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Monday, August 15, 2016

Our Finished Hallway

It felt strange today to come home from work, and not have to paint all night. Like, I really didn't know what to do with myself! For the last few weeks, we've been hard at work finishing our hallway renovation, and we finished it just in time for our anniversary party on Saturday.

This has been the longest renovation project yet for us, in the nearly 6 years that we've been living in this house and fixing it up together! We first decided to rip out the hallway walls and ceiling back in 2011, then worked on putting drywall up, installed lighting, and put in 3 doors. But for a few years now, it was sitting unfinished while we went about our busy daily lives.

It was hard to get the time and motivation to get it finished. But somehow toward the end of last month, we got the bug again and got back to work. We always say, if you want motivation to get renovation projects done around the house, throw a party. It's great motivation to get things finished so you can finally relax and don't have to stress about it when you have company over! Ha.

In the last month, we finished sanding the floor and refinished it, finished the mudding and sanding of the walls and ceilings, primed the walls and ceilings and painted them, finished installing trim and painted it, and painted all of the doors.

Once we started priming the walls, it was coming together and looking more finished, but when we got the paint on the walls, it really started getting real! Paint always has that dramatic change effect - it can make such a difference.

And we did a LOT of painting with this project. It feels like we painted everything! I was definitely getting used to coming home from work, eating, then grabbing a brush and a paint can. And I don't miss those nights. :) It's nice to finally be able to relax and enjoy it now.

Here is the finished product:

It was a nice anniversary gift for us, just to finally finish this space and be done with renovations for a while! We both feel like we put a lot of work into it. Of course it isn't perfect - there are a lot of imperfections, which you'll have with old houses, things not being level, etc. But it feels like a finished space now. 

Now, instead of stressing about trying to get it done, or being embarrassed by the exposed drywall that was our hallway, we can sit back and check another thing off our home renovation to-do list.

And it feels really good! 

Now, for a final Before & After picture:

The "Before" pictures are actually kind of mid-renovation - the top left shows Trent demoing the old walls, and the bottom left shows the bare studwalls and new hall closet that we built. Hard to believe we are finally finished, even if it is 5 years later!

One Year

I don't know where this month has gone, or where this entire year has gone, but today is our 1 year Anniversary! It's hard to believe that one year ago today we were walking down the aisle and saying "I do." I'm glad the weather was a little nicer last year than this one. It's cloudy and a little dreary today. We had perfect weather on our day, though it was a little hot. :)

This has been one of the best years ever, and we've made so many more memories in just a year. I know there will be so many more to come! 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Current Status: Painting White Things White

Hello all, and happy August! My hallway update is a little overdue - we've been working on it for over a week now, and we are actually making good progress.

We finished the floor. It's nice and shiny, and new-looking thanks to Trent's sanding work, and two coats of Poly. We couldn't walk on it for a while so we had to make a detour through the closet to get to the bedroom and bathroom.

Now, we can walk on the floor, but there is a huge white sheet over it. It's pretty much a construction zone now, as we are working on the walls, doors, trim and ceiling.

Here's a little before and after of the floor, sanded and then finished (the poly was still wet, but you get the idea!):

It's exciting to see things finally start to take shape. Especially after all of these years of working on this space! I looked back today at my previous posts, and we actually started ripping the hallway out back in 2011. That's five years ago! Talk about a long renovation! You can see my first post about the initial demolition of the hallway here.

Since we've gotten the floor finished, Trent has been working on more mudding touch-ups, and is now in the home stretch of the wall-sanding process.

I have been painting - Painting white things white.

Let me tell you, it is a blast. So far, I have painted 2 coats on the bathroom and bedroom doors, and one full coat on the trim around both doors. All of the doors and trim are pre-primed, so they are white to start. And I'm painting white semi-gloss on them. So, it's not a dramatic difference, but it is still a difference, in that they are much brighter and shinier when they're finished.

