Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ithaca is Gorges.

Lest you be concerned due to this post title, I will reassure you.  Yes, folks, I know how to spell (most wordz).

V-Neck Ithaca Is Gorges T-Shirt: Click to enlarge

I, too, was skeptical the first time I saw an "Ithaca is Gorges" t-shirt.  In fact, seeing a freshman hall-mate (and native Ithacan) wearing one of those shirts was probably my first introduction to this lovely little city.  In case you didn't get the reference, this town is gorgeous.  Mostly because it's full of gorges.  Gorgeous gorges.

Seriously, you're walking through town or Cornell's campus, and suddenly there's a huge cliff, a rushing waterfall, and lots of God's glory on display.  Although we have our hearts set on returning to Pennsylvania (and our families) after Justin is Dr. Justin, I don't think we'll ever be able to find a place with so much abundant natural beauty - let alone this much within walking distance of our house.  We have taken numerous walks and bike rides to the variety of parks, trails, and, well, random gorges over the summer.  I took some pictures on one evening walk a few weeks ago with the intention of posting on the blog (probably as an excuse as to why the kitchen spackle/sanding still hadn't been started), but haven't yet gotten around to it.  Today, though, one of my favorite bloggers is hosting a link party called "Favorite Things in My Town," so that served as a good kick-in-the-pants to finally post these pictures!

These pictures are all from the Cascadilla Gorge trail, which begins at the end of Court Street downtown, and heads up the hill to Cornell.  We were only able to walk part-way up because of construction (safety work) on part of the path, but what we did see was absolutely beautiful.  The perfect in-town escape for a quick recuperation on an evening after work.

Don't worry, it's already on our "show-off" list for visitors.  C'mon up, we'll show you.  And heck, if you wait a week, I'll even cook you dinner in our new kitchen!  Since I'm making promises like that, I'd better go paint that trim!  :)

Click here to visit Kate at Censational Girl, host of the Favorite Things in My Town link party.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Kitchen day 36: Storing our storage

With our constant renovation, life in our household is one big game of musical chairs.  Aside from our current kitchen belongings being stashed on the back porch, the basement, and the den, we also now have a living room full of kitchen cabinets:

As Justin quipped earlier, we got a kitchen in the mail today!  Our installer is coming to put them in next Monday.  Although we initially went into the project thinking that we'd do the installation ourselves, we learned that the laws are set in such a way that you don't have to pay tax on installed cabinets, while you do have to pay the tax if you buy just the product.  At our price level, this means that the installation cost is only a few hundred dollars (the difference between the actual (expensive) installation fee and the tax).  Given that it would have taken us a couple of days of time off work, we decided it was worth it to pay a professional.  Not to mention all of the other perks of this approach (you know, like level cabinets!)

This week, we're working on the other small projects that need to be finished before the cabinets.  Tonight I took the wood fill to the door and window trim.  Although we had initially planned to cover it with new trim, we've now decided to stick with the regular trim that matches (most) of the rest of the house.  Despite my wood fill efforts, it will still be a bit uneven.  We're OK with that.  The little imperfections are reminders of the house's history.  Don't worry, there are plenty of reminders :)

Oh - and I almost forgot - the update to my overly dramatic tile saga is that there are 200 en route from Florida :)  I think they'll be here just in time to get them down before the cabinets are set in place.

It's hard to believe that we're less than a week from being (almost) back to normal with a kitchen.  Until then, we're just making more memories for next year's "Remember When" post :)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Kitchen day 32: And then I cried.

For those of you who have been following the kitchen renovation thus far, you may have been impressed by the overall poise with which I have handled a series of events that has included hard physical labor, lots of construction dust, washing dishes in the shower, storing our refrigerator outdoors, more sodium (from take-out and easy meals) than my body has known how to process, and making lots of expensive decisions.  I, at least, am impressed, that in 32 days I have not had any kitchen-related meltdowns.  (Full disclosure, I may have had one non-kitchen related meltdown, but every girl is biologically entitled  programmed to have at least one of those each month, right?)  But let's get back to the kitchen.  Seriously, for a control-freak, type A personality like me, rolling with the punches and going with the flow of an inconvenient and messy process is not in character for me, and I'm proud that I have both rolled and gone (with the punches and the flow, respectively).

Except for tonight.  Here's what happened.

