Tuesday, April 30, 2013

It's Official!

Yesterday I turned 30.  My 20s are a thing of a past and that's okay.  I had a pretty fun birthday weekend.  I got to do some gardening on Saturday.  I planted some basil, broccoli, snow peas, onions, carrots, leaf lettuce, and kohlrabi.  I can't wait for my garden this year.  The drought here in WI is officially over, so hopefully my garden will be full of fruits and veggies this year and not wither and die like last year.  Okay, my tomatoes and peppers did fine last year, but the rest of my plants were a sad sight.  This year I'm hoping to be able to donate some of the veggies to a food pantry.  I'm (hopefully) going to donate to Plant a Row.  It's a program that encourages gardeners to plant an extra row in there garden to donate to the hungry and less fortunate.  A lot of communities have a program like this, so if you have a garden, you should check it out and donate some of your extra produce.

But back to this past birthday weekend.  We also took a day trip to Chicago to go to the Brookfield Zoo.  I haven't been there in a long time and J's never been there.  It was a little overcast, but the weather cooperated and we didn't get rain.  I had a lot of fun, even if the feathers and scales house was closed (as well as Australia house).    

We got up close and personal with this little guy.  The peacock was putting on a show for everyone, but no one even noticed this little guinea fowl.  I was standing a few inches from him (or her, I'm not sure) snapping pictures.

Normally J doesn't like apes, I know, weird right, but he did enjoy the Tropical House.  If you ever stop by the Brookfield Zoo, make sure not to miss the Tropical House.  It's one of my favorites.  It was nap time when we went through, so the gorillas were all napping.  You can see this one was a little on the cranky side because people were disturbing her sleep.

It's always nap time during midday, so a lot of the animals were sleeping when we saw them, but what's cutter then a sleeping bear that is cuddle up on some straw?  Not much.

Okay, maybe a sleepy snow leopard might be cuter.  She was curled up right by the window enjoying a little siesta.

The giraffes were not sleeping, they were all out enjoying the nice warm weather.  This one was right at the gate.  I love me some giraffes.  

They even had a little baby.  Oh my god was she cute.  Just hanging out with all of the other giraffes.

The zoo trip did make me realize that I needed a zoom lens, so I went home and may have bought myself a birthday present (It was a used lens, so it wasn't too bad in price).  So look for some new zoom shots in the future.  I can't wait to use it.  I also may have bought myself an extension ring for macro shots.  I'm still waiting to buy my Nifty Fifty.  That is my goal lens for my first show.  If I make at least $150, I will buy myself a Nifty Fifty.  So everyone come out and buy some gifts for mother's day (shameless self promotion).

I enjoyed so much delicious food this past weekend.  We picked up a half baked stuffed pizza on our way home and then went out for sushi.  Yum, sushi.  We had some amazing rolls and we splurged a little bit because it was my birthday (and our anniversary.  We've been together for 9 years now).

The pizza was for Monday, which we both took off to rest a little and get some things done around the house.  We're having a party this coming weekend, so we had a few things that needed to finish up.  J's birthday and end of the semester is only couple of weeks away, so we decided to celebrate with our friends.      

I hope everyone else had just as great weekend as I did.  I'll be posting our April accomplishments tomorrow and then our May goals soon.  And like I said, get ready to see a lot more pictures.  My photography and photoshop classes are going great, so I'm eager to show off my skills (none of the photos above have been edited, I just didn't have time).

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Deck vs Patio

Let's take a break from bar updates.  Don't worry, I have new pictures I'll share with you soon.  :-)

One of our goals this summer is to get the backyard caught up with the rest of the house.  We have done absolutely nothing with the yard.  Okay, we did get my raised gardens built, but other then that, we've done nothing.  But this summer that will change.  We will be working on the outside of the house.  I promise you that.

We've been going back and forth with what we want to do out there.  Do we want to build a wrap around deck?  Do we want to build a stone patio with a built in fire pit?  Do we want to somehow do both?  So we decided to look at the pros and cons of each.


  • cheaper
  • easier to build
  • could build over the "flower box" and tree stump
  • wouldn't require as much planning
  • would need a building permit and inspections
  • not as visually beautiful as a stone patio
  • would have to put the fire pit farther out in the lab or not have one at all
  • would require staining/sealing every other year or so


  • would last a long time
  • would be beautiful
  • could build the fire pit and benches right in
  • no building permit needed

  • very expensive
  • very time consuming
  • would have to rip out the "flower box" behind the house
  • would have to find a place for all the rocks under the current deck
  • would have to rip out the tree stump
  • would require a bit of planning since we would like a pattern (herringbone please) 
  • Did I mention how expensive this would be!!!!!

We have gone back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.  We would love a nice big stone patio in a beautiful herringbone pattern with a built in fire pit.  Just think of how many summer parties we could throw? But when I say big, it would be big.  It would wrap around the back of the house, which means it would be EXPENSIVE!!!!  It also would be a lot of work.  We would need to remove everything that's already back there and then level everything, add sand, well you get the point.  But it would be absolutely beautiful.  

But we also discussed that this is not the house we will be growing old in.  We never planned on it being.  Once J is done with grad school, we might have to move far away from WI (we hope it's the west coast or maybe Europe).  And even if we don't move away from WI when he's done, we sort of planned on looking for a new house anyway.  So would all the time and  money that would go into a stone patio be worth it just to enjoy is for two years?  And then we would have to do it all over again where ever we move to.  Would it be worth it?

