Small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.


One Big Step...for our House

Time to turn the attention onto to something different...the house. To be even more precise, the kitchen. While our kitchen remodel was not the first thing that we did to the house, it has been by far the biggest change we have done. Aside from ripping up all the carpet and re-finishing the beautiful original oak floors, nothing else even compares to the difference our new kitchen has made. Here is what it looked like when we were in the purchasing process.
Let me start by saying that this was a LONG process. When we bought the house it did not come with the refrigerator so from the time we bought the house in September until when the kitchen was finished in May of the following year, our refrigerator was located in the garage. We didn't see much sense of bringing it up into the kitchen when we knew it would have to be moved during remodeling. On top of that, the planning was tedious and, at times, very frustrating. When we first bought the house, we started out with the idea that we were just going to remove the island and move the fridge so that it would be on that long blank wall. We figured we would put a dishwasher in place of the fridge since the kitchen didnt have a dishwasher. We also knew that replacing the floor was a must. I'm sure anyone would agree how much this dark laminate flooring stuck out.
As we started looking into it we realized that we would need to build cabinets around the dishwasher to keep it in place and the strange opening would require something custom that probably wouldn't match the existing cabinets. Plus, we would have to get a new counter top to go over the new dishwasher. Not that we were complaining, but it was really starting to add up. Then, the idea was tossed around of building an island and putting the dishwasher in it, but as you can see the kitchen is not very large and that would have had to have been custom as well. Nothing seemed like a perfect solution and everyone had different opinions as to what would be best. So, one day I decided to go to Lowes with our kitchen dimensions and get an estimate on new cabinets and counter tops.  Two months later, after countless estimates and three or four different drawings, we made a decision. This was going to be a big job and one we wanted done right with quality materials. Needless to say, it was way too big of a project for us to do ourselves. We figured that the difference a new kitchen would make on the resale value of our home would be worth the cost and it only helped that we had a $7,000 first time home buyer tax credit to play with. As luck would have it we found A&R Quality cabinets who gave us an unbeatable price on beautiful cherry cabinets, HD laminate countertops (we didn't want to overdo it for the area), as well as running lines for a new dishwasher and installation of the dishwasher and sink. The best part is that it would be done in 3 days! (Lowes had quoted us a week to install the cabinets, after which they would measure and order the counter top which would take a whole month to come in.) We loved that James Rich, the owner, had many suggestions and ideas that no one else had thought of. He seemed to be utilizing the space better anyone else we had talked to and that gave us lots of confidence. It also helped that his prices were actually cheaper than that of Lowes and Home Depot yet he was using better quality materials. We decided to save money by gutting the kitchen ourselves which turned out to be fairly easy and kind of fun.
 Once all the cabinets were done we painted the walls a light yellow. I was very particular about making sure the paint tied in the floor, cabinets and counter top. I almost went with a deep red, but settled for a more subtle and light color to help make the room look bigger and brighter. We also decide that we could handle doing the floors ourselves. Although we had never done such a thing, the estimates were too much and my Dad had all the tools we could ever need. We settled on a ceramic tile that was on sale at Lowes for about the price of laminate, though in retrospect I would have paid double for it because it looks so much better than any laminate we looked at.
We finished grouting the floor the night before the cabinet installation. Whew, just in time. It was a few days of constant work to get it ready, but after day one of installation we knew all those months of trekking to the garage for drinks and using our desk as a countertop for three weeks was worth it, because our new kitchen was beautiful. Even the animals couldn't resit admiring it...

It was a spectacular sight even before we had all our appliances. It amazed everyone (and sometimes still does) that this is the same kitchen. Once we were able to get all of our appliances in place and put up a few pieces of art, then it finally felt like ours...finally. Not only is it beautiful, but it is functional and practical. Here are some pictures of the final product...
 Please excuse the messy pantry, but the pantry deserves a picture because it is one of my favorite parts of the kitchen. So although this was only one room of our house, we can honestly say that this one remodel was the biggest step our house has taken to get out of the 1950's and we couldn't be happier.


