Dec 10

Dat House

Hello, hello! I’ve been missing from the blog-o-sphere lately. Here’s the story of why:

Once upon a time, we bought a house.

We bought the house because it fit our needs. The house is in a safe neighborhood, near my work, had a large space for Husband Saign to work, a backyard for Ada the Dog to play, and enough space for our hobbies and potential future children.

The house also has some…shortcomings. It was last updated in the 1990s, so there are a lot of cosmetic problems. The cosmetic problems didn’t really bother us, because, they are just cosmetic…things that two crafty and creative people such as ourselves could update.

We forgot that these two crafty and creative people both have jobs and hobbies, so finding time to fix up those cosmetic issues hasn’t been easy.

Lately, we’ve become determined to at least finish the living room, which has been in shambles for several months now.

Husband Saign installed oak floors in 2 rooms, and finished the hardwoods throughout our home! They’re so beautiful! (And that was a BEASTLY project!) He also has been adding new beautiful trim. He replaced our beat-up slate fireplace hearth with a beautiful marble hearth.

I’ve been painting, painting, painting, because it appears to be the only thing that I know how to do. (And I can’t even cut the paint in, so I leave that job to Husband Saign!)

Rollin, rollin, rollin!

Rollin, rollin, rollin!

Husband Saign installed, then sanded, then finished these gorgeous floors!

Husband Saign installed, then sanded, then finished these gorgeous floors!

Here's the trim that Husband Saign has been adding (and the current state of our living room).

Here’s the trim that Husband Saign has been adding (and the current state of our living room).

Marble hearth. We've still got big plans of how to finish the fireplace...still to come!

Marble hearth. We’ve still got big plans of how to finish the fireplace…still to come!

All this working has left me asking one question: Was it worth it???

I’m still not sure. When we bought the house, we thought it would be fun to make it our own. Now we realize that it’s rather time-consuming and expensive to make it our own. We also find it difficult to have guests over when our home is undone, which is frustrating. However, it’s very rewarding to be able to say, “I made that!” when a project is finished! It’s also fun that our house will also be exactly what we want, since we’re making it our own!

What do you say? Are home improvement projects fun or torturous?

Nov 18

How to Save Money on Food While Traveling

When I think about various places I’ve visited around the world, most places make me think of food.

From are-qweye (spelled totally wrong, obvs) in China, crepes in France, and fresh pitas in Israel, I associate so many memories with the fantastic tastes of each place.

Food is a very enjoyable part of travel. Now, of course, we all know I’m cheap frugal. So how do I travel frugally and still get to enjoy fantastic local foods? Well, here’s how:

  1. Pack snacks for flights. Airport food is greasy at worst and tolerable at best, so it’s not a place that I’d recommend you focus a lot of your food budget. Instead, I recommend packing fruits, nuts, sandwiches, granola bars, etc, so that you don’t have to spend money on your flight or at the airport, and can instead focus your hard-earned cash on the fantastic food at your destination.
  2. Fill up if there are meals included in your travel package. Breakfasts are often included as part of a hotel stay. At home, my breakfasts are usually pretty small and consist of a bowl of cereal or maybe some toast. While traveling, if breakfast is complimentary, I FILL up. The goal is to be full enough when I leave that I’m not hungry until noon or later. In Ireland, this meant eating the “full Irish breakfast” which includes toast, eggs, bacon, blood sausage, potatoes, etc. In other locations, it means refilling my continental breakfast plate 2-3 times.

    Yes, I ate all this...and then ran a race.

    Yes, I ate all this…and then ran a race.

  3. Eat local. Usually regional foods are the more thrifty option. Eating local foods is also a fun part of travel. By avoiding familiar foods from home, you make your travel experience more authentic, and you save money!
  4. Picnic Lunch. I LOVE picnicking while I travel, and Saign and I try to make it a priority to picnic rather than stopping at restaurants for our midday meal. Not only is picnicking a frugal option (on our most recent trip to Europe, we stuffed ourselves at lunch every day for around $5 total for both of us), but it also gives us an opportunity to stop in local parks and observe the scenery or action of the place that we are visiting. It’s definitely a win-win!

    This amazing meal cost a few Euro

    This amazing meal cost a few Euro

  5. Try the Grab n’ Go options! Most regions have some sort of grab-n-go food that they’re known for. In Italy, it’s pizza. In Israel, it’s falafels. In Germany, it’s pretzels. In Belgium it’s waffles or fries. These items are usually relatively affordable, but still full of local flavors!

