My Outdoor Bedroom: Thoughts on Living Weird. Happy and Weird.

May 26, 2017 in Beth, But Seriously by Beth Woolsey

I used to think I didn’t like the outside. I’m not a long-haul backpacker like my most outdoorsy Oregonian friends. I don’t enjoy endurance hikes, forced-march style. I don’t even go on leisurely grandma walks around the block. But once I was able to tackle outside on my terms — biking in the sunshine, kayaking because I get to sit on my ass in the water, and hiking where hiking means sauntering through the woods and meandering up mountains rather than tight timelines and a race to the top — I was IN. All the way in. Mud in my toes, scrambling over boulders, bugs in my bed, IN.

I started sleeping outside this week, but not in a sleeping bag on a hard pad on the ground. Nope; I started sleeping outside, but in a real bed with sheets, soft pillows, and a ragged, faded plaid down comforter I bought for my first apartment 26 years ago.

{Psst… Greg and I made out on that comforter a lot.}

It’s pretty close to heaven on earth, and it’s 100% Outside My Way.

Greg only grumbled a little when I pestered him for days and days to pull the old iron bedframe from the storage loft, and I went ahead and ignored his eye-rolling while I stole the nightstands back from our Goodwill pile. I mean, I don’t want to brag too much, but I’m really good at ignoring eye-rolling now. Also, sighing. Also-also, the slow shaking of Greg’s head side to side in weary disappointment. I can ignore it ALL.

See, Greg is of the opinion that one bedroom inside a house with things like Protection from Inclement Weather and Temperature Control — Not Very Many Giant Fuzzy Spiders and Zero Raccoons with Razor Blade Teeth and Beady Little Demon Eyes Peering from the Blackberry Bushes — is plenty of bedrooom for me. Greg thinks I don’t need a second, outdoor bedroom. Greg thinks, if I’m going to invest time in a house project, maybe I should finish painting the hallway — or the other 47 things I’ve started — instead of creating a redundant living space in the backyard.

Poor Greg. Bless his heart. And we can pray for him. <– This is our Greg Liturgy. Amen.

As for me, I’m certain this is the Best Idea Ever.

I’ve been fighting Depression again lately. It’s been a rough couple of months. I think. Maybe a rough couple of years? I don’t know. That’s one of the symptoms of mental illness, really; the Not Knowing. The trying to decide if this is Normal or Unhealthy. Is this a Phase or Do I Need Help? So I’ve been fighting Depression again lately; I just don’t know what “lately” really means. I’m bobbing up and down in Ocean of the Unknown. Getting hit by waves of Anger and Hurt and Worry and Blah. Finding myself underwater. Pushing again to the surface. Suspecting this is just part of what it means to be human in all its complexity. Suspecting this is just circumstantial and easily explained. Suspecting none of that’s right at all.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Mental health is a giant jigsaw puzzle, after all, except we only have some of the pieces. The rest we have to go on a scavenger hunt to find with murky clues. We never find them all. And so I manage my mental illness a lot of ways. Partly through medication which saved my life. Partly through pursuing Joy these days instead of the Approval of Others which has made this life richer and fuller and weirder than ever.

So I keep doing Weird Shit that makes me happy instead of Normal Shit in its tightly controlled box of Acceptable Behavior. These days, I’m spending my time building fairy houses out of wall holes. And making my bed outside.

 

I feel like I just keep leveling up on Weird. Things that make No Sense to others, I’m pursuing anyway, and I’m finding Joy there. It turns out making my bed where the dirt gets in is a piece of the puzzle — the piece that looks like watching the stars before I fall asleep and hearing the wind in the cherry trees and waving at you, always waving, in the dark.

With love, friends, from this little piece of earth,

 

 

 

 

P.S. I want you to know, so I get credit, I ironed the stained bed skirt before stacking the mattresses, which was wasted effort entirely since it’s all covered now by the wrinkled comforter. I suppose I could have ironed the comforter, as well, but I’d already ironed one whole thing and felt there was no need to go to ironing extremes. Besides, now the ironed bed skirt is symbolic of all the work we do that never sees the light of day. And it’s also symbolic of my guiding principle which is that Half Assed Is Good Enough. After all, mathematical integers prove that anything more than zero is in an infinite percentage more than nothing; since I ironed something, that is infinitely more than ironing nothing. INFINITELY MORE. And infinity is a LOT, you guys. A TON.