60 Seconds

Have you ever seen the movie Leap Year? It is a romantic comedy with the adorable Amy Adams (Anna) about a girl who goes to Dublin, Ireland to propose to her boyfriend on February 29th, but along the way she meets this other guy (Declan) who is opposite of everything that she is. Throughout the movie she is time and time again depicted as very materialistic with her Louis Vitton luggage and designer clothing. Little by little she loses or ruins those material items through a cute series of mishaps, but finds that she can really be happy without them. I'm sure you can figure out the rest, but in a nut shell the concept is that this new guy changes her outlook on everything and makes her see the world differently. While the rest of the story is really not relevant to this post, there is one thing that Declan asks her that has always stuck with me. In this one particular scene Declan asks Anna, "If there was a fire in your house and you only had 60 seconds, what would you save?"

So, lets set some ground rules before I share what I would save. First, I am going to say that all humans and animals are already out of the house. Obviously, I'd save Adam first and if Adam was safe then I would go for Kaiser. A life, be it human or animal, is sacred and I would never consider any object before something living.  Secondly, 60 seconds would actually give you time to save a number of things, especially since I am sure that your adrenaline would be pumping and you'd be moving at super human speed. So, I am also going to stipulate that it can be only be one thing. Do you know yours? I know mine. Most items in your house can be replaced. TV's, furniture, computers, and clothing, So when I first heard the question I thought about my laptop with thousands and thousands of pictures on it. Pictures from many vacations, holidays, events, and even old family pictures of people who are no longer with us.  While loosing all those pictures would be a devastating loss for me, there is one thing that I cherish even more and that is this.
 This was my wedding gift to Adam. So why would I save something I gave him? Even though, I gave it him, most everything in this book is over 5 years of gifts that he gave to me. This is every note, card, item we made, or indicator from the beginning of our relationship of our love. When we first starting dating, I was only 17 and he was about to be 19. Needless to say, I was in high school with strict parents (Mom actually) so there was a lot of communication done late at night or over e-mail. Adam worked night shift at UPS so every night when he got off work he would write me an e-mail for me to read before school that next morning. I loved it! 
 I kept them all to have and read back time and time again. One of his e-mails from March 2004 says "Are you really gonna print all these out? I wonder how big the pile will be in five years. Think you'll have to get a whole book just for them? Well probably look back at it all when were both in our 80's and laugh at it all. I wonder what well be doing when were 80." So basically, that is exactly what I did. I printed them all out. I arranged them by date and I put in anniversary and birthday cards, tickets for events we had gone to, fortunes from fortune cookies, pictures, doodles and little mementos. I started the book with Adam's account of how he first heard about me, our first date, our second date and then his revisions since I told him some of his "memories" were a little mixed up. 
 This book contains five years of letters about our hopes and dreams of finally being able to have our own house and have a family. It contains apologies from fights we had, lyrics from songs that we love, and tickets from concerts and events we went to. It is a boring, mundane daily accounts of work and working on cars. It is sad memories of his Dad and the pain. It is simple I love you's written on scraps of cardboard and napkins. I can say without a doubt that this is my most cherished item.
 So, maybe your item isn't quite as sappy as mine, but do you know what it would be? What is really important to you in your life? Do you cherish the small things? The items that didn't cost a lot of money or are not the most trendy? Mother Teresa was quoted once as saying, "There are no great things, only small things with great love. Happy are those." This is my happiness. What is yours?


Its time for a new adventure...

So I've decided after following blogs for awhile now that I should try my hand at my own. I think it will be a great way for me to share ideas, happenings, and communicate with others. I figured for my first post, it would only be appropriate to have an introduction. So, here is a little bit about me...

1.) If you know me, you'll know that I am definitely one of the lucky ones who really has found the one that makes their heart sing. I am married to a wonderful man named Adam. We met on a blind date way back in the beginning of 2003 and from week one we never again knew life without the other. We basically became inseparable (much to the annoyance of many family members) and after over 6 years of dating we finally took the biggest step of our lives and committed ourselves fully to one another in front of God. There really are no words to explain it other than to say that I am blessed beyond anything I will ever deserve to have such love.
The other love in my husband and mine's life is...