Here's my nearly completed bathroom door! It's not super exciting but again, it's progress, considering we installed these doors back in 2012, and we've lived with them unpainted for almost 4 years.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to paint the closet door white! Yippee!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Home Renovation Weekend

Since it's been another pretty busy summer for us, we've been lacking a little in the home renovation department. This weekend we wanted to get back into the swing of things and start getting more done around here.

Friday, Trent started in on sanding the hallway floor again, but his hand sander finally "bit the dust", literally and figuratively. That put us on hold for a day or so, and Saturday morning we went into town to get the supplies we needed to finish the hallway, including a new hand sander.

We spent a good deal of time in Menards gathering up all of our supplies, and we also found a good deal on a patio set, and ended up taking one home! Just $380 for the table and chairs - and the chairs are swivel-rocking chairs, so they're super comfy.

The only thing we didn't get yet was a new patio umbrella. Our current one is pretty faded and is getting a little worn out. So we'd like to find a new umbrella that we like, and maybe a few outdoor pillows to brighten things up a little bit.

Saturday after we got home, we had the twins' birthday party across the street, where we cooked out and took a dip in the pool. When we got back home, we put the new patio set together and called it a night. We're pretty excited about it, but we have a lot more that we'd like to do out here eventually.

This morning, we were back at the indoor renovations. Trent's been sanding the hallway floor for a few hours now, finishing it up. We're hoping later this afternoon we can get it all cleaned up and start applying the floor sealer.

I've been cleaning the kitchen - giving the stove and ceiling fan a good deep clean, and I touched up the paint on the cabinets. It's amazing what a fresh coat of paint will do to brighten things up a little bit!

I gave my flowers a little plant food today, but they've been doing pretty well this summer, with the good amount of rain we've gotten.

We've had 100+ degree heat indexes this week though, so we're trying to stick to indoor projects as much as possible. Hopefully by the end of the week, we'll be making good progress on the hallway renovation, which has been years in the making. I love getting stuff done around the house and seeing the fruits of our labor. :)

Stay tuned later in the week for an update (I hope!)!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

My Latest Discovery: The Apple News App

I've been an Apple user now for several years now, and I've had an iPhone since 2013. But I've just recently discovered the News app that comes standard with the iPhone. (And yes, the Podcast app was another recent discovery of mine. Where have these apps been all of my life?) 

I discovered it by "sliding my screen over to the right" one day, then scrolling down to find a bunch of news headlines.  It was in June right after the Orlando shooting happened, and I saw a headline about it, so I clicked on it. It took me to a news article about the shooting, and from there I started exploring the app and finding other articles that interested me.

Since then I've been taking a few minutes almost every night to read a few articles, or save new ones to read later.

What I like about the app is that you can customize it to your specific interests. If you like traveling, or sports, or art/ design, you can search for these topics, which then appear in your "Favorites" screen, and the app finds stories and articles related to your favorite topics. Here's a small portion of my Favorites page for example:

Since I've been planning our Colorado vacation this coming August, I've read a lot of articles related to Colorado and National Parks lately! The articles that the app collects for you, are all under the "For You" tab.

A lot of times, I will save an interesting article I see by swiping the headline over to the left, and clicking on "Save". I'll then go over to my "Saved" tab, and click on the articles as I want to read them.

If I want to go back to an article I read the other day to reference something, I can either leave it in my "Saved" list, or I can go to my "History", and every article I've visited / read is listed there. 

I mean, who doesn't want to read 17 random facts about "Gilmore Girls" before heading off to bed?

Seriously though, whether you prefer to use this app for entertainment, travel planning, acquiring knowledge, or to check the latest top news stories - or all of the above like I do - I've found it to be a pretty cool and useful little app once you start customizing it to your interests. It's now on my home screen and I check it just about as much as my Weather app these days. Thanks, Apple! :)

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Fun in Wisconsin: Summerfest and New Glarus

More travel stuff today! This past weekend we went up to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for the last weekend of Summerfest. It was our first time ever going to this music festival, and wow, was there a lot of people there! The crowds were crazy, and it was huge! But, it was all worth it - we had a great time, and we saw a ton of amazing bands perform.

