Saturday, December 31, 2011

Missouri for the Holidays

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Chris and I just got back this morning from a whirlwind tour of Missouri to visit our families for the holidays. During our 9-day trek, we covered 3,000 miles, stayed in three Missouri cities - St. Louis, Kansas City, and Columbia - ate waaaaay too much, spent a little too much money on after-Christmas sales, and got to spend some great time with family and friends.

Now, if you're a smart cookie you're probably thinking, "3,000 miles from DC to Missouri? That seems awfully long?" And you know what? You're right. We made a oopsie-daisy when we were leaving DC that required us to turn around not once, but twice, turning a 14-hour drive to St. Louis into a 24-hour drive. OOPS! Let's just say, if you are going somewhere cold make sure to grab a winter coat, and if you are going anywhere and rented a car in your name, don't forget your wallet and driver's license! Honestly, 24 hours in a car doesn't seem that much longer than 14.... and at least we didn't strangle each other!

Tips to those that plan on taking a long-distance car ride - 5-Hour Energy's work wonders, travel pillows will be your best friend, and watch your liquid intake because you'll definitely only want to stop when you have to!

Here are some highlights from our trip . . .

Our first stop was lunch at Bogart's in St. Louis' Soulard neighborhood. Nom, nom.


Then, we had a siblings' drink at International Tap House. (That handsome guy is my little brother!)


Chris and I sported our Holiday-best on Christmas morning.


And we enjoyed some family bowling (which reminds me that I need to find cheap bowling out here in DC!).


In Kansas City, we spent time on the Plaza shopping, eating, and enjoying the holiday atmosphere.


Oh, and I tried my first Winstead's Skyscraper shake. Yummy!


We checked out the Magic Tree, a Columbia, Missouri tradition!


And, lastly, we stopped in Newport, Kentucky to enjoy some beer and food at Hofbrauhaus. It might not be the same as the Munich Hofbrauhaus, but it was good enough.


Chris might have needed to get out of the car too . . .

We hope everyone has had a wonderful and relaxing holiday season so far, and has a safe night tonight on New Year's Eve!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Operation Finish Bathrooms: Part 1

While all of you (or most of you I would guess), were gorging on turkey, watching or playing football, and Black Friday shopping, Chris and I were hard at work on 3 of our 3.5 bathrooms. The TLC that each of them needed was long overdue, so we decided a few weeks ago to dedicate our entire Thanksgiving break to finishing up our bathrooms, finally. (This decision trumped our initial idea to spend the entire Thanksgiving break camped out in front of the TV re-watching LOST. Oh, the woes of homeownership....)

We spent 4 days over Thanksgiving sanding, priming, painting, taping, painting, cleaning, etc. our basement, guest, and master bathroom. Fun, no? And, believe it or not, we still aren't completely finished. Although, we are much closer than we were a month ago!

So it's time for Part 1 of Operation Finish Bathrooms: The Once-Cruise-Ship-Sized-Dreaded Basement Bathroom!

The most troublesome bathroom from the moment we moved in was the one in our basement. It was ti-tine-ey. Seriously, cruise-ship bathroom size, if not smaller. Too small to even take an okay picture of it. And, we realized shortly after we moved in that water was leaking in near the bathroom right onto our carpeted basement floor. Want mold? No, thank you. As I wrote about way back when, we spent last fall and winter making the bathroom bigger, thanks to some door maneuvering. Since then, Chris has been painstakingly patching up the leaks, re-bricking parts of walls, waterproofing, tiling, plumbing, electrical work, drywalling, mudding, painting, trimming, etc., all when he's not laboring away on statistics homework. Fun, no? Here are some pictures of all that fun . . .

Here's the bathroom last spring, after we moved the wall making it bigger, but before we found the water leak. (The gap in the tile floor is where the old wall was before we made it bigger.)


Then we realized that water was leaking in from under our outdoor steps and through the bathroom, so those pretty walls had to get torn down to find the leak.


Yup, this is rotting wood that was behind the bathroom drywall. Gotta love water damage over years and years and years.


And, here's more rot. Oh, and see that hole that's under our outdoor steps? Yup, that's where the water was getting in. Notice the rotted wood in the bottom of the whole. Gross.


Chris cleaned up the hole and sealed it from future water trickling in. Much nicer looking.


