with out a doubt, dyson vacuums are the creme de la creme of vacuums. if apple made a vacuum, i'm convinced it would be a dyson. we've been in need of a new cordless vacuum for a while since our old cordless stick vacuum died. we searched all around looking for deals, but didn't find anything we really liked. in no way was i considering a dyson because i know the high price tag on them. we happened to be in lowe's looking at other vacuum options and were ready to walk out in defeat when i glanced over and saw a few dysons on clearance. it was an older model that was going to be replaced by a newer color, so they were significantly marked down. we ran home, cashed in our discover credit card points for lowe's gift cards (you are dumb if you don't take advantage of this by the way), and then went back to lowe's to purchase the vacuum. we looked at a few different options and ended up with the dyson v6 animal which is a cordless stick vacuum that converts to a small hand-held vacuum and has a ton of attachments. we walked out of lowe's with this awesome new present for ourselves and paid absolutely nothing for it! that was a fun little christmas present in july!
the summer heat/humidity coupled with the long hours of working in the theater and at the outdoor music festivals does a number on my skin. in order to show my skin some love and pull it back to a semi-normal state, i love using paper face masks at home. they're inexpensive, come in many different types, and don't bother my skin. i love to pop one on occasionally when i'm home in the evening after a shower and pretend i'm at the spa. they're so easy to use and great because you can multi-task while doing whatever you need to do while wearing one for 15 minutes. (ps: this isn't a sponsored post, i just really like this product!)
i may have mentioned before that i worked as a barista at a local cafe for 4 years during grad school and part of doctoral school. one of the things i loved doing was experimenting with different frappe flavors, and i still like doing this at home.
when i have free time, i like to brew a large batch of my favorite decaf coffee and put it in the fridge for myself for quick-access iced coffee. i brewed a large batch last weekend since i knew i had a busy week in the theater and at the pavilion.
i often whip together a drink when i'm running out the door, so i don't have time to snap a photo. however, one evening last week when i had a few free moments at home, i used some of the brewed cold coffee for a frappe. i grabbed what i had on hand in the kitchen to make a delicious frappe treat. this frappe combines chocolate, peanut butter, and almond for a great choco-nut flavor!
choco-nut coffee frappe
total time: 5 minutes
yields: 1 large smoothie
in addition to everything else going on in our lives, ryan and i both worked camp bisco last week and weekend. we did the load in and out, and also had show call for the entire run. the camp bisco music festival is a huge annual event with numerous acts performing on multiple stages over several days at a ski resort / waterpark. the concert attendees camp out in tents on the ski slopes and have free range of the waterpark for several days to wander around listening to bands and djs performing on the various stages set up around the mountain.
last year i worked the entire thing myself since ryan was tied up elsewhere, so it was nice that we both worked it this year, and it was a pleasant surprise that ryan and i both were stationed on the same stage (the wave pool stage) for show call for all of the days which meant we got to spend the run of the show together.
one of the major downfalls of this year's festival was that the schedule was majorly screwed up. things kept changing which made for some extremely long days and rough hours. we showed up for the load in at 7pm on wednesday night and worked straight through the night. our call time on thursday morning was supposed to be 8am but we never made it home because we all had to work straight through in order to get the show up in time. we worked from 7pm on wednesday straight through until 2am on friday morning when we were finally cut for a little bit to go home and shower. that's 31 hours straight of work!!!
after leaving at 2am on friday morning we had to be back on friday just a few hours later for a 8am to 4am shift followed by an identical shift saturday into sunday. needless to say we're beyond exhausted and feel like walking zombies. it was an insane experience and we're looking forward to getting some much-needed sleep and getting our internal body clocks back on normal time. the only thing that made it tolerable was being there together and getting to spend the time together.
several pictures over the course of many days up the mountain . . .
^security is tight at these festivals so we're required to have multiple types of clearances to get to where we need to be.^
^our view of the wave pool late wednesday night after the park had closed to the public for the evening and before our crew started building the stage.^
^a view of the left side of the stage from the edge of the wave pool during one of the more popular bands.^
^our view of the crowd from our crew's little make-shift compound set up along the left side of the stage.^
^a view of the right side of the stage during the day^
^and a similar view of the stage lit up at night.^
^day vs. night from the same spot on the right side of the stage. the amount of people was truly crazy.^
^our little waiting area where we stayed between set changes was great. we had a perfect view of the wave pool, ideal for people watching. talk about free entertainment at its best. at one point we commented that we felt like we were watching these concert attendees like we would watch animals at a zoo! they certainly had some bizarre and crazy outfits and acted like nothing you could believe.^
^in order to get safely and efficiently from our stage down to craft services for meals, our crew took golf carts. those festival golf cart rides are honestly more fun than any amusement park ride. ryan and i often sat in the back which was a rear-facing seat. it was like a game to see who could stay on the longest on those mountain trails. we snapped a picture on day one of us in the back seat with one of my former students who is now a stage hand with us.^
^a picture ryan snapped of the main stage during the load in. i never made it down to any of the other stages.^
^and to finish it all off, here's a great picture of me and our union's business representative posing in front of the wave pool on the final day of the festival sporting our union's newest shirts. they had just arrived and he had me wear one all day to be his model.^
we've made marbled cakes and love them because the swirl pattern is always so pretty and because you don't have to choose between vanilla and chocolate cake since you get both!
