Now We Need Bar Stools

We got our kitchen counter tops re done and raised our bar area so now we need bar height bar stools.  I love it that Mj cares about the home decor in our house.  The only problem is that he can be really, really picky.  This often makes picking out anything from throw pillows to shelves quite a frustrating experience.  There are times when he will tell me he doesn't like something without explanation.  No he doesn't know why...he just can't put his finger on it.  What am I supposed to do with that?  Especially if it's something I really like and he can't even tell me why he doesn't.  I'll show him item after item and he'll veto every single one.  So imagine my excitement when he tells me that I get to pick out the bar stools all on my own. His only rule is that they not be cheap.  El cheapo used to be my middle name so I know why he felt the need to emphasize this.  I don't want to bring anything home that he hates so as I'm searching I do run stuff across him.  True to his word he is mostly non committal unless he really hates it...which is fine because I don't want him to hate anything in his house.

I get to pick out whatever I want.  This is great.  The only thing is that I have no idea which ones to get!  I started out wanting something bright and modern.  Funky even.  Just because it's a chance to introduce something new into our decor.  Then, I changed my mind and thought that the more traditional chair might work better with what we already have.  Now, I just have no clue.  Red, Brown, wooden, adjustable height?   I read reviews, I browse countless websites and I compare prices.  I stare at our counter and try to envision them there.  I just end up more confused and undecided.  I cannot ask Mj to help me figure it out.  I'm determined to find the perfect ones on my own.

I've got links to ones I like bookmarked all over the place.  Here are a some that I'm considering.  Any input would be greatly appreciated.

Photo Source:  West Elm $338 for 2 (I'd get the Brown)
Photo Source:  $186.29 set of 2
Photo Source: $104.78 each
I'm hoping that I'll have time on Saturday to go to a store that carries nothing but bar stools and that I can make a decision soon.  I'm pretty sure that I'm obsessing way too much over this but it's what I do.  I can't help it.

Dinner and a Casting

Last month one night before bed Mj handed me his i Phone and told me to check something out.  Fresh off the indignation of having Valentine's Day thrust upon him yet again he stumbled upon something called Steak & Knobber day.  If you have a curious mind and wanna google it go ahead; I dare you.   It's basically the little known male version of Valentine's Day except in typical male fashion the expectations are very specific.  It doesn't quite have the er, commercial potential of Valentine's Day so it won't ever be as popular as V Day but I guess I don't blame the guys for wanting "their" day with their little man spin on it since women seem to be the V Day focus.  He didn't ask me if I'd go along with it but I took it as a hint that he bothered to show it to me at all and since he indulges me on V Day I decided to return the favor.  
Mac & Cheese with Crumbled Bacon on top
Like Valentine's Day Steak & Knobber day fell on a not so date night friendly Tuesday so Friday night downtown would have to do.  I gave him five places to choose from and he chose the most expensive one of course.  Greystone The Steakhouse only made the list of options because I managed to turn some airline miles into a $25 restaurant gift card.  He ordered Steak with Crab on top and I ordered a side salad and a side of Macaroni and Cheese.  I have never ordered Mac & Cheese at a restaurant because next to Fettuccine Alfredo which is also on my do not order list I can't think of any other pasta that is more fat and calorie ridden.  I was craving it for some odd reason and they had it so I splurged.  It was so delicious.  It's comfort food after all so it totally eased the discomfort of paying $11 on for a glass of Wine.  Hold up.  Now that I think about is it that my Mac & Cheese was just $1 more and my side salad was actually $1 less then wine? Oh well. 

After dinner we walked about a block to our casting.  I don't model anymore.  Castings and shoots are during the weekday and it was getting too hard to juggle them with work.  I technically do still have an agent and every now and then she'll send me a casting-which I usually can't make.  This time it was a print add for Microsoft.  They were looking for people between the ages of 25-45 and models were encouraged to bring their significant other.  How could I pass up a casting that was happening from 6-10pm down the street from a restaurant we were already planning to go to?  Well, this never happens so obviously I can't.  The timing was just too perfect and the fact that we could do it together was a bonus.  It was a typical casting.  Fill out your information sheet, wait your turn and smile for the camera.  This time they asked us to make a crazy face for the last shot.   Why?  I don't know but it's not even the weirdest thing I've ever been asked to do on a casting.  I thought it was so cute to see him standing there with his number and smiling for the camera.   Awww....his first casting.  It was at this really cool new Gelato Cafe/Bakery/Bar/Restaurant called Cremolose that I'd never even heard of before.  Of course we got some Gelato on the way out and ate it at the bar.

