Sunday, December 28, 2008

Open for Business

Bed and Breakfast Steph & Jon is open for business! The room is small, close to a crying baby's room, includes flat screen TV and Treadmill and oh have to cook your own breakfast. Hope to see you soon!

It Wasn't Me

I'm certain this has been said in every household...I swear lately it has been her!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Jekyll and Hyde

We decided we brought two daughters home from the hospital - don't know where she hid in the car seat! Most days we have our sweet Olivia who plays, coos and smiles all the time. But every once in a while at night we get mean Jean the hollarin' machine. We usually get a warning before she makes an appearance - but not always. Sometimes she just jumps out and gets ya! You got to watch out for the mean Jean in Olivia!

I should add a few footnotes....the question has been asked - why is Olivia Jean named Olivia Jean? Well....Olivia came out of thin air. We just liked it along with tons of parents out there apparently. It is the 10th most fav name for 2008. Let me put my foot down now - OJ is not an acceptable nickname, no way no how (unless she wins a Heisman trophy I guess maybe I'll think about it(. We went to the hospital with a few names but nothing picked for certain. Daddy was the first to get the tug towards Olivia. I came later after I saw her moving her mouth in the shape of O's - and decided that was a 'sign'. With her first name out of the way (at 2 days old now) - we went to work on the middle name.

Olivia has 2 special Jean's in her family so I decided to use this as her middle name. One Jean I know as the master of home-made (extravagant) birthday cakes, birthday parties, scrap-booking before it was popular and snow princess of Brighton High School. The second Jean was liberated before Gloria Steinem made it 'cool', the CEO of her own business and pretty much did things her way. All that spunk aside, one of the things I remember most is waking up to go to 'work' with her and the ritual of 'getting ready at the make-up table'. Hey, just because you have self confidence doesn't mean you don't have good clothes, hair and makeup! I hope Olivia's "Jeans" give her at least a few of these ladies characteristics.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The new essentials

Computer, remote, baby, diapers and wipes...the new must have list at our house! I'm sure you all think this is how I'm living life - actually this is how I found JR this morning. I had the late shift, he covered the early shift (when she slept!). It has been an interesting 3 days - not what we expected to be doing! The to-do list isn't finished, but I guess we just won't get to a few things for a while. We're having a much better time laughing about babies and poop.

Olivia Jean was born Friday December 19 quite unexpectedly because mom's body wasn't having it anymore. We joined the itchy mom's club and had the baby early. Everything was just fine - Olivia was a staggering 8lbs 20 inches at 36 weeks. We're all thankful she's early - can you imagine Olivia at 40 weeks? I don't want to.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Crown in a Day

JR has dropped cope master from his business card and replaced with crown master - he now does crown in a day. Our bedroom is done - yahoo. This time we mitred everything and caulked ourselves silly. Started the project at our normal crack of 4PM in the afternoon and finished by 9PM. Not bad considering a stop for dinner - and I'm fairly certain at least one coffee. The job is not completely done (of course...) we still need to paint ceiling and walls and install in-ceiling lights. I've wanted these lights for ever, but it requires wiring, going into the attic, new boxes, new switches (one each side of the bed). My goal is to toss the lamps in our room and just have these - I'm tired of cleaning the cat hair off the lamp shades. Instead of cleaning more often or ditching the cat - we need new lights. Then our room will be done, at least for now.

So what have we done this summer - just a quick recap (for myself if anything because I'm losing my mind):
epoxy garage floor
paint trim on house
finish garage walls
install gas grill on patio
new gas stove
new dishwasher
new timer switch in laundry room and front porch (remember the tick, tick, tick...)
re-do guest room - I mean the baby's room
crown in bedrooms
new counter tops
new garage door opener
hardwood on stairs (even garage step)
fix kitchen table

Still need to do:
fireplace in front room (gas is there!)
remodel master bathroom (I need a 5 piece or I'll die)
new fan in 1st floor bathroom and guest bathroom
new carpet
slate front door entry
new fridge and microwave (pending new models)
direct wire lights on patio
re-finish toy box/book shelf
create new guest room (MOVE THAT WEIGHT MACHINE!)
shelves in office instead of crown

I'm impressed, almost all projects were done by us only a few had supplementary help from American Express.

