Worship: I love worship, and I love singing. I've sung solos in church before (lots of different churches, too) and love it, and I really liked being on the worship team at Mountain View. But being the worship team at the Bridge is sometimes so hard. A lot of weeks, it's difficult to really worship, to feel like I'm contributing and even that I'm singing well (which I know, isn't completely what its all about). But last week was so great. Nearly all of the songs that we did are some of my favorite worship songs ever, and mean a lot to me personally, and I just felt like I could sing them well. But then tonight, I'm at practice with Johnny (we're the only ones who could make it) and every single song is just so high that I feel like I'm squeaking or barely singing, and I finally figured out what the problem is (and what made last week different). Most worship songs are high for me, and what's comfortable for Johnny is almost always high for me. It was kind of a fluke that all of last week's songs weren't. When I sing a solo, I pick the key, so the range is comfortable for me, and when I sing with lots of other vocalists, especially female vocalists, I can back off a little. Not so when you're the only female vocalist. Johnny wants me to just harmonize, or sing something along with the melody within my range, but that's a little more free-styling than I'm comfortable with, and I just don't easily hear harmony - I have to have it written out and practice it over and over and over. I'm not sure exactly what the solution is. Though I guess its good we figured out the problem. It was just hard because I went into practice feeling good because I had just been complimented on last week, and I left feeling a little in over my head.
Love/Hate: One thing I love - when the weather gets warm enough to wear capris (like today). One thing I hate - migraines.
Broken: Our new Life group met for the second time last night. I thought it would take a little while for conversation to really flow freely, and longer to get to the point where we were actually sharing deep things about ourselves. I knew going into this that I wanted to be very real and honest, and share those tough things, to kind of model that in a way. It may have been just a bit of a fluke (we had a smaller than normal group), but I was nearly blown away at some of the things that were shared.

At one point, I looked around and was just overwhelmed at these things that are a part of the lives of my friends, and how they are dealing with or have dealt with these just incredibly hard things. Part of me was thinking how easy my life has been in comparison, and wondering if I'm just incredibly blessed or if there are hard things to come in the future (this is my brain trying to create balance where it doesn't exist). But the larger part of me was just brokenhearted for all of the ugly things of this world. And grateful for the chance to walk with each of them through these things.

The whole thing reminds me of this quote that I love from Brennan Manning:

The Christian life does not deny brokenness; it denies that brokenness has the last word.
Garden: Someday I would love to have a beautiful garden, great landscaping. If I flip through a decorating magazine, I'm drawn to houses with tons of colorful flowers, inside and out. For example, I love this:

(photo from www.southernliving.com)

The problem is, I don't want to do the work. I tried planting flowers outside my condo last year, and hated the whole process (seasonal allergies to pollen don't help, either). The previous owner planted a few flowers here and there, and they're starting to come up. They're beautiful in and of themselves, but I'd love them to be part of a bigger plan - I just don't know how to get it there.

Art: This is my neighbor's house - I just thought the photo was fun and kind of artistic. I might even print and frame it.

Haircut: I got a new haircut, and I love it. I just hope I can make it look like this tomorrow morning. Oh, and I have bangs. I haven't had bangs since the big poof bangs in high school.

Kitchen: I finally uploaded pictures of the painted kitchen - it looks great! The only problem with the new paint is that the yellowed and peeling paint on the window trim and door look even worse.

Still to do in the kitchen:
* Touch up paint that came up with the tape
* Paint the door to the garage, and the trim for all doors and windows
* Install the new light fixtures (with Robbie's help)
* Add strips of cabinet siding beside window (Hannibal)
* Install cabinet hardware on bottom cabinets
* Buy and install tip-out tray for sink cabinet
* Decorate

I'm getting there!
Painting the kitchen: I finished! And it looks great. It took me two full hours just to tape everything off - that was definitely the biggest job. I primed everything and painted the ceiling on Saturday, then put two coats of paint on the walls today. I've pulled most of the tape off - I'm finding that I need to score everything to get the tape to come off cleanly, so its taking a while. I still think it would have been better to paint prior to hanging the cabinets, or at least before the countertop and appliances went in. The refrigerator was the biggest issue - because I have a galley kitchen, I had to keep moving it to block the doorway to climb behind it and paint. But, its done! I took pictures - I'll post them later.
More pillows: Attempt 2 to buy pillows for the guest bed - I love the way these pillows feel, and the off-white ones work, but the green ones are still not right. Maybe I can match the green in the blanket with a paint chip and carry that around with me.

Bathroom: I realized I never posted photos of the bathroom after I painted it. As a reminder, here is the before photo (the maroon paint color covers the ceiling as well as the walls, and there was a radiator, too):

Now, the new photos:

Still to do:
  • Paint the ceiling (right now its primer white)

  • Clean (again) the tile where the radiator was removed

  • Figure out what to do with the holes in the floor tiles from removing the radiator

  • Glue a picture frame to the front of the medicine cabinet, and glue the magnet to the door

  • Recaulk the tile walls

Dakota and Harvey: Also, just for fun, some photos of Dakota and Harvey playing in the backyard this evening:

Guest Bed Pillows: Shopping with Heather on Sunday, I bought what I thought would be perfect pillows for the guest bed. The green works with the curtains and the fabric I bought for the bulletin boards, but not so well with the throw that I use for everything else. So, I think I need to take them back. I think I'd rather use four standard size pillows, instead, so there's a bit more overlap.

Quote Plates: I also bought the blue quote plates from Hallmark Sunday night, and put them on the dining room shelves instead of the cookbooks. I think they look great - I'm really happy with them. They say "To Friends," "To Life," "To Happiness," and "To Good Times."

