Tuesday, December 31, 2013


2013 was the complete opposite of crappy, terrible, not so good 2012. I'm actually going to miss this year and I'd like it to hang on for just a little while longer.

To start off with, lets see if we actually did anything on the list I made at the end of 2012

•swamp cooler off the house and skylight put in - this wasn't done, but for sure will be in 2014 since we have to put a new roof on the house. I'm sad to say that a new roof, fascia, soffit and rain gutter will be our "big trip" next year, but a shouldn't complain about a roof over my head.

•backyard garden worked on - If this was done it was very minamal. Working two jobs and teaching a quilting class took a toll on me and since I didn't quit that second job until September I didn't really have time or energy for the garden. In fact, I didn't even weed it before the snow hit.

•seamless rain gutters installed - this will also be done when the new roof is installed...I hope

•fish tank done!!!!! - this is done! not very many fish in it yet, but hey it has water! It's not really up to the standard I'd like because we just haven't had to money I'd like to put into it. Maybe 2014 will help make it nicer.

•vacation to NYC - One of the bests trips I've ever been on. I'll be back for sure!

•craft room re-modeled - I thought I was just dreaming on this bullet point, but it actually came to be. The room is complete, but we slowed on buying furniture since money is now going into my new car fund. Luckily John is building most of the furniture so really I just won't have my main storage cabinet or the recliner chair for a while. I have moved back in and loving the space.

 Some other amazing things that I have loved about 2013:
  • Winston joining us downstairs for the first time after getting his gold beads put in. 

  • Starting and teaching a quilting class with some girls I work with. This has really been a blast and I think it would be a dream come true to keep doing it! Our "Block of the Month" is almost over so I'll see if they want to start up again. 

  • John installing cubbies and remodeling our coat closet. I really do think that this is one of my favorite renos and it was the cheapest thing that no one ever sees. It just looks so organized! 

  • I hit my 5 year mark at my current job and I don't have any plans on leaving. 

  • As of December 15th, John and I have been married for 6 years. 6 wonderful, amazing, glorious years. We did a quiet celebration this year since my car started to crap out on us (see above about craft room furniture). We saw Elf the Muscial, only because I bought tickets a couple months ago. We saw the movie About Time, which has now sky rocketed to the top of my favorite romantic comedy films. And we had dinner at Brio, which even though its not our usual fancy feast we still walked away very full, very happy and about $100 poorer. We both agreed on no gifts, but being with each other was gift enough (is that dripping in enough cheese for you?) 

Here's what I hope 2014 brings for us:
  • New roof and everything that goes with it! 
  • New car for me 
  • A smallish trip, anywhere will do. 
  • More remodeling because I just can't get enough and I already have some ideas!
  • And just because last year I added a pipe dream and it came true - convince John to hire a maid. 
I tip my hat to a new year and new adventures! 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Craft room so far

We've come a long way in the craft room, I'm at the point where I could move somewhat back in to work.
John installed the pocket door kit a while ago and he does have the door made, but not hung yet.

Because John had to replace a piece of sheet rock around the duct work he mudded the rest of the duct work area to make it smooth so he wouldn't have to match the texture. So then over the next few weeks he mudded and sanded and mudded and sanded. This was something I couldn't help with since he's much more of a perfectionist than me. I would have considered it done long before he did, but all of his hard work paid off with a picture perfect smooth surface. 

He also turned two of the outlets into four outlets so I'll never have to unplug anything while working. 
We then repainted the ceiling white and started on the walls. It was then time for the stencil which took a fair amount of time since I decided to do it all by hand. I'm crazy, I know.
The pattern is really hard to capture on camera with the temporary lighting we have now, but I ordered the new light and we should have it by next week. I hope I can get a better picture of the stencil pattern after we install it. 
I still need to finish the stencil around the edges of the wall, but the novelty has wore off and I need to work up the motivation to get it done. 

John had a cabinet he had built at work, but wasn't need for a job so he brought it home last year. It has been sitting in the guest room waiting for us to start on the craft room. John installed it early last week and finished laying the floor Saturday evening so our next step is the molding. 

Now it's just time for finishing touches. John made the counter top for the cabinets with a matching top for the new desk he's working on. He also is working on a cutting table for me when he's done with everything else. 
The next post about the craft room will be when it's all done and everything is bought! That could be a while since the cabinet from Ikea and the recliner chair from Overstock will set me back a few pennies and I need to save for them. Until next time!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A year later

It has been over a year since we drove to Indiana and got Winston's gold beads done. I've been having a hard time writing this, not because Winston hasn't gotten better, but only because nothing has changed for months and I wasn't sure what to say. 

