Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Untangled

When I worked as a hairstylist, I'd joke to my clients about how power cords end up being the archenemy of every stylist. You're constantly battling tangled blow dryer cords, flat iron cords, and five different sizes of Marcel curling iron cords. You have to learn how to wrap the clippers cord around your arm so as not to get in the way of a buzz cut. They're always in the way! It's enough to make a hairstylist raise prices, believe me. #tipsarewelldeserved

I've never been okay with power cords. Sometimes I think they're trying to kill me.
Then my husband comes along, who has spent the past ten years in the audio/visual industry {15, if you count his high school job at Best Buy}. He is the cord whisperer. He has this trick with cords! I've tried to replicate, but I'm too right-brained to get it right. 

All that work with high-end electronics and fancy entertainment racks, complicated home automation systems...

It cracks me up how I've nit picked about the toilet seat for a decade, but his CORDS stay tidy! It's also an absolute delight to pull the immersion blender out of the cupboard all nicely tied up. Or to find that the quirky a/c unit built into the wall of our 1950s master bedroom is perfectly wound for winter. It's like his little area of OCD. To me, it's cute and wonderful. 

The power cords in our house, I tell you, just another testimony to how God matched us well. #codependent

Cheers,
Heather

Friday, October 10, 2014

Chapter 1 - A Grand Day Out: Featuring egg travel and speakeasies

If you and your spouse should find yourselves without your three children {who headed out to the grandparent's farm} after church on a given Sunday, you will decide to hit up The Bagel Deli {that hole-in-the-wall joint featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on the Food Network, yeah, that place}. 
 Because you've always been interested in trying it. The atmosphere inside is a little intimidating. This is a legit Jewish deli, and you feel as if you just stepped off a Denver sidewalk an into a New York City restaurant. 
 You split the Reuben and decide that it's definitely worth the $12 you paid because the meat is stacked a mile high and it falls apart as you eat it, but it's worth it. You'll eye the TV as the Broncos lose the game {just barely, though, #omaha} and agree with your Soulmate that you'll have to return for that breakfast deal advertised on the wall. #baklava
 #sauerkraut

If you make it out of the Bagel Deli because the Broncos are losing and there's no hope left, your spouse will drive you to a random Denver street and ask you to get in this egg of a car with him. Why? You will ask. We're going downtown. He'll say. 
 Whatever. In this EGG?! Alright. Whatever.
{I mean, it really does look like something one of my chickens could pass.}
You'll reminisce about how your Soulmate once drove these Car2Go cars to work sometimes, back when he worked at that one company you loved so much, back when we were happier, back when you were a one-car family. #itwasworthit #nocardebt

Your spouse will show off his skills with the "game", wherein you attempt to drive as economically savvy as possible. That's clever of them, you think. 

While the freeway will be too scary to take pictures--what, going 60mph in a giant fishbowl, albeit a surprisingly roomy fishbowl--but then you'll see the downtown skyline and know that everything is right in your world right now. Broncos game = low downtown traffic. Parking is free and easy with Car2Go, because you don't have to pay the meters and they even have reserved spaces just for their cars. 

 You browse the Tattered Cover, remembering how the owner was your husband's client, back at his past job...back when things were happier. 
 You admire the shelves of Denver's favorite bookstore, you might find some chicken and beekeeping books while your spouse calls the grandma to ask if the children are behaving. 
 You stumble upon a printing press...you're impressed. 
 If you end up at the Tattered cover, you'll hop across the street to visit the newly renovated, redesigned Union Station once again. 