I already explained to him that since I referred him that makes me his manager so if he gets booked for the job I get a 10% cut.   As for the Knobber part of Steak & Knobber Day...well, I'll leave it to you to decide if I delivered on that one.

Pole Dancing 101

My right wrist is killing me and the insides of my upper thighs are chaffed.  Those strippers make it look so easy and sexy but I tell you what; nothing about the way I climbed up that pole and held on for dear life in my Sit position would be considered sexy.   To move to the next level I'd have to learn to hold myself there for at least 30 seconds without using my hands.  You have to press your crotch into the pole, wind your legs around it tight as you can and use your foot to anchor yourself in place.  In level two you learn how to do it upside down and it simply would not do to fall on your  head.  I placed my hands in my lap and tried to ignore the pain in my thighs as I slowly slipped down centimeter by centimeter.  This is Pole Fitness class at Sumara Pole Fitness and Dance Studio.  My arms are tired, my hands hurt, I'm feeling like a clod and I'm barely half way through the 50 minute class.  Oh crap.  What have I gotten myself into.

It looks just like a typical ballet studio except there is no barre and the room is filled with floor to ceiling poles.  In the newbie class we learned how to clean our poles and do three spins.  My favorite was the Fireman.  You always start with your inside leg and you walk North, South and East around your pole and then hook your legs around it and go into a spin.  I was a little tentative but I managed the moves pretty well for my first time.  After the Newbie class I was allowed to take a Level One which is where this whole pole dancing thing got really hard.  I showed up in my short shorts and tank just like I was told.  The pole needs skin to help you stick so yoga pants and sleeves don't cut it.  I used to be a gymnast.  I have a strong core and I have never done girl push ups in my life so I like to think I have a little bit of upper body strength but I just barely managed the Tuck, Pike and Straddle lifts.  Then it was time for spins.  I did really good on the Forward Chair Spin.  My sexy up was a little unsexy but I made it work.  I got the Stag spin down but because you basically spin your way onto the floor my knees took a beating.  The back hook spin was the toughest.  This one requires four steps around the pole and a backwards fall while while hooking the back of your knee around the pole arching your back and then falling into the spin.  I had to wrap my brain around doing it in the other direction when my body was confused about doing it in just the one.  I was the only one in class so it was basically a private lesson which made it even tougher.

This studio does offer a Sexy Silhouettes class with mood lighting where you can learn sexy little routines.  You can wear platforms or bare feet and knee pads are not required but recommended.  The prerequisites for that class are Newbie and Level 1.  The Level 1 through 4 pole fitness classes center around learning skills and technique.  No clear heels or lingerie required.  It's a work out.  Anyone who doesn't believe that pole dancing requires athleticism and strength need only sign up for an introductory pole class and they will probably change their tune.  My stomach started to feel a little upset on the way home.  Spinning around in circles affects me a lot differently then it did when I was a kid.  Pole dancing is so much harder then it looks.  And it's painful. I felt a little beat up after wards.  I could feel callouses forming on my hands right away and the next day my knees and wrists were bruised.  My arms and shoulders were so sore!  Class was on a Tuesday and on Friday I was still feeling it.

Pole dancing has moved way beyond the strip club.  It's a sport  now.  This studio has a Performance Team.  There is an International Pole Dancing Fitness Association and US and World Pole Fitness Championships.  If anyone is curious about what these pole dancers are capable of here is a link to photos of various Pole Dancing spins and skills.  Most of which I could probably never do no matter how hard I tried.  Mj sent me to two classes on a Groupon.  He may have been hoping I'd come back with a sexy routine to do for him at home but I had to take my prerequisites.  So if I do go back I'll try Sexy Silhouettes; and I'll wear knee pads.  

