The Boys in the Boat

so many great books

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The Boys in the Boat
by Daniel James Brown

 

 

 

 

 

Every once in a while I come across an outstanding book.  This is one of them.  It’s definitely on my top 20 favorites list.  (I actually read this book a little over 1-1/2 years ago and I’m re-reading it this summer.)

This is the true story of the nine top varsity men, mostly sophomores and juniors, of the University of Washington rowing program and their quest for a gold medal at the 1936 Olympics in Germany.

The author, Mr. Daniel Brown, writes poetically about the art of rowing and its parallels to life.  Without it ever being boring, he describes the technical details about rowing and the intricacies necessary for a 9 man crew (the pain, effort, dedication, and mental focus that goes into this sport).  He describes what is required for a winning team: physical toughness, exact technique and synchronization, rigorous training often in freezing, wet, and rough weather, racing and training strategies, great coaching, racing shell design and construction, and more.  Mr. Brown is a gifted writer that weaves history and geography, teamwork and competition, and dedication and perseverance with excitement and hardship all into one very inspirational, uplifting, heartwarming, fascinating, exceptional book.

Every chapter begins with words of wisdom by the legendary boat builder, George Pocock.  Mr. Pocock had notable knowledge of rowing and how the principles of great boats and great rowing apply to life.  I loved learning about his exceptional woodworking skills and how he made the finest boats in the world in a workshop above the University of Washington rowing house.

Even though I loved reading about each of the nine rowers, I was wholly captivated by Joe Rantz – about how he survived and endured adversity and abandonment with great dignity and character.   His story is a testament to the power of the human spirit and is a great example of what some say was America’s Greatest Generation. Each of these men are real heroes – their spirit, their strength of character, their rigorous training, and their hardships all helped them meld into a championship team, an olympic team.  (These nine men remained friends for life and got together every ten years to go out rowing on Lake Washington.)

Before reading The Boys in the Boat I didn’t know anything about rowing but now I’m definitely a fan of this beautiful, peaceful, and graceful sport.  If you’ve read it, I would love to know your thoughts about it.

(I’ve also read two other excellent books written by this author: The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of the Donner Party and Under a Flaming Sky: The Great Hinckley Firestorm of 1894.  Review coming soon.)

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How to Clean Paint off Hinges Without Using Harsh Chemicals

Do you have hinges that look like this top photo and you want them to look like the bottom photo?  There’s a super easy way to clean that paint off without having to use harsh chemicals.

How to Clean Paint off Hinges Without Using Harsh Chemicals

For the past 15 years (!) I’ve been avoiding bathroom improvements because our hinges looked like this:

Painted Hinges

We’re the third owner of our mid-century home and I’m not sure which of the previous two owners thought it looked OK to just slop paint on those hinges when they painted the cabinets and doors.  Not just once!  But four different times!  There really were four different colors of paint that needed to be removed; two coats of Latex over two coats of enamel.

Our main bathroom and guest bathroom have a lot of built-in storage cabinets and the hinges are a really nice, good quality, solid chrome, which I have wanted to preserve instead of replace because they add to the authentic character of our home.

Several years ago we actually stripped down the vanity cabinets and hinges in our main bathroom using chemicals and it was a huge toxic job that I never, ever want to do again.  So a few months ago, when I was seriously looking at these two bathrooms and seriously thinking it was finally time to tackle them, I did some research online to find out if there were any alternatives to chemical stripping.

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I was so happy to learn that good old baking soda, water, and heat will soak that old yucky paint right off.  So grab an old crockpot, a towel, a rag, and a pair of tongs and in just a few hours your hinges will go from horribly painted to shiny-like-new clean!

Cleaned Hinges

Don’t they look beautiful?  I was so happy I just couldn’t keep it to myself.  I kept talking and talking about it to my husband who was as excited as I was at first, but then grew tired of hearing me talk about it so then I started telling practically anyone who was kind enough to listen to this boring-to-them but exciting-to-me story.  And now I’ll share it here with any kindred spirits.

It makes me so happy that they look brand-spankin-new without chemicals or without scraping that beautiful chrome.

Here’s how to do it:

1) Remove your hinges so they’ll be ready to soak.  (Some of the hinges popped right off the cabinets but some I actually had to pry off!)

2) Collect your supplies:

Supplies Needed to Clean Painted Hinges

3) Place about 1/4 cup baking soda in the crockpot or an old sauce pan.  (I liked the crockpot method because I could leave it on all night and not worry about it.  The same procedure can be done in a sauce pan on the stove but it’ll need to be watched more closely.)

