Thursday, June 18, 2015

Doggy Soulmates...

Today I was going through old pictures and came across some of our dog PJ.
Last September my family lost PJ, as some of you may know.  We were all sad, but it hit my dad, Paul, especially. You see, they were best friends. Since there was no funeral I wanted to help ease the pain but didn't really know what to say. So I wrote a eulogy for PJ to give to Paul. He was the kind of dog that deserved a eulogy.
Anyway, it was one of the things I found hidden in my computer and since it was delivered and read months ago, I decided I would share. For any of you that ever had a doggy soul mate...

PJ was the kind of dog that you only come across once in a lifetime. He was like the ones in the movies, with almost human like qualities. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty certain PJ understood when we talked to him. Even if he did not, he understood love and kindness and he repaid those emotions tenfold.
I remember when PJ came to the shelter I was volunteering at while I was in high school. My parents were allowing me to foster puppies at our home until they were adopted. PJ, then named because the shelter crew thought it looked like he was wearing pajamas, was one of the puppies we fostered.  He was a sweet soul from the beginning and it didn’t take long for him to win my heart.  My parents finally agreed that if he wasn’t adopted at that weekend’s event, we could keep him. I did my best to deter every interested party, discussing with them all kinds of controversial issues about owning a pit bull. In the end I won out and brought PJ to his forever home with my parents. Initially, it was me who insisted to adopt PJ but looking back, it is clear that he was never actually my dog. He was destined to be with Paul.  Even his name was a perfect fit and mom often joked that now is stood for “Paul Junior,” he was Paul’s doggy soul mate.  If you don’t believe in doggy soul mates it’s because you have never been lucky enough to own a dog that is just that special. They wrap you up in their love and devotion and center their world around you. They don’t have to know any special tricks, I’m not sure PJ knew any other than sit. They usually aren’t heroes, often times they a mixed breeds that people rescue from shelters. And even though you aren’t sure from what, you can’t help but feel they rescued you too.
As I mentioned, PJ didn’t have a lot of tricks. He didn’t like water so he not a swimmer or a boat dog. He hated baths, thunder, and any ruckus in the kitchen caused by unloading the dishwasher or cooking dinner. When he first came to live with us he liked to dig holes in the yard and hoard things in them. He did enjoy a game of fetch in the evenings but really, PJ was just good and being a companion, mostly to Paul.
He followed Paul everywhere. Once he realized he was home he never tried to leave again. He was grateful and happy just to be a part of a family. PJ was a friend to everyone. He liked other dogs and he was extremely gentle with kids.  Even as he aged and started having hip pain, my kids would inevitable make their way to PJs bed and crawl all over him.  If it hurt him, he never let on. He was full of patience and kindness. Come to think of it he shared those qualities with his best friend, Paul. They were certainly kindred spirits.

Its always sad to lose a dog and especially hard when he’s a dog like PJ, it leaves an emptiness in your home where a wagging tale used to. But, in the same breath it fills your heart to know you got to be part of such a special bond and you provided a great life for such an amazing animal. When PJ found his forever home with my family I don’t think any of us knew that forever with him meant our lifetimes, not his. That’s just how long PJ will stay with us, if only now in our hearts and memories, he will be with us forever. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Pool Project

As some of you may know, we have embarked on yet ANOTHER project.  This time there isn't much DIY going on, but I do still get to make some decisions.  So lets start at the beginning with some before pics...
When we bought the house there were the raised brick flower beds around the pool but nothing really planted in them. It looked really nice but just a little stark. We added some plants brought from our old house and the second summer I painted the back wall mural.

From the beginning you can see the spa was small for even two children and could be rather awkward for two adults.

So when it came time to remodel keeping the spa was up for debate. I wanted a tanning ledge or sun deck and Chris thought we should keep it as a spa because the kids love it so much (they do look like they're having fun.) But more on that in a min, 1st things 1st, those raised beds had to go.
I know, they look pretty but I grew to hate the red brick and I hated the fact there was no where to just sit in chairs around the pool without being in the walkway. So we agreed and ditched the planters and pavers

Then they drained the pool, it looks WAY bigger and deeper empty 

We decided to leave the spa in the dust (haha)

Instead we went with the sun deck/splash pad type space. A man came and did up all the rebar then a gunite truck came and poured ...

Then they spent two days jack hammering the plaster out. Because our pool is so old, and had been re-plastered a couple of times,  they couldn't just add the new plaster on top of the other layers. It was a mess, looked like an explosion and I was starting to worry that this pool would never look nice again.

Unbelievably, they did clean it up, and really quickly. I don't know which job was worse, jack hammering everything or hauling it all out of the pool in buckets. 