Ever since I put the Armstrong 12 x 12 Crescendo Canyon Shadow vinyl tile floors in the upstairs bathroom, I have loved them and dreamed of having them in both bathrooms and the kitchen.

Although they look dusty in the picture above, in reality, one of the primary reasons I love them so much is that they never show dirt.  In fact, I effectively fooled my mother.  They had not recently been cleaned (let's not go into how long), yet she thought they were.  Yeah, these tiles are that good.

They're also beautiful colors (brown and gray marbled), look like real stone, are incredibly easy to install, and much much more affordable than they look.  

I'm not the only one who loves them so much.  On, they have a 5 star rating from customer reviews.

Zoomed: Armstrong 12" x 12" Crescendo Canyon Shadow Vinyl Tile

They look beautiful in my upstairs bathroom.  They look beautiful in our downstairs bathroom/laundry room.  I want them to look beautiful in my kitchen.  I have read that consistent flooring throughout your house makes it look larger & more coherent.  Once these tiles go down in the kitchen, we'll have only 3 flooring types through the entire house (the hardwood, the carpet, and then this tile), and since the tile & hardwood are very close in color, that's added consistency.  

I think I have adequately described my love for these tiles.  They're the next step in the kitchen progress.  In fact, I planned to work on them tonight.  We have some guests coming tomorrow with a just-learning-to-walk baby, and I thought that having a nice, clean kitchen floor might be nice.  You know, since we're no where close to baby-proof over here, covering up one more hazard (the dirty old kitchen floor) would be a step in the right direction.  Technically, if I were to just clean the old floor (which has to happen before the tiles, anyway) that would also suffice, but putting down the tiles was a nice stretch goal.

So, we went to the Chinese Buffet for dinner and stopped at Lowe's to pick up said tiles.  This is where the world started to fall apart.  There were two individual tiles on the shelf.  Usually they also have boxes of 24.  I figured maybe they were out of stock.  So I looked for the place where they should be stored.  There was no label on the shelf.  So I pushed the "assistance needed in flooring" button and a guy came to help.  He went to talk to the flooring department supervisor and then to the store manager.  Apparently the tiles are no more. 

I attempted to remain calm and asked about other options.  They checked other local stores, and stores near our families in Pennsylvania.  The most they could come up with was 17 or 18 tiles here or there.  I need 200.  We left Lowes.  I cried.  We came home and I googled the product.  They're not listed on the manufacturer's website.  I called my mom and cried again.  She reminded me that there are a lot of worse things in the world.  I (temporarily) disagreed, and kept searching online.  By tediously switching "my" store on the website, I could check the inventory from place to place.  The most I found was 137 in Erie.  Apparently, they could ship for $75, which would have been the cost of 75 additional tiles if they had just been in stock in the first place.

By this point in my search, I was beginning to think more clearly.  I started to realize that there might be a way for me to get my beloved tiles.  FAR, FAR more importantly, I began to remember that there are in fact many more tragic and awful things in the world than possibly having to change my kitchen flooring plans.

I ended up placing a call to the Lowe's customer service line, reminiscing about junior high thanks to the 10+ minutes of Backstreet Boys and other 1990's hits (peppered of course with reminders about the importance of my call), and finally being connected with a very helpful representative who took my name, number, and request and promised to have the sales staff call me back within one business day to place my order.  Apparently, they are going to research ways to collect enough of the tiles and have them shipped to my local store.  We didn't get into specifics about cost, but it already sounds less expensive than the $75 Lowe's truck delivery that the website was requiring to get them here from Erie.

Of course, I won't be completely relieved until the tiles are all stuck in their neat little rows on my kitchen floor.  But I do feel better about the situation.  I wish I had purchased extra boxes a while ago (when I bought the first boxes for the bathrooms), but life is always about living and learning, right?  And you know what, given that we are looking at a weekend where thousands of people are at risk of losing everything thanks to Hurricane Irene, I really can't get upset about the possibility of having to select a slightly different floor.  There are plenty of worse things out there.  Moms are always right.  Except about whether or not Armstrong floor tiles are clean.  :)

Anybody else out there ever have their hopes dashed by inventory changes?

