::dec 22:: a christmas wrap party

Thursday was our (First Annual??) Wrap Party and it was a success!
So much so, in fact, that I didn't take a single picture the entire evening.
We sent our invitations in early December so that folks would know to hold
their presents and not have to worry about the wrapping until the night of the party.
We had seven folks wrapping (and two husbands for a little while) and it was a flurry
of wrapping paper, bows, boxes, and sweet treats.
Things went pretty quickly and as people finished up with their own gifts, we moved
on to those that had more to wrap. Leslie mentioned how great it was going to be that
she didn't have to be up till 3 am on Christmas Eve finishing up the wrapping!
This was such a low-key, easy party to throw that I think we'll do the same thing again next year.
Chad suggested maybe even inviting couples and having the girls upstairs and the guys
downstairs with the kitchen as a neutral zone, so we may do it that way to switch it up...

::dec 21:: christmas baking

Wednesday night was a storm of baking in preparation for tomorrow night's Wrap Party!
We have plenty of ginger molasses cookies, wassail, candy cane brownies, candied popcorn,
rice krispy treats, and cream puffs (not homemade). Let the wrapping begin!
Pic from here

::dec 20:: shopping for baking

Tonight we ran to the Wal-Marts to pick up some baking supplies -
tomorrow night is our treat baking night and we're getting ready!
(An added bonus? Some friends stopped by to say hello and brought us each
an early Christmas present - a rope bag for him and an apron for me - perfect timing!)
Pic from here
do you feel like this is a stretch to call this our christmas activity?
probably, but it works for me

::dec 18:: christmas concert with grandma

Sunday morning was the Conference Center for Music and the Spoken Word
with Grandma and Jana and Steve and their local family.
Beautiful - and we just so happened to have a-mazing seats!


::dec 17:: reindeer and a christmas concert

Saturday morning (our 'versary! 6 years!) we headed up north.
We had tickets to the annual Christmas Concert at the LDS
Conference center, so we decided to make a weekend out of it.
On the way up, we stopped and saw the reindeer at
Thanksgiving Point! They must know the Big Night is coming
up soon because they didn't do a whole lot except lay around
(and look really bored!)


::dec 16:: work christmas party

Friday night was our annual work party. This year I was involved in helping to plan it,
and it turned out to be a complete success! I think what really made the evening fun
were the incentives that we used to get people to dress using Christmas colors
and Christmas "bling". All of the red and green and Santa hats felt so festive
and as cheesy as it sounds, I think it really put everyone in the Christmas spirit.
(turns out, we don't own any Christmas bling, so we used all the red we could find!)

::dec 14:: fail!

On Wednesday, we get all ready to go out to Tuacahn to see the live
nativity, one of our very favorite Christmas traditions. When we got
out there, though, it was all dark and quiet, and no one was around.
Turns out, they only do the nativity on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday
now. Instead, we took some pictures by the lit Christmas tree, and headed
home with our hot chocolate. I hope we make it back before Christmas!


::dec 13:: making a list and checking it twice

Tonight we stayed in and reviewed our list for Christmas shopping.
We had a couple of gifts still up in the air but had some good ideas
tonight. Now hopefully tomorrow we can get it done!


::dec 12:: trimming the tree

Tonight we decorated the tree that we brought home last night.
It's so little and perfect, we just love it!
As has become our tradition, I put on the lights and Chad helped put on the ornaments.
It takes so much less time to decorate a little five footer!


::dec 11:: picking out the perfect tree

Finally, we picked out a Christmas tree!
We went with a much smaller size this year.
This guy is about five feet tall but he's just perfect for what we wanted.
We'll let him spread his branches and settle in a little bit and then maybe tomorrow...
we decorate!

::dec 10:: christmas shopping

Chad took a break from his studies to do a little Christmas shopping with me.
We picked out some good things that I think those girls will like!
And then... dinner with friends to close out the evening.
I love Christmas weekends.

::dec 9:: christmas art walk

Friday night was the quarterly Art Walk in our town.
There's several galleries downtown, so everything was close enough for us to walk to.
It was such a fun evening to spend walking from gallery to gallery,
enjoying our local artists,
and listening to different musicians playing Christmas music
in each gallery.
I'm thinking this may be a new Christmas tradition!?!

::dec 8:: hot chocolate date

Chad has to spend the night up at work again tonight,
so we stopped at Starbucks on the way up to work to enjoy a moment together.
Instead of hot chocolate, I got a Spiced Caramel Apple Cider. Mmmm!
Instead of hot chocolate, Chad got a Spiced Chai Latte.
Does that still count as a hot chocolate date?!?

