Monday, April 20, 2015

Vintage photos- Family History Chuck and Gretchen

I was at my mom and dads the other day and we were going through some old pictures and I came across a few photos of my dad and his sister from the early 40's and 50's.  I posted them on Facebook in a family history album and had a ton of likes. My cousin thanked me for posting them because she had seen very few pictures of her mom growing up. I have decided to start posting old photos under family history a little more regularly. I really enjoyed the comments and the back and forth with my aunt Gretchen. She was able to remember dates and where they lived at the time etc.

My dad, Chuck (or when he was little his mom called him Chuckie) grew up in Michigan with his older sister Gretchen.  He was almost called Fritz, but thanks to  WWII and anti German sentiment at the time,  a nice Anglo name it was. Charles.

I love these pictures.
Chuck and Gretchen probably 1943??



Gretchen said my dad was SO HAPPY when he got this cowboy outfit for Christmas.  to me this picture SCREAMS "A Christmas Story". 

My grandparents (L and R) and Aunt Gretchen in the back of the sign.  In 1958 they went to Sequoia National Park. I think my dad must have been taking this picture.

I am going to try and post more family photos on a regular basis. I love throwbacks.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Photos from Easter- The Birds and The Bees and a Cat Named Oliver

Yesterday we went to my mom and dads house for the afternoon.  I took my trusty Canon sx50 and played around again.  A perfect spring day.

My parents have recently started urban beekeeping. My youngest son thought it was cool and has really gotten into it. I thought if he can do it I can do it too.  Although I appreciate bees (from a distance!), I am not anxious to go stick my person in their area and start meddling. But I did.

lets suit up!

Me and my dad checking the frames

the smoker

The hive.

Then Finn suited up and helped.

It was really actually pretty cool. I thought I would be terrified, but once I got up there I realized they werent interested in attacking and stinging. They pretty much ignored us.

After we were done with the bees we sat out on the back patio and enjoyed the weather.  Their cat Oliver was outside with us roaming around.  This boy is my buddy.

Towards later afternoon the bluebirds and chickadees started showing off.

Love this camera.

1970's Brick Veneer Backsplash...ADIOS!!

I HATE this stuff.  Pretty sure it was original to the house. This 1972 Brick veneer that they put up with a black concrete mastic type gunk....UGH. This crap is IMPOSSIBLE to get off the seriously..  You can pry it off and chisel it out, but you are looking at replacing all the drywall etc from the holes and gouges it will leave.

So instead of doing all of that, I decided that I actually like the texture of the "brick", just hate the uneven and jaggedy look and the maroon and orang-y color. After looking online (thanks again pinterest), we found an idea that would save us a lot of work and money, but keep us from having that ugly red brick veneer. Im pretty happy how it turned out. Although this was just going to be a temporary solution (eventually I am going to completely redo the backsplash), I really like how it looks now and am considering keeping it.

We went to Home Depot and purchased a large bucket of compound. It is used for mortaring and brick and patching. It is a do-it-all joint compound.  We covered the entire veneer with it and made the bricks a little more even looking.

We did some nice thick layers and it really evened some things out. Just  by adding the plaster, it totally changed the look of the kitchen.

Look at how much brighter. Just plaster.

We let it dry overnight, then sanded to get any swirls or rough edges off.
I then used Primer to coat twice.
this stuff is the bomb!

After letting the primer dry, I then painted with semi gloss paint - this stuff is the best. Mold and mildew resistant, which is great for the kitchen area.

Just by making this one little change, it has brightened up the kitchen immensely. So although I still have the brick veneer on the walls, it is a little more bearable and looks a LOT better. The 4" gap between counter and brick veneer will eventually be filled in with a backsplash, so I am not leaving that empty. We are waiting for our new countertops to do the backsplash properly.

Oh and we also got a new sink and faucet.

Now onto painting, new countertops, backsplash, new hardware and lighting. Getting closer!!

My new Kitchen Pantries- Thanks IKEA Pax Hack!!!

A few months ago I was scouring Pinterest for kitchen storage and pantry ideas, and  I saw a GREAT post about an IKEA Pax Wardrobe used for that purpose . It was so brilliant, and I told my husband I wanted to do it too.  He wasn't really getting the vision as I was trying to explain it, so I showed him that blog post from Jenna Sue Design.  He really liked the look of it and we decided that was the way we wanted to go.
We measured the back wall (which is almost like a little cove, so it was a perfect place to put these wardrobes) and figured out  how many we needed to fill it.  Our Small cove along the one back wall is 101 inches wide and 96" Tall. We realized we could fit in 2 full width pantries(39 3/8") and 1 half width pantry(19 3/8). There would only be 2 1/2 inches left (basically 1 1/4 on each side once centered) that we could fill in with 1 1/4" PVC wall plank for a perfect fit.
We headed up to IKEA to see which set-up we liked best, which baskets and shelves we wanted, which doors we liked blah blah blah. After deciding which ones we liked we decided to order and have delivered. (honestly best 100$ Ive ever spent. No way could we have gotten all that stuff ourselves)
We were going to order and something cam up that delayed our purchase.  Well at the beginning of March the new Ikea ad came out and guess what....they were on sale!! We ended up saving like $150!! (every little bit helps)
Fast Forward 10 whole agonizing days until they were delivered...

