Saturday, March 10, 2018

Square Cafe

Today was as perfect a Saturday as we could have had.
To celebrate the conclusion of Sal's first Masters class, I suggested going to the Square Cafe in Regent Square. We heard of this restaurant on Ali Khan's Cheap Eats on the Cooking Channel. On the show he tried the lemon berry ricotta pancakes, and Sal and I followed suit.


They were every bit as good as Ali said.

This picture is of Sal's stack, hence the side of sausage. I only ordered a single pancake knowing Seth likely wouldn't finish his child-size order of buttermilk, and I could just eat what was left.

I anticipated having to wait because Pittsburghers like their Saturday morning breakfasts, but we were in, seated, and served in under 20 minutes so not bad.

As we were preparing to pay, our server approached and asked me if I'd like a free coffee to go. As if she had to ask. What a fantastic shtick.

The upshot? I'd go back in a heartbeat.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Not a Crafty Mom

One of my biggest pet peeves is artsy projects for school that need done at home.

I’m not a crafty mom. I will never be a crafty mom. I don’t even want to be a crafty mom. Sending crafty requests home with my kids puts me in a bad mood.

I don’t own a glue gun, glitter, or crafting baubles of any kind.

I pulled a note from Seth's teacher out of his bag only to read that he needs a leprechaun trap for next week. My blood pressure and anxiety went through the roof immediately. 

I was introduced to the leprechaun trap idea when the girls were at St. Ursula's. It was a project the second grade teacher assigned each year. I hated it then, and I was certainly not looking forward to creating yet another one for a three year old, who doesn't understand.

Then, I realized that was likely the blessing. He doesn't understand. He'll be happy with anything.

After complaining to my mom and Sal about this latest project, I got down to business and browsed ideas on Pinterest. I was looking for the simplest and least involved leprechaun trap I could find.

One idea involved a toilet paper roll and construction paper. I had neither, but I did find:
🍀Quaker Oats container
🍀hand-colored computer paper
🍀a few cotton balls stuck on with glue dots
🍀yellow duct tape
🍀shamrock with green cookie crystals

20 minutes later we had a masterpiece 

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Living at Lowes

Lowe's was offering 10% off to credit card holders this weekend so we took advantage and ordered  closet doors for the basement. We also chose the hardware. 

What's a post without a picture so here's a generic closet door in the style we chose. We did choose white, but not a bright, or stark, white.

We picked up some paint samples, which we plan to run by our contractor for his opinion. We want to keep the basement walls light, but not white. The floor will be dark, probably imitation hardwood, but again, the exact product has not been chosen.

After so long, it feels surreal to be this close to the end of such a huge project.

To continue our spending spree, we also bought a new grill and some hooks to hang our bikes in the garage since we won't be returning them to the basement.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Basement turned Living Space

Shortly after Sal and I bought our house in 2013, we started making plans to finish the basement. We decided to add a big closet, enclose our water heater, furnace, and electrical panel in a utility room, and create a music room. On the other side of the space we decided to add a family room with a wall-mounted tv and electric fireplace.

Sal did 99.9% of the framing with some help from my brother, and we had the electrical work done last February.

Over the last few days, we hired Kevin Luksik, owner at Lux Contracting, to finish the construction. They added some framing around the ductwork and windows since we were unsure how to handle those areas. They also insulated the outside walls, and hung drywall. It already looks amazing, but a drywall finisher will be in next week to finish the walls.

My coworker's son works for Kevin on the side, and when I overheard a conversation about a project they were working on I asked for his contact information. The rest, as they say, is history. We are 100% happy with the work they've done, and plan to hire them for more projects in the future. However, we are still not finished with the basement.

The next steps are to prime, paint, and hang the drop ceiling, also to be done by Lux Contracting. Which means we have to decide on a color scheme. We've gone round and round about this since the beginning. Sal and I also need to go to Lowe's and buy closet doors, which fortunately are standard sizes, by design.

Lux Contracting will also install puck lights in the drop ceiling. We chose those lights over traditional can (recessed) lights because they are much lighter and have a lower profile. We will need to have our electricians come back and finish the outlets and switches though.

