Archive for 2011

more murphy

just because he's cute and i have to share...


these are from a few weeks ago, he's grown so much!

i wish this one wasn't so blurry, i love how he is standing at the gate. of course now when he does that he is taller than the gate.


playing in the yard with cooper is one of his favorite things.


also blurry, but while in columbus for thanksgiving murphy got to meet our friends' new puppy adora. adora is almost 2 months older than murphy and he's already bigger than she is.

christmas puppy? love it.




he's getting so big!!
i think i'm putting the kitchen updates/thoughts/stress on hold until after christmas... hope you all are enjoying the holidays so far!



1- we decided to keep the name murphy.

2- i think he's doubled in size in the last 2 weeks.

3- he likes to bite. a lot. we're trying to work on that, but it's not going very well. anyone have any recommendations? he has plenty of toys and bones, but he still seems to prefer to chew on cooper and people.

4- he and cooper are now best friends, it's really cute. he will follow cooper all over the house, which is nice because you can usually get murphy to come to you by calling to cooper.

5- he is this close to making through the entire night without have to go out. i am impressed with this because he is only 9 weeks old. i thought it would take months to get to this point.

6- he has his first vet appointment tomorrow, we're keeping our fingers crossed that he checks out ok (and that he doesn't bite the vet!)

i also have a few kitchen updates to share, check back later!


cuteness overload

so yeah... that happened.


the picture above is the photo that had us driving 4.5 hours to tennessee last saturday to "look at" (get) a puppy. there were 3 puppies left when we arrived, and after playing with each of them for a few minutes, we picked out this guy and got back in the car and started home.


the drive home was much more entertaining than the drive down! the puppy did great in the car.


he is a 7 week old golden retriever. we're still working on picking out a name, right now we're leaning towards murphy.


he had been living outside so we were a little worried about the transition to being an indoor dog. so far he's been really good, only a few accidents in the house and he's quickly adapting to crate training.


he does like to chew on things so he needs constant supervision right now. his most favorite thing to chew on his cooper.


as for coop - the first few days with the puppy were hard on cooper. he didn't seem to like the little guy, and refused to acknowledge him when the puppy wanted to play. the only time cooper was nice to the puppy was at night. the puppy will start to cry when we put him in his crate to sleep (which is in our room) and cooper will go over to sleep right next to the crate. being next to cooper seems to comfort murphy and he'll fall asleep.

even though we've been paying extra attention to cooper, i was worried that he was mad at us for bringing the puppy home.


i think we had a turning point last night - after snapping at the puppy for biting his leg a little too hard, both cooper and the puppy seemed to understand their place in the house and i think they might actually be getting along.


cooper started to let the puppy chew on him, making sure to let the puppy know when he was playing too rough.


because really, how could you not love this face?

murphy has been getting along fine with the cats, he sniffs at them but mostly leaves them alone. he's a cuddly puppy and likes to be around us at all times. i swear he's doubled in size since saturday though, he's going to grow fast!

we were both so hesitant to make the decision to get another dog. even though it's only been a few days, we are so glad that we decided to get him. he's very sweet and playful, i think he's a good fit for us.

yeah, i think this is going to work out just fine.


misc. updates

growing up in a football obsessed city (go buckeyes!), i was a little unsure at first about baseball. the pace of a baseball game is so very different from football. but, the first year we lived in st louis the cardinals won the world series, and mike and i found ourselves really enjoying the game. we usually go to a few games a year and always have a great time.

5 years later, and they did it again! yay cards! so proud of our team, it was exciting to be downtown for the final game and see the celebration.
a friend was in town for a work conference and just happen to have a room in the hotel overlooking the stadium. the photo above was the view from her room!

in other news, mike and i have both been battling a nasty cold. it's been two weeks and i'm just now starting to feel better. we've been spending a lot of time watching movies and lounging on the couch.
i hardly ever get sick, go figure than when i do i'm sick for two weeks. although it's been kind of nice to have an excuse for being lazy :-)

a few of our friends visited a couple of weeks ago. we had so much fun hanging out with them, and they brought their new puppy! mike and i have been thinking about getting another dog, so we were curious to see what cooper would do with the puppy. she was so cute and tiny, i think they were friends by the end of the weekend.
and we did catch them napping together...
i think that it was good for him to have a friend to play with. mike and i have been having many conversations about if/when we should get another dog. we got reese and cooper as puppies (from the same litter) and never regretted having 2 dogs. after reese died, we agreed to wait a while before rushing to get a second dog again. i think we've pretty much decided that if we do get a dog, we want a younger one. but, cooper is a super easy dog, very well behaved and relaxed. i'm a little worried about getting a younger dog that will be more hyper and require a lot more work!

we might be going to look at some golden puppies this weekend, and knowing us, if we decide to go look, we'll probably come home with one....

if we do decide to get a new dog, anyone have any advice about adding a new puppy in to a house with a 7 year old (spoiled) dog and 2 cats??

