Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Hurricane Harvey and the aftermath

I will never forget August 27, 2017. Sadly, our home flooded during Hurricane Harvey. There is so much I want to say about this. About the care our friends and community gave us. About how much good came out of such heartbreak. We have completed all our repairs. It took 8 months of back-breaking work.
It has been such a wild ride. I pretty much hung on to the bottom of Jesus' garment as he steered me through this mess. I couldn't have made it without His direction and comfort. He showed me that "he has me" during all of this. Our needs were all met even before we knew we had them. Daily miracles happened during those first few months.
Here we are 9 months out. I have a little perspective. A little less dust. A little more appreciation for all that has been accomplished. 
Our dear friend came to stay with us a month before to have surgery. She was recovering with us when everything happened. She had a still-open scar on her leg, walking on crutches and very much on the mend.
August 28, 2017 - It had been raining for days. Pretty much non-stop. Our neighborhood was designed well and we never so much as had water back up in the street even in the hardest of storms. We didn't fear flooding. In fact, we called friends to come and stay with us as their neighborhoods were already flooding. Unfortunately (or fortunately), they couldn't get out of their neighborhood. The tornado warnings were constant. We received hundreds of them in the past few days. Hundreds. I eventually turned them off because I couldn't stand it any longer. I told my husband, "if it is my time to go, I'm ready. A tornado can take me. I don't care at this point". He laughed and turned his off too. It was maddening. The storm just swirled over us. Over and over. Dumping rain every time it passed. It was stuck on top of us with no end in sight.
A neighbor boy came over and told us to move our cars up in the driveway as the water was rising in the street. Snugglebunny ran out in the rain and moved them as close as he could to the garage doors. He came in and told me what was happening. I peeked out to see the water in the street. I was shocked to find it was already on our front porch and rising fast. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Within minutes it had engulfed our yard. Soon it started seeping under the door. We tried in vain to use towels to stop the flow. We eventually gave up.
My thoughts turned to my friend here after surgery. There was no way she could stay in this house because we didn't know how quickly the waters were rising. We have a 1 story house, so there was nowhere to go. We started picking everything we cared about up out of the water. We had only minutes to do it. I looked over and saw my husband sitting on the couch in a daze. I had to give him tasks to keep him on track. He was shutting down. He later told me he was thinking about all the work he had ahead. He had no idea really.
About that time, our precious neighbor Karen called us. They have a 2 story and offered for us to stay. My friend and I decided to go. Snugglebunny and my boys decided to stay home with the dogs and guard the house. I didn't have a choice. I had to get my friend out of my flooding house. We only had moments to decide what to do as the water was coming in fast. We accepted the offer. Our brave neighbors waded through the water to help us. My friend was still on crutches, but the water was thigh high so I had her use me for balance and we started across the yard. Her incision was covered in the nasty water. As soon as we got in, I had one of the boys give me by bug-out bag which we had grabbed on our way out and pulled out the alcohol wipes and cleaned her wound quickly hoping to stave off any ill effects.
We stayed up all night in our neighbors upper spare bedroom that faced the street and looked out on the rising water. It eventually stopped rising. It almost covered the hoods of the cars still parked in the street. My friend and I talked and I intermittently prayed out loud. I snoozed off at some point, totally exhausted, but woke up again quickly. I don't even remember sleeping. I watched the large all-terrain rescue vehicles go up and down our streets viewing the damage and patrolling. I kept texting my husband and boys who assured me the water had finally stopped rising. There was approximately 4" of water in the house. Some places had more or less. Early in the morning, they opened the dam and the water quickly went down. My friend and I thanked our neighbors and quickly went next door to see the damage. It was heartbreaking. The floors were already buckling. The cheap baseboards were swelling and popping off the walls. Everything on the floor was gone. Rugs were destroyed. Books swollen and damaged. Doors and door jambs were starting to swell and didn't allow us to close the doors anymore.
My husband and boys wasted no time. They immediately started pulling out wet sheetrock, baseboards, flooring, insulation and destroyed items. They are my heroes. The pile in front of our house became quite huge. It made me sick to look at it. Immediately, we had people start showing up to help. The Wells family were amongst the first. They brought their willing hands and Chris' skill with everything construction. They were our angels and we will love them forever.
My Uncle Bill called from Louisiana with offers of help. At that time, we were in such a daze we didn't know what to do and what we needed. He had been through a flood and knew exactly what needed to be done. He gave us some much needed direction. He loaded up a trailer full of supplies and came from Louisiana when the roads were clear and helped Greg and boys learn what to do. He was amazing. We love you Uncle Bill.
About this time, my friend started telling me she wasn't feeling right. We got her in to see the doctor (who insisted we come up to the hospital and saw her between surgeries. He was a blessing.). He immediately admitted her and hooked her up with an infectious specialist who put her on the strongest antibiotics known to man. After 4 days in the hospital, she was allowed to go home. We are grateful to the doctors, nurses and staff at Methodist hospital that took amazing care of her and saved her leg and her life.
My husband was overwhelmed while we were in the hospital. He called me and told me he couldn't make the myriad of decisions by himself. I felt so guilty leaving him for 4 days, but we had no choice. I did as much as I could by phone. During that time, the FEMA inspector came out and surveyed the damage. Three (3) days after that the money was wired to our checking account. We are so grateful for the speed that this was done. We were shocked at how well it was handled. Granted, it wasn't a lot of money, but we figured it would put a pretty good dent in the materials we had to purchase.
Friend after friend showed up with meals, water, money, materials and whatever we told them we needed. Many brought things we needed before we could ask. In spite of all this disaster, I can truly say we never wanted for anything. God took amazing care of us through His people. We had so much given, we were able to give our overflow to our neighbors. If they had a need, we put it out to our amazing community of people and the need was immediately met. Immediately. As fast as we gave things away, it came right back. It was miracle after miracle. I found out who our true friends and family are. Many people who I hadn't expected to help us out, ended up being those who gave us the most. People that couldn't afford it, gave us the most money. I am flabbergasted to this day. God used the unexpected. He likes to do that I think. He surprised me every day.
Many came and prayed with us. Those prayers are burned into my soul forever. The Rinke family came and prayed that we would be better off than we started. An impossibility at the time. However, those words came true. We are truly better off than before the storm. Our home is much nicer, we are closer to our neighbors and friends, our community is stronger, my faith has grown incredibly.
Thank you to all our friends and family, near and far, that supported us during this journey of recovery. We are forever grateful for your hearts and your generosity to us. We are happy to say thanks to our Father God, we are truly recovered and better than ever.
Chris, our wonderful friend!
My sweet Misty! Love this family!
What a mess
Poor Snugglebunny fell asleep in the middle
of eating. He was so exhausted from working hard.
Pile of soggy belongings. Such a sad sight.
Starting to recover.
My daily look for 8 months
Getting ready for new flooring!

