Thursday, August 25, 2011

California Love

This past weekend, Clint and I took a trip to California's Southern coast to celebrate with our friend Curt who was marrying his love, Lindsey.  I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to see him so happy.  Clint met Curt at college while I was home for the summer.   He lived in the apartment above his and they became instant friends.  Since he was with him playing basketball ALL the time, I wasn't a big fan of this Curt fellow because he was always taking away from the phone time I had with Clint.  It wasn't til I met him for myself that I understood.  Curt's personality and smile were infectious.  He was a truly genuine person too.  We were all together so much that he almost felt more like family than a friend.  He always looked out for us and us for him.  We confided in each other often and all grew so close. 

We are so overjoyed with the fact that he found his soul mate.  We knew the first time we saw them together that he found the one.  They seem to compliment each other so well and after hearing all the wonderful comments from others who knew her well at the wedding, we are even happier. 

The whole weekend was a great time.  We met some great people who we hope to get to know better and keep in touch with and we were able to reconnect with others we hadn't seen since college. 

Here are some pictures from our weekend away.

 Karl Straus Brewing Co. had such a beautiful setting.  Surrounded by koi ponds.
 Del Mar before rehearsal.
 Curt, myself, Clint and Troy
 Happy faces.
 Downtown San Diego
 La Jolla, CA
 Seal at Children's Pool
 Me with seals.
 Clint with seals.
Before the wedding. 
 Emotional groom.
 Beautiful bride.
 The kiss.

**Another post to come about an experience in CA that deserves it's own post.  Hope you're excited to see what it is!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Nature Boy

I knew when Jude was a newborn that he was going to love the outdoors, nature and animals.  From the very start he preferred being outdoors to indoors.  He was always so content sitting in his bouncy seat or laying on a blanket under a tree.  He would watch the leaves sway in the wind.  Also,  if he heard the sounds of the cows,  horses, chickens, goats or other animal that could be heard from our yard, he would turn towards the noise hoping to get a glance at whatever it may be.
This year he really had a fascination with turtles.  My father in law, Ron, happened to find three of them to put in the decorative pond he had in his back yard.  As the end of summer draws near we knew it was time to release the turtles back into the wild.Since we have a neighbor with a ten acre pond, we decided that was a nice place to let them go.

We made it into an exciting family event!  Jude had a wonderful time and he and Clint went swimming afterwards.  The only problem we have is that afterwards, for weeks Jude kept asking where his turtles went.  I am not sure he understood we were leaving them forever. 

Next year we will gather some more and release them once again but this time we will have our own little pond for them to live in since Clint put one in recently.  I cannot wait to show off my husbands landscaping skills!  Wait for that post to come soon!  As for now..check out the photos from the turtles release day below!

Three turtles....awaiting their release.
Jude proud to show off his "pets".
The release....
Watching them swim away as fast as possible...
Kinda sad that they're gone.
Over it because daddy is so fun!

St. Jude's Ranch for Children

Each year I put aside our own and collect greeting cards from others at Christmas.  I then place them in a manilla envelope.  This marks only the beginning of my card hoarding.  With each holiday or occasion I place more and more on my stash.  Why you ask?  For a great cause! 

I heard about the St. Jude's Ranch for Children about five years ago and it is an organization I knew I would donate to regularly.  Within the ranch, there is a Recycled Card Program.  What the organization does is collect used greeting cards and gives them to the children who are patients at the hospital.  They then reuse the fronts of these cards, reattach a new back and sell them in order to help them learn about entrepreneurship. Most of all, I believe it gives these children a sense of purpose, a hobby and helps pass the time spent in the hospital. 

This year I collected about eighty cards total and am pretty happy with that number.  It is the most I think I have ever collected.  Since there are no major events that entail card giving coming up,  I decided to send it now.  For about $14 in shipping, it is a wonderful way to give back and make a difference.

I encourage others to look into this organization!  If it is something you want to be involved in but do not want to hold on to the cards all year long or do not want to pay the cost to ship them,  let me know!  If you are in my area I would be willing to snag them from you. 

There are a few instructions to follow.  According to the site, greeting cards for any occassion, including Christmas are used.  They can not accept Hallmark, Disney or American Greeting cards and 5" x 7" size or smaller is preferred. Lastly, mail donations to the following address:
St. Jude's Ranch for Children
Recycled Card Program
100 St. Jude's Street
Boulder City, NV 89005

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Kids Bath Redo

I mentioned previously that I was doing a bathroom reno regardless of the fact that I I was 8.5 months pregnant.  I was lucky enough to have one of my closest friends, Andrea, in town for a weekend visit.  Andrea is a college friend who now lives in Chicago.  We had been talking about a visit for some time and since my sister in law was having a small shower for me, the timing was perfect!  She came to stay for the weekend and in her true fashion, Andrea was willing to help with any of my projects I had brewing in my mind to help me out before the baby arrived.   She is a lifesaver to say the least.

You must know that Andrea and I are very much alike.  We love home improvement projects.  It is something that is just simply "in us."  She gets it from her dad who is a handyman.  She and I both know that we are handier than our significant others would ever dream of being. 