 You've stepped back in time! No, it's modern, yet they've kept the 1880s charm this station was built with. It's half hotel, half shops and restaurants. You think you could move in. You remember you have chickens. #nocigar
 It's so beautiful. You are proud of your city for turning this dead, nearly-vacated train station into something so lovely, buzzing with life, yet again.
 You browse the small shops...
 ...you find that the Tattered Cover has a mini-bookstore. So charming, you think.
 You take more pictures...
 Soulmate and yourself will agree, next anniversary we should stay at this hotel. 
 You take a photo to help you remember to come back here, once again, without the children. 
 Wandering over through the restaurants, you're planning your January anniversary in your head. 
 You think this might be a nice place for an anniversary dinner. You wonder what is in those burlap-capped jars? 
 You leave Union Station and wander back toward a Car2Go egg because your Soulmate suddenly has an idea. You walk past the Oxford, where you spent a previous anniversary, and think, Oh, Denver, how I love you.
 Soulmate will locate an egg on his smartphone, and suddenly you're Highland bound. {You know Highland(s), Denver's neighborhood with the highest concentration of hipsters. Also, Little Man Ice Cream.} You remember fondly how your Soulmate's famous band member clients lived in Victorian mansions and art deco homes in the Highland neighborhood. You wonder why people call it "The Highlands" when it's just Highland, meanwhile people made fun of you in college for calling Washington's I-5, "The Five"? #lamehipsters
 Williams & Graham will be the surprise destination, in "LoHi", which is apparently a really old bookstore that has been around since the turn of the century. Or is it
Soulmate's friend/previous co-worker from happier times had told him about this place, describing it as "an experience". Together, you & he decide to experience it. 

"This appears to be a turn of the century bookstore, Soulmate," you say. 
"It's a speakeasy," says he. 
"I don't really want to go in there, then."
"Why not?" he asks.
"Am I going to have to recite teenage angst hipster poetry while people snap their fingers and someone in the background taps a drum?"
"You idiot. That's not what a speakeasy is."
"Oh. Right."

 You will find that he is right. What appears to be a tiny bookstore is actually a "speakeasy". I mean, not a real one, that is, because--duh--prohibition ended long, long ago. You hand over your ID to a hipster man in a vest and a bow tie--topped appropriately with a bowler hat--and wait for a "discreet" red light in the bookcase to turn green. What's this?! You don't say?! This place is no bookstore, you realize as the bookcase swings open to reveal...
Pitch blackness. 
Until your eyes start to adjust and you find yourself seated at an old fashioned bar and handed a menu full of $12 cocktails. A friendly hipster bartender kindly teases you when you ask if he can recommend anything with St. Germain in it. {Because this anniversary dinner taught you how amazing St. Germain--and sweetbreads?!--can be when in the hands of a skilled bartender.} Well fine, I'll go more hardcore then. 
"What's the 'Blackberry Bourbon Sage', then?"
"It's good, but, it's a little boozy," he says and you realize he's pegged you as someone who can't hold her liquor all because you happen to like expensive elderflower liqueur that is maybe too dainty for his hispter taste. Whatever, hipster man. 
"I'll have that then."

 One boozy-but-good drink later, and after some amazing balsamic herbed french fries with aioli dip, you are shown out the back door--for once, not because you've been kicked out--of the speakeasy and you will regret leaving the 1920s so quickly. 

Later, you will read that this bar has been named one of the 50 Best Bars...IN THE WORLD. Wow. The entry was a little Disneyland, but I can see how it made that list. I think the only reason we were able to beat the usual 2-3 hour wait was because we happened to show up at 5 p.m. like only alcoholics or sleep-deprived parents will small children would: right when they opened. If you want to see one of the 50 Best Bars...IN THE WORLD, for yourself then I advise a reservation.

But you know what? Props to me. Because I have pretty much never been to a BAR except when I've been waiting to be seated at a restaurant. My first bar just happens to be one of the best in the world. ::admires fingernails::

Cheers,
Heather

What's that you say? I've been super whiny about Justin's new job lately? ...have I?
Hmm...



Thursday, September 18, 2014

Take Your Family to Work Day

PREFACE



Sander's job change meant he went from working an easy, breezy 34 hours a week to over 50 hours per week. {When I think about that, it's like realizing he works two extra days a week.} Combine that fact with the fact that he is gone before we wake up in the morning and thus passes out from exhaustion on the couch in the evenings, and you get a nice picture of how things have been, well, an adjustment for us.

