Wednesday, August 25, 2010

We like to travel

One of the things we like to do (like most people) is travel. Since getting married, we've been to Vegas, LA, Thurmont, Orlando, Williamsburg, and Fenwick Island and we have 3 trips (mostly) planned within the next 14 months.

Vegas and LA was our honeymoon and it was an awesome trip. We loved Vegas. Everything we saw was just amazing. You truly don't have to gamble to have a good time there. Of course, we broke the cardinal rule of travel and didn't force ourselves to stay up until a normal hour our first day there. We got to Vegas, cleaned the travel funk off ourselves, got some food, walked around our hotel a bit and then attempted to watch some of the prime time football game. Unfortunately, we barely stayed awake for halftime which meant we were wide awake by 6:00 am. Even the buffet in our hotel (Mirage, btw) wasn't open yet. This unfortunately started us on a bad cycle of getting to bed early and then getting up early. This was nice because we got to see Vegas in the cool and quiet morning and that was great. The streets weren't exploding with people, there weren't illegals trying to hand us cards for escorts, and the streets were actually pretty clean. We did miss out on the crazy Vegas nightlife though. Maybe next time. I'd tell you more, but, you know, what happens in Vegas... :0P On the Thursday of our Sunday to Sunday honeymoon trip, we hopped a flight over to LA and spent the rest of our honeymoon there. Our hotel was in a great location - just a hop, skip, and jump from the Chateau Marmont where Lindsay Lohan and all the other young starlets get their party on. We took a tour of the Warner Brothers Studio which was just awesome. We got to see a lot of locations they used to film Gilmore Girls, we got to hang out in the Central Perk, and so much more. I definitely recommend the WB Studio Tour. Other highlights of our tour included walking the Santa Monica pier and the 3rd Street Promenade, dipping our feet into the frigid Pacific Ocean, seeing the craziness that is Venice Beach, a drive up the PCH, saw the Walk of Fame and Grauman's Chinese Theatre, visited the Griffin Observatory, and had an AMAZING meal at The Palm in West Hollywood where we saw Adam Duritz of The Counting Crows and Emmy Rossum.

Just a few weeks after getting home from our honeymoon, we went on Joe's very first camping trip. Every year in Thurmont, MD there's a huge craft festival called ColorFest. The streets are basically closed down and everywhere you look is a tent with crafts, sports memorabilia, fair food, or someones own personal crap. Yes, everyone in the town uses this event to have a yard sale and get rid of some of their own junk. My parents had reserved 3 cabins at Cunningham Falls State Park. Joe isn't really into the whole camping idea so having a cabin with electricity to sleep in definitely worked better than a tent. We spent most of our time hanging out with my little brother Jonathan and his awesome girlfriend Jessica. We walked the town checking out the trinkets, took a drive down to Frederick to tour the Flying Dog Brewery, walked around the Catoctin Furnace, and hiked to Cunningham Falls. All in all, it was a good trip. The weather was good, the company was great, and it was nice to do something different.

In December 2009, we took a weekend trip to Orlando to visit our friend Casey. Casey was one of my bridesmaids and, at the time, she had an awesome job at one of the amusement parks down in Orlando. She now works for the other amusement park in Orlando. We had a great time (despite the fact that is POURED for our first day and a half there) and Disney at Christmas is just beautiful. Our least planned of our upcoming trips is back to Florida. We're be going to St. Augustine for my cousins Stacey's wedding (I'm a bridesmaid), down to Ormond Beach to visit Joe's grandparents, and then we'll head back to Orlando to see Casey again, visit Universal Studios (HARRY POTTER WORLD!!!!!), and maybe see Disney at Halloween which I've heard is also really cool.

In June of 2010, we took a trip to Williamsburg, VA. This was our second trip to Williamsburg together and we were pretty excited. We LOVE Busch Gardens. The park is impeccably clean and the rides are fantastic. We're roller coaster buffs and the coasters at BG are top notch. Other highlights of this trip included lots of outlet shopping, a day at Colonial Williamsburg, and a tour of the Williamsburg Winery. We got a number of great deals at the outlets (they had Coach AND Lucy!), Colonial Williamsburg was much more interesting than I remember it being, and the winery was awesome. Williamsburg Winery is now our new, fun local (ish) wine.

Our most recent trip was to Fenwick Island, DE where my Aunt & Uncle have a beach house. It was a very short trip (not even 48 hours) and it was also the hottest weekend of the year, but it was really nice to get away for a couple of days, catch up with family, and eat some crabs.