The support pole is something of an eyesore, but it's location in the space did not lend itself to being incorporated into either "closet" or becoming part of a wall. Kevin gave us some ideas as to how to incorporate it into the space so that it's not such an eyesore. He discouraged us from making it a column for a myriad of reasons. We can always address the pole later if it remains an issue, but we think we can make it work.

I imagine in about a year our savings account will have recovered and we'll be able to have a floor, and the trim, installed. We've talked about flooring options, but no decisions have been made yet.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Day out with Thomas

Sal and I became members of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad in order to have access to pre-sale tickets for the Polar Express this year.

Another perk is pre-sale tickets to a Day out with Thomas (the tank engine) in May.

Not only were we able to buy tickets before the general public, we received $5 off per ticket. When I went online this morning there was still availability in the first car, which is right behind Thomas himself.

I was hoping that we could take the train ride and then head up to Cleveland for an Indians game that afternoon, but alas the Indians are out of town that weekend. You know what they say about the best laid plans. . .

I cannot wait to see Seth's reaction to being able to ride on Thomas. It may be the biggest day of his young life.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Summer Travels

In an earlier post, I had written that we were planning a trip out west again this summer. This year though, it's not just "West" as in the direction, but the Wild Wild West. We are flying round trip through Denver to see Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, and Devils Tower.

As it turns out we are also going south to visit our friends, Katie and Bill, who moved last summer from Tennessee to North Carolina, the Outer Banks area specifically. Neither Sal nor I have been to this popular area of the East Coast so we're looking forward to it. It's always fun to see Katie and Bill, who I miss working with so much, and to explore a new area is exciting. On our short list is Kitty Hawk, Hatteras Lighthouse, and the beach.

To break up the drive, I suggested to Sal that we stop in Charlottesville, VA to tour Monticello, a place I've been, but the other four have not. This would get us to Katie and Bill's Tuesday late morning and we'll probably stay 3 nights. I don't like to overstay our welcomes as "both fish and visitors start to smell after 3 days." I'd like to try to visit my childhood friend Tim and his family in Greensboro, but it's a good 4 hour drive west of Elizabeth City. Sal would like to continue on to Asheville and tour the Biltmore, but that might be pushing our time frame since we have my custody agreement in play as well. I will have to see what I can come up with in Mapquest.

Once again we will also be heading East to the Poconos to spend a few days with Sal's family from Massachusetts. We met them there last year as well. We considered other locales, upstate New York, Delaware beaches, and the Poconos won out because they're equal distance for each of our families, a 5.5 hour drive. Aunt Doreen booked a 4 bedroom house this evening, in what sounds like an amazing community.

Last year it was wonderful just to lay around and relax, but I've been researching a couple activities i the area should we choose to venture out this year. Bushkill Falls has come up in my search, and I sent that along to Kim and Kurt.

We can do something or nothing. It's all good.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Birthday Party Recap

Seth's big day is finally here. He's been so excited about his party all week. His sleeping was thrown off, he was wound up, and even louder than usual.

Choosing a theme was easy. He loves trains and cars and trucks and buses and, well, you get the idea.

We opted for Thomas.

We were lucky enough to get the last Thomas kit at Walmart, they are no longer going to provide this character, and the cake was delicious.

Of course it was topped with three candles, and all that Seth had talked about for two weeks was blowing out candles. We lit and relit these candles three times, and sang happy birthday each time, and I honestly think it was the highlight of the day for him. But, he also liked opening presents. He sat himself on the fireplace and went to town. He loved all of it.

Sal and I had made meatballs the night before, and Sal and my dad picked up the salad we had ordered from Olive Garden. It was the perfect menu, and ordering that salad was one of my smartest party planning ideas ever.

I kept the decor simple with just a Happy Birthday sign, the same one that's been up (embarassingly enough) since Seth's second birthday.

My sister and her family were unable to come as they were just recovering from some kind of bug, but Aunt Kathy and Uncle Ron came, as well as my parents and brother. Sal's Uncle Ernie also drove over from Akron. It's close to a three hour drive for him.

The weather turned nasty by mid-afternoon so everyone high-tailed it out of there, except Ernie. He stays until Sal kicks him out :-)

I was exhausted when I fell into bed at 10, but what a great day for Seth.