One Size Fits Most

A coupon arrived for a free item if you spent $12 at the Body Works. I feel it is a personal challenge to use these coupons and not give in to the devil marketers and spend more than the minimum. So I marched into the store and found $12 worth spending (aromatherapy hand soap - absolutely awesome Black Currant Vanilla) and picked up a free item. My free item was a pair of fuzzy socks with little grippers on the sole. Not only were they free - but extremely useful. I got them home thinking I was brilliant - until I put them on. I instantly felt stupid for not checking the size in my daze of excitement. Upon further examination of the tag the size was "one size fits most". Darn. On a good day I wouldn't qualify for that category and right now I'm not even in that game at all. They got me.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Whisper Quiet

You can't hear it opening - but I can't repeat what I heard during install! I honestly don't know how we do it. Nothing is simple or straightforward. Our garage door quit working because of a safety feature (a laser that points from the left and right side of the bottom of the garage opening to ensure no obstructions for close). My solution was to disable the safety feature, unfortunately the designers at Chamberlain won't allow that as a solution. We were faced with a choice (1) new garage door $200 or (2) new laser sensor $30. What did we choose? You guessed it - a new garage door - and not the $200 version. We bought the Chamberlain Premier Whisper Drive for $249 - you know....for the baby. Oddly - in the store, as we were debating the purchase for the T-day weekend project, another guy said don't do it - install is harder than you think. Did we listen - of course not.

So - install. You would think it would be simple, take down a chamberlain put a new chamberlain up. Funny thing was this new chamberlain has a longer track - Why? I don't know. We unfortunately have a weight bearing board that limits the space available. Try to imagine the moment where we lifted the new track up into position and it was 4 inches too long. The problem solving began and ended with boring a 3 1/2" hole into the header board of our garage and cutting the drywall off the back header board for the additional 1/2" needed. Insane - but finished with a fresh coat of paint and all. Cutting into those freshly finished walls was tough! But there she is installed right next to the air hose reel and power reel (which I hear are the two best purchases of JR's life).
Once install was complete we were dreading the 'learn' process for the remotes and the wireless key less entry - but here is where the $249 felt worth it. It was somehow already programmed - whew. And it really is significantly quiet - more than I expected.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

She gets all the good stuff

Geez, when will this end?! I keep telling JR it will come to an end one way or another - pure exhaustion is most likely. Poor guy. I've kept him busy for the last 6 months and he's worn the same clothes through it all! This boy needs a pair of coveralls for xmas.

This weekend was closets and fun decorative details. We installed super closet organizers. They were cheap (MDF) and awesome. Totally designed for female installation. The website has the best 3D modeling tool I've seen for closet organizers - The most important step of installation is to find the stud (2x4 and male variety) - I'm a pro at this. I bought these super powered earth magnets from Amazon. They are so much more reliable than the 'stud-finder' - and you can leave them attached to the wall showing all the studs (very nice for crown molding). Finding the other stud - doesn't take a very strong magnet at all. Once we were done and I had everything hung up and out of the bags, JR said it looked like the closet displays in the container store! How does he know exactly what to say sometimes?

Our second accomplishment in as many days (this is a new record) is a decorative and potentially useful addition to the room. A ballet bar installed behind the door in the bedroom. We officially need a pink tutu - how many times in your life can you say that! The cope master (see previous post) proudly integrated one end of the bar to be flush with the wall - same screwy angle though - this corner is 140 degrees....and that bar is cut at a 45 degree angle. Three trips up and down the stairs! But once again....most importantly it is attached to the wall and looks GREAT!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Plenty of Trunk Space

I've lost many bets for what I didn't think would fit in this I was hoping I had learned my lesson. The vet has an awesome trunk. And most importantly - this photo was taken in our garage.
The decorating party is in full swing. Crown molding is completely caulked, re-painted and walls touched up for the g-da&(!?it moments. Crib is assembled and now to decorate.
We found this Silver Cross English pram (handmade in the UK) while shopping for crib bumpers. I was looking for just the right ones. It was one of those shopping trips where you find something on sale and feel really good about it. So good, you pay WAY to much for something else. Somehow in life everything evens out.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

We can't wait for the baby to arrive because......

that means the crown molding will be done! This was the cheer leading and supportive comments I got during 'baby prep' class. The instructions were to practice different 'comforting' positions for labor and the father's job was to whisper words of assurance and encouragement to the mom. These words would at least qualify as a good form of distraction - and as JR would remind me - I could be with the drunk guy at baby prep class. Life could be worse.