To continue our preview of upcoming trips, I'll tell you that we're planning to spend a weekend in Philly and a long weekend in Chicago. Joe's best friend Kevin and his wife Erin live there so we're going to visit. As our plans currently stand, highlights of the trip will include cheesesteaks at 9th and Passyunk and ice cream at The Franklin Fountain as well as time hanging out and catching up with our favorite Eagles fans. :0) Our trip to Chicago is for our 1 year wedding anniversary. We have tickets for a Cubs game and we're planning to eat at a Chicago dog, an Italian beef sandwich at Portillo's, and some deep dish pizza. Other than that, it's mostly up in the air. Stay tuned for trip recaps.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Master Bathroom

So #1 on our list for "The Year of the House" is our Master Bathroom. (1. Update Master Bathroom - new paint, flooring, fixtures, sink, vanity, mirror, medicine cabinet, lighting, vent colvers, toilet, and ceiling fan.) We actually did this back in February, but since our list started this blog off, we should probably post about everything related to that list.

When we bought the house, the master bathroom was just awful. Stick down linoleum tiles that didn't line up properly, green rag-painted walls, a sink that looks like it belongs in a gas station bathroom, green vents in both the ceiling and floor, really ugly towel racks, and clearance rack medicine cabinets and lighting.

The only thing in this bathroom that we really liked was the faucet. We actually kept that. The shower was also fine. We replaced the showerhead and showercurtain, but that was it. Here are some more pictures of what the bathroom used to look like:

We took care of most of the demolition and all of the painting ourselves to save some money and hired contractors that we've used before and whose bathroom work came highly recommended and over the course of 3 days, our bathroom became this:

We love our bathroom and we know we've added a good amount of value to our house simply by doing this somewhat minor renovation. There's much more to come over the course of the year and this blog though, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Year of the House

Welcome to "Houdini Lives Here"...

A little bit about us - we're Katie & Joe and we're newlyweds who live in suburban Maryland. Both of us have lived in Maryland our entire lives, we went to Catholic school for 1st-12th grades, we both went to college in the Baltimore area, and we both have jobs related to the federal government. A match made in heaven, right? We thought so which is why we got married September 19, 2009. A few months before getting married, we bought a house. And a few months after getting married, we adopted a cat named Houdini. He's pretty awesome so when we decided to start a blog, we knew he would be talked about a lot and so would our house so we decided on the name "Houdini Lives Here".

We closed on our house almost a year ago and it was pretty much move-in ready. Sure, there were things we wanted to change about it, but the only thing that was so offensive we had to change it before we moved in was the wallpaper in the master bedroom. You can see why below.

So, over the course of 2 weekends, we removed wallpaper, cleaned the walls, spackled, sanded, primed, and painted the bedroom. Many thanks to Jake, Liz, Justin, Bernadette, and Katie's parents and brother Jonathan who helped us out those 2 weekends. We should really take some pictures of what it looks like now. We'll do that and post a side by side compairison sometime soon.

So after we got settled in and got Houdini settled in, we decided to come up with a list of the things we want to do to our house and we decided that 2010 was going to be "The Year of the House" so that we could enjoy as many of the changes we wanted to make for as long as possible. A lot of what we'll blog about will probably revolve around this list so here it is:

1. Update Master Bathroom - new paint, flooring, fixtures, sink, vanity, mirror, medicine cabinet, lighting, vent colvers, toilet, and ceiling fan.

2. New windows and sliding door.

3. Update Office (3rd bedroom) - new paint and carpeting, organize closet, put artwork up on walls.

4. Finish Master Bedroom - new blinds and maybe some valances, put up pictures and/or artwork.

5. Finish off Main Floor - valances for kitchen & possibly porch door, put together DVD shelf for living room, find a side table for living room, put artwork/pictures up in living room, dining room, kitchen, powder room, replace TP holder in power room, get new towels, rugs, soap dispenser, etc. for powder room, replace brass light domes, fix living room couch.

6. New appliances - dishwasher, dryer, range hood, washer (?), back-up power source for sump pump.

7. Finish off Guest Bedroom - go through boxes in closet and get it organized (totally Katie's job since all of those boxes came from her apartment or her parents' house), put up curtains and put some things up on the walls.

8. Basement storage - organize crawl space & storage area, get some additional shelving.

9. Update basement - new carpeting, paint paneling, put stuff up on walls, get new blinds or curtains, big TV & stand, possibly surround sound, get CD on shelf, organize Katie's office/craft area, electric fireplace (?)

10. Outside - new pots for front porch, power wash concrete in front and back, get a lawnmower, fix up planter areas.

Yeah, we know, "The Year of the House" might end up taking more than 1 year. So we'll be posting blogs & pictures of what we've already done in between blogs about what we're doing, blogs about Houdini, and blogs about life in general. We hope you enjoy!