Thursday, April 21, 2011

Chocolate Tour in the City

Last summer I bought a Groupon for a Chicago Chocolate Tours. We scheduled it for December because that was the deadline. But then something came up. I don't remember what now. But then we were able to reschedule it before the deadline for sometime in the future. So we randomly picked April 16th! If it had been last weekend, it would have been the most beautiful day ever. Instead, it was rainy and CRAZY windy and just plain yucky. But we still had a blast! I would totally recommend it to someone as a fun, different thing to do on a weekend. I am not usually a HUGE sweets person, but the things we tried were really yummy.
A view of the "awesome" weather we had

Our first stop was Teuscher Chocolates of Switzerland. We tried A-MAZ-ING champagne truffles. They are made with real Dom Perignon and shipped from Switzerland every week. But they were quite expensive. We bought a few, but they were way beyond our normal sweet budget!

Our next stop was More Cupcakes. YUM! We all know cupcakes all still all the rage. And these were totally drool worthy. We tried a chocolate/chocolate cupcake and then Adam and I left with a sample pack of a few mini cupcakes because we couldn't decide which ones we would like! Also, as you can see, I wore my coat the whole time. Don't you hate when you wear cute clothes and then you can't tell because you are wearing your ugly waterproof coat? No?

Next we stopped at Hendrickx Belgian Bread Crafters. Oh. My. Goodness. The smell. The taste. The bread. The chocolate croissant we ate was yummy. But. The. Bread. Wow. It didn't have chocolate so it technically didn't belong on the tour, but they gave us a sample. Just Wow. Their bread is baked with 4 ingredients-salt, water, flour and yeast. No sugar. No preservatives. Just those 4 ingredients. Yum! We also tried a Li├Ęge waffle, which is more like a pastry than what we consider a Belgian waffle. Also super yummy! Oh yeah. And we also tried a dark chocolate Belgian cake. Super rich. This place just threw the samples at us!

After that we went to Sarah's Pastries & Candies. Adam loved the peanut butter crunch bar thing we had. I am not really a huge fan of crunch in my chocolate in the form of crisped rice. But I did like the "delight" which is pictures above. Nuts and chocolate. Yum! The amazing thing at this place? Sarah the owner is just 30!

Our last stop was at Argo Tea. We had warm red velvet tea and a dark chocolate cake. The tea was yummy. Adam said it wasn't really his cup of tea. Ha! But I enjoyed it. It didn't really taste much like tea. It was more like a hot chocolate.

Throughout the tour we also learned a lot about the history of chocolate and fun facts about chocolate. It was pretty interesting! Again, I would recommend this to anyone looking for something fun to do in the city. But definitely better using some sort of coupon, because I love a deal!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It Was Spring!

Last weekend, when the weather was amazing, I also did some fun outside stuff! Not only did I do my reading for school outside, LOVE the sun! I also was able to repot some of my inside plants outside and enjoy the sun. For my birthday last year, Kristin, got me a calla plant. It was so pretty, but then it died in the fall. I watered it all winter because I was sad it died. But then...suddenly 2 months started sprouting. It was so healthy and beautiful. But then all of the stems fell over. They wouldn't stand up. And SO many were growing. After consulting Amy, I realized I needed to repot it deeper and split it so they had more room to grow. I also staked them up to help them from breaking off from leaning over. The one in the green pot still doesn't look so hot. But the others look like they are getting stronger! I want them to be beautiful and healthy again! We also hung up the birdhouse we got from my dad's cousin Doris and family for our wedding. I hope some birds make their home in there! We had put up a bird feeder a couple days before, but the squirrels attacked it and bent it and took ALL of the seeds. So no more using that bird feeder. I need a new, squirrel proof bird feeder!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Updates on the House-The Yucky Cellar

Last weekend we spent Sunday down in the dark, musty, wet, spider-y, yucky cellar! We hadn't planned on working down there. We went down to clear out one area and just couldn't stand it anymore. The cellar is truly a cellar. Not a basement. A cellar. There is a plywood cellar door that is on the outside of the house and a rock foundation. That leaks. A lot. Both leak. The door and the foundation. Hence the wetness.
I forgot to take a picture right at the beginning. But this is part way through!