Crown molding is just about finished and really looks spectacular. In the beginning, we were going to do EVERY ROOM, then at one point we weren't sure we'd finish the one we started...and we've come full circle and may jump into a few more rooms in the future. We solved the puzzle. The secret to crown molding is not to cut each piece precisely at a 45 degree angle using a precise cutting fence - you'll fail. You have to use trial and error to 'discover' what the angle actually is because measuring doesn't tell you either. JR is still trying to figure out what angle the 140 degree inside corner is supposed to be cut at - I say the one he cut and attached to the wall (and then filled with putty is the right one!!). A little more putty, paint and touch-up this weekend and perhaps the crib we own will magically become assembled.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Adventures in Crown Molding

Every weekend seems to be a new adventure in something around here. I'm becoming less foreman (one who would pick-up a hammer) and more project manager (slave driver). Today was all about crown molding. As with most things, there is more than one school of thought for how to get the job done. This can be illustrated by the materials list for this project:

crown molding
mitre saw
goop to fill the cracks

crown molding
mitre saw
coping saw
home built fixture/fence for cutting (seems to be all about the fixtures)

The precision difference between his and hers is very interesting. He prefers the coping saw - I prefer the goop to fill the cracks. The project isn't done, so far my favorite quote of the day is - "I'm going back to 45's - coping sucks". Its still early and he seems to be getting better at it.

I've learned not to laugh out loud at the "coping Master" as he prefers to be called now.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Lunch & Learn

Every once in a while you attend a meeting where you learn a thing or two. I expected to have that experience today at an event highlighting company achievements. This meeting was focused on the attributes of one particular segment (movies). The meeting was well attended, almost completely filling Benaroya Hall. I sat in a box seat with some friends so I could skip the Q&A and head out to lunch early. WELLLLLL - that plan changed when this guy entered the stage for Q&A. WOW - this was a big surprise. I hadn't heard any of the underground rumblings about this. All of this and a paycheck every month too. It would have really been a huge day if I had a kindle under my chair like the Oprah show....but I guess you can't have everything.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Let there be color....

We are mainly a white paint household. I'm pretty sure this is because we are still getting over the shock of color from the purchase of our house. We had a selection of (ceiling included) neon orange (yes neon), neon green, barney purple, princess pink, navy blue and evergreen. Since then we've been buyer friendly white - everywhere. This weekend we took the plunge back into color. We're still a little nerveous - describing this as puke green a few times but we've settled on sweet pea green. Thank goodness.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Rock a Bye Baby

Sleep - only a few more months left in this hammock. She seems to be very comfortable and stretches regularly - resulting in a kick to my ribs. This is a 3D rendering at 28 weeks. I think I can see a few mom and dad traits in there - but whose cheeks are those?!

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Boys are Back in Town

Welcome home to the USS Lincoln and the 'Rock'.

Saturday, October 04, 2008


Please don't waste any Google time trying to figure out what disease Jon has. He self-diagnosed....I didn't get the joke soon enough. Kit had nothing to do with his problem. After a movie-night on the couch and 2 IV drip treatments things seem to be improving. The short-story is he'll live long enough to get the dishwasher installed - which is how we got into this mess to begin with.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Fire Sale Prices!

Washington State is full of sales this month. First WaMu and now our house. The neighborhood garage sale turned out to be more profitable than Craigslist. We put a few things on the sidewalk with a sign stating the price and an hour or two later things were gone! Amazing - people paying to take stuff away we'd give for free! We're soft negotiators we are providing free home delivery. What are we? Sears?

Thursday, August 28, 2008


New counter tops. I like the home-improvement projects where the hardest part is giving your credit card number. Almost like a genie in the bottle - a few hours later and I have this! Just need to get the plumber (JR) to put the sink back-together. I'd be leaving out details if I said I didn't do this for as cheap as possible. Cheap as possible included performing our own demo and plumbing re-install. Demo required a hammer (the precision tool) to remove the faucet - the nut just wouldn't come out with a we helped it. And laminate slices like a least no one hit their head on the floor this time at the sight of the blood. Stay tuned for the remaining appliances - the big question to micro-wave or not. Its a big decision.

