My Sister’s Maine Squeeze

As promised yesterday, here are all the details on my little sis’ big day.  It was so beautiful, and she timed it perfectly–right between an earthquake and a hurricane, without a cloud in sight!

Wasn’t it gorgeous?!  The ceremony and reception were held at the Red Barn at Outlook Farm in South Berwick, Maine and the venue could literally not have been any more perfect.  But we can’t just jump right in, now can we?  Of course not!  If you’ve been paying attention at all, then you know I like to go on and on and on about weddings (like I did with my big sister’s wedding in Santa Barbara, CA).  So I’ll make you a promise if you make me one–I’ll keep this wedding to one post IF you promise not to skip ahead to all the wedding deets?  Deal?  Deal.

First up?  The bridal party preparations!  We met up with my little sis while she and her bridesmaids were getting their hair and makeup did for the big day.  Just check out how happy she was–she literally was beaming  she was so excited!

And since she’s a smart girl, she made some super smart decisions.  Like picking out adorable bridesmaid dresses that were also cost-conscious (only $23 each from Charlotte Russe! check out a similar dress here):

You could tell that her bridesmaids LOVED them (and the extra cash that they left in their pockets).

Her bridesmaids had made sure that there were lots of cute touches surrounding her on her big day, and that was so sweet to see–love it when you can get a bunch of youngish girls to come together to do good instead of evil drama.

Once we said our hellos and shared a champagne toast, it was time to leave the bridal party to their hair-didding.  So here’s our last look at the bride before . . . a picture of calm, cool, collectedness:

Then it was time for the ceremony!  So off to the Red Barn we drove–over the river and through the woods (or on 95 and then on a side road).  And arrive at a ceremony we did.  And then we waited, all of us sisters giddy in anticipation.

And ready with our cameras.  We were pointing those things at anything that would sit still!

The venue was G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S.

And the groom wasn’t so bad himself . . . who doesn’t love a man in uniform?  That’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout!

All the nervous anticipation . . . waiting for the curtains to be raised . . .

And the procession to begin . . .

The Maid of Honor stood out from the crowd with a different gown, coordinated perfectly with the other girls.

But one of the sweetest parts of the procession was the Flower Girl Woman.  How fantastic is that idea?!

And then?  It was time!  Time for the sweetest little sister ever to make her grand entrance . . .

Sigh.

And the handoff is gooooooood (what?  Football season’s about to start.  Wrong moment?  Sorry).

Don’t they look darling?  Like little wedding cake toppers?  The brunette versions.

“I do.”

“I do.”

Smoocharoo!

HOORAY!

While the bride and groom got their mugs shot with their bridal party, the rest of us enjoyed some cocktails and apps out on the verandah . . .

It was so great to have all the sisters and mothers together (4 sisters and 3 moms–nothing says normal like crazily-arranged families, right?) . . .

The Ex-Wives Club . . . One, Two, and Three!

Once Chloe finally reappeared, we made quick work of grabbing her for some family shots.

It was so great to see my stepmom and my uncle–it had been way too long!

Once cocktail hour was over, we headed back inside for the dinner reception and dancing.  From here on out, I’m just going to let the pictures do the talking (you’re welcome).

So there you have it!  The last sister has been spoken for.  The wedding was wonderful and Mr. Bunches and I were so happy to be there and share in Chloe and Brandon’s special day.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

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Driving Miss Irene

Nothing like a nice relaxing Sunday drive, eh?

Yep, the Mr. and I were some of the idiots that took to the road on Sunday against everyone’s (newscasters, governors, panicked fathers-in-law) warnings.  But see, it wasn’t because we wanted the thrill of Driving Miss Irene; nope–it was because we were in Massachusetts and we needed to get back home to Brockport.  And it needed to happen Sunday.  ‘Cuz I had a flight to TX to catch today.  Starting to understand our logic?  Good.

So we drove straight through all that yellow/orangey gobbledy-gook.  But it wasn’t that bad . . . just a few white-knuckled moments.

That necessitated a brief pull-over at one of the rest stops.  Check out the McDonald’s flags a-wavin’:

The rain pretty much started Saturday afternoon and just kept on trucking.  So we drove through a lot of it, with it clearing only just past Syracuse. 

Luckily, there weren’t any accidents.  Just some fallen trees and a little bit of flooding.  No problem for the Bunches!

