Sunday, August 30, 2015

Kelly Clarkson

I think we've lost count as to how many times we've seen Kelly Clarkson. I need to count my ticket stubs, but after a quick review on her wikipedia page, I think this concert was our 11th???  We saw her once in Dallas for a charity concert that wasn't part of a tour, so I think that's what pushes us over the double-digit mark.  In any event, you could say we're Kelly Clarkson fans.

When the tour was announced, we did our typical ticket tango where several of us refresh our Ticketmaster webpage repeatedly at 9:59 a.m. in order to get the best tickets possible.  We ended up with six pretty decent seats. Later that day we were offered to buy six more tickets at even BETTER seats. We wondered if having a dozen tickets would be an issue. It wasn't.  We ended up with a great group of girls...and a party bus.

Kelly is this amazing performer who not only sings from her heart (we were all sobbing when she sang Piece by Piece), but she engages so honestly with the audience.  She's the best ever.

Stop #1 of the great Party Bus! #selfiestick

Here we all are - ready to party!

Showing off how close our seats are!

Love getting to have my sister with me at these great shows!

And, this time we brought mama.

Renee and I used to sit on our apartment floor, cheering on Kelly Clarkson on AI (and closely evaluating her makeup tactics)

Pentatonix were an incredible opening act. So much talent.

Here's our girl! Just a few months pregnant and singing her heart out.

 It's a little overmodulated, but you can see how killer our seats were and how fabulous Kelly is. Her hair is inspirational!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Chaos Indoor Soccer

Against my original judgement, we decided to keep Walt in soccer over the summer. I thought this was overkill for a 4 year old and really thought he'd enjoy the break over the summer. I was wrong :)  The way the team did it over the summer was absolutely perfect.  There were no practices. Just fun, game play on Sundays.  Also, there's a big difference with indoor soccer! It's very fast-paced. You don't have to stop every time someone kicks it out of bounds (which happens a lot when you're four).  My desire to want to slow down over the summer was quickly squashed. Things just naturally DO slow down and frankly Walt enjoyed having this to look forward to each weekend. Because we are full-time working parents, the boys stay in school/daycare year round, so nothing feels too differently for them over the summer. 

Here are some fun pics...

Walt getting his medal from Coach Mark

Here are these stinky boys who hustle hard! As you can see, Walt is super stoked about the medal
So, I now might be a believer on summer activities.  Ask me again next summer :)

Monday, August 10, 2015

Los Cabos!

We are so very fortunate to be able to take a few days away from the kiddos to recharge. Sometimes you just have to step away from it all and remember what really matters. We missed the boys like crazy, but this trip was super fun!

Somehow all the stars aligned and we were able to coordinate a trip with friends. I think the last real getaway vacation we took with friends was Stori's wedding back in 2008. Exactly 7 years ago. Woah.  Chris and I LOVE Mexico and will probably continue to vacation there for years to come, but we had never been on the Pacific side. The Zicchinos' love Cabo and really wanted to show us their favorite spot. I know why they love it now! It's truly beautiful (although, how can blue water and sand and adult beverages not make anything beautiful?)

We stayed at Pueblo Bonito Pacifico, which was adults only and had a very zen vibe. Great for nighttime, not what we were looking for during the day. So, we shuttled it everyday to a sister resort up the mountain, PB Sunset Beach. It was a great balance!

Let's tell the story in pictures:

So, I got myself a selfie stick. I broke it immediately after this pic. But this was so worth it!

Trying to capture the sunset the first night.

That's the best I could do. Photo is not doing it justice.
Day 2: we headed to town and enjoyed brunch at The Office (<3) and had some fun. Stori and I tried our hand at paddleboarding and didn't die.

And to the Sky Pool we go! mmm Dirty Monkey!
We are so happy!

Even the guys are happy! Richard is barely keeping his head above water (jokes)

The Sky Pool view. LOVELY!

Look at all of us floating in the pool.
All cleaned up and ready for dinner...
The ladies! That desert wind really kicked up!
Despite being broken, I managed to leverage the selfie stick at the beach party that was kind of a bust and kind of fun at the same time.

