Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Backsplash - Take One

Oh my, it's been quite some time since I've updated everyone.  We've been busy since J has finished up school for the semester.  He says he's bored without homework, so he has to keep himself busy.  I'm not complaining, we're getting a bunch of projects done.

This weekend, we finally got around to the working on the backsplash in the kitchen.  Woohoo, new tile in our kitchen.

This was something new for the both of us.  I've helped my mom lay tile before, but not glass and/or slate tile.  And J has never done anything like this.  It was a scary, but exciting project.

First the old tile had to come down.  There's J pulling all the old tile down.  I know, the countertops were not covered before he started.  He sort of jumped into it before I could put anything down.  That's okay, we were careful and it wasn't scratched.

We used the good ol' hammer and crow bar method of taking down the old tile.  We have a rotary tool that has a tile blade, but it was useless on this project.  You see, the last owners glued the tile to the wall.

Yup, that's liquid nails right there.  Not thinset, but liquid nails.  I'm not sure why they did it this way, but they did, so we had to deal with it.  We took the tiles off the wall as carefully as we could because if we didn't, it took the whole wall with them.  We didn't want to replace the wall if we didn't have too, but we were ready with new cement board if we had too.

Look at J cleaning up.  Taking down the tile only took an hour or so.  Not that bad of a job.  I worked on my garden while J did this.  He likes the demo part of projects, so I just let him go.

After we got all the old tile down, we had to prep the wall.  We scraped and sanded all the old glue off of it without damaging the wall behind it.

I worked on smoothing out the wall on day two while J measured and cut all the tile.  Making sure the wall was as smooth as we could get it.

Luckily, J's dad owns a nice tile saw, so that made cutting the tile an easy job.  We tired a bunch of different methods for cutting the glass tile.  We used a diamond blade on a angle grinder, a tile nippers, and then the tile saw with a diamond blade.  The saw won out.

We taped the tile on the side that we would be using to decrease the amount of chipping.  And away we went.  It made the job so easy.  I'm in love with that tile saw.  Maybe we should keep it.  I mean we'll have to do the downstairs bathroom soon enough.  ;-)

On day three we ran to Home Depot to pick up something called SimpleMat.  You use that instead of using thinset, it's like double sided tape for tile.  J thought it would work better then thinset, but the tile guy at the store thought otherwise.  I just stayed quiet, because I knew thinset would work just fine.  So back home it was to lay the tile.  

And after a few hours, we had this.  Sorry for the dark picture, it was around 9:30 pm when we finished.  It was also a dark and gloomy day filled with thunder storms.  But it was bright and exciting in the house.  We were so excited with how it looked.  I mean look at it.  It looks great.

We will be grouting later in the week.  I'll make sure to get some pictures of that as well.  I'm just so happy with how it looks right now.  The tile is the finishing touch on the kitchen.  Our kitchen no looks like it's modern and not from the 1950s.  Who knew that a new counter top, a little bit of staining, and some tile would make such a large difference.

And this is what Nacho thought of the whole process.  She spent most of the time out on the sun porch (when it wasn't 90+ degrees out) looking angry.  Maybe it's because she was sitting on our ugly chair.  No I'm pretty sure it was the noise and mess.  She hates when things are like this.  It makes her cranky.  But even she likes how the new tile looks.


And don't forget to stop by my other blog and enter my giveaway.  You could win this wonderful beaded pendent.  The giveaway ends tomorrow at midnight (central). What are you waiting for?  Go enter today.

Monday, May 21, 2012

J's Birthday!

This past weekend was J's birthday.  It was also the first weekend since he finished up class for the semester.  So I told him we could do anything he wanted.  It was all up to him.  And surprisingly he didn't want to do remodeling stuff.  I don't know what's wrong with him.  He wanted to have fun.  I think putting in a backsplash sounds like a lot of fun, but it was his birthday, so I let him decide what was fun.  ;-)

On Friday we sat at The Terrace and had beer.  This was also the last day my friend would be in town until next semester, so we celebrated double.  My boss took us all out for dinner at a local Mexican restaurant.  It was a fun afternoon filled with laughs and good times.  It was busy at The Terrace due to graduation, but the weather couldn't have been more perfect and the company better.

