Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Christmas in October: our Outer Banks Trip

Dave had last week off of school for Fall Break. Since we found super cheap air fair to North Carolina, we decided to celebrate Christmas early and splurge on a trip. Dave called it his last trip of freedom (ie, the last big trip we'll take before we start having kids). We've been anticipating this trip since we found the tickets a few months ago, and were so excited to get to relax and enjoy a new region of the country together.

A minimum of a few hours every day in the ocean! Monday we drove down to Ocracoke Island, and camped on the beach for two nights. We swam, boogie boarded, surfed (not very well on my part), collected sea shells, had a bonfire on the beach... it was just all around great! Wednesday we woke up early to watch the sun rise yet again over the ocean, packed up and headed north. We slowly wound our way back up the coast stopping wherever we were inspired to stop.

We stopped at four light houses on our way back to Kathryn's Currituck, Bodie Island, Cape Hatteras, and Ocracoke. All were impressive, and I'm glad we got to see them. Cape Hatteras was moved in 1999, so it was weird for me to see it not on the beach but further inland. but I'm glad they moved it instead of loosing it to the ocean.

Shipwreck was on the list of must do's. Although it was WAY more ghetto than I remember it being as a kid, they sold some really cool shells super cheap. They still sold all the same trinkets that I bought as a kid (from the shell jewelry boxes, to the unicorns Heather would always purchase, to the weapons Mike always wanted). It was fun to relive that part of my childhood, and I'm pretty sure we will be decorating our bathroom in ocean theme now. The $10 I spent on shells will look great on our neutral tan bathroom walls.

We also got to go to Busch Gardens (no lines + nice weather = better than I expected) and on the only rainy day of our trip the VA aquarium. Both were a little pricy for my taste, but you only go on a real vacation once a year, so it was worth it.

We also stopped by Jockey's Ridge and the Wright Brother's National Monument, which was tons of fun to check out.

One of the highlights of the trip was getting to know Kathryn, Emil and the family. We would return to their house between 5 and 7 each night, eat dinner and either play games, watch a show, or just chat with the family. Because I've lived out west for the past 10 years, I haven't really had the opportunity to get to know this side of the family as well, and I was really glad for the opportunity to become friends with them.

The dangerous part of the trip... Kathryn is a great baker. She made doughnuts, bread, cakes, brownies and cookies for us! I now have this insane desire to bake everything under the sun, and buy absolutely everything from a website she introduced me to, Since I got home I've made sun-dried tomato bread, english muffins, have a recipe for apple pie filling to try out and I just want to make some cookies so bad!

It was a great trip! Great Christmas Present! Fabulous way to spend Dave's fall break.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Basement has Officially Paid for itself!

We've officially come to the point where renting the basement has paid for all the renovations we've had to do to make the basement a usable apartment! We thought we would reach this point a lot sooner, but the kitchen ended up costing us twice as much as we planned for (oh the naive calculations of someone that has never before paid for construction). Then we added on a bedroom with a closet and a storage closet which pushed back the break-even day a few more months out.

I'm so glad it's all done! The place looks so much more attractive and updated than it did when we moved in. No more wood panel walls! No more pink wheat-like textured wallpaper! No more super long living room! No more laundry room with ghetto tile left over from the 60's! No more dimmer switch that causes a quick death for energy efficient bulbs! No more not working golden intercom from the library upstairs to the living room downstairs (although due to Dave's fascination with it, we still have it)! No more peach ceilings!!!

We really didn't mind most of it, but it's nice to have everything more up to date. Our upstairs area was updated and completely renovated by the previous owner a year or so prior to our moving in. So it's like we now have a brand new house. We probably wouldn't have made these changes for another 10+ years if we didn't find family to rent to, so that was a blessing!