18 September 2011

25 August 2011

Books! DVDs! Shelving!

Well, we did a lot more making and a lot less shifting than I originally anticipating, but we have new shelves! Five 8 ft shelves for our books and three 5 ft shelves for our DVDs. Hoorah!

Our bookshelves are so huge we have room for borrowed books (the only books David allows to be stacked),
cute decorations,

and ALL of our Harry Potter and Tolkien books!!
The study (formerly known as Brant's room) is now so clean and organized I just want to hang out in there all the time!

The DVDs are no longer scattered all over the floor and that also makes me extremely happy!

Alright, enough pictures for now! I'm going to go read a book!

11 August 2011

Creativity At Its Best

First and foremost. Sorry for not wrapping up the UK trip, I'll try to do that in the next week. For pictures, please see the link at the bottom of the page.

Now, I'm feeling creative (sort of) and we are in desperate need of a bookshelf (and a DVD shelf for that matter). Our guest room/music room/study is a disaster and currently has someone living in it (sorry Brant). But Brant moves out on Saturday and we have got to get this room back in order. There is a vomiting closet, piles of books everywhere (not to mention two already full bookshelves), a drum kit, a desk, a filing cabinet, one last box of decorations, and a lonely (rather homeless) game table.

My idea is to purchase some wood at Home Depot that is somewhere between six and eight feet long. This wood would span the whole length of the designated bookshelf wall and would eliminate using two or three bookshelves like we've been doing. This would also mean we could put shelving all the way to the ceiling (meaning SEVEN rows of books almost EIGHT feet long. Think of all the books!!). I would like to spray paint the wood (probably black, but oh, the possibilities!).

The dilemma is that I have no clue what to use to prop up the shelves (for lack of a better word). I would like this mystery item (or items) to be about twelve inches tall (but they definitely must be the same). I would probably need three items per shelf, and if I have seven shelves this means potentially twenty-one items. (Dang, I'm already overwhelmed. Maybe I should scrap the idea. No! I want this to happen! Alright, crisis over.)

Here are some of my thoughts aout this item. I want to use something cute/creative but I need something sturdy enough to hold up eight feet of books! I don't need it to be the same thing, so the possibilities are endless. I would prefer to use something that I don't have to cut, because I don't trust myself to cut everything even/straight and I definitely want my bookshelf to be level!

I'm very excited about this but I need ideas! Please, please give me all the suggestions you can think of, I'm open!!


23 July 2011

Scotland and Ireland (so far)

Scotland was beautiful. We woke up Tuesday morning (the 19th) at 3:00am in order to catch a ferry to the Isle of Islay (pronounced eye-luh). Once on Islay we drove the length of the island (a good 45 minutes) to the Laphroaig distillery. David was pretty much about to pee his pants he was so excited. We toured the distillery, which actually wasn't running. Apparently they take a month off every year to clean and reorganize but this enabled us to see things and go in places we would not have been able to had they been running. One amazing thing (apparently) is that we were able to go in the storehouse. We saw all of the barrels of aging whiskey, and even HRH The Prince of Wales' (Charles') barrel of Laphroaig. Interestingly enough (to us and maybe Steven and Justin but probably no one else) it was Charles who started the friend of Laphroaig (FOL) program. We also pulled on some bogs and wandered out to David's plot of land that acquired through the FOL program. Check out the smile on this kid's face.


After we left Islay we drove a good three and a half hours north to Loch Ness and the city of Inverness. Sadly (and much to David's dismay) we did not see Nessie. The loch is extremely long and quite and interesting and curvy drive. Sometimes you are 80 feet above the water and sometimes the water is almost level with the road.

We spent one night in Inverness and then drove back down Scotland to St. Andrews. The town is much more touristy than we expected (though in hindsight we should have expected it). There are cathedral and castle ruins as well as the famous "Old Course" golf course.

From St. Andrews we drove to Stirling to see the Wallace Monument. It's tall. We walked to the top of the mountain (hill) that the monument is on but did not pay the euros to climb the tower (and see his sword... we almost paid just to see his sword).

After Stirling we drove to Edinburgh where we ate at the Elephant House where J.K. Rowling wrote the first few Harry Potter books!! The bathrooms were graffitied with numerous notes to Rowling, quotes from the books, and professions of love for the characters and actors. Besides totally geeking out all throughout dinner, Edinburgh was a delightfully beautifully city. 

We rose early again to catch our plane to Ireland. We landed in Dublin and promptly found our way to the Guinness factory for David's second favorite part of the trip. We spent a whopping four hours wandering the Guinness Storehouse, learning to pour our own Guinness, and drinking Guinness. 