    I don't even particularly like pizza, but this grab-n-go pizza-by-the-slice that I got outside of Vatican City was FANTASTIC!

    I don’t even particularly like pizza, but this grab-n-go pizza-by-the-slice that I got outside of Vatican City was FANTASTIC!

  6. Street Foods. I know that plenty of people are afraid they’ll get sick off street food. And maybe you will. However, I don’t hesitate to follow the locals up to the carts of food, and eat away at reasonable prices. The truth? The more confused you are about what you’re eating, the better it tastes!

    I ate street food every morning for breakfast in China. That's a sweet a delicious sauce that I dripped on my bed!

    I ate street food every morning for breakfast in China. That’s a sweet a delicious sauce that I dripped on my bed!

  7. If you have access to a kitchen, use it! If you can cook where you’re staying, do it! Cooking for yourself doesn’t mean foregoing delicious local cuisine. You can pick up local foods at the supermarket and make them yourself back at your hotel! On our most recent trip to Germany, Husband Saign and I had a kitchenette one night, so we made ourselves a local dish called spaetzl and also made some gnocchi, which is not really a German food, but is way more delicious in Germany than it is in the States! We had fun cooking the meal together, had a fantastic meal, and were able to save a few Euro by cooking ourselves.
    Making a fabulous meal in our hotel room in Germany

    Making a fabulous meal in our hotel room in Germany

    You can't get store-bought gnocci that's this delicious in the States, and I've never see spaetzl in the States. Delish!

    You can’t get store-bought gnocci that’s this delicious in the States, and I’ve never see spaetzl in the States. Delish!

  8. Check the Menu before Deciding where to Eat. If you decide to go for a sit-down restaurant, check the prices before you sit down. If you don’t, you might be in for a nasty surprise!

What do you think

? How do you save money on food while traveling?

 

Nov 11

My First Travel “Hack”

Do you know what travel hacking is? Well, I discovered that I didn’t know what it was when I read this article about travel hacking. I’ve traditionally thought of travel hacking as signing up for travel rewards credit cards with the explicit intent to take advantage of the introductory bonus miles. The article I linked suggests something entirely different. So, I’m not exactly sure what one should call what I did, but I did it, and I’m getting free travel as a result. Here’s how things are looking for me:

  1. I booked my flight to South Africa using frequent flier miles that I earned through United Mileage Plus. I earned these miles both with travel and with a rewards credit card that I’ve had for over 10 years. This flight cost me $28
  2. I signed up for the Barclay Rewards Credit Card, and paid for about half of my safari cost using it. Guys, this is an incredible card. In less than a year, I earned $700 in rewards. Good stuff.
  3. After I received my rewards from Barclay, I called to cancel the card. Like I said, it’s an incredible card, but I didn’t want to pay the $65 annual fee, and the company wasn’t willing to drop the annual fee. (And let’s be honest: I don’t blame them).
  4. I signed up for the Chase Sapphire Card which got me 40,000 bonus miles after I spent $3000 in the first 3 months. It works out well for me, since a one way trip home from Africa is 40,000 miles. I booked my trip home using these bonus miles. This flight was more expensive than the first, and cost me $101.

And that, my friends, is how my first travel hack has progressed so far. I’d estimate that I saved around $1700 total by hacking my way through. Since there’s nothing I’d rather spend money on then travel, this worked out quite well!

Have you ever travel hacked? Do you want to try?

Nov 02

Snohomish River Run 2014 Race Recap

Hey guys! A week ago, I ran the fabulous Snohomish River Run Half Marathon. Here’s how it all went down:

I was nervous about my preparedness for this race. I hadn’t been running as regularly as I should, and more importantly, I hadn’t been cross-training. All-in-all, I felt out of shape and in no way ready to do well. However, there were a few things that made me feel like maybe I’d do okay: 1) I ran a marathon 7 weeks prior. (Though, that’s kind of a long time, so I was worried that my endurance was gone). 2) The weather would be perfect…not too hot and not too cold. 3) The course was relatively flat.

I decided to try for a sub-2, but I suspected that I might not be able to pull it off.

The race started off with a pre-race meeting, which was a bit funny for a running race. It turned out that they had the meeting because the first one mile of the race took place in the start area with a turn-around at the .5 mile point, so to avoid chaos, they wanted us to very carefully get into our pace groups.