4) Put several inches of water in the crockpot (or sauce pan) and stir around to dissolve the baking soda.

5) Put the hinges in the water and make sure they are covered by about 2-inches of water (add more water if necessary).  I also added the screws, hardware, and door hinges that had been painted.

6) Leave the crockpot uncovered and turn on low heat for about 8 hours.  I soaked mine overnight in three different batches because I had so many to do.  Add more water as necessary to keep the hinges covered.

This picture shows some hinges in the crockpot after soaking all night.  The water level has dropped but they are still covered with water.  If you soak yours overnight and wake up in the morning and find that the water level is below the hinges, just add water to cover them by and inch or two and let it heat up for another hour or so. Then they will be ready.

Hinges in Crockpot

7) It’s time to start removing that old paint.  After it’s soaked all night the paint is softened up and easy to remove.  Remove one hinge at a time because the paint needs to be removed while it’s still warm.  Peel off what you can by hand then use your cloth to remove the remainder.  Sometimes there will be a little bit of paint that sticks in the tight spots of the hinge – I used a small pointed knife to gently remove it.
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8) Use the cloth to buff up the hinge and marvel at how easy that was and how beautiful and new your hinges now look.

Cleaned Hinge

I’m just in awe!

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They all look like this – like they’re brand new!

What more can I say?  They’re beautiful.

Cleaned Hinge

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Swig Sugar Cookies [Copycat]

Have you ever had a Swig sugar cookie?  Have you heard of them? I’ve heard of them but haven’t ever eaten a real, honest-to-goodness cookie from one of their Swig Shacks.  But I’ve made them.  I don’t know if this is how they really taste but these are THE BEST SUGAR COOKIES EVER! They’re soft, […]

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Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

I can’t really say that I love red peppers. But I do like them in some dishes and I’m pretty much in love with the roasted red pepper and lobster soup at Cafe Zupas.  Are there any other lovers of that soup out there? Here’s another question:  Are you a liker, lover, hater, or neutral […]

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The BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies

These chocolate chip cookies have recently claimed the title of the BEST chocolate chip cookies in our house.  I could seriously stop always looking for a really great chocolate chip cookie because here it is.  If you haven’t tried this recipe, you all absolutely must make some soon. It all began the other day when my hubby, […]

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Cranberry Horseradish Sauce [a Stonewall Kitchen Copycat]

I’m going to hurry and squeeze this post in before Thanksgiving because some of you out there just might be looking for a new delicious cranberry sauce for your Thanksgiving dinner and those leftover turkey or ham sandwiches.  This sauce/spread is a copycat of the Stonewall Kitchen Cranberry Horseradish Sauce so if you love theirs you’re […]

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Chicken Enchiladas with Honey Lime Sauce

We love chicken enchiladas and the endless variation possibilities.  This particular recipe is a bit spicy with a not-your-average flavor thanks to the honey and lime marinade that the cooked chicken marinates in and is then used in the sauce.  The black beans and corn give it good texture and make it super hearty.  We’re […]

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The BEST Guacamole [EVER]

Does everyone have the best guacamole ever recipe?! I think I have the best but then so does everyone else! 🙂 Most recipes are similar but what I think makes this guacamole different (and better) is the pickled jalapeño. Have you ever tried them in your guacamole?  They’re found on the Mexican aisle of the […]

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Vanilla Glazed Pumpkin Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread

  Two confessions. Lots of traveling this fall + two gallbladder attacks + gallbladder surgery + spending a week with my cute little granddaughter leads me to my first confession. This is the first thing pumpkin I’ve made this fall. The reason for my second confession isn’t as dramatic.  I’ve seen it several times and […]

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Homemade Green Enchilada Sauce

Hi everyone, today I’m sharing a homemade green enchilada sauce that is great for all those Mexican recipes that call for green salsa or green enchilada sauce.  It’s so delicious we like to use it as a dip for tortilla chips. And it’s so super easy to make there’s never any need to ever buy […]

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Easy Cubed or Shredded Chicken

There are so many recipes that call for shredded or cubed chicken and this is such an easy way to always have some on hand.  It’s so easy and convenient to cook up some chicken and portion it out to 1 cup, 2 cup, or whatever and then freeze it in freezer bags so it’s […]

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Quinoa for Breakfast

Cooked Breakfast Cereal.  Do you like it or not? I really don’t like breakfast cereal of any kind except I do like grits for breakfast (recipe here) and occasionally I like to snack on dry cereal out of the package but that’s about it. Quinoa.  Do you like it or not? I have to admit […]

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