The Long Wait

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When you are young, every wait is long. Every trip in the car is endless. Christmas never comes soon enough. Life drags along at a snail’s pace and never seems to go anywhere.

As you get older, time seems to speed up. A semester is gone in the blink of an eye. Summer break is never long enough. Before you know it, your parents expect you to move out, get a job, and be self-sufficient.

As you get older still, you wonder if you will have enough time to do all the things you want to do. See all the things you want to see. When a month flies by like a week once did, you begin to wonder many things.

How long will I live? Will I be healthy or frail? Did I do enough for others? Did I do enough for me?

But the reality is this:  life is short and no wait is every really that long. It’s true at every age and a shame it takes so long to realize this.

Top 10 Waiting Quotes - BrainyQuote
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Startlement

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There are three kinds of people. Well, arguably, there are many more than three kinds of people. But when you are talking about startling someone, basically, there are just three kinds.

The first kind will fall all over themselves to get away from what has just startled them. I’ve seen it again and again. Someone goes “boo” and the person literal falls backward on the floor. Or turns and runs as fast and as far as they can. Which is often not far because there are walls and doors and chairs and things in the way that the person knows about, but in the heat of the moment has forgotten about.

This kind of person makes up the majority.

The second kind will lash out. It’s instinctive. Something threatens you and you deal with that threat. I’ve seen this too. Often it means that the person who goes “boo” gets punched in the face or the gut or the throat. None of which is good.

Usually the person doing the punching is remorseful, but not always. It’s understandable. No one likes to be startled.

That kind of person is less common.

The third kind of person is the least common. This kind will not react at all. They won’t fall down trying to get away and they won’t punch you either. It’s not that they’re stupid. Or slow. No. It’s the opposite. They are smart and quick and say to themselves, “Nothing to get my panties in a bunch about. Just someone trying to have a little fun at my expense.”

For the prankster who goes “boo,” this is the least satisfying sort of person. The kind that falls down is a validation of sorts, “Yeah, I scared the crap out of that person.” Even the kind that strikes out is a reward because the prankster got a reaction, albeit a painful one.  But the third kind gives nothing at all to the prankster and quite possibly makes the prankster feel a little bit silly.

I’ve never enjoyed being startled. I don’t consider pranks of this kind to be funny or amusing. Actually, I think they are a bit cruel.

So when I witness a person falling down in response to being startled, I’m sad. When I see the prankster get punched as a result, I think well, yeah, they probably deserved that. But when I see someone not react at all, I think, yup, there’s a person I’d like to know.

So, which kind are you?

How to Know When Enough is Enough and when Enough is Too Much

There's a Big Difference Between Giving Up and Knowing When Enough Is Enough  POSITIVE There's a Big Difference Between Giving Up and Knowing When Enough  Is Enough Positiveenergyplus | Meme on ME.ME
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I’m not talking about the Pandemic or the brouhaha over health care reform and other large things. Because, let’s face it, the big things are usually self-limiting. The Pandemic can only go on for so long. And they’re probably never really going to reform health care.

I’m talking about the little things we have to deal with on a daily basis in our very personal lives. The pebbles, rocks and boulders that line our path and hurt our figurative feet or make us stumble; the things we have to make big detours around. You know, your hours at work are cut back (ouch!), your girlfriend dumps you (okay, pick yourself up and move on), your car breaks down (man, that is so not what I wanted to spend that money on right now); those sorts of things. If you find yourself feeling frazzled and at the end of your rope and you don’t really know the cause, the following reasons might be why.

Meeting Expectations

Everyone has expectations. You have them. Your boss has them. Your significant other has them.  We should do away with expectations.

Basically, an expectation is a prediction about the future. Your boss expects you to make X number of sales or bring in X number of dollars per sale. But you can’t make people spend money they don’t have or sell something to non-existent customers, so you don’t meet his/her expectations. Grief results. Your girlfriend expects you to remember the day you two met and exactly what she was wearing. You can’t and grief results.

We cannot truly predict the future and our best efforts often go for naught. The best thing would be to inhabit the NOW and not try to predict the future or dictate behavior (our own or others) based on expectations. My mom used to say, “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.” It can be a good philosophy.

