Monday, January 11, 2016

Project: Stair Baluster Replacement

One of the smaller projects Dean has talked about doing since we moved in was to replace the balusters with something fancier. We are very fortunate to have a lovely layout but not a million balusters to replace- 50 to be exact:

There were a few unexpected hiccups during this project:

1. The hole left by the old balusters was larger than the new shoes. Dean had to drill the holes, then sand and paint the entire base to make it look right. These extra steps took a while longer but the finished product looks great.
2. The top part showed some of the lighter wood when the old baluster was removed. Dean painted the areas so that there is no flash of wood showing.
3. Cutting the new balusters stinks. Literally. Even though he did it in the garage, the burning smell was acrid.

The end result looks stunning- at first I worried that the new balusters were too thin, but now that they're in the size seems appropriate. It took several hours to get them all done- probably best for a long, dedicated weekend. I recommend you take the first piece apart so that you can see the scope of your project.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Project Completed: Backyard Oasis

Remember last February when I shared all about our new backyard? At the time I was predicting that we'd have the cover on our patio section by June...the reality ended up being slightly different! The good news is that we have the cover and, come summer, we will be enjoying the space:

The not-so-great part was that it took literally until the middle of October for this to get installed. We ordered it in February, they came out and measured then told us they would ship from Japan once they had enough orders to fill the container. Apparently, with the record snow we had in March, their ordering slowed down so that by May they had delayed our anticipated install date to early July. Well, that date came and went and at the time I was disappointed not to have it in by my birthday party which was the last weekend of July- the earliest they could manage was the Monday after. 

Come that Monday we had a very unpleasant surprise- once they opened the box they realized that the wrong parts had been received- we needed to have another order shipped from Japan and installation was now anticipated for the end of September. I could have cried! In fairness to the company that installed it, I have to say they promptly offered us a $500 discount if we could wait it out. With the total project now dropped to under $3000, we figured we would wait it out. 

After some other rain-related delays, they finally installed it in October and I could not be happier with the finished product and how it makes my 'lanai' complete:


The poly material is sort of transparent so that it really allows a lot of light through it but it blocks the sun:

It also allows us to sit out in a gentle rain (hard rain makes the gutters splash so it does get a bit wet). I am so glad we didn't go with a wood cover- it would definitely change the lighting inside the house.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Our Next Project

We are excitedly planning our next project and have agreed on this color palette! Any guesses on what's coming up next??

Holiday PSA

This holiday we put our tree up on November 8th...this is my story:

I woke up this morning with a vague sense of uneasiness that only got worse when I walked into the living room. Standing before me was the source of my discomfort- my Christmas tree was making me ill. I had come down with a bad case of Christmas fatigue. You see, the average person can cope with a Christmas tree for about 4 weeks... 5 for the extremely hardy...but after having our tree up for 7 full weeks, I just couldn't take it anymore. Friends tried to warn us- Bunmi posted an ominous "What's today's date again?" when he saw the tree going up on November 8th. Even Christmas-loving Kris wrote "Omg! Extra early!" But we didn't take notice of these clues. We thought we were being smart.
As I spent hours this morning frantically flinging ornaments off the tree and putting away our Christmas decorations, I am forced to make a stunning admission: I kicked off Christmas way too early this year. I realize that no matter how excited I get in November, I cannot extend Christmas for 7 weeks without repercussions.
Please. Talk to your friends and family about decorating too early. Signs include references to Christmas during Halloween, a general unwillingness to acknowledge Thanksgiving as a holiday, and humming carols in late September. We went through this but no one else should have to. Ask your doctor if decorating in November is right for you. I wish I had.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2016!

Last year was filled with so much joy and happiness that I am excited to see what this year brings! Quick recap of 2015:

1. Completed our first full year in our new home (we bought it Oct 2014)
2. Bought my first (and second, lol)  Lexus!
3. Had my mum for a visit in the summer.
4. Went to Boston between Christmas and New Years for a pop-up visit with my aunts and cousin.
5. Completed my first full year at my wonderful job (started June 2014).
6. Did home renovations out the Ying Yang (replastered pool, grew garden, change stair ballusters)
7. Threw an amazing birthday party
8. Got the art of throwing parties down to a science after having several during the year!
9. Became friends with most of my amazing neighbors (joined Bunco group!)
10. Started a bit of a fitness regimen walking twice a week with some of my friends.

For 2016 we plan to:

1. Renovate kitchen (paint cabinets, have granite counter tops, new backsplash)
2. Trip to Prague (hopefully my bff can join us there)
3. Have family game night once a week.
4. Have more fitness and health!

Bring on 2016!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

My New (New) Car (Lexus GX 460)

So, remember in April when I got my Lexus NX 200? Well, after 5 months I could no longer ignore the irritations that were slowly driving me crazy:

1. Size- it was too cramped for me inside
2. Nav screen- instead of a touchscreen it had a weird touchpad that made using the screen a royal pain.
3. No digital clock- small, but still annoying
4. Lack of space for odds and ends (phone, etc).