P.S. I understand that it's the law for bloggers to disclose whether or not they received any payment in return for favorable reviews of products.  I was not reimbursed or rewarded in any way for saying how much I love these tiles.  Although I'd be happy to say more if it means I could get 200 extra ;)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Several unrelated notes

1) In the last 3 hours, this has already become over-discussed, but how about that East-coast earthquake?!?  We definitely felt it up here in Ithaca.  (Well, Justin somehow missed it, although the people he was working with at the time also noticed).  I thought I was about to pass out ~ although I've never fainted before, that seemed to be my first explanation for the room swaying.  Turns out, the room was actually swaying.  After I realized I was physically OK, my biggest concern was for all of our canned tomatoes sitting in their pretty glass jars on our folding table in the kitchen.  Gladly, they were still there, just fine!  :)

2) You may have noticed that as we slowly spiff up the house, I'm also working on the blog.  For example, I just added a search feature over here to the right ------>
So, in the event that you are trying to remember something that I said, or settle a debate about what color we painted a certain room (for those of you whose dinner table conversation revolves around my house - ha!), you can search the blog.  I will admit, however, that it's really for my benefit.  I have found the need several times recently to search the content, like when I add links back to previous posts, and this will certainly make it easier for me!  Furthermore, I will admit that I use my own blog as a research tool.  Last Friday, I couldn't find my mom's fruit salad recipe (shocking, given the state of our kitchen storage), but luckily I had posted about that here.  If you didn't try it back in December when I first shared it, I encourage you to do so now.  It's (still) delicious.  And just today, I searched for the hutch I originally wanted for our living room (the idea of which was replaced by the reality cool old sewing machine table made for us by a family friend) because now I think it something similar would be nice in the kitchen.

(Visual interlude - here's the table (photographed several months ago with my elementary decorating techniques)

and here's the link to the hutch (although cherry wood wouldn't look right in my burnt orange kitchen!)

Home Styles Furniture Cherry Buffet with 2-Door Hutch

All this looking back on old posts has made me thankful that I've kept up with the blog as long as I have.  I'm getting better in the routine of writing, and enjoying it a lot!  I enjoy providing this glimpse into our lives for our family and friends (with which we get to spend far too little quality time), and the unexpected benefit has been a diary of sorts, chronically not just what we did to the house, but when, sometimes how - and how we've felt about it.

So, there we go.  Two totally miscellaneous thoughts.  I guess earthquakes make me sentimental.  Now I'm off to do something computer-unrelated since I've already exceeded my evening quota of screen time, and I haven't even changed from my (real) work clothes into my (house/"play") work clothes.  Sheesh.

What's up with you?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Kitchen Day 28: carrots & tomatoes

We painted the kitchen on Saturday!  WE PAINTED THE KITCHEN ON SATURDAY!

Let's quickly review.  Kitchen day 1 looked like this:

Then we moved on to this (day 2):

Then to this (day 3): 

Then this (day 8):

And this (day 13):

And, now, finally....


I think I'm overly sensitive to the amount of orange in my intended "terracotta" color (technically, it's called "Spiced Gingerbread," although I've described the paint swatch as terracotta since I picked it 9 months ago).  I've probably asked Justin about 20 times since Saturday if he thinks our kitchen is too orange.  But I have to admit, I only worry about that because I'm concerned about what other people will think.  I secretly (and now publicly) love it.  In bright sunshine, it has an orange sweet potato-ish color, but in the evening its much richer, definitely more nutmeg.  I think the best I've come up with is that its the color of pumpkin bread.  And it feels really cozy.

Justin also installed our new pendant light over the weekend.  We both really love it.  It has all of the colors that will eventually be in our kitchen.  Of course, the burnt orange, then deep red (accent colors, like curtains and the tea kettle), dark brown (floors, countertop, and door), and white (cabinets and trim).

It's also very pretty when it's lit up (but infinitely more difficult to photograph):

Also, it adds much more light than we had in the kitchen before.  We tested this out today, and canned tomatoes from our garden!  It was lovely to have our stove up and running again.  We had a lot of fun working together on canning our produce, and it wasn't as difficult as we expected.  We have plans to can many more things (and anticipate it will get even easier as we have more practice....and when we have a sink in the same room :)! )

Here's our set-up.  At least on my computer screen, I think this is the most accurate color.  Also, note that the funky painting was only saving time by leaving the space behind the future cabinets white.

And our finished product (so proud!)

