Project 12 // July 2015.

 *Project 12 – A photo on (or around) the first day of each month.*
{Idea credit & linking up with  The Lady Okie}

July:

July 2015^ At the family reunion on July 4! ^  

Read: 
The Princess Bride by William Goldman – 4 stars
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – 5 stars

Travel Adventures:
July 4 – Day trip to Magdalena for the family reunion!

Noteworthy Days & Events:
July 3 – Tile replacement complete and we were able to move back home after been displaced for five days.  Home sweet home, say the humans and the cats.
July 9 – Gas meter…adventure at rental house has been resolved!  New tenant is able to move in anytime.
July 10 – Fun “fishing trip” (annual retreat for Kevin’s work which once centered around fishing but hasn’t in…a really long time) getaway at Tamaya.
July 11 – Bought the first big baby purchase!  A crib.  We had to laugh at ourselves because that is SUCH a first-time parents purchase.  It seems so necessary from where we sit, but she won’t actually be sleeping in the crib for a few months (as there will be a bassinet in our room initially).  But!  A crib will be necessary at some point and it converts to a toddler bed and double bed, so she can use it for many moons.
July 12 – Heard author Hampton Sides speak at Bookworks.
July 16 – Replaced half the windows in the house!
July 17 – Mini-bar replaced with shelves/cabinets!  So much prettier and more functional.

Ate: (new recipes & restaurants)
Rach and Jayda each made this Pioneer Woman recipe (Buttery Lemon Parsley Noodles), inspiring me to do the same, and it was as easy and as delicious as it looks.  We had it as a side with salmon and used basil rather than parsley.
We ordered pizza from Pizza 9 (which neither of us had tried before) and had it delivered.  It was tasty.  And we didn’t even have to leave the house.  Win after win after win.
The Pioneer Woman makes these crash hot potatoes look so easy, and when I made them, they were very delicious…but looked like a crash hot fail.  Not pretty.  But tasty is more important so we’ll just go with it and I’ll probably make them again as long as presentation doesn’t matter to whomever I’m feeding!

Tell me something about your July!

Talkin ’bout my reno-va-tion.

When we bought our house in 2013, it had been sitting vacant for around two years.  It came with wild paint colors on the walls, poorly stretched carpet throughout, outdated light oak cabinets in the kitchen (and laundry room and bathrooms), a moldy vanity in the downstairs bathroom, an outdated master bathroom and guest bathroom upstairs, vinyl windows, and Saltillo tile that was past the point of ever looking pretty.  Our renovation budget at the time allowed us to take care of a lot of those projects before we moved into the house.  The utmost in luxury and convenience when it comes to reno work – no furniture to shift and move!  Here are some before and after photos from way back then.

The upstairs bathrooms (master and guest) are still on the list, but we earmarked some money this year for Saltillo tile replacement and to replace half of the windows.  And to destroy a random, tiny “wet bar” – which is really just a sink – in the living room.

We started with the tile which was sure to be the project to cause the most inconvenience because we needed to move out of the house while it was being completed.  Fortunately, my in-laws (who live a few blocks away) were kind enough to let us – and the cats – stay at their house.  We stayed there from Monday to Friday when the work was being completed, and it really did work out in the best possible way.  Craig and Sue were out of town so we didn’t need to worry about being in their way and the house is close to ours, so we were able to go every day to water the crops (the garden) and check on the progress of the work and even get clothes and other items as we needed them.  Sue and Craig have a cat, so Kiki and Rue needed to be sequestered upstairs.  They may disagree, but I don’t think they suffered too much.  First world cat problems – trapped in a little room when you’re used to having the run of the house.