Flaws and All

Four years ago today I stood on the sidewalk outside of the downtown convention center on a cold rainy day huddled under an umbrella.  When the Silver SUV pulled up to the hotel parking lot next door I peered through the rain and paused for a second before dashing over to the car and getting in.  Hello's were exchanged and then we decided where to go for dinner.   Two weeks prior my friend gave him my number and texted me a pic she took with her cell phone so this was not only our first date but our first time ever meeting each other.  Afterward, I was asked how the date went.   I shrugged my shoulders.  It was fun.  I don't know.  He made me laugh and he was cute but I was highly independent and skeptical.  We'll see.  Four years later that man in the silver SUV is my husband and we are settling into married life.  We are adapting to each others quirks.  Learning of our strengths and weaknesses together and as individuals is an ongoing process.  The so called "honeymoon phase" of dating is different then married life.  It's the natural progression of a relationship and I embrace it just as I took delight in those early getting to know you dates.  

Four years later there are moments when I can't believe that he loves me.  I mean, I know he does it's just that some days I don't feel so lovable.  There are days when I come home from work and an exhausting work out at the gym.  I am tired.  The day has been long and I am agitated for no reason at all.  I walk in and see his wonderful face without really seeing it.  I am so caught up in my need to get in the house and begin my nightly ritual that gets me unwound and ready for bed within the next few hours.  I have had zero time to myself all day and with the night half over I know I won't be getting very much before bedtime.  I am distracted and annoyed that there aren't more hours in the day.  My husband asks me if I will cut up the strawberries and I give him the look.  Are you kidding me?  I just got home and I still have yesterday's laundry to fold.  In that moment I don't like myself.  I love my husband more then anything  but I am just too tired and sore to be bothered with Strawberries.  Cooking under the best of circumstances is a chore for me.  Martha Stewart I am not and  I have yet to unlock my Joy of Cooking so if the way to a man's heart is only through his stomach I'm in big trouble.  Sometimes I feel so undeserving.  I am the wicked witch of the west and he has a heart of gold.  I wish that I had the wherewithal to be anything and everything he needs me to be at all times and at the same time I know that it's not possible.  I am hopelessly flawed but I really do want to be better then I am.  He makes me want to be better but that is an ever evolving work in progress and I have to realize that better isn't likely to ever be perfection. I look at him and hope against hope that this wonderful love we have will survive my flaws because to not have him would be worse then anything else I could ever imagine.

At the end of the night when we cuddle together on the couch and watch a bit of TV before bed.  Not only do I see his wonderful face but I feel it resting on my cheek.  I am struck once again by just how lucky I am.  I have this wonderful person by my side.  I don't have to walk through this world alone.  He loves me when I don't even like myself.  He forgives me for my mistakes and has shown me so much love and compassion even when I am critical and selfish.  When I refuse to cut strawberries or I ask him two five times too many to do something. This realization renews my resolve to be better and do better so that I can be the best wife that I can be...flaws and all.

"Flaws and All" by Beyonce 
I'm a train wreck in the morning
I'm a bitch in the afternoon
Every now and then without warning
I can be really mean towards you
I'm a puzzle yes in deed
Ever complex in every way
And all the pieces aren't even in the box
And yet, you see the picture clear as day.
I don't know why you love me
And that's why I love you
You catch me when I fall
Accept me flaws and all
And that's why I love you

I neglect you when I'm working

When I need attention I tend to nag
I'm a host of imperfection
And you see past all that
I'm a peasant by some standards
But in your eyes I'm a queen
You see potential in all my flaws
and that's exactly what I mean.
I don't know why you love me
And that's why I love you
You catch me when I fall
Accept me flaws and all
and that's why I love you
[Repeat Chorus]

Our Kitchen: Basic to Bling

We did the backyard, we did the closet and so naturally it was time for the kitchen.  We are all set with our nice appliances and cabinets but the laminate counter tops had to go.
Basic Laminate Countertops

Trying to visualize it at home depot with our cabinet, granite samples and backsplash
Picking out the back splash was a little bit agonizing.  We spent at least an hour staring at glass tiles but I think we made a good choice.  We wanted a light color for the counters to contrast with our dark cabinets.  Mj found White Kashmir Granite on the internet.  It can be really hard to tell from pictures but we liked what we saw and Home Depot carries it so we got to see the samples there.  We've been watching Renovation Realities on the DIY channel and we think a more fitting name might be Renovation Nightmares.  We are not DIY people so we decided on the granite color, bought our sink and our back splash from Home Depot and then turned it over to the pros.