Finally, on a non-kitchen related note, here's a picture of Morgan's quilt (I told you about it here).  It arrived safely at it's destination, and I can happily report that she loves it!  She's now all moved-in at Bucknell, new quilt and all!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Kitchen day 24: the exile is ended

Yesterday, those of you who are my friends on facebook may have seen my jubilant post that the kitchen drywall was almost done.  Today I am (very) pleased to announce to friends, Romans, countrymen, EVERYONE that the drywall IS done.  And it's been primed to boot.  Also the ceiling texturing is done.  Also I wish I could get this much done everyday.  :)

I have to say, I am extremely pleased with how the drywall turned out.  Of course, the completion of any drywall finishing project always produces extremely pleasurable feelings, just on the very nature that you no longer have to spend hours coated in white dust.  But this time, I'm extra pleased, because my drywall skills have clearly improved since my first attempt up in the sewing room.  Let's just say that the sewing room has some "charm" or some "character" (that's a nice way to put "lots of lumps," right?)  The kitchen, however, is super smooth in comparison.  For as many times as you run your hands over the sanded spot (with your eyes closed) trying to test for a seamless finish, the real moment of truth is when you cover it with primer.  I think it's the gloss of the wet paint that illuminates lumpy patches.  In case you haven't heard yet....I'm really excited the kitchen isn't lumpy.  I suppose I can take some credit for being more careful and more experienced this time around, but really I just had better tools.  Do not ever attempt a drywall project without a screen sander (instead of regular sandpaper) and a 8 or 10 inch taping knife.  Believe me, you will live to regret it (sewing room, cough cough, sewing room!)

Have you noticed the angle from which these pictures were taken?  The doorway of the living room!  And there's not a plastic barrier in the way!  The exile is ended, and we're giddy about being able to walk upstairs without going through a plastic tunnel, and being able to access the refrigerator from indoors (although technically the fridge is still outdoors on the back porch, you can now walk through the kitchen to get there; eliminating the need for both shoes and an umbrella when seeking food.  Both major pluses).

I think that photographing the ceiling is nearly impossible, but this perhaps gives an overview of its finished quality.  Although there are some spots that drive me crazy on the ceiling (places where the texture isn't quite consistent), it's quite the improvement from 13 months of unfinished drywall!  I'm hoping that once the rest of the kitchen is put together, people will have enough other things to look at and won't stare at the ceiling imperfections :)

And now, I'm off to bed.  I think the next post you'll see from me will have some color photos of the kitchen! I'm itching to open the cans of paint and get the color up on the wall.  Any guesses on what color we're painting??  Leave your thoughts as a comment...there are some virtual gold stars up for grabs for anyone who guesses correctly (unless of course you already know, but then you get your own gold stars for helping me choose)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Kitchen day....? (too tired to think)

I wanted to write a more substantial update tonight, but I'm exhausted!  My guess is there's a correlation between the tiredness and the following:

- I finished the last coat of spackling over the weekend! (!!!!!!!!!!!) It just needs to have its final sanding, and we can clean-up and remove the plastic barrier (and therefore put our refrigerator back indoors, as well as be able to access it without walking around outside)

- I finished 90% of the ceiling with the texturing.  The process went significantly faster once I got both hands wet, although having both hands goopy also made balancing on a ladder more challenging.  I finally figured out on day 2 of the process that it was responsible for the large bruises on my shins (with both hands on the ceiling, the best way to keep from falling was to put all my weight against the rungs right above where my feet were).  And yes, Sunday morning whilst getting ready for church when I had NO idea where these crazy black and blue marks came from, I simply whipped out my make-up and put concealer right there on my legs.  The irony is not lost on me that someone who spent the majority her weekend covered in spackle felt too girly to wear pants to church.

Note that this picture was taken during my daring backwards-on-the-ladder technique, which resulted in smaller, although equally ugly, bruises on the backs of my calves.  In case you were wondering, I gave up with the leg make-up and wore pants to work today.  I should also note that the bruises really don't hurt (when I'm not still on the ladder), but overall make me look like I'm still learning to walk, which is not the message I'm trying to send in a professional setting.