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the kitchen: part 3, the island?

as we've thought about our kitchen renovation for the last 2 years, we've kept coming back to a few "needs" that have remained unchanged. we would like more countertop space and more functional storage. and i have always thought it would be nice to have a place for people to sit in the kitchen.

i have our house plan in cad and in sketchup, and have been working on a new layout on and off since we bought the house. a few of the designs included a kitchen island. since we have lived with the open kitchen for so long, we weren't sure how we'd like having an island in the middle of the space. a few months ago, i took the ikea butcher block top that we had on the top of our old media cabinet, sanded it down, and spent less than $10 at the hardware store on some 2x2s to make a base. it's not pretty, but i just wanted something that i could put in the center of the kitchen for us to try out.
it's been a couple of months now, and the conclusion? i love have the extra countertop space. it's a little tight, but still workable.
i didn't realize how messy the kitchen was when i took these photos! woops. oh-well, just keeping it real...

hope everyone is having a nice weekend!


the kitchen: part 2

now that you know what we're starting with, i'll move on to the why.

i'll admit, after typing up that last post and showing the before/now photos of the kitchen, i realized that you may be wondering why we're planning on doing a full gut reno. the last photo doesn't look all that bad... but the kitchen looks way better in the photo than it does in real life. i promise.

also, at some point recently, i decided that i actually like to cook and bake. i'm not saying i'm good at it, but i've found that i really enjoy looking up recipes, chopping vegetables, and preparing meals. mike and i tend to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, so it would be nice to have one that is more functional. and prettier :-)

this is our current cabinet situation. while we do have a decent number of cabinets, the layout makes it difficult to organize. because of the corner sink cabinet i cannot reach anything in the last wall cabinet. there is not enough space for pantry items, cooking oils, baking things... we use our basement for overflow kitchen storage. we do not have much counter space, and the counter is stained and chipped, it never looks clean.

as for the actual cabinets - they are falling apart. paint really helped to make them look fresh, but the cabinets were probably a low quality cabinet when they were new... 30+ years ago. the shelves are all warped, some so badly that we can no longer use the shelf. the sink cabinet and the cabinet by the dishwasher have started to deteriorate from moisture. the end panel beside the dishwasher has to be pushed back in to place often or else the countertop starts to fall.

and the appliances - the only thing that works well is the dishwasher, which is the one appliance we replaced when we moved in. i'm honestly surprised that the fridge still keeps things cold, although the ice maker quit a while ago. the stove top only has one temperature - high.

so we are planning on replacing almost everything. we've been thinking about this for a long time and hopefully we will be able to start the process soon. before we made the final decision to replace so many things (and therefore spend the money needed for this type of project), we did discuss our ideas with a local realtor. we are not planning to sell this house right now, but we try to approach every project with re-sale in mind. we have a number in mind for the overall cost, and hopefully, if we can stick to that number (or even better, below that number!) we will be able to get a good portion of the cost back when we do sell. and in the meantime, we'll get to enjoy using the renovated space!


the kitchen: part 1

so how did we end up with new cabinet doors and drawers? i'll start at the beginning:this is what our kitchen looked like when we moved in 3+ years ago.
lovely, right? mike and i spent a lot of time working on the kitchen in those first few months. we knew that someday we'd want to upgrade just about everything in the kitchen, but we also needed to get the kitchen to a point where it was usable for a few years. we removed the carpet, wallpaper, built-in table, and garbage compactor. we painted the cabinets and the walls. we updated the cabinet hardware and replaced the broken dishwasher. we put down a temporary wood floor. eventually it looked like this:
not perfect, but certainly better than what we started with. we kept the budget low for this project and tried to re-use as much as we could.

last fall, when we installed new hardwood floor throughout the first floor of the house, we decided to go ahead and install the same hardwood continuous into the kitchen.

