Basement Remodeling

The walls have pine boards on the bottom 3 feet and drywall above that. Why? If it floods again we wont have to redrywall, just replace a few boards. My parents are brilliant.

The walls have pine boards on the bottom 3 feet and drywall above that. Why? If it floods again we wont have to redrywall, just replace a few boards. My parents are brilliant.

The basement finishing project has been ‘on’ for months now. Team awesome (myself, my mother and father) have been working on it sporadically and things are coming along. There still is a lot of stuff to do, but when I look back on photos of where it was when I bought the house and moved in, well it reminds me just how lucky I am to have such selfless workers in the form of my family to help me with the gigantic project. (We’re effectively doubling the usable square feet of the house by finishing the basement).

When I bought my house in June the basement was completely unfinished. It had been victim of lack-of-electricity based flooding and had to be gutted by the previous owners. They never did quite get it refinished after that. We’ve had to stud out the basement, board and drywall everything (sans mudding at this point), and now we’re working on adding a suspended ceiling. We’ve done most of the work ourselves, but we did call in professionals for a handful of elements. BedroomAlthough we know wood working basics (we built a 1 1/2 story garage in our backyard with a work force of mom, dad, and kids aged 16, 13 and 10 – which is, of course, why we’re team awesome) we weren’t well versed in plumbing, electric or stair building specialties.

The latest project is getting the drop ceiling installed so the electrician can come back and finish the lighting. After months of little light in the basement, I'm sure it will seem like a lit-up stadium once it's finished.

The latest project is getting the drop ceiling installed so the electrician can come back and finish the lighting. After months of little light in the basement, I’m sure it will seem like a lit-up stadium once it’s finished.

There have been countless nights and weekends of diving in to an aspect of the project, running across some issue, and putting our heads together to find the solution. The motto for my mom and I (or something we say at least once a week, if not once a day) is “we’ll figure it out”. Between you-tube and online forums there isn’t much we haven’t been able to do. (I use ‘we’ generously. My mom is the one who figures out the more technical things and then just tells me what to do. I have learned many processes via this method. Anyone need help shortening a door? I can now help you with that.)

At first it was all so, technical, getting the structure in place. But now, now we’re getting to the fun part: decorating. However with decorating comes trips to crazytown.

For instance: here are a couple of poorly lit shots of the bathroom:Bathroom

Now on the left (the color with the ‘x’) is what I picked originally. I painted bits of the bathroom months ago to see what I thought of the color. This photo doesn’t show the actual color all that well, but it never felt quite right. So yesterday we got the color on the right. Such a huge difference right? It might be stuff like this that makes people say women are crazy. However, crazy or not, I now have all of the grays picked for the basement. Gray, in my opinion, is a tough color to get right, so I’m very happy to have that hurdle done with. Now all we need to do is mud and I can get the top half of all the rooms painted!

Until next time
~ Q

Once upon a time…

…there was a town called Story City that held an annual storytelling festival.

I was actually on the board for the 2012 festival and so I obviously went to some of the events. The festival kicked off on Thursday with a catered meal. The unique thing about this event was that in between courses one of the tellers would share a story. The meal was catered by Chef Chris Hansen, a local well known chef, and it was superb. The four story tellers for the festival were Dale Jarvis, Mary Hamilton, Arif Choudhury, and Maureen Korte.

This festival (for more information check out there website) has been held for the last 7 years. On Friday I headed out to the campfire to hear some scary stories by both professionals and amateurs. The first story was a Native American tale about the Windigo. It was a fun little story about how mosquitoes came about. Then there was a story about the beginning of jack-o-lanterns. One of the professional tellers also shared a story, which I thought was pretty cool since it wasn’t required. It was also perfect, Dale Jarvis loves to tell suspenseful stories as well as tales from the Brothers Grimm. The evening was wrapped up with the MC bringing out the amusing side of everyday life. I thought it was really great. It was neat because he took something simple, owning several farm cats and the yearly invasion of mice that come at harvest, and made it more. He was a crack up and he didn’t even really try to be. Which I think is the best way to be.

