Friday, December 31, 2010

A Visit From My Boy

Any chance to spend time with my nephew, Evan, is time well spent. I love being around him. He is such a sweet little man, and he got to come to my house the other day while his parents went to the temple. I still had house guests who were packing to leave when Evan first arrived. He wasn't used to being around kids, and he kept lunging for me when others got too close. It makes me heart melt that he "knows" me. After they left, it was just the two of us. My house seemed oddly quiet after being full of people for three days, so we just wandered the house and explored each room before I read him a book and put him down for his nap.

Evan is so inquisitive and thoughtful. He loves finding new things, and a small table-top fan entertained him for a solid ten minutes. It was fascinating to watch his unchanging expression, as I would turn on the fan, change the speed, and then turn it off. He kept looking from me to the fan and back to me, wondering what this shiny new thing was that blew air and made funny sounds. The "model look" of wind-blown hair fits very well with Evan. He is such a handsome baby! There wasn't much question on that, since his parents are both beautiful people.

And since he was at my house for a few hours...of course I did a mini photo shoot with him. We stood next to a window so the outside lighting could capture his eyes. Evan is a natural and is so photogenic! I love taking pictures of him and capturing the difference facets of his personality.

After T'liese and Joe returned to my house, we all went to Rosa's Mexican Restaurant for lunch. It was yummy, and the company was fun. Evan wasn't in a solid-foods kind of mood, so they kept sneaking in beans on the spoon he liked sucking. When he would get some beans in his mouth, the cutest expressions would come on his face..."You tricked me?! What was that?!" I could watch him for hours and never get bored with the fun faces he pulls. I think it's a sign of intelligence.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Husband Can Beat Up Your Husband

I've always been rather partial to my husband. He's a pretty good guy, and I've decided to keep him. We made it through the one-year warranty period unscathed and are continuing in happy, marital bliss. Despite already being on my good side, John often does things to make me like him even more. For instance...just over two months ago, my husband decided to build a sideboard for me for Christmas. And on Christmas Eve, we hauled it inside as a finished piece of wooden art!

The Building

The entire project was a lot of hard work. John had some help with the bones of the sideboard. His Dad came down for three days, and John took some time off work so they could knock out a lot of building before Mick had to leave with some pretty impressive tools. Our garage became the workshop, and our old dining table became the work bench. Before long, the shape began to take form! A fact mostly unknown to most of the public, I happen to be a slight perfectionist. And these boys took that into account by making everything precise and exact. They dug in and got a piece of furniture well on its way to being an heirloom! I was at work during their building extravaganza, but John was diligent in taking great pictures to document their accomplishments as they progressed.

The Staining

After the building and sanding were finished, John began the process of staining and staining and then staining some more. It ended up taking forever in between layers. We bought a stain/polyurethane mix for the color, thinking it would only add to the durability of the surfaces. However, it made the subsequent layers of stain a headache to put on, since they were no longer sinking into wood but onto a layer of poly acrylic coating. After a careful third coat, we loved the color. On the next project (of course I'm already planning a "next project!"), we will do a stain, and then poly so everything will go as planned! John finished by adding four layers of straight polyurethane to the sideboard for some added protection.

The Assembly

Since everything was finally dry, and John had recovered nicely from inhaling fumes for three weeks, he moved on to the assembly. He put the doors on with some neat fasteners we found at Home Depot. He installed the shelving for the place mats. He built up the inside with white melamine wood on adjustable shelving so I could store all of my serving dishes inside! Have I mentioned how thoughtful this guy is? The most impressive task, by far, was his designing and building of the napkin rack. He sat at the table and figured exact dimensions before heading outside to make the cuts with his saw. Luckily, I married a math magician. And he came up with some inventive ways to hold his level in place so all the cuts would be even! Then he got to work putting the pieces together, and I absolutely love the results. Brilliant indeed. He also added legs to make the sideboard a perfect height for serving food.

The Results

After all the pieces were complete, it was time to bring it inside for final assembly. This, of course, was my favorite part because the finish line was in sight at last. John touched up the stain on the front of the shelves before putting it all together inside our Great Room. Holy smokes, it looks incredible! The entire room feels better because this beautiful sideboard now exists. I am in love with everything about it...the extra storage space, the deep color of the stained wood, the custom shelving for napkins and place mats...and that it was made FOR ME by MY HUSBAND! Have I mentioned how stinkin' cool he is?

The project was over two months from start to finish. This beautiful sideboard is a result of lots of hard sanding, sawing, measuring, crying (just kidding), and staining. I couldn't be happier with how it turned out, and I am thrilled that we have this incredible piece to pass on to our kiddies. Isn't is gorgeous? Once again, I'm the luckiest lady in the world to be married to John. He just bought at least another year of my time, I can tell you that much.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Day At The Museum

I had a really nice time today with family at an art museum. John's sister from Albuquerque, Jolene, and her family, husband Ji and son Devan, arrived Sunday evening from spending Christmas in Snowflake. We get to host them for a few days before they continue south to visit Ji's parents in Tucson. I had a menu planned for food and thought I was ready for their presence until Jolene asked what we were going to do with them all day! I panicked until John grabbed his computer to explore neat things worth visiting in The Valley.

Museums are always nice. I have yet to be in a museum that I haven't thoroughly enjoyed myself, so we all agreed that the Phoenix Art Museum was the place to spend our day. John has what he calls a "real job" and thought it would be more beneficial to go to work to provide a living for our family. He missed out on some pretty neat artwork...much to his joy, no doubt.

Before we headed out for the day, I fed our guests buttermilk pancakes with bananas, pecans, warm syrup, and homemade vanilla whipped cream. It was hard to keep up on the production line, so I am guessing they enjoyed it! Soon we were on our way to downtown Phoenix to enjoy a few hours of culture.

I love visiting these kinds of places. It makes me feel more refined, and I always come away with a desire to learn and be better. Not necessarily a desire to learn how to paint. I don't think I'm patient enough for such a task (several paintings I saw today took over fifteen years to finish!). Rather, I find myself wanting to know more about the artists and the time periods they are portraying in their work. Their art transports me, and I simply want to understand more about where they are taking me! No drugs were involved in this form of transportation, in case I was starting to sound scary.

Afterwards, we grabbed a delicious lunch at The Cheesecake Factory to commemorate our brains being full. It was only lawful that our stomachs should be fed as well. Ji ordered the same thing my husband always gets, the Factory Grande Burrito, but my man can put it away in one sitting! What a champ! John was missed all day, and I was forced to eat my Chopped Salad all alone.

Another fun result of today is a collection of fine art in my computer photo files. Which ones are your favorite?

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