::dec 7:: walking in a christmas wonderland

We're short on time together around these parts, so tonight we called our walk with the dogs
our Christmas moment - we walked around the "old money" part of STG and saw lots of
mid century mod houses with Christmas lights!
pic from here


::dec 6:: cupcakes and storybooks

This has been a long week at work, and Chad's working on his final papers,
so we're taking our Christmas moments while we can.
Wednesday night, we bought cupcakes and brought them home to eat.
I read through a couple of favorite Christmas books, and
as we fell asleep, we started watching my new favorite Christmas movie,
Christmas Story.


::dec 5:: christmas song trivia

Monday was Chad's night to be in the field,
so we didn't have much time together.
To make the most of our drive up to work,
we listened to Christmas music and each tried to guess the song title first.
Chad won; it seems that artists feel a need to do something a little different
in Christmas song intros. They can be tough to figure out.
Try it!

::dec 4:: handels messiah

What better Sunday activity than Handels Messiah?
For the fourth day of December, we went to the Southwest Symphony and Southwest Orchestra's performance of the Messiah. They told us that it has been performed in St. George for something like 150 years?!? It was beautiful, as always. My favorite part? Of course, the trumpet.

::dec 3:: family time and a baptism

Early Saturday morning we headed up north for our nephew's baptism.
Barb gave such a cute talk with all of the kids enthralled,
and then we went back to Cami and Ryan's for an amazing spread of food,
and spent the rest of the day hanging out together.

We're especially glad we had this chance to be together since we ended up
missing Thanksgiving with these guys.

Boo for no pictures. I'll have to see if I can get some from Cami....


::dec 2:: christmas party

Friday night Chad had a Christmas party with an Aftercare Therapy that he's been working on.
You can't really tell since this whole picture is yellowish, but we kind of matched.
It wasn't planned, but it definitely wasn't discouraged!

We had a pretty delicious dinner potluck dinner.
The best part?
An am-azing smoked turkey...
I've never had turkey so good in my life.

::dec 1:: holiday shopping

It's Christmastime again...! My favorite time of year...
This year we're trying the advent thing again since it was so fun last year...

We kicked off the month with a little bit of Christmas shopping.
Our town doesn't have quite the display that NYC does, but it was still fun.
We have a new toy store in town that we explored, and then hit up some big box places.

ps. Doesn't this picture make you think of Silver Bells?
City sidewalks, busy sidewalks
Dressed in holiday style
In the air there's a feeling of Christmas


hm hmmm mmm mmm mm mhmm hm hmm mm mmm mhmm....
(that's me humming christmas music, specifically "it's beginning to feel a lot like christmas")

This year at work, we're getting a jump and getting our party planned early... I put together the announcements that went out this week and it sure is putting me in the holiday mood. Any holiday planning going on in your neck of the woods? Any snow? (Luckily, we've been hanging out in the 50s and 60s - just where I like it until the week before Christmas!) I'm getting so excited!

This year we're doing minute-to-win-it games with lots of good prizes and it is gonna be so fun!


::happy birthday:: to me

Yesterday was my birthday! The big Double 3. Ooh, that hurts. This is the first birthday where I feel like I'm crossing the threshold and am no longer young. Weird. What a weird feeling. And maybe I should have felt it several years ago, but this is the first one for me. Ugh. At least Chad will always be older :)

Chad spoiled me for my birthday. He hates weekday birthdays - kind of like they're a waste since you have to go to work, so he gave me a gift before we left for work, an amazing leather satchel that I've been eyeing for, oh, I don't know... about a year. When I got home from work, I took a tub in our neeeeeew bathtub and then got ready for dinner at Anasazi. We had some amazing fondue and I had chicken on a rock and Chad had a Flat Iron Steak on the rock. (Sound familiar? We did dinner for Chad's birthday there, too!) We ate entirely too much, so we skipped dessert and went home to open presents! I was so lucky and got several other presents to open, including this pillow below from Heather.
Isn't it the cutest? It's from the Etsy shop Red Bird Vintage and has the year we were married on it! I'm so in love with it - it's even cuter in real life than it was in the photo... now that I've seen the quality I've added her Merry Christmas pillow to my wish/dreamlist, too!
Thanks to everyone for all of the birthday phone calls, emails, texts, and facebook messages - it totally made my day!
Untile next year, Birthday.


::floors:: second step - sanding

We started our whole sanding fiasco while Bud and Barb were here visiting. Why a fiasco? oh sheesh. This post is the last time you'll see the steps numbered out because from here it gets a little fuzzy. We used more different types of sanders than I even knew existed.