I went and stood with the 2 hour pacer. I usually don’t like running anywhere near pace groups, because things tend to get so crowded that I feel like I can’t stride naturally without running into people. However, in theory a pace group would be a great tool, and I’ve always wanted to run with one for the comradery and entertainment. I thought about it, and since this was a small race, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to go with a pace group. I decided to run with my pace group.

The gun went off, and given the funny start with the .5 mile turn around and tight quarters, it was one of the most crowded starts I’ve ever experienced. Soon enough, I was slightly ahead of my pacer, because this was where the crowd led me to be. I was running comfy, and my Garmin was telling me I was just a few seconds ahead of my pace goal, so I decided to let myself stay ahead of the pacer, even once the crowd spread out. I reasoned that since I started behind the pacer, if he caught up with me, I’d know that I had to speed up to get my sub-2. The pace group could still be a great tool for me!

At first, I had fun. I was running and comfortable. The scenery was nice. At about mile 4, I found two girls who were having a rather interesting conversation and running around my pace, so I stayed near them. Having their conversation to entertain me was really, really helpful. Though perhaps it was rude of me to eavesdrop??? Their pace was somewhat inconsistent, so at times I’d let them get ahead of me, but then I’d catch up since I was running more steady. In the end, I stuck near them for the majority of the race. Thanks interesting ladies, I enjoyed your chatter!

While I doubted myself at the beginning of the race, I felt good as I ran the first few miles. However, I’ve run enough races to know that it’s easy to feel good for the first few miles. Usually if I’m going to fall apart during a race, it will be around mile 5. Well, mile 5 and mile 6 came and went, and I was keeping up a good pace. Soon enough, I was at the turn-around. And then I realized…what had seemed to be flat during the first half had actually been a slight downhill, and now I was faced with a slight uphill. Dang it! Oh well, I could stick with it! My hip started hurting, but nothing that I couldn’t push through. Miles 9-13 were all kind of uncomfortable, but I just kept telling myself to keep up the pace. Finally I got to the last half mile. I thought that I should be able to pick up the pace, but in reality, I don’t think that I really did. I rounded the corner and saw the finish! Yay! There were Dawn and Andrea! Yay! WHY WAS THE FINISH SO FAR AWAY??? (It was definitely only one block away when I saw Dawn and Andrea, but it felt like a full mile!) I tried to speed up in the chute, but I started gagging like I was going to vomit. How embarrassing. I didn’t speed up much after I started gagging, but I still made it to the finish. Done! Sub-2!

I wore my new Nuun jersey!

I wore my new Nuun jersey!

When I check my time on the computers at the finish, I was super excited to see a 1:56:57! Yay! While not a PR, it was a post-injury PR, so I was really pleased! I later checked the results at home, and found that my time had been corrected to 1:57:00. DANG IT! Yes, I realize that’s only a 3 second difference. Yes, I realize that it’s still a post-injury PR. But let’s be honest here: 1:56:57 looks so much better than 1:57:00. :(

Overall, despite my 3 second change in finishing time, I’m proud of how I did. It was a great race, and so many things came together (a relatively flat course, cool weather, chatty interesting strangers, etc.) that helped me to do well.

Thanks Snohomish River Run for the free race entry! I had a blast!

Tell the truth: Would 3 seconds that pushed you up to another whole minute category irritate you??? (Also, I realize that I defined that it a bizarre-o way. I don’t know how to talk math all that well!)

Oct 22

EuroBikeTrip 2014 Day 5: The Prettiest Day. Germany

I believe that this may have been our prettiest day of riding. We rode from Friedrichshafen to Lindau. We could see the Swiss Alps for much of the ride, and rode past vineyards, orchards, and of course Lake Constance. The weather was lovely.

Friedrichshafen has a tower that you can climb for views of the town, the lake, and the alps on the other side.

Friedrichshafen has a tower that you can climb for views of the town, the lake, and the alps on the other side.

I love when Europeans put love locks on things!

I love when Europeans put love locks on things!

IMG_0503

View of the alps through the love locks.

View of the alps through the love locks.

 

View of the town through the love locks.

View of the town through the love locks.

IMG_0534 IMG_0622

I wanted to desperately to get a good bike-riding selfie. It never happened.

