Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Renovation Continues....

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel... and I have to say it will be wonderful to get my kitchen back! I am growing a bit weary of carry-out. I am not one who enjoys that much "bad" food. Jim just said last night "I really want some vegetables!" Me too! I miss my veggies... I guess McDonald's fries are not considered vegetables.

This past Saturday was painting day! Well, the first of several painting days. The cabinet painting commenced. .  Our good friends Gus & Shellie Sturm were gracious enough to help!  What a help they were... plus it made it more fun!  We played Sirius Radio 70's music all day... worked, painted, sang and danced.  Well I believe I was the only one who danced!  I definitely entertained everyone!  Ha Ha! 

This has given me a chance to use power tools

The most important kitchen appliance - the coffee pot

First Coat of Primer ~ Looks good already!

Looks like an episode of A&E's Hoarders

Shelllie Goofing Around

Sanding Central

Jim just had to step in
My pal Shellie

Dinner - I slaved all day on this dish & pulled out the fine china

Gus hard at work - Jimmy supervising
I hated the color at first - love it now that it's done!

Since these photos we have ripped out the count tops, the very heavy cast iron sink and the cabinet doors are painted and sealed.  Tonight we will hang the doors and tomorrow the counter tops are installed!  I can't wait to cook!  Have I said I am tired of takeout?  I think I have... about a billion times to anyone who will listen!  More pics to come... and they should basically be the finished product!  Can't wait!  Tired of takeout - have I said that?  Oh yeah - a couple of times!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Fondest Memories are Made When...

gathered around the kitchen table
It all started (for me at least) when I purchased this vinyl lettering at Kohl's, ummm about a year and a half ago.  I liked the sentiment because I love sitting around a table with family and/or friends.  It seems that no matter where the gathering starts we always end up around our kitchen table when we have family/friends over!  When I saw this particular item, I knew I could put it on the bulkhead in my kitchen IF we ever decided to do some updating!

 It's been a long time coming, but we have finally decided to do a bit of a face lift on our kitchen.  Over the years we have wallpapered, painted, put up new curtains, put up wood blinds... but the kitchen never was exactly what I liked (or wanted).  We had those old 1940ish counter tops.  You know the kind... white with gold swirls!  Retro to some... to me... an eyesore. Jim had it in his mind that he wanted granite counter tops.  Me... didn't want them.   I entertained the notion and we got a quote.  I pray my facial expression didn't show what went on inside of me when the granite guy gave us a quote! YIKES!  Fortunately the quote put the notion of granite out of Jim's head.  We headed over to Lowes, a grown man's (and some women's) toy store.  A warm, friendly man named Tim helped us and we ordered lovely solid surface counter tops that included a back splash &; a sink in the price.  (fraction of the cost as well) - they are perfect and I couldn't believe how well the pattern went with the paint colors I had picked out!

On to the paint!  After much "convincing" Jim has agreed to allow me to paint the cabinets.  I think when he finally gave in  agreed to let me paint the cabinets is when we moved forward with the kitchen face lift!  The cabinets will be painted "Crafted White" and the walls "Cracker Bitz" The tile on the walls will be replaced with beadboard and we put in a beadboard ceiling.  I  have purchased a new light for over the table - fixtures will all be an oil rubbed bronze.  Needless to say we are both now getting very excited!  Although we won't be installing the counter tops (we leave that to the professionals).  We are doing most of the work ourselves.  We do enjoy home projects and have a feeling of accomplishment when we finish projects.  After the kitchen is complete we will install wainscot and will be painting the back hall off of the kitchen.  That will be a more simple project that we more than likely can finish in a long weekend... Whew!

Here are a few pictures of our progress.... the cabinet painting will begin this weekend. 

Just a start - Goodbye tile & countertops

How did I live with this for 18 years?

Putting in the beadboard ceiling
Beadboard Ceiling

Drawer Pull

Bulkhead after I removed 3 layers of wallpaper ~ I then used wood filler & sanded smooth

I enjoyed tearing out the tile

What a Mess
Priming the bulkhead

Removing Cabinet Doors

I will continue to post pictures as we move along!  We are hopeful that the counter tops will be installed by the end of next week! 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Jim: Kristen! There's a possum in the dog food
Kristen: In the house?
Jim: Get out here there's a possum in the dog food!
Kristen:  In the house?

