid until we do the whole remodel enchilada, we didn't want to spend very much money on it. I needed to be able to do most of it myself, which to me means PAINT. And the first thing we did was the floor.

Let's take a photo tour of the process shall we?

Umm, umm, that is so beautiful. First, we sanded all the sub-floor, put on a coat of primer, filled in the large gaps and gouges with wood putty and then sanded again. We did a ton of patching but the floors are so old and beat up there was no way we could make it totally smooth. We decided not to worry about it and embraced the "old ranch house" vibe that we have going on here.
We did the same thing in the eat in area and then swept and vacuumed the heck out of it. After that we wiped the whole thing down with tack cloths. 
Then Marc sprayed a final coat of primer.
In here too. Then we did another quick light sand, vacuum and wipe.
Before we took down all the plastic Marc used his sprayer to put on a coat of Sherwin Williams Porch and floor enamel in a creamy white color. Then we started measuring and marking our squares. We measured to find the center of the floor and then worked out from there. 
I used my acrylic quilting square to make sure all the squares were really square. We marked everything with a regular old pencil.
Then we started painting in the first set of grey squares. You can see we changed from normal blue painters tape to this green stuff called Frog Tape.
It is the real deal my friends. Don't paint stripes or squares or whatever without it. There is virtually no bleed through and you get beautiful, crisp lines.
Once those squares were dry we pulled up the tape, re-taped and painted the rest of the grey.
It looked kind of cool just like this. Do you like my fancy painter sweats? I think I work that look.

And here is the finished product.
When the paint had cured for 48 hours during which time I vigilantly freaked out if any kid tried to set foot in there Marc rolled on two coats of Varathane floor finish.
I did a bunch of reading about what to use as a top coat for painted floors and I chose this because all the reviews said it dried clear where other finishes yellowed. It did dry clear and has held up super well so far.


 I am so happy with how it came out! More on steps 2 through 8 of the Fosse kitchen face life to come.
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Getting My Act Together

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Flowers from my yard that seem to be surviving the drought

I haven't blogged in a teensy bit over a year. Which is a bummer because I have had lots of interesting, share worthy projects and experiences. Some have been really cool, like my updated kitchen which I cannot wait to share, and others were tougher, like the decision to home school Jonathan, which might be really helpful to share.

Either way, I am so ready to get back to blogging! There are two main reasons, and they even relate to each other (not always the case in my brain). 

First, what E.M. Forester said about writing, "How do I know what I think until I see what I say?" is often true for me. And seriously, the tide of life is so fast and strong, if I don't know what I think I may just get swept up in anything...probably something secondary to what is really important to me.

Which brings me to my second big reason, and coincidentally, the title of my post, I want to concentrate on getting my act together. Because my act has been a little bit all over the place lately. And it would probably help if I knew what I think about, you know, stuff.

I could just journal all this privately, but I love the connection to old friends and the opportunities to meet new ones that the blog world provides. It was so nice to talk to you to today! 

See you tomorrow.




Why I Will Never Be an Actual Grown Up

Monday, June 24, 2013

Gather round dear friends, it's time for me to tell you a story. A true story. A stupid true story that illustrates why I will never be a real grown up no matter how old I get and why does this stuff happen to me anyway?

Last Monday was my special day to drive Jonathan and his friend Stas up to NYLT (National Youth Leadership Training), an invitation only Scout Camp. I love driving hyper teenage boys to camp two hours away, except not really.

After I dropped them off I picked up a diet coke and started the trek home. After about half an hour of driving, my car started making weird noises, and then my steering wheel got all jerky-wonky. At the time I was driving with one hand because I was trying to get the last bit of ice from my diet coke and I wasn't exactly sure what was going on.

But you know what was going on, don't you? Because only a dork like me thinks, "Wow, the wind must really be blowing hard." Then I thought, "Ummm, or maybe I have a flat tire?". So I pulled over to the side of the freeway and got out to check my tires.

And the back tire was seriously popped like a balloon. So I stared at it for a minute and then went to get my phone. But I couldn't get my phone. Because my stupid door handle is broken and I have been too lazy busy to get it fixed. It is kind of tolerable because when I turn and hold the key in the door the windows roll down and I can reach in and open the door from the inside. Like a grown up, except the opposite. But there on the freeway I was tough out of luck because the keys were in the running car and BMW's automatically lock all the doors when you drive over 10 mph.

