Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Carrot, Egg or a Coffee Bean

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her.  She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling.  It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen.  She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil.  In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans, She let them sit and boil; without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl.

Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me what you see."

“Carrots, eggs and coffee," she replied. Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots.  She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it.  After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.

Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, "What does it mean, mother?"

Her mother explained that each of these objects faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrots went in strong hard and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however.  After they were in the boiling water, they changed the water.

"Which are you?" she asked her daughter. When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean? 

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to make you happy.

The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way. The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; you can't go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches.

When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling.

Live your life so at the end, you're the one who is smiling and everyone around you is crying. It's easier to build a child than repair an adult.

May we all be COFFEE.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Cataloochee Tube World in Maggie Valley, NC

Our original plan was to go to Cataloochee Tube World on Christmas eve day. 

But it rained. 

And had a few thunderstorms for good measure.

We thought it best not to be outside, on the side of a mountain, with a thunderstorm going on.

I had purchased our tickets on line ahead of time because they sell out fast and I didn't want to experience a National Lampoon's Vacation moment. (For those not familiar with the movie Chevy Chase takes his family to Wally World and they are closed.)

Cataloochee was extremely nice and helpful allowing us to change our tickets beforehand to another day. We were not allowed to change the time but that was fine by us.

The tickets are $25.00 per person for an hour and forty five minutes.  It was the perfect amount of time.  To find out if tickets are available and to purchase on line click here .  You cannot purchase tickets on line the day of and I believe within 24 hours.

Tube world is not at the same location as Cataloochee Skiing.

Carter and I trying to get a picture but we kept getting photo bombed.  

My husband thinking he is being funny.

Sophia waiting in line for her turn. The lines went very fast.

My son Sam and his girlfriend Ella.

Lots of selfies going on. Still cannot believe I did not break my phone on the hill.

It was a great afternoon and the weather was unbelievable nice. Especially since it rained every day before and after we went.

We were way over dressed. The Minnesotan contingency would have been out in jeans and a t-shirt.

Thanks for visiting...

This is not a paid promotion for Cataloochee Tube World.

Friday, January 2, 2015

My Desk: Before and After

My desk space has been a work in progress since we moved into this house 3 years ago. 
I think this is the 4th desk that I have attempted to make work and I think I may have finally found the right fit.

This is an old Cypress board that was in my grandfather's garage for at least 75 years. It is from the old water towers that would line the railroad tracks.  

Story has it that he was going to use it in a boat.
Who knows. 
Not me,  that is for sure.

It is a very rough cut slab that is 12 feet by 3 feet.
A hefty chunk of wood.

My husband and I moved this baby from Minnesota to Virginia in the middle of the winter. Our trailer was only 10 feet long so it hung out a little bit.

It sat in our garage for 4 years while I tried to figure out what to use it for.  Birds made a nest on it.

Then it made the trip from Culpeper, Virginia to Asheville, North Carolina via moving truck where is sat in my basement for another 3 years.

It is a huge piece of wood.   I had a few woodworkers suggest cutting it.

That was not going to happen.

After a lot of thought I decided to head to Habitat for Humanity to see if I could find a base for the desk. I figured that built in cabinets that were made for desks would work great. Thankfully I was able to find two cabinets that were exactly alike and were file cabinets with drawers.

Perfect size, perfect height.

More importantly perfect price...$15.00 each! Score!

As a trial run to see if it would work I placed the top on the base and used it for about a month.
It was exactly what I wanted.

After a month of using it and getting a lot of slivers it was time to sand it down.

I ran lots of different ideas of finishes through my mind while I was sanding.
Sand it all the way down?
Just knock the big stuff off and keep the character?
Stain, no stain.
Sand one side, leave the other.

By the time I had sanded for 5 hours.

And used many pads of 60 grit, 120 grit, 220 grit sand paper I ended up sanding it smooth.

Sanding can be kind of mesmerizing when you start to see the grain coming though.

Unfortunately Cypress wood does not have that pretty of a grain. But the feel of such smooth texture kept me going.

By the time I was done sanding I had decided to stain it Honey by MinWax.

I figured it would be a nice light color, nothing too dark.

And I had a whole quart of it in my cabinet. 

Like the picture above? There was a LOT of sawdust generated.

Below Martha is flashing the world.

No final picture of the after the sanding stage. Sorry.

When I was done sanding and wiping it down with mineral spirits to make sure the surface was really clean I was ready to stain.

Remember I said that I had an entire quart of Honey stain in the garage.

I don't remember when I bought the stain and I was quite surprised that I had an entire quart but did not question it.

I should have.

I should have tested it on a small piece of wood.

I should have listened to myself when I thought...hmmmm, seems kinda dark?

I should have and I didn't.

I was being impatient because I wanted to see it done.

After I made the first swipe of stain across the freshly sanded board did I then remember....This is a mixture of stain I made from Mahogany, Ebony, Honey and some other color I had left over.

This IS NOT going to be a light color.

Oh, well.

A lot more color that I had planned.

But it works OK.

And the finish is very smooth.

No more slivers.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Wrought Iron Chalk Paint by Maison Blanche (Asheville Furniture Painter)

Wrought Iron paint by Maison Blanche is really a nice color to work with.
It gives you the dark black color without having to add tint to make it really black.

If you have used other black chalk paints you know what I am referring to.

Annie Sloan's Graphite is a dark gray, almost black. Which is fine if you want to finish with a dark wax to get the darker color and a little color variation in your finish. I finished a maple cabinet in my kitchen with Graphite and dark wax and you can check it out here.  I really like the finish on this piece but it does require a little more elbow grease.

With the Wrought Iron I am able to use clear wax.

Neither are wrong. Both give a great look.

Because I used a flash in these pictures the light has bounced off the surface giving it an ashy appearance. In person these color variations do not exist.

I was hesitant to use these photos because of the light reflection and it does make it a little unattractive but oh well,  Here they are.