Here are some before photos of the horrible tile:

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^ Top:  The entryway.  The realtor who had the house listed when we bought it had used extra heavy duty duct tape to secure a rug to the floor (or maybe the previous owners had used the duct tape and the realtor was trying to hide it from potential buyers).  It was such a…fun surprise to find when we bought the house and tore up the rug.  Needless to say, we found a rug to cover the duct tape ourselves.  ^
^ Bottom Left:  This little stretch leads guests to our home from the entryway to the living room – with a trip hazard to boot.  Because the tile is the same in the entry way and the living room, it was really hard to see that there was a small step down into the living room.  So many people have not noticed the step and stumbled down it.  ^
^ Bottom Right:  The downstairs bathroom.  Not much to see here.  Just more bad tile and tile base work. ^

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^ Top Left and Top Right:  These photos of the living room/breakfast nook area show the tile – in all its glory – really well.  Cracked, discolored, strange grout, unevenly installed, gaps between the wall and the “baseboard” tile….  It was not attractive. ^
^ Bottom Left and Bottom Right:  More of the same in the kitchen. When Kevin was cleaning out the garage a few weeks ago, he discovered some acid tile wash and grout cleaner, which really explained a lot.  I don’t think the tile was well installed to begin with, there was nothing to keep it from cracking when the foundation shifted (as it does in new houses), and someone took some heavy duty “cleaner” that was not meant for Saltillo tile to it at some point.  Also, the grout was painted white, once upon a time.  Why?  Who knows. ^

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^Left:  Living room.  In slightly better light so you can see all the strange variation in color, and even the cracks and permanent discolorment. (Discolorment?  Maybe not a word.  But it works here.)  The floors always looked dirty, even immediately after they had been mopped. ^
^ Right: The laundry room.  Kevin especially didn’t like this white tile. ^

We worked with a local company for the tile replacement.  The foreman did an excellent job and they finished on schedule.  We were very impressed with him and the quality of work that the crew did.

They came in and moved all of our furniture, then immediately started jackhammering up the tile.  Saltillo is incredibly messy – it crumbles and gets dust everywhere.  Here are a few of the during pictures:

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^ See?  Messy stuff. ^

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And finally, the after photos.  We are so, so happy with the final result.  I’m even happier than I thought I would be with how it looks.  It’s easier to walk on barefoot, the tiles are consistent and clean, the baseboard looks sharp, and the decorative tiles in the entry way are a lovely touch.  We really think that it fits the style of the house (Southwest), which will be good for resale purposes if we go that route someday.

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^ Rue likes the new tile.  Amy likes the decorative tile near the step – catches the eye well. ^

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We also replaced eight windows in the house this month.  Unfortunately it did not rain on the 4th of July, so we have to pay Renewal by Anderson for these new windows, but I guess that’s the risk you take when you decide to gamble with weather and home improvement.  Our old windows were vinyl and poorly insulated.  I know we’ll notice a big difference with the new windows!

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^ Window limbo as the job was in progress. ^

Last but not least, we hired the guy who re-did our kitchen cabinets before we moved into the house to replace a wet bar (which was really just a random sink and ugly cabinet) with some shelves and cabinet space.  It ties in really well with the kitchen, looks great with the new tile, and will be so much more functional than what filled the space previously.

Here is before:

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And after:

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We need to fill the shelves and finish the baseboard, but overall we are done done done with home improvement projects for the year.  It feels awesome.

Do you have any home improvement projects in the works?  Do you DIY this kind of stuff, or leave it to the experts? 

The songs we sing our cats.

Wouldn’t it be fun if life were a musical?  We would all just burst into song about the most trivial of things and a full piece orchestra would begin playing in the background.  That’s the dream, I say.  I spontaneously bust out a tune or two on a daily basis.  And I’ve been a bad (or good) influence on Kevin, because he has begun to do the same.  Usually we sing to our cats.  And the cats become the stars of the song and it’s addicting.  For your listening and reading pleasure, here are a few cat song serenades that Kevin and I (and probably only us) find hilarious.

Kiki:

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I Whistle a Happy Tune from The King and I

Kiki’s version goes,
“Keek whistles a happy tune, and every single time,
the happiness in the tune, convinces Keek that she’s not afraid.
While shivering on her paws, she holds her tail erect,
and whistles a happy tune, so no one will suspect, she’s afraid.
The result of this deception is very strange to tell,
for when Keek fools the people she fears, she fools herself as well.”

Kiki has also been the star of many, many jingles through the years.  The most recent is Renewal by Anderson.  Or should I say, “Renewal by Kikerson, Keek loves her new windows.”

Rue:

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My Generation by The Who

Rue’s version is pretty simple: “Talkin’ ’bout Rue’s generation.”

