Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The "Cycle" of Life

I often take long (20-25 mile) bike rides, rides that have a way of making me philosophize. Often, it occurs to me that life is like a long bike ride.

Some paths are straighter than others.

You have to follow the rules if you want to live through it, though it's sometimes okay to bend them. I ride on the side facing traffic, for example, and I don't always come to a complete stop before railroad tracks.

If you never go off the main road, you will miss some good stuff.

Sometimes, what you see up ahead will be ominous,

and you might need to take a little break.

Sometimes, it seems like it's all uphill, but if you stick with it, the payoff can be great.

If you don't pedal hard sometimes, you're going to be late.

Sometimes, you won't be able to keep your destination in sight, but you have to keep going.

Having a friend along for the ride makes the trip more fun.

Even when you're alone, the journey may be beautiful.

There will be times when you think you just can't go any further. Yes, you might even have to walk your bike for a bit, but you will get there eventually if you just keep moving forward.

You'll see many others pedaling faster than you; that's okay.

You'll enjoy the ride more if you stop to smell the roses now and then.

As for riding a bike, life requires balance.

And the best part about biking, unlike life: going downhill can be exhilarating. [no pictures of that, of course!]

Monday, July 27, 2015

That Sugar Film Review

I recently had the opportunity for an advanced viewing of a film that's coming out July 31st in major cities across the United States, and because it relates to a topic I'm interested in, I happily agreed to watch it.

That Sugar Film is a powerful look into sugar, of course, and we all know it's bad for you, but I don't think most people understand why it's bad and how much it has crept into our diets, even without our awareness. The film uses humor, in part, to help educate viewers. It also contains plenty of eye-catching graphics and visuals that keep viewers entertained, but the content itself is compelling, of course.

I don't think people realize how many food items contain sugar. As a teacher, I often see students eating "breakfasts" that they've brought from home. Even the smartest parents send Pop-Tarts, granola bars, and "yogurt" to school, thinking they're doing right by their kids. I think if parents watched this film it would have a significant impact on their own habits, as well as those of their children. I also think the film would be excellent viewing for high school kids.

Damon, the That Sugar Film's main "character" is endearing; he sacrificed a lot to participate in the sugar experiment he endured for the film. His blog is also worth reading, and if you scroll to the bottom of the page and sign up to join the "Sugar Squad," you get a free pdf of some of the recipes he used to detox from sugar after his experiment was over. I find them to be very easy and meals I'll actually eat!

Ninety-nine percent of Damon Gameau's film is terrific;
it's funny, informative, compelling, and inspiring.
(There's just one tiny PG-13 comment (meant to be funny)
that may require parental guidance, in my opinion.)
It's certainly worth watching anyway; people of all ages should really see it.

To see the list of theaters in which That Sugar Film will open, click here.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Bedroom Transformation

Summers are good times for for me to paint; every room I've painted in this house was painted during my summer breaks from school. This summer, I decided to repaint our master bedroom, because it had been about ten years since I'd painted it "butterscotch" and even longer since the builder painted the ceiling. I loved the butterscotch color, and so did Mr.4444. I took a few "before" photos...

So pretty in the morning light...

Warm colors and furniture that almost blended in with the walls 
(I only realized after the new paint job.).

Grandma Grace's waterfall-front 1920's dresser, matching vanity, one nightstand, and one lamp.
 The other "nightstand" is an old end table from Mr. 4444's grandma's house, too.
Sorry for the poorly-made bed; that's par for the 4444 family course.

I was going to make it a surprise, but Mr. 4444 stumbled upon my paint stash, so I started on the ceiling over the weekend. It took two gallons of (white) paint to apply two coats. I was thrilled that my shoulders and neck held up just fine! Shout-out to a friend who loaned out his six and eight-foot ladders to add to our 12-footer; this room required all three!


Monday morning, Mr. 4444 went out of town, and two of my nephews came over to tear out the old carpeting for me. Steve (who incidentally hurt his foot while digging a HOLE in the yard) hated to see the carpet go, apparently.

Here, he's begging Caden to put it back
or maybe to stop working and play a little.

While the boys worked on the flooring, I started painting the accent color, gray. 
Good thing I'm not afraid of heights!

My dear sister Mary loves to paint, thank goodness! 
She offered to help and ended up staying all day on Monday and half of Tuesday; 
without her help, I might still be at it!

The blue color, incidentally, is Indigo Batik, from Sherwinn Williams, and it is gorgeous.

Our cat, Ted, tried to get in on the action, too.
Here's Mary pulling him off the third step of the ladder.

I later found him on the top of the six-foot ladder, just hangin' out, little stinker.

More gray accent:

The top of the corner was easier to reach when I could lean the ladder on the wall;
no such luck after the first coat.

Steve was so relieved when I brought the new carpet sample in to get a sneak-peek.
He sat like that for at least 20 minutes, poor thing.

