Tuesday, July 26, 2011

House plants

Up until now, I've not been much of a house plant-type person. Usually forgetting to water or fertilize them, I often end up throwing them out. But I'm turning a new leaf. I'm starting to practice the responsibility one needs to be a good caretaker of flora. Meet my new additions:

our new buffet & Fittonia plant
(also known as "Forest Flame")

It originates from Peru

Our Snake Plant 
(aka Mother-in-Law's Tongue)

Fun, aren't they? Especially the Spider Plant! I'm excited about that one, as it's thick leaves will grow straight up 3 or 4' tall. Hopefully I'll be able to keep it alive long enough to grow that tall! Here's to giving it the good ol' college try! 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Living Art

I've been doing a little research online lately about living walls (aka vertical gardens), and I think I want to try it. They range in size from small to large. These are some examples...

 Living Green Wall

Obviously, I'd like to start small, and I'm thinking the dining room walls are a bit bare. Because I'm a picky shopper when it comes to wall art, I think I'll try the living wall there on a wall above our new buffet. That way, I won't have to pick out a pricey art piece that really doesn't mean much to me; instead, I'll be able to have an ever changing piece of living art. 

The company I've been looking at is called Woolly Pocket. The concept seems pretty darn easy, so it might be a good place to start. They can be a bit pricey, but considering the product is made from recycled plastic and is manufactured in the good ol' USA, I think it could be worth it. After all, somebody has a birthday coming up in a couple months....

For more info, check out the video.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bringing home a little Vegas...

In addition to my post below, I thought I'd share a little Vegas with y'all. The Dancing Fountains at the Bellagio was one of the coolest free things to see in Las Vegas. Enjoy....

Vegas Vacation

We're back! Las Vegas has officially taken (a little of) our money. After tirelessly comparing hotel deals and prices, we decided on a 3 night, 4 day stay at the Monte Carlo. And although our hotel rate (with included free buffet for 2 per day) was very reasonable, the longer you stay in Vegas, the more money you will inevitably lose.... and I'm not just talking about gambling!

Instead of spending most of our time in the casinos, we decided to really tour the city for all the free (and some not-so-free) things to do. On our first full day, we decided to walk the strip. Our little map made it look so easy. See? Everything looks so close!

Let me be perfectly honest: MAPS ARE DECEIVING. From the Monte Carlo, we walked the entire strip, which looks harmless. Ha! I bet we walked 5+ miles that day. Yes, perhaps the strip is not a full 5 miles, but we also made stops along the way in order to visit all the hotels and see their "sites". Now, you may be saying, "Jenna, why didn't you take the complimentary tram that's so easily located on the map?" Well..... I'm cheap. When I see "tram", I think money. Everything in Las Vegas costs money, so why wouldn't a tram? Well, after our first walk of the strip, my feet hurt so badly, I finally asked a hotel employee, only to learn that the tram is free. Blah. Lesson learned. Ask first!

Like I said, I'm glad we walked, because we got to see a lot of sites we easily would've missed on a tram. Like these....
the painted ceilings at the Venetian

the conservatory at the Bellagio

a Jelly Belly Statue of Liberty at New York, New York

A drum head signed by all 4 members of AC/DC (signed drum head = $1,750. Picture = free.)

We also decided to take in a couple shows, seeing as we found some good half-priced ticket booths on our walk. We were able to see the Blue Man Group (my third time, Randy's first) and the Jabbawockeez (dance crew that won MTV's America's Best Dance Crew). Both shows were great! 

After 4 days of Vegas, it was time to go home. After all, 3 pooches were waiting for us. And, with no hard feelings of being left behind, Sophie, Henry, and Mabel were happy to see us.

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Balance

Opposites attract. At least, that's been true in my relationship with my husband. I'm a planner; he goes with the flow. When I'm a high-strung, he is pretty mellow. I tend to be impatient and lose interest easily; he's painstakingly focused. And while these personality differences are what balance us (life's all about balance, right?), there's an imbalance in our lives that we've been thinking a lot about lately. 

 I've become settled with a job that I love. Surrounded by much of my family, meeting and making some great friends, finally having time to think about the places I want to go and things I want to experience, I'm in a good place. But it's hard for me to fully enjoy all the possibilities for my life when my husband, who has selflessly supported me for years, is not in that same place. For the majority of six years, he's been through the corporate and blue collar grind. Presently, working 60+ hours for someone who takes advantage of his excellent work ethic and continues to push off requests for adequate compensation, Randy is burnt out. Where I'm in a great place professionally and personally, he's struggling under the pressures of living to work. 