This is the "newer" part of the cellar. It was poured in the 40s when an addition was put on the house. It leaks too....but not as much because it is a poured concrete foundation.

I had the luxury of clearing off these awesome shelves that were filled with heavy rusty moldy cans of vegetables.

We carried up lots of cans and pieces of wood and threw them in our dumpster. We still have the dumpster because of taking down the garage.

We found a box of old legos that were Adam's when he was little. I cleaned them with bleach and water and laid them out to dry. Hopefully Chase will enjoy them when he comes to play!

There were a ton of these cans of....wax beans. Paint can sized cans of beans. Yum.

This was the cellar after we were done. In the back you can see the new part we didn't really get to. But the big area we really got cleaned out! It felt really good.

There was an old dryer down there that we also got rid of. Adam called some brothers over to help drag it up the cellar steps.

As they started to move it, he realized there was something inside. Clothes! They had been in there for years! The washer and dryer were down in the cellar until we bought the news ones and made a room upstairs. I CANNOT imagine having to go down there to do laundry. I wouldn't feel like it was clean!

After spending the time down there, we have been talking a lot this week about what to do about the cellar. We hadn't planned on doing anything soon, but after spending so much time down there, we realized that the water and yuckiness cannot be good for the rest of the house. I am sure that is one of the things that makes my allergies so terrible! We had a company come out this week to quote putting in drain tiles and putting a membrane over the walls to catch the water and pump it out. It would only be $8,200. I'll take two! I think the look on our faces when we saw the quote really bummed the guy out. We are having two more companies come out to quote it. Any one have any experience with drain tiles inside or outside your house??

Monday, April 11, 2011

Christmas Present is IN!

If you remember, for Christmas, Adam and I got my mom and dad an IOU. We didn't tell them what it was for because we wanted the impact of the surprise. FINALLY...the day I arrived back from NY, we got the call it was in. So we went right over to pick it up. After going to the Sprint store to yell and cry about my new Blackberry's screen breaking, of course. Then we went to Mom and Dad's to give it to them! All before I even stopped at home.

We got them a mini parent album (8x8) of our album! My mom's reaction was more than we ever could have hoped for when we squealed outloud! At that point, our album still hadn't even come in. But now it has! It came in last weekend and we LOVE LOVE LOVE it! I could look at it every day. But I am so worried about it getting damaged!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

House Update-The Back Room

The Back Room is mostly done! What is a "Back Room" you ask? It is a room in the back of the house! I don't know why it is called that. But it is. It is actually the room behind the kitchen. I would call it next to the kitchen. But it is the room farthest back from the front door. For months and months it was a catch all room because it is one of the two rooms without hardwood. So when everything needed to be cleared out to have the floors refinished, everything went in there. It kind of stayed as a catch all. It was also one of the rooms that had the ceiling redone because of raccoons. And part of the wall still needed to be repaired. And one wall still had palm trees on it! We just put a new door in about a month ago, because the old one actually didn't do anything in terms of keeping cold air out. You could practically stick your hand through next to it! The door is currently blue. But that will change!
This is the Back Room about 6 weeks ago!

This is the Back Room now!

Yes, it has a bike in it. And some construction stuff for the bathroom. But for the most part, it looks like a room! We still need to figure out what we are hanging on the walls in here and where. The choices are all sitting on the table, I just haven't made those decisions yet! We'll just have to see when Mom and Dad are free!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

House Update-I Need to Use the Bathroom!