- In between all of the spackle, I finished quilting & binding the quilt for my sister-in-law.  She's headed to Bucknell on Friday for freshman orientation, and my mom and I have a tradition of making quilts for family members for their freshman dorm rooms.  In fact, my first ever quilt was the one I made my senior year of high school (and had all 4 years at Bucknell) which is now on the bed in the sewing room:

I'll post some pictures of Morgan's quilt, too...but I'll wait until after she's received it ~ more fun for her to see it in person first :)  Also, right now it's in the washer, so a photoshoot will have to wait :)

Goodnight, all....hopefully I'll be back soon this week with additional kitchen news!  (Getting us ever closer to the day when my poor husband no longer needs to walk outside in the downpour to cook our dinner on the grill :))

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Kitchen Day #17: a big swipe

The last "real" kitchen progress was Saturday, when we did the first coat of spackle and I started with the ceiling texture.  As you may remember, Monday night we were treated to dinner with by friend Dave (a reward for Justin helping him move).  Last night, we were treated to dinner by our friends Glenn and Jenny (a reward for Justin's driving time during their car troubles).  Yeah, I made out pretty well for having a helpful husband!  (in more ways than one!)

Tonight, we ORDERED OUR CABINETS AND COUNTERTOPS!  And that led to one expensive credit-card swipe!  (although, we're proud to announce that our total kitchen renovation will come in under our budgeted $6,000....pretty excellent, considering we gutted the place, added 2 appliances, and brand-new cabinets & countertops).  Oh, and the national average is around $56,000.

Lowes has an excellent free kitchen design service, and if you're in the Ithaca area, Jon was great :)  Without further ado, I'm proud to introduce you to....our future kitchen!

If you need a refresher on how things looked before, check out this post here.  The biggest changes you'll notice are as follows:

  • The addition of upper cabinets (that will be a game-changer for storage!!)
  • Moving the refrigerator from the random corner by the back door to the actual line-up of cabinetry
  • A new peninsula between the windows, adding both seating and extra countertop workspace
  • A dishwasher & microwave range hood
Needless to say, looking at the above picture makes me near giddy.  It also motivates me to get on some drywall sanding...perhaps tomorrow?

Monday, August 8, 2011

An old general store

Today  marks a break from my kitchen renovation series (see days onetwothreefour - fivesixeight, and thirteen).  To keep with the theme, I suppose I could aptly title today's post "Kitchen Day 15: No work, just dreaming."

Yesterday, we took a day of rest from the kitchen, letting the spackle dry.  I kept busy scrubbing the floors in the rest of the house (although we seem to have sequestered renovation dust pretty well, there has been plenty of mud tracked in from the combination of recent rainstorms + our refrigerator being accessible only by a trek around the house to the back porch), lots of laundry, and sewing a tote bag for my coworker, Kimberly.  She saw a purse I had made myself and offered to pay me to make one for her.  Cool deal!  She wanted it in particular for her upcoming trip to World Youth Day in Spain, so naturally I was up late last night finishing it before her last workday before the trip.  I guess I should have taken a picture to show it off here on the blog, but maybe she'll take one and post it on her blog Travels to Treasure :)

All of that to kitchen progress yesterday.  Today, we had semi-intentions of sanding the first coat of spackle, but that was derailed.  Can't say I'm too disappointed.  Justin helped our friend, Dave, move some furniture, and in return, he offered to take us to dinner tonight.  I, in particular, made out with this deal.  :)

A very wordy a post I started May 5, and still haven't posted.  Whoops!  Here we go....

I recently found an artist on Etsy (basically an eBay for arts & crafts) with some amazingly adorable drawings:

collector of worlds

Ars moriendi - 11x14 printmedicine cabinet for SAD afflictee

All images by doodleandhoob (click here to see more / purchase)

I love her style of drawing, and I've learned that I'm a huge fan of glass storage.  Here's another picture from the blog-o-sphere that I absolutely love:

Image from here

Even when our kitchen was in its former stage, I had plenty of glass storage (perhaps that was just a necessity, because for lack of cabinets most things were out in the open, and I at least wanted them to be pretty!)

Did I mention I like glass storage?  Once the new kitchen is up and running, I plan to expand my glass storage collection.  We visited a friend's house recently, and they had about 10-15 jars with everything from flour to rice and lentils.  