But why were we in Massachusetts?  Had we changed our minds and decided to jump ship Western NY?!?!  Nope.  Nothing that dramatic–sorry.  We took a road trip to attend my littlest sister’s wedding (my older sis announced it here)!  So stay tuned to see all the details tomorrow . . .

In the meantime, here are some shots of our quick tour around Boston before dropping my big sis and her husband at the airport.  Luckily, Irene didn’t interfere with their flight home, so thank goodness for that!

Of course, Irene made Boston eerily empty on what-would-be a normally busy summer Saturday . . .

We walked down by the water and were surprised at all the boats still docked.  Wonder how they ended up faring?  Some places, though, were ready for the much-hyped Irene . . .

But the media sensationalism about the dreaded Irene didn’t stop us from poking around our old city . . .

Besides being a little overcast, it was actually a perfect day to walk around.  That is, until this happened:

Luckily we were safely back in the car when the rain started Saturday.  And we even got to spend Saturday night visiting some of Mr. Bunches’ family, including the Junior Bunches herself, so all worked out great.  It really was sort of an over-hyped storm, at least for Western MA and Upstate NY–driving through it was the equivalent of driving through any rain storm.  So take that naysayers!

Alright, even though I’m traveling all week for work, I’ve got some great updates planned–weddings in Maine, apartment-visiting in Boston, and even a wood floor decision (I know you’re all on the edge of your seats over that one)!

Anyone else have a different take on Irene?  Did she live up to your expectations?  Or do you agree that she was just sort of a grumpy old woman with no real bite?

Watch your step

As promised yesterday, I’m here to share some photos of the completed patio. Completed, that is, according to our contractor who was trying to get paid before leaving for vacation. How come contractors have their own definition of completed?

completed: past participle, past tense of com·plete (Verb)

         1. Finish making or doing.

completed: past participle, past tense of com·plete (Contractor’s Verb)

         1. Finish making or doing at the bare minimum with no regard to what was originally promised, just enough to get paid.

The difference is there, albeit subtle.  Okay, maybe not so subtle–I’m probably laying it on pretty thick here, but I think we’ve all been there, right?  But I have to remind myself that Steve was the one who finished our weeping wall in only three days (see more on that project here), and he was the one who found the problem during our inspection, which resulted in us getting a large credit from the sellers that then funded all these projects.  So, to be fair, I’m only slightly upset.  Yeah–let’s call it slightly.

Okay, so want to see what the patio looks like now?  Sure you do!  Especially if you’ve been waiting patiently since reading all about it here and here.  But first, let’s all step into our Wayback Machine and take a look at what was . . .

. . . the jungle patio on closing day:

Then fast forward to only two days after closing when demo began:

Fast forward one more day when the tree killers removers did their dirty work (see all the evidence of the carnage here):

Skip ahead to a week later . . .

And then, FINALLY, after begging and pleading with Steve to finish it before he went on vacation, we now have this:

Not too shabby, eh?  We’re definitely happy with it.  I even like that there is some variation in the pavers (even though I had been told all would be shale black, it looks like each different-sized piece is a slightly varied shade) since it highlights the pattern I chose.

OH, and that’s not bird poop–just paver dust.  It’s rained since then and all those spots are gone.  So what do you think?  Do you like it?  Steve did a great job, huh?

Of course, just don’t look too closely, or you’ll start to notice things.  Little things, like, oh, I don’t know, the missing cap piece on the left side of the wall . . . or the chewed up bricks that still need to be replaced on the brick wall . . . 

How ’bout that big pile o’ dirt in the background?  We’re thinking about waiting until winter when it should get covered with snow and then we’ll have our own little ski hill to practice on.

What do you think of those steps that Steve built us (as promised)?  Pretty nice, huh?  They make it so easy to step out the sliders and safely get down to the patio.  I don’t know what we’d do without them.  Oh wait–do you not see them?  You mean you don’t have contractor vision in which you magically see things done that are, in all actuality, just complete figments of your imagination?  Kind of like this guy . . .

Yeah–so that’s what I mean by the contractor’s definition of complete.  Apparently in contractor world patios are just for looking at and not actually accessing and enjoying from the house.  BUT, I’m trying to hold onto some faith (trying being the operative word there) that Steve will come through and build us some stairs.  We’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime I’m just going to sit back and enjoy my new completed almost completed patio wall . . .

. . . and imagine me up some steps . . .

Aloha!

