Sunday, May 26, 2013

Home Ownership - Year 6

As the date of the anniversary of our closing approaches, it's time once again to reflect back on what another year of home ownership has gotten us. This year really wasn't too bad. As I dumped the data from our Microsoft Money file, I was a little surprised at the relatively few big hits we had. It seems like every year something goes wrong that requires fixing. Year Six was no exception - the bathtub is the hall bathroom cracked and we had to replace the entire thing along with fixing a (related) leak in the basement. We also had some more flooding in the basement with the spring melt that required attention. But aside from that, nothing we spent money on was really a reaction to a catastrophic event. So that's good!

Here's a run-down of the big hitters this year:

New bathtub and surround in hall bathroom
(Acrylic with a surround that goes all the way to the ceiling)

Replaced Snow blower
(an Ariens)

Basement crack repair

We also took down a tree in the backyard at the request of our neighbor, replaced our flagpole after it was bent in a windstorm, replaced our memory foam mattress topper (it was time...), replaced the humidifier we use in the bedroom during the winter with one that didn't require a filter, and had a company come to spray for pests/spiders TWICE. Everything else household related was relatively small or just normal consumables. Not too shabby. If all goes according to plan, this time next year we should be in the middle of a deck demolition/patio building project!

Saturday, November 03, 2012

La Tour, times three

1998, Paris

2003, Paris

2012, Las Vegas :-)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Gimme Five

Happy Anniversary!

(Even after five years, this picture still makes me crack up...)

Friday, June 01, 2012

Year Five

So, house, we've made it through year five.
In general, this year was not as exciting as some others. But we did get a pretty big facelift last summer, didn't we? Going from blue

to green

was a change.
Expenses related to that were almost all insurance claim covered, but we did have to pay our deductible and we decided to invest in gutter heater coils (to prevent icicles) and some new lighting outside as well. We had to replace the side access garage door because when they removed the siding around it it pretty much fell apart from so much bug and rot damage. Other outdoor improvements included some lawn mower and snow blower maintenance items, new grates for the grill (stainless!), and supplies for the now infamous adirondack chairs.
Indoors, we replaced the cabinet and towel rack in the hall bathroom, invested in a second set of sheets after one too many 3am "aah, the cat's barfing in bed" moments, and bought a special pet filter for the furnace. We had something of a ceiling fan saga in the living room, going through something like six fans in about a week. We had to replace our CO/fire alarms recently because the ones we had malfunctioned. We replaced the kitchen faucet AGAIN because of leakage. We just have no luck with that faucet... Big ticket items were a new Dyson vacuum cleaner we bought when yet another Bissell power cord pulled right out of the back of the machine and a new Keurig when the one we had stopped pulling water - a pump issue apparently.
All in all, not a bad year. I'm hoping this year will be pretty quiet - but the deck project is on the horizon!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Door County Trolley: Progressive Dinner Outing

Speaking of fun activities...

Last weekend we went up to Door County for a few days. We had booked the Progressive Dining Trolley Tour a few months ago and, of course, had no idea it would be so ridiculously gorgeous. It was just stellar weather. A lot of places weren't opened back up for the season yet, but it was kind of nice, just driving around, soaking in the atmosphere.

As for the trolley tour, If you're in the area and have the time I highly recommend you check it out. It was awesome!

The trolley picked us and the other 18 people in the group up at Lautenbach's Orchards and Winery (coincidentally, our favorite winery in the area!) at 5pm. We met everyone, chatted with the driver, and then headed off to appetizers. They advertise them as being at a "surprise location" and they're not kidding. I don't want to ruin it, but it'd be hard to give a review without mentioning where we went.

Appetizers were at the Hands On Art Studio in Fish Creek. We were definitely surprised, but absolutely pleasantly so. This was somewhere we'd been before and had even considered stopping in on this trip too. I invite you to revist Hazel, the adorable pot-bellied pig, and all the other animals from our first trip, in this post. After a mini tour (drawback of nice weather after snow? MUD!) we headed upstairs for some food. Studio-owner Cy is apparently a chef in his spare time and had put together some fabulous flat bread pizzas. I stuck with the blue cheese, pear, and canadian bacon one. There was also an asparagus and bacon, a vegetarian with tomatoes and eggplant, and one other one that I can't even remember. There were also some veggies with the greatest dip ever, shrimp cocktail, and all kinds of beverages. Just a wonderful spread. After eating too much we all set about decorating a wine glass. Yes, you don't just get food, you get a craft project as well!

I made a glass with humor:

(it's a cat and the back says "a Purr-fect glass" - it doesn't photograph well...)

