Wednesday, July 26, 2017

My Love Story

I never had much interest in reading blogs until I stumbled across; I loved all the before and after pictures of her home.  So when I had a home of my own to play makeover with I wanted to document it and I started this blog. I learned that I really enjoy writing blog posts, however, with house projects moving slowly I don't get the opportunity very often. I was talking about this with Brandon  and he brought it to my attention that I don't have to limit myself to just house (and bee) stuff. Mind blown. So I have been thinking of other things I could write about and today inspiration struck when Brandon and I tried taking a nap. I couldn't fall asleep because my brain wouldn't shut up and I started thinking about how random life is, but how those random experiences bring us right where we are supposed to be. That led me to think of all those experiences that brought Brandon and I together and I thought it might be fun to write about!

I served a mission in West Virginia and during my exit interview my mission president counseled me to attend a singles ward when I returned home. I didn't really appreciate that advise because I didn't want to go to the singles ward. Like at all. I didn't want to because while I was on my mission my family moved from Idaho to Sandy, Utah; so I wouldn't know anybody in the ward and I'm socially awkward and really suck at making new friends. I asked the other sister missionaries if he told them to go to the singles ward, hoping that maybe it was just universal advice. After asking around I concluded that I was the only one he gave that instruction to, therefore it must have been inspiration and so I better listen to him.

I came home in March 2012 and attended my parents ward the first few Sundays before working up the courage to go to the singles ward. Thinking back on it now, I believe that even if I had wanted to go to the singles ward I probably would have been so scared of going alone that I  would have just continued to attend my parents ward. It's so much easier to just sit by your mom than to have to go and talk with strangers. Thus my mission presidents counsel gave me the courage to go. It took `me WAY out of my comfort zone. I get social anxiety like you people wouldn't believe.

Meanwhile at home my mother was worried I was going to end up single for the rest of my life. I'm a pretty shy person and typically throughout my life if I ever had a crush on a boy I would completely ignore him (for fear he might find out I liked him.) And through the years my mom would always say, "You have to flirt! You have to let the boy know you like him so he'll have the confidence to ask you out!" I never took that advise because I was too worried about looking like an idiot, plus I had major fear of rejection. So my Mom began to pray that I would be able to get married hahaha. Then early one morning she came running out to me and cheered "Courtney, I know who you're going to marry!!" She went on to tell me about a dream that she had where a boy came to the door asking for me then he and I were hanging out in the living room and he had me laughing my head off. She said he was really tall with broad shoulders and he had brown hair and a red beard. She was mostly set on the hair/beard combo. Brown hair, red beard. She asked if I knew anyone that looked like that but I couldn't really think of anyone. We even looked through all my Facebook friends, but my Mom said no to everyone I showed her. At the time I didn't think much of it, I just figured it was Heavenly Father letting her know all would be well.  

When I first came home my Bishop had started a special Sunday school class for recently returned missionaries, I to that class for months but it wasn't really my favorite. I kept waiting for permission to quit going to that class but he kept encouraging me to attend. Finally one Sunday in September I was like screw it, I'm going to the normal class! So I did, and that day in class they announced that our stake was in charge of singing outside of the conference center to help counteract the protestors during general conference. They asked for volunteers and a group on the other side of the room volunteered. They still needed one more person but I wasn't about to do it. Then I started getting this nagging feeling to volunteer. I fought it. I fought hard. The awkward silence only made that nagging feeling stronger until I gave in & raised my hand. I immediately started scolding myself for doing such a thing. After class Brandon came up to me and said he was part of the group that volunteered and he asked if I wanted to drive up with them and I said that I did. I vividly remember my heart went from racing to calm when he came over to talk to me. Something about him just calmed my nerves, probably his nice big smile.

If memory serves that was the first time we had actually spoken to each other. I had seen him around but I hadn't really NOTICED him until that day. We sang at general conference a few weeks later, it was pretty uneventful I stayed quiet and just listened to the conversations around me. But after that experience I became very aware of Brandon. I suddenly started paying attention to who he hung out with and where he sat, you know stalker type stuff.

Speaking of stalker type stuff I told my mom about Brandon so we looked him up on Facebook. When she saw his picture she exclaimed "That's him!! That's the guy from my dream, he just doesn't have a beard! Does he have a beard in real life?" I had to think about it. He didn't really have a beard at the time, but he did have some scruff. I thought about what color it was and "OH MY GOSH IT'S RED!!"

"Well is he funny," she asked "because in my dream he had you laughing your head off!"

