Monday, October 10, 2016

Aloha Kauai: Day 1

I know I am not the most consistent blogger, but one of the reasons I've been missing lately is we finally got around to taking a nice, relaxing vacation. A full week on the North Shore of Kauai. It was amazingly beautiful and I miss it just thinking about it.

We've been to Hawaii before, but this time was different for two reasons: 1) we chose Kauai instead of Oahu and 2) we tried AirBnb for the first time.

Last time, we stayed Turtle Bay and had a lovely time, but in looking back, our favorite moments we outside of the hotel. We ran the numbers and realized that having a beach house to ourselves for a week was slightly cheaper than staying in a nice hotel, so I talked Dan into it.

This was the beautiful beach house. Technically, it wasn't on the beach, but it was house, then street, than beach. When it's a sixty second walk across the front yard to a beach, it counts as a beach house.

The waves weren't safe for swimming on our beach, but they were safe enough to wade through almost every morning.

Another great feature of the beach house was the two horses that lived next door. I don't really understand it, but I think it's a big thing there to let livestock graze on properties to keep the grass and weeds down. This was the view from the kitchen. Seriously, paradise.

The other part of the trip that was awesomely unexpected was the upgrade of our rental car to a Jeep. My husband is a Jeep man. He's got a great '91 YJ that he's had since high school. The fact that we got a free upgrade to a Jeep was the cherry on top for him. And he got to spend the trip attempting to talk up the hard-top Jeep so he can upgrade his own.

Most of the first day we spent settling in and stocking up on groceries at the local Foodland. I'll slowly go through our whole trip, but it'll be a while, like the Mexican food we ordered from Federico's as our first meal on the island. Seriously, my chimichanga took forever...

Monday, September 12, 2016

Mini Trip to Minneapolis

A couple of weeks ago, I took a trip to Minneapolis, for business. Due to flight delays, working on my feet for eight to ten hours straight, and pure exhaustion, we didn't get to venture out much. One of my favorite coworkers and I stayed in the heart of downtown, but we didn't see much other than the customer we were sent to see and restaurants. Very good food, but that was the sum of the trip.

I did manage to remember to take one picture of the downtown skyline from within. It was much more modern and developed than I anticipated. Sorry stereotypes.

I don't know what that building is, but it sure is pretty.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Project House Update: Five Years

Last week, Facebook reminded me of a memory from five years ago: the day we moved into our house. Accompanying it was an album of pictures my husband had taken before we moved in. A collection of images of our house empty and in its original state.

Every year I post the List, a list of all the updates to the house we've managed to accomplish in the past year. However, that doesn't deliver the full impact of how far things have come. So let's break down, room by room, how things have changed. {Sidenote: I was going to clean beforehand, you know, to pretend we don't actually live in our house. But screw that. This is how most of it is on a daily basis. So sue me.} {Second sidenote: A lot of these angles don't show off how much our house has truly changed, but let's just stick to a one-to-one comparison.}

The Entryway

We removed the base boards, painted, and are in the midst of transforming the chandelier. It will eventually be much fancier, but we are lazy, so it is what it is for now. One day, when we install new floors, we'll add new base boards back into the mix.

The Front Room

The best changes to this room is the new floors and the new facade on the fireplace. Just removing that old, tile border around the room made a huge difference. Finishing the mantle is still on the list, but the existing Mexican tiles almost go with the slate tiles below them.

The Living Room

This is the room we actually live in. While it's much better than it was when we moved in, it's definitely more functional than form.

The Kitchen

Same here as with the Living Room. It's been a useful room and that's the problem. When a room is as important as the kitchen, it's a pain in the ass to really work on it.

The Master Bedroom

I love the difference some paint and art can make. And candles. I love those candles.

The Master Bathroom and Closet

Other than the new frosted door, the only difference here is stuff.

The Blue Bathroom

Well...we're working on it. I swear.

The Den

The best change in this room is by far the little fluffy one who is obsessed with that new desk.

