Live Every Moment: Vibrant Colors

It’s been forever since I joined a photo challenge, but now that we’re a bit more settled with the house and everything, I want to get back into it again. Not only is it fun, but it forces me to use my camera more – which I need sometimes!

We’ll kick off my return to photo challenges with this gorgeous rose from our backyard for the LEM Photo Challenge.

To see more vibrant colors, check out other entries by clicking the button below.


The Much Anticipated House Tour

As promised (albeit a bit late), here is a tour of our new house!

I’ll start with a floor plan of the house so you can get idea of how everything is laid out when looking at the photos. I hope it all makes sense – I worked hard on creating this floor plan!

So, now that you can see the layout, time for pictures! And what better place to start than the front and entry!

Immediately upon entering the front door is the living room with fireplace (we have plans in the future to get rid of those awful huge bricks and make a stone fireplace that only goes up half the wall as well as ripping out the carpet and replacing it with hard wood floors).

Next stop is the kitchen/dining area. I love this room. There may not look like there’s a lot of storage in the kitchen, but the space actually went pretty far and the pantry is not entirely full, though it’s got really deep shelves, so it’s kinda hard to put stuff in the back and be able to get to it easily.  Someday we are going to redo the entire kitchen/dining area and add a ton of extra cabinet space and there will definitely be lots of drawers instead of shelves. I also love how huge this entire space is. We have our large dining room table set up with both of the leaves in it and there’s still plenty of space to walk around it to get outside through the sliding door (more out outside later in the tour).

So now we’re headed down the “hall” which isn’t really much of a hall as it is a “room” created by the entry to all the other rooms in the house. On the left is the main bathroom – a full bathroom with an awesome mirrored sliding door (note the sarcasm). We aren’t doing much with this room right now, but will eventually gut it and completely redo it, keeping the tub (this will be the future kiddos’ bathroom).

Coming out of the main bathroom, straight ahead is the door to the first of two bedrooms. These bedrooms are almost identical. The only difference is the size of the closet. In this first bedroom, the closet is only half the size because of the linen closet in the hall area. Right now this room is my office, but will be a future kids room (we’re undecided which bedroom will be the first nursery, but we’ve got some time to decide that since I’m not even pregnant yet). Both of these rooms have one huge window that looks out into the backyard (I love how many windows are in this house, though we’re going to need to replace them in the not-too-distant future to energy-efficient ones).

Right next to the first bedroom is the second bedroom with the full size closet and this is John’s office right now. Again, it will be a future nursery/kids room.

Now it’s into the master suite. While we didn’t have a walk-in closet, we do have a very large closet and have plenty of room for both my and John’s clothes. We do want to redo the closet (well, I do at least) with those “closet solutions” that have a drawers, shelves, and varying rod heights to best utilize the space. The bathroom is incorporated into the room, with the sink outside of the actual bathroom (someday we may add a second sink, though we are loving the counter space), and the toilet and 3/4 shower – it’s a full size shower, but no tub. We will be redoing this part of the room eventually with new cabinets and a tub with tiled shower. We would like to also increase the size of the actual bathroom because you have to practically climb in the toilet or in the shower to close the door to the bathroom. We’re not sure that’s going to be possible because both walls are exterior walls so it will be expensive to add-on for just a bathroom, but we’ll see.

That’s all for the interior of our house, so let’s head outside to the backyard. The only way to access the backyard is from the garage and through the sliding door in the dining room. We love our backyard because it’s not too big and not too small and has a little bit of everything – grass, basketball court, cement for toddler-sized bikes, garden space, patio, etc. We plan to tear out the two walkways through the middle of the yard and put grass in. We also plan to plant a vegetable and herb garden and some fruit trees, along with adding more bushes (we’re thinking hibiscus) along the brick wall and more roses on the south fence.

We also have “sideyards” on both the north and south side of the house. On the north side, they call it “RV” parking (apparently that’s a big selling point for a house because it was advertised a lot when we were looking at homes). We’ll probably add a shed over on this side of the house because we have no plans to ever own an RV.

The south side yard is just cement right now. We would like to rip up this concrete and build a pergola, planting some running plants (my mom suggested grapes…yum!) that will create its own shade. I want to put a bench and some chairs along with a bunch of plants, to make a nice shaded oasis in the backyard.

The final stop on our tour is the garage, accessible from the north side yard, the driveway (obviously), and from just inside the front door of the house (the front door opens to block the door to the garage). There’s nothing super exciting about the garage. It does have our washer/dryer hook-ups and we did put in storage shelves to hold all of our stuff, but still have some additional organizational stuff to do in there eventually, including a cabinet area by the laundry.

So, that’s our house! We’ve been busy since we moved in painting and getting everything unpacked and ready for our housewarming party on June 5. Along with invitations to our housewarming party, we went out “we’ve moved” postcards to let everyone know of our new address. I got the inspiration for our “we’ve moved” cards from one of the blogs I follow, E, Myself and I when they purchased their home.

