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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Finishing Up the Basement

Oh, it's been a fun project to work on three main areas of the basement.
I'm happy to report I think we're done. 
We might move some art work around, but it's functional and no longer a place to "store random stuff".  We got rid of what we didn't love or weren't using, and we have turned this area into real usable space.

This direction shows you what the east side of the back half (got that?) of the basement looked like.
Random pot, keyboard, scattered art, and an outdoor bar that stayed inside a lot.  Waste of space.

And now here is that same room. 
We added cabinets and a counter top, plus travel photos that I've taken.
The new chair (recognize it, Nancy?) makes for a great reading spot.
That chair and a half with ottoman is soooo comfortable. 
Little glass table to hold drinks for now - might go with something else there eventually.
And lots of air purifying potted plants.

The west side of the back half of the basement.
It looked great from a distance but the chairs and loveseat had a ton of wear.
I'll spare you the up close photos again.

And here we are now.
The boys have taken over the pub table for their laptop, but that's easily moved if we want to use it for another purpose.
I really love this area now.

And this is the front half of the living area in the basement.
When we moved in the previous owners left a large desk and office set up.

These changes we made last September and haven't changed anything since.
I just really like it - family photos, great storage, and way more inviting than the office furniture set up.

You can see all the previous posts on the basement here.
Oh, and I wanted to show you this piece I had made for us for Christmas.  I found it on Etsy.
It sits in a frame on the new cabinets.
I love it!

Now, on to the exterior of this house.  Phew.  A ton of ongoing projects right now!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Scarf Holder

I saw this solution for Scarf Storage in Real Simple or Good Housekeeping magazine a few years ago.  At that time I didn't have that many scarves, but have received quite a few as gifts recently.
All you need is a hanger and a package of shower curtain rings.
One scarf per ring.
Then, hang in your closet with your clothes.
I have several heavy pashminas from Riyadh that my mom gave to me - lighter scarves won't weigh down the hanger.  Mine's been hanging like this all winter and hasn't caused a problem though.
And there's my newest scarf from my friend Jeanne.  I need another package of curtain rings!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

101 Places to See Before You're 12 - An Amazing Science Site

An Amazing Science Site
This is one of those examples of a place that didn't quite work out the way I had planned, but my 3 men insist we count it anyway.

In DC I really wanted to take the boys to the National Academy of Sciences which apparently has a little museum inside and you can see scientists at work (one description made it sound like a zoo - "scientists in their native habitat".)  And, the Einstein monument was listed as a "hidden gem" not to be missed.

We decided to walk to it from the Smithsonian buildings, not looking that far on the GPS on my phone.  David rather politely questioned by sanity because it was drizzling raining and he was cold.

Seriously, I really did feel like it was more of a fine mist when we set out.

Good sport

While wet, the walk was beautiful!
 We're still across the street but the sign lets us know we've finally made it to the National Academy of Sciences.

It's a beautiful stone building.  See the man at the front door?  He's LOCKING up!  We just missed being able to step inside.

We tried to decipher some of the Greek right at the top of the beautiful building.

Thomas flipped for this door.
And while we didn't get to step inside, I'm so glad we hiked in the pouring rain fine mist, because I love this photo of 4 geniuses!

While we didn't get to tour THIS Amazing Science Site, the boys pointed out these other locations that we have visited and felt they more than counted - Science and Technology Museum in Chicago, the Air & Space Museum in DC, countless Wind Farms in Indiana, Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah, the Insectarium in New Orleans, the Ice Age Trail in Wisconsin, the Rocket Center in Huntsville, and the Medical Museum in Indy.  OK, fine.  Let's put a sticker on this page and call it done.

From the Book:
#94 - An Amazing Science Site
If science were sports, the scientists who work in these labs would be the major league players.  We would follow their every move as they researched subatomic particles, and go nuts when they knocked one out of the park with a really great advancement in physics.  In reality, these science superstars achieve great feats without much cheering and not a single endorsement from an athletic shoe company.  But that doesn't make what they do, such as develop new sources of energy, map the human genome, and basically unlock the secrets of the universe, any less amazing.  Because what scientists do is so sensitive (and in some cases top secret), you can't just walk in and ask to look around.  But you can prearrange a tour (often with a school group) or attend an open house - it's like getting a ticket to the world series of science.