Friday morning I was still snuggled in bed, just barely making it out of dreamland when I was startled by Jim hollering about a possum.  He's screaming there's a possum in the dog food.  I keep asking him "in the house?" This went on for at least 3 or 4 exchanges.  I was questioning "in the house" because at the present time we are feeding our older dog outside and the puppy inside.  (they like to swap food dishes and the puppy doesn't need adult food - not good for his constitution).  So I figured there was a possum sharing Jet's dish on the back patio.  Ummm... WRONG!  There was a baby possum in the dog food bag.  YIKES!  Jim took the bag a few yards over and let it go in the wooded area behind our neighbor's home.  Case closed!  Yeah Right!

Fast forward to Friday night, I mean early Saturday morning.  2:30ish am.  I am awakened by a scratching noise in the hallway.  I get up, walk to the hall and peering up at me from the register is you guessed it, a baby possum.  FREAK OUT MODE is now engaged!  All night long the little guy travelled the duct system under our house like it was a giant habitrail!  Each time he got to a vent - he scratched, trying to escape.  What if the critter dies in the duct work?  Could you imagine the smell?  Oh my mercy!  AWFUL!  At this point I am not sure if the little guy from Friday made it back to the house, or if this was a brother or sister!  And if it's a sibling... how many does he/she have?

Saturday morning Jim spent about 2 hours in the crawl space trying to find how he got into the crawl from under deck, how he got in the duct system, and then shoring up the crawl so none of his brothers or sisters (God forbid) would be tempted to join him.  We set up a makeshift corral in the hall, removed the grate and set up a live trap.  Keep in mind... we used 2 large 25 pound bags of dog food to hold the wood sides in place.  Sunday morning - no possum.   Jim spent another hour in the crawl setting up a live trap and opening a few areas that had trap type doors (he didn't notice those on Saturday).
Sunday night I am in bed.  I can't really sleep.  I am watching some brainless movie on television and I hear a scratching noise.  I sit up and see the cat in the bedroom doorway near one of those dog food bags (remember - they were holding the wood walls of our little corral in place).  I am thinking that the cat is trying to eat through the dog food bag.  (we have a very overweight cat).  Of course he's not...  he's crouching and knows something is in the bag.  Yep!  A possum!  A baby possum head first into the giant dog food bag!  I freak - a bit - they are creepy!  I go back in the bedroom to wake Jim who is FAST asleep!  I mean ASLEEP!  I had to shove him HARD to wake him up!  "IT'S IN THE DOG FOOD BAG!" (I am not sure how loud or many times I screamed those words).  Jim got up rolled the top of the bag down and we proceeded outside.  Dogs are up now and very curious!  Chaos could have ensued, but thankfully it did not.  We got out to the deck.  Is sat the live trap down and we were able to get the little guy into the trap.  Of course he was so small he didn't even set off the trap.  I hit the cage and it slammed shut.  GOTCHA!  Jim and I high fived each other and breathed a sigh of relief!  Thank goodness! 

Earlier that day, after church I had prayed... "Lord, I know that the only way this little critter is going to come out is by your power!  I need You to move him out!  I trust you Lord to do this!  I know You can!"  Jim and I prayed that night again... asking the Lord to get the little guy out of the duct work because it would be a costly remedy if he should perish in the labyrinth of duct work.  The Lord delivered and we gave Him praise as well!   I am not afraid to ask the Lord's help in a situation like the Possum incident!  We had also promised we would dispose of him humanely!  So many people told us to shoot it, drown it... kill it!  I just could never bring myself to do such a thing.  It's just not in my genetic makeup.  I could never have made it as a pioneer!  Ha Ha!  So the little fella has a new life (for now - not sure how long he can/will survive) by a creek in a wooded area near our home.  (he better not find his way back ). 

