Sunday, April 26, 2009

Found: one car garage and kitchen hardware for $5

After a few weeks of catch up after being away on our honeymoon, we set off the weekend to work on our 'list' of projects. That list isn't just a list in our heads. We have an actual list of projects on our refrigerator. Projects that range from replacing missing mortar in brick, fixing the hole in dining room ceiling and cleaning the garage, among many others. Our first project this weekend: clean the garage. Since Greg moved in a little over two years ago, the garage has been a storage facility, not a garage for the car. We are expecting a fun surprise this week (we'll share what it is once it arrives) but we agreed that we had to have the garage cleaned before it arrived. Hence, we set out to clean the garage. Take a look at what we had to clean:

As you can see, we have an assortment of bikes, old table and chairs, old cabinets from the beauty shop that used to be in our basement and various garage sale items. We had talked about having a garage sale since we moved in, but never found the time or motivation to do it. I kept threatening to donate it all at the local goodwill store, but again, never did it. On Saturday, we opened the garage door and began to set out anything we didn't want or need in the yard along the street. I painted a 'free' sign to set against our junk, other peoples treasure, and two hours later it was all gone, except for the two large beauty shop cabinets. Some items went to a woman who had just moved to Washington 3 weeks ago, other stuff to some guys who were opening a new bar and various sinks went to a man who does maintenance work here in town. While we grabbed some lunch, someone took the old ten-speed bike and the railing that once enclosed "The Corner". Each asked if they could give us something for the items they were taking. Nope. Payment to us was having a clean, usable garage. We were just happy that the items were able to be used because they were dormant in our garage. Greg broke down the remaining two cabinets to put out with the trash. I'm not too upset about their destruction. While I was helping Greg work on some countertops, the wind knocked over one of the cabinets and it fell on me. Yes, thank you for asking, it did hurt! My head and back ached all day and into the night. I'm happy to report that it's now a distant memory. Now take a look at our pleasant surprise: the car and hanging bikes fit in the garage at the same time.

A project that I started a couple weeks ago was updating our kitchen cabinet drawers and door knobs. New door knobs can range anywhere from $1 - $10 each. It may not sound bad but when we have 50+ knobs to buy to redo our kitchen, it gets costly. After reading a home renovation magazine, I was inspired to spray paint our current brass hardware. I went to Walmart, bought a $5 can of Metallic Charcoal spraypaint. I finished them this weekend. I was looking for a project with instant gratification. This definitely met my wishes. The rest of the kitchen isn't on 'the list' to be done anytime soon. But it's nice to think that it has started.

Brass hardware before

Metallic Charcoal after

Last weekend we purchased a base cabinet from a local cabinet sale for our newly remodeled laundry room because we want some extra storage. We looked for a white cabinet but they were sold out. Instead we bought one with a brown wood finish and decided to paint it to go with the rest of the room. The cabinet is almost done. I'll share pictures of it when it is complete...hopefully later this week. While I was painting the cabinet, Greg was busy planting flowers. Our tulips have bloomed and wilted away. I bought some freesia bulbs to put in some new green pots we bought on sale last year. On Earth Day, National gave each us at work a package of seeds. I received Cosmos. I've never heard of this flower, but the package says the flowers grow 3-4 feet tall. We are starting them in some pots. Let's see what happens. I don't have a green thumb...let's home Greg's touch is just what they need.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Honeymoon Bliss

Hola! Ciao! Hello! I do not have any home renovation stories to report, but I can explain why. We just returned from our 2-week honeymoon in Spain and Italy. Our honeymoon was on a 10-month delay and definitely worth the wait. We had a fabulous time. Please link to our photo site or to see all of the Europe photos.

Our trip started in Barcelona. We rented a beautiful apt. Hands down, the best place we stayed in Europe. The apt was recently renovated inside an old building just steps from La Rambla, the busiest pedestrian street in Barcelona. A common site in Europe's older buildings is to have large entry doors for customers and residents to enter the building, and smaller door for residents to enter when the business (in this case an orthopedic medical supplier) is closed. Despite it's graffitied look, I loved this door. Greg hit his head one too many time to share the love.

I wanted to go to Barcelona primarily to see Antoni Gaudi's architecture. We spent an entire day visiting Sagrada Familia, La Pedrera, Casa Batillo and Parc Guell, all Gaudi masterpieces. Sagrada Familia is a church in which construction began in the 1800's and is scheduled to complete in 2030. I'll have to return to see it's completion. Gaudi was highly influenced by nature. For example, instead of using Roman/Greek columns and arches, his columns resemble tree trunks and arches resemble the branches. He created gutter spouts in the forms of lizards, snakes and snails. We took the lift to the top of one of the completed towers and took the stairs to the bottom. Each window delivered a spectacular view. Needless to say, I used up my camera battery by noon. La Pedrera and Casa Batillo are apts/homes that Gaudi designed. We really enjoyed the rooftop of La Pedrera where chimneys looked like the tops of swirled ice cream cones or abstract faces. Park Guell provided vast views over the city of Barcelona and lots of room for lounging on his curvilinear mosaic benches.