Friday, April 19, 2013

101 Places to See Before You're 12 - A Stargazing Spot

A Stargazing Spot

One of the things that we really wanted to do in DC was return to the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum.  This was Brennan's favorite museum last time, and one of David's all time favorite museums.  We took time to go to the Planetarium while we were there, and saw observatory equipment.
We have visited Planetariums and Observatories before - Salt Lake City and the one in Indianapolis come to mind. There is even a small one at one of our local high schools that the boys and I went to a laser light show at a few years ago! But this one was pretty impressive (and we have some photos).

Here we are, ready for the show on Solar Systems and Undiscovered Worlds to start in the Planetarium.

From the Book:
#64 - A Stargazing Spot
Through all of human history, they've always been there, twinkling in the sky, constant and unwavering, no matter what happens down here on Earth.  They're beautiful and mysterious, challenging us to try to reach them. always beyond our grasp.  Stars inspire us, give us hope somehow, and make us feel like we're not alone in the vast universe.  See these captivating sky-dwellers up close (well, as close as you can, really) through a high-power telescope at a planetarium or an observatory.  Check out the giant telescopes that can see light years away and dishes that can hear into deep space.  No matter how much you find out about stars, there will always be more to learn, and there will always be new mysteries to discover.

101 Places to See Before You're 12 - An Inventive Place

An Inventive Place

As we share our 80th of the 101 places we've visited, I realize we're starting to "stretch" a little here.  David and the boys disagree with me.  An attempt to see a place is worth it, they say.  Especially when we have seen so many interesting places along the way.

Case in point - An Inventive Place, that ended up being closed.  Not due to poor planning on my part, I might add.  But to the U.S. Government's Sequester, of all things.

Thomas and Brennan felt like we'd been to lots of places that should qualify including The Spy Museum in D.C., The U-Boat Museum in Chicago, The Air and Space Museum in D.C., the Medical Museum in Indy, The U.S. Rocket Center in Huntsville, and Wind Farms all over the U.S. 

While we were visiting Nancy and Joe in Alexandria, VA last month, we made plans to go to the "National Inventors Hall of Fame and Museum", better known as the "Patent Museum".  I knew their Saturday operating hours, but didn't consider the Sequester.

Dang. It.
Even Nancy had given up her Saturday afternoon to go with us.
Well, we did get to see the buildings themselves (amazing, colossal structures)

Even the Global Intellectual Property Academy
Oh, so, so sad!

 We'll be on the lookout for more Inventive Places to check out one day.
From the Book:
#78 - An Inventive Place
When asked about his hundreds of inventions, Thomas Edison famously replied that for every one that was successful, there were thousands that had failed.  The key, he said, was that each mistake helped him get closer to success.  Thanks to Edison's persistence, we now have the electric light bulb, recorded music, movie cameras, and many other things that make life easier.  Inventors are some of the most interesting people in history and the places where they developed their new ideas are cool to visit - fascinating old laboratories filled with gadgets, devices, and plans for changing the world.  Visit and inventive place - a lab, workshop, or even the U.S. Patent and Trademark Museum - to learn more about inventors and their amazing achievements.

What I've Been Reading - April 2013

Hi, I have several books to share that I've enjoyed over the last couple of months!
Here are the ones I've Loved, Really Liked, and Thought Were Just OK.

Loved These Books
I kept hearing good things about Libba Bray's new book, The Diviners, so I reserved it at the library and it became available at just the right time.  The story is set in 1920s New York City and follows Evie and friends with special gifts that help track a murderer.  The writing is sharp, Evie is a memorable character, and the (sometimes gruesome) action is fast-paced.  Those who enjoy Cassandra Clare will probably enjoy this book.
One sentence goodreads.com description - When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation.