So the first thing we did was rent the sander and papers from Lowe's. It's a vibrating sander and the large rectangular papers just stick to the bottom of the machine. The paper almost feels plastic-y and they're very expensive - like five to eight dollars per sheet. Supposedly, they're supposed to last a lot longer than traditional sandpaper and get the job done. It's also supposed to be an easier machine to use since it won't take chunks out of the floor if you don't move around fast enough. We'd seen the machine every time we went to the paint department and had asked the employees what they thought; the reviews seemed to be pretty positive, so we thought we'd give it a shot. The verdict? Epic fail.

We started with the 60 grit and it didn't sand the floor evenly at all - it was incredibly splotchy and left a lot of swirly marks on the floor. I'm not sure how much of that is due to our floor being extremely old and creaky (the fir underneath is the old part, so I'm thinking if it's uneven, the oak on top will be uneven as well) so the flat bottom couldn't get down into the low parts and how much was just because the machine was crappy. Bud and Chad tried several solutions: pictured above is a heavy tool box tied to the sander to try and weigh it down so it would sand more evenly. Not a great solution. Another thing they tried was to have one person stand with their feet on the white edges while the other directed the sander. A little more useful but hard to sustain. The upside was that it didn't really create a lot of dust... but that was because it wasn't doing anything, so hard to really celebrate that victory.

We know that you're supposed to sand with the grain so they did the whole living room and entry way with the grain. Then Chad gave it a shot going against the grain. It seemed to get a little bit better sanding coverage, but still not great. We didn't think it would matter too much, since that machine sands in a swirl (vibrating) motion anyway, so it's not like you can tell if it's with the grain or against. As the day wore on, I pulled out the hand sanders and tried using both the handheld orbital sander and handheld belt sander, going with the grain. The belt sander worked pretty well and pulled the layers off pretty evenly, but it was s-l-o-w going. The orbital sander did a decent job along the edges and baseboards. We knew the hand method was working, but does it seem ridiculous to anyone else to rent a sander and then do the whole thing by hand? Yeah, wasn't gonna happen.

We ended up taking a trip to our local Ahern and rented a drum sander to see what it would do. We picked up the rest of their 60 grit sandpaper which was only about six sheets and brought it all home.

With the drum sander we saw instant results. It's so heavy that if you stay in one spot while it's turned on, it will just gouge your floor right out, but the upside is that it works quickly. I tried my hand at it, but Chad was definitely the pro. The best part? It had a little bag attached to the machine that sucked the dust up, so it wasn't nearly as dusty as I'd dreaded. In the picture below, you can see the difference a machine makes. The floor in the top half of the picture was sanded first by the Lowe's machine and then by the drum sander. The floor in the bottom half of the picture has only been sanded by the Lowe's sander. See all the shiny (ish) spots?

We still had the Lowe's machine and sandpaper so we thought while we had extra people, we'd go ahead and use it. We got into a system with Chad going down the room with the drum sander, Bud following behind with the Lowe's machine and 80 grit, me following with 60 grit on the orbital along the edges and Barb sweeping up all of the sawdust.

We worked our way up through the grits 60-80-100 around the room until it felt smooth as a baby's bottom!
Although this sounds like a quick do-it-in-a-day process, it was a little bit of a nightmare. Ahern closed that day at noon and we ran out of sandpaper at about 3:00 for the drum sander, which kind of put us at a standstill for a while. Luckily, we were able to finish the front room before running out. We did keep checking back and when they finally restocked, they had sold it by the time we got there, so it seems like we waited for 3 weeks-ish to be able to finish the 60 grit sanding in the bedrooms.

We were pretty miffed at Lowe's and their false reviews (by people who had probably never used it) of their sander.
When we returned it, the salesgirl asked how it worked and we told her it didn't really work at all, that we had, in fact, rented a sander from another place to do the job. She went ahead and refunded our deposit, the rental price, and all of our unused sandpapers. We were pretty pleased with that, and Lowe's got a point back.
Thus concludes the story of how we sanded our living room and entryway.

This happened fairly quickly and then sat and waited while we got caught up with the back of the house... I was worried the floors would get dirty enough by the time we were ready to stain that it would need to be sanded again! Luckily, no.


