Saturday, May 29, 2010
Friday, May 28, 2010
We used the Homestead, which is a small farm in Pleasant Hill, Iowa that operates a CSA and trains and supports autistic adults. I thought it was pretty cool that we could get local, fresh veggies delivered to our neighborhood weekly by a program that is also helping the community. Talk about multi-tasking!
Can't wait to see what we get next week!
Thursday, May 27, 2010
And so begins our very own Patio Palooza.
Yes folks, before we've even finished our deck, we're ripping up sod and getting geared up to build a 14x16 (ish) paver patio! No rest for the wicked up in here.
Of course, with work starting tomorrow and the bulk of it all going down this weekend, I've somehow managed to get off the hook. I leave Saturday around noon for five days in Mexico, so Hubs and a merry band of gentlemen will be the ones shoveling, leveling, shoveling again, leveling again, and so on. Yes, while I take my little sister to the beach for some R&R, Hubs and his
I feel just gut wrenched over this. I mean, I’ll be lounging around, swimming up to get margaritas while poor Hubs & Co. lay out several tons of rocks and gravel. That’s just not fair, but somehow, some way – I’ll manage.
And, a surprise for you, my darling little blog readers:
While I’m getting a wicked sunburn because no matter how many floppy hats and SPF70 (seriously?) I have on my side, beach vacations leave me lobsterish, you’ll be getting updates from the brains AND the brawn behind the operation – Hubs himself. I assume you’ll actually learn something about building a paver patio while I’m gone, which will be a shock for most of you readers. Be kind to him, he's good people.
One Thing To Do in a Tourist-Riddled Jungle – Zip Lining
OK, so this isn’t the post you’ve come to expect from my hobo-with-a-plane-ticket-and-a-pocket-of-big-dreams OTT regimen, I know. You’re thinking, “Ma’am. OTT is about doing one thing unique to that location. Zip lining is offered, like, everywhere. Way to sell out, lah-oos-sah.”
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
- I’ve got plane rides next week, four of them in fact, to move my rump from its current position on my couch to Cancun, Mexico. And seeing as how I am the woman who once spent nine hours panicking in a stall of LAX, terrified to board a plane for New Zealand lest I end up a corpse in an ocean, being slowly eaten by the supposed angels of the sea – well, distractions are certainly welcome as I swoop up and down over North America in a most unnatural way.
- Once at my destination, my only job is to lounge and eat musk melon.
- By nature, I’m wired to do a little more than that, so while my traveling companions nap and swim, I’ll be knitting.
Monday, May 24, 2010
Friday, May 21, 2010
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Today, my friends, all I have is this:
Have fun. Be careful of the ouzo, she's a meanie in a bottle.
Please forgive the head-to-toe denim, the wild bleached hair, the absurd look on my face and my errant tummy. Times were different.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
In two weeks, I’m heading to Cancun with my sister, my best friend and her younger sister for five days of sun, sand and Tecate. While that’s all good and well, my brain is itching for more travel. It seems I developed a nasty habit while I was a college student with a generous credit limit - I got used to scheduling solo vacation adventures each year.
Nowadays, with the cost of two airline tickets and actual jobs that don't take kindly to three week sabaticals, the opportunities for finding a good deal to Madrid and just going aren't as easy. nevertheless, hubs and I are plotting an anniversary trip that will put us somewhere new. Our feet itch to climb over new rocks, our ears to be completely confused by new languages and our mouths are hungry for something other than what we find on our plates here at home. But where will we land? That’s a harder question to answer.
Hawaii: We’re seeing some amazing deals on flights and condos (words can’t describe how much I adore browsing HomeAway.com), plus we like the idea of going somewhere warm where we can wander through forests, nap on sand and eat Spam. The only negative is that we agree (illogically) that domestic vacations don't "count" as much as international ones.
Belgium: The original idea of renting a camper van and touring abbey breweries died when I saw that camper van rentals start at around $2,000. A little studio in Brugge and a cheap rental car could easily fix that, though. I even found an awesome 17th century turret in the city center we could hole up in with our brews and a fireplace.
Costa Rica: Just like Hawaii, Costa Rica offers two awesome landscapes and really affordable options. Also: monkeys and toucans.
Ireland: Hubs has never been and I’m jumping at the chance to get back to Cork and get my hands on some garlic mayo and a fresh Murphy’s. We’d probably drive the Ring of Kerry and see southern Ireland. I'm not eager to see my favorite places over-run with summer tourists, so I like the idea of making this a fall trip.
Macchuu Pichu: Our first idea, but sadly, far too expensive and deserving of more than the five-six days we can afford PTO-wise. Unless of course, some benevolent readers decided to fund us. I promise to repay you in witty blog posts.
Currently in the lead: Bocas del Toro, Panama. A chain of teeny tiny islands, populated by jungle hippies, expats, native folks and rainforest creatures. With hotels on piers and $.50 beer and swings over the ocean. We like this place because we could get crazy and kayak through bat caves (this activity will totally involve me wearing some seriously protective headgear. Remember the Great Bat Incident of Aught Nine?), or we could just nap in a hammock over the ocean all day.
