Thursday, July 2, 2015

A little Hawai'ian Teal anyone?

I have this hutch, its old. Wow, that's probably not the best way to describe something now is it? Let's start over again. When I first moved out of the college dorms (longer ago than I would like to admit :) ), I didn't have a lot of money for furniture and neither did my parents. I was blessed in the fact that my mother was a crazy shopping lady and bought way too much stuff. I was able to then go shopping in my parent's house. Literally, I think the only thing I bought for my first apartment was my bed linens. Nice for the budget but not so nice since nothing in the apartment was my style. 

Before and After

Now, here we are a couple (ha! ha!) years later and well I still have that hutch. One: I hate to spend money on things that aren't travel or learning opportunities.  Two: It is a solid piece of furniture that I got for free and well, you can't beat that. According to all of those little quizzes you can take online, my style is classic and modern rustic. At first I was sitting there looking at my screen stumped and asking myself well what in the world does that mean. Then I started thinking about it. It did make sense, I like a lot of classic or timeless pieces, I am not one to usually follow trends. If I like it, I like it. So I understood the classic piece, then thinking further on the modern rustic, I could see that. I love reclaimed wood pieces and texture (umm recycling!)  so maybe those are my styles. Normally, my shopping goes a little something like this, hmmm Love this, this not so much. Ok, now where can I put it? Does it look like me? what's the price?  sold! Keeping it simple. 

pardon all the stuff on it, but here is the hutch being dark and mysterious in the corner

So back to this hutch, it's sitting in my corner of my dinning room and well that's about it. There is nothing special about it, just holding some stuff, half of which I should probably get rid of! It's been bothering me how dark that corner of the room is. I hate dark, I love things bright and open with tons of natural light, since I really cannot change my apartment, the next best thing was to fix that hutch! If you cannot see my reasoning here then you will soon, I promise. 

I was at Home Depot a few weeks ago and decided why not check out colors, have you ever taken three children to pick pain samples? There are no words to describe that experience at all! I had one picking colors for her play kitchen, it needs a makeover Mama, I had another picking colors of animals and finally the other one who complained the entire time, "this sucks!" We made a deal, whoever picked the first color we could all agree on, would be the winner! One, two, three go! Someone picks teal, we all like it, get a sample and home we go. 

I started by painting a corner of the hutch so that I could see if I liked the color and how it looked. We (me and the little ones), all loved the way it looked. Then nothing, I said on it for about two weeks. It was one of those things, that I couldn't just move on 100% I had to wait and make sure. After all, this hutch has been around for awhile, it has literally traveled the country with me. We were old friends, OK OK, I am going on and on here. I finally sat down and prayed about it, I just couldn't make the decision to move forward and then one morning I woke up and was ready. 

We went to Home Depot and took the lid from the sample! I need this I told the guy, he looked at me like I was crazy. "I want to paint a hutch (showed him a picture)", "I could see why," he said! "OK Ma'am, here is your Hawaiian Teal". "Excuse me?" " The color you picked Ma'am, it's called Hawaiian Teal." As if that wasn't a huge push to go ahead and paint it! 

Now came the work, time to sand and sand and sand and sand some more. I actually sanded for two days. I was so afraid of messing it up. The kiddos helped me, they loved the challenge to see who could get more of the sealant off! After two days of sanding, we gave it a real good bath (Bean's term). 

Finally it was time to paint,  the hutch is too heavy for me to carry by myself and since we are presently on a the second floor of an apartment building, it was staying in the apartment. We made Fort Knox with the extra sheets we had and went to town. I did all of the trim work with a brush and the kiddos rolled the sides. It was starting to look fabulous! 

no turning back at this point

wow, it looks so different already

The entire time we are painting, the kiddos kept saying, "Wow, this looks great and so awesome!" It took us two days to finish the hutch, I wanted each coat to really dry before we went to the next one. The first coat looked great and I probably could have just stopped there but I wanted it to be solid, with non of the wood grain showing. 

close up of the bottom

looking good, almost there

I love how it turned out and I'm so glad I took the leap of faith and did it. Not only does it look updated and not so dark, but my dinning room now has amazing pop of color and is so bright! As you can see in the picture, I didn't put the top doors back on when I finished painting but left the hardware. I haven't decided 100% which way I want to go. I love the open shelves but I am not sure how safe it is for the kiddos. I did paint the doors and I am just giving it some time to decide how I want to proceed. If I keep the doors off, I will take the hardware off. 


before and after

Paint I used: Glidden Duo (Paint and primer in one), Hawai'ian Teal in semi gloss. 

dinning room in Hawaiian Teal from (love this!)

