Sunday, August 31, 2008

Labor day weekend

I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday weekend. We are doing some labor on our weekend. Still working on the bathroom. Slowly we are starting to see it transform. The plaster has been completed. I painted the trim today. A new light, outlet, switch and shower head have been installed.

We have started to transform the previous sink cabinet. We have cut panels to put over the existing doors to help change the style and have been searching for new feet. We will sand off the old finish and either put on a clear coat or very light stain. Hopefully tomorrow we will do something fun.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Last Day of Cruising

Our last day of cruising was spent on the boat heading back to Florida.

Anna, Peggy and I went to the towel folding demonstration. I volunteered to help make a string ray.

Ice carving demonstration by the pool.

Peggy and Anna in the pool.

Jessica and Mary after breakfast.

Big Cat is cruising.

Frank and Peggy chill by the pool.

Jessica and Anna still by the pool.

Mark, Susan and Alexandra join the fun.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Anna's First day of Sixth Grade

Anna's first day of school was Monday. As you can tell by the less than exuberant smile, Anna was not excited to be going back to school. She says she has a scary teacher (The teacher talked to her class at the end of last year). Although I think once she gets over the intimating expectations, she will get used to her.

I know I should have put this up on Monday but it has been a busy week, as it usually is when school starts. I have been working at the museum all this week, filling out all those first week school forms and trying to coordinate my art lesson schedule. This year I decided to only teach half of the lessons for Anna's class. I also have a bit of a cold so I have been really tired when we get home and I have been ignoring finishing the bathroom.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Day 4 of Cruising - Grand Caymen

At Grand Caymen, we managed to get ourselves to the beach and back. It was beautiful white sand. But we didn't see much when we were snorkeling. It was a beach day.

Grandma and Jessica

Looking for fish.

Frank chillin'.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Day 3 of Cruising - Ocho Rios, Jamaica

Our next port of call was Ocho Rios, Jamaica. We decided to do the excursion to Dunn River Falls. Frank, Anna and I decided not to climb the falls with the guide. Instead we wandered a bit by ourselves before the stream of people started coming up. They started at the bottom and climbed to the top in a human chain. Mary, Susan, Allen, Ben, Matthew, Markie and Peggy all did the climb.

It was quite a hot day, probably in the 90's. Although I overheard another cruiser say a hundred. The humidity was also very high.

I had awoken that morning with a headache and slightly upset stomach. I took some Excedrin and went on as normal. At Dunn River Falls we were in the shade, but there was no breeze. Even wading through the water I was still very hot.

After the falls, the excursion included taking us to two shopping centers. By then I was feeling quite horrible. I had brought a small water bottle with me, but let Anna drink most of it. I bought a bottle before leaving the falls and drank most of it (Frank and Anna had some). Peggy gave me the rest of hers. But all I wanted to do was get back to the ship.

When we did get back aboard, I went straight to the room and laid down. I took a couple more Excedrin because my head was still killing me and rested for several hours. I had a little bit of diet Coke and crackers (because we had not had any lunch). Eventually the headache went away and I felt well enough to go to dinner. After that, I was fine.

I don't know if it was because I wasn't feeling well, but I wasn't that impressed with the area we were in in Jamaica. The part we were at seemed a bit impoverished or run down to me. But maybe the resort areas were better or another town would be better. I'm glad we went with an excursion.

I did manage to purchase a mask at the shopping area. Frank bought some Jamaican rum cream. Anna got a shirt.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Day 2 of Cruising - Labadee, Haiti

Haiti was our first stop on the cruise. I was the most skeptical about this stop because the entire area is privately owned by Royal Caribbean. We were some of the first off the boat. We went to the beach and got a good spot. It was beautiful, a very good day.

The best part was the snorkeling. It was my first real snorkeling experience (I don't count the bay on Long Island). There was a reef and we saw all kinds of fish and coral. The brain coral was so cool as well as the purple fan coral. There was plenty to see right at the beach near the rocks. I'm sure it was not nearly as good as the famous snorkeling places, but we were really happy with it. I had not bought any flippers to go with my mask and snorkel, but now I see the advantage to them. My arms got a good workout.

Anna got the hang of snorkeling using the breathing tube for the first time. She was very excited. She's not a real good swimmer, yet. But the salt water was very easy to float in. Frank pulled her along in the deeper water (he has the flippers). We all spent a lot of time snorkeling and our backs and back of our legs were burnt by the end of the day.

They also had a little market area were the locals came to sell their stuff. They were very aggressive sellers. I managed to purchase a wooden mask but eventually got tired of the constant aggression and having to say "no thank you" ten thousand times.

Despite my doubts, it was one of the best days of the cruise. We haven't traveled to a lot of very warm places (because I prefer colder areas) but I would definitely go somewhere warm to do some more snorkeling.

Susan, Mark and the kids test the water.

The beach that we stayed at.

"We love snorkeling."

Mary and Susan take a break from swimming.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Day 0 & Day 1 Cruising

We boarded our ship around 11:30 a.m. We had to go through security and all that jazz. Since our rooms weren't ready yet, we headed for the pool (we had our suits in our carry on bags). It was nice because it wasn't crowded yet.

Anna started out the cruise on the wrong foot, literally. She slipped in the bathroom after swimming and hit her head on the doorway. We quickly learned where the medical facility was located and just as quickly learned the hours were only 9-11 a.m. and 5-7 p.m. Not helpful. We put some ice in a towel and she was fine.

