Archive for December, 2010

Flashback Friday

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Posted by Rebecca, December 17th, 2010

Okay so I stole my title from The Candace, but I love looking forward to her little throwbacks every Friday and figured I’d spread the love.  I’ve been meaning to post this video from right before they poured our foundation. It was October 4, 2009 to be exact, 6 days before our wedding 🙂

I want to do an updated version of this video when it’s warm and the landscaping is green again.  It’s amazing what a difference a year makes.  Our street is completely finished, landscaped, has lamp posts and is about to be paved for the last time.  Crazy huh?

that whole house audio thing

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Posted by Michael, December 16th, 2010

Multi-zone and multi-source audio for the house.  Sounds pretty sweet, eh?  I’ve been wanting to do this since we first purchased our home.  It was just too expensive to go through the builder.  And even if we had the cash to do it, they didn’t exactly offer what I had in mind.  I wanted functionality with components Rebecca and I were already comfortable with (read: iTunes and Apple products).  Builder wasn’t offering such capabilities.

I also thought about doing a ton of pre-wiring throughout the house while it was being built.  I figured this might be a good idea.  But much like everything else, even this was insanely expensive.  They wanted $125 to run one network cable from the basement to the master bedroom.  If you don’t know about network cable, it’s relatively cheap so this was pure profit for them – something I just couldn’t stomach. 

So where does this leave us?  Right now, I have an Apple TV powering our “entertainment center” in the family room.  The Apple TV allows us to manage our music on a remote computer and stream it to the family room.  The thought here is to expand this streaming capability throughout our house.    Music in the formal living and dining rooms, music in the master bedroom and bathroom and music in the basement.  But here is the catch:  I want to be able to control each “zone” independently of one another.  That is, if Rebecca is in the bedroom and wants to listen to Jack Johnson at a very low volume, she can.  And at the same time if I’m downstairs in the family room, I can be rocking out to, and pretending to be, Justin Timberlake at a very high volume.

But how do you pull this off?  And how do you pull this off using Apple products?  Oh and how do you do this without going broke?  The answer is the a combination of some stereo equipment collecting dust, some speakers, the Apple Airport Express and the Apple TV.  Plus the iPad’s and or iPhone’s Remote app to control everything.

First mission?  Get speakers mounted in the living and dining rooms.   The speaker wires will be routed through the walls and into the basement.  The basement will hold all the wonderful stereo equipment.  I’ve used my elite Photoshop skills to show you what this might look like.  Displayed below is the living room looking into the dining room.  Between these rooms, we have columns (with just enough room inside for me to fish some wire without wanting to kill anyone).

On each side of these columns, we’ll have a speaker.   Once complete, we’ll have two zones — each zone will have two speakers.  For those out there who are interested, I went with Polk for the speakers.  I wanted something a bit more towards higher end, but these were ridiculously cheap on sale and solid white, so I could not pass on these (plus they’re refurbished so I saved even more money).

So there you go, the first mission.  Stay tuned.

coffee filter tree

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Posted by Rebecca, December 15th, 2010

I mentioned in my coffee filter wreath post that I had also made a tree.  I picked up 4 of these foam cone forms from the craft store.

I first experimented with some fancy paper patterns, but they were far too time consuming.  In the end, I stuck with the same method as the wreath.

By the way, have you ever tried to remove something you’ve hot glued? My god those little rosette flowers I made were nearly impossible to rip off!

I just kept adding the filters until I ended up with this.

You can see the trimmings there in the back.  That was the first round of my scissor-handing.  This thing was so massive and ugly that I didn’t even think to take a picture of the before process.  I was just immediately thinking of how I could help this abominable snow/coffee filter tree.  Mike’s response? “What the heck happened at the top?” Well as you add the filters, suddenly you’re at the top, but the filters are still like 3 inches away from the point.  So you end up with flat top.  I knew this would happen because I had seen pictures of other coffee filter trees out there.  I guess I just thought it would be easier to trim down.  I did manage to do quite a bit of trimming.

I also stuck a floral wire, which I shaped into a point into the top of the foam to add a couple more inches to work with.  Then I stuck a star I had hanging around on the top to hide the awkward lack of pointy top.

I totally didn’t realize there was a chunk missing on the right until I took these pictures.  Whoops! You can’t tell in person, I promise 🙂

With the star on top and after staring at it for a couple of days, I like it much more.  I may still add some ribbon to it.

It still has that full and fluffy texture that I love about the coffee filter wreath.

I don’t think this is going to cut it as our only tree though.

10 days until Christmas. I should probably put a full sized tree there.

Excuse me, I must now go and trim that lump out of my coffee filter tree.  Looking at these pictures is driving me crazy.  No wonder why Mike doesn’t let me trim his hair….

RIP real tree

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Posted by Rebecca, December 14th, 2010

I may have stopped highlighting my hair, but there will be a new fake something to replace my ‘do.

