Meet Friendly (Our New Foster Dog)

I think the title of this post should actually be "Double Trouble" because a second greyhound certainly means twice the mischief.  You know when you visit your friends who have children and they're totally apologetic about the toys littered around the place but you automatically overlook it because... THEY HAVE KIDS and kids turn your world upside down and you're really just impressed that they remember to wear pants?  Well, I'm kind of hoping that's how you'll feel when you look at the top picture with all the dog toys scattered about....
The caption for the top photo should be: "Oh... Hey Mom... We didn't mess up your living room and eat your plant.  Promise!  Can we have some treats now?"
As you may have guessed, we are fostering another ex-racing greyhound!  This time, his name is Friendly and he actually looks quite a bit like Barkley.  Unlike our last foster Louciano, Friendly's temperament is more similar to Barkley's, in that he's content to sleep and cuddle most of the time. 
We only have friendly for another week, so I wanted to share some cute pictures of him before he goes to his "forever home".  Here's a picture of him taking a nap with me. 
Note- We're not supposed to let the foster dogs on our furniture.  But, the living room couch is irresistible, since it overlooks the front window so instead of telling them "No" constantly, we allow them on that couch only.

Look at those crazy big ears!  Friendly kind of reminds me of a cartoon wolf!

He often sleeps like this and then falls off bum first when he is disturbed.

The boys get along surprisingly well!

In this picture, Friendly actually has his paws wrapped around Barkley's foot!

I know you're wondering whether we get these two mixed up.  The short answer is no... They look quite different to us.  However, I double check which dog I have before giving meds or anything like that.

Imagine these two greeting you with kisses every morning!

And we're pretty sure Friendly is part cat, since he likes to curl up and try to sleep on top of one of my throw cushions...

... We're thrilled to see these two sharing the couch.  I sent this picture to Corey one day with the subject: "It looks like we've officially lost our couch."

And finally, this is the greyhound equivalent of a bro-hug!  Imagine Barkley saying this in the "Most Interesting Man in the World" voice: I don't always hug other dogs... But when I do, I rest my chin gently on their back.

The only drawback to having an extra dog around is that they really are tricky and can get into mischief together.  For instance, Friendly likes to build a "nest" by removing all the cardboard from the recycling and lining his bed with it. 

They are also twice as persistent in begging for food.  Corey left for work early today and sent me the following text:

"The boys HAVE been fed.  Don't believe them.  They are trying to trick you."

We hope you enjoyed the pictures! 
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Birthday Musings

How cute is this old picture?  My cousin and I (I'm the dork in the hat.) are 2 days apart in age, so this is a special week for both of us.  As fate would have it, we're also both going to be married next summer.  I thought this would be an appropriate photo for this post. :)

Today is my birthday and all I can think of is how much has happened in the past year.  Last year, for my 30th, Corey took me horseback riding and also planned a surprise party with my mom and brother.  While I'm not usually one for big spectacles, their surprise party was perfect and intimate and I was touched by the effort from all of them not only to execute it, but to surprise me!

After the post party clean-up, I was left with an uncharacteristically clean condo and a feeling of ... not emptiness, but perhaps dissatisfaction.  I was no longer a 20-Something and, while I had an amazing boyfriend, a fulfilling career, and the love and support of my wonderful family and friends, I still had this nagging feeling that I wasn't even close to being where I was supposed to be in life.  Are we supposed to be grown-up at 30?  I certainly didn't feel totally together.

My mom was married at 28 and I had always thought that was terribly old.  When I was born, she was 32... ancient, right?  That's what I thought, but it's funny how time has a way of creeping up on you.  And the years sped by until I woke up one day and realized that there was no mistaking the fact that I had become an adult.  Yikes!  It's not like I can't see how it happened either... I just hadn't considered it at the time.

You see, when Corey and I met, I was not yet 24 and he was still 18.  As we started to fall in love, I knew I hadn't yet found my calling in life and I found reassurance in the fact that my younger man would not feel the need to settle down for ages.  I had bought myself an extra five years of young adulthood!  Little did I know that Corey was wise beyond his years and was preparing for the fact that I would probably want to settle down while he was still in his 20's.  So smart, my Corey.  So by the time I began to approach the big 3-0, he was already thinking about our timeline for marriage and starting a family and I was like, "What are you talking about?  We're too young for that!"

Anyway, I woke up one morning after my surprise party and I looked around at our nice-but-not-ideal condo, and I decided it was time to move.  I knew we would want a family eventually and before that, Corey wanted to get married and before that, we should get engaged and before that, I wanted to buy a house.  I counted backwards and my head spun.  It was time to move!  Those who know me know that once I decide to do something, I need to do it IMMEDIATELY, so it won't surprise you to know that Corey and I were viewing houses later that day.

