Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Have You Noticed??

This image from MLB.com shows the standings in the American League going into today's games.  Notice anything pretty darn exciting??  I'll give you a hint....it's right there in the middle of the picture.  At the top of the Central League.

Let me zoom you in a bit.

I know it's still hard to read...so I'll just say it.  The Cleveland Indians currently have a record of 12 wins and 4 losses.  They're sitting at the top of the AL Central.  In fact, they currently have the best record in the entire American League.  Actually...they're tied for the best record in all of Major League Baseball.  Only one other team has a record of 12-4.  The Colorado Rockies.

I realize that we're only a few weeks in to the season....but WOOOOHOOOOO!!!  I'll take it!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Dining Room Wall

Our dining room is one of the few rooms in the house that we basically haven't touched since we moved in.  We put in our dining room table (which actually belonged to my great-grandparents and was, at one point, used as the butchering table...don't worry...it's been thoroughly cleaned and refinished), and we set our non-matching chairs around it (3 of them were purchased at my former church's "garage" sale; the other chair was bought years ago when I lived alone and really just needed one chair).  That's all we've done.  Until today.

One of the main reasons we decided not to do anything in here is these words:
They're just vinyl words stuck up above the french doors that lead from the dining room to the back deck, but I actually really like them and would prefer not to take them down just yet.  Because I don't want to take down the words, we really can't paint the dining room.  (Although Shawn and I did discuss possibly painting an "accent" wall in there one of these days.)  Fortunately, I also like the pale yellow color that the dining room and kitchen were already painted when we moved in.

For the last year and a half (since we moved in), this has basically been what we see when we look in the dining room:

(And yes...our dining room table often has stuff on it.  I'll admit.  We rarely eat at the table.  We're more likely to eat dinner while sitting on the couch.)

That wall has just been yellow and empty, but I've been wanting to hang something up there for awhile now.  We did buy one piece of art, but we decided that it didn't look good against the yellow, so it ended up hanging in our master bedroom. 

But a few weeks ago, I found something at Target that I liked, and I went ahead and bought it...figuring I could always take it back if Shawn didn't like it.  :)  We finally took the time and effort (a whopping ten minutes or so) to hang it up today!  So now...here's what we see when we look into the dining room!

I've realized that this picture looks a little funny.  It's actually about as long as our table, so it works pretty well in there, I think.  :)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Small Projects

I've had a list of projects that I'm hoping to get done around the house soon.  We spent some time today at Lowe's, buying some supplies, and we also did a few small things.  Here's our list of projects (some obviously bigger than others):
  1. Paint and redecorate the "pink room." 
  2. Hang art in dining room.
  3. Install curtain rod and hang curtains in the living room.
  4. Put up shelf in the living room.
  5. Power wash and stain back deck.
  6. Purchase and plant some new flowers in the front flower beds (where we planted annuals last year and therefore have some "holes").
  7. Pull weeds and put down mulch in the front flower beds.
  8. Work on backyard (fertilize, get rid of weeds and moss, and/or lay down some sod).
  9. Have drainage issue in the back/side yard fixed.
A couple of these items were started today (and one was already finished), so I'll try to post some updates soon!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


On Sunday, Shawn and I decided to get up early, head east towards the mountains, and look for snow.  Our last attempt at snowshoeing ended up just being a hike, but this time, we were hoping for actual snow.

We found it!

We were aiming for a particular trail that we weren't able to find.  Turns out, the road was just snowed in, so we could've parked our car and just hiked an extra mile or so to the trailhead.  But since we couldn't find the trail we had in mind, we decided to just turn up a plowed road and see where it led.  We drove up a couple miles before the plowing stopped and the snow started.  That's also where we saw a big ol' pickup truck stuck in the snow, and 3 college kids attempting to get it out.  Shawn parked our car and got out to help.  (For those of you who don't normally drive in the snow, here's a tip: If you're stuck in the snow, don't floor the gas.  If your tires start spinning, all you're doing is creating a more slippery surface, and you'll just get more stuck.  To get unstuck, rock the car gently back and forth.)

After Shawn helped get the truck out of the snow, we decided that we'd just keep heading up the road on foot.  Other than the kids in the truck and one other couple who drove up as we were putting on our snowshoes, we only saw one other pair of people all day (and they were cross-country skiing, and we saw them near our car).  Eventually, we ended up on the Iron Goat Trail, and the snowshoeing up there was awesome. 

Satchel had never been in deep snow before, and he loved it!  We even got really good weather.  It only drizzled for a few minutes, and for awhile, we even got sunshine!  Here are some pics:
And hopefully this video will work.  Shawn was actually running behind Satchel for a little while to encourage him to run, and the sound you'll hear is Shawn's snowshoes, but it gives you an idea of the fun Satchel had.  :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

More Flowers!