Yes we did it.  We bought an impostor.  Never in a million years did I think I’d get a fake tree.  Just a few weeks ago I was complaining that everyone thinks that a candle will replace a real tree.  Mike and I really didn’t take this decision lightly, but our main motivator was that we wanted a tall tree.  We talked about the whole tradition aspect, the fun of going to pick out your own tree and we realized that well, the part we remember the most from our childhoods is waiting for the tree to ‘settle’ to put on the ornaments or waiting for our moms to first put on the lights before we could touch it.  So though we love the tradition of the real tree, we don’t necessarily feel that we will be robbing our children of the tree experience.  And really, what kid wouldn’t love a huge tree like the one we got? I think the size alone makes up for it.  If we didn’t want a tall tree, I’m pretty sure I’d still be a realist.

We went to 8 million stores tonight (when I should have been studying…) because no one has oversized trees left! We settled for a 9 footer, though I really wanted 10.  I even checked online and there were no affordable 10 foot trees. Home Depot had a single one left last night, but we went to 2 others and there were none.  Then we walked into Lowe’s and I spotted a very pretty 9 footer, which I actually thought was 10.  So I figured if I couldn’t tell the difference of that extra foot,  I’m sure no one else will.  Plus we will still have to add our topper!

Driving home, we reminisced about our real tree experiences.

Like how we used to cram our live trees into the trunk of my Cavalier..

That’s Cavy on her last day with me this past summer.  RIP buddy, I miss you.  How many people have a picture of their first car parked in front of their first house?  She served me well and when I traded her in, there were still pine needles in the trunk.

How we used to carry those trees up 3 very long flights of stairs…

I stole this off the MLS listings on Realtor.com, but that’s the outside of our old condo community.  It’s not our exact building, but we lived on the tippy top floor, opposite side of the door.  Hauling trees up there was not easy.  Even worse was carrying it down when it was half dead and dropping needles all over the shared foyer carpet.  Whoops.

The time Sunny got stuck in the tree net…

This sweet baby was the best behaved cat most of the time, but he was related to Macky.  So when we brought home our first tree and I was cutting the net off of it, he climbed in it and got stuck.  Where Macky would have panicked and ran all over the house, Sunny just gave up and collapsed on the floor, belly up, as I cut him free. Very scary at the time, but it’s one of our favorite Christmas memories.

The naked tree…

The first year we had a tree, I was cheap and I didn’t put ornaments on it until my favorite Target ones went on sale on the 26th.  We didn’t entertain for Christmas and at the time, we shared a street with Target.  So I ran there and stocked up at 75% off.  I still have those ornaments, topper and tree skirt and I am fully planning on using them this year.

The never ending kitten antics…

I hope our babies love the tree as much as they always have.  I just hope they sleep under it rather than stripping the branches of the needles, corn on the cob style.

Though I’m sure we can still expect loads of this…

From the staircase.  Macky will now have access to the entire tree and not just this little section.  We are doomed.

RIP Real Tree 1983-2010.

which is better: real or fake?

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Posted by Rebecca, December 13th, 2010

One of the reasons why I started this gig is to clear my head of all of the ideas floating around up there.  Mike compares my thoughts to a hamster running on its little wheel… I just keep going and going.  I lay in bed and I’m thinking “weeeell what if we do printed curtains!” then I’m eating dinner and I’m randomly like “I’ll spray paint that frame!” Everyday I’m obsessed with something in the house, sometimes I have more than one obsession.  Today it was family room curtains and… Christmas trees.

Yes it is mid-December and we don’t have a tree.  I guess I didn’t realize that the blog world starts linking up their Christmas posts in November.  In my head, I penciled in this past weekend for decorating and tree getting.  Then it rained all day Sunday 🙁  I also have a final exam on Thursday which is like a giant elephant on my back.  Once that is over, it will feel like Christmas and like I can enjoy myself.

I am a real tree person.  It’s not even necessarily the smell, it’s just the cats love it and well, it’s all I’ve ever really known.  Cleaning up needles comes with Christmas and anything otherwise seems… unnatural.  But today, more than before, I felt compelled to get a fake tree.  Not just because of the time issues I have, but because of our entryway.

The entryway was a requirement on our house hunting list.  I’ve always wanted a beautiful staircase to wrap with garland.  I also thought it would be pretty awesome to put a ginormous tree here.

One of my concerns with a fake tree is, of course, the cats.  Macky is a terror and will more than likely eat/climb said tree.  We always used a big, solid tree base for our real tree, so that he couldn’t knock it over.  My dad actually took a standard tree stand and poured concrete around it for their cats.  True story.  So my family has pretty much cat-proofed the real tree.  But fake ones? I have no clue.  Mike had the brilliant suggestion that we could use thin twine to tie the tree to the spindles so if Macky at least attempted a jump, the tree would be anchored.  Pretty smart, if I do say so myself, since my suggestion was sticking sandbags on the bottom….

We shopped around a bit tonight and we just don’t know enough about them.  We know we want around a 10 foot tree and many of them are on sale already. What do we look for in a fake tree?  Which do you think is more environmentally friendly, chopping down a biodegradable tree each year or reusing a plastic tree? Humpf.

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