The next day was just cruising so it was back to the pool. I explored the ship. There were plenty of things to do: mini golf, climbing wall, pool, game arcade, shopping, shows, gym, running track, etc. The best thing was the kids camp. You could drop off your kid at the "camp" (divided into age groups) and they had activities for the kids and we were free to go do something else. Anna went only a few times but it was nice to have the option.

Ben taking a break from swimming.

On the first afternoon, we had to do the mandatory evacuation drill. Anna's ready to go.The girls are ready for dinner.

Learning the rules of the shuffleboard game.
Our room was on the lowest level for guests (second deck). I thought that was nice because we were away from the busy areas.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

About the Boat

We are back from our second major trip of the summer - a Caribbean cruise. We made it out of Orlando just ahead of tropical storm, Fay. This was a trip to get together with Frank's parents, his sisters and their families. It was our first warm location cruise.

Frank and I had done one other cruise in Alaska many years ago (pre-Anna) but it was very different than this one. The only reason I chose a cruise was because I thought it would be the fastest way to cover the most "ground" in Alaska.

I don't remember that ship being as big as this one or as overwhelming. It certainly didn't have as many things as this one. This one went to Haiti, Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel, Mexico. It was a fun, interesting and overwhelming trip. It was great to see everyone.

I didn't take as many pictures as I did in Europe but will post many over the next week. These first ones are of the massive ship. It is the Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas. When we drove into the port, it was the biggest cruise ship in the harbor. I was hoping that it wasn't ours, but it was. Frank's dad said it could have 3700 people (not including the staff which was probably another 1200 or so). It was 14 decks (stories). Our floating city away from home.

Here you can see two elevators on the sides at the top.
This is one swimming pool area on board. There was another smaller one in a different section that was for adults only. We never used that one. The pools were filled with salt water.
This is a view of the shopping area and some restaurants.

And, of course, there was shuffleboard.

There were many more people milling around than what you see in these pictures. I took most of them as soon as we boarded and not many people were around yet.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Plaster Fun

My hope was to get the first coat of plaster finished yesterday. It didn't happen. The ceiling took me three hours to do and by the the time I was done, I could hardly lift my arm. I completed one more wall, but that was all I could do before my arm was going to fall off.

Today, I am finishing the last two walls. Then, the rest will have to wait for a while because we are leaving for vacation tomorrow. Ah, something to look forward to coming home (or something to make me really enjoy my vacation while I can!).

Pictures when we get back.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Plaster has begun

The bathroom remodel is moving along, slowly. Tuesday, I finished sanding the walls, washing the walls, putting Kilz primer on. Yesterday, I put on the sanded primer for the clay plaster.

I am using American Clay Plaster which is all natural. In my quest to make my house has "natural" as possible, we used this on the walls in the downstairs rec room remodel and had two bags leftover. I love the walls. I exchanged the pigment color for a light blue for the bathroom.

It is a more time consuming process, but not too hard to do. You mix the dry clay with water and the pigment. Then mix and mix some more. We mixed it up last night because you can make it 24 hours ahead. If it starts to dry out, you just add more water. The pigment was a concentrated bright, sapphire blue. I was a little scared, but when mixed with the clay it got better.

As you can see in the first picture. It is a different color when wet as opposed to dry. The first wall I troweled is starting to dry.

Below is the second wall, very wet and the first wall more dry. It is quite a difference in color. I will be doing the ceiling as well. But once you start, you have to finish the entire wall while it is wet (up to a corners).

I didn't have time to start the ceiling in between dropping off Anna and picking her up. Also, I had some wasted time because I didn't like the squared- cornered trowel and went to buy one with rounded corners (can't remember what I used last time but couldn't find it anyway).

I was hoping to have the entire bathroom completed with the first coat today. Seeing how it is already 3:30 p.m., I'm not sure that will happen unless I'm up till midnight!

Monday, August 4, 2008

My Current Project

What I/we have been working on this past week is starting the remodel of our downstairs bathroom. In the first two photos, you can see the lovely (read sarcasm here) wallpaper, carpet, globe lights and a bit of the crown molding.

Those are now gone. In the picture below you can see where the crown molding was. I managed to get all the wall paper and crown molding down by myself. However, it tore off some of the sheet rock.

This weekend Frank did all the patch work on the walls and we took out the carpet, sink and cabinet. Underneath the carpet was some gorgeous (more sarcasm) orange, 70's linoleum. We had talked about putting the new floor on top because of the possibility of asbestos. But as soon as I was elsewhere in the house, Frank started tearing up the linoleum. He was worried about the mildew we have found in places. I didn't get a picture of the lovely orange.

Tomorrow I plan to start sanding the walls, washing them and the mildew areas and hopefully put some Kilz primer on. Then on Thursday I would be able to do the primer for the clay plaster and maybe start the plaster.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Illumination Piece

The gals over at Twelve by Twelve (link on sidebar) have revealed their illumination pieces and, so too, will I. I had lots of associations with "illumination" as you can see in this previous sketch.

My original idea was to use real light to illuminate a quilt from behind. But since we were away on vacation, I realized I wouldn't have time to work on that. As I was flipping through my sketchbook, I found a sketch for a completely different idea but I realized that part of it could be used for this quilt.

This is a very abstracted version of what I would call stars. The centers and the "distant" ones on the background are silver, square brads. The quilting lines are in a variegated blue thread but they show up more as white. I'm not sure I like how I did the quilting, but I have other ideas of how to do it, if I decide to use these "stars" again.