And while I don't want this post to become a discussion about the hard times of recession, I do acknowledge that some, if not most, people are forced to work their lives away to make ends meet. Understandable. However, when there's another option available, despite the risk, shouldn't one take it? Randy and I have been discussing the possibility of branching out into his own business. Specifically, he's looking into becoming a paintless dent repair (PDR) technician. He's known about this line of work and has been familiar with it ever since he has worked as an estimator, and now manager, of an auto body shop.

With any change, there are pros and cons. He'd get to make his own schedule (mostly working 4-6 months out of the year and pulling in enough money to be comfortable), have time for both personal interests (e.g. music) and collective interests (e.g. traveling), and become his own boss. However, the trade off is that we'd have to cut way back for a few months, so he can train with an experienced PDR tech. He'd also need time to build up his clientele and skills. Plus, tools are a costly investment. 

And while I don't have much good to say about working in auto body shops, I must say Randy knows the right people to make this happen. The PDR technician that Randy's shop employs has already agreed to take Randy on as an apprentice, if Randy chooses the PDR route. After a few months, Randy would be sent out on jobs by himself, and the technician would take a small cut of the profit. Once Randy feels comfortable enough with his abilities, it'd be up to him to find the clientele to sustain his own business. The good thing is that Randy has the connections he would need to start on his own, and he could use his great work ethic to benefit himself directly, rather than putting a lot of money into someone else's pocket. 

We'll see where this takes us. Things have a way of working out (remember my last-minute decision to move to Texas?). I'm not sure what the future holds, but if it's my turn to be the support system for him, I'm ready. I want him to find something that he can do to support the kind of lifestyle he wants to live. That is, if we don't win our millions in Vegas.

Stay tuned....


Monday, July 11, 2011

Tiny House, Big Whim

Randy and I have been doing some talking lately about grown-up things, like his next job maneuver, what we want/don't want out of life, etc. I can't tell you how many times we've discussed making X amount of dollars versus having more benefits/time off. It's always seemed absurd to me that employees can be okay with only ever having 2 weeks vacation, no benefits really to speak of (high deductible health care plans don't register as a benefit in my book), and long days (10-12 hours a day, on average). Our conversations usually leave me wanting to sit down with the owner of the company and give him a piece of my mind, mainly consisting of studies showing health risks of employees that are overworked & down-in-the-dumps employee morale that slow company production and growth. But, alas, that will never happen.

So, our very serious conversation yesterday about this matter took a whimsical turn when I (very aloofly) suggested that we sell our house and move into a tiny house. Therefore, we'd live mortgage free, allowing Randy to quit his job, become a part-time musician, and free us both up to travel in the summer. How wonderful! Except, my whimsical seed took a fast root into Randy's brain. While I know we are both very naive on this subject, we most certainly wasted a good couple of hours searching "tiny houses" online yesterday afternoon.

There were definitely a few things we quickly learned. First off, a "tiny" house (some being only 90 square feet) will probably be way too small for us to begin with... or ever to end up with. Our idea quickly expanded to a possible "small" house, being less than 900 square feet. This one in particular was one we liked. But then, we were faced with many issues of which we know absolutely nothing about, like where to build (land can be pricey and most neighborhoods have restrictions on a minimum house size), city regulations, and other ins-and-outs of daily functioning. And of course, price plays a major factor in the mix. If we want to be mortgage free immediately, we'd need to somewhere in the $50,000 range or less, which is near impossible after buying land, hiring a contractor, and paying for materials. Like I said, it was just a whim. But fun to think about, nonetheless.

If you're interested, here's where it all got started....

And for things a little closer to home

Monday, July 4, 2011


July has been a busy month already. Yesterday, I threw a birthday party for my husband and my grandpa... with a 4th of July theme. Hopefully my husband likes red, white, and blue, because with his birthday being on the 4th, he's doomed to have very patriotic birthday every year :)

All in all, everyone seemed to have a great time. The drinks (read: Sangria) and food went over well, and the cake and cupcakes were great, too. I'm glad everything went off without a hitch, because our weekend didn't start out so soothly. After a deep freezer debacle and our air conditioner capacitor going out, things were not looking so hot. Subsequently, because the air in our house was out, my cake's icing starting dripping off. So, after refrosting it (and changing up the design), everything seemed to fall into place. Here are some of the pics of the evening...