we had some bananas on the kitchen counter that took some abuse from the recent high heat and humidity. i took one off the banana tree for a smoothie and the others fell right off because their peels were so ripe. oops! i couldn't let those bananas sit with open peels, so i had to drop what i was doing and make something with them.
i wanted to make something a bit different than a traditional banana bread, and after just a few moments of searching banana bread images on pinterest, i came across a marbled banana bread and was intrigued.
this recipe is so easy. it's a simple base banana bread recipe that takes half of the batter and adds melted chocolate in order to make two contrasting colored batters. since chocolate and banana are two flavors that go great together, these two batters marbled together give this bread a great flavor!
chocolate swirl marbled banana bread
prep time: 10 minutes
baking time: 55 minutes
yields: 1 loaf
adapted from just a taste
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 large eggs
5 tablespoons melted coconut oil, cooled
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup granulated white sugar
preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. in a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips for 30-second increments, stirring between until smooth. set aside to cool.
in a large bowl, combine the mashed bananas, milk, eggs, oil, and vanilla. beat with an electric hand mixer to combine. add the flour, baking soda, and sugar. beat just until combined. remove half of the batter and place it in a separate bowl. fold the melted chocolate into one half of the batter.
grease a loaf pan and line with parchment paper. fill the loaf pan with alternating scoops of the banana batter and the chocolate batter. use a knife to gently swirl the batters together for a marbled look. bake for 55 minutes until the bread is golden and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the bread comes out clean. allow the bread to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing the loaf from the pan and transferring it to a wire rack to finish cooling.
happy friday the 13th! this week we've been busy working a huge annual music festival at our local concert pavilion. the hours are crazy and the days are long for these things, so it's an exhausting week/weekend. since it's friday, here are a few fun links i found around the internet recently . . .
a local garden center near my parents' house recently created a little lavender farm. to celebrate, they had a lavender festival allowing the public to walk in the lavender field and check out so many local vendors selling lavender-themed products. we stopped down on saturday for a little bit to check it out. the farm is small since it's just starting out, but it was so lovely. i can't wait to see what it grows to become in the next several years. a few photos . . .
yeah, you read that right: "disco wizard of oz" was the name of a show that i recently worked.
for the past few years, a local company has been teaming up with a local school to put on a show staring adults with mental disabilities. it's a great program that gives this group of people the chance to be in a show and experience theatre in a way that they would normally not be able to in their everyday lives. this is the third year for the program, and each year ryan has designed lights for the productions. this year, he asked me to join since they were in need of someone to run the sound board, and i was happy to help out.
i love the wizard of oz and have been in it (and even dressed as dorothy this past halloween) so i was interested in seeing how it could be made into a disco. normally sound board operators would dress in all black, but this show was an exception, so i got to rock my ruby red slippers and my blue hair bows at the end of my braids in addition to my show t-shirt. all of the cast and crew really got a kick out of my shoes.
all-in-all, the show went well and the cast had a blast, they were even featured on the 6pm news that night.
let me preface this post by saying that ryan and i really love leko and yes, we may be a little bit crazy, but that furry guy is our entire world. having said that . . .
ever since leko was little, he has been obsessed with the one lower corner cabinet to the right of our sink. even though both of our corner cabinets were identical, it was the right one that always interested him the most. on a daily basis, he would walk up to it, open the door, and go inside to check things out and/or take a rest. the lazy susan in that cabinet housed many of our small appliances. it became a running joke between us that every time leko was doing that he was going to work because he worked in the small-appliance department at a store. when he would go in, it was almost as if he would take an inventory. if we had to get an appliance out of there to use, he would inspect it before we took it out and after we used it before it went back. yup, we're nuts, but this whole thing became a super funny joke in our house.
right before our kitchen renovation started, we told leko we were so sorry that we would be closing his store by tearing it down, but that we were building him a new and improved store. after we took all of our stuff out of the kitchen, we took a bunch of photos for the "before" shots. leko walked up and opened the door to his cabinet to find it empty. ryan and i practically started crying because leko was so confused. i'm so glad i had my camera in hand already taking photos, because i got a "before" photo of him with his cabinet saying goodbye to his old small-appliance department.
leko didn't know what to do with himself after demo day when all of the cabinets were removed. the day the lower cabinets were installed, leko wasted no time going to check out his new corner cabinet as soon as the workers left for the day. we had to grab our phones to take a photo of him seeing his new cabinet for the very first time. he looked up at us and told us he approved. it was so cute!