The main reason we wanted to go to Summerfest was because we found out that Mindi Abair would be performing there, and she is actually a distant cousin of mine! My aunt and uncle have mentioned her several times over the years and are big fans of her music. She's a great saxophone player, and performed at Summerfest this year with her band, The Boneshakers.

Until this weekend, I had never seen Mindi play or met her in person. It was really cool to see her perform, and we even got to meet her and chat a little after the show. She was so nice and friendly! I bought a couple of her CDs there, and she happily signed them and left her contact info. We hope to see her play again sometime.

The same night we saw Mindi play, we also got to see The Fray. We didn't have the greatest view, but it was pretty cool, and they still sounded awesome.

The next day we drove down by the festival again, and ate lunch at a cool little place on the lake called the Milwaukee Sail Loft. There was a dock literally right next to our table, and to top it off, the food was amazing. I think I ate the best caesar salad I've ever had!

After lunch we went to Summerfest again, and hung out there in the afternoon. We rode the ski lift ride from one end of the grounds to the other...

We rode the ferris wheel...

Sat on the rocks by the lake...

Trent "test-drove" a Harley (that was stationed to the ground)...

And I totally ate a watermelon-flavored Hawaiian Shave Ice. It was a fun day, and the weather was perfect!

The night was great, too. We had tickets for the Weezer concert, and we saw so many great bands play that night. Andrew McMahon opened up for Panic at the Disco and Weezer, and I love him! He's one of my favorite artists of all time. It was surreal to finally be able to see him perform live, and he had so much energy.

The view from outside the concert arena was also pretty awesome. During Panic at the Disco, we stepped out for a little while to enjoy it. We could see the lights, the lake, the sunset, and the huge crowd forming in front of us for Barenaked Ladies.

It was especially awesome to see the fireworks that were shot off over the lake. We were totally not expecting to see them, but it was definitely a cool moment!

We left Weezer a little early and got to see some of the other bands playing that night, too - as in: Barenaked Ladies, Death Cab for Cutie, Skillet, and ended the night with Ben Folds! All in all, a great night, and a great couple of days at Summerfest.

Then, on the way home the next day, Trent really wanted to go through New Glarus and stop by the brewery there. It was a tad out of our way, but I'm glad we took the little detour. New Glarus was a charming little Swedish town in the Wisconsin countryside.

We ate lunch at a cute bed-and-breakfast-looking restaurant on a hill called Kristi's.

We enjoyed some yummy breakfast food outside on the porch.

My veggie omelet, toast with locally-made raspberry jam, and coffee were all pretty awesome.

Since we had to get moving, we didn't have a lot of time to explore or go into a lot of the shops, but I would love to come back here someday and spend a whole day here.

We did go into one of the giftshops, and it had a lot of Swedish and European-inspired items. It was pretty cool to explore, but I really wanted to stop into some of the cheese and chocolate shops, too. Maybe next time! Aren't the buildings cute, though?!

Our last stop on our trip was the New Glarus Brewery. Of course Trent loves visiting breweries, but this was actually a really cool place.

The facility was really nice - you can go on a self-guided tour, and visit the gift shops and the huge beer store with limited edition brews...

But the best part was the tastings and the outdoor area. For $8, you can get a tasting glass and 3 samples of their beers on tap. The samples are good sized, and once you get one, you can wander around the facility, inside or in their awesome outside area.

There is an amazing view of the countryside of New Glarus.

There are tables everywhere, spaced out and secluded enough so that you can hang out and enjoy your beer samples. We explored a little bit, and with the beautiful landscaping and view, the entire area was really cool.

On the way out of the brewery, we stopped by the hop garden. It's a little garden out front with hop plants, and some beautiful flowers.

If you're ever in central Wisconsin, I definitely recommend a stop in New Glarus to check out the brewery and the quaint downtown area.

We had a great little trip overall. Now the next vacation will be...COLORADO, In August! We can't wait. All hotels are booked, and the planning is in full force. This is shaping up to be a pretty eventful and memorable summer. Now, if only we could get some work on the house done... :)
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