Thursday, November 29, 2012

Trotting Turkeys, Saratoga Shopping, and Baby Steps

This Thanksgiving, we spent some time with Chris's family out near Albany. We kicked off our Thanksgiving weekend with the 5K Turkey Trot in Troy, NY. Yep, that's right. I'm a runner now. Blame Chris for that one.

Chris and I met up with his brother, Mike, as well as his wife, Erin and her sister Carrie at the starting location. The temperature was in the low 40s, but that didn't stop thousands of people from coming out for the run. Not even these guys, dressed as presents:

Chris was ready for the race and even braved the cold in shorts and a t-shirt.

I'm happy to say Chris beat his time from the last 5K and I managed to run the whole thing without stopping to walk! haha So successes all around.

Thanksgiving dinner was great. We had a huge table, lots of happy people, and even more delicious food. The next day, we all went out to Saratoga to browse the shops. I picked up a few stocking stuffers and we just admired the local stores. I saw this window and had to take a picture of it for my mom. Such a cute idea.

And Chris and I particularly enjoyed walking around behind his stepsister, Marena, so we could enjoy the sight of her snazzy new coat. haha

On Saturday, a bunch of us rode up to the cabin to shoot some logs. haha We had a couple guns to practice with, and I have to say, the women dominated when it came to aim.

And finally, Chris's step-nephew, Evan, put on a show for us by taking a couple steps across the living room. He was so proud he even gave himself a round of applause.

When we got home, we were surprised to see that Oreo appeared to have made peace with the kittens. Here he is, cuddled up with Shadow (who is keeping two sleepy eyes on us). Apparently the spirit of Thanksgiving got to them. Or maybe the cooler temperature of our house when we set the thermostat to vacation mode. haha

But, the peace treaty was short lived. Eventually Oreo took a few bites at Shadow and came over to snuggle with me. Even if he is still a crotchety old guy, you gotta admit he's pretty darn cute.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Small Change to the Exterior of the Capers

After a long weekend in the Scotia with Chris's family for Thanksgiving (pictures to come), Chris and I arrived home to this sight. That's right, snow!
First snow of the winter!
But the dusting of snow wasn't the only exciting thing that greeted us at our house. If you look very closely in this picture compared to older pictures of our house, you might see a change. Not sure? Let me give you a hint. This was a picture I took a week ago:

Can you see what changed? It's our soffits! Check out the before and after picture below and I think it will be more obvious:


What a difference, right? We actually had Peterson Construction come in and do the work. Gary was such a good contractor and we are so pleased with the results. If you're in the Syracuse, NY region, we definitely recommend him. In fact, we're thinking about having him reside the house in the next year or so. Super exciting! Love the idea of not having "freckles" on our siding anymore. haha

But I don't think Gary has a very hard time getting work. In fact, while he was up on the ladder working on our soffits, our neighbor came over and asked him for an estimate on a section of roof and siding on his own house that had a leak. haha I guess Gary is giving our neighborhood a little makeover.

Anyway, let's continue with the glorious before and after pictures:



In the picture below, you can really see how he cleaned up a lot of the weird angles by boxing them out. It looks a lot cleaner and newer, not to mention hassle-free. No more scraping and painting the eaves. Woo hoo!

The area above the front door was particularly bad. Much of the eaves were covered with plywood, but the section above the door was open because the screen door might have swung right into the soffit if it was any lower. So Gary and his coworker came up with a creative work around.




Here you can see the unpainted, untreated boards that were in the eaves before. Maybe they had something to do with the wires coming into the house? Whatever their purpose, they were ugly and prone to rot since the wood was exposed to the elements.

And now, voila! No more ugly wood. Just clean, simple, white soffits.


You'll also notice the little white vents on the front of the house now. While I wouldn't call this an aesthetic improvement, the vents are supposed to improve the airflow through the unfinished attic spaces inside the house. There were already vents on the back of the house, so now the air can flow straight through and escape. Hopefully this will cut down on the amount of icicles we get on the room, since warm air won't be trapped inside the attic just under the roof.