If you come visit, I hope you don't have to use the bathroom, because currently two of the bathrooms are torn up! Ok. We DO have a working bathroom. But still it is kind of crazy to have two not working bathrooms! To be fair, the master bathroom has never worked. We built it when we built the closet in the Master Bedroom (which is still a construction zone). When I was in NYC last week, Adam worked really hard to get the tile laid in the Master Bathroom. He sent me pictures, but I was amazed when I got back. It looked really awesome! We bought the tile and vanity about a year ago, so we weren't sure how it would all come together!

Since we bought the tile about a year ago, we can't remember exactly how we wanted it to be laid out! And we've had a few new ideas since then. We have been spending quite a bit of time crawling on the floor laying it out in different patterns!

It will be really nice when our bedroom can actually be used as a bedroom soon!?!

Remember over a year ago when Amy and I decided to smash all the tile in the downstairs bathroom?

It ended up being a much bigger project than we imagined. All of the lath and plaster ended up needing to be torn down. That was quite the demo project. Also, the hallway outside the bathroom had carpet that we tore up. And peel and stick parquet under that. And plywood under that. And yellow linoleum under that. And a underlayment under that. And old old hardwood that has glue and paper on it under that. What would be awesome would be if we could refinish the hardwood and stain it to it matched the dining room and laundry room that connect to it. But that may not be able to happen since it is in TERRIBLE shape. The next option will be to tile the hallway and bathroom. I don't want to stand in the doorway and see three different floorings in such a small area, so tiling the whole area would be next best.

So those are our torn up bathrooms! Adam and his brother Andy are currently setting the vanity and countertop upstairs. then the walls and shower will start to be tiled! We are coming along!

Sunday, April 03, 2011

House Update-Who Are Those People?

A couple weeks ago, my parents came over to help us hang more picture frames and decorate the office. We tried to do it ourselves like grown ups, but just couldn't make any decisions about where things looked good without their input! We ran out of picture hanging hooks and so we didn't quite finish hanging everything. And now...finally....weeks later....we finished! The only problem? I don't actually have photos in the frames yet! I wanted to figure out where everything looks good and then figure out what pictures I want to put in them. If you came here, you would walk around the house asking, "Who ARE those people?"! A couple weeks ago we also went on a hunt for a bench for the foyer. Adam REALLY wanted a place to sit when he put on his shoes and because it is such a big open area, it really needed something. We hunted and hunted and finally found the best deal for what we liked at...Target! Big surprise, huh? I never go to Target. =) I am a Target gift card hoarder so I had enough cards to use to buy the bench too! We used all of the Target cards we got for the wedding and showers, but for some reason I hoard the ones I get as gifts myself. But I am getting better about spending them now!

The Foyer

The Office

One of the things we had always planned to get after the wedding was one of those photo canvases. We finally ordered it about a month ago and we are THRILLED with how it turned out. I even got a Groupon for it and it was an AWESOME deal. We have a little "Wedding Display" area in our office. The only problem? It is behind my desk so my back is to it most of the time. Bah! I just turn around a lot though. We also have framed flowers from our wedding that were preserved and a framed invitation that was a wedding gift. On the perpendicular wall is a shadow box I made and some picture frames for the bridal party.

The Upstairs Hallway

You will notice a picture frame on the floor. We are looking for a little table to fit in the corner there and the picture frame will go on the table. Also, it is a really big area and needs something to fill up the space. I have been hunting for something that fits the space and our budget. No luck yet.

The Upstairs Hallway Bathroom and the Extra Bedroom I wanted to show you this that is in our hallway bathroom (the only working bathroom now). It was in the bathroom at my parents house growing up and I think it is so cute! We also have a lot of favorite pictures up in the extra bedroom (also known as the Amy V room).

The Stairway Going Up

As part of our photography package, we ordered a 16x20 wedding party photo so you could actually see the many people in our wedding party. It didn't fit anywhere in the office, but we really struggled because we love it and wanted it to be visible downstairs. We decided in the little landing going upstairs was perfect!

So those are the updated decorations around the house. Every time we hang something like that I get really excited. I love seeing the house become more and more like a home every time something gets accomplished. It is an easy way to put a smile on my face!