You don't know this yet (because I conveniently forgot to update the blog with the plans for the kitchen), but we'll be adding a peninsula (an additional workspace/seating area) between the windows.  (Envision the following picture without the paneling, without the bookshelf, a whole lot cleaner, fresher, with a peninsula the width of the wall between the windows, and extending out into the room about 2 feet.  Two bar stools on the left, standing work space on the right)

 What does this have to do with glass storage, you may ask.  Well, oh inquisitive reader, I envision shelves on the wall above the countertop, all holding unique glass containers with all of the kitchen dry good essentials (and, likely, some non-essentials pretty and important things like Hersheys kisses).  It will be almost like an old general store.  And sort of like those darling drawings from doodleandhoob.  So if you aren't sure what to get me for Christmas, a glass container is a pretty safe bet :)

Anybody else out there totally enamored by storing things in glass?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Kitchen Day #13: Spackle, round 1

You've likely noticed that I have a count of sorts going on here in post titles.  I counted the first post (when we packed everything up and hung the plastic) as day #1, and have been counting consecutive days since then.  When it's all said and done, we'll have a count of the number of days we went kitchen-less.  Thirteen days in, being without a kitchen isn't as bad as I expected.  The worst part is that we have to go outdoors (and around the house) to get to the refrigerator.  Luckily, I'm pretty good at rock-paper-scissors, so Justin takes the ice cream back to the freezer more evenings than I do.

Now, on to today's updates...

When I last wrote, we had all but the last wall covered in drywall.  We hung several more pieces Wednesday night, but my camera battery was dead so it didn't make it to the blog.  Today, we hung the last two pieces, and also finished the first round of spackling.

In addition to finishing the walls, I got a start on the ceiling.  Hanging the drywall on the ceiling was our first-ever home improvement project here (back in July 2010), but it has remained unfinished since then.

The seams, screws, and other imperfections (oh!, and the red chalk lines marking the studs) have all been visible.  Our spring break visitor also added a "Maura was here" and a little cartoon spider (both vaguely visible in the following picture) with Sharpie to the ceiling in a panel-list doodle extravaganza.

My least favorite renovation task of all time is painting ceilings.  Given that sanding drywall is a close second, I decided that the traditional smooth, painted finish was not going to work for the kitchen.  Instead, we decided on a textured ceiling ~ a hand textured ceiling at that.  Basically, I smear joint compound on the ceiling, then stamp my hand until it makes a nice consistent texture.  It is far easier than 3 coats of spackle, sanding, priming, and painting...yet it is taking longer than I expected!

I have perhaps 1/6 of the ceiling finished in this manner, but the happy news is, I only have to go over each area once!

I'll do my best to keep the blog updated, and to keep the posts about drywall from becoming as monotonous as the tasks itself :)

P.S. I think I had an all-time high of 3 comments on the last post.  Keep 'em coming!  If you aren't sure how to comment, check out my tutorial HERE.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Kitchen Day #8: Wonderful whirlwind

It's probably a sign that I'm still very tired that I accidentally called this post "Wonderful whirlpool" and sat staring at it for a minute until I figured out what word I really wanted.

I should also let you know that I had started writing about being too tired to go take pictures, seeing as I'd have to go outside, walk around to the dark backyard to get to the kitchen (remember, it's taped off from the rest of the house with construction plastic).  Then, I wanted some ice cream, and suddenly the trip around the house in my pajamas suddenly became worthwhile.  Ahh, the power of ice cream.

So, here I am with pictures of the progress to date:

The electrical and plumbing is all done.  The insulation is done.  The drywall is just about finished, except for the wall behind the cabinets.  We're hanging it strategically so as to avoid having a seam across the back splash.  I can finish drywall fairly well, but not well enough to showcase it in a back splash!

Sunday was a great day - although we planned it as a day of rest (and kept to that with no kitchen work), the amount of fun we had tired me out, too!  We started with the early Mass, so that we could make it in time for the Cayuga Lake brunch cruise.  Delicious, fun, and beautiful.

In the afternoon, we took our visitors for a tour of some key spots in Ithaca, including some waterfalls (of course), and Cornell.  We were joined by a surprise visit from Justin's aunt, uncle, and 3 cousins from Syracuse.  It was great to see them, and we had a great time sharing an impromptu picnic in the park!  We capped off the day by calling it a (very) early night - to bed at 8 pm with a movie from RedBox. 

Perhaps the best part of the day, however, was having our house blessed.  Our friend Greg, in addition to being awesome at home renovation, is a deacon in the church.  If you're not familiar with this role, basically deacons are Catholic ordained men who have some, but not all, roles of a priest.  One role is to offer blessings; in the case of our home, Greg lead a short service consisting of prayers, a Bible reading, and the sprinkling of Holy Water, all requesting God's protection and presence for our home.  It was really meaningful to have this blessing bestowed upon the house, and particularly so to have it done by a dear friend whose entire family we admire for their example of a Christian home.

Greg, Ellen, Phillip, and Rachael, there are no words other than THANK YOU!