Aloha kakahiaka! (Translation: Good morning!)  I hope everyone had as exciting of a weekend as Mr. B and I, but I seriously doubt you did.  Unless, that is, you magically transported to the ninth Hawaiian island, aka a little place I like to call Brockport.  But Saturday night, it should’ve been called Holoholo (that translates to to walk or travel for fun and really it was the only somewhat-related Hawaiian word I could find in less than two minutes via Google; if you can come up with a better word, I’m all ears) . . . you see, Mr. B and I were invited to a LUAU party by our friends, Mr. and Mrs. Holoholo (names have been changed to protect the innocent):

That’s Mrs. Holoholo doing her welcome dance for us.  Somehow Mr. Holoholo managed to dodge my camera all night, so instead I’ll just include a picture of Mr. Bunches in his full Luau regalia (disclosure: he picked this outfit out all by himself, so I’m taking no blame credit):

Mr. and Mrs. Holoholo put on quite the spread.  The LUAU was an uber festive occasion.  Upon arriving, we were immediately leid . . .

And offered our choice of quite a few beverages (Cotton Candy juice, Whipped Cream juice, Mixed Jim Boeheims, assorted juices and sodas and the list goes on and on in total PG fashion) . . .

Not too shabby, eh?  I was pleased . . .

Too early in the morning for that shot?  Sorry.  I was just excited (and sort of dancing–yeah, sometimes I dance a little like Elaine.  Deal.)  Anyways, the decor was quite nice . . .

And there was even some mood lighting . . .

I wish I had some pictures of the flamingo drink straws, but I think I may have been too focused on the drinks themselves.  Oops.

The party was an excellent time.  There was entertainment, including dancing by Mrs. Holoholo and her partner-in-crime, Mrs. Rockstar (you’ll understand the name later when you see her husband).  Here’s a little fishing demonstration . . .

And a Zumba presentation:

And there was even a guest appearance by . . . . wait for it . . . . you’ll never guess . . . . are you ready?!?!  No seriously–are you?

All the way from . . .

Washington, D.C. . . .

Making his first 2011 LUAU appearance . . .

How ’bout a nice big cheer for . . . a one Mr. Deenie!

Now that’s a party!  Of course, Deenie had to get a little stretch in before he showed the ladies how it’s really done on the dance floor . . .

It was wild.  W-I-L-D.  But, it was really just the opening act for what was to come next . . . but first, intermission (I know–is the suspense killing you already?  Sorry, but I’ve got to get all these pics in somehow).

That’s right–some good ol’fashioned chillaxing, luau-style.  which apparently means that Mr. Rockstar (just wait for it–it’s good) needs to sit on Mr. B’s lap doing his best Olsen impression . . .

But there was also some normal chillaxing too.

Yeah, pineapples chillax.

Okay, but then it was time for the big show!  Oh the excitement . . .

Can I get some hands in the air?  Maybe waving from here to there?

Let’s welcome to the stage . . . Mr. Rockstar!  Here the crowd was supposed to cheer, but somehow it was eerily silent.  Wonder why?  First, of course, Mr. Rockstar needed to warm up and tune his guitar . . .

Luckily, it had recently been tuned, so he was all set.  Let the show begin!

If tomorrow all the things were gone,

I’d worked for all my life.

And I had to start again,

with just my children and my wife.

I’d thank my lucky stars,

to be livin here today.

‘ Cause the flag still stands for freedom,

and they can’t take that away.

And I’m proud to be an American,

where at least I know I’m free.

And I wont forget the men who died,

who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up,

next to you and defend her still today.

‘ Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,

God bless the USA.

Can I get a round of applause please?!  Fantastic.  Truly a performer through and through.  I’m pretty sure a performance like that requires that the guitar then be retired.  Well played my friend.  Well played.  Rest now.

But the entertainment didn’t stop there!  Nope–then it was time for the laser light show!  That’s right–LASERS!  Performed by Deenie himself all the way from our Nation’s capital . . .

Yeah, so the show mostly involved circles.  Of course, that is, until Mrs. Rockstar got into the act . . .

Then it was time for the interpretive dance portion of the show.  This time, again, led by Deenie himself.  So go on–interpret.

So what did you get out of that?  I got Magnum PI, an accountant, and a Jedi knight.  You?