In addition to Gaudi architecture, we visited a Maritime Museum (very appropriate for Christopher Columbus' hometown), Picasso Museum, the beach and the Mediterranean Sea, Montjuic (where we attempted to ride cable cars over the mountains and Mediterranean but they wouldn't let us due to the windy conditions), and ate at our favorite restaurant in Europe: Sukur. Not surprising to those who know Greg well, it is a Greek restaurant. The grilled vegetables, wine and chicken excohito were fabulous and we ate there a total of three times. I think this is our sign that our next Europe trip will be to Greece.

After Barcelona we flew to Milan, Italy. Greg and I had been to Italy before on separate trips. Florence was his favorite and Venice mine, so we agreed to visit each city for a day. Once in Milan, we took the train to Venice. I never had the chance to spend the night in Venice and really wanted to see it lit up at night..the rose colored lamps reflecting off the canal water. I also love getting lost in Venice, which is a good thing, because it is very easy to do, winding in between the buildings and over bridges. We did get lost and ended up by the train station after walking for a few hours. In part we were happy to see the train station because we had been looking for a restroom. For those who haven't been there, restrooms are hard to come by in Venice and when you do find one, be sure to have Euros on you because there is always a charge to use them. In this case, .80 for each of us. After the train station, we took the waterbus back to San Marco, where we were staying. It's one of the longest 'taxi' rides but the gorgeous views made me forget about the time. Back in San Marco, we began taking night photos..just what I wanted.

After Venice, we took the train to Florence. Our main goal in Florence: food. Greg loved the food in Florence. Luckily sight seeing wasn't our main priority because it rained the entire time we were in Florence. We did catch the leather markets at the very end of the day and did some shopping in stores since it got us out of the rain. Our only photo taken in Florence was on the Ponte Vecchio. The food was delicious. Lots of pasta, bread, wine and mussels.

After our night in Florence, we took the train to the western coast of Italy to the Cinque Terre. The Cinque Terre is 5 (cinque) towns connected by trains or trails, but no roads connect all 5. Everywhere we turned was a view worthy of a postcard. We expected this area to force us to utter Italian but it has become quite touristy and almost everyone spoke English. We met the most people from the US here, including a couple from Louisville and two med students from Mississippi who shared some time on the trails with us. I thought it was smart to have the girls with us, considering how klutzy I tend to be. We stayed in a hotel in Monterosso for 3 days. It was raining the first night we arrived so the trails on day one were quite wet which made for some challenging walks. The weather caused a couple landslides which closed two of the paths, but despite those warnings, we climbed under/over the landslides to say that we walked it. We treked from Monterosso to Vernazza (where we had the best pesto pizza, maybe the best pizza, ever). Then we walked from Corniglia to Vernazza to Monterosso. I was so sore after the first day of hiking - wouldn't you be after climbing 380 steps to reach the town of Corniglia as part of 7 hours of walking? - and knew we had more the next day. We started with the easy trails the 2nd day, starting in Riomaggiore, walking through Manarola and turning around at Corniglia (I wasn't walking up those stairs 2 days in a row) to walk back to Manarola to take the train to Monterosso. This day Matt and Lisa were meeting us. Matt and Greg went to high school together and now he and his wife Lisa live in Italy. The four of us walked from Monterosso to Vernazza and took the train back. We were certainly ready for a nice dinner of spaghetti and mussels.

After the Cinque Terre, we road through mountains with Matt and Lisa to their apartment in Verese, just outside of Milan. They gave us a walking tour of Verese, did some shopping, ate some delicious risotto, gnocchi, pizza, chocolate, and gelato. We also got March Madness basketball updates. Yes, it is amazing that we scheduled our honeymoon during March of the few things that could take me away from college basketball. Greg was happy to learn that his bracket was doing quite well and mine was not. Oh well, I was in Italy.

Greg and I took a day trip to Milan. He had been there before but I had not. We visited the castle, the duomo and Galleria. It rained most of the time, which wasn't ideal, but because of the rain, there were fewer people on the roof of the duomo. At one time, we were on the very top and had it all to ourselves. Very cool

After Verese and Milan, we flew back to Barcelona for one more day, and of course, one more meal at Sukur. After layovers in Paris (consisting mainly of running around armed gunmen so we didn't miss our flight) and Atlanta, we flew into Indy. We made a quick stop in Linton to pick up our cats Sam and Smalls and returned home. I'd love to tell you more, but I think this blog is long enough. Give us a call or stop by for a visit to hear more stories.