Agony.

So I stood on the side of the freeway with cars whizzing past at 80 mph for maybe 20 minutes while I pondered what the heck I should do. My hair got nice and frizzy but no one stopped to help me.

There was a fence next to me on the freeway, about 6 feet tall. It was three feet of cement and then 3 feet of chain link on top of that. So, like a grown up (not!), I decided to climb over it and see if I could get help from someone in the warehouse I could see on the other side. I kind of wonder what anyone driving past thought about a middle aged white woman hopping a fence on the freeway-but I guess I'll never know.

I plopped down and started walking around the warehouse looking for a door. My hair was a windy mess and my white t-shirt was filthy from the chain link but, whatever. I finally found a glass door and with my face pressed against it I could see the warehouse was full of boxes, but I didn't see any people. 

I gave a little tug on the door and SHAZZAM, the building alarm went off. It was awesome. I sort of shrugged and held my hands up to let anyone watching on any security cameras know that I was not a threat-but they must have already guessed that because no one came.

So I kept prowling around the building. There were cars in the parking lot so I knew there were people somewhere. People with phones. People who could help me.

People who only spoke Chinese! Yep, the next glass door opened into an office, but the two men working the front desk didn't speak English. An effort was made at sign language but "I got a flat tire and locked myself out of my car on the freeway next to your office so I jumped the fence and came here looking for a phone and oh, can I look up my husband's number on your computer because I don't have it memorized?" doesn't translate all that well.

They did let me use their computer. But it was set to Chinese. I still found Marc's office number and gave him a call. He told me to sit tight and he'd get road side service to me and call back when they were on the way. Then I sat quietly with the two men wondering if they understood why I wasn't leaving. My emotions were sort of teeter-tottering between laughing hysterically and crying and I kept telling myself to focus on how silly this all was to keep from crying.

After 30 or so long minutes Marc called back and told me road side service was on the way and to go wait by the car. Easier said than done in this case. I thanked my new friends and walked back over to the fence. My car was purring smoothly on the other side and I decided to wait to scramble back over the fence until the tow truck came. I didn't really like standing on the freeway. Surprise!

A few minutes later one of my new Chinese buddies came out and stood with me. He asked in broken English if that was my car. Affirmative. Then he pointed to the freeway and asked if I wanted a ride.

I carefully weighed my options and decided that we were fully friends now and that I did feel better about a ride with him than trying to climb the fence again. Plus it was lower down on the warehouse side and I wasn't even sure I could do it.

As we climbed into his car I wondered if maybe this was the beginning of my new life. Maybe we were going to drive off into little Chinatown together and I would live as a white slave maid somewhere. "What will my Dad think?" I wondered. But I got in anyway, took a deep, centering breath, held out my hand and said, "Thank you so much for the ride. My name is Shelley."  And my new friend took my hand, smiled, and said, "I'm Chinese."

I'm not making this up.

From there the story gets pretty predictable. I got my tire changed and drove to a close by tire place were I got to spend a thousand dollars on four new tires because "A BMW is a precision all wheel drive vehicle and if you replace one tire you need to replace them all..blah, blah, blah..."

When I finally got home I picked Marc up from Bart and thanked him for being my long distance savior. Then I made him take me out to dinner because even though we have been on the Medifast eating plan, I told him I didn't know how to get through a day like that without ice cream!

Maybe I will someday, if I'm ever a grown up.


Take Shape For Life

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Ima now going to talk about my diet (or "eating plan" if you speak p.c.). On the one hand it seems kind of awkward to talk about, but on the other hand, sharing is caring and when have I ever let awkward stop me anyhow?


I'm eating Medifast. I eat five of the Medifast meals a day and then one meal that I make out of "real" food; it's called the Lean and Green meal because you eat one protein portion and three vegetable portions.

I've been overweight for about ten years now and although I've tried a couple of times to diet I haven't really been in a place mentally to make my weight a priority. For some reason(partly Maddie's wedding) I really want to get it off now. Also, I keep thinking that I had no business donating a kidney if I'm not going to at least try and reach a healthy weight.

