Thursday, February 24, 2011

-- CWC Highlight: A Hall Table --

Its been a while since I bragged about my talented husband on this blog so its about time I showcased one of his pieces.

Lucas built this hall table for his sister and brother-in-law for Christmas and he did an excellent job if I do say so myself.  As with anything, there were a few hiccups along the way, but for this project, it certainly does feel like it all worked out for the best.

The table is constructed from solid wood material and while the base is ash, stained in a black finish, the table top is made from bubinga which has this purplish-orange-red hue naturally.

The table really is stunning and as is evidenced in the photo below, even the youngest family member is a fan :)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

-- A New Snack --

Hi, my name is Amanda and I'm a snacker.

I love almost all snacks.  Salty potato chips, chocolate, ice cream, candy (oh my goodness, I love Skittles, Nerds, Starburst, Fuzzy Peaches etc... SO much!), I'm an equal opportunity snacker.

Recently I found a new snack a local health food store that's super yummy.  I woudn't exactly call it healthy, but maybe at least a better choice?

I got this:

Lucas got this:

They are both yummy and I can't wait to try this one:

Mmmmm... Popcorn....

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

-- Flooded & Bruised --

We are coming off a long-weekend here in Ontario and while I really wanted to be in Winnipeg spending the time with my friends Kelley and April, I wasn't able to get away for a long-enough period of time to make it worth the trip.  So as a consolation prize, Lucas and I started working on our laundry area in our basement.  

We were lucky enough to find a great deal on a front-load washer and dryer just before leaving for Mexico and the purchase got us motivated (ok, maybe more me than us) to spruce up the completely unfinished basement area.  Here is how it looked on Saturday morning after we had moved out the old washer and dryer, set up the new washer and dryer and removed the old, stained laundry tub.  Don't you love all the pink insulation, plastic and Tuck Tape?  I know that I don't.

Our plan for this area is very low-budget.  We want to close in the walls around the washer/dryer with some painted plywood (apparently easier for my woodworker husband to work with than drywall), add some cabinetry for storage and a new sink/faucet to replace the laundry tub.

So this weekend, we needed to start by beefing up the walls with some extra 2x4s so that when it comes time to hang the wall cabinets, we would have something to attach them to.  This required pulling out some of the insulation and replacing it around the new 2x4s.  We also needed to do some minor adjustments to the copper pipes to make them fit around the new cabinetry but given our practice in our bathroom, this job was easy-peasy!

Then came the job of getting the plywood downstairs and fit into the areas. This was more complicated than we expected as the space is incredibly tight.  We needed to work around the washer/dryer, a water softener, storage cabinets and a bunch of hoses/drains/copper pipe etc.  The first couple of pieces went ok...

This began the giant comedy of errors that characterized our weekend.  Here's a recap of the headaches that we encountered along the way (we were kind of too frustrated to take pictures):

      Failed to measure perfectly.
Result: A larger than anticipated gap between sheets of plywood.

      Forgot to mark the location of studs.
Result: Needing to shimmy a skinny arm under the plywood to get an idea of where the stud was.  Ended  up with several "tester" nails that didn't hit a stud and thus much more wall repair than planned.

      Removing the drain hose for the water softener to accommodate the renovations and forgot to replace it.
Result: A 4" flood in the basement laundry area when we got up in the morning.  This meant, wet plywood walls, wet stereo system, wet storage cabinets, and crazy wet carpet that needed to be removed from under the storage cabinets, washer/dryer, water softener etc...

      Crushed the dryer vent trying to get a particularly stubborn piece of plywood bent under an HVAC vent.  Result: Additional trip to Home Depot to get replacement vent parts.  An annoyed husband trying to get it all fixed before a snowstorm.  Said husband getting frustrated trying to fit all the pieces together.  A subsequent slip off of the step stool and falling directly onto the side of his hand.  He then realized he couldn't grip anything (not even a shampoo bottle, let alone a hammer or drill...)  So, then a wife-induced trip to the hospital for an x-ray in the middle of a snowstorm!  But luckily, nothing was broken, just a mighty bad bruise!

So, yeah.  This project isn't exactly going as planned.  We've flooded the basement, almost broken bones and basically gotten really frustrated many, many times.  But, as of late last night, all of the plywood is up and secure, the dryer vent is repaired, everything has been primed and Lucas' hand is healing.  Here's how the laundry area looks now...

A close-up of the sink area.  The walls are ready for the cabinets to be hung and the ledge/bump-out to accommodate the washer and water softener drains is built and primed.

When we get the chance, we'll give the walls a bit of a sand and get some paint on the walls... Fingers crossed that next weekend's work won't be quite so frustrating!

Friday, February 18, 2011

-- New Favorites --

A couple years ago I came to realize that my lips are super sensitive to the sun (as in they can get blisters in a matter of hours) and as such, lip balm with SPF is a daily requirement for me.  I feel like I've tried so many lip balms with SPF and have never been satisfied because they always leave a metallic aftertaste in my mouth.

But, this summer while shopping at Mountain Equipment Co-Op, I found this lip balm and figured I'd try it.  Within a couple of hours I knew that I loved it.  Its smooth, clear and has no aftertaste at all!  So the next time we went to MEC I bought 5 tubes to ensure that I always had one!