Alright, so that pretty much wraps up the best LUAU party ever.  And here’s Mrs. Holoholo with her goodbye dance for you (yes, I agree, it’s pretty similar to the welcome dance we saw earlier, but that’s pretty Hawaiian–you know, since Aloha means hello, goodbye, and everything in between):

So thanks again to Mr. and Mrs. Holoholo (who not only throw a mean party, but are also two of Bunches of Joy’s biggest supporters–thanks you two!  If you want to be cool like them, then you should subscribe like them.  I’m pretty sure they’ve learned everything they know since subscribing . . . the previous 20+ years of their lives were just kind of a lost cause.  Don’t let that happen to you.  Subscribe now.  Ha.)

Oh, and if you’re waiting for a patio update, well, it’s finished.  Er, sort of.  Pics tomorrow–I promise!

Don’t Pet the Animals

Already you must know how much we love animals.  We’ve seen a lot of them since moving to NY, but none quite like the specimens in the Hilton Zoo . . .

Totally different kind of zoo.  With music, gambling, beverages, you name it–the Hilton Zoo had it!

A few weeks ago our friends Braden and Amber took us here for some good times, good fun, and of course, some liquid refreshment.  I kind of love that the entrance sign (because of the balloon) implies that only one person under the age of 21 can be admitted–could you imagine the fights over getting to be THAT one?!

Yes sir–I had my first Genny Light.  Nothing but the best for me and the Mr., eh?

Our friends knew better and steered clear of the Genny (wise decision B&A) . . .

Of course, there was more fun to be had than just in the Zoo.  This was the Hilton Fair after all!  There were rides . . .

Refreshments . . .

Mmm . . . fried dough.

Oh, and we had our FIRST fried oreos . . . which basically means we got to experience heaven in a crispy shell.

We also had fun playing some carnival games . . .

(They’re trying to knock a kid in the water from about a million miles away.  No joke–I’m pretty sure no kids got wet here, but it was all for the boy scouts, so it was worth it.)

We had more success at this game:

It’s like BINGO but with rubber balls.  Genius.

Amber and I both ended up big winners.  What did we win?  Well, you’ll just have to wait a few more weeks for the big prize’s debut . . . riveted, aren’t you?

Overall, the Hilton Fair was a great time, so thanks B&A for a fun night out!

Of course, we weren’t thanking you the next morning, but that’s another story . . .

Still not sure how the patio project’s progressing, but we’ll definitely have updated pics for you on Monday–until then, enjoy your weekend!  You know we’ll be enjoying ours . . . painting, digging, planting, ya’ know–all-around-home-owning kind of stuff.  Joy.

Fixing a Weeping Wall

When you find a weeping wall in nature, that’s a good thing (we found one here and it was awesome).  But when you find one in your house?  Not so much.  Some of you might remember that we mentioned a problem with our garage wall that was discovered during the inspection (discussed here and here).  Here’s a lovely shot of the rot wall:

And remember that little diagram I drew up explaining the issue?  You don’t?  Okay, here it is again:

Clear as mud?  Excellent.

Well, now that the patio has been dug out to a lower level (here’s the latest shot of how it’s looking) . . .

. . . hopefully the underlying cause of that rot has been solved.  But, our contractor still had to fix the ailing wall.  And fix it he did!  These pictures are actually kind of old news now since the wall was done only three days after we closed on our house, but I thought I’d share them anyways.

First up, Steve had to tear down all the drywall and check out the extent of the damage.

The studs were actually in better shape than expected, with only the ones to the far right (and in the closet way on the right) having any damage.

Lucky for us there was a closet since it was that post (the white wall-looking piece in the right of the picture above) that was basically supporting the bulk of the second story.  Oh, and see how damp the ground is?  It hadn’t even rained recently and it was still all wet.  Ick.

Yeah, so the bottoms of the studs were rotted out, and the footer (the stud that goes along the bottom) was completely rotted.  So it was a good thing we took on this project.  And as if this wasn’t proof enough, halfway through repairing the wall there was a major thunderstorm with torrential rains.  Those rains turned out to be a little blessing in disguise.  (Now that we’ve bought a holy house, there seem to be a lot of little blessings coming our way–guess all that sunshine pouring out of the Mr.’s butt is just keeping on.)  Why?  Well, cuz the rain showed us this:

Can’t tell what that is?  Sorry–it was a thunderstorm after all and I was in the back of the garage, so the lighting stunk.  Those are water droplets pouring through the concrete wall and a little stream flowing behind the newly laid footer (made out of pressure-treated lumber, so the water won’t affect it).  Isn’t that crazy?!?!  That’s what we call proof beyond any doubt that the wall had water issues.  It felt good to have a little reassurance that we were doing the right thing and not just jumping the gun.