Yesterday evening he asked if we wanted to come along with him today to Fort Collins while he did a bit of troubleshooting and put out some fires. He's been doing lots of that lately, putting out fires.

The truth is that a couple weeks ago he mentioned going up to Loveland in the afternoon {he's been rushing up to Loveland like crazy lately} and I asked if the kids and I could tag along--drop him off at the site, go to a park, maybe hit up that antique mall in Longmont, pick him back up and grab dinner together--but he said no, it wouldn't work. I won't lie, I was disappointed. Feels like we never see him these days...but super proud of how hard he works too.

So yesterday he invites us up to Ft. Collins and at first I was all like, "Oh, no, we'll be in the way..." {even though it totally sounded better than waking up by myself at 7 a.m. to three energetic children, staying home with chores, schoolwork, and discipline all day, and hoping he made it home and wouldn't be sent to any of the four corners of Colorado to clean up a mess someone else made, waiting for him to come home for dinner, putting the kids to bed together, and finally watching him pass out on the couch, and wow this was a long interjection here...} ...where was I? Oh yeah, so then he was like, "No, really. I want you to come, it will be fun."

So after stopping by the office, he stopped by home with a cure for my morning zombie mom syndrome Starbucks drink and we were on our way to Ft. Collins.

Miles he drives a week: 4,593
Phone calls he gets every day: 56,029,284 {x 2}
Complaints his boss says he's gotten from customers 
since Justin started working for him: 0

The first stop was at a place called Timnath {which I'm told is said TIM-nuth and not tim-NAAAATH} whereupon I saw lots of fields and farmland. This is the place he talks about having to go to all the time. The middle of nowhere, except a handful of builders decided it would be a great place to build a chunk of suburbs. Nice, tidy little neo-eclectic homes lined up like "little boxes, on the hillside" and I'm pretty sure they're made of, you betcha, ticky tacky. And they all look just the same. {There's a green greenish-beige one and pink pinkish-beige one and a blue bluish-beige one and a yellow yellowish-beige one...}

"People live up here?!" I exclaimed.
"If you build it, they will come." said Kevin Costner, in my head only 
{which is the best way to experience Kev}.

Though I will admit, new homes are nice and clean feeling. They don't have lead paint and asbestos, so they win there. And new homes have nice amenities like a pool house community center with multiple water slides, and that was exactly where I dropped off my husband. The community center's Control4 system needed fixing. My husband's company has only ONE Control4 expert, and it's him. {And that needs to change, but that's another blog post that no one will want to read.} I drove around the neighborhood admiring how Timnath has designed their neo-eclectic peppered neighborhood with larger sidewalks like they did back in the good old days, then I finally found the playground my husband had directed me toward {it was behind the pool, gotcha}.

He could hardly contain his excitement.

"Just take his pants off," said the grandma at the park when I fretted about Pax getting wet

"Water features"
Pool/community center
We played for an hour and got soaked in the playground's water feature {which was a puddle, created by sprinklers}. Then we drove into an area of Fort Collins that led me to text my sister, "I'm driving through a ghetto. In Fort Collins?! Mind blown." She texted back, "La Porte?" and I said, "Sorry, probably shouldn't say 'ghetto'. Trailer park full of hoarders and a few neglected alpacas." Then I told her how Fort Collins makes me remember fondly taking day trips up, solo or with one small baby, to see her and her babies. I miss her living a mere hour away. And College Ave will always remind me of the autumn we saw her off to live in her dorm at CSU. I digress. Sheet.

This time the destination was a gas station. Yes, a gas station. And it came to pass that Justin was able to fix the security cameras that the gas station owner couldn't connect to from his cozy neo-eclectic home in California.

