Friday, June 27, 2014
I think I've become obsessed...with painting my ugly oak cabinets. All of the cabinets in our house are builder grade basic oak cabinets and I have this dream of a beautiful light tan kitchen full of bright white cabinetry. Totally redoing the kitchen and buying new cabinets are out of the question, so painting it is. Except I've never actually painted trim or cabinets before and I was terrified of completely messing up and being stuck looking at them every day until we move or I get so frustrated staring at their hideousness that I burn the house down. So instead I decided to save my sanity and start with the tiny guest bathroom in case I totally messed up. But I didn't, and it looks amazing!
There are tons of step by step tutorials out there on how to paint over cabinets so I'm not going to list everything out, but I followed the tutorial by Live Love DIY and it worked fantastic.
Basic steps for painting oak cabinets:
- Sand down cabinets
- Prime with Kilz
- Paint: Behr
It makes such a difference in the bathroom and I do a little happy dance every time I see them. I've also started working on the master bathroom cabinets to get a little bit more practice before I tackle the kitchen. But later this summer, it's on!
Monday, June 16, 2014
This quote is all over Pinterest as "inspirational". I'm like - hehe it's a Tolkien quote you fools!
You may have noticed it's been quiet lately. Aside from Valley Fever I haven't been feeling very motivated to post. I felt like this blog was lacking direction and I couldn't keep running the rat race. So I did some thinking and decided to get back to what really interests me, as a person and as a blogger. I want to do and post about things that I like. And if that means I don't fit into any one category - so be it. I'm never going to be one of those bloggers who has perfect photography or posts every day. I work full time and have to run most of the household due to my husband's wonky work schedule. I don't have the energy to make this blog full time, and quite frankly, I don't have the inspiration. So that leads me to a new direction for the blog - getting back to my interests.
Eat - mostly recipes as before, possibly a few restaurant reviews
Read - more literary inspirations and a few book reviews
Make - all sorts of diy projects - home, sewing, randomness
Travel - This will probably be fairly rare as I don't get to travel as much as I'd like, but this will be for adventures both near and far.
Not everything I post will fit into these categories, but I figure that should cover about 85%. Last year was a crazy year - what with the moving across the country, buying a house, and getting a dog. But now things are slowing down and I'd like to focus more on what makes me happy and sharing some of that with you. I hope you'll stick around for the ride.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
We're starting something new over here on Neroli Blossoms. To go along with my new direction for the blog (more on that later), I'm introducing my first book review! I also have some pretty fantastic ideas to resurrect the Literary Inspiration feature, but book reviews might become a monthly feature here. To kick things off, I'm starting with the autobiography of one of my favorite authors, Louis L'Amour.
From his decision to leave school at fifteen to roam the world, to his recollections of life as a hobo on the Southern Pacific Railroad, as a cattle skinner in Texas, as a merchant seaman in Singapore and the West Indies, and as an itinerant bare-knuckled prizefighter across small-town America, here is Louis L'Amour's memoir of his lifelong love affair with learning--from books, from yondering, and from some remarkable men and women--that shaped him as a storyteller and as a man. Like classic L'Amour fiction, Education of a Wandering Man mixes authentic frontier drama--such as the author's desperate efforts to survive a sudden two-day trek across the blazing Mojave desert--with true-life characters like Shanghai waterfront toughs, desert prospectors, and cowboys whom Louis L'Amour met while traveling the globe. At last, in his own words, this is a story of a one-of-a-kind life lived to the fullest . . . a life that inspired the books that will forever enable us to relive our glorious frontier heritage.
- From Goodreads
First, a little bit about the author. He writes some of the best westerns that are out there. I never read westerns until I was in college and my husband introduced me to them. I was doubtful but I absolutely fell in love with his straightforward story telling and breathtaking descriptions of the west. The most incredible thing though, is that when reading his autobiography you realize he lived that life. He could be a character in his own books.
L'Amour didn't have much formal schooling, but he loved the written word. One of the best things about this book is the endless lists of books he writes about. He has such joy listing each book he read and explaining how they influenced his life. If you're ever looking for classic or influential books to read, just crack open any chapter and you'll get a great assortment. He has such a love and respect for books that just permeates through every page.
The other great thing about this book is the developing story of his life. He was a fascinating person and his life was just incredible. He left school to roam the world. He was trained to fist fight by some of the best at that time and fought prize matches to pay for his book collection. He took odd jobs across the country and traveled around the U.S. as a hobo on trains. He almost died in the desert in Arizona walking from a mining job back to town after the owner never came and got him. He talked to people who had known Billy the Kid. He took to the docks and traveled the world as a seaman. His other jobs included things such as lumberjack, fruit picker, and elephant handler. Yeah, you read that right. He worked with elephants.
You don't have to like westerns to appreciate this book. And if you do ever want to try the genera, I'd highly recommend his Sackett series or "The Lonesome Gods". If westerns aren't your thing, but you'd still like to read some of his work, try "Last of the Breed" which takes place in Siberia during the cold war and is the story about a POW attempting to escape back to America through Siberia in the winter. Both are incredible!
Thursday, June 5, 2014
It's officially hot here in Phoenix. Temperatures this week are consistently over 100 degrees Fahrenheit and we just booked some tickets to get out of here for a week in August. As much as I don't miss those midwest winters, I cannot wait to get back to Wisconsin to visit this summer! We're going to be spending some of that time on the lake in Door County and I've already started compiling my summer essentials list. I'm dreaming of those breezy days by the lake and sitting on the beach with these items in tow:
Jen Lancaster books Twisted Sisters and Here I Go Again. I absolutely love Jen Lancaster's writing style. I discovered her books quite accidentally in college and I've been hooked every since. I've read all of her hilarious memoirs, but I haven't read her two most recent fiction books. That will definitely be remedied this summer.