P.P.S. This is my view right now.

 

P.P.P.S. Good night.

An Update on the Messes: Church, Holes in the Wall, America, and Pants

April 11, 2017 in Beth, But Seriously by Beth Woolsey

It’s raining outside and the window is open because the puking kid in my bed wants it that way, and we all know pukers get what pukers want. Except red juice. Pukers don’t get red juice. Not ever again.

I can hear the delicate pitter patter of the rain drops hitting the patio interspersed with the giant KERPLOPS of rain gushing over the clogged gutters which we didn’t clear this winter — a mistake in Oregon — but there’s only so much time and SO MANY projects to fail to complete. The gutters made the Fail List this year. And I think last year, too. It’s OK, though. They’ll rust, and the water will get in, and the house will crumble around us, but it’s OK. It’s important, after all, to build Long Term and Short Term plans. Our Long Term House Destruction plan, for example, is water damage and mold which will lead to total structural failure. Our Short Term plan is, obviously, accidental fire. Since one of the kids left the gas oven on all night last week, we feel like that one’s a real possibility.

This is a strange season of life for Greg and me. For our family. For America. For the universal church, and for ours specifically. For the world, too.

We’re just… really weary most days. Struggling. Straggling. Doing what we can right now, which isn’t always what we need to do, like clean out the gutters, but we’re going for barebones survival here, you know? Trying to make it through each day with our awesome, assholish kid without doing irreparable damage to him or ourselves. Trying to figure out where we belong after finding ourselves in the wilderness of the unknown when it comes to our faith community. Trying to figure out how our country and our world can inflict so much suffering on so many people who are so very vulnerable.

It’s a strange thing to be in our 40’s and adrift, especially when we thought we knew where we were moored. We thought we’d carved out a space to belong in America, and we figured we were raising our transracial, multicultural children in a country devoted to becoming kinder and more inclusive. We certainly thought we’d always be welcome at church. I understand how clearly I’m highlighting our embedded privilege here and our naivety, but it’s still true. And now, the places we thought we belonged — the places we thought were sure bets — the places we thought we were well established — are no longer fully home. Maybe they never were. And we adorable, white, highly educated, middle class, English-as-a-first-language, Christian Americans are just now, belatedly, figuring it out. Bless our hearts.

Those on the outskirts and the margins of our church have been trying to tell us about their suffering for years. For years and years. But Greg and I, sweet little baby bunnies that we are, are only now waking up to the Matrix. We’re only now looking around, eyes beginning to see. Only now beginning to understand the price we’d have to pay in our Consciences and Integrity and Deepest Understanding of what it means to Love God and Love Our neighbors as Ourselves to stay in those safe-for-people-like-us places. It’s been a real eye-opener, I tell you, and I say this as a person who is still largely blind and who has much to learn before the scales fall fully away.

But here’s my secret for the day… shhhhhhhh, don’t tell… I’m starting to like it out here with the wind on my face.

I’m starting to feel excited about the unknown.

I’m starting to believe that being cut loose may turn out to be a gift. I had grown terribly weary, after all, of having to behave to belong.

I feel like we’ve jumped onto the ship of the Wayward and the Wanderers. All the way on, instead of trying to straddle it and the other. We had to pick. Stay on the old ship and comply, or leave and do a new thing. And so we’ve thrown our lot in with the Weary and the Wary and the Wild and the Free, and we’re out on deck, just getting under way. Just now feeling the wind pick up. Just now watching the shore recede.

And so, Greg and I are in the process right now of waving good-bye to the things we once knew and clung to. Waving good-bye to our false idols of Comfort, Conformity and Compliance. Waving good-bye to the rules of the evangelical Christian subculture which haven’t fit us well for a long, long time. Waving good-bye to our desperate desire to have beloved members of our former community approve of us, see the best in us, and believe we are racing toward God and the Gospel and Good News instead of away. Shoving the anger that masks our hurt firmly over the side, and shoving it over again when it crawls back up, because angry and bitter is not who we choose to be, and we’re not going to give it a free ride to the New Thing where we’re headed.

I’ve been thinking a lot about where my loyalty lies as we begin this new journey. I’ve been considering what it means to live in the Freedom and Fullness of Love and Grace, and about what I might do — or who I might become — to help invite others, who are as tired as we are, into that space. I’ve been thinking about how to become a Light-bringer and a chain-breaker and a justice-monger and a Love-dweller the way Jesus taught us to be. The truth is, I don’t know yet. I don’t know, but I feel like we’re headed the right way.