They actually had to build extra wall to raise the bar

It took five days when we initially planned for three.  We did decide to get back splash at the last minute so I think that did add on the few additional days.  They only work through the week so Mj and I had to juggle our work schedules.  On Thursday they got to our house at 8:00am and didn't leave until 8pm then were back Friday for a couple hours to finish up.  I can only imagine how long it would have taken us if we tried to do it ourselves.  Being without a kitchen was inconvenient and they had to shave some granite inside which caused a lot of dust but it was all worth it in the end.

It took about 20 sheets of back splash tile which was way more then I thought it would be for a small kitchen.  At about $17.99 per sheet it adds up but when we were choosing it I focused on what we wanted and not the price.  If we're going to do it we might as well get what we want.

This sink is deep enough to hide dirty dishes
The sink was $375 but once you put it under granite it's not getting changed out so I'm glad we got what we really wanted here too.  Slowly but surely I'm learning that while budget is important sometimes you really do just need to get what you want.  This is our house, it's permanent and we are already spending the money so why not?  Within reason of course.

Now we need to find bar height stools
Now that we have raised the counter to bar height we moved the two counter height chairs back to our dining room table and I am looking for two bar height stools to replace them.   I'm also planning on putting some floating shelves in that blank space next to the window.  Raising the bar height somehow made the kitchen feel larger and has given us a little bit more counter space.  Lighter counters has brightened up the space.   Thank goodness we found this contractor.  He did our crown molding and painting for us last year and he's also doing our floors.  He only charged us $2,600 for this entire project; that includes granite and labor.  I cannot believe I'm saying the word only in front of thousands of dollars but compared to what others are charging out there this is extremely reasonable.   This transformation happened in our own house and I still have no idea how they did it.  How did they cut the granite?  How do they make it fit perfectly around the sink?  How did he build that wall?  What a difference new counter tops can make!!  Our kitchen went from basic to bling and I'm so happy with how it turned out.

Navy Blue Chucks

Last Thursday night it occurred to me that I needed a pair of casual shoes that would look cute with skinny jeans.  I've got so many of them now.  I have plenty of casual flat boots and I love that look but sometimes you just need a casual not quite tennis shoe that looks good and doesn't make you feel like you gave up on your outfit.

Friday morning I checked out DSW online.  Nothing.  Then I stumbled onto Converse.  Not really my style....but cute and reasonably priced.  Nordstrom's had them in the perfect color.  Navy Blue is a versatile and will go great with jeans.  I called and made sure they had my size, they put them on hold for me,  and on my lunch break I went and tried them on.  I liked them, I bought them and that was that.  These shoes will never go out of style since they've been around for oh, forever and they are classics.  I got them home and Mj echoed my earlier sentiment.  Chucks?, that's not your style.  But when I put them on he liked them and said they were cool lookin' on me.  They kind of have a throw back edge to them and I wasn't really sure if I could pull it off but I put them on and it just worked.

Sometime between Thursday night and Friday morning I decided that I needed a pair of Navy Blue low top Chuck Taylor's and I had them by lunch time.  It's funny how it happens that way.  I may be indecisive at times but when I decide I want something.  I WANT it and I want it yesterday.  What struck me the most aside from my ridiculous tendency for impulse shopping is the fact that I COULD buy them.  There have been very lean times where I might have wanted to spend $20 bucks on something I really needed and just didn't have the money to do it.  I've scraped pennies out of my car cup holder just to be able to afford a $1 coffee.  

I live within my means and if my means tell me that I cannot shop or that I cannot have this or that like it or not I accept it.  I've always been very conservative with my money.  I don't make a whole heck of a lot of it but I know how to manage what I've got.   I did not have a melt down, because sadly buying shoes has caused this in the past.  I did not berate myself for spending money unnecessarily.  

My means told me I could have a pair of Chucks if I wanted them and I happily obliged.

The Amazing Quest

Our team dressed up for the costume contest
Mj's job hired a company to come in and organize what is called The Amazing Quest.  I'd never done anything like it and I was really excited.  We couldn't have asked for nicer weather.  It was a warm but not too warm 78 degrees.  We met up at a bar where everything kicked off with a team costume contest.  Then we were instructed to open our first clue and were on our way.  

