Sunday, October 31, 2010

Operation DIY Home Remodel

About 2 months ago, Georgia and I began to throw around the idea of changing up our kitchen and bathrooms.  We’ve always preferred dark wood to light and felt that the kitchen and bathrooms didn’t really match the other rooms and overall décor of the house.  We did however love the design of the cabinets so tearing them down and installing replacements wasn’t really an option.  After a few weeks of online research and MANY trips to Home Depot, we decided that this was a project we could totally handle.  After a month of cleaning the cabinets, painting, drilling, installing hardware, reorganizing and redecorating – our do it yourself (DIY) kitchen and guest bath remodel are finished!  I can’t begin to tell you how ecstatic I am to have my kitchen back.  We were so excited to host our first get together this weekend and I couldn’t have been happier making frito pie in my beautiful new kitchen!  It was a lot of work but completely worth it.  I’m sure it makes my Dad proud to see that his daughter isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty!!       

I am pleased to present our NEW kitchen & guest bathroom:      

- Right corner view of kitchen BEFORE




















- Right corner view of kitchen AFTER: TSP cabinets, paint, hardware, metal art




















- Left corner view of kitchen BEFORE




















- Left corner view of kitchen AFTERTSP cabinets, paint, hardware, installed wine glass rack




















- East kitchen wall BEFORE


























- East kitchen wall AFTER


























- New bar!


























- New coffee corner!


























- Living room mantel BEFORE


























- Living room mantle AFTER: TSP mantel, paint


























- Guest bathroom BEFORE


























- Guest bathroom AFTER: TSP vanity, paint, flower arrangement (that I made)!!



 

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween Goodies!

Each year for Halloween I usually make a few baked goods for our potluck at work.  This year we’re having a few friends over for my birthday for a little monster movie marathon!  In my ongoing quest to be the hostess with the mostess, this little get together has up the ante a bit.  My plan is to make a ton of cupcakes including spooky owl cupcakes and spider web cupcakes.  Both recipes are pretty basic and shouldn’t take long for those of you who are crazy busy like me!  I’ve included the recipe for the cup cakes below as well as the toppings you’ll need for both.  Regardless of whether they actually look like owls or spider webs…I’ll snap a few shots so ya’ll can see how they come out.
What you’ll need:   


1 package (18 ounces) white cake mix, plus ingredients on box to prepare mix
1 can (16 ounces) vanilla frosting
2 ½ cups shredded coconut (I’ve found that the generic brand of coconut tastes the best)
48 round gummy candies
24 black jelly beans
1 tube (0.6 ounce) black gel icing
Step 1: Line muffin cups with paper liners or nonstick cooking spray.  Prepare cake mix and bake in muffin cups according to directions.  Cool in pans for 15 minutes.  Remove cupcake and cool completely.
 
Step 2 (owl cupcake topping): Frost cupcake with vanilla frosting.  Sprinkle coconut over each cupcake, covering completely.  Place 2 gummy candies on each cupcake for eyes.  Add black jelly bean for beak.  Use black gel to dot the eyes.

 
Step 2 (spider web cupcake topping): Frost cupcakes with vanilla frosting.  Using black gel, make three circles on the frosted cupcake starting smallest at the top.  It is really easy to create the web, simply drag a toothpick down through the icing!  Feel free to place a plastic spider on top to get the full spider web effect!


Step 3: ENJOY!  HAPPY HALLOWEEN!   


and a few more fall photos ~


Georgia checking out the fish at our local pumpkin patch


The misfit pumpkins are my favorite :)


The pumpkin patch!


A little fall décor


The pumpkin carving pro


My birthday gift from my baby!  Thanks honey!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Land of Enchantment…or is it?