Our original plan was to cut into the wood just under the roof, so it would be covered by the vented soffits. Air would still be able to get inside, but the openings wouldn't be visible. The problem was in the construction of the house (most new houses already have the proper venting). But our 1930's Cape Cod had several thick pieces of wood right where we needed vents, so that ruled them out. But the new vents on the front should hopefully do the same thing, so I'll keep you posted.


The picture below is one of my favorite views. Such a big improvement. The contractor even wrapped the corner pieces and the section behind the spotlight with metal, so that won't need painting anymore either.



So there you have it. New soffits on the Capers. It's really one of the first improvements we've made to the exterior of the house, and I'm loving it. It's a small thing, but it needed to be done (no more exposed wood with the potential to rot), and it looks great. And it's got me thinking about how much new siding will improve the look of the house. But for now, I'm happy to have new soffits checked off the list!
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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A New Way to Blog

As you may have noticed, I've once again changed the format of this blog. But this time around, the change was prompted by an error message I got when trying to upload some pictures: "Your Picasa account is full."

You see, Blogger stores my uploaded photos in my Picasa web albums with up to 1 GB of storage space. Well, after four years of blogging, I finally hit that 1 GB mark. At first, it seemed like my only option was to pay $2.49 a month for an additional 25 GB of storage space, which was kind of a drag. Not a crazy amount of money, but I sort of hate recurring payments.

My next thought was to just start a new blog with a new account and link the old one to it. But that seemed less than thrilling to me. After all, this is my blog. That also seemed like it might get confusing for readers.

That's when my wonderful geeky husband stepped in. He had taken a class on hosting a web server before and still knew how to set it up. The thing about that is that you have to have a computer running 24/7, since that's where my pictures would be stored. Lucky for us, we already have a computer that we leave on all the time. When we installed our security cameras, Chris set them up to record to that computer so we would be able to catch any robbers if our house was ever robbed again. So our "DVR computer" now doubles as our server, and we're good to go.

The main difference for me is that when I upload pictures, I upload them from a URL instead of from my computer. So I have to transfer photos onto that computer over the network first, and make sure to resize them myself so they don't slow down the blog load speeds. Sound complicated? It's really not too bad (I'm just glad I have a couple years of computer consulting under my belt so I feel comfortable keeping up with my hubby after he does all the heavy lifting). haha

And the reason for my blog's aesthetic change was that Dynamic Views, the template I was using before, has limited usability with any server other than Picasa. So the pictures wouldn't load in the previews. After we figured that out, I decided it was probably easier just to switch my format back to a classic view. Plus, it's nice to give the ole blog a little face lift every so often. :-)

So there you have it. That's how we worked around paying $2.49 a month for the rest of my life. :-) If you are a blogger out there and come across this, leave me a comment about how you manage your blog! I'd love to hear about other solutions people have come up with. And if you want more specific information about how we are hosting our own photos (I know I didn't give a very technical explanation) I'd be happy to get the details from my husband and pass them along.

Happy blogging everyone!
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Monday, November 26, 2012

Chris's Birthday Celebrations

Chris and I celebrated his birthday this year in true geek style: with a huge medieval sword.

Ok, I guess I should begin at the beginning. Last time we were in Orlando, Chris and I had dinner at Medieval Times. After the show, I basically had to drag Chris away from the display of swords so we could leave. Add to that Chris's love of all things medieval, (think World of Warcraft), and I knew I was onto something. So I made a mental note and pretended I didn't notice the drool running down his chin as we walked away from the swords.

The one I gave him is pretty cool. It's very heavy, so it feels pretty authentic. The handle has some neat engravings on it as well. It also came with a plaque so we can hang it on the wall. I'll post a picture of that once we get it up.

Here's Chris opening a present from my parents.
Gotta love this look on his face as he discovers his wife just gave him a sword.
His birthday balloon
Chris also received a massage cushion from my brother and sister-in-law that he loves. He's already logged quite a few hours of heated massage while playing computer games.