2.) Our German Shepherd, Kaiser Von Schipplebark.  Kaiser is definitely the second love in my husband's life and I guess I can't complain. He is one of the most spoiled dogs that I know, but I think he deserves it. We both grew up loving the breed so when we started talking about getting a dog we knew we wanted a German Shepherd. I have honestly never known a more loyal breed of dog. He is a ton of fun and a TON of hair, but we love him. Although he will always be a puppy to me, he is almost 2 years old now. We got him in January at only six weeks old and it was love at first sight.
He was our first real addition to our family after we bought...

3.) Our first house! Our house must be included, because it has consumed me for almost two years now. The house was actually my maternal grandparent's house and to say it took some convincing for myself and even more for Adam to purchase it is putting it nicely. For the first few months no one lived in it while we removed all the carpets, refinished two floors of  hardwood flooring, and painted the entire place from top to bottom. On top of those renovations, we also did a complete remodel of our kitchen, put down some new carpeting, replaced windows and the list is still growing. But, there will be plenty of talk about the house to come.
So once we bought the house I found a whole new passion in...

4.) Decorating. Decorating is really one of those things that I became obsessed with once we bought our home. I'm a bit of a perfectionist and so after two years I am just happy to say that I am finished completely room of our house. That will be worthy of its own post. Decorating is also the hobby that now occupies the majority of time and thoughts, but is definitely not my only hobby. I also enjoy ballroom dancing, photography, SCUBA diving, and most of all...traveling. Ballroom dancing is a love of mine that unfortunately we have had to put on hold for the time being. While trying to pay off debt and with Adam finishing school, it had be put on pause. Rest assured, that it is something we will be doing again as soon as possible. There is nothing that brings me more joy than dancing the foxtrot, waltz, or quickstep to some Dean Martin or Sinatra with Adam. It is said that dancing is like dreaming with your feet and I think that about sums it up. Photography, has been an avid hobby of mine since I can remember. A high school black & white photography class sealed the deal and I've been hooked ever since. That being said, I've put that love on the back burner the last few years since my husband has found one of his true passions in it over the last few years. He an amazing photographer and I am content these days enjoying his work and being so proud of all this photographic accomplishments. SCUBA diving was something that I had always wanted to try after being a competitive swimmer for many years. So one day I booked a SCUBA trip and convinced Adam to take the certification with me. SCUBA diving has proven to be a hobby that we rarely are able to do. We had an amazing trip years ago in Cozumel, Mexico and a bit of diving let down during our honeymoon in Belize. Nonetheless, SCUBA diving is one of the most amazing experience of my life. The world 100 ft under the ocean is indescribable. It is something that I will always love and try to do it when the opportunity presents itself. So my last, and most favorite hobby is, hands down, traveling. I grew up traveling and I quickly hooked Adam into it as well. We've been so fortunate to visit many amazing places over the last 8 years. They've include multiple trips to Italy and England, Mexico, Jamaica, France, Croatia, Italy, Canada, Belize, and Japan as well as some amazing US trips like Colorado. I feel like I become even more alive every time I experience a new place, people, and culture. Just a few months ago we were fortunate enough to spend 19 amazing days in Italy with my Dad and Step-mother.
 It was an amazing trip and one we will remember for many years especially since our days of traveling are about to go on an extended hold, because...

5.) I'm pregnant!!! Last but not least, you should know that as of today I am 18 weeks and 3 days pregnant. Which means we are expecting our first child on February 1st. Only 11 more days and we know if it is going to be a little Adam or a little Angela. It has been a strange and exciting experience thus far and I am excited to see where this new journey takes us. Having a child on the way is the main reason I decided to start a blog. Who won't want to see thousands of pictures of our precious little one and hear all about stinky diapers? Just
kidding, but I do think blogging will be a great way to share with family and friends. So there is a long (sorry!) start to this new adventure on our sunny side of the street...