We Are Siamese (If You Please) from Lady and the Tramp

Rue (who definitely has some Siamese in her – we like to think her father is Ping, the Casanova cross-eyed Siamese in our old neighborhood) has a version that goes like this:

“Rue is Siamese if you please,
Rue is Siamese if you don’t please.
Rue is looking over her new domicile,
if she likes it then she’ll stay for quite awhile.”

We also sing, “Rue’s a Yankee doodle dandy, Rue’s a Yankee doodle gal,” and the part about being born on the 4th of July because Rue that’s our little plumpy’s birthday.  {Btw, she’s losing plumpness because we switched her to the same food that Kiki eats – Mature and Weight Management.}

And on this day, the first anniversary of Flo’s passing, I would be remiss if I didn’t share our favorite Flo song – it fits her to a T:

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Trouble by Neon Jungle

Flo’s version is:
“Flo don’t look for trouble but trouble looks for Flo,
and it’s been waiting around corners since Flo was seventeen,
they say, ‘here comes a hurricane,’
‘white cat is her middle name,’
but Flo don’t look for trouble,
yeah trouble looks for Flo.”

We also would incorporate Flo into that Highlander commercial featuring the Muppets that was airing a few years ago.  “Flo ain’t got no room for boring, for boring Flo ain’t got no room.”

Do you like to spontaneously burst out into song?  Do you sing to your pets?

To-do in 2015: the halfway point.

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2015 is over half over, which is unbelievable to me.  It seems high time that I check in on the year’s to-do list that Kevin and I created for ourselves.  We still have plenty to do this year, but we’re making great progress on all fronts and have crossed off two of the biggest (and most expensive) items!

1. K & A:  Go to Europe.
Done!!  You can read about here.  And here and here.  And here.  Oh yeah.  And here and here

2. K: Read a classic.
He has a few in mind as options.  He’s in the middle of David McCullough’s Truman right now which is 900+ pages and quite the commitment.  But the classics are on his radar. 

3. A: Do all Christmas shopping in local/independent stores or give homemade stuff.  Like crocheted scarves, vanilla extract (inspired by Tiffany, who gave me homemade vanilla extract for Christmas 2014!), or hot pepper oil (inspired by Allie, who blogged about it here).
I haven’t made too much progress on this, but there are still plenty of shopping days to Christmas.  The problem is that there seem to be fewer crafting days to Christmas….  My goal for July is to start some mint extract a-brewin’ with the mint we’ve been growing in our garden! 

4. A: Read 52 books.  (Bonus points if I manage to complete this 2015 reading challenge, which I think is only – ha! – 50 books….thanks, Tiffany, for sharing the idea!)
I’m on track to finish this one!  I think I’m on book 40 right now (Pride and Prejudice – for the category “a classic love story”).  My most recent check in post is here, if you’re interested. 

5. A:  Blog 104 posts.
I’ve only poster 41 times this year and the summer fever blog hiatus is not helping.  I guess I need to step it up!   

6. K & A:  Fund IRA’s for the year.
In progress & done.  Kevin takes the automatically-send-money-to-the-IRA-with-each-paycheck approach and I write a lump sum check.  So he’s over half funded for the year and I made the contribution in April.

7. K & A:  Complete at least one home improvement project. (New tile downstairs, master bathroom, shelves in the garage…)
Boy howdy, have we ever!  We started the year with a new furnace (out of necessity), then we did our tile replacement in June.  Eight new windows are being installed this week, and we’re ripping out the wet bar and replacing it with built-in bookshelves and storage this week or next.  We also have some shelves for the garage and they WILL be installed this year so that we can get that mess organized. 

8. K & A:  Run a 5k.
I was a lazy bum and didn’t run a 5K (or even work on training for one) at the beginning of the pregnancy or pre-pregnancy and I won’t even pretend that it’ll happen this year after the baby is born.  So Kevin has selflessly volunteered to run two 5K’s this year and we’ll call it good.  He’s planning on one in September and maybe one in August. 

9. K: Smoke a rack of ribs or a brisket.
My mom gave Kevin a brisket (we get all our beef from my parents, who have cattle), and he’s excited to use the smoker attachment on the grill.  This seems like a good fall activity. 

