12 May 2015

Book Character Day

Here's a snippet from Isa's school blog where she shares her selection for last week's Book Character Day...

11 May 2015

First Communion

I have been doing an abysmal job of blogging my family's events but I would be very remiss if I let Isa's First Communion go by without a mention. 
Sylvia did a fantastic job of getting her ready, finding the dress, trying out hair styles and Isa was able to wear the shoes and hair piece from our wedding.  It was extra special to have the big event on the one year anniversary of our wedding.  Family came from both sides and we had a delicious spread of food.  Lengua & cochinita pibil tacos, rice, fresh guacamole & salsas, and of course a lovely white cake.  Isa was very excited for the sacrament and did a fine job.
Yesterday was the first time she went up for communion as part of the parish and when she realize it she got excited all over again and had to tap on my arm to share the good news.

30 April 2015

Historical Tour of Court Avenue

I had the treat of meeting a tour guide just before lunch today and be escorted around a few buildings in the historical Court Avenue area of downtown Des Moines. She was prepared with a brochure she had created and was a great guide. She even allowed me to take her to lunch afterwards. It was gorgeous weather and we had a great time. The audio is a bit faint in a couple parts, my apologies.

13 April 2015

The Black Flamingo

Randomly saw this in the news this morning (as I am staying home with a sick girl).  An all-black flamingo photo'ed around Cyprus.

31 March 2015

The Dark Penguin

I haven't shared any fun news or pictures lately but homebase helped me out and sent this news article my way.  A photographer documented an all-black (or melanistic) penguin in South Georgia.  Pretty awesome limited edition!

25 March 2015

Spring Break Project: Flag Spotlight

 I like to do a small project around the house over spring break (last year I replaced a motion-activating outdoor light with the help of a friend) and this year, the idea for it came to me during a wonderful concert I was enjoying.
minovia had gotten us three tickets to a fantastic free concert by the Jazz Ambassodors, a branch of the US Army Field Band.  We were in the sixth row at the Civic Center and it was a fantastic show.  They played jazz standards from different periods and, while I am no jazz expert, I totally loved it.  "In the Mood" by Glenn Miller Band and "Feelin' Good" were a couple faves.  They finished with some patriotic numbers, including a medley of the music for each of the branches of the Armed Forces and asking anyone in the audience who was in that branch or had family members in that branch to stand up.  It was a very moving and cool tribute.  A superb show for sure and during it I thought that, since I do not bring my flag inside at night, I would put in a outdoor spotlight that would come on at dusk and spotlight it.  I didn't really do any research online but just headed to Home Depot on morning during break and they had a helpful brochure in the outdoor lighting area and I picked up what I needed with no problem.  It was a bit more than I was expecting due to having to purchase and 'power pack' which is what you plug into the outdoor outlet and it transforms the high voltage into a low-voltage for the lights and it also has the timer and light sensor. I went with LED, which was a little more expensive also.  I could've got with a solar light but I wanted something that was strong and bright. 
The install couldn't have been easier. I was done in under an hour and then waited for the sun to go down.
I was very happy with the results.  I can't wait for the first time I come home at night and see the flag lit up.  Here's to the red, white and blue!

[sidenote: I also installed an endcap on the tile at the top of the stairs to the basement, replaced a floor register in the kitchen and made a flagpole and attached my Ireland flag to display it for St. Patrick's Day.]

02 March 2015

Led Zeppelin cover by coolest percussionists ever

Minovia came across this video last weekend and I saw it on NPR also.  And it turns out Jimmy Page also liked it so much he put it on his Facebook page.  I LOVE bells, xylophones, marimbas, etc.  And these performances by the Louisville Leopards are fantastic.  The drummer is great too.  Check out "Crazy Train" also!

01 March 2015

Kitchen Floor Replacement

This picture is too flattering to our old kitchen floor.  It was a stick-down wood parquet tiles which looked fine when we bought the house but as we got into our first summer the heat and humidity had the floor buckling up and away from the subfloor.  The adhesive obviously no longer was working and as the square enlarged with the heat, there wasn't any space for them to expand so they would float up.  We endured it with mats and carpets but after our second summer the floor was chipped up and a sorry sight. So we looked at some tile samples, got a couple bids ($1000 difference between the two!) and I decided to tear out the floor one weekend just to see what our subfloor looked like.  It came up very easily to no surprise.  What was a surprise (and I had to be told by a contractor) was that the surface under the wood was not the subfloor but a layer of linoleum which I would also need to remove. That one was a bit more work, but still nothing too intense. And that got us down to subfloor. [This is the layer I failed to capture in a photo.]  
And we
lived with exposed subfloor for a couple months as we got contractors lined up and scheduled.
We purchased our tile from Lowe's.  A pretty medium gray with just a little texture to them and theyare a 12"x 24" size that we wanted in a brick pattern.  The kitchen (and small garage step-in area) would require ~100 sq ft of tile.  
The day before our contractor was scheduled to start, I had caboose over to help take my appliances out of the kitchen.  First, I'd tried the washer and got it about half out before realizing it was installed on a plywood board and wouldn't need to be removed.  They could
tile right up to it without blocking it in.  So that was wasted effort.  On to the frig.  I remembered when we purchased it that they had to remove the doors to get it
in so I was ready with my tools to do that.  Doors came off easily and I got the water line turned off and detached before we moved the frig out to the dining area and put the doors back on and plugged it back in.  Lastly we tackled the stove.  Slid it away from the wall and began the hunt to figure out how to turn the gas line off.  No valve behind the stove...or anywhere in the basement really.  I thought I found a main gas shutoff so (after consulting another friend) I zipped out to Home Depot 15 minutes before it closed and got what I would need to shut the main line and then cap off
the stove line.  Back at home, I shut the main valve and ran the stove burners to run out the gas...for ten minutes and no sign of slowing down so obviously the gas was still on.  Completely out of ideas at this point (and completely tired of messing with it) I contacted my tile guy and asked for guidance.  He lined up a heating contractor to come by at 8:30 the next morning (we were texting at 10pm) and install a gas valve.  I was thrilled.  So the next morning the gas guy came by, shut off the gas at the meter,
installed a pipe extenstion and a valve in about 40 minutes.  And then the tile guy was ready to get started and I was off to work.  Day 1 also included laying down the Dura-rock (a thin concrete-like base for setting the tile).  Day 2 all of the tile was installed.  Day 3 we picked out our grout color and Day 4 all the grout went in.  And so, after nearly a week with no kitchen, I put everything back together and cleaned everything up.  It felt so great to cook a simple dinner last night in the comforts of my own kitchen. And we LOVE how it looks. We still need to paint a floor register and get it put back and also figure out how to replace the quarter-crown molding and get a couple transitions but we are going to enjoy it for sure.

12 February 2015

Picture Perfect Tostada

I was sitting in a meeting tonight and received this text from my wife. She had made chicken tostadas and they smelled fantastic but I had to leave before they were ready so she sent me a picture of the finished product. 

Pretty fantastic, huh? 
Unfortunate, that text was closely followed by this one. 

I'm sure it still tasted good. 

04 February 2015

Kitchen Sink job

When you get 10 inches of snow in one day there's not much point trying to leave the house. Luckily I had thought ahead the previous day and picked up a tube of silicone caulk. That allowed me to spend some time on Sunday removing the old grout around our kitchen sink (a messy job) and then applying new. I got a couple good tips off the Internet, namely to use painters tape to keep a nice clean edge. I was quite happy with the finished work. A simple small and inexpensive project but one that has brightened the kitchen and it was easy to fit in to snowy, home bound day.