Chris taught us so much!
Chris and Zack working on the dining room wall treatment
One determined family!
I learned how to mud, float and
Zack did excellent work!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Kitchen Remodel - Poor People Edition

I finally finished my kitchen last year right before Thanksgiving. I haven't had time to post pictures We haven't changed out the countertops or backsplash yet because, well, money. Or lack thereof. My amazing and wonderful wood magician moved out of state. I am devastated because I finally found someone that didn't look at me crazy when I tell them what I want. He did amazing work. I tried my best to complement his work with paint, glaze and staging. The transformation is amazing!  I used chalk paint on all the cabinets with my handy dandy glaze. I did seal these cabinets with a flat glaze because this is a kitchen and it will get lots of wear and tear. I did not use wax. It's a kitchen. Wax and kitchen heat don't mix well. So far, it is holding up well. I need cabinet knobs to save the wear and tear on the finish. So far, I haven't found anything I am completely in love with. I am a knob snob! I prefer the clean look and knobs, well, clutter up the joint.
I am in love with the island. It was a labor of love. Many layers of wood and moulding, multiple colored chalk paint layers, sanding, chipping and the Elmer's glue and paint trick to make crackle. Glaze over all. Yes, that is the original island under it all. It looks so gorgeous and ancient! I can't wait to add the corbels and the new countertop and stools. All in good time.
I love all the extra cabinet space. I am using it to store a lot of the items I don't use often. Mostly party stuff like beverage servers and party trays and the like. I get out my trusty ladder if they are needed. We have changed the pendants over the island, painted over the mural in the kitchen and added a chalk painted kitchen desk since these pictures were taken. Things change at lightning speed around here.

Look at all that wasted space above the
original cabinets!

During...The stock cabinets added on top of the original.
We added moulding and painted it all. It looks like it has
always been there!

Kitchen Desk Transformation

In my continuing love affair with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, I took on another project. I was on a mission to find a desk that would work in my kitchen. Bingo! Found what I was looking for at a cute little place in town called "Adam's Attic". I got this 90's desk and hutch for a song. I practically skipped out of there. I painted it the same color as my kitchen cabinets. It looks like a continuation of the beauty going on there. Looky the difference! It also gives me another display area, so yipeeee! I got a gorgeous old typewriter from the same place that fits so nicely. We also recently updated the pendants in the kitchen. I just squealed when I found these online. Love the squirrel cage Edison bulbs in here. Not too bright and gives the right kind of look.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Why I don't read your e-mails anymore...

I have a few dear people in my life that I call "Wall Watchers". They are the ones that post news stories or political information on their FaceBook walls and comment on them. They are the ones that forward e-mails on to you regarding events of the day. I don't know if our "Wall Watcher" friends realize how important they are in the church today. They are critical and I am very grateful for them.

Of course, our enemy would like to discredit them. If our "Wall Watchers" cannot be trusted, then how can the people be warned? Unfortunately, I have a few "Wall Watchers" that do not check their sources. They forward every e-mail that comes across their path and post too much to their FaceBook wall. They cry out at every shadow and tree. No one can trust any information they send.