Step One...getting all the stuff out of the eating area, measuring the depth and figuring out where to remove crown and base moulding to fit these wardrobes in.

We get the call at 9am that the truck was about 45 minutes from our house and we couldn't wait!!

3 boxes of wardrobes, 5 boxes of doors, 9 shelves, 3 baskets, 2 boxes of was a BIG order.  Even Rusty the cat was interested in helping out.

We open the first one and start to work. Thankfully Ikea furniture is fairly easy and straightforward to put together.  Since this was our first one, it took about an hour . 
1st one up!!

Me for height comparison.  I am 5'11".

The second and third wardrobes went a LOT quicker, since we knew what we were doing.  The middle wardrobe was a half width so it went really smoothly. By the time we got to #3 we were blowing through it. We had them done in about 2 1/2 hours.

As you can see, we live in an old house. The walls, we discovered aren't exactly "level". Well neither are the floors for that matter.  Thankfully These wardrobes are built with levelers, so we were able to manipulate them to get them pretty straight.
You can see the small gap on either side of the pantries. We headed to Lowe's or Home Depot(cant remember which) and purchased 2 of their 8ft long PVC Moulding planks. They were the perfect fit. We adhered them to either side of the wardrobe, and when they had dried we fit the wardrobe into place. These babies are so tight they aren't going ANYWHERE.
We mounted them to the walls, put on the doors and started adding the shelves and baskets etc.
You can see the PVC moulding plank going all the way up to the ceiling. I also added the handles


It took us 14 hours from start to finish.  We ended up going back to Ikea last week and purchasing 3 more shelves and one more small basket for the middle unit. We now have so much room I cant believe it.
We have cleared up SO MUCH storage in our kitchen.  No more shoving everything in the little cabinet space we have, or using a small crummy storage pantry from Big Lots as our food pantry.

So we still have to put crown moulding across the top, but that will happen after we paint the kitchen and replace the moulding everywhere else. i am LOVING this.
Best thing we have ever done for this kitchen (well apart from taking down that tower of terror shelf/oven unit). I finally feel like I am making progress here with this house.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

2014 I hardly knew ye...2015 watch out!!

Its that time of year again. Out with the old and in with the new. I cannot believe how FAST this year had flown by. My year consisted of a whole lot of Carowinds Amusement Park, The Beach, and Work.

Finn graduated from 5th grade and advanced on to Jr. High.  Since Peter started 8th grade this year, they are both in the same school again, albeit only for a year.
Charles Decided to go back to school and has been applying to various Radiological Technician programs in Charlotte.  We should know by March if he has been accepted. Fingers crossed.
I have only gained back a small portion of the weight I lost last year, and that was due to my own negligence.  But, belts have been tightened and salads have been divvied! This year I will get those last stubborn few pounds off.
We started remodeling our kitchen (ourselves). That has been fun. Took out some cabinets to open up the layout .
 Got some new furniture that I have been desperately wanting for 17 years. (its nice to have hand me downs, but it was time to grow up and get my own.)
Finn started playing the viola...that has been an experience.  He also thinks he wants to get into doing Parkour. I have no idea what that means, but he seems pretty adamant about it.  Anything that will get him out and active!
i took up running.  To those who say it gets easier and you learn to love it. you lie.  Although it has gotten easier, I STILL hate it.

So what are my goals this year??  I find that I do better with vague overall well-being goals than deliberate specific resolutions.  With specific measurable resolutions I find myself discouraged when I break one and I think "well whats the point?""I will exercise 3-4 times per week".  Yep, aint gonna happen.
But with more broad goals, it is easier to feel like I am accomplishing something. "get more exercise" is a lot easier for me, because as long as I am doing SOMETHING, it is more than what I was doing.
So this year my thoughts are as follows:

1. Count my blessings a little more often. I want to show more gratitude to my heavenly father, and to those around me. Not just at thanksgiving, but all the time.

2. Making more memories with my loved ones. Time is short. This year at work we lost several clients, and found out that others are going through health crises. These are people I have come to respect, admire and love(almost like family). I don't want those around me to never know how much I love them and should the unthinkable happen, I want happy memories that they can always look back on and remember fun and laughter, yet also love and service.

3. Make healthier lifestyle choices to continue maintaining my weight loss. This means exercising more, getting more sleep, drinking more water, and working harder to keepa large portion of  gluten, dairy and sugar out of my diet. Everything in moderation.

4. Stop worrying about what other people think of me. I need to do what makes me happy and not worry about the talking and gossip. I have been trying to be a more authentic me and not stifle that because they might think I am weird. Yes, I am quirky and eccentric and I need to not be embarrassed of that.To quote Weezer "I don't care what they say about us anyway...I dont care about that"(OKI know that was from The Blue Album in 1994, but it still applies).  