We left Guinness to meet up with my family members (one aunt, a cousin/aunt, and a cousin) who were in Ballyvaughan, County Clare. We had a slow, easy night with them and ate at a local pub. The next morning we woke up and drove to the Cliffs of Moher. Talk about tall. And steep. And deadly. We saw many a foolish tourist wandering close to the edge, sitting with their legs dangling off, and laying on their stomaches to look over. At 702 feet tall, I don't need to be even close to the edge. They were quite stunning, however.

Our next stop was to be County Kerry but we stopped in Ennis for lunch in honor of the Kevorkians. It was quite a nice town and happened to be where we made our official keepsake purchase. A new paperback set of Harry Potter illustrated by a famous Scottish artist! (If you would like to see pictures of the artwork, all you need to do is ask. We have, of course, taken pictures of the fronts and backs of the books! And if you're thinking to yourself, "Don't they already have a hardback set and a paperback set of these crazy books?" don't be ridiculous.)

Next we drove to Killarney, County Kerry where we are currently. We had a slow day yesterday after we arrived and woke this morning ready to see more of Ireland. We drove about four hours around the Ring of Kerry (impressive in some places, boring in others) this morning. We stopped at an old fort along the way and encountered our first group of sheep in the middle of the road. Once we circled back into Killarney we did some shopping, ate dinner, and are now about to fall into bed.

We have three more days in Ireland (one more day in Kerry, one day in Cork/Waterford, and one more day in Dublin) and one more day in London left before we come home (and get to see our darling puppy we miss ever so much).

18 July 2011

The UK So Far

Well, our internet options have been spotty at best, so I haven't been able to blog like I wanted. However, I have been writing down where we go and what we see every day so I won't forget! (I know, Ginna, we made fun of you when you did it in Paris, but it's a good idea.)

We actually had a decent amount of trouble getting to London. Really it was Newark that was the problem. They had a "ground stop" going because of weather for a good solid two hours and made us miss our first flight to London (9:10pm) and almost miss the new one they booked us on (10:10pm) which was the last one out for the day. However, we made it on the plane (after sprinting) through Newark and to London on Thursday around 10am (London time).

We napped the first day and then had a leisurely evening strolling around London. We saw the likes of Fleet Street, Drury Lane, Cecil Street, Covent Garden, the Southbank, the London Eye, Parliament and Big Ben, and Trafalgar Square. Throughout the night we saw plenty of crazy Harry Potter fans dressed up running about the town like the end of the world was near.

Friday we woke up bright and early (4:00am) to catch the train from King's Cross to Paris for the day. We walked the wrong way on La Fayette Street for about two hours before we gave in and bought metro passes for the day. Our first stop was Notre Dame. It's still as beautiful as it was in 2004, don't worry. We also had some delightful glace (ice cream)! David had mandarin and I had raspberry. It was possibly the most delicious thing we've had the whole trip! Next we walked by the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, down the Champs Elysees, and down to the Eiffel Tower. We took a much needed nap on the grass beneath the Eiffel Tower and then headed back to the train station and back to London!

Back in London we got an authentic Italian calzone and ate in in line for HP7.2! We were in line with some crazy Aussies who, once they found out we were on our "honeymoon" asked us ten bazillion questions about the wedding, looked through all the pictures I had on my phone, and told us we were definitely going in front of them in line to pick our seats for the movie (their wedding gift to us) all while drinking beer (in line, at the theater...). The movie was, well, disappointing to say the least. But that's a whole different blogpost.

Saturday we took a cab to the airport to get our hired car! I drove it off the lot and we have had zero problems getting used to driving on the wrong side of the car and the wrong side of the road. It's actually kind of awesome.

We drove to Oxford first. We stopped at Hedington Library to check the maps to see where all of the colleges were in reference to us. We then drove to the middle of town and walked from there to the Eagle and the Child. Sadly, the pub has been bought by a chain and only has one small corner dedicated to Tolkien and Lewis. It was not the authentic pub we were expecting. We also walked by Christ Church and thought about going to one of the literature colleges but chickened out. Oxford is full of tourists, which we didn't expect either. There was an entire shopping center, streets lined with popular stores. There was barely a scholarly feel to the place at all. Shocking. We wondered how many of the people touring and shopping even had an idea of the brilliance that has graduated from and taught at Oxford University.