I wanted to desperately to get a good bike-riding selfie. It never happened.

IMG_0557

We stopped at a rural park along the lake shore for lunch, which was very nice.

Lunch time view

Lunch time view

My love on the bench where we at lunch.

My love on the bench where we at lunch.

We made it to Lindau before noon. We were surprised that our hotel allowed us to check-in right away!

Lindau

Lindau

Lindau is a small island in Germany, just a few kilometers from Austria.

Cute Lindau

Cute Lindau

Lindau

Lindau

I was so in love with this cool vine-tree-thing!

I was so in love with this cool vine-tree-thing!

I was worried that we would get bored with such a tiny island to explore, but it was lovely! We shopped at a farmer’s market that was set up just outside our hotel.

Seriously. I can't even imagine being as cute as this little lady heading to the farmer's market!

Seriously. I can’t even imagine being as cute as this little lady heading to the farmer’s market!

We climbed to the top of the lighthouse, where we had great views of the city and lake. IMG_1248

View from the tower

View from the tower

IMG_0711

Husband Saign and I

Husband Saign and I

Alps and sailboats as seen from the tower.

Alps and sailboats as seen from the tower.

We then enjoyed snacks and wine at a waterfront bar, while looking towards the Alps over the lake. (We still haven’t figured out how to politely request our bill). IMG_0731 IMG_0728

I enjoyed reading while the city moved around me (occasionally with street performers singing in the background).

This street performer serenaded me while I read.

This street performer serenaded me while I read.

We tried desperately to find live German music, but failed miserably.

We wandered around Lindau at night, but never found any life music.

We wandered around Lindau at night, but never found any life music.

Countries Visited Today: 1, Full-day in Germany!

Kilometers Biked Today: 30

Total Kilometers Biked for the Trip: 162

Have you ever put a love lock on anything? (I never have).

Oct 17

EuroBikeTrip 2014 Day 4: The Most Embarrassing Travel Moment of My Life. Germany

Today was the first day of this trip in which we spent the entire day in this same country. We stayed in Germany for the entire time. Today’s ride was not as nice as yesterday’s. We rode past quite a few vineyards, which was nice, but we also spent quite a bit of time on a bike path that ran right next to a highway.

vineyard

vineyard

 

Saign wanted to go to a museum of a rebuilt water town, and I agreed. The museum required us to go with a tour guide who completed a tour in German. Our large tour group squeezed into a little hut. I was at the back, which made sense to me since I couldn’t understand the lecture anyways. Well , the tour guide felt badly that I couldn’t really see or hear anything, so I heard her say “England,” and the point at me. The entire tour group turned to look at me. Then she spoke in English and asked me to come forward. I told her that I was fine, but she continued to gesture me forward, while the crowd of people parted to let me through. I was mortified, but not knowing the language or the culture, I felt that I had no choice but to simply comply. I walked to the front, where she motioned me to stand where I would block several people. I was so embarrassed! I crouched down and spent the remainder of the lecture squatting so as to avoid blocking the view of others. This was definitely my most embarrassing travel moment of my life.IMG_1233

The water village museum

The water village museum

IMG_0334We stopped in another cute coastal village called Meersburg, where we finally found some bratwurst! I was so excited! I love American bratwurst, so I was sure that I was in for a treat! Saign brought me my plate with sausage and potato wedges. I cute into the sausage and took a bite…to find that it tastes just like an Ameican hotdog. No, not a delicious American bratwurst, but a boring unappetizing hotdog. So…. No more wurst for me!

Blech. Terrible.

Blech. Terrible.

I had a wonderful time exploring charming Meersburg!IMG_1234 IMG_1240 IMG_1238 IMG_0425 IMG_1237 IMG_0415 IMG_0409 IMG_0403Our hotel was in a town called Friedrichshafen. As we got into the town, we stopped on the bike path to examine the map. A kind older lady stopped her bike to help us. We showed her where we wanted to go on the map, and she knew the way. Of course, she spoke German, and we spoke English, so she tried to give us verbal directions, but of course we couldn’t understand. After a few minutes of trying to communicate, she finally gestured to us that we should follow her. We did so, and she went out of her way, biking us right up to the entrance of our hotel. It ended up being very helpful that she directed us, because the bike path had a strange clover-pattern (like a freeway entrance), under the streets, so I think we would have had a hard time figuring out how to get to the right road just by looking at the map. I was very grateful for her kindness.