5. Be Nice and Work Hard. Our Regional manager AJ gave us that quote when he came to visit our center ,and I love it. So simple. Just be nice. Always. Work hard. Always. Be the best you can be. 

6. Do not stifle others dreams. My biggest flaw with my kids is not encouraging them to do the things they want to do because "it isn't practical" etc. Finn wants to be a professional skateboarder. Is it practical? No. But he has an interest in it, and who am i to tell him he cant do something. Will he ever be a Tony Hawk or Jamie Thomas? Probably not, but I cant tell him that.Who knows. Maybe he will. If I listened to those who told me no to things I wouldn't have the amazing career that I do. so this year I am encouraging others around me to step outside their comfort zones (MY comfort zone) and DO IT!

and last but not least...
. 7.. BE HAPPY. Men are that they might have joy. If we ask, the Lord will always provide what we need. I know that to be true, i have seen it countless times in my own life. If I am unhappy the Lord has always given me the tools to help me change my circumstances.

Here is to grabbing 2015 by the you know whats and making it the best year ever.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Bernadette. My New Baby. (if you dont like snakes, then look away)

I have wanted a snake for a very long time. It's true. I love snakes. I have never ever been frightened of them, or squeamish about them.  When i was a kid we used to go to a park in Columbus Ohio that had a little nature center and animal sanctuary.I always liked looking at the reptiles and amphibians they had there. One day, I was probably about 6 or 7 we went, and the ranger was in the center with a snake and let us hold him and pet him. I realized that snakes are not slimy, or scaly or gross. If you actually hold and pet a snake they are smooth and dry and are as warm as their habitat is. He didn't try and bite me, he didn't try and constrict me to death, he didn't try and swallow me whole and drag me down to the depths of hell.  He sat there, docile and flicking his tongue at me, trying to figure out what I was and if I was going to hurt HIM. My mother and father were in the corner silently gagging to themselves. they HATE them.
 That day I fell in love with snakes.
Thankfully 15 years later I married a man who loves them as much as I do(I think he does, I hope it's not just an act !)

Why do people hate snakes so  much? I don't understand.  Don't get me wrong, I don't like venomous snakes, and would never mess with one of those.(I can appreciate their beauty and appreciate their contribution to the ecosystem...from afar)
 But these are captive bred DOCILE snakes.   They are not gross. How do you know if you like them or not if you have never held or touched one??  That's like me saying I hate meatloaf but never having tasted it."They strike and hiss and bite".  Well you know, all animals give signals that they are agitated. Know the signals and know when to leave them alone.  Follow their signals and you are good to go..

Well after 17 years of marriage we finally took the plunge and got one.
Our 11 year old has been pestering us for about 2 years now for one and we kept putting it off. I had done a ton of research and we had narrowed it down to Ball Python , King Snake or Corn Snake. All three were good, beginner snake pets, and we had been going to all the various snake shops online to find the kind we wanted. I had a Pinterest board FULL of snake pins of various morphs that we loved.
 So last week we were at PetSmart and saw their reptile habitats were on sale AND they happened to have a Ball Python for sale.  The associate gave us some information about her and said she was probably 3-6 months old and a very sweet temperament. She is about 18 inches long. He gave us a chance to hold her and we all fell in love.  I held her first, and she immediately started smelling me and curling around my wrist and was very comfortable with me.  She was good when we passed her off to my husband, and was immediately curious about him.  The final test was our 11 year old. Although he CLAIMS he loves snakes he tends to get skittish when he is actually confronted with these things.  He took her and she cozied right up to him as well. He was thrilled. This is a snake that is obviously comfortable being handled.
So we ended up getting the 20 Gallon snake habitat plus a few extra things to go in it. We wanted something that was big enough for her to grow into but not too big. We didn't mind starting with a 20 gallon and upgrading at a later date.
We got home and set up the cage and put our girl in there. she went exploring and climbed on her tree, tested out all the hides and habba huts, and then went into her main hiding hole and chilled.
We left her alone and let her get acclimated to her surroundings.

since then we have had a chance to hold her and she loves to curl up around our shoulders and necks and just chill out.
She has eaten too. It was surprisingly easy and she likes frozen fuzzy mice.
She is just the most chill, cool snake. she always looks like she is smiling. Too cute.

I decided that since she was MY snake (with son as co-guardian) and since I was paying for everything, that I would name her. Her name is Bernadette, after the 4 Tops song. Or Miss B. Or Miss Bernadette.  Or Bernie.

She loves her hiding cave!

Hey Y'all

isn't that patterning GORGEOUS!?

Yesterday we went and got more plants and another wood cave and a background cling. Her cage is all pimped out now. That is one happy snake.  Love her. You should too.
Come say Hi to Miss B, you never know, you may just fall in love with her and realize snakes aren't the scary monsters you think they are.