The next day was the big day of the festival. Complete with workshops, matinees, farmers (ish) market, and story stops. I ran the info booth at the market and it was quite the collection. There were 3 authors, several home businesses (such as Watkins, Norwex and the like), a couple vintage/antique booths, kringla, and so much more. It was a bitingly cold day. Of course, ask me and a few months and I’ll laugh about it. It was the first cold weekend of the year and it hasn’t been as cold since, but it did hit that weekend. That kept some people away from the outdoor events (such as the campfire and market) but overall it was a good turnout.

My aunt and cousin came down for the concert that night. It was a pretty fun evening especially since they ended up staying at my place. Which was a new experience for the family (rather than them staying with my parents 10 miles away). The next day I missed the ending of the festival in lieu of keeping a family tradition. That Sunday was the annual Octagon Art Festival in Ames. Unlike the day before it was a warm day, although both were bright so still enjoyable. What I love about the festival is that there is just so much to take in. You get to see all manner of art and craft types. Anywhere from a guy that takes burls (wood pieces) from the river and refines them into bowls and things to a lady that dies silk to make it look like a watercolor. Just a wide range so there is something for everyone.

The weekend finale was my first parks & rec volleyball game. It was a bit tricky since our team was pulled together last minute, comprised mainly of subs. It was the first time we’d play together and we were in the competitive league. It was still a blast though. (Update we have since played again and after one practice we were already more competitive. We still lost, but it wasn’t the annihilation it was that first week. And that is a fair comparison because, bizarrely, we played the exact same two teams.)

So that’s it. A very jammed pack weekend. Until next time ~ Q

Corn mazes-a Midwest Tradition and a Sisterly Excursion

I promised this summary a few posts back and am finally getting around to it. Despite being a Heart of Iowa girl my entire life I have never been to a corn maze. Oh wait, I lie. Apparently when I type a definitive statement is the time my subconscious decides to kick out a memory. I’ve been to one before, in high school, and that time I did actually go through the maze, at night to boot. I love the idea of a corn maze and would like to go through one during the day, or at least sometime where they weren’t wanting to close so they were hurrying us through. – there was a corn maze at the wedding I was in, back in August, but it had down poured that morning and decided that would be a poor life choice.

I can say, however, that I’ve never been to a corn maze like Sever’s Corn Maze in Shakopee, Minnesota. (As a complete side note I think they are missing a HUGE opportunity with not just calling them Maizes. It sounds like the word of what it is and translates to the word that is the material. Why don’t people consult with me? Obviously I’m a genius.) We didn’t even make it to the maze itself, we got too caught up in the other attractions. What attractions? You may well ask. They had more than I’ll probably remember to write about, so I’ll stick to the ones we participated in. There was a corn pit. You heard me. Corn pit. There was this giant tent set up with hay bales lining the edges. In the middle were giant stacks of corn kernels. Something we learned there, I’d die in quick sand. The theories behind moving in corn may or may not be similar to sand but I’m certain that if I couldn’t quite grasp corn I don’t want to try the sand. My older sister Bailey, however, took to it like a fish to water. She was able to slither herself up to the top of pile while I sunk when it was only up to my knees. I know, you’re jealous.

Next up, pumpkin launches! They had 2 old launchers of some kind, that when stuffed with mini pumpkins, could hit trucks and targets. It fed some primal nature to see stuff explode, namely the tiny pumpkins. Also, it was super satisfying see them shatter against the truck. Not so much for Bailey, she asked if I could/would hit anything besides the truck. Then we headed over to the petting zoo where I neglected to read the signs and almost reached out and got my hand bit off. Luckily my sisters were looking out for me. They yelled at me before anything bad could happen and only my pride was hurt. Okay, who am I kidding, my pride has been ‘hurt’ so much it has an impenetrable layer of scar tissue to protect it. That tent was pretty fun and I even got to pet a camel and a deer, so win.

