Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Week 9: When One Door Closes, Another One Opens

While many of you know we are undergoing a major kitchen renovation, it is important to note that the rest of the house still needs some work. One thorn in our side is the front door: Come to think of it, I don’t think any of our doors are all that great.

Take the old kitchen door:

This pic was taken during the demo phase of our renovation
Take a look at that gap at the top of the door. I just see money escaping through the door in the form of air conditioning and heating. The prior owners energy bills had to have been pretty high.

It is now been replaced with this:

Taken from the angle from the dining room entry way
Lovely and nicely weather-stripped, complete with energy efficient window.

Anyway, back to the front door.  Although it is a beautiful red on the outside (which we love because it really pops against the fa├žade of our house), it is down right crappy. It has huge gaps in the woodworks and you can literally see right through it.

See? I wasn’t kidding. And you thought the kitchen door was bad. No need for peepholes here…lol. But seriously though it looks like it’s haunted. It reminds me of the door from the Poltergeist and I’m the little girl saying, “They’re heeeeeere…”

Anyways, we asked our contractor if he could replace the front door along with the basement door. We figured since all his tools were on site it would be easier just to get it done while he was around. In an attempt to save money (and to possibly keep some historic charm) we headed to Habitat for Humanity ReStore and Community Forklift on a productive Saturday to see if they had some used front doors. Unfortunately, the ReStore near my parents’ place mostly contained leftover items from new construction, which wouldn’t fit the aesthetic of our house, so we headed to Community Forklift in Hyattsville.

Doors Galore
Where's Justin?
At Community Forklift we encountered the opposite problem. There were so many different kinds doors (e.g.: interior doors, doors with windows).  And they all came in a million different sizes too! It was hard to find one that would fit our doorframe. After sorting through rows and rows of doors we ended up not finding a door. At least our effort should be applauded because we had talked about visiting Community Forklift for the longest time.  It is a really cool place where you can find some really great stuff for older homes! Although, we did not find a door there, we did find something else for our house, which I will tell you about in another blog post.

Paint and storm door coming soon!

In the end, we ultimately chose doors from good ol’ Lowes and opted to get a storm doors as well.  Unlike our old door, a little insulation never hurt anyone.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Yes, I know I suck as a blogger...

I know it has been forever since I posted and as usual my typical excuse is that I'm too busy/lazy etc...I promise I'll finish my Sundance Festival series and catch you all up on the house progress...eventually...


In the meantime, you should visit my fabulous wedding planner's blog.  In case you didn't know, Justin and I got married last July and our wedding planner posted about our wedding on her blog. You can see that here.  Below are pics of me, Justin and our wedding planner, Charmae, about to chow down.  This is from the time she took us out for authentic SoCal Mexican food on our first wedding planning visit. Yum!

Seeing her post and pictures definitely picked me up on this cold and frosty day... It almost made me forget that we had 70 degree weather on Friday and then sleet/snow the following Monday. <sigh>

For those of you looking for wedding design, coordination or invites you can find more info about my wedding planner, Bellz and Whistlez, here and here

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Week 8: Let there be Light!

In a measly attempt to get you all caught up on what's been going on with the house, I'm going to be putting up a bunch of posts (hopefully in a somewhat rapid succession) on all things house! Yay! Honestly, on the blog I refer to various different renovations in terms of weeks (Week 1, Week 2, etc.), but I don't know if my timeline is very accurate anymore.  To keep it as chronologically accurate as I can, I have backdated them, so you can see the flow of the progress (e.g. I am writing about a change in the house now, but I am dating around the time it happened). Thanks Em for that helpful tip! Anyway, on to the pictures! 

This is Justin trying to get into the back of the house. As you can see, the outside of the addition is pretty much done--minus the trash, lack of rear porch light, etc....well, okay, it still needs some more work done, but I'd say it looks pretty good so far. The siding that our contractor used is supposed to be better than vinyl siding (although I don't remember what the name of it is). It still needs to be painted to match the rest of the house.

Here's a general shot of the inside of the house. As you can see, recessed lights have been put into the ceiling. Also, I don't know if you all remember, but there was a ceiling fan in the dining room and that has been removed as well. I thought it would be kinda weird having a ceiling fan turned on above you while you eat, anyway. We'll probably remove it and replace it with a chandelier. What kind? I have no clue, but I'll for sure let you know when the time comes.

