Back in the Swing and Taking a Different Stance

I feel like I have completely neglected this blog of mine.  Probably because I have.  Between work being busy, holidays, and other life events, I have just not had the time I’d like to blog.

But as the title suggests, I want to take a different stance or position on what the purpose of my blog is.  I don’t really know what my purpose in writing it was previously.  Probably to journal, to document house updates, and, in a dream world, to one day make some money off the blog like so many, yet so few, do.  I know.  I said I was dreaming….

Reality: I’m no great writer.  I don’t have a style and my life is no more interesting than the person’s next door.  But I do want to remember and document what’s happening in my life.  I want to document projects and events, but not in some Pinterest-worthy way that will get me recognition or have people asking how’d I do that.  I just want to remember and be able to look back on what transpired during what are sure to be some of the busiest times of my life.

So with that in mind, feel free to stop reading. While I hope that someone will be informed, challenged, uplifted, interested, or maybe even fascinated (still dreaming?) by something I write, this is for me.  And it feels good to have a place to do that.  So come along for the journey. Or don’t.  I’m going on it anyway!

 

27th Year Challenge: Month 5

Okay, I am way behind in getting on my challenge list and year 28 is rounding the corner faster than I’d like to admit.  I’d like to say I have been busy working out, travelling, and doing things around the house, but let’s get real.  I was probably watching Arrested Development on Netflix in anticipation of the new season release and eating ice cream.  In fairness to myself, we were also busy with a lot of outside projects that sucked up what seemed like every weekend (more on those later).  But back to the challenge. 

At some point, we did manage to find some barstools for our kitchen.  I searched and searched.  I wanted something with a back so they would be comfortable to sit on and I thought I wanted something white to stand out against the dark wood and appliances. 

I loved these from West Elm but wasn’t sure how well the wood color would match to the somewhat reddish wood in our kitchen. 

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Then I liked these little fellas from Crate and Barrel but wasn’t so hot on the price.  Also, I wanted something with a back. 

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I thought I had found exactly what I wanted in these from CB2.  They had the higher back, were white, and had clean lines.  But I didn’t want to pay $300 for 2 chairs.

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So I held off.  I searched craigslist and every homegoods store I could think of.  Knowing I didn’t want to spend a bunch on the barstools, I focused almost exclusively on sale sections of websites like the ones I mentioned.  One day I was searching around on Restoration Hardware’s website.  I have never purchased anything from there because frankly, the prices seem crazy and often, the style just isn’t really mine.  But just when I least expected it, I found the perfect stools.  They were on final sale and were exactly what I had been looking for – The Hagen Stained Chair

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At $59.00 for the counter-height, I knew these were the ones.  I worried a bit about how the white stain would look but when they came in, they were perfect. They don’t look all grainy like they did in the picture.

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They add the perfect amount of white to the kitchen which is otherwise pretty dark in terms of tone.  They are incredibly comfortable and the legs are metal which, if you have a dog that likes to randomly chomp into furniture, is a huge plus.  And did I mention $59.00?  Seriously.  I couldn’t find anything I liked at Target for that price.  They came fully assembled which was extra awesome because I had read reviews on some from Target and people complained about assembly and the fact that the chairs were hard to level.  Don’t worry, Target, I still love you and will spend massive amounts of money on your products, but I wanted some sturdy chairs.  These fit the bill.  So I guess that means I have 5 out of 12 items on my challenge list complete.  I will take it!

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These chairs were SO worth the wait.  I have recently started following a new philosophy for decorating our house.  I don’t buy anything unless I absolutely love it.  I used to find myself doing things on Pinterest because they looked good, were cheap, and seemed easy enough.  But I almost always later wanted something different.  So I decided that even if it means that many of the rooms in our home remain unfinished, I’m okay with that.  I will wait, and search, and save until I find exactly what I love.  These barstools are perfect and I am so glad I waited until I found them!

Duck. Duck. Bowl.

Over the holidays my brother and sister-in-law came in town for an extended visit and we were lucky enough to have them stay with us for a couple of days.  We decided to go out for dinner last Friday, and headed over to Santorini’s in Fountain Square.  Wow.Do.I.Need.To.Get.Out.More!  That place was delicious!  The portions were enormous but oh.so.delicious.  My brother ordered the Gyro and Chase ordered the Chicken Gyro.  Both really enjoyed them.  Kym and I shared the Briam which was so delicious and had a little spicy sauce that was yum.  I love places where you can share an entrée because a whole one for one person is almost always way too much.  Kym and I were stuffed and there was still food left.  The environment is fun with flaming cheese dishes and greek dancers.  We will definitely be going back.

After dinner we wanted to burn some calories do something fun so we walked over to Action Duckpin Bowling.  I had heard of this place but never been before.  It was so awesome!  It was built in the late 20s and still has all of the period pieces that make it so special. 