I landed back on earth with a thud, when I realized we would need to sell the condo before we moved, and my fellow board members and I had already set in motion some improvements that would make our building more attractive to buyers... So, with difficulty, we decided to hold of on our dreams of moving until the new year.

So we rallied.  I worked myself weary on the board of directors to try to fulfill my goals for our condo before I had to leave.  Meanwhile, Corey worked to put all the finishing touches on the condo before we listed.

At the time, it was so difficult to imagine all the work ahead of us, but here we are, one year later with a totally different outlook.  Not only have we sold the condo and purchased our beloved new/old house, but we are also now engaged and have made great strides with our renovations.  We are very happy now. 

You hear so much about the "Quarter-Life Crisis" but nobody talks about the one you have when you turn 30 and still don't feel like an adult.  What's that called?  Can we just call 30 the new 25, since so many people are still in transition careers, housing situations and relationships at that point?

Luckily, with lots of support, luck and hard work, I managed to turn things around this year.  I'm not saying that selling the condo and buying the house made me feel totally grown up... But it was a start.  A good start.

Are you ever shocked by what a difference a year can make?  This has certainly been an eventful one for us!  It makes me wonder what my 32nd birthday will look like...
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A Sink-ing Feeling

I know what you're thinking: Is that the bathroom from Saw?  Nope, the bathroom from the movie Saw was much larger.

I know it's been no secret that we're not happy with the state of our bathroom.  In fact, we've been planning to embark on a complete renovation this fall.  Unfortunately, we've both been busy with work and we've been procrastinating it a little bit... until fate stepped in.
This time, fate took the form of a plumbing leak.  No damage was done and Corey turned off the water quickly, but we knew we would need to remove the hideous pedestal sink and decided it was time to buckle down and begin our bathroom reno.
Initially, we had planned to prepare properly for our renovation.  We would move all our things to the basement bathroom and completely demolish everything... right down to the studs.  Since we are not quite ready for something so drastic, we have settled for replacing the sink until we can complete some other projects and then remove the new sink and proceed with our reno.
Here's a look at the bathroom right now.  I didn't clean up for you guys because some of you have said that it's important for you to see what it's actually like to live in a house while you renovate.

Not pretty, I know.  But that's what happens when you have a bathroom (with no storage) being used by two adult people with faces... and hair... and teeth to clean.  Apparently it takes a lot to make us beautiful.
To make matters worse, those "shelves" are barely secured to the wall at all, and the tops are not secured to the brackets, so they collapse sometimes more frequently than I'd like to admit.  Seriously, the shelves are just resting on the brackets, and if you take them off, the brackets just spin around.  It's a disaster.  It has been annoying... but not worthwhile to repair when we knew this room would be a gut job.
We've known for a while that Ikea would be our "go to" place for many of the things we'll need.  I love the idea of the juxtaposition of their ultra modern high-gloss cabinets with our clawfoot tub. 
Unlike the condo, we plan to make this house our home for many years.  This means we need to consider things like kids and storage when choosing things.
We purchased the Godmorgon sink cabinet in white.  We went with the widest version that would fit in our space.  We really like the large drawers (yay for storage) and the fact that the cabinet is wall mounted... so one day we can stash a small stool underneath!
It was more difficult to choose a sink.  With almost 40 inches of available space, we could have installed double sinks.  From a real estate perspective, (Another great feature for our future listing!) my mouth watered.  But from a practical standpoint, we passed and chose a counter with a single sink.  The Rattviken sink  is wide enough for two people to stand side by side and brush their teeth at the same time, but it also offers more counter space than a double sink would have given us.  I also like the raised backsplash and ridge around the perimeter, which will make it more difficult to knock things onto the floor.
Then we chose the Lundskar faucet.  With a few different options (and me debating whether we should look elsewhere) Corey pointed out that I would like a tall faucet to fill my watering cans and water bottles.  I was so touched that he thought of such an important detail for me, which will make life a little easier.  So we bought the coolest looking faucet (I love the interesting lines) we could find and headed for the checkout.
Note- we did buy a couple of other items for our bathroom remodel, and you'll see them in another post... promise!
When we arrived home, Corey went to work.  He began by removing those awful shelves.  Let the demo begin! ... FYI, the Thomas the Tank Engine sticker is not ours... Although I do appreciate it as it has been the only "décor" in our washroom for months.
While we're leaving most of the demo for later, Corey did need to expose the studs in the wall so that he could mount the cabinet securely.