On Saturday, we got up early to get a start on the day.  It was another beautiful day here in WI.  The sun was shining without a cloud in the sky.  Okay, it was a little on the warm side for me, but I hate the hot weather.  We started our day with some caffeinated fuel.

I got J this cute little tea steeper.  It's a little robot that holds onto the sides of the mug.  I love it so much I wish I would have ordered one for myself.  Isn't he cute?

After making some coffee of J and tea for me, we set out to hit up some garage sales.  We didn't get much, just a few books and a pump for a fountain project, look for that in the future.  But it was fun looking and spending time together.

We then took a little trip to the east side of town to get a light early lunch and go to Sears.  Yes, both me and J enjoy a trip to Sears.  And it doesn't hurt that I have a $150 worth of member points burning a hole in my pocket.  But we held off on buying anything to do a little research.  Hey, we're nerds, we can't help it.

After a little shopping on the east side we headed downtown.  We parked the car and walked around the square and all the way down State St. (yes it has it's own Wiki page), hitting up every record store on the way.  J loves vinyl.  Just thumbing through all the records makes him happy.  We also hit up a used book store, where surprise surprise, J picked up a number of records.

We strolled down to The Terrace, only to find it overrun with graduates and their families, so that was a no go.

Dinner was outstanding.  We went to a ramen and dumpling bar called Umami.  It was our first time there and it won't be our last.  We got the chilled tofu, veggie dumplings (large order) and two bowls of ramen.  It was amazing.  I was going to take pictures of our food, but we ate it before the camera could even come out.  The next time we go I'll make sure to snap a few pictures.

Sunday was more laid back.  J went to his parents with little Yoda in tow.  I stayed home and made cupcakes.  Oh yeah.  It's not a birthday without cake or cupcakes.

I made angel food cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.  Oh my, that sounds like heaven.  I added a little bit of food coloring to the frosting to make it look a little marbled.

My frosting technique gets better with every try.  I was pretty pleased with how these turned out.  Not too bad for only my second try.  I hope they were a hit at J's work.  I really hope there are some left over, but I'm not holding my breath.

How was everyone else's weekend?  I hope it was as sunny and filled with happiness as mine.  


Don't forget to stop by my Three Fates Design Blog for a chance to win this great beaded pendent.  The giveaway ends on May 31st, so get over there and enter today.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Getting Ready To Garden

Last night was an interesting one.  First I have been babysitting an intern in the lab, which means I have been working 10-11 hrs everyday (plus an hr on the bus each way).  Then last night as I was trying to get out of the lab at a reasonable time, I missed the bus.  At the time it wasn't a big deal.  It was nice out and waiting an extra 30 minutes wasn't the worse thing in the world.  But then once I did get on the bus, it overheated and I ended up having to walk 6-7 blocks home.  And of course about one or two blocks before I got home, the wind picked up and it started to downpour.  So I picked up the pace and got my butt home, only to remember that I didn't have my keys.  So I sat down on the back porch and waited for J to come home.  Not a horrible night, but definitely not what I had planned.  Oh well, I survived.

But enough about my simple annoyances.  Lets talk about something important, something like gardening.

I hope this is what my harvest will look like
Now I am by no means a professional gardener, this is only my second year with a "real" garden.  But I like to think that I'm doing a pretty good job.  My garlic is growing big and my snow peas look healthy.  My seedlings are getting big and except for my basil, all of them have sprouted and seem to be flourishing.

But I've been reading about this Square Foot Gardening.  Where you build small raised beds (check) and don't grow in rows but in little square foot sections (check).  This way you are supposed to get more plants in a much smaller space then a traditional row garden.  In a way, I grew my veggies this way last year.