Meanwhile, we've also noticed our (only) toilet is misbehaving, which is terrifying. It's orginal to our 1955 home, so we've known for a while that its time could come at any moment. However, I'm determined not to let one cranky potty ruin my dreams of international adventure in 2010. Come hell or high (sewage) water, we're going on vacay.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Awful, right? The ugly patches where the old deck posts had butted up against the house, plus a few random peeling bits where about to be made ship shape.
Armed with the gallon of paint the old homeowners left us, some sand paper and a bucket of elbow grease, I fixed up the ugly spots and now the back of the house is as good as new!
Monday, May 17, 2010
Like all other parts of this deck, he wanted to make sure nothing short of the hand of God could remove these posts from our precious project. So we started by making sure each post was positioned perfectly. Not almost perfect, not “that’ll do” – no, we’re talking painstaking, life or death perfect.
Then, we used scrap 2x8s to frame around the posts so they were secure on all four sides. Nary a wiggle here, folks. Sturdy is an understatement.
Between late Thursday and early Friday, we managed to get up four of the six posts we will need! We also somehow broke this hammer, which I will be spray painting a light turquoise or something and framing, because we love free art!
Once Lou-side, we camped out at my aunt's house with my pop's whole family - some of my most loyal blog readers! Eighty party guests, five pounds of Mom's macaroni salad and an entire pack of dogs, each more spoiled than the last.
Check out the newest family pooch: Murphy. She has a wardrobe of onesies that would rival any baby. What little girl doesn't love camo and lace?
Friday, May 14, 2010
Tomorrow, I'll be presenting my youngest sister with her secret trip at her graduation party. Two weeks later, we'll meet up with my best pal and her sis in a top secret location.
Seeing as how this will be my third surprise vacation gift, I figured y'all might like some tips, in case you too would like to trick an unsuspecting sibling or boyfriend into a quick jaunt somewhere exotic.
- Pick a good spot! Seriously, as awesome as it is that you get to tag along on this rad little journey, it's a gift. So don't gift your cranky Uncle Elmer* with a summer of following your favorite metal band. Unless Uncle Elmer is in to that, which is cool. I like when people are surprising.
- Pick a good cover! Even more fun than picking the actual vacation spot if picking a cover spot, so you can refer to the vacation and strike fear into the hearts of your giftee. All three times I've given a surprise trip, the giftees knew they were going on a trip and they knew when - people have jobs and stuff they need to plan around, you know? Personally, I like to pick the exact opposite of what the giftee would like, so I would tell Uncle Elmer to lace up his boots, dust off that dancing lady tattoo and get ready to mosh. He knows you're joking, but it's still fun. Currently, I have my sister stocking up on flannel and moose repellent for a camping trip in Alberta.
- It's OK if you slip. For hubs' trip, I couldn't make it until his graduation to let him know where we are going. The day after I booked the plane tickets, I squealed on myself. Being a real sucker for historical side trips, he totally didn't mind and he spent the next few months researching the area, happy as a clam.
- Consider all the costs. Nothing's worse than giving someone a present wherein they have to drop $500 for a rental car. Now of course, I've never made this mistake, but I imagine it would suck.
- Craft a magical reveal of the location. Assuming you can hold off on spilling the beans, make it worth it. For tomorrow, I've got a delightful bounty of clues wrapped up and ready to lead Little Sister to our ultimate destination. She's a history major, so I tried to find weird historical facts about the place.
- Keep it fair. Growing up with two sisters, my mom always made everything fair. We wore the same dresses in different colors, and even that would get heated if she got the pur-ple and I HATE teal. We got the same Barbies. Christmas presents were counted and recounted to ensure total equality. I apply that same philosophy to surprise gifts. It's just safer that way.
*I don't have an Uncle Elmer. He's a work of fiction. Sounds cool though, right?
Thursday, May 13, 2010
What we don't have? A pawn shop.
You see, we recently learned a pawn shop/payday lender wanted to set up shop just blocks from what I envision as my forever home. Not cool. Always the marketer, I worry about people associating my neighborhood with seedy businesses. Studies have also shown that pawn shops can increase the crime rate and cause property values to plummet. Not music to my ears.
So, I spent today reaching out to my council members and neighbors - asking them to do what they can to keep my little 'hood wholesome. It's been a great response, but only time will tell. For those of you interested, there is a public meeting today at 4:00 p.m. at City Hall.
I digress: One thing to do when wandering the streets of Merle Hay?
I recently discovered biking and I like to swap out my SUV for my $25 refurbished Huffy whenever possible. Places I bike to (not all are technically in MH, but whatever - we're all neighbors!):
- Snookie's for ice cream
- Grounds for Celebration for iced tea on the patio
- Timothy's for a beverage
- Payless Shoes for kicks
- El Chisme for pizza
- Marino's for Italian
- Merle Hay Mall for whatever my little heart desires (usually the next completion prize on an Old Chicago Mini Tour)
- KC BBQ for some nomalicious pork
- India Star for naan
- Jimmy Johns because I'm freaky fast, too
- The gym
- Riley Park for a picnic
- The bank
- The Sprint Store, should my phone fail me
What do you love about your neighborhood?
*Update* Here are details on a council meeting this afternoon where residents will speak out against pawn shops and payday lenders.