Paintbrush: Purdy Angled, 2" XL (already had from a previous project)

source: Home Depot

Roller: Shureline 6" microfiber (already had from a previous project)

Total cost of project: $10.00 for the cost of the paint. 

Have you tried painting a piece of furniture?

P.S. I apologize for the not so fabulous pictures, remember my apartment doesn't have great light and well it doesn't make for great lighting! 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Travel Tuesday: Smugglers Notch: Jeffersonville, VT

If you have ever visited Vermont, you know that some of the state seems isolated (sometimes this is a good thing and sometimes it's not), and like you are in the middle of nowhere. As a matter of fact, I had a friend visit once and she said, I felt like I was in the movie the shinning! I was dying laughing, as I have felt the same thing. 

One of the things I love when you drive in Vermont is how you are driving and viewing all these beautiful mountains and then bam you are in a little town. I just love the feeling, unless of course I am trying to find a gas station :) 

One of these roads with an amazing past is Smugglers Notch and Park. It is a wonderful place to hike and visit. The Notch as it is called by locals is only open from May until mid-October. Similar to the Mt. Mansfield Auto Toll Road.   You can access the road in the winter on snowmobiles and by foot. The road is stunning especially in the fall, it is a winding road with 1,00 foot cliffs on either side. It's a beautiful drive that was once a footpath and horse trails. My how far we have come. Smugglers Notch is located between Stowe and Jeffersonville. Mt. Mansfield is on the west and Spruce Peak/Sterling Mountain to the east. The Notch also connects to major resorts in the area, Smuggler's Notch Resort and Stowe Mountain Resort. 

When I first heard the name, I instantly thought "eww, smugglers has something interesting!" What happened there. Horrible isn't that, that I only get interested because it sounds sorted. I was right! Yay for having understanding of our history. At one point, the Notch was used to trade with Canada when President Jefferson had placed an embargo that forbid trade. In Vermont, there are towns that are closer to Canada than other towns, this created problems as you can tell. During the civil war, this same Notch was used to help slaves get to Canada. Finally, the Notch was used during prohibition to "smuggle" liquor. See I knew it had a sorted past. 

view during the drive, 

keep going

When the kiddos and I first went, we just were in ohhhhh, our mouths kept dropping and saying, "Look over here, no look over there!" The parks are amazing with huge house size boulders everywhere. Pack a picnic, get your hiking shoes and enjoy a hike that will leave you speechless!

There are so many parts to the park, we have done the drive a few times and each time, it is a completely different experience. One trip, it started to rain while we were up hiking. The fog came in and we got to the car just in time! 
here comes the fog!

rain on the way down to the car. 

As we walk through the notch, we often try to imagine what it would be like as a prohibitionist trying to make it to Canada. We pretend to be hiding and have to be as quiet as possible. It is so much fun and we are bringing history alive. 

isn't it beautiful?

we love this spot, we call it the table. 

The size of these boulders just blow my mind

I love the trees,

another view during the drive, sometimes the road is completely shaded by trees and it is like driving in a tunnel. 

you can see the ski paths

the cliffs are beautiful. 

the view from up on one of the paths. 

We call this the chapel, we love to sit and just talk with God

another view of the "chapel"

I love how the trees grow right over the rocks, imagine if they could speak the stories they would tell. 

up close and personal
Come visit Vermont and drive the Notch, you won't regret it and let your adventure begin. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Life, Love and a Unity Walk

I don’t normally write about current events but today my heart is telling me to; Thank you Jesus for placing it there. I remember when Columbine first happened, I was a senior in high school and we were right in the middle of our spring musical. There were so many emotions those days and no one knew how to handle such a tragic event and more importantly the exposure to all of the media attention.  Here we are 16 years later and the tragedies are just as horrific and well now we have even more social media and trying to sort through everything can be terribly overwhelming.

It seems as if each shooting, we hear blaming of the victims and what everyone noticed about the shooter but here we are again. I sound so cold and by no means do I mean to sound that way, I am a doer. I have always tried to solve the situation and get it fixed. Now, I know what you are thinking, how can one person make a change.  Prayer that is the answer. Pray, pray and love Jesus.

Church to me has always been a sacred place, a place to learn and grow in the word. How can someone not have respect for that sanctity and do such things? More importantly, how do I explain this to my children? They love Jesus and church, I don’t want them to be afraid.  

