Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Missionary Phone Call

We got to speak to our missionary, Elder Lee, for 40 minutes on Mother's Day. We asked him what his favorite part of Portugal is and he said, "The pastries!"  He said he has loved every area and that every part of Portugal is so beautiful and that he wants to come back some day.

We asked him what his favorite part of his mission is.  He said, "Seeing the growth in people as they accept the gospel and go from not knowing anything about it to being baptized, confirmed, and receiving the Priesthood, is just amazing."  The Sousa family was baptized last week and this week confirmed, and the father, Rui, received the Priesthood. Earlier, when Elder Lee and his companion went to teach the family about the Priesthood, but before they introduced the lesson, Rui expressed a strong desire to really help people.  Caleb said it was the perfect introduction to talking about the Priesthood.

Caleb said the other part about his mission that he loved was the learning.  Learning through study.  Learning to work with people.  And learning to be happy.  I asked how do you 'be happy'?  He said, "You just decide to.  So many times in the mission when things would happen I would realize that this has all happened before, and it's just a matter of attitude and deciding to be happy."

A few people whose lives have been changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ:







 Elder Lee will be coming home to us in just two weeks, and we are so excited to see him!  We know he has done great work and that he will miss his mission so much. A scripture he shared with us in his email yesterday:   
D&C Section 1
20 But that every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world;
21 That faith also might increase in the earth;
22 That mine everlasting covenant might be established;
23 That the fulness of my gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and the simple unto the ends of the world, and before kings and rulers.
24 Behold, I am God and have spoken it; these commandments are of me, and were given unto my servants in their weakness, after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Happy Birthday Maren!


Happy Birthday to my sweet precious baby dolly!










 Maren Christen is nineteen today!  Missing her on her birthday while she is at college, even though we celebrated with her on Sunday.  Maren is super smart, super committed to the gospel and doing what's right, and super loved by all her family.  We love you Mar!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Gospel of Jesus Christ

The gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth!  Watch this to learn more. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Being Grateful

I don't think he realized it, but in his letter from his mission today, my son sent the most perfect example of following President Uchtdorf's counsel to be grateful.

Hello Family!
This week seemed really uneventful. Except for conference, which was amazing! We were able to watch all the sessions, in English! Almost our whole zone was there, so we had a group dinner of Fajitas in between the sessions. My Favorite talk was probably President Uchtdorf's about gratitude; I really like how he explained that we shouldn't just be grateful for things, but live in gratitude, and I want to try really hard to do that. I liked the example he used of Nephi when he was tied up on the ship, how in his afflictions he still praised and glorified God. There are SO many other examples in the scriptures of that praise, another one I really liked was when Ammon meets up with his brothers again. So, that's my goal, to live more gratefully. I also really liked a talk in the priesthood session, I don't remember who it was by. It was about the POWER, AUTHORITY, AND KEYS of the priesthood. There was A LOT of doctrine in it that I thought was interesting, how everything in the church is done under the AUTHORITY of the priesthood, even those serving in callings that don't hold the priesthood. He talked about how the blessing of the priesthood are available to everyone, man and woman. 
Here's a funny/cool story from last night. First, I've had a really bad rash behind my knees and on my legs for about 3 weeks (I'm going to the hospital for it sometime this week), and last night we slept at the Alverca elders, where the conference was. Because I was a leper, I got voted to lay on the ground. I ended up finding a small bean bag, and some folding chairs that weren't too bad if I laid them flat on the ground. I haven't slept well lately because I've been waking up itching all night, and I knew it would be worse there on the ground. So I said a prayer that I would be able to sleep alright, and after I finished I had the idea to wrap my socks around my knees, to cover up the rash. It ended up doing the trick, and I didn't wake up at all that night itching. Kind of an interesting way the Lord answered my prayer! Also, the other elders said they slept horribly, because their mattresses were really uncomfortable. So that's what they get for casting out the leper. ;)
I hope everyone's doing well! Fiquem bem!
--Elder Lee



Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Gel Staining My Kitchen Table

I gel stained my kitchen table!  Special thanks to Monica at MonicaWantsIt for her tutorial on gel staining her kitchen cabinets.  You can find it here.  It is fabulous and well worth the read if you want to gel stain anything.  I used her method almost exactly.

Before

Before

First Coat of Gel Stain

After Second Coat

After Third Coat

Final product!
Table top final product-with  lights reflecting

I LOVE my new table!!  First I cleaned the table with denatured alcohol, and then sanded it lightly.  Gel stain is not for bare wood projects.  On the legs and apron of the table, I first used a primer.  I used white, but I understand there is black primer, which would have probably been a better choice.  Then I painted on two coats of Valspar Signature Hi-Def Advanced Color latex paint and primer in satin kettle black (didn't realize it had primer in it until I typed this, that's how I roll) mixed with Floetrol to help hide brush marks. I was later told that oil based is much better for furniture, but I liked working with this. I attempted to use a foam brush because I thought that would be easier than a regular paint brush, but the paint brush was actually much easier.  I followed up the paint (after letting it dry the appropriate time) with two coats of Minwax water based Polycrylic protective finish in semi-gloss.

