Happy New Year everyone! 2017 was a great one for us; we traveled to new places (and some we’d been before), witnessed the marriages of several friends and family members and one engagement, spent a lot of time with friends and family, and remodeled our kitchen.
In February, we went on a friends “ski” trip (with all the pups!) to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. “Ski” is in quotation marks because we never actually got to ski because it didn’t snow. It was still plenty cold though. We spent 4 days exploring the city, doing all the touristy things and eating all the best food. We had a fondue night at the house one night and spent the rest of it playing games and just hanging out. It was great to get away with friends in a new place and just enjoy each other’s company.
In April, we traveled to New Orleans for Jazz Fest. You can read all about that one here. We also visited Lakeland for a weekend for the Florida Linemen Competition. Zeus was just a judge this year, but we had multiple other teams from Beaches Energy competing, and they even brought a few trophies home.
For the 4th of July, we flew to Colorado for a weeklong vacation. We spent a night with Zeus’ dad in Yoder, then drove to Boulder to see Laura and Jerome, stopped in Aspen for a quick lunch and trip to the beautiful Maroon Bells, and then ended the trip with a few days in Steamboat Springs for their annual Hot Air Balloon Rodeo. Driving through Colorado was stunning; we took the scenic route pretty much everywhere and it was worth every hour in the car. The Hot Air Balloon Rodeo was such a unique and fun experience, something I definitely hope to do again (maybe in a different location).
In September, we attended the Ed Sheeran concert in Orlando, which was AMAZING, then flew from there to Chicago. After a quick lunch of Chicago-style pizza (super super good, just a bit filling lol), we drove to Madison, Wisconsin, for Zeus’ cousin Ali’s wedding. We stayed 2 nights in Madison, which is a lovely little town with some great food and a stunning downtown area. Our Airbnb had a view of the lake, and I was greeted with a beautiful sunrise every morning. Ali’s wedding was on a farm with an array of animals, including a kangaroo and a bison!
The morning after the wedding, we drove back to Chicago and spent the next 2 days taking in as much of the city as we could. We walked to the Buckingham Fountain, through Millennium Park to the Cloud Gate sculpture (aka “The Bean”), took an architectural cruise down the Chicago River, watched the sunset on the 94th floor of the John Hancock Center, visited a few rooftop bars, saw lots of local artwork and graffiti, and enjoyed so much delicious food and drinks. It was a jam-packed time and we didn’t get to see it all, but we loved every minute. Chicago is just an awesome city; I could spend days just staring at all the amazing architecture. We’ll definitely be back to visit one day.
In October, we took our annual friends trip to Savannah. We spent the weekend drinking and eating all the food, complete with a scavenger hunt to discover new places we’d never been. It’s amazing how much there still is for us to see and experience in that city.
In November, we drove to Tampa for the Chris Stapleton concert and my cousin Sean’s wedding. We brought the pups and stayed in an Airbnb with my parents. It was awesome spending time with family while celebrating the happy couple.
If 2018 has even half the travels that this past year did, I’d say we’d be doing pretty good.
Onto the Kitchen
We only made it through half the year with our Meals of the Month because the other half was spent remodeling the kitchen. It was a huge project and we did a majority of the work ourselves, but it is finally done!
Our original kitchen was probably 10′ x 15′ (we never did an actual measurement but you can look at the before pictures in a bit). It was sufficient, but its design, and the design of other parts of the house, were lacking. Before the remodel, we only had one door to get to our back porch area, and that was through our bedroom. I don’t mind people coming in and out of the bedroom, but what if I wanted to be lazy and not clean it?
Our solution to this problem was knocking a hole in our guest bedroom wall and adding a set of French doors. To connect this to the new kitchen, we had to knock down the bedroom wall. It was a load-bearing wall, so we added a support beam to replace it. We also knocked down the wall between our old kitchen and dining room. So now the kitchen takes up basically the entire middle portion of our house.
We are still in the process of converting our old office into a new bedroom, and will have a built-in office area in one corner of the kitchen. I can provide updates on that later. We closed off the doorway with a set of French doors, and will eventually put up some curtains for privacy.
Some of our favorite little touches include LED lights lining the bottom of all the cabinets as well as the bar and stove area, mermaid and octopus corbels that in no way support anything (they just look pretty), and 4 different kinds of cabinet knobs/pulls. We spent a lot of time planning this kitchen and picking every little detail out, and it came together better than we could have ever hoped. All the colors and finishes complement each other perfectly, and it’s just so much more functional. It’s so much more open, and is great for entertaining (House Hunters people would LOVE this kitchen, but we ain’t selling). We can’t even remember what it was like before.
So without further ado, here is the transformation! Before pictures (excluding 1 dining room photo) are from when we first moved in and had not yet painted, so don’t judge me for those colors lol.
We would like to extend an extra-special thank you to all the people who helped us with this project: Tighe, Shelia, Jesse, Nick, Brandon, Eric, Rick, and my mom and dad. You all made this process a little more bearable. THANK YOU!!!
What’s New for 2018
We’ll get back to our Meals of the Month soon; we already have a tasty one planned for January. I’ll also hopefully do a better job of keeping up with this blog in general, and sharing our travels in full. Cheers to new beginnings in 2018!