I am thankful that no damage was done to  my home and that for the most part possums are harmless.  Especially as babies.  I took this picture this morning before Jim relocated him.  The little guy hissed a few times at me... but other than that was quite polite. 
Moving Day
Even possums are cute when they are babies. (In my opinion).  I'm glad he's gone... and am praying our critter saga is over.  Over the years we have had a raccoon in our wall, a bat and and owl in the house, and of course our fair share of mice.  The mice will soon return as the leaves change and the temps begin to cool.  Time to get the traps set.  I am not as kind to the mice.  They aren't freed back into the wild... they are sent to "mouse heaven".  LOL
It is however the start of squirrel season.  Our pecan trees are full of pecans and the dogs are on high alert.  There was a casualty on Saturday.  Jet showed Ringo how squirrel hunting is done.  There was a gentle reprimand.  And we now know we have to knock on the storm door prior to letting the dogs out from now until spring!  It's like a squirrel storm warning system.  Such is life on our little piece of property in Indianapolis.  Life is always an adventure! 

Enjoy your Monday my friends!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sun Dried Tomatoes ~ Kind Of...

As avid veggie gardeners we are never short of tomatoes at the Schwark homestead! I can tomatoes so we can enjoy a bit of summer in the middle of winter. If I showed up at our weekly pool gatherings w/out my homemade salsa I would probably be asked to leave and not come back until I had a bowl of salsa in hand! Needless to say, with an over abundance of tomatoes, even if one shares with friends, one always has more than they can eat in one summer! Soooo... I decided to make Sun Dried Tomatoes. Well, sort of sun dried. Does Oven Dried count? In my opinion it's much better than slicing tomatoes and leaving them outside to dry. Ummm, bugs and all kinds of critters could check them out. Even if they are covered in cheese cloth.

So, I searched the internet for a recipe and this is what I found! (from

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 6 hours, 15 minutesIngredients:
•5 pounds (2.5 kg) Roma (oval) tomatoes
•Fine sea salt
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. (100 degrees C.; gas mark 1), or the lowest setting possible. Remove the oven racks.

Trim and discard the stem ends of the tomatoes. Halve each tomato lengthwise. Arrange the tomatoes, cut side up, side by side and crosswise on cake racks set on the oven racks. Do not allow the tomatoes to touch one another. Sprinkle lightly with salt.

Place racks back in the oven and bake until the tomatoes are shriveled and feel dry, anywhere from 6 to 12 hours. Check the tomatoes from time to time: They should remain rather flexible, not at all brittle. Once dried, remove the tomatoes from the oven and allow them to thoroughly cool on cake racks. (Smaller tomatoes will dry more quickly than larger ones. Remove each tomato from the oven as it is dried.)

Transfer the tomatoes to zipper-lock bags. The tomatoes will last indefinitely.

Yield: 2 cups

Now it took longer than 6 hours for some tomatoes (they weren't uniform in size) I didn't use the salt and I didn't have 5 lbs. I just cut up a few tomatoes or so and dried away!

Slicing the Romas
Ready for the Oven

Going to take some time - be patient
Starting to Dry

Ready for Salads/Pasta/Pizza

Try the recipe you will be happy you did! 

Monday, August 9, 2010

What will I wear?

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear." ~ Luke 12:22

WhAt wIlL I wEaR?

Saturday evening I had a "mini" high school reunion. Facebook has allowed me and many of my former classmates the opportunity to get together from time to time. This gathering was a group of PMHS grads from the early to mid 80's. Of course one of the biggest decisions I had to make was "what am I going to wear?" I settled for a shirt I really don't like, but did pair the shirt with a skirt I like and some flip flops that just didn't go with the outfit (in my opinion).

Actually, I had gone to Target earlier in the day on Saturday looking for something new to wear. After all, I couldn't have asked for a better excuse than getting together with "old" pals to find something "new" that would make me look not so "old"! The Spirit kept pressing on my heart to "NOT" purchase an item or two of new clothing. Believe me... it was a battle! I WANTED something new! God was telling me I didn't NEED anything new! I walked out of Target only buying a jug of bleach. I called Jim from the car and told him I had driven all the way to Target for a bottle of bleach that cost $1.47. Grrrr!