::floors:: first step - lay new flooring

I mentioned the fir floors in our house that run across the entire upper floor, and that they've been covered almost everywhere. Well, in the front room they've been covered by a natural covered oak; it ends at the entryway, so it's just the single room that's done. The entry and the hallway had been painted over with olive green paint. When we first started talking about the plans, we had decided to lay down oak in the entry and down the hallway so that it would flow a little bit better. We bought all of the hardwood and then realized that would mean putting down five or more transitions to go from the oak down to the fir floors in 3 bedrooms, the kitchen, and the bathroom, not to mention two closets in the hallway as well.
(views of the entryway from the front room and the hallway)
So we changed our mind and decided to lay the oak in the entryway only. That way, the entry would feel more a part of the living room, and we would only have to put down one transition into the hallway. Since it was such a small area, Chad didn't bother renting a tool; instead, he did it the old fashioned way. Using a hammer and nails, he attached the oak floor to the fir underneath and then hammered it in with his nail set.

(in the picture on the left, you can see the edge where the baseboard ends -
that's the same place the new floor starts; not a perfect match, but it looks pretty good!
on the right - see how pretty that green was? blech!)

And the finished product with a SINGLE transition to lay down.
We were able to pull up the old transition without damaging it, so we'll cut it down and re use it.
I just love the seamless entry into the front room.
The natural colored wood was really pretty -- but I love what we did instead!


::halloween:: thriller

Last weekend, one of my girlfriend's ended up with an extra ticket to Thriller out at Tuacahn and invited me along. During intermission, the "Thriller" zombies mingle with audience members and pose (strangely) with everyone...

You may remember Chad and I went in 2009 - but I didn't know whether to expect the same program, or a completely new one. Luckily for me, the Bride of Frankenstein was pretty much the same (amazing) number but the rest was mostly new to me, and it was so good! They didn't have near as much AudioVisual stuff up on the projectors, which I appreciated. (Seriously - a dance show should not be 50% stupid video). How did you/are you celebrating Halloween?


::the layout::

I realize that it may be difficult to picture the layout of our bedrooms and our hallway, etc., as I'm talking about them on here, so I thought I'd give you a little bit better idea with these floor plans that I drew up as we were having our inspection done. We used http://www.floorplanner.com/ to put in our measurements. You do have to sign up with a username but it's a free service. It's not quite intuitive, but it's not too difficult if you've got a little bit of time to mess around with it.

Back to the measurements - as Chad walked around the house with the inspector, my job was to measure every single wall length of that house. I think I did a pretty good job because most of my measurements went into the program pretty well (if I do say so myself) and we didn't end up with any triangle shaped bedrooms. Obviously, these two levels aren't to scale - the basement fits under the back half of the main floor (I believe the storage room ends about halfway under the Bedroom 2 if that clears things up at all.) Oh and the big black record looking thing in the storage room? That's our water heater. It is MASSIVE. We'll never run out of hot water again, so come one, come all!
Just for clarification:
Bedroom 1 is the room we will sleep in (it has the biggest closet!)
Bedroom 2 will be my Project Room and
Bedroom 3 will be Chad's Office aka MANland

I just got home from a long break, so hopefully work will start picking up again this week in a whirlwind!

ps. I just got word we'll hopefully have our first "new house" visitors later this month! Yipppee!
(We've needed a little pressure to get us moving!)


::fir flooring::

The most exciting thing about having the walls painted... is knowing that it's time to pull up the carpet! When we looked at the house originally, we pulled up a little piece of carpet in the corner and I almost died over the floors. (Seriously. I die.) There's old fir floors throughout the main floor of the house, but they're covered almost everywhere.

We used a little trick I saw on HGTV a looong time ago. One of the designers recommended cutting the carpet into a width that's more manageable to carry. In our last house, my folks were helping us on that day, and my little Mom made lots of trips carrying 18 inch wide carpet jelly rolls out of the house to the trash. Obvi, with Chad we cut them into much larger pieces.

We saw the most potential under the carpets in my project room and Chad's MANland - they definitely looked easy enough to refinish... I mean, aside from a major old-time-carpet stain, some water damage, rotting wood, and duct tape.

So what do you think?
When I look at this picture, I'm equally giddy... and horrified.
(pictures from my project room)


::bedroom 3:: a darker grey

So this is our third and final bedroom on the main level. Since we're losing a garage when we move over to the new house, this will become Chad's MAN-land. He's planning on using it as an office while he's still in school, and then we'll see what happens with it. No matter what he decides, though, my opinion is not welcome as far as decorating (or especially organizing!).