Sending love to you, friends, and waving, waving, waving in the dark,

 

 

 

P.S. For lots of reasons, mostly related to the oldest boy child but partially related to being batshit crazy, I’ve been housebound this month. Housebound and focused on keeping my kid afloat. With an itchy brain. While contemplating a country and church that are hard to make sense of.  It’s been a MONTH, in other words. A MONTH, friends. But I’m able to put one foot in front of the other and no one has smothered anyone with a pillow, so we’re counting it in the win column.

As a result, I’ve spent the last two weeks building the fairy house and pestering Greg to cut the door and find the right screws and drill holes and basically be my beck-and-call fairy house construction manager, which he has LOVED because who needs to work from home to make money when you could be running fairy errands for your wife? Amirite? Greg thinks so, too. You can tell by the loving way he rolls his eyes and says, “Not right now, Beth. Maybe tonight.”

The thing is, I’m finding solace in hunkering down and building a sanctuary for the magic to get in. It feels right just now. Like it makes All the Sense in the Whole Entire World to use bits and pieces of things we overlook every day to build a visual reminder that the mysterious is welcome and will be sheltered here.

P.P.S. Here are 100,000 fairy house pictures. Because priorities.

BEFORE:

The destroyed Mouse House.

THEN:

A bigger hole.

THEN:

The bones of the Fairy House.

THEN:

We get serious, man.

Also, side benefit — making Greg work on the Fairy House during his lunch break.

And cutting up 1000 pine cones for shingles.

THEN:

Assembly.

UNTIL, FINALLY:

A Fairy House.

Now, obviously, there are still a million things we can do with this, but for our purposes, this is essentially complete.

I decided to spend $0 on this project because a) I’m cheap, and b) I’m cheap. My mommy gifted me the fairy lights. They came in an old onion jar so they smell horrible. I think the fairies will like it.

And I pulled the wooden thread spools (table and chairs, obviously) from a stash I inherited from my grandmother.

I figure, anything else the fairies need, they can create with magic, just like I do.

So there the Fairy House sits.

Directly across from our hall closet, Harry Potter’s Cupboard Under the Stairs,

And when people walk in our front door,

they’re greeted by All Things Magical — the Fairy House, the Cupboard, and the Ravenclaw Room… and that end table, not marked, is from the set of Grimm.

Plus discarded pants.

I feel like this is just honest.

We’re magic and mess, after all. Magic and mess.

P.P.P.S. Love to you. That’s all for now. Hopefully more soon. xoxo

Because I Needed to Fix ONE Damn Thing

March 20, 2017 in Beth, But Seriously by Beth Woolsey

There’s paint on my fingernails. Some of it’s nail polish. Some of it’s wall paint.

Abby came home from college for Spring Break. She left warm, sunny Hawaii where her friends spent the week on the beach in teeny, tiny swimsuits getting perfect tan lines, for cold, rainy Oregon and her mommy and daddy. I told her she’s doing college and Spring Break wrong. But kids these days; they never listen.

“LET’S GO GET OUR NAILS DONE,” she said, Spring Break Day 1.

“OMG! YES. YES, LET’S GO GET OUR NAILS DONE RIGHT NOW,” I said back, which I’ve never previously said to her — never in her whole life — because it costs $25 to get ONE PERSON’S NAILS DONE ONE TIME, whereas an ENTIRE BOTTLE of nail polish is $3.99 at the grocery store, OR, if you insist on being fancy, $8.99 with a $2 off coupon.

But Abby knows exactly when her mommy is a sucker — Spring Break Day 1, man — because even if she’s doing college and Spring Break wrong, I’ve at least taught her the life skill called How to Manipulate Your Mama So She Does Whatever You Want, Always. And so, I sit here typing with manicured nails, but also hands dotted with wall paint because I’m why we can’t have nice things.

“Tracy and I got fake nails today,” I wrote in my 5th grade journal after we snuck to the store and squandered our allowance on press-on nails, “but then we dug up a gopher hole, so they fell off.” My 43-year-old hands are, in other words, exactly like my 10-year-old hands. I tried to look like a grown-up, friends. I tried real hard.

I painted my bedroom this week.