The Square Foot Garden uses no soil, but a combination of compost, peat moss, and vermiculite.  This I have not been doing.  But I'm thinking about trying it in the two unfilled beds.  From what I read, this combination is easier for roots to take hold, holds moisture better, and naturally fertilizes the plants.

It makes sense and sounds like it's easy enough to do.  I like the way that you divide the garden into square feet, which makes it easier to plan out the garden.   

Has anyone tried this before?  Does it work as wonderfully as they say it does?  I would love to try it, especially if it will make my garden strong and fruitful.  Let me know if you have tried it and if you have any suggestions.


Don't forget to stop by my other blog to enter my giveaway.  You could win a beautiful beaded pendent.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Like New Flower Pots

When we bought our house last year, the previous owners left a few flower pots in the shed.  They weren't anything special.  Just those plastic pots that were meant to look like terracotta.  They were in pretty rough shape; faded and scratch from years of abuse.  I was going to just toss them, but thought it was a little bit of a waste since they were still perfectly functional flower pots.

So I decided I would make them over in one way or another.

Here is what they looked like before I dressed them up.  Pretty sun faded and not the prettiest things to look at.  But that's all going to change.

Here is my weapon of choice.  Krylon for plastic.  This one was hammered copper finish.  Oh yes please.  I love Krylon paints.  I know a lot of people are loyal to other brands, but I have had the best luck with Krylon.  J always tells me that all the street artists use Krylon for a reason, it's the best spray paint around.

I first washed the pots with a little soapy water to get the years of dirt and grime off of them.  Then I wiped them down with alcohol to remove any built up oils.  They dried in the sun for a few hours.

Then I went to town painting them.

Here is what it looked like after one very light coat of paint.  I had to be very careful with this one because I had parsley growing (from last year) in it.  I covered all the soil and the little plant with a few layers of paper so no paint would get on it.  The other pot I painted was empty, so it was a lot easier to do.

And a few layers later (you only have to wait a few minutes between coats with Krylon) and a 24 hrs of drying time, I had this.

They look so much better.  J actually thought I had gone and bought a few of the metal pots they have for sale at Menards.  Nope, just a little bit of elbow grease and some spay paint. 

I planted some of my birthday flowers in this one and put it next to the garage.  The other pot has parsley and dill planted in it.  They both look so nice.

I love simple projects like these.  Just an hour or two of my time and it's finished.  Now if only all of our projects could be this easy.

In other news, I've been summoned for jury duty again.  This will be the third time in three years.  All I want is time when I'm not on that list to be summoned.  I know that it is my civic duty to go, but come on, why am I summoned every year and others are never, ever called?  And why can't they take the people that want to do it or love to do it first?  Then ask the rest of us to go.  I am just worried that my 3 second attention span will hinder my ability to sit through a trial.  I'm sure I won't need to go, because I believe you only have to do it once in a four year time span, but I'm still annoyed with all the letters I get.  And if I have to go, I'll go and do my duty as a citizen.  I just won't be extremely happy to be there.

And for good news, J is done with class for the semester.  That means he's on summer vacation, sort of.  He still has to work, but no classes, no meetings, no homework.  Yay!  He made it through another semester.  Only three more years to go.  But I know he can do it.  He's a smarty pants.  Now to plan some fun things this summer to help him unwind.  Any suggestions?   

Monday, May 14, 2012

Flower Power!

I got some monies for my birthday from the in-laws, a week late, but I forgave them ;-)  Now I could save this money or go buy boring groceries with it, but why would I want to do these things?  I went out and bought some of my favorite things.  FLOWERS.  I drug the flower pots out this last Sunday, just in time for a huge thunderstorm, and placed them in the front flower bed.

I'm using my pots out front this year because we plan on painting the house, and I don't want my precious flowers trampled while doing this.  If they are in pots, then I can just move them, and then move them back once we're done.  Always thinking, I am.  

