Thursday, December 11, 2014


I wanted to post some links so our friends and family can see what John and Ed's company ExpenseBot has been up to. So much going on, lots of progress happening and they're continuing to move this company forward.

These guys are working their tails off-- and it's showing!

The latest updates:

Company website: ExpenseBot

Sunday, November 23, 2014


Adrian asked us last year if we'd take him to New York City for his 8th birthday. He's been asking us since he was 6. He's had this fascination with New York City for many years. We told him Lego Land would be our next vacation, but that he'd definitely get to go someday. It just so happened that John and his partner had to go to NYC for a business trip. It was just a week after Adrian's 8th birthday. So the timing was superb. We took the opportunity to tag along with dad and head to the big apple. 

It was not only Adrian's first time, but mine as well. We were both in total awe as soon as our plane went over the giant city. It's such a different world. It's so interesting and it's got such an amazing energy about it. It was almost surreal being there. I could have easily sat on a bench and people watched for dayyyyz.

Central Park

I was in love with all of the artwork in the city.

FAO Schwarz - Lego City NYC style.

I remember the movie BIG like it was yesterday. My, my how time flies!!!!! 

Chops Sticks-- not so much.

Anna and Adrian

Central Park

Rockefeller Plaza

The Apple Store. You enter into the clear cube and the store is underground.

St. Patricks Cathedral was stunning. They were doing lot's of restoring work.

Beautiful, HUGE buildings everywhere.

The Empire State building. 

We didn't have time to go up. There was a long wait and we had so much to squeeze in before our plane left that night.

Fine dining for this 8 year old. It'll probably be by far the nicest place he eats for a longggg time :) He's feasting on gourmet 3 cheese macaroni. 

My handsome men!

Adrian totally got bombarded by all the characters. It started out as one and they all showed up within seconds. They wanted to make some money.

I was very fortunate to have time to head to Queens and visit my old college roomy Kathy and her husband Trevor and new, fresh NEW baby Wyatt. I got my newborn fix. Such a sweet little family!!

Taxi selfies :) and watching some TV on they way to the airport.

Squeezing in some homework on the way to our home-- sweet home.

Good Bye NYC... until next time. 
I'm fairly certain Adrian will move there someday. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

DIY Banquette aka The Breakfast Nook

So many of the houses in our area make no sense to me. You have 4 to 5 bedroom homes with decent sized kitchens and the smallest eating nook area, fit for approximately 4 people. Now most homes have formal dinning rooms, but most people don't use them on a daily basis. Many of our friends use them as toy rooms or for other purposes.

So as a family of 6 that needed more space, we took our eating nook 

from this.......... to this.

Two challenges, a tight budget and we needed to make our small area fit 6-7 people comfortably and still be able to maneuver to the patio door without squeezing through or moving a table/chairs. 

A banquette or breakfast nook was our best bet and we had the perfect wall for it!

Like most of our home projects, we had a small budget to work with. First we hit up the local Habitat Restore for some recycled cabinets. We bought 3 sets of over the refrigerator cabinets that made a perfect bench. 

Helpers. Future thrifters. It's in their blood... right Grandma Julia!?! :)

Another score for the day was 4 wooden chairs with vinyl covered teal cushions. I fell in love with the color. And since I couldn't do my kitchen cabinets in white like I had wanted (back in this post) I envisioned white everything for the banquette (except for some pops of color) 
And at just $5 each it was a steal of a deal for these chairs!!

White paint can work wonders. It doesn't even look like the same chair.

This was our eating area before. Without the leaf in it. It was tight. For two chairs on one side it needed the leaf in the middle.

Here it was with the leaf in it... but then it just made it too tight for the space.
(we put the leaf in it for the BOTW commercial last year, hence the guy with the headphones and giant light)

You had to move the chair at the right end all the way in, just to get to the sliding door. It was a pain.

The third phase of our eating area before we found time to build the banquette was just using a white table and our new used rehabbed chairs. That table really started brightening up that area a ton.

Finally-- The Nook:

We took a weekend we had no plans and pulled the trigger to start the big project. 

First, we measured our area and then hit up Home Depot. We had a piece of white plywood cut for the top of the bench. We also picked up some 2x4's for the bottom frame "bones" of the bench. 

The weekend prior I had sanded, primed and sprayed the cabinets. 

John's fine job at putting together the foundation of the banquette.

Mason was clearly shocked at how well his parents were doing at this DIY job :)

It was coming together. We didn't need to nail it to the wall since it's heavy enough that it doesn't slide.

Three or four boys can fit nicely on one side now.

We used it like this for about a month or so until my mom sewed the cushions for the back and seating. I really need to take the time and learn to sew!! It's on my bucket, really! 

Here's the final look. My mom is amazing at sewing and upholstery work. I'm eventually going to put a large white pendant drum shade above like this one. But in the meantime I couldn't pass up this fun little tiffany pendant light that was 90% off at Home Depot, yep just $19.00. Someday I'll learn not to buy something just because it's on sale. Maybe??!

There's so much more room to get around to the sliding door. An actually path now. Even when people are sitting in the chairs you can fit around easily.

I bought 2, 1 1/2 inch thick foam pieces at JoAnn Fabrics for the seat and the back. They always have a 40% off coupon for one item which came in handy. Then I bought white vinyl for the bottom seating - easy to wipe up when kids spill stuff on a daily basis :) For the back cushion I bought a grey microfiber material. It's soft and easy to clean as well. 

And the extra storage is just a big ole bonus! 

BTW... before I resourced my mom for the upholstery job, I looked online and priced out some giant custom cushions for the bench. I about fell over. It was over $500 to order just one and I needed two.  Ugh... just further confirming that I need to start sewing!

My mom did an excellent job making covers for both. We slid them over the foam forms and sewed them up at the far ends. Mom also made the piping for the back cushion. It definitely makes it look more finished and professional. The last thing was tufting the bottom cushion. It had to be done because the white vinyl cover was sliding all over the place around the foam. I picked up some cheap pearl-ish looking buttons at a craft store for $2 per 8 pack. We measured and sewed them in. My moms poor finger tips were about raw by the time it was done... but look how great it turned out!! :) 

I used giant velcro strips that I stuck to the cushion and the wooden bench to help keep it in place. 

Last... I'll be looking for an oval table I can refinish white and replace this rectangle table. We all bump our knees and shins on the table legs. A pedestal table would be ideal for something like this. Eventually we'll have one there. 

Overall, we're very happy with the way it turned out. We've been using it for over 6 months now and it's improved the functionality of our kitchen space tremendously!

Hurray for saving us probably $2k on this project! Now on to the next one...