After discovering that the dimensions of the cabinet did not match up with the distance between our studs, Corey decided to build a frame to bridge the gaps.  I was working and didn't manage to get a good picture of this step, but I'll try to catch it when we remove the sink to finish removing all the tiles on the walls and floor.

During the process, Corey also decided to upgrade the plumbing that came with the Ikea sink and faucet to something more durable.  To accommodate drawers (as opposed to the typical cabinet doors) he also needed to relocate some of the plumbing so that it was inside the wall.  While this required some extra work, we think it is worthwhile to have so much extra storage space in our small bathroom.
Here's the finished temporary sink.  All the wall tiles will be gone in a few weeks when we continue our work on the washroom, but we are already thrilled with the extra storage and counter space!  It's not much, but it's a start.

Just look at all that storage.  LOOK AT IT!!!  Our bathroom reno is officially underway.  Let the games begin.

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Stop Wine-ing!

Just look at all that wine!  Corey and I just enjoyed the best date at The Wine Butler.  Friends of ours had tried it and loved it so we decided to make a batch.  We had initially assumed we'd be mixing ingredients ... or even stomping grapes or something... I don't know what goes through our heads!  The reality was better though, because we were able to read descriptions of real (non-sucky homemade) wines and choose one that we thought we'd like.

While our first appointment to add the yeast was pretty anticlimactic, the bottling appointment was (as our friends promised) super fun and much more date-like.

We started by disinfecting all the bottles and then filling them using that machine which vaguely reminded me of an elementary school trip to the farm...awkward!

Then we inserted the corks with this cool machine.

We got to choose foils for over the cork.  There were so many colours that it was a little psychedelic!  The couple across from us were really nice, but hardcore.  They make so many batches that they match the foils to the labels.  I could see us matching the foils to the bottling dates if we ended up doing this regularly, but for now, we're just sticking with pretty colours!

My favourite part of the process was shrinking the foil to fit with the heat gun.

Then we applied the labels.  We could have designed our own if we had wanted... but we weren't that organized and so we used generic labels this time.

Notice the half-full bottle?  That was our 30th bottle and they only guarantee enough wine to fill 28 bottles, so we were pretty pleased with 29 1/2.  We were told to drink that bottle quickly since there's so much air in it but to age the rest for at least six months.

So we opened the extra bottle at home and tried it.  The verdict: It was a little weak and definitely too young.  Still, it was flavourful and we can tell it will be awesome in a few months.  We decanted most of it and the flavour improved.

I can't believe we actually filled our CB2 wine rack!  We originally purchased this pair of stackable cubes for the condo, where they sat on our kitchen counter but we have never come close to filling them!

We ended up with 29 bottles for well under $150.  We've already booked another trip!  The also have a great referral program, so if you mention Corey's name (Our account is under "Corey Brown") I think we both qualify for $100 off our next batch!

The wine we made this time is an Australian Shiraz.  Here's what the website says about this particular wine:  Shiraz is what Australia is known for. This wine has flavours of plums, black berries and black currants that are complimented by a peppery finish which is a result of the addition of toasted oak. Intense berry notes are the trademark of this prized varietal. A hearty deep red, herbaceous wine with a slight fruitiness and overtones of black pepper. It is a savory treat.
This zesty choice serves well with beef tenderloin and grilled pepper steak.
Sugar code 0.

We've already chosen to make the Spanish Priorat Granache nest time.  Here's what their website says about it:

Region: Rioja, Spain
Aromas and tastes: black cherry, black current, jam, pepper and liquorice
Tannin: soft
Body: medium
Alcohol: 15%
Sugar code 0.

Additional information
  • Aging: ages very quickly allowing it be enjoyed young
  • Located south of the Cantabrian Mountains along the Ebro river, La Rioja benefits from a continental climate. The mountains help to isolate the region which has a moderating effect on the climate. They also protect the vineyards from the fierce winds that are typical of northern Spain. The region is also home to the Oja river (Rio Oja), believed to have given the region its name. Most of the region is situated on a plateau, a little more than 1,500 feet (460 m) above sea level.
  • Second most planted grape in the World.
  • The grape first originated in Spain
  • Pairs nicely with BBQ Chicken Wings, bacon, cold cuts, pancetta, prosciutto, salami, mild Italian sausage and Soups like; bean or lentil, borscht, chicken, turkey, New England Clam Chowder, French Onion, gazpacho,
    minestrone, mushroom, pasta e fagioli and tomato soup
What do you think?  Would you try this?
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