Finally, and the highlight for us, was the parakeet tent. A tent full with hundreds of birds! They had little sticks with seed on them that if you held them out the birds would go to so you could hold and pet the birds! My nephew LOVED this place. We spent the most time there and he really only hit one bird. After being reminded to be gentle he was able to pet the birds without scaring them off. I think my sisters and I reacted more violently to them coming and going then he did. He thought it was down right hilarious that the birds scared us with their swarming. I think at one point we each had an average of five birds in our hands. Insanity. Would I do it again, oh yeah.  Then before leaving we snagged a gi-normous bag of kettle corn and this sweet pic. People seem to find it hilarious that my nephew is driving, but lets be honest, it’s the easiest spot to put a twenty month old. And it’s fun having the sisters as pumpkins (or why argue over who the driver is). Okay it is funny. The rest of the weekend was quite enjoyable, complete with viewings of Bringing Up Baby, Abbot & Costello meet Frankenstein and Clue. We had more than enough popcorn for the movies. A very successful sister’s weekend.

Weekend Update: A Yankee Cinco de Mayo

This weekend I “celebrated” Cinco de Mayo by going to a Yankees game in KC with a couple of my friends. I had to wear neutral blue to keep the peace between the two. One lives in KC and is geographically loyal to her hometown’s team while the other has been a Yankee fan for most of her life. It’s unlikely she cared who was playing when she was two.

Anyway we drove down and got there a couple hours early and enjoyed tailgating before the evening game. Then we watched a pretty poor game, luckily the Yankees did get a home run to prevent the game from being a total shut-out. Of course the Yankees won the two games surrounding the game we went to, which was too bad for my Yankee friend. Honestly me and my KC buddy just wanted to see a good game. Oh well, that’s the way the cookie crumbles right? I was a bit shocked how fast the first half of the game went. Right, back to it being Cinco de Mayo. I’ve never seen so many fake mustaches out in public.

I returned home on Sunday after having some fantastic homemade chocolate chip pancakes courtesy of KC friend. After a quick nap and a shower I headed out to the local theater to see “The Hunger Games”. I’d already seen it once, but I was excited to see it again. I really enjoyed both it and the books it was based on. My friends and I had a lengthy conversation reviewing it back when we all saw it in March and we came to the solid conclusion that it was a really could representation. That could be because the author was part of the team that wrote the screen play, as was the director. That had to have helped the purity of story or intent or what not.

To end the weekend update, here’s supper. Cheesy scrambled eggs with toast, yummy. So until next time~Q

Weekend Update: Mirror, Mirror – Memphis – Fort

As I expected, having an unknown (or perhaps low) expectation of the movie proved to workout. I enjoyed Mirror, Mirror very much. I really liked the costuming for the various party scenes, especially the costume ball. It was also a different experience going to the theater here. It theater is an actual theater ie has an actual stage and curtain. My favorite part may have been at the beginning of the movie when the curtain raised up to reveal the screen. Fun times.

Saturday too, was a blast. This time going to the musical without knowing exactly what it was about ended well. (Last year I went to a play not having a clue what it was about and it ended up being about a very dysfunctional family. The mother was actually crazy and had her memories erased via electroshock. Not the best surprise in the world. A very heavy musical, that’s for sure.) This one had its moments too, since it took place in the south during the 50s and revolved around a white man and black woman. I really enjoyed it, the actors were great.

Today I made my fort, which was super fun…but a bit of a fail. It collapsed after 6 hours or so. Turns out fish line can’t hold up 4 sheets plus a handful of pillowcases. It was super fun having it up until it fell though and I’ve learned a bit from my mistake. Like if I want to use fish line, perhaps use more than one strand. Might be good to double it up…a couple times. I have left pillowland up though, It’s super squish and comfy.I think I’ll go read more of my book there, so until next time~Q