Monday, February 16, 2015

EHB's Birthday Party

Hello! It's me, EHB! The last time I wrote, was a long time ago. So it's time for me to write again.

Because my Birthday was in January, I decided to write about my party. I had my party on the Saturday after my real Birthday. We should have been 15 kids, but one girl was sick and an other girl could not come :(

We first ate the great cake, my mother made (it was a clown),

then we did an art-project with colored sand... it was COOL!

After that I opend my fantastic presents (I got books in English and German, letters from my friends, CD's and much more)! Then I wanted to do a talentshow. We had 3 groups with 3 girls in each group (one group started with four, but one girl had to leave early). The performance was great!!! My group was Nr.1 to perform. We did a funny news. After that three other girls did a great dance and the last group acted out "Little Red Riding Hood".


Let's start from the beginning...

On my real Birthday, a friend came with her baby. We talked and ate cake. I really liked it!

Ok. My Party started with my Dad making cocktails. It was very funny to watch him! My friends we're all supposed to come dressed up. So me and my dressed up friends stood there and drank cocktails (of course without alcohol)....

Even my sister loved them:

At the end of the party we ate pizza. It was YUMMY!!!

So, I think that's it, for now. 

A is coming to visit us soon, so you will be hearing and seeing more from us.


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Wayback Weekend - Happy Valentine's Day

I saved the best for last. 
Part of the challenge included directions not to comment on if I liked the dresses or the state of the marriages or if I am still friends with the couple. But I have to tell you these brides could have asked me to wear a moomoo and I would have done it with a smile on. It just made their weddings more fun that they chose lovely dresses to go along with the celebrations.

Boughten dress from Michaels's Bridal with adaptations made for modesty
Lavender chiffon dress with draped neckline
Split flutter cap sleeves
Chiffon shawl draped over the neckline with tales flowing over the shoulders
Silver strap shoes
Worn once
Shoes worn several times

Boughten off the rack (I think it was Famous Barr)
Two pieces
Black chiffon bodice covered in black/silver beads, rounded neckline, v waistline, short sleeves
Full, floor length skirt, cut on the bias to give it a beautiful drape. Black polyester fabric with a silver sheen.
We each wore whatever black shoes we owned. I wore the same ones I bought in Germany for International J's wedding. I am still wearing them.
I have worn this dress/skirt a handful of times. Anytime someone wants to take me out to a super fancy dinner, I will gladly wear it again :).

Bonus photos



There ya have it. A glimpse into the wedding experiences of a single girl.

For all of you married couples out there, my assignment for you is to go pull out your wedding album, sit down with your spouse and enjoy a walk down memory lane. 

I'll check in with you and make sure you accomplish your assignment. 

Or better yet, send me a picture from your wedding :). 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Flashback Friday - Valentine's Day Countdown

Are you ready for the next round of dresses? I bet you stayed up late to check your computer to see if this posted, didn't ya? You can tell me. Who am I to judge?

Today's featured dresses are from my sibling's weddings. 

These two are still hanging in my closet.

Bought from David's Bridal
Navy satin, princess neckline and princess seams.
Flat square bow on the center front empire waistline.
The back neckline was a low cut squared off V.
Silver and blue necklace and matching earrings.
I don't remember what shoes we wore. 
Dress worn once, necklace worn multiple times.

Bought from David's Bridal
Baby blue matt satin with shiny satin trim.
Straight dress with wide spaghetti straps.
Bolero jacket with princess seams and two fabric covered buttons.
I don't remember any jewelry.
I had two pairs of shoes for this wedding. The bride chosen shoes were silver satin heals, worn for the photos and wedding. The reception shoes were matching blue silk heals with satin embroidered flowers along the side. 
I am pretty sure I wore this dress two times, with the blue shoes. 

Bonus picture

Freiburg, Germany
I wore this dress a lot.
It is still hanging in my closet.

Bonus Story

When it was time for the bouquet toss at my sister's wedding, I tried hard to get out of it, but was forced out on the dance floor. So I went with my piece of cake. Then someone came and took it away.

She tossed the bouquet right at me and her husband's sister....

....and we let it land on the floor right in front of us.

So she had to toss it again and my brother had to "help" me catch it.

One of the many family stories that we each have our own version we like to tell.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Throwback Thursday - Valentine's Day countdown

I was challenged, encouraged, dared and laughed at by my CFA to write a series of blog posts leading up to Valentine's Day.

Now you may be thinking this may be some insightful series about agape love or my favorite romantic movies or gift ideas for all of the men who read my blog (I know of 2), but you would be wrong. That is what everyone else is writing about.

Here on European doorways, I am going to bring you some comic relief, at my own expense.

For the next three days leading up to Valentine's Day I plan to share with you photos of me wearing bridesmaid's dresses. I have been a bridesmaid in 6 wedding, 1993 through 2004. As you can imagine, the styles have changed a tad bit since then. And I have changed alot.

Since I am still single, and I have no great insights on celebrating romance, and my memory is fading on many of the details from these weddings, I am going to stick with my area of expertise, fashion. (There ya go, there's my first joke.)