This race was not easy!  The puzzles and challenges were well....challenging

Trudging through the city
There were brainteasers, puzzles, and challenges throughout the entire quest and it took as all over the city.  It was really well planned out.  Each team had to stick together and complete one task before getting the next clue that would send us racing off to the next location for our next challenge.  I lost count of how many clues that we got along the way.   It was way more rigorous then any of us expected.  Everyone contributed something to the team; even the pregnant one who couldn't run much.  Okay well, maybe all of us except the drunkard.  Mj killed it all over the place with his quick thinking brain.  My shining moment was balancing six dice on a tongue depressor in my mouth in less then a minute on my first try.  I also had to be blindfolded for about 45 minutes walking through the city and then on the trolley.  Very bizarre experience and a little scary.  I held onto Mj's arm really tight and trusted that he wouldn't let me fall off of a cliff...or a curb.
Mj made 5 baskets in Bub's bar so that we could get our next clue
We had to stop for a break right??  No.  This has nothing to do with why we didn't win.

I couldn't see a thing but I could hear everyone asking what the heck we were doing

More brain teasers to complete

Almost there!!!!!
We knew we weren't in last place as we approached the home stretch.  We also knew there was no way we were going to win but at that point I didn't care.  It was more about finishing what we started and that's exactly what we did.    It took us 3 1/2 hours to get back!  There were about thirteen teams and we finished somewhere in the middle.  We were supposed to be back at our starting point by 5:15 pm but I think there were only a few teams that made it.  The challenges were hard!  With all the stuff we had to do I have no idea how they did it so we all just assumed they cheated!!  My legs were killing me by the end.  We were all exhausted but we had such a blast.  Just the experience alone was worth the effort....and the fact that they fed us!  Cheesy Quesadilla's....yes please!!  We were served Mexican food appetizers buffet style for us at the end and we got our drink on so even though we didn't win the costume contest or the race itself that was reward enough for me. 

Friday Randoms

The last time I can remember using a stamp was in 2010 when I mailed out my wedding Thank You cards.  I just used up my last one last week because I had an actual bill that I needed to write out an actual check for and put in the actual mailbox.  Good thing it was a forever stamp because it literally took me forever to use up that one book of stamps.  We just don't use them anymore.  Remember when you used to use your debit card and write out your checks and track each transaction in the cute little check register?  Those days are done.  Now we track everything online and all my bills are paid through online bill pay.  I might write two maybe three checks a year if that for random situations that come up.  Which is good because I think they are at 45 cents a piece now.  I can still vaguely remember when they were 0.29.  Do you still use stamps or checks for that matter?

Ours is the top left
We are getting our counter tops replaced next week!  I'm so excited about the finished product but oh how I dread the process.  I can't stand seeing my house turned upside down and having people marching all through it making a mess.  We bought our sink last week.  The one we have now is an over mount and we needed an under mount.  It cost us $375 bucks!  Just another thing that you don't realize the expense of until you need one.  Home Depot does give a 10% military discount though...that's something at least.  It's 9" deep and a stainless steel grade that's not supposed to spot or stain.  We love farm house sinks but those can cost anywhere from $600 to $900 bucks.  Not happening.  We are still trying to figure out what we want to do for back splash. 
Pain at the pump
I got gas this morning.  Ouch!  The average price in our city is $4.39 so apparently paying $4.29 I actually got myself a deal but it sure didn't feel like it.  It cost me $47 bucks!  Thank goodness my Honda has pretty good gas mileage so I can go about 10 days between fill ups with my normal routine.  In my Jeep Liberty it would have cost me about $80 something and I would be right back there before too long filling up again.  When is this gas price madness going to end?  I can still remember 99 cent days.  I realize that is a thing of the past but can we at least stay in the $3 range?

Jordan Wieber in Podium Training for American Cup
This USA Gymnastics You Tube link shows different gymnasts one after another.

Gymnastics will be on tomorrow morning!  I'm so excited.  It's the most prestigious international competition held in the US every year and the first big competition of the year that will pave the way to the Summer Olympic Games in London. The AT&T American Cup is being held in Madison Square Garden NYC and will be broadcast live on NBC at 1pm EST.   My DVR is set.

I hate our gas prices but I love our weather.  It's supposed to be sunny and in the 70's and 80's this weekend.  Tomorrow Mj and I are participating in a mini Amazing Race competition sponsored by his job.  He recruited me to be on a team with his co workers and we'll be running around downtown on some sort of scavenger hunt searching for clues.  I've never done anything like it and I think it's gonna be fun.

Have a good weekend everyone!!!