Here's another view of the recessed lighting. It's pretty cool how a few extra lights can totally brighten up a space. The old fridge in the corner is still alive and kicking. I think it's the only thing left from our old kitchen. I was contemplating whether or not to keep it in the basement (like a traditional Filipino family with their extra fridge in their basement/garage). I think it could be useful (Can anyone say keg-o-rator?!), but then the thought of additional appliance adding to our energy bill does not sound very appealing...oh well, something else to think on to the next house post, right?!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sundance 2.0: Another Fun-filled Day

Our second day at Sundance started bright and early with our viewing of Another Happy Day at Library Theater.  This movie was about the main character, Lynn, and her (played by Ellen Barkin) family dysfunction/interactions during her son’s wedding.  This movie also starred Demi Moore and Kate Bosworth.  N. and I liked this movie a lot because it showed that no matter how perfect a family appears on the outside, we’re all a little f*cked up to a certain extent. 

Library Theater...which was actually in a library/school!

The Q&A afterward featured the emotional screenwriter/director Sam Levinson and Ellen Barkin who not only starred in the movie, but produced it as well.  For being only 25, Sam Levinson is a true genius in his craft.  The Sundance judges took notice of his talent as well because Another Happy Day won the award for the best U.S. Dramatic category. 

Ellen Barkin and Sam Levinson
Next up was Circumstance which was a movie about two Iranian teenage girls exploring their sexuality while growing up under the eye of the morality police.  I liked this movie as well, but there was a tall person (or at least one with a long torso!) in front of me which made viewing the movie and reading the subtitles a little difficult.  This movie won the Audience Award in the U.S. Dramatic category. 

Since we had a few hours until our next movie, N. and I decided to explore Park City.  We strolled through the shops, restaurants, and bars and even saw the iconic Egyptian Theater (where many of the smaller films, such as The Blair Witch Project, premiered). 

Beautiful Park City

Piles of snow abound...can you see the ski lifts behind us?

The Egyptian Theater...brought to you by Southwest Airlines, lol...

We decided to go back to our hotel room to chill for a bit, but we probably shouldn’t have because the shuttle service was running a little weird and we almost missed our next movie, Perfect Sense.  We literally were running into the theater as the movie already started (and again the running left me gasping for air! Gahh! Darn you altitude!).  Despite our rushed entrance, Perfect Sense was a great movie.  Ewan McGregor was great in it.  It was a nice romantic story mixed in with worldwide epidemics (you have to watch it to know what I mean).

After the movie, we got ready for the Awards Night Party.  It was nice to people watch, but we didn’t want to stay too long because we wanted to catch one more movie before the end of the night.

Quintessential crowd pic

The cool glowing stage that changed color throughout the night
N. and I with the lead actresses from Circumstance! We had
just seen their movie and I told them, "Congrats on your award!"

Lastly, we watched Meek’s Cutoff starring Michelle Williams.  This movie was about pioneers travelling the Oregon Trail.  I don’t know if it was the fact that the movie was a midnight showing or that the movie was pretty slow, but this was the first time we saw people get up and leave the theater during a Sundance showing.  The movie by far wasn’t my favorite, but it got N. and I talking about themes and director's vision.  That was our second day in a nutshell, making our trip to Sundance nearly over!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sundance 1.0: We're Here!

Our first official day at Sundance started about two in the afternoon.  We were bummed that that we had missed our first two scheduled screenings, but we vowed to make the best of it.  We went to the box office to pick up my credentials and our passes and I picked up so other freebies such as a hefty Sundance catalog, a magazine and a water bottle.  Needless to say my bag was pretty heavy, which left me catching my breath (or so I thought).  Then, it dawned on me that it was probably the altitude that was giving me my shortness of breath…ah ha!  And to think I was about to doubt my training!

At festival headquarters (aka: the Marriott)

The first movie we watched was Benavides Born which is about a girl powerlifter trying to get out of her Texas border town by any means necessary.  I thought it was pretty good and as our first Sundance film I learned that it was appropriate to clap at the end of the film during the credits (any other time I think it’s corny, lol) and after the credits there are usually Q&A sessions with the director, screenwriter, actors, etc. 