He's still moving around and will stand up when I ask. Sometimes it takes him longer to motivate himself to stand up to go outside in the chilly air, but he can always stand the first time.
He still goes up and down the stairs and runs around the yard, two things I always count that as a blessing.
The pentosan shot that we give him every 3 weeks has really been the key to success. Without it he can still move around although, stiffly and slowly. With it he becomes a spunky new dog the day after the shot. The shot along with the gold beads has kept Winston with us, I believe.

Because it's been colder Winston has been sleeping more in the evenings and doesn't like staying out in the cold. I start leaving him inside during the day on really cold or stormy days, he's not a fan of that. He'd rather be basking in the sunshine than cooped up in the house.

I'm sure people won't be happy to hear this, but we've also stopped working on socializing Winston with other dogs again. We decided that it just wasn't worth the money since Winston can't come with us on dog hikes. He's so unstable and untrustworthy on his feet. It was a lot of work to get Winston to and from K-9, it cost us a fair amount of money and the pay off just wasn't there. I still love what K-9 has done for him and us and we'd still go if there was a benefit. We'll be going back with our next puppy no matter the breed. (no I'm not getting a puppy any time soon, 3 dogs is more than enough!)

That's it, there's nothing else to report. Winston's still with us and doing as well as can be expected. He's such a quirky dog with the funniest personality, I'm so glad he's still around.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Craft room reno start up

I love remodeling, so much so that I start getting antsy when it's been a while since we've ripped down a wall. When we bought the house I was excited. It was flipped so it was ready to live in, but the bland basement was just begging for personality and there was a lot to update with the rest of the house to add a ton of equity.
 I would have loved an even older home to really get out hands into it, but John sees knob and tube wiring, falling foundations and terrible insulation and it puts him off. But enough of my rambling and onto our new project.

The only basement room to not see our paintbrushes and power tools was my craft room. I was deathly tired of the view, needed storage for my growing fabric collection and we had the money so I suggested to John we put on our contractor hats. John wasn't hard to persuade since he loves remodeling as much as me, but left it up to me to decide on the designing basics.
That's where I stalled for a while because I was having a hard time picking all on my own. In past remodels I always had to keep John's opinions on my mind, surprisingly it was harder just thinking about me. My want list started out huge and expensive so I had to rein myself in.

The room was always going to be purple, I decided that a long time ago, but finding the perfect purple seemed to be a challenge.  I also was going to do wallpaper on one wall, but so many factors were making me unhappy. I didn't want to scrape it off later if the room needed to change, all the ones I kept liking were high in price and I liked a lot, but didn't love any. Finding silver accented wallpaper that I loved and had to have was proving to be difficult.
Because of these factors I ignored the project for weeks, but John needed to know my wants so he could actually work. He finally gave me a deadline, I don't work well under pressure, but it did light a fire and I got back to work.

I nixed the wall paper because of my above reasons and I know to go with my gut, if I don't love it it's not for me. I still wanted silver accents so I decided to buy a stencil to paint on the silver. Holy crap!! Stencils are EXPENSIVE!! But since buying one stencil would be cheaper than a roll of wall paper I went with it.
I finally picked one, I'm just hoping I like it in the end. I bought it off Etsy from  DIY Stencils.

Then it was time to get to the purple business. Lowes and Home Depot were a wash for me so I turned to Pinterest and Benjamin Moore. I finally settled on Tropical Dusk, I think it looks darker and more gray in person.

The layout has changed a little since this picture and this time (thankfully I never let it get that bad again. The break-in made me not want to be in the room, but after I cleaned it back in 2011 I've used the room almost every day), but you get the idea of the room.

The door that lead to a closet under the stairs has always bothered me by taking up floor space. I nicely asked if John could turn it into a pocket door which he, of course, had to take it to another level, but that will come in a later post.

John has already started on the room and the pocket door kit has already been installed. The carpet and moldings has also been torn out too.

Speaking of flooring, I really wanted to be able to the same flooring in the hallway, but it just wasn't working with my designs. So, with John's help, I picked out a pergo flooring from RC Wiley. The color is called Java, but it seems like everything I like is called Java. :)

The last thing I've picked out, but haven't bought is a light fixture. The fixtures I was liking were closer to $300 and I really was going to splurge, but then I came to my senses and went cheaper.

I'm really excited about it and it would have been the first thing I would have bought if it wasn't the last thing I needed.

Things are coming along smoothly and I'm blissfully hoping that the room can be usable (notice how I said usable, not done) within a month so I can get back to sewing.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

New York - last full day

Monday was our last full day in The Big Apple and it was spent catching up on things our New York Pass didn't cover since it had expired.
We went to Ground Zero in the morning, it was a really beautiful place and it will be even more beautiful when they finish all their work.

 There is a deep fountain where the each tower sat and the sound of the water is so soothing.

 There are also the names of each of the workers and rescuers carved on the fountains where they had lost their lives. The memorial puts a rose on the person's name on the day of their birthday which I thought was very sweet.

