Thursday, September 14, 2017

Book Club: The Almost Sisters

From Goodreads:  
Superheroes have always been Leia Birch Briggs' weakness. One tequila-soaked night at a comics convention, the usually level-headed graphic novelist is swept off her barstool by a handsome and anonymous Batman.

It turns out the caped crusader has left her with more than just a nice, fuzzy memory. She's having a baby boy--an unexpected but not unhappy development in the thirty-eight year-old's life. But before Leia can break the news of her impending single-motherhood (including the fact that her baby is biracial) to her conventional, Southern family, her step-sister Rachel's marriage implodes. Worse, she learns her beloved ninety-year-old grandmother, Birchie, is losing her mind, and she's been hiding her dementia with the help of Wattie, her best friend since girlhood.

Leia returns to Alabama to put her grandmother's affairs in order, clean out the big Victorian that has been in the Birch family for generations, and tell her family that she's pregnant. Yet just when Leia thinks she's got it all under control, she learns that illness is not the only thing Birchie's been hiding. Tucked in the attic is a dangerous secret with roots that reach all the way back to the Civil War. Its exposure threatens the family's freedom and future, and it will change everything about how Leia sees herself and her sister, her son and his missing father, and the world she thinks she knows.

What I Didn't Like:
Honestly, I just wish this story kept going!

What I Liked: 
I finished this book in 2 sittings, so it's a very readable book. I admit that I usually skim a lot when I read, and I didn't skim once in this story. I really liked the plot and all of the little sub plots. Even though there was a lot going on, it all flowed together and it was easy to keep up with. 

Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5 Stars (1: hated it, 2: didn't like it, 3: liked it, 4:liked it, 5: loved it)
I accidentally stole this book from my mom. She told me she had a book for me, and I mistakenly grabbed the one she was currently reading! I felt pressured to read it really quick so I could give it back to her, but it was so easy to do. Loved this story and I wished it would have kept going so I could read more about Batman. 

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Hurricane Irma Diaries

Hurricane Diaries - Irma 2017

I have lived in Florida my entire life, and hurricanes just come with the territory. Not unlike blizzards in the north, or earthquakes in California. I have so many memories of 'Hurricane Days' when school would be canceled and we would drive our mom crazy from being stuck inside. 

Blake and I got so many texts and calls this week from family and friends who live out of state wondering what we were going to do. Hurricane Harvey has been fresh on everyone's minds too. The thought struck me that most people have no idea what a hurricane is like or what we do to prepare. I decided to keep a little diary of what Irma was like for us! 

The eye and the upper right quadrant are the most dangerous parts of the storm. So where that section lands is going to be devastated. The rest of the hurricane is mostly just tons of rain and wind. We live in north Florida, and not all that close to either the Gulf or the Atlantic. So typically we are not under mandatory evacuations or even experience the worst of the storms. (Although many were because they lived in low areas or mobile homes.) It's not an afternoon rain shower, but unless it's over a Category 2, it's really just a (very) bad storm. We know we will likely lose power and probably have downed limbs. 

That being said, we are not dumb and we are happy to leave if we need to! We are not attached to our home and possessions that much to risk being hurt. The models for Irma have changed every day so we were closely monitoring them. On Saturday the models changed again and it began to look like it was heading exactly toward us. And they changed again on Sunday more westward. At that point by the time it had gone up the entire state it would hopefully be a category 1 or 2. That still means 75-90 mph winds. 

We decided to stay and ride it out. I'd say 98% of our friends and family decided to do the same thing, and that was encouraging to us. If we had to leave, we would, but it would not be fun. The roads were slammed and there wasn't any gas at any station close to us. 

Everyone should have a 'go-bag' with the essentials. Ours was ready to go but we still needed to accrue water and food. Food was easy to obtain on Tuesday. I spent the most money I ever have at Publix! It doesn't need to be fancy freeze dried food or anything like that. I could live off peanut butter sandwiches anyway. The problem was navigating the clogged aisles while trying to think about an entire week's worth of groceries plus hurricane food. I did not want to go back there if I could help it! 

Water is a different story. I get so frustrated about this! The bottled water flew off the shelves an entire week before the storm. Finally a few days later they started getting emergency shipments, but they were depleted really fast. Because this always happens we bought 3 five gallon igloo coolers (the orange ones you see on the sidelines) to fill up with our tap water. Most people in our area have wells, and if the electricity goes out they can't pump it. We have city water and don't have that problem. But, if the river overflows into the aquifer our water can be tainted. Fine to flush the toilet, but not good to drink. I also threw a few of our reusable water bottles into the freezer to be used as ice packs if the power goes out.

Then we got our house ready. We put away anything and everything that could get blown around. Anything can become a projectile if the wind is bad enough. Thankfully we have a decent sized shed and our chairs and string lights easily tucked away in there. We charged our flashlight batteries too and got our important paperwork together in a place that could easily be grabbed if we needed to go. 

We are getting ready to do some major landscaping this fall so just ignore all of that. 

Saturday was just a big waiting game for us. The bottom half of the state was getting hammered by the storm, and we were only just beginning to experience the outer bands. Boredom set in pretty quick between the monotony of checking the weather and trying to distract ourselves. We still had power, so we were trying to eat up the food in the fridge and watch tv while we had it. Just knowing we would be stuck inside all day the next day was so irritating. (Definitely not a person who sits still!)

Blake worked on a lego set, because he is still a kid at heart. I took a nap because I didn't sleep so well the night before with all the build up of anxiety. Then we played video games! He somehow set up a mini game system that has all the N64 games that we all grew up with. Many, many games of Mario Kart were played! 

The hardest part was getting the dogs to go outside! They don't like to go when it's raining, so I tried to get them out when we had 15 minutes of a break. 

