Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Man Cave

Now that you've seen inside my woman cave, it's time I share my hubby's man cave with you. Too much? Too intimate? Oh come on, he's a cutie. I'll share!

Not a chance, ladies. He's mine. But I will share pictures of his very rock 'n roll room with you.

We completed this room a couple of weeks ago but with the addition of our new family member, things have been off routine. We have two doggies that don't see eye-to-eye yet. But we're working with them. Day-by-day it gets a little bit better. However, it has been hard because we have all this puppy energy we're dealing with that is making hubby and I quite tired. I'm in bed by 9 or 10 each night. The good news is that Cookie is sleeping about an hour later but her most hyper time is early morning. "Play with me. Someone look at me. Toss my ball. I'm gonna bring it to you. Nope. Psych! Let me bite you. Your ear is a tasty treat. Squirrel!"

So the last thing that hubby has requested for this room is that I do the beadboard wallpaper. Since most of the downstairs has it, I'm also going to carry it into the dining room, too.

Although hubby's wishlist included a pool table, it just wasn't possible with the poker table and bar. Plus the room isn't really wide enough. But how about the awesome bar and poker table? That was hubby's $800 Craigslist find. $800! and the people delivered it, too! This set is close to $7K new. And it had only been slightly used. He's a good bargain hunter!

So let's take a look at the second living room before. Ugh. That smelly carpet. This is on inspection day.

And now...Rock on, dude.




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Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Tell the truth, you saw the title of this post and thought - BABY!? Well, sort of. A new fur baby came into our lives three weeks ago when my lovely mom sent me this picture in an email:

I quickly resnapped the picture on my phone and sent my husband a text message. While hubby and I have been talking for the last year about getting a new dog, we were also hesitant because Woozie is now 12 and it's been awhile since she's been socialized. She's become a sweet natured doggie who is content with hubby and I. We were also talking about specific breeds and private adoption through a breeder. But that face! How can you resist that face?

So we asked about this little pup and learned that there was another interested party. We learned that this pup was abandoned and wandering alone for three days before someone called about her. She was brought in by the SPCA and has been with her foster mom the entire time. The foster mom used to work with my mom and the other interested party. Over the last three weeks, it's been a roller coaster as to "will she, won't she" confirm she really wants this puppy. And in a very, very small way, I got a taste of what it's like to go through a real adoption (human baby). Again, very very small way as I know it takes months and years to adopt children and can be very heart wrenching.

The foster mom wasn't convinced the other party was the right fit so she brought the pup to see me a couple of times so that we could get to know one another. It was an instant bond. I loved her from the moment I saw and held her. She's a sweetheart and very affectionate.

We had to wait until yesterday to adopt her because she wasn't quite 8 weeks and hadn't been spayed (a SPCA requirement). The surgery date kept changing based on availability and vacation schedules but she was finally spayed yesterday and ready to go by 2pm.  The other party backed out a week ago. Still it was nerve wracking because of SPCA's policy of "first come, first serve." Basically if a dog is put on the floor, whoever grabs the paperwork first gets the dog. I don't agree with that policy in the slightest. We were also interested in another puppy on the east coast and I completed a very thorough questionnaire. The SPCA has a 1/2 page adoption info page. But as my hubby and mom said, they probably see a lot of dogs and cats come through and adopting them out is better than the alternative.

We left the house at 1pm yesterday (I took yesterday and today off of work) and were at the SPCA by 2pm. The pup remained in the Clinic while we completed the adoption process and paid for her ($125) so that no one could see and fall in love with her. The process went smooth and we were done and on the road by 3pm. She's been a very good puppy so far and is almost potty trained. We have a vet visit at 5pm today and plan to enroll her in puppy training as soon as she is cleared to go.

She was originally listed as a "Pit mix," which concerned us at first - until I met her and realized how sweet her disposition was. Yesterday we learned that she is actually a Labrador mix. They didn't list "Pit" on her paperwork. However her paws look like "Pit." I think she's a Labrabull. Whatever, she is, we are smitten.

So enough chatter. I introduce you to our newest family member - COOKIE!