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So what is Duckpin Bowling you ask?  Well it is much like regular bowling except the pins are shorter and fatter and the balls are the size of bloated softballs.  There are no finger holes – you just roll those babies down the old wood lanes and hope for the best.  You get three rolls, instead of two, because with such a small ball and still 10 pins, it is hard to knock those little pins down. 

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This game was such a blast!  The pins are held up by strings so when you knock some down, the strings pull them up out-of-the-way and you are good to go.  There are no electronically reset pins or screen to tell you how many you hit, so take someone tall to help you count how many pins are standing.  The game is great though because it moves so much faster than regular bowling.  The balls come back on the return right away and are all the same size so you don’t have to wait for your particular ball to come back.  The strings also eliminate the need for the thing in regular bowling that acts like a windshield wiper and clears all the downed pins before resetting more.

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I know that there are newer versions of duckpin bowling around but I have to say that the fun of this place was the history.  It felt like you were in a totally different time.  If you are in Indianapolis, swing by and check this place out.  You will not be sorry!

Hallerween 2012

This was the first year since Chase and I have been together that we really got into Halloween.  I think the encouragement was that a coworker of mine invited us to her Halloween party and this party is no joke – strobe lights, life-size coffins, games and contests, and decorations everywhere – and our friends were coming in from St. Louis for the weekend.  So we got to brainstorming.

Chase decided early on that he wanted to be Honey Boo Boo.  Don’t ask me why.  We don’t even have cable.  So I went to Hobby Lobby and got everything I needed: tulle, rhinestones, glitter spray, lace, ribbon, and a t-shirt.  Once I got home, I started on the “skirt” of the costume.  It was really easy and I followed this tutorial.

Then I took the pink t-shirt, cut off the sleeves, cut out the neck in the front and the back to make it a little more ‘off-the-shoulder’, and then started hot gluing.  First I glued on some lace ribbon and then a hideous butterfly.  Then came the glitzing which basically just required hours of gluing rhinestones all over the costume.

I, on the other hand, decided to play up the ongoing elections and my friend and I created Mitt Romney’s Binder Full of Women.  We covered two pieces of cardboard with fabric and ran string through the cardboard to wear.  Then we cut out pictures of women (Sister Wives, Meghan McCain, Sarah Palin, big bird [I think he is a boy but it was still funny]. etc) and glued them to our binder.  We used glow sticks covered in duct tape for the silver binder rings.  Using the connectors for the glow sticks, we were able to connect the sticks from each of our pieces of cardboard together to complete the ring.

Maggie was Lady Gaga in a red lace dress.  Basically I just wrapped her in red tulle, put Chase’s wig on her and made the crown out of paper and tulle.  She didn’t wear it for long but we managed to get her picture so she could win a pet costume contest at the Halloween party we attended.

Here’s our crew (incuding Maggie) ready for festivities.  And yes, Chase is wearing fake eyelashes.

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Hope you all enjoyed the holiday!

27th Year Challenge – Month 4

So I know this is late.  I didn’t even do my November project until December.  Oh well – that’s real life.

We installed this light fixture in our kitchen months ago – like I think 8 or 9 months ago.  And look at that ugly light above the sink.  Seriously.  Who installs that in their kitchen?  I think it belongs outdoors as a security light.  Anyway, as you can see below, we replaced that guy too.

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And as you can see, the lights don’t hang evenly.  The cords were way to long when we hung it so we had to cut the wires and shorten them.  Despite my best efforts, I could not get the lights to hang at the same length.  Chase and I tried to even them out 4 times, each time only to step down off the kitchen island to find one hanging longer or shorter than the others.  So we decided since we had some time off, we’d tackle it one more time before calling a professional.

After cursing at the light and me yelling at Chase for no good reason (except why can’t guys read our minds, ladies?  Seriously.), we actually got it right!  This was an iPhone pic but pretty clearly shows we finally accomplished the most dreaded task on our to-do list. Literally, it was the most dreaded.  And you can see we replaced the light above the sink.photo

After leveling the lights, I painted the ceiling around the fixture.  The old one was much larger and the previous ceiling color was some sort of weird cream so we needed to do some touch-ups.

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Pretty boring but we are so thrilled to have this item crossed off the list!  Slowly but surely, we will get through this list!  Now if only I had completed my December project…

Kitchen Update – 8 Months in the Making

I know I’ve said it before, but my dad is amazing.  Back in April, he demonstrated his skills in helping Chase and me update the kitchen.  The update is finally finished with the exception of accessories like curtains, rugs, and barstools.  Here’s our kitchen as it existed once we moved in and painted.

