Archive | July, 2010

Before and In Progress: Sunroom

29 Jul

The previous owners of our home enclosed part of their deck and created a sunroom. There’s no way it was ever actually used as such, because the name alone would indicate that the sun was welcome in the room. This was simply not the case. The decor skewed much more toward the sauna-slash-hunting-lodge (popular style) than a sunny spot for reading and after work cocktails.

The original:

Here we see: Knotty pine wood panelling, lovely mauve paint and trim, hunter green mini-blinds in every window and a hunter green curtain on the patio door. I almost feel bad that we ruined such a gorgeous color scheme.

Ah, the power of paint:

Now we have: painted paneling, painted white trim, no window treatments, awesome gold lamp, lots of random furniture with absolutely no purpose. Much prettier though.

This room is not insulated, so it’s raging hot in the summer and bitter cold in the winter. Not a very functional space. Thinking for five minutes about how to fix this room into something cool led me to immediately conduct a search for a new house in our area. I feel like this love-hate relationship has to be typical for home owners.

If I live here long enough, I may attempt to improve the sunroom further. I hope that’s unlikely.



28 Jul

The other day, a friend and I started planning a little vacation together. A vacation that’s say, 12 months away. We like to get a jump on things. I mean, we even graduated early. (Yeah – that part was actually really dumb of us. Don’t judge too harshly.)

Our g-chat planning morphed quickly from “Let’s be frugal and share a room,” to “We definitely need to do the $1500 hot-air balloon experience! And do wine tours on segways! And private spa appointments!” Apparently, we carried on undeterred:

Big J:  must start working out again. must save millions for new cute dresses. must grow hair out for perfect boho look. must practice riding segway in cute dress. must practice taking pictures while on moving segway while wearing cute dress after having 3 glasses of wine. This will be a challenge.
Little J:  hahahaha
must look cute in helmet, while drinking, on segway
Big J:  while taking pictures, while enjoying the scenery, while in comfortable shoes which are also very stylish. Also wearing sunglasses.
Little J:  while looking candid
Big J:  and happy
Little J:  and only slightly tipsy
Big J:  hahahahahaah.
Little J:  while flirting w/ the cop b/c we are getting SEGDUI’s
Big J:  eeeeeeeeekkkk. hahaha
Little J:  must save millions for cute dresses to buy before the trip…plus more millions to spend on vacation and apparently more millions to go on a cruise the very next month
Big J:  and millions for airfare, car rental and misc. shopping!
woo hoo
Little J:  im having anxiety
Big J:  must also have millions of valium!

Weekend, briefly

26 Jul

I left the husband at home and went north for a long weekend with my family. The weather wasn’t perfect, but the relaxation was. As my Dad always says, “This doesn’t suck.”

Not pictured: Banner’s water therapy, boat rides in the rain, kayaking in the rain, happy hour in the rain, Lake Street Market, overload of scones.

Before and In Progress: Living Room

19 Jul

I may have mentioned that our house is a money pit. I may also have mentioned that our neighborhood is full of old people. This is a story of basic cause and effect.

The little old lady who owned this home before us was a widow, and the poor dear didn’t do a lick of upkeep to the homestead. Because of this, our house was the cheapest one on the block. Also because of this, everything inside and outside the house closely resembled crap when we moved in.

On our last walk-through of the house, here was the scene:

Here we see: sister, 15+ year-old carpet, old person smell, oak trim, peach paint on walls, two (count ’em) recessed lights, no other light sources, one really old ceiling fan and an oak mantel. I didn’t like any of these things. Just kidding Leah.

I’m really not sure why we even bought this house in the first place – but we did some work. And used lots of Febreeze. After a year of updates, we’re now here:

Here we now see: Banner, new Pergo flooring (Banner-proof), gardenia candle smell, painted white trim, taupe paint on walls, additional light fixtures, new ceiling fan (with light!), fresh white mantel.

And now I’m a little stuck. You’ll see this is a repetitive problem in my decorating process. I see my house. I see Elle Decor. I get distracted in the next five minutes and direct my actions toward more attainable goals, like pouring a glass of Shiraz.

We’ll work on getting to “after” in a……well, later.

Upgrade for my photos

14 Jul

So, one perk of my job is that I get access to all kinds of free computer software that other people pay upwards of $900 for. Another perk is that we never get raises. Yeah.

A few weeks back, I got a copy of the new Adobe CS5. I had absolutely no reason to get the new version, other than the fact that it was free. However, I take some pretty crap photos, so I knew it really couldn’t hurt.

When I downloaded the previous version (oh yeah, I’m up like $1800 on my employer right now), I bought a tutorial book because I thought I might actually learn to use it. I was wrong. I was overwhelmed. However, CS5 had one feature I thought might be worth the effort. Let me put it this way: You can circle around shit and it disappears. Magic.

This exact tool saved hundreds of my Hawaii pictures where I had to somehow get rid of a small hippie girl who refused to wear a bra on our sailing tour, and came just a nipple away from ruining our family memories. Crisis averted.

Visit: Kauai IV

12 Jul

Almost two weeks post-trip, and I’m still thinking about the delish meals we ate while in Kauai. Definitely makes the mac ‘n cheese we had for dinner tonight look rather crappy in comparison. And this mac ‘n cheese was made with fontina – and heavy cream.