10. K & A:  Take a road trip to a historic destination in New Mexico.
We have a few ideas on where to travel.  Some are day trip and some are overnight.  We’ll probably do the former, but that still leaves us with plenty of options.  There are so many cool historic destinations in this state!

11. K & A:  Try 10 new restaurants.
We have tried 4 new restaurants together.  Each of us have tried new restaurants separately this year as well, but we’re only counting the ones we go to together. 

12. K & A:  Try 15 new recipes.
We’ve tried 9 new recipes.  It’s hard to be motivated to cook in the summer!  I think we’ll finish this goal off in the fall/winter. 

13. K:  Start and complete an entire workout program.
He’s researching 5K training programs now, so that could count, but he has also been working his way through a strength training program. 

14. K:  Take a golf continuing ed class or attend three golf lessons.
Kevin has checked the schedule for CE golf classes, and that could be an option in the fall.  Otherwise, he’ll easily be able to attend three golf lessons at a club in town. 

15. A:  Host a theme party.
Leann and I are in the very early stages of planning a cocktail/mocktail (can you guess which part of that duo I’m in charge of?) party withthe “Favorite Things” theme. 

Did you set some goals for 2015?  If so, are you making good progress? 

Me again.

At this rate, I run the risk of only posting smorgasbord posts that ramble about recent events.  Will I ever have another original thought that justifies an entire blog post?  The jury remains out on that one.

But! In the meantime, just to prove my existence, here is your daily weekly dish of update.

Neighbor’s wedding was wonderful.  She was the most stunning bride and it was such an honor to be a part of the day.  Isn’t she gorgeous?

 And here I am being a creeper.

 I didn’t want to step on her dress, so I hovered awkwardly behind her and Danielle and it came out looking very “Hi, my name is Stalker.”

Two weeks ago I celebrated being 20 weeks pregnant by pulling a ligament or something in my stomach.  It was so painful that I had a hard time standing/sitting up straight and even breathing deeply.  Fortunately it only lasted a day but that was a day spent on the couch.  Here I am, gazing at said ligament adoringly and thanking it for fixing itself somehow.

 We’re considering four girl names, so last week we took a day try out each name and see which feels the most natural.  I think we have a favorite.

Tile replacement is complete.  My flip flops wanted a piece of the action, but I said, “No way, jackhammers are loud.  And dangerous.”  So we just snapped a picture and left the work to the experts.  More on the reno to come.


You’ve seen the bountiful basil bouquet that our gardening efforts have yielded.  Here’s another harvest update:  three banana peppers.  They managed to wrangle their way into a pasta salad last week and they were…disappointing.  Maybe we didn’t let them get ripe enough?  Or maybe we’re one crop wonders and basil is the crop.


Rue turned one year old on July 4!  We celebrated by forcing her to wear a stars and stripes hat.


She was not impressed.  She was also not impressed by the fireworks that night.  I must admit, I agree with her.  I like an impressive display of colorful fire as much as the next person, but do they have to be so loud?  And how did they become a tradition fit for the 4th of July?  Let’s celebrate Independence Day with the sounds of a war zone!  I don’t get it.  But I’m also not a very fun person.

Speaking of…

We made a day trip to check in at the annual family reunion on the 4th, and on the way home I called my Aunt Jewel (she’s in her 80’s and a spitfire of a gal) because I hadn’t talked to her recently.  She asked about the reunion and all the fun things that had been happening – Minute to Win It games, a 3-D archery shoot competition, a lip-sync battle, karaoke, bean bag competition (also known, by many, as corn hole, which I find disturbing), etc.
Jewel:  So.  Those fun and silly games sound great.  Which did you and Kevin do?
Me:  Well, none.  We missed the silly games part.  I guess we’re not very fun. 
Jewel:  I know. 
Burn.  I was able to give her a general, second-hand update on the silly, but the only firsthand knowledge I had about reunion happenings was what kind of food we had for lunch that day (the delicious kind) and the best of the half dozen homemade ice cream offerings (vanilla and banana split).  Okay by me.  I enjoyed the food, the ice cream, and the people.


