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Well, here it is, our new kitchen! kitchennew.jpgWe finally got everything cleaned up and put back in place after the floor installation, although there was so much dust from the whole process, we'll probably still be Swiffering it up months from now (just like finding Christmas tree needles around the house in July).

We completed straightening in time for a wave of Halloween trick-or-treaters, although we were disappointed that we didn't get many kids at all compared to last year. We even watched them cross the street in front of our house without stopping here for candy! Even though all of the lights were on, and we had a ghostly flag flying, we'll just have to chalk it up to our lack of jack-o-lanterns. Next time, we'll remember the essential step of pumpkin carving. 


Extreme Makeover: Kitchen Edition

painting.jpgLet the renovation begin! Last weekend, we started the kitchen transformation, beginning with a "lighthouse blue" coat of paint. But first, we had to do battle with the dust bunnies, scraps, and screws on top of the unfinished laundry room ceiling (the construction workers never cleaned up any surface too high up to see when they built our house). Then, we moved the furniture and laundry baskets into the living room, instantly turning them into accessible pet beds.

floorwrecking.jpgThis weekend, we needed all the help we could get from Cortney's parents and Curtis, as we tackled the major work of ripping out the tile down to the subfloor. We tried every tool we had in search of the most efficient way to get it done in time: sledgehammer, crowbar, even hand axe! The chips were flying, and we didn't make good headway until Dad H went out and bought a masonry chisel which, when combined with the crowbar, finally lifted out major sections at once.

lampmount.jpgAt the same time as this destruction was going on, constructive work was getting accomplished as well. Jon learned how to install a new faucet from Dad H, and Curtis and Dad H engineered a brilliant solution to the challenge of mounting a long string of three lights from a single, off-center electrical hole. By adding a board and running the wires along it to the middle, they made it look like it was part of the lamp all along.

Meanwhile, Mom H put on her green thumb and trimmed back our garden for the end of the season, including our eight-foot-tall coneflower. She even took care of the last lawn mowing of the year. Thanks for all your help, family! We couldn't have done it without you. 


Birthday Week

The birthday celebrations continued this week on Sunday with a delicious dinner at Cortney's parents' house with Patty and Curtis. Dad H provided the smoked ribs and Mom H provided the chocolate/whipped cream cake roll. bdaycake.jpgJon thanked them for the special menu and for the gifts: a one-of-a-kind safari-themed shower curtain and—at last—a replacement for the garage door opener we lost  awhile back. On Monday, just the two of us marked the occasion yet again with a dinner out at Red Lobster, where the waiter revealed the secret of their cheesy biscuits: just Bisquik, cheddar, and Italian herbs.

On Thursday, we got tickets to see soprano Renee Fleming at Hill Auditorium, which we preceded with dinner at Cottage Inn. Fleming was performing the title role in a concert presentation of Richard Strauss' Daphne. We were especially interested in this performance because we were in the middle of reading her autobiography. Indeed, we were very glad to hear the beauty and finesse of her voice.


Birthday Tailgate

How many Michigan fans have an October 10th birthday? bdaytailgate.jpgWe had four to celebrate at the tailgate today: Jon, Curtis, Bobbi, and Tom and Carrie's baby, who is to be delivered on Monday! Cortney made some tasty peanut butter brownies, and planted maize and blue candles for each of the birthday folk in them. Of course, that wasn't the only food on the menu.  Judi's sweets are, of course, always the best.  momjudi.jpgBobbi brought the tastiest taco dip ever (we've requested that again for next week), and someone else brought pretzel jello - never heard of it, but it was really good.  Cortney's mom's chili and Charlie's grilled hotdogs were the party food du jour, and were a welcome warm treat during the cold snap. This was the first football fallstadium.jpgSaturday of the year to really feel like fall, at around 50 degrees. And to think that it was 80 degrees just a few days ago!

Notice that the only discussion here is of the tailgating menu.  We won't be discussing the game.  After all, Halloween isn't for another few weeks, so there's no sense in scaring everyone now. 



Honk if you love hooters

The Toledo Zoo had an Oktoberfest celebration like Detroit's, but Toledo was asking for $40 per person for their party. So we passed on that, and just plain went to the zoo for the animals. Jon had a great time as usual watching the hippo pool (they even climbed out of the water and trundled around for awhile!). In contrast, the meerkats were scampering about. We wonder if they are aware that their enclosure is right next to the white lions courtesy of Siegfriend and Roy? Being a Sunday in the fall, attendance in the Africa section was low, but they were still serving delicious flame-broiled burgers on demand.  Most unique about this visit? The penguins were honking. Listen for yourself:

Not captured on the video is when a couple of them would hide under rocks and make an entirely different, guttural sound. Were they having a good time, or just sneaking around?