This is also true for the example I gave above of the car that breaks down necessitating that money saved for a trip (for example) be spent to fix the car instead. By remaining open and adaptable to life’s twist and turns, you can eliminate a lot of the stress. Once, I had the notion that I would be able to spend the entire day with a friend, doing together the things we both loved to do. She had a change of plan and so I changed mine. There was a very brief moment (I’m so not perfect) of disappointment, but I went on to have a very nice day on my own. Understand that I think it is fine to make plans. Plans are different from expectations and without plans nothing would get done. Do accept, though, that they may change.

So if unrealistic demands are being made of you and your resources (either by you or an outside source), look at the situation as dispassionately as you can and ask yourself this question: how is that working for you? If is isn’t working, sit down and realistically look at what needs to change so that enough does not become too much. It can be painful and difficult sometimes to make changes, but continuing in a dysfunctional situation is not healthy in the long run.

Perfection at its Worst

Nothing is or ever can be perfect … except for, as some would say, God’s Love. Give up looking for the perfect anything. Looking for perfection in anything is just too much to ask.

This isn’t a sad thing really. It doesn’t mean that you need to “settle” for something undesirable. It’s just that maybe your ideal picture of the way things should be might not be reasonable. Hearkens back to expectations, I know. Personally, I believe expectations are the biggest impediment to happiness, but I’m breaking it down a little further. And anyway, stopping after those first few paragraphs just isn’t like me. I tend to beat things to death.

Two other girlfriends and I were sitting having a chat one day. Of the three of us, two were married and one was not. The unmarried friend was lamenting her status. This was many years ago at a time when a woman still needed to be married … for whatever reason. I’m dating myself and this was truer for my mother’s generation than mine … still. Both I and the other married woman answered at the same time in the same way when the unmarried woman asked why she couldn’t find a guy with, “Don’t be so picky.”  Her reply was, “But …” In all the time we kept in touch, she never found a guy that measured up.

Waiting for the perfect guy, the perfect moment, the perfect job or the perfect anything is just going to keep you waiting.

Security is a Myth

And the sooner you get down with that notion, the happier you will be. All of the frazzle over income, jobs, health, relationships, et cetera will just drop away. Okay, maybe not all, but it will help.

I’m a mostly rehabilitated security freak. I could never save enough money. I worried about my health and my husband’s. I was miserable most of the time living in the future of “what if.” Preparation and planning is one thing. Emotionally investing them with the ability to protect you from harm is another thing altogether. Stuff just happens despite our desires or plans. Learn to be comfortable with uncertainty and life will be much more peaceful. I’m working on it.

You can work out, eat right, get plenty of sleep and still develop a serious illness. You can have a million dollars in the bank and think you are set for the rest of your life and die in a car accident tomorrow (well, I guess that then you were, technically, set for life; maybe I need a better example).

Do you get the connection here? It’s not so much outside forces that are the problem. You know, a driver cuts you off in traffic or your mother-in-law tells you that you’re a terrible mother. There will always be outside forces. No, it’s how you react to the external situations of your life that matters most.

So, how do you know when enough is enough? It’s pretty simple really and you probably already know the answer. It’s when you find yourself saying that you don’t think you can take anymore. If you find yourself saying that if one more stupid thing happens, that will be it, then you’ve had enough. When is enough too much? It’s when things have gone so far that you can’t seem to see a way out of it. That’s when you need to make a change. I believe that at that point, taking a look at your expectations about your life will help tremendously. It has for me.

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Feelings

Treasurers urged to head to the cloud | Treasury Today
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One key to creating a better life is to choose what you want to feel, and for how long you want to feel it.

This means taking responsibility for what you feel. No more “He made me so mad” or “Don’t make me regret this.”

The first time someone explained this to me was a revelation. I’ve forgotten this many times over the years and, thankfully, come back to it many times.

I find that as I’ve become older, it’s become clearer and easier to remember and implement. And the thing that impressed me most the first time was this realization … why on earth would you want to give someone else that much power over you and your emotions?