A word to the Wall Watchers: While it is the job of the "Wall Watcher" to sound the alarm, it is the right of the people to judge if it is true or not and if they will take action. It is not the job of the "Wall Watcher" to become self-righteous because he has seen the enemy first. It is also not their job to become indignant when we find their information to be faulty. We understand that no one is perfect and misinformation will slip through. However, continued distribution of misinformation discredits the watcher and eventually the whole city is in mortal danger. Yes, we are aware. We are informed. Don't talk down to us and please don't flood our e-mails with misinformation.

What can we do about an untrustworthy watcher? Should they be dismissed? They have to be. I don't even open the e-mails of these people anymore. I block their FaceBook postings.

Guest Room #2 - Cajun Cowgirl Theme - Cowboy Shabby Chic!

I decided to redo the "toy room" since I don't have need of it any longer. I needed a second guest bedroom for our frequent out-of-town guests. I was so thrilled when the theme of the room all came together quite quickly. A dear family friend was coming over for the first time. She is a talented barrel racer from Louisiana and their family has been friends of ours since I was in High School. These people are more like family than friends. Her mom and dad are like my Aunt and Uncle. We recently reconnected and I am so glad that we did.
Back to the room. I found an old picture in a closet by George Rodrigue before he was in his Blue Dog phase. It is of the Mamou Riding Academy which apparently is a painting that caused some controversy. Here is the story if you are interested I love it all the same. The white colors worn by the riders go well with the white and natural bedding and the old white bed frame. I pulled out the American flag in a pillow on the bed.
I wanted some natural linen bedding. Boy is that stuff pricey. I stumbled upon a company that made it here near Houston. The price was half what I had seen elsewhere. I ordered it and waited weeks for it to be made and shipped. It was worth the price and wait. Gorgeous!!! I found some beautiful cotton lace sheets and a white comforter at Home Goods.
I told a friend at work I was looking for some old fencing boards and a dresser. She had both she wanted to part with. I was so excited.

Farm fresh!
The dresser was truly "farm fresh". When we pulled it out we had to spray it for bugs. There was a nest of crawlers who were not thrilled to leave. It had some old packing tape across it which I had to scrape away. I cleaned and cleaned it with everything I could find suggested on the internet. Wood soap, Nok-Out (which normally works on everything), wood oil, more wood soap. Nothing. It still smelled so bad. I was ready to drag it to the road. Finally, as a last ditch effort I tried alcohol. It took two applications but it absolutely killed the smell. I put on a few drops of cinnamon oil on the back of the drawers. That made it smell so great! I could have used cedar oil too since I'm pretty sure it is cedar. I need to check it for lead paint. If it is lead, I'll encapsulate it with a flat sealant. I just didn't want to touch the original finish. It is the perfect crackle and age that everyone tries to mimic. This is the real deal.
The fence was easy. I did a little dry brush with white and green paint and put some of my trusty glaze. I put a spare board on crosswise. My husband cut the rotten parts off the bottom and cut the top straight across. I love it!
I couldn't resist this feather wreath
Christmas ornament. It will go perfectly
all year long.

Here is the dresser all cleaned up
I always put a crystal container filled with
snacks and water for my guests so they
can help themselves if they get hungry or thirsty.
I redid this old mirror with a chalk paint finish and glaze
Bedside table is an old silver luggage rack
off Ebay and some vintage suitcases from my
friend Gail.
I dressed up a plain table lamp from Hobby
Lobby with some cute trim. Love it!

Retro looking new fan

Sunday, June 19, 2016

How to Paint Everything in Sight Except for What You Are Supposed To

I was so excited about how this turned out! I didn't even
wait for the glaze to dry before I took a picture. Ha!
Yours truly is still procrastinating about painting her kitchen much to the chagrin of my husband and my carpenter a/k/a wood magician. Sorry guys. I gotta be in the zone. They don't get it. So, in order to get the creative juices flowing, I painted two other items. I also have painted and repainted my practice boards. I was having problems finding a combination and technique I am in love with. Until today! I found a cool tutorial about using Elmers glue to make crackle with chalk paint. BTW - she is adorable!

Check out this mirror I got at a garage sale. It had a pretty frame, but the colors just didn't go with anything.
First I put on a sloppy coat of Graphite by Annie Sloan
Then I put on a sloppy coat of Old White by Annie Sloan.
I really did a crappy job making sure I didn't get into the cracks.
Next I sanded it lightly all around so the black peeked out more.
Then I used my handy-dandy glaze that I used on my door and
on my master vanity. Gosh, I love that stuff. Look at this!

Ta da!
Check out this other project I distracted myself with. I painted a beautiful silver tray I found at an antique shop in Georgetown, Texas. Gosh, they have some awesome stores there. This was from Rough and Ready. Adorable place! It had some spots of tarnish that were just too bad to salvage.
First, I painted it with Graphite chalk paint from Annie Sloan
Next, I gently sanded off the edges
Next I added a clear wax followed up
by a dark wax
Polished up and ready for display. Doesn't it look like leather?


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