Once we have the painting done and everything full unpacked, I’ll give you another tour so we can see what we’ve done with the place so far! And I’ll be sure to share photos from our first official party in our new home in a couple of weeks!

#6: Run a Half-Marathon

Well, I did it! I finished a half-marathon! I wish I could say that I actually RAN it, but in all honesty, I walked about half of it. Lots of factors working against me that day, including the unusually warm weather that early in the morning, the number of hills that I DIDN’T train for, and the fact the we had moved just one week prior so life was kind of upside down! But I finished (though there were some points I wasn’t sure I was going to make it)! I felt like I was going to throw up or pass out for a couple of house after I finished and walking to the car after the race was probably pretty funny to watch (the hubby drove and took photos for me…he’s great!).

The race I decided to run was the Cinco de Mayo Half-Marathon that was raising money for the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation. I raised a total of $215, which I thought was pretty good considering that I entered the race purely for running a half-marathon, so I didn’t really push the fundraising part of it!

We got there extra early to make sure I would have time to warm up before the race – and to make sure I was there for the 7:00 a.m. start time since it was a 30-45 minute drive from the new house.

The race started right on time and off we went. I waved to John as I headed out on the course – the last time I’d see him for over 3 hours!

I finally finished the race and collected my finishers medal – pretty proud of that sucker – and then promptly collapsed on the grass to stretch and try to prevent passing out. I was finally well enough to walk to the car and head home, though it took several hours to fully recover. Can’t you tell how I feel by how lovely I look? Ugg…not a fan of this photo!

So, I know you’re all wondering what my time was…well, not spectacular at all. Not at all what I had hoped. But I finished and I’m told that’s a big deal for a first half-marathon.  Okay, so my official time was 3:24:03, which is a 15:35 mile (yes, horrible and not at all what I was training at).

Would I do it again? If you asked me that at about 11:00 on May 1, I would have said, yeah right! But after having time to cover and reflect on the experience, yes I definitely want to do it again. I have a couple of races this fall in my sights and John might even run with me this time! Hopefully having a partner to train and run with will help make sure I’m keeping up with my training and for encouragement throughout the race course. My goal for my next race is to finish in under 3-hours, which I don’t think is unreasonable at all!

Our Green Monster

Ever since we started looking at houses, I knew I wanted to paint my kitchen green. I must have picked up about 50 different green paint swatches in search of the right colors. I finally found what I was looking for at Dunn-Edwards and headed to Home Depot to get my sample paint to make sure it really was what I wanted. I ended up going a little light on the original choices, so I went with the 2nd and 4th colors on the swatch (instead of 1st and 3rd). I settled on the darker shade of Clipped Grass and the lighter shade of Lime Sorbet.

So, we ordered our paint – we went with the most inexpensive paint – we have to be very cost conscious with my current state of unemployment – color matching to the Dunn-Edwards swatches and paint samples. Well, something went horribly wrong in the color match! Unfortunately, I didn’t totally realize until I had painted across the entire wall…as you can see in this photo below.

You can see in this photo how horribly off the color is…the four color samples are labeled, along with the two bad green colors.

I headed back to Home Depot with these colors hoping they’d at least be able to do something with the paint I had purchased to get semi-close to the correct colors. I was pleasantly surprised when they offered to not only allow me to return the three gallons of ugly paint, but also give me Glidden paint at the same price as the cheaper brand – a savings of $11.00 per gallon!  I was pretty excited leaving Home Depot that day and couldn’t wait to get home and paint the wall!

John was on roller duty while I had edging responsibilities (we’re pretty good at this by now…we’ve since tackled the bedroom and soon the hallway). We knew it would take more than one coat, but were a little concerned it wouldn’t full hide the awful hideousness that was under it after painting that first coat.

So, we did one more coat before heading to bed, hoping that we would like what we saw in the morning and would be done…with that wall. (The other three walls will be the lighter green – Lime Sorbet).

We woke up to a very green wall…but still needed one more coat to finish it off.

That third coat was just perfect – our green monster was done! John’s still not sold on it. It’s definitely a bold color choice and I’m hoping I won’t regret it down the road. I guess we can always paint over it, especially since we plan to redo the entire kitchen/dining room down the road.

For now, this is what our wall looks like. I love it, but now I’m struggling with what to put ON the wall! We have so much wall space in this house and there are so many options! Anyone have some awesome suggestions for this big green wall?

Twenty-Nine Years Ago…

My parents welcomed their first baby (ME!) into the world at 10:03 a.m.

Here’s one of the very first photos of me, just a few hours old!
(Please pardon the quality…it is 29-years-old and well before digital cameras!)

I have no major plans today…that I know of. I did wake up to a vase full of roses from our backyard from the hubby this morning. I’m looking forward to finding out what he’s got planned for dinner since I told him that he could either take me out or cook dinner at home – I wasn’t doing anything for dinner today.