Since we had a time gap between our two scheduled films we decided we would attempt to get some tickets through the waitlist and the movie we chose was called Flypaper starring Patrick Dempsey, Ashley Judd, just to name a few.  It as directed by Rob Minkoff who also directed The Lion King and written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, the guys who wrote The Hangover.  How cool is that?

As the Sundance website suggests, getting tickets on the waitlist is a Festival tradition, a rite of passage of sorts.  Basically what you do is two hours before the scheduled screening you pick up a waitlist number.  They you come back about thirty minutes before the movie starts to see if you can get in.  Imagine that—getting numbers simply for the chance of getting into a movie!  But it wasn’t as bad as it sounds, we didn’t have to stay out in the cold for too long (they have heated waiting areas) and we got to know the people waiting around in line around which included film students, housewives, and people from L.A.

The Waitlist!
N. demonstrating things to do while waiting in line!

Anyway, when we got back to the waitlist line to see if we would get in one of the volunteers came out and said that they would be admitting numbers 1-20 in the waitlist.  Being numbers 21 and 22, N. and I were crushed! Fortunately, the guy in front of N. said that two people ahead of him didn’t show up so we were actually in! Yay! We hurried in and caught the introductory remarks by the director, writers, and McDreamy himself!

Patrick Dempsey (not sure if you could tell, but it's him!)

Unfortunately for us, the exhaustion from our travel and lack of sleep got the best of us as we nodded off a couple times during the movie. L I was able to get the gist of it, but I’d like to give the film another shot when I’m not as sleepy/tired.

Inside Eccles Theater (one of our most frequented movie theaters during Sundance)

We finished our day with the Swedish movie Happy, Happy about a lonely housewife who is envious of the “glamorous” neighbors who move in next door, but discovers that her neighbors’ life isn’t all that it is cracked up to be either.  N. and I thoroughly enjoyed it and it ended up winning the award for its category.  After such an exhausting day, we hit the sack…literally!  As soon as we got back to the hotel N. plopped on her bed and passed out. I couldn’t blame her we needed a ton of rest for another long day!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sundance 0.5: Are We There Yet?!

After Thundersnow 2011, I was worried that that my Sundance plans might be negatively impacted.  The good news was that N. and I made it to Sundance (which I promise to give you a full update on my experience in my posts to follow).  The bad news was that we got there on Friday afternoon, instead of Thursday night, which was originally planned.  That threw a wrench in our plans because we had planned on watching some movies Friday morning and of course we had already paid for our Thursday night hotel room non-refundable fee.  Oh, well.  Let me tell you what happened…

The day after the snowstorm, our flight was noted as “On Time”; however, upon our arrival at Dulles, we learned that that our flight was delayed.  To make matters worse, we had a connection in Detroit that was scheduled to leave on time.  We asked why our flight to Detroit was delayed and we were told that it was snowing in Detroit (where our plane was coming from).  Our plane to Detroit was a small commuter jet, causing it to have the last priority amongst planes in the de-icing queue.  That explains why our flight from Detroit to Salt Lake City was scheduled to leave on time (bigger plane).  Boo hiss!  Since there weren’t any flights leaving for Salt Lake from D.C. until 5:00pm the next day, we made the executive decision to fly to Detroit, whether we made our connection or not…and we didn’t. L

Again, there were lessons to be learned in this situation as well.

Layovers in Detroit should be avoided at all costs.  Did I tell you that I have been stranded in Detroit twice already? This trip made it three.  Something about me and that city don’t work out quite right and I always manage getting left behind. L

The chairs in the Detroit Airport are not comfortable to sleep on.  Yes, yes I know that airport chairs aren’t meant to be slept on in the first place; however, they should know that there would be some instances where passengers might have to sleep there for the night.

Me:  Fake "sleeping" demonstrating one of our many sleeping techniques

N: Real sleeping! Shhh! 

It always pays to have a backup plan.  Since we missed our connection, we were able to secure two tickets on the first flight out of Detroit the next day.  Since we were going to be missing some movies, we sought out movies where we could squeeze in the time we had available.  Luckily, these movies included a Sundance premiere! Basically, we made the best out of a hairy situation and in some ways the backup plan (besides the sleep deprivation) was better than the original plan. J

Friday, February 4, 2011

Week 7: Digital Love for our Virtual Kitchen

Yes, yes, I know again with the late posts. I still haven't posted on Sundance yet (I have a ton of pictures to go through!), but I promise I will soon. In the mean time, I thought I'd give you a brief update on our kitchen.