Finally!! Here's a recap comparison for you, as well as a little video tour:

That's an old-time radio stand up there on the right, 
converted by Mr. 4444's grandpa (we assume) into a shelf.

The bedding (Vera Bradley, from Kohls) is silvery gray with blue and slate accents, 
plus the blue coverlet.

Milo loves it.
When I tried to make the bed that morning, he wouldn't cooperate,
so I thanked him profusely.

Only kidding, of course; I've turned over a new leaf
and make it religiously now.
Who wouldn't? It's gorgeous!

And the tour...

So that's my big summer project!
Mr.4444 totally loves it!
He also loves the special present I made for him.

How about you; any summer projects in the works?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Another Little Slice of Americana

Mr.4444 and I spent July 4th (Steve's 3rd birthday, incidentally) in a tiny little village in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Eagle Harbor, visiting family.  Wikipedia lists Eagle Township as having 281 residents, and Mr.4444 and I were surprised that it appears to be a popular place in the summer! We missed the parade that morning (forgot about the hour difference in time zones), but there was plenty going on when we arrived. 

A lot of people apparently stay in cottages or cabins in the area. I actually met a young lady who told me that her family comes from Texas every summer "to get away from the heat"!

There was lots of visiting going on outside the new fire station and nearby playground/park.

There were also a number of relay races that we missed, but I did get there in time to snap some photos of an amusing activity involving women throwing a heavy rolling pin as far as they could, in the direction of their husbands!


Young and old, it seemed every wife there stepped up for the chance
 to bean her husband with a projectile.

Some husbands had the gall to taunt their wives!

 Many had fearless postures.

I have no idea who won, 
but I did hear that the contest is yearly and that there is even a title!

There was also a good old fashioned pie-eating contest! How fun is that?! 
These adventurous competitors stepped right up 
for the chance to devour a free slice of blueberry pie, 
and who wouldn't?!

This woman was eating for two, apparently, and perhaps that gave her an advantage; 
she won the prize for her age group! 

Five smackeroos!

Of course, the kids were fun to watch, too; 
especially the ones whose parents were forcing their faces into the pies...

(Only kidding, of course; they were just getting their hair held back for them:)

First Place for the kids was $2, and this young lady took Second, 
but she doesn't look any less happy about it, does she?

I love the way the little guy in the middle of this photo was licking his lips before the start!


Definitely a great spectator sport!

Everyone who participated (win or lose) was grinning from ear to ear afterwards; it was fun to watch.

The whole shindig made me feel a little like I was in the middle of a Norman Rockwell painting,
which was appropriate; July 4th is as good as any day in America to celebrate family and fun.

And what's more American than throwing a rolling pin at your husband 
and stuffing your face in a pie?!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Love Me, Love My Stink

I recently completely redecorated our master bedroom as a surprise. It was a drastic change, and I worried that Mr.4444 wouldn't like my choices, (He loved them, actually.), so I went out of my way to add touches he would appreciate. One of those touches was a very special canvas that I ordered.

Back Story: Mr.4444's grandma, Florence (who passed away in 2003), was a character. She was the grandma who did the worm at her grandson's wedding and prided herself in wearing snazzy hats. She and Mr.4444 were tight.

Florence had a powerful love and loyalty to her family and always stuck up for the underdog. I remember dramatically calling Mr.4444 out once for a particular "odor" (back when we were first dating) and hearing Grandma from across the room, "Love me, love my stink! Right, Mark?!" She meant it literally, in that instance, but she also meant it figuratively; if you're going to love people, you have to love them in spite of their faults or weaknesses.

Although Grandma Florence has been gone for a long time, her Love me, love my stink sentiment lives on in Mr.4444, who uses it figuratively (and sometimes literally) all the time. I decided to use that quote to make a special canvas for our "new" bedroom.

Since I've had good experience with Easy Canvas Prints in the past, that's who I went with. I first purchased this image from YayImages (just a random site that I found) and then added text and a little heart from PicMonkey.com. I chose an 8 x 8 inch canvas with a 1 1/2" "gallery" border and decided to add a canvas stand/back to it so that it would stand up on the dresser. It cost about $30 after applying a coupon code, and although I thought that was a little pricey at the time, I decided it would be worth it; this was a special gift, after all.

When the canvas arrived, I was thrilled with the quality! It's actually of substantial weight and looks perfect!

The look on Mr.4444's face when he saw the canvas and chuckled out loud was priceless to me. We didn't need a tangible form of Grandma Florence's quote to remember her philosophy, of course, but I love the canvas, because every time we look at it, we'll think of her and her unconditional love.

[Wondering what the driftwood pieces are all about? They were lovingly collected and then hand-painted by my niece and her fiance for their San Francisco wedding favors several years ago. Pretty special, huh? It's not every day you can even remember a wedding favor from six years ago, let alone have it on display in your home!]

P.S. For the record, Mr.4444 smells wonderfully 99% of the time.