And Adam made a pimp cup:

After the glasses were blown-dry and packed for safe keeping we headed back to the trolley and on to dinner. Now, when we booked the tour the website said that dinner was at Alexander's. At some point they must have changed that and we actually had dinner at The English Inn (which is literally right down the street from Alexander's.) It was wonderful. They had a long table set up for us toward the back of the restaurant so we got to wind our way through all these normal diners and get gawked at. That was cool. We had a choice of seven entrees (and a special) and all kinds of soup/salad/side options. Dinner also came with one glass of beer or wine. I went with the special which was a chicken Wellington and I had the Mandarin salad (greens with mandarin oranges and a really good honey mustard dressing.) Adam chose the Prime Rib and had the clam chowder which he declared excellent. We were seated at one end of the table and our end got a little rowdy at times. We were by two other couples who were great conversationalists. We had more than one uncontrollable laughter sessions... it was a lot of fun.

Given how much we'd consumed at appetizers, a lot of us didn't eat much of the dinner. I took almost all of the chicken Wellington home and I had it for lunch on Monday. Adam made it through his meat but left his potato behind. After we were done with dinner it was off to dessert at the Eagle Harbor Inn in Ephraim. They had three different desserts: A chocolate creme brulee, a cherry crumble of sorts, and a chocolate raspberry tart. I chose the chocolate raspberry, Adam had the cherry crumble. They were delicious. The coffee was pretty good too.

After desserts it was back to the trolley and back to the winery. We collected our glasses, said goodbye to our tour companions and headed back to our hotel in Sturgeon Bay.

This is without doubt a great way to experience a great evening of food and friendship in the area. No stress, no worries about being late, not being able to get in, figuring out a tip (all gratuties are included.) The three venues were top notch, the food was wonderful, I have nothing but superlative adjectives for the whole experience. Our tour guide/trolley driver was a great guy and the trolley itself was cute, cozy, but comfortable, even for Adam and his legs (we did sit in the very front though.) Adam has suggested we make this an annual thing. I wouldn't be opposed to that. It was a uniquely awesome night.

Fun Activities Update


So much for being a more consistent blogger.

Anyway. Many things to discuss.

Firstly: The PAC announced their 2012-2013 Broadway Across America line-up. They are:

Blue Man Group
Catch Me If You Can
The Addams Family
War Horse

with two special add-on shows - Mamma Mia! and The Lion King

We renewed our seats the same day they announced the shows and got tickets for the two add-ons as well. Woo for early bird discounts!

Granted, none of these are on my "see before I die" list, but I believe I'll enjoy most of them. Keep in mind that season ticket holders get early purchasing rights on all shows so if you'll be in the area and are interested in any of these let us know! Our tickets are always for the Wednesday night show.


In the same vein, the second I caught wind that Kristin Chenoweth was going to do a concert tour I was on the web, looking for her closest stop. Minneapolis would have been easier from a logistics/parking/hotel standpoint, but from a financial standpoint, Chicago was actually a lot cheaper, especially since we booked a hotel outside of the downtown area. So, woo again:

tickets have already arrived!


This has been some crazy weather lately, but perhaps it means we'll actually be able to attend the first two games of our Timber Rattler season ticket package. Last year we missed our first two because of really awful weather (wind, thunder, HAIL). This year we've got one in mid-April as part of our package and we got comped tickets to the season opener on April 5th. We shall see what Mother Nature has in store.

Friday, March 09, 2012


We watched Hugo last night. Admittedly, I wasn’t really looking forward to it. I’d say it was ok, not spectacular. I guess the subject just isn’t my thing.

It had some redeeming qualities though: It was set in Paris (automatically earns some points just for that) and the whole thing just reminded me of Amelie. Quirky “French” girl, gloomy "French" boy. Tricky camera work and fantasy sequences. Colorful supporting cast complete with Sasha Baron Cohen’s Inspector’s awkward wooing of the flower girl and the man/woman/possessive dog trifecta. Even the music. But then I felt like I was stuck in a Smashing Pumpkin’s music video for most of the second half of the film. Luckily I discovered that I was, in fact, not totally insane and their “Tonight, Tonight” video was indeed a relatively faithful recreation of the Méliès film “La Voyage dans la lune.” Whew! What an example of how cultural references shift perception…

Anyway, another one down. It’s hard to get very far on the list early on here because we’re definitely not a primary market.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Valentine's Day

This year Adam took over the Valentine's Day planning. He told me I couldn't come home until he was ready. I went to the library after work and waiting for the signal. When I arrived, I was met with this scene:

and this food:

Mmm... chicken parmesan. One of my favorite foods ever. It was excellent. Definitely a success in my mind.