Fashion is not, nor has ever been an area of expertise for me. A more accurate description of my expertise is "apparel product development." I'm going to be digging deep into the dusty archives of my memory to remember the correct terms for describing these dresses.

"Homemade" by the local seamstress
Drop waist with a two tiered gathered waist skirt with swooping hem
A 3' bow on the back 
Acetate lace bodice over satin
Custom dyed shoes (from Payless, I'm sure)
Worn once.

I just did a second look at the photo to see if I was wearing an ankle bracelet. I'm surprised that I wasn't.

Custom made by my mom. I may have sewn a few stitches on it.
Peach satin straight skirt dress. 
Ivory acetate lace bodice separate from dress with a V waistline and neckline.
Ivory hose with matching shoes (again, from Payless)
Dress worn once. Shoes were probably worn out.

Bonus picture......

Guest book attendant
I don't have permission from  the bride and groom to include them here. The lovely lady on the right is International J. I have her signed photo release in my "file." :)
This picture would be a great example of why International J and I have been confused as sisters.

I am thankful to say that I do not have any of these clothes or shoes in my possession.......oh I spoke too soon. There is a tiny chance the black skirt, I am wearing in the last photo, is in storage tote in my basement. I'm scared that if I had either of those bridesmaid's dresses, my CFA may make me wear it to the next family gathering. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

I wish I had been there....

My sister re-told a great story about little J. It needs to be shared here as well as preserved in our family story.

Little J is in third grade. He is a tough football player, aggressive on the basketball court and speedy around the baseball diamond. He also is having fun taking piano lessons and trying to teach himself to play the trumpet/coronet.

He can swing a hammer, bake a cookie, shoot a shotgun, and create his own scavenger hunts.

As you can tell, he is very well rounded for an 8 year old.

The story my sister told me went something like this....

Friday was "bring a stuffed animal to school day" in little J's class, in honor of the 103 day of school. Little J had decided the night before that he was going to take his stuffed reindeer, Dasher Jr.

Bright and early, Friday morning, my sister went in to get little J up for school and the following conversation was heard.

My sis "Is Dasher Jr ready to go to school?"

Little J "MOM! You ruined the surprise. I haven't told the others (stuffed animals) yet. I was going to make them guess who got to go."

We are so glad he has a wonderful imagination!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The European Doorway edition of This Old House

In the two+ years that I have lived in my house, there has always been a refurbishing project in the works. It started with the hard wood floors in the front room, dining room, and main bedroom. Then I moved on to painting the kitchen and refurbishing the original windows. Throw in a couple of projects done in the basement and yard that took a lot of time, made me happy to have done, but don't have the same impact on the looks of the house and you have a lot of work.

The latest project has been the guest bedroom. When I first moved in, I knew that I needed to redo the "surface" of the whole room, so I never moved furniture into it. My guest bed was in the basement and the dresser, bookshelf, etc. was scattered throughout the house. 

The first replacement was the easiest. The rainbow fan had do go, no questions asked. While my nieces and nephew complained that I was getting rid of it, they did not want it at their house. 

I can't remember if my dad helped me with this or not. I don't think he was here for this part. I remember dropping the new fan and bent one of the blade brackets. If he would have been here helping me, I don't think I would have dropped it. 

From there, I started the window refurbishing project. 
I practiced this process on my kitchen windows. It was trial and error. Let me show you some of the process I did.

I pry/pull all of the trim and sash off. When this house was built they used the "Tim the Toolman Taylor" method....the more nails the better. These nails were plentiful and large. Rather than pulling them out and risking splitting the wood and leaving large holes in the wood, I decided to cut them off on the back side of the trim. I built up a few muscles with that step of the project.

From this point, it was a toss up on what to tackle next, the actual window stripping, sanding, staining, polyurethane OR the insulating OR the trim stripping, sanding, staining, polyurethane. The order of those steps depended on the weather and my schedule. Some parts take longer than others. 

When I decided to keep the original windows, I knew I needed to do something to help the insulation value of them. These windows work with the rope and weight system. I decided to sacrifice the weight that works the top window and keep the weight that works the bottom one. 

The space where the back weight hung was filled in with fiberglass insulation. The top and bottom was filled in with expanding foam insulation.

I used my dad's 
to cut the plaster, to allow for a new piece of wood to fit in that space.

I sealed the plaster/wood connection with metal insulation tape and put the refinished windows and trim back together. 

The top window is held up with two removable pieces of wood. They fit into the track, so no one knows they are there.

The bottom window received new rope and the weight was painted to help stop the rust and decay.

While I had the windows off, I wanted to get the room painted. But first, I needed to get rid of the odd sized built in shelf and replace the mirrors on the built in above the closet. My dad did help me with this part of the project. I cannot lift and cut a sheet of plaster board by myself.

Once dad got me set up with the pieces of plaster board, he left me to finish the plaster skim coat (?) and painting. I've got the painting part down pretty good, but I need some more practice on my plaster skim coating skills. It took my about 4x longer on that step than it would have taken my dad.

But I just keep plugin' along and sooner or later I get it done.

The steps I don't have pictures for include: painting the trim and ceiling; pulling up the carpet, padding and staples; and touching up the baseboards.