Since we moved the wall out, we also had to fix the light switch and put up the new dry-wall. Pretty much the entire bathroom got new drywall. Some walls got new drywall twice. Lucky us.


Here's the extensive list of what we Chris accomplished in the basement bathroom:
  •  Re-framed the new bathroom entrance and door after we moved the wall out.
  • Discovered the water-leak culprit: a strange empty space under our outside stairs.
  • Cleaned out the space under the stairs, waterproofed it and bricked it up.
  • Created a door to access the space = new storage!
  • Put in a new vanity and sink (we used the one from our master bath, more on that in another bathroom segment!).
  • Re-drywalled the entire bathroom, including the ceiling. Mudded it, then painted it.
  • Put in a new light switch for the bathroom.
  • Re-framed the bathroom window.
  • Re-tiled parts of the bathroom and the area outside of the bathroom.
  • Added trim everyway.
  • Cleaned the bathroom, which was covered in dust. Bleh.
  • Put on a new toilet seat cover. Fancy, I know.
  • Re-hung the old fixtures, and added some new ones (towel racks).

And, voila! Here is our new and greatly improved basement bathroom!


Notice the door next to the toilet. That's the hole we found under the stairs that is now extra storage!

Check out our nice recycled vanity from our master bath. The mirror might be off-center, but it's a basement bath, who cares!

Our lazy-selves are relishing in the fact that we can now actually use the bathroom in the basement while we are down there watching TV and working out, instead of running upstairs! Yippee!!

So, that's it. Our basement bath is DONE. Done, done done!

Part 2 of Operation Finish Bathrooms will be coming soon . . . (as soon as we hang up shelves and clean!) So, stay tuned!

Post-School Weekend

Well, we finished our classes for the semester! And passed! Sometimes, Chris and I lament on how sad it is that we are late-twenty-somethings and we are still taking classes, doing homework, and worrying about finals and grades, but what can I say, we lurv learning!

Anyway, this past weekend was our first weekend free of the burdens of school work, and big home projects (like water leaking through the roof and an unfinished basement bathroom). So, naturally, we did whatever the heck we wanted!

The weekend started with a great dinner with friends at Parkway Deli. Gosh I love that place and their humongously delicious desserts. Mmmm eclairs and cannolis! If you come in town and visit us, remind me to take you there!

Saturday and Sunday we did a little bit of everything and a little bit of nothing. For instance, we decided to go to Goodwill to donate a few bags worth of stuff that have been piling up in our house, and ended up buying these two gorgeous Pier One chairs. For $5 each. FIVE DOLLARS, EACH! They are even more beautiful at that price, huh?



Right now they are just siting in our living room and I have yet to decided where I want to put them... any ideas?

We also visited DC Brau, one of the first local breweries in DC that started selling their beer last spring. I wanted to buy a couple of "Sixers" for Christmas gifts for people, but Chris couldn't resist taking the quick tour. It's decent beer and fun to tour a local brewer. Again, if you are a beer-lover like Chris, this is a good, free place we can visit when you are in town.





But, while we ran some random errands and did some fun stuff around town, we were also lazy. Lay-zy. Let's just say, we are now both obsessed with Breaking Bad. If you haven't watched the show, you should. It's dramatic, funny, and even nerdy.Yes, it's about "cooking" meth, but it's not your average drug show. Although, I don't really know what an average drug show is like....?

This was a really random post, sorry, but this is what our Washington life is like, a little boring, and a little interesting, mixed with some natural and home disasters. ; )

Monday, December 12, 2011

We'll Be Right Back . . .

 . . . After we take care of the usual end-of-another-graduate-school-semester craziness.

I tried really hard to keep writing blog posts after Thanksgiving, especially about our bathrooms updates that we accomplished, but as usual things got very busy very quickly with our semesters wrapping up. Believe it or not, I have two posts in my draft queue that just need pictures, but alas, I have no time to take, edit, and upload them. So, posts are going to be paused until this weekend because, right now, our life looks like this:


Let me tell you, not only can I not wait for our dining room table to be free of papers, textbooks, and the laptop, but I cannot wait to have Chris back because he's been super super busy with doctoral classes and needs a break!  Almost. done. Wish us luck!

(PS - Our dining room table is now our office because our office still has holes in the wall from the molding drywall we had to remove from the "hurricane." Yes, school needs to give us our lives back!)
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