Exile Island

Jon hasn't exactly been voted off the island...but lets just say his vote won't carry as much weight as before if our household votes along party lines....

Hopefully that is enough of a hint for what will be joining us in January. If not...well go to Amazon and buy us anything pink you can find - that should do it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

You cook?

Goodbye always dirty drip-pan electric stove...

Hello finger-prints!

We saved our penny's from the laundry machine repair and are upgrading the kitchen - slowly once piece at a time. I'm not sure if I can handle fingerprints - I mean stainless steel on everything. It sure looks nice - no idea how it cooks. I've been watching this for a year and the price finally dropped - maybe it was the price of oil? It was the lowest I'd ever seen. I compared to all the pro models and I think for my needs this is the best value. It has a competitively large oven, dual fuel, convection option, temp probe and includes accessories. I'm still trying to figure out who the manufacturer actually is. The analog temp gage is very similar to a Thermador or DCS - but I'm not sure.

Wolf and Viking were exciting but really expensive and both had a feature I couldn't get past. The top cooking surface has a gap between the side panel and the front panel. Seemed to be the perfect place for food and grim to settle. This one is a solid surround on the top - that was the kicker for me. I may never know what it is like to cook on a Viking or a Wolf...but I'll also never have to look at that crack full of spaghetti sauce. Seemed like a reasonable compromise considering the slop-dogs that live in my house.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

New Bike -

and lock. As my sister reminded me - new bikes and I don't get along well. She pointed out if I needed a tire she could get me a good 'un-used' one. I ordered this in June as my Birthday present, and we just picked it up, it took forever. Someone must have ridden it here from Amsterdam!

The Electra Amsterdam - not sure what that hand gesture means - I think he's going for 'dork'. Who knows. The bike is super cool, with integrated gears, book rack, light, and room for a basket. Everyone at the bike shop couldn't stop staring at it. I think they couldn't make up their minds if it was stupid or retro cool. I think it is retro cool. I originally wanted a no gears bike - but wasn't allowed. This turned out to be good advice, I had enough trouble getting up the hill in 1st gear. And the sucky-est thing of all...our county has a bike helmet law. A LAW. All ages are required. I can't believe it. If my child refuses to wear a helmet as I did this weekend and says all the horrible things I did (minus any foot stomping)...I'm in trouble. I think I have a future of a kid leaving with helmet on - and once out of eyesight....helmet removed...uh-oh.

Nice Garage floor too!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Before and After

This is the Before shot, thankfully we don't have an After. We are on our way home from a long weekend in Napa, this is our gas stop in Medford, Oregon. The Million Air flight terminal where the courtesy car is a 535 BMW - quite the improvement from the Montana Buick. I just finished a sandwich and we're getting ready to get back in the air. The trip was fairly smooth from Davis to Medford - little did I know what I was in for...Jackie insisted on a sick sac which was purchased for $3 bucks. A little over 2.5 hours after this shot that sick sack had a very good Jamie said - "prego puked!". I guess that is not so bad, first time of the whole experience so far. Hmmm - I wonder if that means we don't have a future pilot on board....JR will be so disappointed.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


This is at the top of Sterling Vinyards from their terrace, very nice. For $20 bucks you get a tram ride to the top and 5 tastings.

Monday, July 07, 2008

The Source of All Power

I'm home improvement sick. A small idea exploded into a full-on remodel of the garage? Will the kid live in the garage? No but I'll tell you if JR doesn't get his power washer, circular saw, mitre saw, tool box, etc out of the living room he will be.

We started this mess with the idea of a shiny floor which then expanded to painting then texurizing the walls. Now here we are over a month after the start with the mess continuing. We as usual started before learning how (my preference) and had some delays in materials. We ordered an extra tough Urethane product from New Jersey that should give us the airplane hanger look we're targeting. The first layer of color comes off when you pull off tape, so here's hoping this was a good idea.