Being fully responsible for everything you feel isn’t an easy task. But it is well worth it in terms of control and contentment. And let’s face it, the more you perceive you have control over your life, the happier you will be.

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The Path Forward

Penny and m at the end of a fairly grueling trail challenge competition

This is not about the Pandemic (with a capital “p” because it’s been so significant in just about everyone’s life for the last year or so).

I’ve been mired in the past the last few weeks. I’ve dreamed of horses and wished they were still in my life.

It has made me sad and forced me to think about what it takes to move forward and let go of the past.

People are always telling other people to just let go. It’s not that easy.

When my dad died, it was the first major loss in my life. I was a few days shy of 17 years old and it changed my life forever. Sometimes I revisit the day he died. It’s been years now since that has made me cry. But the important thing here is this: I’ve never let it go. I’ve also never let go of the death of my mother.

So does that mean I am stuck in that past? Speaking from the inside of me (after all, I’m not really qualified to speak from the outside of me), I’d have to say that no, I am not stuck in that past even though it might look like it from the outside.

But there have been days recently when I fervently wished I could let go of horses and just move on. Sometimes the pain of giving up being with horses is almost too great to tolerate.

Who knows? Maybe ten years down the road I will look back on this day and the last couple of weeks and realize that I have actually moved forward. Perhaps I will have just put horses beside me instead of behind me and they are moving forward along with me. Slightly out of step, but there nonetheless.

Maybe that’s how it always is. Maybe there is no real letting go. Maybe the true path forward is to carry all the things that have meaning for you right along with you. Maybe the pain of loss is the thing that reminds you that you once had something really good.

And maybe having known something good in the past is the thing that lets us hope for more good in the future.

Penny and me shortly after I first got her. She was 17 years old and hadn’t done any real work in quite a few years. But she was well-trained and smart and it didn’t take me long to get her back in shape. We had some really great times together.

Winter’s Last Hurrah … Hopefully

Snow on our back deck

Moving to Wyoming from the higher elevations of Arizona didn’t require that we make too many adjustments to our regular routines. Yes, the winter was colder. Yes, it snowed more often. Yes, our heating bills have been higher. But all in all, we’ve all (including our dog Maddie) weathered it well.

There were two things, however, for which we were ill prepared. One was having to change time to Daylight Savings Time. We lived in Arizona for almost 30 years and didn’t have to do that in all that time. We became very accustomed to living on standard time and it was fine. More than fine actually. Sensible really. And yes that’s a negative comment on my part. I’m not sure I have adjusted to the time change even now about a month later.

The other thing was spring. I sometimes wonder if spring will every really come to Riverton, Wyoming. The people we’ve met who have lived here all their lives assure us that it will. They also say that it is a beautiful time of year. But we have yet to see it.

Yes, we had a warmish spell about a week ago. We could take walks without our jackets (never thought I would think that 38 degrees is warm). The bulbs in the yard are poking up through the ground. Birds are singing and building nests. But …

Two nights ago we had a huge snowstorm. It was the biggest amount of snow in a short time that we have experienced since moving here. I’d have to say that the winter weather in Riverton, which is situated in the Wind River Basin, has been pretty mild compared to other parts of Wyoming. But here we are in spring and we get the biggest snowfall yet since we moved here on December 2, 2020. It’s the middle of April for goodness sake.

Where we used to live is probably in the 70 degree range. The fruit trees have probably flowered and are leafing out. Tulips and daffodils and irises have certainly already bloomed and are on the wane. So far the trees here are hinting that they might start making leaves sometime soon. But they seem to be holding back despite the longer days and recent warmer temperatures.

But maybe this is it for now. Maybe this is winter’s last hurrah. As much as I like snow, I kind of hope so.

Icicles outside our office window

Don’t get me wrong. We love living here and don’t feel like moving back to Arizona at all.

Second Shots

Getting Your Second COVID-19 Vaccine: Everything You Need to Know - GoodRx
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My husband and I got the first dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine on February 4, 2021 at 1:15 p.m. We had read numerous accounts of side effects (maybe not such a good idea, but we couldn’t help ourselves) but still wondered how it would affect the both of us.