I will celebrate with my family on Memorial Day (it’s so hard coordinating everyone’s schedules, especially with a sister gone to Chicago for a week!) and we celebrated with John’s dad and brother last weekend with a BBQ at our house. I like keeping it low-key this year, because I’m planning to have a HUGE party next year when I get to celebrate the big 3-0!

What do you do to celebrate your birthday? Do you keep it low-key or throw a huge birthday bash? What would be your ideal celebration of a milestone birthday (since I’m looking for ideas)?

First Popcorn, Now Bamboo

I knew that even though we were buying a “turn-key” home, we would have some work to do to make it OUR house, but I had no idea how much work that would really take – and all the fun things we’d find along the way to add to our to do list – which keeps growing faster than we can get stuff checked off!

After getting rid of the popcorn ceilings, re-texturing it with a less pronounced texture, and painting, we moved in and began work on the inside of the house by choosing paint colors for the walls in the living room and hallway (tan/brown), the master bedroom (gray) and the kitchen (two shades of green).  So far we’ve painted the living room and hung the curtains on 3 of the 4 windows.  It’s so good to have the room coming together – to a point where it’s actually almost “done for now!”

Outside, we hadn’t planned to do much right away. Someday, we’d like to tear out some of the concrete and put in grass and/or create a patio garden, add some fruit trees, move around some of the bushes, add some rose bushes, add a few other types of plants, etc.  But nothing urgent – until we discovered the BAMBOO!

I used to think bamboo was pretty cool, but didn’t really want it in my backyard. It was kind of sporadic throughout one particular area and there were a few shoots that appeared along our north fence in the planter. The shoots weren’t there when we bought the place, but within just a week or two, they were taller than the fence!

They had to go, so I set out to find out how to get rid of bamboo. After reading just a few websites about getting rid of it, I realized this was going to be a HUGE task – and according to several of the sites – a two- or three-year battle. Awesome.

We hadn’t really touched the bamboo except when John bought an edger earlier this week and decided to wee-whack the shorter, thinner stalks. Unfortunately, that doesn’t really do a whole lot to get rid of the root system, which means it only comes back again.

The best suggestion I found to get rid of this stuff is to cut the stalks about 4-6 inches from the ground (for the new shoots that weren’t that tall, I just cut them where I could), then immediately saturate the remaining stalk with herbicide. Apparently, the plant will draw the sap back into the root system after the stalk is cut, so if you spray it right away, it takes the chemicals with it and starts to poison the roots.  Unfortunately, this usually has to be done several times, and if you don’t dig up the roots and rhizomes, there’s a chance they can come back again.

So, that’s what I started doing this morning – digging up the root system.  Wait till you see what I discovered!

This is where we plan to plant a vegetable garden – hopefully sometime in the next year or so. It’s also where we’ve seen a lot of the bamboo shoots coming up in the two and a half weeks we’ve lived here. Fortunately, that haven’t gotten super tall like the other area, but the root system is basically running throughout this entire area of the yard.  You can see the areas where I started digging it up with a plastic spade (which ended up breaking – the reason I called it quits for the day). We’re going to have to get a real shovel and dig about 6-8 inches down to try to find all the major roots.

The pile of roots I pulled out of the (fairly) small area today. I was shocked when I discovered the first “log” buried in the ground. I realized this, what I thought would be semi-reasonable task, was going to be very time-consuming and a great workout!

The largest root I pulled up today was 2.5″ in diameter! It’s basically a HUGE version of the vertical shoots that come up – only it runs horizontal under the ground.

Some of the roots I just couldn’t get up. They weren’t like the other ones. They seemed to be more like a “claw” with the fingers going deep into the ground. From what I read online, it seems these are clumping bamboo vs. the running bamboo I had found throughout the rest of the yard. I’ve outlined the visible root in the photo above. This is about 6-8 inches under the ground. It’s going to take some major elbow grease and shovel to get that sucker out. So far, I’ve found two like this. I’m sure there are others.

Now, if you have bamboo too, I did read one website that said if you are successful at killing the roots and you don’t plan to plan anything in that area, you can actually leave these roots in the ground. Eventually, they’ll just rot away (yes, conflicting information from different sites). Since we plan to use this space for a vegetable garden, these roots have to go. Fortunately, I also read that as long as you get these huge roots up, the smaller roots won’t regenerate on their own, so you don’t have to get every single little tiny root (these are the roots that actually look more like the roots of normal weeds or plants).

Oh, one more photo…

These are the tall shoots I cut down today (different area of the yard). I didn’t even attempt to dig up these roots yet. I’m kind of afraid – they’re a lot taller  – about 6-7 feet! – and thicker than the shoots coming from the roots I dug up today. I’m kind of worried these roots are going to be like 6 inches or something crazy like that! Hopefully I’m wrong. Only time will tell!

I’ll keep you updated on our bamboo saga – and promise a tour of the house very soon!