Archive for June, 2009

Getting back to business

June 29th, 2009

I haven’t been in the mood lately to talk about things like shoes, home projects, or yes, even Target, since the fire at my parent’s house.  I just didn’t feel like it was appropriate.  But as my parents get back to their normal routine, it makes me feel like I can too.  So sorry if my post’s have been sparse and/or Debbie Downers lately. I’m about to turn that frown upside down.

I thought it might be fun to do a Steal and Deal of the WEEK over the summer.  Here goes Week One…

The J.Crew Outlet Store has my FAVORITE shorts on sale.  I think I must own about 7 pairs!!

The City Fit Style

Normally $44.50, Now on Sale for $19.99- Now that’s a STEAL!

jcrew shortsThis isn’t exactly what they look like, but I couldn’t find a photo of them since they were from the outlet store and not the real store.  The waist band is a little different but you get the idea.  They are super comfortable and can be dressed up or down!

VN:F [1.9.6_1107]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)

Steal and Deal of the Week

Home Sweet “Rental” Home

June 24th, 2009

That’s the sign I need to get my parents to hang over the front door of their new house.

‘Cause it’s now official!! Well it was as of 6:47 this morning as my parents checked out of their Efficiency Motel and into their new house for the next 6 months.

I spoke with my parents this evening and my mom mentioned that they had already had company at the new place.  One neighbor brought by some yummy appetizers (thanks P&M!!) and another had brought over some kebabs for dinner.  My mom said they just had to laugh when they went to fire-up the grill to cook the kebabs and they had no way to light it. (I haven’t seen the grill but I am assuming it didn’t have an electronic starter and my parents didn’t have any matches or a lighter.) It is all those little items that get overlooked – tape, scissors, paperclips, a pen..

I did kinda think about this the other day as I was in Michael’s and saw some cute stationery.  It made me think that my mom probably could use some, as hers was most likely boxed up or in the trash.  I ended up making her a bag full of goodies including some wrapping paper, tissue paper, ribbon, scissors, tape, and, of course, the stationery.  She, as I, LOVE wrapping a great gift and her entire collection of wrapping paper and accessories were stored in the room above the garage.  I know she is bummed about losing it all- so i thought it was a good time to start rebuilding her collection!  I hope it made her day a little brighter.

But back to the rental house.  My mom wanted me to pass along this update to everyone…

“Good News, we are moved into our new home for the next 6 months.  It is a very comfortable home with lots of space and it seems even bigger with our limited furniture. It belongs to a friend’s mother who had just moved into a retirement community and her house was empty and available.  It is only 5 minutes from our home so it will be convenient for the many trips we will make as the work progresses.
It will be wonderful to sleep in our own bed tonight.  Since our original bed was condemned, we purchased the same one and look forward to a good night’s sleep.  The flat screen TV was also a total loss, so Travers spent most of the day finding a replacement. It is only a LITTLE bit bigger than the original.
Our old house is now empty.  All of our belongings have been taken away for cleaning and storage.  The clothing restoration company had a quick turn around on our summer clothes, so we do have things to wear.  Each day we think of something that we wish that we had taken out of the house, BUT. . . there were so many decisions to make so quickly.
Thanks to all for the many thoughts and prayers.  We are truly blessed to have so many wonderful friends who have helped us in so many ways. Once I find the camera and the cord for the computer, I will send pics of our new home and our RENTAL furniture.  Fondly, Carter”

VN:F [1.9.6_1107]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)

Being Thankful

A Nice Relaxing Weekend after a Stressful Week…

June 21st, 2009

SHEW!  So glad last week is O-V-E-R!!

My parents are almost totally moved into their rental house and are starting to feel “normal” again. Once the cable and internet get hooked up, they will be good to go.  My mom actually admitted that she is looking forward to cooking her own meals again.  I’m thinking she inhaled too much soot during the cleanup…

So knowing my parents were all good, Mr. vB and I spent this past weekend with the other vB’s.  We all headed down to the rivah for some early Father’s Day celebrating..  Yesterday we took my 2 1/2 year old niece out for her first motorboat ride.  She wasn’t sure if she liked it or not at first, but by the end she was helping her daddy to drive.

Here are the vB ladies enjoying the cruise..


I also have to share this melt your heart photo of me and my niece from her Baptism last weekend.

me and moomoo

Today I had every intention to finish up the “TO DO” list for the upstairs bathroom, but just never got around to it.  Instead Mr. vB and did some yard work and ran some errands.  Hopefully I will get to work on the bathroom this week. I am dying to show you guys the finished product! It is looking awesome if I do say so myself!!