Pumpkin's drawing of AME Church
Here we are a week later, and my heart has changed. I am a firm believer in little things changing and shaping your life. According to all the news reports, the shooter wanted to start a war, whether it is a civil war or a race war, depends on who you ask. Instead of starting a war, he brought people together and created a sense of community.  Only God can create a message from a mess. You’ve heard that quote right?


The city of Charleston has embraced the families and shown what it really means to love and support each other.  I have watched as my children have tried to make sense of this tragedy and Pumpkin said it perfectly. “Mama, that man didn’t have Jesus, he needs Jesus. I hope he finds Jesus. The people that were killed Mama, we are sad for them,  they died yucky, but they are in Heaven now and happy.” There are no words. My five year old gets it and yet here we are struggling and placing blame everywhere.

As I was on Facebook looking at yet another person’s opinion of the shooting, I get invited to an event; Unity Chain for Peace for Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.  I immediately hit accept without even reading what the event was about. I needed to show my support and help my children understand that love conquers. At the time there were 583 people who had accepted.

Two days later and we were at the Waterfront Memorial Park, waiting for the event to start. Have you ever been somewhere, that just being there seems to make everything feel better? This was one of those moments. When the Unity Chain started, the police chief made a speech and then there was a blessing. A group of people (I couldn’t tell you how many, but it was a lot), started singing with the bag pipes; Amazing Grace. 

Amazing grace is one of those songs that gives you the chills in a good way and to hear that many people singing it at once, was just moving. The song started off really low, and then we were loud. It was if you could hear each new person joining in the singing. There was so much love and hope. A lady next to me reached down and held my hand, she told me Jesus Loves You.  I smiled and told her, as he does you.

In the middle of this tragedy people were singing and comforting each other. We were loving and sharing our love for the Lord. Talk about humbled.
When the prayer and song were finished, there were people that lead the line to the bridge walkway, some people were on the other side of the bridge and we were walking to meet them.  The plan was nine minutes of silence, one for each victim. Say a prayer and then go home. It turned into so much more than that.

photo credit: @aliciaaa_fer

Strangers were walking together, singing songs, praying and laughing.  Pure love and joy were surrounding everyone. I heard later on that 20,000 people showed up.  20,000! There just aren’t even words as to the emotions in this group of people.  One man was holding a sign that said we are AME, people wore shirts that said Charleston Strong. We are love.

Another lady told me that she was proud of me for bringing my children out to experience this. She took my hands and we said a prayer. I’ve never met this woman before and odds are I’m not going to see her again, but for that moment we were connected. There were so many people that came out that just getting onto the bridge took longer than expected. I heard another man say that they were only anticipating 8,000 people.

Photo credit: @barefootnparadise
Photo by: Gerald Mindel

There were so many people that one side of the bridge was shut down, there just wasn’t anywhere for anyone to go, but onto the bridge. Stephen Colbert was there, he joined in and worshiped right along with the others from Charleston.  When we stood on the bridge, we chanted and marched, stood and prayed and sang and danced. For those couple of hours, we were one; we joined together and showed how much love we had. At one point, you could hear a gentle hum throughout the crowd and finally you could hear the group of people singing "This little light of mine." It was exhilarating! 

I don’t that I have ever felt closer to Jesus. He was there and held each and every one of us. If only for a short time, we could all put our differences aside and just love. I pray that the mass shootings will stop but if we have learned anything from this, it is that the more we join together, the more love we will have and the better off we will all be. As my kiddos and I were walking off of the bridge to head home, we could hear people singing "Stand by me," again another song that brought an entire new meaning to my life (as I am sure there are others that would agree). 
photo credit: @FoxCharleston

I pray that you all feel that kind of love at least one time in your life. I know I will never look at the Arthur Ravenel Bridge the same way!

Photo by: Dave Creaturo

Here is a link to see some of the media coverage of this wonderful event. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Travel Tuesday: Cabot Cheese Factory: Cabot, VT

Most people think of Vermont and think of dairy, which is a good thought and pretty accurate as well. Rumor has it that the cows outnumber the people! One of my favorite places to visit is the Cabot Visitor Center and factory. Cabot is about an hour and 15 minutes east of Burlington. It's funny how different places make you think of different things when I was younger I thought of Wisconsin when I thought of cheese now that I've lived in Vermont,  I think of Cabot.  