"I think so, I mean I don't know him that well; but he's always making other people laugh."
We left it at that but I was more interested in this Brandon guy than ever before. I'm pretty sure my mom on the other hand started planning my wedding that night.

Brandon used to have game nights at his house all the time and somehow I started going to them. Before I knew it I was a regular among his group of friends and over time I really started to feel like I could be myself around them and my shyness started to fade. However, I find it interesting that I was always totally comfortable with Brandon. If there were other people around I would resort to my quiet side, but whenever it was just the two of us I always felt relaxed and at ease. There are very few people throughout my life that I have been that comfortable with right off the bat. Maybe it's because he has such an easy going, friendly personality and maybe it's something deeper; all I know is that it made me like him all the more. Somewhere along the lines Brandon started to like me too but he was too nervous to ask me out. Apparently my mom was right about giving boys encouragement.

I gave that encouragement to him one night during a family home evening activity where we were having an auction. Everyone got $100 in the form of monopoly money to buy whatever their little hearts desired. Brandon was auctioning off a Chinese dinner. I had my heart set on buying a lava lamp. And I made sure he knew that's what I was getting (I would hate to buy his dinner and have him suspect that I had a crush on him.) So the auction started and things were selling for pretty cheap; people were spending $30-$50 on things. I just waited patiently for my lava lamp. Then it happened. Brandon's dinner was up for auction. They started the bidding at $10 and someone raised their hand for it right away. "Can I get $20" the auctioneer asked. And it was in that very moment that I'm pretty sure a spirit over took my body and raised my hand. "We have $20, can I get $30?" My competition raised his hand. "$30! Now $30 can I get $40?" My hand went up again!! It went back and forth between the two of us. $50. $60. I was already spending more money than anyone had spent. I felt like everyone in the room was watching me and I turned beet red. Yet my cursed hand kept going up! He bid $70. I bid $80. The boy must REALLY like Chinese food. He bid $90. And you guessed it, it bid all $100 of my monopoly monies. I felt so embarrassed, I couldn't believe I had just done that. I still can't believe I did it. My heart started racing as I wrote this because I STILL have leftover anxiety from that night.

But that was just what Brandon needed. A few days later he came up to me before institute started and said "Hey, so I was thinking that maybe for the Chinese Dinner we could go eat and then go bowling and make a date out of it." I eagerly replied that I loved that idea! We went on that date and it went so well that we decided to go on a second one the next week. The second date went so well that we started to see each other almost every single day. All those days went so well that we decided we would spend all our days for eternity together.

There were so many of those random life experiences that brought us together, starting with my parents moving just a mile down the road from him. Interestingly, they moved away from Sandy just a month after we got married; I like to think they moved there just for me to meet Brandon. Then there were all of those experiences that pushed me out of my comfort zone but looking back now I can see it was all part of a bigger picture. I've been told there's no such thing as fate or soul mates but this sure feels pretty close.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Honeybees Welcome

It's the beginning of bee season so I thought I would post about our little ladies. Our bees did really well all summer long last year which was really nice considering all the bee drama we had in the spring (a sterile queen, the uprising and murder of a new queen, decapitation of the sterile queen, the whole colony nearly dying until we combined it with another colony.) Even after all that they didn't survive the winter. Our hive, our friends two hives, our neighbors hive... none of them made it out alive. We're not really sure what they died from but it was really sad. So we went ahead and bought another package of bees this year and they're already off to an amazing start. The queen that came with this package is an all star and she is laying brood like crazy and we see all the foragers coming back home with tons of pollen. Good job ladies!

We picked them up on Friday April 21st and installed them into their hive that evening. Our neighbor was out of town when the bees came, so he asked Brandon if he could install his package of bees for him. My brother Timmy came to help but didn't have a bee suit yet and a bee flew into his ear and stung him. When bees sting it emits an alarm pheromone to alert the other bees basically saying, "hey ladies this is where the danger is! ATTACK!" So sure enough he got stung again on his forehead...twice. We are quickly learning that he just might be allergic to the little ladies because well...

Later that day

The next day

I half jokingly told him I was going to stick the baby monitor in his room that night to make sure he didn't stop breathing (we have an angel care monitor that has an alarm go off if your baby/adult brother stops moving.) But he survived and just looked like the guy from The Goonies for a couple of days. To be honest we had a hard time not laughing at him any time he was talking.

