Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Sunscreen Speech

In 1997, Mary Schmich wrote a column that appeared in the Trib.  In a nutshell, it was to be a commencement address if she were ever to give one.  A year later, Buz Luhrman (who had recieved Mary's permisson to use her speech in a song) released "Everybody's Free (to Wear Sunscreen)."  To date, this remains one of my favorite pieces of writing. . . .so inspiring and TRUE!  I hope you love it as much as I do and if you are not familiar with the song, do yourself a favor and check it out.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ’99

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience…I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; oh nevermind; you will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded.

But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked….You’re not as fat as you

Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing everyday that scares you


Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts, don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.


Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind…the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults; if you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements.


Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life…the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of calcium.

Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary…what ever you do, don’t
congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s.

Enjoy your body, use it every way you can…don’t be afraid of it, or what other people think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own..

Dance…even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room.

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.

Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for good.

Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but for the precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard; live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.


Accept certain inalienable truths, prices will rise, politicians will philander, you too will get old, and when you do you’ll fantasize that when you were young prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund, maybe you have a wealthy spouse; but you never know when either one might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair, or by the time you're 40, it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen…

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Finally got around to scrounging up some "before" pictures of the house and scanned them into my computer.  Let's start with the kitchen.  This is what it looked like when I bought my house about 4 1/2 years ago:

Hmmm.  Where to start?  Well, the kitchen cabinets were in great shape.  But I was just not loving the color.  Oak cabinets are fine, but they just seemed so overwhelming for the space.  It was like you were hit in the face with a big piece of oak when you walked into the kitchen.

The flooring was a 8 x 8 white tile.  White. Very white.  See that black dog in the picture?  Yeah, well, at the time there were 2 of those black dogs.  Black dog + White tile = not good.  So I knew that had to go. 

The backsplash actually was quite interesting.  I'm not sure where the tile came from, but the tile with the flower design was king of cool.  It had a Mexican vibe and was somewhat pretty up close.  Now, I love cobalt blue, but only small touches of it.  The cobalt on the wall was a bit much for me.  So that had to go as well. 

So, the first step was the floor.  We pulled up all of that white tile which was in the hall, dining room and kitchen.  The bedroom and living room had carpet.  In went oak hardwood floors.

There's that black dog again!  So, after the hardwood floors went in, I tore down the backsplash.  Even though I wasn't at a point where I knew what was going to do in its place, I just could not stand it.  Next came new countertops, which were a high end laminate.  I just couldn't justify spending the money on granite or what have you.  It looks beautiful but I knew I wanted to make a lot of changes to the house (and still have a life!) so the budget just didn't allow it.  And you know what?  Even though they are laminate, I really love them!

With the new countertops came a new sink and faucet.  I chose a double sink except that the sink on the right is actually a "mini."  It's great for thawing stuff out. 

Oh, and see that dishwasher?  There was just a cabinet there but a dishwasher was a must, so in it went!

Next came a big decision about the cabinets.  Since I could not justify replacing them, I knew they needed a facelift . . . .but what should I do?  I thought about new doors but that would have been too expensive.  I just couldn't imagine stipping them and staining them a darker color.  Too much work!  So then I thought I'd paint them.  People thought that I might end up regretting that since once I painted them, then that was it!  But I thought that would be the best thing to do. 

Once the decision was made to paint the cabinets, I had to decide on the color.  Or colors, I should say.  I figured if I only painted them one color then I would be left with same effect as before--too much of one color.  I thought black would be great for the bottom cabinets.  For the top cabinets, I finally decided on a cream color. 

So began the 3 week or so process of painting the cabinets.  First, I removed all of the doors and set up a sort of assembly line in the basement.  I used a foam roller so I would get a nice smooth finish with no brush marks.  I scuffed them up ever so slightly.  Then, I had a gallon of primer tinted a grayish earthy color.  I primed all of the doors with 2 coats of primer on each side, allowing them to dry a day in between coats.  Then, I found a gallon of "Oops" paint at Home Depot for $5!!  It was black!  I painted 2 coats again with the black paint.  I did the same thing with the bases of all of the bottom cabinets.  Next came the fun part--Sanding!!  With my palm sander, I scuffed up all the edges to give it a distressed look.  I sanded lightly in some areas so the color of the primer showed through and harder in some areas so the actual wood showed through.  Here's the bottom cabinets:

After I was finished with the bottom, I started on the top.  I bought some whitish paint, but when I applied to the cabinet doors, it seemed blinding.  I added a bit of brown paint to make it a nice creamy vanilla shade.

Which leads us to the backsplash.  I have always been obsessed with tin tile.  It is beautiful.  It is also difficult to cut, hard to find, and expensive.  I found this "fake tin tile" at Menards.  It came in sheets and is glued on with construction adhesive.  I just love it.  If it's dirty, you just wipe it down with a wet rag.

One other decision--what to do with the microwave?  See where it was in the before picture? 
It was in a microwave cabinet attached to the wall.


Well, one day I came home from work and the microwave was running!  I'm not even kidding!  I was so hot I couldn't even touch it.  So once that blew up, it was the perfect excuse to pull that cabinet down.  I bought a microwave with the built in hood to put over the stove:

Ahh, much better than before.  The hood that was there before was pretty ugly. . . .here it is again:

As far as appliances, I added a new dishwasher and a  microwave but have decided to keep the stove for now.  It works well and looks okayish.  Which leads me to the fridge!  I had an almond fridge that came with the house.  It was alright.  Then one day, shortly after Country and I started dating, he called me up and asked if I wanted a fridge.  He was working and someone across the street from the house he was working on was throwing away a fridge.  It was literally across the street sitting in a snow bank.  He went over and asked the guy if it was working.  He said yes!  So Country hauled it over.  The only problem?  It was in tooooough shape.  The previous owner had made custom cherry panels for the doors.  They were in terrible shape from sitting outside for awhile (in a snow bank).  Plus, the fridge was white.  So, stainless dishwasher, black and stainless microwave, black and almond stove.  I didn't know what to do!  Even though the fridge was an upgrade to what I had (meaning it was only 10 years old compared with the current fridge being about 20 years old) it was still WHITE!  So, I bought some appliance grade black spray paint and away we went!  Country removed the wood panels on the doors and we stripped them then stained them with the same color stain I had used on my doors and trim.  Wella!

To the right of the fridge is where the microwave used to be.  Country built me cabinet/shelf to go in it's place so there wasn't a weird empty space there.

Now I have a place for my recipes, the weather station and some bills/mail.  I think he did an awesome job!

Here are a couple of "after" pictures: