Sunday, October 30, 2016

Tea Cup and Mug Exchange #9

It's been quite a long time since I posted anything on the blog, almost six months to be exact. I've had a lot going on this year and honestly, I had planned to write about all of it. That plan, however, did not work out. Blogging has been the furtherest thing from my mind and I have had no desire to write. Don't count on this post being my big comeback either. I think for the most part my blogging days are done. Then again, once I finish school, I may need another outlet and pick it up again, but I am not making any promises. 

Today my post is about a tea cup exchange. I participated in a tea cup exchange earlier this year right before I moved out of my house. Stephanie from The Enchanting Rose hosted another mug exchange last month and since I loved it so much the first time around, I decided to participate again. 

I was given the name of Maureen from Pittsburgh and I sent her a tea cup and saucer as well as my favorite tea from Celestial Seasonings, Coconut Chai Thai. I discovered this tea when I was in Colorado on vacation earlier this year and my dad and I toured the Celestial Seasonings factory (which was a fantastic tour, by the way). This was one of the teas that we were able to sample and I loved it and bought a box. Since then, I've ordered more boxes and ordered an extra one just for this tea exchange. Hopefully Maureen liked it as much as I do. Also in the box I included a tea towel, a little sign that I picked up at Kirkland's and a small candle. 

I received a package from Sharon who also happens to live in Pennsylvania. She sent me a cup and saucer that appears to be very old/antique-ish and I love it. The pattern is so pretty and dainty and I have enjoyed drinking tea from it. Sharon also included a box of Pumpkin Chai tea, which, admittedly, I still haven't tried. I have so many different teas at home that I haven't gotten around to trying this one. I really need to do that! Sharon also sent a cookbook from the Amish community close to her home and I have enjoyed looking through the recipes and picking out some things I want to make. As I'm sure you all know, I do very much enjoy cooking! 

One again, the tea cup exchange was a very uplifting and fun experience for me and I hope to participate again sometime. 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Here's What's Been Happening on Vacation

Well, we've been on vacation for a week and one day. I guess I should have written more posts along the way, but I just didn't get around to it. The house we rented in Colorado Springs is just the best. It's more or less like two separate apartments in one building because I have a den with a TV, a bedroom and a bathroom downstairs and my dad has the same upstairs (along with the kitchen). All of this to say that I've spent my evenings catching up on my television shows that I haven't been able to watch the last few months. The alone time has been just as great as the rest of the vacation.

Here's a breakdown of some of the things we have done over the past eight days.

Day one, Thursday, May 05 - Denver Mint, Colorado State Capital

Day two, Friday, May 06 - A tour of Hammond's Candy, a tour of Coor's and a trip to the Denver Botanic Garden

Day three, Saturday, May 07 - Went to Boulder, toured Celestial Seasonings, drove to Colorado Springs

Day four, Sunday, May 08 - Church at Northside Church of Christ, Seven Falls, and church at Pikes Peak Church of Christ

Day five, Monday, May 09 - Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine, Cripple Creek, Manitou Cliff Dwellers, Cave of the Winds, Garden of the Gods

Day six, Tuesday, May 10 - Fly fishing in Elevenmile Canyon, US Olympic Training Center

Day seven, Wednesday, May 11 - Horseback riding, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun

Day eight, Thursday, May 12 - Rock climbing in Garden of the Gods, Train ride to Pikes Peak

Day nine, Friday, May 13 - River Gorge Park and a train ride alongside the Arkansas River

It's been a fun-filled vacation and we have one day left before we head home on Sunday.

Friday, May 6, 2016

We're On Vacation

Well, I'm on vacation. That's right, folks, I left during the middle of my home renovation to take a vacation. I'm quite sure nothing will get done while I'm gone; but, for the record, the trip was planned months before the house project was even a thought.

My dad and I are in Colorado this time around. We flew in to Denver yesterday (May 5) and are here for another day before we head to Colorado Springs for the rest of our trip. After arriving in Denver, we picked up the rental car and drove downtown as we had reservations to tour the Denver Mint at 3:30 p.m. We arrived at the mint about 2:45 p.m. and waited outside for them to open the gates about 30 minutes before the tour. While we were waiting, a guy named Danny from Nebraska came to stand in line. He had taken the train and arrived in Denver that morning and was meeting up with some friends that afternoon to go hiking and camping. He had his backpack with him and backpacks are prohibited at the mint. The guard told him there was no way he could take the tour with his backpack. Long story short, my dad offered to let Danny put his backpack in our car so he could go on the tour. This is the difference in me and my dad. My dad generally thinks all people are good. I generally think all people have a bomb in their backpack. Danny took us up on the offer and we were all able to go in and enjoy the tour.

The tour lasted about 45 minutes or so and was very interesting. Afterwards we all went to the gift shop and I bought some of the National Park quarters. I am a quarter collector in the sense that when the state quarters came out, I had loads of fun collecting them and got a set from both the Philadelphia and the Denver mints. I really didn't know about the National Park quarters. I had seen a few, but didn't realize it was a new series until a month or so ago. So, I bought all the sets that the Denver mint had to offer because in Alabama it's harder to find coins minted in Denver since Denver minted coins are for areas west of the Mississippi River and Philadelphia minted coins are circulated in areas east of the Mississippi River.

After the gift shop, we went back to the car and Danny got his backpack and went off to meet his friends. Danny from Nebraska who works at Whole Foods, you were super nice and I'm sorry I was skeptical of your backpack. I hope you had a nice camping trip with your friends. By the way, Danny is a coin collector by way of his grandfather and knew a lot about coins and the value of gold and silver on the market.

Once we parted ways with Danny, my dad and I went up to the state capital and walked around for a bit. They have tours there, but it was late in the day and the doors were closed so I'm sure the tours were done for the day. We then decided to go to the hotel and check in and then go get some dinner. We ate a local steak restaurant not far from the hotel and my dad obliged me by walking there. It was less than half a mile away and walking does a body good. After dinner, we walked back and called it a night.

On Friday. we went to the Hammond's Candy Store and took a tour. We watched them make candy canes which was a very interesting process. The tour lasted 30-45 minutes and it was only my dad and I on the tour. Our guide's name was Lisa and she was very nice and very passionate about candy and her job. It was actually a very interesting tour and I'm glad we stopped by there.

After the candy store, we went to Coor's Brewing Company in Golden, Colorado and took a self-guided tour. It wasn't the best tour I've ever been on, but it was still interesting and at least I can say I've been there. While we were riding the bus to Coor's, the driver mentioned that Buffalo Bill's grave was close by. So, we rode up the mountain to see it for ourselves.

We then ventured back into Denver and walked around the Denver Botanic Garden. Since we are members of the Huntsville Botanical Gardens, we were supposed to get in free. As it turns out, it was plant sale day and so garden admission was free to everyone, although there were a few places in the garden that were closed. The garden was very nice though and I think we both enjoyed it.

Once we were done at the garden, we went back to the hotel for a few minutes then on to dinner at Bonefish which was close to an outlet mall. The mall had a Le Crueset outlet store and I decided that I must stop by there. The prices on the dishware were still expensive so I passed on buying anything. I did however make a stop in the Saks and Loft stores and got two dresses and two tops in record time. I could have spent a lot more time in Saks, but my dad was waiting in the car and I didn't want to make him wait forever.

So far vacation is off to a good start. I'm looking forward to moving on to Colorado Springs where we are sure to do more adventuresome and fun things.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Weeks Four and Five

Last Monday, April 18, was the start of week four of the house renovation project. I can't believe how much has already been done and how much there still is to do. I was planning to do an update a lot sooner, but we have been without internet a couple of times recently and it always seems to happen when I have a lot of school work to do. Thankfully, the internet is currently back up and operational and I hope it stays that way through the rest of this week as I have five papers and a final to complete by Sunday. It's the last week of the semester and that thrills me to no end! 

The slab was poured on Friday, April 15 and I was able to stop by the Saturday morning after to take a few pictures. They also poured the sidewalk out front at the same time. I really didn't care for the sidewalk at first. I wanted a smaller (in width) sized sidewalk and had talked to Richie about it, but he said it wouldn't look right if we did it they way I wanted. I still think it looks ginormous, but at this point, I'm stuck with it. It'd not terrible, just not what I had in mind and maybe it would have looked goofy if it were not as wide, who knows? My co-worker said it would be a good size for when I'm old and in a wheelchair. I guess he makes a valid point.

I had also wanted a circular patio and it was poured as a square so that's something I will have to get used to because all these months I've wanted and pictured a circular shaped patio. It doesn't look bad, but again, it just wasn't what I had in mind. C'est la vie as they say in France. 

On Tuesday afternoon they started the framing and by Wednesday, they were done. It went up so fast! I feel like the space looks even bigger once it was framed in. It's always good to see the walls go up because you are better able to tell the actual size of rooms. It is jaw dropping to walk through, or at least it is for me. I can't believe how much more space there is. It is going to be incredible when it is all finished. I am just so excited about it! 

Since the framing was completed, the electrical, plumbing, and air ducts have been roughed in and this week the roof should go on the new part and next week (provided we pass inspection) the sheet rock will be hung. I suspect things will move a little slower now, or we will at least not see as many big changes. 

Last Friday (April 22) I met with the cabinet man and designed the layout of the kitchen and picked out where I wanted cabinets and where I wanted drawers and made a few other changes here and there, but still managed to stay within budget. The cabinets will be Shaker style and will be white with black granite countertops. I'm putting in a wall oven also so that I will have two ovens to use during the holidays or when I entertain and I'm beyond excited about that. I went to Lowe's this past Monday and ordered the wall oven and it should come in about two weeks from now. I also bought a ceiling fan and a couple of lights for the back porch. 

Since I started writing this many days ago, the roof was installed as was the fireplace. Next up for the fireplace is the stone and masonry that will go around it. The windows were due in today (April 28), but didn't make it in. So, hopefully they will come in tomorrow because we cannot pass framing inspection until the windows are in. 

This Saturday, I'll be at the house pulling nails out of the wooden panels that were taken off the house and were part of the original house. These will be used as the ceiling outside on the patio and I cannot wait to see it complete. I came up with this brilliant idea driving home from girls retreat a couple of weeks ago. I think it is going to look amazing. I may cry when it is complete. The workers will be installing the ceiling this Saturday as well; so, I'll be over there bright and early to pull out nails so they can get to work. 

It's all coming together so nicely. I absolutely cannot believe how wonderful it all is. It's really even better than I imagined.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Updates from Week Three

Things continue to move along nicely at the house. There are visible changes every day and it's always exciting to stop by and see what has been torn down or put up. In my last post, I showed some photos of the kitchen. The cabinets had been torn out and the wall had been taken down to the original shiplap wooden boards. The boards were salvaged and are currently being stored in the shed which allowed me to really get a better visual of just how large the improved kitchen will be. Y'all, it is going to be wonderful. I was so excited when I saw how large the space was and envisioned how many cabinets I would have. The kitchen is definitely the heart of my home and I am so excited to have a bigger space to utilize. 

The new duct work was put in on Friday and Saturday. I'm replacing the HVAC unit with a bigger and more efficient unit and as a result, new duct work was required. In the process, one of my closets was torn out which was a little surprising as I was given no prior warning. I knew the duct work would have to run up from the existing house into the attic and back down into the new part because of the crawl space vs. slab situation I have, but no one told me that particular closet would be utilized for this and I had stored a lot of items inside that closet. So, I had to box those up and take them across the street to my cousin Anna's house to be stored for the next few months. The duct works will have sheet rock around it and then new shelving so it will still be a great linen closet when all is said and done. 

On Wednesday the gravel that goes under the concrete slab was laid out and some more demo took place. The outline for the new sidewalk in the front of the house was also laid out. They had planned for the slab and sidewalk to be poured on Wednesday, but the inspector didn't sign-off until late in the day and so that was postponed until Thursday; but Thursday when I went by, it still wasn't done. Hopefully, it will take place on Friday and then the slab can dry out over the weekend and then the framing should start next week which will be super exciting as even bigger changes will soon be coming!