Anyways, Steve sistered new studs to all the old studs and laid down a new footer.  He also chopped off the bottoms of the old studs so that in case there is ever a water issue again on the garage floor (which there shouldn’t be since we’re fixing the patio, but just in case), the water won’t weep up the old studs and cause them to continue to rot out.

See how the old stud bottoms have been chopped off?  And new studs attached to their sides (that’s called sistering apparently)?  And a new footer?  Oh, and also all new R15 insulation.  Not too shabby, eh?

Steve also had the good idea of covering the back wall with plywood instead of drywall.  It may look unfinished, but it allows us the flexibility of hanging items on the garage wall in any location we want (instead of trying to find studs).  Pretty smart, huh?

He also added two new outlets for us, so now we have three outlets on that wall!  That will be perfect for when I’m out there widdling.  You know, like maybe one of these for our now-empty backyard . . .

You know, from a solid piece of wood.  In my spare time.  Widdling.  Or “carpentering” as Gaylord says.

Anyways, here’s the final wall all sealed up:

Oh–and yeah, those of you who are observant probably noticed the huge pile of carpet.  This pic was taken just this past weekend when we ripped out all the nasty carpet to expose our beautiful hardwood floors.)  Looks good, huh?  Steve even trimmed it out with some quarter-round along the edges to give it a finished look.

So there you have it–weeping wall fixed, and super-functional garage wall added.  Progress, progress, progress.  Love it!  Now if only our patio can get finished by Friday . . . fingers crossed!

Do you prefer Dark or Light?

Do you prefer dark . . .

Or light . . . ?

Images from here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here.

I have less than a week to make this decision and I need your help.  See, I know that dark will potentially show more dirt, dust, and pet hair (of course, we don’t have any pets and we aren’t planning on getting any in the foreseeable future–sorry!).  But I also love the richness of it.  And with the light option, well, considering that our floors are 3/8″ thick red oak, I’m just worried that they’ll end up looking too orange-y over time and I know I don’t like that.  But we had light floors in our old condo, and they did hide dirt pretty well.  What to do, what to do.  Sorry to be going over this again, but it’s a BIG decision, and I don’t want to make it too hastily.

Although, I have made one decision at least–the refinishing method.  Most hardwood floors nowadays get refinished with one coat of stain (if changing the color) and then three coats of polyurethane–that’s called a gym-floor finish.  However, back in the day floors were treated with a penetrating oil and then waxed.  Both are good finishes, but the penetrating oil and wax combo has the added benefit of being especially durable.  For instance, if you have stained floors with polyurethane and you somehow scratch your floors, well, since the stain is only on the surface, you’ll have to have the whole area redone.  However, with a penetrating oil, the stain is soaked deep into the wood, so scratches won’t show.  Plus, if the floors need to be touched up, you just have to buff them with a new coat of wax instead of stripping the old poly and applying new poly.  So, with all that said, we’ve decided to go with a penetrating oil combined with a wax finish.  Sidenote: I wanted to use Rubio Monocoat, a no-VOC one-coat finish from Belgium, but no refinishers in the Buffalo area have used it before, and the Mr. and I are not up to doing something this big on our own.  BUT, with that being said, anyone out there used Monocoat and had success?  If so, do share!

So while making at least one decision is most definitely a step in the right direction, that still doesn’t help me with the color decision.  Luckily, our hardwood guy came over and did up some samples for us:

All three of these were one coat of Duraseal Penetrating Finish with a coat of polyurethane (not quite dry yet, hence the blotchiness and sort of wet look in the dark brown option).  Now, he didn’t have any wax with him (nowadays apparently not many people know enough to ask for it, but he used the stain and wax method in his own home and loves the results), so he just used some poly to show me how that looked (this was before I had decided on wax).

The color on the left is Antique Brown.

The middle is Natural:

And the right is either Golden Brown or Chestnut (I’m not sure which and since it’s definitely my least favorite, I’m not sure it even matters):

Compared to the current shade of varnish orange, all are an improvement.

He also did a patch of just bare wood with polyurethane (instead of first using the Duraseal Natural and then poly):

It’s pretty similar to the current condition of the floor, although not as orange, but more honey-colored.  Still, over time, I’m worried that it will become orange.  UGH!  I can’t decide.  Here are some more angles:

So what do you think?  If you have an opinion, please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.  I need all the help I can get on this one.

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