His tasks for the day were complete {we thought} and so I drove us to Downtown Fort Collins and parked and texted my sister, "Where shall we eat?" and she doth did reply, "Coopersmiths. Or go to Little Bird for coffee and such and you're the best sister ever." {Bea, I know if you're reading this you know I'm taking liberties with my writing and as an author, you get that. Like how you write about me only thinking mom was trying to push me off that cliff that one time when I was 8, but we both know she really meant to.}

Bourbon burger
This is called "beer"
Fish 'n' chips
So it came to pass that we had lunch at Coopersmith's. Justin and I split/shared a bourbon burger and their fish and chips {BEST. FISH.N.CHIPS. IN. THE.GALAXY UNIVERSE.} and the kids were lame and wanted things like CORN DOGS off the kids menus, even though--you know--when in Rome, but get this: they had rootbeermilk. Read that right? Yes, root-beer-MILK. Justin and I took 10% tax of their drinks and decided rootbeermilk is awesome and delicious and might just be the answer to how when I order a root beer float I only drink the creamy root beer and leave the ice cream left over. Basically, someone took that concept and turned it into ROOTBEERMILK and it's, frankly, 50 Shades of Delicious. An' I'ma havta find mysef a way to mayk dat at home, yo. #word

Also, their Octoberfest beer is stunning, in spite of the fact that they don't spell it 'Oktoberfest', NEIN! We split that too. Good gracious. What we've lacked lately in minutes spent together, we made up in calories today. #ihavealifethatsgood

Little Bird
So it came to pass that we were on our way back to the car and Sander detoured me toward Little Bird coffee shop--albeit our tummies full of crispy fish, bourbon beef, and rootbeermilk, and just typing this makes me wonder where I stored the Pepto Bismol--and ordered himself a couple cookies and myself a coffee. #tums

I texted my sister, "Thanks for the suggestions! We ate at both. It's your fault my diet is ruined." Or something like that.

That was our day, I'm only leaving out the 50,001 phone calls my husband takes during the day to direct his team and connect with the boss. He is a busy man. In fact, he's been losing weight lately, I've noticed. Wasting away because he's working long hours and doesn't eat lunch or breakfast most days. Well, darngabbit, he ate well today!

"I should take a page from your book." I said.
"Overworking and not eating? I don't think so, honey."

Touche.

On our way back home, Sander decided to detour into Brighton to fix a model home that was on the list for tomorrow. I didn't mind, we decided there was plenty of time. I had never been to Brighton before, actually, and realized it's not a suburb at all. It's like it's own little old town. Mind blown. Again. We waited in the parking lot--even though I sort of did want to see inside these adorable model homes which were Stapleton cute {and had the mini-yards to match} even if they were made out of beige ticky-tacky--because going into pristine model homes with three tired and messy little ones would be stupid.

Little boxes...
We can't always tag along with Daddy, but for today we got to spend some much needed time together. I don't think we've had this sort of mellow day in months.
Find model homes, look for flags
Window shopping Ft. Collins
Selfies in Downtown Ft. Collins
Now if you'll excuse me, I have a husband to transport from couch to bed. Even though he had plans to watch a movie with me this evening. Zzzzz.....

Post edit: he just downed a Red Bull to try and keep his promise of watching a movie with me. This is like, one of the sweetest things he's ever done...drank a Red Bull just to spend time with me. (͡๏̯͡๏)

END PREFACE


Guess what?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Kitchen Makeover - Part One

Kitchen Makeover - Part 1
Yes, that is our kitchen. Now you know why I haven't shared many photos or much of anything about our kitchen. It's not horrible, but it's nothing to write home about either. Look, I recently read THIS POST which makes SUCH a great point regarding remodeling, redecorating, and home decor--and what is really important. I'm going to stop you here, GO. READ. THAT. POST. Then come back and we'll talk.