For me, it turned out to be quite a bit worse than getting a regular flu shot. When my husband gets the regular flu shot, it doesn’t affect him at all. His arm doesn’t even get sore. With the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, his arm got quite sore but that was about it.

The regular flu shot makes my arm hurt a lot and I get really tired and rundown for a few days. The first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine amped that all up. And the side effects all lasted much longer. The severe headache for several days in a row was not much fun. I didn’t like the chills and night sweats either.

With the first shot, it took about 50 hours for the full effect to hit me. With the second shot, it hit me within hours. My arm hurt like a … well you know … and my head ached and I was so tired that the next morning I did not want to get out of bed. I did anyway. We had too much to do.

But here’s the thing, with the second shot, even though it hit me harder, the side effects cleared up much quicker. Within just a couple of days my arm hurt almost not at all, my headache had cleared out and I was starting to get my energy back.

The very next day after our second shots, we were both standing out in the cold and wind on our driveway (we live in Wyoming so when I say cold and wind, I really mean it) sanding and prepping base molding for our new laminate flooring. I couldn’t have done that after the first shot.

I’ve heard that some people have a much harder time with the second shot than we did. I feel sorry for them but grateful we got through it with a minimum of bother.

In the beginning, I was on the fence about getting vaccinated but decided it was the smart thing to do. Having gone through the process, I still think it is a good idea to get vaccinated.

When most people think of a “second shot,” they are likely thinking about a second chance at something. Maybe the opportunity to get something right that went wrong.

I know there are some people who are skipping the second shot. That’s probably not a good idea.

With the Covid-19 second shot, it’s the chance to improve immunity and it’s what it takes to get it done right.

13 Quotes About Second Chances - Verses & Quotes

Things I Don’t Understand, Part Three

Easy French Toast Recipe | In the Kitchen with Matt
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Is French Toast Really French?

According to legend, it was created by a man named Joseph French. But it is known by a variety of names including German toast, eggy bread, French-fried bread, gypsy toast, Poor Knights of Windsor, Spanish toast, nun’s toast, and pain perdu which means “lost bread” in French. So it seems like it might be more appropriately called “French’s Bread.”

Canadian Bacon Skewer Bites
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So What About Canadian Bacon?

“Canadian” bacon is made only from the lean eye of the loin and is ready to eat. The term “Canadian bacon” is not actually used in Canada, where the product is generally known simply as “back bacon,” while “bacon” alone refers to the same streaky pork belly bacon as in the United States. My guess is that most of what people call “Canadian bacon” here in the United States is not what the Canadians call “back bacon.”

Award winning Mild Swiss Cheese | Pearl Valley Cheese
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And Then There is Swiss Cheese

Switzerland has approximately 450 varieties of cheese, made from cow, goat, and sheep milk. Some types of cheeses from Switzerland include Sbrinz, Emmentaler, Raclette, Formaggini, and Gala.  So the answer is no. Swiss cheese itself is not actually from Switzerland, but it is based off a type of cheese from Switzerland.

Millennials Are Putting American Cheese Out Of Business | Eat This, Not  That!
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American Cheese, Jeez

American cheese, the kind you get in the individual plastic wrappers, is processed cheese or “cheese food,” meaning it’s not actually real cheese. Classically, before the factory-processed stuff hit the market, American cheese was a blend, often of cheddar and colby, made for easy melting and approachable flavor. I’m quoting. I have no idea what “approachable flavor” means. As a kid, I didn’t like American cheese. Hard to believe I know. Another hard to believe thing is that the only cheese I liked was cheddar … especially very sharp cheddar. Go figure.

Belgian-Style Waffles Recipe | Land O'Lakes
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Belgian Waffles

Who doesn’t like Belgian waffles?

They were originally showcased in 1958 at Expo 58 in Brussels. Belgian waffles were introduced to North America by a Belgian named Walter Cleyman at the Century 21 Exposition in Seattle in 1962, and served with whipped cream and strawberries. Maurice Vermersch of Brussels, Belgium is also credited with having made the rest of the world aware of them.