Saign following our German friend on bike!

Saign following our German friend on bike!

We ended our evening in Friedrichshafen. We went to a restaurant, where we ordered traditional German food followed by a plate called “Dessert for Two.” I wasn’t sure what to expect, and was shocked when our waitress returned with a huge plate with a variety of desserts. (In the end, my favorite dessert was a chocolate-drizzled banana). When we were finished, we sat and sat and sat. We still haven’t figured out how to pay our bill and leave! In the end, Saign had to flag our waitress down to ask for the “rechnung.” I’m pleased that we now know how to ask for the bill, but I’m still confused about how we are supposed to ask for it if the waitress doesn’t return to us so that we can ask! Is flagging her down the appropriate thing to do??? I feel so rude!

Bodensee

Bodensee

Our insane dessert!

Our insane dessert!

Countries Visited Today: 1, Full-day in Germany!

Kilometers Biked Today: 32

Total Kilometers Biked for the Trip: 132

Is waiter/waitress flagging the rudest thing ever????

Oct 14

My Versa-faux

Guys, I think I’m in love…with a garment.

I’m pretty sure that it’s really, really bad to be in love with a piece of clothing.

But this is no ordinary clothing! It’s clever clothing!

How do you make clothing clever??

1) Simple design

2) Multifunctional

I think that’s all you really need to make clever clothing.

Anyway, I’ve becomes obsessed with convertible clothing ever since I started planning my Africa trip. I’ll be there for about a month, but don’t want to be lugging around a ton of clothes, so I’ve been looking at clothes that can serve more than one purpose. During my search, I discovered the Versalette.

Love.

I’ve seen convertible dresses before, but a lot of convertible dresses have loooooong strappy things that can be wrapped in any number of ways to create a new “style.” But the truth is that I don’t want long strappy complicated clothing. I want simple clothing. And for this reason, I’ve never been particularly interested in convertible dresses. But the Versalette is unlike any other convertible dress that I’ve ever seen before. First of all, it can be more garments than most convertible dresses. While most convertible dresses can make a dress or a skirt, the Versalette can be a dress, skirt, poncho, t-shirt, tank top, and even a purse. Secondly, it’s actually super simple, which I love.

The Versalette retails for $110. Now, I like a lot of things about Seamly, the brand behind the Versalette. They are concerned about sustainability, and for that reason, they use surplus fabrics. The garments are made in the USA in an ethical manner. Super awesome. But would I EVER pay $110 for a dress? Uh…no. Outside of the torture of being a bridesmaid, I have never even spent HALF that amount on a dress.

So, of course, I decided to try my hand at making my own. I call it the Versa-faux.

long skirt

long skirt

short skirt

short skirt

strapless dress

strapless dress

sleeveless dress

sleeveless dress

dress with sleeves

dress with sleeves

tank

tank

t-shirt

t-shirt

poncho

poncho

hood

hood

IMG_9324

I’m not crazy enough to think that my version is as good as the real thing. I couldn’t quite figure out how to get the sleeves right. But all-in-all, I got a convertible garment that I can pack and wear in a ton of different ways so that I don’t feel monotonous while I’m traveling.

Husband Saign told me that it looks like a potato sack, but I’m still in love with my Versa-faux.

Do you have any convertible clothes? What’s the best type of convertible clothing in your opinion?

Oct 07

My First Time Placing! Burien Brat Trot 5k 2014

You. Guys. I PLACED FIRST IN MY AGE GROUP AT A 5K!

Okay, sorry for yelling. I’m just so very excited!

I’ve dreamed of entering a small race just to see if I might be able to place, but 1) I didn’t know if it would ever happen, and 2) I never thought about getting FIRST in my age group!

If you recall, my previous 5k PR was obtained while running without a Garmin, while wearing a lampshade, and without really trying. However, I was more in shape during that race than I am now (I haven’t been cross-training), so I didn’t want to get too crazy with my goal for this race. My goal was to finish in 23:59, or less, which would be a whopping 9 seconds faster than my previous 5k race.

I decided to try to keep my pace around 7:40. I figured that any faster would be too fast for me.IMG_3276

On race day, the gun went off, and I took off running. When I looked at my Garmin, it initially said that I was running an 8:30. No good. I sped up. I checked my Garmin a few seconds later, and it said “5:30.” Um. Yeah, so I knew my Garmin wasn’t really accurate. However, I don’t have any other way to make sure that I maintain a goal pace, so I decided to just try to keep it at a 7:40 according to my inaccurate Garmin.