Then, just before leaving for Mexico I was shopping at Sephora and decided to take a leap and try a lip balm with SPF that was way out of my usual price range.

And lets just say, its love!  While I am still a big fan of my Eco-Lips for wearing at the lake or beach, I am loving Sugar Rose for everyday wear.  It goes on incredibly smooth, has an amazing lemon-y scent and a great tint that is so wearable.  Since buying it a month ago, I have worn this lip balm everyday and I can't imagine ever being without.  Since its over $20 for a tube, I won't exactly be stocking up, but I'd still whole-heartedly recommend it!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

-- When a Blog Goes Silent --

Its been pretty quiet around here lately... but that's because we were away making a little sunny daydream a reality.  That's right, that picture of a resort that I shared a while ago?  We made that pool home for a week!

Here is the story:  In mid-Janurary we started getting swallowed up by the winter-blues and while at the mall one day, we stopped by our friends at FlightCenter and picked up some of those travel books to do some brainstorming.  Within the evening, we'd agreed that a vacation was just what the doctor ordered.  About a week later, we'd booked a week at the Azul Sensatori in Puerto Morelos (on the Eastern side of Mexico between Cancun and Playa del Carmen).

It wasn't long before we started getting cold feet about the trip though as Mexico was popping up all over the news with reports of crime - but we stayed the course and are so glad we did!

We booked a room in the Premium section of the hotel which meant that we had access to a reserved section of one of the pools, a reserved area on the beach and private butler service.

The other perk we got was a swim-up room with a private outdoor hottub!  It honestly was possibly **the most** amazing part of our trip!  We spent time everyday soaking up this little bit of luxury!

One morning we also got up in time to watch the sunrise.  It was sort of cloudy that morning, but it was really neat to see how the rising sun outlined the cloudy horizon.

We also took this opportunity for a few self-pictures... be warned...

It was also quite cool that after tipping housekeeping we started getting some surprise towel-visitors on our bed...

On a particularly cloudy, windy, rainy day we also did some crafting.  There was a little station along the beach with some ceramics for painting...

We chose a little vase with flowers.

And took turns painting.

Here we are with the finished product.  Looking pretty good if I do say myself.

We had to leave the vase with the owners over night for them to glaze the surface to make it shiny.  Little did we know though that the owners of the shop end up fixing/fancy-ing up the item as well.

The next day when we went back to pick the vase (as well as a little nightlight that we painted later in the afternoon), it had made quite the transformation!

In all, our time was amazing.  We spent mornings at the beach...

Afternoons at the pool...

And a little time in our clean, spacious room.

Overall the grounds were beautiful and we really enjoyed our time away!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

-- Dreaming of the Sun --

Considering that we are experiencing quite the winter storm today (along with the rest of North America it seems) I can't get this off my mind...

Yes please!!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

-- Love Letters --

I read the blog Fly Through Our Window and its one of my absolute favorites.  While reading it this morning, Darby linked to this blog: Today's Letters and I was immediately smitten.

This amazing couple has put their marriage's joys and struggles out there in blogland for all to see - and more accurately, learn from.

I took several minutes (read: hour or two) perusing their blog and have become inspired.  Seeing their commitment to continually pursuing each other has convinced me that I've become lazy in my marriage.  Its not exactly like we are unhappy or anything, just complacent... comfortable.  This couple is, for lack of another word, an inspiration and I plan to add them to my Google Reader so that I am daily reminded that love and marriage are worth my effort.

In an audio-recording that they shared on their blog, they discussed their Top Ten List...  I'm going to share my favorite points, but I'd encourage you to take a listen to their story because I think it will touch us each in a unique way...

  • I love their Tuesday night questions.  Not sure I could swing this with Lucas every week, but maybe on a monthly date?  They (Emily and Tim) ask each other... How did you feel best loved in the past week? What does your upcoming week look like?  How would you feel most loved and encouraged in the days ahead? How would you feel best pursued in intimacy this week?
  • Emily and Tim also have a special box that they contribute to for their 50th Anniversary trip.  You'll have to listen to their story to find out on what occasions they contribute to the box ;) I think its a great idea! 
  • They celebrate each other by making a big deal out of birthdays, anniversaries and small accomplishments.  Considering that Lucas and I barely even acknowledged out 8th anniversary - this is an area we need to be more intentional about. 
  • They play together.  At one point in the audio-recording Emily says, "I recognize that Tim wants me to be his sidekick when it comes to doing guy things together."  This really resonated with me, because I know that this is something that Lucas values.  I will participate more in the activities he enjoys - I may get some splinters in the process, but it'll be worth it... right?
  • They also suggest that the greatest gift we can give each other is to know ourselves and the elements of our parent's marriages that have shaped our perception of what marriage is supposed to be.  What they call: "working through our origin family issues."  This is most definitely an area that affect's Lucas and my relationship.  We both are incredibly grateful for our two sets of happily married parents, but I think that we each have latched onto our idea that our marriage has to look like our parents' (and newsflash: our parents' marriages are VERY different from each other).  We need to give ourselves permission to have whatever marriage we want - not the one that has been demonstrated to us in childhood.  This is going to take some reflecting, but I think it will be incredibly revealing.
Its really interesting because Lucas and I were long-distance girlfriend/boyfriends and so we have a huge collection of love letters to each other - maybe its a practice we need to get back into...
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