But are they really Belgian or simply made by Belgians? Do a lot of people in Belgium eat Belgian waffles? My admittedly meager research seems to indicate that they do. But they mostly eat them (actually Brussels waffles) in the afternoon as a snack and not for breakfast. I’ve never eaten them for breakfast either, but I have eaten them for dinner. Who needs veggies and good for you stuff all the time? I mean, really?

So What is it That I Don’t Understand?

What it all boils down to is that I don’t get why we name these things so inaccurately. But I guess if you think about it, it’s much easier to say “French toast” than “dried out two day old bread soaked in scrambled egg and fried in a pan.” Even so, I do still think it should be “French’s toast” rather than “French toast” and maybe “a cheese similar to a cheese made in Switzerland” instead of Swiss cheese. Or maybe not.

In Praise of the Puff

Doing two rows of puff stitch back-to-back would probably make it stand out more. And the puff stitch sort of warps the outer edge so maybe a smaller puff at the beginning and ending of each row would work out better. Needs some fine tuning.

I’ve been crocheting for what seems like most of my life. That sort of sounds like I mean non-stop crocheting. I don’t. There have been a myriad of distinct projects with time in between where I don’t crochet at all. Really.  Crochet is not my life. Really.

I taught myself to crochet when I was 24 (I am now 68, oh my) from an article in a magazine. The article explained four basic stitches: chain, slip stitch, single crochet and double crochet. For most of the 44 years that I have been crocheting, those are the only stitches I’ve ever used with the exception of the occasional treble crochet or half double crochet.

I’ve made more afghans than I can remember. Baby blankets have been equally numerous. I’ve made hats and slippers. Lots of slippers. And numerous sweaters. And scarves. Don’t get me started on scarves … literally. Sometimes it feels like I can’t stop making scarves.

I’ve used tiny steel hooks and fine crochet cottons and made enough doilies to nicely appoint the most spacious of Victorian houses. Antimacassars and table runners, chair-side table doilies, doilies to go under lamps and vases and you name it have been produced.

Pot holders and trivets and tea cozies vied for space with toaster covers, place mats and coasters. And I did it all with those four stitches. Those four stitches were fine for me. I didn’t need anything more than that. I could make anything with those four stitches. Shoot, I made a huge queen-sized bedspread with just those four stitches.

Then a little over a year ago, a friend sent me a pattern for a dog sweater. I’d never made a dog sweater. We didn’t have a dog until about three years ago and our cats never seemed to need sweaters and probably wouldn’t have worn them even if I’d made them. Cats can be contrary and solidly unappreciative of your efforts on their behalf. Don’t get me wrong though. I love cats.

So anyway, this dog sweater pattern had two new-to-me stitches in it: front post double crochet and back post double crochet. When you do it right, it looks like rib knit. I was enchanted. I immediately began incorporating it into my designs … mostly scarves.

I still really like the front and back post double crochet, but my new absolute favorite stitch is the puff stitch. I love the way it looks and I love how it feels. And best of all, it’s so simple to do.

This isn’t really a crochet tutorial so I’ll just say this about the stitch; you can have a big puff or a small puff. You yarn over and insert the hook in the next stitch and pull the loop through (three loops on the hook), then yarn over and insert the hook in the same stitch and pull the loop through (five loops on the hook), then yarn over again and insert the hook in the same stitch and pull it through (seven loops on the hook) and then yarn over and pull that loop through all the loops on the hook. That makes the bigger puff. For the smaller, yarn over and pull through only twice for a total of five loops on the hook. I like the bigger puff the best. People who write crochet instructions professionally could explain it better. Google it if you are interested.

Am I going to go crazy and start searching out new and innovative stitches and patterns? Probably not. But a new a simple stitch now and then doesn’t hurt.  I don’t feel as if I’ve wasted the last 44 years on those four basic stitches. Although I do sometimes wonder what I might have accomplished had I diversified a little earlier.