VN:F [1.9.6_1107]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)


A View from the Inside..

June 18th, 2009

So I stopped by my parent’s today after work to help my mom with a few things.  I brought along the camera so you guys could see the damage that was done to the inside of the house.  Pictures say a thousand words.. so my narrative might be sparse.

This is what I was greeted with at the front door.  How Welcoming…


The house was very eerie and still.  My mom had tried to explain to me the damage the smoke had done, but I really didn’t get it until I saw it for myself.


Can you see how scorched the ceiling is right below the railing?  And look at all the soot on the floor.   Here is a closer look at the hall and the coat closets.  This is the area that took the brunt of the fire as the hall lead to the garage.



Can you tell that there is still a rug on the floor?  Look really hard and you can see the outline…




Here’s the view into my dad’s office.

DSC_0045The fire fighters had to open the wall up to get a better angle at the fire, as this room shared a wall with the garage.

Amazingly the oil portrait of my grandfather that hung on that wall was left with only one spot of soot.

Here is the Kitchen.  Not very appetizing is it?


Here’s the back stairs in the family room.  Again it shared a wall with the garage.  There used to be a antique vase that was left to my dad, in the corner of the landing.  I found it mixed in with the insulation, shattered into hundreds of pieces from the impact of the explosion.


Now back to the front entry.

DSC_0052See all those little dots evenly spaced on the ceiling?  Those are the drywall screws exposed.  This happened in several spots around the house.

DSC_0053Look at the carpet!! It pains me…  Guess I can stop feeling guilty now for spilling that red blush all over the carpet in my bedroom 17 years ago.

Now let’s go upstairs..


Here’s what use to be the hallway to my brother’s room.  And here is my room.



Can you see the imprints left of the walls where photos use to be??


Look at this Mirror- YUCK!  And that is just from the smoke.. not water.

My parent’s bathroom is just as gross.  This was the last stop on the smoke’s trip through the house.  Once it got here it had no where else to go.  Notice how it settled along the top of the baseboards, especially around the toilet.





These photos below are prime examples of just how hot it got in the house during the fire.



Now back to the outside…

I was positive that this pile of rubble had to be hiding some sentimental items that were still salvageable.  A little digging and we found these..


These photos were no loss. (what-up 8th grade perm and braces?!?)


But my Sesame Street Vinyl was..


We also found a handmade baby blanket that my mom made for me and my brother and some dresses that my mom wore when she was a little girl.  I am hoping to be around when the bulldozer comes to move some of the heavier items from the pile.  There has got to more things hiding that the fire spared!!


Each day that passes I feel that my parents are adjusting more and more to the challenge ahead of them and that a sense of normalcy amidst the chaos is not far off.  A good friend has offered them a place to stay for the next 6 months or so, as word from the contractor is that they shouldn’t expect to be back in the house any earlier than January.  My mom has been busy selecting rental furniture and they should be moving in this weekend.

Thank you to all for your well wishes during this stressful time.  My entire family is grateful to the out-pouring of support from friends, family, and neighbors.  I will definitely continue to post updates as the rebuilding process continues.

VN:F [1.9.6_1107]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)

Being Thankful

Being Thankful…

June 16th, 2009

Why does it take a major life changing event to remind you how precious life is?  The things that you think are big deals become very small and your overall perspective changes.

I say this because while I was grocery shopping yesterday, I got a phone call from my mom.  She seemed a bit off and then proceeded to tell me that there had been an Explosion, yes explosion, at their house.  Of course my first reaction was to say, “you are kidding right??”  Like who would really kid about that?  Apparently about 10:15 yesterday morning either the gas hot water heater or the gas furnace exploded, causing a large fire.  6 Fire trucks and 45 fire-fighters arrived at the house to find the entire right side (garage and bedroom above) engulfed in flames.