The race started off going up a hill, which was kind of funny to me, because I hadn’t even thought to worry about hills for a 5k. The race also started a 1pm, and we’ve had an abnormally warm year, so it was actually warmer than ideal for running.

Anyway, my watched beeped to signal 1 mile, and I looked: 7:35. Perfect! Or, I mean, if it was accurate, it would have been perfect. About 15 seconds later, I passed a volunteer who said I was at the 1 mile point, and said I had been running for 7:55. I knew that he was also off by a few seconds, but still, I knew my first mile hadn’t been as “perfect” as I hoped.

As I ran on, my pace became increasingly difficult. I started to doubt myself. “I haven’t been cross-training.” “I haven’t been speed-training.” “I’m out of shape.” I can’t do it.” Etc. Simultaneously, I argued with myself, “You can do it.” “Mind over matter.” “Just 10 minutes left, you can keep this up for 10 minutes.”

My second mile beeped in a 7:44. On the one hand, since my first was at 7:35, it would even out to the 7:40 pace that I was aiming for. But on the other hand, I knew my Garmin was wrong, and I still had more than 1.1 miles left. I was tired. I was hot. I didn’t feel strong. I actually thought about walking. But I just kept using the time-technique. “One mile left. That’s less than 8 minutes, if you keep up this pace.” And then it was 7. And then 6. And then 5. Soon enough, I had rounded the corner, and there was the finish! I sped up, but I was hurting. I passed a few people. I looked at my watch. I would get a sub 24 minutes! Oh yay! Or would I??? I didn’t know. I was trying hard, but I might be off by just a tiny bit.

The clock said 24:05 when I crossed the finish line. Dang it! This was such as small race that I knew I likely hadn’t waited 5 seconds before crossing the start line.

I was exhausted. I almost fell over when the volunteer tried to cut off my timing chip. I heard someone say my name. Husband Saign surprised me at the finish! I found some shade and laid down for a few minutes.

Once I felt coherent again, I stopped at the booth to check my actual finish time. 24:02. ARG! I missed my goal by 3 seconds. But…wait…what did that say…first in my age group??? Whaaa??? I was so excited!

Post-race celebratory beer!

Post-race celebratory beer!

I made Husband Saign stick around for the awards ceremony…90 minutes later… But it was my first time to win an award, so I wanted to stay! They ended up just announcing the first place winners for each age group. They didn’t ask us to come forward, or give us anything. I didn’t get a ribbon, but I did scream and clap when the announcer said my name!

I can’t believe that I finally won something at a race. I mean, of course, I won nothing since there were no ribbons, but I still felt like a winner! Yay!

Is it okay to be excited about placing in your age group, even if you only placed because it was a super small race????

 

 

Sep 30

Free Floors!

I have to tell you about an amazing, beautiful home improvement project that is free-ish!

When we bought our house, we knew that there were hardwood floors under the carpet in the living room, hallway, and guest room. We planned to pull up the carpet in those rooms, and to refinish the floors underneath.

We were ecstatic when we found that the floors were in beautiful condition in the living room!

But then we pulled up the carpet in the hallway, and found that there were chunks of floor missing. Uh oh. We had to replace the missing oak flooring with salvaged flooring.

Thankfully, Husband Saign is clever and decided that rather than going to a salvage store, we should look for salvaged oak flooring on the Craigslist. Sure enough, he was able to find some free oak flooring!

We now have patched oak flooring in our hallway and we replaced the laminate that was in our dining room with free salvaged oak. We also have enough oak flooring to complete the office, which has dingy old carpet in it right now.

One day, I came home from work, and found that Husband Saign had put in this gorgeous (free) oak floor in the dining room!

One day, I came home from work, and found that Husband Saign had put in this gorgeous (free) oak floor in the dining room!

Now, I’m not going to pretend that it was an easy job. It was a lot of work. We had to go to 3 different sources to get enough free flooring to complete our projects. Then we had to go through the flooring and find the pieces that were salvageable. Then we had to pull the nails out of the flooring. Then Husband Saign decided to plane the wood down by just 1 millimeter-or-so, as he thought that would be easier than sanding off the old finish. Then Husband Saign had to nail all the wood in.