Last week Justin and I met up with our contractor at the IKEA in College Park, MD, to design our kitchen.  Apparently, they have software that you can upload to your home computer, so you can design your kitchen yourself.  The two of us are not good at that type of thing (I've attempted programs such as FloorPlanner with no success), so we decided to seek help from professionals.  When we got there, we were greeted by Abel, who assisted us with every step of the design process.  He told us that he was in the process of getting his master's degree from the University of Maryland in architecture, so I figured we’d be in pretty good hands.  Our contractor gave him the measurements and Abel entered in all the information.  After all the numbers were inputted, we got to the fun stuff. 

Abel had a very cool British accent which was reminiscent of my Garmin GPS

He put in the type of cabinets we wanted and all of our preferences (e.g. I wanted a large under counter sink).  With the three-dimensional images, we were able to get a good idea of how our kitchen would look like.  After seeing our 3D kitchen, we even added things we never thought about.  For example, I thought I only wanted a couple of the cabinets to have windows, but after I saw how good they looked, I decided to have all the upper cabinets have windows.  That just means that we need to have nice/colorful dishes to display.  J  Also, I was deadset on having an eat-in island in our kitchen; however, since our house is pretty narrow, having a kitchen island would be difficult.  We wouldn't have enough space to walk around it, and have the other features that we wanted.  Instead, it was Justin’s idea to set our kitchen up in an L-shape, which would give us some stools to allow the eat-in option, but yet still maximize our space.  After going through our preferences and specifications, Abel came up with this:

Pretty cool if I do say so myself!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

My Thundersnow Rant

Last week, the DC area got hit hard with one of the fastest snowstorms and it couldn’t have come at a worse time—rush hour.  My work let us off at 4:00pm, but unfortunately it was too late.  The streets were severely packed and I didn’t get home until…wait for it…11:00pm.  My commute home, which typically takes one-hour max, took seven hours.  It was the most miserable and scary drive home in my entire life.  Driving on my typical route looked almost post-apocalyptic, with down power lines, abandoned cars in the middle of streets buried in piles of snow.  I had never driven in such conditions and I hope I don’t have to ever again.  When I finally arrived home (to a house with no power) all the stress and I anxiety I carried with me throughout my drive, culminated into me turning in to a bawling mess, just letting my emotions go after surviving the ordeal.  Although stressful and traumatic, I did learn some things about myself and about what the snow can bring.

First of all, I didn’t think I could do it.  And honestly I still don’t know how I managed to drive home with my rear-wheel drive car (**Note: most BMWs aren’t the best in the snow). I didn’t think my snow driving skills were the best (or my overall driving skills for that matter).  There were many times I thought about pulling over amongst the abandoned cars and calling Justin to come and get me, but right when that thought would enter my mind, I would have someone behind me pushing me along…literally.  Which brings me to my next point…

They say crisis situations, such as fast and furious snowstorms, can bring out the best in people.  I feel that was totally the case during my seven-hour snowstorm commute.  At times when my wheels were spinning and I thought about giving up, there would be someone tapping on my window asking if I need a push.  And unfortunately for me that happened several times.  Just when you think people would be looking out for themselves, you find someone (or in my case several someones) there to lend a hand.

The aftermath (Notice that my car isn't in the driveway,
it was parked the next street over 'cause I couldn't even pull into my street!)
Lastly, as far as survival snow driving skills in my car are concerned I learned two things.  1) A little goes a long way and 2) Just keep going.  The first one refers to applying the gas on slick roads.  You want to place your foot gingerly on the gas so as to not get your rear wheels spinning and then getting stuck.  The second one refers to me taking a different way home that night.   The highway entrance I usually take to get home was blocked with snow so I had to figure out another way to get home.  After getting pushed out of a sticky situation (yet again) the guy that pushed me out told me I was going the correct way (despite having doubted myself), but that I had to keep a steady pace and keep going in order to reach my destination. More hesitation meant more stopping, which would lead to more chances of getting stuck, and I definitely didn’t want that to happen, especially on the highway.  So I followed his advice, kept going and I eventually made it home.