Fun fact: honeybees all have different jobs in the hive and one of those jobs is guard duty. The guards will sit there and watch everything you do, and if they feel like you are a danger or a threat they will start emitting that same alarm pheromone they send out when they sting. The alarm pheromone smells like bananas, so if you're around honey bees and you suddenly get a whiff of something that smells like banana flavored runts, it's time to grab your butt and run! That's why some bee keepers use smoke; a lot of people think it's to calm the bees down, but it's actually to cover up the alarm pheromone. In fact using a lot of smoke just kind of ticks them off and counteracts what you're trying to accomplish. The best thing to do if you're getting into the hive is to spritz the bees with sugar water. Then they're too busy licking all the delicious sugar water off themselves to worry about you. I mean think about it, would you rather have someone blowing smoke in your face or giving you a nice drink of kool-aid?

Last Thursday I got a call from a friend in my old ward (church congregation) saying that there was a swarm of bees in the neighborhood and she wondered if we could help. Considering a package of bees costs around $150 we were more than happy to come get them off their hands. Freebies...heh heh.

Bees start swarming this time of year because the colony has outgrown their hive and needs to split up. So the bees make a new queen, and the old queen and over half the worker bees fly off. Initially they don't go far, they'll find a tree branch to hang out on while scout bees go searching for a suitable place to make a new home. That's where these bees were, all clustered together in a ball hanging out in a tree.

 Brandon had to take a final that night and he couldn't go get them so he called up his friend Alex to catch them. Tim wasn't traumatized enough by his last bee encounter and he agreed to come along to assist, although I'm sure it helped that he had Brandon's bee suit to wear this time.

Once we arrived Alex and Timmy climbed up a couple of ladders, held a cardboard box under the ball of bees and shook the branch so most of the bees fell into the box. Then they took the cardboard box and dumped all the bees into an empty hive box. The motive here is really just to get the queen bee; if you get the queen the rest will all follow. Her royal highness hangs out in the middle of this ball of bees so as long as you get the bulk of them the queen should be in there.You know you got the queen if all the rest of the bees start going into the box too.

Sure enough all the bees started going into the box while a handful of bees stood outside the entrance and started sending out another pheromone that signals everyone still flying around to come to their new home. They send it out by sticking their butts in the air and fanning their wings, it's so fun to watch!

This is the only picture I thought to take that night...oops

Over the next hour or so we just let them do their thing and watched them re group inside their new home. There were some stragglers who kept heading back into the tree that we had to guide to the box, but for the most part all the bees figured out where the party was at. Once we had pretty much all of them in the box Alex drove them back to our house where they now sit next to our first hive.

The hive on the left is a top bar hive that Brandon and Alex built last year and the hive on the right is  a  langstroth hive. People always think our backyard must be covered in bees, but they really just hang out by the entrance of their hive. Although we do get some pollinating our weeds for us...thanks gals.

Here's a picture of a comb with lots of honey on it! The capped honey is all done and ready to eat while the rest is stuff they're still working on.

Well thanks for reading and letting me gab about my bee fascination! Let me know if you want to hear more about them or if you're thinking to yourself get back to the baby pictures already!!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Kitchen Cabinet Makeover Part 2

It's amazing what a little bit of paint can do, it's like magic, and I'm the magician. We finished painting our cabinets and kitchen a while ago, but I was waiting for the kitchen to be totally completed to write my post. But I changed my mind and I'm writing it now, and I can do that 'cause I'm grown and I do what I want.

Let me give you some reminders of the state of our kitchen. We started off with green walls and oak cabinets.

The previous owners must have been ultra destructive. If you take a look at the pictures above, the darker green areas on the walls were huge bumps as if there were all these holes in the walls at one point and they "fixed" it by slapping some mud over them and painting without sanding it down to be flush with the rest of the wall. And the walls were like this in just about every room of the house. I didn't want to texture the walls, so they have been a pain to get all smoothed out. I almost wish they would have just left the holes because it would have been easier to just patch them up rather than to fix their patch job. But oh well, such is life.

After we got the walls all smoothed out, I started getting them primed when one Friday night we decided we would just knock out the soffit above the cabinets. Little did we know we were opening a can of worms. We were under the impression that we could just cut away the drywall and be done. However, it was a bit more involved than we anticipated and we ended up needing to take the cabinets off the walls to finish it up. Once the soffit was down we had some big holes that we patched up with drywall and mud. Our ceiling is textured so we mixed up some mud and sand and slathered it on to match, I still need to paint the ceiling which is a task that I may or may not be avoiding. We also added some wiring to install lights underneath the cabinets which is what you see hanging in the third photo below.