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Pioneer Woman Cookoff

On Cinco de Mayo, my coworkers and I participated in a Pioneer Woman cookoff. I came up with the idea after a introducing my coworker to Ree's (aka Pioneer Woman) Marlboro Man sandwich. We absolutely love this sandwich, which is primarily meat and butter. Uh, I see no problem.
We've both tried different types of rolls and while I prefer seeded hoagie rolls, my coworker likes Hawaiian Sweet Rolls. We both agree that my Ciabatta just did not work for this sandwich. It was just too heavy and dense.
I don't work in a big office, although we are growing rapidly and will be moving to a new space in October (most likely in Tampa but staying in Pinellas County is still a possibility). We had about 10 people participate in the cookoff and here were the rules:
We’re having a potluck on May 5th. Not just any potluck, a Pioneer Woman potluck! What?! You don’t know about the Pioneer Woman?! Let me introduce you to Ree Drummond who lives on a ranch in Oklahoma with her Marlboro-steak-and-potatoes-eating man, four kids, and lots ‘o animals.
Ree is a bestselling author and has a show on Food Network. She breaks down her recipes into easy-to-follow steps (with copious pictures!) on her blog: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/
Here's the catch - You can ONLY use Pioneer Woman recipes (breakfast, lunch, dinner, your choice)!
We had an amazing amount of food and to make it fun, prizes were given to two winners. We had three judges that tried all the food and decided on a winner for overall food and one for desserts.
The winners? Ribs! I mean who can resist ribs, right? Well I guess a vegetarian or vegan (I caved a couple months ago and am back on the meat wagon). And I thought I made some tasty fall-off-the bone ribs, but these were spectacular! The Itty Bitty Nutella Cakes won best dessert. I'm a little picky on desserts and most of the desserts consisted of peanut butter. I've been Picky Niki most of my life and I don't like peanut butter and chocolate together. Yeah, I know. I'm weird. Just ketchup and cheese on my hamburgers. No lettuce anywhere except in a bowl with dressing. Just meat and cheese on a sub. I hate tomatoes. I hate fruit. That's just me. Okay so off on a tangent there - let's get back to some yummy food pics.

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Monday, May 5, 2014

Living Room Reveal

It's been a long time coming (9 months) but we have finally finished our fireplace living room. We have a few more finishing touches (lanterns for the fireplace, custom blinds are on order, jute rugs for the sliders, and adding pics to the back wall. Of course I'll show you that when we have it completely accessorized. And the man cave, where we were formally camping out until this room was done, is taking shape too. In fact, at least once a week, hubby and I become barflies at his massive wooden bar where we eat sushi, cheese, crackers, and other apps. It's our little downtime where we enjoy wine, eat a lighter meal, and just sit and talk.

We spent quite a pretty penny in this room starting with the floors. We upgraded to Armstrong laminate high gloss (yep, we knew full well it was going to show every spec of dirt and dust and it has lived up to this expectation), we replaced the entire ceiling and hired a guy to come in and finish the mud, tape, and sand. We also got rid of 3 feet of curved 1980s tile. That was my husband's idea (as well as upgrading to the nicer floor) and I love his decorating decision.  He wasn't on board at first when I wanted to paint the fireplace white. But he did it anyway while I was in San Diego. We both agreed to leave the brick alone as it adds a nice contrast. We had Lowe's install the floor in this room, the other living room, and my husband's office, as well as remove the tile. They did an excellent job! It took them two days and it cost $4K for the three rooms. The ceiling was a bargain - less than $300 to finish it.

If you notice the one wall with the black framed pics - those are the pics I took in San Diego. We had the Ikea frames. The prints were $40 from mpix. We chose an easy-to-clean rug for doggie purposes. The starfish was $13 from TJ Maxx and the whale wood wall décor was $20 (I think from Wayfair or one of those flash sites). The mantel pieces were from TJ Maxx, Target, and a flash site. The oars are Pottery Barn and were a bit spendy at just over $100 for the two. My husband was going to hang them horizontally but I suggested he cross them and I'm so glad I did. The pillow covers are from Etsy and West Elm. The ceiling fan and light kit are from Lowe's ($200), not Harley Davidson.