For the hardwood, I bought about 300 square feet of used flooring from the Re-Store in East Peoria. It is connected with Habitat for Humanity. I had made a deal with my cousin to lay the flooring for me. He has his own construction company, I took his son's senior pictures in exchange for them laying my hardwood. 

I just had to clean up the tongue and grooves of the old wood. Thankfully, my dad helped me with that part also. More opportunity to build some upper body strength.

In one day, my cousin had the floor laid and ready for me to sand, stain, and polyurethane. I wish I could say that only took me a day. But that is the farthest thing from the truth. I think it was closer to 4 months to get that part of the project done.

No one would take me up on my requests to come help me strip the varnish or sand.

It was dusty. You got to be on your hands and knees all day wearing a breathing mask, gloves, and protective glasses. OH! AND you got to do it all in a freezing cold room because it was winter and the windows had to be open for fresh air. 

I just don't know why no one wanted to come help me.

Does sarcasm translate well enough on a blog?

Here is the finished product.

The baseboard is original to the house.
The quarter round is new pine.
The floor is reused oak.
The heat vent is new and I like it so much I am going to get more for the rest of my house.

This is the transition between the guest room and the hall. I am very very pleased with how well they blend. 

One of the previous owners had glued vinyl flooring to the original hard wood. Several people suggested not even messing with trying to get that glue off. When I came across this used hardwood for $75, I decided to go that route. The oak is laid on top of the vinyl and is about 3/4" higher than the regular floor. As long as you don't trip walking into the room, I don't think you would notice that it is different.

While I still need to finish the closet doors in this room (I am using old doors for that too) I am already figuring out what project I should start on next.

The options are:
  • my bathroom - refurbish the wood trim and cupboards, replace the sink and paint
  • my bedroom - refurbish the windows
  • the dining room - refurbish the windows, cleaning up the baseboards, replace the light, and making curtains
  • the front room - refurbish the windows, clean up the baseboards and french doors, paint or re-wallpaper the blank wall, and refurbish the front door
  • the basement - too many possibilities to even start to list

What is your vote?

"Ya wanna help?"

Monday, February 2, 2015

Done and Done.....kinda.

It has been quiet in the world of European Doorways because other projects have taken my time and words. 

In a recent post, I hinted at the ongoing floor refinishing project I have been working on. I had plans that I would get it completed over my Christmas break. But I was not happy with the first staining job, so I re-sanded it and tried again. Now, I am very happy with the finished product. I have more pictures I will share in another post (that I will type today and set to publish in a few days.)

The floor in my guest room is done.
Thanks to my sis and CFA, the furniture is also moved in. I have new pillows and a down comforter. It is all ready for any guests that would like to come visit me. If you give me a heads up you are coming, I will even get the curtains done before you arrive.

The annual report for work is done.
This is the first BIG project in my new communications role. We actually did two separate documents: a one sheet Recap and a 24 page booklet. Everyone in the Unit played a part in this project. 
This week I should receive the last edits from my co-workers and get a quote from the printer. 
After a late night getting the last pages designed and articles proofed, I rewarded myself with two new pencils from the supply cabinet. I wish I could explain why I felt excited about new pencils, but I did. 
The plans for the next annual report are already being made, so just like the 4-H Shows, the work is never really done.

To keep a bit of reality in this blog, I will show you the other side of the guest room.

I need to sort through all of that stuff and my cousin needs to come back and finish trimming the closet. I also need to finish the closet doors. 

So my projects are only kinda done. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Random encouragement

(Thanks to a snow day - I have 3 blog posts scheduled to post daily. Come back again Monday and Tuesday, but don't get your hopes up that I can keep this pace up for long.)

I was given several recommendations this weekend on a good song, book, and two TV shows. I need some good recommendations on a camera for work and finding a good deal on plane tickets to Germany. 

I thought I would share the recommendations I received, plus one of my own. Enjoy!

Worship Song: Overcome by Digital Age
I've been told that this is better when listened to cranked up. 
I'm looking forward to the day the Riverside worship director adds this to his song list.

By Tatiana de Rosnay
I'm going to head to the library and see if they have this available. Otherwise, I will have to make a trip to Indianapolis to borrow it from P. :)

Heartland TV Show. Takes place in Canada and is only on mainstream TV in Canada. 
P says it is a good, family friendly show. I thought I could watch it on hulu, but discovered that I need huluplus. I will keep an eye out for it on DVD. It is in it's 8th season, so the Canadian's must like it.

The Paradise on PBS. This is much different then The Paradise on the Illinois River. I would never recommend the one on the river. I was hoping that I could watch this on, but sadly they only have previews available. I think I can watch some episodes on youtube. I may need to add this to my gift suggestion list.

Grantchester on PBS. You can watch this one on PBS. It is brand new, only two episodes into the first season. I have high hopes that this one will be as popular as Downton Abbey. 

On a side note, last week the question of the day around the lunch table was something about "If you could have a vacation/retirement/dream home where would it be?" 
One of my options was a cottage in a small town in Europe. My imagination leads me to believe my choice would be a town like Grantchester (the way it is portrayed in this show.)