So after talking about it, we're going with a wood deck.  We discussed composite material (my boss keeps telling me it's so much better), but will just be going with a good ol' wood deck.  It's only going to be a few inches off the ground (so no stairs or railing will be needed).  And we will be able to build over all the crap that is already under the current deck.  We will need a building permit, but if the deck is only a few inches tall, we don't need all the inspections a tall deck would need.  Which will speed up the process.  

So soon, this old, poorly placed deck will be gone and our new deck furniture will have a shiny (well hopefully not shiny) new deck to sit on.  And then we can get a grill and I will be a happy girl.

And for the fire pit, we decided just to get one of those nice free standing fire bowls.  So we will still be able to have awesome summer parties.  Bring it on summer.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Bar Update

I can't believe how close we are to finishing up the basement bar.  I feel like it was just yesterday we were planning out everything we needed.  But now it's almost ready for a final reveal.  This past weekend we got the trim on the front and the back.

Look at how nice that looks.

J needs to attach the drawer fronts and measure where the wine racks are going to go, but for the most part it's ready to be sealed.  And yes, J wants to leave the underneath unstained.

We picked up this nice dart board at one of the local thrift stores.  It was a little bit more then we wanted to pay, but we really liked the design, so we decided to get it.

And when I tried to get a picture of the inside, this happened.  Toonces is one of the noisiest cats I've ever seen.  She's always a part of my photo shoots.

That's better.  Look at how pretty that baby is.  It's in really good condition.  The dart board only has a couple of holes in it.  Now we just need to find some old school darts.  And even if we never use this, at least it will look nice up on the wall.  It's going to be a classy man cave.

So the bar is getting to the point where it will be done and we can start thinking about cleaning up and decorating the basement.  I can't wait.  We would like to get a flat screen TV for down there (right now we have a huge 56" rear projection TV) and maybe a smaller lounge type couch.  We are on the lookout for some nice bar stools.  We're scouring Craigslist for a set that will work or ones that we can redo to make work.  Then maybe I'll be able to try out some of my new upholstering tricks I've learned.  Fun!  

I'm pretty excited to see this baby done.  I guess it's because it's one of the most ambitious wood projects we've done.  We've made our kitchen cabinet and our bathroom vanity, but this was much more complicated.  Maybe it will be ready for my birthday and we can celebrate my big 3-0 in our brand spankin' new basement bar.  Fingers crossed.      

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The staining has begun!

We're one step closer to having a basement bar.  I started staining everything this past weekend, and boy are we happy with the outcome.  J decided to go with dark walnut and I can honestly say it was the way to go.  We both love how rich and lovely the color is.  I can not wait to see everything together.

We're going with one coat on the main bar and two coats on all the trim, for contrast.  So that means I have one more coat to go with all these little guys.  Then a clear coat later this week.  We're aiming for Wednesday(fingers crossed).

Here are the drawer fronts with the hardware.  Nice, huh?  I cannot wait to see this put together.  Who would have thought I would be so excited about a basement bar.

Now we just have to pick up the bar rail, get a custom piece of glass cut for the top, and find some nice bar stools.  Oh and fill the wine rack with wine!! ;-)  We're almost there.

Sorry for the blurry, awful photos.  These were taken pretty late last night.  I'll try and get some more natural light photos soon, but with all the rain we have in the forecast  I'm not sure when that will be.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

What We Did Last Weekend

Well last weekend, a long holiday weekend, was supposed to be a fun filled weekend.  A weekend where we could enjoy ourselves and relax a bit.  Well, we defiantly relaxed.  J has been sick for over a week and he finally got me sick this past weekend.  It hit me like a ton of bricks on Friday.  One minute I felt fine, the next I just wanted to crawl in a hole.  Lovely.

But we did manage to get a few things done.  First we took a trip out to the UW SWAP store.  It's a store where university items go where they are no longer needed.  Labs, offices, etc all donate their stuff and then it gets resold.  We love the SWAP store.  Every spring they replace the mini fridges in the dorms, so the old ones are sold for about $10.  We have a couple mini fridges.  They sell all sorts of things and if you are in the Verona area, I would suggest you check it out (they are only open to the public on Tuesday, Friday, and the second Saturday of every month).

This last weekend we picked up this.

It's a huge 80 gallon tub that we're going to use as a rain barrel.  I think we might have the biggest rain barrel in the neighborhood.  And the best part, it was only $15.  Yay for weird giant tub thing.

J has also been hard at work on his bar, even though he's sick and I've told him he needs to rest.  He's got almost everything put together and now just needs to sand and stain.

Here is a picture of the front.  It looks a little plain right now, but it does have some nice trim that will go on it, as well as the top.

And here is a picture of the back.  It has three drawers and two pull out wine racks (not installed yet).  I'm just so proud of him.  This is the most ambitious project he's taken on and he's done an amazing job.

We picked up the stain and the drawer pulls last night.  I cannot wait to see what it looks like when it's done.  Now we just have to find a couple of bar stools that we like that are a reasonable price (harder then it would seem).  We also have to pick up the bar rail for the top, which is $78, WHAT?!?  I think i had a palpitation when I saw that price.  But the bar will still be cheaper, and nicer then any other bar we could buy premade.   So it's cool.

I will leave you with this cute little bird J got me because I didn't feel good.  He's so sweet sometimes.