For the top, I used the men's-white-sock-over-a-latex-glove method, described in the tutorial.  I tried to use a foam brush on part of it, but quickly went back to the men's sock.  Be sure to buy multiple white socks, so you can just toss the sock after each coat. I got mine at Dollar Tree. I used General Finishes java gel stain mixed half and half with General Finishes georgian cherry gel stain because I didn't want such a dark table top.  I used these for the first two coats and then just georgian cherry for the next two because it was still too dark.  I was looking for more of a red color.  They mix very easily.

*When I tried to find gel stain at Lowe's, they said it was discontinued.  I found my General Finishes gel stain at Woodcraft.  The guys there told me that the Minwax brand, sold at Lowe's, just didn't work, and that General Finishes gel stains are currently the highest selling item at all of the Woodcraft stores.  You can also order it online.

I LOVED working with the gel stain.  It has a pudding-like consistency and requires very little sanding.  However,  it doesn't penetrate very deeply, so I am anxious to see how this finish holds up. You wipe on the  gel stain until you have a thin even layer, and then DO NOT wipe off the excess (to get this look), except for little blobs, etc.  The first coat looks terrible and streaky.  But REALLY, the next two coats cover it all up, beautifully!  They even covered up uneven sanding and scratch marks for the most part (though I can still see the scratches if I look close). I ended up doing four coats.  IN MY REGULAR CLOTHES, IN TEN MINUTES for each coat.  It is that easy.  I didn't even put down a drop cloth (but I also have laminate floors).  Each time, I removed the sock and glove and threw it away, cleaned up little bits I got on my other hand using paint thinner outside, and was done!

The first coat took at least 36 hours to dry, but the other coats only took about 8 hours.  Next, I covered the gel stain with General Finishes Gel Topcoat, using the glove and sock method again. This is also a WIPE ON urethane.  Super easy, super simple.  I did 4 coats of this, with drying time about 6-8 hours in between.  I rubbed a couple coats of Gel Topcoat over the paint on the feet of the table for extra protection.

The tutorial uses Gel Topcoat on the cupboards, but the Woodcraft guys told me that General Finishes does not recommend this because of the heat in the kitchen.  They recommend General Finishes Arm-r-seal urethane topcoat instead.  I already had Gel Topcoat, so went with that. They said  Gel Topcoat is adequate for tables, but they also said Arm-r-seal is more durable, so I may do that if my table starts to show wear too quickly.

**Since posting, I had a couple tiny chips on my table that showed right through down to the yellow wood. I touched those up, but then got a scratch and a couple other chips. I have been thinking about this and studying it out, because I have two friends who have used gel stain; one on her table and cupboards; one on her mantle and banister.  They say those have held up beautifully, no chips.  The one who did her table and cupboards said they did absolutely NO sanding, and the stain held up beautifully.  The one who did the mantle and banister used a citrus gel stripper, then sanded, then hand sanded to get all the finish off.  She stained and did not even put a topcoat on.  They have also had no chips.  The Gel Stain can, as well as the video at http://generalfinishes.com/videos entitled "How to Repurpose Cabinets with Java Gel Stain" says only to lightly sand.  

As far as I can tell, the only difference between what all these people did and what I did, was possibly that my first coat (and maybe subsequent coats) was too heavy.  According to Monicawantsit, link above, I was supposed to put a thin coat on, and not wipe off the excess. But according to the stain can and the video, you are supposed to put on a thin layer, and then WIPE OFF the excess (like you would for a regular stain).  I think my first layer was too thick, therefore, the 36 hour drying time! When I do a test cabinet in my laundry room, I am going to try a much thinner layer with the excess wiped off and see if the final product ends up more durable.  Meanwhile, I think I will get a hold of some Arm-r-seal urethane topcoat and see if that helps my table.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Doing a Tulle-draped Ceiling at the Farmington City Community Arts Center

Hanging the center wreath
I have now done this twice, and thought I'd share how to do this so you can do it yourself.

1.  You will need a very tall ladder, 20 feet? One that you can climb up both sides.  A Little Giant works well. They have a ladder at the arts center, but I am not sure how tall it is, or if renters are allowed to use it.
2.  Make a center ring.  We first used a 5 foot grapevine wreath.  The second time, my friend bought flexible yet strong plumbers tubing, and made a hoop by forming the tubing into a circle twice, and duct taping (use white) it all together. It is difficult getting the ring to be level (it wasn't completely level either time-I wonder if a smaller ring would be better and if it isn't level, it will be less noticeable.)
3. There are four large eye hooks on the ceiling above the main floor of the main hall. To attach the hoop to the eye hooks, I cut 4-inch-wide ribbon 9 feet long; they MUST be that long, or they won't reach all the eye hooks. I tied one end of each ribbon to an S-hook, and then duct taped it onto the S-hook. You can either tie the ribbon to the hoop or make it 18 feet long and thread it through and tie the two ends onto the S-hook.  Your final ribbon length will be more equal if you do this, as opposed to tying it onto the hoop.
4. I made a tool for attaching the S-hooks by using an extendable light bulb changer, taking off the light bulb holder, and duct taping one handle of a clamp like those pictured to the end of the stick, so I could still open and close the clamp.