And at least I didn’t tell people that we couldn’t stay because it was our cat’s first birthday and we needed to get home to her.  Even if I did think it.  Wink.

What’s new with you? 

Project 12 // June 2015.

 *Project 12 – A photo on (or around) the first day of each month.*
{Idea credit & linking up with  The Lady Okie}

June:

  

Read: 
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson – 4 stars {Kevin}
The Rosie Effect by Graeme C. Simsion – 4 stars
A God In Ruins by Kate Atkinson – 3 stars
The One by Kiera Cass – 4 stars

Travel Adventures:
June 2 – Amy made a day trip to Santa Fe for work
June 13
 – Amy went to Tucumcari for Tiffany’s baby shower
June 19-21 – Amy and Kevin went to Magdalena for Shawna and Keith’s wedding

Noteworthy Days & Events:
June 8 – Bambino’s gender is no longer a mystery!  It’s a girl!
June 12 – Ordered 8 new windows for the casa.
June 18 – Tea at St. James Tearoom for Shawna’s bachelorette soiree
June 26 – Bon voyage dinner for Derek at Hayashi Japanese Restaurant :(
June 27 – Cheered on a friend as she participated in the Mrs. New Mexico pageant
June 29 – Tile replacement began!

Ate: (new recipes & restaurants)
Kevin made cod with Lemon Butter Sauce.  Delish!

Tell me something about your June!

Some recents and upcomings.

Confession:  I have felt highly unmotivated to blog recently.  Summer fever?  Tired of staring at a computer screen after a long day at work?  Just want to sit around and stare at my dreamy husband and adorable cats?  Yes, yes, and yes.

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^ Rue loves to stare at Kiki in adoration. Then give her a “hug” (aka: pounce) or a “high five” (aka: paw to the face).  It’s fun, fun for everyone. ^

There is no lack of real life to occupy my time now that the weather is warm and sinfully wonderful.  Here are a few recent and upcoming events in my little world.

Kevin and I are stepping up to the plate and preparing for some important home improvement projects.  First up – new windows.  We’re having around half the windows in our house replaced, which is not a glamorous project, but we know we’ll be happy with the improved insulation and eye appeal of non-vinyl-circa-early-1990’s windows.  Cross all your fingers and toes and do a few rain dances with us in mind – if it rains 1/2 an inch on July 4, our windows will be free, thanks to a local Renewal by Anderson promotion.  I’ll keep you posted.

Another upcoming home project is to replace around 800 square feet of flooring in our kitchen, half-bath, laundry room, entry way, and living room.  It is currently this horrible tile that is cracked, discolored, and looks dirty even when it has just been cleaned.  We are really excited to replace it with some pretty, sparkling new tile (which is very similar in color to what we already have – most people will probably not even realize that we’ve done anything.  But we’ll know and we’ll love every second of it.)  Inconveniences abound (we’ll need to pack up everything in those rooms and remove wall hangings, we’ll likely need to move ourselves and the cats out of the house for the demo stage, we won’t have a functioning kitchen or laundry set-up even if we are home) which make us wish that we would have dipped into the trust fund to replace the floor before we moved in two years ago.  And by trust fund I mean take out a loan.

I took a little mini-road trip east over the weekend to attend Tiffany’s baby shower.  She’s due in September!  Another friend from college was there and she’s due this year as well, so it was fun for the three of us to see one another and catch up and talk pregnant talks.

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This upcoming weekend will bring another mini-road trip.  Destination:  Shawna’s wedding.  It’s going to be perfect for my Neighbor.  And first we’ll do a bachelorette tea on Thursday, which will be tea-rific.  I can’t get enough of those little sandwiches.

Kevin and I harvested some basil over the weekend.

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Our garden is thriving.  Thanks entirely to Kevin and the fact that he waters it daily.  I have contributed…well, positive thoughts and well wishes to the plants.  And I pulled a few weeds.  Yay me.  The basil was put to great use in pesto (of course) and it was amazing.  Definitely my most favorite meal ever – pesto and pasta.  We finished off some gorgeous basil fettuccine that Kevin picked up in Seattle last year, which made the meal even more favoritest.

What’s new with you?  Any big events on your calendar?