 This is the base of the completed first tower sitting behind the north fountain.

 This is the survivor tree, the only tree to survive the fall of the buildings. It was moved to another location for a few years so it could recover and they planted back at the memorial site just a little while ago.

I will say that I actually enjoyed the tribute center more only because I felt like people were more respectful there. At the memorial people were taking pictures with hand signs and funny faces. They were also sitting on the fountains and being disrespectful. I was very displeased with the people there, but its still a place that shouldn't be missed. 
After we spent time at the memorial we went to the gift shop where they have the tribute bike that Paulie Jr. made.

I bought some magnets with the search and rescue dogs on them and a gorgeous night photo of the memorial site.

After the memorial we went to the Washington Square Arch.

We then went to Grand Central Station since we ran out of time earlier to do the tour (NYP), but since our pass was expired we just enjoyed the views. I didn't get any good pictures because my camera wasn't liking the lighting. Here are the only two.

It was very busy and bustling, I wish I could have visited every single store inside.

It was later in the afternoon by then so we went back to the apartment to make sure our luggage was packed and to get some dinner.
After that we got dressed and went out to a Cabernet show that John's co-worker said we should check out. Every night the Cabernet has a different set and the night we went they were having a Rising Star night and we heard some new to Broadway stars sing.  
I do wish they were having the drag show the night we went because I'm always down for a good drag show. More reasons to go back to NYC!
After the show we sat by their baby grand piano and listened to high end karaoke from the owner, wait staff and some of the patrons. It was a good night had by all.

Then it was time to hit the hay to be prepared for our flight home the next day. 
I was sad to leave from such a wonderful trip, but the trip to the airport wasn't bad at all. We took the subway and the air train to JFK Airport, an hour and a half trip from our apartment. It a smooth trip and I'd recommend it to anyone wanting a cheaper way in and out of the city. We would have taken it into Manhattan when we got to New York, but the air train was down.

The airport wasn't any more exciting than you'd think it would be, normal security checks and the waiting. Mary and I did have a nice surprise on the plane though, our high school sophomore English teacher was sitting behind us. 

My father picked us up from the airport and home to pick up our pups. Speaking of which, Enna was extremely fine and her ruptured anal gland had healed up on it's own. She's had no problems since so for once I lucked out in the sick dog field. 

Of course Mary, John and I longed to be back in New York since we had such a nice time, but now we have memories to last a life time.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

New York day 6 and 7 (this is long!)

Saturday was a very busy day for us since we shoved in a couple extra things. We headed out bright and early to go to the Statue of Liberty (NYP). We go there just as they were opening up so the lines went quickly and we were soon on the ferry and to the island.
It was very chilly and we all wished for jackets, but it was an amazing place to be.

As you can see in the first picture, there was still a lot of construction going on to repair the island from Hurricane Sandy. We also really wanted to go to the crown, but to do so you have to reserve a spot and get a background check months before and because of the island closure after Sandy they weren't taking any reservations.
It was probably a good thing we didn't go since just the stairs to the bottom of the statue winded us and I hear it's a very tight climb. My claustrophobia was glad it didn't have to go through that.

We didn't have much time on the island since we had to book it back to central park for a tour. It was still very chilly, but we tried to ignore it the best we could and enjoy our Central Park Movie Tour (NYP). I really liked this tour better than the other one. You actually stopped at every location and the park is just so pretty to walk through.
We learned that if you happen to be in the background of a movie you don't have to be paid and they're allowed to use your image without your permission so if that bothers you, stay out of Central Park on filming days. Central Park was also a really scary place to be for many years, it's only recently that's it's been cleaned up and safe.
Movie wise it was cool to see the exact spots where things were filmed and the whole time I wanted to sing , "How does she knoooooowwwwww you looooovvvve heeeeerr?" I didn't want to show up Amy Adams so I kept it in my head. I'm sure a lot of these spots will look familiar to you too.

Mary has a picture of us standing in front of this fountain and somehow I didn't get it from her...hint, hint, Sister!

The last one is obviously not a movie site, but a guy covered in mirrors. This type of thing is a common site in New York, people taking advantage of tourists for money.

After the tour we headed back to the apartment to grab some lunch and our jackets and head to our next tour, Inside Broadway (NYP). Unlike the title suggests, we didn't actually go inside any of the theaters, but I did love the tour and our guide. I learned so much about the theaters, the life style, how things have changed and how things are now with an occasional song and dance from our guide. Not too many pictures of the actual tour, but we did meet in Time Square again so here's more of that for the 100th time.