listen, if you're still with me and still reading, thanks for not locking me up in a loony bin. i swear my cat holds a part-time job in the appliance department at a local store! here are a few other pictures we snapped during the renovation of leko checking out other parts of the kitchen for the first time. the first time he checked out an upper cabinet . . .
the day the sink was installed (he was thanking the kitten gods for running water again) . . .
and the day the lower cabinets were installed. ryan opened one of the drawers to check it out, leko ran up, jumped in, and went in the very back between the drawer and the wall. we each had a heart attack and thought we were going to have to call the workers back after they had just left in order to remove the cabinet to get leko out. luckily, ryan figured out how to rescue him . . .
july 9, 2010 was the day we closed on our house and officially became homeowners for the very first time. since today is july 9th, it only seemed appropriate to share some before and after photos of a huge renovation that we recently did to our home sweet home.
our house was built in the 1930s and the last time the kitchen was renovated was in the 1960s. when we bought the house, we knew we would someday want to remodel the kitchen to make it our taste, but that project had to take a back seat over the past 8 years to more important projects with much more urgency (like re-roofing the whole house before the roof collapsed, completely redoing the entire front porch before it fell off the house, replacing the staircase to get up to our screen porch before someone fell through the stairs, and installing new garage doors because one of the old ones closed on my car . . . just to name a few).
needless to say, this kitchen redo has been a long time coming. we waited not-so-patiently for the past 8 years and came close to starting the project several times. now that it's finally done we are so thrilled and we love the way it turned out! we took a ton of photos of the before, the during, and the after. here are just a handful of some before and after shots to show the difference . . .
we're so happy that we both equally love the design of our new kitchen. neither of us feel like we had to compromise to reach a design decision. when we first started dreaming up our kitchen we each went our separate ways on different computers to search pinterest and google for ideas. when we convened back together to go over our ideas, we were not the least bit surprised to see that we each had picked out the exact same design ideas.
we both love the look of white cabinets and how the white brightens up the kitchen so much. we went with maple cabinets painted white with brushed nickel hardware. the doors and drawers are all soft close which feels like such a luxury. we love how the drawers and sliding shelves in the bottom cabinets open all the way out.
previously, we didn't have any cabinets to the left of the stove so we placed a rolling kitchen cart there to hold our microwave. it's great that we were able to add both uppers and lowers to that section to give us added storage and counter space.
we really loved the overall layout of our existing kitchen, so we didn't want to change the placement of our stove, sink, or fridge. the entire kitchen was gutted to make way for all new materials, but we kept the same appliance layout and most of the same overall layout.
we went with a quartz counter top that looks like marble because it is super durable and completely maintenance free. it was a stressful decision to choose which quartz we wanted, but we're super happy with this design.
we kept our old stove, range vent, and fridge because all were purchased by us when we moved in and all were working just fine. our old sink was a humongous double-basin cast iron beast. our new sink is a single-basin granite stone sink which isn't as wide as our old one in order to give us more counter top space. we absolutely love our new sink. we also decided to add a dishwasher. (i have to admit that i wasn't sold on the idea of a dishwasher since i actually like washing our dishes by hand, but i have quickly warmed up to it because it makes life so much easier and keeps all of those drying dishes off the counter top!)
we both absolutely love the look of traditional white subway tile, so it was an easy decision when picking out a back splash for our kitchen. we chose white grout and we love how clean and bright it looks.
for the flooring, we chose a durable gray vinyl tile in big 12x24 sections. depending on how you look at it, it has either a wood look or a swirl look. it's pretty cool.
on the wall opposite our sink, we used to have a small dining table and a bakers rack to hold our small appliances. it was too much furniture and too cluttered as soon as you walked in the back door, so we decided to simplify with a simple black square bar table with two benches that fit right underneath. we have been loving eating at that table.
we didn't want to give up our rolling kitchen cart, so we put it against the wall in lieu of our large bakers rack. it's great for keeping our microwave and keurig off the counter tops.
we removed the old wallpaper and painted the walls red about two years after we moved into our house. we lived with the red for about six years, but grew tired of it after awhile. since we both love the look of gray and white, we knew we had to paint the walls gray and change the trim out to white. it was not easy picking a paint color. at one point we had 30 different shades of gray paint swatches on the wall! i'm glad we picked one that we both love and goes perfectly with the rest of the kitchen.
redoing our kitchen was a big decision that we knew would not only impact us, but our little guy too. it turns out we're not the only ones who love our new kitchen. leko is absolutely in love with it! he has really been enjoying his new sink and loves lounging on the counter tops!
after going on the coal mine tour on tuesday, we headed back to ryan's parents' house for a cookout before going downtown to watch the fourth of july fireworks. the city of scranton always puts on such a great fireworks display and we had front row seats in courthouse square for the show . . .