So, the downstairs is pretty much set. I do want to do the kitchen counters and new appliances before we tackle the floors upstairs. But I think we're going to take it easy for a bit. We have some other plans in the works that don't involve house renovations. I'm hoping mid-May I can actually write about it and show you. If you are a Facebook friend, you know what I'm talking about.

So let's take a look at what we started with before the ceiling caved in during our first weekend of cleaning from my upstairs bathroom. Remember that? Water was pouring in for 24 hours after we closed in August. This room was concrete and studs for as long as we've lived here. And it is so nice to actually be able to use it.

And now...

TDC Before and After
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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

San Diego, Part II

Thought I would share some more pics of my trip to San Diego. I actually had two of these pics blown up to 16x20s and printed as black and white images. I reached out to our wedding photographer who suggested I get the prints done by mpix.com. What an awesome suggestion. The prints turned out wonderful and were on my doorstep two days after I ordered them. I then had another friend tell me that she's tried seven different print companies and mpix is her jam! She's also a professional photographer. I'm not being compensated to say any of this (c'mon, I've never been compensated for anything on this blog - I think I'd fall over and die if that were ever the case). I just think the quality is so much better than trusting your pics to any other online print service. I'll show you the black and white photos when I do the living room post (coming soon!).



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Monday, April 28, 2014

Flower Power

Seems like forever since I've done an outfit post and here's why:
  • I wake up at 5:30 and am out the door before daylight (although it is starting to get lighter out this month)
  • I've been on a project since January at work that is exhausting and most days I'm in company shirts and jeans
  • Lots of bad hair days as I grow out my bangs
  • Weight gain
  • Focus on home improvements
The hair is growing, the weight is what it is, my company has narrowed down six choices for a new location (5 of which are in Tampa and would cut my mileage and drive time down) and the living room is almost complete (can't wait to show you - I'm finishing the bead boarding this weekend!).

Saturday night I had tapas in South Tampa (SoHo) with my childhood friends. South Tampa has a lot of great restaurants. Hubby and I originally wanted to move to South Tampa but it's very crowded and very expensive. We realized we weren't going to get a big house with a pool unless we moved further out from Tampa, so that's what we did.

While I was in San Diego, I picked up a couple of $20 dresses from Gap. I love their fit and flare dresses from last season. I actually own the matching pants to this dress as well. The great thing about California is I can actually find size 14 dresses in the stores cause all the size 2s are gone. Unlike in FL, where the big girl clothes get snapped up quickly. That's cause we're California's chunky, trashy, and cheaper little sister.

(Dress: Gap - similar here | Shoes: Alice and Olivia | Sunglasses: Aldo Accessories)

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Radio Silence

I know - crickets on the blog lately. With good reason. I haven't been near my laptop in about a week and a half. Been traveling. A lot! So it started with a trip to Connecticut to train a temp, who quit a few days later.  Fun. Followed by a trip to San Diego for four days. I was at a Madcap Flare conference to further my knowledge in software I use every day for work. San Diego was absolutely beautiful. If my family wasn't in FL, I'd move to California in a heartbeat. Hubby was in too. There's actually a job opening in San Diego for a technical writer for Madcap, but my family would kill me and we just bought our house. So as tempting as it was (and man was it tempting!), I just couldn't do it.

Here are some pics of the first day. I stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel, which was pretty snazzy. They even embroider the pillows and put guitar pick stickers on the toilet paper. When I checked in, I was asked which genre of music I wanted playing in my room. On my last night, I went down to Nobu and had some awesome sushi. It was a noisy hotel on the weekend, but was pretty quiet during the week.

On my first day in town, I walked along downtown in the Gaslamp district. I also discovered World Market. OMG! Awesome home goods store. I knew of the online site but didn't know they had brick and mortar stores as well. Turns out there's one about an hour from my house. Yipee!

So here's day 1. Day 2 will be in my next post. And our floors are in and I've been busy bead boarding the fireplace living room. Stay tuned for that post.

Early morning flight - ignore the dark circles.

Thai food - eh, so so.

Chicken with cilantro crème - awesome!

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