Cabot was started in 1919, Cabot has an unique history. When farmers were producing more milk (which would be turned into butter) than they could market, they decided to join forces and make their award winning cheese together. They purchased an old village creamery  and began making their butter. This butter was shipped south. In 1930, their first cheese maker and cheese entered the product line. The farmers continued to grow until 1980, when agriculture in general switched it focus. At this point they merged with Agi-mark to produce their award winning products. For the more in depth and complete history please check out Cabot's history page.

Cabot is one of those things or places that just makes you feel good about buying their product. Their farms are located throughout New England and in New York and they're all  farmer owned. (Some of their farmers have dairy farm vacations, can you say bucket list item).  I love that and it makes me feel like I'm doing some good to help some other people. Now with that being said they are located/ headquartered in Cabot, Vermont

Cabot has the population of 1, 103 people!

The children and I had visited the Annex store in Waterbury and also the Quechee Store. (You can see pictures of those places at the bottom of this post).  It seemed only fitting to visit the center.  We actually hadn't planned on visiting the center, as we were out exploring the Great Vermont Corn Maze. On our way home we decided to take a detour and went to Cabot. I love unplanned stops!

The visitor center has different hours throughout the year, so make sure you check before you go. The tour itself is very reasonably priced, for people 12 and over it is 2.00 and those under 12 are free. You cannot beat that!

Visitors center

Entrance sign
Love the vintage tractor

Lobby of the Welcome Center
A cow mailbox! Love!

I absolutely loved visiting the factory store.  The tour starts with purchasing a ticket (I know seems obvious right?) The adult ticket is $3.00 and children under 12 are free. Major points in my book! There are not many places that I can take the kiddos and enjoy ourselves for that small of a price! 

The next step of the tour is to watch the introduction video, this video gives you a brief history of the business of Cabot and what they stand for.  You can see the many many many awards that they have one throughout the years once the videos done (it's about a 30 minute video) your guided tour of the factory starts depending on when you visit the center this will determine what you see during the tour. When we went it was a holiday weekend, so we only saw them making cheese. At other parts of the year and even the week, you can see the factory making yogurt, butter, and many other wonderful dairy products. 

the start of the video (you can see some of the awards on the back wall)

More awards

The kids and I were just engrossed in how they actually make the cheese.  All of the milk comes from their farms.  It's brought in and processed there at the plant.  One of the things that blew my mind was that the workers didn't wear gloves they've actually done tons of  research to see that that is actually more sanitary to have the workers wash their hands constantly! Mind Blown!

 I love that when you walked through the tour you got the feeling that you're part of something you were a family the workers there take pride in their work and are happy to be there. As if my mind wasn't blown enough then I watched the cheese making process, crazy! We learned that it take over 1 gallon of milk to make one pound of cheddar cheese. All of the cheese in the plant is formed into 42 lb squares (that's a lot of cheese!)

The cheese is brought in as milk and pasteurized and then cooled. It is then put into tanks and the bacteria is added to start the cheese making process. Eventually it is cut into small curds and the left over is whey. The curds and whey is then cooked and separated. Salt is added (flavoring and ingredients depending on the cheese flavor).  The curds are then packed into the 42 lbs blocks and moved to the climate controlled warehouse to be aged. Eventually the cheese is packaged and sent to stores. Did I really just summarize the cheese making process in a few sentences. The process is amazing and there are no words to describe it, you have to visit it in person. 


close up

adding and stiring the milk

another view of the milk and our tour guide

cheese workers

cheese blocks!

molds and clean up

the cheese process

each step of the process has a beautiful poster to help explain the process!

After we watched the cheese making process, we then got to see the rooms where the yogurt is made. They weren't working that day.

To end the tour, you are brought back to the factory store; at the store, you can try samples of the different flavors of cheese that Cabot makes (similar to the annex stores). 

Want some cheese?

love Cabot!
The tour has now ended. The children and I of course stocked up on our Cabot cheese and goodies! 

hmmm, can we make cheese at home?

The kiddos favorite cheese, threw me for a loop!
I am a firm believer in teaching children where things come from and how they are made, it gives them a new perspective on the little things that we take for granted. 

As mentioned before, we have visited the annex stores in Waterbury and Quechee. They are amazing stores as well. These are the pictures of Waterbury Store. 

The waterbury Store (it is in the same plaza as Lake Champlain Chocolates)
close up of the Cabot Annex store
the building view from the road (the building to the right is lake Champlain chocolates)
Welcome mat

Cabot train car (yes, we own one of these)

Syrup anyone?

flavored syrups (raspberry)

honey straws

cheese and wine room
How is Cabot in your life?

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