Our neighbors are wondering when the shelving and junk will be off our front porch.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Na na Na na Na Na....Hey Hey Hey - Goodbye

The car....not the guy - but then again I'm looking for best I guess I'm open!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


First words out of JR..."we're going to have to sell the car". Well, I guess that proves males are visual, this fact seemed very clear to me 3 months ago.

Monday, June 23, 2008


Once the skies cleared and the sun finally arrived in Seattle we had a few items on the to-do list to hit. The first was a new coat of paint on the house. Here we are hitting the peaks on the roof.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

I knew those textbooks would come in handy eventually....

With the washer working it was time to move on. Faced with having to replace our carpet due to kit cat damage, we chose to get to the root cause. The kit cat. She's not changing her scratching we must change ours. Instead of buying new carpet (she would destroy) we are installing wood on our stairs. I'm not yet sure this is a good idea. A few weeks ago I fell down the steps (slipped) as I was sliding and bouncing I was thinking how much harder wood would be than carpet! Stay tuned for the furniture choices as we replace the couch she has also destroyed. Remember that guy that made furniture from FedEx boxes? Contemporary.

Where did you learn to Solder?

To be fair, this is the second attempt - after the first where we saw sparks and melted some of the copper track in another area - afterwards the washer stopped working completely. We also blew the light-bulb connection to the 'on' light. The good news is we bought another board - the washer works again with a slightly dim 'on' light. It took a little more than $13, but still less than a new machine. Keep in mind a new washer would have required a new dryer. Can't have our appliances not matching now can we?

The rest of the story is that even after installing a new board the stupid machine still wouldn't work! So after pouting and sulking over the loss of two weeks, getting in trouble at the laundry mat for folding while my clothes were in the dryer...and the pain of buying a new washer instead of a new stove....I gave it one more try. This beast isn't going to beat me. I jammed a screwdriver in the door device so I could watch the door lock function work real time (I've always wanted my dryer to work like this so I figured I could trick the washer too). I did and at full 850 rpm spin I noticed the problem. WE had installed the wax motor incorrectly so it wasn't fully engaging the spin command. Seriously voila, now we can get the UPGRADED stove!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Chanel Part II

You rush in get a seat and ask the hunky guy for the earrings in the window. We learned, shopping at Chanel you have to know what you want. Things are not displayed - so you have to know the product line... We also observed proper Chanel shopping etiquette is to cover yourself head to toe in Chanel garb. This is apparently a requirement. We saw one individual who had this technique down - shoes, jean trench-coat, shirt, hat and bag. We're not certain what brand of underwear she had on...but statistically speaking it was probably Chanel. We are obviously still in training....

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

You know vacation was expensive when.....

You come home and are willing to fix the washing machine yourself. My Maytag won't spin and I can't stand to pay a repair-man. So just as I was filling out the online service request form with Sears (and grumbling about the $500 I would for sure be spending)...I decided some Internet research was in order. Voila! Who would have guessed a blog exists for just my problem. So I ripped her open and performed the test. Just as the blog said, my R11 was burnt. I cut it out and tested operations...still have water flow - so the problem is with my wax motor release thing-a-ma-bob. $13.95 later on ebay (plus $8.95 expedite shipping - why not huh? I've already saved so much) and by Sat Jon will be doing laundry while I have a cocktail in the backyard once I get done putting this beast back together.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

From Russia with Love

We left SDF at CDG and departed for St. Petersburg Russia.
French Airplane + Russian Pilot =

The Hermitage, Palkin, Salmon eggs, a dispute over a $25 or $50 cab for 6km, and Vodka...lots of Vodka. Then we were off to Moscow via overnight train (it was a killer... @ $500). Arrival at Leningradsky station at 8AM feeling less than rich with $'s in our wallet, we charged for the metro - along with Friday rush hour. WOW - a public transportation lovers heaven.

Success! Despite Frommer's lack of Cryllic/English in the Metro map. We were as usual "good TV" as we stepped out of the metro and asked ourselves "where are we?" We didn't know it, but we were steps away from Red Square. Tough to miss... Amazing race here we come!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Eating like Aristocrats

Thank you Mr. Forsyth

For not coming to the Astoria Hotel in St. Petersburg. We enjoyed the Champaign later this evening and had your fruit for breakfast. You've got to be creative (and lucky) once in a while when your currency is in the crapper.