The Garage

I rarely share the garage since it seems to always be a work in progress/a hot mess, but Dan's done a really good job with it. Gray, yellow, and black: his colors, if you couldn't tell from the Jeep.

The Backyard

It could be argued that the backyard is actually worse than when we moved in. The pool filter basically imploded a few weeks ago and we're still trying to clean the green water up. Also, I am against herbicides so the weeds are winning the battle, but so what? It's good enough for Turtle and for parties so it's good enough for me.

I still can't believe it's been five years. Back then, I would have sworn than we would have been farther along, but if five years has taught me anything, it's that I knew nothing about home-ownership five years ago. We're getting there, but what's the rush?

Monday, August 8, 2016

Why Not Spokane?

Last week, my mom, my sister, and I took a trip to the great city of Spokane. Over the past year, a bunch of our extend family decided to all relocate to Spokane. And now that they've settled in, we expected them to host us. We spent the week reconnecting with my grandmother, aunt, cousins, and cousin babies (like second cousins or something? I don't know) and exploring Spokane.

My aunt's house was fairly close to the Spokane River that we would walk down to it in the evenings. Compared to the desert, this was something completely foreign to me. Trees, green, water. It was great.

We even saw some sort of water critter. {Sidenote: Mom, sorry to include this video. I love your commentary. If you want me to remove it, I will.}


Another foreign concept was enjoying meals out on the deck without instantly exploding into flames. Mojo was sad that I wouldn't share my breakfast with him.

While we did enjoy our down time to chill and catch up, my aunt tried to fill each day with some sort of experience. Day one was a visit to Lake Couer d'Alene, right across the Idaho border. We started down some of the trials around the lake and the kids splashed in the water. It was a beautiful and peaceful spot.

Our second day was full of the best peaches I've ever had. Apparently Spokane has a whole pick-your-own produce suburb of town. It's a loop drive full of farms that have almost every time of produce and late July/early August is peach season. I was so happy because peaches are my favorite fruit and it's so hard to get good peaches in Tucson. Ninety-five percent of the time, they're either rock hard or mealy. So we packed everybody up and headed off to the farm. We rode a tractor out to the peach orchard and filled four boxes full of peaches and apricots. We ate peaches straight from the tree. I don't know how my cousin's four year old did it, but she must have had at least four peaches. She would walk through the lines of trees with a peach in one hand and my sister's hand in the other. It was one of the cutest things I've seen in a long time, kid wise. After filling up on fruit, we spent a good amount of time petting sheep, playing in a gravel pit/sand box thing, and sliding down the world's most uncomfortable slide. Eventually, we worked out a system where my sister would load my cousin's kids at the top of the slide and I would catch them as they shot out of the bottom. Top it off with some fresh peach lemonade and it was a great day. And an evening of board games. My Catan luck has been terrible lately. No matter how good the odds, my numbers never come up.

On our last day, we 'rafted' the Spokane River. For some odd reason, my aunt decided as soon as we arrived that we should take a rafting trip down the Spokane. Of course, she didn't want to join us, but the three of us and my cousin would love it. On the way back from peach picking, we stopped at Target to stock up on supplies, like water-wicking clothes. When we returned home to book our trip, the trip we wanted to book was all full up. It took a couple of tries, but we finally got ourselves signed up for a raft. We would have been so embarrassed if we'd excitedly bought all these new clothes and couldn't catch a raft.

Because it was late in the summer, all the winter run-off had already occurred so the water level in the river was really low. Low enough so that you really couldn't call what we did 'rafting'. It was more like a leisurely five mile float where we occasionally paddled when all momentum was lost. Not that I'm complaining, it was a great time. We saw an otter and an osprey, not at the same time. We splashed in the cool, clear water. We tried to interpret the meanings of the graffiti on the bridges we floated under. We did survive some low, slow rapids, so I can say I've white water rafted, but only in the most official sense.

It was a great trip. Next time, we'll definitely be more prepared for all the outdoorsy-ness of it, but we survived.