There were quite a few things I wanted to do in the kids bathroom before Gwenyth arrived. I wanted to neutralize it and make it brighter.  Since it is the bathroom used primarily by the kids and overnight guests, I wanted it to be for the kids without being filled with characters that might be over the top for guests.  Some of the projects I had in mind were replacing the flooring, painting, new toilet, new storage cabinet, new shower curtain/towels/trash/rugs and towel hangers. 

I knew that I wanted to complete this project, but didn't really plan on tackling it while she was in town, but after seeing how willing Andrea was to help, I decided I should accept the help and do it!  Luckily, I had done the painting the day before she arrived so that was out of the way.  We started by taking out the old toilet.  It was actually much much much simpler than I thought it would be.  Next came the ripping out of the linoleum which was glued to the floor.  We got the crow bars out and went to town.  It was quite the task, especially with 30 lbs of belly in front of me.  Andrea and I took turns ripping more and more away.  I chose to just do a peel and stick laminate.  I will eventually do a ceramic or porcelin tile, but not til both kids are about three.  This decision was made due to Jude being so accident prone and the possibility of Gwenyth being the same way.  I can only imagine one of them slipping on it and breaking their teeth!  We have actually made the decision not to change the carpet in the common areas to hard wood for this same reason!  Boo!  Andrea was amazing at cutting the tile to the right size and I was responsible fot laying it.  After the tiling was done, we installed the new toilet.  At first I was nervous since neither of us had done this before, but the instructions that came with the toilet walked us through the process step by step.  We literally got the entire project done in less than a day.  That includes the time spent shopping! We literally worked non stop for about 6-8 hours.  I cannot remember exactly but we were unstoppable.  I must mention we completed the project while having Jude to tend to and watching my friends son, Maddox.  I was hurting te next day. I cannot express to you the level of exhaustion that I felt.  I think that baby Gwenyth inside my belly thought that I was trying to off myself!  Needless to say, my doctor was not thrilled either when I met with him the following week.

Here is a before picture of what the bathroom looked like.  The walls were a dark green.  I questioned the color as soon as I put it on the wall, but I figured it was from the $5 oops section at Home Depot and could always change it.  I am glad I did.  Everything in the bathroom was functional and clean, just pretty blah though. 


Now for the after.  The painted walls and trim brighten up the room along with the new toilet and flooring! 

I must say that the redo of this bathroom was SO economical!  I paid $130'ish for the new toilet, the paint I had on hand left over from Jude's room and the flooring was about $18!  I must talk about the accessories as well.  The storage shelf above the toilet was $5 at Salvation Army.  I thought this was a GREAT deal.  It was dark brown to begin but I painted it white and cut vellum I had to fit into the glass. That way you could not see what was inside.  The basket on the toilet I found at the dollar store for a buck, it houses washclothes within reach for while the kiddos are taking baths.  The trash can, towels and rug are from Walmart.  I made the wall hangings to hold the kids wet towels and discussed how I did them here.  The decorative mirror I got at a garage sale for fifty cents and the shower curtain with the rings were at the same sale for $5!  I had been looking for a shower curtain that was right for months!  This one was perfect!  It matches the trash can, which cannot be seen in the pictures, but is different colored polka dots in shades of blue and teal.

There are still minor things left to be done in this bathroom that I would like to do soon.  This includes getting a new, more modern faucet and installing crown molding.  The molding is purchased, wihch cost about $25, so it is just a matter of making the cuts, painting it and installing it.  I also want a new, matching soap dispenser but that will wait a little while since I would be refilling it constantly as Jude loves to spend half hour washing his hands just to make bubbles with tons of soap. For now, I will stick with the $2.00 bottles from the grocery store that can be recycled.  When I redo the bathroom in about three years, I plan to redo the flooring with new tile and also get a new vanity, medicine cabinet and lighting.  Here are some possible items that I am considering for that project.

This one if from Ikea and I LOVE the storage it provides.  The drawers can be divided so they could share the top one for toiletries/personal things and the other one can be for towels and toilet paper.  I also love that this mounts to the wall providing space underneath.

I like the above vanity with this sink bowl.  I love the accessories that can be used with this sink bowl.  So functional, especially for kids!  Everything is within reach.

And so is this.....

This is the faucet I love from Ikea as well to go with everything above!

Love the shape of this toilet and the center flush.  (KOHLER  Persuade Biscuit High Efficiency Elongated Toilet)

This floor tile is to die for!  I <3 it so much.  It is available at Lowes. (American Olean  24"W x 6"L Terreno Colorbody Porcelain Tile).

With this as a back splash.....Ahhhhmazing!  This is also from Lowes.  (American Olean  13" x 13" Frosted Smokey Ballad Brickjoint Cream/Beige/Almond Glass Tile).
 Or maybe in this color....(American Olean 13"W x 13"L Whispering Stream Blue Glass Tile)

And I also love this lighting.  (:USE  3-Light Chrome Bathroom Vanity Light )

Wouldn't these choices in products make for an incredible makeover?  I am so looking forward for when the time comes to do this project yet again.  Andrea should be aware that around the time I plan on taking on this project, she might just get an invite o come visit again.  Her help was so appreciated and I am truly indebted to her.  I am so lucky to have a friend like her.  She knows that once I get an idea in my head, it is better to go with it because if not, I will become obsessive over it and do it anyways. 

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