Sunday, July 12, 2015

Fish in our tank 2015

I thought it would be a good time to update on our fish population since they all seem pretty happy and we haven't had a fish die in other a year (I hope I didn't just jinx us). 

None of the pictures below are of our actual fish, truthfully they all look the same so there was no reason for me to try to get good pictures.
All are relatively reef safe, meaning we can have shrimp, crabs and corals without the fish eating them. We don't have corals yet because of the conditions they require such as lighting and supplements. They will come someday once we can get enough courage.

Our oldest guy is our Banggai Cardinalfish. I really wish I could remember when we bought him, but I think he may be coming up on two years now. He even survived falling down our filtration system and getting his fins beat up. A local fish store, Fish 4 U, has one of these fellas in a tank and he's quite large, I'm hoping our guys sticks around and gets just as big.

Soon after we bought 4 green chromis. They are a schooling fish which seems to be rare in the saltwater world. Most fish will pick on or kill their same breed or species when in captivity.
I'm not sure why, but three of the chromis alienated the fourth for months, they chased him away when he tried to school with them. I was going to separate him  from the rest, but before I could he died. We haven't had a fish die since that poor fella and that was a while ago.

Around September last year we bought a firefish. I had wanted this little fish for a really long time since I saw him at a fish store when we researching for our tank. This little guy is adorable and so fun. He has claimed a little hole in a rock at the bottom of the tank as his home. When the lights go out he sinks back into his hole to sleep and he's back out again when the lights come on.
He doesn't move around the tank much, but he's a peaceful fella that I really adore. He vanished one day for about a month and I was so sad, turned out he just jumped into the filtration. After we found him, we put egg crate on top of the tank so fish will stop doing that!

In October of last year we bought a lemon peel angelfish. We went to a fish store in Orem and this little guy was swimming around as happy as a clam. He was very spur of the moment, not something I recommend in the saltwater hobby since some fish and coral have a tendency to not get along. It's a very delicate ecosystem! Out of all the fish we have, this one will be the one most likely to nip at corals. He's always swimming around the tank finding algae to graze on. I'm hoping he behaves himself when we add corals.

In May I bought a Bicolor blenny after weeks of searching for one. I researched this little guy to no end before buying. I wanted a colorful, peaceful fish that got somewhat big with some personality. Blennies don't have swimbladders so he can't stay swimming like other fish. He hops from rock to rock in the most adorable manner. He cleans out crannies in the rocks and then shoves his tiny body to hide and sleep. It took him a while to come out of his shell and hid a lot after we got him, but now he's out and about most of the day.

The last fish we put in were my birthday present. We knew we wanted clownfish and we like to be different, rare dogs, remember? So we couldn't get regular Nemos and had to get a designer breed. I stopped by the fish store close to my house to buy fish food and they had a pair of frost bite clownfish that I was eyeing. I waited for John to get back into town two weeks later and told him that if they were still there then it was a sign that we should buy them.
 They were $300, I know what you're thinking, "For fish!?!?" it is pricey, but it's what you pay for rare fish. Of course I've been worried about them and don't want them to die because of the price tag, but they've been crazy eaters since they got put in. They are teeny tiny little things at only an inch long right now, but will soon grow to 4". We hope to put an anemone in for them eventually.

We also have two shrimp:
a cleaner shrimp
 and a fire shrimp

We also have an emerald crab that we only see every few weeks.

Along with the above we have a handful of various hermit crabs and snails. We have plans to get a few more fish, but probably not for a while. I just hope that these guys thrive and continue to be happy. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Basement Bar

John and I don't do much rework to the interior of our house these days. I'm not saying there isn't stuff we want to do, we just spend the money and time on other things.
We did decide that our bar needed some touches to help with entertaining though, so John busted out his tool belt.

John and I drink alcohol from time to time. I know, crazy! Has everyone thoroughly gasped and shaken their heads in disgust,can we move on now? Ahem, okay, so John and I drink alcohol, as do some of our friends and when we have them over it was always slightly embarrassing to pull our stash out from under the kitchen sink. Since our family room is the comfiest room in the house and already had the bar layout we decided to use some wall real estate to relieve our embarrassment.

Here is the before shot, this is an old picture as we've had fish in the tank for a few years now, but not much else had changed:

And here is the after:
The shelves are all different lengths and thicknesses depending on what was going to be stored on them and John made them out of alder to match the cabinets.

 All the shelves have the same decorative profile, this one has holes drilled in it to store wine stoppers. Looks like I need to start collecting.

Of course once John had all the shelves made I had to throw a kink into his plans. He was showing me what they'd look like on the wall and I was thinking how dark they made the wall look with the the harsh shadows they cast so I suggested that we put LED lights under each shelf. Of course they couldn't be battery operated and I didn't want wire showing so if we really wanted it then John would have to cut into the wall to wire the lights.
I kept telling him that we didn't have to do it, but he kept saying that I was right and it would look better with them.