we were very careful with how we dealt with the floor around the cabinets (it's not actually stapled in some areas) knowing that we'd probably revise the layout with the new kitchen, and we'd need to patch the floor under the existing cabinets.



on saturday mike played in 3 rugby games.

on sunday i asked him to go with me to costco to buy 5 emerald green arborvitae trees. and then help me plant them.


it's funny how your priorities change as a home owner. when we were looking at our house, one of the big things that we said we wanted to do right away was build a 6' tall wood fence. the house had a chain link fence but we wanted something nicer and something that made our backyard a little more private. then we moved in and started the renovation process. the privacy fence moved further and further down the priority list. and at some point over the last 3 years, it's actually been removed from the list.

on one side of the yard we do have various types of plants (weeds) growing along the fence. for the most part we just let the plants grow naturally and the fence is almost completely covered. on the other side, we have nothing. and that is the side of the yard where we need some type of screening. our neighbors have an above ground pool and several dogs that only live outside.


when we saw the arborvitae at costco a few weeks ago at a great price, we decided to plant a few. trees are a lot less expansive than a new fence.


please disregard the dead grass. and also how the weeds are eating our sidewalk. hmmm... maybe next year we'll work on the grass situation.

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after not having much to blog about for most of the summer, i'm back and have lots of things to post about! that's the good news.... the bad news is that blogger doesn't seem to be working with my new work computer. and honestly, i did most of my posting on my lunch hour. so now i need to blog at home. my evenings have been pretty fully lately, but i will try to get some updates in soon.
meanwhile, i hope you all have been enjoying the fantastic weather lately! fall is my most favorite season and i'm happy that it's finally here!

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so it begins...

i went to ikea in ohio to look at kitchen cabinet options and get some ideas... and ended up leaving with all of my cabinet doors and drawer fronts.
why? how? what????

the door style that i was thinking of using from ikea was discontinued a few months ago. i assumed i'd use a different style, but after seeing all the doors in person i still liked the discontinued style the best for our house. coincidentally, the ohio store still had some sizes in stock... at 70% off. for the cost savings, i kind of felt like i needed to at least try to make it work even though we had not planned on starting the kitchen renovation just yet.

i only bought the door and drawer fronts, it will probably be several months before we drive up to chicago to buy the cabinet boxes and remaining pieces.

so here's a sneak peak of what i was working on while at ikea:
i still need to take some measurements, draw up exact plans/elevations/etc. but i think i can make it work.


my trainer

speaking of running... did you know that i now have a personal trainer to help me with running? ha!

let me back up - i am not a runner. never have been, probably never will be. but, i've found that i actually do enjoy running as a form of exercise, especially when i can run outside. when i first started running about 2 years ago i could barely make it down the block. i started going out in the mornings with the dogs, and slowly the 3 of us built up our endurance and distance.

after a few months, mike decided that he wanted to run too and so we started running at night, each taking a dog with us. by then the dogs had already developed very different approaches to running. cooper (our pretty dog) ran like he does everything else - very gracefully and elegantly. he knows he looks good running. and reese... well, reese tried. we often compared reese's movements to eeyore, he was just kind of slow, never in a big hurry. and since i also run like eeyore not so fast, it was kind of obvious that i would run with reese, and mike would run with cooper.

reese was my running buddy - when i thought that i needed to take a break, he was right there with me. i always felt that he thought that we were in it together, pushing ourselves to go further and go faster. we both kind of struggled, but in was ok. meanwhile, mike and cooper where off running miles upon miles at their super fast pace. (and looking good while doing it!)

after reese passed away earlier this year, the first couple of times out running this spring were weird. who got the dog? mike, being the nice husband that he is, seemed to understand that i needed a dog, and i started running with cooper while mike when off on his own.

and this is how i got a personal trainer. after running with me a few times, cooper quickly decided that he didn't like running with me. i am apparently too slow and am cramping his style. how is he supposed to look graceful and pretty when he can only manage to do this awkward run/walk while at my jogging pace? unacceptable. so he has taken it upon himself to "encourage" me to run faster. what does this mean exactly? this is what a typical outing is like:

- i do not get to warm up by walking a block, i do not get to stretch. we must start running the second i hit the bottom step of the porch. if i try to walk, cooper will start to freak out and run around me.

- once we start running, cooper will run out in front of me and yank on the leash, trying to get me to go faster. he's not really constantly pulling as much as he makes these very deliberate movements clearly telling me to go faster.

- if i still will not run at the pace that he would like, he will start to frantically bark at me.