It wasn’t part of the plan, I have 36 other priorities right now, my teenage man-child with special needs is having a rough go of it lately, but, suddenly, nothing felt as important as painting, rearranging and redecorating my bedroom. Not one thing.

Instead of mock myself for it, though, I’ll tell you — and myself — a more gentle truth: I needed to control something in a world that feels out of control. I needed to make something pretty in a world that seems ugly. I needed sanctuary as our church falls apart. I needed a sanctuary to sit in. I needed to find sanctuary in the ethereal sense. And, while there’s a very, very small, logical part of me that understands painting my room ultimately provides no substantial fix, there’s a much larger part that is soothed by fixing something. Anything. One goddamn thing. Even — especially — if that thing is where I lay my head at night.

More soon, friends. I’ve been trying to wrap my fragile, fabulous, fearful, fierce brain around what to say about the world these days and how to navigate it. I’m almost there. Stay tuned.

With love, as always,

 

 

 

P.S. Here’s what I’ve done to the room so far…

I forgot to take “before” photos, so these are mid-way pics… in the middle of cleaning and reorganizing pre-painting and moving furniture.

BEFORE(ish):

BEFORE(ish):

We’ve switched where the bed and desk are located. Thus,

AFTER:

AFTER:

P.P.S. I DID think about making the bed for you — it’s adorable with all the different Bohemian-feel linens which are a combo of stuff we already had, like that weird and fabulous 1960’s quilt from my great aunt, and the throw pillows you can see on the dresser, and the other linens like the blue and white bedspread I scored from Goodwill — but, honest to God, our bed is only made 0.0001% of the time so making it for you felt too much like lying. So we’re going with “it’s the thought that counts.” I thought about making the bed, so it counts, yes? Yes. This is why we’re friends.

P.P.P.S. The Nolen’s Booksellers sign was Greg’s score at the recent sale in Portland of all the prop pieces from the Grimm TV series. Seems fitting to put with Aden’s werewolf self-portrait and our twins’ zombie pic.

P.P.P.P.S. The desk wall isn’t done.

I’m considering doing a word mural on the wall with what has become my theme…

There is MAGIC in the MESS,
and GRACE in the GRIME
and WONDER in the WILD
of this LIFE lived OFF-COURSE
from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.

It seems like the perfect place for such a reminder. I’m just not sure how to execute that idea. Thoughts??

P.P.P.P.P.S. I have a beginner’s writing retreat coming up in May at the Oregon Coast! I’d love to hang out with you there. You can find all the info here: Writing 101. Please do consider coming! And contact me if you have any questions. <3

Kitchen REVEAL (A Group Remodeling Project: The FINAL Chapter)

February 28, 2017 in Beth, But Seriously by Beth Woolsey

I know. This reveal has taken months. And months and months. Which is a terrible repayment to all of you who weighed in with your placement, design and decorating decisions on parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 67, and 8 of this project. I mean — you’re the people who took us from I Don’t Want to Start My Stove with an Ice Pick Anymore to TODAY.

The bad news is this: we LOVE EVERYTHING about the new kitchen, and we’re painfully aware we wouldn’t have made, like, 70% of these choices without you (quartz countertops, moving the stove out from under the window, wall and color choices that gave us the farmhouse industrial look we hoped to have), so you’re officially on the hook for every Woolsey design project from here on out. Honestly, you have only yourselves to blame, so I don’t want to hear you complain about this. If you had thought ahead and given us crap advice, we wouldn’t be relying on you now. But you DIDN’T think ahead, it looks AMAZING, and it functions even better, so you’re stuck. Forever. You made your bed, friends.

The good news, however, is this: we don’t remodel frequently, so it may be a while before we throw ourselves on you for assistance again. Oh, we have a thousands things that NEED remodeling. We just don’t usually have the time, energy, capacity, or willingness to spend the money in order to accomplish them. So you can rest. For now.

Which bring us to …

… THE GREAT REVEAL!

The last time we saw Betty, she looked like this:

She was IN PLACE in the kitchen, but the rest, obviously, was unfinished.

Here’s what her space looked like BEFORE she moved there:

And here she is NOW:

I kind of feel like if the rest of this post was filled with nothing but that one picture, it would all be worthwhile.

 

Just one more time:

I feel like I’m DREAMING.

Can we just recall for one second that I was starting this…

…with an ice pick? surrounded by orange counters?