Done? Good. So don't get me wrong, we have a kitchen and it works and it's a wonderful thing! Yay! Our house came with a kitchen! {And a kitchenette in the basement, well shoot, we're rich.} I've been struggling lately with my priorities and daily life. I've experienced a paradigm shift and have realized in a way I've never experienced before that we don't have much time here and most of what I've been doing with my life is unimportant. Oh boy...that sounds really depressing doesn't it? I'm not depressed, actually, I'm {intensely} looking to the clouds with anticipation, if you get my drift. I need to be more careful when I'm driving.

So it's been a struggle to convince myself not to give up on the hobbies and things I used to indulge all my free time and effort into. It felt unnatural at first, to focus some of myself back onto materials and things and appearances, but I'm getting into this kitchen makeover thing now in an effort to keep busy. We've officially started the project.
Kitchen Makeover - Part 1
Our kitchen is subtly dated--by that I mean, it doesn't have avocado green appliances or shag carpeting, just 90s touches and disgusting tile and grout. And yellowed linoleum that we don't care to tear up because asbestos. I haven't felt much motivation to be in there, decorate, or put much effort into the kitchen. It never feels clean.
Kitchen Makeover - Part 1
When we bought our house, we fantasized about knocking down the wall that borders the living room. In fact, we've been in several open houses here since moving in, and seen our same model updated in the same way, knocking down the wall and opening up the kitchen. Oh yes, we thought we'd ditch the galley kitchen setup and open the kitchen up. We had plans for an island, all new appliances. We also realized that was going to cost at least $20k, if we did it right and to code. Basically...it was never going to happen any time soon.
Kitchen Makeover - Part 1
But a funny thing happened when we moved in and started using this kitchen for a couple months: we started liking it. Surprising to both of us, a few months in we found ourselves having an evening conversation along the lines of, You know, I really do actually like the kitchen this way. Our rental home had a galley kitchen also, however, it was a dead-end galley kitchen and was 18 inches narrower. Those details make a huge difference. Also, we have a surprising bit of extra cupboard space, this kitchen is bigger than it appears. It's plenty for us.
Kitchen Makeover - Part 1
A few cosmetic updates will be just the ticket. No need to replace the cupboards, they are so sturdy and well built, 1957 quality--they don't make 'em like they used to, ya know? So a handful of cosmetic updates is the plan. We're having fun so far with this project. I think.
Kitchen Makeover - Part 1
Dude, there's tile on our window sills. All of them. With the worst, most dirty looking grout. It looks gritty, it ain't pretty. I want it gone, gone, gone. It's in our bedrooms too, and I've been painting glossy white it to match our trim. But that's like putting a Band-Aid on a festering wound.
Kitchen Makeover - Part 1
Since we've moved in, we've gotten two quotes from two big window replacement companies--the best of the best--and while we'd like to have our 1957 crank-style, poorly insulated windows replaced ASAP...it's not cheap. But here's the thing about remodeling or DIY makeovers: there is a domino effect. You want a new countertop? Might as well update the sink while you're at it. And the tile MUST be replaced if you're going to mess with the countertop. If you're going to replace the tile, you should go ahead and do the window while you're at it. So Justin decided to be brave and attempt a window replacement on his own.
Kitchen Makeover - Part 1
Yes! Yes! Yes!!!
Kitchen Makeover - Part 1
GOODBYE TILED WINDOW SILL! Buh-bye now! Buh-bye! Get lost. Scram!!!
Kitchen Makeover - Part 1
I will admit it: I had my doubts. I wasn't sure. {I also freaked out when he started the project--which included cutting out the METAL window frame with a sawzall--and he forgot to tape off the window and use a mask and the kids were around. A 1957 window means LEAD, friends. So I made him call Poison Control to see if we needed to have our kids' blood tested before he moved on. All is well.}
Kitchen Makeover - Part 1
It was an intimidating project {to me} but he did it. The window has been replaced! Will he do all of them? I don't know...we really want higher quality {than what you can buy at Home Depot} windows in the rest of the home, and taking out all those metal frames would be a nightmare. What, with the LEAD and the NOISE and the WIFE freaking out. Oh, and we're thankful for our neighbor, "Handy Dan", who--despite his recent hip replacements--is still kicking and hardworking. He was able to help Justin out when he hit a tricky spot, and loaned us his crow bar as well as an heirloom tomato and a few heads of garlic from his garden. {He actually did the roof on our house!} We have some eggs set aside for him and his wife.
Kitchen Makeover - Part 1
So with Justin working on the final touches on the window, and the kids distracted with Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit {Haven't seen it? Watch it, it's British humor, creative art, and family entertainment at it's very best--what other animated film can you watch and see the artist's fingerprints all over it?} I got to work on killing this tile!
Kitchen Makeover - Part 1
Oh man... this felt good to do. Whoever did this tile job could not possibly have been a professional. {Not that we are either, but we've tiled before and done much better than this.} Wavering, uneven sandy gritty grout lines. Rippled square tile--not offset. I was so pleased to take a chisel and a hammer and take out all my rage on this tile. I was all like, TOWANDA!!!!