Medifast is a good choice for me because I have all kinds of food issues and this takes away the decision making process pretty completely-I just eat the food and that's that. Obviously this can't be my life long plan...but I like that it's clearing out some time and space for me to really think about my eating issues, why I eat what I do and when I do and how much I do. I'm trying really hard to be tuned into any cravings and evaluate what triggers them so I handle myself better in the future.

I definitely need to learn how to self sooth without food. Really. 

Free the Paint

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Back in December I finally painted my entryway. And actually, this little entryway has taken up more than it's fair share of space on the blog as I keep trying to get it just right. But since I posted plans, I figure I should share what I did-especially since I learned an awesome paint secret which I will now share with you...how to lay your hands on some FREE paint!

Yes friends, FREE. My most favorite price in the whole world.

My brother told me about this trick. It is going to the dump and taking paint that people have dropped off to be recycled. 
Here's my brother Paul introducing me to the glories of dump  paint.
At our facility there was a whole room full of partially used gallons and quarts of paint that people had dropped off. I went in knowing that I wanted to paint the entryway a darkish blue/grey color, and that I would need about two gallons of paint to do it. I was also on the look out for white trim paint.

Here is the only real "rule" you need to remember: **When you mix paints, use matching finishes** For me that meant choosing two nearly full gallons of white-ish flat interior latex and then several quarts of blue, black, and grey flat interior latex. See what I did there? All flat interior latex. No mixing oil with latex or flat with gloss. For more painting tips check out my "Painting guide for the lazy and non-critical."
I took a whole box, hey, it's free!
I also took several quarts of white semi-gloss trim paint. They were all different brands and slightly different shades of white-no worries as long as the finishes match. At home I mixed the two gallons of white together in a big 5 gallon bucket and then started mixing in the quarts of color. I ended up using a whole quart of black to get the color as dark as I wanted.
Once I had a color that I was happy with it was a just a matter of painting as usual. But for FREE!


As you can see,I have not yet wall papered the stair risers-but I still plan to (when I win the lottery).

On a side note, I have not loved the orange entryway tile since we moved in so I decided to paint that too. Sometimes I paint unusual things on the principle that I can't hate it any worse than I already do so why not?

I used TSP cleaner to clean the tile really well first. Then I used two coats of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and one coat of ASCP Floor Lacquer. You can see how it looks in the pictures. I'm super happy and it has held up perfectly! Yay. No more orange floor. 


Orange sweater yes, orange floor no.

How I Bit Off More Than I Can Chew and Blog About

Saturday, April 13, 2013

My sweet Aunt Colleen has messaged me a couple of times to let me know that "Cranky Pants" is not such an attractive title to be lingering as my most recent post. I didn't mean to take a blogging break; life just got so busy I couldn't keep up with it an blog at the same time. Which is a silly thing to say since everyone's life is crazy busy. Still, I can only do so much.

So. Why am I so busy you ask. Well first let us all remember that I have limited capabilities and require lots of down time to read, snuggle children, and watch television. Then there was Christmas, and some major yard renovations, and Katie deciding to drop out of high school (I know, I know...that will need it's own fun and exciting post-plus now she is going to be an au pair in France)and Ellie going through extensive testing for learning disabilities, and Maddie getting engaged.

YES YOU DID HEAR ME RIGHT! And NO, I am NOT old enough to have a daughter getting married. Obviously. But apparently it is happening anyway. I know, you have questions.

Yes, we like him.

August.

They will both continue at BYU.

In the Oakland LDS temple.

Physics. He is majoring in Physics. Like with math and science. But we still like him.

He served an LDS mission in Florida.

Kenny.

And that friends is why I haven't been blogging. Wedding has taken over my brain. I fondly call it "wedding brain."

Here are photos of the darling couple.

This was when we first met Kenny, last November.
And when we visited after Christmas.

So there you have it. My fine excuses for not blogging...also including our Easter party, the entryway paint job, and starting a major new eating plan.

But I miss it so I'ma gonna get back at it. Just imagine all the wedding goodness to come :)

 

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