And now I COOK HERE:

Before:

AFTER:

From the Family Room before:

From the Family Room after:

I love all of it. ALL of it. But my very favorite part of the remodel is in the picture below, where Betty sits, and to her left. Above her, there’s fantastic light and a totally unnecessary, fabulous, luxurious pot filler. I’ve already made stocks and soups, and I adore this feature.

To Betty’s left is the pull-out garbage and recycling drawer. The fact that it’s not under the sink is a little troubling to guests, but it’s IDEAL for cooking and baking. With the baking cabinet just above the mixer, also to Betty’s left…

…I can work in that space, throwing away wrappers, eggshells, etc. as I open them. SO MUCH LESS MESS. Which in our house is the same thing as a MIRACLE.

And then there’s this, which those of you with a keen eye for details and a TINY bit of OCD have already noticed. It’s the one knob that doesn’t match, which was the Christmas present I forced Greg to buy me. See it?

It’s my beer bear.

Its mouth opens bottles.

Which is the same thing as saying it’s a Necessary Kitchen Device, I know, but Greg felt like that was less than obvious.

I tried to get Greg to buy it for me last year, from Planet Dork on Etsy, but it was too close to Christmas for shipping to make it to us on time, so nope. No beer bear bottle opener for me to display in our kitchen from Greg. It was a sad time.

THIS year, though, I made SURE in OCTOBER to remind Greg to order early because I PLAN AHEAD.

Greg didn’t order it in October.

That’s OK, though, because I reminded him again in November.

Greg didn’t order in November.

That’s OK, though, because I reminded him again in December.

Which is when Greg said, “SHOOT! Sorry. It’s too late to order it now.” He clearly felt AWFUL that he hadn’t ordered it in time for Christmas. I mean, he tried to fake like he didn’t feel horrible by saying things like, “I already got you an ENTIRE KITCHEN REMODEL for Christmas,” and, “Seriously, Beth? You really want to hang a bear head trophy in our newly remodeled kitchen?” and, “You know it costs $40, right? FORTY dollars plus international shipping for a bottle opener.”

I reassured him, though, that he needn’t feel bad, that it wasn’t too late, and that he shouldn’t worry that he tried to give me an incomplete kitchen remodel for Christmas when it would only take one, tiny, practically free steel sculpture tastefully handmade by an independent artist in the south of France to make it perfect. I even offered to go ahead and place the order for Greg because I am a Christian wife and we are our husbands’ helpmeets, and I mentioned it would be ideal, anyway, because if I placed the order I would also be able to order the sculpture by the same artist titled Dog with Unfeasibly Large Testicles which carries the loving words, “You’re the Dog’s Bollox!” and would make Greg an ideal birthday gift. Two birds, one stone! Greg said that was unnecessary, that he would actually be happy to order my beer bear, that I didn’t need to worry my pretty little head about a thing, and GUESS WHAT? The order magically came in time for Christmas!

So now the beer bear lives next to Betty to keep her company, and the kitchen remodel is complete except that he needs a name.

Bently the Beer Bear? Brewster the Beer Bear? Buzz? I mean, obviously, with Betty next to him and Syphilis wandering past, we can’t have the bear there not knowing how to introduce himself.

Taking name suggestions now.

With love,

 

 

 

P.S. This is what my children do when I tell them to stay out of the kitchen for 15 minutes so I can take pictures of an artificially CLEAN space:

Chemistry experiments. “Stay out and keep things clean for 15 MINUTES ONLY” = CHEMISTRY experiments.

We Woolseys, I tell you; we are GREAT at following the rules.

P.P.S. Also, yes, that is our Christmas tree. And yes, it is the tail end of February. And no. No, we have no plans to take it down soon.

P.P.P.S. There are last-minute spots available for the Mindfulness Retreat, March 9-12. If you’re needing rest, respite and a reset at the lovely Oregon Coast for the weekend, please come! Given our current political climate, I cannot think of a better time to relax with friends, new and old, have lovely meals prepared for us, and learn how to be present in our world with curiosity instead of judgement. Contact me if you have any questions about this retreat! If you’re a teacher or minister, ask about the teacher/ministry discount, please. I’m at fivekidsisalotofkids@gmail.com. Or you can contact Maggie, the retreat coordinator, at petersonm1@spu.edu. I would LOVE to hang out with you for the weekend!

 

My Parents Gave Me Syphilis for Christmas

February 3, 2017 in Family, Funny by Beth Woolsey

My parents gave me one of those automatic vacuum cleaners for Christmas.