We figured as long as we had cabinets off the walls it would be a good time to update them! As you all know I couldn't decide between staining them darker and painting them white, and I thank you all again for all your input and suggestions! White was the right choice for sure! The first thing I did was to sand them all down. Here's a really attractive photo of me sanding.

Then we filled in all the holes where the knobs were, and sanded down some more so our fillings were flush with he rest of the wood. I think that's what I was sanding in the photo above; after sanding a little I would close my eyes and run my hand over the area to see if it was still raised at all and if I needed to sand some more (or if I had sanded too much.) The stuff we used to fill in the holes smelled REALLY strong and since I was nice and preggo Brandon and my little brother Timmy filled in all those holes for me so I wouldn't have to breathe it in. Look at them so hard at work.

Brandon's good friend Alex was kind enough to spray them white for us which I appreciated very much! If you want to paint your cabinets yourself and don't have an awesome friend who can spray them for you then I recommend reading this post by Virginia; she's my favorite and I was planning on following her tutorial before Alex offered to help us paint them. We painted all the cabinets that we took off the walls at his shop and hung them back up. A short time later we got the bottom cabinets painted as well, but I had a nice modge podge of a kitchen for a minute there.

Some time in the middle of all this I painted all the kitchen walls in Valspar Filtered Shade. It's a nice grey with some blue undertones and I love it! We also added some crown molding along the top of the cabinets to make it look complete.

For new hardware I went to Lowe's and picked out satin nickel knobs for the cupboard doors, and arched pulls for the drawers.  One day I'll hang some pretty things on my walls, get those lights beneath the cabinets, and put the covers back on my outlets; but for now I'm pretty pleased with my new kitchen.

 Thanks as always for taking the time to read! 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

DIY No Sew Changing Pad Cover

As I was working on painting Evelyn's changing table (you can read about that here) I was like "well, if I want some really stellar after pictures, my changing pad cover has got to be just as fabulous as this dresser" So I started looking for just that, but I couldn't find anything that I loved enough to buy. So I decided I could make my own! My sewing machine, however, has been giving me some attitude and I don't know how to fix it; and since I wasn't about to sew the whole thing by hand I adapted this changing pad tutorial from Made Every Day to make it without sewing.

What you'll need:
  • 1 Yard Fabric of Your Choice
  • 2 Yards Elastic (3/8" wide)
  • Heat n' Bond (affiliate link)
  • Iron & Ironing Board
  • Safety Pin (...or a bobby'll see) 

That's it! Now let's begin...

First, you will need to cut your fabric to size, you need a rectangle that is 48"x 32." So fold your fabric in half (hamburger style) measure out 24" long and 32" wide and cut away!

Second, you will need to cut out a 7"x7" square from each corner. The best way to do this is to grab some cardboard or construction paper (I used an empty Cheerios box) and cut that out to use as a pattern.

Fold your fabric in half (still hamburger style) so that you can cut two layers at once. Lay your cardboard pattern down so it is lined up with the edge of your fabric and cut around it, then repeat to the other edge.

Third, Cut out four 7" pieces of your Heat n' Bond to make your four corners. Lay down a strip of Heat n' Bond, paper side up, on the edge where you cut out your square (it doesn't matter which edge) and iron it for two seconds.

Once it has cooled peel back the paper. Fold over the other edge of your square so the two edges line up and iron them together for 8 seconds. Repeat this process to your other three corners.

Fourth, you will hem all of your raw edges. Cut two 17.5" pieces and two 36" pieces of Heat n' Bond. Starting with any edge, lay your Heat n' Bond down, paper side up, as close to the edge as possible and iron it down for two seconds.

Remove the paper backing, fold your fabric up so your Heat n' Bond strip is covered and iron down for 8-10 seconds (depending how thick your fabric is)

Fifth, we need to create a tube to slide the elastic through. Cut two more 17.5" and two more 36" pieces of Heat n' Bond. Starting with whichever edge you please, measure one inch above the hem you just made and iron down your Heat N' Bond.

Take off the paper backing, fold up your material and iron the fabric together. Repeat to all four sides.

Sixth, slide that elastic on through! Most normal people have safety pins- if you're a normal person fold back the edge of your elastic, stick the needle of your pin through and slide it on through your tube. If you're not normal, welcome to the club. Look around you for a bobby pin, they can usually be found on the coffee table, in couch cushions, on the floor, on the arm of your chair, on your bedside table, there might be a few in your purse, you shouldn't have to look far. Now take your elastic and with the tip of some scissors just make a small snip on the end. Then loop your bobby pin through and feed that sucker on through your tube!

