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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Status of the House

I thought I would write a house-related post today, since with all of the traveling and stuff we've had going on this summer, it's been a while since we've been able to really do any home renovation projects. So I think our little house deserves a "Status of the House" post.

Our house, fall 2016
For years now, and even before I started this blog, we've had a huge list of things we've wanted to get done with this house, and we're probably not even halfway through that list. It's true that while we've done a lot with the house so far, we're not nearly as far as what we envision the end result to be in our heads.

We've made it comfortable for us for the time being, though. Comfortable enough for everyday life to take place and not have to worry too much about the house on a day to day basis. But there are so many more projects that need to happen, namely structural projects, that we're just trying to find the time to fit in with our everyday lives.

When I look back at the time of my first blog posts here, especially when I first moved in, we were thinking about the house constantly. The living room and bedroom were both in a state of renovation, and we wanted to get those projects done as soon as we could in order to live comfortably in our home.

Trent working away on the hallway floor
Now, in recent years, we've taken things a lot slower than when we first started. This has allowed us to not only live in the house and really think about what we want to do with it, but we've also been able to just experience things without worrying as much about what we need to do with the house. We've been able to fit in small, and slightly larger projects, here and there, while still being able to make memories, get married, travel, and work along the way.

So many memories in recent years!
Even though this means things may not get done as quickly as we like, we have at least been able to live in the moment and not be focused on the house 24/7, which I think is what you should do to stay sane!

So, what does the future hold for our little house? Maybe a few small house projects before the year ends, maybe a big project..we're not quite sure yet. I've been itching to start another big reno project, though. I just need to get Trent on board. ;)

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Stories Told By Traveling

As much of a homebody that I am, I also like to travel and see new places, and I think it's super important to do so. Every road trip or vacation you take, and every new place you visit, adds to your own personal library of stories, experiences, and memories. And, to me, that's what life is all about!

I'm not much of a world traveler. As of today, I've only visited a total of 3 countries - The U.S., Canada, and Jamaica. One day I hope to visit places like Europe and more islands in the Caribbean, but until then, I have plenty of domestic travel goals.

You can see all of the states I've visited so far, in pink, below. Not the greatest graphic (I used a couple of free websites to put it together), but the idea is that in nearly every state I've visited, I've made memories and experiences to last a lifetime.

I saw the ocean and rode in a plane for the first time when I was 10, traveling to Florida with my family. I went fishing for the first time while visiting Trent's family in Missouri. I saw endless miles of forests in Louisiana, saw the beautiful Rocky Mountains and rode to the top of Pike's Peak in Colorado, saw the Alamo and got engaged in Texas. 

Sure, some states we just drove through, or I had a work conference there so didn't spend much time in that place (I'm looking at you, Nebraska). But there are so many more places that I still want to see, right here in this country. 

For example, I'd like to see more of Oregon and Washington, since I was just there for a short work trip. I've never been to Arizona, Utah or New Mexico, so I would love to see the Grand Canyon, Arches National Park, and the Four Corners. I've also never been to New York City, or any of the New England states, so those are other areas I would love to visit.

I hope to fill in my U.S. travel map fully someday. This year I added Nevada to my list, so now I've seen 34 of the 50 states. Which means, 16 more to go... I have a feeling there will be many more road trips and fun times ahead.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Homemade Margherita Pizza

Anybody love pizza like I do?! Tonight I have to share a little bit about this yummy homemade Margherita pizza that Trent made a week or so ago. It turned out to be really delicious, and he even used a few veggies from our garden. Here it is pre-baking:

And here it is all done and crispy:

That melty cheese, though.

I made him give me the lowdown on everything he used. Because we all know he's the chef of our household, not me. The crust was a pre-made thin crust, but he made his own sauce. It was just the right amount of sweet and spicy, with fresh ingredients right from the garden.

Here's what he used for the pizza:

-Pre-made crust
-Tomatoes (from the garden)
-Red bell peppers (from the garden)
-Butternut squash (from the garden)
-Garlic (from the garden)
-Salt and pepper
-A bit of crushed red pepper
-Basil leaves
-Fresh Mozzarella

He used the blender to blend the tomatoes and mix in some of the ingredients to make the sauce, and I'm pretty sure he just did it to taste. He doesn't like to follow recipes! He did say he baked it at 425 degrees.

I have to say, I'm ok having to maintain a garden when it comes with perks like yummy pizzas. :)

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Las Vegas Trip, Part 2

I'm back today to share the second half of our Las Vegas trip! See Part 1 here, in case you missed it. I ended up with photos galore from the trip, so I've tried to narrow it down to the best photos, and the ones that really capture the experience of our trip for you all.

We leave off the day after the Britney show, and it was another day exploring the Strip. First we went into The Paris, which had a really elegant feel, as evident by the many chandeliers that hung on the ceilings. 

I mean, how gorgeous are those?! As we walked around inside, we felt like we were walking the quaint cobblestone streets of Paris.

The Paris also had more of the "sky with clouds on the ceiling" look, similar to The Venetian.

We explored other hotels too, like The Aria, where colorful bicycles hang above you.

And then the New York New York, which captured the shiny lights and hustle and bustle of Times Square.

We went to Hershey World and M&Ms World while we were there, which might be heaven if you're a chocolate lover. There are pretty impressive models of the Statue of Liberty, one made of chocolate, and the other made of Twizzlers.

The outside of the New York New York might be the coolest part. It's a replica of the New York skyline, which is definitely another sight you don't see everyday living in Illinois.

We made our way down the Strip, all the way to the Luxor for the Titanic Artifact Exhibit.

The Luxor is literally in the shape of a pyramid, modeled after the pyramids of Egypt.

When you enter the Titanic exhibit, you are supposed to turn off your phone, as no pictures are allowed inside. So we could only take photos outside the exhibit.

The exhibit was really cool though and well worth the time. As you walk through, you get to see real artifacts from the ship, and also learn about real passengers along the way. 

Before you enter, you receive a "Boarding Pass" that is supposed to look like the boarding passes that the passengers received.

The back contains the name and information of one of the real passengers aboard the Titanic. You carry this pass with you throughout the exhibit, and at the end, you get to find out whether that passenger survived or perished.

We found out that all three of our passengers survived!

After the exhibit, we took a taxi downtown to Fremont Street.

We watched people zip lining above us at Slotzilla. Then we ate at a restaurant in one of the older casinos downtown, which didn't feel quite as fancy as those of The Strip.

At night though, we got to see the Fremont Street Experience, where the roof and buildings are all lit up. It's quite the spectacle, and I feel like it was worth the trip downtown to see.

The highlight of the night though, was the Neon Boneyard tour. We had gotten our tickets in advance for the first night tour, and it turned out to be really cool, and informative.

Our guide was great, and you learn a lot about the history of all the signs as you walk through and see them up close.

You even learn a lot about the history of Las Vegas from the stories of the old signs.

We thought it was a cool experience, plus all of fun pictures you get during the tour are totally worth it.

This one was called The Ugly Duckling.. but he's cute, right?!

The next day was our last full day in Vegas. Haley and I layed out again by the pool in the morning. You can't beat the tropical atmosphere of the Mirage pool. And it was hot, even in the morning at about 9 am!

Then we all went back to Buddy V's again for dessert.

My creme brûlée was amazing!

Our last day was spent mainly between The Mirage and The Venetian. It was nice with both hotels being right across the street, so we could experience both places without having to walk super far, since we had already walked a lot over the past couple of days.

I had to play the slots once while I was here. Of course, I only played $10 and lost most of it, but hey, when in Vegas, you have to play at least once, right?

We ate dinner at an Italian restaurant in The Venetian, where we even got a little show put on by some characters in costume in front of us.

Mom and I shared a very authentic looking margherita pizza, while Haley got pasta. It was pretty delicioso! (is that Spanish or Italian??)

We also got a view of the Venice streets in both the day and the night time while we ate.

After we went back to The Mirage and got photos by Siegfried and Roy, we saw the Cirque du Soleil Beatles LOVE show.

It was another show where we couldn't take any photos or videos during the show, so we had to get what we could outside the theater.

I did get one of inside the theater before the show. The stage was in a round, which was cool, because we felt close to the action, and it really looked like there wasn't a bad seat in the house. 

It was my first Cirque du Soleil show, and this one was all set to Beatles music. It told a story throughout the show as Beatles songs played in the background. The choreography was really great, and was obviously well thought out and practiced.

We got our photos with the Beatles (ha ha), then went outside and got to see the Mirage volcano erupting before our eyes. It was actually much better than we expected!

And the Vegas heat was even more intense with all that fire right in front of us! Whew!

It's safe to say my first time in Vegas was all around a success! The only downfall was traveling back home, when our flight from Vegas to Denver was delayed, so we missed our connecting flight and had to spend the night in Denver. That meant our flight home was moved to the next day... It was a long 2 days of traveling home, spent in airports and on flights.

It was worth it though to experience Las Vegas and spend time with family. We had a great trip overall! Trent and I will definitely be making our own trip to Vegas in the future!

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