My sister-in-law got a membership to a wine club.

My brother got $50,000. (Or $50 plus books. Whatever. Same same.)

Greg got a 3D printer.

I got a cleaning implement.

My brother was jealous. He’s a younger brother. It’s what they do best. “SURE,” he said. “I get a money and books, and BETH gets the COOLEST VACUUM EVER. So what do I have to do to get a gift like that? JUST NOT CLEAN MY HOUSE FOR 12 YEARS, LIKE HER?”

Yes, Jeff.

Yes; that’s exactly what you have to do. Not clean your house for 12 years. And in retrospect? TOTALLY WORTH IT. Look at me, planning ahead!

So we have an automatic vacuum cleaner running around our house these days.

Greg named him Sisyphus, after the Greek mythological King of Corinth. As the tale goes, Sisyphus was punished for his self-aggrandizing craftiness and deceitfulness by being forced to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it come back to hit him, on repeat, forever.

We don’t know what our vacuum robot did in a previous life to have to be reincarnated as the object that tries to clean our house, the ultimate act of futility, but it must have been BAD, friends. Very, VERY bad.

Some of our kids, though, can’t remember how to pronounce Sisyphus.

They call him Syphilis.

As in, “Syphilis got stuck under our couch again.” And, “Mom, have you ever noticed Syphilis seems to be EVERYWHERE in this house?” And, “Mom, I like to play with Syphilis and see if I can outrun it.” And, “MOM! Syphilis got me again!”

You know, we try really hard not to have secrets in this house. We’re much more of the Live Life Out Loud Even Though We’re Weird kind of family. And BE BOLDLY US. And LET’S TALK ABOUT ALL THE THINGS. I feel, though, like Syphilis should be the exception that proves the rule.

In conclusion, my children are not allowed — EVER — to talk about our vacuum robot at school. Syphilis just became our family secret. I mean, what could go wrong??

Sincerely,

 

 

 

P.S. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for giving me Syphilis for Christmas. I like it very much.

P.P.S. I’m supposed to write a post about the February book for our Escapist Book Club, but people at my house are still barfing, and it was easier to write about Syphilis. Sorry. Here’s the February book, though, in case you’d like to get started:

More soon, I hope, about January’s book which I thought was RAD.

Making Progress (A Group Remodeling Project: Part 8)

September 14, 2016 in Beth by Beth Woolsey

img_1509There are holes in my walls, and this time they’re supposed to be there instead of spontaneously appearing as precious surprises from my teenage boy’s fist.

We are making progress, folks!

Things are a mess. They’re chaotic and jumbled. There’s a sheen of dust and debris over every surface. None of which is different than normal, actually. But WE ARE MAKING PROGRESS.

I wish I could remember that every day. That it’s a series of steps toward progress, not instant completion. Like when my dad used to tell me I didn’t have to clean my whole room; I just had to pick up one thing at a time and keep doing that over and over until the room was clean. Of course, my dad underestimated the appeal of sulking on my bed and muttering into my tape recorder about how mean and horrible my parents were instead of cleaning, but he’d have had a point if my actual goal had been to clean my room instead of make my parents suffer. I mean, I made my parents suffer one step at a time until they suffered totally and completely, so I feel like I understood the spirit of what he was teaching even if I ignored the letter of it, you know? Like, my dad taught me to make slow, deliberate progress toward the larger goal of making them utterly insane, and I’m still good at making people nuts today, so WAY TO TEACH LIFE SKILLS, DAD.

Our remodel is coming along, though. We have a make-shift camping kitchen set up in the backyard on an old, peeling brown vinyl table, and inside, everything is ripped to pieces and being slowly put back together.

AND I think we’ve picked our countertops.

When last we chatted, I asked for your advice thusly: Can I do laminate or MUST I consider something else?

Guys, I was pretty set on laminate. Not gonna lie. It’s cheap, getting prettier all the time, EASY to care for, and hard to ruin. That’s a Woolsey Win, right there.

So if you wanted me to consider something else, you were going to have to talk me into it. Like, serious, sit-down, come-to-Jesus chat. I did, however, make a commitment to listen to you lest I end up with another green and orange kitchen, and what you said surprised me!

