life as we know it

Friday, May 20, 2011

Pantry Makeover...Check!

What started as a little idea inspired by a blog I follow turned into one HECK of a time-sucking project. Too bad for Nick I told him this project was what I wanted for my birthday, so he was kind of committed to see it through.

For a house that was built in 1922, we are pretty lucky we have such a great pantry. It's tall with sturdy, wooden shelves and is even big enough to walk in! *Note: Nick and I have a joke about walk-ins...when we were looking at buying a house, one of the captions we read about a closet in a house was "walk-in closet so big you can walk in it!" Wow. Deep.* I don't think it looked much worse than anyone's kitchen pantry but I drove me crazy. It wasn't organized and things were just shoved in without too much thought. I guess since we've lived here for a year and a half, we know what we use and eat on a regular basis and what we don't. 

Here it is before, and although I don't like airing my 'dirty laundry' out here, because this is bad, but it might give you a good idea of what we were starting with:

Step 1: Remove all contents of pantry, thus completely overtaking your kitchen for an undetermined amount of time. Measure the shelves, remove metal shelf brackets and get supplies.

Step 2: Find yourself a saweet looking husband to begin the dirty work!

Yeah, I know. Don't be jealous.
So Nick and I jump right in priming over the pantry. It wasn't long (close to immediately) before we both started feeling pretty lightheaded. Nick asked me for a mask because the fumes were pretty intense as he was up on the ladder working on the ceiling. I grabbed it, but a few minutes later he knew he needed to take a little break. He headed out back for some fresh air and I decided to try my hand on the ladder. Two short minutes later, I wanted to pass out, too. It was unbelievable. We've painted things before and have never felt like this. We just figured since the space was so enclosed and tight. Literally, we couldn't last more than a few minutes before we were headed out back again. Nick came out once and said his feet felt heavy and like he was going to fall over. I was pretty frustrated with the whole thing and decided to call it a night. I started cleaning the paint brushes in the sink and my hands started getting all sticky and felt horrible. I knew something was wrong but could NOT put my finger on it. I told Nick just to throw the brushes out (*tear* those were Purdy paint brushes!) and I worked on getting my hands cleaned.

I was on the phone with my mom that night and explained what happened. She mentioned that it sounded like we were using oil-based primer. LIGHT BULB. Sho 'nuff, oil-based. The double whammy? Not only did we need to replace our paint brushes, clean the sink with some product we didn't have and buy new primer, but we also had to sand down what we had already done to ensure the new latex-based primer would adhere to the wall and shelves. UGHHHHHH.

Finally Nick was off! I had started the work week so I bowed out for the rest of the project (oh, and sure I pulled the birthday card a few times :) ).

Step 3: Prime. Check!

It was already looking a lot cleaner and brighter. I was pumped. Nick was ready for it to be over. But it wasn't.

Step 4: Paint walls and shelves. Empty pantry with pretty new paint = LOVE!

So it was a bit overwhelming with the empty pantry and the overflowing and chaotic kitchen and I wasn't really sure where to start, considering our kitchen still looked like this...

We also had been shopping over the last few weeks for thrift and antique store finds for storage containers. I was even successful poking around the house looking for things we weren't using that might fit. Although we had an idea of what each thing would be used for, we were 100% on how it would all come together, so we knew we would be playing around with the layout. Surprisingly, we really like how it all turned out. We ended up using every single thing we purchased and the only left over item was something I had brought up from the basement. We still need something to store dog food on the floor and a few more clear plastic containers (come on, Denver IKEA!), but we're not in a rush. We're just glad to have our kitchen back! Without leaving you on the edge of your seats any longer...introducing our overhauled pantry...!

The pictures really don't do the space justice. It is so organized and pretty now! Don't think we stopped with the pantry, though. Since we were shifting around items we decided to reorganize other drawers and cabinets in our kitchen. One of the rules apparently of an insanely organized pantry is to only have the absolute necessities and really no electric appliances. Well, we broke the rules, but it's what works for us. Here are a few of our other reorganized spaces.

I'm pretty sure Nick walks in the pantry just to breath it all in now and although it took wayyyy longer than he expected, he still thinks it was worth it.

This project was just the first of our whole house reorganization kick. I'm going to be working through a 30 day organize-a-thon workbook that addresses each space in your house. I downloaded it through a free promotion from Get Organized Wizard. I'm looking forward to decluttering our life, although this is likely going to wait until after we have our hardwood floors refinished. Fun things on the horizon here at the Mortellite house! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Stalker much?!

Ethiopia is 10 hours ahead of us. This time difference makes it really difficult to try and catch our friends on the phone, including Yemamu, who we talk to on a semi-regular basis. He has previously told me to call anytime but I try and be pretty respectful of sleeping hours. This guy works HARD. When Yemamu tries to call me (I'm not sure how he does this), the phone number comes up on my phone as California. So I missed multiple calls from California both Sunday and Monday and knew he was really trying to get in touch with me. He doesn't understand the concept of voicemail because no such thing exists in Ethiopia, so when I don't answer, he just tells me my phone is broken the next time we talk.