Seventh, now the truth comes out... so I kind of sort of sewed in this step. But you don't have to! You just need to attach the two ends of elastic together. I chose to sew them together with a needle and thread. You could use that safety pin to keep them together, or maybe try using a hot glue gun. I'm sorry if I failed you. I would have used a safety pin with you, but you know...bobby pins...

That's it!! You're done!! Now stick that thing on your changing pad, lay your cute baby down and pat yourself on the back for creating such beautiful things! 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

DIY Ikea Malm Gets A Makeover Into A Changing Table

Changing tables are too expensive, then again I think everything should only cost $5, MAYBE $10. So I have been searching the classifieds for something cheap that I could fix up.  I had in mind a pretty french provincial dresser but every time I found one for sale it was either more money than I wanted to spend or it was already sold (why can't I be the only one on the hunt for a good deal??) But one day it occurred to me that I had a dresser I could use, it just wasn't the style I had in mind. I bought this IKEA Malm dresser about 5 years ago when I came home from serving an LDS mission and I needed a dresser fast. I remember the day clearly because it was my first time ever going to IKEA and my Mom and I felt like we were rats in a maze and we couldn't find our way out; talk about a good way to give a girl a panic attack.

Here's the dresser before, very plain & simple. You'll notice, I'm sure, the bottom board which seems very out of place. You see, what happened is there were two boards the same exact size, one was blue and the other was not. Somehow I ended up with the blue piece inside of the dresser where no eye will ever see it and the very plain wood piece on the outside. Don't be like me. Read your instruction manual.

Step One:
Lightly sand. I didn't get a picture of this, but I'm sure if you tap into your 5 year old self you can imagine it up.

Step Two:
Prime. I Just used the same primer we have been using for our walls. Is that allowed? I don't know, I guess we'll see if it holds up. I also didn't bother to paint inside because once the drawers are in you can't even see it.  If anyone comes to my house and scrutinizes the dresser enough to see the original paint color then they deserve to know I'm lazy. Plain and simple.

Whenever I paint anything I always use a foam roller instead of a paint brush. This way it looks more professional and you don't get the brush strokes from the paint brush. I've seen a lot of people that paint it on with the brush then smooth it over with the foam roller, to each his own. I DO, however, keep a brush around to get in all tight areas where the roller won't fit. 
I use this Foam Roller Kit (affiliate link) and I love it. I also use the tray when I'm doing the trim on my walls.
This is my favorite Paint Brush (affiliate link) I also use this when I do the trim around the house.

Step Three:
Paint. I had a deep, deep internal struggle with myself deciding what color to do this dresser. I really wanted it white, but then I said to myself "Dude, let your child have a little color in her life! Just because you want everything to be white doesn't mean it should be." So I decided on Sherwin Williams "watery" because I had a jar of sample paint leftover from choosing colors in my master bedroom. My heart was still bleeding a little from being yelled at about the white paint, so to help ease the pain I took one cup of the watery and added a half cup of white paint to it.

 I absolutely positively LOVE how the color turned out! I have given myself many pats on the back for it

*TIP If you have to step away from painting for any reason, like, I don't know a baby that doesn't know how to take naps without being held for example. Just keep some plastic wrap and sandwich bags close by so that you can cover up your paint and keep it from drying out. My paint went hours without being touched & it was like I never stepped away.
It's hard to step away in the middle of a project, but when your baby wakes up early from her nap looking this cute it makes it a whole lot easier. 

Step Four:
Add Hardware. When I started this project the vision in my head had a single long gold handle on each drawer. Then life happened. The only gold bars that I could find that were long enough and the right shade of gold were like $20-$40 and I had to buy 3 of them! So I found some shorter silver bars that I was going to spray paint gold, but I kind of failed. Luckily I only tried it out on one of them so I was able to return the rest. So I went to Hobby Lobby to see what they had for me and boy did they deliver! I found these cute little teardrop pulls and I fell in love with them instantly. I'm actually pretty happy that the bars didn't work out because I love these so much! To add these I just measured out where I wanted them, drilled the holes and slid those puppies right into place! 

 So the dresser isn't in her nursery right now because she's getting new carpet- woohoo! Once her room is all ready I'll do a whole room reveal and you'll see this piece in it's proper home. I also made the changing pad cover you see here WITHOUT sewing and I'll tell you how this next week! As always, thanks for reading!!