So we’ve all heard it a million times – “I’m sick of this city and I need outta here”, “the schools are horrible”, “the crime is outrageous”, “the taxes are out of control”, “there are too many gangsters” and so on and so on.  Well let me just say that as someone who actually enjoys living in Albuquerque, this has always been a point of contention for me.  Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that some people choose to go away for college, or move to other cities just because, or simply want to experience diverse communities and cultures.  I just don’t think that this should be a reason to look down upon the place you’re from.  I truly started to ponder this concept a few weeks ago when I received the October issue of Albuquerque the Magazine.  This particular issue was titled: 300 Ways to Love Living Here.  The article was filled with information on new and old attractions, events, restaurants, entertainment, museums, seasonal traditions, parks, sporting events, historical landmarks, well you get the idea…so as I was reading the article I kept thinking to myself – how can anyone truly detest this place?!  I do realize of course, that Albuquerque, like any other city in America, has its crime and its rough neighborhoods and its struggling schools.  As a matter of fact, up until recently I thought that APS was unique in the challenges it faces with graduation rates, crowded classrooms and low test scores.  That was until the documentary “Waiting for Superman” came along showing all of America that this is an epidemic facing the entire nation!
As a person putting my thoughts on paper (or on keyboard) I feel inclined to be honest in saying that I didn’t always love the 505… (pause for reaction).  To be truthful, I detested the city throughout most of my early twenties.  The majority of my friends had moved away or were busy in relationships.  I had frequented every night club and bar in the city about a thousand times and I sincerely didn’t care to look beyond this.  It really wasn’t until I found a person to discover Albuquerque with that I truly learned to love the city. There are so many reasons why I heart living here!  I actually had an experience recently that reminded me of what it is that gives this city its charm.  I was driving to my Mom’s house in the North Valley and on my way down Candelaria I pulled up behind an old pick-up truck.  The truck had two metal rods that came up the back and connected across to the front end.  Hanging on these metal rods were rows of beautiful red, orange and green chile ristras.  They were so gorgeous and fragrant that I sped up to get closer look.  As I pulled up behind the truck and we stopped at a light, I noticed that the man driving was talking to another gentleman one lane over in an SUV.  A few moments later, a little old man jumped out of the truck and ran to the back to meet the guy in the SUV who was wearing a suit and looked to be coming home from work.  They exchanged money; the man selected his chile ristra and shook the old man’s hand thanking him before jumping back into his vehicle and driving away.  I can’t really explain why it warmed my heart to see this but it did.  Maybe it was the small town feel it gave me.  Maybe it was that I got to see this little old man making his living, or maybe it was just because I knew that this was something that you wouldn’t see on a “busy” street in most other cities. 
One of the greatest lessons that I've learned in the past 5 years or so, is that happiness is a choice regardless of where you live.  I've learned that we create our own environment and truly make our city what it is...if we want to.  For me, by choosing to try new things and get to know Albuquerque and all she has to offer, I discovered that much to my surprise, my state and my city really are pretty enchanting.     
     

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Spirit Day

For those of you that may not know, today is Spirit Day!  Today gays, lesbians and the people who love them proudly wore purple.  This was done to show support for victims of bullying.  As many of us know the bullying of gay youth in America has reached a boiling point.  It really wasn’t until recently that this epidemic came to light.  It makes me happy to know that an anti-bullying dialogue has opened and if these discussions save even one young life – we’ve made a difference.
Below is a video I wanted to share with you all in honor of this day.  It is a speech given by Fort Worth City Councilman; Joel Burns letting the victims of bullying know that if they can just hang in there, things do get better.          
 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Progress…

Ok, so I know that I said we wouldn’t post pictures of the house until we finished but I can’t resist!  I’ve been in a very bloggy mood this past week and feel like sharing.  Our home has become a total construction zone…it’s filthy.  I wouldn’t call myself a neat freak but I am a much happier wife when the house is organized and right now it most certainly is not!  There’s laundry lining the hallway because we haven’t had time to finish it.  There is dust on everything because we’re drilling holes in the cabinets for new knobs.  The floors are covered with tarps because I’m super paranoid that we’re going to stain the tile.  We’ve been forced to eat all of our meals in the living room because the dining room and kitchen look like a hurricane came through them.  In a nutshell, I feel like I live in a Home Depot.  I can’t really rationalize cleaning the house right now because I know we’ll dirty everything up again the minute it’s cleaned.  Despite this minor irritation, I couldn’t be happier with how things are coming along!  Just the simple fact that our living room and kitchen design and color scheme are going to match makes everything worth it.  Right now the kitchen cabinets are a honey brown color while the rest of the house is decorated in an almost black cherry wood with brick red, chocolate and mustard yellow décor, furniture and paint.  It’s just always drove me nuts that when you look at the living area and then over at the kitchen and dining area, you feel like you’re looking at two different houses…
The good news is that Georgia continues to amaze me with all of her DIY talents.  She’s just figuring things out as we go and it’s pretty impressive.  We decided to restain some of the wood on the exterior of the house as well as the front door which now looks like a totally new door (with a cute little peep hole that G installed).  We decided after going back and forth a hundred times to splurge on the handles for the kitchen cabinets.  Originally we were going to go with some basic silver knobs but then I found these super cute contemporary looking handles (that were twice as much $$) and I had to have them.  My rational was that I’m going to have to see these cabinets and use them every day, so it’s probably important that I love them – right?!  In addition to the home renovations, I’ve been reconnecting with my crafty side!  I actually made my first floral arrangement for the guest bathroom out of these cool leather flowers I found at Hobby Lobby.  As I was working on the arrangement I realized that not only was I making a floral arrangement for the first time, but I was making it to add some fanciness to the guest bathroom…I’ve officially turned into my Mother.  I can remember getting so bugged during my teen years because I was never allowed to use the “fancy towels” or really touch anything else in the guest bathroom…and here I am perpetuating the craziness.  In all honesty, if the 18 year old me met the 28 year old me – I'm not sure that they'd be friends…I’m just sayin :)
In closing to this very long post, along with the DIY projects, I just realized that I’m going to have to fit Halloween costume design in with all the madness so here goes...I think I can, I think I can…


Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Pioneer Woman Blog – a must read

I was recently introduced to this blog by my friend Ryan and I love it!  The thing that is so great about the author Ree, is that she writes from the heart.  She posts about anything and everything – cooking, family, you name it.  I wanted to share one of her recent posts: Ten Important Things I’ve Learned About Blogging.  She gives some great pointers to people like me who are new to the world of blogging and for you vets too I suppose.  I’ve pasted my favorite three from her list below.  If you have the time, I would encourage you to check out her site!
Ten Important Things I’ve Learned About Blogging – posted by Ree www.thepioneerwoman.com   
1. Be yourself.
Write in your own voice.
Write as if you’re talking to your sister.
Unless you don’t get along with your sister.
Or don’t have a sister.

2. Blog often.
Whether you write a sixteen-paragraph essay about the cosmic implications of a free market system, a one-paragraph description of what happens to your soul when you walk into your godforsaken laundry room, or a simple photo and caption, consider your blog a precious bloom that requires daily nurturing.

And watering.
If you water a plant once every two weeks, it will shrivel.
Unless that plant is a cactus, and then it would thrive.
And to tell you the truth, I really can’t figure out how a cactus fits into this analogy, so forget I brought it up.

10. Value every person who takes time out of their day to stop by your blog.
Tell ‘em you love ‘em. Regularly.

P.S. I love you guys!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

We’re on a break

You know you spend too much time and money at Starbucks when the barista knows your name and drink of choice!  This was the crude realization I came to this morning while picking up my daily cup of Joe.  As always, I was greeted by Pauline, the nice lady that works the register at “my” Starbucks.  Before I even made my way to the counter P was busy pouring my coffee and water.  You see, I go to Starbucks every morning before work, and quite honestly I see Pauline more often than I see my own Mother (which is ridiculous).  As we were busy chatting it up, I reached into my purse to grab my credit card.  As I was doing this I’m thinking to myself – I wonder how much money I spend here every month?  Well by the time I got to the office I just had to figure this out!  As it turns out, in the past 30 days I’ve spent (drum roll please…) $76.02!!!  This basically means that I spend almost a thousand dollars a year on coffee at Starbucks!  To take it a step further, I’ve been addicted to Starbucks for about 5 years now which means I’ve blown almost $5000 on beans!  BEANS!!  This is completely unacceptable and it must come to an end. 
After much deep thought and contemplation, I’ve decided that I am going to commit to making coffee at home.  We have a really nice coffee maker and I can go buy all the goodies I use daily at Starbucks for the house.  I’ve heard that it takes 21 days to break a bad habit and/or form a new good habit, so that is what I intend to do.  Starting Monday I shall make my café en la casa!  Tomorrow will be my last Starbuck’s run…
Come Monday – we are officially on a break!  

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Adiós Summer – it’s been real!

The Wife and I had one hell of an action packed summer this year!  From beginning to end, the months have been booked solid with one event after another...I think it's safe to say that we are happily exhausted!  Despite this, time marches on and as one season comes to an end, another begins (fall - my favorite season of the year)!  Looking back on our summer months, I think Georgia and I had a feeling that this was possibly the last crazy summer when we could pack up and go on a moments notice...so, that's exactly what we did! 
Thanks to all our peeps that made it a summer to remember!  Now on to Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years...I'm suddenly feeling a bit tired again...Cheers!

This summer we...


Celebrated Devin's 4th Birthday
Camped in Pecos

Celebrated the 4th of July with the family
Went boating at Elephant Butte Lake
Enjoyed a visit from sister bear
Attended my 10 year HS reunion...yikes...

 
AND celebrated Ashlynne's Butte Birthday!



Saturday, October 9, 2010

Friday, October 8, 2010

2010 Balloon Fiesta ~ Earth, Wind & Flyers!

For Georgia and I, the Balloon Fiesta has been an event we’ve grown up attending.  Thinking back, I have so many fond memories of waking up before the sun and heading over to the Balloon Fiesta Park to get a breakfast burrito and watch the balloons take off.  This year our family decided to try something different.  We elected to take our RV’s with us and actually camp out at the park for the entire weekend!  Up to this point, I thought that the only people that camped at the park were the actual balloonists and their families.  I had no idea that the camp grounds were open to anyone that had a camper and wanted to reserve a spot. 