Shopping: I planned tonight to go fabric shopping, because I'm looking for something to create a huge bulletin board just inside my front door. I want something that's basically red, because I think I need more color in the living room, but I'm having trouble finding something contemporary enough. This is perfect (I think), but I'm nervous about ordering it without seeing it in person, and the idea of trying to find it in a store seems a bit daunting.

So, I went to Hancock Fabrics, to see what I could find - no luck. But I did find this for bulletin board projects for the office. It's tough to see in the photos, but the green will work with both the curtains and the throw I used to find the wall color, and the pink-red matches the daybed's bedskirt perfectly.

I tried going to Calico Corners as well, because a friend suggested it would be a good place to find the kind of thing I was looking to use in the living room, but after driving out to Virginia Beach Boulevard, it was closed (guess I should have checked that). So, I figured I shouldn't just waste the trip, and after grabbing coffee at Starbucks and browsing through a Hallmark store for a few minutes, I stopped by Bed Bath and Beyond, intending to just look. This is what I came home with:

  • A body pillow and pillow case for the daybed, in an attempt to make it look less like a bed when its not in use

  • A container to store rice in my pantry cabinets, because a box of rice doesn't fit upright

  • A magnet as a gift for one of my sisters (I actually bought that at Hallmark): If beauty is a state of mind, then I'm a freakin' genius.

  • Two smaller pieces of art for a bathroom - it just needed something more

  • Small plate stands for the dining room shelves

  • A strainer to replace the ugly, bulky plastic one I've had since college

  • A larger piece of art just because I really liked it, though I don't know yet where its going to go, probably somewhere in the living room

Dining Room: I bought and hung these ledges a few months ago, but although I used wall anchors, they still didn't feel sturdy. So, my dad installed these wall brackets when he was last here for a visit. I love the idea of storing glassware on them, because I love glassware and like it on display (and like having more room in my cabinets), but I still felt like the room lacked color. I tried the cookbooks because I liked the look when I saw it in a Pottery Barn catalog, but I'm still not happy with it. I saw these great blue plates with fun quotes on them at the Hallmark store, though I still need to go back and grab them. They're a perfect match for the little vases (actually Sake carafes from Target) on the other shelves.

Painting: I wimped out on painting the kitchen. I know, I'm horrible. Next Saturday, I swear.

Dinner Party: I made three new recipes for a dinner party last night. Three - am I crazy? Luckily I have friends that are comfortable with me experimenting on them. I made a tomato meat sauce from scratch for the first time (really, really good), a pesto sauce (okay, but now I have lots leftover and need to figure out what to do with it), and a Gorgonzola cheese sauce from Rachael Ray (Heather and Heather loved it, though I wasn't a huge fan). But, I got to use my big Pampered Chef bowl for the pasta, so that was fun.

Outside: Today is so gorgeous outside that I think I'm going to go for a walk with my camera. I'd love to take the dogs, but I don't know if I can handle it. Maybe one at a time.
Quotes: I really, really love these Photoboxes, and would love to buy one for Katie for her birthday, but at $250 retail there's just no way. So, I'm trying to figure out if I can create the same thing for a lot less (and if I will actually take the time to do that in the next month). Probably not. I'm kind of a quote freak, so I love almost all of these, but Katie only really tears up when its about kids (she's a sucker for Hallmark commercials), so I would have gone with one of these:

"Before you were conceived I wanted you. Before you were born I loved you. Before you were here an hour I would die for you. This is the miracle of love." - Maureen Hawkins

"You are the poem I dreamed of writing, the masterpiece I longed to paint. You are the shining star I reached for in my ever-hopeful quest for life fulfilled. You are my child. Now with all things I am blessed." - Unknown'

If I ever have a baby, I'm putting that last one on the wall of the nursery.

Paint: I really need to paint the kitchen. It's really the only big thing holding the room up from being finished, and the drywall is really unattractive, and its been that way for months. I mean months, and months. But, and this is the real problem, I'm scared to death that, being the semi-klutz I am, I'm going to get paint on my beautiful new countertops or cabinets. I'm trying to psych myself up for doing it Saturday.
Men and Babies: I noticed something interesting today at Bridge Link, in regards to who picked up volunteer forms to sign up for helping in the nursery - they were all women. I've worked in a lot of church nurseries, and this actually seems to be a pretty common trend, but I'm wondering why? Is it because of traditional gender roles, or is it just that women tend to be more nurturing? Cause believe me, I'm just as willing to put guys on the schedule.
Spontaneous: I highlighted my hair. I went over to Heather's house to watch a movie, and her mom was helping her highlight her hair, and her mom offered to help me with mine as well. So, there you go - I'm washing bleach out of my hair at 12am.

It looks good, though.
Walking: Tonight, I decided to take Dakota and Harvey for a walk when I got home from work. My theory is that not only would they love it, I would, too, and since its pretty easy to do for just 15 minutes, I would start doing it regularly. Dakota is okay on a leash - not as well-behaved as I would like, but as she's only 35 pounds, I can control her pretty easily. Harvey, not so much. They both pulled on the leash continually and hardly walked in a straight line at all, and my hands are pretty tired from the leashes wrapped around them. Still, I enjoyed it some, and hopefully with practice, they'll get better. I think, though, if Harvey does end up staying with me, I'll take them for training.
American Idol: I'm not sure I really want to comment on American Idol every week, but since I just finished watching the results show, here goes. One of the big problems is that not all of the contestants who end up performing for America's votes are featured prominently in the early episodes, specifically the auditions and during Hollywood week. Two cases in point - Antonella Barba and Sanjaya Malakar, both of whom got a lot of screen time early on, and neither of whom are anywhere near the caliber of the other contestants. I don't necessarily disagree with those who were voted off this week, as I doubt they would have made it to the top 12. I just think others should have gone sooner (like, last week).