I don't want the trip to be remembered by our experience with Spirit Airlines, but man did it SUCK.  We had a 7-hour airport delay on the way home, which was a huge bummer #neveragain

These people make me so very, very happy! What a great group of friends to vacation with! Thanks, Stori, for organizing!

I'm already thinking about another group trip! This was too much fun!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The New Kitchen

I know what you're thinking: Aren't the Bruns' in a brand new house? Why do they need a new kitchen? You're exactly right. We bought our house new in March 2012.  That being said, it was a spec house, so we did not have the opportunity to pick out any of the design pieces.  We negotiated a few things like turning a desk upstairs into a bar (duh), but couldn't repick things like granite choice or backsplash.

Fast forward three years later and we are eager to put some of our personal touches on the house. We've added some paint color (actually, have a complete master redo that needs to be shared on this blog too!), but when it came to the kitchen it was the overall style that wasn't working for us.

I'll explain in these BEFORE pics:

A full view of the kitchen from the living room. We love the layout. It's a large, long kitchen with plenty of seating and tons of cabinets...

Speaking of those cabinets, they are Alder wood. I don't know anything about different kinds of wood, but everyone says these are great cabinets.  What we don't care for is the cabinets, wood floors, backsplash and countertops are all the same tone. There is no contrast. 

Also, this "old world" style is not really our style. It's pretty and grand, don't get me wrong. We're more straight lines, geometric patterns and modern style.  Our favorite is mid-century modern (Mad Men!)

Better seen in the first pic, but we tried to paint the walls to change the look of the kitchen. The problem is we did NOT pick green paint. It's actually a shade of gray, but all that brown/orange in the kitchen is making it look green.
Here's the kitchen at night (or dusk). It's very WARM.

Close up pick of the travertine tile backsplash. Not bad! But again, it's a little too neutral and warm for us. 
Our first plan was just to hire someone to paint our cabinets white.  We spoke to many vendors and even other people who had done it and I started panicking about picking the right shade of white and then panicked about sinking thousands of dollars to paint our cabinets then hating it worse than the wall paint!  After much discussion, Chris and I decided we needed to make this a real project (not just a few changes here and there) and do it right.

I called a few remodelers, but it was clear that Elite Remodeling would get our business.  They listened to our ideas and mapped out a plan. We decided we were going to KEEP the granite countertops (this was a big stipulation for us), paint the cabinets, change the backsplash, expose the vent hood, and change the moulding on the top of the cabinets to something less ornate.

After meeting with the designer to pick out colors, she suggested we paint our island a different color. I was ok with this, thinking a dark gray or something neutral. She not only talked me into a sapphire blue island, but also to paint our mantel to match! I'm scared!

It took two months to get going after agreeing on everything, picking our details, and scheduling the crews. The end-to-end construction is supposed to take 3-4 weeks.  This is what happened after the demo:
Bye bye, backsplash and cabinet moulding (and hood!)

Same day - they put up sheet rock and added the new moulding.

It took three weeks to complete the work (actually, it was really even closer to 2.5 weeks), which was much less than the estimate and I appreciate that! The demo week wasn't so bad, but the week they painted our kitchen we 100% unusable. All the appliances and even the sink were covered up. Just getting in through the garage door was an ordeal.  But it was all worth it for this final product:

The whole kitchen from the living room (sorry about the bright light)

Looking back towards the living room. Blue island!

My favorite spot of the whole new kitchen. New range hood (exposed) and backsplash to the ceiling.
Buffet wall

Appliances and the blue island!
The mantel painted to  match the island (we also removed some moulding details on the front panel to create a more clean look 
Straight view of the appliances. Don't they look great with the white cabinets?!

Since the colors all change depending on the time of day, here's what we did:
1. Antique white cabinets (to complement a blonde/tan granite)
2. Gray subway tile that is textured, so reflects light all kinds of ways
3. Sapphire blue island and mantel
4. Stainless steel range hood
5. Original floors
6. Original countertops

There you have it! We couldn't be more pleased with this entire process and the outcome. We are now open to hosting many dinners :)