The festivities began on Friday evening.  Georgia and I met my Mom and Mike at our reserved lots to set up camp.  We were able to get two great spaces facing each other with a beautiful view of the park.  By the time Georgia and I arrived, My Mom and Mike had already made friends with some fellow campers.  The majority of the people that filled the lot were retired folks who spent their time traveling from state to state attending events like the Balloon Fiesta (what a life)!  The first night was “kid free” so we spent the evening grilling, playing UNO and drinking tequila (not the best beverage of choice for a 5am wake-up call)…despite the fun, it was lights out at midnight because we knew we had a big day ahead of us.

That next morning we all managed to pull our lazy bones out of bed and look alive as we made our way to the park.  Our first stop was the UOP corporate tent where we enjoyed Garcia’s breakfast burritos and green chile stew (YUM)!  From the tent we watched the Dawn Patrol Show, the Morning Glow Opening Ceremonies and finally the Mass Ascension.  Thank goodness for Mexican food because it totally pulled me out of my tequila coma and left me feeling ready for day two.  This was a good thing because it was Grandpa’s birthday BBQ and we were expecting a lot of company!


Can he be anymore adorable….seriously?!     
 After a quick trip home to feed the dogs we began the birthday set-up.  This year Grandpa turned the big 9-1!  He and Grandma Chris came down to celebrate along with some family and friends.  I think we’ve all experienced those moments in life when we look around and think to ourselves – wow, this is the good stuff.  This birthday party was one of those days.  My father-in-law was making his first trip out post surgery, and he looked really good.  My nephews were running around playing football with my brother while Georgia grilled.  Grace and my Mom were busy being the social butterflies that they are, while my Grandparents visited and relaxed with big smiles on their faces.  As the day came to an end, I couldn’t help but give thanks for my Grandparents (well, great Grandparents) and what an important role they have played in my life.
We woke the next morning to our final day camping at Balloon Fiesta Park.  While waiting for the shuttle, Grandma Chris had the opportunity to make friends with a horse.  I don’t know if it was her 93 years of wisdom that had this horse so enchanted…but he seriously stared into her eyes for what seemed like forever.  Our main objective on this particular day was to find Grandma’s favorite balloon – the owl balloon (of course).  Luckily we did, so naturally we took about 47 pictures of it.  We spent the rest of the day eating and sightseeing.  All and all, it was an amazing weekend! 






Here’s a few more pics! 
I never get tired of looking at these things!
Me and G with Grandpa and Grandma :)








Rudy and Devin during the firework show!  My boys!
     

Happy birthday Grandpa!  You still give the best hugs.      

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Coming soon…

We’ve had some requests for “before pictures” of the rooms we are working on for our DIY mini remodel.  The plan is to wait until the kitchen; master bath and guest bathroom are finished.  Once that’s done we’re going to post both the before and after pics!  We were hoping to do some work this weekend but completely forgot that we have a volleyball game and the Cancer Walk…October is such a busy month!  In any case, if we don’t wrap this up soon I’m going to lose my mind!!  The goal is to finish by October 31st and post pictures the minute we’re done…sigh…

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Baby making progress report…

Well, I don’t want anyone to get too excited… no bambino yet.  As of October, we have been at this baby making business for about 8 months.  What many people don’t know and what I don’t think we truly understood going into this, is just what a process it really is for same sex couples.  While not getting into too much detail, what I will say is that it is much more time consuming, COSTLY and difficult, when you don’t have access to an endless supply of sperm…needless to say we are hopeful and marching on!  Both our primary and fertility doctors have said that even for heterosexual couples, it takes between 6 months and a year to conceive.  What I think they were trying to explain to a couple of very inpatient moms-to-be, was that we are not technically experiencing fertility problems yet – and just need to be patient.  For me, the most beautiful part of this whole experience thus far has been that I have learned to appreciate my Wife all that much more.  I get to be the supporter while she is the one physically going through everything and I admire her for that.  The irony in all of this is that she has continued to remain calm and patient while I’ve definitely been more of the emotional partner (surprise, surprise)!  As the months have passed, Grace has already begun to clear out a “baby room” at her house and my Mom has put in an order for a little girl.  For me and G, we just want a healthy happy baby and we know that it will happen when the time is right. 
In the months to come we will be sure to keep you all posted on what transpires! 
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