I also made Chris a birthday brownie cake. Now, you may be wondering, "What exactly is a birthday brownie cake?" Well, allow me to explain. This confectionery mishap is the product of buying a brownie mix when you think you're buying chocolate cake mix and then deciding to proceed with cake preparations anyway. I adjusted the timing for two round pans and then did my best to make it look like a cake.


As it turns out, if you can put a candle in it, it's a birthday cake. haha And luckily, it tasted delicious too!

Chris, me, and the rest of his family also celebrated his and Mike's birthday on Saturday after Thanksgiving. And you know what that means: more cake! And that one was an ice cream cake. Yum!

The birthday boy
The other birthday boy with Jackson after they all blew out the candles
Kara and Evan sharing a quiet moment
Chris received even more great presents from everyone and we had a blast just getting to celebrate with his family. All in all, I'd say it was a pretty fun birthday week.
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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Cara George's Bridal Shower

As promised, I nabbed some pictures from Cara and Mollie to share. The bridal shower was very nice and we all had a wonderful time. Not to mention, the food was delicious!

The theme was sort of upscale picnic. All the decorations were purple, and weirdly, most of the guests showed up wearing purple, too. haha

The bride with her bridesmaids

 Katie and I were in charge of the toilet paper wedding dress game. We split everyone up into teams and gave them three minutes to create a wedding dress out of toilet paper. The winners received some awesome soy candles in pretty glass vases that my mom helped me snag. :-)

Afterward, Mollie got this picture of us over at Adam and Andrea's house.

And she also got this fantastic and fun photo of me and Hadley. haha!

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My Trip to Michigan

Last weekend, my parents flew me home for a little weekend visit. The main event was my friend Cara's bridal shower, but what kind of aunt would I be if I didn't say that the highlight was getting to spend some time with the cutest little neice in the world?
The little miss still trying to decide if she wants to be friends with me ...
Chris and I actually bought Hadley the Cinderella doll pictured above when we were in Disney World this September. Nothing like trying to buy a toddler's love, right? haha

I also got to check out Hadley's pretty room. My mom made the sweet banner pictured below.

Hadley's adorable room
And Hadley was eager to show off her big girl bed.

Nana and Hadley on Hadley's big girl bed.
Here'e the little princess over at Nana's house.
And what the heck? How about one more Hadley picture since she's so darn cute!

I don't really have any great pictures of the bridal shower since I was taking pictures on Cara's camera for a lot of it. But I'm sure she'll be posting pictures on facebook soon, so I'll make sure to snag a few to put up here too.

And as for the after party, I decided not to post any embarrassing pictures of anyone playing beer pong ... (You can thank me later, big brother!)

I did get a picture of the wonderful "Winter Picnic" gift basket that Katie and I put together for Cara. My mom gave us a lesson on making bows, and it was a team effort to cram everything in the basket. The contents included things that no winter picnic could be complete without, including: a monogrammed fleece throw, yummy-scented candles, hot chocolate mugs with "C" and "B" on them (Cara or Carl and Brown), hot chocolate mix, marshmellows, trail mix, a cute picture frame that says "Cherish Every Moment", a Mr. & Mrs. Christmas ornament, some margherita mixes, and so on and so forth. Pretty snazzy.

And speaking of gifts, check out this awesome nursery makeover I did for Hadley.

Just kidding! This isn't Hadley's nursery, it's the nursery in the dollhouse my parents are giving her for Christmas. Oh, and if Hadley is sitting next to you, don't show her these pictures. It's a surprise!

Check out the zoomed out picture below.

Now that's what I call a house! So many pretty details! The furniture is all from Melissa & Doug. The two pink rooms were done mostly with scrapbook paper for the walls and floors. The curtains are little fabric scraps my mom had leftover from previous projects. The two lower rooms have painted walls. The kitchen has a fabric floor, and the living room has a paper floor. The attic wasn't finished before I had to head home, but I hear it's also looking pretty fabulous these days.
And here's the outside of the house, which still needs to be painted.

And check out this adorable detail my mom came up with.We cut out one of the inset pictures from an old holiday photo card and she framed it with fabric to make a family portrait on the wall! It really is the little things in life ...