5. Make the 'spokes.' Decide how many 'spokes' of tulle you want.  Either tie one end of the tulle to the center hoop, or fold the tulle in half lengthwise, and thread it through the hoop to make a double layer of the tulle (as in the second wedding).
First Wedding, 6 spokes
As shown in the picture, there are 3 wall sconce lights on each side of the room, on the side close to the stage, and then there are big windows, and then 2 sconces on the other side.  So a total of 10 sconces.  We attached the tulle drapes to the wall sconces. Be sure to go measure the distance from the center of the room to the sconces to determine how long your spokes need to be.  But we used 9 to 11 yards of tulle for each spoke. That was PLENTY. Remember that tulle stretches a bit, and you want to have enough fabric for a bit of a drape. The distance to each sconce is different--just make sure the length is at least long enough to reach the sconce, have a drape, and wrap around the sconce.  If you are doing sparkly lights, attach them to the center hoop with the plug side reaching toward the wall; make sure they are also long enough.
6. Put it up.  This takes much longer than you think. Decorate the night before the wedding if you can.  Or at least put the ceiling up the night before. Place one of the S-hooks attached to the ceiling ribbon attached to the hoop into the clamp on the end of the light bulb changer. Place the ladder in the center of the room. Have one person haul the center hoop up one side of the ladder, leaving everything else hanging (see the top picture).  The other person will go up the other side with the light bulb changer and first S-hook inserted into the light bulb changer. Go high enough that the person with the extended light bulb changer can reach all the way up to the eye hook on the ceiling.  Insert the S-hook into the eye hook and pull down to release the S-hook from the clamp.  Attach the next S-hook and insert it into the next eye hook until the hoop is hanging from all four eye hooks.  Hooray!!  Don't yet worry if the hoop is not very level.
7. Attach the spokes. Move your ladder to whichever sconce you want to do first. Now take each piece of tulle and straighten it out and pull it to the sconce. Drape it about how much you want it draped (this can be adjusted) and basically tie it around the sconce.  If there are extra sparkly lights, wrap them around the sconce.  You will have tulle hanging down the wall, which you can leave or trim.  Attach an extension cord to the end of the sparkly lights (about 6-8 feet long should do it) and plug it into the outlets that are above the sconces. Wrap extra extension cord around the sconce. A brown cord will blend in with the wall nicely. White is okay, too. There are two outlets between the three front sconces (you can plug two extension cords into each one) and one outlet between the back two sconces.  Attach each spoke in the same manner.
8. Level the hoop by climbing up the ladder and, either wrapping more ribbon around the S-hook to pull up a side (if you can get up that high), or by using a twisty tie or some other tie to shorten the ceiling ribbon near the hoop.  We never did get the hoop level for either wedding, and it was OKAY! 
Second Wedding, 18 spokes

Variations:
With the second wedding we decided to make the ends of the tulle go wide at the walls. We attached all the tulle together with ribbons to tie to each sconce and to each other so the tulle would fill the space between two sconces.  This sounded wonderful, but did NOT work. Because of the nature of the tulle (I think) there was too much stretch both between the center hoop and the wall, and from sconce to sconce. It ended up looking okay, but the walls near the sconces were a mess and it was very difficult to obtain the right drape. The tulle length needs to be VERY adjustable where it hits the wall in order to have the right amount of drape (you don't want people bumping into the tulle because the drape is too low). This is what I suggest you could try if you want the tulle to be wide at the wall (as opposed to just tied around the sconces): Get a piece of sturdy but light pvc pipe, long enough to go between two sconces.  Place one pipe between every two sconces, 6 pieces total, not sure on the length.  Again, go measure. There is a piece on the sconce that juts out from the wall that you could easily set the pvc pipe on. Spread and drape the tulle over the pvc pipe so it hangs over the pipe and down the wall, adjusting the tulle to the appropriate drape.  I don't know how to keep the tulle in place, however.  White duct tape? Some sort of round clip that will clip the tulle to the pvc pipe? Please tell me if you figure something out. You could maybe do at least 18 spokes if you do it this way, practically covering the whole ceiling.

P.S.  There are also 16 eye hooks over the stage. The front 8 are higher than the back 8.  You can hang stuff from these hooks using the clamp and S-hook method as well.  We hung flower balls from some of them at the first wedding.