Luckily the house did have smoke detectors which were hooked to the house alarm and immediately alerted the fire department.  I can only imagine the shock my parents felt when they received the calls at work from the neighbors that their house had “exploded” and was on fire!  One neighbor said she was standing at her kitchen window across the street and saw the garage door get thrown about 20 feet from the house.  It stopped only because a tree was in its way.

garage door(sorry for the hazy/grainy photos but we only had Mr. vB’s iphone to use to take photos of the damage)

Other neighbors thought the explosion was a sonic boom because it was so loud.  The Fire Marshall’s will be back out at the house today to investigate further to the exact cause.  All we can keep thinking is thank goodness no-one was in the house.  We played the “what-if” game over and over last nights, saying what-if this had happened on Sunday when they were home, what-if it had happened in the middle of the night, what-if...  I just keep coming back to the fact that both my mom and dad are safe and alive. A ton of things were destroyed by the fire, but no one was hurt.  That keeps the perspective in check I think.  Things can be replaced.  My amazing parents cannot.

Here are some photos of the house throughout the day yesterday.  (I was trying to find a before photo, but I think they might be on Mr.vB’s computer.  If I get one I will add it to the post)

house with wallThis photo was taken mid day from a local newspaper reporter.  At this point the second floor had already collapsed onto the first floor and they were having trouble getting to the fire.

back of houseThis photo, also taken by the newspaper reporter, shows the opening where the garage door use to be.  The wood that you see is actually the second floor that crashed down.  Since the opening was now blocked, the Fire Captain decided they would need to bring down the front exterior brick wall to be able to fully extinguish the fire.

Here’s what the house looked like by the time Mr.vB, my brother and I could get down there last night, which was about 6:30pm.

house missingIf you scroll up to this same shot of the house and compare photos, you will notice that the garage wall is totally missing now.

full view houseAnd here is what is left of what use to be the garage and the bedroom above the garage.  Notice the large opening in the top left side of the house?  That was my bedroom and the opening is actually where the closet use to be.  The floor was so damaged that it crumbled as well.  I apparently had left a ton of old letters and photo albums in that closet.

pile of stuff photo albumHere I am actually digging one of the albums out of the pile of rubble.  It made me think that if I was that distraught over losing a bunch of old photo albums that I hadn’t seen in years, I couldn’t imagine the overwhelming feelings my parents must have been having.  Obviously everything that was in the garage- tools, the riding lawnmower, hunting equipment, gardening equipment, the generator- were all lost, as well as everything that my mom had stored in what use to be my brother’s bedroom over the garage- smocked dresses, family heirlooms, antiques, a gorgeous four poster bed.  Even my poor brother lost some things.  He had stored his entire collection of Widespread Panic and Grateful Dead Cd’s at my parents because he was in the process of declutteting his own house to sell.  He was worried that if he stored all 1,500 CD’s in the storage unit that they were renting, they would get messed up somehow. He never imagined that they would be ruined at my parent’s house.

sideview of houseToday my parents begin the process of figuring it all out.  They currently are staying at an Efficiency Hotel and are being helped out by friends and family.  I just spoke with my mom and she said they have gotten back into the house, but there is smoke damage everywhere.  A company called ServePro has been hired to come in and literally take EVERYTHING out to clean and restore.  She says the are trying to figure out what things they need immediately and what can wait.  Then at some point they will begin the actual rebuilding process.  Sounds like all the carpet and wallpaper will have to be removed and everything will have to be repainted, as well as the garage and bedroom being rebuilt.  But for now, they just need to take it day by day, hour by hour.  It’s a lot to digest and think about.

So the moral of this very somber post is the following:

1. NEVER take loved ones (family and friends) for granted.  Life is too short and unexpected things CAN happen.

2. Check your smoke detectors every couple of months to make sure the batteries are good.  Even if a fire does start, someone can be alerted before everything is lost.

VN:F [1.9.6_1107]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)

Being Thankful

Can You Tell??

June 7th, 2009

So I found this great idea on one of the blogs I follow on a daily basis- {FRECKLES CHICK}.  She is much like I in the sense that I love Orchids, but I just can’t give them the kind of TLC they need to stay alive.  I followed her lead and created an almost real version for the new bathroom.  Here’s how.

I started by making a list of items I would need to create my almost real Orchid:

1. An orchid stem with Buds/flowers

2. Spanish Moss

3. A small container

4. A bamboo stick

5. Florist foam

I first hit up Ben Franklin Crafts, but was quite disappointed in their selection of almost real flowers.  Then I remembered {Freckles Chick} saying that she had gotten her supplies at Micheal’s.  I also hit up the Secret Marshall’s and scored a super cute container for dirt cheap!

Here’s a picture of all my supplies.