We bought all the needed supplies off Amazon. John had worked with LED lighting because of his job before so he knew what was needed. The LED light strip came on a 16 foot roll that you can cut every three lights.
You then have to solder wire onto the strip, which was probably the most challenging part, but once John got a good soldering iron it went much smoother.
LEDs also have to be converted into a lower power wattage so we bought an adapter and John rigged it up into what we needed.
The light switch for the LEDs was a little pricey as far as switches go, but I think it was worth it.
The switch is about the size of a standard face plate and makes the LEDs dimmable. The faceplate is glass and we dropped it before it was ever installed, so it's cracked. We'll have to replace it at some point in the future.

The lighting adding about another month onto the project only because John was helping others with their wood needs and our project got put in the back burner.
So without further ado, here is the bar with the LED lights on:
This picture just does not do it justice! I need a new camera so very badly, but just take my word for it. I'm staring at the wall right now and it's beautiful. The LEDs do beautiful things to the glasses making them sparkle and the bar looks so warm and inviting.

Last but not least, you're probably wondering what these are:
 These are beer taps for the kegerator John has installed in the guest room closet behind the bar.
John made the faceplate for the taps out of alder and the decorative profile is what inspired the shelves. A couple of his co-workers turned the handles for him and carved the figurines. John gave the carver free reign to what the figurines were and even though they're not my first choice, they're still conversation starters.

I do plan on buying some art for the bar from Etsy artist GuerdrumArt that our friends found for us.
Woodland creatures relaxing in beer?! How could I not buy a couple of these cuties? I just have to figure out how I want to hang them since I don't want frames.

Well that's all on the bar so far. We do have plans to increase storage of the actual liquor, but that will come at a later date.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Craft room art

My craft room got a small facelift a few weeks ago. I plan on making it my art room, where any and all art I like can live. A place for my geekiness and weird loves so I can still look like a functioning, normal adult in the rest of my house.
I only have a few pieces now because I want the perfect ones since my wall space is so small. I also picked very thin silver frames for the same reason, I want the art to be the focus and wall space not be taken up by frames.

These two hang behind my desk, they were actually from a Mary Engelbreit calendar from years ago. I kept them specifically to hang them one day. I'd like to think the one on the left is obvious why I kept it...a red head and a blonde...sisters maybe?

The bat drawing came from an artist off Etsy, PentwaterPaper. With my obsession with bats, it was a no brainer to pick up this adorable guy. My sister bought me the adorable Toothless for Christmas, the picture doesn't do justice, the colors are bright and beautiful.

This clock style is not original, but I love the look of it so I wanted to create my own. I bought some numbers from Micheal's and covered them with silver glitter. The clock hands are from amazon and have worked out pretty well. I applied double stick tape to the back of the numbers and John did his thing to get everything to line up perfectly.

The next thing isn't really art, but it's something I'm really loving. I've been wanting storage for my stamp inks, but most shelving units were a pretty penny so I was saving my money. Then I came across a pin on pinterest by accident that had me all smiles. It's a storage shelf made out of foam core board and I used her instructions as inspiration, but John helped me redesign it to fit my needs. John did most of the cutting because he's such a perfectionist and he helped assemble it. It wasn't easy at all, but so very worth it.   

I know my blogging is very sporadic these days, I'm sorry about that, but life just gets busier and busier. I love my job and I'm so very thankful for it, but I'm mentally exhausted by the end of the day so sitting in front of a computer when I get home doesn't sound fun.
It's also coming up on quilt season for me and I need to haul ass to get three quilts done by June, three quilts that I haven't even started on. :) So I guess I'm saying that my blogging is going to stay sporadic.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Review on devices that make it possible to be cable free

It has been well over two years since I dropped our TV provider and I love being without it. There are times when it would be nice; Olympics, Super Bowl, any college or professional football for John, etc., but for the most part we have found a way to watch them anyway even if it's not on our TV. While I was in Florida visiting my aunt John bought a small antenna for football, but I never use it. 

For the first year without satellite we used our Xbox 360 as our streaming station and it's been okay.

  • User friendly and fast
  • Has an ESPN3 app for sports
  • Online gaming and entertainment in one device
  • You have to have a Gold account to access the internet to stream content which is an additional $30 a year. Not a big deal when you're using it for online gaming too, but a waste for us since we're not. (XBox has updated this to where you don't need the Gold account anymore, but it wasn't that way when I started this post)
  • If the Xbox has an update you can't do anything until it updates which is always annoying when you just wanted to watch something quick before you have to leave or do something. Depending on the update and your internet speed this can take a while. 
  • Pausing things in a hurry is impossible with the wireless controller. It goes to sleep when not in use and has to wake up before it can pause. This is a huge annoyance with me since we pause mainly when someone is at our door and since our TV is downstairs it already takes longer than average to answer to door. By the time I pause and make it upstairs the person has usually started walking down my driveway. There is a remote that you can buy to use with the Xbox, but the cost has always deterred me.  
I know that there is now the Xbox one out that is supposed to be geared more toward entertainment, but since neither John nor I are big gamers we won't be buying it.