I had to chuckle Sunday morning when Pastor was discussing the portion of scripture form Luke 12, referring to what we will wear. Didn't I just go through a "what to wear moment" the day before? How many times have you and I stood in front of our overflowing closets and exclaimed "I don't have anything to wear"? Um, well I have done that more times than I care to count. I did it the day before didn't I! If we really think about it... our comment about not having anything to wear actually translates to "I don't want to wear anything I have in my closet!" I love that His urging to "NOT" buy something on Saturday turned into a teaching moment on Sunday

ThIs iS wHaT I sHoUlD wEaR

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. ~ Colossians 3:12

As women we love our clothes! At least I do! I am a sucker for cute clothes! New clothes... a good sale!  I have to confess Kohl's is a wonderful place (my favorite place to shop) and has wonderful sales! However, my beauty is not defined by my new cute top, those cute shoes, or a great fitting pair of jeans (although those luxuries God provides are wonderful gifts). When I exclaim "I have nothing to wear" I need to remind myself that as a chosen daughter of God that I do not have to worry about what I will wear (Luke 12:22) as He has provided me so much! And I do have something to wear! Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Colossians 3:12) My true desire is to appreciate and acknowledge that God has given me all I need and has clothed me with His gifts and grace!  

So the next time you stand in front of that closet wondering what to wear... think about these verses and ask yourself do I have nothing to wear or nothing I want to wear!  You might just be surprised by the answer!

God Bless!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

August... REALLY? It's August already? Where does the time go?

It's been a busy few months around the Schwark house. A new puppy is like having a newborn & and toddler all wrapped up into one little body. I can put my little newborn/toddler in a crate and leave him however! Ringo is sleeping through the night which has helped. Of course the "personal summers" I experience during the summer haven't necessarily helped my sleeping habits! That's another story for another time!

So the Dog Days of summer have settled in like a guest who has overstayed their welcome.  I have to say it's been miserable here in Indy.  Yesterday was the hottest day we have experienced in three years!  96 + degrees w/ a 115 degree heat index is just plan HOT!  I had to laugh this morning when Chuck Lofton (my morning weatherman) said we were in for a "major cool down".  His major cool down - 87 degrees!  Muwahahahaha!  Oh, and boy do we need some rain.  My backyard is getting crunchy and the earth is cracked.  My garden has produced a good crop of tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, cabbage, garlic, onions etc.  However the hot temps make it difficult to get out and enjoy toiling in the soil.  The sad thing... when it's this hot I can't enjoy a cold glass of lemonade on the back patio.  I have to enjoy it from the A/C cooled house.  By the time it cools down it will be time for hot cocoa or warm apple cider.

So what's been going on besides puppy rearing?  Work - July proved to be a better month and our real estate biz picked up a bit. We are thankful for that as winter will soon be upon us.  The economy still is rough as is the real estate market, but God continues to provide!  We are in the midst of a small kitchen remodel.  Cabinets will be painted, a beadboard ceiling will be installed, a new light fixture and I am removing a bit of wallpaper... 3 layers of wallpaper on a bulkhead.  Uggh!  We haven't picked out new counter tops yet.  That will be a task completed after the cabinets are painted.  Oh, and I have some lovely new drawer pulls and cabinet hardware.  I will share pics soon!  We are putting in a lot of mileage on the bikes even in the heat.  Although we did not ride yesterday.  My mother in law told me that our decision to "not" ride was good evidence of us using our God given brains!  Ha Ha!  She's 88 and still hilarious!  Jim and I both have birthdays coming up as well as our 20th anniversary. 

I hope to visit blogland more as the summer months fade to fall.  I have been absent from not only posting, but catching up with all of you!  I have to say... when you are absent... you lose your blogland followers and friends!  I miss you guys!

I pray your summer is going well.  I keep reminding myself of Romans 8:28 ~
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."  All things include miserable heat! 

Looking forward to catching up with all of you!