The tour made us long for a New York trip where every night could be spent in a theater, but we're not millionaires so the next best thing was an impulse buy for tickets to Phantom of the Opera. We rushed for dinner after the tour so we could make it to the show and even though I frown on wearing jeans to the theater I let it pass this time.
It was an amazing show, but I can see why our tickets were 60% off. The seats were under the balcony so the upper part of the stage was cut off and we missed some cool things. It was still a beautiful show and gave me no doubt to why it's been the longest running show on Broadway. I also watched for some bloopers that our tour guide told us sometimes happens during the show, but it looked like it went seamlessly.
After the show we were tired and we needed to head to bed to be up early again for the next day.

Sunday was our Coney Island day. It takes an hour to get there from the middle of Manhattan by subway, but it wasn't a bad trip at all. If our public transit was as efficient and convenient as New York I'd take it a lot more. We left about 8:30ish and got to Coney Island before the shops had even opened yet. It was quiet and peaceful on the island that Sunday morning.

The aquarium opened at 10am so we didn't have to wait long on the deserted boardwalk. It was also hit by Hurricane Sandy and closed for a while so I was happy to hear of it opening before our trip. I will say that I was disappointed that the shark and jelly fish exhibit was closed for remodeling because it made the aquarium very small. I'm not sure if it was worth the $9 it cost to get in, but it was a nice time passer while we waited for the amusement parks to open. I'm sure it will be better when the new shark exhibit opens next year, it looked awesome in the pictures. My favorite part was watching an employee feed the cute penguins and the sea lion show.

After the aquarium we hit up some shops. It's my new goal to get a vintage, cool state (or city) shirt in every state we go to. I did buy the typical I ❤ New York shirt, but I wanted something more.We found Lola Star's boutique and there were so many I had a hard time narrowing it down. I finally settled on the tattooed hot dog, he's just the cutest!
While paying I was told that Leonardo DiCaprio was in the shop a few days before us and he bought this shirt too (in gray) so Leo and I are practically BFFs now.
Later I looked at Lola's online shop, I didn't realize that I was shopping at the Savior of Coney Island's store. She has done so much for the little boardwalk and I'm grateful. It's the cutest place in New York!

We then waited around for Luna Park to open and bought our ride tickets. It was so weird how it was set up since another amusement park sits in the middle of it and its also intersected by streets. You have to go in and out and chain link gates to get to other sections. Some rides were pretty original and some reminded us of Lagoon back home.

 Doesn't Mary look excited to be riding some extreme rides?

 We rode a ride that reminded me of a mash up of The Spider and Wild Mouse at Lagoon, here's our view from the top before we started lurching back and forth....see pictures below. The ferris wheel to the right is part of another theme park that separates Luna park, it looked like mostly kiddy rides and since we all hate ferris wheels we weren't sad to not ride it.

 I must be getting old since I no longer can ride spin rides like I use too, I get motion sickness bad, so I let John and Mary take this one on their own. There's a plane ride just like this at Lagoon and I knew my tummy wouldn't be happy with me if I rode it.

 My sister is so cute! I love her guts! We bought matching sunglasses on the boardwalk since mine broke in half in my purse and she had left hers at the apartment. Here we are riding the swings.

 Said swings we rode. They went up pretty high!
 Our view from the swings into Brooklyn and to the left if the Wild Mouse/Spider ride.

Another happy Mary face! This ride you rode horses like a jockey (better seen below in the picture with John) as its careened on the roller coaster track. We loved it and rode it twice.

Mary and I both sat out on this spinner because just looking at it made our stomachs turn. John enjoyed every twirling second of it.

We did take a break from our amusement park madness to grab some lunch at Nathan's, where else would you go at Coney Island?

I'm not going to lie, it really wasn't that great :) Just like In & Out, Culver's and Jack In The Box, all the hype isn't very truthful. But hey, we came, we saw, we conquered!

After our lunch is was back to Luna Park where we spent another hour or so. We went on what's called the Luna 360.
A ride that spins and swings, it was fun and John was screaming to go again. I had to give my equilibrium a break so we did some toned down rides first and then came back. I should have never rode it again, I was so very sick afterwards. That's what ended Luna Park for us, but we got our money's worth. 

Before we left Coney we hit up an ice cream parlor for a tasty treat and headed back on the subway home. 
We were all pooped from our long couple of days, I even fell asleep on the train which I'm sure isn't very safe, so John and I took a nap when we got back. I have no clue what Mary did since I was sleeping :).
Then it was time to get ready for our Broadway show, Book of Mormon. It was my favorite show of the trip, but that could be because South Park is one of my favorite shows. It does make fun of Mormons a little and if you're really uptight about the religion you probably won't like it, but we all laughed until our funny bones hurt.
The theater is really small so no seat is a bad seat so pay for the cheaper seats (still over $200 a pop) and save your money for something else. I'd go see this show over and over and over again! There is some foul language (again, it's from the creators of South Park) and some adult talk so young children should be left at home. I promise it'll be one of the funniest things you see in a long time if you put your prudishness aside and take in the show!

Then if was back home and back to bed for our last full day in NYC!