My mom bought Chromecast and I stole it to try it out for a while.

  •  The price is unbeatable, at $35 it's a steal.
  • It plugs right into the HDMI TV port or in our case, the bose system, and works after you register it on the apps that it plays.
  • It has Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO Go, YouTube, Pandora, Google Play, and Google + and more. Plus they're adding more apps all the time. 
  • You use your phone, tablet or laptop to control it, which is a plus if you don't want another remote lying around.
  • I actually hate the fact that it doesn't have a remote. The app on my phone stops recognizing that it's playing the show on TV and then there is no way to pause it. My in-laws have it and it does the same thing to them. While we were over there it took 15 minutes to get chromecast to pause a show.
  • My phone also freezes during the loading sometimes and I have to turn it off and back on to make it work. 
  • I thought that I could use the Chromecast for my craft room, but the TV in there doesn't have an HDMI port. I bought a converter for the TV, but it wouldn't recognize the Chromecast.
In the end I gave the Chromecast back to my mom and moved on the the next streaming device. 
While buying the flooring for the craft room we bought a wifi blu ray player, since it was supposed to go in the craft room and that room wasn't ready to use yet I decided to swap out our old blu ray player for the new one for a test run. The size difference compared to our 7 year old model made me chuckle more than a little bit.

This is a cheap model, Panasonic DMP-BD89, because I didn't want to spend the money on something that wouldn't be used often.

  • Set up was very easy and I had it going within 15 minutes of plugging it in.
  • I love how it organizes shows on Netflix and Hulu better than the Xbox. I was surprised by how much easier is was to navigate through shows and see when things were expiring over the Xbox.
  • You can turn autoplay off which I haven't been able to find with the Xbox.
  • It has Netflix, YouTube, CinemaNow, Vudu HD Movies, Hulu Plus, Picasa Web Albums, Pandora, Facebook, Twitter, and Rhapsody built in. The remote also has a Netflix button, but it looks like most blu ray remotes have that now.
  • I haven't done it only because this blu ray is not staying in our family room, but it can be linked to our bose system and we can use one remote for everything.
  • You can view your own photos and videos through this player and it does have a USB port.
  •  This player will freeze while streaming and the only way to reset it is to unplug it. Then you have to sign back in to all of your accounts. 
  • You only have the apps listed above and can't add anymore or search the internet. 
  • Most blu ray players on the market these days only plug in with an HDMI cable, not a problem with most updated TVs, but like I said above, my craft room TV doesn't have an HDMI port. I had to use the converter to be able to use this player, but I haven't had a problem with it.
This blu ray player actually stayed in the family room for quite some time before John got the player listed below. It worked pretty well as our main source of streaming, but the occasional freezing was something we both hated.
The XBox moved into my craft room since it no longer needed to Gold account and on the smaller TV it was even harder to navigate through, I was glad when I could swap it out with the Panasonic we bought for the craft room.

 I put the Samsung BD-F5900 on John's Christmas list since I had been eying it for some time because it can browse the web and apps can be added to it. I didn't really think it would be purchased, but lo and behold my mom bought it for John. Of course all the times I read about the player I never noticed it was for 3D until I was looking at the box, but since it does everything else we wanted I didn't care.
 We haven't used it for anything other than movie watching, Hulu and Netflix so I can't talk about the other features, but so far it's doing its job. We like that the apps we use most are on the main page and it loads quickly.
It's probably just our slow speed internet, but Hulu does have a hard time making it through a show. It freezes multiple times a show and we have to stop it and restart it. We can't be on any other internet device or it makes it ten times worse. Netflix has no problems playing so we like to blame it on Hulu, but in the future when we get a faster internet maybe it'll work better.

I have loved being cable free and don't plan on getting a contract with a company anytime soon. My personal preference for streaming are our blu ray players and second would be the X-Box now that streaming is free.
I haven't found a new TV show that John and I want to watch that isn't added to Hulu and we have more than enough to watch to pass the time. I recommend everyone cut the expensive ties, its freeing!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

To-Do list

My new year's resolutions for 2015 is going to be a list of projects I'd like to get done before 2016. It's a pretty big list so I better buckle down.
  • batik lap quilt
  • purple lap quilt
  • wool cape coat
  • 3 quilts for the county and state fair
  • craft room dog couch bed (need John's help to build the frame)
  • Winston's two elevated dog beds
  • 12 month table quilt hangings
  • make my craft room more stamp friendly with storage
  • Paper quilled leaves art
  • "V" wall 
What DIY stuff is on your do to list for 2015?