Besides scarves, I’ve also recently crocheted a number of pillow covers. It’s so hard to find pillows that co-ordinate with the other stuff you’ve made or if you do, they cost a fortune. So repurposing old worn out pillows works for me. Now I just have to figure out how to use the puff stitch in my next pillow cover. That is, after I finish the half dozen scarves I have planned to make.

Image result for crochet puff stitch
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Painting Cabinets

Before

The house I grew up in was probably more on the functional end of the spectrum rather than the aesthetic. When my mom decided to paint the kitchen cabinets she’d let Dad know. Mom couldn’t be too choosy about the color. Dad would go buy the cheapest paint he could find which was usually a custom color order that someone decided they didn’t want after all. He did the same thing with the exterior paint. I remember once the stucco was this deep green and the fascia and eaves were orange. Luckily, he painted the stucco and trim religiously every three years.

Well, so anyway, Mom would mask a few things, put a couple of drop cloths down and then start slapping paint on the cabinets. She never fussed about the quality of the paint because she knew she’d be doing it again in a few years.

That house was built somewhere around 1949 and is an ancient thing now but still standing. I’ve looked at it on Google Earth.

Fast forward to 2021. The house Bernd and I bought recently was built in 1974, so it’s fairly old. The cabinets are in terrible shape so we decided to paint them. It’s not like how my mom did it. Nope. Not at all.

Because we really don’t want to have to do this more than once, we decided we’d do it right. Do you have any idea what that means? Maybe you do. We started small with the bathroom cabinets. Well, it seemed small in comparison to the kitchen cabinets. One thing we learned right away, we were not going to try to do the entire kitchen all in one go as we did with the bathroom.

Basically, this is the process. First you clean the cabinets as well as you can using a variety of soaps and de-greasers and the like. Then you sand them. You don’t have to take it down to bare wood. You just have to rough it up enough that the primer sticks really well. Yes, that’s the job of primer … to stick so the paint will stick. But it never hurts to hedge your bets a little.

While you are sanding you find all the dents and scratches and bumps and dings. So you do some online research and find a wood filler that is low on fumes and safe for your dog because she seems to want to lick spackle and that’s definitely not good for your dog. Dogs can be so weird.

You will also need to fill the holes from the hardware if, like with our bathroom cabinets, the previous owner put the knobs in very odd places and not level with each other. Then you sand again.

Next comes the primer. Do not skip the primer no matter what the paint you bought says. Even if the paint is $55 a gallon and says it needs no primer, do not skip the primer. Two coats of primer works really well. Once that is fully dry, sand it again. You’ll be able to feel how much smoother it is with just a few passes. Use fine sand paper on the order of 220 or 320 grit and don’t press too hard. That just takes off all your primer and you have to start over. You do not want to have to start over.

Once the primer is sanded, put on your first coat (yes, I said first) of actual cabinet paint. We bought Insl-X made by Benjamin Moore. It’s an acrylic paint made only for cabinets and trim. It is probably the nicest paint I have ever used and I’ve done a lot of painting over the years.

Don’t worry too much about perfect coverage at this point because there will be at least one more coat and most likely two more.

We are using brushes. We considered foam rollers or a sprayer made just for cabinets. Looks kind of like an artist’s air brush on steroids.

Rollers tend to “spit” bits of paint if you get a little rambunctious with them. And sprayers tend to put a lot of very fine paint “dust” into the air that gets all over everything. So in the end we went with brushes. And anyway, it’s what I know best how to use.

When that first coat is completely (and I mean completely) dry, sand it again using the 320 grit sand paper. With any luck, that will be the end of the sanding and the final coats can be applied without further ado.

Altogether, because a learning curve was applied, finishing the bathroom cabinets probably took us about a week. We did not work at it eight hours a day. We do have lives outside of fixing up this old house. Although it might not seem like it at times.

I have no idea how long it will take us to complete the kitchen cabinets. But it would be nice to have that done before the laminate flooring and new countertops are installed. It’s been nice not to worry about those surfaces while doing all this painting.

So, are you wondering how it turned out? It turned out beautifully. We are very happy with our “new” bathroom cabinets. What do you think?

After