Cute and easy beach cover up. I'm terrible at finding good beach cover ups and usually just end up wearing a tank top and shorts over my swimsuit. But even though I'm generally against rompers, I really like this one. It looks easy to throw on after you've been swimming or laying around reading all day.
Fun tote for all your beach or poolside items. Because obviously you need somewhere to put all this stuff as you haul it to the beach/pool.
Revlon Lip Butters. I can't tell you how much I love these. I'm a huuuge chapstick/lip balm addict and will 98% choose that over lipstick/lip gloss. But this stuff goes on like lip balm and yet has a fun pop of color so it looks like you put some effort into getting ready. The color is really sheer so you don't feel like you're a kid playing with your mom's makeup (or is that just me?).
Fun sunglasses like this Cliff style from Warby Parker. Ok, I need to tell you about my love for Warby Parker. My husband actually introduced me to them a few years ago when I came home from work and saw a box of 5 different pairs of glasses sitting on the table. I freaked out thinking he went crazy and bought all these glasses until he explained the whole at home try-on concept with me. If you're not familiar, you pick out 5 pairs of glasses or sunglasses on their website and they ship try-on pairs to you for free. You keep them for 5 days, figure out which ones look best, and then ship them all back (also for free). Then you just go on their website and order prescription versions of whichever style you liked. It's pretty awesome. I've never tried their sunglasses, but I love my regular glasses from them and they have some seriously cute new sunglass styles this year. I may have to try out the ones pictured above...
Sunday, June 1, 2014
Well that was a longer hiatus than originally planned. April and May were pretty much riddled with illness that left me feeling like that one scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The "I'm not dead yet! He says he's not dead! I'm getting better! No you're not, you'll be stone dead in a moment. I feel happy! I feel happy!" one.
Long story short I came down with Valley Fever, which is apparently an actual thing and not an 1800s pioneer superstition. It's basically a fungal lung infection that's common in the southwest from breathing in the dust. What's next, cholera? dysentery? consumption? Shooting 289 pounds of meat but only being able to carry 162 pounds back to my wagon? (Bonus points if you got the Oregon Trail reference). It's a boatload of fun, let me tell you. I only had it mildly and it was debilitating, I can't imagine what people who get serious cases go through. The last two months have basically looked like this:
- Randomly my left upper back started hurting to the point where I couldn't lay down
- Slept in a recliner in our living room for a week because I couldn't actually make my body go into a lying position
- Finally went to the doctor to get some pain meds. Because I had exercised 2 days prior to the pain starting, everyone though I had just sprained a muscle
- Got a nice shot of something and some muscle relaxers to help with the pain
- Had an allergic reaction to either the shot or the muscle relaxers and was covered in hives and a rash on top of the muscle pain (later discovered I didn't have an allergic reaction, that it was all part of the valley fever. But we didn't know that at the time)
- Went back to the doctor to get treated for the allergic reaction
- Developed a hacking cough which I completely ignored because, hello, other big issues going on here
So that all happened within a week and a half. The next week my back slowly stopped hurting, my cough started going away, and I was able to sleep in my bed again. I thought it was a random but unfortunate series of sicknesses and that I was on the mend.
Then Easter weekend I woke up with little red marks on my knees and ankles that looked like bug bites. So that kicked off the next series of freak outs which takes us through the rest of April and into May:
- spazed out because I thought a bug or spider was in my bed and bit me during the night
- "bites" swelled to the size of golf balls in the next 2 days and more show up going all down my legs
- back to the doctor once again who diagnoses it as erythema nodosum which is apparently Latin for "large red swollen bumps on your legs that we can't do anything about and they'll go away on their own in 4-6 weeks and oh yeah they hurt like the dickens and will probably cause joint point so severe you can't walk. Have fun."
- doctor offhandedly mentions that this can be linked to valley fever and you haven't been coughing recently, have you? Uh yeah, crap.
- Get blood test for valley fever done. Results come back inconclusive
- Get xray done because valley fever shows up as little spots on the lungs
- Stupid knees and ankle joints hurt so bad that I'm basically useless and walk like a zombie for 2 weeks
- Consider trying out as an extra on The Walking Dead because I've got the walk and moaning down
- Have spots on lungs. Make appointment to see pulmonologist
- Go to Disneyland! I put myself essentially on bed rest for 2 weeks whenever I wasn't at work so I could prep my legs for all the walking at Disneyland. Thankfully at this point a few weeks had passed since the leg issue started and they held up just fine! It was awesome.
- Got another blood test and xray done to confirm if I actually do have valley fever since I don't appear to be sick anymore
- At this point I'm pretty much feeling better but I still went to the specialist to check that everything was ok
- Specialist said yes I did have valley fever, but I'm about 80% recovered on my own so thankfully I don't have to get any treatment (nasty anti-fungal meds)
- I check in again in about 6 weeks with them to make sure it's fully in remission
Still with me? So now that you know more than you ever needed to about valley fever (I still think it sounds like something you'd find in Oregon Trail) I hope you'll excuse my absence. I'm still recovering but I feel about 95% better. As soon as I can shake the tiredness I'll be back to normal. Unfortunately I had grand plans for DIY projects and home redo stuff during April and May which obviously didn't happen. However, I did read a bunch of good books, so maybe I'll branch off into some book reviews? Wesley, I might be asking you for advice!