When it was time to paint, I pointed out a spot near the outlet where the paint was peeling. Chad picked a little bit, and then picked it a lot. The texture was completely separated from the wall, so Chad kept scraping it with a putty knife until he got to the edges where it was no longer loose. From the color, we assume it was some sort of water damage (the toilet is on the other side of the wall). We weren't too worried about it since we'd be working on that wall anyway, and knew we could replace any pipe that we needed to.

After it was all scraped off, we had to built the wall back up. Since the house is so old, there's years and years of paint and texture built up, so when we scraped it off, there was a significent difference in the level. Chad just smeared on some drywall mud until he got it to a decent thickness and then we use texture-in-a-can to match the texture.

Are you getting a sense of the color scheme in this house? It's a little bit... grey.
Dude was originally thinking about a dark denim blue, or possibly a grey green, but hadn't chosen a definite color when it was time to paint. Instead, he walked into the front room where my color swatches were still painted and pointed at the color on the far left and said, "just do that one." It was a color I had kind of loved for the front room, but was afraid it would be too dark. Turns out, it's pretty much my favorite color in the house. The dark is just perfect. We color matched it to Sherwin Williams Pewter Tankard (SW0023) in Olympic Low VOC Flat paint.

Isn't it gorgeous? I was having some serious paint envy when I saw it on his walls.
Somehow, he has a knack at picking the perfect paint color in a very offhand way. Argh.

ps. What do you think of those floors????


::bedroom 2: more about paint::

Our new house has three bedrooms upstairs and one down in the basement.
We've tried to figure as best as we can what the rooms will be used for,
and the middle one, shown below... well, it's mine!

This is the new craft room/bill pay/scrapbook (maybe?)/quiet/reading room.
I'm pretty excited about it in general, but I most especially love the closet.
I've got big plans...
If you were going to have a closet office, what color would you paint it?
I've debated about turquoise, orange, green, and would you believe pink?
I keep visiting this one in my mind...
Does the wall color look familiar? Well, just be quiet - it's not the same!
It's much lighter than either color that was put in the front room,
though it looks eerily similar on my computer screen.
This was actually a custom color - I went in to Lowe's and had the color in this room mixed,
brought it home and it just looked white. So I took it back, had them add a little more
color to it, and then kept it.
It's now in my room, the hallway upstairs, the dog/mud room, the stairs down, and all the basement rooms. It looks pretty and clean in my room, but looks
really great downstairs on the flat no-texture walls.
I wasn't completely sold on the color at first (surprised? no. i didn't think so.),
but after the living room fiasco, I wasn't going to change my mind. It's grown on me a lot
and now I couldn't be happier about my calm, clean, carpet-free room.
Yep, the yucky, smelly carpet bit the dust soon after the paint was done.
Sorry if I keep casually mentioning the new floors, but I JUST LOVE THEM!


Is anybody still out there?
If I'm talking to myself, that's okay - I don't blame you for leaving.

BUT exciting things have been happening over at the house and
I can't wait to have time to share!

We did take some time off for a family reunion last week out in Wisconsin.
Pure bliss - total relaxation for a full four days - I just
had my pictures developed and will share more from Cherry Lake soon!
In the meantime, our house is getting close -
we actually moved a table over there and all of my sewing things.
Updates soon, I promise!


::living room:: paint color #2

So this is the color we ended up with (Valspar Woodlawn Colonial Gray from Lowe's).
Jill came into town right before Chad left for his conference, so I picked her brain and she agreed that the first color was a little bit too blue in some lighting. So as soon as Chad left, we painted. Again. And again, I was worried it was still too blue. (Chad gets frustrated with my indecisive nature - I tell him to imagine what it's like to BE me!) ... so I vented to Jill and she had a brilliant idea. She told me to bring over some things from home that would be in the room and see how they looked with the wall as the background.

This was so smart! It took the focus off of the wall as it will be once we actually have furniture in the room. It also helped to see our couch cushions with the color, and to see whether the walls will be a major focus (not the intention) or blend more into the background (like I'd wanted). Of course it can't be QUITE that easy for me to make a decision, so I still waffled back and forth about whether or not to keep it. Finally, I decided it was do or die. I threw five more colors on the wall and stayed at the house from 7 in the morning until it got dark so that I could see it in every possible lighting situation. I also took pictures throughout the day so I could compare them. Result? It never felt too blue, and I decided that I really liked the color. Finally! Mission living room paint job... accomplished!

And one more shot with our new wall color ... and a little distraction.

ps. What do you think of those floors? Changes coming!!!


::living room:: first paint color

So here it is... see how pretty that grey is in the first picture when we'd just first started?
So light and bright and clean?
And then see how blue it looks below?
I know, I know.
Chad thought I was crazy, too.

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