We actually hit 60 in the Seattle area today...it was so nice!!  I took Satchel for his walk at lunch, and although I started off wearing a light jacket, I took it off after a couple blocks.  The flowers have enjoyed the sunshine, too!

Our tulip/crocus type flowers:

The beginnings of our Columbines (they look better in person, I've realized):

The one tiny blue flower that's popped on one of our perennials (phlox, I think?):

And our flowering pieris (those aren't berries...they're flowers); and the sunshine!

As you can probably see from the pictures, we need to get busy weeding and mulching our flower beds.  If the weather holds up, maybe we can do some of that this weekend!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

New Fence

When we bought the house, we knew that we'd eventually need to replace part of the fence.  The fence on one side and most of the back of the yard was fine...it was obviously put up by someone who had some idea of what they were doing.  However, the other side...not so much.  The fence was shorter over there, and pieces of it were falling off.  Oh, and there's one section of the back of our yard that was never technically fenced in.  There was just a temporary "wood and wire" fence put up.

Here's an example of the fence between the yards:

Early last summer, the house next to us was finally purchased, and our wonderful new neighbors moved in.  As soon as they got here, they started working on their yard, mowing, weeding, and cleaning up the trash that the previous homeowners had left behind.  We introduced ourselves one day when they were working in their backyard, and Shawn brought up the subject of the fence. 

Happily, these neighbors are awesome.  They very quickly agreed that the fence would need to be replaced, and rather than hire someone to do it, they'd love to just chip in on the cost of it with us, and the guys could do the work themselves.  Woo hoo!

A few months passed before the guys got started on it.  And frankly...it took awhile.  Fortunately, Jeff and Emma like Satchel, and they were totally okay with letting him have full run of our combined back yards while the fence was down. 

Here's are a couple "in progress" shots:
Just last weekend, Shawn finished the front section of the fence (between our garage and the neighbor's property), and that included building and installing the door:
I love it!  The back section of the fence still needs to be done, but I feel pretty good that Satchel isn't going to get out any time soon, and it's a lot harder for anyone (or anything) else to get in to our yard.  (Did I mention that the previous door/gate didn't actually shut all the way?  We just got lucky that Satchel never realized that.) 

Sure, it took awhile to get the whole thing done, but it was a nice "bonding" experience for Shawn and Jeff.  It'll also be a nicer selling point whenever we sell the house (versus the crummy fence that was here before).  And since Jeff got a deal on the materials and since the guys did the work themselves, it only cost us a few hundred bucks.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Efficient Heating

We had another major home improvement project a few months ago, and while it certainly isn't glamorous, it's saving us money, and we're hoping that it'll be a "plus" whenever we attempt to sell the house.

When we bought the house, we were told that it was built in 1979.  That means that this house is only a year younger than I am.  The furnace that was still being used to heat the house was original...also from 1979.  And it was electric. 

I really, really wish that I had a picture of that old furnace.  It was almost scary.  We knew when we bought the house that it would need to be replaced, and I was voting that it would be replaced fairly quickly.

In case you're not aware, electric heating is not efficient.  It just takes lots of power to heat a house this size.  What's more, this particular furnace was designed with four "burners."  We discovered at some point last year (when we called in a plumber, actually, who is also a heating guy and offered to look at our furnace for free while he was here) that only two of those four burners was even working.  So for a long time, our house was being heated by an electric furnace that was only working at 50% capacity.  I'd rather not think about how high our electric bills were last year.

So this fall, we decided it was time to replace the darn thing.  We quickly realized that it would be in our best interest to replace the furnace with a heat pump...so in December, that's what we did.  This now stands outside our house:
It's quite snazzy.  I'll be honest...I don't understand how it works, exactly.  But I do know that it's energy efficient, and it somehow takes the heat out of the surrounding air.  In the event that the temperatures get below 35 degrees (which does happen here on occasion, but it's not the norm), we do have an "air handler" in the spot where the old furnace was located, and it will turn on "emergency heating" to make sure the house doesn't get too cool.  Along with this new heat pump, we now have a programmable thermostat.  And, although it often isn't needed in this part of the country, we actually do now have air conditioning that will come in handy for those 3 or 4 days a year when it'll be nice to have.

We've already seen a sharp reduction in our electric bills, which is awesome.  And we qualified for a $1500 tax credit (which we've already gotten, since I submitted our taxes more than a month ago).  So between the tax credit and the electric bills, this baby will pay for itself in just a couple years.  Nice.