Here are the results, by percentage in favor of each option:

chart

Given the choices of Laminate or Other:

  • 37% of you were all, “Sure! Laminate’s great!”
  • 34% of you were all, “STOP, BETH. LISTEN TO US. Quartz is what you actually want. We SWEAR.”
  • 17% of you adore Joanna Gaines, and she loves concrete.
  • 11% of you like your Corian counters (but others detest it, so…)
  • And less than 1% of you suggested other options like granite and marble, which doesn’t fit our budget.

Honestly, that’s a huge showing for quartz, so I looked into it more thoroughly.

Now, Greg thought we ought to source Phenolic resin countertops, typically used in laboratories, which are difficult to find, very expensive, and indestructible. Let’s be honest, indestructible lab counters are PERFECT for our house. We Woolseys are TOTALLY a Mad Science Experiment one foaming beaker away from setting the world on fire; we could use indestructible surfaces around these parts. On the downside, we briefly looked for some, and we can’t find any without making an extraordinary effort, except we have 5 kids so we’re unlikely to make an extraordinary effort for counters, you know? Psychiatric care? ABSOLUTELY; extraordinary effort, here we come! Counters? No. Counters are not now and are not likely in our future to rise to the level of Worthy of Extraordinary Effort. So it’s really not an option.

On the bright side, it turns out lab counters are very much like quartz counters — indestructible, unstainable, unbreakable resin — and so, while Greg, Mr. Cheap Pants, would normally put the kibosh on quartz due to cost alone, quartz is actually cheaper than lab counters, so he already self-prepared for this kind of upgrade. In our Christian house, we call this the Leading of the Lord. The Preparation of the Holy Spirit! In other words, Jesus wants us to have quartz counters!

(Please note: Jesus does not want us to have quartz counters. That’s offensive.)

Now, we don’t technically know yet if we can really afford these countertops because Greg told the countertop guy we wanted the countertop we definitely did not want so he sent the wrong bid. Greg says this is my fault because I told Greg earlier the same day that the Countertop We Did Not Want was the Countertop we DID Want, but Greg was clearly not listening when I told him the Countertop We Did Want had become the Countertop We Previously Wanted, leaving room for the Countertop We Did Not Want to become the Countertop We Now Definitely Want.

I don’t know why Greg can’t keep these things straight.

In short (too late), I’m fairly, almost, approaching-definitely certain we’re going for quartz counters. The type we’ve picked, installed, look like this:

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And like this:

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I tried to find pictures that show the counters with white cabinets, subway tile backsplash, and dark wood floors like ours. I think the pics above are as close as I’m going to get, except you’ll need to imagine them with perpetual paperwork, piles of sticky dishes, and an unidentifiable puddle of gelatinous goo by the sink.

In conclusion, construction is underway, I think we’ve made all the major decisions so we can actually proceed with the project, and you can say All the Prayers for Greg.

Sending love,

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We’re Back On! (A Group Remodeling Project: Part 7)

September 11, 2016 in Beth by Beth Woolsey

Alrighty, folks; it’s been a little while since we’ve discussed this, so for those of you who’d like a refresher, feel free to check out the first 6 installments our Group Remodeling Project:

In short, we were TOTALLY UNDERWAY for our kitchen remodel in April/May before we fell rather dramatically apart and basically are just now, 4 months later, getting our crap together enough to dive back in.

We ARE, however, diving ALL the way back in, as we’re wont to do, and so we’ll commence torturing Greg together again STAT.

To date, we’ve agreed the old, crappy stove we start with the ice pick has to go, along with the orange counters. We’ve agreed I cannot be trusted to make ANY kitchen decisions without you (reference: orange counters). We’ve decided we’ll put subway tile up the walls in the kitchen area. We’ve met Betty, our new old stove and the Hero of this Tale, and we’ve decided to put her against the wall between the fridge and the sink where she’ll shine without blocking the window.

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We left you hanging when it came to the range hood, but we’d previously agreed either a stainless hood against a tiled wall…

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…or a hood mounted under a cabinet…

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…would be fine, so Greg and I left the decision up to the expense.

The contractors tell us the former option (stainless steel hood against tiled wall) is cheapest, so SOLD.

NOW, ANNOUNCEMENT TIME!

Are you ready??

CONSTRUCTION HAS BEGUN, and Betty’s new home is being prepared.

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Please note, for those of you not yet convinced of my inability to decorate in any way that resembles a grown-up with, say, taste, that mint green wall you see with the cabinets removed is, in fact, the original wall color I picked on purpose… wait for it… to go with the orange counters. DO YOU SEE WHY I NEED YOU?