- if he can see mike at any time, he will start whinning and barking at mike to come rescue him.

- if around other people, i tend to get embarrassed because it now appears that i am torturing this poor beautiful dog, because why else would he be all loud and freaking out??

- sometimes, we run in the park. the problem with running in the park is that cooper will try to find other (faster) people to run with instead of me. doesn't matter that he doesn't know them, if they run faster than me (and most people do), he will try to leave me to join them. he will actually turn around and run the other direction if these faster people run past me. he also tries to get their attention by barking at them. and if they are running faster with another dog?? game over. he becomes even more frantic.

- at this point i should note that if he runs with mike none of these things happen. or, if we are going for a walk, he does great! he knows how walk on a leash, he doesn't bark, he is so well behaved the rest of the time.

so what do i do? i start running faster. if i run faster, he doesn't bark at me as much and he doesn't try to leave me for other runners. of course, if i run faster that usually means i need to stop and walk every so often. this seems to be acceptable to cooper, but i only get about 30 seconds before he has decides that i've had enough of a break, and the barking starts all over again. it is really like he's my trainer. he yells at me and makes me feel bad about myself all in effort to keep me moving.
on the plus side, i've managed to cut about 2 minutes off my mile pace.


running thoughts

yesterday something good happened. something that seemed so minor at first, but it just kept building and building, and left me smiling at the end of the day.

we live in the city, and with that, we get all of the challenges that come with living in a more urban area. when we first moved here, i was so excited about the idea of the city. i was so excited about the people we'd meet. i was looking forward to walking down the street to the local restaurants. i so badly wanted to renovate a house and be part of something. and our house was old! with so much original character! and pink! and it needed me!

lately, the reality of living in the city has started to get to me. in fact one (of many) recent incidents has left me with a hole in the door of my car where the lock was previously located. and, it's been hot. so very very hot. and humid. so very very humid. maybe it has just been the combination of the recent surge in unwanted activity and the heat, but for some reason, the last few weeks i've just felt kind of trapped in the house. but last night.... last night it was only 80*, with a slight breeze, and the humidity was low. so i decided to get out of the house and go for a run outside.
as cooper and i ran up and down our street, i passed people out walking their dogs, and neighbors sitting on their front porches. everyone smiled and waved, a few shouted words of encouragement about running. and i started to remember why i was so excited about living here, in this place. it all started with the people.

there are two kinds of households on our street - the first are the families who have lived here for 50+ years. most of these households are now just older couples, who sit outside on their rocking chairs and listen to the cardinals play baseball on the radio. the second type are the younger families, with their kids riding bikes and playing in the grassy boulevard. these are the people who define our street in the city. these are the people who look out for their neighbors and continue to be optimistic that this can be a good place to live.

i am one of those people and i am excited about living here. and last night i was grateful to my neighbors for helping me remember that.



the cat stealing the dog's bed. and yes, our cat likes to be upside down.


puerto rico

are you tired of reading about my vacation yet? sorry for so many posts, i guess i shouldn't have broken it up by days... this will be the last one though, promise!

puerto rico was the departure/arrival port for our cruise. on the last day we had to leave the ship super early in the morning, but we all had afternoon flights home. at the last minute we decided to book one last excursion through the boat. the minimal expense to ride around on a bus tour of the city vs. sitting at the airport for extra hours seemed worth it.


it was so worth it! i didn't know why, but i had no expectations for puerto rico. not bad, not good, i just didn't know what to expect i guess. the city is very beautiful.


our tour included a stop at an old fort, not only was the fort full of interesting history, it also had some amazing views of the city.




and that's it!

i've been working on a few things for the house, i plan to share the details with you all soon. meanwhile, i hope that everyone is enjoying their summer! do you all have the same gross weather that we've been having? i'm so over the "feels like 100+ degree" days, gotta love st louis summers...


st. croix

we had nothing planned for our stop in st. croix. we had heard that there would be buses that would take you to the other side of the island and to the beach, so that's what we did. got on a bus, drove for maybe 30 mins, and ended up here:


after walking for a few mins along a boardwalk, we saw this:


so we took a boat taxi to the island and spent the afternoon snorkeling, kayaking, and swimming.


not a bad way to spend the last full day of vacation.


not bad at all.

(while kayaking around all of those boats, mike and i decided that we probably should get a large sailboat someday. could you imagine just spending your days sailing around these islands? so nice...)

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