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We wanted to put a backsplash in because we (but Chase mostly) are messy in the kitchen.  Water gets splashed out of the sink onto the walls, as do food particles and coffee grounds (only Chase drinks coffee so it can’t be me, I swear!).  Behind the stove, the vent never seems to really suck up the moisture and there are water stains.  See below examples (I apologize for the bad photos but it’s hard to take pictures of these wall stains.)

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Several months ago, we had purchased a glass mosaic tile for our backsplash.  We looked and looked but had a hard time finding something we liked that looked okay with our cabinets and countertops.  Finally, we settled on this guy from Home Depot:

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With plans to install the backsplash on a Saturday, I prepped the kitchen Friday by taking everything off the counters, removing outlet covers and light covers and taped some drop cloths on the counter to protect them.

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Early Saturday, Dad arrived and we got started.  So evidently, the key to tiling this room is to start in the middle and work out.  For us, that meant starting in the corner behind the sink and under the windows.  UGH.  Even Dad was frustrated with this.  We didn’t really have a saw that could cut glass really well and some of the tile pieces are made of stainless steel.  Let’s just say, cuts weren’t always pretty and we had to patch in some random tiles.

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Once we got the tiles cut under the windows and around the window trim, Dad mixed up some ThinSet for glass mosaics.  Basically, you just add the powder to water and mix well.  From what I could gather, you want it to be sort of thin but not so much so that it drips or runs down the wall.  Once the ThinSet was on, we placed the tiles at the bottom and then rolled up and pressed the tile hard against the wall to get it in place.  Once there, we had to move a few tiles here and there that got out of place or slightly crooked, but for the most part, we moved onto the next tile.

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We also pulled the stove out and tiled behind it where people would see it.  We screwed a board to the wall to support the weight of the tile as the ThinSet dried.

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Ultimately, all that tile was up.  Insert angels singing and giving high-fives.  We were so thrilled to have managed our way through this project.  We could not have done it without my dad’s help and ability to cut tile with the saw.  We used a glass nippers which Chase pretty much mastered but the sawing was a must.

After everything had dried completely, we moved on to grouting.  This was fairly painless but the thin space between the tiles made it difficult to get the grout in the tight spaces.  Once the grout was dry, we sealed it and then grouted along the edges.

After the tile, we decided to get rid of the boob light.  We had ordered the Eglo Troy light from Home Depot to go over our island and our sink. This process took forever!  We had to adjust the cords for the pendants and then cut all the wires because there was too much to fit in the ceiling.  Chase doubted my electrical skills but I totally managed to rewire everything with the help of my dad on the phone and when he turned the breaker back on, we had light!  He doubted me (said so himself) but I came through!  Biggest downside: depsite our measuring, the pendants hang at different lengths.

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Despite the new lighting, the kitchen is still fairly dark at night.  To install recessed lighting would be expensive and messy since the kitchen is on the bottom level and any electricity would have to be run upwards.  So for Christams, Chase got me under-cabinet lighting!  And it looks so awesome and makes the kitchen so much brighter!  As soon as I get around to cleaning the kitchen, I will take a final picutre with the new lights.

We love it so far and feel like our kitchen took about a million steps towards modern.  We still need to get some rugs, barstools, and curtains but those things can wait.  I think we spent enough money so far, but…that was last year. 🙂

New Year’s Resolutions

Happy New Year!  I wanted to publicly discuss my resolution for the new year in hopes that it might keep me accountable!

Find more balance.  Everyone says this right?  But seriously, with our jobs, balance is often gone as quickly as some soft baked cookies around our house.  Yes.I.Lack.All.Self-Control.  When we get home from work, all we want to do is lay on the couch, watch tv, and eat.  Lazy.  So this year, my goal is to still work hard at work but to get serious about finding time to workout (not just run) and to spend more time with our families and in our church/community.

For example, this last week or so, our family has been concerned with my brother’s health.  It turns out he is suffering from rare migraines but we were so concerned that it could be something much worse.  Times like that just remind me that you don’t have anything if you don’t have your health.  So I plan to spend more of my vacation/free time with my family, loving and enjoying and learning from them as much as possible while I still have time with them.  And I will workout more in an effort to keep myself around a bit longer for them to also enjoy!

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Me and my brother.

To kick off this resolution, Chase and I have agreed to cut out TV watching for a week.  I opted for longer but decided that every week, we will try to either cut something out of our routine or put something good in it.  Eliminating TV is hard (we are so addicted to the show Damages and are 2 episodes from the end!!) but so far the challenge has been great.  It gives me more time to workout, clean the house, and just spend time with Chase.  I will keep you posted on what we eliminate and add to our routines during the year!

What are your resolutions?  Happy new year to you all.  May God bless you with health and happiness throughout the next year.  With love, the Hallers.

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