I should tell you about my vision, the kitchen-to-be. See, it involves an apron sink, see? :::taps cigar and wiggles eyebrows::: Because I've always wanted an apron sink. Like, always. Our home didn't come with one, our rental didn't have one, our previous homes didn't have one, my Barbie Folding Fun House didn't even have one. Now, I have one.
Kitchen Makeover - Part 1
New sinks can be expensive, especially fireclay apron sinks. Thankfully, IKEA has a very affordable one, the Domsjö comes in a single bowl or a double bowl. The double won't fit our kitchen unless we hacked into the silverware drawer, but I also really prefer a single bowl. I just dew.

Imagine my heartbreak when we arrived at IKEA this past weekend, for their special deduct-your-restaurant-tab-from-your-purchase sale, only to find that they were INDEFINITELY. OUT. OF. STOCK!
Kitchen Makeover - Part 1
I went through the several stages of sink grief at this point. First I doubted, No, this can't be true. Second, I pouted. Third, I snapped at my husband who snapped back {we were hungry too}. Fourth, I snapped at my kids {they were fussy...because they were hungry}. And finally, I accepted, Waaah!!! I'm never going to get my apron sink! Woe is me. Can the world just end?

So, we had lunch and planned to get the countertops that day instead.
Kitchen Makeover - Part 1Kitchen Makeover - Part 1Kitchen Makeover - Part 1Kitchen Makeover - Part 1
Long story short: With our food receipt in hand, we headed back up to the kitchen section. Spoke to IKEA employee. I'd Googled enough during lunch to learn that this sink has been backordered for EIGHT. MONTHS. I'd also read that a few were making it into stores here and there, and that many stores had a waiting list. I hoped to get on that waiting list. Instead, the employee told us she believed they had TWO--2!!!--in stock at the moment. She called down to the warehouse, had ours reserved--DIBS!--and we paid right there in the kitchen section. Yes!!! There is hope of owning an apron sink before the world ends after all!

The next day, the last day of the sale, we went back for lunch and to buy our countertops. We strapped them to the top of our Volvo and carefully drove down I-25...for a 1/4 mile before I made Justin exit and take the long way because I have visions of the wind ripping these things off and killing a family of four in the SUV behind us. {My blasted imagination combined with my anxiety at it's best.}
Kitchen Makeover - Part 1
And so, our little kitchen makeover has begun. {I can't call it a remodel, right? Since we're not knocking out a wall, I think.} Part 2 will hopefully show our removal of the old counter tops and the installation of the sink. I'm chomping at the bit to get going, but alas, we have to wait for FedEx to deliver the new faucet. {Although I'm trying to convince my husband that we can drag dirty dishes down to the basement sink for the time being, so far he's hesitant. I bought paper plates. He's still hesitant.}
Kitchen Makeover - Part 1

Cheers,
Heather, tile killer