Well because I had missed so many calls recently, I was set that I would get a hold of him. You have to understand that phone usage in Ethiopia is unreliable. INCREDIBLY unreliable. So sometimes when I call, I hear beeps. Sometimes it's rings. Sometimes there is the recording of a woman speaking English. Sometimes it's Amharic. It often says the network is now busy or the subscriber's phone is switched off or: "the person you are trying to reach is not answering" (umm duh?). Just because you get a specific recording doesn't always make it true, either. We learned that particular lesson in 2009 when Nick would spend so much time trying to call me, be so excited to finally get through, then get disconnected a few minutes later.

So I stayed up a little late and started trying to call around 10:15 p.m. Mountain time, or 8:15 a.m. in Ethiopia. I called. and called. and called. I would hit redial, let it ring, hang up when I didn't get through and redial again. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat! It was almost midnight and I still hadn't gotten through. I decided it was going to be my last try. I was barely keeping my eyes open and falling asleep to the beeping sound. Finally I hear, "Hello?" on the other end. "Yemamu!", I yell. The next thing he said? "Kelly, you have called a lot of times," in a very groggy 'I just woke up' kind of way. OH NO! I had literally been calling him for close to two hours straight. The calls had actually all been going through and Yemamu's phone had been ringing the entire time, but he was just trying to sleep and kept hitting silent. UMMMM...STALK MUCH?! Wow. I have apologized about 100 times, asked Nick to call and apologize, and even called back this afternoon to apologize again. He told me not to worry about it, but really, I had his phone ringing for two hours!!!! Oh well. I guess you can't question my determination? :)

I felt like this....

Yemamu probably looked like this...

Well, at least that's over!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Northern Colorado River Run for Orphans 5K

Yesterday we had absolutely perfect weather for the first annual Northern Colorado River Run for Orphans. Nick was the volunteer coordinator and I know how hard the entire team has been working for months leading up to the event yesterday. There were booths from multiple organizations, most advocating for care of orphans, music, a bounce house and some other fun things to enjoy. Let's not forget the 5K and Kid's 1 mile runs, too! 

Nick and I contributed to the children's race goodie bags, including a cross necklace with a leather strand like so many of the kids we spend time with in Ethiopia wear. He made this great tag for them to explain where they came from and I'm glad we were able to contribute in a unique way.

We're looking forward to making this event part of our annual traditions as a family. Enjoy the pictures I snapped!

Registration and information packet


Getting ready for the race!

They don't seem too nervous :)

Representing Ukraine! Love this.

Walking up to the starting line

Race marshals

And they're off!

While adults were out running, kids were enjoying the bouncy house!

Even children rep the Five Fingers

First place!

First place for the women!

Starting to roll in

Kid's 1 mile run went well, too

Friday, May 6, 2011


Wow, it's amazing what can be accomplished on a warm day off work. I didn't work today because I had a dermatologist appointment for my annual check-up. All is well!

Nick was busy all day preparing for the Northern Colorado River Run for Orphans 5K that happens tomorrow. I made my way through a few of the thrift stores in town looking for a few supplies for our pantry makeover. Unfortunately, I struck out until I made my last stop at one of our favorite stores just down the street from our house. Almosta. We are sad they are going out of business (or "moving on," as they are saying), but that means there are some amazing deals. All barcoded items are 80% off and all other items (including furniture) is 50% off. I found some great old crates that I thought would be perfect but I wanted Nick to make sure he agreed, so we went back when he got home from the final planning meeting. We picked up three that fit in quite nicely. In fact, it motivated me enough to come home and clear out the pantry! Hm....that's a start. But that is as far as I got :) Then we made a quick run to Home Depot to get the final pieces of wood for our new coffee table. We found the plans online and it's a lot cheaper to build our own table than to buy a new one, and if you have seen the coffee table in our living room, well, let's just say it has seen better days!

I'll be spending some time cleaning the pantry and getting things organized to put away, hopefully by the end of the weekend :) Once we (I use "we" loosely, because let's be honest, Nick will be doing all the work!) finish up the coffee table, we're hoping to have a fireplace build on the list. Also on the short list is refinishing the wood floors! Although the pattern of our 1922 wood floors is BEAUTIFUL, we recommend people keep their shoes on while walking around because as we can say from experience, splinters are pretty prevalent. 

We have some small landscaping plans on the horizon, too. Although we're on a tight budget for all these little projects, there are a few things we want to straighten up and get taken care of in the house before we have any additions of a little one from Ethiopia! Glad the nice weather has given us a little kick start around here!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


April's Gladney Center for Adoption's Africa newsletter featured an article I wrote about Superkids and our trip to Ethiopia. Check it out here!


Nick and I are excited to be giving a one hour presentation on our recent trip to Ethiopia today! It's at 4:00 p.m. in the Hondius Room at the Estes Valley Library in Estes Park. Light snacks and refreshments will be provided. We'd love to see you there and share our pictures and stories with you all. Thanks for the support!