But back to the pots and flowers.  The pots looked so bare and sad.  They definitely needed a little pick me up.  So I took my birthday money (yes, you never get too old to enjoy birthday money), and went to Menards to raid they're garden center.

I knew they had a bunch of annuals and perennials on sale, so I was an excited girl.  I have always loved flowers, but have never even attempted to plant any until we bought the house.  And after my successful attempt last year, I'm more then ready to get some new ones going.

I picked up some creeping phlox for the front corner of the lawn.  This was planted in the ground, but I'm hoping we can be careful around them when we paint.  I love the way these look.  I also hope they don't over run my mums I planted last fall.

I picked up some hens and chicks.  I love these.  I'm not sure what I'm going to do with them yet.  Maybe a hanging basket or one of those pots with the holes in the sides.

Those are my garlic chives in the pot behind the hens and chicks.  They are 3 or 4 years old and come back every spring a little bit bigger then the last.  We never have a a shortage of chives here.

I also got these awesome Fuchsias.  They are called Dark Eyes because they have a dark purple center.  I saw them and had to have them.  I'm hoping they fill out this basket and there is waterfall of pink and purple flowers.

I picked up a variety of different flowers, including pansies, begonias, violets, and inpatients.  I got some spikes as well.  I love the way these look in containers.  They just add so much depth to the pot.

I filled the hanging baskets with different colors and types of flowers.  This seemed to work for me last year.  All of my flower pots were over flowing with color.  Lets hope I can do that again this year.

And my birthday gift to myself was this pot full of Calla lilies.  I love lilies and calla lilies are my favorite.  I've never had luck with calla lilies in the past, but this year, I'm determined to keep them healthy all year and then have them come back next year.  We'll see how well this works.

So this is how the front looks right now.  Actually I added another large pot since I took these pictures, but it looks generally the same.  My gladiolas are coming up and I hope they bloom this year.  Last year I didn't get any flowers, sad face.  And in a few weeks, I'm hoping all my pots are overflowing with color.

And hopefully next year we'll be tackling the landscaping in both the front and back yards.  Then I can start planting more permanent plants and fill our deck with all the potted plants.  Woohoo.

Happy Monday!

Friday, May 11, 2012


Boy do I hate when I see those three letters, and I hate them even more when they are spewed from someone's mouth, but that was before.  Before yesterday's talk on campus.  I got to see an hour plus talk by the one and only, Neil deGrasse Tyson.  Now I see why someone would want to type OMG(that was the one and only time I'll ever type that).  :-)

It was a fantastic talk.  Well it should be, I mean he's probably the smartest, coolest astrophysicist on earth.  Maybe the smartest, coolest PERSON on earth.  Now I don't know that for sure, I haven't met everyone on earth.     

The Terrace on Lake Mendota, UW Madison
The talk was part of the Distinguished Lecture Series and he was the Senior Class Speaker.  And to make it even better, it was at The Terrace as the Memorial Union.  We couldn't have asked for better weather.  It was sunny and 70s.  Perfect.

Now if you've made it this far and don't know who I'm talking about, you should be ashamed of yourself.  Okay, I'm overreacting, not everyone's hip to space and physics.  But I recommend learning more about this great man.  He has written a number of books and articles.  You can also find many talks and speeches on YouTube.  He's pretty awesome.

But back to the talk.  I left work extremely early to make sure I got a good seat.  Don't judge me, I'm a scientist, I get to go to talks all the time at work.  It furthers our knowledge.  And technically I just left the lab, not work.  The talk was on campus.  And I had my computer with me.  See, still an awesome employee.

Then I begged J to try and get off of work early to come and join me.  I knew he wouldn't want to miss this.  And really physics is much more related to engineering then biology.  Details.

He talked about the importance of science to our country and economy.  He talked about space exploration.  He talked about how the space program is not just important to physics, but to every line of science and beyond.  He is funny and intelligent and I could have listened to him talk for hours.