From Oxford we drove down to the coast to the city of Portsmouth. Really for no other reason than to see the south coast. There was a crazy sky scraper that we never figured out the name of, and a leisure center on a lake (in the middle of a Relay for Life, actually) where we sat and looked out over the water for a while.

Next we drove to Stonehenge. I'll just say now that the driving in England is absolutely beautiful. I have the same feeling when I drive through Pennsylvania and Maryland. Everywhere you look you are struck by the beauty of the countryside. I love it. Stonehenge was exactly what we expected: a bunch of giant stones piled on top of each other in a circle. The crazy part, is that there is a fence around the area and you have to pay 7.25 to go inside the fence. However, once inside the fence you can only get about 5 feet closer to the stones, which is still a good 30 feet away from them... We stayed outside both fences...

We spent Saturday night in Cardiff. Wales is crazy. Welsh is crazy. There are lots of "w"s and they seem to all make a different vowel sound. We wandered around for a while and ate at a local pub, then passed out for the night. The next morning we walked through Bute Park where we saw TONS of super cute puppies and had breakfast baguettes and hot chocolate. YUM!

(It's now Sunday if you're having a hard time keeping up.) After leaving Wales we took two detours. One to "The Big Pit" which was actually a cole mine (we were hoping for a big pit). The next was to Tewkesbury Abby (for Brant). The Abby was beautiful and so were all the trees around it.

Next we stopped at Stratford-Upon-Avon. We wondered up to the town statue which was dedicated by someone who's name I don't remember to honor Shakespeare. We thought it would have been funny if they'd sculpted "Shakespeare" not even knowing if he was a real person. We did some shopping at the Royal Shakespeare Company and then headed on our way.

We got to Liverpool that evening and promptly got lost. Liverpool was a little dirtier than we expected but after accidentally going through a tunnel to the other side of the water and bac we finally found where we were staying. Apparently in Liverpool, the only food available after 9:00pm is in Chinatown. We got "take away" Chinese and retreated to our room to the first constant WiFi we'd had all trip (also we watched the USA choke).

When we woke up this morning we walked around Liverpool One (a shopping area) and the Albert Dock (I think it had something or other to do with the Beatles) then we were on our way to Hadrian's Wall. There isn't much wall left... We saw an area where there use to be towers and a very zigzaggy part of the wall left. We also saw a priory from the 1100's.

We drove from Hadrian's wall into Scotland (!!!) where we are currently. We arrived in Glasgow, took a short nap, and have been walking around town this afternoon. We saw the botanical gardens and ate a cute pub that was very bookish/artsy. Shortly we will be headed to bed because we have to wak up at 3:00am to drive to Kennacraig to catch our ferry to the Isle of Islay so that we can tour Laphroaig! Goodnight!

13 July 2011

TOMORROW!

I can't believe we leave tomorrow!


Almost everything is packed (save toothbrushes and laptops) and we've double (and sometimes triple) checked everything. We may or may not be subconsciously staying up as late as we can so we will sleep late tomorrow so we don't have to wait around all day for our flight (it leaves at 5:00pm).


I think Ransom is depressed. He's moped around all day and is currently sleeping under the covers in our bed without us. I guess he can tell something is about to change. Hopefully he and Brant will have a great two weeks!


Tomorrow we have to finish packing, zip up the bags, eat lunch with my parents, and be at the airport around 3:30. I really can't believe it's almost here. I can only imagine the trip will be even better than I expect. For now, I'm going to attempt to get my husband to go to bed (I think he's a little nervous/excited, so he doesn't want to sleep at all) and spend some QT with my pup.


TOMORROW!

11 July 2011

Counting Down

Only 2 days left! (Technically just 43 hours!) Needless to say David and I are pretty excited. We both have busy days ahead of us at work tomorrow. You'd think being busy would be better because we spend less time waiting around to leave, but I think we're both waiting until we get off work tomorrow to get really really excited. I can hardly imagine that Thursday morning I will be in London!


Both of our suitcases are packed (alright, I won't lie, I packed last Wednesday...) and our toiletries, electronics, books, etc are sitting in piles waiting to be packed. I have made hundreds of lists (what to pack, to-do lists before we go, last minute checklists, Wednesday to-do list, etc) and more and more things are getting crossed off (It's so close!!).


Some goals while we're there:
Send postcards to grandparents and parents
Stand on platform 9 and 3/4
Eat at the Eagle and the Child
Drink beer at every meal 
Stop in the middle of the road to take a picture
Blog every day


More to come tomorrow night as the packing is completed and the excitement builds. I wouldn't be surprised if tomorrow's post is in all caps.