Yes. Yes, I need you to the moon.

Which brings me to the latest.

We, um, have started construction without all our decisions made. Like counters. NO IDEA WHAT TO DO ABOUT COUNTERS. And Not Knowing will hold up construction since they can’t tile ’til the counters are in place. But the construction guys were ready to roll, and I’ve been procrastinating the heck out of this project, so I told them to go ahead and start, and I’d try to catch up.

That’s what I said.

Go ahead and start, and I’ll try to catch up. After all, if we don’t start by doing something, we might end up doing nothing, and I CAN’T START MY STOVE WITH AN ICE PICK FOREVER.

Guys, this is totally like life. Because Oh My WORD, friends; oh my word. Sometimes we just have to START ANYWAY, you know? Even without knowing the end goal. And even if we’re fully aware others will outpace us. Sometimes we have to just GO AHEAD and say all the Hail Marys and hope we can catch up. Amen? AMEN.

Which is why today’s subject is Belated Counters. Specifically, what type of material to use and what color.

Here are the factors for type of countertop material:

  1. We can’t take care of stuff. <– We can’t. We’re terrible at maintaining things and treating them gently, so if there’s a type of counter top has to be handled carefully or must be babied, polished, sealed, oiled or sanded, it’s out, friends. It will die a horrible, terrible death at my house, and no one wants that.
  2. Due to #1, we’ve ruled out granite, soapstone, wood and tile.
  3. Confession: I’ve loved our orange countertops. All except the color. They’re laminate countertops, and they are so easy to clean and maintain! They don’t stain. You can’t break them by sitting on them. They’re easy to wash with soap and water. And we never have to polish, seal or oil them.
  4. So we’re considering laminate again… I hear laminate’s gotten better. Prettier? Less plasticky? With lovely edges now? So I want to seriously consider laminate unless you all are, like, NO WAY, BETH; WE ARE HERE TO SAVE YOU FROM YOURSELF. Check out these pics at Decor Chick, though, before you yell at me, K? I think you’ll see what I mean.
  5. …or maybe stainless steel? Now, I’m not actually sure we can afford these, but I like the idea in theory — countertops that can take what a lab dishes out can surely take what my kids dish, right? Plus they don’t stain. I have heard I won’t like all the fingerprints on them before the years it takes to develop a nice patina, and my friend, Emily, who’s weighed in, says they’re too cold for the space. Emily is good people with a pretty house, so I tend to believe her. Added to the possible high cost (we did rule out whether the steel shop in town was willing to make them — they’re not 🙁 ), and I’m not certain this is high enough on the list but wanted to throw it out there.

So, Question #1 is countertop type. Can I go ahead with laminate? Or must I consider other options?

Next, we have to discuss color. I do like high contrast looks like our dark wood floor with our white cabinets, but I’m wondering if the counter should also be a contrast to the cabinets (dark brown? dark grey?) or if it should blend in with the cabinets (lighter gray, maybe?). I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING, FRIENDS. HELP ME.

On the one hand, I’m a short, round woman, and I’ve always been told not to break things up too much — do not wear a skirt of one color and a top of a totally different color, Beth; it chops you up! — but on the other hand, I’ve never actually heeded that advice, BECAUSE IT’S CRAP, and I’ll defend to the death my kitchen’s right to wear whatever she darn well pleases.

Glad we had this chat.

Nevertheless, my kitchen can’t change her counters as frequently as I change my skirt, so I want to do well by her.

Like, take a look at this photo is from HGTV’s Fixer Upper

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The color scheme and farmhouse industrial feel above closely match the vibe in our kitchen, from the darker wood floors and the reclaimed wood table top to the subway tile walls and white cabinets. Their counters have that light/medium gray thing going on, which makes me think we’d be on the right track with something similar. Yay or nay??

So Question #2 is countertop color. Light grey? Dark grey? Something else entirely??

In conclusion, help a girl out. You’re my only hope.

Sincerely,

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P.S. In other news, I do not have to murder Greg, after all! Which is, frankly, hours of planning and premeditation wasted. However, because it DID turn out to be a handsaw he let the 9-year-old use and NOT the power saw AND because he didn’t let that child purchase or build a forge for melting metal and also inevitably his own flesh, now Greg thinks I owe him cake.