While I realize that some of these were small, when your monthly payments are what they are, you need to be skipping all the way to the bank. And I just wasn't. So last week I went back the dealership and got my dream car (see item #10 on the old list- see, I already was dissatisfied!). It's Silver Lining exterior, with Ecru interior. The nav screen is touchscreen, and the overall size is nice and big so I have excellent viewing angles while driving.

There's no changing my mind now- especially after the depreciation penalty I had to pay! But no worries- I LOVE my GX!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

AT&T Uverse vs DirecTV

We have had DirecTV since 2001 (at least, Dean has had it since then. I joined him in 2004 when we moved in together and happily left Time Warner Cable in NYC). Generally we had been quite happy with it until we moved last October at which point we started having some weird equipment issues (HDMI cable, some other part, etc) that caused us to spend a fair amount of time on the phone with DirecTV and they even had to send our a repairman on Thanksgiving Day. By the end of the year we decided to switch to AT&T Uverse since we already have their phone and internet service.
After 5 very unfulfilling months I have just made the call to switch back to DirecTV and could not be happier. Here are my main Uverse TV gripes:

1. The interface is sooooo slow! Doing a search takes forever and there is no way to access your most recent searches.
2. Your purchased rentals don't show up in your recorded show list. So, the only way to retrieve the show if you have had to pause it is by using the search (see #1).
3. The preview box while searching through channels. We accidentally forgot to have the child lock on the TV as we scrolled one evening and I was horrified to see a very inappropriate scene from 'Girls' pop up in the box. We caught it before my son could see it or figure out what was coming next but that was traumatizing for us.
4. The 'recorded' shows folder. For an unknown reason, most of the shows are listed individually instead of nested in their parent folder. It makes for a very untidy browsing experience when there are a million "Curious George" episodes sprinkled between every other show.
5. Slow internet. I can't completely prove this but I strongly suspect that something in the Uverse setup is a drain to my internet speed and, possibly range. I'll check the difference once we switch back.
6. The guide. I really loved the ability to keep watching my show while I scrolled through to see what else is on TV. Now it hides my show and the preview box shows what else is on TV.

So, with that I excitedly look forward to our reinstatement with DirecTV this Saturday! Can't wait!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Patio 2.0

Over the past few weeks I have been working on our patio with the hopes of making it a colorful, beautiful place to relax. I'm pleased to show the (semi) finished product:

 This wall houses a neat hanging piece that Dean and I found at a garden center nearby. He has it bolted to the brick. Underneath I've got one of my lighter Panacea plant stands.  I've got a hanging plant and my Arabella garden stool.

This area is my nursery and holds most of my best planting efforts. I've got a Panacea plant stand and a Pangea step style one. The 'lemon tree' is a metal piece we got from a local arts store.

Above the plant stand is Umberto, our favorite gecko. I've got 2 more hanging plants over the table and that's it.

I called the patio semi-complete because the final piece is a glass covering that we plan to have installed by June. It's supposed to block the UV rays but still let the light in so I'm sure by the installation date we'll be thrilled to have the some sun block!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

My New Car! (Lexus NX200)

A little over 5 years ago Dean got me a brand new Nissan Rogue and it has been a gem ever since then. However, in the past few weeks I've been a bit.... Vehicularly restless. My first idea was to move up to the Nissan Murano so we headed off to the Nissan dealership.
However, I soon learned that the Murano was redesigned for this year and as part of that redesign the shape, which was the main thing that attracted me to it, had changed. Instead of sweeping curves there were now sharp lines and edges. I had also started off interested in getting something in red but found that most leaned more towards maroon. Frustrated we left the Nissan dealership and headed home.
The next day I decided to take a look at some of the Lexus models and, within a few hours, I was sold on a Nebula gray pearl NX. The cream and black interior has me madly in love. This is definitely my dream car!
In no particular order, here are the wow factors for me:
1. Sunroof
2. Built in navigation
3. Backup camera and parking assistant
4. Power tailgate (trunk opens and closes at the push of a button.
5. The ride is so smooth!
6. It has a remote app too!
7. The driver memory button
8. The exit mode. I'm not sure what the actual name is but everything moves out of the way to make room for you to get out. With my long legs I really need that!
9. The heated and cooled seats.  Yes, cooling seats!
10.  The promise of a new car in 4 years. I've never leased before and now I'm wondering why.
11. Wireless charger built in (although every time I use it I forget my phone in the car!)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

My Vanity Nook

It's finally done!! I now have an amazing space to get ready to face each day and I couldn't be more pleased with it. This was not an inexpensive endeavor:

-Monarch Vanity Set- $158 (the original stool was not too sturdy so I got the Pier 1 version)
-Over the Door Mirror- $40 (This is the second door to my closet which I don't use)

Wow....itemizing this list was a sobering experience!

I'm especially glad with the roll-out cart to hold my toiletries so that I don't clutter up the vanity table with anything. I had a lot of fun putting it all together and scoured YouTube for inspiration.