Lora chose this book for our Litwits April read.  Looking forward to discussing this selection in a couple of weeks with our night-time book club.  I have never read Tana French before, but I certainly will again.  Broken Harbor is the 4th in a series, but you can jump right in with this one.  It's a murder mystery that kept me flipping page after page, not wanting to put it down.  Don't jump to the end!  Let it play out.  I loved the writing style, the laid back pacing of the book, and the realistic portrayal of the events.  Highly recommend if you like mysteries, and Irish-set novels.
One sentence goodreads.com description - In Broken Harbour, a ghost estate outside Dublin – half-built, half-inhabited, half-abandoned – two children and their father are dead.
I can imagine that not everyone will love Where'd You Go, Bernadette, but I did.  I saw this book recommended repeatedly this winter and decided to jump in.  I read it in just a few days.  It grabbed me from the start.  The clever writing kept me engaged throughout.  The story is told in a series of letters and journal entires.  As I was telling members of my daytime book club, As the Page Turns, I can only tell you that this book is about Architecture, Antarctica, Microsoft, Private Schools, and Blackberry Bushes.  I've recommended it to several people.  Again - it may not be everyone's cup of tea.
One sentence goodreads.com description - Bernadette Fox is notorious - to her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.
Really Liked These Books
As part of the Happiness Project, I decided to read a book by my sons' favorite author, Rick Riordan.  They love all of his series and read everything he writes.  I enjoyed the movie "Percy Jackson" so decided to start off with this #1 in the Olympians series.  I enjoyed it, but had to make myself return to it.  Maybe because it's written at a 5th grade level, maybe because I'd already seen the movie (which is different from the book in a number of ways).  Regardless, I've read it now and need to read #2 before the movie in August!  If your kids like mythology or don't enjoy reading and you need a series that might hook them - check out any of Rick Riordan's series.  Boys and girls alike love his books.
One sentence goodreads.com description - Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy's Greek mythology textbook and into his life.

Well, I don't like reading at a 5th grade level, but I'm apparently OK at a 9th grade level!  I've shared my love for Ally Carter's YA series "The Heist Society" and "Gallagher Girls".  This is her next in the series of Kat and Hale and their friendship and family in the world of art thievery.  I enjoyed it.  If you (or your teens) like non-vampire YA, or if you aren't embarrassed to admit you've watched Gilmore Girls, Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, or 90210, then I'd recommend Ally Carter.
One sentence goodreads.com description - When Hale unexpectedly inherits his grandmother's billion dollar corporation, he quickly learns that there's no place for Kat and their old heists in his new role.
I've had Moloka'i on my to read list for years.  My mom gave it to me for Christmas, and Nancy from As The Page Turns chose it for our April read, so I finally sat down to read it.  I wasn't sure what it was about, except something about the leper colony on the island of Molokai in Hawaii (which I had seen from a distance in high school).  I was drawn in immediately to this book.  It's the story of 5 year old Rachel who lives in Honolulu in the late 1800s and was sent to Molokai as a child.  I shared my high school Molokai photos with our book club at our discussion - that was a blast!  If you like historical fiction, this is a great book for you.
One sentence goodreads.com description - This richly imagined novel, set in Hawai'i more than a century ago, is an extraordinary epic of a little-known time and place---and a deeply moving testament to the resiliency of the human spirit.
These Books Were OK
Nothing to share in this category! 
Maybe I'm picky about what I read, but all my reads in the last two months were 4's and 5's.

And what have you been reading?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

101 Places to See Before You're 12 - A Great Estate

A Great Estate
This spring we were able to see 2 "Great Estates" while on our travels.
Our first Estate was Mt. Vernon, George Washington's home.
We didn't take many photos, but the boys got to see quite a bit of the beautiful landscape, farm, and house itself.

Then while were in Nashville with my parents, we toured The Hermitage - Andrew Jackson's home.
David took some great photos with the camera.
I especially love this one.

The boys really liked the guided walking tour with headsets.  They listened to each and every one of the recordings.  Thomas made sure to do his in order.  Brennan made sure not to miss a thing.
I'm in short heels.  Look at Thomas.  I'm going to be the third tallest in the family very soon.

I loved this tree behind the house.  It looks like a bunny should be running out at any moment.
Or Pooh Bear.

Gorgeous magnolias.  I'd plant one in our yard in a second if they grew well in Indiana.

Thomas in the garden next to the home.

See all of our 101 Places here.
From the Book:
#45 - A Great Estate
They called it "the gilded age" - a time in the nineteenth century when the richest of the rich liked to live large.  They built spectacular mansions featuring priceless works of art, private bowling alleys, indoor swimming pools, and grand ballrooms.  They had hundreds of servants who came running at the ring of a bell, and dumbwaiters that spirited food in and out of their banquet halls.  Although you probably wouldn't have scored an invitation to one of these homes back then, today - you're in!  Imagine what it was like to live in all that splendor - even the servant's quarters weren't too shabby.