His Q&A was fantastic.  He wouldn't let anyone start off their question with "Um." Which I admire a bit, even though I know I'm guilty of it myself. 

It was packed.  I got there around 1:30 and there was no where to sit.  I sat on the ground to eat my lunch.  I was just amazed at how many people showed up.  There were even a couple of grade school age kids there.  The one was so excited he was throwing up rock signs.  Then the one got to ask a question and total froze.  Hell I would have froze too if I got to talk to Neil deGrasse Tyson.  But it's fantastic to see that many people show up to see an astrophysicist talk.

One of my favorite things he said was, “The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.”

I leave you with a video of not NdGT speaking, but of his answer to the question "What is the most astounding fact you can share with us about the Universe?"

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Not much going on here!

So I don't have much for the day.  It's been a long week already at work and not much has gotten done around the house.  I've been beading a lot and waiting for J's semester to be finished (which is next week, Yay!) 

As much as I want my studio to be completely done, I just don't have the motivation right now.  I guess I lost steam.

But I did get a shelf painted and put up the other day.  That's something, right?

I'm really loving the bright blue I picked out for the shelves and furniture.  I think it has a nice pop on the light walls.  Now I just need to convince myself to finish painting the rest of the selves so I can get all my beads off my work area. 

In other house news, I'm hoping to get some flowers planted outside and maybe get the top soil delivered in the next couple weeks, so I can transplant my seedlings.  It looks like everything came up, so it's going to be a fantastic summer for produce.  Yay! 

But for now I'm going to go cuddle up on the couch with little pug pug and watch some tv.  Like I said, it's been a long week already. 

Take care and never stop being creative :-)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

B-day/Anniversary Update Number Two

Now that I've got all the food talk out of the way yesterday, I can move on to some other things.  Like what J got me and then how I ended up almost loosing a finger (not because my gift, just plain stupidity on my part).  I wanted to talk about our Ikea trip, but that will have to wait for another post.  Then I can show you the light we got for the back room.  You have no idea how much I'm in love with the new light.  I've wanted since the first time I laid eyes on it. 
But enough about that.  Here is what I got this past weekend.  I got me a new Kitchenaid stand mixer. Oh yeah baby. 

Well it wasn't a surprise gift.  I had been talking for a while on getting a new mixer, but was waiting for a deal.  And Sears just happen to have a awesome deal for there rewards members, so J went and picked it up for me.  I love getting kitchen gadgets.  And yes, I already had a Kitchenaid stand mixer that was just fine, but this one is bigger and more heavy duty.  And as J likes to point out, it matches the food processor (and I thought I was the one with OCD).  The first thing I made in it, Cupcakes.  Yum!!!
I also got this little guy.  I love getting and giving plants as gifts.  I think it's something that different and thoughtful.  He needs to be planted in his new pot, but he still looks pretty cute.  Oh and in less then three days, Toonces found where I was hiding him and snacked on almost every leaf.  I love plants, but they are almost impossible to keep in our house.  

And now on to the not so fun part of the weekend.  Yup, I almost chopped the tip of my thumb off.  How you ask, well like I said earlier, pure stupidity.

On Friday I had off work, so I decided to get a jump start on some late spring cleaning.  I took my lovely thrift store candle holders and cleaned them using the aluminum foil and baking soda trick.  It worked perfectly.  The tarnish came right off.  I mean look at them, beautiful.

Then while I was cleaning them, I cut my finger open on the rough edge of the base.  It bled and I was unhappy, but that was nothing like what I was going to do on Sunday.

I decided on Sunday to slice my thumb open.  I was getting a new chef's knife out of the package while talking to J.  You know, totally distracted from what I was doing.  I was having difficulty get the knife out, and all of a sudden, the knife popped out of the box and slide right down my thumb.  I guess it was good to know that the new knife was sharp.  Very, very very, sharp.    
If you don't like things like open wounds and blood, I suggest you look away now.