We had power until we went to sleep at midnight. I woke up in the night and knew it had gone off. The wind was howling so I didn't sleep very soundly. The worst of it hit us around 6 to 7 am on Monday.

Irma was a category 1 storm when it hit us. The rain was pretty steady and the wind was bad, with big gusts every few minutes. We watched the storm for a few minutes and made sure we didn't have any leaks. After that we just went back to sleep! By lunch time it was over. We popped outside to check on everything and we just had a few limbs down. It was still misty outside so we waited a little while before adventuring out into the neighborhood.

Here is a video I took at about 7 am. Watch all the trees on the street, not just the palm: 


Our neighborhood had tons of whole trees down. One house had just put on a new roof and it was damaged! Blake and I went on a walk because we were going stir crazy and we were able to see what was going on around town. No one had power and even the traffic lights were out. 

We also didn't have cell phone data. We could call or text but that was it. That made it hard to connect with everyone. It finally kicked back on around 5 on Monday. 

We grilled up to frozen pizzas that we had in the freezer. It was SO good. I may just have to do that all the time now. The air was so cool, so we really enjoyed sitting outside. I actually needed to get my jacket!

Now power again on Tuesday. We were determined to be productive! There are only so many board games you can stand after awhile. Our fridge was leaking water, so we knew it was time to clean it out. I had been wanting to deep clean it anyway so no biggie. Unfortunately I used all of my clean kitchen towels to do it and can't wash any more. 

Then we went to town on our yard. We picked up all of the limbs, and mowed over all the fallen leaves and pine needles. I was also happy to put our porches back together since we had put everything up. Our yard now looks like nothing ever happened.

Here's a few pics from around town and our neighborhood:

We did discover a small leak in our master closet. After an adventure in the attic we think it's an easy fix. Oh, and a small hole was knocked out of the siding by some sort of projectile. Nothing serious. 

My sister has a generator so we were able to go over and charge our flashlight and cell phones. They also rescued two baby squirrels! They fell out of their tree. An expert on raising squirrels now has them, but they were so cute!

We also grabbed dinner at Moe's together. They were open but had very limited ingredients. And it was packed due to the interstate travelers heading home. We have food at the house but it was nice to have a hot meal in the A/C.

So as I type this on my phone, outside, we still don't have power. Blake is expected to work tomorrow since their office is back up and running. I'm not sure what I'm going to do yet. I'm avoiding the cold shower I have waiting for me! 

FPL promises all of our power will be on by Saturday...but we are hoping that it's much sooner than that!! Camping is fun and all but I'm so ready to be back in my normal routine. 

Overall we are just thankful that it's over with and it wasn't worse. 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Home Tour: Our Master Bathroom

This may be the very last room I have yet to share on Our Home Tour! I stalled sharing pictures of our Master Bathroom because I knew I wanted to repaint it and I just hadn't decided on a color. Our on-suite bathroom was the very first room that was redone when my husband bought the house in 2006. 

It looked very different back then. It was actually a handicap bathroom when he bought the house, and while really spacious, the floor was falling apart. The whole room was reconfigured into a normal sized bathroom and the master closet was enlarged because of that. 

My sister in law designed this bathroom since she was the one who was living in the master bedroom at the time. She picked really great cabinets, and everything still looks in new condition over 10 years later. The bathroom was chocolate brown, a color that was starting to look a little dated, and it made our windowless bathroom very dark. 

I struggled with choosing a new color though! I wanted it to be a much brighter, lighter color-but it still had to go with white cabinets and cream tiles. Much more challenging than I thought! 

Here is what our bathroom looked like when I moved in, and again a few years later when my wedding registry shower curtain finally bit the dust. The second set of photos highlights the brown color best. (You can also see the contrast of my pictures pre and post blogging...)

Master Bathroom Make Over! From Brown to Bright.

.Master Bathroom Make Over! From Brown to Bright.

Master Bathroom Make Over! From Brown to Bright.

I finally settled on a light blue, not unlike the accent colors I had chosen in the before pictures. Hilariously, I found out that the blue I had picked for this project was the exact same color I painted our adirondack chairs a few months ago! I'm nothing if not consistent. 

Choosing a shower curtain was so difficult! Again, it was hard to find something to marry the white and cream together. While perusing Ebay, I found a Kate Spade curtain that had cream stripes and knew it would be perfect. Bonus points for being brand new, but $20 cheaper than retail! 

Master Bathroom Make Over! From Brown to Bright.

Master Bathroom Make Over! From Brown to Bright.

Master Bathroom Make Over! From Brown to Bright.

Master Bathroom Make Over! From Brown to Bright.

Master Bathroom Make Over! From Brown to Bright.

Master Bathroom Make Over! From Brown to Bright.

Master Bathroom Make Over! From Brown to Bright.

That was probably more than enough photos of such small room, but I couldn't help it. I'm so happy this was such a budget friendly update. As I said, the shower curtain was from Ebay. I picked up a matching bathroom rug at Walmart, the sink accessories from TJ Maxx and new hand towels from Target.

The Clothing Optional print came from Etsy! I actually put that up a few months ago and I LOVE it. I also shopped my own house for the other frames above the toilet and the fake plant.

Mission accomplished! I wanted to brighten up this room, and I could tell when the room was half painted it was going to help tremendously. You can't really put on makeup or see stray eyebrows in a dark bathroom. Plus, the rest of the house closely follows this color scheme and I appreciate the way this room now fits in and flows with the whole house. (I'm consistant, remember!)

Leave a comment below if you love a good before and after! Do you consistently gravitate toward certain colors? And thumbs up if you love a budget friendly update and shopping your own house!