Anyway, lets talk about the fun stuff because its time to start putting things back together instead of breaking everything. That brings us to tile, coping and plaster...not sure about all this pool lingo? Neither was I so I came up with this to help you out
the tile is the blue tiles in the picture, they go around the waterline
the coping is the red brick, it goes around the edge of the pool
and the decking is the pavers/pebble concrete 

I agonized on pinterest trying to figure out what I wanted and decided on greenish water with a gray surround. Here are a few inspiration pictures (just look at colors)

this is a pool done in  the actual plaster color we picked

I loved the variation in this coping and it inspired my choice

So I chose Wet Edge Northshore Gold  plaster color. It looks gold in samples but think of it this way.  When you have white plaster your water looks blue. So if you have yellowish (or gold) plaster your water looks greenish (see how it works - blue and yellow make green.) Thats all well and good but I can assure its hard to pick colors when you are looking at plaster samples because you know the overall product whtne full of water, will be a lot different.
Anyway, I went with  a gray natural looking tile for the waterline

and my favorite feature is the travertine with all the variation for the coping 

these are scrap pieces after they installed yesterday...

So that brings us to our first day of a stalled project due to rain.  It gave me the whole day to agonize of the next color choice, the spray deck.  Spray deck is the stuff they will spray over the concrete. It keeps the concrete cool to walk on. They will level the existing pebble-crete decking and pour new concrete where all the raised beds and pavers were, it will all get covered with spray deck to create a uniform look. 
Its kind of a moot point at the moment to debate about it because I don't have any pictures with the spray deck samples against the coping samples. HOWEVER, the whole point of this post was to get you guys thinking about it...gray (top two inspiration photos) or tann-ish (3rd inspiration photo - this is actually spray deck) color?  I thought I knew I wanted gray (look back to the inspiration photos) but I'm worried that it will look like a parking lot as the designer put it (thanks for putting that in my head.) So what do you think? I'll have more pictures to share when I get samples in.  

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Cowgirl Birthday

I don't quite know how the Bean picked her party theme this year, to me boots and spurs don't quite mix with an inflatable bounce house.

But, its what she wanted so its what we did. Honestly, it turned out to be a pretty cute theme.
I didn't really want to go traditional cowgirl with red bandana print so I went floral instead. It all started with this free banner I found on pinterest (but of course.) I printed it along with the invitations and other decorations at office max for a very minimal price. I added doilies and some tissue paper tassels (there are all kind of tutorials for that.)

here's a screen shot of the invitation, you can find my free PDF here

See the tassels, cute for a "western" theme, right?

Then I came across some free printable wreaths and knew they were perfect for menu cards. Ok so honestly I caught a little flak over the actual need for my menu cards but I love the western names so I'm ok with that. we had
Cowboy Caviar
On the "Ranch" dip
Frontier fruit salad
Lil' Doggies (hot dogs we served for lunch)
Chow time chips

And an adult favorite "John Wayne Juice" which was a spiked Arnold Palmer

Party favors were very easy, my kids loved helping make them, and  the guests loved them. In sticking with the theme we created "happy trails mix," isn't pinterest the best? I just filled the bags taped over the top and punched a hole through the bag and the "happy trails mix" topper then tied it all together with twine.  We used multi grain cheerios, 1 bag unsalted pretzels, 1bag craisins, 1 bag M&Ms, and pre-made popcorn. It was way too much to fill the 20 favor bags so I just put the bowl out at the party and the kids ate it by the handful.

I made this welcome sign and stuck it to the front door. The door ended up just being left open (the perks of a February birthday in Houston, but it was still cute

Mostly everything was a printable from pinterest but I did buy a couple extra paper decorations and found the floral table cloth (Party City) that was a near perfect match to the floral on all the decorations.

I also like to put out pictures of the birthday girl so people who may not have known her all her life can see how she's grown.  The baby with the cowboy hat seemed very appropriate. 

Im not much on spending a lot on fancy cakes so lavender cupcakes and a glittery #7 worked perfectly.

I like to make sure to get a picture of each kid either posed or in action and include it in the envelope with the thank you notes. I think its a fun touch and its nice for the kids to have pictures with their friends. Here's this years Thank you note, the actual one had a picture Emma Bean in her cowgirl outfit instead of the bounce house.
You can download it free here 

And that's a wrap guys. The kids had a blast and it took my kids 2 days to sleep off the birthday party. I can honestly say I get the perks to having a party at a venue but doing it home every year turns out wonderfully, we can invite as many people as we want and I love when my house is full of friends, family, and laughter. 

Lastly, Happy Birthday Emma!