With a Costco on the island (made it feel very homey), we fixed many meals together as a family at the house. So cute. However, we also ventured out for lunch, dinner and dessert – mainly because I was vacationing with freaks who don’t like ice cream or sweets. Or junk food. Sometimes a girl just has to go out on her own to get what she needs.

Eat: Our first meal out was in Poipu Beach for Father’s Day. We ate at the highly recommended Roy’s. It was pricey, but rather wonderful. I had something something crusted mahi.

Someone also recommended Bubba Burger, which boasts the motto: “We cheat tourists, drunks and attorneys.” Being that I fell directly into two of those categories (and on other days, all three), I was somewhat skeptical. And then – the food sucked. So while I did feel vindicated, I also knew I had been swindled. Point again, don’t go to Bubba’s.

Our last night on the island we ate at The Beach House. Easily the best meal of our trip, the restaurant sits right on the coast and overlooks a popular surfing area. Is anyone still reading this?

Didn’t think so. Thus concludes Hawaii reviews, because frankly, I’m tired of thinking about some place so much better than here.

Visit: Kauai III

7 Jul

[See Part I and Part II]

Steve’s mother is a very active person. She can’t watch TV without taking on a secondary project. She enjoys trips. Trips involve reading several guide books and making lots of reservations. A trip is like one constant pre-planned activity.

My activity level once home from work hovers near sloth. I’m not allowed to pay bills because I too often forget. I enjoy vacations. Vacations are full of sleeping in, taking naps, and lazing around by the pool in between. A vacation is like one big Valium.

A compromise was necessary. Two rental cars were reserved.

Do: After plenty of sightseeing and pool time, we went on a ziplining tour at Kauai Backcountry. Seven lines, a few hours and lunch by a freshwater swimming hole. No pictures here. Bulky camera + metal cables + swinging from a canvas harness 250 feet above the ground? Eh, probably would’ve worked.

After a full morning of ziplining, we fell into the tourist trap that is the Hawaiian luau. We went to a luau held at Gaylord’s on the site of a former sugarcane plantation. The luau itself was theatrical, which means that the open bar came in very handy after they started an involved production featuring dancing, chanting and incoherent dialog. I never understood the plot. It was however very entertaining – if only because of the awesome fire dancers.

Surf lessons were also on the agenda for the athletic of the group. We went down to Poipu Beach where the waves were pretty aggressive for the beginner crowd, but clearly the talent in the family was up to the challenge.

Our last full day on the island called for an early morning departure on our Na Pali coast catamaran tour. The scenes were quite amazing (check them out here), but the sailing was a bit rocky for the unprepared. We conquered rolling 15+ foot seas, and only attempted to sail (with the engine running) for a paltry seven minutes or so. Disappointing for a girl who grew up on sailboats, but the tour had other perks. After making our way down the gorgeous coast, we stopped for snorkeling and lunch.

It appears that our family truce was the perfect deal for everyone. My in-laws did MANY other activities, while we spent endless quality hours lying around at the pool or beach, reading trashy novels and enjoying happy hour. Win.

Visit: Kauai II

5 Jul

So Kauai is pretty scenic. “Blue Hawaii,” “Six Days, Seven Nights,” and “Jurassic Park” have all been filmed there. While we were on the island, Johnny Depp and Co. had just arrived to begin filming the newest Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Would have been far more scenic in my book if we’d actually seen Mr. Depp.

See: On Father’s Day, we went up to see Waimea Canyon – a 40 mile round trip up a windy and pot-hole riddled road. After about five minutes of driving, we already had some pretty awesome views of the Pacific over the historic town of Hanapepe. Hana-pepe, ha ha ha ha.

35 minutes, two nearly flat tires and one minor accident avoided, we were at the top of the canyon, looking down on the Na Pali coast.

On our way back down the mountain, we stopped at a little “restaurant” for a quick lunch. The place was rated #1 by Fodor’s in the area – as the ONLY location to get lunch within miles. We were led to believe it was a cute place on the canyon, but the guide books did us way wrong, and it was more like eating at a gas station. With chickens and roosters outside. And undercooked, grey burgers. Not recommended.

Luckily, stopping to see the full canyon after lunch was worth the culinary and driving risks.

On Thursday, we took a sailing trip out to see the Na Pali coast area. Our tour was on a catamaran, and although very little sailing actually occurred, we saw some of the really beautiful rocks and stuff. And other stuff.

Our last day, before boarding the red-eye, we walked over to see Spouting Horn. It’s basically a rock formation on the water, where holes have worn into the rocks, and waves coming into shore create geysers. Cool.

Quite lovely right? I may not have mentioned this before – but Hawaii is much prettier than Indiana. Just in case you were debating between the two as a vacation spot.

See Part I here.


2 Jul

My favorite holiday is upon us. Hoping your patriotic weekend is full of good friends and good times.

I’ll be in Chicago, for fireworks on the lake. Cannot be beat.

You’re Welcome

1 Jul

I came uncomfortably close to peeing on the couch reading this stuff.

Hyperbole and a Half