The next step was to cut the florist foam down to fit into the container.  Then I cut the stems to size and pushed them securely into the foam.  I also added the bamboo stick to the mix.  (The stick is purely for looks as we all know that this orchid isn’t going to be growing.  Normally the Stem is tied to the stick to help support the weight of the blooms)


Once that was done, all I had to do was add the Spanish moss to the base and VIOLA!  This project could not have been any easier.  Putting it all together took only 10 minutes tops!

Here’s a close up of how I tied the Stem to the Bamboo stick.


Here’s the Finished Product.  Not bad if I do say so myself!


I definitely think from far away this sucker looks pretty darn real.  Can you tell it’s not?

VN:F [1.9.6_1107]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)

Gettin Crafty!

Leak?… I meant gusher!

June 3rd, 2009

So the “leak” that I mentioned in yesterday’s post has turned into a full blown gusher tonight.  We aren’t too sure where the leak is coming from but we are assuming it is from when we vented the exhaust fan through the roof.  Remember that post? It was a nail biter!

I originally took this photo to show Mr. vB the gusher that was coming out of the exhaust fan because I know he won’t believe me when I tell him.  Then I just had to show you guys too!


Luckily I thought ahead when I saw the dark storm clouds coming and put an empty trash can under the fan to catch all the water.  I think we might need to add this to the top of our “To Do” list.

VN:F [1.9.6_1107]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)

Bathroom Makeover, Home Improvement


June 2nd, 2009

I am pleased to announce that for the first time this evening, in a very long time, I will be able to shower, use the toliet, and brush my teeth all in the same place again!! THE BATHROOM IS COMPLETE.  Okay maybe not totally complete, but pretty darn close.

Mr. vB got the gorgeous countertop back in along with one of the two sinks.  We also re-hung the medicine cabinets and the hand towel hooks.  We still have to hang a bit more trim, paint all the trim, and then fix a leak in the ceiling. Piece of cake….

Here are some sneak peaks.  I don’t want to do the FULL reveal until everything is finished and in place!!  But please sleep sound tonight knowing that I will be enjoying my bathroom to the fullest!





VN:F [1.9.6_1107]
Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)

Bathroom Makeover, Home Improvement


June 1st, 2009

I thought I would be an awesome wife this morning and let Mr. vB sleep in while I got up to feed the dogs and start the yard-work.  After a cup of coffee and some quick internet time, I was outdoors dragging out the lawnmower and the weed-eater.  Now I’m not sure if I mentioned before, but we have an awesome electric lawnmower.  It makes cutting the grass a snap as long as you don’t run over the extension cord.  (which I have done before!!)  The front yard takes about 5 runs and it’s done.. then on to the backyard which is just a smidge bigger.  Now remember my post about the purchase of the new electric weed-eater?  I still have not mastered the art of using it and that’s where I got into trouble.

Let me sum it up in two photos…



Yeah- let me explain… So the first photo is of the corner of the garage.  Apparently I got a little too close to the vinyl siding with the weed eater.  All I could think was that Mr. vB was going to kill me.  Then the second photo is of the above ground sprinkler that we “had”.  One looks shorter than the other doesn’t it?  Yeah- I weed wacked it.

By the time Mr.vB awoke.. I had finished cutting and weed-eating both the front and the back yards.  And I was quite pleased with my work, minus the two issues i confessed to above.  Once I admitted them to Mr.vB, we apparently knew what we would be doing all day.  You guessed it- Installing an Under Ground Sprinkler System.  We have thrown the idea around for awhile, but this was the catalyst to get it going.  So off to Home Dept we went.


10 Sprinkler Heads, 5 pvc pipes, and a bunch of “elbows and t’s” later we were ready to install an underground sprinkler system.  Luckily for us, Mr.vB’s brother used to manage a lawn care company where one of his main jobs was to install such systems.  He thankfully dropped by to make sure we knew what we were doing.

Here are some “Before” photos of the guys laying out all the pipes and sprinkler heads.




Boots kept a close eye on the progress..


The hardest part of the whole project was digging the trenches around the yard to bury the sprinklers and the pipes. Luckily it didn’t ruin the grass too much, but it will require more grass seed and TLC.  And keeping Boots and Bailey off it until the mud dries up!



The final step will be took hook this new system into the rain barrel vs. the city water supply.  It will involve getting a pump, a timer, and some other fancy contraptions that only Mr. vB understands.  We are also planning to start a veggie garden either along the fence or in the patch of dirt in front of the deck.  But all that will have to wait until another weekend- my back is KILLIN from all that digging!!

VN:F [1.9.6_1107]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)

Go Green!, Home Improvement, Yard/Garden