This picture doesn't do it justice, it was taken the day after it happened, so it was already starting to heal.  It's not the worst wound I've had, spitting my forehead open was much worse, but it was pretty bad.  It took all night for the bleeding to stop, and every time I changed the dressing, it would start to bleed again.  My thumb swelled and it turned black and blue eventually.  And my finger isn't full of hair, that is just fuzz from the gauze, it washed right off.  I've iced it and cleaned it daily.  It has started to scab over and heal up already.  It made me realize how often I use my thumb on my left hand.  Especially since I am very ambidextrous. 

But boy was that a scary moment, I thought we were going to have a late night ER trip, now that's a good birthday and anniversary. 

"What did you do for your birthday and anniversary?" 
"Oh nothing, just got into a knife fight and got stitches in my hand.  No big deal."  

That's what I would tell people.  I would embellish with the knife fight story, because telling someone that you weren't paying attention while opening the box of a new knife, doesn't sound as thrilling.      

It has put me out of commission on all projects.  But as soon as it's healed, I'm on house stuff like flies on honey!

Well that was a wrap up of our long weekend here.  Now I'm off.  Take care and remember to always stay creative!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Spring Storms and Birthdays

Well the strange weather of the Midwest is here a again.  We already had an extremely warm early spring, and now the storms are upon us.  It looks like we'll be having thunder storms for the next two days and 80+ degree days.  This just after a rainy, cold (50s) weekend.  But what did I expect?  My birthday always falls on a weekend that is cold and rainy or unseasonably warm.  Yes, my birthday was this past weekend, as well as our 8 year anniversary.  I can't believe it's been 8 years already.  Not that it's bad, just that time has soon flown by.

Cheese Curds - Pic from
We didn't do anything that special, per my request.  I have been super stressed out at work (can we say anxiety attacks), so I just wanted to lay low and relax.  We took a long weekend and went out to dinner most nights, which we don't normally do.  We had a delicious dinner at The Old Fashioned here in Madison.  I highly recommend if you are ever in Madison so stop by the capital and eat at the Old Fashioned.  The food is spectacular and the beer selection is fantastic.  They have the BEST cheese curds around.  And the atmosphere is fun and festive (okay, it's loud, very loud).  And if you've tasted all the micro-brews, go for a Wisconsin Beer Bomb, which is a PBR in a chalice with a pickled egg in it.  You heard me, a pickled egg.  You gotta love WI.   Be warned, there will be a wait, there is always a wait, sometiems a long wait, but it is so worth it.  Once you try it, you'll be back.  Again and again.            

Not the mall we went to
We also took a day trip to Chicago to go shopping and just hang out together.  It was nice to just hang out and not have any set plans.  And then my favorite thing of the whole weekend, we stopped and got stuffed pizza.  Oh my, there is nothing like a Chicago stuffed pizza.  This is not deep dish we're talking about, this is a huge cheese stuffed pizza.  Oh my, I was in heaven.  We got a spinach one to go because it was already late and the rain had started, so we wanted to get home.  Madison has some fantastic food, almost all of it fresh and local, but they just don't have a stuffed pizza that comes close to what you get in Chicago.  If I miss my home town for anything, it's probably the food.  I miss more, but I miss the food the most.  Especially the pizza and the hot beef sandwiches.  Oh and the hotdogs.  Okay, I need to stop before I go on forever about the food.  And in case you're wondering, we do plan our trips back around food.  Who doesn't do that?            


That was how we spent my b-day. Nothing exciting, just the two of us hanging out. Something that we don't always have time to do. There are a few more things that happened this past weekend, but I'll save that for tomorrow.  I know you'll never be able to focus after looking at all that delicious food.  And I may have injured myself, and well, we wouldn't want to mix those pictures with food pictures. That would ruin the experience.

Take care and never stop being creative.