Now, it definitely would have been way easier to just buy new wood, but there are two reasons that we chose to do things this way:

  1. We’re saving money. I love being able to say that we got our wood floors for free!
  2. We’re saving the environment. By using salvaged wood instead of buying new, we’re able to re-use old materials rather than chopping down new trees. Pretty great stuff! I love it when the most economical choice is also the most ethical choice!

Now, we did have to spend $20 on a big roll of paper that we put on top of the subfloor and under the oak flooring. Husband Saign also bought a used flooring nailer on craigslist for $75, but we’ll be able to sell it when we’re done, most likely for a profit. Once all our floors are in, we’ll have to rent equipment to sand them down, and then we’ll have to spend money on stain/finish. But all-in-all, it will be an inexpensive home improvement project that will improve the value of our home AND make it more liveable for us now!

If you’re looking to replace flooring, consider using salvaged wood! If you’re pulling flooring or other materials out, try to be careful as you do so, so that others might be able to reuse your materials! We’ve been giving away the carpet that we pulled up. i have no idea why people want old carpet, but we’ve gotten people to take it, and it’s great knowing that we’re not filling a landfill up unnecessarily.

Would you put salvaged items in your home?

 

 

 

Sep 24

The Most Exciting News of the Century!

I have an important announcement to make:

Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba!

Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba!

I see a llama eatin’ his pajamas, I see a llama eatin’ his pajamas…

That’s right guys, I’m going to AFRICA!

(In case there was any confusion, those 3 lines are lyrics from “The Circle of Life” from the Lion King. But, I’m pretty sure that you already knew that from my very clear typing of “I see a llama eatin’ his pajamas…”)

So, I’m crazy excited. Like, thinking about the trip every day, reading, planning, and dreaming, even though the trip isn’t for 5 months. I’m like a little kid looking forward to Christmas!

I’m also a little apprehensive because…I’m going by myself.

That’s right, married girl on a solo vacation.

One of my best friends presented the idea of solo-vacations-while-married to me years and years before I got married. I remember that I felt confused when she said that she and her boyfriend had discussed how they would still sometimes take separate vacations if they got married. “Why?” I wondered. “Why would you want to take separate vacations?” But she was in a committed relationship, and they were both convinced that it was a great idea. The more I thought about it, the more I realized, “Why not? Just because you married someone doesn’t mean that you have to spend every second together.”

So, the idea of taking a vacation without Husband Saign has been with me for years…longer than I’ve even known Husband Saign. The reality is coming about in 2015 for one very important reason: We want different vacations. I think many of our friends are shocked, and maybe even a bit worried. But here’s the reality: Husband Saign wants to have a Heli-boarding vacation. Guys. HELI-BOARDING. For those of you not in the know, this means that he’ll be dropped by a helicopter onto a mountain in Alaska, and will be snowboarding amongst the wolves and the avalanches. Hopefully that last sentence made it absolutely clear to you that I would be TERRIFIED to do such a crazy thing. Nope, I can’t go along with him for this adventure, because I’d like to remain alive for now.

And meanwhile, I’ve wanted to go to South Africa since I was 19-years-old, and never had an opportunity that really fit.

So…we’re both taking our dream vacations this year! Separately. And it’s going to be amazing.

Here’s my plan:

  1. Fly into Cape Town, South Africa, spend a few days there.
  2. Take an “overland tour” through South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe. (An “overland tour” is basically a road trip. It’s a term that people use outside the U.S., as far as I can tell.) My tour will involve me spending my days in a huge monster tour-truck thing with 20-or-so strangers-who-will-become-best-friends. We’ll see amazing terrain: sand dunes, rivers, deserts, jungles, and Victoria Falls. We’ll see lots of amazing animals, including lions, tigers, elephants, rhinos, giraffes, zebras, and pumbas! We’ll eat meals together around the campfire each evening and morning, and sleep in tents most nights. I.cannot.wait!Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 8.01.32 PM
  3. Visit an amazing friend who is a missionary in a village in South Africa. I’m really looking forward to doing life with this girl even if just for  a few days! I don’t know what to expect, but I think I’ll get to play with kids and hopefully help my friend out!
  4. Have the BEST TIME EVER!

So that’s the plan. I just want to jump out of my own skin, I’m so excited!

Would you go on a vacation without your significant other?

 

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